A Letter to Iron Lord Maddox, in the Shield Monastary East of Fallcrest.
Iron Lord Maddox,
As per my orders dated the 20th of May I have traveled to the village of Meadowbrook in search of Elder Justice Derran. Although I have found no sign of that brave knight I have uncovered the possible cause of his disappearance. The village has been under siege by a combination of Banites and the Ratfang tribe of Goblins. A complete recollection of recent events can be found in my journal, which I have enclosed in this communication.
I now find myself in the company of four brave companions. Together we have done much to break the power of these goblins and allow the people of the town to free themselves from the influence of the Banites. I write to you now to apprise you of the situation and to alert you to my next actions. Tomorrow I shall lead my small band against the Goblins final stronghold. It is my belief that if we can destroy the lair and the tribe’s leader the remaining goblins will scatter and return to their traditional hunting grounds in the Stonemarch Mountains. This mission is undertaken at great risk and with only a small chance of success.
Should I fall please know that I have done all in my power to walk in the path of righteousness. If I fail in this endeavor it is due to the strength of the enemy or the weakness of my sword and not some failing of the heart. Always I have served the Platinum Lord and looked to Him for guidance, never have a stumbled from the path, my head is bloodied but unbowed. What success I have found in this mission is due in no small part to the companions I have found and I would ask a small favor of you my lord, though you owe me nothing.
As you know my family’s wealth and influence is great in the south. Should I fall, but any or all of my companions survive, please pass along their names and descriptions to my brother in Vor Roukoth. When I took the sacred oath of brotherhood in this order, I surrendered my claim to the lands and title that would have, by inheritance, been mine. I ask now that my brother find it in his heart to take half the value of those lands and divide it among my surviving companions, or if they should also fall, to their families. Such wealth should be sufficient to keep them in comfort for many years. I should especially like to ask that a place be found within the clan for Reginald Fairfield, a promising young mage of great talent and pure heart. If given the chance I am sure he will serve House Hang loyally. Below is a list of my companions, their homes, and last known location.
Reginald Fairfield of Fallcrest, last seen in Meadowbrook.
Grimlor Godefroy of Stiengatta near Hammerfast, last seen in Meadowbrook, will likely return to Hammerfast if not successful in Meadowbrook.
Alister Dayne of Fallcrest, Son of Edric Dayne III, Knight and Captain in the Fallcrest Guard. May return to Fallcrest.
Jessamine, a Halfling of low birth, family unknown. Wanted by the Lassomar family for crimes unknown. Last seen in Meadowbrook. Will probably head south if events go against him (possibly her).
Should this mission meet with success, and I survive, I shall write again within the month. If not, please pass this letter and my personal effects along to my brother.
With everlasting faith in the Dragon,
Hang Jebat, son of Tuah
Knight of the Platinum Shield
A great and terrible day!
I sit alone now, in my room at the Dew Drop Inn, wracked by doubts and indecision. Did Balgar the Dreaded ever feel so incompetent, so divided?
Today we killed a Hydra. A Hydra by the gods! The foul spawn of Tiamat. I never dreamed that I would stand face to face with such a creature and live. I never hoped that I could rid the world of such an abomination. And yet I survived and vanquished the evil. So answer this prayer my Lord, why do I feel so ashamed of my actions?
We followed the trail of the Ratfangs a step closer to their keep, the Fanged Fortress. I was foolish to think that we had already broken their power. This tribe is powerful enough to entice a Hydra to guard their lair, how much worse is there yet to face? We stopped at the edge of a swamp. It did not seem impassable, only slow and dangerous. A half submerged boat offered a fairly quick crossing and we (or perhaps just I) were eager to keep moving. I asked the others to stay on dry land and cover me while I tested the waters to find a safe path. Dutiful as ever Allistair, Reginald and Jessamine provided careful missile fire while I made my way to the boat. Allistair entered the water to help me retrieve the vessel and at that moment the terrible creature rose from the water. It towered above us, it’s four heads screaming and belching putrid water. With all my strength I pushed the boat towards shore for my companions and braced myself for its attack.
At that moment I thought only of myself, only of survival. All of my training, all of my lessons at the academy, all of my experience left me. I stood bereft of all thought and all conscience and so my friend died. The beast attacked with incredible fury. Again and again it bit at me, its fangs smashing against my shield and tearing at my limbs. How many wounds I took I do not recall. But within moments my companion, my friend, my brother in arms lay dead behind me, ripped limb from limb by the Hydra’s unrelenting attack. He should never have been there. I should never have let him enter the water. I should have seen the danger. But even then my only thought was for myself.
Retreat was impossible for me. To step back would have been certain death, and yet it is precisely what I should have done. The others should have fled. I should have commanded them to go. Instead they leapt to my defense and suffered terribly for it. Only Reginald kept his head about him. Indeed, he has the sharpest mind I have ever known. Grimlor, brave as ever and with a will thicker than stone, came wading in to the swamp to save Allistair. Through the power of these rings we received from Ringo he somehow brought Allistair back from the other side. Oh the horror of that moment, to see a friend torn asunder and then remade into a living being again. It is not natural. What did he see? How long did his soul linger between worlds? Is this truly Allistair that walks beside us now, or some empty body bereft of a soul and lingering on the edge of shadow?
