Sabine’s Shadow Story

‘My adventurer friends encountered something… unusual in the lower levels of town’, said Sabine, ‘Do you know anything about some sort of evil ‘presence’ in town?’
The cleric’s face turned downcast.
‘Yes, unfortunately I know all too well of what you speak, sister.  A few weeks ago we started receiving reports of haunted houses, and a general sense of unease in the working class areas.  The one thing that’s been consistent about the rumours is that it feels like you’re being watched from behind a pane of glass, where that glass is reality; whatever it is, it is not of this world.’
So what I felt definitely wasn’t my imagination, thought Sabine to herself.  This had to have a connection to the missing governors, but why would this entity be so interested in Arosea? At the very least, Sembia could be ruled out of the list of suspects responsible for the chaos in town.
‘Is there anything else you can tell me about this… thing?’ Sabine asked.
The cleric shook her head.
‘Unfortunately all we know are rumours, and when we’ve investigated the locations there’s been nothing to be found.  We all felt the sense of dread, but there’s nothing we can do aside from a couple of Turn Undead attempts, but they had no effect.’
‘She could try the child’, another cleric chimed in.
‘Child?’ inquired Sabine.
‘Yes… there is a child who has seen this creature first-hand.  We are looking after him, as the experience seems to have left a lasting impression on him… He’s barely said a word since.  If you think you could get him to talk, you are welcome to try.  We may make progress with his recovery as well if he would just tell us what’s going on in his head.’
Sabine nodded.  No harm in trying to gather more information.

The clerics led Sabine to a small bedroom at the back of the church.  It had bare furnishings, clearly only meant for the residents of the church.  The only things that looked out of place were a small stuffed bear, some pieces of parchment with a pencil, and the boy sitting upright in the bed, a faraway look in his eyes.  As Sabine entered, the boy slowly turned his head to look at her, but his expression remained blank.  The clerics excused themselves, leaving Sabine alone with the child.  Sabine smiled awkwardly; she wasn’t used to dealing with children, let alone ones in this condition.
She calmly walked up to the bed, and pulled up the lone chair in the room.  All the while the boy was watching her movements carefully.
‘Um-‘ Sabine began, causing the child to jump slightly.  Sabine hesitated, then her eyes fell upon the bear toy.  She smiled with more confidence as she reached out for it, taking it with one hand and animating it like a puppet; hopefully both of them would feel more comfortable talking through this vessel.  Sabine spoke out of the corner of her mouth, putting on a squeaky voice as if talking through the bear.
‘Hello! How are you today?’
The boy’s brow furrowed as he focused on the bear, seemingly forgetting Sabine was even in the room.
‘… I… I’m tired’.  The boy said.  Sabine smiled.  This might work after all.
‘Ok then!’ Sabine said through the bear, ‘How about I tell you a story then?  This nice lady can help too!’
Sabine set down the bear, facing the boy.  She raised her hands to her shoulder and clapped, causing an orb of light to appear thanks to her watch lamp.  She cracked her knuckles, preparing to put on a show- usually she only practised shadow puppetry to pass time when bored, this was the first time she’d had to show anyone else.  She dropped the bear’s voice, instead speaking in a more natural and calming tone, and focused on the shadow she was casting on the wall.

‘Once upon a time, there was a small boy…’ Sabine folded her fingers to create the shadow of a boy on the wall.  It seemed fairly convincing to her, hopefully the child would feel the same.
‘This boy lived in a small house in a town by the sea.  He was a good boy that played with his friends, said his prayers, and did what he was told.’
Sabine glanced at the boy, who was intently focused on the shadows dancing on the wall. She lowered her voice.
‘But then one day, he decided to go somewhere he shouldn’t have; somewhere the boy had been told not to go because it was dangerous.’
The boy was growing visibly afraid, as Sabine made the shadow child look more mischievous and curious.  Sabine would have to tread carefully.
‘He was nervous, but thought to himself ‘tomorrow I will go! I need to see what’s there!’.  And so he went to bed, filled with thoughts of adventure.  But then that night a chill came into the room as a fog descended on the town…’ Sabine dimmed the light in an attempt to recreate fog-like conditions.  The boy was clearly becoming upset, but Sabine knew that to get any information from him he would have to be pushed to his limit.
‘The boy felt something was wrong, and could see something starting to come through the door… He couldn’t make it out at first, but it slowly became clearer and clearer as it grew closer to him.’
The boy started muttering to himself ‘this is like what happened to me and the others…’.  This was the moment Sabine would get the information she sought, but to do so she would have to try and work out the form of the mystery creature.  She tried to remember her education on demons, devils and undead, trying to think of creatures that might be responsible for this, all the while contorting her fingers into shapes that would cast shadows resembling these creatures.  Suddenly the child gasped and let loose a cry of ‘no!’.  Sabine looked at the shadow she was casting.  It resembled a hooded creature, long fingers outstretched… a wraith perhaps?  Time to wrap up the story before the child had a heart attack.
Sabine became more animated, exclaiming ‘But then, the door swung open, shining a powerful light on the creature that dissolved into nothingness!’  She increased the brightness to a dazzling level, enough for the child to shield his eyes with his forearm.
‘The light was coming from a beautiful woman, here to destroy the monsters in the dark and keep the child safe.  And so he would live happily ever after.’
Sabine lowered the brightness of the light, making it appear to come from behind her head almost like a halo.  She stood up and rested her hand on the boy’s shoulder as he lowered his arm and looked at her with tears in his eyes.
‘Are… Are you going to destroy the monsters?’ He said, whimpering.
‘Yes’, said Sabine, ‘but I can only do that if you tell me what you saw.’


