By Scott Kujawa
Date: 3rd day to the 6th day of the 1st tenday of Mirtul in the year 1375 - The Year of Risen Elfkin
Time: Early Morning
Location: Wilds outside of the mercenary to the mercenary settlement.
Weather: Warm and clear.
After everyone was aboard, the barge was poled away from Phlan and then to the west. They kept shoreline in sight but out in the Moonsea enough that the barge wouldn’t get caught on any obstacles. The Companions slept the first night on deck and it was past dawnfry on the second day when the captain ordered the barge into an outlet so they could disembark and finish the hour ride to the mercenary headquarters.
Once disembarked and on the way to headquarters, Caerlin turned to the others. "Who wants to give the report to the Commander? Should we all go, or just one of us?" She looked around at the nearby landscape that was mostly rolling hills and grasslands. "Must remember to tell her about the hell hound, and the guy who was watching us in the ruins."
"I suppose I can give the report," Ragnar said as he winked at Caerlin, "I bet that you and Luie will want to come and make sure I give a proper report, too. But that's all up to you."
"Works for me," Caerlin said with a smile. She looked over her shoulder at Luie. "Would you like a wood box, or a steel one? I found two boxes at the manor, and you can have one of them if you like. And Ragnar," she turned back to him, "Can you tell if things are magical? I was planning on taking all the things that I found to the mages once we get back, but if you can do it, it will save them and us some time. We should also decide how we are going to divide up what we found as well." She looked between Ragnar and Luie as she continued to smile.
"I'm afraid not," Ragnar answered her. "I'm really good at figuring out the right direction, though. Might I suggest that we go see the mages first?”
“All right we can see the mages first then. Do we still have that banner?” Luie started to rummage through the saddlebags as he rode on Caerlin’s horse, but behind her.
Once they rode into the settlement, they stabled their horses and headed towards the tower to get their loot detected for magic. Caerlin turned to the group. "We should probably give the Commander our report first. I don't want to get in trouble after our first mission." She gave a quick smile, and handed Luie some rothe jerky, "I don't want you to pass out from hunger in front of the Commander, since you haven't had your morning meal." She winked as she chuckled.
“That is an excellent idea; I would of never to have thought to finish off all of your rations. As for seeing the Commander first, once again you are correct, we should not keep her waiting.” Luie ripped off a piece of jerky and his mouth quivered as he savored the taste. “Oh this is horrible.” He took another bite. “But horrible in a good way. Gereth, you might want to hand your jerky over too. You do not want to eat this oh so delicious... err bad tack.” The hin chuckled with a full mouth.
"Hand it over Gereth, he might bite." Ragnar grinned at the barbarian as he followed everyone into the Commander's office.
She sat behind her desk and frowned down at a scroll before she rolled it up and set it aside as the four companions entered. “Good, I see that the barbarian found you. I was worried that he might not be able to find you.”
Caerlin bowed to the Commander. "Well met Commander Aurythe. Yes, Gereth was able to find us, or we him," she said with a smile as Aurthye smiled in return. "We decided to come and quickly give you a verbal report of our findings, and we will have a written one for you as soon as we can flesh out the outline I have so far." She stepped back to let Ragnar give the report.
Ragnar gave the Commander a bow before he lunged into his report. "It was a fair morning when our intrepid company set forth upon the road to Phlan. The way there was largely uneventful, unless one counts the spotting of a fiendish canine creature with fire rising from its pelt, which Sanidine told us was a hell hound. While seeing such a creature did intrigue us, we kept our efforts to the task we'd been given and ignored it, seeing as it didn't do anything to hinder us in our travel.
"Once we'd reached the gates of the city we split up, with Sanidine and Valentre scouting ahead, whilst me, Caerlin, and Luie continued at a slower pace through the city. I stopped at an inn to enquire about the possible cult activity in the ruins, but since I had very little information, I was unable to learn anything.
"We later met up outside the gates, also meeting the second mage, Trips, whom I understand you had sent to align himself with us, into Old Phlan and proceeded to assault the goblin-infested house. This was done in the fashion that I valiantly created a diversion to um... divert the guards in front, whilst Luie and Valentre attacked from the rear, and Caerlin and the spellsingers provided ranged backup.
"This strategy worked without any fuss, though Caerlin spotted what we assume to be one of the cultists watching us. Judging by the mark on his clothes, which Caerlin has made a sketch of," he gestured for Caerlin to show it. "I think they may be Kossuthans.
