Red Hand of Doom

Shale Journal Entry - Day 1

The Gathering

I awoke today to a different feeling then I was expecting. The night previous I was slumbering in a small cabin not far from Bremberwood. I had been helping out in the area and staying with the Bremberwood counsel man named Lamar. He was doing whatever possible to keep me around, and to settle the area, they needed a little Paladin help. I was being well taken care of, and the payment was a good donated amount to the local churches in the area and getting my equipment back up to where I would like them. As long as I felt comfortable with this arrangement I would stay, but I knew it wouldn’t be for long.

Instead of waking in my small cabin where I had been staying these past 28 days, I awoke in a field. This was very strange but I took it in stride. I have seen my fare share of odd tidings and have learned to keep a cool head about them.

As I sat in the field of grass I took in my surroundings. Not an area I recognized. The far mountains didn’t look like anything I had known, the trees and plants were common, so there was nothing to derive my position. I then noticed a small homestead some ways away; I quickly decided to start there. Getting up from the soft grass, I took a survey of my things. My travel pack sat a few steps where I stand. My pack had all my items I could need on my travels. My shield was strapped to the outside, and tucked away was the small blade which is very dear to me. Beside the pack was my trusty armor. The armor is my backbone, my skin, my purpose. I have had the armor ever since that mess under Haven. It had been worn pretty well since that time and was showing its age, but was refashioned recently from the dealings with Lamar, the wavy crest with the sun rising shown as bright as ever. Seems the longer I keep the armor the more I wonder about that symbol. Will it ever come to pass? Can I change things? It is a reminder everyday of the future that I hope will not come. I am asked from time to time about the symbol. Only a few comrades know of its nature, and I plan to keep it that way.

As I ponder the events of Haven and gather my things, I wonder why I am here and where this is taking me. What does Avandra have in store for me this time? My goals are clear enough to me, my path set. I only hope she has not piled more upon my already full plate, that this will help me in my current quest, and not another completely.

The day is lovely and warm. The clouds are sparse and white. This will be a hot day. Weather aside, I must find out what is going on here. I approach the dwelling cautiously, as I have in my countless travels. I equip my armor, sling my pack onto my back, and fashion the shield and sword on the pack such that I can pull it out quickly, as I have practiced on numerous occasions (and have used much more than I would like). I first skirt the site from a good distance and keep from looking suspicious. There was no one to be found around the house or the out buildings. The place looked quaint and safe (but not all are as they seem). I then took my professional approach. I cleared my throat, said a few calming words to no one in particular and headed for the door of the dwelling. My eyes search everywhere for anything out of the ordinary, but as most times, I gain the door without incident.

The place was decent sized and mainly well kept. My short stature kept the noises of my approach lessened. I made my way up the few wooden steps and across the porch. The boards cludding under my heavy armor, but still was quieter than most. I made three short rasps on the wooden door. After a few short moments an older man opened the door and, as most do, quickly moved his look a little lower than normal to the half sized person standing upon his porch. I was used to this, since most first impressions of me were pretty much the same. The look, then turned downwards, a short puzzling look as to say “what, a halfling…”. And quicker than a blink the look then turned more puzzling as they noticed I wore full plate male armor. Some looks were of puzzlement, the others had to keep from laughter. I took these all under the assumption that they know nothing of what they are looking at, so I never started off angry with anyone, even though their notions were already half made up.

I put on my game face for the gentleman, and always slightly leaned to one side to hide the handle of my blade. Calming most individuals and to surprise the dangerous ones. I quickly asked for his forgiveness of the intrusion, and that I was a traveler and new to the area. I was passing by and just wanted to get my bearings and find the safest place to stay for the night and get some supplies. He said that the closest place was Drellins Ferry which was 10 miles south.

Getting all the info I thought I could I was ready to be done, but before I could thank him he asked my name and where I was from. I never really get into any details with strangers. But I went with it, I told him my name was Shale and that I didn’t actually know where I came from. I just ended up in the field, and this is the only place I could see. I told him in a nonchalant way and mentioned this happens to me on occasion. That my lot in life is to help people in need wherever I pass and am prone to such occurrences. (Surly Avandra sees to that).

