Legend of the Silver Crescent

Oh What a Bad One I've Been
Al'Der'eth Contimplates Life in his Journal

Everything was happening so fast, at first we had an idea of what is going on. The party assumed that Lord Jolar was a werewolf, and the one we fought in the woods was a family member of his and he was covering everything up. Then all the pieces fell together all so nicely, and it just has to be true. Especially when this werewolf can communicate with us.

My brother in magic Eisenheim came up with such a great idea for us to free the werewolf and contain it for purposes of it transforming back into a human and thus proving our theory about Jolar. After much trying we were able to open all the bonds and then the switchero happened, Eisenheim disguised himself as the werewolf, and we disguised the werewolf as Eisenheim, how we got Delana to go along with this I will never now. She is quickly turning away from her ways. I did so well with my Eisenheim ventriloquist act!

Everything was going so great until Klimb, the werewolf, east Eisenheim’s rabbit and the servant girl screams which brings everything to alarm. Delana and I run for it with Klimb trying to escape until we met up with some guards, she stayed back to sort things out with them while Klimb and I kept going out of the keep. We found a secret door and it was very interesting that Klimb knew where the key was hidden. Once outside I had much difficulty keeping up with him and as we approached the woods he looked at me remorsefully and then took off.

I had no other choice but to go back to the tavern and wait for my group, as I promised Delana that I would. The inn keeper served me his best trout and ale and insisted that I had a bath with some ladies and a bard. Oh what a night it was, to be free from my Pious ways for just a few hours. Let the world know the song of the bard about Al’Der’eth and his “greatness.”

“Oh there was a tale of a man of so charming
That the ladies sought him out and found it alarming
His greatness was that of a god’s
Too much ale and his head will nod
Al’Der’eth the pious
Surly not the wisest
But a champion in the bedroom
Two ladies, oh what a conundrum
Slayer of beast and charmer of ladies
Destined for the Heavens but probably end up down in Hades”

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To Alern

Fate definitely has had its hand. Much has happened since we have left Northbridge, if only in a few days time. It was decided that I will present the face of our party in most matters, deferring to the others when their specialty arises. I have to say, I am both pleased, and a bit annoyed by this prospect. On one hand, I am generally good at dealing with people, on the other hand, I don’t usually care to because people are often more trouble than they are worth.

At any rate, our journey after Northbridge took us to Caldwell to collect our reward from the Lord, Stern is his name. Which we managed to gain an audience and he paid us. As I am sure you can imagine, Eisenheim attempted to haggle, but I quieted him. Our position, though favorable at this time, will be more favorable in the future if the lord has more tasks for us. And then, with a potentially larger reward to work with, we can negotiate for more. This is my line of reasoning at the very least.

And indeed, Lord Stern had another task for us. There had been patrols gone missing, and the nobles, Lord Stern, and his advisor, Lord Jolar, believed dire wolves to be the source of this. We saw tentative evidence on the journey there that supported this, so we knew where to begin. We did a bit of research before we left. Lord Jolar lead Eisenheim and I to the keeps library while Delana and Al’Der’eth went to the temples to look for more information. Apparently there had been an incident in the library, and a portion of it had been burned. Oddly, virtually all the damage was done only in the section that we needed, and Jolar seemed a little too smug that we wouldn’t find much useful there. I did find a burned scrap of paper that fell out of a book that had some information in it. Sneaky Eisenheim and I collaborated though and he was able to filch the book. He has become quite unscrupulous about somethings, I must say, though in this instance I definitely felt that it was needed.

I finally mastered that ritual I was telling you about. When we met back at the inn (and it was an incredible inn!), we compared notes. I performed the ritual on the damaged note and book to repair them. The book seemed to be a bestiary of sorts, and held little use. The note made reference to something about wolves and why is that half-elf involved? Did I mention that Jolar is a half elf? One with rather intense purple eyes.

At any rate, with this knowledge, we had taken the Kings Road down a ways to the first ruined inn, we had stayed there on the way in, and had heard wolf howling too. We laid out bait in the form of an extremely plump chicken that Eisenheim had dubbed Charlene. He really is an odd fellow. Regardless, the bait worked, and a pack of wolves approached. They seemed rather aggressive, but not much larger than a normal wolf. Regardless, we killed all but one, unfortunately they got to the chicken before we could protect it (I wouldn’t have minded supping on Charlene soup myself), however, a short ways into the fray, a massive wolf joined. We fought it, Rukh again proved his prowess, while everyone launched spell and arrow into the fray, he kept the wolves busy. A few of our area spells actually included him, but he was rather mighty and shrugged them off with little effort, I have to admit, I breathed frost, which included him, but he was unscathed. Delana was singed by a spell and she blamed Eisenheim, i did not see what actually happened, and he denies it. Humorous at the least. I landed the final blow on the giant wolf, rendering it unconscious. I felt it would be best to see what would come of it being alive. It certainly seemed intelligent, and if we could communicate with it, then we could figure out if there was more of them at the very least.

Eisenheim used a variation of a porter ritual. Instead of a disk, it was a shallow, square box that floated behind him. We decided to tie the wolf up (which was regenerating by the way, though Rukh stopped that with a silver piece under his tongue) and carry it to town. Delana had spared one of the wolves she was fighting, and decided to bring it too, so it also sat on the box. I think she means to domesticate it. Props for her if she manages to do so, I will be impressed. We managed to get the wolf back to the keep just in time for the sun to rise and it began to change. Fortunately the Lord’s Gate Guards were there to witness it. It became a rather furry man, and we tightened the bonds on the now smaller frame.

We spoke with the Lord Stern and left it in his care. Surprisingly, Jolar was there as well. We were actually suspecting that he might actually be the wolf. I do not trust the man as far as I can throw him, did I mention the wolf had violet eyes? In both forms too. Plus Jolar seemed more than a little nervous. I did manage to talk to Stern privately, and in confidence, explained my suspicions about his advisor. I assured him that they were mostly suspicions and that time will tell. After that, since we had been up for almost two days, we retired to the inn, which Eisenheim (Sometimes I wince when that one opens his mouth), managed to … negotiate into being comped by the Lord. We were to wait for a council of Nobles to decide what to do on the matter.

Once back at the inn, we all very quickly fell asleep. Delana had put her wolf in a cage in back. While smart, I do not think that would be the best way to earn its friendship. After sleeping, we woke up rather late, well past midday, and had some food, discussing what to do. That was interrupted when a runner from the Lord came with a summons. We had a bit of time before we had to leave to attend, so we each went our separate ways. Rukh went to meditate, he seems to have been afflicted in some way when the wolf bit him. He is irritable, and seems to possess a rage. It is a bit unnerving, I must admit. Delana and Al’der’eth left to go visit the healer, they were looking for herbs to treat Rukh. Eisenheim left off on some errand of his own. And I sat down to write you this letter. At this time, I am afraid I must say farewell. It is about time to answer the Lord’s Summons. I will write you soon and give you the conclusion to this mystery.

Stars be with you, Gaervesk

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Delana's story - Day 10
Delana writes of how former enemies can become allies

It was a late mid-day morning for my companions and I, as we had been awake the past two days. Master Rukh was not feeling any worse, nor any better either, so I made a mental note to seek out the healer who had provided the herbal tea the day before; I feel as though it may have at least helped. My companions discussed their intended plans, and there was talk of going back into the wood, to track the wolves and find more dire wolves, if there were indeed any. I was strongly against the idea, as Master Rukh was still not well, and we had no proof there were more dire wolves, our task might have very well been complete. One of my companions, I have forgotten who, remarked we had no proof there were not more dire wolves either. I shook my head, the comment sounded foolish to me; how was I to disprove such a claim, by using the non-evidence? In any case, I saw a small boy come into the inn, and handed Rizoff, the innkeeper, a note. A few moments later, Rizoff came to our table and handed us the note that was apparently addressed to us. It was from Lord Stern, he invited us to the keep at three bells past noon. It seemed our plans had been made for us. Master Al’Der’eth asked if I would like to accompany him to the healer, and I agreed to join him, as I intended to visit her anyway. The rest of my companions decided to stay in, and we all agreed to meet at the keep entrance at a quarter of an hour before the third bell rang.

