PayDay’s Journal 5 – The Tinker

So Fayne and Shojin worked their ways closer to the old man and they were about as stealthy as a minotaur in a china shop, but I moved like greased darkness. They made their way closer to the old man but I held back. I didn’t trust the situation. I rarely do. And still I heard the whispers. Calling me from the darkness.

Next thing I know the three of them are talking with the old man in the road and I couldn’t hear what all they were talking about, but it seemed like he was some kind of a big deal. And maybe a merchant. He had a bunch of crap on the back of some poor donkey. So I crept closer and closer and he didn’t seem to hear me.

Finally I was close enough to say “boo” and he started swinging his cane at Shojin. Which was funny to me for some reason. The old man offered to trade us a meal for our story, so of course Shojin said sure. He was always ruled by his weird morality and his stomach. We found a clearing and set up camp near the road so that we were able to trade tales in some degree of comfort.

We regaled him with our tale of daring do versus the goblins and their boss and the reopening of the trade routes from the mountain and he sat there adding in all the oohs and ahs in all the rights places, which was weird cause our story was grand scheme of things not all that impressive, but he never let on. He humored us because it was the nice thing to do, or in retrospect it at least seemed that way.

And then we learned about him. He was something called a “Tinker”. A Tinker is a sort of revered travelling merchant/diplomat/storyteller who just sort of roams place to place spinning yarns and selling their wares. It was also considered both poor form and terrible luck to attack or cheat a Tinker, such was the reverence paid them. It was also like the weirdest yard sale of garbage on the back of that donkey, but he had some useful odds and ends and I was sure to purchase some potions.

So we set up a watch schedule and bedded down for the night. After we had all made it to sleep, that was when everything went sideways. We were beset in the night by a multitude of foes coming out of the trees. There were Gnolls surrounding us from what we believed to be all sides. Just Gnolls gibbering as they do and once we were all awakened, we waded into the combat like the heroes we believed ourselves to be. And. It. Was. Glorious.

The bodies fell around us like trees before a woodsman. Eventually we were so weary and battleworn, that the final Gnoll ran into the trees to try and escape our wrath. That poor Gnoll ran into the woods and smack into our friend from Hammerfell Vessa Ott who had been trailing us for some time. After dispatching that final fiend, she came strolling out of the woods and explained that Hammerfell was no longer the home that she wished that it could be and that she would, if we would allow it, travel with us. We were happy to have her with us, she was a pretty good pack mule after all.

So we finished the night with the Tinker and the next day bid him farewell and safe travel. A day and half later we found ourselves in Dillard. Things were finally looking up for us.

PayDay’s Journal 4 – We might be heroes?

Our return to the town with the fair maiden had us heralded as heroes. The town was so happy to have their stolen goods returned and to see a return to open trade that we were afforded no end of special treatment. I commissioned a hand crossbow, because I had an idea in mind for how I might mete out justice in the future. Shojin requested a fearsome cloak that might conceal his more Orc-like features, and that thing was truly hideous. It had a line of fur running down the top of his head and the boar hide used to make that infernal thing had been worked by the local craftsman until it was as soft as fresh linen. Z had gotten the local blacksmiths to test their metal with her undertaking, asking of them to make a hammer worthy of her goddess, Lolth. It was a hammer, a massive one. It was rounded on the one side and that side was made to look like the body of a spider with its legs coming around to the other side, the flat part where they met. It was a fearsome thing, and eventually she would wield it as though it were an extension of her person.

We were shown every courtesy and denied nearly nothing that was within reason. We were given the penthouse, such as it was at the Boar’s Head Tavern as our own little home away from home. And everything was going well until the captain of the guards returned home.

The captain of the local guard also happened to be the father of Vanessa Ott. Lassic or some such was his name. He was an old racist prick as we’d come to find out. He was so very grateful for all we had done for the village and for trade in general for the region he also needed us to fix a wrong the town had committed. He implored us to help them remove the town jail’s only resident. As was explained, about a month prior and in the dead of night Lassic’s assistant or deputy or whatever you call him Nofth was out one night returning from a late night journey to the outhouse he came upon a Dark Elf “lurking about”, there was a brief altercation and long story short a very unconscious elf became the towns prisoner. A prisoner because she was different and because the town had never seen one of her kind before. They distrusted her based solely off the stories they had heard, not because of anything she had done. They had no idea how to deal with her and so they kept her locked up.