“The gang gets a new member”

Officially introducing Ungus’ replacement, Sabine!  Yes, the same Sabine featured in previous blog posts; she has ascended from NPC to PC, and with that comes a whole lot more character development.  The reason for the delay in blog posts is because I hadn’t fully decided how her character should be played yet, and I couldn’t think of how to record her adventure without it feeling forced, or like a transcription of the game which, whilst fun, would not help my creative writing.  Arosea’s player suggested I keep another journal, but I wasn’t sure Sabine would be the sort to keep a journal and I don’t want to end up too similar to Ungus.  Likewise, she has no reason to send letters to anyone.  But then a thought occurred to me; this is Sabine’s first true adventure as part of a party, and part of her motivation is to experience things, but part of adventure is long periods of boredom travelling and keeping watch etc, so what if Arosea suggested she keep a journal just to keep from being bored?  So yes, I will indeed be keeping a journal but don’t expect it to be like Ungus’.  Where he thought of himself on the lawful good side of neutral and had a strong sense of family and friendship, Sabine is much more on the chaotic side (I wouldn’t go as far as to say evil, but she’s certainly not as pure as you’d expect from a cleric), and she is very careful not to get too attached to anyone for reasons that may become clear later… much later.  It’ll take a lot for her to trust anyone enough to reveal much of her past.

On the road again.  It’s cold and slightly damp.

…This is dumb.  Why do people get enjoyment from writing down their thoughts?  ‘It can be good to write down your secrets’, but then what if someone reads them?  Most secret place is inside my head.  Still, beats getting bored looking for imaginary threats in the middle of an open field.

So what do I write, when only I intend on seeing this?  I guess it might be amusing to say my first impressions of my companions.  See if I still think the same after travelling with them for however long.

First off, they’re the unlikely heroes of Tasselpeak.  Despite their appearance and seeming naivety, they successfully led the defense of the town and drove off the Cormyran army which is no mean feat.  Of course with Cormyr abandoning Tasselpeak I have no reason to remain there, so I’m travelling with them to find where else I can be of help, as they seem to have a knack for finding trouble.  And with the untimely death of Ungus, they could probably use some ‘divine guidance’.

Arosea appears to be the leader, now Ungus is gone.  She’s had run-ins with Sembia before, but has not elaborated further; I would be very much interested to find out more.  She rather blatantly has a crush on Arcanae, the governor of Tasselpeak’s secretary.  It’s cute, and I’m happy to help any way I can.

Lasslyn is the muscle.  She’s the one who beat the leader of the Cormyran army in a duel, but despite that she seems very friendly.  I expected her to be quite the intimidating warrior, but she’s innately likable; though admittedly I’m yet to witness her in battle first-hand.  We’ve already shared some stories of past adventures, and she clearly has an almost familial bond with her companions.

Jessie is… Actually I’m not entirely sure.  The face maybe?  He was instrumental in helping the townsfolk during the siege, and although he’s been drunk most of the time I’ve known him, I assume due to grief, he has come up with some terrible puns that I’m ashamed to say I couldn’t help but laugh at.  It must be his delivery.  During the celebration he demonstrated himself as a bit of a trickster too, which shows me he has some magical aptitude as well.  Hopefully he’ll sober up so I can get to know him better, and perhaps his cooking will taste better (though I doubt it).  I’ll also have to revise my spell list so he doesn’t outdo me.

I hate to admit it, but it seems Arosea was right.  I do actually feel better after writing, though that may well just be me thinking of ways I could prank Jessie.   Maybe I will continue this journal after all.

Yours Faithfully, Ungus.

This blog comes with some unfortunate news; Ungus Kinglygauntlet is dead.  He was ambushed by a soldier whilst putting on his armour in the middle of a night raid, and the rest of the party were distracted by Lasslyn engaged in a duel with the commander.  This chapter of the blog shows the contents of a letter, written on the night of his death, written to be sent to his father instead of the one that was confiscated by Alusair.


