When the Auld Acquaintances parted ways, Tilly returned to the cloistered walls of the monastery where she could reflect and grow from her experiences. This adventure begins when Tilly is found by her Aunt Gerta.
It was a day like most others in the monastery. I had arisen to greet the sunrise, breakfasted with the Aunts and Uncles, done my chores in the garden, and retreated for morning meditation in my favorite room, The Waterstone Room. I liked it because it was completely surrounded by stone with masterful floor tiling. One wall of the room was open to the waterfall and let through filtered natural light. I am a dwarf and I prefer to meet the world surrounded by stone. It was not a popular place for meditation as it was only known to The Aunts and The Nieces, an most of The Aunts preferred to do their meditations in other places, usually their private quarters and rooms that had a small corner utilized for reflection or the main temple.
This particular morning I was working through a series of meditative postures when in the distance, my mind registered some sound of quiet and gentle footsteps coming down the stairway. It took me a few seconds to return and gather myself. I turned to see my Aunt Gerta standing with a sealed scroll. “A messenger arrived this morning with a letter for you, Niece Tilly. I would not have interrupted your meditations, expect that there was some urgency conveyed.” She handed me the scroll and stepped back. The scroll was from a Master Pollard, a prioritor of an inn in a very small fishing village the Auld Acquaintances would frequent. Next to that fishing village was an old lighthouse that now served as a wizard’s tower, and our group had done some work for the Mistress of the Lighthouse Tower years ago. The letter contained a request that I return to the fishing village as the Mistress had not been seen for some months and there had been some odd occurrences and dark creatures seen around area that have been getting progressively worse. And now some children and livestock had gone missing. They requested my assistance in the matter and asked that I come as quickly as possible. When I finished reading, I looked up at my Aunt and conveyed the news and the request. I would be packing and leaving today to make my way to the village.
I had been at the monastery for well on 10 years now, and the majority of my time had been spent within its confines pursuing reflection and training in herbalism. During the time, I had only left the monastery to help administer to the sick in a few nearby villages. Aside from my biannual meeting of The Sisters, my experience with the outside world has been quite limited. So it was with some excitement and anticipation that I left to pack my items. As I thought about it further, I could only assume my former adventuring companions had been requested as well. I had not heard from any in the past 10 years and was admittedly looking forward to seeing how their lives had progressed and how they had changed over time.
Before leaving, I said goodbye to my Aunts, each of whom had become an important part of my life and had transitioned into my closest family. I would see them all in a few months at the solstice. And by early afternoon, I had saddled up my trusty pony, Beatrix, and was on my way.
It was on one evening of the ## day of travel when I arrived in South Warren. The sun had set and I was about half a day away from the fishing village. I new there was a small inn associated with the tavern in town and decided this would be a good stopping point for the day. Besides, from the sound of the letter, it would probably be better to approach the village in daylight. The proprietor of the inn had seen me approach, and had stepped outside. “Do you have a room and a spot for my pony,” I asked?
“Aaah, yes, my dear, we certainly do! It’s been quiet the past few weeks until tonight,” he said.
“Until tonight,” I inquired?
“Aye, you are my third travel tonight. You all seem to be of the adventuring types, do ya know if there will be more coming through,” he asked.
“I know not, kind sir. But I will be interested in seeing who has arrived here. It is possible it could be some of my friends.”
With that, I took Beatrix to the stables and settled her in for the night with some fresh hay, and made my way into the tavern. Sure enough, when I came in the door, I saw a slightly plumper version of Gaylia hunkering down over a meal at a table near the bar. She looked up when I entered, bounded to her feet and headed over to engulf me in one of her unavoidable overly-affectionate hugs. Still, I had missed those hugs, though I would never admit to her.
Tethran was there too, and stood to greet me as I walked over to their table. Tethran looked weary and haunted, perhaps more so than I remembered. The past ## years had been hard on him, and it was clearly evident that his battle with his demon had continued to wear on him. I wondered how his soul was faring. And it was with compassion and respect that I grasped his hands and returned his greeting.
As I sat down and ordered a tankard and a meat pie for myself, Gaylia introduced her new friend, James. James was tall and lean, dressed in black pants, shirt, jerkin, boots, gloves, hooded cloak and mask. He was, in essence, black form head to toe. The only bit of color was an orange gemstone embedded in the mask and fitted over his right eye. James perfectly countered Gaylia’s warm welcome with a sense of foreboding disquiet. He spoke little and very much kept to himself, adding an awkward feel to the reunion.
