Legends of Mystara

Seeking a Tale
Jan. 10

The next morning was a peaceful one. Hobbits were bustling about everywhere, some tending small, household farms, while others were hard at work with the stables and caravans that traveled between the city and Mar in Darokin. Thordaim Anvil-Chest was the last to come down from his room and join the rest at a table they chose for breakfast. Sammond Rootarrow was already halfway through his second plate, while Aylin Aldaelon slowly and meticulously cut up his meal. Wyatt Carlson had already finished his plate, and was conversing with Rayen Adsila about their plans. “Aylin wants to travel the Shires a bit before heading East into Karameikos.” he said, unfolding a map of the Shires from Aylin’s atlas. “From here we plan to go Southwest to Flagonford,” he explained, tracing his finger along the path he described, “then to Rundegos and Stillpool after that. We’ll continue Northeast through Fishtickle Bridge and Shadowgate to Leafkindle, then turn Southbound to Deepmoss and Moon Hill. When we reach Shireton, we’ll take a boat to Specularum, capital city of Karameikos. Aylin figures that by visiting these towns he can possibly gather some information about his quarry from the Hobbit’s tales.” he finished, sitting back in his chair. “We would love for you to come with us.” he added.

“Speak for yourself, boy. I have no desire to travel with more than the necessary number of burdens.” Aylin spoke up, not bothering to take his eyes off of his meal.

Wyatt smiled at Rayen and corrected himself “I would love to have you and your friends join us.”

“I… don’t like boats too much. Is it possible to take an overland route instead?” Rayen asked innocently.

“I’ll not change my course by the whim of some ignorant girl!” Aylin snapped at her. “Do whatever you want, but I’m not redirecting my planned route in the slightest.” Wyatt rolled his eyes and huffed at Aylin’s ever-present attitude.

“I’d rather not take a boat, but I don’t want to travel alone to Specularum.” She said quietly.

“Bah, I’ll not be takin’ to the confines of a boat with the Elf!” Thordaim shouted, accruing glances from the rest of the tavern as their own quiet conversations over breakfast were drowned out in his outburst. The glances did not go unnoticed, and Thordaim lowered his voice slightly. “If I be goin’ along with this quest, I’ll be takin’ to the girl’s path.” he added, using his enmity towards Aylin as an excuse to guard the girl whom he had a fondness for, as if she were a little girl who needed someone to hold her hand.

“Aye, well, you’d be needing a guide then if you’re going t’be travelin’ the Shires with naught but a Dwarf, lass.” Sammond piped in, pushing his empty plate towards the center of the table. “And none know the Shires like a Hobbit” he added with a wink.

“You would travel with me?” she asked, perplexed at the little man’s motives.

Sammond grinned at her. “Well, iffin’ you don’t want me to come along, I can go with the stranger couple.” he said tossing his head in the direction of Aylin and Wyatt. Aylin shot Sammond a dirty glance, which he caught out of the corner of his eye and caused him to smile.

“Why do you want to join us, Sammond?” Wyatt asked, wondering what stake the Hobbit could have in joining them on their dangerous task.

“Treasure and story, lad, treasure and story.” Was his simple and honest reply. Aylin eyed the Hobbit as if to size up what creature would dare to take his glory in his own quest.

“It’s settled then,” Rayen finalized, “you and Aylin will head to Specularum by boat, and the three of use will meet you there by land.”

“Right,” Wyatt conferred, “We’ll be in Shireton in ten days, give or take. If you want to meet us there and take the boat, you’re welcome to. If not, we’ll see you in Specularum a week after.” He folded the map again and carefully replaced it in the atlas, knowing Aylin’s pension for scolding him should he barely mark any of the books, scrolls, and maps he carried with him from the Great Library. Aylin stood from the table and turned to leave. Wyatt clasped Thordaim on the shoulder as he got up. He nodded to Rayen and turned to catch up with his employer.

“Well, we’d best be off too, lass.” Sammond said, getting to his feet as well. “I’m sure I can find us some nice wheels to get to Fishtickle Bridge.”

“Why there?” Rayen asked, rising form her seat as well to join her two small companions on their way out the door. The sun was rising from the east, just over some distant hills, but still filtered by the canopy of the large trees that filled Sateeka.

“Wot d’you mean ‘why there’? It’s the only place East of here, and if we’re to be catching up with th’other two in Specularum, we’d best be about that way.”

Sammond had persuaded an elderly Hobbit into taking them with him on his journey back home, convincing him that the “company they would provide would surely lessen the ache of the trip”. The argument was a hard one to refuse for an old Hobbit traveling alone, and so the trio found their ride to Fishtickle Bridge.

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"Hobbit"
Jan. 9

After eating their meal (so generously provided by the drivers along with rooming for the night, on behest of Sammond in the stereotypical Hobbit courtesy and hospitality), Aylin confronted Rayen, who acted as something of a de-facto leader of her group. “Why have you and your rabble decided to follow me?” he asked in his usual grating personality.

“I just wanted to explore the world. I don’t lay claim to any treasures we may come across, I only value the places we may visit,” she responded, “and Thordaim is far from rabble! He is a great fighter and a good man, you shouldn’t be so quick to judge.”

“You are a very strange girl,” he replied, ignoring her protest on behalf of the Dwarf.

“You are a very strange man,” She shot back. Sammond leaned back in his chair, grinning from Rayen’s reversal of Aylin’s statement. He puffed from his pipe, sending another small cloud into the mass that loomed over their heads. “Besides,” she added, “I’m not all that strange for my kind.”

“And what kind might that be?” he pressured. Wyatt’s attention was fully on this conversation, as he was curious to the answer as well. Sammond wore a smile on his face as he shot a knowing wink to Thordaim, judging that the Dwarf knew by the smirk he held behind his beard.

“Human. Sort of.” she said with a wry smile. “Why are you so curious about it?”

