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.