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Double Nature: The Journey of a Half-Drow (Session 1)

Last updated on September 24, 2019

My name is Rhyl’Aun Ridge. I have started this journal with hopes that one day I will be able to relate all that is written here to my dear father. If this document is found, please assume that I have perished and, to whoever finds this, kindly deliver it to Cliff Ridge in Gold Port, Nation of Yir-Alban, so he can find some solace knowing about everything I did and everything I experienced.

14th Day of Tardisia, Restatio

It has been several days since I left my hometown and my father behind. The mornings are starting to get cooler and the leaves are changing their colours into beautiful yellows and oranges. The last few days were calm and uneventful, for which I am grateful.

Just a few days ago I managed to get a last-minute seat in a caravan that crosses the center of Ær-Toril from west to east. The leader of the caravan, Oden, seemed a bit reluctant at first about letting somebody of my racial background join his caravan. It took me some time and persuasion to convince him, but he yielded in the end. Now I was surrounded by a rather colorful group. Oden was leading the caravan, manning the reins of the first cart. On the back there was a human family of three, they seemed exhausted and with enough luggage to assume they were bringing their whole house with them.  Along with them, there was a young halfling who appeared to be inspecting something in his hands. It was quite difficult from my position to tell at first, but he was checking some sort of mushroom he either brought with him or maybe harvested during our last stop.

Then there was the cart I was in. The woman handling the horses was some sort of bodyguard. Her name, if my memory doesn’t fail me, was Carla. Sitting next to me was another halfling who spent most of his time counting his coins, shuffling a deck of cards as if he was practicing some sort of trick; or napping. Opposite to him was a dwarf. For some reason he traveled fully armored, always carrying a surprisingly big hammer and a shield. Most of the time he seemed lost in his thoughts, looking to the landscape. Every now and then, however, he would start grooming his beard with some type of oil that smelled like… Lavender? The last passenger in the cart was sitting in front of me. It was a human lass, all dressed up in black and very quiet. She couldn’t be any older than maybe 18 summers. It felt strange to see such a young lassie traveling alone but I soon got used to her presence there. For some reason, we barely interacted with each other but they all seemed rather curious people and felt intrigued by each of them. Had my sketching skills with living models being on par with how I draw plants I would have tried to do some rough drawings to include in this journal. However, my lack of experience combined with my fear of offending them prevented me from doing this.

We had just reached the westernmost edge of Crimson Oak Forest when our caravan stopped. Oden explained that one of the wheels from his cart broke down so we had to wait until this was repaired. I wanted to offer my help but the dwarf immediately rushed to him and helped him raise the cart enough for him to inspect its underside. In the meantime, I overheard a conversation between the halfling and the young lass. I decided to join them. The halfling introduced us to this card game of his, the rules of which I’m still trying to understand. I did, however, learn the names of these travellers. The halfling’s name was Bingo and the human lass was Beronike Veronnike Veronique. [I feel sorry for the lass as I had to ask for the correct spelling of her name several times]. Veronique’s accent was quite unusual, although I soon learned that mine wasn’t that common either; and Bingo seemed to have some issues understanding her, to the point we had to translate, or rather repeat, to him anything she was saying.

I soon lost 10 silver coins in that game, so I politely moved away before my losses increased. Right after this I heard the groaning and moaning coming from the other halfling, the one travelling in the first cart. When I approached him, I quickly knew he was in pain. Oden explained the halfling was probably victim of food poisoning from the mushrooms he was toying with earlier. The dwarf, who later introduced himself as Harmand, quickly came to see him and, with a quick gesture of his hands, alleviated his pain.

Once we made sure the halfling, whose name I soon learned was Lyle, was safe from any danger, Oden informed us that we would probably have to camp for the night. I was a bit unhappy of having to spend the night outdoors, considering my recent circumstances, but there was not much point in complaining. My fellow passengers and I were tasked with gathering food for the night. While in the thicket we tried to track some game. Bingo and I had a bit of a disagreement on which path to follow. I am glad we decided to follow him in the end, as my choice would have probably led us nowhere. We soon found a clearing filled with small bushes and other herbal plants that Veronique assured could be used for cooking. I wished that was the only thing we found there but it wasn’t.

