Abridged History of the 10th Age

14th Furrow
...Running with all the force my still injured body could deliver, I leaped upon the saddle of a fallen Bluecloak's steed, sword drawn...

From the Journals of Patrius atte Loitre, late of Summerdown in the Blackwood Forrest…

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt an urge to add to my journal.

A few months ago- it feels like years, now – it seemed a useful tactic. Having spent my whole life in the Blackwood, I’m well educated in flora and fauna, trapping and hunting; the ways of survival, and life. But deep in the forest the mind can wander, and that’s when things become dangerous. Tracking a stag sates only the basest of desires, leaving the imagination and the soul wanting.

Years ago when I was running the caravans between Northmount and Bonevale, a wily old coachmen told me that he wrote his daily thoughts down in a little folio he kept on him. “Son,” he rasped, “yer’ eyes aint worth spit if your head’s busy ponderin’. That’s why I get it out of my system in this,” he told me, holding up the worn, leather-bound tome. The advice seemed odd, at first, as almost any piece of good advice sounds to a boy of 17. As the years have passed, and my time in towns has waned, along with my time around other people, I have come to find the old driver’s words are a truth too big to ignore, and too simple to argue with.

So here I am, again, scribbling. I am Patrius atte Loitre. I am the son of a smith, a motherless son who still winces at the scars that twist along his arms- the ugly tattoos of a youth spent working iron on his father’s anvil. I am 23, and without wife or child. Would it be cliche to say that I am married to the forest? Or perhaps to the Vales. Or maybe the Blackwood. I think so. Suffice to say I am without home beyond my country and the people that live in it- and it is about to be torn apart.

I arrived in Woodsedge a day ago, along with my traveling companion Rowan. She is a strange woman, a halfling, with shocking hair and even worse manners. But I have come to trust and respect her- she worries over her home in Seabotl with a passion equaling my own concern for the Vales. We met along the road to Woodsege, having discovered that we both wished to find the same group: Sword and Sorcery.

But Woodsedge was and is a tiny version of the rest of the Vales- a town torn apart, split between folk terrified of occupation, of Bluecloaks serving the whims of a Weylic king, and a lingering threat from all sides of Dorlish invasion. I was taken into a sort of custody almost immediately on my arrival, but Rowan and I, along with a few good Bluecloaks, defeated the plans of a heartless Bluecloak Captain under the employ of something called “The Three Crowns”. I was badly injured during the engagement, and nearly fell during battle. But it was our luck, Vaela be praised, that the inn we fought in held a member of the Sword and Sorcery group- a queer fellow by the name Aldous. He gave me a healing dram and I fell nearly instantly into a deep slumber…

...The morning next, we all awoke. I’d recovered some from my injuries, though the day is long in coming when I will be fully restored. For a short while, I felt- I assumed- we had woken to peace. Or some form of peace.

Food was served by Nobol, the inn keeper. The town was a bustle with Bluecloaks, preparing their march for Seabotl. Aldous found it in his odd heart to finally give us his name, and it seemed like Rowan and I would soon have contracts with the venerable group of adventurers- providing we proved to Aldous that we had the right skills.

The request was an annoying one. Rowan and I had traveled long hard miles, and though I can’t speak for her, my own abilities are in no need of proving. But as we began our morning, Aldous and I spied a young lad spreading whispers among the townsfolk.

Intercepting him, Aldous and I discovered that he was spreading a rumor about a murdered wizard named Orvius Kavalson- supposedly killed by a group of dwarves near Seabotl. We reconvened with Rowan, who wanted some privacy to discuss her mission with Aldous. Before we left, Nobol hurried over and delivered a note he found in the insidious Bluecloak Captain’s room.

The three of us took a short walk north, until we came upon a faded statue of Vaela. I took my time to honor a promise and prayed to her honor, that venerable goddess of travelers and pilgrims, while Aldous and Rowan talked. I admit that I overheard them, and at the mention of the murdered wizard, Rowan became quite upset. I chose then to reveal my note to them- a message to the Captain, letting him know that everything was going to plan, and that “the dwarves” would be “blamed”. It seemed obvious that this was in reference to the supposed assassination of Orvius by dwarves, as part of some larger attempt to disrupt the trust of Valelanders..and who knows what else.

We rushed back to town, with Rowan determined to get a message to Seabotl- about both the murder of Orvius, and the coming arrival of the Bluecloaks. She managed to employ one of Nobol’s kitchen boys for the task- requiring another donation of coin from my rapidly shrinking coffers- and we continued on. But before any of us knew what was happening, the remaining Bluecloaks began falling like flies. The boy Aldous and I caught had been spreading more than rumors, it seemed- and the folk of Woodsedge had decided to fight back against the Bluecloak’s occupation!

Symen, a woodsman, seemed to lead the attack, and he and his men corralled a handful of scared Bluecloaks in the center of town. There they stood, fate uncertain, sweating under their armor and cloth, while Nobol and Symen fought with words over the logic of the attack. I stepped forward and argued with Symen, but he was wild with anger, and would not listen. Making to execute the terrified huddle of mercenaries, I struck him with a fist- foolish, maybe, but it was all I could do to stop him. Taking this as a sign of opportunity, the Bluecloaks tried to take up arms and fight back…

Blood spilled fast. I tried my best to prevent it, but a slaughter they wanted, and a slaughter they got. For a moment…I was lost. What to do? I had made kind with many Bluecloaks in my days with the caravan, and though they were not always the keenest group, they were at least honorable. Now, here I was, caught between a desire to see the Dorls pushed out, and a hope that the Vales will remain independent and free of occupation. To me, at first, it seemed that Weyland was a lesser evil, but the people of Woodsedge- and they are not alone- see things a bit more black and white than I do. And so after a moments hesitation, I made my choice. Running with all the force my still injured body could deliver, I leaped upon the saddle of a fallen Bluecloak’s steed, sword drawn, and charged after a fleeing Bluecloak. He fel under my mount and was quickly trampled.

