Burning Sky Session 18

Having searched the bodies, we collected 40 golds, 25 silvers, 150 coppers, and four gems worth 10 golds each.

In the morning, we divided up the coins, and Cyrus, Xireas, Ulfgar, and I each took a gem.

We packed up our things and marched another half a day before arriving at the dwarven outpost. Carved into the mountain face was a big door with the dwarven rune for Divinity at the top.

On the door were carved the dwarven words: “Igurrik kjol molbrut, stoke kjol bezmadan, steady kjol klarthji” which I translated for everyone, “Guide mine hammer, stoke mine forge, steady mine anvil.”

“This is a prayer to Moradin,” I pondered. “Ulfgar, didn't you mention you had never heard of Moradin?”

Ulfgar confirmed he didn’t recall the name Moradin in this world.

“Moradin is the Soul Forger, the father of the dwarven race,” I considered. “Who is the father of the dwarves here?”

Ulfgar shrugged.

We didn’t see any obvious handholds, knockers, keyholes, or other mechanisms to manipulate the door.

I chanted the prayer written on the door, but nothing happened.

I touched the door with the hammer and helmet that I had forged, but nothing happened.

While chanting the prayer, I touched the door with a gem, but nothing happened.

Using one hundred coppers and my Artisan's Blessing, I channeled divinity to create a small anvil. When I was done, I said the prayer and the doors began to glow and the seam in between the double doors began to illuminate with light. The anvil disappeared and the doors rumbled open.

As I led the way inside, Umara spoke up, “Am I waiting for you guys out here, or am I leaving?”

After Umara assured us that she was confident she could get back safely, I paid her ten golds and bid her farewell.

“If you're confident that you could make it home safely,” I bid, “I want you to be safe and I'm grateful for you leading us here.”

“Thank you, gentlemen and ladies,” Umara replied. “Good luck to you.”

She turned around and began hiking back down the mountain.

Xireas instructed her minions to stay put while Cyrus lit a lantern to see into the darkness beyond the door and we descended the stairs beyond. The door behind us closed on its own.

“This is indeed a grand hall,” Ulfgar noted. “The dwarven craftsmen in my land are very great, but none are great as this that I'm aware of.”

A beautiful stone pillar, twenty foot in diameter, held up the high ceiling in the center of the large chamber was circled by dwarven runes. Each corner of the rectangular chamber had a smaller column, and twenty foot wide stone arches in the center of the other three walls led to corridors. Ten heroic dwarven statues decorated the remainder of the walls.

“They could be the dwarves of legend that I learned of in my youth,” Ulfgar recognized the statues as dwarven heroes of old.

I read the dwarven runes out loud, “Guard your life. Guard your gold. Guard your beard.”

I spent some time examining all the statues and pillars, careful of any traps.

Peering into one of the corridors, Cyrus spotted some chickens, noting “Somebody is living here.”

I noticed that the carving on the door was clearly out of place because everything in this area was a style of construction that was unlike the style of the dwarven construction that I was familiar with.

“I suspect that my father came here after the dwarves left this colony and secured the door,” I shared.

Ulfgar pointed out a red glow coming from an open door in the north corridor.

We could hear a melodic clanging of metal tapping on metal from the north and east corridors.

“I think we should go that way,” I pointed to the north.

Through the northern archway, the twenty foot wide corridor crossed a ten foot wide corridor to the east and west. To the north the corridor became a broken bridge crossing over lava, which explained the increasing heat.

We followed the melodic tapping to the east.

After seventy feet, the corridor turned south with archways to north and east, and another a little farther to the south.

Peering through the northern archway, from where the tapping emanated, we saw a forge room cluttered with armor, weapons, and tools hanging from the walls and piled on the tables.

On the north wall was a forge heated by the lava river passing below. Nearby was an anvil, manned by a lone dwarf in a leather apron.

So I see you've made it in, have yuh,” an old dwarf announced in dwarven, turning around.

We have,” I replied.

Where you hail from?” he grumbled.

I am Angradin Hammerforged from the Greypeak Mountains. And you?

