Archive for June, 2017

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.

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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.
‘Why?’
‘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…

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