With the bounty of their quests sold and the entirety of the dwarf’s share blown on large, blunt objects, our heroes set to the task of finding passage from Loudwater to Baldur’s Gate. They knew that traveling downriver was the fastest way to reach the Sea of Swords, and from there Baldur’s Gate would be a short jaunt compared to the road (provided that the Sword Coast’s reputation for piracy took a brief vacation that week). While Dvallin and his reptilian squire saw to the acquisition of his warhammer, freshly emblazoned with Kelemvor’s symbol, Aedric and Rivyet took to the docks in search of passage.
The docks of Loudwater stank of fish and opportunity as the humans surveyed the scene in search for the saltiest sea dog they could find. Though neither of them knew much of sailing, let alone the best way to select a vessel, the “jack of all trades” nature of their humanity won the day along with a little luck courtesy of Kal Gargengrim. The bristly dwarven merchant whom Aedric had worked for on his journey northward happened to be on the docks that morning, and despite many blows to the head Aedric’s keen eyes and sharp mind spotted and identified the tradesman swiftly. While the hungry eyes of many sailors who knew not with whom they were flirting found their way to Rivyet, Kal and Aedric talked business. The dwarf explained that he and his caravan had made their way to Loudwater as a stop on the southern half of their journey, bringing the monastery’s whiskey south to Baldur’s Gate and the fine payoff therein. Aedric, seeking to capitalize on this fine coincidence, suggested that the two groups throw in together and make their way southward. Much to his disappointment, however, Aedric’s nautical naiveté had shrouded the fact that none of these riverboats could take to the Sea of Swords. All headed downriver were bound for Daggerford. Furthermore, it was revealed that Daggerford was not but a flyspeck on the end of the Grayflow River and likely contained no seaworthy vessels either. Still, river travel was faster than the road and it seemed like joining forces with the Gargengrims was the wisest course of action. While this seemed like an agreeable plan to all involved, the dwarves had yet to secure a ship for their whiskey let alone four more travelers and a warhorse of no small stature. By this time Dvallin and Skurg had returned from the smithy ready to lend a hand in the acquisition of a ship. While the Kal and his lot took to one end of the docks, Dvallin plied his religious clout and odd charm on the other end. This led the cleric to the first mate of a ship that, after a bit of questioning, seemed to be associated with a vessel that could accommodate them. Promising swift pay, protection, and the healing ways of a cleric, Dvallin managed to convince the first mate to speak with his captain about the terms of passage. A short while later, both he and the Gargengrims emerged with offers almost simultaneously. Though the ship Dvallin had found offered passage for 10 gold less, the dwarf decided that the company of allies was worth at least 10 gold. The rest of the group agreed and before long the adventurers were aboard the ship and taking an audience with the captain, an amicable though forgettable fellow whose exact name eluded the pages of history on the group’s relatively uneventful journey downriver.
Upon arrival in Daggerford the heroes of Spellgard still held out hope for a seaworthy vessel that could expedite their trip to Baldur’s Gate and begin investigating the bloodshed that the lady spoke of. A word with Kal as the ship was being unloaded, however, put the final nail in the coffin of that plan. Despite Rivyet’s urgent desire to learn the fate of her homeland, it was decided that the four would secure two additional mounts and ride with the Gargengrims, providing protection for them and the whiskey at a rate that would be determined once the clan was united again at the inn. On top of that, Kal offered to pay for their stay in Daggerford that evening while preparations were made for the journey. As a ritual of drink and relaxation was cast by the group of adventurers, a sly human by the name of Strogg slithered into their company.