I battled on, hacking at the foul beast as best I could but knowing that I could not hope to win. And then to my amazement the tiny halfing, the man child with whom I had argued so hotly only a few hours before, leapt into the fray and cut at the hydra with the fury of ten men. Grimlor used his powers to once more bring me back from the edge of death and then Allistair was beside me again, hacking away with his mighty great sword.
What right have I to call myself a man amongst such company? I walk beside giants, men of such heroism and willpower that I am ashamed to call myself a Knight. These companions of mine are base born, sons of peasants and merchants, raised in the alleys and gutters of Fallcrest, and yet more noble than any Baron or Earl I know. How many others would have fled in terror? And what price did they pay for their bravery? Allistair fell once more, bitten nearly in two by Tiamat’s abomination. Jessamine fought to the last gasp and barely got away with his life. Only Grimlor’s timely healing kept them from death icy grasp. And what of me, standing like a fool, uselessly hacking away with no thought to the safety of my men. The hydra overpowered us and finally brought me down. As I fell into the cold swamp I saw Reginald finally slay the beast with one of his conjured missiles.
And so, thanks once more to Grimlor’s faith and healing, I have survived, as have my brave companions. We have rid the world of a foul creature and made one swamp slightly less dangerous, for a time. But at what cost? Allistair is half the man he was. He walks as if asleep, not speaking and staring vacantly at the ground. Jessamine, I fear, will leave us soon. He has no stake in this fight and less to gain from our victory. I could call him a coward and bereft of honor but that would be a lie. Grimlor will soldier on, but his faith in my leadership is gone. And Reginald…the first of my companions and the man upon whom I lean most heavily, have I lost him too?
“And so the darkness surrounds you, engulfs you, and drags you down. But fear not Nuarja, for your fate is written in the blood of kings. All has been decided before your people walked this earth, before the mountains were raised and the seas filled. Bahamut’s will lives within you, and so you shall do his bidding.”
The Book of Bahamut,The Choices of Nuarja, 9:01.
I have arrived at Meadowbrook at last. My companions and I arrived in the town in the early afternoon. We encountered two guards in a watchtower on the outskirts of the village. The “guards” are really nothing more than farmer’s sons dressed in boiled leather and carrying halberds. Their weapons and armor are ill cared for and their skill at arms seriously lacking. When we presented Ignatius W. Run to them they seemed unsure what to do. I told one to remain at the tower and the other to escort us to the mayor. As we entered town we unwisely split up. It seemed prudent at the time to gather as much information as possible as quickly as possible. Grimlor set out to visit the local Temple of Pelor, we had heard that it was the largest in town and we hoped that the priest there may be able to provide us with information and assistance. Bjorn went to find accommodation and refreshments (these Dwarves do seem overly concerned with their alcohol, an unexpected weakness in such an otherwise strong race). Allister went off to talk to local townsfolk to gather what information he could. I managed to talk Marylin Farmerdotter into going home. She was loath to leave Reginald’s side but she is too much of a liability to keep with us, and I need Reginald’s full attention and keen mind on the task at hand. Reginald, Jessamine, and I escorted young master Runn and Ole Mann towards his father’s keep. Along the way we discovered a miner (no doubt a fortune seeker newly arrived in town) waylaid by two bugbears and a hobgoblin. My first inclination was to pull back and gather the others. I sent Will Runn to find the rest of my companions but he failed even in that simple task. I hope for the sake of Meadowbrook that the Mayorship is not a hereditary position. The town guardsman that we had with us proved his worth in much the same way as Will. I would have persisted in my efforts to retreat had the miner not been in such danger. To leave him in the hands of these marauders would have been ignoble. Luckily Reginald and Jessamine have become strong allies. The hardships of the long road from Fallcrest have toughened them and given them a taste of battle. Reginald dispatched the hobgoblin, a shaman of some sort I think, while Jessamine and I brought down the Bugbears.
I must watch this young Jessamine. He is not, by any means, the gentle child I first took him for. Although I like him well enough, there is something duplicitous about him. He is good to have in a fight, but I would not trust him to hold my purse.
As it turned out Bjorn and Allister had similar trouble only a mile up the road from us and managed to dispatch their attackers without loss of life or limb. They too have grown in their abilities. Allister shows great promise and could be a powerful Kenjusai (Sword of Justice) if his heart can be brought under the Dragon’s wing. Bjorn, like so many of his brethren seems to be as solid and tough as granite.
We learned from the hapless guard that the mayor had been abducted by the Banites and taken from the town. Why he had not informed us of this earlier I do not know. I do not know which is more lacking, his wits or his courage. We backtracked to the Temple of Pelor, picking up Allister and Bjorn along the way. Unfortunately we saw no sign of Grimlor on the road or at the temple. The Temple is one of the larger structures in town, The Temple of Sun and Summer it is named and presided over by a Pelorian Priest named Kenneth the Kind. We found him there along with a powerful female human warrior named Vanessa the Vigilant. I had heard that human females sometimes took up the sword but always found it hard to imagine. They are usually so frail and soft, so unlike our Dragonborn women. Even so Vanessa appears to be warrior of considerable strength. She and the Priest were engaged in discussion as to the best course of action. It would seem that in the absence of the mayor these two have taken responsibility for the welfare of the town. After some cajoling we managed to move into the temple to discuss our options. I write them here to gain a clearer understanding for myself.
