The personal account in the Lady Okendorser, as excerpted from her personal correspondence and journals:
Journey to Eltruel
Messengers were sent on our behalf so we don’t need to return to Greenest. We are two days away from the freighted treasure, although they took an indirect route according to the map. The enemy would be passing through Baldur’s Gate, a chokepoint like no other. Additionally, we learned Leosin would be going straight north to Elturel, where lies a river. If we were to meet him there, we would be able to catch up with the freight by water; and that is precisely what we decided to do.
Reaching Leosin will be 6 days of travel. Hopefully, it will be peaceful travel, leaving me little to report to you. I know you insist my letters mean the world to you, but sometimes I wonder if reading them might demand too much of your time, Lady Helena. At the very least I needn’t rack my brain and pester my comrades for every inane detail of this particular trek.
Using the down-time we’re afforded in the evenings, I wanted to teach the wyrmling to hunt obediently with me. If it prefers fresh kills to eat I need to be sure I can control its aggression, lest the beast turns on our horses, or worse. Jah-Quatt generously offered to assist me by catching small game to use as rewards, and leading larger game in such a way to challenge the wyrmling.
Osfyr and Harbek seem to have decided to spend their time sparring and grappling one-another. Observing them outside of the chaos of battle, it is noticeable the variations of their two fighting styles. Harbek in particular fights like a man who grew up on the streets.
The wyrmling can come and heel on command. It also waits for a command to eat now. I feel a twinge of shame teaching an intelligent creature commands as if it’s a mere dog, but I see no way around it – It simply must be controlled. Any day it will begin speaking back to us; I wonder what will happen, then? Its intelligence will likely outpace our whole party in very little time.
Each night by the fire, Uvan and Never have been muttering and gesturing toward each-other after everyone’s finished their meals and wandered off. Never will gesture and make strange sounds until Uvan responds with whatever he thinks the Kenku’s getting at. In just a few nights they seem to have made good progress in communication.
I began the actual hunting portion of training the wyrmling in earnest. Jah-Quatt has been a great help already. I feel a small satisfaction with the success we’ve had so far. The wyrmling seems eager to please, at least for now, and is reliably obedient.
Osfyr and Harbek have noticeably improved in their sparring, it seems they’ve learned a good deal from each other. Watching them brings back fond memories of sparring my own master when I was serving as a squire. I am grateful, however, that there will be only a few more nights capped by manly grunting and the sound of bodies hurling against one another. Surely the rest of the party feels the same about the wyrmling’s excited squealing.
Jah-Quatt was absolutely instrumental in assisting with the wyrmling’s training. I’ve been inspired by her dedication to challenging the creature. I could tell watching the dragon tear apart the game she found was difficult for her, but she bore it well for our endeavor. I’m also amused by the servile nature of the wyrmling. I’m beginning to wonder if this individual in particular just has an agreeable temperament, or if all dragons start out so… winsome, before becoming so terrible and formidable.
When Jah-Quatt wasn’t assisting me I sometimes caught sight of her leaning against a tree or rock near the fire with parchment and pen in hand, drawing pictures of the same game she had been helping to catch. They looked quite good.
After nightly chats with Uvan, Never can now mimic many more appropriate phrases for every-day situations. Granted, it’s in Uvan’s voice – and the grammar is awkward to the point of opaque at times, but the result is impressive. The two can also communicate excellently amongst themselves now.
A Pair of Black Antlers
Finally, we arrived at Elturel. There, we were to meet Leosin at a riverside tavern located right on the docs. As we stabled our horses, I considered what could be done with the wyrmling. The tavern – A Pair of Black Antlers – had a sign posted right next to the door reading, “No animals”. Perhaps my own entry would even be a stretch in that case, as well as Jah-Quatt and Never. Uvan allowed Fenrir to play with some stray dogs in the community, and I commanded the dragon to stay on the roof, where he began snapping at overfed sparrows.
Entering the tavern, the party wandered apart. Harbek and Uvan were drawn to the bar for drinks. Jah-Quatt wandered to an empty table to sit alone and draw. Osfyr sought out the tables with various card and dice games. Feeling a little tense upon entering, I didn’t particularly want to socialize or be alone; I sat down with Never.