“Your lack of even the most basic knowledge leads me to the conclusion that you are from a very… secluded part of the world. Yet you seem to have some natural understanding with what lies around you. You are an enigma, girl, and one I plan to solve.” Aylin added vigorously, drawing a sideways glance from Wyatt, who disapproved of his rude comment.

“I am not an ‘enigma’. I don’t even know what creature that is.” She replied seriously. Sammond cast a raised eyebrow at her, but her expression had shown that she thought her remark to make sense. Aylin closed his eyes and shook his head, utterly defeated by the girl’s lack of comprehension.

He pushed himself back from the table and stood. “I grow weary of this conversation.” he stated bluntly, and turned to leave for his room.

Wyatt half-heartedly smiled at Rayen and added “it’s probably best we get some rest.” trying to disarm Aylin’s statement. Thordaim and he stood from the table as well and left for their rooms. Rayen and Sammond still sat at the table, the Hobbit laying back casually against the wall in his chair. His eyes were closed, but Rayen could tell he was still awake by the pace of his breathing.

“Are you not going to join us? she asked, rising from her own chair.

Sammond cracked an eye open and smiled, mumbling “I’m quite comfortable where I am.”

“From what I’ve seen, you little people are all quite lazy.” she mentioned, “tell me, are all Halflings like you?” She didn’t mean any of it as an insult, but got stares at her from around the bar.

Sammond sat the front of his chair back down and looked at her fully. “Don’t be callin’ us ‘Little People’, lass. Some of us don’t take kindly to words like that. ‘Halfling’, too. We’re Hobbits, or Shire Folk if you like. And we’re not lazy, we just see no need in rushing about in life.” Sammond’s explanation to her changed some of the glances she got from irked to understanding of her ignorance.

“Oh. I’m sorry, I meant no disrespect to you or your people,” She quickly apologized, “I heard some of the Humans use that name for your people, I had no idea it was a mean one. The other races that I met were very… different from your people.”

“It’s all fine and well, lass. No harm done.” he replied, once again leaning back in his chair. She decided to take her leave now, somewhat embarrassed by the incident, and get some rest.

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The Shires
Jan. 9

“Right then, lass, I don’t want no trouble from you an’ your big friends over there, so how’s about we call a truce? You stop accusin’ me o’ such crimes wot I never did done, and I don’t give you reason to thinks I done nothin’.” Sammond Rootarrow bartered with Rayen Adsila. “At least for the duration wot we’d be travelin’ t’gethah.”

“This doesn’t mean I trust you,” she replied to his proposition, “but for the time being, I suppose it’s the most prudent choice. Keep your fingers to yourself though, little one. I’m not likely to fall for the same trick twice.” She warned him. He smiled cockily and laid back down, covering his face with a wide-brimmed hat that was folded up on the left side side with a large feather sticking out of the back of the fold. His pipe poked out from underneath the folded side and blew rhythmic puffs of smoke out occasionally.

The troup settled into a comfortable pace as they left for Sateeka. The trip through the mountains was relatively peaceful as they entered the Heartshire. Rayen stared at the cliffs encompassing the mountain pass they meandered through. “What happened to the land?” she finally asked at length to no particular person. Sammond was sound asleep at this point and hadn’t heard her question, Aylin Aldaelon was too engrossed in reading one of his thick tomes, Thordaim Anvil-Chest was also asleep, and snoring loudly, and Michael was staring off into the distance, his mind many miles away. So it seemed as though Wyatt Carlson was the only one who heard her question. He looked around, expecting someone else to answer, but when none came, he took it upon himself to respond to her odd inquisition.

“What do you mean?” he replied, following her gaze to the cliffs. “Do you mean the Cruth Mountains?”

“What are ‘mountains’?” she replied, a quizzical look on her face as she turned to look at Wyatt. His face was a myriad of confusion and strange looks.

“Do you really not know what mountains are? Where were you raised? Even Ylari people know what mountains are.”

“I was raised in Ierendi. We didn’t exactly have anything like this on my island.”

“Are you daft, girl? A mountain is just land. What could possibly be so important about it?” Aylin interjected, his abrasive personality ruining any semblance of peace on the long ride. His sudden outburst awoke Thordaim, who seemed very angry by being woken from his nap, especially by the wizard.

“Must you be so brash, Aylin?” Wyatt scolded him. “She apparently has never seen any mountains on her island. Just go back to your book.” Aylin rolled his eyes and turned around to continue reading his book. “Mountains are what happens when the lands moves against itself. It pushes upwards to create these cliffs.”

“I know the land is alive, but I never thought of it like that.” She marveled at the sheer height of the cliffs, spanning hundreds of feet above their heads.

The rest of the ride was rather quiet, or rather it was until Aylin spoke up again. “Do you HAVE to make this ride so bumpy? I cannot read a single sentence because of all of this shaking!” he shouted at the drivers. They looked back, rather shocked at his outburst. Wyatt punched Aylin in the shoulder rather hard. Aylin turned to him to see Wyatt’s scowl, with Thordaim behind him, glaring at the rude Elf. “They could simply drive a little smoother.” he remarked as he turned back around to his book. Thordaim, fully upset with Aylin’s actions, cast a globe of impenetrable darkness around the Elf’s head.

“That better, Elf?” he retorted as Aylin furiously slammed his book closed. Aylin was able to counter the spell with it’s opposite, a Light spell, fairly quickly, but he was still rather perturbed by the incident.

“So you like to dabble in the Arts then, Dwarf?” He challenged, eager to see the Dwarf try and best him in magical combat.

“If that’s a challenge, Elf, let us hope your skills match that of my god!” he shouted, standing up to meet Aylin’s face.

The rabble in the back was enough to wake up Sammond, who quickly surmised the situation and the terrible consequences should a fight break out. “Guys, guys! We’re all friend’s here! There ain’t no need to be goin’ about flinging insults an’ spells at each other. Not unless you want t’be attractin’ everything wot lives up in these here mountains.” he spoke calmly, trying to defuse the tension with the impending threat of violent and possibly powerful creatures being attracted to a sudden magical outbreak. Aylin knew fully what creature lurked in the depths of the mountains, and thought the Hobbit’s prudent advice to be wise. As Aylin’s threat diminished, so did Thordaim’s, who eased back into his seat.

