The Holy Travels of Savage Winterbeard,
Paladin of Krixmas, Acolyte of Farglin Sound
Chapter 2.1- The Road to Red Timber
The compatriots I have met as I continue my Path toward accepting my Paladin’s Oath make quite an interesting group. For the sake of the Order, I feel it prudent to record the proceedings of my quest and those intrigues of my fellow adventurers. I will start with Pandak, a fellow Paladin. He is perhaps the lone individual in the group who shares the solitary promise of devotion although I have the impression that he does not hold Krixmas in his heart, nor have reverence for my practices. What I can say is that we share the common bond of the protector and have done all that is in our power to protect our travelling companions as we head to answer the call of Red Timber and the mystery that their governor Thaddeus Madison will unfold to us when we arrive. His heart is true and his life, that of a Noble, enriched with great knowledge.
The second dwarf is said to be a descendant of Pandak’s deity Georgee and his mortal love, Fie. This dwarf is feisty and the only thing more fiery than her hair appears to be her disposition. She is a fierce warrior and will be a great asset. Her wisdom belies her stature, though I would never make such a comment to either of their faces as I know the dwarves to be a proud people and worthy of the respect they command.
I find myself the outlier as I have been my entire life as a rarity in my Order: one born of the darkness. In this party as there is not another human among the bunch and I stand out even more among my companions most literally in my height. In addition to the two dwarves we also have two gnomes in the party. The first is a holy kinsman to my Order and a descendant of Charmin. Jarry Charminson hails from the Forestlands and makes his living as a Guild Artisan while he searches for what he believes to be the downfall of his bloodline and sounds suspiciously akin to the Mug Gun upon which my holy Quest finds its foundation. We share the desire for restoration of our peoples and in such he was the first of the party to cross my path and my truest ally.
Perhaps the strangest of the party, but the one who shares the Song in my heart is the bard. BORP. We have become fast friends and I often allow her to ride on my back protected by my shield and stature. In turn, she has woven tales in song of our exploits and given me inspiration in my quest and in the heat of battle. I know not why she has incorporated into our little tribe, but I find her to be a great acquisition.
Finally, rounding out our group is the halfling rogue: Clementine Whiteside. I have trouble keeping track of this one both on the battlefield and off. I suspect that her past has not always been on the right side of the law but can appreciate the set of skills that she brings to our party and have found her to be of great use on more than one occasion when the might of sword or spirit of belief will not provide advantage or entry to certain establishments or circles. She is under Pandak’s protection as best I can tell and share a bond over an identical mysterious trinket they both carry on their person. His friendship is enough for me to trust this one... but only as far as I could throw her. I hope she will prove my suspicions moot.
The call for help has come from the Outpost of Red Timber and we have decided to answer the call. This small city is one of the final bastions of humanity and civilization on the edge of what is now known as 'The Wilds'. Wood Cutter's Guild head, and 'high roller', Thaddeus Madison has offered a substantial amount of money to individuals who can help the Outpost with an unknown issue. We come to both help, learn, and collect though not necessarily in that order of importance depending on which member of our party you ask.
On the outskirts of Red Timber we passed the temple of the Traveller on the public road. I spat to show my allegiance to my God but greeted the Priest who stood at the door of the hall to acknowledge his position and domain in this land. I long to be able to sew the seeds of Krixmas via the noble trees of Farglin Sound, my adopted home. Oh, to have them spread in every land and hear the Song of Krixmas fill the lungs and spill from the lips of every inhabitant of the Known World. But for now, as I inch closer to taking my Oath, I shall continue to respect the efforts of my fellow paladins, acolytes, and priests for their struggle is my own and their faith no less passionate or justified. He appeared stone faced and unmoved.
Unfortunately, as dusk set upon us and we arrived at the gate of Red Timber, we were greeted with the same lack of enthusiasm by the guards stationed above the portcullis. While one guard seemed more than willing to allow us entry and share with us the disease that has been ravaging his kinsman, his senior officer’s attitude and lack of luster for our response to his governor’s call kept us from entering the gates that night. We ask to see Madison himself or to speak to the superior of these men but learn that Kerwin Straight, the City Magistrate is outside the walls for the evening accompanied by Madison’s daughter Belinda but would return in the morning when we would be allowed entry.