By the time I recovered from my ill-begotten reverie, the damage was done. The streets ran red with blood, the interwoven streams of Bluecloak and townsmen alike. Worse than that, selfish as the thought might be, is the state of my heart- Have I shamed Vaela? Was turning on the Bluecloaks- once friends, once traveling companions- the right choice? Is there no better way to keep the Vales free? I once thought there was. But now? I’m not so sure.

Rowan, Aldous, and I convened again, and I had words with Symen. My temper was at it’s breaking point, but he offered to send a group to stop the Bluecloaks from reaching Seabotl, and Rowan was overjoyed. Aldous, as usual, stood looking disinterested and bored. Without my input, Rowan struck a deal with Symen, and Aldous, hungry to see us “in action”, went along with the idea.

So in exchange for the safety of Rowan’s town, we are set to venture to Bracstone Heights, realm of wood elves, in a vain attempt to convince them to fight for Symen, the Vales, and the Smallwood. I admit that the idea of having the Elves on “our” side is a nice one, but this journey is fraught with danger, not the least of which from the notoriously daring and vicious elves themselves.

Wishing not to spend another minute in the crimson lined streets, I quickly set to organizing my companions; lending money to Rowan to fix us with provisions, and finding three more horses to serve as our mounts and pack animals. Sadly, I was able to take advantage of a stable full of horses, saddles, feed, and harnesses…goods and beasts the Bluecloaks of Woodsedge will never again need.

What I am left with, however, is a burden. A great burden. A weight that weighs on me so much that the sight of mounds of feed and bags of foodstuffs seems to me as feathers on the wind…a burdensome feeling that Symen was right. A sensation that some change has come about…or came about, the moment I chose to trample that Bluecloak. Is this what must be done to free my beloved Vales? Is it truly Vaela; if it is, please, give me a sign. Because if it is…

...I will do it. A thousand times if necessary.

Vaela help me.

Patrius atte Loitre, 14th Furrow, X501

View
13th Furrow

Five days. I’ve been riding five days. All feeling in my bottom is gone, I think. But it’s been enjoyable, if nothing else, to see all this countryside. I don’t often leave Seabotl, and while this isn’t exactly a vacation, it’ll be nice to get out there. Finally I reach the crossroads. I can see a traveler – alone from what I can tell. A harmless enough looking human. Having been weaned off talk for the last several days, I am admittedly a little eager to attempt some interaction with this long-legged individual. My North Varan’s good. Assuming that’s what he speaks, I heartily try and coax this bashful-looking man into some casual conversation after catching his eye. He calls himself ‘Patrius Atte Loitre’, and he’s heading for Smalwood, too. Soon, after some more prompting on my part, he tells me that he too is seeking out Sword and Sorcery – just like me. From what he says, the Sword and Sorcery group have been roughing up the Dorls – and the Dorls are roughing up his town. Where ever that is! He does seem reluctant to give me anything more than that, though I wont test him. We are strangers. For all he knows, I could be the enemy. But then, for all I know, he could be just the same.

After a bit more chatting, I learn Patrius encountered what he calls ‘Baldanno foot soldiers’ four days ago. I’ve never heard of them. I end up informing him of my duties, and before long, considering our identical tasks at hand, we’ve seemed to have buddied up and arranged a partnership – however brief. In due time, I can see Smalwood – finally, a gratifying sight after so days on the road. For want of a good, well-needed leg stretch, I dismount my mule and walk off the saddle soreness for the remainder of our walk into Woodsedge. As we approach town, I can see an inn settled in the middle of a mass of buildings. Upon closer inspection, we both notice there’s a pair of men dawdling at the entrance – both clad in odd blue cloaks. Patrius labels them ‘Bluecloaks’. Go figure! He seems to recognise them. Myself? No wordly clue. I sure don’t like the looks of ‘em, that’s for sure – even if Patrius seems to have deemed them nonthreatening. They’re mercenaries, he says, who offer the caravans here protection for goods. Apparently, they don’t like the Order of the Sword Militant. Probably I’ll have to make it a point to keep quiet about my intention to go seek their help then.

The closer we draw to the inn, the more crowded it appears to be. Once we are there good and proper, we see that the place is absolutely swimming in blue. And I don’t mean water. Bluecloaks, at least a hundred of them, everywhere. They seem neutral enough to our being here, though. And my new companion seems real bent on the idea of seeking food and quarters! I admit, the idea is real tempting – even if these mercenaries strike me as fishy. And not in the good way. Patrius says the inn is called “Nobol’s”. To ask me to make heads from tails of the squiggly North Varan nonsense scrawled on the inn sign is asking a lot. I never learned to read or write – though I have always been interested. Maybe one day after all this war rubbish is all done with, I can get someone to teach me. At any rate, I do suppose we‘ll be staying here. The Patrius fellow loans me a gold coin to hand off Thistle to a stable boy. Good man! He’s won my favor already, I think! As I go about making sure my old mule’s good for safely staying the night, I can hear Patrius making nice with the suspicious looking Bluecloaks. The boy is chock-full of gall. If he keeps putting off such a high profile, he may make short both our journeys.

From what I can hear passing between Patrius and the mercenaries posted out front of the inn, the Bluecloaks have been hired by the king to defend the Vales. A relief! They are on our side then! They have secured Hilstadt and Woodsedge already. They seem to be ready to drive out Weylic troops once they reach the Western Vales. Patrius is from a place called Summerdown – more than he let on to me earlier. And apparently the band of Baldanno footsoldiers he’d encountered some days ago were trying to assist in a severing of the Weylic supply line. This last detail seems to have struck the Bluecloak as news – he seems interested in informing the king, and a ‘Captain Hektor’.

