Forgive the lapse in time since my last entry. I am currently writing this by candlelight in a smallish room at an inn in Cozy Hollow, of all places.
It all started for me a ten-day ago. I was in that godsforsaken dullard’s settlement of Levytown. I had taken to the refuge of my father’s home after my run in with the Red Guard in Vassna. Claude was spending his days in the taverns, per usual, and I gained notice of an outsider clad in a forest cloak and dark hood. He seemed to be watching me, though I’m aware how that sounds, what with the countless tales of mad mages driven to paranoia in their brooding towers with no company but their tomes and imprisoned beasts.
On the second day of this stranger’s observance, I was yet again trying to calm my father’s exaggerated stories, as Druca’s reputation for over-serving often warrants. Suddenly, a small elf boy marched into the tavern with a mast adorning an elaborate elven banner and announced the arrival of a Lady of some renowned, at least in elven culture. T’was then that I first met Melfina, or the Lady Silverleaf. She gracefully sauntered up to the bar after her page announced her arrival (quite tenaciously) and all in the place were startled, lest for one gruff fellow who flew to military attention.
I was examining her wares and trying to prevent Claude from causing an embarrassment, when the farmer Bailey came in, crying about one of his suinae disappearing and that this wasn’t the first in so many days. To my surprise (given my knowledge of the Sylvan races), Melfina leaped at the chance to help farmer Bailey. Reluctantly, I agreed, seeking mostly to learn more of this fey noble. The brutish Northman, now known as Trond, also lent his axe and eagerness to the cause for some reason.
We arrived at Bailey’s property, but since it seemed quite a dull affair, I merely relaxed on a stretch of fence while the others slipped around in the mud and feces. It was when a curious noise was detected that I flawlessly darted to the other side of the pig pen, where we all three saw the largest species of Anura that any of us had ever seen in the flesh. Or in this case, the mucous and granular, but I digress.
Needless to say, that we laid waste to the gargantuan lissamphibia, and the counterpart that emerged downstream. Trond proved clumsy with his axe, but the Lady Melfina was graceful and immaculate with her trident and shield prowess. Though her throwing arm may need some clearer communication channels to her oculars.
We stayed at the farmers house and made our way to town the next morn, after a fine breakfast. On the main road, we encountered a flock of disheveled commoners trailing in packs. They were refugees from the town of Broken Hill that, as we learned, had recently been broken. Broken, burned and raped from hordes of goblins working with some sort of goat headed humanoids.
We aided the the refugees in whatever capacity we could, though my talents were mostly useless, Melfina helped in both diplomatic matters and the mending of wounds, which I first found she had a gift for.
Later we were at the tavern, surrounded by several refugees whom we had extended coin to, along with other townsfolk. It was then that the first goblin stormed in the door from Druca’s storage room behind the bar. Several followed after him, grabbing whatever they could, casks mostly. Trond went to protect Druca, who had fled from behind the bar at my direction. Melfina advanced with trident and shield . I was reluctant to use magic, with the hooded ranger in the place and the red guard encounter shortly behind me, but I knew I must. So, I slyly flourished and whispered the words to bring forth a fog to mask the scene. My hopes were to confuse the goblins and prevent their escape, and it worked, save for one. I walked through the fog, releasing electric currents through all goblin skin I touched and made my way to block the door. Melfina followed flank and we beat the last of them. She was exquisite.
We piled the bodies up and examined them. Some scimitars were appropriated and a tattoo of some sort was on the goblin leader’s flesh. A druidic symbol of some sort. I later did a simple spell of reading magic, in private, but gleaned no new information.
The mysterious ranger, who told us his name was “Bane” whilst avoiding me the entire time, asked Melfina to embark on a journey to find the source of this incursion, in Broken Hill. Melfina accepted, and when I told her that he wasn’t to be trusted, she informed me that she had come to the same conclusion. I truly felt that it was sincere and I trusted her. Let’s hope, as I reread my words, that this isn’t the folly of my curiosity and fondness of the elven people.
The next Morn we acquired a few provisions and left on the road toward… not Broken Hill, but to the Cragen Mountains. That had been Lady Melfina’s original purpose for questing westward, and I was much anticipating the wonders that could be seen in the realm of the dwarves. But nonetheless, our travels would lead us through that burnt ruin of a town.
Not far before Broken Hill, however, we sited a merchant wagon approaching. It was headed east on the road, and likely had just left or rolled through Broken Hill. When it approached, I and Trond had hidden under the bridge at Sallywynde Crossing, Melfina and her page (Delbert) advanced with question on the merchant and his two guards. The back of the wagon revealed a caged prisoner transport packed with children. They called out as negotiations became tense between Melfina and the merchant, Scorve.
