Rise of the Runelords

22 Rova 4707 AR

The weather has been a bit unruly lately, a sure sign of an early winter. Travelers and merchants have been trickling into Sandpoint all week, arriving ahead of tomorrow’s festival. It’s been five years since the fire, the new cathedral is finally finished and with Desna’s blessing maybe we can leave this late unpleasantness behind us.

Father Zantus told me that a cleric of Torag arrived in town this week, the good father seemed amused by the idea of a human acolyte in the dwarf god’s service. The fellow had traveled down the Lost Coast Road from the North, all the way from Windsong Abbey. Not a great distance I suppose, but not many travel the north road, he’s lucky goblins didn’t get him.

I stopped by the White Deer Inn to catch a glimpse of this visitor. A good sized crowd filled the place. Among them was perhaps the homeliest dwarf I have encountered. Not that I have encountered many, but surely this one was uncomely by any standard. Red hair matted with mud hung in ropey strands. Wide flaring nostrils sat over a protruding row of upper teeth, and on her cheek a great mole sprouting hair of its own. The crowning glory a single massive red eyebrow extending from one temple to the other across the dwarf’s face. To top it all, she… was a she, and apparently none too shy as she decried the insecurity of our fair town should we be set upon by giants, all the while downing mugs of ale.

To my further amazement, the cleric I had been seeking joined the red eyebrow and together they vanquished a host of liquid spirits. Average in appearance, the portly evidence of his apparent love for good ale covered by scale armor and a leather smithy apron, Torag’s messenger held his drink well. If anything, the heady elixir seemed to enhance his eloquence as he delivered a final discourse before retiring for the evening.

I’m not sure the dwarf ever left the bar.

With night getting on I strolled through the darkening avenues of Sandpoint heading for home. On a whim, I stopped by the Rusty Dragon. Ameiko favors travelers and adventurers and her inn is often full of them. Moving through the crowd I managed to find a spot along the wall with a good view of the common room.

One fellow in particular stood out, a great golden cloak draped over his shoulders, the key of Abadar hanging from a chain about his neck. As I settled in to watch he suddenly stood up and called for a story. No takers were forthcoming and so he proceeded to tell a story of his own. Somewhat tall and slender I was stunned by his handsome appearance as he turned to survey the room. Raven black hair flowed over slightly upswept ears to frame piercing blue eyes and a surprisingly youthful face.

Feeling a little weak from the power of his turpulence, my anticipation of his imminent oration was reflected on the faces of those around me. I’m sure the events he recounted were quite harrowing at the time, however, the dry litany of facts recounted by that glorious visage proved sufficiently boring to break the spell. Losing the crowd entirely as he concluded his tale, he sat down seeming somewhat deflated.

Freed from my enthrallment, I continued my observation of the night’s fellowship. Soon a prickling crept up the back of my neck, the hair rising along my arms, someone was watching me as I watched them. The feeling intensified as I frantically searched the sea of faces for those penetrating eyes that skewered my soul and left me fidgeting with discomfort. There, in a darkened corner, sitting alone at a small table, a man ate quietly as he stared with predatory silence at each person in the room. Distinctly disturbed, I slid down the wall into a crouch hiding myself among the carousers.

The inn slowly emptied as the night wore on, time to leave. Merging with the exiting crowd, I ducked my head to avoid directly viewing either the glorious sun or the gazing moon and nearly tripped over the feet of someone sitting on a nearby bench. Turning to apologize for possibly disturbing the owner of those feet, I peered through what seemed a sudden cloud of shadow at an intensely focused elven face. He seemed not only undisturbed by my clumsy encounter with his soft shoed extremities, but entirely dismissive of my existence. The book held in his hands consumed his attention and I was at best a buzzing fly in comparison.

Passing through the door and out into the bracingly crisp Rova night, I took a deep draught of chill air and gazed up at the cloud covered stars. Not able to resist, I turned back toward the inn and crept to a nearby window. Inside, gold cloaked sun stood by night’s shadow as the hunter’s moon looked on. Ameiko spoke to all and seemed at ease in their presence.
Movement drew my attention as an impressively tall, statuesque woman with snow white hair and ice blue eyes walked toward the gathering. Her stride was graceful strength, her bearing almost regal, as if winter’s queen had entered her court. Ameiko acknowledged her approach with a nod and a smile.

Travelers, mercenaries, adventurers, all pass through town from time to time, but these six souls are something different. It may just be that Sandpoint has found the help it truly needs.

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