“Thought so, Elf.” He remarked under his breath, but not so soft as to not be heard by anyone in the cart. Aylin, who fully heard his comment, chose to ignore it instead of acting out once more. The ride from there on was awkwardly quiet, punctuated by Aylin’s frustrated sighing as they hit a bump or ditch in the road, the smoke from Sammond’s pipe-weed, which was heavily spiced, and Thordaims occasional grumble after Aylin’s sigh. Wyatt and Rayen dared not to speak, for fear of causing the temporary truce between Aylin and Thordaim to break. After a few hours, the caravan broke into the countryside of the Heartland Shire. Rolling hills permeated the lush green landscape. The very earth itself seemed at peace within the Shire’s boundaries.

Rayen was astounded by the tranquility that surrounded the Shires. It seemed as though every creature, plant, and inanimate object was relaxed, peaceful with everything that was around it. It was quite a stark contrast from the human cities and countries. Despite having left the mountain range, Aylin and Thordaim had little to do with each other, as the peace of the Shires seemed to ease their frustration with each other.

After a long and pleasantly quiet ride, the group made their way into the town of Sateeka at roughly 21:00. It was a trading town, that was certain. The buildings were taller than most Hobbit structures in order to accommodate their Human visitors from Mar. All of the buildings were clustered around trees, seeming like rings of mushrooms. Upon entering the town, the cart was attended on all sides by eager Hobbits willing to lend a hand to their kin. Nearly half of the luggage was unloaded and placed in a location designated by the drivers before the rest of the crew even knew what was happening. Michael simply jumped off of the cart and stretched before heading over to the couple to join them in conversation with the waystation owner. The rest of the group left the caravan, Sammond saying a farewell in the Hobbit-tongue to the drivers, and having one returned with a smile and wave.

Aylin, quick to get to work searching for his quarry, led Wyatt, and in turn, the rest of the group, to the Hungry Hippogriff, an Inn with Human-sized rooms in the center of the small town. They got a table in the cozy restaurant in the lower half of the inn. The tavern was filled with a smoky, spiced haze emanating from multiple pipes around the room. Sounds of conversations from each table were easily heard throughout the tavern, but were by no means as loud or rambunctious as Human taverns. Long-winded, exaggerated tales could be heard from some of the tables, drawing the attention of nearby patrons who moved their chairs over and leaned in to hear the excitement.

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Addition and Subtraction
Jan. 8- Jan. 9

Upon entering the quaint town of Mar at roughly 22:00, Atrean Falavir, Rayen Adsila, and Thordaim Anvil-Chest and the caravan driver went their own ways. The driver was still in shock from the trip and wanted to send the two boys’ bodies back home. He wished the party a farewell, and set off to work, not planning on leaving Mar for some time.

The three adventurers then had to decide what to do with all of the owlbear meat they collected (stored in a barrel the driver kindly let them use). Rayen, something of a cook herself, decided to try her hand at bartering with the local innkeeper. She would cook it and serve it if it was good quality. If not, she and her companions would keep the meat they cooked. Steve, the barkeep of the tavern they chose, was hard-pressed in his decision making. Luckily for Rayen, though, a young man sweetened the deal on her behalf, offering compensation to Steve should the meat turn out bad. This young man, who went by the name of Wyatt Carlson, had arrived in town that morning, and had already built a quick relationship with Steve, trading stories throughout the day until his employer, Aylin Aldaelon had enough of the town and planned to leave at once. Wyatt’s deal (8 gold should the meat be inedible), had pushed Steve over the ledge, and he allowed them to work on it.

Unfortunately for everyone, Steve did not believe it was real owlbear meat, and wanted proof first. Wyatt’s first instinct was to ask Aylin, who seemed to know just about everything from his books. Wyatt swiftly went to retrieve Aylin, and returned to a scowling Dwarf. Thordaim, like all Dwarves, was not particularly fond of Gray Elves, and let his enmity show. Rayen, not knowing what a Gray Elf was, whispered to Atrean “Does he have a birth defect or something?”

“What was that girl?” Aylin responded, overhearing her innocent question. “Have you never seen the splendor of a Gray Elf before? Surely that is a pity.” Aylin, pleased with the way he slipped his racial superiority to the others, continued on his task at hand. “It was a predator,” he answered at length, holding a piece of the meat with a stick and curiously examining it, “large, about seven to ten feet. Muscular. Quite possibly owlbear.”

“I done told ye it was! Figures ye don’t even know fer sure!” Thordaim shouted, more to Aylin than to Steve.

Aylin, surprised by the sudden and unexpected outburst from such a filthy creature replied with “What was that, Dwarf? I hardly noticed you there. I find it hard to look down after such a long ride.”

Thordaim, infuriated with the self-righteousness of the pointy-eared bastard, lunged at Aylin, hammer in full overhead swing. Wyatt was quick on the draw though, and caught the Dwarf’s arm before the hammer struck. Aylin, whose face was but a mere three inches from the flat of the hammer merely smiled, pleased with his choice in bodyguard and his display of being untouchable. Thordaim struggled and cursed at Wyatt to let him go so that he could “Squish the little bastard like a grape!” Atrean and Rayen stepped in to hold Thordaim back, one by each arm. Unfortunately, as Aylin turned to retire to his room, Thordaim ripped free of their hold and charged again, only to be caught once more by the human boy.

Wyatt turned to Aylin, who was the cause of so much trouble in the first place, and told him “If you’re going to take your leave, I suggest the sooner would be better.” Aylin cocked his head back and went up the stairs. Thordaim, after being somewhat calm by the disappearance of the Elf, was taken to a table in the corner of the bar by Atrean, who spent quite some time talking him down from his rage.