We heard a growling from the higher bushes on the edge of the clearing. From there three creatures leaped toward us. We were immediately surrounded by two wolves and a dire wolf, the most terrifying creature I have ever seen. Twice the size of a normal wolf and far more vicious. I tried to protect my companions with the only offensive spell I knew. I was hoping to just knock him out to the side but instead, lightning came out from my hands and reduced one of the wolves to smithereens. Meanwhile, Bingo was lying on the floor, injured by the other wolf. Luckily and, may I also say, shockingly Veronique, this small lass, summoned some sort of dark tentacles from the ground which grabbed the wolf and pounded it to death. I couldn’t believe my eyes! However, the most shocking thing was later when I realized I was the only one who saw that, with Bingo being unconscious on the ground and Harmand smashing the head of the dead dire wolf to a mass of red pulp. That would have been the most gruesome thing I had ever seen if Veronique hadn’t proceeded to collect any intact teeth from it. I decided not to inquiry on this to the lass, at least for now. As dad always says: “Everybody has a right to their own secrets.

Back at the camp, Lyle, who was feeling much better, offered to make a stew with the wolf meat we brought. The flavour, according to the others, was horrid. I feel ashamed about this but I must admit that, while Lyle wasn’t looking, I used one of my spells to change the flavour of my stew.

Lying on the ground now while I write this entry in my journal I gaze into the stars, wondering if I will ever see the mysterious woman and if I will really find any information on my mother. For now I just hope I can get some rest and I can be spared from any killing for as long as I live.

15th Day of Tardisia, Manias

So it seems that now we have to kill some goblins.

After Oden had repaired the cart, we continued to our destination, Longmill. There we were greeted by the town Mayor, a burly man with a thick moustache called Otho. Otho kindly gave us a brief tour of the town.

Longmill was smaller than Goldport and most of the population were elders and women. There was a small river to the south, a forest to the west and a large lake to the east. It was clear that the little city had seen better days. We were told that, due to recent events, the commercial traffic in Longmill had drastically decreased, affecting the local economy and driving people away. The Altons, the human family from the caravan, enquired about any job opportunities but they soon realised they wouldn’t have any luck. Disappointed and discouraged, they decided to continue their trip to the east. I asked Otho for a place to spend the night and he pointed us to the local baker/inn not before asking us to come to his place in the evening to share some dinner and discuss a favour he would like to ask us.

Veronique, Harmand, Bingo, Otho and I walked down the path to Merla’s Old Bakery/Inn. Once inside this rather hefty woman raised her arms and greeted us in a very cheerful manner. She rushed then into Otho’s arms and kissed him quite passionately. Once she was done welcoming him, we paid our room fee and left our bags in the room. Harmand and Bingo left the inn for a walk and Veronique went downstairs to talk with Merla. I decided to stay in the room to write this in my journal.

***

In the evening we went to Otho’s place where we were served a hearty dinner. Much richer and tastier than any meal I ever had back home. My father’s cooking is rather humble and bland so it is no surprise that the first spell I mastered was the one that would allow me to change my food’s flavour. While eating, Otho explained to us that Longmill had experienced some recent issues with a tribe of goblins based in the nearby forest. They had never ventured near the village before but recently they were getting more daring and violent and even killed a man before our arrival. He asked for help with this situation either finding out why the goblins had become so aggressive or directly getting rid of them. His first suggestion was to talk with Aufra, Carla’s sister, the wife of the man who was recently killed.

Back in the inn I tried to get some rest but without much success due to some, I would say, passionate noises coming from Merla and Oden´s bedroom, so instead I continued writing this in my journal in hopes they will quiet down soon.

16th Day of Tardisia, Lumias

Still half asleep, we had some basic breakfast with small pastries and milk and we headed to Aufra´s house, on the southern edge of the village. The woman was clearly expecting and soon to be due. She explained, still quite distressed, what happened to her husband and pointed us towards the last place he was known to be while also asking to bring back her husband´s ring, if we ever find it.  Before leaving she also mentioned that, about eight years ago, her other sister, Insa, went lost so she asked us to keep our eyes open in case we ever saw her during our travels.