I rejoin Patrius just as the Bluecloak is excusing himself and heading back inside. After I return Patrius his change, I have a feeling he is poking fun at my weight. He makes a cheeky remark about how I’ll soon be getting back the money I just returned to him. Though just as well! I suppose I am a bit… full-figured. Made of thicker stuff, you know. Who am I kidding? Leesha’s treated me well these past years. Clearly, if he and I’d met on more agreeable circumstances, I’d eat this poor fellow out of house and home!

As soon as we enter the inn, we catch mumbling inside. And the Bluecloak – the one that was just now prattling with Patrius – points right at him. Before we know it, the captain – and I say captain because he’s dressed a bit more pretentiously than his fellows, is accosting us. And we haven’t even been served yet! He seems to have it out for poor Patrius at once. I can’t imagine why! I suppose my companion’s kind have a real knack for being ‘squirmy’. Patrius seems real intent on bargaining with this grumpy man – seems real intent on convincing the captain that we’re on the same side. The captain has other ideas. He wants to hold us here. Hm, well. Us? No, not ‘us’ – I don’t really think the captain has noticed me yet. Backing away in this case. I’ve no hard feelings for Patrius, but I don’t rightly feel like throwing my life away for a debt of a stranger’s two silver coins – I’ve got a town to save. And I like to think I’m worth more, at that!

The Bluecloaks are quibbling now – the lowerdown from the front of the door protesting the captain’s harsh ruling. Martyn, the captain calls him. Martyn, the Weylic… Valelander sympathiser. After Martyn reminds him that ‘Saeda’ ordered them to remain benevolent with the people of the Vales, Captain Hektor’s ordering the poor guy – the single poor guy who is siding with us – quiet. Just our bloody luck.

I don’t think Patrius understands the seriousness of the situation. I wonder if humans mature later than they appear to. Who knows. Everything about this rangy race is pretty backwards if you ask me. And, ugh! Will you get a load of him. He keeps backtalking! Oh, we’ll be killed, we’ll be killed! Shut up, shut up! Aw, BALLOCKS. That Patrius’s giving me money now – continually drawing attention to my existence. That’s it, he’s done me in! I’m finished. These vicious, war-loving creatures will tear me to shreds because of his insolence – and there goes the neighborhood. My neighborhood. Every neighborhood.

Horrified by all Patrius’ cheek, I find myself speaking up finally to defend Patrius and his horrendous plight. Just the same, the captain shuts me up without much difficulty. I’m not used to this kind of savagery. I bite my tongue. The captain is eager to drill it into Patrius’ thick skill whose got the power here. He threatens that if Patrius attempts to leave, his knees will be broken. Finally, after Patrius tells Captain Hektor that he will inform the king of his unnecessary cruelty, the old brute backs off. Though Patrius still isn’t allowed to leave. But, really? The implied safety here is enough for this hobbit! After the Bluecloaks back off, we’re finally free to get along with our quest to wrangle in a few refreshments. The place is swarming, so we’re lucky to find a few vacant seats at the bar. Ere long, a giant moustache is greeting us. The gnome behind it seems happy enough to see us – which is a welcome enough sight in its own! First jolly person we’ve encountered, this Nobol fellow. I’m beginning to think violence and aggression is a human thing. You don’t often see this in Smallfolk! Using the silver Patrius earlier handed me, I pay for the drinks. Ferling Cream. Now this next-to stranger Patrius is offering to cover my stay at the inn. I’ve a tent and am very comfortable outdoors – this coddling isn’t really necessary. But the gesture’s nice.

So what’s that now? One gold, two silvers, five coppers. Already I am racking up quite the hefty debt! A shame I didn’t think to grab money off my mother before I left home – not that I thought I’d need much, if any.

As we enjoy our drinks, Martyn joins us to apologise for ratting us out. I’m wary, but for the most part, Patrius and I don’t harbor any hard feelings – I think it’s understood here that one has their obligations. The two men talk. I imagine most of this doesn’t really concern Halflings, so I am content to keep my nose exactly where it is and butt out of the conversation. Especially since Martyn explains that at Hilstadt and Hockton both, the Bluecoats delt with the resistance with violence. Hmph. I admit, all this war-talk isn’t a most favorited subject of mine. I’d rather something a bit less bloodshed-oriented, myself. Blood. Terrible stuff. Makes me sick to my stomach.

Abruptly I am startled by Martyn’s mentioning of Seabotl – his mentioning of how the Bluecloaks are headed there, I can’t help but inquire. And what an awful answer! They’re looking to take us over to establish a strong port. They want to conquer us in the name of strategy! I don’t believe that Seabotl is caught in the middle of this. Weylic, the Dorlish, and now these chest-beating Bluecloaks are all heading for my town? Does Fycan know about this? The Weylics and the Dorls, absolutely. They are weeks away at least. But these mercenaries? Five days! Only five days!

The thought does occur to me that Seabotl doesn’t have to be invaded. At the very least, not by these Bluecloaks. If I headed back now, I could reach Seabotl long before these mercenaries do – by several hours at least. With Fycan in the know, he can make preparations for the mercenaries. Surely he wouldn’t be happy about it. But if there’s a way around the fighting, I imagine he’d strive for it. This doesn’t really need to end badly. And I tell Martyn as much. He says the Bluecloaks would eventually turn south, but the reassurance doesn’t occur to me as comforting as I think he meant for it to be.