The Greypeak Mountains?” the old dwarf replied, introducing himself as Moznek Woldbeard. “Can't say I’ve heard of ‘em. I'm from these halls, obviously. What’s your business here, Angradin Hammerforged?

I'm looking for my father, Danvidin Hammerforged,” I revealed.

Looking for your pappy, aye?” Moznek replied. “Yeah, come in. Come in here. Let me get a closer look at you. My eyes ain't what they used to be.

This is an impressive forge you have here,” I praised.

Where did you get those weapons?” Moznek eyed my hammer. “Those are interesting. Mind if I have a look at them?

I handed him my hammer.

Inspecting it, he nodded, “Not bad. You made this yourself?

I did,” I acknowledged.

You've got a ways to go,” Moznek stated.

I see that I do, looking at your fine craft,” I admitted, noting the superbly made objects littering the room.

Yeah, you've got some practice ahead of you,” Moznek handed back my hammer, “but you're young enough to learn. The heat here is perfect for smithing all kinds of weapons. Y'all hungry?

We are,” I replied. “Are you alone here?

I am,” Moznek shared. “I've been alone here for many a year. It's nice to have company every once in a while. I heard y'all come in, but I knew only a real dwarf can get through that entry lock.

I was hoping to have some time to forge some new armor,” I explained, “but I haven't had the time to settle down.

Yeah, well,” Moznek replied, “these are troubled times, as I understand it. Why don't we go inside and maybe I can share what I have. We can sit down and we can talk for a bit.

I followed him south and filled pitchers with water from a cistern while he led a goat from a pen. To the south I saw a garden from which he grabbed some vegetables.

Ah, yeah,” Moznek smiled, “we’ll have a feast today!

As we led the goat back to the forge room, Moznek inquired, “So for you to come in here, you’re a priest, are you?

Paladin,” I corrected.

Paladin no less,” Mozek acknowledged. “That's something special!

Back in the forge room, he reached into his belt and took out a long oversized, curved knife, mumbled a prayer to Moradin, and cut the goat’s throat.

Preparing the goat on the forge, he suggested, “Why don't you get your friends to set the table? Be good to have some laughter and some kind voices in here.

As my companions dragged the table and chairs to the entry chamber, I asked, “You follow the Soul Forger?

I do,” Moznek replied as he skinned and butchered the goat.

Waiting attentively on him, helping at every opportunity, I asked, “How long have you been here alone?

I'd say probably about ten years if I count right,” Moznek answered.

Ten years and you've never had somebody pass through by the name of Danvadin Hammerforged?” I asked.

Well, you mentioned that earlier,” Moznek hinted. “Let's have a chat about that when we get dinner ready. We’ll sit at the table, have a proper conversation.

As you wish,” I conceded. “I didn't know that the Soul Forger was recognized in these parts. I'm glad to hear that that's the case.

It generally ain't,” Moznek revealed.

Are you from around here?” I asked.

You might say that,” Moznek replied. “I've been in Dassen. I've been in these mountains. You know there's dwarves scattered about all over the place here. I think I've spent a little time at all of them in one capacity or another.

What is this place called?” I asked.

This was supposed to be the Bham Thurum outpost,” Moznek explained. “You know, trying to expand, you know, out from Dassen into these here places.

Are there any dangers in these parts that you have to contend with?” I asked. “Are you safe here?

No,” Moznek replied. “I'm pretty safe now. I'll show you around the place. I'll give you a little history lesson about this place.

Once the goat was all cut up, seasoned, and cooking he suggested we join everyone else in the entry room.

After retrieving a cask, we returned to the entry room where my companions sat patiently.

“Where are my manners?” Mozek said in Common. “Welcome to my home, Bham Thurum. Been here so damn long talking to myself I just forget that there are other languages out there.”

“Moznek Woldbeard,” I introduced, “These are my companions, Ulfgar Untbergheim, Cyrus Ebontouch, Xireas Morte, Torrent of Gate Pass, and Crystin Ja-Nafeel.”

“So you're traveling with drow now, huh?” Moznek cursed. “What the hell is this world coming to?”