Our conversational guard suggested we find haven for the evening in Lowtown which has had fewer cases of the mysterious disease said to be affecting Red Timber. We are told that a man named Pauly Cove is the unofficial elected official of Lowtown whose inhabitants number nearly three-hundred souls. The walled city we learn, used to number over five-hundred but has precipitously dropped as this illness has spread. As we entered the town square our party was confronted with two establishments in which to drink and sup: the upscale and less lively Holkin’s Grudge or the public house owned by Pauly Cove himself which was alive with song and dance. A youngling tells us we can find Cove within and feeling the joy of Krixmas emanating from the later, I was happy to say that it was also echoed by the group that we should patronize this public house.
Immediately upon entry I lost sight of the rogue. While Pandak sat up watch hoisting himself up on a table from which he could survey the entire hall, Charminson and the dwarf Bargret made haste to the bar with the same fervor that BORP and I made toward the minstrels eager to commune with these potential brothers and sisters of Krixmas. The bard and I quickly ingratiated ourselves to the band were asked if we would like to join them onstage which we happily obliged joining them in song and even spelling them while they took break for ale and sustenance.
It wasn’t long after Bargret and Jarry spoke with the bartender and received their drinks that they were confronted by a man short of stature, but not of companions who had no such size restrictions. We found out this man was Harold Lazenby, known as “Big Harold” among the citizens of Lowtown. After nearly escalating into physicality the exchange between members of our party and Lazenby’s associates, was interrupted by the proprietor himself: Pauly Cove, the “Mayor” of Lowtown. We thanked Master Cove for his assistance and he ours offering to put us up for the night free of charge to which I felt compelled to compensate him in some way for all his trouble.
After settling the tab of the party and gathering a share of the monies paid to the band offered to BORP and I the party headed upstairs to the sleeping chamber and I headed to see the Mistress of the house, Heller in order to discuss the prominence of Krixmas and how we could raise his profile among the patrons of the common house. While she reluctantly was opposed to elevating one God above another for fear of offending the other three deities on the hearth, we did commune in the sacred traditions of Krixmas before I departed to my party to take watch over them while they slept.
During the middle of the night before my watch was up I began to smell smoke coming from outside the manor and looked out upon the village square to see it and a number of buildings engulfed in flames! The party was quickly rousted and headed to the entry of the Cove to assess how we could help. In the square, a host of Orcs were scattered among the flames, two of them stalking townspeople familiar from earlier in the evening in the drinking hall. While we sprang to action with the utmost haste, we were unable to stay the Orc’s hands as they cut down their prey without mercy.
Both Pandak and I shared a wellspring of anger in our veins. We failed to protect the innocent and our blood boiled at the thought of our inadequacy. The party fought valiantly with both Jarry and the Rogue wisely pouncing from my shadow and the bard singing inspiration to us while standing in the entry of the Cove. It was only after having joined the fray that I recognized I had been deceived by some member of the common house, feeling the poison in my blood slowing my reactions. I lashed out with a righteous fury or as much as I could muster and thankfully my companions fought with valiance and vigor overcoming my limited effectiveness.
During the battle it was discovered that our foes were not Orcs, but giant Were-Rats wearing Orc skin to cover their true natures. Additionally, as our party struck them down they reverted to their human form revealing a number of the associates of “Big Harold” who threatened our cohort earlier in the evening. Despite our continued expediency, we were unable to stop the last of our foes from escaping but made sure that Lazenby knew of our discovery of his plans and Pandak and I took it upon ourselves to deposit his known associate on the doorstep of Holkin’s Grudge as incentive to others who might want to try their blade against our own.
After all the commotion, we returned to bed only to have trouble find us again, this time in our own bedchamber hall. We were sprang upon by three figures who distributed a mysterious substance that completely engulfed whole areas of the chamber in a magical darkness through which neither I, nor my dwarven fellows could see. Eventually, it was discovered these assassins were wearing special lenses over their eyes which allowed them to move through the mystical darknesses with unencumbered sight.
Once our party was able to acquire a pair of these goggles, the tide of the fight turned. Charminson conjured a thunderboom which sent furniture and assassin alike tumbling. Unfortunately, one of the bunks bowled BORP over as she engaged in song to steel our party’s resolve. As Pandak and I moved to engage the two remaining assassins, the rogue made herself visible and followed my strike with one of her own finishing the second of three. Finally, Pandak intercepted the final enemy as she made to escape through the broken window through which her or one of her fellow assailants entered. With his mighty hammer he struck and pinned her down to the cold, stone floor.