And now Martyn says that it’s quite possible that the captain might not even send for the king. That ‘The Three Crowns’, whoever they are, are pulling his strings. I don’t know much about these people, but this has a foul smell of corruption about it. On top of that, Patrius has been ordered not to leave because of Captain Hektor’s request that he be proof for the king’s messenger. Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. Either way, this wont end very well. Patrius hints that I work as his messenger to the king. But I shoot that down at once. While I owe the guy more than my fair share, I do have my priorities. There’s got to be a different way to get him out of here that doesn’t include a risk – no, a guarantee of instant knee-busting. Martyn, on top of my decline, even says that it’s unlikely I’ll even be allowed to leave anyway. Fantastic! Just fantastic. Martyn seems highly skeptical that, unless we escape this place, the king will hear anything…The Bluecloaks are supposed to already be at Seabotl. We learn that the king is in Hilstadt – though, really, I’ve no desire to encounter the king. It’s Patrius who seems involved. Really, I only wanted to keep my head low until I sniffed out the Sword and Sorcery. Now look where I am. Held captive! I wont stay here for long, regardless of anybody‘s orders. They can smash my knees, my elbows, my whatever. I’ll be hardpressed to do much of anything with no workable joints, but I’ll be damned if I dillydally while the captain thinks up a way to do us in and cover it up. If that – considering the king wont hear of us regardless.

Oh, finally a drop of good news. Martyn’s pretty confidant that – if, hypothetically speaking, we should find something that proves the captain has soured – he and his men would, hypothetically speaking, have our back. While this is good news, the knowledge doesn’t seem immediately useful to us. That is, until Martyn speaks of a man, a Damyn, fella whose been slumming it with Hektor of late. The tender Nobol details the man as foul – both by smell and appearance. Helpful, I think. We know now to look for a putrid, unsightly man at least. And, upon informing Patrius of this Damyn character’s quarters, we finally can get to working on our escape plan! It’s exciting. Mostly of the nerve-racking variety, but exciting nonetheless!

Martyn elects to be the one to speak with Damyn, and so it’s Martyn and I who take it upon ourselves to distract the old grouch holed up in his room. I knock on the door a little gingerly. I’m surprised with how smoothly things go. It’s working like a charm! Though, as expected, Hektor is one spark short of breathing fire, he does let us in! Success! Martyn and I distract him. I can’t be sure what all is being said and done as far as Patrius and Damyn go, though I hope he executes this leg of the plan successfully. He’s talked us into this awful situation. He can talk us out. And, by Leesha, if he does it – I mean, if he actually pulls it… Woah! Oh no. Knocking. Loud, angry knocking. This cannot be good. He didn’t. He didn’t pull it off. Oh, that’s it for us! The jig’s up! They’ll for sure kill us now! I wonder if I can get a prayer in before…

Well, huh! There’s Damyn. Never seen the man before in my life. But I know foul when I see foul. The gnarly he-beast is thundering in, blade drawn, bellowing at Hektor. Who else has he told this? Who else has he told what? Now the captain is calling us traitors. Plotting to kill the king. Whaaaat? We didn’t! He’ll rot his teeth out with all these lies! Oh, we have to now. There doesn’t seem to be another option. If ever we were going to found a revolt before, now it’s clear we’ll have to take a more direct approach. I move in front of Martyn; we’ll need him as a witness.

We’re fighting. Damyn starts hacking at Patrius. Hektor casts a spell on himself. Since Martyn seems safe enough, I go for Hektor now. Before long, Martyn also is assisting us. Hektor casts another spell. Patrius again takes a nasty hit. Tonight is not his night. On the wounded Patrius’ instruction, Martyn calls for help. It’s my turn to cast a spell – save mine is an attempt to heal my incredibly injured companion. A terrible attempt. It barely did a thing. I bet Fycan’d spit in my eye if he saw me now. I’m amazed to see the battered Patrius smash his weapon into Damyn, unseaming the ugly man the very next instant. The sight of guts slapping the floor might have otherwise made me nauseous, though I am far too hyped up on adrenaline to remember how to be squeamish. Nobol will never get that stain out.

Hektor’s the last one left. He’s trying to leave. To run away. Interesting. The captain seems prepared to loose another spell on us. I don’t blame Patrius for stepping behind me. I’m prepared to fight him, but I don’t think it necessary. If the Bluecloak coward wants to flee, I’ve no particular desire to get my weapon dirty. We have our witness. And he’s fetching help. I’m letting Hektor go. Too bad Martyn isn‘t inclined to. The poor captain never sees it coming. Martyn, back, and with company, knocks him out cold with a hilt blow to the head. For the first time since I left Seabotl, I am happy to see all this blue. At least, at first. Even after all this, Martyn still intends to march the Bluecloaks to Seabotl. I want to warn Fycan. I try and reason with Martyn – with Patrius, too, now as he’s siding against me – but when threatened with imprisonment, I don’t say another word. What good would I be doing tied up. After the pair of them discuss their religion, the Bluecloaks leave us. Good riddance. I imagine for a hobbit I am beginning to look like a surly old dwarf. Patrius is trying to what – to talk me down? He does bring up some good points, I suppose.

Nobol’s giant moustache is appearing in the doorway before long – fussing about the mess. Somewhere inside the gnome’s rant, and paying for damages, Patrius and I catch something about the Sword and Sorcery, and our attentions sync up instantly. A man in the taproom spewing noise about Sword and Sorcery? Almost sounds too good to be true! My mood turns upside down in that instant, and at once Patrius and I are making a beeline for the taproom. Soon as we get there, we see him. It’s not real hard to, really. The man is a real nut. Going on about independent men and an Olin Griswald. So much for us keeping a low profile. I don’t imagine this… vendor? even knows what that is. Patrius decides to be the one to break the daft, weirdly clean man’s sale’s pitch – because that’s undoubtedly what this was. A sale’s pitch. I don’t think the people in the inn mind our interrupting the noisy, showy rant for some questioning. One of them just farted. He approves. Nevermind that though; this fella’s it! A mite bonkers. But who are we to complain? He’s with Sword and Sorcery.

