Sunday, March 1, 2015

The High Reave

Using the same watch shifts as before, we stayed in the camp all night with no issues. The next morning, we packed up and started the trip back to Mountain Hide. It was mid-afternoon when we arrived at the city gates. The guards seemed a bit surprised to see us, but happy nonetheless. “Hello!” one said. “You look like you could use some rest!” Temporalis said “We made some interesting discoveries, and would like to find Obman as soon as possible. Would you mind letting us through? Time is of the essence.” The guard motioned to open the gates. “Go right on in!” Once in the city, we headed to the Wagon Wheel, but Obman was nowhere to be found. Temporalis spoke to the bartender. “Has Obman been here today?” The bartender nodded. “Yup, he stopped by for breakfast, as usual.” Temporalis asked “Do you know where we might find him?” The bartender replied “Ain’t my day to watch him, but you might check with the High Reave’s office. I hear he’s been spending quite some time there lately.” Willow walked up next to Temporalis. “Who is the High Reave, and where might we find his office?” The bartender looked at Willow as if she had feet on her head. “The High Reave? Vance? Largest building at the top of the hill.” Temporalis said “Thank you for your time.” He turned to us. “Well,” Temporalis said. “Up the hill we go.”

As we walked up the hill, Temporalis asked “How much do we want to divulge? I mean, you heard what that kid said, about there being evil here. Do we really want to trust Obman with this information?” Finfer said “I say we tell him about the note, maybe the towers, but that’s about it. No Pelor, no Vecna... at least, not yet.” Temporalis agreed. “Indeed. Let’s see where their loyalties lie before we hand them everything.” Upon reaching the High Reave’s house, we were met by impeccably dressed guards with polished weapons. “Halt. What business have you here?” Temporalis spoke up. “We are here to see Obman. We have news regarding his caravan attacks.” The guards eyed us, then looked at one another. “Follow me.” As we reached the building, the door flew open and Obman rushed out, grabbed each of our hands in turn, and shook them enthusiastically. “Welcome, welcome! Please, come in! Would you like a drink, something to eat perhaps? Do you bring news?” As we settled in, Temporalis began recounting the story of the goblins, orcs, the cabin, the prisoner, and the tents. Temporalis showed him the note about the towers. “We believe these mean the towers to the west of Medietas. Freija spotted them on our journey here.” Obman nodded his agreement. “Those towers are manned by Mountain Hide and Windy Coast. They are there for protective purposes, and to offer a safe resting place for travelers. If they are captured, then that does not bode well for Medietas, and ultimately, Mountain Hide. Commander Dakus will need to see this at once.” Temporalis asked “Have you, by chance, had any issues with those to the north of Mountain Hide?” Obman considered the question for a moment. “No... no, I don’t think we’ve had any issues recently. In fact, I’d say it’s been--”

“It has been about 150 years since we have had issues with anyone to the north.” A deep, powerful voice interrupted Obman. We turned and saw a human man, middle-aged, with a leather patch over his left eye, and a scarred face, at the top of the stairs. It was obvious this man had seen his fair share of battle. “All,” Obman said, as he descended the stairs. “This is Vance Dolas, High Reave of Mountain Hide, and decorated war hero.” Vance strode over to Obman and took the note. “You said something of a prisoner, before.” he said. Temporalis nodded. “So where is he?” Temporalis cleared his throat. “Excuse me?” he asked. “Your prisoner,” Vance stated, matter-of-factly. “Where is he?” Temporalis looked to each of us. “Well,” he said. “We let him go.” Vance turned his gaze to Temporalis. “I see.” he said. “You capture a prisoner, kill his compadres, and bring me a note. No prisoner to question; in fact, you let him go. How are we to believe what you say is true?” Obman rushed up. “I can vouch for them, High Reave. You have my word as a businessman and friend. They are honest people.” Vance eyed us carefully. “That remains to be seen.”

The High Reave turned his attention back to the note. “I am afraid I do not know the name Durgash.” Temporalis spoke up. “The name sounds orcish.” he said. Vance agreed. “We need to get this to Dakus at once. This information regarding the towers needs to be verified.” He turned to an aide nearby, spoke quietly, and the aide scurried off. “Now,” Vance said, turning back to us, “What are you going to do about our undead problem?” Finfer said “I’m sorry, the what?” Vance looked at him with piercing eyes. “There are undead rising from the ground and attacking our farms. Our volunteer has not returned. I need you to assist.” Freija, who had been sitting in the corner, listening, said “Tell me more about this undead problem, and your volunteer.” Vance said, “Like I said earlier, there are undead rising from the ground near our farms. It is prohibiting our ability to grow food. Ali went down to assist, but he has not returned.”

Freija stood suddenly, nearly causing a table to fall. “Ali?” she asked, frantic. “Ali Ryuunoske?” Vance seemed confused. “Yes... how do you know Ali?” She rushed to the door. “I must go. I must find Ali. I must help him.” Temporalis ran to block her. “Freija, if you go there, you will die.” Freija turned, tears in her eyes. “It doesn’t matter. I have to try. Ali is my priority now.” She left. Obman called out to her, but she was gone. Vance looked as dumbfounded as the rest of us. “Wait here,” Temporalis said, and ran out. We heard muffled yelling from the road outside, and a few minutes later Temporalis came in with Freija right behind him, visibly upset. “Now,” Temporalis said. “We need a plan.”

