For a few days we traveled, following the map in which we have been given. The three days in which we had been set out for, seemed a bit uneasy. Being around a troublesome monkey, someone who keeps wanting to kill and eat any wild life we spot, and another member who refuses to have any social interaction, makes this seemingly easy trip quiet the chore. I do not know if its me that is having a hard time, that if I am not as tolerant as I used to be. It is probably because the wine is almost gone. If I need to keep my spirits up, I am going to need more ‘spirits’ heh. On the third day we awoke early dawn to set out, with the abandoned outpost marked on the map close at hand.
My friend cracks the reins against the horses and sighs while glancing over to me, “You don’t look to good kid. Your calm looks like its been unseated” Stonehands says.
I look out forward at the path before us, sitting beside my friend just trying to formulate the words in my head. “I guess I am just getting bored. Nothing but road the past few days. No women and little drink left. Plus I am trying to figure out our companions, The priest worries me a tad. Plus I have tried for days to establish a line of communication with the Inquisitor and nothing much there to be had”. I shake my head and try to force a smile. Stonehands was not buying it.
“Well at this point I am almost ready to rebuke that whole ‘Dont Fuck Adra’ thing. I mean if you could get a few pleasant yelps out of her, would at least settle that we dont have a mindless zombie shuffling in our group. Plus that would solve your woman surplus problem”. Stonehands snorted a laugh but realized it did not get the reaction he intended.
“No, no, no. I have no intentions of such things. I just wish to be closer to those I am set to work with. I was wondering though why exactly was I chosen to be put on this quest. Me of all people. I am shocked my older brothers was not given the task. I don’t know why it even popped into my head. I am probably just over thinking it” I said. “Well its simple. Your a damn good knight. Plus your sister told me that your father put the request in. Seems like he thought you war a bit more fittin fer da task. So jus don’t bodda mushin your brain ova such mattas” said Stonehands.
After a few minutes all the sudden a giant building started to come into view. I was expecting a run down, dilapidated mess of a building but that was not the case. Though the outpost would not win any architectural awards nor beauty contests, it was held up strong. To even the greater surprise, that it was not abandoned nor overrun like we were to assume, it was teeming with activity of human folk. Non banditry human folk to boot!
Crowding around outside were a few tradesman with their carriages pulled to the side of the trading post. Most of the people outside were weathered and worn but otherwise looked docile. The group and I exchanged glances to each other, a bit of surprise and relief, to which we then decided to see what all this was about.
I got off of the caravan while Stoney took it to the side with the rest of the wagons and such, to make my way to the front of the trading post which had a simple painted board at the top which said “Oleg’s”. Outside of the place directing some folks was a tall, built man, with a jaw as square as you could imagine and dark brown hair. The man gave us all a nod and spoke “Welcome travelers.” He introduced himself as Oleg to Boris, who went up to greet him first. There was a talk between the two about the situation with the trading post, how bandits came but a previous group took them out.. Adra after tying up her horse, immediately stormed inside the building, leaving the rest of the group outside. Me and Stoney eventually gave our greetings to Oleg and was then introduced inside to his wife Svetlana, who was more than willing to tell us more about what happened in the recent month and setting us with rooms for the night. I asked her if she saw a tall blond woman with a cloak burst in here a few minutes prior, which she replied she did. That said woman checked in a room herself and was grumbling about filth and needing a bath.
“Yup, that sounds like her. Always grumbling or muttering about something.” said Stonehands. During the chat , a lot came up. We talked about being sent down by the Sword Lords. The whole mention to keep up with the area. She told us that most of the previous group disappeared. Although there was member sitting in the bar, a young half-elf named Jessi. Lastly she spoke they were currently in protection by a Lt. Kesten Garress and his men. My ears immediately perked up to ask where he is and am promptly told. “Stoney, I am going to talk to a fellow member of my house. Wish to tag along?” Stonehands is handed a tall glass of ale by Svetlana, while Morgan plays with a small knife that he must of pulled off of Stonehands. “Look, can I just sit and enjoy this drink first? Relax kid, girly said that Kesten guy was going to be here for a while, so no need to rush.” I nod and notice Boris going around the room asking people something and is then directed to a board in the corner of the bar.
“Boris, I am going to talk to the man here who helped keep this place secure. You wish to come with. I wouldn’t mind another person around to help assess a situation. Boris seemed like he was paying no attention to me, since he did not once look at me or say anything. After a few seconds of looking at what looked to be several bounty posters on the wall he spoke. “Well I would but I am seeing what here would be worthy of a hunt. There is much work to be done out here. Surely Balinor will be pleased when I decide to give to him sacrifices from these lands.” That obviously means no, he did not want to come along.