Master Al’Der’eth and I made our way through the busy city streets, not entirely sure of where to go. We knew the healer lived as far from the keep as was possible, so she had to be in one of the far corners of the city. We choose one of the two places she could be, and luckily we choose correctly. It was a home with some land to itself, which was unusual in that Coldwell was a quite crowded city, with most private residences stacked one on top of each other. There was an herbal garden growing out front, but she was not outside attending to it, she must have been inside. We knocked on the front door, and several moments later, she cracked open the door and recognized us. She opened the door fully and invited us in. As we entered, she offered us some tea, but we had little time to sit and chat. Master Al’Der’eth asked the woman, in the long-winded manner he usually does, about the tea she gave to Master Rukh, if she could tell us what magic she used. Of course, the tea was not magical at all; the old woman was simply an herbal healer. Master Al’Der’eth tried asking what the tea was composed of, but it was not a secret she was willing to give up.

I asked the old woman if she could perhaps give me some more of the tea, as I told her our companion had not yet fully recovered, although I felt the tea had certainly helped. I said I would be willing to pay her for it, but she replied as to what I would give her? I was confused, and she continued that what would an old woman with few visitors possible want? It was clear she did not need the gold, so I thought for a moment, and answered that in exchange for the medicinal tea, I promised to come by to sit and chat over plain tea with her. She smiled at this, and seemed to stand straighter and lose much of her old crone-ish looks. She was actually not terribly old, and appeared rather able for her age. She believed us to be good people, and that I did not actually have to visit her, for she had plenty of visitors already. She handed me a canvas bag with several kettlefuls of the tea Master Rukh would need. I thanked her, and she told me her name was ‘Sheldy’, as I was calling her ‘Mother Healer’ up until this point. Master Al’Der’eth asked if serving Master Rukh the tea in a silver teacup would increase its potency, and she answered she did not think so, but that a silver teakettle may help. Before leaving, I begged Mistress Sheldy one more question; did she have anything that would calm a wolf, so that perhaps I could gain its trust? She was curious at this, and I replied it was for a personal endeavor of mine. She thought for a bit, and answered that she did not have anything like that, but that I should be careful when around wolves. Of course I knew that, and she added she thought it would be possible to make a friend of a wolf. I was happy to hear to that, and we finally bid her farewell.

Master Al’Der’eth and I, before going to the keep, went in search of a silver teakettle, which we found and shared the cost of. When we arrived at the keep, our companions had already gathered, which was of little surprise seeing as we came all the way from the opposite side of the city. We handed a guard the invite given to us, and he led us to the council chamber. Lord Stern was present, as was Lord Jolar, and three other gentlemen I had not seen before. One of the men had a very large mustache, another with red beard, and the third was a younger gentleman, perhaps a few years younger than Lord Stern. The table they were sitting at was covered with half-empty wine bottles, it was clear they were all very drunk. Slurred in his speech, Lord Stern thanked us for coming, and that he and his fellow council members were celebrating the decision they had reached concerning the dire wolf, who was currently chained up in the keep’s dungeon. Lord Stern said it was to be executed, two days from now, at midday. I shook my head in surprise, was there to be no trial, no inquiry made as to the identity of the captured man-wolf? I tried to speak, but Master Gaervesk and Master Rukh were already asking questions of Lord Stern. They were trying to gain access to the creature, to question him themselves. Lord Stern would grant it, and a guard led them, along with Master Al’Der’eth, to the dungeon.

It was just Master Eisenheim and I with the council. Master Eisenheim was ready to negotiate the reward, but I had some things to say to Lord Stern first. I tried to propose that if the prisoner was indeed a man, then he deserved a trial, but it seemed no one was listening. I pleaded to Lord Stern to at least delay the execution, for was the identity of the creature of no concern to him? Lord Stern thought about this, but was interrupted by Lord Jolar, offering him more wine. Did no one care for this creature, did anyone even know if he was responsible for his actions? Was it he that even attacked the patrols? Frustrated and upset, I saw it was useless to continue, and I left the council chamber in search of the rest of my companions. I found them in the dungeon, just as the jailer was opening the door to the creature. He was chained to the wall by the neck, both wrists and ankles. It was clear that he was beaten, and I felt pity for him. The guard closing the door behind us, Master Gaervesk started questioning the wolf-man, but he would not or could not speak. Master Gaervesk felt a magical presence from the restraints, was it those that was preventing him from answering our questions?

Master Rukh tried to talk with the beast-like man, and through a long process of nods and shakes of his head, we learned the creature’s name was Klimb. I myself asked him if he had killed the patrols, and if he had done so of his own free will. He nodded his head to both of my questions. As to why he had done so, we did not learn. Interestingly, Lord Jolar had ordered the magical restraints be placed on him, was Lord Jolar trying to hide something? From outside the door, we heard the jailer approaching, and Master Rukh cut his hand, and wiped some of the blood on Klimb’s face and his own knuckles. He smacked his fist into his palm several times, and Klimb made the appropriate-sounding howls. The jailer opened the door, and Lord Stern entered the room, his fellow council members in tow. They had come to see what information we had managed to get out of the creature, and Master Rukh replied that the beast was mindless and bloodthirsty, and showed the lords his bloodied hand. We were invited back to the council hall, and we left Klimb to his cell, promising we would talk with Lord Stern on his behalf. We were still ascending stairs when we heard a commotion from the dungeon, and we rushed back down to investigate.

The jailer was face down on the table, his untouched meal before him. A guard was chastising a young human girl who had evidently served the food. I examined the jailer. He was not dead, but appeared to be poisoned. I stabilized his condition, and said we needed to get him to the keep infirmary. Master Rukh picked the man up and carried him up the winding staircase. Master Gaervesk took the little girl by the hand and brought her with us. Master Rukh, dropping the poisoned jailer off on an infirmary bed, left with the rest of my companions. I stayed with the doctor on duty, and explained what I thought was wrong with the ailing man. The doctor asked if I had any medical knowledge, apparently not noticing my robes or healing potion hanging from my belt, so I explained who I was. He deferred to my expertise and I suggested giving the man something that would purge the contents of his stomach, for if it was poison he was fed, then getting it out of him was most important before it’s effect became worse. He agreed, and I asked if there was anything else I could assist with. The ill jailer was the only patient he had at the moment, so I said if he needed me further, I would likely be here in the keep for some while. I said a short prayer before leaving.

I found Master Rukh in the council chambers. He whispered to me he was trying to speak with Lord Stern privately, but Lord Jolar was always too close to him, and asked me if I could distract Lord Jolar while he had his word with Lord Stern. I agreed to help him, and approached Lord Jolar. I tried keeping his attention, but I knew little of the man, and he seemed disinterested with my questions. Thankfully, Master Gaervesk arrived and took over keeping Lord Jolar busy; he was a far more skilled conversationalist than I. Lord Mustache, as I had thought of him, caught my attention and asked if I were a cleric of Pelor. I replied I was, and he asked if I could bless his crops on behalf of Pelor. Lord Redbeard and Lord Younger overheard and asked for the same favor. Not wanting to appear rude, I said I would be honored to bless all their land in Pelor’s name. Lord Mustache reminded me of Father just a bit, he the had sort of face that appeared friendly to all. Still, was this all I could do, pray for blessings to land and harvest?

Feeling useless and out of my element, I sat in the corner and thought about poor Klimb shackled in the dungeon, and pondered why the jailer had been poisoned, and by who? A moment or two later, Master Rukh approached and asked me to check on Master Eisenheim and Master Al’Der’eth, who were still in the dungeon with Klimb. So I was off again, to check on our two more mischievous companions. I was just descending the stairway when I ran into Master Al’Der’eth and… a cloaked wolf-man dressed in Master Eisenheim’s clothing. Master Eisenheim’s pet rabbit, Robert, was unconscious on the wolf-man’s shoulder. Words failed me; I looked back and forth at the two of them, uttering nonsense. Out of the wolf-man’s mouth, which did not open nor move, came words sounding like a bad impression of Master Eisenheim, “Hi, I’m Eisenheim.” It would have been very funny if the circumstances were different, and I remarked on Master Al’Der’eth’s poor attempt at magical ventriloquism, then told him to stay put until I could find another exit to the keep, as the main entrance would no doubt have several guards present. I went off wondering where Master Eisenheim was, if he were really naked somewhere within the keep.

