After the brief moment of reminiscence on the hill, Melody, Dustin and Nearis spot some smoke in the distance. Meanwhile, Dvergar is completely oblivious as to what is coming towards the group and is still in awe of the events that are happing. A squinting their eyes, they were able to see that these were carriages. Though they see that this is coming their way, they decide to continue on their road to Red Larch.
Dustin walked in front, followed by Melody and Dvergar, who walked next to each other. Nearis walked behind them so he could keep an eye out on all of them. After a brief moment of walking, they see a carriage rushing towards them. Dustin, with full confidence, stays in the middle of the road. Upon seeing this, the carriage suddenly comes to halt. Nearis noticed that the carriage comes from a lower-middle class noble. They also noticed a Symbol of protection on the carriage. Nearis walked up to them and greeted them as any Good Noble would do. Hello, there good sirs!" "Please, don’t kill me! I will give you all my money" the man shout when seeing the group. "Money? Sir that is not what we require of you… What happened? Please, calm down." Nearis responded with shock. "Yes, please. We don’t need your money, but what happened? Please tell us" Dustin added. The Merchant looked shocked, though somewhat relieved. "Oh?? You… you are not going to rob me??" the man stated while hiding the pouch of money he had already taken out. Dustin and Nearis looked at each other. "No, you may put away your money. What happened? What is the reason of your distress?" Dustin asked. The man looked wary at Dustin and Nearis. "Well…sorry… but… how am I to know I can trust you?" the man replied. "Nearis stepped forward. "I am Nearis Hawkwinter" he said humbly and bowed. "At your service… I am most certain you have heard of the name ‘Hawkwinter’ from Waterdeep?" he added, while showing his family signet ring. The man’s eyes suddenly opened wide and he relaxed a bit upon seeing the ring. "Yes, yes! I do sir! I am Gareth Silvercloak. I come from Red Larch’s festival… but, we were attacked not far from here. Bandits…They looked like pirates!" he said with his head down. "They attacked us with boulders, we were ambushed. Our other carriage… he…they… we ran for it when we heard the boulders fall and saw the bandits! They… Gods… Please… let me pass" he begged. This time, Dvergar walked over. "Ya dun have any Ale in ‘ere do ya!?" he snarled at Gareth. "No… no sir… I don’t… I just came from a festival from Red Larch with merchandise… Please… good sirs… Let me be on the way…" Gareth replied. Nearis looked at the driver. Who, giving the state of events they went through, was quite calm. "You there, these events do not seem to shock you?" "I have seen worse." Snarled the driver uninterested. Upon closer inspection, it was clear that the driver had really seen pretty much anything that can happen. He was a generally sad person, trying to survive of the loan that is provided to him by serving lesser nobles. "Very well…" Nearis continued. "Sir, I want you to go to Amphail. Ask for Armar Blaskos Ulraven. Tell him anything that happened to you." "We will see if we can find what happened to your other carriage." "Thank you kind sirs!! Thank you! Yes, I will tell the Armar everything! Thank you!" Gareth replied.
The carriage slowly started moving, but after a few feet, they bolted towards Amphail.
The group continued their journey towards Red Larch.
A few hours have passed, and they started to entered, what looked like a rocky formation on a hill. On this very hill, they found the second carriage. All of them became wary. Dustin stepped forward and noticed a body. He started inspecting the body and noticed that the body did not die by sword… Or any arcane ways. It was crushed by something big! The body was within an imprint of a huge footprint. Though, he was not able to identify the footprint.
Nearis looked around and saw that this was indeed an ambush. The bandits were well prepared, as there were still a few boulders ready to be knocked over the edge.
Melody walked over to the carriage to inspect it. Upon getting closer, she noticed that this was indeed the carriage of Gareth, as it had the same look and warding sigil on it. Suddenly, the doors opened and a female, humanoid, form stepped out of the tipped over carriage. She was very tall, so tall that it hurt Melody’s neck looking up. Though, this was not a difficult thing to achieve, looking at Melody’s height. Melody removed her hair from in front of her and the first thing she noticed about this strange woman were her eyes. They were yellow. Yellow, yet not normal, human, eyes. "Woooaaa!! Helloooo freaky woman with weird eyes!!! Who might you be??" asked Melody while stumbling a bit to the back. "That would be my question to you…" replied the woman. Melody, still looking a bit shocked, yelled out to the group. "GUUUUUUYYYSSSSS!!! THERE IS SOMEONE OVER HEEERE! I am sorry freaky lady, but I need the support, because… you are tall, and I am this small…" The group rushed towards Melody. "Why hello miss, who might you be?" asked Dustin. "I am Lhammaruntosz, who might you all be?" the woman replied. "I am Dustin, a seafaring cleric" said Dustin.