Vance spoke up. “Your friend is correct. Rushing off like that will get us nowhere, fast. We have two matters at hand. The first is the towers and the threat of orcs and goblins. I am very confident in Dakus’ abilities in this matter, as that is his job and he does his job well. The other is the undead issue in the farms. Ali went to assist, and has not returned. He usually checks in by now. It is obvious to me that you want to go there, and I am not saying you cannot, but you have to be smart about this, or it could very well be you we are going after.” Freija nodded. The aide from before appeared in the doorway, with Dakus immediately following. Dakus saluted. “You sent for me, sir?” Vance handed him the note. “We have received word of issues at the towers. You are to investigate and eradicate the threat.” Dakus saluted again. “At once, sir.”

Temporalis caught the Commander before he left. “Commander, a word, please.” Dakus paused. Temporalis continued. “You are aware of our group’s capabilities, and I have a great need to go west. I propose we travel with you, and assist you.” Freija stepped up. “Now, wait just a moment. I have no intention of going to the towers. My priorities lie with Ali. It is imperative that I find him.” Obman speaks up. “I’m with you, Temporalis. Those towers could hold to the key to my caravan attacks. I think you should go.” Dakus simply said “No.”

The authority and finality in Dakus’ response caused everyone to quiet down. Temporalis paused for a moment. “Care to elaborate on that?” Dakus looked at him. “No, you are not coming with me.” Temporalis said “You’ve seen our capabilities. We can be a great asset to you.” Dakus sighed. “What I see, is a ragtag group of people who had a few minor skirmishes and got lucky. Most of you have nearly died multiple times in these little fights. My men are seasoned, hardened by battle. This is their life. This is what they do. Orcs and goblins are no issue. You would just be in the way. So, no.” Freija started talking about her need to go find Ali, while Temporalis and Dakus continued their argument about the towers. Vance cleared his throat. “Halfling” he said in a loud, commanding voice, causing everyone else to fall silent. “What do you think?” Finfer looked around at all the eyes on him. “We were hired to ensure the safety of the caravans. We haven’t done that yet. We need to finish what we started.” Freija said “I am going nowhere until I see Ali.” Dakus said “I don’t care what you do or where you go, but you are not coming with me.” The arguments started up again, so Willow & I looked at one another, and walked out.

As soon as we exited the house, we stood there in the quiet. The raised, muffled voices continued inside. Willow looked at me. “Tavern?” she asked. “Tavern.” I said, and we made our way down the hill, quiet, lost in our own thoughts. A few minutes later, we heard footsteps behind us. I turned and saw Freija approaching. “I am sorry about that,” she said. “I just never thought I would see Ali again, and now I find out he is here, and possibly in trouble, and I feel I must do everything I can to help.” Willow asked “Who is Ali?” Freija, in quiet voice, said “My mentor.” and left it at that. We continued our walk to the tavern in silence. We reached the tavern, ordered dinner, and found a table in a corner. Just as we were about to eat, Temporalis showed up. “We need to talk,” he said, looking around, “But not here.” Freija offered her room, so we gathered our food and drinks and went upstairs.

Temporalis looked each of us in the eye. “Please, hear me out, before you say anything.” he said. We all nodded. “You know I want to go to the towers. But Dakus will not have us along. I would like to propose a plan.” Before he went further, I said “Finfer be here, too, should he not?” Temporalis said “He had an errand to run. He will be along shortly. He & I have already spoken of this.” I nodded, so he continued. “I propose that we offer to be Dakus’ scouts. We can scout ahead and report back what we see. That way we can still see what’s out there, and see if it is worth going after. Then, if not, we can come back and investigate the farmlands.” Freija considered this. “I have been doing some thinking, as well. I feel I owe you an explanation. Ali is who made me what I am, today. Ali brought me out of the Underdark and showed me the path of Ehlonna. Ali guided me in my spiritual journey. He is a devout paladin of Ehlonna. He was Schevalyeh for Lord Lagin, of Northlake, but had a vision sent to him by Ehlonna, so he abandoned his role as Schevalyeh and began his spiritual journey. On that journey, he found me, and he saved me. I owe him my life. However, I am not strong enough to do this alone. I am still learning who I am, and what I am capable of. I now know that if I were to rush in to save him, it would be an insult of his teachings. So I will go with you.” Temporalis looked at Willow & I. Willow said “My concern is Woodsy. He is why I am here. He is not here, but will be back. Until then, I will help where needed.” I echoed her sentiment. “Good,” Temporalis said. “It is decided. We will go see Dakus immediately.”

As we left the tavern, we ran into Finfer. “Did you convince them?” he asked Temporalis. “Yes, sort of. They more or less came to the same conclusions, themselves.” Temporalis replied. “We are on our way to the militia house now.” Finfer fell in with us, and we all walked silently, lost in our own thoughts. As we approached the militia house, it was bustling with activity. Temporalis spotted Dakus, and called him over. He explained our offer, and Dakus sighed. “Fine. But you report to me. You do as I tell you, when I tell you, unconditionally. I have the same requirements for all of my men. Understood?” We looked at one another, and nodded our agreement. “We leave at first light. You are expected to be here, ready to depart, at that time.” Temporalis agreed, so we went back to the tavern to get sleep.

I woke, and woke Willow. We dressed and went downstairs for breakfast, to find Temporalis and Freija already up. Temporalis was immersed in sketching something in his notebook. As we approached, he held up his drawing, which portrayed a torn skull being held up by a hand with an eye in the palm. Finfer came up behind us. “I recognize that,” he said. “Well, part of it, at least. Isn’t the hand similar to Vecna’s symbol?” Temporalis nodded. “I had a dream last night,” he said. “But my dreams are much more than dreams. They are visions. They are communication from other realms. This is what I saw in my dream. This is a sign. We must go south, to the farmlands. The end times are near.”

No comments:

Post a Comment