A Rising Hope

A Crossing of Paths
Fancy meeting you here...

Prologue

Haki stood at the edge of the road, peering silently into the forest. His alert, green eyes studied the trees a moment longer before moving up to the cloudless sky. The sun was finally beginning to drop below the tree line. His left hand rested lightly on the hilt of the longsword sheathed at his side, his other hand shielding his eyes from the sun’s departing rays.

“Come, Munbar. It is almost sunset. I wager we are but a couple hours from town.”

With a grunt, a burly dwarf lumbered out of the brush. His hair was a mass of thick, brown hair, his shaggy beard arranged in thick braids. The dwarf finished clasping his belt and hefted his great axe over one shoulder before stepping onto the dirt road.

“I told you not to try those berries,” Haki remarked quietly as the dwarf walked towards him.

The dwarf let out an irritated grunt before the two set off once more along the road.

...

“Ya alright back there, young miss?”

Nympharia stirred from where she sat amongst bags of grain. What remained of the sun’s dying light leaked through several small holes in the roof of the covered wagon. She must have fallen asleep along the journey. She didn’t know how long she had slept and was glad when she glanced out the back to see that it was still daylight.

“Yes, sir. I’m quite fine,” She replied, as she sat up and inched closer to the edge of the cover. She leaned forward to peer outside the cover as the wagon lurched along the dirt road. The trees that lined the edge of the road were thick, and the brush was overgrown. It had been decades since King’s Road had been last maintained. The finely made road had long since crumbled away into nothing but dirt and scattered stones.

Suddenly, the wagon jerked violently, and Nympharia was thrown to her side, the morningstar strapped to her waist swinging violently against a barrel. She heard a loud yell from the guard outside accompanied by several loud hisses. Loud thuds clattered against the wagon as a spear pierced through the cover and impaled a bag of grain merely inches from Nympharia’s stomach. Then something burst against the side of the wagon, and the wagon jerked once more. Nympharia struggled to get up and was thrown out of the wagon onto the rough ground. She instinctively rolled away and glanced towards the wagon, which was now in flames. She saw the guard’s body fall clumsily to the ground with a sickening thud, several javelins impaled in the poor man’s back. She slowly gathered herself, clutching her morningstar firmly with both hands. Then as she took note of the little reptilian humanoids gathered around the ruined wagon, a man accompanied by a dwarf stepped into the clearing.

...

Alfar stepped out of the shadow of a nearby tree and glanced towards the amber sky. It was nearing sunset, and Alfar knew he needed to get into town before night fell. The world was a much more dangerous place these days. Although he had grown accustomed to the sheltered environment of his master’s tower, he was still very much able to fend for himself in the wilderness. However, the darkness of night often invited much more dangerous creatures and Alfar was certainly no fool. It had been days after his master had sent him on this journey, and Alfar had easily managed to travel this far from the place he had called home for several years. After all, he along with other Eladrin was very much aware of his surroundings while resting for the night. It had been no small task avoiding the dangers that he did, but he still managed to avoid them nonetheless. Now, he felt he was but a few moments from Fallcrest.

Alfar stepped once more into the shadows. He had noticed what appeared to be a clearing in the distance and decided to fey step further along the forest to it. A moment later, Alfar stepped once more out of the shadows at the edge of the clearing only to see a large wagon in flames before him. Small, reptilian creatures clamored and darted around it, and then he noticed that other figures were making their way into the clearing as well. The small humanoids sported long, sharp spears and outnumbered these strangers more than two to one. Drawing the longsword at his side, his choice of spells flashed through his mind as he stepped into the clearing.

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Caravan Raid
Such a rude welcoming...
Day 1: 18th hour, Summer, 134th Year after the Fall of Nerath

The party stands scattered at the edge of the clearing, the heat from the wrecked wagon radiating towards them. The day’s heat is already fading as night approaches. The small, lizard-like creatures stare at each of them then snarl and hiss, waving their spears madly in the air. Then the little creatures charge!

Nympharia and Alfar take the brunt of the attack, but they manage to keep the little beasts at bay. Haki and Munbar rush towards the pair and drive the creatures back, dealing vicious blows with both longswords and great axe. The two fight like a single unit, showing years of familiarity and training. Alfar is able to regain some ground and moves to find space to cast his spells. At once, he lets loose an onslaught of magic at the dwindling number of assailants.

They witness their comrades fall one by one, and soon enough, the remaining little creatures panic. They lose all sense of order and begin to flee in random directions. The adventurers are not about to let these raiders go free and are able chase them down. As Munbar rids the clearing of the last of the reptilian humanoids, the party is able to catch their breath and examine the area more closely. Haki notices the tracks of what appears to have been another wagon. It must have been taken during the attack. Haki follows the tracks to the edge of the clearing where they disappear into the forest. He notes the direction that it is heading but chooses not to follow. It would be a better idea to reach Fallcrest before nightfall.

Meanwhile, Nympharia checks on the caravan guard, but it is too late. As she moves away from the wreck, she offers a shy thank you to the strangers, and the dwarf is immediately smitten. He attempts to charm the young girl, but she kindly declines and hurries off towards town. Munbar hurries to pursue her. Haki surveys the area once more, nods to the Eladrin wizard, then goes off to join his companion. Alfar is still a bit wary of these strangers, and so he hangs back a short distance.

Within an hour, the adventurers start to pass farms and scattered homes, and soon, they arrive at the gates of Fallcrest.

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