“Times have changed,” I replied.

“Can I ask you,” Ulfgar interjected, “what happened to the rest of the people here? I mean, there are many dwarves in Dassen. I myself am from just outside Bresk. We have a great colony there, but I did not know of this outpost.”

“Well, four came before to pave the way,” Moznek explained, “Nekuck, Thumraed, Nurazzeal, and Gilgoir. And they left one day some time ago to go help the humans—”

“They were taken by the dragon,” I interjected. “We have heard.”

“Is that what happened to them?” Moznek was amazed. “What the hell? Why doesn’t anyone tell me anything? That’s why they never came back!”

“You’ve been all by yourself,” Ulfgar asked, “all this time?”

“I’ve been by myself, quite some time,” Moznek acknowledged. “But not the entire time. So they left, and some months later, a feller shows up at my door by the name of Danvadin. He showed up here and he was bloody and he was in need of help.”

Moznek reached into his pocket, took out a holy symbol, said a prayer, and all the plates filled with food.

“Here's a first course while the goat’s cooking,” Moznek stated. “So Danvadin, this fella comes knocking on my door. I don't know him from a hole in the wall, so I go out, and he's a fellow dwarf, so let him in and patch him up and give me a place to stay. Well, he’s a good fella. We became fast friends, me and him, and he stayed here for a spell, and we shared the secrets, you know, smithing secrets, he and I. And we shared stories and he introduced me to Moradin. And, well, I was so taken by it that it decided to follow him on the spot, dang it! And that's when I became, I guess maybe, the first dwarf in this world to follow Moradin, 'cause he told me he wasn’t from here, and he was utterly and completely lost, much like you fellers.”

“Who did you worship before this?” Cyrus enquired.

Moznek explained that he wasn't a cleric, but he followed Krange, the dwarven god of battle, adding “I was a pretty damn good fighter in my youth. I've seen my share of troubles, and Krange helped me swing me axe. But at my age, you know, you have to be pragmatic here. Moradin’s a better fit for me and I decided to be a cleric. Especially living here with all this lava in this heat. It was just perfect for this situation.”

“YOu won’t go wrong with the Soul Forger and Dwarf Father,” I added.

“So far we have not,” Moznek agreed. “Wait, why don't you, before we eat this food, why don't you lead us in a prayer?”

Moznek demanded that we all rise while I led the prayer, “Every fall of the hammer on the anvil, and every fire stoked in the forge is a step on a journey set before us by Moradin himself. It isn't work. It is the pleasure of life. And it is Moradin that grants us this feast before us. Enjoy!”

“Amen!” Everyone raised their mugs in cheer and drank. “We haven't had a prayer like that here in years!”

As we ate, I explained to Moznek that “my clan sent me on a mission, and it is my duty to advance the dwarven race in all areas of life by innovating with new processes and skills, founding new kingdoms and clan lands, and defending the existing ones from all threats and lead the dwarves in the traditions laid down by the Soul Forger.” I explained that, “where we're from, the times have changed over the decades and many of the races that were once considered our enemies have become much more agreeable to us. Not everything has changed like we still hate the hobgoblins, of course…”

Moznek spit on the ground.

“...but Xireas here is an example of one of those exceptions that would not be considered common a hundred years ago.”

“Well, then,” Moznek cheered, “a friend of Moradin is a friend of mine. Welcome to me tables, Xireas.”

I told him about how Danvadin had had to flee from some hobgoblins in the past, trying to piece together whether or not that was before he came here or after. “I'm assuming it was before.”

“I can tell you that he came to me after he encountered some hobgoblin layer,” Moznek shared. “You see, what he told me was that he was performing some kind of dang ritual, and there was magic so powerful he got blown across space and time to this place here—”

“The ritual of the March,” I explained.