Wyatt then asked Steve if they still had a deal. Steve agreed, but had one new condition: the Dwarf was not to mess with his patrons. A few had already either hurriedly finished their late dinners and went to bed, or just left their plates half full to escape the scene. Wyatt and Rayen assured him that wouldn’t be a problem. Rayen got to work in the kitchen, cooking up the meat as best she could and with Wyatt’s help. Unfortunately, she was not accustomed to the kitchen’s equipment, knowing only the slow-cooking campfires she grew up with. After burning her fifth batch of steaks (two of which she managed to hide form the cook), they were chased out of the kitchen. The cook threw the rest of the meat out of the back door and into the alley. They managed to get one set of steaks out without burning them, and offered two of them to Atrean and Thordaim. They ate it, but Atrean was a little taken aback by its unusual flavor. It was very chewy, gamey, and bland. Despite his initial reaction to the meat when they carved it, Thordaim was impressed by the taste, thinking it to be better than he had expected.

Wyatt paid Steve as per their arrangement. Rayen apologized for the cooking going south, but Wyatt didn’t seem to mind. “Aylin pays me anyways, and I don’t have much to spend it on. He pays for all of our food and lodging. He may be a snob at times, but he’s not too bad.”

“What was that, boy?” Aylin called from upstairs, apparently hearing his “snob” comment. Wyatt ushered Rayen outside so that they could speak more privately. The night was brisk and clear, stars twinkling brightly as the moon lit up the town.

“Yeah, I’m kind of his bodyguard for the time being,” Wyatt explained. “He hired me from Darokin City to protect him on some ‘Grand Adventure’ that he has planned. To be honest, I just went along to travel the world. He is apparently searching for some ancient ring that he read about. Wants to bring it back to Glantri with him to prove his worth or something.”

“He’s interested in magical rings?” Rayen asked, wondering Aylin’s motives.

“Yep. Wants one in particular. Called it a ‘Ring of Jeanie Summoning’ or some such other name. I wasn’t really paying attention at the time.”

“Oh. I have a ring that’s magical, but I don’t really know what it…” Rayen began, not knowing the perils of possession of fine objects. Wyatt quickly cut her off.

“Perhaps it’s best to not speak of such thing in the open,” he informed her, “you never know who’s listening.”

“Where is he taking you?” She changed the subject. She thought of exploring wondrous lands across the world.

“East, towards Ylaruam. That’s where we’ll start our journey. We’ll head through the Five Shires and Karameikos first, then either cut up to Selenica or further East into Thyatis. Although, because of Thyatian laws, we may avoid it and head North earlier.”All of this talk of traveling got Rayen into a stir, wanting to feel the wind in her hair as she saw everything from snowy mountain peaks to windy deserts.

“Can… Can we come with you?” She asked after awhile, not certain as to how Wyatt would accept the offer.

“Well, I don’t think Aylin would pay you all, but I’m sure he wouldn’t mind the extra muscle. Well, except for your Dwarf friend.”

“Thordaim usually isn’t that bad, honest. Aylin just got him all riled up is all.” She explained, knowing how Thordaim easily put himself in front of an owlbear to save the caravan earlier. “He’s honest and true, and though he may have something against Elves, as I’m told all Dwarves do, him and Atrean seem to get along well.”

“Well, I’ll talk to Aylin tonight, and we’ll see what happens.”

And with that they went back inside to find Thordaim and Atrean had already paid for their rooms and went to sleep. Rayen paid for hers and bid Wyatt good night. Rayen went up to her room and sat on the bed. She was uncomfortable with sleeping in such a thing, so she simply got the sheets from it and laid them in a corner, laying curled on top of them.

The next morning, everyone came down roughly at the same time for breakfast. Thordaim and Aylin sat as far away from each other at the table as possible, the Dwarf never missing a chance between stuffing his mouth to cast a glare at the insufferably tidy Elf. Rayen and Wyatt explained their agreement, asking Thordaim and Atrean to come with them. “I cannot join you on your quest,” Atrean replied to the offer.

“Why not?” Rayen asked, genuinely upset at losing the level-headed medium of their group.

“My path leads to Darokin City and beyond. May fate grant our paths cross again.” He bid them farewell and left the tavern to find a way North to Darokin City.

Thordaim however, to the surprise of the others, agreed to go with them. “If only to see the demise of that one!” he added, pointing a nearly-clean drumstick at Aylin. Aylin ignored Thordaim’s comment, which was easily the wisest decision he could have made. Aylin, having his opinion battered by Wyatt’s continuous stream of excuses the night before had finally given in to the request, allowing the others to “tag along” with them for a time.

After everything was settled between the four, they searched for a caravan heading to Sateeka through the Cruth Mountains. They had invariably found an elderly Hobbit couple who were returning home from a trading trip to Mar. The wife had welcomed the newcomers, adding that she hoped they didn’t run into anything in the mountains, as she didn’t want to see them hurt. Her genuine pleasantries appealed to Rayen, who had only seen a more grim view of the world since she had left her home. So far she had been stolen from, attacked, and caught in the middle of a bar fight and she was tired of it all. The four introduced themselves to Michael, a human fighter who worked for the couple to protect them on their perilous journey through the mountains. Another passenger laid in the back of the wagon, with a wide-brimmed hat over his face and his foot bouncing, crossed over his knee. Smoke cam from his pipe as the Hobbit peacefully puffed on it. Rayen, eager to meet the crew, introduced herself. Her surprise only matched her fury as Sammond Rootarrow sat up and looked innocently at her with a crooked smile on his lips. “Well wot a coincidence this is!”

“You again!” Rayen shouted at the Halfling, not eager to see him again anytime soon.

“You two know each other?” Wyatt asked as Thordaim and Aylin settled in the back of the caravan, keeping a good distance from each other.

“He took my money back in Athenos!” She shouted at him.

“Wot? Did not! You ‘ave all your money right there on your hip, lass. I only own wot money is mine and rightly so. ’Ow can you be accusing people o’ such crimes, then?” He responded, thinking himself rather cunning.