Kenneth argues for patience. He seems to be in favor of waiting until we have greater knowledge of our situation and perhaps more strength.
Vanessa argues for immediate action before more damage can be done.
The Mayor, Cornelius Richard Runn, has been taken by the marauders to the gold mine where they have established their base camp. Several things strike me as important here. Firstly, neither Kenneth nor Vanessa seemed particularly concerned about the loss of the Mayor. In fact they both spoke disparagingly of him. He seems to have been no friend of the peasants here. According to Kenneth it was the Mayor who attempted to use the Banite marauders to work the mines, perhaps to fill his own coffers, rather than protect the town. If the father can be judged by the son, I hold out little hope for his honor. Second, Vanessa did not think that these marauders were under the direct control of the Brigade of Bane. She knows of Warduke and his soldiers and seemed to suggest that this group was affiliated with them in name only. As she points out, they are less organized that the Banites tend to be, and there is no clear leader or chain of command. Perhaps they only wear the sigil and profess the name as a means of instilling fear in the townsfolk. This would be a great boon to us if it is true. Disorganized marauders can be scattered like leaves in the wind. Finally, Magesto the Magnificent may not be in league with these marauders after all. Certainly Vanessa, Kenneth and other townsfolk are angry that he has not come to their aid but neither has he supported the attackers. Apparently he has not been seen for some time. This is also true of Elder Justice Derran who disappeared shortly before the marauders appeared. It seems curious that the town’s most able defenders were somehow neutralized just prior to the first attack. I must discuss this with Reginald but my suspicion of the Mayor grows.
Vanessa estimates the number of marauders at about one hundred along with allied humanoids. I believe we have largely broken the power of the Ratfangs and may have robbed the enemy of the better part of their Bugbear allies. Even so, one hundred is too many to openly challenge.
I believe our first course of action must be to reconnoiter the mine. I need to know who commands and where to concentrate our attack. One thing is certain, if we sit in town waiting the enemy will come at us in force and we are too few to hold them.
We have managed to resupply ourselves with armor and weapons. I have purchased, at great expense, a fine suit of scale and a long sword. The armor is of local make but surprisingly fine. It seems made for heavy combat, I should like to meet the smith. The sword is well crafted. Not beautiful, but sharp and with a good balance.
We have found accommodations at the Dew Dropp Inn. I will try to gather my companions and discuss my plan.
Another point I must consider. At the temple Vanessa asked who was the leader of our group. I hesitated. Why? I know the importance of strong leadership and yet I held back before meekly claiming responsibility for the group’s welfare. I must meditate on this. Without leadership this small band is doomed to perish. I fear I have also deeply offended Vanessa. I have never been able to read human’s. For one thing they all look alike. Truly if Reginald, who I now consider my tomodachi (close friend), donned Allister’s armor I would not be able to tell who was who. Even more so if he wore the helmet. Their hair seems to be the only this that distinguishes one from the other. I wonder what would happen if someone sheered them all like sheep? Would their children wander around aimlessly, unable to tell their own mother from any other? Their fleshy faces wrinkle and twitch as they talk and I am beginning to think that this gives them a clue as to the intent of their speech. But they are not always forthright in their words and I am often confused as to their meaning. They seem overly interested in breeding, and comment on it at all times. I am sure it cannot be true but at times it even seems that the men suggest to breed with each other! It is because of this that I mistook Vanessa’s compliments for… flirtations. The sudden thought of copulating with a human distressed me and I blurted out a blunt refusal. As it turns out this was not her intent. She stormed off quite insulted, as of course she should have been. I must make amends as quickly as possible. Her aid in this mission is essential.
“Ask the Dragon not for strength Nuarja. He has given you all that you might need. Does the ocean ask the clouds for water? Do the mountains ask the earth for strength? You are one and the same. Let the Dragon’s strength move through you and you shall be victorious.”
- The Book of Bahamut. The Choices of Nuarja, 4:12.
I believe we may have finally broken the Ratfang Tribe. They came at us again this morning, two dozen or more; spellcasters, archers, those little skirmishers and even a Bugbear. Thank the Dragon that our little band stayed together. Grimlor fought like a Dwarven Champion of old. The melee was chaotic, with that hopeless wench of Reginald’s screaming like a banshee throughout. Ole Mann and Ignatius disappeared into the bushes early on, although they claim they killed two goblins at some point. Reginald somehow managed to control Marilyn and still pull out an impressive barrage of spells. He scattered goblins about the field with a series of powerful blasts. I went blow for blow against the Bugbear. Twice I fell from my wounds and twice my comrades revived me. With the help of Allister Dayne and Grimlor we finally brought the beast down.