"Once into the building we made short work of the remaining gobbos, despite Trips' sudden, and quite flashy disappearance as we were breaching a locked door, discovering a hidden cache of some quite fine weapons, armors," he demonstrated his point by pulling out his cutlass and placing it on the Commander's desk," and other items which we intend to let the mages in the tower take a look at once we've left our report.
"It was at this point that Valentre and Sanidine left us. Would it be out of order to inquire what task they have been give, Commander?
"Once we were certain we could make our way out of the manor without being assaulted by cultists, we made our way back to Civilized Phlan, meeting Gereth at the gates, thereafter reporting the events in the ruins to the City Council, and then securing passage back to the settlement." Ragnar turned to look at the others, "Does anyone have anything to add?"
“Sorry, at this time I can’t discuss why I sent them to Baldur’s Gate but I might be able to give you an answer in a month or so.”
Caerlin smiled with a slightly bemused expression. "Other than that the same man that I saw in the ruins was standing behind one of the councilwomen, I don't think so." She pulled the grey leather bound book out of her backpack. "We found this in the desk of the library in the manor house. None of us can read the language on the cover, so we brought it with us," She handed it to Commander Aurythe, "Mayhap you can?"
“Not I but take it to the tower and see if they can figure it out. It’ll give all of you something to do on your days off while we finish getting the caravan ready to head out.”
Caerlin inclined her head to the Commander. "How long until the caravan is ready to leave for Shadowdale? And is there someone here that could teach me how to find and disable traps? Granted we only ran into one or two, this time," she puts some emphasis on the last two words. "But I would like to be able to find them before I set them off," she added with a smile.
“I can always set them off for you. If you don’t mind waiting a few days for me to heal,” Luie commented.
Caerlin chuckled and looked at Luie before she winked. "Thanks for the offer, but I think it would be better if we found them without anyone having to set them off."
“But... but... that would take the enjoyment out of things.” The halfling chuckled.
“Ah yes, that reminds me,” Ragnar said. “Perhaps we should consider having someone set some traps in the manor and that would make sure that the things we left in it will still be there if we return. Now... are we off the see the wizards yet?”
After she watched the exchange between the Company with amusement and a smile, the Commander answered Caerlin. “It’ll leave after dawnfry on the sixth day and Reyalone is the best traps finder we have. Usually he’s not far from the archery range and he has a small tent set up against the wall of the mercenary building.”
Caerlin bows respectfully and said, "If there is nothing else, Commander?"
“Aye, go enjoy yourselves! Oh, and you don’t have to bow to me. I’m not a noble nor am I queen or any such nonsense. So, no more bowing!”
Caerlin smiled at the Commander. "Aye, I will try to remember that. Do you have any idea what the symbol on the man's robes mean, or should we ask the users at the Art?"
“I believe that they are followers of fire but I’m not sure and I will admit I don’t know much about that faith.”
Caerlin turned to the others, "Alright to the tower and then to get something for highsunfest?"
They learned that the book is written in low Netherese and it is about the fall of that once thriving nation. There is one spell in the back that allows nonliving objects to be preserved.
* * * * *
Ragnar lounged around the settlement and practiced his fencing, and, much to Luie's dismay, his singing.
Luie joined Ragnar in weapons practice and he started with his forms and stances before he followed up by practicing with his newly acquired hand-ax. Luie moved off to the range where he tested the good balance by throwing the hand-ax against some of the dummies. The hin entered the bathing room in the building where the mercenaries lived and he washed off his sweat and black soot before he left the settlement and camped not far from it where he could fast and mediate for the first day.
On the second day Luie discussed the caravan with the mercenaries and he learned that the ten wagons would head west for two days and then swing south until they reached the shore of the Moonsea. They would be loaded onto barges that would spend six days crossing the Moonsea before being unloaded on the southern shore before heading south across the northern Dales for another tenday or longer before reaching Shadowdale.
Caerlin trained with the male human in how to find and disable traps as well as how to open locks. She practiced her archery and spared with some of the others that use blades. Caerlin requested more arrow blanks and feathers from the quartermaster and once she had what she needed, she sat in the tavern with the others. While she was there, she traded the chainmail for a set of masterwork thieves tools.
