And so our heroes venture forth into Thunder Peaks through the East Way; a nearly forgotten pass through the mountains. For four days our heroes traversed the snow capped peaks, braving the cold bite of the northern winter winds.
At last, as the sun was setting, hidden in the crook of an unmarked valley, they see the small village in the horizon. Smoke trails from the several hearths in the village float up into the evening sky.
Well, ain’t tha a sight
piped the dwarf
It’s still too far away. The road will be dark soon, and there are unseen things that are watching us in these woods, I can feel it.
Our heroes turn around and see no one. Immediately, they draw their weapons. Douglas darts his eyes around.
hey hey! there’s no need for those, I’m on my way to Winterhaven too, I live just beyond that tower that you see over there.
They all look down and see a small gnome farmhand with a carcass of a small deer over his shoulders.
Tantam! My name is Lawrence Goodfoot, I help run the stables down in Winterhaven. Gevarn! glad you’ve come back in such a short amount of time, Sister Linora has been anxious to see you right away, she has some urgent news for you; she wont say what to me, but you should meet her at first light when we get there.
Thank you Goodfoot, I shall see her first thing when we reach Winterhaven. For now, I suggest we set up camp here for the night; dark shadows have taken over the road since the cult of Shar presence has been felt in these valleys. We are safer if we stay put instead of risking it in the dark.
The group assented, started a fire, and set up a perimeter around and on a crest of a hill near the road. Not a star in the sky was seen that night, and everyone drifted into an uneasy sleep.
Morning came and they hastily packed their bags and started for the small village in the distance.
As the sun was at its highest, our heroes find themselves at the bottom of the steep valley and they see the village of just a few miles away beyond the trees. Smoke is seen in the distance billowing over the forest from the chimneys of the buildings in the village.
We’re almost there! My house is just over there near the stables!
Lawrence points at a small house barely seen, almost blocked by the stone tower jutting over the village.
Just as he said that, Douglas hears rustling beyond the tall grass near the side of the road.
What was that?
Bah! Tha’ ain’ nothin’ disco pants, prolly a rabbit er’ smal rodent. Theer tons of em in these parts
The dwarf kept walking undaunted. The rest of the party continued on, not minding Doug’s revelations.
Hmph. These guys better take me more seriously. I’m tired of them pushing me around like I’m nobody. I’ll show them. I am a real paladin.
Doug, at full walking pace, pushes through the party almost knocking over Sebastian with his keg in one arm and Stephanie in another. They see Doug far into the distance, around fifty paces away.
Whats his problem?
Paul shrugged. He was too busy enjoying the land before him. The rolling hills, the steep green valleys, the roadside brooks—
Hay you! Priest man! Go ova’ tha rock ova’ thar, and tell ous’ how clos’ we are to a nice muga’ ale
Jerry points at a boulder beside them around six feet high.
Paul nods, and quickly clambers up the boulder before him. As soon as he disappears over the boulder, the group jump back in surprise as they hear Paul shriek on the other side of the boulder.
The group turns around and sees themselves surrounded by a band of kobolds holding spears and short swords, snarls are heard in the tall grass just after the treeline.
Meanwhile, already beyond the crest of the hill, oblivious to the sudden turn of events, Douglas meanders in the grass just below the hill.
Ha! A fat lot they are! They don’t have the knightly discipline paladins have to face what the world throws at them
Douglas spots a falcon near the bushes feeding off of the carrion of a dead field mouse.
A falcon! Just my luck! I can catch this and train it to scout for me just like how they taught me at the academy
In one swift movement, Douglas pounces on the falcon and grabs its with his bare hands, his left hand over its own eyes. The falcon squirms and nips at Douglas, but his grip remains firm.
There, there little buddy, you’re alright
Douglas gently strokes the falcon’s back calming him, whilst channeling incantations to Pelor to speed up the training process.
On the other side of the hill, a fierce battle rages on, Sebastian and Stephanie were now back to back defending the last dregs of ale in their keg, Jerry the dwarf and Paul the travelling cleric simultaneously hewing the brigands with a giant great axe and firing bursts of healing light respectively. Light on his feet and quick with his hands, Lawrence takes out a small dagger and quickly dispatches two kobolds careless to charge into him. Gevarn runs and hides behind a nearby boulder.
Doug! Git’ yer scrawny tin can ass ova’ here!
On the other side of the hill, oblivious to the screams and yelps of his party, Douglas sits on the grass holding his bird contemplating the magnificence of the wandering adventuring life.
This is what they’re missing. If they took this quest more seriously they miss the littlest things in life. The fresh air, the wind making the grass rustle like waves in a sea of green, the great blue sky. Why. when I was a baker, these were the only things that kept me from going crazy baking hundreds of loaves of bread each day—
And with that, he lay on his back on the grass looking up at the great blue sky wondering what more adventures his life would hold.
Meanwhile, as Doug lay on the grass, the party scattered themselves all over on the other side of the hill. Bursts of fireballs were seen shooting haphazardly across the road, a gnome was seen vaulting over a kobold giving it a quick thrust with his knife as he landed, clangs of metal upon metal were heard ringing across the valley, shouts and screams from both parties were loud enough that the birds from the trees flew away to escape the bloodshed.
Doug had finished his incantations, and sooner than he had finished his last unintelligible words, he had a falcon to do his every will.
Ha! Would you look at that, I bet no one has this sort of thing; lets test you out little guy and see why those other guys are taking so long.
With a flick of his wrist, he sends the falcon flying up overhead circling our band of adventurers fighting below. Squawks from falcon were heard below.
Paul looks up at the incessant squawking from the falcon.
What in the world—
The fighting stops between both parties and they all look at the sad looking bird. The kobolds scratch their heads in puzzlement. Groans and the rolling of eyes were seen all around Douglas’ party. Gevarn facepalms. The parties shrug and the fighting starts again.
As the last kobold is slain and chucked upon the heap of dead, they dust off their shoulders and continue on the road.
Took you guys long enough! I was just sitting here waiting for you guys to catch up
The group glares at Douglas as they passed him on the road one by one, the silence was deafening.
What did I do?
Now last in the line, Douglas hurries on to catch up with his party ahead of him; the noise of cheap clinking armor is heard down the road. As the sun was setting, our heroes find themselves entering the wooden arch of the front gate into the town of Winterhaven. Douglas’ falcon is seen circling the lone and dark tower of the small village as the last rays of light disappear over Thunder Peaks. Abeir-Toril is once again shrouded by the enveloping darkness.
End of Part 1 of 2