Being so close the village, the Heroes decide to continue on to Westfork. As they moved further along, the sheer cliffs on their right began to give way to gentler, rolling hills. Being in the dark of night, they were among the village before they even realized it.
Numerous places along the nearby hills were terraced, cut flat to make way for the rounded doors and windows to different halfling burrows. Occasionally they could make out chimneys from these underground homes jutting up out of the earth, whisps of smoke rising from them. There were few buildings above ground. Between two hills, a gurgling brook flowed down, past a mill with a large waterwheel, to meet with the river below. There were a couple buildings next to the river, along with what looked to be surprisingly extensive boat docks. The party realized the groups of trees they had been walking alongside were actually ordered rows of fruit trees. As they looked around at the view, they could see other orchards in the distance, along with what may have been a vineyard. Shivra slipped away from the rest of the party, melting into the shadows to scout ahead. The remaining trio continued toward the center of the village, their eyes taking in their pastoral surroundings.
“Hi-ya! Are ya gonna be in town for a while?” The voice seemed to come out of nowhere. The party members whirled and looked around, only to see a young halfling male standing right next to them. He was dressed in ordinary clothes, with his hands in his pockets, and his childlike face dimpled as he smiled. “My name is Aldon. What’s yours?”
Malroc‘s eyes narrowed with suspicion as he studied the halfling, who was barely taller than the minotaur’s knees. He was cautious of trusting anyone who could sneak up on them so easily. It took Stravo a moment to shake off his surprise, but the outgoing bard regained his composure and greeted the young halfling with flourish. “Well met, friend Aldon! We are the Heroes of Hawksbridge! This is the mighty warrior Malroc, the spellsword prodigy Crono, and I am the world famous bard, Stravo Vangelis! No doubt you’ve heard tales of us?”
Aldon smiled apologetically and shrugged his shoulders. “Ummm, sorry. No.” There was bit of awkward silence as Stravo stared dejectedly at the halfling, the half-elf’s bluster momentarily deflated. “Soooo …,” Aldon looked at the minotaur and eladrin. “… do you guys need an inn?”
Stravo let out a sigh. “Yes, my little friend. Take us to an inn.”
The halfling’s eyes lit up. “Great! You guys will love our village inn! Its got the best food and drink for miles! Soft beds and warm hearths! Its perfect!” Aldon started down the hill into the village, gesturing for the party to follow. The trio followed but stayed on their guard, wary of any trickery or deception.
Their halfling guide led them to one of the few above-ground buildings. It was a large wooden building that promised a simple comfort, the golden-red light of the hearth-fires leaving the windows aglow. The weather-worn sign above the door named it The Inn of the Brass Tankard. Aldon opened the door and invited his new friends in.
The fires in the common room hearth were low, but the warmth they radiated dispelled the night chill any of the party felt. Numerous wooden tables were set up around the room, each surrounded by worn, comfortable-looking chairs. Most were sized for halflings, although a few larger ones were set up as well. A lone innkeeper was the sole inhabitant of the common room, an older, white-haired halfling who sat behind the bar, slowly cleaning a bucket full of drinking glasses.
The party was surprised to find that the Brass Tankard had rooms sized for humans. They paid to stay the night there, then made their way to their rooms, to rest and recover. In time, Shivra made her way to rejoin them, but only after having investigated much of the village. Finding it non-threatening, the drow rogue was able to relax a bit and find a moment’s respite.
Later in the morning, the party woke up refreshed, the aches and soreness of their previous adventures little more than a memory. There was a constant low murmur coming from the direction of the inn’s common room, so after the companions readied their gear, they opened their doors and went to break their fast and find some food and drink.
(More to be added soon!)
The party talked to the locals and heard of numerous rumors, most notably of a green dragon that has been attacking merchant barges traveling along the Dragonwater River. As they talked to the halfling residents to find out more information, they were approached by a haggard, road-worn dwarf named Trinkstein Trollbane. He revealed he was a survivor of a merchant group that was ambushed by a green dragon, and that the dragon had orc allies. Intrigued, the party decided to investigate the matter. Trinkstein, an experienced invoker, accompanied them, for the dragon had taken an item of great importance to the dwarf.
The party traveled across the river, to the area where the attacks occured. They were soon set upon by a large orc warband, led by a shaman able to channel necrotic energy. A ferocious battle ensued. As the fight slowly began to favor the heroes, two of the orc archers fled deeper into the forest. The party continued to focus on the orcs who remained to fight, depleting their numbers till only two remained.
Shivra demanded the two orcs surrender or die, and after a little persuasion, both were disarmed and bound. The party interrogated them and discovered that they were indeed part of an orc band allied with the Thunderhorn Clan. Acting on orders from Chieftain Durgroth Bloodmane, they were charged with disrupting the flow of merchant travel along the Dragonwater River. In the distance, the party heard a horn sounded. Shivra and Malroc eliminated the captives and the party moved to a better hiding spot.
As they tried to rest, they heard movement in the forest, gradually getting closer. The party decided they needed to leave, and they tried to make an escape back to Hawksbridge. As they traveled through the forest at night, they were ambushed by a young green dragon. Its poisonous breath caused many problems, and the combat was fierce. Spurred on by desperation, the party was able to land many powerful strikes on the creature. As it tried to take flight, Malroc’s mighty swing slammed the dragon back to the ground, its lifeless body crashing into the heavy undergrowth.
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