I have been in this blasted far-flung place less than a week, and already I am surrounded by… problems. This new ragtag group of mine has a talent for finding trouble, particularly among the men in the group. First, there is Fletcher. He is a bard of some sort, though I have yet to hear him sing a song or strum anything but his own ego. He is witty, certainly and perhaps can improve the morale of this party but his silver tongued way of saying what people want to hear rather than the obvious truth is both charming and annoying. He seems to actively search out trouble. If that weren’t enough to worry about, the uppity young mage, Tavis got it in his head to stroll onto the castle grounds and DEMAND a horse. I am not sure if that is an impressive display of balls… or stupidity. I don’t think he is stupid, but I would not give him credit for balls either, so this is a mystery to me. Much to my shock, he came back with a horse of his own, but not after a lecture and a smack, I am sure. The boy’s pet ferret even managed to dive into a whole berry pie at the tavern, causing some tension with the proprietor.
And then there is Cillean, that strange young man from Cael. I had thought him a stoic guardian of nature at first glance. It was a fine impression to make. However, upon meeting him again, he was distressed and it seems he was willing to let himself get into a tavern fight. Two local guards, one of them more a thug than the other, teased Cillean about his unfortunately cloudy eye and the dark red birthmark that mars his face. I suspect that any other day, the Cael would have shrugged this off, but today, he let down his guard and engaged these two in a “meet me outside” style testosterone match. This is unfortunate, because once outside, the Cael was cornered and used a spell to create a cloud of mist to confuse them. A spell! The strange Cael has magic! While the idea delights me, the reality is that he has revealed himself as a magic user to two official town guards! Reckless and foolish! I admit, I hissed at him for his carelessness. With the inquisition hunting down anyone they can label as “evil” and knowing that those who follow the druidic path are immediate suspects, I worry about my new adventuring mate’s ability to keep his secret under wrap.
And then there is Nikola. If there is one of this group, I immediately trust, it is Nikola. A blacksmith’s daughter, she is capable, intelligent and makes careful choices. I liked her immediately. She has a mentor in Fallowdown- a strikingly handsome knight named Sir Landin Belkin. I had to tip my hat down to not stare at him.
This does not mean I do not like my new friends. Indeed, I am enjoying their companionship, and even their recklessness excites me, but I do wish they would be more careful. After some preparation, we pressed on to Dawn Keep, stopping at Red Hold, a strange rusted iron fortress which appears red in the glow of the sun. Just outside of Dawn Keep, we discovered a possibly Baruthian ruin- a deep and roughly circular pit with signs of reinforced walls. I climbed down first, and barely made it without falling. I was worried the fall would break my leg, or possibly kill me. Only half the group had made it down the pit when a buzzing sound was heard. Stirges. I have heard of stirges from my father’s stories of adventures in swamplands, but I had never seen one. In this case, there were two. They were easy enough to kill, but not before one of them made a meal of poor Nikola, taking it’s dinner of her shoulder. She was not too badly hurt, thank the Gods. As for me, I plan to soldier on through this pit, which I suspect is a more structured series of caves.