The source of the tense feeling upon entering was clear; the patrons were giving us skeptical, cold glances. They could hardly be blamed. A silent bar wench, mouth pressed into a line, took orders for water from Never on both our behalves. Across the tavern Uvan and Harbek, drinks in hand, had joined Osfyr and were loudly challenging passing strangers to play a game with them. He was quick to draw the attention of a dwarf who, on closer inspection, bore the same symbol Harbek wears. They began a game of liar’s dice as they chatted warmly. After they all lost to the newcomer a few times, the quartet relocated to the bar.
The wench returned to our table to unceremoniously drop two mugs of water in front of us, some splashing up into our faces. She demanded two copper and received three. After a moment she grumbled, “We don’t like your type.”
We are an unusual crew. I could only think to say, “Have a blessed day in Bahamut.”
Never dipped his head and said, “No trouble.”
Back at the bar, introductions were being exchanged. The dwarf was named Ontharr Frume. He suggested the whole party meet in a private room in two hours’ time. In the open, our unusual party combination was drawing too much attention. So, everyone decided how best to pass their own time. Osfyr remained with Ontharr, and the two walked out the back of the tavern to look at a ship docked there – the Spearhead.
Uvan and Never wandered off to a potion shop. With the gems we had found in the shrine to Tiamat, they shrewdly invested in potions of water breathing for the whole party.
I headed out in search of a shrine to Bahamut, joined by Harbek. We found a small shrine on a side street, with wilting flowers on a ledge. Fortunately, a flower stand was nearby; roses and hyacinth best expressing my sentiment. I lingered there in prayer for the health of the wyrmling, the party, and you. Harbek respectfully stood near and even left an offering of his own. I felt the weight on my heart lift just a little. The baffled passing glances were what I am accustomed to, but I wonder if Harbek found them uncomfortable?
Harbek parted ways with me shortly after our visit to the shrine. Later, we heard amongst the bar chatter that a dwarven paladin had heroically rescued a cornered child from a ruffian before dutifully delivering the ruffian to guards. Perhaps it could have been someone else, but a sparkle in Harbek’s eye betrayed him as the hero.
On my own return to the tavern, I picked up a delicate silver chain long enough to encircle the wyrmling’s neck. It would be a token of my best hopes and a ward against my deepest fears. Perhaps someday it will earn a platinum chain.
Jah-Quatt remained where she was in the tavern people-watching, and drawing. Children looked at her soft fur with longing curiosity, but nobody approached her. As the sole one among us who stayed, she was the first to encounter Leosin. Leosin embraced her warmly, to Jah-Quatt’s surprise. He was greatly relieved, “I’m so grateful; has everyone survived?” he asked.
Jah-Quatt answered him, “Yes, we’ve even grown our party since then.” She caught him up on every detail since we last met him, and Leosin was shocked, especially by the wyrmling.
Catching up Charlie
Soon enough, we had all returned to a warm reception from Leosin, meeting in a large private room toward the back of the tavern. Ontharr asked of Leosin, “Where is our third?”
In response Leosin looked at our party pointedly, “They brought him.”
They meant Charlie, of course. Nearly forgetting where the communication device had been, I located it in my pack. With a hearty, “Hello Charlie”, we began catching him up on everything; the encampment, the movements of the treasure and kobolds. All of it Charlie found to be “very interesting”.
When Never mentioned Frulam’s escape, Ontharr spoke up. “Frulam hasn’t always been of the dragon. Consider not killing her – she may be turnable.” The statement drew a skeptical glare from Uvan, but Ontharr seemed sincere.
After wrapping up our summary to Charlie, Ontharr had more to say. “That’s more information then we’ve had to date – it definitely has something to do with Tiamat. It seems they’re taking the long way around. If you intercept and join in the caravan, you may be able to learn more about them.”
Charlie agreed and offered to loan us his ship, the Spearhead. He also instructed us to respect requests from Ontharr and Leosin as if they were his own. With that, we were ready to proceed, although Leosin let us know he wouldn’t be joining us.
With the meeting done, the party turned to chat amongst themselves lightly in preparation for moving on. Osfyr pulled Leosin to one side of the room and muttered something to him – I couldn’t make out what, but a short glance toward me gave me a good idea. Leosin’s response, however, I could hear; “As I have trusted you to wrestle with your demons by giving you that sword, trust Lady Okendorser to wrestle with hers.”
Osfyr’s posture softened a little, and I could hear him now; “Words I will remember.”