I went to the servant’s quarters, and I heard a noise from inside one of the rooms. I opened the door and saw the young servant girl crying. I called her over and asked what was the matter. She answered between sobs that the cook had beaten her. I was aghast, as she could not have been more than ten or twelve years old. I would make sure to find this cook and let him know his wrongdoing, and to let Lord Stern would know as well. But right now, I needed the girl’s help. I told her I would set right what the cook had done, and asked if there was a way out of the keep that was not via the main entrance. She asked why, and I lied to the poor child, saying my companion had taken ill from eating Lord Stern’s food, and we did not wish to insult Lord Stern, thus wanted to bring our friend to a healer unseen. She agreed to help me, and we went back for my companions, still waiting by the dungeon staircase. I waved them to us, and as they approached, the little girl took note of Robert the dead-looking rabbit, then clearly saw Klimb’s face… and she let out a scream everyone in the keep must have heard. We were about to be in really big trouble.

I snatched up the little girl, trying my best to comfort her. I whispered to her not to cry, and told her that we were the ones who captured the beast locked up in the dungeon below, and that our companion had been cursed by the beast to turn into a werewolf. I told her he would not harm her, casting a glance back over my shoulder at Klimb as I said it. Thus, I asked if she would please lead us out of the keep in haste. Suddenly, Master Rukh appeared behind us halberd in hand, asking what was going on. Realizing Lord Stern or Lord Jolar may be close behind, I told him I had no time to explain, and Master Al’Der’eth told him to cover for us. Running while carrying the girl, she told us where to go; a series of long corridors to a small room with a door that led to the back of the keep. I put her down finally, thanked her for her help, and gave her a gold piece. She took it, and then ran away as fast as she could. I did not even have a chance to ask her name. She was no doubt still frightened by Klimb. I turned to Master Al’Der’eth, telling him to get to The Silver Dragon as fast as possible, stopping for nothing. I would not be going with him. He agreed, and went on his way. I hoped I did not make a mistake leaving Master Al’Der’eth with Klimb.

As I walked back to the hallway, I saw the little girl had run into a group of guards. I hailed them, appearing as calm as possible as I approached. One of the guards had her by the arm, as she struggled to get away. The guard asked me what was going on, as he had seen us running up the corridor. I told him my companion had taken ill and had to leave as quickly as possible. The girl exclaimed it was not true, that he was a wolf, but the guard was having none of it and did not believe her. He recognized her as the girl that served his cousin, the jailer, the poisoned food, and said he had a good beating for her. I was aghast, he was going to hit that small girl? I would not allow it, and said as much. The guard looked surprised, and asked what I was going to do about it. I asked him his name, and he answered ‘Lord’ Kirk, but it was obvious to me he was but a mere guard. However, stroking his ego, I addressed him as Lord Kirk and declared that it was I who had saved his cousin’s life, and if he would like to return a favor, I would like the girl handed over to me. He complained that beating the girl would be his evening’s entertainment, unless I had something for him to replace the girl. I understood his meaning, and held out a gold piece, asking if that would satisfy him. It appeared not, and I fished out a few more pieces for a total of five. That seemed enough, and he let the girl go. However, he said he had done a favor for me, and I would need to return a favor to him. He asked where I was staying, and rather than lie further, I admitted I had a room at The Silver Dragon. He knew of the place, and would call on me some evening. I hoped he would get good and drunk and forget all about it.

The guards walking off quite pleased, I knelt and placed my hands on the little girl’s shoulders. I had spared her a whipping, and asked her name, which she said was Channit. I told her not to cry, and I thanked her again for helping my companions and I. Recalling she had said she was beaten before, I asked who had done so, and she answered it was Lee, one of the cooks. I asked her to bring me to him, and holding her hand, she led me to the kitchen. I asked her to point out Lee, and she did so. Upon seeing him, I became furious and approached him with purpose, and he took notice. I slapped him across the face, calling him a brute, demanding to know how he could strike a child. He looked angry, and his hand closed into a fist, he punched me in return. Not hard enough to draw blood, he was perhaps pulling his punches seeing I was a girl. I told him Lord Stern would not appreciate his guests being struck, and he sneered at me that Lord Stern would not appreciate his staff being struck. He growled at me to get out as he had work to do. It was clear to me that this man was just a bully and a coward, beating on those he thought weaker than himself. I had half a mind to show him how wrong he was thinking I was a fragile elf, but my calmer side prevailed and I left wordlessly, telling myself Lord Stern would hear of this. I was wrong to strike him first, but I was angry at what he had done. As I took Channit’s hand, the cook Lee yelled at her that he would most certainly beat her later, and I threw an icy stare back at him. He did not seem to care, and I had to restrain myself from doing anything violent. I told Channit that we were going to see Lord Stern, as I could not imagine Lord Stern condoning the beating of servants, no matter how lowly.

As we headed to Lord Stern’s council chambers, we nearly bumped into my companions, save Master Al’Der’eth. Master Eisenheim was nude except for the undershorts he was wearing, and he had clumps of fur stuck to his face. Master Gaervesk had clearly been bloodied, and I healed his wounds. Lord Stern, a few guards, and the other council lords were also following. They were all in quite a hurry, and asked me to join them, and I did so, not knowing what was going on. I let go of Channit, promising we would resolve her plight a little later. As a group, we went down into the dungeon. I heard Lord Jolar screaming for help, and he was behind bars in a cell, looking slightly injured. Master Rukh and Lord Stern approached him. There were accusations back and forth as to who attacked whom first, and Lord Stern listened patiently to all of it. He decided to keep Lord Jolar in the cell, but he would need be shackled first, and the door was opened. With a roar, Lord Jolar became a large white wolf, and bounded out of the cell!

He attacked Master Gaervesk, sinking his jaws deep into my companion. I prayed for Pelor’s shield to protect my allies. Master Rukh stepped in front of Lord Stern to protect him and dealt a mighty blow to the beast Jolar. Master Gaervesk and Master Eisenheim followed with powerful spells of their own. I, for my part, prayed for Pelor’s lance strike the beast. The council lords left in a hurry, but the keep guards stayed to fight alongside us. With our combined strength, we quickly defeated beast Jolar, myself landing the final blow and knocking him unconscious. Master Rukh wasted no time stuffing a handful of silver pieces in his mouth to prevent any regeneration. I saw a shiny object in the cell, and went to inspect it. It appeared to be a shard of silver, was it this that Lord Jolar had used to prevent his self-healing when we arrived so he may appear innocent? Master Rukh asked to see the object, and giving it to him, he thrust it into beast Jolar, and he took back his silver coins. We dumped the beast back into the cell, and Lord Stern invited us back to the council chambers. Returning from the dungeon, hopefully for the last time, I saw no sign of Channit, but I would fulfill my promise to her.

We proceeded to Lord Stern’s chambers, and he thanked us for all we had done. Master Gaervesk appeared ill, had beast Jolar infected him with the same sickness as Master Rukh had? I said I would care for him, but unlike Master Rukh, Master Gaervesk was not amicable to being treated. Lord Stern said a healer would be called for him, but I still had several servings of the special tea Healer Sheldy had given me. I hoped it would be enough to cure both of my companions of their sickly condition. I caught Lord Stern’s attention, and asked for a word, and he acknowledged me but had other matters to attend to. Master Al’Der’eth arrived, appearing drunk, and was asked to relate his story. He told of running away through the keep with myself and Klimb, finding a key in a hole under a rock, opening a door, Klimb leading him into the woods, Klimb getting away… at this I was shocked, and I exclaimed that I told him to bring Klimb back to The Silver Dragon! He said it was not his fault, that Klimb was too fast for him to keep up. And to his credit, he did go to The Silver Dragon, where he ate a filling meal and took a bath with two women and a bard to serenade them while he did so. I bickered with him while the others spoke with Lord Stern. Al’Der’eth the Pious indeed! Soon after, Lord Stern dismissed us. He appeared distraught at the events that had unfolded, and I understood his feelings. After all, his most trusted advisor and friend was some sort of werewolf, and Klimb had escaped. There was as of yet no resolution to the mystery.