He had a small grin upon his face. He then excitedly asked of my help. He deduced from my appearance that I could be a tough little halfling. He said he was having problems with Hobgoblins recently. He pointed all around his property, “I have had most of my livestock stoled by em damn things. All da cattle, an most of da goats n chickens… They left me de garden though, bloody meat eaters. Do you think you could find where they taked em and get em back?” I pondered a second “My family can do for a little while, but this is enough where I suppose we couldn’t survive the winter times.”

Not having too many more options at this point, I told him that I would travel to Drellins Ferry to get my bearings, restock my supplies, get a good rest, and find some delvers to accompany me. I will return later tomorrow and we will find these goat nabbers. He thanked me and we parted ways.

Being a little disoriented it slipped my mind to ask his name and nor any payment for the help, but that is not my style anyway. I headed along a pair of cart ruts in the southern direction. The lovely day was getting warmer and I walked a little livelier to get into the shade of the trees ahead.

The walk was long, I kept to the shade as much as I could in my hot armor. As I drew closer to Drellins Ferry the roads were well used, and small houses littered short distances from the main roads. A large, wide river came in and out of view. I passed very few travelers, who all gave me a questioning look, and friendly nod. Just after sundown I reached the good sized town of Drellins Ferry. The town gates were well lit as I headed straight for the guard on post there. They started with a few questions to judge my intentions. I gave my normal pledge to Avandra, and asked their participation (which usually helps moves things along) and I asked the direction of a good inn. One guard said the Green Apple inn, which sits on the other side of the Elsir River is a good cheap place. He told me a few of the rules and things normal to new folk (checking in at guard posts, keeping the town peaceful and such, ect…) , and I headed to the Green Apple.

As I entered the small lodge a dwarf working the counters invited me in with a joyous smile. “Welcome to the Green Apple Inn my good lad. My name is Tharma. Allow me to care for you this fine evening.” A look around the place showed a few locals hunched over their ale, and to the looks of it a few potential employees. Not more than a dozen strewn out at the various tables and along the bar. Mostly it seemed a quiet even tempered place.

I unshouldered my pack and carried it to a dwarf sized seat at the bar. I placed my pack between my feet as I took my seat. Tharma quickly came to my aid from his raised flooring behind his side of the bar. “What can I get you, Champion of the road?”

“Just an Ale and the best of your grub.” I was promptly served and slowly consumed my sustenance. Not as good as I was used to, but it was good enough. As I paid the dwarf for the food, I also purchased a room from the dwarf.

My room secured and food in my belly, I asked more important questions. “I am not from the area, just passing by, and I have been hired by a local farmer, 10 miles out, to hunt some hobgoblins that have been taking away his livestock. I will need a few helping hands and possibly some info about the goblins?”

Tharma points to a few of the individuals sitting around the inn and says try any of those. As for the hobgoblins, he knows there have been talks of more in the area than usual. I thank him for his information, give him an extra tip for his information. I spoke to all the 7 people Tharma pointed out, only 4 were interested in work.

Solana was a tall elven woman of faith and was a healer by trade. She had a strong belief in helping the unfortunate and she offered her services freely. A burly Dragonborn, named Oversoul, sitting at the bar telling courageous stories loudly to two younger humans, was happy to be killing some goblinoids free of charge and joined my table.

The other two were all business.

Daz was a dark tempered, cloaked human, who made sure all his needs were met. I didn’t overly trust this guy, but he seemed good enough. His expertise was Warlock magic and would be very useful in most situations (if the price was right). Onji was a quiet man and one that showed great strength, not as a big brawny muscular oaf, but one of a practiced striker with great agility and ability. I liked the well rounded team, a healer is most recommended, a ranged attack specialist a very nice addition, and the two hardnosed fists were a good compliment to my own defensive specialties.

Onji and Daz both wanted payment for their expertise. I tried to get a number from them, but both seemed experienced enough in this to let the negotiation start from the employer. I offered 250gp each, which is a good payment in my neck of the woods. They both agreed, which told me both were not a greedy bunch, which lifted my spirits about the two.

After sharing the info about the job, I ordered 4 rounds of ale to the group and we got to know each other until late in the night. We each went our own ways to catch some sleep and decided to meet in the morning at the inn for breakfast before we left back to the farm.




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