Gaylia explained that she had worked with James in her hometown of Organesson on a several major investigations over the years and had come to regard him with the affection of a younger brother. It wasn’t until the next morning that James appeared without his mask. He would be considered a handsome human, with shoulder-length black hair, dark brown eyes, and soft facial features. I wondered if he kept the mask on to scare off the human girls. Where the night before the barmaid was somewhat frighted of him, the next morning she had a more admiring eye, though I doubt he noticed.
Our last party member joined us in the morning. I had arisen to meet the sunrise, and returned to the tavern for breakfast. When I walked into the door, in the back of the room was a bearded human wrapped in a black cloak. He had his breakfast before him and was singularly focused on consuming the food. I was fairly certain this was Edmon, and as I came closer I was more convinced and impressed! Edmon, who was previously clean shaven, had grown a Dwarven beard that was properly plaited and adorned. And his dwarven is much improved, he clearly has spent some time with the mountain dwarfs.
As it turns out, dear Edmon has a traveling companion, a wee red pseudodragon named Andra. How Edmon came to befriend Andra is a story we have yet to hear, but she is a horrid little creature. I have no idea how Edmon can stand having that thing poking around in his mind. Dragonlike creatures are not to be trusted. They are harborers of badness and misfortune. Dear Gaylia is trying to befriend the creature, but she and the others will soon learn of their corruption. On this day she has tried to probe my mind. I will need to be careful and place strong barriers she cannot breach.
Upon full reunion of our group, and confirmation that we are all here for a single purpose, we elected to head out towards the fishing village where The Pollards have their inn. Our first adventure began just outside of South Warren when Gaylia very dramatically called her Spirit Animal, Athwalhei. Athwalhei is a large brown bear who coalesced out of nowhere and frightened our horses. Poor Beatrix lost her head and took off running. Much thanks and gratitude to Edmon who managed to chase after them and bring the beasts back, though they remained wary of Athwalhei. Athwalhei is a guardian and a good spirit, it surprised me that she frightened the horses so much. Typically the animals recognize a spirit guardian and are not disturbed. Horses are beasts of little brains, though, so I suppose it is not so surprising. Still... I will be keeping an eye on that spirit.
Once we were all sorted out and had met our new members, our party began our half-day travel along the dirt road towards the fishing village. It was just outside the fishing village that we got a taste of what was troubling the area. We heard and saw some rustling in the bushes along the sides of the road, and shortly thereafter a pair of displacer beasts appeared. Andra took to the skies, typical of her kind, and the rest of the party hopped off their horses (Gaylia remained saddled upon Athwalhei) and rushed forward to fight the beasts. That left wee little Tilly with the horses.
It is very typical of my friends to run headlong into a fight without considering ramifications. Admittedly the displacer beasts are not considered wholly good, in fact they are quite evil. Nonetheless, every creature has its place in this world and keeps balance in place, and this should be carefully considered before attacking. My companions are more than a match for these two beasts, so I remained behind with the horses. There is no need for me to contribute to the fight, especially when I could lose sweet Beatrix and her friends. So I focused my attentions on keeping them calm while the others ran ahead and showed off the skills they had built over the past ten years.
Dear Tethran is still as odd as ever. He slinks off into the shrubbery off the side of the road and begins a conjuring ritual for his weapon. It about brought me to my knees in hysteria when I realized what was happening. Couldn’t do it in front of his old friends, oh no, had to hide in the bushes and conjure his weapon. The ancestors blesses us with such humor when we choose to see it.
As predicted, my companions ousted the displacer beasts without even a scratch, and returned to take their mounts. We then moved cautiously towards the outskirts of this small village. By outskirts, I mean a barn with a stable located at one end. The barn was empty, the beasts having likely recently been released. We figured it was a good enough spot for our mounts to hide while we assess the situation in the village. So there they were stabled and brought fresh hay. When the companions weren’t looking, I gave Beatrix an apple I had tucked into my pocket from the Cove Inn along with some encouraging words and some instructions on how to leave if needed. She is a brave little lass and smart too. She will be a The Cove Inn if trouble arises and she needs to flee.
Heading out of the barn we look towards the town. The sea is on our left and to our right is a small clustering of houses that constitutes the village. Master Pollards establishment is on the far end of the village. My comrades fly headlong into the town and decide to investigate each house, one by one. I myself am more worried about finding Master Pollard than flushing out beasts, and I am not so sure I will be galavanting after them.