Navussar, having parted ways with the MAOG, made his way to the elven camps in the Oytwood, and made contact with those elf tribes there. They asked him to serve as an ambassador-at-large to whomever they needed to get in touch with, which has been the various human groups and the gnomes. Most recently, he has recruited a group of foreign mercenaries to help with a planned raid on Oytwood.
Soon after that, however, he was told to recruit a small group of fast moving types who could live off the land and to head deep into Geoff, both to see what is going on and to cause as much trouble as he can. The leader if this team is an expert scout who goes by the name Collar Rogue.
Kemp Konsum, knowing that this was something the elves had been planning for some time, sent word that he had a most unusual guest whom he could not really employ, but whom he thought the elves might be able to. The leadership of the Oytwood elves sent Collar and Navussar to Talbaire to meet with Kemp and see about his guest.
We are gonna start with Navussar and Collar.
Having taken a couple of days to travel from Hochoch to the Oytwood and from there to the Stark Mounds, Collar and Navus climb the last set of hills before reaching Talbaire. Across a small valley they can see the remains of a town, that from this distance, looks like it got stomped by...guess…
Rogue waves for a stop as he looks down at the remains of the town, then starts looking around to see if there is any sign that this happened recently, “That looks unfortunate, we might want to approach this slowly.”
Navus doesn’t slow down. “Nah, that’s how the gnomes disguise the place. Otherwise the giants might know to come back.” Navus also nudges his puma away from Rogue’s wolf.
Rogue looks to his wolf, “you smell anything?” The wolf sniffs and indicates that he smells people, but not giants.
And so it’s down one hill, across a small stream, and up the steep road on the other side, into the ruins. Just as you pass through what was the main gate, you hear a voice, that says, “Halt! Who goes there!”
Navus- “You’re in charge, Rogue, I’m just the guide.” He smirks.
Rogue looks to the direction where he heard the call then looks around to see who else might be around as he answers, “I am Collar Rogue, and these are my companions,” he gestures towards Navus, the puma and wolf.
Voice- “Oh. You’re here to see Kemp. Hang on!”
A gnome appears out of nowhere, approximately where the voice came from. “Ah. Ummm, the wolf and cat have to stay outside. It’s pretty cramped in there, and we don’t like animal hair getting on everything.”
Navus- “I’ll stay outside.”
Gnome- “Okay, then, Mr. Collar Rogue, follow me.”
Rogue looks to his wolf, “go get dinner,” then turns back to the Gnome, “just Rogue.” and starts to move to follow the Gnome.
The gnome walks through what appears to be a solid wall, but when Rogue walks through, reveals itself to be an illusion covering a set of stairs. The roof gets pretty low, and so he has to stoop (cause he’s like 6’2”), but it’s not hard going aside from that. You get led through various tunnels, and pass a surprising number of non-gnomes before winding up in what appears to be a dinner hall. Sitting there are two elderly gnomes, a large human woman, and a half-elf.
The younger of the two gnomes stands and offers his hand. “Greetings, I’m Kemp Konsum.”
Rogue takes the hand offered to him and gives a firm shake, “I am Collar Rogue.”
Kemp- “Glad you could make it. Let me introduce Banderflax Heliogaster, our High Priest of Garl Glittergold, Salach, one of the many foreigners helping our cause, and Grenda, a Favored Soul of Pelor.” Banderflax and Salach greet you politely.
Grenda stands to shake your hand; she is as as tall as Rogue is, stockier, and wearing adventurer clothing except for the headscarf she’s wearing (headband style).
Rogue looks to each of the individuals as they are introduced to him and then takes Grenda’s hand and offers her a firm shake as well. Looking back to Kemp, “They will be joining my companions and I?”
Salach- “I won’t.”
Kemp- “Grenda will go with you. When the communique from your kinfolk arrived asking if we had anyone useful on a deep reconnaissance mission, Grenda immediately came to mind. She arrived some weeks ago with a long-time friend of Salach’s. I trust Salach and his friends, and they trust Grenda, as does Pelor. So please don’t be disturbed at her unique talents, which you will likely find useful.”
Rogue - “Works for me,” Looks to the group, “are you aware of what we will be doing?”
Kemp- “Yes, the communique was fairly thorough. ‘Set Geoff ablaze’ was the wording, which I think was metaphorical. Before we go further, Grenda, could you demonstrate for Rogue?”