I wish I could express my understanding, and verbalize my sympathy for the discomfort of my party. I wish I could say out loud that I also fear and despise the wyrmling. But even writing those words, I feel a sting in my eye and a lump in my throat. Those feelings are true, yet they must not be spoken. Not in front of a creature I’m responsible for, or even behind it’s back. Those words made manifest would be counterproductive for him and me both. Surely, he is intelligent enough to sense my black heart. Please, Bahamut, change my heart.
Lady Helena – reading this, will your opinion of me change? Between these feelings, and my deceptions… or do you already know me so well? We’ve been through so much together, but this is a challenge to me unlike any other I have faced… I face it without you by my side.
As we prepared to depart aboard the Spearhead, I summoned the wyrmling to me. He wiggles incessantly, but with a little effort I was able to slip the silver chain around his neck. There’s… something about the delicate jewelry dangling form such a rough creature – something that’s difficult to look away from.
The River Chionthar – Ogres Attack
We set out on the river Chionthar, heading straight for Baldur’s Gate. Rushing to get ahead of the caravan, we began pressing through nights. Osfyr, Harbek, and Uvan took turns navigating the boat. The wyrmling clung to the top of the mast or flew lazily beside us; when hungry he would fish and play in the water.
A few days down the river, we began seeing ruins just past the bank. Harbek guessed they were somewhere between 300 and 500 years old, with damage from some kind of catastrophe – as if a giant had crushed them underfoot. We pressed onward.
Deeper into the ruins, as we approached a bridge, we were surprised when a great boulder seemed to drop from the sky, puncturing a hole in the Spearhead. We had been ambushed by ogres on the bank and bridge – it was difficult to tell how many. The boulder was followed by javelins, hitting our party and the boat.
Uvan wasted no time in loosing an arrow toward the ogres. I scrambled halfway up the mast to cast protective magic on the wyrmling before commanding that he attack. Sliding back down the mast, I grabbed a bucket and began bailing water. Jah-Quatt opened fire with a moonbeam on the shore and held the spell while leaping off the boat with a graceful flip, straight into the cover of bushes.
With a flapping leap of his own, Never reached the opposite shore. He quickly took cover behind a ruined wall, putting him in a position right next to one of the ogres. Remaining on the boat, Harbek retrieved the javelins thrown at us and started lobbing them back. Uvan and the wyrmling attacked the ogre on the bridge. Uvan had climbed the mast to better aim his arrows. On my cue, the wyrmling used his acid breath for the first time.
Osfyr turned his attention to plugging the gaping hole left by the boulder. Another boulder came down and landed right on his back, nearly knocking him off his feet. It was enough to send him into a berserker’s frenzy. His eyes glazed over and he jumped overboard, making it shore quickly and taking off into a sprint, right past one of the ogres on the bank.
Harbek was at the front of the boat when he spotted something in the water; a boat trap composed of pointed bamboo and other shanks meant to snag and sink the boat. Over the din of battle he yelled, “It’s a trap!” Gripping his lighting javelin, Harbek threw it toward the trap. There was a crack of thunder and a flash of light; the trap was destroyed. Later we would notice the water surrounding was dotted with electrocuted fish, dead at the surface.
The spearhead was nearing the bridge and wouldn’t pass by without damage to the mast. Fortunately, it could be lowered – and Uvan slid down and began working at lowering it. The ogres Never and Jah-Quatt were engaging on each side of the bank began approaching the river. Soon we were surrounded by ogres, even as they continued to languish under Jah-Quatt’s moonbeam and cringe from Never’s arrows.
Osfyr had nearly approached the ogre on the bridge when the wyrmling and I just nearly finished it off. Osfyr stumbled slightly when his frenzy lifted but was quick to rejoin the fray, leaping bravely back down to shore from the bridge to attack.
The ogres began attacking the boat directly. Jah-Quatt and Never made their way back toward the boat, attacking our enemies along the way. Osfyr slashed at their legs from the shore. Eventually, we took them down – with one, in particular, taking such a mighty blow from Harbek’s hammer that it’s as if the ogre’s head disappeared into its body. The battle was over.
The boat continued to drift toward the bridge and destroyed the trap. Harbek utilized one of the water breathing potions to retrieve his lighting javelin from the river. We scrambled to bail out the boat and make repairs. We wrapped up an ogre’s club in one of the sails and glued it into the largest hole. The Spearhead was worse for wear but still delivered us safely to Baldur’s Gate by nightfall. By our estimations, we handily beat the caravan there.