Dear Father,

I am sorry it has taken this long to get in touch.  I had written a letter to you previously, but could never muster the courage to send it to you.  I did not join the Purple Dragons like you wanted, and at first I was worried about bringing dishonour upon the name Kinglygauntlet, but my adventures since have shown me that it was never about the respect that comes from the name ‘Purple Dragon’.

From the moment I arrived in Wheloon I knew I would be disappointed, but I never believed it would be to this extent.  In the time I spent there I heard rumours of Cormyr going to war, but naturally I assumed it would be against the goblins, or even the shadows of Anauroch.  Certainly not the innocent people of the Dalelands.  Unfortunately I had already left them before I knew the extent of their plans.

As a rookie our services were often lent as bodyguards to the merchants passing through town, for a small donation to the church.  On one of these escorts we were waylaid by some would-be bandits- of course they were no match for a pair of Purple Dragons, but when I brought them in for arrest they greeted my commanding officer, who gave me a pat on the back and sent me on my way.  Turns out they themselves were hired by the escort agency simply to stage an attack to make us, as their bodyguards, look good!  They reasoned that no-one would use their service if they didn’t think there was actually any threat! That was the moment I realised the dragons don’t have the interest of the common people in mind.  Constantly we were receiving reports of thefts, missing persons, assaults, and nothing was done about it- in fact I suspect they may have even been involved in some of these events!  Of course I brought this up with the most senior captain in Wheloon, who fobbed me off with some excuse about how matters abroad were more important than home security.  As much as I loved Cormyr, this attitude is unforgivable.  So I quietly left, intending to come home.

You didn’t see me, but I actually passed by Thunderstone.  I wanted to see you, but I looked down at myself and saw my mottled beard and mud-stained rusty armour, and thought to myself that you wouldn’t want to see such a disgrace.  I have regretted my decision not to see you every day since.

I continued on the road and found myself in Highmoon.  I heard of some thieves’ guild operating in the area, so decided that if the authorities couldn’t be trusted then I would have to help the people myself.  I worked alone for a couple of months, stopping petty crimes whenever I saw them, barely surviving on the small change that couldn’t be returned to the rightful owners.  I learnt more of the thieves’ guild, that they called themselves the ‘Naga’s Fang’, and so I vowed to stop them from terrorising the people any further.  It was at this time that I met the people who would become my dear companions for the coming months, each helping me understand what it truly means to act in the name of justice.  They had their own reasons for tracking down the Naga’s Fang, and by working together we managed to track them to their headquarters.  In my righteous fury I decided to end it there and then by razing the building to the ground.  I figured by destroying their nest I would eliminate the infestation, so imagine my surprise when my companions accused me of being insane.  I thought nothing of it at the time, but the coming days proved them right as we found ourselves under constant assault by the guild trying to get their revenge.  I felt terrible for putting my new friends in danger, but whenever I considered leaving they would find a way to convince me to stay, and I had to help rectify the mistakes I had made.  Regardless, we were soon left with no choice but to stick together as Cormyr attacked.

Now I find myself in Tasselpeak, a small fort town not found on any map, and we are in the middle of a siege.  Were we not here the cowardly governor of this town would have surrendered, leaving his people and the hundreds of refugees from Highmoon and Tegal’s Mark homeless or dead.  It has been gruesome, but with the help of all my friends I have reached an epiphany over the past 24 hours.  Just a couple of days ago I was on the verge of breakdown, not knowing who I was, what I was doing, doubting my every move, wondering if I truly was as good as I believed; I prayed to the Father of Battle for guidance, and he sent me a cleric by the name of Sabine.  She patiently sat and spoke with me, eager to hear all my tales, and offered me reassurance that I was doing the right thing.  Since then, I have had time to reflect and realise what makes a hero.

There is a female dwarf in my company, named Lasslyn.  I know what you’re thinking, father, but no.  She is an incredibly skilled fighter, able to lose herself in the heat of battle, but always able to differentiate between friend and foe.  When Cormyr were at the gates, trying to intimidate us to surrender, she is the one responsible for raising the guards’ morale by laughing in Cormyr’s face.  In the words of Clangeddin, “Never waver in the face of adversity”.

There is a human with us, as well.  A man by the name of Jessie, who fancies himself some sort of joke-teller.  I’m not entirely sure how, but he is incredibly skilled at rallying the people and somehow just hearing one of his goofy fish-based puns is enough to inspire me in battle.  Although he is not the best suited for combat, he has proven invaluable in saving countless innocent lives, for it is only he who could have successfully moved the townspeople to safety, convincing them that although they may be leaving things behind it is much better to be able to live to fight another day.  In the words of Clangeddin, “Lives should never be thrown away foolishly”.

