Illen has departed with Erin Heartshorn on some sort of… “mission”. I guess that’s what the kids are calling it these days…
After several uneventful days of travel, as we came over a rise, we discovered hobgoblins attacking a wagon on the road. A family was cowering in fear underneath the wagon, defenseless against such a terrible onslaught. Quickly, we sprang into action, defeating the hobgoblins with ease. The family was relatively unharmed, though very shaken, and had suffered the loss of some of their goods on the wagon in the fight.
Shinokage felt especially moved by their plight. At her insistence, we have taken the family under our care. They are also en route to Dragonspear, so it makes sense to join our caravan for protection in these perilous times, whilst also restoring purpose to our continued presence, for now at least. Shinokage even offered them gold to cover the losses they suffered, and then some.
Continuing on in our journey, we again had several very quiet days, almost too quiet, in retrospect… Nearing Dragonspear, we began to wonder how we might locate a new patron to join the caravan so we might have pretext to continue on to Waterdeep. Our worries, however, were ultimately for naught…
Just one day’s travel from Dragonspear, we awoke to discover that the wheels of the wagons belonging to Samardag and to the family we rescued from the hobgoblins had been destroyed in the night. Knowing that an hour or more would be required to replace the wheels, we encouraged the caravan to proceed to Dragonspear, where we would join them again later that evening, as we knew they intended to make camp south of the city for the night. Samardag’s new party had little interest in assisting with such a menial task, so we set about the work of repairing both wagons. Whilst Sergey was lifting Samardag’s wagon in absence of any other means of lifting it to replace the wheel, we were suddenly ambushed by a group of Cultists and two red wyrmlings! A great fight ensued, in which we were nearly overcome. We at first believed that we would not stand alone against our foes, as we should surely be aided in our fight by Samardag’s new party, yet they were soon revealed as none other than farcical imitations of heroes. They quaked and cowered, and soon each fell in turn to a single blow from the Cultists.
Ever valiant until the end, we soon overcame the Cultists and their kobolds, though not before one shouted to me, “You never should have left us, Elys! You will never prevail over such might! Return to us, ere it is too late and we destroy you and all you hold dear!” Shocked and dismayed at this outcry, my party looked to me with a terrible mix of fury and fear in their eyes. Yet we fought on, until all the kobolds and Cultists lay dead at our feet.
Now the red wyrmlings attacked with renewed vigor. With our powers combined, we were able to destroy one of them, but we were unable to prevent the other from escaping. As we delivered blow upon blow and he grew weaker, seeing that all his companions had fallen, he took wing and fled. Unable to match his speed by air, we ultimately understood that he was lost to us.
In the aftermath, a stony silence ensued, in which I saw that my party was terrified and troubled by the Cultist’s words. Examining Samardag’s fallen party for any useful gear we might now have, we discovered that their armor and weapons were but cheap imitations, well disguised wood painted so as to appear as true adventuring gear. All was worthless, and soon we understood: Their boasts were nothing more than inventions, designed to gain patronage, on the hope that they should never face any true dangers such that their farce might be revealed. Mere con artists, in truth. Shameful indeed.
Upon discovering the truth of their con, Samardag begged our forgiveness, apologizing profusely for ever doubting our mightiness and begging us to return to his employ. Feigning deliberation, we in truth gladly and willingly accepted, as now we would be able to rejoin the caravan with ease and continue our journey to Waterdeep.
Searching the Cultists, we also discovered a note with a drawing of the layout of our camp from the previous night. Our wagons were clearly marked, and we understood then that we had not escaped the notice of the Cultists in the caravan at all. Rather, our wagons had been deliberately damaged, such that we would be unable to proceed in the morning and might be ambushed by the Cultists and their wyrmlings. Grievous tidings!
I am pleased to report that I was able to harvest the heart and scales from the wyrmling we killed. I know not as yet to what end I might use these terribly valuable items, but surely I will require them in due time. I must learn how I might best harness their power. Until such time, I have preserved the heart from decay with magic.
We quickly set about the work of repairing the wagons, fearing that the caravan might now have hastened to outpace us at the entreaty of the Cultists. Under the stony gaze of my party, directed at me without discretion, we soon set off for Dragonspear.
Arriving in Dragonspear, we soon found that the caravan had not camped in the location previously agreed upon. We delivered the family to their destination, sending them off safe at last and with a bit of gold jingling in their pockets, then set about replenishing our supplies and discovering what we could about the whereabouts of the caravan. We learned that they had proceeded to a camp on the north side of Dragonspear, and thus were able to rejoin their ranks. The Cultists’ faces betrayed no sign of surprise at our return. Whether this is because they were simply able to contain well their thoughts or because they had already learned of our victory over the ambush from the escaped wyrmling, we know not.
Much have I already written today, but one further incident must I relay, as by the stars I fear we may yet be forced to confront the consequences. Yesterday, after several days of peaceful travel, we made camp. The weather had grown increasingly dismal and drear, such that we wished not to spend a further night in the dank out-of-doors. We ventured to a nearby inn, the Horse & Hell Hound Inn, to see if we might rent a room for the night and thus be snug and dry for a spell.
The innkeeper seemed extremely nervous at our coming, and continuously glanced over to a party in the tavern. He denied that there was a room available, seemingly at the direction of the party, even though the inn was quite large and empty except for the one party. Surely there were enough rooms to spare, yet vehemently he denied this, continuously casting worried glances to the other party.
When the innkeeper brought them more beer at their brusque demands, the party began taunting us, calling us names and telling us to leave immediately, lest we incur their wrath. The innkeeper pled with us to leave, but Shinokage was angered by the ignorant behavior of the men, who, as we soon observed, were bearing crests which revealed them to be very rich descendants of great families. These sorts of men Shinokage cannot abide, and she began to taunt them in return.
As the innkeeper pled, the men rose and struck a few blows. We quickly realized that we must flee or be destroyed, for truly they were powerful foes, ones whom we should never overcome. Ere we fled, Shinokage exchanged final words of abuse with the men, who only laughed derisively as the innkeeper cowered behind his bar.
That night, we retired in the camp, weary of the dank and gloom, and supremely dismayed at our inability to defend ourselves against such vile men. This morning, we arose to discover that Shinokage had returned to the inn’s stables under cover of darkness and released the men’s horses into the night. They all made swiftly for the hills.
I know not what will come of these events, but I fear that we have not seen the last of the men. Shinokage has been fairly simmering with rage all the day long. I can only hope that we will be able to face them when next we meet.
I fear, too, that I will soon be faced with a great reckoning. All of my party, but most of all Sergey, continuously steal glances in my direction, their gaze full of reproach. Yet I fear to address openly the Cultist’s words myself. I believe I shall wait until they broach the subject themselves. Until then, I wait in agony.
Though we strongly believe the Cultists know we are following them, they as of yet have not betrayed any outward signs of this. We must tread carefully.
The porcelain is still hale. I grow ever more suspicious of its true nature.