And in that time, she refused to speak, ate only because she had no real choice and spent the rest of her time in quiet meditation. That is unless someone was to attempt to enter her cell. She would then fight like the caged animal they were treated her to be.

We were asked to apologize profusely for the towns transgressions and Z took the front on that. We invited her to join our merry band of fail. She declined and I didn’t blame her. Shojin had her gear and told her that she could get it all back if she joined us. Super tactful, I know, but I appreciated the attempt at motivation. I made him hand it all over and told her that she could join us or not. Her choice and we wouldn’t force her. But if she joined us, we could give her the chance to do something more. Something greater. But by the gods if I couldn’t have been more wrong. We suck so much. So, she requested a nice suit of studded mail covered in metal workings in a spider motif, tested her bow and checked her arrows. Oh yeah, and her name is Fayne.

And with that, we were off to Dillard to tell them of the return of open trade routes now that the issues on the trade route were dealt with. At least we thought they were dealt with and had no reason to doubt it at that point. So we started off on foot down the path to Dillard. And on the road we heard a clamoring and clattering from up around the bend in the path. So we asked Z to just keep straight on the path with the donkey we were given as a parting gift. Four travelers, one donkey. Some parting gift.

While Z was staying on the path the rest of us went sneaking off through the trees adjacent and worked toward the noise with our tasty dark elf carrot just tromping on down the road. And then we heard a small frail voice call out, “Who goes there?”

PayDay’s Journal 3

As the day drew on and darkness filtered in through the trees around us the forest was quiet, maybe too quiet. Z thought it was just good practice to have a little fun lighting the way with the straps tying the poor little goblin up. He made a nice lantern. Eventually, Timmy finally chirped up that his camp or fortress or whatever the hell goblins call their home was up ahead. We stopped and gave him the chance to offer up the trade that seemed in our, or at least mine, minds to be fair. Him for the girl, plus leaving the village alone. Seemed reasonable and nobody else had to die this day. However, his camp mates thought different and after making the offer, Timmy was promptly shot in the shoulder with an arrow for his negotiating trouble. He fell face first to the forest floor.

As he did, that was when we finally noticed that we had been led into a small clearing, still close to trees but with unobstructed sight lines to a trio of very large tree stands. Each was a large triangle about twenty feet above the forest floor. Each was also manned, goblined, whatever by a pair of goblins. All had bows aimed down at us. We were a special kind of screwed.

As arrows rained down around us, Shojin must have thought it a good idea, because he made a massive dragon’s head appear as if coming from around the leftmost tree, which really freaked out a few of the goblins. Mind you, it was just a head, there was no body to go with it. To protect himself after I dove for cover, he picked up poor Timmy, who it turned out at that point wasn’t dead as a makeshift shield. I fired pot shots from the brush while we got the situation under control. I wasn’t about to get myself killed by goblins. Now to back up his illusion he kept trying to light their platforms on fire. He finally got one, but by that time I had shot the pair on another of the platforms and Z had unleashed some of her holy hell. When the platform finally caught it scared the bejeezus out of the pair perched on it and they jumped rather than face the flames. The first to jump died on impact and the second died landing on the first.

Still cleaning up the trio of tree stands, we heard what sounded like a massive boar come crashing through the trees. Shojin made an illusory fire leap up in front of it which brought it to a dead stop causing it’s rider to fall. A massive hobgoblin that must have been billy. Z charged in and I gave chase. Shojin’s distraction allowed us to make short work of the “boss” and with all those responsible for waylaying the wagons to and from the mountain dealt with we could find the pretty lady, collect our bounty and be on our way. It should have been as simple as that. It wasn’t.