"I am Nearis Hawkwinter, of House Hawkwinter of Waterdeep. At your service" Said Nearis while bowing. "What happened? Did you come out of the wagon? Who attacked you? Are you hurt?" asked Nearis quickly.
"I am fine" she replied. "We were on our way from Red Larch and we were attacked by bandits… that is all." She replied way too calm considering the situation she was in. "Are you sure you are ok? Where are the bandits now? And how come they didn’t attack you?" barraging the woman with more questions. "They fled. Something… Scared them off" she said. "Something scared of the bandits?" asked Nearis. "You do seem extremely calm considering the situation." He stated… "What was your business anyway?" "My business is my own! What might yours be?" she scoffed at Nearis. Nearis, obviously, starting to get angered by the woman replied with a bit of irritation to his voice "That is, just like you, our own! NOW… tell us what happened here!" As he said that, he bashed on the wagon next to Lhammaruntosz. "You have been here in that wagon… that was attacked by bandits, yet… you give us so little information. Tell. Us. What. You. Know!" Lhammaruntosz looked up, but was not intimidated by Nearis. "Are you not going after the bandits that attacked me?" she replied calmly to Nearis’s outburst.
Dvergar stepped in and took Lhammaruntosz to a place where she can sit. "All the same with these lads, not thinking about the courtesy! ‘Ere, have a sit miss!" She looked curiously at Dvergar, but gently replied to the sudden courtesy of the old dwarf "Why thank you."
"You…" she said while looking at Dvergar. Her yellow eyes, almost piercing in his soul, looked very firm at him. "You carry something ominous and of great value….Young Dwarf." She looked at him with a firm grasp. Upon hearing this, Dvergar immediately knew she was talking of his book. The book that he has found, though knew so little about. He quickly but his hand on his belt and pushed the book behind him. "I’ve no idea what ye’r talkin ‘bout!" he said, as he looked if the other members of his group were listening.
Meanwhile, Nearis saw Melody curl down. He became suddenly interested in this, what looked like a red ball of fur, inscribe a ritual on the ground and started curiously smiling at the red ball of hair move over the ground. She started a ritual to detect magic. Looking at the group, Lhammaruntosz noticed this and started smiling.
Dustin was inspecting the surroundings during this time
Dvergar noticed that the group was not looking and whispered "You… You know what this is??" and he took out the book. Her eyes opened wide with interest and she reached out to it. "No touchin’it!" scoffed Dvergar. "Tell me what you know!" "This book is more than you can handle, dwarf. It will lead you to your death! But I would gladly take it over from you…" Dvergar immediately pulled the book back. "So be it then, this book stays with me."
Dustin, still standing about, heard the entire conversation. He did not react to it, instead, looked over to Melody and Nearis.
At this moment, Melody finished her ritual. The moment the red ball of hair stood straight, the ground around her glowed and she closed her eyes for a moment. Once she opened them, her eyes were filled with arcane magic. She looked at Lhammaruntosz and did see indeed a magical aura engulfing her. She also noticed a magical aura from Dvergar, even though curious, she kept it for herself.
Nearis asked "Where did the bandits go?" and while saying that, he snapped his fingers. Baladir, one of his house servants, ran over to him "Yes Sir?" he asked. "They went into the cave at the side of that hill…" and she pointed towards the hill on their right side. "I see…" replied Nearis. "I will prepare food and drinks for when you return from killing this bandit." The moment she said that, Dvergar’s eyes opened wide. "And Ale? Will there be Ale?" "Yes, there will be." She said soft and gentle. "Oooh! Let us go destroy these ‘bandits’!’ he yelled enthusiastic about the thought of Ale when he returns. "Tend to the lady, Baladir, thank you. Set your camp up there and keep an eye out on her Kildaraen!" Nearis gave his orders to his retainers and took 3 Javelins with him.
The group made it to the cave Lhammaruntosz was talking about.
Nearis peered into the cave to see for anything suspicious. He noticed wet sand and about 5-ish footprints walking in. Strange enough, only 4-ish walked out. He heard panting coming out of the cave
As he walked in, he immediately sank 2 feet into quicksand. Dvergar moved towards the entrance of the cave to see what was happening, he noticed a bandit. The bandit was panting really hard. As Dvergar had full vision on a bandit within the cave, he jumped over the quicksand and rushed towards the bandit. Melody, seeing as how Nearis was sinking in the quicksand, rushed to his aid. Much to her will to save him, she only managed to tug his shirt with no effect at all. Dvergar, however had already engaged the enemy. He cast magic to protect himself and rushed into battle like a fierce lunatic, dodging several blows of the bandit and managing to hit the bandit himself. Meanwhile, Dustin has managed to help Nearis out of the quicksand, who was now sunken till his chest. Dustin immediately froze a piece of the quicksand. Meanwhile, bolts were flying next to them towards the bandit. The first one did, however, not really hit his target, but flying more over to Dvergar, who starts to look wary to Melody. Nearis threw a javelin at the bandit’s leg, crippling it. While the bandit was fighting off the pain, Dustin jumped next to Dvergar to kill the bandit.