Luie and Ragnar stopped by the range after Caerlin finished one of her lessons and the three of them discussed what they found in Phlan with her mentor. Once they were done, he agreed to take a user of the Art with him and the two of them would set some traps around the ruined manor.
"So who wants what out of what we found? Which one of the boxes do you want Luie?" she added with a smile as she started to work on one of the blanks with concentration but she knew she could make this one easily.
“The music box might have a decent tune once it is fixed but I think Ragnar would enjoy it more than I. How about the steel box? Unless Ragnar wants to describe everything to me?” Luie gave a brief grin. “And an always burning candle could be handy for anyone. As for this chariot thingy, err... I am not real good with horses.” Luie reached for a feather to examine, “I was raised in a monastery and I really do not need much. I just need some food, some shelter, a fire, even more fire, and a bard that tells bad jokes.”
"I've nothing against taking the music-box. And I'm not very good with horses, either, I'm afraid - perhaps we should exchange it at the tower for something else? I can get a healing potion there as well. Or do you want it Caerlin?" Ragnar started picking his finger-nails with one of the arrow-blanks. "As for the rest, I wouldn't mind the gargoyle figurine, or any loose gems we found." A twinkle lit up his eyes. "And I'll try to lower the quality of my jokes, Luie. You know what? When we get back from the caravan, perhaps you should talk a bit about how nice fires are in one of the inns in Phlan."
Caerlin nodded and chuckled. "Very well, the steel box it is. Do we want to keep some of it aside for a just in case party fund? Should we tell the mages about all the books that we found in the manor? They might find some of them interesting, or helpful for research. I would hate for all that knowledge to be destroyed by the ignorant gobbos and the other beasties that inhabit the ruins."
“Consider the box yours then. Mmmm… fire... It almost makes me hungry. We should store some away for a rainy day. It would not hurt to inform the mages about the hidden library and give them the keys to unlock it. They will be able to handle everything, maybe even magically trap it. Is there any information about the banner?” Luie stuck the feather through his tunic.
"I'd suggest that we go back with a few pack-horses and with one of the casters and carry away as much of it as possible. For all we know there might be something valuable among them. Oh, and I think I'll bring the scepter to Shadowdale because there's a pretty famous bard who lives there and perhaps she know more about it.”
Caerlin nodded as she finished making five more arrows out of the eight she hoped to make. "That sounds like a good plan, as long as we get back in time for the caravan. I bet that the blacksmith or the quartermaster will have some new door knobs and locks that we can purchase to replace the old one and that way we will actually have a key. I was going to suggest a wagon, but the pack horses will be much faster." She then got a mischievous grin as she finished her arrow, "Unless we can get one or more of the mages to teleport us there and back."
As the ever shifting Company of the Silver Wyrm was about to set out with the caravan, Auyeau joined them after she had a small conference with the Commander. This strange being has been at the settlement since it was founded and Auyeau spent most of her time helping the mercenaries relax by giving massages and pleasure since she is a cleric of Sharess. This pinked haired, green eyed, and paled skinned being has been gossiped about a lot since the mercenaries aren’t sure if she is male and female since her physical appearance contains both masculine and feminine features. However, everyone that has enjoyed her pleasure knows that Auyeau has female genitalia even though she has a masculine and feminine appearance.
Ragnar looked at the strange-looking person that joined them and a frown of confusion creased his forehead as he attempted to ascertain exactly what she was. However, his look didn’t take away from the warm smile that he gave her. "Greetings..." he started. "Are you the one that the Commander has sent to replace..." He turned to Caerlin and Luie, "Who is it that's being replaced this time? I've lost track."
Caerlin thought about Ragnar’s question for a bit before she answered, "I’m not sure this time Ragnar." She turned to the newcomer, "Well met, I’m Caerlin, and these two are Ragnar," she pointed at the bard "and Luie," she finished as she pointed at the halfling.
Ragnar winked to Caerlin. "Decent presentation Caerlin. The gestures were good, but the speech lacked a certain flair."
Caerlin stuck her tongue out at Ragnar as Auyeau smiled lightly as she watched Ragnar with her green eyes before she giggled but her giggle was quickly muted as she covered her mouth with her hand. "Sorry, so the rumors are true about this troupe and its high rotation rate? Aye, I’m someone's replacement I guess. Well met to you Caerlin, Ragnar, and Luie. If you haven’t heard, I’m Auyeau, a priestess of Sharess."