“Your lot bring all sorts of trouble, don’t you?” Wyatt asked Rayen. If only he knew how true that was.

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The Road to Mar (Cont.)
Jan. 8

Atrean Falavir, Rayen Adsila, and Thordaim Anvil-Chest set out from the Streel River campsite early on the 8th. The ride was fairly uneventful, with Atrean lying on his back, watching wisps of clouds pass by and Rayen staring off to the Northeast far out onto the rolling plains and waves of bright green grasses newly sprouted. Thordaim slumbered on the bumpy ride through the foothills of the mountains, his snoring penetrated by the occasional chirping of Greef, also fast asleep.

Atrean and Rayen spoke some throughout the ride, speaking of homelands and what life’s beauty was in the eyes of the other. Atrean got an unconscious snort from Thordaim as he spoke to Rayen of Elven smithing. This set Rayen off on a tangent, wondering about the animosity between the two races: “Why do Elves and Dwarves hate each other? Is it because of your height?”

Atrean laughed at her innocent question, knowing a Dwarf would be seriously upset about such an insinuation. “It’s not as though we hate each other,” Atrean explained, “but rather that we are too different. Elfkin revere life with a fullness of beauty few will ever know, whereas Dwarves are more content with working from when they are able until they can no longer do so, and even then oversee the work of others! We are simply two polar ends of the same spectrum; one joys in beauty, the other in labor. This does not mean we do not respect each other, either. Oh, no. In fact, there are few Elves that can match a Dwarf in the strength of his smithing, but few Dwarves who can boast such aesthetic and magical crafting and Elves. We both see a means to the same end in the long run, but take alternative paths. It is my goal, in my long life, to learn from the Dwarves, and other various races, so that I may hope to create the best smithing technique, forged from the alloy of them all. To perfect weaponsmithing as a craft. Alas, learning from Dwarves will be a tough challenge indeed for an Elf. Few Dwarves would give us the light of day, or in their case, their torches, when it comes to smithing. They think our smiths to be weak to not brutishly force the metal into form. Rather, we use our magic to aid us in the forging. This is a perversion of smithing in the eyes of a Dwarf, and so may bar the path on my quest. I fear that it may take quite some time indeed for me to learn their ways. That is fine though, I have plenty of time.” They sat for awhile in silence, only the sounds of nature, and a squeaky wheel on the wagon, filled their ears.

As the sun nearly set on their backs, the group saw Mar off in the distance. It was not so far now, settled in the foothills of the mountain, and they would reach it by nightfall. Unfortunately, that was not the plan of another. As they rounded another turn on their mountain trail, a large creature beset them from the North. Out of the trees it broke, wandling it’s massive form on its large paws. Upon seeing what it was that had made such a commotion so near it’s home, the creature stood upon it’s hind legs, topping over eight feet tall, and roared. It was a deep, throaty roar that mixed with a piercing shriek as it came from it’s beaked mouth. It slammed its feathered fore paws down and charged at the caravan, spooking the horses to run off the trail. Luckily, the group had heard it rumbling through the shrubs and had dismounted the cart before it took off. The four of them stood, arms at the ready, in a semicircle around the mouth of the trail the creature stormed down.

Upon seeing the fearsome creature, Rayen changed her form. The display was a spectacle to behold, her slender frame giving way to corded muscle behind thick fur, her body contorting in ways unnatural, yet elegant. She shed her clothes as the finality of the change set in. She landed her hands down in front of her, and they quickly became great paws concealing dangerous claws within. Her face had elongated into the visage of a glorious tiger, eyes sparkling with the intellect behind them. When the shift had ended, only a great cat stood atop a pile of Rayen’s clothes. A proud tiger, fearsome and strong, easily double the size of the frail woman it had been moments ago. The snarled roar of the tiger was the first indication the others had of her glorious change, though, as they were focused more on the danger at hand.

The young guard was unfortunate enough to be the first being the owlbear had seen. It charged in on him, swatting at him with massive paws. The man was able to duck under the first swing of it’s arm with the aid of his shield, but the other had a clear shot at his unprotected ribs. He was tossed to his left with the blow, landing on his shoulder only to be put on his back by the large form now atop him. The owlbear dove in on it’s quarry, finding the defenseless man’s throat with it’s powerful beak. He was dead within seconds.

What the creature hadn’t known though was that it was now in line with Thordaim, who had eagerly let his presence known with a battle cry fit for any Dwarf. The owlbear rose again, it’s bloody maw wailing in anger at the intruders. It swung down on Thordaim with it’s right arm, thinking this target as easy as the last. It was soon proven wrong. Thordaim raised his large Adamantine shield above his head and plunged it into the ground in between himself and the paw that lunged for him. Even with the point of the rounded triangular shield buried a good ways int the ground, the Dwarf could only barely see over it. He braced his left shoulder up against the shield, smiling all the while. The great beasts paw found the shield, and found it hard. The Dwarf was barely staggered as the owlbear nearly broke it’s arm on the nigh-impenetrable defense of Thordaim Anvil-Chest. The reverberations sent down to it’s shoulder only served to anger the owlbear further. Thordaim pulled the shield from the ground and slammed his warhammer across it. “C’mon ye good for nothin’ pile o’ fur!” He shouted at the beast, “Come an’ crack this nut, if ye think ye can!” He swung his hammer swiftly, catching the owlbear square in it’s ribs and breaking a few of them. Thordaim issued a hearty chuckle as he deflected more of the owlbear’s increasingly furious attacks.

Atrean, the next closest to the creature backed away from the battling Dwarf and owlbear. He knew of the creatures from his past life in Alfheim, and knew what one could do to an Elf, let alone one with cracked ribs. He drew his bow from his back and notched an arrow, trying to line up the continuously moving target.

Rayen, oblivious of the danger such a creature can cause, lept into battle with the thing. The swatted and clawed at the creatures’ arms and back, only succeeding in batting off of it or missing altogether as the owlbear lurched from it’s fight with Thordaim.

