A Rising Tide
Traveling merchant, human rogue
Age: 28 years old
Weight: 135 lb.
Hair: Dark Brown
Avery Martell is a traveling merchant. She wanders village to village selling her wares and perusing local shops for useful or rare items. Her merchandise ranges from basic necessities to unique treasures. Avery rarely returns to a village more than once every few years – “I travel to far off lands to see their people and their riches. I trade and sell, and then bring what is worthy to the next places I visit. A stationary life is one I do not want.”
Journal Entry 1:
I had heard stories of the beauty and elegance of Carok, but unfortunately experienced little of either on my first day here. My arrival to town was quite late in the day, but I found lodging at a small inn called The Fallen Leaf owned by a charming innkeeper named Maleik Othiannen. The initial sense of warmth and hospitality was marred by the entrance of a certain half-elf named Nephera. She seems young, impulsive, and more than a little touchy about humans traveling in elven lands. However, ignoring the rather uncomfortable experience of sharing her table, she unexpectedly volunteered to help chase down the thieves that stole my cart. Yes. My cart was stolen. You might expect something like that in some halfling settlement, but at an Obad-Hai monastery town? Anyways, the cart and its contents are now safely parked, with a few extra “security precautions” added should any new opportunists deem my cart easy pickings. Nephera rushed upstairs once we returned to the inn, but when we next meet I plan to give her a token of my thanks for her help. We’ll see if she rejects if on account of me being human, but it’s the thought that counts, right?
Journal Entry 2:
So much has happened since I last wrote. I suppose I’ll start with the good: I seem to have made a friend out of Nephera. She may have been prickly at first, but recent events seem to have cured us of any prejudices towards each other. Now, the bad: The town and monastery of Carok has been invaded and is now occupied by a large force of hobgoblins. Countless visitors who were attending the Festival of Bounty and the residents of this quiet little area were killed by these invaders. Nephera and I had been enjoying the games and vendors of the gathering when their high cleric, Dorthelloth, began to speak. I could not understand what he was saying, but the elves around me appeared enraptured. In the middle of his speech the invaders suddenly poured over the hill across the river and into the middle of the festival, killing indiscriminately as they went. Nephera and I were swept up in the panicked crowd as people bolted back towards town for safety. Arrows and spears flew past us, increasing the sense of chaos. The invaders were carrying pale blue banners with the picture of an impaled hand. We managed to expel ourselves from the madness and took shelter in a house. Inside, we found an unfortunate pair of elves. Sadly, they were beyond our help and we realized the invaders were beginning to make their way past the house. We made our escape out the top window and hopped rooftop to rooftop until we made it to the edge of town. Nephera and I hopped over the fence, managed to evade a potential attacker, and fled into the forest.
We finally stopped running at dusk and searched for a suitable place to wait out the night. Two elves named Hurendel and Caini joined us for the night with some interesting information. Hurendel (young teenage elf, servent at the monastery) insisted that a group of elves must be forming a resistance in this forest to drive out the invaders. Caini (portly self-proclaimed male entertainer) desperately tried to convince us to escort him back to Ilmor. After some discussion, Nephera and I agreed that it would be better to first scout out the current conditions at Carok before making a decision.
I must admit it went against my instincts to return to the place of so much death, but my curiosity (where is my cart?) and desire to make sure I’d done all I could to help won out. Also, there is the matter of Maleik, who had been kind to me even though I am clearly a foreigner. I managed to climb a tree and gained a birds-eye view of Carok. What I saw was deeply unpleasant: At least 100 invaders were within sight; upon careful observation I was able to identify them as hobgoblins. Some of them were clearly on patrol, others stood as sentries. There were 20 large military tents. I could see a pen of prisoners towards the middle of the town, and bodies piled along the perimeter of town. The Fallen Leaf Inn appeared to be standing, as was the monastery.
Nephera and I discussed the situation and concluded that while it would be gallant to stay and fight, we would do more good by traveling to Ilmor and getting help from the armies that Caini told us about. Hurendel took this decision rather hard, but eventually joined us on our journey to Ilmor.