Caerlin smiled at Auyeau. "Welcome to our Company. Yes, we seem to have a high rate of replacements, but I’m not sure why." She shrugged before she got a mischievous look. "It’s probably Ragnar's fault."
Luie nudged Ragnar. “I knew it had to be your screeching voice. Stick to instruments.”
Ragnar grinned at the halfling. “Hey, they all left before I started singing. And you try fencing with a flute stuck up your mouth.”
Seeing that the newcomer has finally joined the Silver Wyrm’s, the driver cracked her whip and the caravan set off. Four other mercenaries, from a different Company, took positions around the front and middle wagons, which left the Silver Wyrm’s guarding the rest of the middle wagons as well as the back wagons.
Luie found a comfortable spot on the last wagon. He let his feet dangle over the sides while he kept an eye out on the horizon. Caerlin picked a spot near the middle of the caravan and she rode with her bow across her thigh. Ragnar placed himself between Caerlin and Luie but on the other side of the wagons from Caerlin. It was Caerlin that noticed and heard the three males that were hiding in the brush about sixty feet to the left.
Caerlin called out a warning about the three men as she nocked an arrow. She didn’t raise her bow as she continued to watch them but she was ready to fire if they try to attack.
Luie’s fascination with the clouds ended as Caerlins’ warning cut through the morning air. He snapped to attention before he scrambled on top of the wagon and scanned for her and once he spotted her, he took his cue from her body movement. He removed his ‘belt’ while he reached into a small pouch as he frowned. Instead of a smooth sling bullet he discovered a nice coin... and it felt like a gold one. As he fingered the coin, he thought, “Retrieve bullet pouch from backpack.” In a few breaths a whirring noise emitted from his sling as he started to wind it above his head.
The three ruffians soon fell back into the brush, since they decided that there were too many guards to try to take on. The rest of the day passed without incident until eveningfest when the sound of a horn rolled out from the south. Those from the North realized that it sounded like an orc horn.
Luie held onto his eveningfest in one hand while his other hand rubbed the back of his head before he pulled out his sling bullets and pocketed them. “It isn’t fair. Not fair at all. This horrible luck having an orc raiding party interrupt our meal.” Luie tucked the meal to his chest and his free hand formed a fist and he started to shake it towards the heavens. As his face contorted in fake rage, he silently screamed, “Beshaba!!” and he heard a dark snicker in response.
Caerlin looked up at the sound of the horn and she moved into a position in which she has a good view to the south and across the open grasslands that had sparse trees, bushes, and other vegetation, that was still partly lit from the setting sun. For now she couldn’t spot the orcs since it sounded like they were a couple of miles away. Caerlin turned and looked to the north and across more of the grasslands but there was nothing in that direction.
Luie moved nearer to Caerlin as he ate some bread. “How many do you think they are?” He continued to eat the bread. “Have they seen us or are they moving against someone else, you think?” He offered her some of the bread.
Caerlin accepted the bread from Luie with a smile. "I’m not sure how many there are but we should keep a close eye out for them, in all directions."
Ragnar moved closer to where Caerlin and Luie are. “Do you think they’d mind if I told them that their horn is a bit off-key? Hmm... Can I have some bread too?” Ragnar scanned the camp’s southern perimeter and the guards that have moved into place to protect the wagons that have been formed into a circle in the middle of the camp.
"That’s an annoying horn," came Auyeau’s soft voice from behind the party as she moved into view since she vanished for the better part of the day after the Company was introduced to each other. "Sorry about vanishing for so long after saying well met to each other but I got occupied. There’s no rest for the naughty, they say." She smiled as she stood there in her light gown. "I heard that you saw some human’s in the bush, but they were scared off."
Caerlin smiled back at Auyeau. "Well met again Auyeau. Earlier this day I saw three humans in the brush, but they didn't come forward to say well met." She added a wicked grin as she said that.
As the horns sounded again, closer this time, four orcs and the three humans that they saw earlier could be seen running forward to attack the camp. The humans now are wearing different clothing and a large Z can be seen on their tabards. As for the orcs, they seem physically different then their northern cousins but it seems that they have the same temperament, since they are attacking.
The leader of the other Company issued orders to his mercenaries to provide ranged fire against the attacks, leaving the Silver Wyrm’s to decide on how they want to get involved.