I finally decide as much as it made me uncomfortable that I needed to still try to interact with Adra and force her out of her shell. I went up to her room door, knocked twice and said my name. Shortly after Adra opened the door, equipment and travel gear completely off, standing there in front of me in her normal clothing. “You interrupted me. I was going to take a bath. What?” I peered into the room for a moment and was slightly astonished that only within a few minutes not only did she get out of her armor but her gear was sorted out properly in her room.
“Uh..I am going to speak to a Lt. Garress. He should have more info on what is going on in these parts. It would be nice to have someone else along, in case there is something you can think of to find out what I cannot.” She stared at me for a moment and then nodded. “Give me a minute. I do not want to be around ‘those people’ unprotected.. She then closed the door and only thirty seconds later did the door reopen as she was throwing her leather duster over her shoulders. Fully geared and armored…
We both made our to the back of the trading post where there was a troop of soldiers sitting around a salty looking dwarf telling stories. I caught only a bit of the story the dwarf was telling but only could tell you that it was deeply graphic pertaining to the highest levels of violence. This had the soldiers captivated as I noticed easily they were listening intently to him.
Apart from the men was Lt. Kesten Garress looking at a map all by himself. I approached him, patting my coat of arms, to which he looked up, faintly smiled to greet me. I introduced myself and Adra to which he did the same. I then briefly gave my sincerest apologies on how he was handled by the House, that it was unfair. He gave me thanks and appreciated that there were others within the House that cared. I did not want to get into detail, nor should I have in front of Adra but his matters were not one to divulge in present company. See Kesten Garress faced punishment for what I would say is nothing of harm. He, of noble house, fell in love with a non-noble born. I think she worked on a farm or something, I cannot remember. Though I do remember that his family came down hard on him for it and stripped him of privileges and he has been doing work well below his talent level ever since.
This is why I did not stay in the city. This is why I did not want anything to do with family political matters or influences. It’s the higher up snotty nobles (a few families excluded) that seem to make what should be a simple and easy life, hard and rife with problems. Kesten is a man who is an example of that. A good, talented man, who by the wrong circumstances has found himself in a less than fortunate situation.
Me and Adra asked Lt. Garress questions of what was happening within the area. He told us the bandit attacks decreased within the area but they were still happening. Someone by the name of the Stag Lord has rounded up the bandits and unified them, thus not giving the problem an immediate solution as to just warding off a small band. He then got into discussion that they were sent down here to protect the trading post and search the nearby area after word came that nearby bandits were cleared. Though there was a problem. They were deceived by someone they hired and were outed to other bandits nearby. The lieutenant asked that if we had the time to find this man, this Falgrim Sneed, to bring him in alive and questioning.
This whole time I couldn’t help but notice that Adra was writing as fast as we were talking and not hesitating even once while the information was being given. This woman’s attention to detail is amazing, I will give her that. As we were walking away, she gave me that hard look of hers. “Where is your information log?”
“My what?” As I gave her a troubled look. She shook her head. “Don’t tell me you go around collecting information, clues, and the likes without taking notes. It’s irresponsible. You must have a retainer of information and notes on you at all time.” Even if she was ridiculing me, I’ll take it. At least she was attempting conversation. “Well I am more of a visual person. Easier for me to retain things in my mind. Besides, knowing me I would only lose such a book. I would not wish to rely on one because of it.” Nor did her expression or tone go unchanged.. “Knowledge is power. You should learn to harness it. Besides I would hope that you would not rely on me to write everything for you. I am not simple scribe here to tell tales of your deeds or regale poems to the troubles of others.” She said that last line with a bit of hissing between her teeth.
“Woah lass, calm your nerves. I did not intend on such a thing nor did I mean any offense. I only merely thought that, well writing was part of your profession. I see you buried in books so much, I only assumed. Which might have been wrong. Look, I’ll take in your advice, I swear” I reply solemnly. She them seemed to cool down a bit, nodded slightly and briskly walked back where we then noticed Stonehands getting slapped by a most attractive young, elven woman, in tattered garb.
“What the hell is ye problem?” I heard Stonehands growl as he walked away. “Well I say, what did my friend do to get treated in that fashion?” I say towards the young woman. She smiled in a slight feline fashion at me. “He is a dwarf. That is enough.” I sat down across from her at the table. “You must be Jessi, aren’t you?” while I motion Sveltana for a drink. She kept that same smile fixed on me, never wavering.