While they were starting to relax, they heard a cricking sound from within the cave. It echoed all over the cave. Before they knew it, 2 spiders came forth. Dustin slammed one spider to the wall with a wave. As the beast was looking rough, Melody did find her aim on this shot and shot right between the beast’s eyes, killing it. Dvergar nearly being slain by the one beasts, managed to best the beast and smash it into a green goo that decorated the walls of the cave.
After further inspection, they noticed that the bandit they had slain was also stuck in the quicksand. This explained his panting, thought Nearis. There was nothing noticeable within this cave. The bandits must have taken shelter to whatever scared them, but seeing as how 1 of them was trapped, they immediately ran way.
When they returned back to the encampment that Baladir and Kildaraen had set up, they got the smell of food being cooked from the wagon.
Baladir, however, was not present at the camp. He came stumbling out of the wagon with a plate of finely cooked beef. As Dvergar and Melody rushed towards the table for food, Baladir dropped the plate. "Oh dear…oh dear…I…I am sorry lady Lhammaruntosz." Said Baladir. "Not to worry." Said Lhammaruntosz, "You may perform your little shuffling dance later to make up." She said smiling. In the meantime, Dvergar and Melody have already taken place and started drinking and eating from the food. Nearis was wary, as he had already noticed that there was no food within a 10 miles radius. Yet… here he stands, in front a buffet table with too much food. He motions Baladir to come over and asks "Baladir… where in God’s name did this food come from!" Baladir slowly drops his head. "I… I don’t know sir… I went to ask if she needed any assistance. She told me to get into the wagon… when I stepped outside, well…there was ‘this’. I just took the plate that was resting on a keg next to the wagon as she requested to the table." Nearis looked up to the buffet table, nodding at Lhammaruntosz and keeping an eye on the other 2. "Aren’t you going to join us?" Lhammaruntosz asked. "How rude of me." Said Nearis with a smile. He motions to his Squire and servant to follow. "Have a seat you two. Enjoy this meal" he said, seeing Melody and Dvergar stuffing their mouth with the food. Shocked, the two looked up. "We…We may join you?" asked Baladir shocked. "Of course! We haven’t eaten well for a while now! Enjoy." Without any notion, the two rushed to the table and started chewing on meat and stuffing themselves with Ale. Nearis sat down next to Lhammaruntosz and slowly started eating from the food. Dvergar and Melody already had their mouths stuffed with food while this all happened. Melody tried to eat as much as her little body allows her to eat and Dvergar… He had barely touched his food. Instead, he was chugging down on the kegs that were found underneath the table. He had already chugged down 1/4 of the keg before the others had joined! His thirst was that of a real dwarf!
Lhammaruntosz turned to the group. "Where is your friend? Where did he go?" At this point, Melody looked up. Her mouth still stuffed with food. The party had not noticed that Dustin was not present the entire time… Melody, however, assured that he was fine. "He went to pick some herbs nearby to heal his stomach ache!" she said quickly. "Oh? Well… as he is a doctor… this makes sense" Lhammaruntosz said thinking this over.
As the night passes and the food on the table diminishes, Melody, who has finished eating, plays a lovely tune on her Kalimba. Lhammaruntosz turns towards Nearis and Melody, "What is your purpose in Red Larch? Why are you ‘Adventuring’?" she asked. "As you have mentioned, we are but mere adventurers, seeking riches, seeing the world. We have no real means of adventuring other than these…" said Nearis. ‘’T’is true! We are just passing by, nothing really interesting." Melody confirmed. "Is that so? I thought our interests and destination were the same… Hoping we could help each other…" Lhammaruntosz answered. Dvergar dropped his, what seems to be almost empty, keg and with his half drunken voice he confronts Lhammaruntosz. "Look ‘ere lassie…. Ya seem ta kno’ who we are, aye…? Tell us, what are ya? [Burp]" "I am a protector…" she said. "A protector?" Nearis asked her curiously. "Yes, I am the protector of Cargo and Caravans… The symbol you see engraved here…." Pointing at the Holy symbol on the wagon. "Is my symbol. I will make sure that the merchant noble gets his caravan back."