Journal Entry 3:
The road to Ilmor was not easy. It is lucky that both Nephera and I are passable fighters, or else the kobolds (curse those thieving creatures) or hobgoblin would have had easy prey. At least we scavenged some silver off the kobold scum. The hobgoblin presented some difficulties, but I was able to subdue it with an arrow before it did too much damage to our miserable band of travelers. Poor Hurendel is having a terrible time. She nearly vanished into the woods at the first sign of attack, which is good, but not if we can’t find her afterwards. Caini is also having a rough time, although he isn’t exactly helping himself. The sorry fool nearly got us killed by scattering the contents of his bag across the path as we tried to avoid getting ambushed. Nephera’s patience (what little she has) is wearing thin with him.
At nightfall we arrived at the Erenon Outpost. Campfires surrounded by weary groups of Carok survivors were dotted along the edges of the watch tower. It appeared that hardly anyone was actually being allowed inside of the fortified tower. Caini quickly abandoned us (he had been quarreling with increasing regularity with Nephera the longer we were on the road, and we may have started referring to him as Caini the Hiney), attempted to gain entry into the tower, and was abruptly rejected. We took this time to start talking to some of the refugees and met Elon, a priest from Ilmor, Maelmi, a merchant like myself, and Eledhron, some sort of vagrant with a surprisingly large bag.
Nephera and I decided to attempt to gain entry to the tower. The initial response from the tower guard was not welcoming, but a couple of gold coins was enough to persuade the guard that we were worth their time. We managed to get an audience with Captain Varanien, although he did not look particularly happy to see us. His guardsman must have practically dragged him out of bed. Once we informed him of what we knew from our little scouting expedition in a tree, he saw reason and immediately took us and the hobgoblin threat seriously. It turns out that our captain knows a bit about the war band of hobgoblins at Carok, which are called the Severed. He wrote up an official report with his seal and gave it to us to deliver to Ellariel Umeer, the minister of court at Ilmor.
We were given shelter within the walls of the tower for the night, but woke early to begin the final leg of our journey to Ilmor. Most of our new friends joined us, with Caini being the notable exception. He could not be roused so early in the morning, and so was left behind. Part of me feels sorry for him, but we cannot afford to babysit him and I don’t think he was particularly enjoying the journey with us.
Roads are dangerous. We managed to avoid a group of hobogoblins, investigated a burnt hovel containing two dead bodies with severed hands (severed hand connection?), and were attacked by some irritated bats (turns out that Eledhron isn’t so shabby with a throwing axe).
Once we arrived at Ilmor we found our way to Ellariel. She carries herself with incredible grace, and I get the feeling that she has a deep understanding of the three princes, considering that she is at the crux of their delicate alliance. Ellareil was kind enough to give us a brief overview of the three princes: Prince Malgonar, Prince Celador, and Prince Thilonde.
I personally think that this Celador fellow may be our best shot. He is already keen on the idea of war and elven pride, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to frame this as an insult to the elven race that mere hobgoblins could take even one village. Malgonar we may be able to convince if we get enough public outcry – I should begin cultivating contacts with the real part of the city (not the hoity toity aristocrats) and feel out the possibility of garnering mass support for Carok – I don’t think he’ll feel compelled to act unless it will bad politically if he doesn’t. Thilonde is a bit of a mystery. We’ll need to ask around to learn more about his motivations.
Tonight we are staying at the The Sleeping Beggar, which is run by an old friend of Eledhron’s named Sybeth – a human! I plan to talk more with her about the comings and goings of the city. She could be a wealth of information for us.
Journal Entry 4
I feel like I’m living a terrible dream. Nephera and I accompanied Oron to the mysterious seer in whom the red prince places much confidence. The journey was dangerous from the start, as we came across a hobgoblin encampment not an hour outside of the city walls. We had the element of surprise, and used it well. Not a single hobgoblin remained alive (or whole, thanks to Nephera’s collection of heads) and I feel as though all this misadventure has begun to shape us into real fighters. We journeyed into a boobytrapped cave and slaughtered a hapless group of kobolds (lowly thieves every one of them) who were likely responsible for the aforementioned trap.