“Can I interest you in a drink?” She relaxed her smile and nodded. “Yes, you can do that.” She and I had a brief chat talking a bit of the previous group she came down here with. Overall a motley crew of people assembled. However she did talk of kobold members helping establish a kobold nation to the south three days ride out, give or take. Then when I thought the chat was going ok, I began to notice a tinge of animosity in her words. There was the notion that what me and the group were doing, was wrong. That we were going to ruin the land. Plus the fey would retake everything. That I would be lucky if I were to get a gift from them. “In these parts…everything finds balance. You should be careful on which side your on when it evens out” she said. Then suddenly out of nowhere, someone came from behind me and scared the shit out of me.
“Do you know anything in these lands that we may lay claim to!? Or perhaps any beasts that need to be slain!?” Boris asked her, with much enthusiasm. Jessi gave him this perturbed look and scoffed at him. “See this is what I mean about you people” as she got up to leave the table. “Heaven’s sake Boris, you scared the hell out of me. Don’t sneak up on me like that. Great and you scared her away.” Boris looked at me with his all knowing smirk. “You were trying to bed with that woman, weren’t you?” I shook my head and walked away, noticing Adra writing in her book at another table.
“I am only to assume you were recording everything me and her were saying, weren’t you?”
Adra spent about half a minute or so finishing whatever she was writing in her journal, before she finally put her pen away and closed the book. “We need to visit this kobold camp. Take any records and information the prior group had. Plus if they still have their previous charter and anything else of use.” She just gave me that cold calculated look of hers, just awaiting a response. I felt like anything I could say at that moment would somehow be the wrong. I just stared at her for a moment, not exactly sure what to say. That either I was impressed with her assertiveness or that I felt somewhat uncomfortable that she was making note of every little thing I say and do. “Yes, first thing in the morning. We should head out to see what has been established in these parts.”
It was at this moment Stoney showed up right beside me, a small wooden bowl with what appeared to be mashed fruits in it, held up to my face. “Taste it. Its freakin delicious.” Who am I to deny the opportunity of when a friend coerces you to eat oddly colored mystery paste. He was right. It was delicious.
The night slowly dwindled down, people were tiring out. Adra kept talking to Sveltana and Oleg, writing more down in that journal of hers. I briefly overheard Boris talking to a fellow who had a missing leg, mentioning that he needed help killing a giant boar. A sparkle was noticeable in Boris’s eye when the man mentioned he needed something killed and there was to be reward. Oh our hunt, craving cleric. I just know he is going to enjoy being out here. Finally Stoney was talking to an old man who seemed as if his brains at this point were well passed expiration date. He did however give some information about the land. Plus the fact there was a haunted ferry/bridge. Another task added to the already growing list.
We finally all called it a night and awaited the next day. An odd thing happened that night though. I heard a slight shuffling in the room, amongst Stoney’s snoring. “Morgan? Morgan boy come here” I called out to my friend’s monkey. Once again, scaring the ever loving shit out of me, appeared Boris, by my bedside, finally illuminating a small light within his hand. “Fucking hell!” I turn and fall out of bed.
“This is the right time to hunt. Don’t you feel the awaiting wilds out there? You want to search around with me before we go back to bed and ship out in the morning?” I stood up and couldn’t help but give Boris a perplexed look. “First, I was already sleeping. Two, no I am not going out into the darkness in lands I know not of. Three, stop sneaking up on me.” He looked a bit down but nodded in agreement. “Yes, I understand. Plus it was foolish of me to even think of such a thing. I apologize. Your armor would pose to much of a problem to scout the land. You would alert any nearby predators to our location.” He then looked over to the still sleeping Stonehands, with his monkey sleeping, curled up on his chest. “You think he would want to go out?” Boris asked. “Even if you could awaken him, I highly doubt it.” Then a great idea came across my mind. “You could ask Adra. You know how much she loves getting a leg up on everything. Plus she moves very nimbly. Also, she has a bow in case you find any game.” Boris’s face lit up. “Of course. The woman is all for gathering information. What wouldn’t be better than to see these lands in their natural state, at night. Would help to know what is like before we actually set out into the unknown.”
I got settled back in bed as Boris opened the bedroom door without a sound. “See you in the morning. We have many a great things to accomplish” he said before he left. The door clicked close and I was finally settling into the spot I was in before. I couldn’t sleep now. I was upset that I was awoken in the first place. Oh well, I can rest on the wagon tomorrow I’m sure. Then from the next room over, there was loud scream of a woman. “Bastard!!” yelled Adra, followed by a hard thud to the floor. Ok. I think I can sleep fine now.