I rushed to her in order to extract information as Pandak had been careful to make it a glancing blow taking her off her feet but incapacitating her. Before I could interrogate her, she took a capsule causing her to convulse and foam at the mouth. In my haste for answers about these attacks upon my compatriots and the town I admit I acted out of accordance with the Order and Lay my Hands upon her in order to bring her back from the brink. The darkness in my blood boiled at this vile creature and I would not let her go to her maker without satisfying my desire to know who had sent them upon us. After telling us she was of the Sisterhood of Sark and with the strength of my confidants, especially my religious kinsman Charminson, staying my hand and cooling my boiling and darkly tainted blood, we headed to confront Heller, Mistress of the house and as we learned from her Sister, a leader in the cult of Sark.
When we arrived, we found Heller had flown and all that remained were three drug-addled female compatriots which I recognized from earlier. It was at this point the master of the house, Pauly Cove arrived demanding to know what was happening. After recounting our encounter in the sleeping quarters and the ensuing actions which I wrought he took matters out of my hand doing what I wanted so badly to do and executed the assassin for her actions then demanding to know if the three female compatriots of Heller were also Sisters of Sark. Not knowing the answer to his questions by having my doubts I fear that my inaction to stay his hand led also to the execution of these three souls as well. While he thanked us for cleaning his house of the Sisterhood, Cove suggested that it would be a good time for our party to move along. We agreed.
After these events I will plan to pray for guidance both in quieting the fire in my Tiefling blood with the Song of Krixmas and how to ensure that the Suggestion that comes from my Lord is true and just moving forward in my Path to taking my Oath, becoming a full Paladin of Krixmas. How I could have been so completely blind in my communion with the Mistress Heller to her treachery spoke to how far I still had to go in my training.
As we emerged from the Common House onto the streets of Lowtown we were soon greeted by Kerwin Straight, the aforementioned Magistrate of Red Timber who invited us to accompany him to Red Timber. While exiting through the village square we passed “Big Harold” and a few of his men standing outside the Grudge. He intimated that he would be seeing us again in the future and I made sure to draw myself up to full height and suggested that would only be factual if we did not indeed see him first. Herein we made haste toward the gates of Red Timber, eager to confront the mystery and suffering within…
Additional events of note and general musings:
~ The rogue ascertained the name of a contact of her ilk within the City of Red Timber named Irwin Applebottom. His moniker stirred in a number of our party the spirit of Song and Krixmas gave us divine guidance to sing a song about the man’s trousers and boots which pleased all in the party aside from the Dwarves.
~ Jarry Charminson made many a contact within Lowtown and informed the group that additional muscle, should we need it, could be had for a price from some of the Long Shanks thugs and there may also be business opportunities if we were to help them in their quest to lighten the load of the Madison clan.
~ Apparently, Jarry also snuck out to engage in games of chance during my time spent with the betrayer and false believer Heller. He informed the party that he hopes that some of the information he gained and connections would come in handy when next we return to Lowtown which he seemed assured of.
~ While the Magistrate Kerwin appears on the straight and narrow, his brother Creed is known to be a man if ill-repute and should not be trusted. Mirroring this sibling dichotomy are the children of Thaddeus Madison. While Belinda is known as a generally decent person aside from her mysterious disappearances at night with the Magistrate, her brother Tully is a mill of rumor in both Red Timber and Lowtown. It is whispered that women that fall into his hands have disappeared, never to be seen again, or found in a grizzly state taken from this life to the next in a frightening fashion. Whether this started before or after the murder of the third Madison sibling at the hands of Harold Lazenby, we know not.
~ There certainly seems to be no love lost between the families of Lazenby, Shanks, and Madison or those loyal to them.
~ Miss Cept, the proprietor of Lazenby’s Holkin’s Grudge establishment has daughters whom are betrothed to corresponding members of Big Harold’s posse. It remains to be seen whether there is a connection between these persons and the Brothers and Sisters of Sark or if any of these to be married men met their maker on the point of our steel during the fiery attack meant to draw us out into the night.
~ The silvered weapons that the were-creatures carried perplexed the party, but I believe that it is possible that Lazenby has been the source of the rash of intercepted shipments to the Madison family and Red Timber perhaps trying to acquire silver and weapons treated with such material in order to prevent the defeat of his were-posse. I discussed this possibility with Jarry and we intend to consider it and in so, the possibility of utilizing the possible business contacts within that organization for information. Time will tell.