Humble Beginnings

Chapter 4 - Things are Beginning to "Fireball" Out of Control

The Forteenth day of Mirtul 1485 DR

Dear Family, wherever you are:

You will probably never see this letter or any of the others, but it strangely comforts me to write to you anyway.

I’m still with that strange set of adventurers I somehow fell in with. Did I mention most of them are short? Two dwarves, a halfling, and an elf (she’s not short though. Or maybe she’s short for an elf? I’m not certain since I’ve rarely been around any. But she’s my height). At first I thought all the men were useless bumblers in addition to being short, but they’ve proven surprisingly competent at times. But only at times.

For instance, we were recently looking for clues as to Iarno’s disappearance in the Redbrand caves.

We had mostly gotten through their lair without incident (there was a dicey moment with a strange mind-speaking one-eyed creature who wanted a glass staff), had found some surprising information, and were about to continue when the leader of the Redbrands called out to us show ourselves.

Trabor snuck down the hall and saw that their wizard leader (who had a glass staff) had laid an ambush for us. I was still maintaining my Red Brand disguise glamour, so we decided I would slip around and distract them while the others set up our own ambush. A bugbear met me at the other side of the room! Fortunately, he didn’t suspect I wasn’t who I appeared to be and let me pass to join the thugs’ ambush. He stayed at the door. When I joined the thugs, the wizard leader questioned me, and I told some tongue-tied falsehood about having heard the interlopers doing something in a far room. (I am not sure what got into me that day – I’m usually a smooth talker. Then again, I haven’t quite gotten back to my normal self since the accident…)

Glass-staff was about to send all the thugs and bugbears after my companions and I decided I didn’t like the odds, especially with an extra bugbear right at the door of their hiding spot, so I pulled out the fireball scroll we’d found earlier. One of the Redbrands noticed me and warned the others. The wizard disappeared, but I managed to kill a guy, damage three enemies, and destroy the bridges over the crevasse. Of course my cover was blown. The wizard reappeared, whined about me ruining his lovely welcome, and demanded I reveal myself. So I dropped my glamour and spun a story about just being an explorer who felt threatened by all the brigands, but he didn’t buy it. He said to tell my companions to show themselves, he only wanted to talk. I didn’t buy his story either, but having no choice, I first convinced the wizard to pull his people back before calling for my group to come out. Troublesome Keni, of course, was his usual sneaky self and went around another way, but the wizard knew who was with us. A bugbear dragged Keni out of hiding and tossed him in front of us.

We bantered with Glasstaff a bit, but it boiled down to he was actually Iarno, he was a pretentious villain, he knew about Grundren but didn’t know where the dwarf was, and his orders were to kill us. He specifically didn’t like me, fellow magic user that I am. The missile spell he attacked me with hurt like hell. LeShanna got off a fantastic arrow shot at one of the brigands. Keni got another with his weird luck. I’m not sure what Trabor and Baern were doing – I heard them mumbling and next thing I knew, Trabor was sailing into the crevasse with his pants sliding down. But I couldn’t focus on them, that magic missile shot did some serious damage to me, so I did a cold armor spell. Next thing I knew, though, the wizard had cast some sort of paralysis on me. I couldn’t move, but fortunately my cold armor ended up completely freezing over my next attacker. I think I freaked out Baern again with that one. (He and Trabor are both wary of my Arms of Hadar spell. Trabor keeps mentioning my black tentacles. I’m not sure whether to be peeved or … no, I think I’m peeved.)

Keni, LeShanna, and Baern kept the battle going. The bugbears on the other side of the chasm were tossing rocks and spears and eventually one and then another leapt the chasm to our side. All I could think about was what I was going to do to the wizard when I got out of this. Baern had to keep casting healing spells. When I finally broke free of the paralysis, I drank some wine to get my spirits up and jumped back into the fray. Iarno had some sort of magic shield on him so we couldn’t do much damage (although LeShanna managed to get in a good double shot). Meanwhile, Trabor managed to climb back up even with his sagging pants and pick off one of the enemies on that side. But the wizard or another enemy managed to knock him unconscious. Again. (How many knockouts can a dwarf take before suffering permanent brain damage? Would brain damage even be noticeable in Trabor?) Once we finally destroyed all of the wizard’s allies, we turned all our focus on him, but he dashed down a passageway. LeShanna leaped the chasm to stabilize Trabor and Baern suggested that we all take a short rest.

Trabor apparently had found treasure down in the chasm and a good quality long sword – which he gave to LeShanna. (Actually, as I write this, I wonder if there’s something going on with them behind the scenes. Stranger things have happened. I’m going to watch them the next few nights…)

After we recuperated, we went down the passageway and discovered it was a dead end. It didn’t make sense, so we kept poking around. I’m not sure what happened – perhaps drinking wine in the midst of battle wasn’t a good idea – but I tripped, stumbled into Baern, who stumbled into Trabor who stumbled into LeShanna, and suddenly she stumbled through a false door. And there was Glassstaff and yet more brigands. I could tell by the tone of his voice that he said some more pretentious things (I’m not sure what, since I was way in the back and my hearing is not so great anymore anyway), followed by the twang of LeShanna’s bow.The wizard was riled and paralyzed LeShanna (I HATE that spell). Keni, Trabor, and Baern did some damage to the Redbrands clustered near the door. Trabor tried another aerial attack which was actually successful – Baern wasn’t too happy about it though, since Trabor’s foot also damaged his face in the process. I still wasn’t feeling too well – the aim on my eldritch blast was terribly off. As was my dagger aim. Actually, all of us had trouble, allies and enemies alike. Two thugs rushed LeShanna while she was paralyzed and got in each other’s way. The rest of us couldn’t seem to finish off the brigands who were clearly on their last legs. It was ridiculous. But eventually Baern got the last one (somehow managing to injure Trabor’s calves in the process. Baern says it was an accident, but I’m not certain – he was quite upset about that foot to the face earlier). Then Iarno once again disappeared.

So we had our ups and downs. And I’m still not quite sure what to make of these people. (I wish Zsatha would give me more clues about why It wants me to stick with them, but as usual, Its responses are cryptic. I threw Its idol far into the woods on the way here because I was only getting vague nothingness.) This is the longest I’ve stuck around a group – I usually do a job and then I’m off to the next thing. I’m becoming a bit fond of Keni though, the rapscallion. But I sense he’s not going to be with us much longer. That’s perhaps for the best, however. We have a dangerous road ahead and his sneaky, gold-grubbing ways will likely eventually get him into more trouble than the gold is worth.

Wondering where you are and hoping you’re well (except for you, Aunt – I hope you rot in hell),

~~ Ea

P.S.

If you’re not my family and you’re reading this, I’ve placed a three-day Red Rash hex on this letter. I’ll know who you are.

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