Hm. So he’s looking to recruit us. We’re in. Though I’ll only do it temporarily, I imagine. And only if this famed group agrees, at the very least, to see me to the Order and back. The nut speaks of a contract. Marvelous! I’ll get to ask Patrius to read it to me. Though likely not at this second – he looks fit to collapse at the moment. I ask the nut if knows where medical aid can be acquired. And I can almost swear it, the nut is going to kill poor Patrius with all that manhandling as sure as I am standing here on my two feet. He does claim to have a ‘healing draught’ on his horse though. But for all his talk, it sounds like the potion is more likely to kill him. Though Patrius is in no position to be choosy – likely he’d die anyway if left to just sit there and… ooze. Ah, well, he’s survive the administering of the potion – thus far. Suppose the only thing to do now is wait. The bizarre man still hasn’t introduced himself, and he wont. I can’t say it’s doing anything in the way of making him not appear sketchy. Though if this potion ends up working, I suppose we’ll have to invest at least a bit of trust in him. With Patrius drugged up, we’re tucking in for the evening. Better Patrius find a bed to be unconscious on than the middle of the taproom, I wager. I’m a little iffy about leaving him in the captain’s old room with that stranger – helpless as he is, but he seems well off. Enough. I’ll check on him in the morning, just the same. I opt for sleeping in Damyn’s room, though I surely wish I didn’t. It smells horrific. I think I’d be better off sleeping in the stables with Thistle for an extra two silver, rather than the gold it costs to have my nose rotted off in this hole.

View
13th Furrow

I just left home a short while ago. I don’t expect to be waiting for good old Fycan Jasperroot for very long. Actually, just as I am reaching Seaworthy Hill’s tunnels, I can already hear his voice! I hope he hasn’t been waiting for me. While I can hear him speaking, obviously, he’s not talking to me. I only just arrived, for one, and two, he’s taking up tones like I’ve heard him do when he’s entertaining a crowd. Now that I’m closer, I can hear that he’s telling a tale about Graywort the Slayer. I remember this one from when I was small…er. Smaller. The head priest doesn’t often make it a point to request an audience of me, so forgoing a fishing trip to the sea today in order to meet with him is the very least I can do. I know my mother understands; he wont have a problem getting at least one of my siblings to pick up my load for the day. She and I both know whatever Fycan has to say must be important.

Reaching the end of the tunnel, I arrive into the sunroom. Fycan’s not too hard to spot, what with his great big red tuft of hair looming over his head like an angry flame – but he seems to be in the middle of it with an audience of little halfling children. Poor Fycan. Being the eldest of nine, and the one skewered with the brunt of the home-oriented responsibilities, I never liked children. They’re almost like leeches. I tolerate them well, obviously. But they do grate at the nerves. For this reason, and for the want of not being rude, I hang back to allow the head priest a few moments to notice me – or at the very least, to finish up with his leeches. Er. Children.

Once his tale seems to meet its end, I wave at Fycan, and kindly maneuver out of the oncoming paths of destruction of the scattering miniature hobbits. Soon as I spot a clear path, I am making my way over to him. He seems extraordinarily relieved to see me – which sure offers my ego a nice fluffing. Though he does seem to be a bit wrought-up. Quickly I find out why!

It’s the Weylic army that has the poor old Fycan on edge. They have crossed Dvergerdale’s borders it seems – sufficient reason for the head priest to be fretting, I should think! Following Fycan’s lead, I do my best to retain my composure so as to not excite the children departing. Fycan explains that – according to rumor – Weylic soldiers are going to invade us. Seabotl. Already they have crossed Dvergerdale. And the Dorlish! The Dorls have have crossed the March River, geared for Seabotl, too, I think. And they crossed a week ago, at that! With these last details, it’s a mite more difficult for me to reign in the shock, but I do handle myself handsomely. Fycan tells me that Rosyna will have us fight, if it comes down to it – though we are ill-equipped. We’ve nothing to protect us. No real defenses. Just when I think this news can’t get any worse, he also informs me that, on top of the oncoming invasion, the kobolds in the mountains have become riled thanks to all this activity. They are being spotted on the farther-off farms.

Though likely I will have simply offered my services, not wanting to be useless in the least, Fycan soon asks me to go and investigate. Though this is all very overwhelming, I agree to it whole-heartedly. He says that the kobolds require the most immediate attention; the nearest of the soldiers are yet a few weeks away at their fastest. Even if they are weeks away, I almost cannot even believe that this is happening. Just as I am wondering if there is a way for us to wiggle out of this, Fycan seems to read my mind. He offers a solution that at once ropes in my rampant thoughts and steers them at a more heartening plan. He says Seabotl needs to seek help from the Order of the Sword Militant.

Before I can even help myself, I am accepting this task as well. I really am in a bit over my head, I think. It doesn’t much help matters that Fycan advises that, should the event occur that the Weylic arrive before I do with help, that I not return until the war is finished. I don’t like to think that this will happen. Though it is frightening that he is even considering this, I interject some lighthearted jest into this conversation to reassure him. With this, he bids me leave, and, after fetching my trusty mule, Thistle, and the supplies I think I’ll need, I do.