We captured a Goblin spellcaster before he had a chance to flee. I must admit that my passions got the better of me. My blood was up and my mind a fog of rage and fury. I took the poor creature by hauberk and threw him to the ground. With my Axe at his throat he felt compelled to answer my questions. As the battle rage cooled I was able to piece together a general idea of the situation. I put it down here to help organize my thoughts and, should I fall, to leave a record.
A single Brigade of the Battalion of Bane has moved into the Meadowbrook region and is making a bid to take over the village and surrounding area, including the mines. The Brigade is commanded by a man who goes by the name of Warduke. According to the son of the mayor, Ignatius William Runn, the mayor of Meadowbrook attempted to resist the Brigade with hired swords and the local militia. Not surprisingly the fight went against them. What use are armed peasants against professional soldiers? Still it was valiant of him to try. The Brigade has enlisted the aid of the Ratfang Goblins to guard the rode to Meadowbrook to prevent aid from reaching the beleaguered village. It took my party and I a week to fight our way through. I believe that we have now broken the main strength of the Ratfangs, although they remain in the area in large numbers. It is difficult to gauge the numbers of the Brigade, young Will Run, tells me there are hundreds, the Goblin puts the number at a thousand. I suspect it is somewhat lower than both. So often the week overestimate the power of the strong.
“See with the eyes of the Dragon. See through the deceptions of the wicked, behold the power of the valiant. Like the purest of mithral, strength lies not on the surface, but deep within the heart. See with the eyes of the Dragon and you will find the truth.”
- Book of Bahumat, Proverbs 1:12.
Warduke has managed to co-opt the local Wizard. A man named Magesto. It is unclear if the wizard works willingly with the Brigade, or is being forced in some manner. We must find out, a wizard could make a powerful ally or a dangerous foe. Another wizard, curiously named Vanaireole Deezees, is also active in the area. He, or possibly a local Druid poisoned some of the wells. This cost the Brigade most of their horses. Reginald has some knowledge of him and tells me that he is half crazed. Will Run also made mention of a Dragonborn warrior who paid his father a visit. From his description I believe that this man is a Blackguard of Bane. If this is true…my path is clear.
With this knowledge we now approach the town. It is my intent to enter the town without alerting the Brigade and gather as much information as possible.
“There is no knowledge that is not power.”
- The Book of Bahamut. The Choices of Nuarja, 3:11
I will deliver Ignatius William Runn to his father and speak to the mayor. I hope to locate Elder Justice Derran, or at least discover his fate. If he lives he will be of great value to our cause. With a better understanding of the situation, and The Dragon’s blessing, I will find Warduke and this Blackguard and kill them both. My companions, Reginald, Grimlor, Allister, Bjorn, and Jessamine have offered to assist me in this quest. I have no reason to doubt their honor, I believe that they will stand with me to the last, should it come to that. With the leaders of the Brigade defeated their minions should break and run. If not, I’ll be dead and hopefully seated in the Great Dragon’s Hall.
A great victory for Justice! We have cleared out the Ratfang stronghold and may have, by sheer luck, destroyed their guardian, a mighty giant. Yesterday we were once again set upon by wolves. Reginald fears that the goblins have found some cunning means of controlling the beasts and using them to close the road to Meadowbrook. Indeed they are all about, and fearsome too. No sooner had the wolves attacked than two monstrous Ogres ambushed us. I must admit my training at the academy had not prepared me for such a fight. The beasts were half my height again and incredibly strong. Grimlor, Bjorn Hamcrusher (another Dwarven Priest of Moradin) and I managed to hold them off while Reginald did his spellwork. I must admit that of all my traveling companions it is Reginald who has proven most useful and surprising. At first I thought him little more than wolf food or goblin bait, but his quick thinking and clever use of magic has saved us more times than my sword has. Or I should say my axe, but how I long to take up the sword. I feel ready, my strength grows with every passing day. Perhaps when we reach Meadowbrook Derran, if he still lives, will see fit to raise me up. A sword, mount, and a knight’s rank would fill my heart with joy.1
We dispatched the Ogres and with Ole Mann’s help tracked them to the cave of the Ratfangs. We found a medallion on one of the Ogres, with MBF engraved on the back. I held it until we were able to return it t its rightful owner. We crept too close to the cave before we had a plan or attack in place and were discovered by Ratfang snipers. Reginald, in a blaze of glory, let loose a volley of lightening bolts and destroyed the Goblins to a man. I seized the moment and leaped to the attack, not wanting to loose the initiative Reginald had gained for us. Inside the cave we discovered a second hostage being tormented by a massive Giant. I admit that the very sight of the creature was terrifying. Reginald and Grimlor distracted the giant while Jessamine , our halfling hanger on, and I rescued William Runn. Incredibly we managed to free both prisoners and flee the cave as it collapsed behind us.