Grenda - “Of course.” She glances around to make sure the doors are closed. Then she reaches up and pulls off the headscarf. Her form changes suddenly; she is now even stockier than before, just as tall, with yellow eyes, dark grey hair, and reddish brown skin. She is also a hobgoblin. “This is a hat of disguise, to help not worry any of the local gnomes.”
Rogue cocks his head to the side slightly, just like a wolf, as Grenda goes through her change and then nods, “Sounds reasonable. We are going to be moving fast and causing what problems we can.”
Grenda - “If we have need to infiltrate the enemy ranks, I am happy to do so.”
At this convenient juncture in the narrative, there is a knock on the door. Grenda quickly puts back on her headscarf, returning to human appearance.
Kemp waits until this is done. “Enter!”
A bulterly-looking gnome opens the door. “Sir, we have a dwarf lady from the Thorrim dwarf clan, says she’s here to fight the giants.”
Kemp- “Didn’t they have no takers for Kaicl’s recruiting trip?”
Kemp, nonplussed- “Well let her in.”
The butler opens the door and in comes a…
A middle-aged dwarf woman with a gray streak in her dark hair and a weathered face. She’s carrying a giant axe on her back and she looks around at the room and it’s occupants with curiosity.
“I heard someone wants to fight giants,” she says in a mild voice.
Kemp- “Ma’am, you have arrived at the headquarters of what I like to call the western front, so you are in exactly the right place. I’m Kemp Konsum, the leader of the Stark Mound gnomes. You are?”
“I am Janea Mavarunn, but you may call me Mav. I heard you sent someone to recruit among the dwarf tribes in our land, and so I’m here.”
Kemp- “We did, one Kaicl Gorathin, a dwarven warrior of some reknown, went to visit the Thorrims and the Fireforge dwarves, but there were regrettably no takers from your honored clan and only two from the Fireforges. Still unable to decide who should be the Low King, is the word we got back.”
Mav gives a long suffering sigh. “Yes the leaders of my people are far too busy to bother with giants. Which is quite plainly nonsense, but no one listens to a mere grandmother and child minder. Still my children and grandchildren are grown and I miss the adventures of my youth, so I decided to come alone. Do you have use for me?”
Kemp- “We have use for anyone. I guess from your axe you’re a warrior?”
“I was once. And I’ve kept up my skills.” She unsheaths the axe and twirls it casually. “Sometimes I get tired of knitting.”
Kemp, Banderflax and Salach all exchange looks, and Kemp gets a sly look in his eye. “Rogue, what do you say to taking Mav with you?”
Rogue looks at Mav and then to Kemp, “A warrior is a warrior. Who am I to say no to an extra blade.”
Mav gives a respectful nod of the head. “Wise words, elf,” she says. “We’ll need to fatten you up a bit though. Can’t fight giants as skinny as you are.” She grins and points at Grenda. “I like her though.”
Grenda - “Gotta keep those arms beefed up to hit anything properly.”
Kemp- “Mav, so you know, Grenda has been selected to assist Rogue because she can blend in with the humanoid populations in Geoff, so please don’t be off-put by her. Grenda?”
Grenda pulls off her headscarf again and bows. “Grenda Sunrager, Favored Soul of Pelor, at your service.”
Mav’s eyes widen and she stares for a minute, then puts her hands on her hips and looks Grenda up and down. “It’s dangerous to spy on your own kind. Why are you helping us?”
Grenda - “Well, I’m not actually from around here, so I wouldn’t actually be spying on any tribe I might have any loyalty to. I’ve also never really seen eye to eye with other hobgoblins on what constitutes acceptable behavior… and they barely tolerate me in any case, given I’m chosen by a deity of the enemy.” She sighs. “It was alright in Nyrond’s Gap for a while, where the goblinoids and humanoids have a treaty, but my calling is to snuff out evil wherever it might flee, so I ended up here.”
Mav’s face softens. “A fair answer.” She looks at the group. “So when do we begin?”
Rogue, “Provied Kemp has nothing more for us we start now.”
Grenda puts back on her headscarf.
Kemp- “Since it is almost nightfall, you are all invited to stay here, dine with us, and make your way back east in the morning.”
Mav clears her throat. “Um.. there is the small matter of my burro. It’s currently waiting at the base of your entry stairs.”
Rogue nods in agreement, “I will not stay here without my companions. I will join them outside the town as well. Everyone else can meet us there in the morning if they wish.”
Kemp- “Ah! Alright. This sounds like a job for the butler to sort out. We do have a small stable, but since rangers tend to keep predators as their friends, they will need to remain outdoors, I’m afraid.”