As I head out of town, the serious reality of the situation gradually sinks in like I’m a bit of petrified sponge. It sure is hard to imagine that anybody – Weylic, Dorlish, or not – would want to invade us. What have we done? We’re not harming anybody here. The idea in and of itself makes me a bit indignant. But being surly never did anybody any good now did it? Though, when I do take a more practical approach to this, it sure does seem a heavy task for somebody like me. Fycan should have hired someone better equipped for this. I’m just Rowan Brinesworth, a mediocre Roseheart cleric at best. Even if I am a bit of a… what was the word? Kiss ass. But again! A hobbit never got anywhere by taking the I-Can’t route! And a cleric of Leesha Roseheart does have her duties.

Once I am long since clear of the town, towards the fringe of Seabotl, I do witness an odd sight, breaking the monotony of countryside. He is a fellow halfling – and a farmer, too, by the look of him. I am ready to offer him a word of greeting, but I stop short. Something’s not right with him. Unless it is a favorite past time of farmers to slump against stone walls like they are intoxicated. Just the same, it is well of me to make sure he is, in fact, as drunk as he so looks. As soon as I approach, the man face vaults – as many a drunkard does, I’m sure. But then, drunkards don’t mosey around with arrows lodged in their backs for good fun, now do they. I don’t exactly see any danger around, though still I jump off Thistle, and drag the farmer to my sturdy old mule for cover. He’s mumbling something now. It’s hard to make it out, though it sounds an awful lot like ‘letters?’ What does that mean? Perhaps I might have tried to prompt him a bit more – if it weren’t for the disturbance now sounding off in the field. Ah! Kobolds! I think? Just as I am thinking here, an arrow hisses passed me. Not waiting for the next one to find a home on my person – or this stranger’s, I manage to haul the unconscious farmer up onto my mule.

I hear shouting and a loud bang. And then discover a smell like burning flesh. It makes my stomach twist. Really, I’m not too keen on finding the source of this commotion. Hopping back on my mule, I begin to backtrack at once. The moment I do, I am seeing a man – a wizard? – with a staff and a big black beard approaching me. He doesn’t seem like he’s trying to harm me – he even claims as much. Though I am not taking my chances. I procure my sickle. Weapon in hand, I smile at him, though I am suspicious. He quickly relays to me that he has just finished off the last of the kobolds. Ah! So that explains things! His name is Orvius Kavalson, and, upon discovering that I am from Seabotl, Orvius informs me that he’s news for Fycan – urgent, war related news at that. Thoroughly convinced that he’s playing on the right team here, I tuck my sickle away – sure not desiring to put off any friend of Seabotl, for clearly that’s what he is. He seems to have news about the Order, and this adventuring group called Sword and Sorcery. I’ve heard of them. After introducing myself, I begin to lead him back to Seabotl. This back and forward is sure wearisome, but at least this kobold affair is all taken care of. It’s the least I can do to escort Orvius, considering the immense help he is being. And with the kobolds gone, it sure will allow for me to get right to seeking out the Order.

Alas! Seems Orvius has different plans for me yet. He tells me of the grave danger that the Sword and Sorcery adventurers will be in when they emerge from Smalwood, of how the Dorlish already have Redhorne surrounded, and of the siege that the Order will soon be under. I cannot say the last part will make my task any easier, but I didn’t much expect for this to be easy. I tell him I’ll warn the Sword and Sorcery group, since I am now heading for the Order – and Smalwood is on the way anyway. Who knows – perhaps these famed adventurers can help me to the Order safely. Maybe even lend a hand to Seabotl? If they are everything they are made out to be, I’m sure we could use the help. I ask the wizard that he inform Fycan that the kobolds are done and delt with, and that he also take see the farmer I’d picked up to Fycan. I don’t know what can be done for this poor fellow, but it is the least I can do, as a Roseheart Cleric, to try and get him some help. Fycan is his best bet, I think, if he can be helped. We go our separate ways now.

View
13th Furrow

Time Marker

View
9th Furrow
Time marker
View
8th Furrow
View
6th Furrow
"I hadn't know the steadfast warrior long, but he was a man of incredible courage, to be true..."

From the Journals of Izmo Akeyan, Wind Lord, late of Tailimsia…

There’s nothing quite like a ride in the country, is there? It reminds me of lazing on the hay cart back at home, though of course at the end of the day it’s that blasted Olin cooking up what may either be jerk stew or boiled roof shingles – so there’s that.

Also, I can’t believe the things we’re up to on this heinous journey, I really can’t. To think I’m just a few weeks off from village and here I am, camped-out within sight of that demonstrative line of trees known as the Smallwood, battered as we are already by traveling and wet and…

But here I am, getting ahead of myself again.

My party awoke, as adventuring parties always do, with a smarting good headache and the morning-after sick of a rude night in town. There were the usual blokes: the inscrutable masked elf Askelor, our fearless leader (looking almost the worst for wear) Olin, and of course Valerius, that shining Paige Devout. Spiraling in and out of misery was the little dwarf Ingrid, and then in the corner a fellow slumped in a chair, looking very worn out indeed.

I can’t personally fathom what happened the night before during the Libernean festival. Supposedly it has something to do with the goddess Raya, and freedom, and purpose, and all that quivering nonsense that villagers say to have a good excuse to get completely tight and set some kindling on fire. Clearly, Raya is the goddess of drop-dead drunkenness, and ale and the thick syrupy wine and Gods know what else that flowed in sufficient quantities to have laid us all out. So there we woke, with Valerius, as if in a dream, standing fierce and armed and telling us he was leaving for good.

Such is the life of a paige devout, I suppose. I hadn’t known the steadfast warrior long, but he was a man of incredible courage, to be true. In the presence of Olin’s frivolity and moody charm, Valerius often seemed austere yet concerned, like a busy minded lad with a purpose. In battle, or the staging room, he seemed more a leader that olin himself, and that worried me some at first. Over time, however, I grew to see things as they were – that Olin was in fact less a leader than he was a binding; holding the group together as much like a family as it was a parcel of rangy seekers. Valerius, though, was a fine figure, to be counted on and trusted. Truth be told, I think I will miss him more, as time passes on.

