The Eye of the Dragon

The Road North

Where has the whisky gone?

Rinjiminee Haltergirdle arrives at the inn one morning between breakfast and lunch. The inn is quiet save for a serving girl mopping the floor. He asks the girl if he can speak to the mayor as he’s heard this is where he conducts his business. She informs him that her fatheris busy right now but will see him shortly if he would like to wait. Rinjiminee sits himself down at a table in the corner and waits.

A few minutes later, Willis walks into the inn. He looks around and informs the serving girl that he is here to see the mayor. The girl gives a similar response as she did to Rinjiminee. Willis settles himself down in the opposite corner to Rinjiminee and waits.

A further few minutes on and Morgrimm Hammerbrow (“Grim”) walks into the inn. He looks around at the two occupants and the serving girl. He stands and waits. After a long pause, the serving girl says if he’s here to see her father he can wait with the other two until he is ready. With a shrug, Grim sits down at the serving bar.

It’s not long until Baron Reaver, mayor of Devlan and innkeeper exits from the kitchen. Spotting the small gathering, he welcomes them and ushers them into the back dining room. He introduces himself and is glad that they have volunteered to help patrol the surrounding area for any would be predators. This confuses Rinjiminee as he is there to find out why the Wee Folk are being overlooked again with matters in the village. Baron, assures Rinjiminee that no offence is meant and he’s had a busy winter with it being so harsh and people demanding he do something about the livestock being killed. He put out a notice for volunteers to meet this morning and the three party members turned up.

After a few more questions, the three volunteers accept the mission – the idea of free food and a bed for the night is particularly appealing to Rinjiminee. Before they leave, Baron asks them a small favour. The village has an upcoming Coming of Spring celebration and one of the local farmers, Thoram Malt, agreed to provide some whisky that he distilled over the winter. He was due to arrive in the village yesterday and didn’t. Thoram is usually quite a reliable man and Baron is a little concerned especially after all the talk about predators. The group agree to head north first, as Thoram’s farm is the last one on that road before the mountains.

On the way, the group decide to check on the two farms that they pass. All is well and the farmhands are looking forward to the festivities in a few days. Eventually, the group sees a horse and cart ahead. The horse tethered to a low tree branch and the cart sitting at an odd angle. A man can be seen trying to lift the cart. The group go forward to lend a hand.

The man is Thoram Malt and he’s on the way to Devlan with whisky and cider – kegs and barrels sit on the road behind the cart. His carthweel came off while going over the rough road. He’s managed to prop the axle of the wagon up a little on a small pile of stones and logs. He can’t manage the rest by himself.

The three adventures over to help and with their combined strenth easily lift the cart allowing Thoram to reattach the wheel. In the process of doing this Willis notices a man in a dark cloak sitting on a horse a little distance down the road. When he looks back again, man and horse are gone.

With the cart repaired, Thoram goes to hitch his horse, Able, back on to the cart. Able becomes agitated and nervous. This puts the group on alert and a snarl is heard from the forest shortly before two creatures burst out onto the road.

They are a horrifying sight, creatures out of fairytales to frighten bad children that shouldn’t exist. They are manlike bears – or perhaps bearlike men – with bloodshot wild eyes and a muzzle fixed in a permanent snarl. Their fur is patchy showing black and green blotchy skin. Pus oozes in several places. Losing his cool, Grim retreats several paces away.

As the creatures rear up on to their hind and looks and approach the group, Willis says a prayer of Blessing. Rinjiminee calls to Grim to rally. Grim stops and turns to set up his egg-launcher. Meanwhile, Thoram scrambles atop his cart to reach his longbow.

One creature attacks Willis, while the other heads for Rinjiminee. They fight back in melee while Thoram shoots his bow and Grim launches exploding eggs into their midst. The creatures are finally overcome, not without Rinjiminee taking some collateral damage from Grim’s exploding eggs.

Willis asks Thoram about the road and where it goes, and if he’s seen any travellers around. Thoram replies that the road goes as far as his farm. The only thing further on are the hills and mountains. No travellers come this way. Willis tells the others about the rider and the horse. They don’t believe him as there is no sign of the rider now.

Believing it to be unsafe, the group escort Thoram back to Devlan. Willis and Grim drag one of the creature corpses with them. They stop at the two farms once more. At the first, the farmer looks a little pale at seeing the creature. He will keep an eye out though for any future sightings. At the second farm, the farmhands believe the corpse to be a fake and laugh thinking someone sent the group here to wind them up.

Back at Devlan, the group receive a few stares as they drag, what appears to them to be a bear’s corpse, behind them. Thoram is greeted cheerily, especially when he confirms he has the whisky and the cider for the celebrations.

At the inn, Thoram and Baron ask the group to keep the creature quiet as they don’t want to scare the village. As far as anyone needs to know, it’s a bear that was causing all the troubles. The group agree and feel fortunate that they hid the corpse behind the inn.

In the morning, they dispose of the corpse away from the village before setting out to explore the forest to the north-east. Around mid-afternoon, tiredness affects the group. Willis and Grim shrug off the effects but notice that Rinjiminee has disappeared. After some frantic searching, they find the Little Person, asleep under a bush. Snoring quietly and muttering about food. With an effort, Willis finally manages to wake up the sleeping Rinjiminee, who is a little put out having been poked – quite roughly – with a stick.

Seeing no sign of any predators, the group heads back to the village for another evening. The third day of scouting sees the group head along by the river and up a side stream. The only thing of interest they see is a Great Eagle high over the forested hills. They camp out that night with Willis taking first watch. He wakes Grim up after a few hours for the middle watch. As Grim goes to wake Rinjiminee to take the last watch, he finds Little Person’s tent empty. He wakes up Willis instead. They discuss searching but think it is futile in the dark. Instead, Willis takes a second watch, allowing the dwarf to sleep some more.

In the morning, Rinjiminee’s tent is still empty and the two remaining group members start searching. They consider abandoning the Little Person as it might prove difficult finding him. A discussion that is overheard by Rinjiminee as he awakens from his slumber in a hollowed out trunk. When Willis and Grim finally find their absent party member, he is seated on a log munching away on breakfast. Grim asks why he wasn’t in his tent. Rinjiminee replies simply that he didn’t want to be woken up by a stick again. Grims seems happy with that explanation. Willis doesn’t even look abashed.

That day is mostly taken up by visiting the farms upriver from Devlan. One or two sheep went missing over the winter but no other incidents are reported. Most of the talk, however, is about the festivities. Everyone is looking forward to it and are heartened when they learn Thoram has kept his word regarding his whisky and cider.

On their final day of searching, the party loop around to the south and south-west. They discover an abandoned farmstead. From the ruins, Grim knows it’s been decades since anyone lived here. Rinjiminee goes to explore the remains of the house where he accidentally causes the rubble to shift. He keeps his balance as a hole into the cellar opens nearly beneath his feet. He considers going to take a look but decides against that idea as the rubble shifts once more.

Willis, meanwhile, looks around the back of the farmstead and finds the rotted remains of a wagon. Having a quick look, he finds a little pouch containing six slugs and a few scraps of metal. He takes the pouch and metal to give to Grim, believing the dwarf can do something with these, remembering the exploding shells from a few days earlier.

The rest of the day goes without incident and the rest of the day goes without incident with no signs of predators. On returning to Devlan, Baron is content that there might not be any more predators in the area and their scouting as eased people’s concern somewhat. He informs the group that it will not be necessary to patrol the following day. That leaves them with a free day before the Coming of Spring festival.

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