June 9, 2011

From the memoirs of Hildigrim Thorngage:

The newly freed slaves seemed to have trouble understanding that they were free and nothing I could say to them had any noticeable effect. I did what I could for our wounded party members and these freed slaves. As we removed their shackles and handed out robes an Elven lass happened down the road towards our position. She seemed rather disheveled and appeared to have either been in an explosion or possibly on fire recently, but she seemed in good shape physically. She communicated with the party and the Elf woman who we freed and we learned her name was Alanara. She didn’t seem to question what was going on and was happy enough to accompany us to town since that was the direction she was heading.

It seemed odd that the party was so accepting of this stranger, but I must admit that I have never met an evil Elf. As a race I found them quite open, friendly, and generally kind hearted, good people. Before we headed out however I felt that she should know what we were up to lest she get blamed for our activities. Alanara was very accepting of what Grymm and the others had just done….more so than I would expect. I feel there is a story behind that acceptance…and her appearance.

We were just setting out when a blood-curdling scream echoed through the woods. We knew it couldn’t have come from too far since sound doesn’t travel well through woods. As a group we started off to investigate and I had to turn around and “ask” Grymm to stay behind and guard the former slaves, who were in no position to defend themselves. Truth be told Grymm is in pretty bad shape and I feared for his safety. I ordered Pally to stay behind as well….to protect Grymm and the former slaves.

We all spread out and wandered about a little too aimlessly, but the way sounds echo in the woods, who knew exactly where the scream came from. When it became a little more obvious where we were headed we formed up a bit and pressed forward. I was quite shocked to come across a skeleton preparing to attack a little human girl. I was closest and best armed so I stepped up to engage the abomination before he could attack the girl. My efforts were for naught as the creature easily blocked my blow and hit me with such force that I was knocked back and incapacitated. In that moment I felt true physical fear. Yes, I was fearful that I might die should the abomination continue to attack me which he did briefly, but I was much more fearful he would prevail and do whatever vile things it was planning on doing to that girl. Fortunately I managed to dodge the beast’s attack and my fellow party members dispatched it before I was able to come fully to my senses.

After the battle I bound my own wounds and was a bit perturbed to find that Grymm had followed us into battle. While I was not happy with that fact, the choice was truly his to make and if there were no adverse consequences, there is little to fret about. I never got to learn the human girl’s name. She seemed genuinely repulsed by Grymm and Flynn and it was all that Alanara could do to calm her. I’m not sure how the girl felt about Mindro and I, but frankly I wasn’t in a very good shape to find out for myself. Alanara and the girl walked far ahead of us and the girl left as soon as they hit the village.

We dropped off the people we rescued with….with our local contact and when I inquired about how the freed slaves were acting I was informed that is normal behavior, especially if someone was a slave for a long amount of time. The Hobgoblins may have belonged to some lower slave caste and don’t even understand the concept of freedom. That was disturbing, but I think I can understand the behavior a little bit better.

I must have been worse off than I imagined because it was only at this point did I realize that the skeleton we had faced just earlier was trying to drag off the girl into the woods. The disappearances may have been caused by a series of undead abductions! This sudden revelation of mine was amusing to my compatriots as evidently they had figured this out back when I was still physically incapacitated by my wounds.

Grymm wasn’t feeling well and headed off to the inn to rest, although it was early afternoon. Mindro, Flynn and I headed off to see if there were any merchants to offload the armor and weapons we had taken from that pushy Hobgoblin and his goblin underlings. Alanara was content to follow us. We found out that the shady weapons dealer that we saw the day before had passed on to another location. Fortunately another armor dealer had taken his place. As we went to retrieve the gear the spice merchant pulled Mindro and I aside to talk to us. He had heard some rumors that our party was a ruthless band of mercenaries. I told him that we were not “ruthless mercenaries”, but if he had a problem we could try to help. Evidently he had been responsible for the transportation of a merchant’s daughter to Prompeldia for an upcoming wedding. The woman and her bodyguard went missing somewhere within a couple day’s travel from here. I assured the man that we were looking into the series of disappearances and if we found the woman we would do what is right and see her on her way.

The other merchant was willing to look at our armor and weapons, but was quite surprised at the sheer quantity of our stock. He was willing to pay us a fair price for a limited amount of armor and for the weapons we had. Mindro wanted to try to haggle with the man and in doing so lowered the amount he was willing to spend for our goods. Mindro seemed dismayed and wanted to try again even though he knew he was likely to fail. I found the experience to be exciting and encouraged him to continue. Flynn wanted to get the most we could and I think he was lost on the significance of the moment. The goods were just “things” weighing us down. While it didn’t matter that we had this stuff now since we were operating out of the village, in a few days it might be a hindrance. I enjoyed watching Mindro try this new experience and enjoyed even more when he was willing to try again knowing he was likely to fail. In the end, however, Mindro succumbed to Flynn’s advice over mine and sold all that the merchant would take.

As we went to return to the inn we were approached by one of the shepherds we had met earlier. He had word for us once we finished the financial transaction Grymm had established earlier. I paid the man and he informed us that there were several figures skulking along the back woods and trails coming into the village. One was walking with an odd limp and it was obvious they were evading detection. I thanked the man and went off to seek Grymm. Before we parted he brought forth the puppy from the day before and asked if we were prepared to take it. Alanara, who had been relatively quiet until now, immediately responded and the puppy really liked her. I’ve noticed this before that small animals sure do seem to like the Elven folk. The Shepard wanted to make sure we could take care of the animal and then Flynn chimed in how the puppy would make for good emergency rations should the need arise. Most of us were just shocked by such a cruel statement and the Shepard recoiled as one would expect. I think the absurdity of the statement convinced him that Flynn was joking and he let Alanara have the puppy. I, for one, am not sure that Flynn was joking. He seems to have a rather odd sense of personal values. First he is willing to travel across a lawless land in search of a pair of boots, then he wishes to obtain a dog in case he goes hungry? I will have to keep my eye on this Dwarf.

We get to the Inn to retrieve Grymm and find him having some sort of odd interaction with the Overlord Cleric. Since Grymm about gutted the man before I find this turn of events unsettling. There was no time to question this turn of events, only to give Grymm the information and the choice to accompany us or not.

We headed off in the direction indicated and soon enough come across 4 strangely hooded figures. I hail them and one moves forward to speak. I inquire as to why they are sneaking about and the man (?) replies that they are gem traders with pearls and coral to trade in Prompeldia. This response intrigued me since I have no coral to sacrifice to Taktan. I answered back that I would like to see their coral and possibly trade. The similarity between this exchange and the one Grymm initiated earlier in the day is an almost amusing coincidence, but I was genuine in my offer of trade whereas Grymm was using his offer as a stalling tactic. The “merchant” backed up a bit and informed me that he didn’t actually have any good to trade and that he was mistaken. Two of his companions sought to protect the fourth, the one who was limping. I offered first aid and was rebuffed. The fourth figure kept moving forward, bumping into the back of his fellow travelers, as if he was unable to stop movement. The hair on the back of my neck stood up as I came to conclusion that this was probably another undead in disguise and the remaining three were some sort of “handler”. I had my sling out and began twirling it as the lead figure started fumbling for a weapon. I called out “Evil Cleric” in Halfling and “Undead” in Hobgoblin. I was certain that we faced another clue in the disappearances that have occurred as of late.

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