And what an assault on the senses, that morning! The next surprise, in quick succession like a volley of arrows, was the strange newcomer. Olin was quick to prod him, and the strange fellow – Agoste is his name (I think) – revealed himself to be a queer sort of wizard with an even queerer chair. Queerer still (and this is the limit, I’d say) was his revelation that, in our stupor the night previous, we had hired him on!

One look at his flying chair spent my cockles rumbling, and I dare suspect that some strange, instinctual part of my heart remembered how sick that damnable throne made us all.

Better still, the look on Olin’s face! Priceless truly, I’d give my sword to see it again. Sadly, with Valerius gone and this newcomer clearly not a spy or dagger holder, Olin conceded to his joining us. So now we have another of the wizardly folk – just what I need. Haeron’s Hammer, the horror of it all.

And then, like out of the old folk’s tales, a third stone landed on our head! -The deceased member of Sword & Sorcery appeared in the door. A fetching elf lass, I’m afraid to report, with fierce eyes. Olin seemed very tense at her arrival, and there was some business about contracts and the means of her resurrection (of course they haven’t even had me sign a contract, yet. Then again, I’ve not been payed either…). Perhaps I was the only one who noticed, but Olin seemed downright… disappointed. Not necessarily at Leu – that is her name – having been resurrected, but at the method in which she was returned. Never the less, the moment passed, and we decided we should be on our way; off to Smallwood and certain danger.

This war has tossed the lot of us in very big things. I can’t be sure what troubles the members of Sword & Sorcery have gotten themselves into – and with a member of their party just now brought back from the edge of death, one can safely assume there’s at least been a lot of it. Never the less, I get the feeling that our foray into the world of mercenary work, albeit mercenaries of a very special sort, is their, and my, most deadly challenge yet. Huge forces that I simply can’t or won’t fathom are massed within easy travel of us. and in our own small way, we’re scratching at the very heart of our enemies plans and deeds. Sometimes it feels like climbing across the back of a vast ferocious beast, who’s very size gives it the plume and air of the earth beneath our feet. We are flees, chewing at a raw nerve…and the beast WILL notice us, sooner or later.

The lot of us packed to go, I kept weary distance between myself and the undead one, Leu. True, she looked as normal and any Elf- but my way is not that of hers, and a return from death is a curious – and terrible – thought. I’ve decided I’ll give her a wide birth from here out.

As for the wizard Agoste, he’s….well he’s quite bit of fun! I wonder what the city-folk thought of us bedraggled bruisers trundling down the path with a blasted chair strapped to the back! Either we’re warriors or we’re cabinet makers, I say. But the nervous little fellow is too much fun to pick on, I’m afraid. It’s possible I’ve even given him a bit too much of a hard time this morning. Well… better not let up now!

----- 0 ------

First shift on lookout, and what a bore.

After a long day and a bumpy ride, we finally took up camp in the shadowed eves just outside of Smallwood. The country air had done wonders for my headache, but the jostling cart made my spine feel a bit ill put together. I’d wager the only position that would be comfortable right now is somewhere between laying down – and just being poured into a warm bowl like a cup of creamed soup. Ah, well. Be damned my sour mood, because I fear I was even meaner to that new Wizard, Agoste. He seems a splendidly nice fellow, but too darn nervous and clever for his own good. If anything, then, I like him more. Leu has proved to be an interesting specimen, herself. Quick with her tongue isn’t even the half of it. We both gave the impish wizard a bit of a row, but I think we all knew it was just in good fun.

Which leads me to the plan, which I like, because it’s very straight forward. Leu and I, by way of volunteering (and being the ones best suited to the task, if I may be so bold) will scout the Smallwood tomorrow, and try to “see what we can”, as the toughs in uniform have been known to say. Evidently S&S has had a run-in with these very cretins, and it could be very dangerous indeed. Either way, my companion and I will have to be at our best, but I trust her and my elven eyes implicitly. If all goes well, we can formulate a strategy to decimate their hold on the area. It seems to me that it would be best to flush them out, divide the force, and take it that way. But then again, I know not their number, nor their ability, and their familiarity with the Smallwood thick will be quite an advantage.

But for whom?

Clever trickery is on my mind tonight, it’s true. How can a young elf from such humble beginnings not wonder about it all, staring out into this expansive night? I’ve never been one for guts and glory, so of course I think we should flush them like pheasant and tear holes in their ranks. Or is it cowardice? I’ve never liked facing a team of thugs- and that’s been the very definition of life since joining S&S: bits of sneaking and scrabbling, followed by long period of getting thumped rottenly.

Ah well. I shouldn’t be so bitter. They’ll pay me eventually. I hope.

----- 0 ------

Being the 6th Furrow…

Chaos. utter Chaos. Olin was on watch when it happened, I think. I awoke to the sounds of hard-shelled scrambling, and Olin on his feet like a paladin on watch. By the time I had any conception of the fight, I was up as well, bow drawn, facing the horrible monstrosities that were bearing down on us.

Beatles, star and stone, beatles! What loathsome things they are, vermin. And big. Very big indeed.

