New Work: On the Road Again

7th day, 1st ride, April, 1372 DR

I woke up early today and found myself eager to check the weather. I’ve been desperate for some wind and turmoil, and I’m feeling restless, like there’s a storm brewing deep inside. I went outside and found it misty and quiet, with the exception of the ever-present roar of the waterfall. I spent some time in communion before going back inside to find some food. As soon as I headed inside I noticed claw-marks on the door of the inn; large, deep rents in the wood much the same as the claw-marks found during the wolf attack on Eagle’s Eerie. I guess whatever it was that was up there is still around.

I was joined by serveral others over the span of the following hour, notably by Ebon. (Reminder: I’ve lent him two gold pieces to stay the night at the inn.) I showed everyone the door, which certainly got the conversation going. By the time Abel had come down together with Roland, Hazel was trying to convince Thorim that something needed to be done about Marron, the man living outside of Daggerfalls that organises the dogfights. I don’t know why she’s so sure that he’s behind it, and I’m also not so sure she cares much for the victims of the attacks so far, but more for bringing Marron to some sort of vigilante justice. Far be it from me to get involved in these affairs. At least not until the time is right. Depending on whether or not my companions get involved, I’ll pick my side in the conflict.

After having eaten we decided to hoof it up to the garrison to see if captain Durmarck was available. We found her at an archery range practicing with a massive composite longbow. She is a very accurate shot, and I’m sure her skill is sublime. I don’t care much for ranged weapons like that, so I wouldn’t really know how to judge her skill, but to this layman it looked impressive. I wonder if she could shoot an arrow as clearly and accurately if she was put in a live situation? After some deliberation, I believe she could. She doesn’t seem like Sir Ariton, her face is more weathered and she has more callous on her hands.

Captain Durmarck told us that there were two jobs she had for us; scouting the Borderforest for Zhent activity, or going up to a village called Green Orb, an hour past Black Switch, and investigate the disappearance of a tax-collector. Apparently, the villagers of Green Orb aren’t so keen to accept the current rule and law of Daggerdale. The scouting run would net us two gold a day, while the run to Green Orb would only pay one gold a day. The job we were offered before, the scouting of Castle Daggerdale, had been offered to Chazz Sawyer and his merry band of halfling rogues in our absence. I can’t believe we’re losing work to fucking halfers! I’m all for competition, but sometimes I like being the only mercenary group in town.

We ended up decided to take the Borderforest run, not the least because of Hazel, who had told us the previous evening she was heading there shortly. We also talked Captain Durmarck to allow us to recruit her since her forestry skills would come in handy. I wasn’t so sure it was going to be a good idea taking a woman along on our trip, they generally cause trouble and are a drain on morale, but if she really is a druid like she says she is, her help could be invaluable.

Back in Damara there were druids in Rawlingswood and on the steppes. These people were a tremendous help for the refugees willing to take up arms against Zhengyi and his forces. They told me that normally they’d remain neutral and not interfere in the affairs of Man, but that the might and corruption of Zhengyi was something they could no longer deny. They were forced to fight, and forced to help.

While their neutrality was something I was comfortable with, their lack of real conviction once they had picked a side bothered me. All morality aside, I believe that if you pick a side, you should commit yourself to it, and consider your allies as friends. It does morale and cohesion of an army or group no good when alliances are that…flimsy. I wonder if Hazel feels the same as the other druids did. She’s much unlike the druids I’ve seen and heard of, so I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt.

I restocked my supplies, getting torches, rations (from the garrison quartermaster, a good friend of Thorim), and all the ingredients I needed for some proper bandages. I spent a few hours resting by the hearth at the Teshford Arms, making and preparing about a dozen bandages. They’re all soaked, wrapped and sealed in my pack. There are certain things you never forget, and making bandages is one of them. I remember well the days in which I first learnt to make them, under Heron’s tutelage after I was reborn as one of Abaddon’s chosen. He taught me how to be a medic and roam the battlefield in search for those who were still salvagable. I wore the sign of the snake, the sign of a medic, supposedly keeping me out of harms way. Of course, the bastards in Zhengyi’s army never paid any heed, and the curtesy of bandaging my fallen companions was never given to me, at least not willingly. I see now how bitter that made me, the countless times I was jumped from behind as I was applying a field-dressing.

We left that afternoon. Thorim, Roland, Abel, Ebon, Wren, Hazel and myself, heading north-east, roughly the same path we had taken to get to the Flaming Tower. I’m still not sure what we’re supposed to do. We’ve got seven days in the woods ahead of us, and in that time we have scouting to do. We were assigned a territory, in which we will hopefully be able to do some good; gather information about Zhent troop movements and find and defeat possible Zhent invaders. The group we are moving out with is a lot larger than it was the first time we headed into these woods, so we should be a lot better prepared, and a lot more capable of keeping ourselves safe.

The going was rough, especially for me and my ruined leg. We made camp at early dusk, and food was gathered and tents were pitched (also curtesy of the garrison quartermaster.) Abel managed to kill a deer, and Thorim, Roland and him managed to drag it up to the camp, leading a bloody trail right to us. I asked for first and last watch, meaning I’ll get about four hours of sleep and the others six. I’m sure we’ll attract the attention of something big and hungry with that much blood on the air.

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