So we returned to The Silver Dragon. I insisted I help Master Gaervesk, but he did not want my help. He would be a difficult one to care for, and Master Rukh said he would assist me if need be. Arriving at the inn, I ordered something to eat for myself, and a steak, which I cut into cubes for Rufu. I brought it out to him, and pushed the cubes into the cage, and then dumped brown gravy onto them. Rufu looked at me, then licked the gravy off the meat before eating the steak cubes. I put my hand on the bars of the cage, and Rufu emitted a low growl, so I slowly retreated my hand. She was not comfortable with me yet, so I simply sat with her a while, before going inside. As I entered the inn and went upstairs, Master Rukh asked if I had gotten one, holding a piece of paper in his hand. I said I had not yet been to my room, and he handed me the paper. It was a letter, asking us to meet in the wood one bell past midnight. It was signed ‘K’, and I asked if he thought it was Klimb. He did, and we would be going to meet with him at the indicated time. Master Gaervesk, before going to his room, said if anyone woke him before midnight, he would turn them into a frozen statue. There was not enough time to treat his disease anyway, so I would not be disturbing him.

I asked Master Rukh if I could beg a favor of him, and saying I had not ever asked anything of him before, he agreed to help me. I asked if he could bring Rufu’s cage inside, up to my room for me. He would do so, and we went outside behind the inn. As Master Rukh lifted the cage, Rufu growled, and Master Rukh roared that Rufu had best not bite him, for he would bite back. Rufu cowered, and I admit I did a bit as well; Master Rukh was most fearsome when he wanted to be. Master Rukh had no trouble bringing the cage to my room, and I thanked him as he placed it down, explaining I was not strong enough to do this myself. He bid us good night, and left. I looked inside the cage, Rufu looked back at me, her tail wagging slightly. There was no progress to made leaving her locked up in a cage, and making sure the door to my room was securely shut, I swallowed deeply, I opened the cage door. She skittered out of the cage, running to the opposite side of the room, and taking a defensive posture. She did not look like she wanted to attack, and reaching into a pouch, I pulled out some of the food I had foraged from the forest, and put them on the ground in front of me. She did not seem interested, so I just looked at her, into her eyes. The direct eye contact seemed to make her agitated, so I shifted my gaze at her, but not into the eyes. She seemed to relax, and after a while laid down. I smiled, she was becoming comfortable with my presence.

I took the bedding out of the cage and put it down on the floor, so she would not have to sleep in the cage. I got up, and went to my bed, seeing the letter from Klimb lying on top of it. I did not open it for I know what it contains, and have it next to me on the writing desk. Much has happened today, and here I have been sitting, writing of all of it. Rufu is looking at me, curiously, and I feel I may just gain her trust. The next step is to have her approach me of her own freewill; perhaps I can tempt her with food. After that, I can possibly offer her food from my hand, and after that, I may risk touching her directly. It will be a slow process, I hope we will be staying in Coldwell a while longer. I will rest a bit before we head off into the wood once more. I cannot bring Rufu with me just yet, and I do not fear her attacking me while I sleep. I will pray for the good health of Master Rukh and Master Gaervesk, I hope I am able to relieve their affliction.

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Ye Olde Switcheroo

Oh Sehanine. I’ve really gotten myself in a fix now. I don’t regret this, but I both rue and lament it. There are so many variables. I calculate the odds of success given a averagely skilled team to be 2341 to 1.

:::::A Scream is heard from above:::::

....5601 to 1. Fooles.

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Rukh's Journal 5
Wherein Rukh ponders on cities, wolves, and his own growing confusion and rage...

Good Master K’rrg,

I’m writing this as best I can, as I fear something is wrong with me. It’s making it difficult for me to concentrate, sit still, and otherwise behave in a civilized manner.

We made our way through the countryside towards Coldwell without any great incident. We tended to camp at the ruins of the Inns along the King’s Road, just like in the tales mother used to tell me. The last night before we arrived in the city, we heard the howling of wolves, but they came no closer.

We arrived in Coldwell before sunset on the third day, and the gate was not barred against us. Gaervesk had expressed concern about me cloaking my identity, but the others felt that I should not hide who I was. I pondered, but, in the end, I decided that, if I am going to help these people, they need to see who I am. They will learn to see past my appearance and know that I mean them no harm. And that seemed to be how it quickly proved. The guards, although first intimidated by me, did not bar me from entering the city, and they even directed us to a fine inn.

I’m not sure how I feel about the Silver Dragon Inn…certainly it is comfortable…but its level of comfort has me walking on eggshells. I am constantly fearful of making mistakes. Seeing how everyone in the Inn was dressed, I realized that, if we were going to appear before a Lord, I should not do so in my plain clothing, so I spent some of the coin we took from the dragon’s hoard to get a decent bit of finery. When I appeared in it next morning, the others seemed surprised and pleased. I guess appearance really does count for something, even among those who’ve known me longest in these lands.

Our audience with Lord Stern was brief. He rewarded us in the name of the King for driving the dragon off and listened to our tales with interest…

Oh, yes, I should mention…apparently we have a name now. Eisenheim insists that we need a name for our company so that our deeds may be told properly by the bards and such. Since I have read many great epics, I agreed with him in principle, but many of the names he suggested seemed…well…ridiculous. We ended up settling on the Keepers of the Golden Star. No clue what that’s actually meant to mean, but ah well.

Anyway, Lord Stern wanted our help…apparently his patrols have been disappearing. We had noticed that the last ruined inn we’d camped at seemed cleaned up. We wondered if they’d made it there and then met their end. We had noticed a disturbance in the undergrowth nearby as if something large had passed. Coupled with the howling of the wolves, we wondered if this was something we needed to investigate.

We split up. Gaervesk and Eisenheim went to the library under the supervision of Lord Jolar, one of Lord Stern’s closest advisors. Al’Der’eth and Delana went to the Temple. I had a look around he city, as it is the biggest settlement I’ve ever seen…although Gaervesk tells me it’s only a decent-sized town. I can’t imagine going to a large city. I stopped in at the Red Cup, a tavern that I liked very much. I spoke with the barkeep a bit about Brigit and Connor, and I may have found a clue to Connor’s whereabouts. I’ll need to follow up on that.

We re-convened…curiously, Gaervesk now seemed suspicious of Lord Jolar, although his “evidence” seemed a bit flimsy to me. Maybe it was just a gut feeling that he had about the man. We learned that Lord Stern’s father had seen to it that all dire wolves had been hunted out of the area years previously, and that it might be linked to a half-elf (Lord Jolar is one) and a cover-up of some kind by the nobility. I agreed this did cast things a little more clearly against Jolar, but it would need more proof.

Eisenheim had a plan that was simple but effective. We bought a chicken, and we returned to the inn that we’d seen the disturbed undergrowth near. We tied the chicken to a stake and waited.

Our patience was rewarded. Wolves appeared, hungry for chicken. As I came out to meet them, a huge wolf appeared in the undergrowth, and we knew these were not simply hungry animals. Their fighting techniques were very cunning, and they managed to trip me up occasionally, but I gave much better than I got. I was soon up and moving to engage the big wolf, which seemed oddly reluctant to fight me, although it gave Gaervesk some foul looks…with purple eyes (the same as Lord Jolar.)

We soon had the creature on the run, and its large size hampered it in the thick undergrowth. Our spell-worthy party was able to prevent its attacks, hold it in place, and other inconveniences. Both Gaervesk and Eisenheim made attacks that included me in their area, but I was able to dodge them and let them was hover our enemies…even if they had struck me, I think they felt I was hardy enough to deal with them. Unfortunately, Delana was caught in a burst of fire from Eisenheim…I don’t think she has quite forgiven him for it, although he claims he didn’t see her there.