“Ah yes, that was it. My damn memory is failing me now and then,” Moznek continued, “And so wounded and not knowing where to go, he fled into these caves where he thought he might be safe. Well, little did he know he was running right into a damn hornets nest, with all these hobgoblins and such in there. So, he says he put up a mighty mighty battle with them, although he was hurt from his initial encounter. And he killed a great many of them, but it was a whole horde of him in there, according to him, and he managed to get his way out and flee. Tactical retreat, I think he called it. And after some time—I'm not sure how long—he made his way over to me. That was probably about eight, nine or so years ago. So he showed up on my doorstep, bloody and in need of care. So it took him in, patch him up, and we became fast friends after that. And he stayed here for his spell.”

“That's what I thought,” I replied. “Where did he go? How long did he stay? When did he leave? Where did he head? Why did he leave?”

“Well,” Moznek explained, “he stayed here for a spell, maybe for about a year, trying to figure out what the hell happened to him. But he was severely heartbroken, he was. That man, he ached for his wife and his family, and he wanted to get himself home. And we tried to figure it out. He tried communing. He tried every damn thing he thought he could do. But at the end of his rope, he decided that he was not gonna find his answers here. And so he packed up what he could, and he struck off. Where he went, I couldn't tell you, but he's struck off trying to find his way home. Trying to find out what in tarnation happened to him.”

“And you had no communication with him since?” Ulfgar inquired. “He's never returned? You never heard any word from him?”

“No.” Moznek replied. “He left and never came back.”

“So you’ve been living by yourself for ten years?” Ulfgar asked.

“It's me and Moradin living in this place,” Moznek replied, as he rose and hobbled out of the room, mumbling, “the hips ain't what they used to be.”

I followed him as he left to retrieve the goat.

We soon returned with the carved up goat laid out on two large platters, which Moznek placed on the table with a thud, offering, “Help yourselves.”

While we were eating, I showed him the bloody handkerchief that I had found in the hobgoblin cave.

“Right,” Moznek nodded. “That explains it.”

When I shared the tale of our encounter with the hobgoblins, he replied, “Amen, I'll drink to that!” He refilled the cups and drank.

“So Moznek,” Cyrus enquired, “I got a question for you. From what we heard, this place was supposed to be a colony. What happened to the rest of the dwarves?”

“Well, I told you,” Moznek reiterated, “the four that came to help get this place setup, they left and never came back.”

“Four or five dwarves doesn't sound like much of a colony,” Ulfgar hinted.

“It's an outpost, not a colony,” Moznek clarified. “”But, you know, we were the the five of us.”

“So the five of you built all this?” Cyrus asked.

“We were here for quite some time before they went missing,” Moznek stated.

“Did you build this or was this here when you got here?” I probed.

“No, no,” Moznek insisted. “We built every little corner of this place. It took us years and years. And then once we're once we felt comfortable with it, that's when we came out and started interacting with the humans down there down the bottom of the mountain.”

“Tell me about your heroes,” I requested, indicating the statues on the walls.

“So these heroes,” Moznek admired the walls, “these are the dwarves of old that fought in battles across the ages. The ones with the books, across from our tables, those were priests of Krange, who gave their blessings to the dwarven armies to go fight. The last great fight of the dwarves resulted in complete disaster. This happened when the last great battle was over in the middle of Sindaire. That's when the Ragesians had complete power over the Sindairens. And the dwarves came down, some from the Monastery of the Two Winds, others from Dassen that came across. They all came to stage an uprising to kick the Ragesians out. Unfortunately, they still had that damn magic item where they teleported all their troops into the field with the dwarves and outnumbered him. And they massacred them. And the remaining dwarves ran. And they went east to get to the mountains of Dassen for shelter. Many of them died that sad day. That became known as the Trail of Tears across the plains of Sindaire. So these two priests were working with them, trying to give them their blessings, and many of their priests died in that battle as well. So that wasn't one of our most shining moments, but these two tried to help our comrades in arms.”

“Did I hear that right?” Cyrus asked. “The Ragesians have a way of teleporting their troops into the field of battle?”

“That's the legend,” Moznek replied. “The two others in front of you, these are old generals.”

“I thought they hated magic,” Cyrus continued.

“I don't know,” Moznek admitted. “I don't know the Ragesians. I never really spent a lot of time with them.”