"Well met again indeed Auyeau," Ragnar said as he dismounted and loaded the crossbow that he's been carrying on his back. "Does anyone have any particular preferences as to how they want to fight those tuskers? They seem to be coming on quite fast, so we'd better decide quickly. My suggestion would be for me and Caerlin to provide ranged backup, whilst Luie takes them on up close. I'd have included Auyeau in the front-group as well, but she or he,” he cleared his throat,” seems a bit lightly dressed, so perhaps she or he should get some armor on and watch Caerlin's and my backs if these bandits manage to reach the caravan?"
"Oh, am I?" Auyeau looked down at the light gown that hung against her lightly pale flesh. "Hmm, for this I guess you are right." She shrugged. "I don't have the time to get in a more proper dress for this, so this will have to do!" She smiled as she winked at Ragnar and offered a small prayer to Sharess for protection against the attackers and as the priestess of Sharess finished her prayer, a light shimmering is seen around her as she is shielded by her deities’ divine magic.
Caerlin nocked back an arrow and took careful aim at the closest of the attackers. "Looks like they are moving against us Luie," she said with a slight smile. "Your plan sounds fine with me Ragnar," she finished as she released her arrow and after she watched it enter one of the orcs, she moved behind one of the wagons since it offered her some cover.
"Ah, yes once again the brave halfling shall charge forth bravely into battle. As soon as I climb upon this wagon to see if anyone else is charging from behind us." Luie ascended the wagon in a spider like fashion and he quickly swept his gaze across the caravan to make sure that no other orcs are attacking from the rear. Once he saw that it was clear, he ran off to engage the closest opponents without getting shot at by his own fellows.
”Do you think he’ll rage like a barbarian if we shout that they’re heading for the food-supplies?” Ragnar commented.
Auyeau pulled out her claws and quickly strapping them on so that she can be ready to defend and watch the backs of her companions.
"Normally I dislike combat, but since you asked me to watch your backs I think I can manage," her velvet voice could be hear as she said that in a playful tone. "Though normally people are watching mine!" She moved closer to the two she has been assigned to watch and she kept an eye on the bandits if they get past the front lines.
”Somehow that doesn’t surprise me,” Ragnar told her before he took careful aim and let a crossbow bolt fly toward the second closest orc and the bolt entered the orc’s arm as the arrow pierced through it’s armor. “And I’d be happy to oblige in that department if I didn’t fear it might ruin two days worth of winking at Caerlin.”
Caerlin shook her head in Ragnar's direction before she aim at the tusker that she wounded with her first shot and fired again. However, this time her aim was off just enough that it blocked her attack with its weapon.
Luie engaged the orc that is carrying a familiar looking fletched arrow in its body. He attacked near the wound by grabbing onto the arrow and drove it deeper into the orc’s body. As he was distracted with this orc, one of the others swung its short blade into the hin and a minor wound could be seen blooming on Luie’s arm. Ragnar fired a second bolt toward the orc that he's already injured but this time the orc’s armor kept the orc from taking any harm even though a bolt now stuck out of the orc’s armor.
Auy readied herself, seeing as how the orcs would be upon her soon enough. She took slightly distracting pose as she watched the orcs advanced towards her.
The orcs were now close enough that ranged weapons would be hindrance while melee weapons would cause more harm.
Caerlin dropped her bow and drew her sword as she stepped to the second orc that is attacking Luie. As her blade slashed into it, her blade cut deeply into it, ripping apart most of its chest and the body dropped to the ground.
The priestess of Sharess knew that she wasn’t that good at hand to hand fighting and so she decided to use everything at her disposal to try and tip the odds in her favor but she just wasn’t used to fighting rampaging orcs. "Oh, ruin two days of winking, my, my, we can't have all that time go to waste!"
“Quite right," Ragnar said as he dropped his crossbow and pulled out his cutlass. He looked around and stepped toward an orc before he swung and tried to skewer it.
Luie shook his wounded arm while he made an “ouch” face. The hin shook off his pain and tried to attempt to side-kick the orc that has an arrow in it but the halfling just stubbed his foot on the orcs chest and afterward the hin started to hop up and down on one foot from the pain.
Out of the blue, a different halfling rushed to help defend the four that are taking on the three orcs after he saw that the orcs were trying to kill the four members, except the orcs couldn’t hit that well.