The worst wound I got was from the big wolf. Almost immediately, a strange anger washed over me, and I was soon beating the beast with my axe. I had noticed its wounds healing, so I slipped a silver piece under its tongue, which seemed to halt this process…I wondered if this creature was a werewolf, such as in the old stories. We loaded it onto a magical floating platform that Eisenheim can create, and we returned to Coldwell, feeling quite victorious. Delana had captured one of the wolves, and it was tied up and placed on the disc too. Gods only know what she plans to do with it.

By the time we got back to town, I realized how difficult it was to think straight. I feared I’d been infected by this werebeast, and I began to clutch a silver piece. I thought that, if it began to burn, I would know I could be a danger to my companions. It did not burn, so I took this well. Lord Stern’s guards were present when the huge wolf turned into a man-sized, wolf-like humanoid. We tightened its bonds, and it did not waken. We have delivered the creature into Lord Stern’s hands, and it is definitely not Lord Jolar, as he was present as well. Perhaps it is related to him, or some kind of blight on his family. Although he seemed awkward at first, he seemed quite glad after the initial shock of seeing the beast.

At this time, we’re back in the Silver Dragon. I fear I was a bit over-zealous with my morning ablutions, and I took extra water to clean the bath. Delana, with a tea that was brewed by the Lord’s best healer, seems to feel she can help ease the fever I’m experiencing. I hope so…it makes me feel…more orcish. The desire to strike and tear is strong in me, as it never is when I am myself. I feel in a constant hurry to do…something. I want these feelings to go away.

Delana says I must rest, so I shall put this journal by for now. I will pray to Tuan for the strength to overcome this rage.

- Rukh

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Delana's story - Day 8 and 9
Delana writes of her encounter with the wolves

Day 8

We woke early the next morning, and headed back into the forest, to the second of the ruins inns we had passed in our journey to Coldwell. True to his word, Master Eisenheim had purchased a particularly plump hen, which he named Charlene. I looked forlornly at the poor animal, knowing its eventual fate. It took us a day’s worth of travel on foot to get to our destination. It was nightfall when we arrived, and we took refuge in the remains of the former inn. Master Eisenheim tied Charlene to a piton he hammered into the ground. Master Gaervesk then took a knife from his belt and cut his hand, letting the blood fall upon the hen. I healed his wound for him, and we took our usual shifts at watch. I fell asleep, only to be awakened by the sound of howling in the distance. Master Rukh awoke as well, and I confirmed that he had heard it also, lest it was a dream, unless we had the same dream. I eventually fell asleep once more, and again was woken by wolf’s howling, closer this time. I did not fall asleep again, and a few hours later, I saw something moving in the distance. I called to my companions, and fired an arrow at the creatures. They were wolves, and they moved toward Charlene, ending the poor animal’s life in a snap of their jaws. Master Rukh charged forward, halberd in hand. The wolves were crafty, and quickly surrounded him. Being assaulted from all sides, I ran to Master Rukh’s aid, and healed his wounds. Master Gaervesk joined the battle on the ground, while Master Eisenheim and Master Al’Der’eth stayed on the second floor of the inn, hurling spells down upon the pack.

There were three wolves at first, and a fourth joined his pack a short while later. I prayed to Pelor to shield my allies from harm. It was not long in the battle when I felt something under my feet, and in a blink of an eye, I was engulfed in golden flames! Master Eisenheim had cast one of his fire spells on my exact location, and while there were two wolves near me, they managed to escape the magical fire, leaving me singed and hurt. I did not heal myself, saving my healing prayers for my allies… supposedly allies anyway. My companions managed to kill a few of the wolves, when I saw something in the distance. It looked like another wolf, but was much larger, bigger than a man even. It’s eyes glowed purple, and it did not rush into battle at first, rather it watched us fight the smaller wolves, as though it were studying us.

The smaller wolves dropping around us, the giant wolf leapt into battle, and attacked Master Rukh, who was closest to it. Master Rukh had equipped his shield by this time, and held it between himself and the large creature’s jaws, which sought to tear him to pieces. It backed off and attacked again, wounding Master Rukh with a strong bite. I shot the last remaining wolf with one of my blunted arrows, knocking the animal unconscious. My allies concentrated their attacks on the large wolf now. The beast was tough, and bore much of our assault, until it was clearly bloodied from it. It attempted a hasty retreat from us, but was slowed by the brush. Master Gaervesk summoned a spell I had rarely seen him use before. It was terribly destructive and held the monster in place, unable to move. My companions took the opportunity to attack in combined force, letting loose their most powerful abilities. Blow after axe blow, volley after spell volley, the beast finally succumbed. It lay on the ground, bleeding, but did not seem quite dead. It appeared as though the brute were healing its own wounds, so we tied the large wolf up, using nearly all the rope we had. It seemed unlikely the beast would be able to escape its bonds should it even fully recover. Master Rukh had an idea; taking a silver piece from his pouch, he placed it under the creature’s tongue, and the self-healing stopped. I stabilized the giant wolf’s condition.

Master Eisenheim performed a ritual to create a large, magical floating disk, and Master Rukh dumped the fiendish wolf’s body upon it. I picked up the smaller wolf I had rendered unconscious and placed it on the disk as well. My companions asked what I was doing, and I replied it was my intention to show that the wolves were not responsible for the attacks on the patrols, that it was not in their nature to attack groups of grown men, and they were under the control of the large wolf. I was afraid of the wolves being blamed and hunted down, and at the very least I wanted to heal this one’s wounds. Master Rukh, meanwhile, looked very ill. Had he caught a disease from the bite he suffered?

My allies said we needed to get back to Coldwell, before the creature transformed back. I did not understand at first, but they explained it was unusual the wolf had purple eyes. The only other person we had met with purple eyes was Lord Jolar, and already suspecting him, they thought he might be some sort of lycanthrope. Before we left for Coldwell, I knelt before a single feather of Charlene, and said a prayer for the hen who had been sacrificed to the wolves for us. I stood, and caught a stare of Master Eisenheim, and I shot him a disdainful look. He apologized, claiming it was an accident. I took his word, but I did not fully believe him. Master Eisenheim was not a fool, despite much of his behavior. We travelled throughout the night back to Coldwell, arriving just before dawn.

Day 9

We came to the city gates, which were closed. Master Rukh pounded on the door, and a slot opened at eye level. It was the older guard we had met before. Seeing us, and what we had brought back from the forest, he opened the gates as quickly as he could. We rushed into the town, toward the keep. We needed Lord Stern to see our capture, before it transformed, if indeed it would. We came to the keep’s entrance, and hailed the guards over, the sun was nearly about to rise. They came to us, and the monster we had bound up was changing it’s shape, into that of a man! The guards stood agape, and we told them to summon Lord Stern, and Lord Jolar if he was available. Being smaller than he was before, my companions told me to tighten the loosened bonds, as I seemed to have a knack for knots. We entered the keep, into the main hall. Lord Stern came in, wearing his bed robe, looking very confused at all the commotion. We showed him the still furry man-wolf, telling him it was a large dire wolf just a few moments ago. Lord Stern looked to his guards, who nodded their heads as though they still could not believe their eyes. To our surprise, Lord Jolar arrived, asking what was going on. He saw the man-wolf for himself, and Lord Stern suggested we move to another room for privacy. We entered a smaller room, with a large table at its center. Guards stood at every doorway, and around the man-wolf, who had been dumped on the floor.

We told Lord Stern of our battle, and of how the man-wolf had a silver piece under his tongue to prevent it from regenerating. We suggested he place the man-wolf under lock and key, and wait for the former beast to change back fully into who it really was. We also requested a healer, for Master Rukh was clearly suffering from something, likely contracted from the dire wolf. Lord Stern sent for the best healer in the city. Lord Stern thanked us for finding the creature responsible for the attacks on his patrols, and Master Eisenheim piped up that he would like some reward. Of course Lord Stern would give us a reward, but Master Eisenheim went further and again asked for free room and board at The Silver Dragon. Lord Stern said he would send word to The Silver Dragon that he would pay all our expenses while we stayed there. Lord Stern was being far too generous, and I was greatly embarrassed by Eisenheim’s antics. Having gotten what he wanted, Master Eisenheim left for The Silver Dragon.