When we reached the seer’s hovel it was clear that the place had been abandoned. We tried the door (which was apparently too rusted for lock picking) and Nephera opened it with a shove. It was dark and musty; so many years of disuse and damp had allowed the books that lined every surface to decay. The walls were covered in clocks, which were surprisingly still ticking. We eventually spied a hole in a wall and climbed through. We waded through more decaying books and some odd statues until we came upon the seer. I was quite surprised to see her here, as her home was in such an abandoned state. She seemed loopy… made no sense and gave unconvincing answers to Orion’s list of questions from the prince.
We were about to leave in disappointment when the seer was suddenly overcome by a magical trance. Her eyes burned (literally) and a voice that was not hers began to speak.
Journal Entry 5
Today was full of surprises. We ran a couple of errands in a rather shady side of town, and made the acquaintance of Amarien via Eledron. She could be a helpful source of… hard to find items in Ilmor. Our task for Prince Celador began by joining up with his son, the Baron Voranael, and his grain collecting contingent of soldiers and clerical workers. He seems to have his head on straight, which is refreshing. He wears a badge of triumph which indicates his presence during the past victory over the hobgoblins fifty years ago. He seems eager and determined to beat the hoard back again, and I appreciate his practicality and apparent expertise in this subject. We made an happily uneventful journey north to Lasiris to begin collecting grain “donations” from the farmers. It was a surprising hard sell, as the people had already given the requisite amounts. We were able to convince some farmers that this grain was essential for their safety from the hobgoblin menace.
Our trip took an unexpected turn when we discovered a farm covered in ice. It is not winter, and no other farms were in this state. The farmer reported hearing strange noises in the night and waking up to a collapsed barn with missing livestock and blood everywhere. Theories floated included an avalanche, wizard, and dragons. It seems possible that a juvenile white dragon from the hinterlands veered into some lower terrain for a barnyard snack. Regardless, Voranael decided to leave half the contingent with the farmer to assist with repairs.
Later that night at camp we learned some interesting bits of gossip about our old friend Oron. Captain Arcaht intimated to us that Oron isn’t just a random henchman of Prince Malgonar, but also his bastard (and there are apparently many). This actually explains a lot of Oron’s prickly demeanor and determined efforts to prove himself… I actually feel some sympathy for him although he could stand to make a few personality upgrades.
The next day we moved to the town of Ossilien for grain collections. To our dismay, we found the town in the midst of a gruesome hobgoblin attack. Everything was getting put to the torch, people were screaming and running. Three things were immediately apparent: the grain storage building was on fire, there was a pitched battle at the town hall, and the dam (which preserves the irrigation system for Ilmor’s farmlands) above the town was getting dismantled. Before we could act, Voranael and his small group of soldiers rushed to join the battle. Nephera and I decided to save the dam. If it fell, it wouldn’t matter how much grain we collected… we struck down the hobgoblins at the dam with our fury and quickly returned to the town to try to reunite with Voranael.
A difficult battle ensued, with casualties on both sides. It is unfortunate we left so many soldiers at the icy farm, as their strength would have been helpful. As it was, we managed to fight off the hobgoblins but Voranael was severely injured. Captain Arcaht was able to stabilize the baron and Nephera was able to heal him to the point that he could stand. At this point we thought we were in the clear, but a movement in the corner of my eye jolted me back into action – I shoved Voranael back into the ground as an arrow shot past us – but unfortunately it found its mark in Captain Arcaht instead. It was a poisoned arrow and his death was painful but thankfully short. The arrow also had a blue ribbon attached, the signature of D. We quickly identified a figure standing on the ridge above us as the shooter, and Voranael’s soldiers took off after him. Their progress was severely impaired by a series of traps… it was a terrible day.
We returned to Ilmor and met with Prince Celador. He is now even more determined to march on Carok to beat back the hobgoblin plague, but we fear we need more support from the other princes. We also visited Prince Malgonar to notify him that Oron’s prey is still loose, with no sign of Oron. He seemed unconcerned, and this lessens him in my eyes… we also visited the grey Prince. Nephera made a tentative deal with him: we recover a missing box of some value to him, and he sends his elite guard to find out what happened to Prince Malgonar’s daughter at the spire. Two birds with one stone? There seems to be some sort of history between the grey prince and Malgonar’s daughter so I am not certain this plan will go smoothly. I am also concerned that the grey prince’s request may put us at odds with some of our new friends, specifically Eldrohn… but it is something we may need to do anyways.