Thordaim and the owlbear raged on, the creature merely bouncing off of Thordaim’s mighty shield, and Thordaim swinging his warhammer, not quite able to reach the owlbear a second time. Finally, the owlbear tired of this game and put all of it’s weight down in a single two-handed drop from above. Thordaim managed to get his shield in between them, but his stance was no match for the creature’s strength and sheer weight. The was thrown backwards on his back, and broke his leg under the massive blow. The creature, apparently satisfied with the result, towered over the Dwarf. The owlbear meant to finish this one as it did the last, lunging in with his beak and aiming at Thordaim’s face and neck. The Dwarf had other plans, though. He shouted “Oh, no ye don’t!” as he raised his shield once more between him and his impressive foe. The owlbear’s beak struck Adamantite, with a resounding blow. The sound rang out through the rocky hills that surrounded them, and seemed to silence all other noises. The beast pulled it’s head back and shrieked a painful wail through it’s newly cracked beak. “That’ll teach ye to go toe-to-toe with a Dwarf!” Thordaim yelled at the creature as he got his left leg underneath him, halfway stood, and bore most of his weight on it, instead of his broken right leg, which he kept under him on his knee.

Atrean, seeing the resolute but wounded Dwarf, let arrows fly at the owlbear, hoping to pierce it’s neck or skull. The beast’s throes of pain invariably augmented his aim, however, as no arrows found a clear target on the creature, instead skipping off of it’s tough hide. Rayen, however, had other plans for the creature. She had slinked around behind it in it’s battle with Thordaim, and know leapt upon it’s back, latching on to it with claws that deeply pierced the beast. She wrapped her jaws around the back of the owlbear’s neck and pinning it to the ground. Her fangs cut deeply into the creature’s neck, and she tasted the salty, metallic blood of her for on her tongue. The owlbear, at first surprised by it’s sudden meeting with the ground, soon regained it’s footing and threw it’s mass upwards, throwing the great cat from it’s back. Rayen promptly landed on her feet and stood her ground.

Bleeding heavily from the encounter, and not wanting to try it’s luck with Thordaim again, the beast swung wildly at anything and everything in the vicinity. Atrean, unable to get a clear shot at the beast instead dropped his bow and charged at the frantic creature. Without time to draw his sword, Atrean decided to lead with his cestus instead. With typical Elven agility, he slid underneath the swinging paws to deliver an uppercut to the ribs of the the owlbear. The Elf amassed all of his strength and momentum in this shot, hoping it to be a killing blow. How glad the Elf was when the owlbear’s chest caved in before his fist. Shard of bone from it’s shattered ribs pierced and lacerated the owlbear’s insides, causing the beast to pause it’s flailing and lurch from side to side, blank-faced. It finally came crashing down, nearly on top of Thordaim, with a resounding thud. Atrean managed to slip out from underneath it before it fell, and stood tall, observing the creature.

Thordaim limped over to the owlbear’s head, now laid out in a puddle of it’s own blood, seeping not only from it’s neck wounds, but from it’s maw as well. He swung his hammer down upon the top of it’s head, caving in it’s skull. “Break me leg, ye stinkin’ bird! I’ll show ye!” He spat on it and limped over to a nearby rock to sit upon and heal his leg. Rayen trod over to the pile of her clothes, picked them up in her mouth, and left to find a thick bush to change behind. Atrean sat near the creature and rested, the effort of that final blow now pained his ribs. He found his breath increasingly difficult to catch.

The Dwarf hopped off of his rock, testing how his healing had done. Apparently pleased with it, he walked over to Atrean. “Ye be needin’ help Elf, like it or not. I’ll not be weighed down by the likes of an injured Elf!” He gruffly said, the closest he’ll get to offering his aid. Atrean smiled and nodded, knowing the intentions behind the Dwarf’s words. Thordaim went through the words and gestures, calling upon his god’s powers to channel through him. A faint white glow encompassed Thordaim’s hands as he set them against the Elf’s ribs. The Dwarf felt bones reshaping and healing under his palms. The Elf felt it more.

Rayen came out from her bush to witness the end of the session as a human once more. She smiled as she considered Atrean’s words to her about Elves and Dwarves, recalling the differences in the two’s approach to combat. She stopped by the beast, curiously examining it. “It’s an owlbear.” Atrean said, looking over at Rayen and her quizzical stare. “I’ll bet you’ve never seen one on your island.”

She looked up at him and shook her head, her unique black, auburn-streaked hair waving down to her shoulder blades. “What is it?”

“Owlbears are magical creatures. Some think them a creation from a mad wizard or the doings of black magic. All I know for sure is that they’re not natural, and very nasty. We’re lucky to have escaped with our lives.” Atrean replied.

“This be why us Dwarves be livin’ in our tunnels! None o’ this crap to deal with!” Thordaim put in, standing up to walk away from the still-sitting Elf. “Too many wizards messin’ around with stuff they ain’t got no right to.” He added more solemnly.

Atrean smiled and stood up, breathing deeply for the first time in awhile. He looked upon the dead creature and his smile quickly turned into a frown. “Even if it’s no natural creature, it still belongs in the web of life. There’s no point in wasting such value.”

“What’ye mean?” Thordaim spouted as he swung around. “The hide’s all torn up! We’ll not see a copper fer such a poor piece!”

“I’m not speaking of coin, Dwarf. There’s plenty of meat on this beast to sustain a small family for a few days. Why waste it?”

“Bah! I’ll not be eatin’ none o’ that stinkin’ creature!” Thordaim said stubbornly as he crossed his arms.

“As you will, Dwarf. I for one have always wondered what owlbear tastes like, especially when cooked properly.” Atrean responded.

“I can cook.” Rayen added innocently. “I mean, I have some experience in it.” Atrean cocked an eyebrow at the young girl, but conceded the point.