The healer finally arrived, and saw to Master Rukh, while Master Gaervesk had a private word with Lord Stern, away even from Lord Jolar. Jolar instead approached us, and said how glad he was that we had caught this horrible monster. I sensed he was not telling the absolute truth, that he was not pleased at our success. I said nothing; perhaps my companions were right, that this man had something to do with the library fire and the dire wolf attacks. Finishing his chat with Lord Stern, Master Gaervesk joined us. I spoke to the healer before we left, asking if there was anything I could do to help Master Rukh. She had given him a special tea which should help alleviate his illness. Other than making the tea, she had no advice for me. I asked Lord Stern as to where I could purchase a cage for the wolf I had brought back with me. He did not know, but was sure I could find one in the city. We left the keep and went back to The Silver Dragon. I went in search of a cage for my furry companion. I did eventually find one large enough, and brought it back to the inn, placing it out back. I went to my room and took a sheet from the bed, and spread it out on the bottom of the cage before healing the wolf’s injuries and gently laying it inside. I went back inside the inn, and ordered a meal for myself, and a steak for my wolf companion. I cut the steak is several small chunks, and brought them out back. The wolf was awake now, and it growled at me as I approached. I knew making a friend of this animal would take time and patience.

“Shh, Rufu, shh”, I whispered softly, “Delana will take care of you.”

I pushed the cubes of meat through the bars of the cage, and the wolf looked at me a moment before chewing them up, keeping her eyes on me always. I sat on the ground and watched her eat. She looked pitiful in the cage; an animal such as she should be free in the forest to hunt, but I wanted to form a bond with this wolf, to have it trust me and become my companion. In doing so, I hoped to show that the people of Coldwell and wolves could coexist, and also, if it allowed me, to make a loyal friend and ally.

I waited for the wolf to finish eating and lay down, her eyes still locked on mine. I prayed the wolf forgive my caging her, and I went back inside the inn. I requested a warm bath, and the cleaning and mending of my singed robes from the innkeeper. I asked the cost of the services, and the innkeeper replied it had all been taken care of. Of course, by Lord Stern no doubt. I went upstairs to my room, and soaked for a good long time, making sure to wash my hair carefully. When I was done getting the burnt elf smell off, I put on a robe and went to Master Rukh’s room, he could use my care. The door was shut, so I knocked, hoping he had not gone to sleep already. He was awake thankfully, and opened the door for me. I made him the tea the healer had given him, and I used my own abilities to ease his sickness. Master Rukh was clearly uncomfortable, and he asked me to leave, so that he may perform his ablutions. He told me to come back in an hour. I left and went back to my own room, for meditation and prayer.

It was not going well; I kept thinking of the wolf outside, in a cage, cold and by itself. I would have brought her inside if I could, but it would be foolish to open the cage, she would surely run the first chance she got. And I could not lift the cage myself, certainly not bring it up a flight of stairs. Instead, I went to the front desk, and asked for an extra blanket. The innkeeper looked at me oddly as I brought it outside, the wolf lifting it’s head and looking at me curiously. I covered the top and three sides of the cage with the blanket. Hopefully that would keep her warm, it was the least I could do for the poor animal. An hour passed, and I returned to Master Rukh’s room to care and treat his disease. I stayed with him for several hours, letting him rest as best he could. He was uneasy with me in the room while he lay in bed, but he could not deny that my assistance may help his condition. After doing all I could, I went to bed to rest myself. I did not know if I had fully alleviated his illness, but it surely did not progress further. If it is still present tomorrow, I will seek out the healer and request a stronger remedy.

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Al'Der'eth's Third Journal Entry
Dire Wolves and Nobility

The journey from Northbridge to Coldwell took us two three days along King’s Road, a once beautiful highway to connect great cities, now in ruins mostly covered over in trampled grass and even the inns which kept travelers well rested after a day’s journey are in ruins. After the first day of travel we arrived at a ruined in where the walls were long gone and the roof burned off. Night passed into day and we continued our way towards Coldwell. Night came once again and we found ourselves at another ruined inn this one at least had a roof over it, but still the derelict walls provided some but not total cover and comfort. During the night the cries of wolves were heard, unsure if they were real or just a dream we all ventured onward towards Coldwell.

We were well accepted by Lord Stern and his people, how great it was to be back in a large city, although I enjoy adventuring, there are some comforts I just do not wish to go without. What a great meal we had at the Dragon Inn, I had the most delectable trout that has ever passed my lips, for if I was a writer of guides to such far away places, this meal and this very inn would be well recommended. I visited the local temple and tithed to Ioun ten percent of my modest purse and in the morning we learned of problems in the past with dire wolves afflicting this beautiful land. Delana and myself went to the Acolytes for more information, while Gaervesk and Eisenheim perused the library. We found very little useful information, while the others found it very peculiar that all the books on local history and beast mastery were burned yet the arson never affected the rest of the library. It seems as if someone is trying to cover up the past.

Eisenheim had a plan, and for once we all went along with it, and it worked! He obtained a chicken, we went out a days journey to the second ruined in and stood guard hoping some wolves would take their bait, and did they! We battled four wolves and a giant dire wolf, obviously one that was still somewhat human on the inside. The gods shown upon me that night and my magic missile spells struck with great accuracy and dealt damage from the wraith of Ioun. Praise thee Ioun for using me as a vessel to mark your judgments. We kept the dire wolf from dying and hogged time him hoping to travel all night and arrive back at Coldwell before dawn to show Lord Stern what is going on around here. We noticed that his was regenerating from his wounds and Rukh put a silver piece in it’s mouth which as old wives’ tales say worked beautifully. The creature transformed from wolf into a hairy humanoid, but it’s transformation was stunted from there. A court is going to be drawn for us to discuss the matters in more depth.

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Delana's story - Day 5 to 7
Delana writes of her journey to Coldwell

Day 5

I awoke to the sound of Rukh’s voice, informing me it was my watch. He gathered up his things and was headed off again as he usually did every morning. I asked him where it was he went and what it was he was doing every day before the sun came up. He replied he was making his ablutions. I did not understand what that meant or entailed, and asked as such. Rukh explained it was to clean himself, and I wondered why he did not simply say he was going to take a bath. Then again, his armor and weapons are always very shiny, perhaps that’s included in his ablutions. Anyway, with Rukh gone, I am ashamed to say I fell asleep during my turn to keep the watch, I feel as though I am not used to all this travelling by foot. I was wakened by a strange noise; something was going through our things, my pack to be specific. As I peered over to the source of the sound, a grey squirrel popped its head out my satchel. Berries and nuts I had collected the day before were scattered on the ground. It looked at me curiously as squirrels do; I reached into a pouch on my belt and pulled out a handful of foragings it seemed to like and offered them to the tiny animal. The squirrel immediately ran off and up a tree. Rukh came back a short while later, as I was cleaning up the mess the squirrel had made. He asked if anything had happened, and I told him of the mischievous squirrel. He then asked if I had a quill and parchment, and suggested I put up a wanted poster for the thieving animal. I smiled, it was good to see my orcish companion’s sense of humor.

The rest of my companions were up and about thereafter, and we set back out on our journey. Nothing of note occurred, we chatted idly as we walked together. I did some more foraging to make up for what the squirrel had eaten or thrown on the ground, although we had plenty of food to spare. As dusk approached, we came upon yet another clearing with a ruined building in its center. I asked why there were so many ruins on this path, and Rukh explained this road was commonly used for travel, and inns were placed far enough apart that travelers could stop at each before nightfall. I wondered why they had been abandoned and fallen into disrepair, perhaps it was the bandits I had heard of before? And were we just fortunate not to encounter any?

