On the journey back through the Deep Heathen swamps on your way to Brindol, Keaen matches his pace with yours and the two of you share a hushed conversation.
“Thank you again for rescuing me. I know that it was not an easy journey. But it had to be in order to prepare you for what is to come.
There is so much to tell you, I’m having trouble knowing where to start.
As a warden of the wild, I have a strong connection to the primal spirits. I am able to change my form to become more like the spirits that surround us. When in this form, I can see a glimpse of the world as they see it. It is a inspiring sight to see.
It was perhaps a two months ago that Fate Weaver appeared to me when I was in my altered form. She told me of troubled times ahead. The web she spins has countless threads and she is finding it difficult to track each one. At the end of those threads that she is able to follow, many point to the Feast of Souls.
The Feast of Souls is a time when the demons of the Abyss seek to ascend to a higher existence. At one end of the spectrum are demons that prefer to save all their souls for the Feast in hopes to ascend dramatically and surprise their rivals with newfound power. Others prefer to consume as soon as a soul is collected. In either case the time before the Feast is often filled with ruthless fighting and sabotage amongst the demon horde. As you can imagine, a battle of this magnitude spills over into this world.
After hearing this form Fate Weaver, I asked for guidance. She told me to listen to the spirits and trust in them. Fate Weaver also told me that a champion was on the way.
Since then I have been trying to seek out places of power. Shrines where a connection to the Elder Spirits is strong. In my search, I met a Wilden, a plant-like creature that called himself Fiddenmarr. His people are charged with protecting a powerful shrine to The World Tree. Fiddenmarr called it the Sacred Grove of the Treant. I was making plans to journey there when the Bullywugs attacked me.
However, that is my path and not yours. You must seek your own guidance. On the plains that lie in the shadow of Mount Karakas is a circle of standing stones. It was build by a tribe of shifters may centuries ago. Seek your answers there."
Upon your return from the Deep Haven Swamps, you head for the Thirsty Zombie for a drink and a conversation with your new friend Lorek.
“Aelar,” Lorek smiles weakly as you enter the tavern. “It is good to see you’ve return.” As you approach the bar, Lorek’s face wrinkles up. “Oh, but is not good to smell you, my friend. Did you bathe in dragon’s mess pot?”
“Lorelei,” he calls. “Be a kind woman and heat up some water for a bath for my friend here.” The barmaid smiles and walks through a door in the back of the kitchen. “It won’t be as fancy as what you may find at a proper inn or in Bramblewood, but it will get you clean.”
Lorek directs you to through the back of the kitchen and into the small apartment where he lives. There’s a wooden bed, a stuffed chair in front of a lit fire, and a chest of elven design. Lorelei stands in the corner of the room, pouring hot water from an iron kettle into a wooden tub.
The barmaid helps unbuckle your leather armor but leaves you to remove the rest of your clothes after drawing a curtain around the tub. She tells you that she’ll leave out a clean pair of leggings and a shirt for you.
Once bathed and dressed, you return to the tavern where Lorek has a mug of ale waiting for you.
As you talk, he informs you that a trio of halflings spotted a horse about a mile off the main road to Port Haven. The horse was still wearing its horse sheet with the Thirsty Zombie logo on it. They searched the area and found his nephew’s abandoned wagon.
The wheel of the wagon was cracked and the breeching dee broken .Some of the barrels of elven wine remained in the cart as well as a small purse of silver pieces hidden under the driver’s seat. Twenty feet away, they found where the wagon had apparently struck a rock, which would account for the broken wheel and breeching dee. The only tracks nearby was that of the wagon and horse.
Following the wagon tracks backwards, they found several footprints. Some seemed dwarven, some seemed human. The exact numbers were hard to tell. Two of the halflings continued to track the trail of footprints while the third returned to tell Lorek about their discovery.
It’s been two days though, and no further word from the halflings. The third one, Piper Hollowpot, went back out to look for them. Lorek pulls out a map and points to the location that Piper said her friends found the wagon.