“Alright then, let’s get some of this meat then.” Atrean told her as he pulled his sword from it’s sheath. Rayen looked down at her body pointedly, and Atrean did not miss it. He walked over to the dead young man. “Sorry, friend,” he stated as he pulled the shortsword from the corpse’s grasp. He handed her the blade hilt-first. They went about cutting the meat from the bone, a tedious process, as Thordaim set to dealing with the guard’s body. He took the armor and possessions form the body, leaving it in naught but clothes. He arranged the body with it’s arms crossed over it’s chest in an “x”. After saying a prayer for the departed, he took the possessions and started to strip all metal from the armor and shield.

After a while, the driver managed to return with the horses, which had apparently been calmed again. He saw the defeated creature, no more than a clump of skin and bones near a pile of cut meat and a bloodied and smiling Atrean and Rayen. He nodded his approval as he turned the horses around on the path to head once again towards Mar. Thordaim loaded the body of the young man on the cart next to his brother, to the dismay of the driver. The sight of the both of them dead had nearly broken the poor man. Thordaim rested a rough hand on the driver’s shoulder and gave him a sorrowful look that said much about the fight. The driver resigned his thoughts and focused instead on getting to Mar. The surviving three loaded the meat into the cart, after Atrean had explained why they had it to the driver. Thordaim, showing the pragmatism of the Dwarves, asked the man if he could have the metal of the possessions of the dead brothers. The driver reluctantly allowed it, understanding Thordaim’s argument over his own sorrow.

The silent and solemn crew left the grizzly scene for Mar once more, the sun set and having naught but the night sky and the driver’s lantern to lead them to the lit town of Mar before daybreak. All of them slept well that night on the ride.

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The Road To Mar
Jan. 7- Jan. 8

Rayen Adsila, Atrean Falavir, and Thordaim Anvil-Chest set out with a caravan traveling from Athenos to Mar. According to Darokinian Caravan Law, a caravan driver may employ any and all bodies he sees fit to guard his or her caravan. This is usually done via a charter list on which armed travelers can enroll to protect the caravan from danger in return for a free ride. The trio that set forth from Athenos had made such a pact with a caravan driver set for Mar. The driver had also employed two other guards, brothers by the looks of it, who bore a family crest on their shield of a silhouetted dragon spreading it’s wings. The eldest bore a spear and iron helm, while the youngest wore a shortsword on his hip. After a day’s worth of riding and the sun started to creep low on the horizon, the caravan was set to stop at a campsite next to the Athenos Canal Bridge.

Too late had they had realized the campsite was a trap. Thieves and thugs assailed the caravan from all sides, yet the unlikely trio had held their own, with some help from the duo. Atrean managed to shatter a man’s skull with a single blow from his mighty cestus, but left his flank open to one of the thug’s clubs, which cracked a few of his ribs. Atrean replied to the man’s actions by cleaving him shoulder-to-hip with his sword. Thordaim was assaulted by a thug brandishing a club, but the puny weapon broke upon his shield like a twig against an anvil. Thordaim smiled at the man’s surprise, but did not let the man regain his wits as Thordaim drove his hammer down upon the bandit’s skull, burying his head into his shoulders. A nearby thief saw his comrade break his weapon on the Dwarf’s shield to no effect on the Dwarf and then meet his gruesome demise. This was enough to dishearten battle-tested warriors, and was evidently enough to do the same to the dirty young man, fleeing into the night smelling of urine. Rayen, in her infinite mystery, managed to shred one of the assailant’s faces with her hand. One of the thieves was even taken down by a wild kick by one of the horses, cracking his skull upon impact.

The two other warriors fought valiantly, taking down one enemy apiece, but the toll was great indeed. The eldest brother was lost in the fight, and the younger was grievously wounded. After the rabble was well taken care of, the driver settled down the horses and tied them up for the night at the campsite. Thordaim disposed of the bodies in the river after the brave fighters had taken any money and useful items from the corpses. He also took 2 shortswords and a 2 daggers from the dead thieves.

The surviving guard and caravan driver saw to their friend’s death, wrapping him to carry him back to his folks back home. After the mourning period was done, the two sat next to the fire the rest had built. Thordaim asked Atrean if he wanted him to take a look at any wounds he might have, but Atrean refused the Dwarf’s help. The surviving guard was not so stubborn, and let his wounds be healed by the priest.

After a long silence between the members of the group, Atrean decided to sleep. Thordaim and the rest were not as tired, and struck up a conversation after the Elf had gone to bed. Thordaim, who had looked at the bodies when he was disposing of them, asked how the little Human girl, Rayen, could inflict such beastial wounds upon a man. “His face was torn asunder, as if some great beast had clawed the life from him.” Thordaim put in. The guard was put on edge by this news, still not settled from the fight, but the caravan driver was wary, if not skeptical, of such claims. After a while of prodding questions and answers of only silence, Rayen finally admitted her heritage. “I’m a weretiger,” she replied to them. The guard, whose nerves were not so well to begin with, nearly drew his weapon, but was settled by a reminder by Thordaim as to whose side she fought on. Not quite contented with the revelation, yet not wanting to be at odds with the Dwarf priest, the man went to bed, keeping an eye open just in case. The driver had less of a reaction to it, thinking her to be fabricating the whole thing, but worried should it turn out to be true. After all, who knows what a Weretiger could do to him or his wares?

Rayen, tired of the inquisition into her life, climbed up a nearby tree to sleep in one of the low-lying bows. Thordaim stayed up for most of the night by himself, smelting the weapons he created into an iron-steel allow in the shape of a stout cylinder. He slept for awhile after the surviving guard stirred to take his shift.

