Uther and Brilga

Journey to Highhelm, Day Five
Second Session

Another interesting day. Early in the morning, the Swift Gryphon started heading to the north bank of the river – the coast of Ustalav, the nation infested with undead. You can imagine how thrilled Brillga was, her haboring a special disgust for those that ought to be rotting in the ground, and are instead walking around like they own the place. Captain Amber told us we going to duck out of sight to make sure we’d lost the pirates, but I think she knew we didn’t believe her.

A rowboat carrying three well-armed humans came from shore and boarded us, in what was clearly a planned rendezvous. We were going to be given over to them, but it turns out, the twitchy lad in back wasn’t okay with the plan. Under the pretext of swearing at us in our own tongue, we told us that he’d get us to safety, but his companions would have to be incapacitated – at the least. They hurt us pretty badly, and I feared for Brillga’s life for a bit, but thanks to the twitchy lad, we dealt with them, and Captain Amber, wanting nothing more to do with us, gladly let us take the rowboat and go.

Our new hyperactive companion introduced himself as Caspain Halifax, nicknamed Wax, and I gather that questionable employment is the only kind he’s ever had, though he seems a decent lad. According to him, the charming little town of Direfen, Ustalav, has an agreement with the river captains that they’ll regularly supply the town with unwary travelers, who in turn get fed to the local vampires, so that no one in the town has to lose their own blood. Wax did not approve of such things, and decided he’d rather stab his childhood friends in the back than feed strangers to the bloodsuckers. (And being one of those strangers, I support this decision.) Of course, that doesn’t get him in good with anyone but us, so we’ve agreed to return him the favor and watch his back until we can get him well away from anyone who knows him.

He kept watch while Brillga and I slept til sundown, then he slept in the boat while Brillga and I started rowing downriver. We weren’t rowing long, when who should appear but the pirates who’d tried to rescue us earlier. Turns out, yes, they are pirates, but friendly ones who also disapprove of this whole vampire-feeding arrangement. And Wax knows some of the crew, including the little gnome lady who sort of is and sort of isn’t the captain. They’ll take us to Hallein Town, and possibly across the lake to Kerse, if we can convince them there’s enough gold in it for them. I’d also be happy to lend them a hand in their current mission to disrupt Direfen’s arrangements, but I can’t let it distract me from my own mission. Field Commander Bergen is counting on me to do my job well, and swiftly.

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Journey to Highhelm, Day Four
First Session
Our encampment on the border of Belkzen has served it’s purpose well so far – no orcs have gotten past us into Lastwall. But we need reinforcements. We’ve got plenty of humans here, but not near enough dwarves. Field Commander Bergen has tasked me with traveling to Highhelm to drum up recruits, and he’s hired Miss Brillga Ulmsdotir to get me there. I must say, the girl’s impressed me so far. She’s barely past 60 years old, and already quite skilled in the ways of the world. Her ability to haggle is really something!

Our first day we crossed the hills down to Vigil, which is where I got to witness her haggling skill. She got us passage down the Path River on a merchant ship, The Swift Gryphon, and got them to knock 5 gold off their asking price and add free meals by agreeing to help fight off pirate attacks, should there be any.

Which leads me to the strangest event in our trip so far. Early this morning, Brillga spotted a ship following us up the river at quite a speed. Sure enough, it gained on us all day before pulling alongside us. They looked as motley as you’d expect, but they didn’t attack the way I expected them to. One little gnome lady hopped aboard, and I tell you, I took a fair chunk out of her, and Brillga gave her something fierce with her sling, but she took it. It hurt, no doubt, but she really wasn’t doing too badly until Captain Amber got involved. And this is where it become strange. Even though I’d sliced her pretty deep, I could tell she was trying to use the flat of her blade when she swung at me. She said she wanted to talk to us. I was wary of a trick, so I disarmed her, but I wanted to hear what she had to say – especially since her crewmates, despite being clearly concerned for her, were staying put. Captain Amber on the other hand, didn’t seem to want to hear anything she had to say – or to let us hear it. Before the Captain reached us, the gnome told us they were trying to rescue us, and said something like “They’re not trading what you think.” And then the Captain showed up, and nearly killed the gnome. And the gnome – a hearty and impressive woman, pirate or not – used her last bit of strength to roll herself off the edge of the boat and away from the Captain! The other ship slowed to get her back aboard, and they haven’t seemed to follow us since then.

The Captain had warned us this morning that the pirates might try to confuse or distract us, if they felt we (clearly being well armed warriors) were a threat they couldn’t face directly, but I’m not convinced that that’s what happened here. We were the only two at that side of the ship, and even if we were better armed and armored, they could have easily overwhelmed us by sheer numbers – and they didn’t. And Captain Amber seemed a little too eager to attack an unarmed and unaided person, who was already looking pretty beat up. I’m convinced she’s hiding something, and Brillga isn’t exactly thrilled with her either, though she’s not quite ready to say the Captain’s out to get us. We have agreed, though, that once the ship stops at the next trade stop, we’re done with the Swift Gryphon. We can find another ship to take us across the lake.

I don’t know if the gnome intended to imply we were – or would be – taken captive, but I don’t intend to ever be a prisoner again if I can help it.
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