Will Runn is in decent shape, no worse for his ordeal. Ole Mann was gently wounded in the fray but has recovered. He seems to recover from his “wounds” with surprising alacrity _after _the battle. He also appears to be in the possession of more items than I had originally suspected. A battle axe has mysteriously “appeared” several times. We have also picked up another companion who escaped the cave with us. A human swordsman by the name of Allister Dayne. We are now quite a party; Reginald, Grimlor and I have traveled and fought together so often that they seem like brothers to me now. Ole Mann and Will Runn are an enormous pain in the ass but they both possess information that I need. Bjorn is as different from Grimlor as one dwarf can be from another. Where Grimlor is contemplative and thoughtful, Bjorn is rash and headstrong. Grimlor seems to keep his emotions under tight control, slow to anger and careful in is loyalties, whereas Bjorn’s anger flares like a hastily broken sunrod. Grimlor I trust with my life, the other may cost me it. This little halfling troubles me somewhat as well. At first he appears nothing more than a lost and frightened child. Truly, when we first found him I thought him a boy (or girl) lost in the woods. But when there is a fight to be had he (or she) strikes with deadly accuracy and cunning. I get the feeling I should tightened my belt pouch and guard my back when she (or he) is about. And now there’s this peasant girl.
Reginald, for all his cleverness and magical powers, is still a boy in man’s breeches. The girl, Marilyn Belle Farmerdotter has quite beguiled him. She is lowborn, as low as they come, although Reginald is a commoner himself. Even so, he is an educated man, and will surely rise as high as his station allows, beyond the meager reach of this tart. Then there is the question of the amulet. Reginald assures me that it is magical in nature, some healing art, and engraved with _her _initials. I know many a lord’s daughter who would give a pretty coin to wear that necklace at court, and yet here it is in the possession of a farmer’s child. I will discuss this with Grimlor, to mention it to Reginald now would do little good. He has not raised his eyes above her neckline yet and his thoughts are focused lower still.
Allister Dayne is an amiable fellow. I hope he is as skillful with that sword as he appears. I like the man already, but he has no faith and no allegiance to king or country. Perhaps I may bring him under the Dragon’s wing.
Will Runn is turning out to be a man of little courage but useful none the less. I gather from him that his father, the lord mayor of Meadowbrook, attempted to meet the Battalion of Bane on the field. Of course his peasant levy was routed and sent running back to their fields and farms, yet I credit him some courage for the attempt. I should think the locals carry some fierce resentment for the defeat and feel a strong hatred for the Banites. This will be of great use when the time comes. Another pitched battle against them would be just as fruitless, but there are other ways of winning a war. If I understand him correctly Will claims a Dragonborn commands the Banites in Meadowbrook. I may not have caught his meaning correctly, his speech is as scattered as his mind and his tongue often runs faster than his feet. Still I believe I sense the work of a Blackguard. If this is true then there is much work to be done. This type of evil must be destroyed as quickly as possible before it spreads. Too many strong young Dragonborn, full of passion and dreams of valor, have been pulled into the claws of Tiamat and Bane. This is not the way, they must be reminded of the trials of Kena and the lessons of Nuarja. In the words of Dillon the Brave, “Time to re-educate the brothers.”
1. In the Order of the Shield, as a brother increases in rank his weaponry changes. A squire recently graduated from the Academy is given armor, a shield, and an axe. He is considered a footman until he earns the right to ride a horse and carry a sword in battle. This is the origin of the term “earning your spurs.” The sword, a more elegant weapon than the axe, symbolizes the warriors’ growth as a leader, while the horse (or other mount) symbolizes his prowess in battle. The shield remains the same, some Paladins pride themselves on carrying the same shield throughout their service unto death (preferably on the battlefield).
“O you who serve, keep your duty to The Dragon, and seek means of nearness to Him, and strive hard in His way that you may find victory.”
– Book of Bahamut, Sword of the Righteous. 5:35
The night before I left Fallcrest and the Academy I had a dream. It meant little to me at the time and I had forgotten it until today. I dreamt that I saw and old man standing at the foot of a great stairway. In one hand he held a map but I could not make out the image upon it. In the other he held a pearl of enormous size. The old man beckoned to me and pointed up the stairway. I followed his gaze and saw that the stairs rose by segments up beyond my vision, into the dizzying heights of the heavens. Standing at the top of the first segment was a shadowy figure clad in black mail. As I approached him he raised his hand. In it he held the severed hand of the old man, still clutching the pearl. I looked back and saw the old man lying in a pool of blood at my feet. I knew that somehow I had caused his death. In a rage I climbed towards the dark figure but as I approached he drew his sword and made as if to cut me down. At that moment I awoke. I feel as if I saw the dark figures face, but now as I think back I cannot picture it in my mind’s eye.
Today Grimlor returned to us, to my great relief. His presence reassures me, and indeed it was needed. We were once again set upon by Ratfang Goblins. We have come to predict their tactics and managed to dispatch them, although with some effort. They tend to swarm up out of nowhere. But Reginald used some cunning illusion to hold off some of their number and confuse them. We then captured one for questioning. A good job too. From him we have learned that Meadowbrook is under siege by a group called the Battalion of Bane. I have heard of mercenary armies loyal to the dark lord of battle. They run rampant across the land, leaving destruction and suffering in their wake.
“I am time, the destroyer of all; I have come to consume the world. Even without your participation, all the warriors gathered here will die. Therefore arise Nuarja; conquer your enemies and enjoy the glory of victory. I have already slain all these warriors; you will only be my instrument.”