Finally, there is Arosea.  I had never heard how strong in spirit halflings could be before meeting her.  In the short time I have known her, she has saved a girl who was kidnapped by a psychopath and insisted we escort her to safety, she attempted to save Jessie and myself from a prison guarded by Alusair Oberskyr herself, and just today she has provided constant ranged support to each of us that has needed it and even now as the moon rises she is still at the infirmary, tending to the wounded.  In the words of Clangeddin, “The greatest honour is to sacrifice oneself on the field of battle in service to a righteous cause”.

I see now what Clangeddin means when he speaks of sacrifice.  He does not mean death in combat, as what service is to be provided from Dwarfhome?  Instead you must sacrifice your heart and soul to finding a way to end the conflict.  Don’t set fire to the nest; find out why the nest existed in the first place.

In the words of Clangeddin, “The finest hours of dwarvenkind come in the thrusts and feints of war”.  Nothing exemplifies this more than the journey I have undergone in this war thus far.

I will not rush headfirst into the next battle.  After we have saved this town, I am coming home.

Your son,
Ungus Kinglygauntlet


Author’s note: Before Ungus’ tale is finished completely, I need to share the most tearjerking thing to ever happen to one of my characters in D&D.  In memory of Ungus, Arosea has proposed that the party melt down his armour and create small artifacts that they can wear, so they will always have something to remember him by.



Next time, the war continues as Sabine joins the party officially.  If you wish to see more of the art above, check out Arosea’s player’s tumblr: Doctor Bethany’s Art Blog

Meeting the Dragons

5 years ago…

The dwarf stopped for a moment as he reached the peak of the hill.  This place offered a perfect vantage point for him to see the town he would call home for the forseeable future: Wheloon.
Wheloon was a young yet quickly growing town, that lay on the intersection of the Way of the Manticore and the Wyvernflow River, making it ideally suited for any trade passing in and out of Cormyr.  As such, the town currently housed a small contingent of Purple Dragon knights which was Ungus’ purpose for being there.  He had heard his father’s stories of adventure, and the legend of Alusair Oberskyr, and finally it was time for him to continue in his father’s footsteps and join the Purple Dragons, representing not only his family but all of dwarvenkind.  The setting sun gleamed off the bright green slated roofs of the town, and Ungus’ excitement rose as he could hear the busy sounds of trade and construction below.  He took a deep breath, and set off down the hill.

Ungus headed straight for the barracks; the sooner he could enlist the better.  He was slowed slightly by the distraction of seeing the street vendors packing up their wares as he had seen nothing like it in his home of Thunderstone, but it had been a long journey and he refused to get waylaid when he was this close.  Fortunately it proved easy to find the barracks, as the town mostly lie on one main causeway; unfortunately, before Ungus could step inside a guard at the door blocked him.
‘Sorry sir, the barracks are not open to visitors at this time’.
‘Oh I’m not a visitor,’ said Ungus, ‘I’m here to enlist’.
The guard looked the dwarf up and down, his face impossible to read.
‘Should there be need for a militia, an announcement will be made in the town square.  We do not perceive any imminent threat at this time’.
‘I’m not a militiaman!’ Ungus laughed, ‘I’m here to join the Purple Dragons!’
A flicker of confusion passed over the guard’s face, just for a moment.
‘My apologies, sir, but any formal business will be undertaken during daylight hours.  You are welcome to return in the morning and speak to my superior, until then I suggest you get some rest.  The streets can be dangerous at night.’
Ungus’ brow furrowed.
‘Well, there’s thieves about.  Lots of passing trade means lots of money on these streets.’
‘But isn’t it your job to fight crime? Protect the townsfolk?’
The guard looked at Ungus with a stern look in his eye.
‘It is my job to stand here, taking details of any crimes that are reported so they can be investigated at a later time.  I am not to leave this post until I either receive orders from a commanding officer, or my shift ends.  So unless you are here to report a crime, I insist that you retire to an inn for the night.  I recommend the Wyvern’s Watch.’
Ungus opened his mouth to speak, but was silenced by the icy glare in the guard’s eyes.  Instead, the dwarf heeded the guard’s advice and headed to the Wyvern’s Watch, grateful for a bed to sleep in and some water to bathe in.