“I thought they only hated the magic of their enemies,” I suggested. “The Inquisitor used magic.

“So you were telling us about the generals…”

“Right,” Moznek continued. “So these two are generals from great battles a millennia past when dwarves were at the height of their kingdoms, and they lead great armies to defeat dark forces of goblin hordes and orc hordes that were just terrible, terrible evil that wiped the land out. These are heroes from the past. We wanted to surround ourselves and our community with the greatest, most inspirational dwarves we could think of.”

“It's a beautiful hall you've built here,” I admired.

“Thank you,” Moznek replied. “Maybe one day it'll get populated by our kin.”

“If I come across any dwarven refugees,” I promised, “I will send them this way.”

“So you don't know anything about a dragon’s lair around here, huh?” Cyrus asked.

“A dragon’s lair?” Moznek briefly considered. “No, I can't say that I do.”

Rising, Moznek said, “Why don’t we take a little walk around the place, I'll show you around.”

Leading us through the corridor to the west, he showed us a small chamber to the south dominated by stone tombs. “So around here, we built some tombs for any who would come here and pass away in our halls. Obviously the four that left are empty because the four that were here disappeared, but maybe I'll lay one of these tombs one day, if I'm lucky.”

Showing us a larger room to the north, where the northwest corner was collapsed, he explained, “Now this place, we were creating more tombs here or what not, but goblinoids and evil creatures we found started burrowing through these walls, so we had a horde of creatures coming in. And with the help of your pappy, 'cause our other comrades were gone, he helped me collapse the ceiling here to close the tunnel that they opened up beyond these walls. So there's a catacomb beyond here for sure. But we couldn't hold them—well, maybe your pappy could’ve—but anyway, we collapsed the tunnel here to keep them out. And so for the last nine years, nothing has been coming through here. So you asked me if we’ve been safe in here. Yeah, I think so. We've been here for a long time and nothing has been getting through.”

Leading to an exit in the north wall, we entered another ten-foot wide east-west corridor. We past his bed chambers and were outside the north archway of the main chamber. Pointing further north, to a bridge crossing a river of lava, Moznek said, “Up here, this has been kind of our pride and joy, but just watch your step going across this bridge. There was an earthquake a while back, and I haven't been able to get this repaired yet.”

Leading across the bridge that was clearly crumbling in multiple areas, Moznek assured us, “Come on. Come on. It's safe otherwise.”

The bridge led to a great chamber with a phosphorescent tree growing in its center. “This room we converted into a shrine to Moradin.”

In each corner was a high pillar, and at the north was a grand altar shaped like a forge. Lava flowed into the chamber on either side of the altar and drained back into the river.

To the west was another large chamber dominated by a statue, a large pillar, and a pit leading down into the lava.

Pointing to the east, Moznek explained, “We were building another shrine over here, but the wall collapsed here when we were opening up this space and we abandoned work in this area.”

Leading us back to the entry chamber, Moznek said, “I've got one more thing for you, since that was your pappy.”

I followed him to the barracks room, just east of the forge room, and north of the six bunks was a chest.

“I’ve got something you might want,” Moznek said, opening the chest and rummaging around inside it until he drew forth a broken sword.

“The sword broke when he was fighting with the hobgoblins,” Moznek said. “That's all he had to make his way out. That's why he couldn't kill them all. I gave him a new sword to take with him, but he just left this here. I couldn't fix it 'cause I don't have that same metal that this is made out of. So I couldn't recast it.”

Examining the blade, and noting Danvadin’s insignia stamped into the hilt, I explained that it was forged from adamantite.

“That's one secret your pappy never told me,” Moznek shared. “And so that's it. That's all I know about your pappy. He was a good soul. I hope he's alive.”

“Well, thank you!” I replied. “I hope to find him.”

Moznek invited us to spend the night, and we spent the night drinking and sharing stories. He shared stories about the history of Bham Thurum and I shared Danvadin’s battle stories and explained our mission to defeat the Ragesians.

“Sounds like a good cause,” Moznek replied. “Your pappy would be proud that you're doing that. I think he'd do the same.”