Kemp summons the Butler and explains what’s up; the Butler has Mav come with him to get the burro sorted out. Other gnomes and various non-gnome hangers on start to trickle in for dinner.
In sum: the animal situation is sorted out neatly, Navussar drops in long enough to grab some food and say hi to Salach, Dragon, Kaicl, Karla, Zelda, and Momenrech (cause he used to adventure with them), and then goes to sleep outside. After the burro is sorted out, Mav and Grenda are eventually left to do whatever they want for the evening.
Grenda goes to pack up her stuff from her bunk.
Grenda gets goodbyes and good lucks from Katreana, Kochevnik, and Beldren*. Grenda wishes them luck on their tasks as well. (Actually maybe not beldren, he might have already been sent off to do something else.)
In the morning of Day 158, Navussar and Rogue sit outside and wait for Grenda and Mav. The DM notes that it’s the men waiting for the women, as is common throughout all of space-time, apparently.
Rogue Sits with Navussar sharing breakfast and talk about medium rare monsters for dinner.
Navus- “I’ve had troll; it’s pretty filling.”
Rogue, “You have to cook it just right, and need a few spices to not ruin your tastebuds.”
Mav packs up her burro and rides out, axe still across her back. The burro stops at the sight of the huge predators but doesn’t bolt because it is a good and smart beast. Grenda accompanies her.
“Soooo…” she says, eyeing the wolf and the puma. “Is this going to be a problem? Because I’m very fond of this little animal.”
Rogue looks to his wolf, “Timber, don’t eat the little thing.” then looks to Mav, “Safe from the wolf.”
Navus- “Kusab, that burro is not food. OK? Ok. Should be safe from the cat, too.”
Mave nods, then leans down and whispers something in dwarvish in the burros ear. It relaxes a little, and comes closer, though it tends to stay on the side away from the other beasts.
Grenda says to Navussar - “Greetings, I am Grenda Sunrager, Favored Souls of Pelor.”
Navus shakes her hand. “I’m Navussar, call me Navus. I’m a ranger of the Oytwood elves, and former travelling companion of some of the gnomes’ allies.” Navus is unusually stocky for a half-elf; if it wasn’t for his sharp facial features he could easily pass as a human.
Grenda - “Has Rogue informed you of my, ah, status?”
Navus, cautiously- “No….?”
Grenda says, “Ah. I’m included on this mission because of my ability to blend in to the enemy populations.” She leans closer and says quietly, “I’m actually a hobgoblin. I only look human due to an illusion, a hat of disguise. “ She straightens up. “So you might need to give your animals the same instructions for me as you did for the burro, really.”
Navus looks speechless for a second. “Well that’s….that’ll be handy. Kusab, heel.” The puma heels, and Navus introduces him to Grenda. “Also a friend.” Kusab sniffs Grenda’s hand and backs away, but doesn’t get his hackles up. “Well, that’s a start.”
Grenda says to Rogue, “Should I introduce myself to your wolf as well?”
Rogue nods to Timber, “they are all friends, say hi.” and then waves him forward. Grenda offers a hand for him to sniff as well. Timber movers forward confidently and smells her hand then offers a lick before moving back to stand with Rogue.
Navus- “Hopefully that’s sorted, then. I’m supposed to guide you all back to the Oytwood, and from there we’ll head into the Lost Lands.”
“What exactly is our mission?” Mav asks, still knitting calmly on top of her burro. “Not that it matters as long as fighting giants are involved.”
Navus- “To go find out what’s happening in the Lost Lands, make contact with the elves near Pest’s Crossing if we can, and cause as much trouble for the giants as possible on the way. Rogue is one of the best scouts we have, which was why he was selected to lead. I’m just a bit of muscle.”
A feral smile crosses Mav’s face and for a moment she doesn’t look grandmotherly at all. “Excellent. I’m Mav by the way. Also here to be muscle.”
Navus- “Pleased to meet you.”
Grenda - “Three fighter types, eh? Well I know what my job’s going to be.”
Rogue, “I am here to help scout out the way and attempt to make sure the fights we run into don’t overwhelm us or surprise us. Hopefully that will mean less of you having to keep us going.”
Grenda hefts her heavy mace. “More time for me to hit things myself, then.”
Navus- “Shall we be off?”
Rogue, “I think we shall. Everyone ready?”