As soon as the light came through the window in his room, Ungus set off for the barracks once more, hoping the guard from the previous night wouldn’t still be on duty.  The distinctive armour of the Purple Dragons made it difficult to differentiate between them, but thankfully the guard now on duty allowed him to pass without even looking at him.  Inside was a simple desk with a clerk filing papers, and the sound of shouting coming from a courtyard further in.
‘Excuse me’, said Ungus, trying to get the clerk’s attention.
The clerk stopped and sighed, his back still turned.
‘No, we haven’t had any further leads on your hammer Mr Rallogar.  Perhaps if you didn’t hire out your hayloft to everyone who offered you a silver falcon then you wouldn’t keep ‘losing’ things’.
‘Excuse me?’ repeated Ungus, this time out of bafflement.
‘What’s so hard to understand, Zenda-?’ said the clerk, turning round and stopping mid-sentence as he saw the dwarf in front of him.  ‘Oh I’m sorry sir, I had you confused for someone else.  How can I help?’
Ungus straightened himself up, trying to draw himself to his full height.
‘I wish to enlist in the Purple Dragons.’ he said proudly.
The clerk stared at him with a fixed smile.  The two stood in awkward silence for a moment before the clerk responded.
‘Come on, it’s too early in the morning for this, seriously what is your business here?’
Ungus was taken aback.  ‘That is my business!  I’m here to join the Purple Dragons!’
‘I’m sorry sir, please calm down.  Surely you understand not just anyone can join?  Especially not someone of your… stature.’
‘I’ll have you know I’m a full inch taller than my father, and he joined!’
‘Your… father.  And he’s also a dwarf?  You do realise we are a strictly human-only organisation?’
‘My father said I might have this problem, so he wrote this letter’ said Ungus, drawing an envelope from his belt pouch.  The clerk held up his hand in refusal.
‘I don’t care what some dwarf says, only the finest Humans in Cormyr can join the Purple Dragons!’
‘What’s going on, Albert?’ demanded a deep, booming voice, followed by a man with an overwhelmingly powerful aura.  His uniform marked him as one of the Lionar, an elite division of the Purple Dragons.  The man marched towards Ungus, who was in awe of his presence.
‘Sir, this dwarf thinks he can-‘
The Lionar held up a hand to silence the clerk, and plucked the letter from Ungus’ grasp.  There was silence as he read the contents.  When he had finished, he folded the parchment neatly and tucked it into his robes.
‘So you’re Ungus, son of Unthar.  Follow me, your training will start immediately.’

The next few hours were a blur for Ungus.  He struggled to keep up with the Lionar’s stride as he was taken to a dorm where he was given a simple suit of armour to wear.  He was then given an orientation of the barracks at far too fast a pace for him to take anything in; there was the courtyard which he was told to report to first thing every morning, the foodhall where meals would be served at the sound of the bell, the common room where a few soldiers gave him a derogatory look, the war room where he could hear a heated discussion but passed by too quickly to make anything out, and finally he was left back in the dorm.
‘A dwarf? Hah, they’ll let anyone in these days.’ muttered a soldier at a nearby bed.
Were these really the Purple Dragons? Champions of justice, protectors of the people, defenders of the innocent? It wasn’t yet the end of his first day, but already Ungus felt the pangs of homesickness.  Perhaps when he saw them in action he would see why his father gave them so much respect…

Do you Fear Death?

Ungus walked despondently through the streets of Tasselpeak, his mind a storm of emotions.  He had barely survived the first day of the siege, yet it felt like he had done next to nothing.  He understood the importance of his role in the battle, but it didn’t mean he had to approve of it.  The plan was sound; As Arosea provided ranged support from atop the keep Lasslyn would defend the front gate, thinning out their numbers and forcing them towards the market, which had been laced with explosives.  Jessie would then give the signal for Arosea to light the fuse, leaving any stragglers for Ungus to finish off at the last line of defense in front of the castle.  By all accounts, the plan went flawlessly.  But seeing the bodies by the sides of the streets left Ungus wondering if it was truly the right course of action.  Would it really have been so terrible to just give the fort over to Cormyr?  Would less blood have been shed if Ungus had held the front gate with Lasslyn?
In front of the Infirmary, Ungus saw Sabine up ahead kneeling over a fallen soldier.  This area was set ablaze by Lasslyn once the market had been revealed as a trap, and this poor soul was one of those caught in the flames.  Sabine appeared to be deep in prayer, her hand resting on the man’s shoulder as he cried in pain.  A moment later a soft light emerged from her hand, and the man’s body fell lifeless.  Sabine stood and for the first time Ungus saw her without her faint smile, wearing instead an expression of what seemed almost like disgust.
‘Sabine…? Is that you?’ Ungus inquired, taken aback by such a change in her demeanour.
‘Oh Ungus!’ cried Sabine, her smile quickly returning to her face, ‘Sorry you had to see that.  It’s the darker side of being a cleric’.
‘I thought you eased suffering’ the dwarf said suspiciously.  Sabine continued to smile, though it was an empty one.
‘I did.  He would suffer more had he lived, as opposed to a quick merciful death.  Cure Light Wounds can only do so much, and in some cases Inflict Light Wounds does so much more.  I see you are still unconvinced, dwarf.  Perhaps you should join me and see this practise in action, and maybe tell me a bit about your troubles on the way.’
Ungus nodded.