When the orc that Caerlin attacked fell to the ground, she moved to the one that Luie kept trying to kick and she slashed into it and caused a second orc to meet their deity. She gave the new hin a quick look and said, "Well met,” before she said something to the orcs in their grunting and snorting language.
Auy glanced over at the new hin before the priestess turned her attention back to the orc in front of her. She frowned as she thought about what she would rather been doing but no, these nasty things decided to attack and ruin the peaceful evening. "I covered your back, boys, now that you know they are here, want lend a hand? I'm not the best at this sort of thing!" She lashed out with her claws at one of the two orcs that remain. This time her claws cut across the orc and left five marks in it’s now bleeding chest.
Moving in from the orc’s side, Ragnar attempted to thrust his cutlass through the orc's throat but his aim was off as he watched Luie fall onto his back before the hin tumbled towards the priestess, and unloaded two attacks on the orc that shattered its ribcage.
“Well met indeed, my fair lady', answered Sir William Ashford. “Please allow me to help you get rid off these most annoying stinkees.” After he blended in with the shadows, he positioned himself to the back of the last orc and Sir William slid his rapier into it before he pulled it out and wiped it clean on the body of a dead orc. As he did he mumbled, “Oh, how I hate this bloody fighting.”
The halfling glanced around, and William realized that his first introductions were too hasty, due to the battle with the orcs. He looked at the other mercenaries and said “It’s time for proper introductions, please allow me to re-introduce myself.” He bowed and swung out his cape. “Well met fellow mercenaries, my name is Sir William Ashford the Third,” he finished as he moved from one to the other and shook their hands or greeted them.
"Well met Sir Ashford. If you don't mind I will pass on the hand shake. And I will let our singing bard take care of the introductions while I go find some clean cloth." Luie almost winked at Ragnar but he thought better of it because he did not want to call any attention to Ragnars’ eye twitching disorder.
As Caerlin cleaned her sword, she says to the new hin, "Aye, unless you want more orc blood on you, I think I'll pass on the handshake as well." She gave him a slight smile to take some of the sting out of her words before she picked up her bow and slung it over her shoulder.
“Well, there’s no blood on my hands I’m afraid,” Ragnar said and then held a hand down for William. “I’m Ragnar ‘Swifttongued’ Braelithar, out of Waterdeep Dock Ward, and former apprentice to Luko Starlingvoice. Your fellow hin is called Luie, I do hope you’ve a smaller stomach than him or we’ll have to spend all our earnings on food. The brown-haired less with the bow and the northern accent is called Caerlin, and the mysterious lady with the claws is Auyeau, a priestess of Sharess.” He looked down imploringly at William, “Sir... and the Third... Please tell me you're not a noble?”
"You got out of it lucky then Ragnar!" The priestess commented as she looked down at her hands and then at her gown. "At least my faith protected me and this dress!" She took her claws off slowly and she wondered why Sharess prefers such weapons that make her followers get close to their enemy. However, then the priestess remembered that Sharess is mostly interested in cats as well and the claws make most sense.
"The Lord of Song stood by me, I guess," Ragnar said to Auy with a light shrug of his shoulders, before he went quiet as she turned her attention onto Sir William.
"What? A noble is traveling with us? Now that would be interesting if it is true." She smiled down at the hin as she looked him over for the first time because she was busy earlier with some big mean orc. "Ah, yes, you. I believe you made a pass at introducing yourself while we fought those raiders? When did you join us? I was sure I'd met everyone in this company at one point or another." She winked playfully at Sir William.
“I’ve only been in the company for about a month and I do believe that I will be traveling with all of you for awhile because Commander Aurythe put me in this unit as of last night. In fact, she sent me here to check up on all of you.” Sir William turned and looked at Ragnar. “You mentioned food? Is it the after eveningfest meal already?”
Seeing the group of five together, finally, a large burly man stepped across the camp and the closer he stepped, the larger he seemed to get.
Noticing a shadow descending over him; Luie got a quizzical expression on his face. “Did a bunch of dwarves just erect a wall behind me?”
The human stood just a couple of inches short of seven feet, and he has broad-shoulders, a thick-neck, and a barrel-chest. His body seemed a solid mass of muscle, which was the result of years spent at some faraway forge. It seemed that he was well past his thirtieth summer, but his exact age was impossible to tell. While the left side of his face was lined with the wear of decades of smiles and frowns, the right side was horribly scarred and it was a mass of red and twisted flesh from some long-ago burn. He wore a breastplate that was expertly fitted to his great size and it was still covered in trail dust. A leather sash stretched over his breastplate and it was marked him as a follower of Gond.