- The Book of Bahamut, Choices of Nuarja, 11:32
This news was followed by worse still. As we proceeded we were set upon by wicked creatures who attempted to feast on the very blood in our veins. Stirges, Reginald called them, and a wicked few they were. Just as we fought them off a pack of halve starved wolves discovered us and made the mistake of thinking we were easy prey. At the very same time Reginald discovered the wagon of Ole Mann half buried by a rockslide trap. The old fellow was still there buried beneath the rubble. Grimlor and I ran off or cut down the wolves while Reginald managed to free Ole Mann. To our dismay his young apprentice and nephew, Ignatius William Runn, has been captured by the Ratfangs. Apparently the youngster is the son of the Mayor of Meadowbrook. It is our guess that the Ratfangs, or their Banite masters, will hold him for ransom. Ole Mann has knowledge of the Ratfang’s warren. He has agreed to lead us there in return for a cut of any treasure found.
We sit resting now. Although physically I am holding up well, my armor has taken more than a small amount of damage. Our battles along the way have been hard fought and I must admit I did not hold much hope for my own life at several times. But with the aid of my two companions, Bahamut has seen fit to keep me on this earth… for now. I can only hope that he has some greater role for me to play. Ole Mann has seen fit to cut several new straps for my armor which I have now attached. I have lost several plates across the ribbing but was able to take from under the shield arm and sew them to the front. It is not pretty but it fills the hole. My hamata is in torn through in two places but will hold for now. I have reinforced it with leather sewn directly to the gambeson, thanks again the Ole Mann’s remaining stocks. Most unfortunately I have been forced to reverse my right and left vambrace, the sword arm vambrace having been cut clean through at some point. It is uncomfortable but will suffice. The damaged vambrace, now on my left, is secured in place and should hold thanks to another wide leather strap. Happily it is hidden behind my shield lest someone of note should see it. Pauldron, Greves, and Tassets seem to be in good order or at least should last through to Meadowbrook. If we arrive on our feet and, with The Dragon’s blessing, some of the Goblins treasure, I shall purchase a Brigandine Jack. This Lorica has a pleasing look but is not fit for continued service.
At dawn we will cover the last few miles to Meadowbrook. A journey of two days has taken nearly a week. I am eager to reach my new post. This journey has been a greater challenge than I expected, but indeed I feel more prepared for my responsibilities than ever before.
5/1 (real time)
Another troubling day. In the wake of our skirmish with the goblins, the group splintered. Although I did not witness the cause, Grimlor and Saladin seem to have had a serious disagreement. Although It never became violent they each appeared clearly angry and stormed off in separate directions. At the same time the druid, who had appeared out of nowhere, promptly disappeared again. Reginald and I, having no other obvious option, proceeded toward Meadowbrook. It is my hope that the others find their way back to the road and rejoin us soon.
As it was Reginald and I had no choice but to continue alone. Within a short time we were set upon once more by Goblins. It troubles me deeply that the little buggers manage to set a rather sophisticated trap. It would seem that they utilized some Bardic magic to charm a pack of wolves, and then used them to attack us. It was a close fought thing for Reginald and I to escape. Adding to the danger was Reg’s sudden and unexpected discovery of a trapped bridge which resulted in his near drowning, again. Having managed to destroy or run off the wolves and the goblins, I hauled Reg from the river and collapsed with exhaustion. The closer we get to Meadowbrook, the more frequent these attacks are becoming. At this point I would not be surprised to discover the town under siege when we arrive.
I am resting now, but soon we must push on.
4/16 (real time)
A tumultuous night. Reginald returned to us unharmed, thank the gods. He saw Jareth from a distance but was unable to stop him or aid in his safety. I fear that in these wild woods he may have already met his end. Reginald, although a little distressed, is in good health. He is an interesting young man. Completely out of his element, it is a puzzle how he survived for this long on the road by himself. And yet he possesses an indomitable curiosity about the world, as if every experience in new to him. Should any harm come to him I would be deeply troubled.
I now find myself the member of a traveling party. Five of us have banded together to complete the trip to Meadowbrook. We have been joined by a new companion, a half-elf whom I believe is a druid of some type. Amazingly he travels in the company of a bear! He too joined us late last night, having caught sight of our campfire. The bear came upon us first and we were all set to fight had Tycon, the druid, not appeared and deterred us. A good job too as that bear is quite handy in a fight.
I continue to be troubled by the presence of the half-orc. He must be taken to Meadowbrook for justice, but I would just as soon be done with him. Grimlor the dwarf is in agreement with me as to the warlock’s fate, which provides me some peace. Most disturbing at this point is the realization that the half-orc thinks himself the leader of our small band. The others are wise enough to see his folly, but I fear he will put our safety at risk in the future.