Cue the overland travel music from a video game of your choice! (Final Fantasy VI.) So it is only 35 miles or so from Talbaire to one of the elf camps in the Oytwood, a few miles away from the town of Preston (occupied by the giants for 8 years at this point). It takes about a day and a half to cross the Stark Mounds and the (vacant) farmland to the east of that, and so you arrive at the elven camp in the mid afternoon. Navus and Rogue start making odd gestures at random times, which Grenda and Mav notice.
Eventually an elf materializes out of a shrubbery; it’s an elf named Ardivan. “Greetings, fellows. Returned from the gnomes so quickly?”
Rogue, “When have I ever taken my time with a task?”
Ardivan- “Who are your compatriots?”
Rogue points to each on of his companions in turn introducing them, excluding Navus and not mentioning that Grenda is anything but human.
Ardivan, to Grenda and Mav- “Greetings from the Oytwood elves. Have you been told what Rogue’s mission entails?”
“Make trouble. Fight giants. Look for information,” Mav says.
Ardivan smirks. “Close enough. Please, enter our camp, enjoy the sunshine, and prepare for your work tomorrow. Our foods may be more delicate than what you’re used to, but you may like them.” And with that he gets out of your way and disappears back into the shrubbery.
“Delicate,” Mav mutters. “No wonder all you poor elves are so damn thin.”
Rogue looks over his shoulder at Mav as he starts in through the shrubbery into the encampment, “We like to be able to move quietly, your weight does not help with that.”
Mav raises her eyebrows. “My weight?” she inquires softly. “Or a person’s weight in general?”
Rogue waves a hand towards her, “all Dwarves weight.”
Mav continues to stare at him, slightly smiling.
Rogue cracks his neck at the feeling of someone staring down his back, but continues walking into the encampment.
You’re able to find an empty spot pretty readily, and various elves whom Rogue and Navus both know stop by to talk, make friends with the animals, gawk (a bit) at the human and dwarf. Food also seems to materialize, although no one remembers the visitors actually leaving anything behind.
For the record Mav does not insult the food. She’s a good guest.
She does however eat two helpings.
Grenda is intrigued by it, as she likes trying new cuisines.
In the evening, an important looking elf sits down and greets Grenda and Mav politely. “I am Tamurel, the war chieftan for the Oytwood elves. I’m told that you are accompanying Rogue on his trip into the Lost Lands, and for that I thank you. I was surprised to hear of a dwarf in our lands, as they have avoided any involvement in the war.”
“It is my pleasure,” Mav says politely. “And I was bored at home. Politics is a fate worse than battle, and politics is all my people talk about these days.”
Tamurel- “Happily, we have the luxury of ignoring most of the politics even here. That was part of Navussar’s problem, but he tired of it and would rather risk his life fighting giants.” Navus snorts. “Since you are new, let me tell you where we are. A few miles to the northwest is a town dear to our hearts, the town of Preston. It was a symbol of the peace and brotherhood between the elves and humans of the Oytwood, which was shattered by the invading giants some eight years ago. We retreated into the woods, and in the years since have kept our distance from the town, but have also kept the giants from advancing farther east. Some feel the time for action is approaching, and so we must learn, again, what is happening in the Duchy of Geoff, and to do our part of liberating our home.”
“We know approximately how many giants live in Preston now, and also that they are poorly organized. As your path into the Lost Lands will take you past Preston, take a moment to pick off a giant or two, and then flee to the northwest. We need to see how the giants react when they are attacked directly. We will have watchers in the trees. All you must do is cause your first bit of trouble and then lead them away from us.”
Again Mav smiles that unsettlingly savage smile. “Sounds like fun.”
Grenda - “Do we have other goals once we are in the Lost Lands? Or simply to cause trouble?”
Tamurel- “Travel west, to the Hornwood, near the town of Pest’s Crossing. There are elves there, from whom we’ve heard precious little, and we know little of what happens in the regions between here and there. And yes, cause trouble anywhere you see fit besides.”
Rogue, “Kill what we can, the rest leave be and make note of where we found them.”
Tamurel- “Yes. I will leave you to your preparations if you have no other questions.”
Grenda - “Do we have an intended length of time that’s we’ll be out? Or is it simply as long as we feel we’re being useful?
Tamurel- “I know you are not a worshipper of Corellon Larethian, but his hand will guide you in that decision.”
Grenda smiles. “Good enough, following the lead of deities is something I have experience with.”
Tamurel rises to leave, and then does say what seems to be an elven prayer over you and is on his way.