I stepped out immediately, knowing the heated temperaments between the races of the realms, and began offering a voice of reason to the transport of prisoners, child or no. But, upon being issued with our “second warning” rather than a writ of charter from the king, I loosed an icy beam that clumsily missed his first guard. Melfina followed with a horse-lead charge that ended with her winded on her back in the dusty soil of the road. Luckily, not a second or so after I called Trond’s name, he emerged from the bridge, a screaming, charging, human-blade. He made it just far enough to guard the Lady Melfina, while the merchant hopped of the cart to check something at the rear of the vehicle and his guards loosed crossbow bolts at me, which I dodged, and Trond, which planted firmly in his torso, though he seemed not to notice.
I saw my chance and ran toward the wagon, recalling the intricacies of a spell I had prepared every night since leaving Levytown. I lowered my staff while uttering the sacred words and the earth and air before me boomed and rippled. The guards were shoved back while their ears bled, the horse whinnied and fell dead, and unfortunately a few of the children were knocked unconscious. Unbeknownst to me, the wagon was forced back and the merchant was crushed beneath it.
Trond sliced the throat of one guard while Melfina gained her stance and the other guard retreated. We went to the back of the wagon while Trond worked off his rage in solitude. Melfina unlocked the children’s cage and found a brave girl who informed her that they were the forgotten youth of Broken Hill, and were to be sold into slavery. I promptly let loose a series of shocking grasps on the trapped merchant, until the smoke wafting from every visible orifice let me know that he was no longer a threat to anyone.
Trond insisted on escorting the children back to the refugee camp outside of Levytown. I protested that it was a waste of time and we must advance, but my words fell light on his ears. Melfina gave the bravest child a bejeweled dagger that we’d found in the wagon’s wares and instructed her on how to use the pointy end and when.
Melfina and I repaired the wagon, full of useful goods, and hitched a horse to it. The trip North-West was easier now, as I sat with Delbert most of the way, stopping to make camp when needed. We did camp outside of Broken Hollow, near a vineyard, but we didn’t do much to tread into the place. Melfina investigated, while we waited at camp, and found some strange tracks leading south-west from the town. Her reports of cloven hoof tracks dissuade my suspicion of cultist humans clad in animal bones. Clearly we were dealing with something beastly and sinister.
We decided to trek further up the road though, as her destination was the Cragen Mountains and we still had seen no sign of Trond’s return. And it was only a day and a half later that I had heard something devilish near the road. A nashing and growling most disgusting.
Melfina decided to advance up the hill that was bordering the road in the grasslands we were traveling. On the other side was an adolescent ogre, feasting ferociously on the corpse of a bear he had felled with an apparently stolen javelin. The lady and I discussed for some time, in quiet, about whether or not something should be done. Well, clearly she must have spoken too loudly, because before I knew it, the creature had it’s eyes set firmly on ME.
I took quickness as my advantage and ran over the hillock and fired a bolt of ice at it. I hit, but the creature ran at me regardless as the Lady Melfina sneaked behind it. I enacted another spell to protect myself and Melfina asked what route we take on this dull creature, as she pierced it with her trident.
I replied, that we goad it with a confusing dance, as I drew a dagger in each hand and shifted right with a successful slash at the beast. Melfina followed, The beast tried feebly to beat it’s club against my mage armor, to no avail. Soon we had the beast down.
We continued our quest, and camped at a spot where the woods met the road and river. Melfina and Delbert caught us a fine catch of trout, which we stuffed with onions from the merchant cart, and roasted apples and tuber. Shortly after we lifted forks to mouth, a tall figure ran up the road, calling rejoices. It was Trond, hungry and happy. I’ll admit, it was good to see the northman.
I asked him to review my cookbook (which I suspected to be some source of my outlaw status), but he offered no knowledge, other than identifying the author.
The next day, we hit Cozy Hollow at dusk. A quaint inn called the “Paisley Parsnip” hosted us well, with all the comforts of home. And before we found our beds, we were able to talk to the mayor Ploughfoot and his council. They informed us of the difficulties of trade, when Lord Greedle holds the tax on the roads so high, and the suspects of the Broken Hill attack a serious threat. So it seems that it’s in the interest of all for us to backtrack to Broken Hill and see where that mystery might lead.
And so the hour grows late, and after six days I’m still getting used to the blank stare of an entranced elf boy, but I feel that these brown ales I’ve drunk will whisk me to slumber for the morn’s journey. Though one thing is unclear after all these days; is sap-wine a taste I must acquire?
Sincerely,[?]-Year of the Horn
Barrabus the Storm [?]