When I mentioned that I had been wanting to forge a suit of plate, but hadn’t had the time, he led me back to the forge room.

“Come on, boy,” Moznek mocked. “This armor isn't worth the spit it was made with.”

He took some measurements, adding, “Let me see what I can do. I don't have much else going on here anyway. I'll see what I can do. If you come back this way, you might have something waiting for you.”

“Well, I will be back this way anyway,” I promised.

“Sounds good,” Moznek replied. “I could use good company.”

“Is there anything else you need or want, when we return?” ?” I offered. “Anything else you would like?”

“The company of the lady would be great,” Moznek winked. “Been here alone so long…”

“There were dwarven refugees that we encountered coming from Rageasia,” I mentioned. “If we encounter any more, we'll send them this way. We can bring them here.”

“Maybe that would be a way to reestablish this place,” Moznek pondered. “Well, pick ‘em carefully. I don't want any damn hooligans here.”

“Course not,” I promised, leaving the suit of half-plate armor.

In the morning, I cast sending: “Pappy this is Angradin. I am with Moznek Woldbeard in Bham Thurum, headed to Seaquen to defend against the Rageasian invasion. Where are you?

I soon heard his reply: “Being held prisoner underground by damn Ragesians. Was unconscious, don't know where. Somewhere on west coast.

I shared with Moznek and my companions that I was able to send a message to Danvadin, and that he is being held prisoner underground by the Ragesians, but doesn't know where, except that it’s somewhere on the west coast.

“Hmm,” Moznek grumbled. “The Ragesians have him, do they?”

“The west coast is long,” Ulfgar noted. “It could be anywhere from Ragesia to Sindaire.”

When we were ready to leave, Moznek held out his holy symbol, using his channel divinity, and the door creaked open.

“Well, good luck to you all,” Moznek bid us. “Come back anytime. My doors are open to you.”

As we thanked him for his hospitality, I said we hoped to see him again, adding, “Like the hammer on the forge, our parting only lasts until it strikes again.”

As we stepped out into the morning sun, and the door began to close, a bright light surrounded Moznek. Smoke and magics swirled around him, and a figure appeared in his place.

“Stay the path of redemption,” the figure said in a deep, booming voice.

The doors closed and magically sealed.

Quietly, we began our trek back down the mountain, toward Brightstaff Commons.

The trip back, down out of the mountains and to Brightstaff Commons was uneventful.

We returned to the Frozen Unicorn Inn, paid our 10 silvers each to spend the night.

Before going to sleep I cast another sending: "Hang in there. We will defeat the Ragesians and get you out of there." There was no response.

We departed Brightstaff Commons early in the morning and followed the road south between the Tunda Mountains and Thornwood Forest.

In the evening, as we had set up camp off to the side of the road, we saw an armored figure approaching from the north on horseback.

As the knightly looking figure veered off the road toward us, I called out, “Greetings, well met.”

“Well met, I am Sir Quincy Felthuf, representing his Lord Rego.” The knight dismounted. “Do you mind if I join you all?”

“No, of course not,” I offered. “We were just setting up camp.”

“Wonderful,” Sir Quincy led his horse over and helped a little to set up the camp. “Can we share a meal together?”

We welcomed him to join us.

After unpacking some provisions and joining us, Sir Quincy asked, “What brings you all to the Duchy of Rego?”

“I was just going to ask you, what brings you to these parts?” I returned. “We're just passing through.”

“Well, these are my lord’s lands,” Sir Quincy replied, “and I'm one of his knights, and we frequent these roads, to try and keep them clear of bandits or whatever.”

“Oh, we helped defeat some bandits in Cornerwood,” I informed him.

“Yeah, maybe you should patrol Cornerwood more,” Cyrus suggested.

“Yeah, unfortunately Cornerwood is not part of Lord Rego’s domain,” Sir Quincy informed us. “It's part of Timor. Yeah, they do a less than adequate job when it comes to securing their roads.”

“So you're out on patrol?” Ulfgar asked. “Or are you on your way somewhere else?”