A strange man awoke us from our sleep in the middle of night. While he seemed harmless enough there was something about him that set me on edge. I graciously accepted the food he offered and then withdrew to some safety to listen and think. He drove a wagon, packed with goods bound for Meadowbrook and traveled alone but for a young nephew ill equipped to deal with the dangers of this road. Within two days we have been twice set upon by goblins, and to no small effect at that. And yet this aged old man travels the road unprotected, with a wealth of cargo, and seems not only unscathed, but completely unafraid. I suspect powers at work beyond my knowledge. Saladin made a great show of talking to the traveler and indeed, may have said too much. The merchant’s easy manner, and loose tongue put Saladin, Reginald, and Grimlor at ease, prompting them to speak of their plans to reach Meadowbrook. Indeed this traveler had much knowledge of the town himself and I would have liked very much to speak to him. But fear of revealing my own mission to the others kept me at a distance. They thought I slept while in truth I listened to their conversation. I have come to believe that each member of the group travels to Meadowbrook for purposes they do not wish to reveal. Again, my deepest concern is in regard to the half-orc. He possesses a deep dislike for the dwarf and perhaps myself. Is this further evidence of his criminal intent? Indeed his comments to the old man set me so on edge I had to distance myself from him to calm my rage. The poor fool knows not what he does when he insults the honor of a Dragonborn. Still I shall continue to try to guide this group as best I can. Justice must prevail, my own desires are secondary.
“Great is the Dragon Lord and His power over the earth, but greater still must be the Justice He brings.”
– The Book of Bahumat, Shield of the Faithful 1:10.
I write now as we sit and rest. This morning we were set upon once more by Goblins. No great threat but blunders were made. I rushed headlong against the first attackers, realizing too late that a second group would appear from the rear. I must spend more time working with my fellows on some basic tactics. I have become accustomed to fighting alongside my brothers at the academy and forget that these men have no knowledge of combat. My haste almost cost Reginald his life. Although we all survived the attack it was sloppy and overly risky. Grimlor became separated from the group and almost cost both of us our lives. I must train this group!
I am curious to see Meadowbrook. The old man’s description of the town intrigues me.
A tumultuous day, possibly my first test since leaving the Academy. A small band of Goblins attempted an ambush at the crossroads to Winterhaven. Only six in number they were easily dispatched with the assistance of fellow travelers. It is these travelers that I must now consider.
A human named Reginald, slight of build and pale skinned he seems possessed of a sickly constitution. Still he did not hesitate to offer assistance where others of a healthier look might have turned away. His actions display an honest heart. I should like to know more of him. He also seems to have a curious mind and, if I am not mistaken, is able to converse in the Goblin tongue. Strange. A Half-Orc with eldritch powers. This one concerns me deeply. He was the first to arrive on the scene after the goblins attacked. I must admit that at first I thought he was their leader. I must not to be so quick to judge.
“Woe be to him that sees only the fangs of The Dragon. Look beyond and find the Truth”
– The Book of Bahumat, Proverbs 3:14
He made an honest attempt to assist, clumsy as it was. Had it not been for the arrival of the Dwarf I may have had trouble saving the human and half-orc from drowning, while still dealing with the irksome goblins.
It is this Dwarf that gives me hope. I believe he has been sent by The Platinum Lord to aid me in my task. A priest of Moradin, he seems to be all that is good and decent in his race. It is well known that Moradin and the Dragon are brothers in arms on the Straight Path. Such a one as this could be a strong ally in the difficult times that are surely to come.
Then there is this Half-Orc. I suspect that he is a Warlock of some kind although I know little of such things. Whether he is in alliance to some fowl denizen I cannot tell, but I have heard that such things occur. As I am now witness, he is responsible for the death of one innocent man. A crime that cannot go unresolved. It is only by luck that the four of us are all traveling to Meadowbrook together. Once there I must bring this Warlock to justice. If it is in me I will help him to find the road to virtue.
For now it would seem that I must stay in his company. He is a local of this region and seems to have useful knowledge that I might use. He tells me that the Goblins were from a Tribe called the Ratfangs. Why must these creatures always have such deplorable names? There is nothing noble in them at all! Apparently they were traveling very far from their usual territory. I wonder, have they grown in power, or has some more powerful group pushed them in this direction. My fears for the well being of Meadowbrook grow. We must make all haste.
We briefly encountered a large Dire Bear. Seen only from a distance it was indeed a majestic and powerful creature. Discretion being the better part of valor we chose to leave the beast to its business and move along. Reginald though, seems to be a slave to his own curiosity and could not leave well enough alone. He chose to return a full league down the road, simply to observe the creature in its natural habitat. I was loath to let him go alone but felt that I must stay with the Half-Orc, if only to discern his motives. I also felt that such a frivolous use of time could slow my progress towards Meadowbrook and be contrary to my orders.
Most troubling of all is the Half-Orc, Saladin’s, reaction to a group of hunters we encountered. Without thought to the situation or any attempt to deduce their intent the brutal Warlock leapt from his concealed position and cut down one of the men without warning. Indeed I would have prevented him had I not been engaged in protecting the wellbeing of a fallen comrade. A fellow champion, but of Pelor the Sun Lord, a young man by the name of Jareth had come upon us in some considerable distress. His wounds were in need of treatment and his survival of the utmost concern. The good Dwarf proceeded to render him service while I stood guard. It was at this moment that the band of hunters approached. I was the first to spot them and had ordered Saladin into a hidden position, in case their intentions were hostile. He acted of his own volition and leapt to action in the described manner. Appalled as I was by this act, I quickly called a stop to the fighting and attempted to make recompense with the hunters. So stricken were they by this brutal attack, and sadly by my own appearance, that they promptly fled the scene.