The pair headed towards the front gate where the highest concentration of bodies lay.  The area was busy with people carrying away the dead from both sides, as well as clerics performing their last rites.
‘By Clangeddin’s silver beard… How did Lasslyn survive this with nary a scratch on her?’
‘She’s a competent warrior.  Word has already spread of her lack of fear.  Apparently when Cormyr tried to intimidate us with that boulder her response was to insult the captain’s manhood’.
‘Hah!  Good on her,’ Ungus chuckled, ‘When I heard the boulder hit I expected half the town to flee, I can’t imagine how her comrades on the front lines must have felt.’
‘It was a wise decision to have her at the front.  I know I wouldn’t want to be greeted by a bloodthirsty barbarian, let alone a female dwarf.  Anyway, lets move on.  It looks like this area’s covered by my brethren.’

On the path to the market, the bodies were more sparse.  It was clear less fighting occurred here, instead the invaders were trying to rush past to get to the market.
‘There’s one,’ said Sabine, indicating a soldier almost imperceptibly still breathing.  She hurried over to him, checking whether he was conscious.  Unfortunately he wasn’t.
‘First, they must be conscious for me to give a suitable diagnosis.  I am only blessed with a certain amount of spells per day, so I will use a simple Cure Minor Wounds to wake him’.  With a single word a spark came from Sabine’s finger, causing the man’s eyes to suddenly open and he gave a splutter, coughing up a small amount of blood.  Sabine rest her hand on his shoulder, gently trying to reassure him.
‘Shh… Please, try to focus.  Look at me, I want to help you.  Can you talk?’
The man gulped.  He opened his mouth to speak and coughed some more.  Eventually he managed to say the word ‘…yes’.
‘Good.  Tell me, do you fear death?’
The man’s eye’s opened wide, as did Ungus’.  Sabine kept a perfectly straight face, giving no indication of where she was going with this question.
‘Ye… Yes! Of course! I don’t want to die!  I have a family!’
‘Then I shall ease your suffering.’
As before, Sabine closed her eyes, muttered a few words of prayer, and a light came from her hand.  Within seconds the man coughed again but this time there was no blood.  Looking at his own hands like they were alien, he propped himself up and managed to stand.  Sabine smiled.
‘You are well enough to walk, but still require further healing.  Please go to the infirmary to rest up.’
The man nodded, and Ungus looked on in awe as he quickly hobbled away.
‘I have but one spell left, and it’s getting dark.  Lets head back to the castle and find your friends.’

Passing the remains of the market, Ungus remembered the noise from when the explosion went off and the screams that followed.  That was the moment he realised the gravity of the situation.  It all seemed like a strategic training exercise until then, not helped by the fact Ungus was left alone to listen to the sounds of fighting in the distance.  When he saw those burned figures advancing toward him, still desperately trying to fight despite their injuries, to tell the truth Ungus was terrified.  So much so he broke from his position and dropped his shield to kill these barely distinguishable creatures, and even then he fumbled with his axe before he was able to deliver the final blow.  Thankfully he had turned his panic into pure anger by the time the commander arrived, and he managed to channel that rage into his attacks, delivering devastating blows one after the other until his foe eventually fell; though unfortunately in his rage he had let his guard down and suffered significant injuries of his own.  On the approach to the castle, the fear came flooding back to the dwarf as he saw, sitting up against the wall with a trail of blood leading to him, the very same commander he had engaged in battle.
‘After all that, he still lives?’
‘Barely.  He seems somewhat disoriented.  Let me handle this.’
Sabine approached the man, and once again laid her hand on his shoulder.
‘You would help me even though I am enemy?’
‘Ilmater would have me help all those who suffer, it is not my position to judge whether you are right or wrong.’
The man cackled.
‘Foolish girl, once I’m back on my feet I will ensure this keep falls!  Cormyr will prevail!’
Ungus prepared his axe, but Sabine motioned for him to stay back.  The cleric kept her usual calm smile.
‘Before I help you, tell me- Do you fear death?’
‘Hah of course not!  I am afraid of nothing!’
‘Very well.  Allow me to ease your suffering.’
One final time, light came from Sabine’s hand.  The commander laughed and attempted to stand during the prayer, only to fall back to the floor.  He looked at the cleric with pleading eyes, and in a moment his eyes lost all focus as he fell lifeless.  Ungus walked over and nudged him with his foot.
‘The bastard.  He deserved to die.’
Sabine gave Ungus a sideways glance, her head still bowed in front of the commander.
‘I wasn’t lying when I said it is not my place to judge.  I do my job.  If someone would find more peace in death then they would in life, so be it.  Had the two people you saw today’s answers been different, then a grieving mother would have to explain to her son why his father couldn’t come home, and Cormyr would have another commander rejoin their ranks,’ Sabine’s smile returned once more, ‘Unless of course someone was to cut him down before he could escape.  Regardless, I would be satisfied I had done my duty.’
Ungus frowned.
‘I know it is hard to comprehend, friend, but the gods have plans for us all.  Now tell me, dwarf; do you fear death?’