“Nope,” Sir Quincy confirmed, “Out on patrol, seeing who's on the road, and what's happening in his Lord’s area.”

“Does Lord Rego have need of adventurers?” I asked.

“Lord Rego has his own force,” Sir Quincy replied. “He doesn't need mercenaries at this time. Thank you for the offer.”

“That's what we've been told,” I confirmed, “there’s no need for us here.”

“You should tell Lord Rego that the Fire Forest is out,” Cyrus suggested.

“The Fire Forest is out!” Sir Quincy incredulous. “And how, pray tell, do you come bearing news like this? How have you come across this news?”

“We saw it,” Cyrus replied.

“Wait, wait, wait,” Sir Quincy stopped what he was doing. You were there?”

“Yeah,” Cyrus confirmed.

“Oh, I have to hear about this,” Sir Quincy listened intently. “Tell me.”

“We walked through the Fire Forest and it was out,” Cyrus reiterated.

“So you went to the Fire Forest and it was out?” Sir Quincy was still incredulous. “And you walked through it?”

“Yep,” Cyrus nodded.

“Wow!” Sir Quincy was amazed. “What did you see there?”

“Burnt trees,” Cyrus replied.

“There used to be elves living there,” Sir Quincy enquired. “Have you any? Are the elves all gone?”

“Don't know nothing about no elves,” Cyrus lied.

“I see,” Sir Quincy continued. “Well, what else have you guys seen?”

“We fought some bandits in Cornerwood,” I shared. “They were quite formidable.”

“A bunch got away from us though,” Ulfgar added.

“The Deroga gang,” Cyrus added. “And apparently they employ ogre's and hobgoblins.”

“Ah, I think I've heard of those fellas,” Sir Quincy nodded. “They were trying to put together some kind of crime syndicate, as I understood it.”

“Have they been trying to expand into your Lord Rego’s lands?” Ulfgar inquired.

“I think they know better than that,” Sir Quincy warned. “They come into our areas, we’ll wipe them out without question. We don't tolerate rabble such as that in our towns.”

“While I'm sure you're a formidable fighter, looking at you,” Ulfgar hinted, “the gang had many ogre's and many followers.”

“Yes, well,” Sir Quincy sighed, “when the local constables don't take measures to keep them in check, that will happen.”

“Where do you think they could use our services?” I enquired. “Do you think we’re more likely to find need of our services in Namin or Megadon or Steppengard or Dene or Sequen?”

“So you all are a group of mercenaries for hire, is it?” Sir Quincy asked.

We nodded, “Yep, that's right.”

“And you are going town to town trying to sell your services? Sir Quincy asked.

“Where there’s a need,” I replied.

“That’s what mercenaries do,” Cyrus added.

“So where are you guys heading?” Sir Quincy asked.

“South,” Ulfgar replied.

“South is a pretty big place,” Sir Quincy pried. “Anything specific?”

“So I was just asking you, where do you think our service might be of use,” I replied. “I just ran through a bunch of the duchies…”

“Well, certainly not in Rego,” Sir Quincy answered. “We don't take too kindly to these sorts of gangs trying to cause trouble in our duchies, so you probably won't find much work here, that's for sure. That I can guarantee you. If that's your aim.”

“Yeah, we got that message,” I assured him. “Perhaps you didn't hear me the first time. I was asking if our services might be of use in Namin or Megadon or Dene or Steppengard or Sequen?”

“Maybe Sequen,” Sir Quincy replied. “They tend to hire, uh, rabble.”

“Rabble?” Ulfgar repeated.

“So we’re rabble now, are we?” Cyrus replied.

“Why don't you move on?” I suggested. “There’s no reason for you to come into our camp and insult us. We welcome you into our camp to share a fire…”

“This is my land,” Sir Quincy replied, sternly. “I'm a knight of this land. Don't you dare take that tone with me.”

Cyrus shook his head, cursing under his breath.

“Why don't you get your knight friends,” I threatened, “and move us out.”

“I see,” Sir Quincy replied with mocking politeness, “Well, thank you for your hospitality.” He tossed the pot onto the fire, dousing it. “We’ll be speaking again soon.”