Day 6

I was woken by Rukh to take my watch, as had become regular practice. Unlike the morning before, no visitors came to rummage through my sack. Once my companions had gotten up and ready, we continued on the path. Our next stop was Coldwell. The trip was uneventful, except as we neared the city, I took notice of the foliage. The bushes were flattened, branches broken, and tracks that looked like that of a bear. I pointed it out to my companions, but we could not make out for certain what had been through the area. Gaervesk took the opportunity to suggest to Rukh that he wear a cloak to disguise himself, as being seen with a half-orc might draw unnecessary attention. Eisenheim disagreed, saying it was no problem of ours what others thought of us. Perhaps for the first time I agreed with Eisenheim, telling Rukh he should not hide who he is, for he had fought with us courageously and honorably. Rukh did not don a cloak, and we continued onwards toward Coldwell. We were stopped at the city gate by two guards, and we handed over a writ stating we had an audience with Lord Stern. We asked for directions towards an inn, and the older guard told us of two. The younger of the two guards looked at our party and seemed genuinely intimidated by Rukh and Gaervesk. We all took notice and it seemed all but I made a comment to him in passing.

We finally entered the city, it was unlike any I had seen before. Larger than even Fordsmeet, buildings constructed three or four storeys tall. It was quite amazing, although seemed to be born out of necessity, as limited space within the city and a growing population required citizens to build up if not out. We came to a crossroads, and went our separate ways. Eisenheim, Gaervesk and Rukh followed the guard’s directions to The Silver Dragon, described as a very nice inn, compared to the taverns we were used to. Al’Der’eth and I went to the temple. It was a sort walk from the inn, we would meet up with our companions later. We found the temple and saw it was devoted to the entire pantheon of gods, or at least the gods not associated with evil and chaos. Al’Der’eth went to the statue of Ioun, myself to Pelor’s statue. I knelt and said a short prayer to Pelor, thanking Him for granting us safe journey to Coldwell. I peer over at Al’Der’eth, he was talking with an acolyte, and handed her a good sum of gold. After speaking with Al’Der’eth for a moment, she saw me and walked over. She said her name was Janocin. I greeted her with a prayer, explained who I was and asked if there were any services I could render, healing and such. She replied there was not, but she would put the word out and asked if in two days time I could return. I agreed, and gave her five gold pieces for the maintenance of Pelor’s shrine. She thanked me, and I said goodbye with another short prayer.

Al’Der’eth and I headed to The Silver Dragon, and entering the establishment, were greeted by Gaervesk who said he had gotten rooms for us. I thanked him and immediately paid the gold I owed him. I asked where Rukh had gone, and Gaervesk said he had left to find a tailor. Feeling tired and somewhat dirty, I went to a half-elf man at the front desk who seemed to run the inn, and asked if the rooms had baths. He replied that one could be brought to me for an extra cost, and I gladly paid a few silver for it and a laundry service for my robes. During this time, Eisenheim was arguing with Gaervesk about a name for our adventuring band. Eisenheim thought we had become important enough to have a formal title, whereas Gaervesk said titles should be earned, not self-given. I agreed with Gaervesk, as was more usual for me, telling Eisenheim it was not noble to make up titles for oneself. He handed me a list of candidates and told me to pick my favorite, but I saw none worthy, as the page contained only presumptuous or plain ridiculous names for our party.

Anyway, the inn itself was indeed quite nice, very clean and with pleasant decor. I sat down at a table and ordered a meal; a salad and warm milk. I saw Gaervesk about to sit for dinner, and I waved to him and asked him to join me. He did so, and I admitted I had something to ask of him. As he was the voice of our adventuring party now, I said I wanted to be of help, and offered to be his negotiating assistant. Using my insight, I could tell him my sense of the other party in negoiation, and if words were inappropriate to use, I could give him a small gesture. He replied that he was not without awareness, but I mentioned that perhaps I had greater empathy for others. He said he would consider my offer should be require my feelings in talks with others. I felt sheepish, as though I subtly insulted him, but my intention was merely the desire to prove useful. I hope Gaervesk understands this.

Rukh arrived a little while later, and ate a hearty supper. Eisenheim was still trying to find an agreeable name for our group, and inspiration finally hit him it seemed. He suggested we call ourselves ‘Keepers of the Golden Star’. I thought for a moment; the ‘golden star’ may represent the sun, symbol of Pelor. I admit I liked it, and said I would not mind being part of a group under such a title. The others seemed amenable to referring to ourselves as such, and thus we became ‘Keepers of the Golden Star’. The business at hand finally concluded, I went to my room, seeing the warm bath had been delivered. The room was especially first-class, with a large soft bed and exquisite furniture. I immersed myself in the bath, and after a lengthy period of relaxation, changed into fresh robes and returned my soiled robes to the front desk to be cleaned. I went to bed, sleeping much better than I had the past few days.

Day 7

I awoke the next morning, well-rested and refreshed. The sun was bright and shining, and the sound of people going about their morning business came in through the window. How good it felt to be among civilization again. I stretched my body before putting on my outer robe and going downstairs to collect my laundered clothes. They were outside, no doubt hung up under the sun to dry faster. I picked up my bundle and went back to my room to change into the fresh-smelling robes. Collecting my things, I went downstairs yet again, and saw my companions had all gathered. Rukh appeared different, his clothes were new and clean, and his red hair pulled back into a neat ponytail. I commented on how handsome I thought he looked. He seemed uncomfortable at this compliment. My other companions all seemed ready, and not stopping to eat breakfast first, we went straight to the keep to see Lord Stern.

We were greeted by one of Lord Stern’s servants, Lord Jolar. We showed him the writ that had been given to us, and he led us to Lord Stern’s throne room. It was a large room, with, appropriately enough, a throne at the far end. Sitting upon the throne was Lord Corith Stern, a human in his mid-thirties. We bowed before him, and he stood to address us. He thanked us for stopping the attacks in Northbridge, and offered a reward of twenty-five gold pieces to each of us. I hadn’t helped the people of Northbridge for monetary compensation, but apparently Eisenheim wasn’t satisfied with the Lord’s offer and haggled with the man! He asked Lord Stern if perhaps the Lord would pay for our lodgings at The Silver Dragon, and Lord Stern graciously replied he would see what he could do. Gaervesk apologized for Eisenheim’s behavior. The Lord then went on to explain a series of recent disappearances of patrols he had sent out along the road we ourselves had taken from Northbridge to Coldwell. So far, three patrols had gone missing, thought to be the work of wolves, and the Lord was asking for our help. Gaervesk asked some questions about the patrols, when they were sent out and such, but I thought back to the flattened and broken brush we had passed on the way to Coldwell. Could there be a connection between the two? I asked this of Gaervesk, and he thought it might be a possibility. For the time being however, we would look more into the matter.

We split up; Gaervesk and Eisenheim went to the royal library for research, Al’Der’eth and I went back to the temple, and Rukh decided he wanted to shop about town a while longer. Leaving the keep, we made our way through the marketplace, which was bustling with activity, far busier than it was the night before when we arrived in the city. It was apparent anything one could want could be found here, if you could find the appropriate shop, that is. We finally made it to the temple, and Acolyte Janocin noticed us come in. We said we were in search of information, and she led us into a small but cozy office. We told her of the disappearances and of the broken brush I had seen in the forest, and asked if she thought they might be related. She thought for a moment or two, before replying she remembered hearing about an incident many years ago, before she was even born. There were a couple of disappearances similar to these recent ones, though not armed patrols, perhaps just a town official or two. It was discovered a dire wolf was responsible, and the town banded together to dispatch the creature. Shortly after, Lord Stern’s father, Darius Stern, ordered all dire wolves in the area to be killed on the spot. Even so, she said wolves were still prevalent, although there have not been any dire wolf sightings in the area for some time. She apologized for not being able to help more, but I thanked her for all she was able to tell us. I myself apologized for not being able to assist the temple in healing of ill citizens due to being requested for this task, but Janocin said that by accomplishing this charge, I was doing enough for the people of Coldwell. I nodded, and handed her five gold pieces for the care of the poor and sick. Al’Der’eth and I left the temple and went back to The Silver Dragon.