The huge man raised a hand in greeting. "Ho the company," he called out, his voice low and rumbling like the roll of gravel that signaled a landslide. "I'm called Addoc, servant of the Smithlord. If you be those of the Silver Wyrm, I've been instructed to join your company for a time."
Luie turned around to greet the gondsman’s right shin. ”Well met Addoc,” the hin arched an eyebrow, “Are all humans from wherever you are from as tall as you?”
Caerlin covered her laugh with a cough before she looked herself over to remind Luie that she is not that tall for a human.
Ragnar looked up at the Gondsman and the bard greeted him with a smile and a, "My... you're a big one, aren't you?"
Luie nudged Ragnar. “I think that was supposed to be Auy’s line,” he whispered just loud enough to be heard by everyone within an arrow’s flight. Luie faced Caerlin before he stood on his tip toes and craned his neck up to look at her. "What?" he asked as he stared at her neck.
At Luie's display, Caerlin's composure broke and she started to laugh, in a low mellow tone. "Alright my friend, you win the day," she said between her laughs before she bowed to Luie. "Aye, we are the Company of the Silver Wyrm. Well met Addoc." She then turned to look at the wound on Luie's arm and she saw that it was a deep cut that was still leaking blood.
Ragnar grinned and gave Caerlin a wistful look. "Aww... does that mean you won't be doing any of that prancing, Caerly?" He realized that no one has replied to Addoc's introduction and the bard stood up, making the most of his slightly more than five feet of height as he craned his neck backwards to look up at the tall man's chest before he stretched out a hand in greeting.
"Greetings to you as well Addoc. I'm Ragnar of the Wistful Flue, and this is Luie the Chestthumper, Caerlin of the Flying Arrows, Sir William Ashford the Third, two hundred and thirty-ninth in line to the throne of Mulmaster, unless I'm lying at the speed of a galloping horse, and Lady Auyeau of the Sharp Claws, a priestess of Sharess. Hmm... Did I forget anyone? We've had such a turnover of group-members lately it's hard to keep track of everyone."
Having been studying the tall and attractive male, Auy didn’t say much until her head snapped up and she turned to face Ragnar. "Of the Sharp Claws you say?" She shook her head and laughed before she smiled up at the tall male. "The hin does have a point, you are quite, impressive. Though there is nothing wrong with being big and tall. And Auyeau will do, none of this sharp claws stuff!
“Aye, the turn-over rate of this Unit has me a bit worried. Is it just Beshaba’s luck or do you scare everyone off?" the barely dressed priestess asked in a playful tone. "Oh well, you are stuck with me for a bit I'm afraid, unless Sharess instructs me that my services are needed elsewhere.”
"I think it's the way Luie starts eyeing people once his food rations have run out. It can be very disconcerting, I must say," Ragnor quipped.
After the introductions, William looked around but there was no more traces of any more orcs or humans and the other mercenaries were stripping the corpses of the human Zhentarim of their items. Caerlin also helped in the searching of the bodies and all she found was the mostly leather armor on the humans, the short blades, the clubs from the orcs, and five gold pieces from around the Moonsea.
Addoc took the introductions in stride and he nodded silently as each party member was introduced. He gave a rumbling polite chuckle at the jests at his expense. Otherwise, he said nothing as he brought his gear over to the Company's camp and bedded down with them, but not before he took quite a bit of time to perform general maintenance on his equipment.
Luie wandered off and cleaned his wound as he said, “Better my arm than my neck.” He returned to the camp with a bandaged arm and he tried to encourage Ragnar to tell some stories or sing some songs.
Ragnar obliged Luie by playing several well-known Tethyrian songs on his flute, before the bard headed off to his bedroll. The halfling bedded down for the night after a brief prayer to Tymora. After Auy cleaned her deity's weapon and part of her gown she smiled at the group before she turned and tended to some of the members of the mercenary company.
The rest of the night passed without incident except for the small shadow that flew over the camp during the night. It was too small to be a dragon but to large to be an animal or night creature. All that anyone could tell about it was that it looked like it had stone, or grainy, flesh.
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