Turned out the pretty lady was a dwarven maiden by the name of Vessa Ott. She’d been taken captive in transit between the mountain and the Hammer Fall. Her uncle as it happened was the captain of the guard and responsible for the protection of Hammer Fall. He had made no attempts at rescue and she was more than a little pissed about it, to say the least. Who could blame her. Since the goblin raiders had been at their trade for some time, they had amassed a good smattering of junk/sundries and we hauled as much of it as we could back to town, and that is when things got really…interesting.

PayDay’s Journal 2 – Continued beginnings

During Z’s watch a boar wandered into the stable yard. She thought she could take care of things on her own. She could not. Shojin and I were roused from our slumber by the sounds of the fighting. I made short work of the beast with a well placed arrow and that was that. The tavern keeper was also awakened by the ruckus and offered to cook the beast for us free of charge. We took him up on his offer and since we had had most of the night to rest decided to get an early start on our investigation.

Near enough to midday we came upon a strange scene. There were obvious tire tracks heading off of the path and into the high weeds. Further investigation found the charred remains of multiple wagons and as we looked around further found some very crudely constructed hunter’s perches in the trees on one side of the path. While we were debating who would climb up to investigate further an arrow whisked past us from deep in the brush behind the tree stands. Since it was clearly some sentient beings and not just some sort of beast we began preparations for the conflict to follow.

Shojin, and it bears a little explanation here, refused to kill. Maybe in the most dire of circumstances could he be persuaded to alter his moral compass on that, but in the time since we haven’t seen anything to sway him. Not that he wouldn’t allow the rest of us to do the deed. Only that he would not. The other peculiarity of my comrade would be discovered soon enough and it was more than a little disgusting. But for now, and as always, his answer was to mystify the opposition. Illusions and sounds, sleep and charm. That was his stock and trade. And he was awful at it most of the time. Like really bad.

His solution when it became clear we were dealing with some sort of humanoid was to make the biggest treasure chest you had ever set eyes on. Gold spilling out the top and littering the ground around it to the extent that his magics would allow him.

My solution was to pour oil on the ground directly underneath his illusion. If whatever it was did take the bait, I’d set their asses on fire. Z, just watched us prepare with a look of mild bemusement.

Out of the brush came four very angry goblins and I did the first thing that came to mind. I yell “treasure yours”. And very quickly our plan began to fall apart. Two of the four were taken with the illusion and two were not. One of the two that was not appeared to be the leader of the group and was gibbering something at the ones confounded by the illusion. What followed happened very quickly.

Z and I tried to deal with the two that were clear headed and Shojin went to his bag of tricks and tried to put them to sleep. He got three of the four. The one he didn’t was the leader who ran off into the brush. We dispatched the two that remained and woke the fourth for questioning. It turned out that Z spoke goblin from her time in the underground before she started her journey. The how and why of that was still unknown to me at the time.

To make the interrogation, something I did have a bit of experience with from my time in the organization, easier we built a fire and Shojin hand roasted one of the goblins over the fire while the fourth watched on helpless. He told us the runner was Jim, he was Tim, and the one Shojin was roasting was Tommy. When he refused to answer more questions Shojin started to eat his partially roasted comrade which sent him into hysterics. I calmly slapped him across the face to calm him down and continued my questioning. I asked Shojin to talk a walk while we finished up our questioning and he went off in pursuit of onions to stuff his meal with. It still turns my stomach to think of all the things that man was willing to eat.

After some additional smacks about the face the goblin let us know that Jim would have run back to camp. A camp overseen by “Billy”, who was the boss. Billy was apparently enamored of late with a “pretty lady” who had become his newest play thing. I have little patience for a damsel in distress personally, but that’s because I refused to allow myself to become one.

Timmy, I only ever think of him as that, and as our adventures went on I often think back to him and wonder if there was a way to have made what happened play out differently, said that Billy would be happy to trade the lady for him and so we set off as the sun began to set in the direction of his camp. Timmy restrained in straps from the burned out wagons and on a short leash leading the way.