Once we had left town, we crossed the river and head to the west to the forest that, supposedly, surrounded the goblin settlement. Bingo climbed a tree and went first to scout, in case there were any dangers. He returned no longer than 10 minutes later, followed by a small goblin. He seemed a bit jittery at first but, as soon as he laid his eyes on me, he screamed as loud as his lungs allowed him while repeatedly calling me a monster. Now, this is not an unfamiliar experience, but this was the first I have ever met this goblin, so I was rather confused.

Bingo tried to calm him down and I offered a piece of jerky from my bag as a peace offering. Once he had calmed down a bit we asked the reason for this reaction. The goblin, whose name was Gargoblax, explained to us that dark elves had been traveling underground from west to east in large number, and had been attacking and either killing or enslaving any goblins they found on their way. That’s why the goblins have been resurfacing so much, they weren’t trying to hurt the humans, they were just trying to run away. He admitted he was part of the group that killed Insa’s husband, but it was all caused by the confusion and fear. Gargoblax had been casted away from the tribe after trying to convince their chieftain, AKA The Tall Giant Chieftain, to move somewhere else, to a more hidden and sheltered location, a suggestion that was meat by mocking and ridicule. We decided to make a deal with Gargoblax. We would help him convince the Chieftain and, in return, they would take all the goblins far away. He accepted.

Gargoblax led us to the entrance of the cave were the goblins lived. I cautiously hid my true identity with my magic as to not cause any further panic among the tribe. We met with the Chieftain and tried to persuade him to move somewhere else, but without much success. Harmand tried a different approach, which I still don’t fully understand. I believe he was either trying to intimidate them or maybe he was trying to start some informal conversation about the structural properties of the rock the cave was made of, but the Chieftain decided to attack us anyways.

We fought as best as we could, but the Chieftain proved to be a powerful opponent. I tried to use some of my magic, but it happened again. Something went wrong and everybody turned invisible. I couldn’t see anybody. I think I heard one of the Chieftain’s underlings crashing into the wall of the cave and I felt a tiny hand touching my chest. I assumed it was Gargoblax since it didn’t try to hurt me. In the end both Harmand and I were in the ground, injured, but, luckily, Gargoblax bravely defeated the Chieftain himself while both the rest of the tribe and our group cheered him. All goblins accepted him as the new leader and he promised to gather and move the whole tribe overnight to Willowhills. We thanked them for it.

Once we were done with the celebrations, we spent the night there. Harmand and Veronique slept inside the cave but I decided to sleep outside, fearing a goblin might see my real face once my spell wears off. I lied down under a tree on top of which Bingo decided to sleep. I can hear him now snoring while I write these lines under the moonlight. How he can sleep on top of a branch without falling is something that amazes and worries me. And yet, knowing that he and the other two are nearby makes me feel at ease, even in such a defenseless position. I can’t wait, however, to go back to the town tomorrow and have a normal day for once.

17th Day of Tardisia, Xenephias

Today I have seen the strangest thing in my life.

After we gathered all our stuff and made sure the goblins had really left, we headed back to Longmill. It was a cold morning. A low mist coming from the lake was covering the path. As we were calmly walking the way up to the town, we saw a figure coming towards us. Its pace was slow and hobbling. Once were close enough, we were able to see it. This strange hooded figure, extremely thin, almost skeletal, ridding on top of a horse, so sick that one would almost think it was dead. He stopped next to us and started to cackle. I could feel a chill go up my spine every time it would laugh. Rough and sickly, he talked, his words still fixed into my memory:

“Tell me, what is it that you seek?

We all answered. He laughed once again. This person was definitely not normal.

“I pity you, because the hags have woven your fate. But a deal is a deal…”

He said we would fine all we are looking for to the east. There we would find a pillar. There we would find Rhas Ardin.

Once he was done talking, he continued to slowly ride his horse into the mist while cackling until we couldn’t see him any longer.

Done with this whole situation we returned to Otho and Aufra. We told each of them about our encounter with the goblins and they generously rewarded us. We then headed back to the inn to rest and gather our thoughts. I asked around the townsfolks about the figure. Most people had never heard about it. There was an elder man, however. Who knew about it. He called it The Watcher a mysterious entity from a distant past that would appear to those who will have a major impact in future events.

Whoever he was, we agreed that the only way to find out what was going on would be by finding Rhas Ardin.

This story is part of a Dungeons & Dragons 5e campaign called The Chained God.

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