As you approach Red Robes and Sundries with marshroot in hand, you hear a deep, rugged voice yelling from inside. From where you stand the words are indistinguishable, so you decide to get a little closer. Sticking to the shadows, you creep forward until you are underneath a window on the side of the small shop.
The yelling has quieted, but you can hear two voices. You recognize one as Tamond Webb’s. The other is unfamiliar, but sounds a bit orcish, or perhaps a shifter. Something with a strong overbite and teeth. Although you can’t clearly make out Tamond’s words, his voice remains calm and even. His guest, on the other hand, is full of emotion and his voice swells in volume from time to time.
You hear the following:
Tamond speaking calmly.
Then the guest, “… was not what was asked for. If Rathos knew about this, he’d…” There is a bang, as if somebody slapped a table and a flash of orange light.
Tamond speaking again.
The guest speaks again. It isn’t as loud as before, but closer. “… your sake, I hope you are right. The Syndicate does not handle failure well.”
A door that you swear was not there a moment ago begins to open. Still sticking to the shadows, you slink around to the front of the building. Once you hear the door close, you wait a moment and then chance a look. You see a well-muscled humanoid. His dark reddish brown skin is covered in coarse body hair along his shoulders, arms and legs. Big, pointed ears stick out from beneath a dark mane. As suspected, he has a strong, under-biting jaw and teeth. He wears hide armor and a morning star at his belt. In one hand, he carries a leather sack. In the other is a leather leash to a very large wolf. The wolf sniffs the air and begins to look back towards you, but its master pulls him forward.
After several minutes you enter Tamond’s shop.
If you had not overheard the conversation, you would have not known anything about it from Tamond’s demeanor. He is calm and straight forward as usual. After inspecting the marsh root, he deems it of adequate quality and gives you the hundred gold discount on the bandore as promised. You thank him and start to ask him about the conversation you overheard when he interrupts you by pulls out a scroll.
Tamond explains one of the students from the college gave it to him but he has little use for it and offers it to you. “It will teach you to summon a familiar,” he says. “Now, I trust you know the way out, I must return to my studies.”
Sardis didn’t send me any specific instructions on what he was doing in town, but I did send him a response to the letter that he sent to his mother.
As always, I enjoyed receiving your letter.
I am not surprised that the cow-hearted cities of Feldon Valley are once again being threatened by the surrounding wilds. If they only would follow the example of King Gaius and take a more aggressive stance – even the thick-skulled goblins would learn to leave well enough alone. But, alas, Magistrate Dunhall is a fool and let the guilds gain control of Port Haven.
I understand your desire to help these people. It is a noble cause. But you could do so much more with the proper schooling. Instead of running around in the woods stabbing goblins, you could lead an entire army and defend kingdoms. I have spoken with Muriel Mahli at the Academy and she has told me that you are welcome to return at any time. I would not be the Archvizier to His Highness if not for the teachings of the Academy. I would have never had met your father…
However, you have your father’s adventurous spirit and I cannot fault you for that. If my pleas do not pursuade you, I suggest that you choose your travelling companions carefully. There are many in the world that are only out for themselves. Traveling with these people will only get you killed.
I have had numerous dealings with a number of mercenary groups. The ones that survive are the ones that establish trust. Jerimiah of the Allied Brothers told me once that the best thing he did was have everyone sign a contract before allowing them to join his group. Or, as he said it, ‘I don’t trust no person’s word unless it is written and signed.’ He said a written agreement instantly establishes trust. Everybody knows the risks and the rewards. Arguments over treasure, ideals, family, injuries, death or leadership that have been known to destroy other groups do not hinder the Allied Brothers.
Also, one more thing, son. Be on the lookout for a human with a half-elf son. The man’s name is Jeras Doyle. If you find him, bring him to me as soon as you can.
I was fairly busy and so reminded the players to send me Town stuff later than usual and so I asked players to give me a couple sentence description of what they wanted to do and then I gave them a complete story rather than a back and forth like last time.