The Eel was an eerily honest thief, readily admitting that a local lord of Waterdeep had not taken too kindly to his ethos of larcenous socialism. The talk of wealth redistribution combined with this fellow’s shifty demeanor instantly set the hairs on the back of Rivyet’s neck on end as the stigma of class warfare stared at her from across the table. It seemed this fellow was interested in traveling southward, and offered to lend his services to the caravan for the low price of some wholesale whiskey. While this seemed like a good deal to our heroes, the final decision would have to be made by the elder Gargengrim, Varn, whose fur-cloaked presence had just made itself known. Aedric represented the group in common while Dvallin supplemented his kind words in Dwarven. This came in no small amount of handy as Rivyet raised the possibility of The Eel simply making off with the whiskey. While the ire of the dwarves initially set on The Eel himself, the Gargengrims eventually decided it was Rivyet who was the troublemaker of the lot and tensions ran high for a few moments. However, once Dvallin had convinced his countrymen that the warlock’s attitude was naught but the manifestation of classism, their worries were assuaged. It was agreed that the group would provide healing and protection along the road to Baldur’s Gate to the tune of 15 gold apiece (with Dvallin securing a cool 25 in a stunningly fortunate act of dwarven nepotism). The Eel would work for whiskey, an offer that was satisfying enough to the Gargengrims to grant him membership on their caravan. Once business was finished, the call to drink was made, and merriment and a good night’s rest were had by all.
The next day the group acquired their horses while The Eel took an old mule off the hands of the stablemen in an act that seemed to suggest that this fellow had a soft spot for underdogs. The group took to the road and things went rather smoothly until a suspiciously placed pothole took out the caravan’s wagon wheel in a most Oregon Trail-esque event of misfortune. Upon closer inspection, it seemed the wheel could be fixed but that the pothole was no mere divot in the road. Dvallin’s keen eyes detected something a little too deliberate to be written off as bad luck. Still, night was falling and there was little that could be done before the next day. Luckily (or perhaps even more suspiciously), the caravan had broken down next to a henge that had clearly housed many travellers before them. It was decided that repairs would be started and the group would rest in shifts (albeit in armor). Dvallin and Skurg took first watch while the rest of the group and half the dwarves slept. Dvallin was expecting a trap, and kept an eye on the woods and an ear to the wind, ready to be set upon at any moment. His paranoia was justified, as a short while later found him face to face with a pair of goblins. The alarm was sounded and the prayers of Kelemvor were set upon his foes with a haste that took the would-be ambushers by surprise. With weapons clanging off his armor and his friends soon to be roused, the dwarf sought himself quite clever and the battle easily won…and that’s when the bugbear showed up.
It soon became apparent that this ambush was meant not for a mere group of merchants but for a well-armed and experienced group of adventurers. Dvallin isolated the bugbear on the forest-side of the wagon and instructed his squire to protect the female dwarf who had fallen asleep working on the repairs. The rest of the group awoke and readied their arms, with Rivyet taking to Mykat as quickly as she could. The attackers were soon joined by their human compatriots from the opposite side of the woods and the battle took on a tense air as The Eel struggled to fend off one of the new attackers. Despite this, the tactics that the group had honed at Spellgard proved to be too much for their goblinoid and human foes. The cleric wore down the bugbear from the other side of the wagon before blinding him and setting his fur aflame with holy fire. Aedric’s sword found the flesh of goblins to its liking and drank deep from their viscera. The Eel took a series of savage blows but dealt several of his own, and Rivyet let loose an onslaught of curses and mind destroying words that eventually felled the bugbear. With their beastly juggernaut no more, the would-be ambushers quickly dwindled until only one human remained. The flat of Aedric’s sword found the back of his head and the next thing he knew, he was tied to the henge and at the mercy of two slayers of the undead. A brief inspection of the bodies had found the symbol of Bane attached to the bugbear, while the human spoke only of his devotion to Shar. When pressed for information, he asked for a set of wax spheres buried within the rest of his gear. However, the dwarf saw through these worm-tongued words as swiftly as they left the human’s lying mouth. With his plans for a quick death foiled, the group’s captive refused to cooperative any further. As the rest of the party found ways to occupy themselves, Dvallin showed the tight-lipped servant of mistress night the true meaning of the term “Unaligned”, but still no new information could be gained. Deciding that a missed opportunity was better to leave at this camp than a loose end, the human was dispatched as the group assembled their gear and made ready to take to the road once more. The lady had spoken of Shar and Bane’s involvement in their destiny, but none of them expected their servants to be upon them this quickly (let alone in alliance with one another). Truly greater machinations were at work, but to what end our heroes did not yet know…