Melody and Nearis both nod with understanding. "And what of ma book… ya seem to kno’ more about it!" Dvergar yelled. Lhammaruntosz looked towards Dvergar with Curious eyes. "I sensed a presence…." She said with a mysterious voice, as if her thoughts were elsewhere. "A presence of something bound to the book… or someone." Dvergar’s eyes opened wide. Even though half drunk, he was sure he heard her say that there is something or someone bound to the book. His natural curiosity and the magical pulse towards to book… He had to know what it meant. "Whaddaya mean? Tell me what you know of it!" "Unfortunately, my knowledge does not go beyond, not within those fields. Seek out Harburk Tuthmarillar in Red Larch. Harburk is the Cosntible and will be able to tell you more." Lhammaruntosz replied. Dvergar looked up and repeated the name to make sure he is able to remember it and went back to drinking. "Baladir, dear…" Lhammaruntosz looked towards the servant who was still chewing on a piece of meat. "Y-yes milady?" he said in a formal way. "Why don’t you do your little dance you always do?" she said smiling to him and turned her eyes towards Melody. Melody looked confused back for an instant. "Oh…OOOH… You want me to…" she said as she pointed at her Kalimba. "If you would be so kind" Lhammaruntosz said smiling. Melody picked up her Kalimba again and started playing a hearty tune as Baladir began to perform a weird shuffling dance. Neither Nearis, nor Melody seem surprised of what Dvergar had to say. "A protector you say? How do you ‘protect’ these caravans then? And how will you carry this caravan back to Gareth?" Nearis asked with a curious voice. "You may know me in another form…" she looked up while eating a piece of fruit. "A form…?" asked Melody. Lhammaruntosz looked at Melody. "Yes, young one, that of a dragon. I am sure you have heard of the songs about me?" she asked in an amused and joyful way. Melody’s and Nearis’ eyes opened wide. "A dragon?!" Melody yelled in excitement. "I do, I have heard of a song! Yes!" "Aaaah, t’is but a lie! Ain’t no [hic] dragons ‘round ‘ere [hic]…." Said Dvergar from behind his keg. "A dragon she says…" he mumbled to himself as he chugged an entire mug of Ale. Dvergar was not of this world anymore. He was quite drunk and unable to sit even straight. Though, his love for Ale kept him going until he could no more. As Lhammaruntosz, Melody and Nearis kept talking, it soon became very late. Nearis excused himself from the table and left the two women talk to each other as the dwarf kept chugging ale like there was no tomorrow. Meanwhile, Baladir was tending the provisions for the journey. Nearis picked up the Scimitar and motioned his squire to come over. He taught him how to wield one and they sparred a bit.
As the night darkened, Melody went to find a good spot to sleep. Lhammaruntosz and Nearis both noticed she is quite used to her size and weight as she found a good stone to sleep against to cover her from any sudden bursts in wind. As Melody went to sleep, so did Baladir and Kildaraen. Dvergar had passed out on the table with an empty keg or 2 in front of him. Not even a thunderous blast would wake him up. Nearis, however, stood guard. Lhammaruntosz, who was still eating, suddenly stood up "This was a good meal…" she sighed as she rubbed her stomach. Nearis only then noticed that Lhammaruntosz had eaten everything on the buffet table. "Well, time to bring this caravan back" she said smiling to Nearis.
As she did, her form started to flicker and sway. Her body slowly enlarged and her skin colour changed to a hue of bronze and scales started to appear. Her hands quickly burst out in claws and wings span out of her sides. Within mere seconds, this young, beautiful lady transformed into a dragon. Nearis stood up and awed at the sight of the dragon. "Holy mother of. [Gasp]" he gasped. Melody, who was not sound asleep, woke up. As she opened her eyes and saw the huge dragon in front of her, Lhammaruntosz flapped her wings. The sheer force of the wind pressed Melody against the stone she was up against. Both Baladir and Kildaraen covered their heads in fear. Nearis was forced to cover his eyes due to the force of the wind. Dvergar didn’t even flinch at any of these events. He was as sleep as a drunk dwarf could be. "A DRAGON!!!! OMG!!! A HUGE DRAGON!!!" screamed Melody with a huge excitement. "She said she was a dragon, SHEIS A DRAGON OMG, LOOK AT IT! Yes… Yes… this will make of a good song!! BUT OMG ICAN’T BELIEVE SHE IS A DRAGON!!!" she talked to herself as she gawked at the dragon. Lhammaruntosz winked at Nearis, flapped her wings once more as she slowly started to rise. With a gentle dive, she picked up the wagon with her claws and she flew away. The night passed quickly as the 4 of them couldn’t really sleep after seeing the dragon. Melody, who was still excited, kept talking to herself with a huge excitement in her eyes.
"Along the Sword Coast
There are merchants and traders a'plenty.
One bronze lady though
Is unlike any merchant or trader you ever met!
Her caravans have a friend in the sky, Her ships fly the banner of the Scaly Eye! The Claws of the
Coast, The Mother Wyrm
Has treasures more than others, That she hides in a merchants coffers!"
From The ballad entitled 'The Scaly Eye' by The Bard, Darkharp