As he got on his horse, Ulfgar used his elemental attunement to relight it.

“May the wind keep your back cool,” Ulfgar called out as Sir Quincy rode off.

When he was out of sight, Xireas asked, “I haven't been around that long. Who was that guy?”

After we shared our expletive laden descriptions, she asked, “Just patrolling up and down the road? Alright, what's the plan?”

We agreed to move our camp, and after I helped Ulfgar hide our tracks, we found a rocky outcropping about 300 feet to the east.

Since we had already eaten, we didn't need to set a fire.

The night passed uneventfully.

In the morning, we looked out carefully to see if anybody was out on the road.

We didn’t see anyone, but when we returned to the road, we saw tracks of many horses. The ground is utterly trampled in a large circular area.

Cyrus determined there were more than a dozen horses.

Ulfgar determined that some of them continued south, while the rest returned back north.

We continued south on the road, hoping to get to Namin as quickly as possible.

After traveling for a couple of hours, we heard a rumbling roar coming from the hills off in the distance.

Soon after, a large creature with the body of a lion and the wings of an eagle shot up towards the sky as if it was pouncing. It seemed to play for a while, and then abruptly started to descend to a hilltop where a dwarf wearing a magnificent silver mantle and silver skullcap stood. The dwarf quickly climbed onto the beast’s back and it took wing and flew off into the mountains.

Ulfgar recognized the creature to be some sort of sphinx, but noted that its playful behavior was a little odd.

By the end of the day, we had crossed the border into Namin, and we broke for camp.

This next day, while we were traveling in a particularly hilly and craggy area, we saw an abandoned wagon up ahead.

Ulfgar went ahead to scout out the area, sticking to the shadows of the trees.

After examining the old, decrepit, weatherbeaten wagon with a broken wheel, he gave a signal that all was clear.

As soon as I entered the clearing, we heard a yell from the top one of the ridges ahead, where a goblin appeared and threw a javelin, which bounced off my armor.

Ulfgar deftly climbed twenty feet up the nearby tree, only to be confronted by two goblins with bows aimed right at him. He hit the nearest with a stunning strike, then he smashed the other with an open palm that sent it flying dead out of the tree.

Torrent cast spiritual weapon, but could not harm the well armored goblin on the ridge.

Eleven more goblins appeared from the trees all around us, shooting arrows from their short bows.

I was hit with an arrow.

Cyrus was hit with an arrow.

Ulfgar caught an arrow out of the air, and threw it back, killing the shooter to the south.

“You little bastard!” Xireas cursed, and killed a nearby goblin with three magic missiles. “How dare you!”

Cyrus threw his handaxe, killing a nearby goblin, summoned the ax back into his hand, and threw it again, killing the goblin next to him.

Crystin advanced slightly and cast shatter, killing two goblins.

Advancing on a group of four goblins to the south, I cast spirit guardians, killing all four of them.

The goblin on the ridge threw his javelin and nicked Ulfgar, and then turned and disappeared down the far side of the ridge.

After smacking the stunned goblin and knocking it dead out of the tree, Ulfgar leaped from the tree to the ridge, and disappeared over the ridge, where he caught up with the fleeing goblin.

Torrent advanced and cast sacred flame, to no effect.

As the last of the surrounding goblins climbed down from the tree and fled, Xireas said, “Not so fast, fracker!” and hit it with three magic missiles, but it kept running.

Summoning his ax back into his hands, Cyrus cast frostbite on the fleeing goblin, but it had no effect.

Finally, Crystin finished it off with magic missiles in the back, and it fell flat on its face.

I dash over to the foot of the ridge.

Across the ridge, the goblin drew his scimitar, slashing Ulfgar twice, and ran off again.

Ulfgar hit the goblin with a flurry of blows, but it kept running.

Torrent joined me and struggled on the ridge, while Cyrus easily scaled up and down the other side.

Casting guidance, I scaled the ridge and sighted Ulfgar in the distance as he caught up with the goblin and finished it off with two strikes.

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