Am I a Good Man?

After a night of drunken revelry, Ungus was even quieter than usual on the journey to the fort at Tasselpeak.  He had a difficult decision to make; to return home to his father, or to accompany the hundreds of refugees to ensure their safety.  He chose the latter, if only because he had grown attached to his companions and was not ready to leave them yet- and certainly not because he was terrified of the possibility of having to deal with both Alusair and his father.  The fact the refugees were vulnerable and in need of help had barely crossed his mind.
During the journey Ungus decided that he would go as far as Tasselpeak, but then he would work up the courage to go home.  He couldn’t keep running away from his problems.  However, as so often happens, fate intervened.  The governor of Tasselpeak was a loathsome individual who cared for little outside his own self-interest, and even when confronted with 500 refugees on his doorstep he refused to believe that Cormyr would be a problem to him.  What’s more, the party were given 24 hours to leave town never to return.  The group looked to Ungus to do something to help, but Ungus was at a loss for words.  Once again the decision to stay or go had been thrust upon him.  He decided he would head to the cathedral for some clarity of thought and spiritual guidance.  Ungus was barely aware that his companions had joined him, as had some old acquaintances, but an offhand comment about fire directed at him shook him from his thoughts.  Unable to deal with banter in his current state of mind, Ungus excused himself to pray in solitude.

In the quietest corner he could find, Ungus propped up his battleaxe against the wall and lit a small pool of oil at its base as a makeshift shrine to Clangeddin.  He knelt in reverence in front of it before starting his prayer.
‘Father of Battle, hear my words.  Your primary teaching is that above all else we should defend our kin; this is why I refused to join the Purple Dragons as they spoke of conquest more than protection.  But now I need to know, in your eyes what is kin?  Are family kin? Then I should return to my father, as I foolishly mentioned him to Alusair.  Are my friends kin? I may not have known them long but Jessie and Arosea are very dear to me, and although they have grown more competent since we first met I still feel they need my help.  Lasslin too- though she is a more than capable fighter, I still feel she is too reckless…’
A tear falls down Ungus’ cheek as he falls into silence, unsure how to continue.  After a moment a woman puts her hand on Ungus’ shoulder.
‘I am very sorry friend, but I couldn’t help but overhear some of your dilemma.  I may not know much of Clangeddin, but Ilmater would have me ease the pain of those in need.’
Ungus looked at the cleric with red eyes before composing himself with a half-hearted chuckle.
‘I wouldn’t expect a god to talk to me directly, and frankly I would probably feel like I was going insane.  But perhaps he has sent you to speak with me in his stead.  I would be grateful for the conversation’.
With that, the two retreated to the cleric’s cloister, to speak in more comfort.

The cleric introduced herself as Sabine, a cleric from Highdale that travels where her heart takes her, helping those in need along the way; it is her belief that Ilmater guides her to wherever she is needed most, and lo she has ended up in Tasselpeak just as an exodus of refugees arrive.  They spoke a while of Ungus’ adventures thus far; of the Naga’s Fang, the antics his friends had gotten up to, and of Cormyr’s treachery.
‘I should have been a better man.  They were talking about a crusade when I tried to join them, but I was too busy thinking of my own honour and dignity to consider the implications of that.’
‘Don’t beat yourself up, Ungus.  None of us knew what Cormyr was planning.  They’ve convinced the whole realms that they fight for good and justice, so why would you think their crusade was a bad thing?’
‘When are crusades ever a good thing?’ Ungus snapped, ‘All they do is lead to more deaths of innocent people’.
‘But sometimes that is necessary for the greater good,’ Sabine retorted, ‘Ilmater teaches that suffering is both inevitable and necessary.  Thousands more would suffer if kingdoms were left under despotic rule.  The fact they’re crusading against Sembia is troubling, but we can’t dwell on what we could have done without knowing the facts.  We can only act on the things we know; if we don’t know what’s coming then how can we prepare for it, right?’
Sabine gave a slight smile, and after a moment Ungus’ looked at her with widened eyes as if coming to a realisation.
‘I should go’.
‘Yes, you should’.

Unthar’s Origins

Ungus was too drunk and passed out to write a journal entry last session (surprisingly uncharacteristic for him despite being a dwarf), so instead here’s a bit of background about Ungus’ motivation for adventuring; his father.