In the morning, Rayen left to go hunting for breakfast. The others were getting prepared to leave; the driver getting the horses hitched up and ready to go, and the others packing up camp. Thordaim went to place the metal cylinder into his backpack. Atrean noticed two feathery tendrils waft up out of the backpack, and questioned Thordaim about it. Rayen returned from her hunt with a freshly killed rabbit to find Thordaim reaching a gloveless hand into his backpack and pullin out a strange cricket-like creature. It was about 1 1/2 feet tall by 2 feet long, with two long, feathery feelers coming from under it’s compound eyes. It had a tail that ended in a fin-like bony structure. The creature, Greef, was happily nibbling on the metal cylinder, apparently content. Atrean, also a smith, recognised the creature for a Rust Monster, and questioned why Thordaim would keep one around. Thordaim somewhat deflected the question when Rayen asked if she could hold him. Greef hopped over into Rayen’s arms with some prodding, and seemed to take a liking to her. He stopped eating for a couple seconds to look at her and wave his feelers around, occasionally brushing her face, but soon returned his attention to his metallic meal.

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Rayen's First City
Jan. 1 - Jan. 7

Rayen Adsila, in an attempt to traverse the vast world, stowed away on a cargo ship that had docked on her island to trade with a local village. She adeptly snuck into the ship’s underbelly, but after about 3 days, she was found sneaking food from the galley. The crewmates, not knowing who or what she was (as she was a Hybrid at the time) tried to contain her while one of them went to get the captain.

This, however, proved to be futile as she darted in between two of the men and into the cargo hold. after a room-by-room sweep of the ship turned up no results of the mysterious woman-creature, the sailors went back to work, often glancing around and speaking of ill omens and superstition. Throughout the rest of the journey, Rayen stayed in the cargo hold, feeding off of mice she expertly caught.

At last, the ship had made it to Athenos, the Republic of Darokin’s main port city. Rayen soon realized that the men would come down to take the cargo out, so she decided her best course of action would be to hide in one of the crates and be carried out. Unfortunately, her plan didn’t work as well as she had hoped, as she had left pottery from one of the crates on the ground. The men started going through the crates, and finally opened the one she was hiding in. In the blink of an eye, she was already out of the box and down the corridor. She shifted back into a human on the run and decided to bolt down the gangplank and into the crowded street, making a successful escape down an alleyway.

Rayen wandered the streets of Athenos for awhile, until she noticed that her coin purse was missing! She skulked down an alley and shifted into a Hybrid again, being very cautious to keep her hood up and head down, staying out of the sight of most people. She managed to follow the rather strong and easy scent to find a Hobbit sitting atop a crate smoking a pipe joyfully. The Hobbit threw her money back to her and smiled cheerfully as he said “I knew there was somethin’ different ’bout ya.”

After awhile of circular questioning, Rayen got frustrated and left the alley. She found her way to the northern exit of Athenos and signed up for a guard duty on a caravan heading to Mar. There she met Atrean Falavir, a fellow wanderer who signed up for guard duty on the same caravan. After some awkward introductions, they met Thordaim Anvil-Chest, a Dwarven smith with a rather impressive adamantine tower shield. Thordaim remarked how the girl didn’t seem suited for guard duty, seeing as how she was so slender and bore no armor or weapons. To which she simply replied “I can handle my own.”

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Enter Aylin
The Proposition

Aylin Aldaelon entered the city through the northern Streel River docks. After conferring with a passing High Elf, Aylin set out for the nearest Fighter’s Guild arena in search of a possible mercenary bodyguard. Upon arriving, he met the proprietor (who was NOT happy to see a Gray Elf Wizard in his establishment). After a quick dispute, Aylin set off for the next nearest arena. This arena’s proprietor was much friendlier that the earlier one, willingly giving him information on the overall strength of the fighters in the other arenas. After a quick look around at the fighters in that establishment, Aylin left for the next one (getting a mysterious warning about him “making waves” from an unknown passerby), The Pit. Arthur was not too fond of the Gray Elf either, and wanted him to leave The Pit. On his way out, Aylin caught Wyatt Carlson‘s fight. Judging from his tenacity and combat skills (and the input of a nearby patron) he decided to confront Wyatt and proposition him. Wyatt’s initial reaction was not a pleasant one, especially considering he had just lost his fight, but he considered the Elf’s proposition carefully. Aylin found lodging in a nearby inn for the night.

Wyatt left the Elf to join the Craftsman Guild members at The Rancid Dwarf for drinks. Upon arriving, he asked about Elves, specifically Gray Elves. Thurdan Stonesinger warned him about them; “Gray elves is slimey folk. Always tryin’ to get somethun’ for nothin’. Plus, they’s always usin’ that magic o’ theirs! They gots nasty attitude to boot.” Wyatt, cautious about this warning, decided in the long run to join Aylin in his journey. He decided to tell Carl that he was going to be leaving. Stoically, Carl accepted that Wyatt needed to journey the world while he could, but he was still sad to see his not-quite-adopted son go.

The next morning, Wyatt set off to find his new benefactor, searching the nearby inns until receiving information about the Elf being in The Pit. Wyatt met up with Aylin in The Pit (much to Arthur’s dismay of having the Elf about in his arena) and they set off to prepare. Aylin paid for lodging and food for the road as they went about the marketplace.

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Wyatt's Afternoon
The Son of a Mason

Wyatt Carlson was sent to gather a mallet, 2 chisels, and a pry-bar from Hammer and Chisel Masonry Tools. George invited Wyatt to join some of the Craftsman Guild members at the Rancid Dwarf Bar that night for a drink. After buying the materials, he promptly set back for Rock Solid Masonry. Once there, he helped Loril Balfendar and Carl on a bridge design they were working on as a joint project between Rock Solid, Gnomeworks, and Sheer Stone for a bridge crossing the Streel Long Islands’ southern tips. He placed the tools in the workshop and left to duel in the Fighter’s Guild‘s arena The Pit. He agreed with Arthur to a 2-on-1 challenge. After having his right hand fractured and his right knee broken in the fight, Wyatt managed to knock one of his opponents unconscious with a single thump of his spear butt across the bridge of their nose. Unfortunately, while this happened, Wyatt’s other opponent slung his morning star against the left side of Wyatt’s head, placing an end to Wyatt’s fight. After regaining consciousness from the fight and healing from The Pit’s priest, Wyatt left to join the Guild members at the Rancid Dwarf.

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