We have managed to determine the fallen man’s name, Timothy, and suspect that his betrothed, Gretel, awaits his safe return in Meadowbrook. There appears no option available other than to escort the Half-Orc, who must be considered a criminal at this point, to Meadowbrook to account for his actions. Since he is traveling in that direction at this time, there seems little point in alerting him to my intentions. To do so might cause him to slip away and I cannot afford to spend the time tracking him down.
Sadly the young Knight, Jareth also fled the scene, possibly troubled by the Half-Orc’s action. Neither my protestations, nor the advice of the Dwarf could bring him to our side. Should I have sought him out? Surely in his condition he could not have traveled far. I lay to sleep now but with a troubled mind.
I pray for Reginald’s safe return, and for the strength to see this matter through.
Another day on the road. Nothing of great interest to report. The weather has improved at least and the worst of the frost seems to have passed. Encountered a group of Halflings traveling south. Despite my attempts to be civil they kept me at a safe distance. It is a shame, I have never once had a conversation with the little people, I expect they are quite charming.
Third day on the road. A cold morning with little sun. Came across a dead body late in the afternoon. A human I believe, dead several days and well rotten.
My resolve and good mood continue. With every step I move away from the past and toward a bright future. I feel as though I could run straight through to Meadowbrook. Even so, the long walk may help me to settle my emotions.
“Put thought towards you passions, let the mind govern the heart, let the heart fuel the body. He who turns from the path does so with his mind aflame.”
– The Book of Bahumat, Shield of the Faithful 5:19.
A good day. I passed through the South Gate at dawn and made good time all morning. The road bustled with farmers and merchants bringing their goods to market. Most, if not all, gave a hearty wave. The sign of Bahamut still carries great weight here. By dusk I was beyond sight of the city and reaching the edges of the settle lands. I sit now in the last inn for several days march.
Finally, the day is almost upon me. My Marching Orders have received final authority, Meadowbrook it is. My gear is packed and ready for my departure. I will leave before dawn to make the best time. No doubt my sleep will be restless tonight. Eager I am to begin this new life.
Still I wait. The orders have come through but sit on the High Lord’s desk awaiting his authority. Another day spent in idleness. I assisted Madrick in training the new recruits. Old Garret and I performed Vistuals for the Elders at dusk. It is always invigorating to hear the chant of Alomanzies, although tonight I found myself annoyed at these endless rituals. I must move on.
Ah the bureaucracy of the Church. My orders are apparently in, Brother Drassus informed me during The Recitation today. They await only final approval.
A visit from my sister. Alvara came by today to see me. She knows that I tire of life at the Academy now that I have received the Rights of Bahamut. It was good to see her. Mother’s health remains strong though she still grieves for the loss of my father. Braxus’ investiture begins next week, no doubt my brother will carry the responsibilities of the Clan lightly. He is as capable a Dragonborn as any I have met. May the Platinum Lord smile upon him.
“As if ten thousand suns suddenly burst forth in the sky, such would be the glory of the Holy One.”
- The Book of Bahamut, Choices of Nuarja, 2:11
Indeed it is true! To Meadowbrook I go. Ironlord Maddox called me to his office today and informed me of the orders. I am to leave within the month. Elder Justice Derran, who has served the community there for many years, has not filed reports for three seasons in a row. I am being sent to investigate the situation and aid where possible. Truly it is an honor to serve! I do not know whether this is an indication of the Church’s faith in my abilities, or a sign that the Order is stretched too thin. Indeed, to send a Knight of the Shield such as myself to complete so important a task is unusual.
“He is Bahamut, the Spirit Supreme. Rejoice in him, since through Him you attain the glory of victory.”
- The Book of Bahamut. The Teachings of Kena, 4:53
Rumors abound amongst the graduates. Ah what a sight it is to see twelve young Knights of the Shield eager to take up their posts. Raynold has left already for Hammerfast, to serve as Junior Armorer at the Hall of Abraxus. Justin the Younger leaves tomorrow for Winterhaven. Alexis and Gareth will take up posts here in Fallcrest. Holden, poor devil, will take the King’s road to Harkenwold tomorrow. The rest of us still await our orders. I have heard, though I hesitate to hope, that I am to be sent on a distant assignment. Brother Leonis tells me he overheard the Ironlord himself speaking with the Commandant. He says they mentioned my name for some task. Apparently the Ironlord himself said ‘He may be our best chance of finding the truth’ or so Leonis would have me believe. It is too much to hope.
Investiture at last!
I am now a Knight of the Shield in the Order of the Platinum Dragon, a Paladin of Bahamut. A day of days, and the proudest of my life. I regret only that my father could not be here to witness it. I know that he sits before the Golden One in Bahamut’s Hall and smiles. My commission is signed and sealed, I await only my post and orders. The Investiture ceremony was all I had imagined it to be. Although how thin the ranks now, so many away on quests. Truly this is a dark time, for so many a knight to be stationed along the borders. Still, I look forward to the day I can join them in the fight for Justice.