The Hullack forest was the picture of serenity in the early morning, as the mist rolled in.  One of the most ancient forests of Faerun, it had gained a reputation for being abundant with game and monster alike- rumours abound of lost tombs inhabited with ghosts, and hidden vales where centaurs and satyrs lived oblivious to the outside world.
A sudden chitter from a blackbird escaping the undergrowth caused an almost imperceptible shift in the leaves of the trees and a sound not unlike the creaking of a branch despite the stillness of the air.  Moments later came the sounds of a chase on the forest floor, leaves rustling as they were crunched underfoot and the unmistakable sound of a goblin screaming after someone.  As soon as the goblin and its prey were in sight, the elf that had remained expertly hidden in the trees let loose his arrow- a powerful shot that whistled through the air, and narrowly missed the goblin’s head.  Damn, he whispered under his breath as he swung down to the ground, taking up a running pace beside his companion.  The human was careful not to slow down, but gave a sideways glance to the elf with a smirk.
‘I expected better from an elf!’
‘I’m not the one who got spotted by a goblin’ The elf replied, matter of factly, ‘Come on.  We’re nearly between the stag’s lights.’
Sure enough, as the forest thinned all that could be seen through the mist was a light in the distance.  With that as their only waypoint, they headed straight for it, the goblin still in hot pursuit.
‘Hey! Little help here!’ the human cried out, moments later followed by a whistle and the sound of someone running towards them.  A sudden figure appeared, axe raised, but they continued to run towards the light until they heard a guttural grunt behind them followed by the pained shrieking of a goblin being cleaved, then silence once more.
The source of the light was a lantern atop an ornate stone bridge, known affectionately by locals as the Stag Skull bridge.  Once there, a man dressed in armour with a purple cloak greeted them with a smile.  The hunters knew they had reached safety and stopped to catch their breath and thank their saviour.  Able to get a closer look at him as he reemerged from the mist, the figure was that of a dwarf also clad in armour with the signature cloak of a Purple Dragon.
‘Thank you Unthar.  We are in your debt’ said the elf, bowing with respect.  The dwarf simply nodded in response before walking to the edge of the bridge, setting up a stake, and impaling the head of the goblin upon it.

Later that day the two hunters stopped by The Furniture’s Fate; a tavern of some notoriety in Thunderstone for its frequent brawls, often instigated by the gnomish proprietor Boffo himself who seemed to revel in the thrill of being able to fight without ever being in any real danger of death.  Things were unusually peaceful when the hunters arrived.  Stig, the bouncer of immense proportions, noticed their confusion and simply said ‘Unthar’s in’.  Sure enough, inside were the regulars all looking restless, none more so than Boffo who kept glancing nervously at Unthar who was keeping to himself in the corner, still wearing his armour though now clean of goblin blood.  The dwarf locked eyes with the pair as they entered, and seemingly satisfied went back to quietly sipping his drink.  The human raised two fingers at the gnome who hurriedly got to pouring pints.
‘I thought he’d be at the Dragon’s Den,’ said the human, giving a nod towards Unthar.
‘No, He doesn’t like socialising with the other dragons.  Can’t say I blame him, the ones here aren’t your typical Purple Dragons.’
The human slid a couple of copper pieces across the bar as Boffo passed over the ales.
‘How so?’
‘Well they’re supposed to be champions of law and justice right? Don’t get me wrong, they’re doing a great service to Cormyr, but Laheralson’s too soft on them.  Thinks their morale’s more important than discipline, and he may have a point but that shouldn’t give them free reign to do whatever they want.  They’ll arrest you just for setting foot in ‘their’ pub’.
‘I can see why that would upset a dwarf.  Poor guy.  But why stay in Thunderstone if he doesn’t agree with Laheralson? Why not go somewhere like Wheloon?’
The elf shook his head.
‘He’s got too much investment here.  If it weren’t for him there might not even be a Thunderstone.  It was before you got here, but this town used to be under constant siege by an ettin and his orc and goblin army.  It’s said that Alusair herself requested the dwarves’ assistance, as they have experience fighting giants and orcs and she felt she was owed a favour after her adventuring with them.  Unthar was part of the group that was sent, and the only one to take up permanent residence here.  Only he knows why he ultimately stayed, though I suspect it’s a sense of duty towards one deserving of such respect as the Steel Regent.’
The hunters both looked over at Unthar, who seemed to be lost in thought.  As if reaching a decision, he finished the rest of his drink in a single gulp then stood up and left silently, all eyes on him.
A few minutes later Boffo used Mage Hand to knock over someone’s pint, blaming it on the elf, and yet another fight broke out.

Back at the bridge there was another purple dragon on guard, looking incredibly bored.  He noticed Unthar approach and gave a lazy salute, but Unthar continued in ignorance, still lost in thought.  He walked down the river a little way before finding a rocky outcrop that had a small cave entrance in the side, once used as a hiding spot for goblin scouts.  Inside was another dwarf, kneeling next to a small pile of rocks in prayer.  A singular lotus flower lay at the base of the monument.
‘It’s time, Ungus.’ said Unthar.

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