PayDay’s Journal 1 – A meeting on the road to sadness

The Fools' characters for the road to Highbreeze
Note from the Fools: The below note was found with PayDays Journal

If you are reading this that means that I am likely dead. I hope I died a good death. What follows is the account, best as I can recall of the my journey with a group that came to be more than friends. I came to count on these people, this motley bunch, more than I could my own family even after what I did. But I’ll get to that.

My name is Payola Dayoria, “Pay Day” to my friends, and I got my start in life as a petty thief. When I was young and first stepped out on my own I got arrested for stealing from the wrong person. While I was doing my time I was approached in the prison by a man. His name isn’t important. What is important is the choice he offered me. I could finish out my time and go free or I could work for his organization and get out by the end of that day. Since I was looking at another 10 years behind bars, I jumped at the chance. I sometimes regret that choice but it was and is a part of the life I chose. While I never found out the full depths of the “organization” and what it was into, while I was working for it, I did learn a few things. One, this was not a criminal organization, despite the trappings of thievery all around me and two, I was in this for life.

And the years went by. 10 years later I found myself still working for the organization, for gods and countries they would say, but I yearned for more. So I went walkabout. I just started to travel, see the sights that even with all my travel for the organization I never had a full opportunity to explore. I still looked for the odd score now and then, old habits and all that, but I was really just yearning for the youth my work denied me.

But that all changed on the road to Hammer Fall. Hammer Fall is a primarily Dwarven community and a primary trade hub for the realms. If it comes out of the mountains up in Minn’s Teeth it has to pass through Hammer Fell on its way to anywhere else. So it seemed to me that would be a nice place to make a bit o’ gold. My outlook was altered when on the road there I came upon a Half Orc and a Dark Elf also travelling the same path. They had been together for some time prior to our meeting and I was a little taken aback that they got along as they did.

Compared to me they were both Giants. The elf was easily nearly six feet tall and the half orc taller still. The Half Orc identified himself as Shojin, and right away I could tell there was something different about him. He was, for one thing calmer than any other orc or halfsie I had come across. It seemed like he was trying to escape his past. Who was I to judge, since I was doing the same thing?

The Dark Elf was Zeresnel, Zareznel, something like that. We only ever called her Z or something short like that. She was clearly decked out as a cleric of Lolth but I could tell from the look in her eyes that there was a fire, something almost like rage burning inside her. She wasn’t a stay on the sidelines and heal people kind of cleric. She was a get in there and smash it’s face kind of cleric. And she was really, really good at smashing the faces. Usually.

And so together, we three walked right into the beginnings of adventure together. As we came into Hammer Fall, I was acutely aware of several things right away. First that this was a town that was suffering. You could see it on the faces of everyone that we passed. This was a community that was struggling to get by. Second, there was a stillness in the air of something just waiting to happen.

We approached the Boar’s Head Tavern because it seemed as good a place as any to get the lay of the land. Taverns are about the best sources of information. Get most folks drunk enough and they will tell you damn near anything you want to know.  

The tavern keeper was a sad looking Dwarf. As I recall this we never really did find out his name. We took our seats at in an empty room and made our orders. Shojin ordered Boar, 4 legs worth. Now that may sound like a lot, because it is. This man could eat damn near anything. Why this one time…no, no, I get ahead of myself. The tavern keeper called to someone in the back that first order and our senses were then assailed by someone clearly taking it out on a boar. Those screams still haunt me. I ordered whatever they had as far as cheap wine went. I was no longer all that hungry. Z ordered some mead and a bit of boar herself.

While this was going on the tavern keeper inquired if we were there about the bounty. Bounties usually mean gold and gold makes the world go round. I said that of course we were but would love some of the specifics.

It seemed that all of the caravans from town were vanishing between Hammer Fall and the mountain and vice versa, thus never making it to or from the Dwarven stronghold in the mountain. We were interested in finding the source of the town’s plight (treasure and status with the townsfolk) but due to the lateness of the day after our meal, we would set out at first light. We were informed that there was no available lodging but that we could stay in the stables if we didn’t mind the smell of horses. We didn’t mind at all, since the cost was nothing and set up a watch rotation for the night.