We were met by our companions. Gaervesk recommended we move to one of our rooms to discuss what we had found. A ritual for silence was performed; I wondered what was of so much consequence that we needed absolute secrecy to even talk about. Gaervesk went into detail of what he and Eisenheim had found in the library. It appeared they suspected Lord Jolar had something to do with the recent attacks. Access to the library was highly restricted, and their search had found a section that had been set alight by flame. Eisenheim had managed to pilfer a burnt book, and a ‘make whole’ ritual later, it turned out to be a bestiary catalogue. Albeit incomplete, for some pages were too far gone to be recovered. I related the story of dire wolf attacks Acolyte Janocin had told Al’Der’eth and I. We decided to go back into the wood the next day. Eisenheim said he would purchase a chicken to attract the wolves. I was not entirely comfortable with sacrificing a poor farm animal to wolves, and I voiced my feelings. Rukh retorted that he was not comfortable wearing his armor, but he did so because it protected him. I pondered his words for a bit; Rukh chose to wear his armor, I’m sure the chicken would not choose to be used as bait, but I did not vocalize my thoughts to Rukh. Our plan decided, we ate supper and then went to bed. I was not looking forward to encountering whatever may have been responsible for attacking armed patrols, and I had my doubts it was the work of mere wolves.

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Keepers of the Golden Star!

Hello brother!

We have settled on a name for our troope. We are the Keepers of the Golden Star, and I expect your will hear of our deeds before I will be able to give you these notes.

I have composed a song. A small ditty for now, but it will become an epic as time passes. Let me share:

“Companions from far and wide
Meet in the northern side
Victory will be theirs for evermore


The lorde of the land sent for aid
The Keepers would stop the raids
Courageous and mighty to their core


They slew beasties and goblins
and a dragon whose fighting was sub-par
We are the Keepers of the Golden Star”

A greate start eh? I will hum the tune. Bards will tell it as an epic no doubt.

We met Lord Stern. He seemed rather agreeable, but he doesn’t like to parte with his gilder. Twenty five gold pieces for saving a town? If I wanted charity work, I would have joined a temple. At leaste the city we are staying in is quite nice. It’s good to be in a civilized area finally. My companions fear and suspicion of population centers was evidente on our way here. They talked at length about how to hide in the city and not be noticed. I finally assuaged their fears, and told them that if they didn’t mind an occasional sidelong glance, they would be just fine.

I swear to you, they all think of me as some sort of joke or a jester, and they think I do not notice. I most certainly do notice, and I find it insulting, but it’s better to be underestimated. The real strange part is that I’m the most sensible one out of the group! Gaervesk is the only one who realizes this, but he juste pays lip service to it.

I must say, Rukh surprised me this morn. He came from his quarters looking the part of a dapper lad. He could have used a bit more…Flourish…but he was far better than I expected.

The lorde of the land has given us a new task. We must find out what is causing patrols to go missing and put an end to it. On the way to this town we saw what looked to be some sorte of disturbance in the brush. I think these are related and some sort of beaste is consuming these men. Gaervesk and I are going to research it. I will use a goat as bait wait till the beaste comes, then let swords and sorcery do the rest. This stuff is easy.

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Rukh's Journal 4
In which Rukh recounts on the cowardice of dragons and the curiosity of feeling wanted

I rushed quickly towards my companions, calling Tuan’s Wrath upon it if it dared to smite them and ignore my call to glorious battle. The dragon immediately blasted forth a blinding aura of darkness to cover its actions. I felt a hissing sound near and a stinging pain as the creature’s claws struck me, skittering along my armor. I tried to strike back with my halberd, but the darkness seemed to have concealed its retreat. I was in the cloud, and I was not sure if anyone else could see it, so I called out to them to try and see if anyone could tell where the dragon was. A call from…I’m not sure…Eisenheim or Al’Der’eth?...alerted me as the sound of rushing water told of the dragon emerging from her watery hiding place. The darkness began to clear, and I saw the dragon breathe a seething spray of acid at my friends. There was a snap and hiss of ozone as Tuan’s Wrath struck at her.

I moved along the shoreline, hurling a javelin to keep her under my challenge, bellowing insults to her lineage and her cowardice. She dove back beneath the waters, struck, I think, by several spells from my companions. When she re-emerged, I was ready, weapons to hand, and a most terrible battle was engaged. I used the various techniques you helped me learn, Master…I called Tuan’s Judgement upon her…I struck home with the help of Tuan’s Valor. And at all times, Tuan’s Wrath was with me, burning the dragon if it engaged in the folly of seeking to battle any but me. I saw looks of surprise on my companions’ faces as some of my powers lent them healing. It seemed we were much in need of the grace of the gods…but, slowly, I began to realize that we were winning. And then the beast tried to flee…a volley of our attacks followed her…I’m pleased to say I struck her with a javelin…I’ve never been much for thrown weapons. I know some of my companions cast spells and fired attacks of their own…but then the dragon was gone, Gaervesk screaming after her in what I can only assume were obscenities or oaths in his strange tongue.

We stood there, as it sank in that we had won…the dragon was defeated! Smokesnare…Gaervesk had guessed from her very name that she was a dragon. I am sure we will see her again.

Eisenheim immediately used his elf magic to teleport to an island in the middle of the lake. He began fishing in crevices, and we quickly guessed this must mean there was treasure. The rest of us, unable to travel so easily, began to strip down to join him. I noticed Delana staring at the marks on my back in…I don’t know. It may have been pity…or perhaps revulsion. I was glad she did not ask me about them. I swam out, with some of the others, and gathered up the coins and items we found, which included a holy symbol and a bow. We gave both to Delana, for she seemed the best able to put them to use.

King Meebo seemed glad to see us…troubled that we had not slain the dragon, but glad it was gone for now. We exacted an oath from him not to continue the raids, and then we began our return. One moment of difficulty was when we found the one hobgoblin who was still alive due to Delana’s mercy. The party was very divided on what to do about him, but I put forth that, as he was Delana’s captive, it was up to her to decide what needed to be done with him. Would she have us bring him back to town to no doubt be slain for his crimes? To leave him with the kobolds, who would no doubt torment or kill him for what he’d done to them? Or to free him, knowing that he might seek others of his kind to do wickedness with. Delana asked us to free him that he might take the tale of his defeat back to his people. I released him for her, but it was clear the others were not pleased.

We returned to Northbridge largely in silence. While the others went off to sell the gear of those who had fallen to us or to the temple to discuss matters of the soul, Gaervesk and I went to Galen to tell him of our victory and to assure him that the kobolds would pose no further threat. He had a message for us…apparently my companions were charged to this task by no less a figure than a king. One of the local lords, a man called Stern, wanted them to come to him for reward, rather than returning to the King himself. I assumed this was the end, and that we would part and go our separate ways. It quickly became clear to me that my companions wished me to continue traveling with them.

I must admit that this was a strange feeling. I cannot imagine that my company is so pleasant that they seek me for it. Still, it is good to be wanted for my valor and my strength. Tuan grant me them a while longer that I may see them safely to this Lord’s castle. They seem to feel he’ll have some sort of reward for me, as well, which seems odd to me. I’ve never heard in any of the old stories that Lords were well-known to be glad for the loss of more money.

We set out the next day, and Eisenheim rather startled me. He came up to me to speak and told me, very casually, that he’d known a worshipper of Tuan in the band of traveling entertainers he’d been a part of with Gaervesk. I studied his face a moment and realized that he’d never known any such person, but it was clear he wished to know more of Tuan, which was flattering enough. I told him some of the most basic elements of the Tale of the Brothers and asked him a few questions about these traveling entertainers in return (they call it a circus…I got the spelling from Gaervesk.) And then, I was curious enough to ask the others about where they came from. They seem to have all traveled far to be here, and, other than Gaervesk and Eisenheim, none of them had known each other before answering the King’s call. So in a way, we were almost all new to each other’s company.

I could not help but notice that, other than Eisenheim’s questions of Tuan, none seemed interested in where I came from. That suited me well enough.

As I write this, we’ve taken refuge in the ruins of what might be an old King’s inn along the road to Coldwell, the Lord Stern’s demesne. I pray Tuan for the strength and valor to face whatever lies ahead, whether it be dragons or the more perilous danger…sycophantic nobles. I hope that what I’ve learned of courtly manners from the old tales will be enough to keep me out of trouble in that arena.

In Tuan’s name,

Rukh

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