In the heat of it, I caught Agoste flying wildly off on his strange chair, I let loose a sling-shot that did nothing at all, and my bow-string has had it’s last fight. A great wave of fume and fire shot forth from one of the horrid beasts, and it was a scorching affront to our being. Even I was hurt by it, and I stood some 20 feet from the creature. Simply chaos…

I don’t know what to say. My party stands, or stoops, or sits, picking at their wounds, collecting their things, saying a prayer here, and laying on hands where it can do some good. And what a morning! What a way to watch the sun rise, to see the silhouettes of your friends and companions lurching back and forth, trying to regain their composure and will. Even Leu, our returned one, was nearly felled. For a moment in battle, I almost leaped to her protection, but…

Well there can be no buts about it, can there? Either call it duty or call it cowardice, I suppose. At any rate, we all live, and so I can’t exactly fault myself too much. The fates held me where I stood, and perhaps if I’d lost my composure in battle, I wouldn’t be putting ink to paper now…

..then again, we’ve all taken a savage beating. I can’t help but think I could have done better. And, inexperience notwithstanding, i suspect the rest of them feel something like that, too. If we can be so viciously lashed by a few dreadful bugs, what chance do we stand against a battle-weary and dug in force? Dash that: what chance do I have in the field with a useless bow and a scorched face?

I’d like to go on, but I simply can’t. Work needs to be done here, and there’s a slim chance that Anunë smiles on me today, and a replacement bow-string can be found. Whatever the case, we need more time and more thought if we’re going to do anything except die out here in the Smallwood…and I pray that all of us are up to the task.

View
2nd Furrow
View
28th Swording
"...she clutched the book to her breast, a tome of mysterious design..."

From the Journals of Izmo Akeyan, Wind Lord, late of Tailimsia…

As a young one, I remember working at the mill, quite fondly in fact. I believe it had much to do with how I worked – which is to say, very little – but of course I was smaller then, and most of my time was spent making sure the grain trough didn’t become fouled in the humidity and heat. When grain was scarce, we milled winter beans, and I recall squeezing the hard gray beans between my fingers, harder and harder until finally it zipped out from between them…

And Redhorn feels something like that bean. We city elves are not without news, but I had no idea that tensions had become so high here when I arrived a few days ago. Now I feel as weary as the locals- shoulders hunched, eyes a little vague, the fear of war on every breath and every glance. Until last night, I was seriously considering leaving. But then, as is my nature, I made a few friends.

I was in The Signe of the Frothing Mug, an average example of that Brotherhood of Heimir staple, in the Fortress of the Sword-Militant, when three wanderers came in for a drink. I was…well let’s just I had partook my fare share of what the Mug had to offer – however, I could still tell these three were unique. It wasn’t an impressive conclusion, considering they were the only ones not stained in Redhorn’s insipid crimson dust, or wearing the symbol of the Sword-Militant order.

It seems to me, having lost what little I had in Tailimsia, that I had nothing to lose. Outsiders could mean a number of interesting things: pay, adventure, news, or even travel. I made myself known, just as the dwarf – oh yes, there was a dwarf, an imposing man, and an elf of the priestly order – was showing something to her companions. She clutched the book to her breast, a tome of mysterious design, all hammered zinc and fine etchings. I admit that I had not seen one like it before, but as I – ahem – “overheard” her end of things, it came to be known that it was of dwarf design.

Tact is a strong suit of mine, but so is knowing when to eschew kindness and get down to brass stays – I strode over and told them I would cast my lot with them if they would have me. Dare I say it, I was desperate. War is coming to Redhorn, we’re surrounded on all sides, and no good can come from waiting around for trouble to brew- better to make trouble first.

Luckily, I made the proper call. The man, Valerius, was as cocksure as I, and I believe he liked my manner. Sadly, the dwarf Ingrid was rather miffed at my intrusion on her precious secrets, but that is the way of the little folk. Askelor was as respectful as one would expect an elf to be, which is to say, quite a bit.

Came to find, I did, that these folk were members of some sort of adventuring guild: Sword & Sorcery was the name, and a strange, if potent, lot they were. After some fine banter on my part, their leader, Olin Griswald stepped in: and a curiouser fellow I doubt I have met. He was a rascally young man, seemingly too young to hold sway over such a group of adventurers, and yet I soon found myself charmed by his easy manner. He agreed to take on my sword under a period of observation, and if we both liked what we saw, I would join them under contract.

The whole matter was easier than expected. I was allowed to rest in the barracks of the fortress, and dined with them in the morning. Before I had time to finish my fast, though, a Paige came forward and all but ordered us to the chamber of the Marshall for some sort of conference. I admit I was almost afraid we were in some sort of trouble, but it seems Valerius is a Paige Devout of the Sword-Militant Order.

We were admitted to a hall – stately enough for the taste of Men, I suppose – where the Marshall Urquehart and a few other surly menfolk were worrying themselves- the situation around Redhorn is quite bad, indeed. They’ve lost contact with regiments, communication has been severed from a Brotherhood of Heimir Monastery, and the allegiance of dwarf and elf alike seems uncertain at best. I have no taste for politics, but I could tell that matters had turned dire. The Marshall wished to contract Sword & Sorcery for some kind of mission- an effort to act, in it’s capacity, as a mobile group of self sufficient trouble makers and problem solvers.

Olin seemed uncertain at first, and it occurs to me that it might have something to do with one of their members, Leu, being beyond this mortal coil. I’ve not yet seen the remains of this Leu, but Olin said that she is an elf of half blood, and they wished to resurrect her. The idea seems disturbing to me, but she signed her contract with S&S, and so it must be her wish.

Eventually, Valerius’s steadfast desire to follow the will of the Order seemed to quench Olin’s mind: he agreed to assist the Order. And so that is where they, and I, stand. I can’t fathom the strategy that Olin and the Marshall will decide upon, but these adventurers seems to be of a very unique nature: called to assist powerful entities as if they were themselves an unstoppable force. I feel troubled, naturally, at the danger that might follow…but at the same time, excitement boils in my veins.

It looks like I picked the right group of travelers to bother last night…

View
25th Swording
View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.