AR 1209 06 Krunch's Journal
Note that the journal is completely from Krunch's perspective. Also, just because it would be weird if the PCs were all born at exactly the same time I arbitrarily decided that Krunch (and Wolf I guess) were born in March of 1195 (14 at time of journal).
A trip to Milinar was always exciting. Getting to see Yari and Rissa was always fun even if they were a couple of years younger. I only hoped that Eliza was cooking, my stomach churned a little at the memory of the last time Kara had cooked for everyone.
"What's with the sour face?" my ever-observant grandmother asked. With her gray hair and wrinkles covering her face that seemed to spread out like fractures from the laugh lines around her eyes, Valdosta looked completely harmless.
"I just hope Eliza is cooking" I responded. It was never a good idea to lie to the old woman. She was old, but she had eyes in the back of her head. Eyes that revealed lies without fail. Ever. I knew this from experience and many a night washing dishes, cleaning out the latrine or whatever other punishment the devious old woman could come up with. Maybe she was like one of those strange many-eyed beholder creatures I've heard stories about?
Kalistar injected "Kara's a wonderful woman and Sven's lucky to have her." With a broad wink that was meant to be seen by both his wife and grandson he continued "And the family's lucky to have Eliza so they don't end up starving."
Valdosta's glare as they approached the caravan was countered by the corner of her mouth twitching like it always did when she was fighting to not laugh.
The bantering ended suddenly as we came into sight of the caravan. Instead of the normal halflings (the Renai I reminded myself) these halflings were different. Dressed all in black with a red snake emblem, they were new and exotic. I wanted to find out more about them, where they had been, what they had seen. With my head started swimming with imagined adventures the brave band had experienced, I hardly noticed when my grandparents transformed into a harmless elderly couple instead of the seasoned warriors I knew them to be. It was impossible to ignore the iron grip on my shoulder as my grandfather pretended to lean on me for support.
As confused as I was, I knew better than to question. Decades of adventuring together had given them the ability to spot danger from afar, and the halflings escorting the caravan had set them on edge for some reason. I was still trying to figure it out as grandfather explained in no uncertain terms that the halflings were not going to be allowed back to the keep. Normally I would have been peppering the gnome that joined us with questions the moment we were introduced but other than noting to myself that Quactimus was an odd name and that he'd have to pick a better name for himself soon I only gave him a perfunctory hello.
Before I knew it we were at Rissa and Yari's and Eliza (thank Berranor!) was serving hotcakes. With bacon. The rest of the day was a blur of introductions including Wolf (whose real name turned out to be Ulfar), a trip to town and the revelation that Quock could talk to squirrels. I can't figure out how talking to squirrels could be particularly helpful unless you were really hungry for squirrel. Then again if I could talk to my supper before I ate it … hmmm. I made a mental note to never ask about it again since I had no desire to become a vegetarian. Oh, and apparently Wolf and I were room-mates when we were very young.
The next day started out quite promising as we all split up into wagons. I was excited to talk to the halfling Guido about the world outside the sheer cliff walls that surrounded our valleys. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about my life but a golden cage is still a cage and I wanted to know what the world had to offer. Bran and his new hawk joined us too(I think he wanted to be close to Verona and Quinella).
After chatting for a while with Guido, I no longer wanted to know anything more about him. I'd grown up listening to tales of grim times and fights against terrible orc and giant-kin foes and had no problem with people using violence as a solution when there was no other option. But Guido … to Guido violence was not a last resort. In his mind it was the preferred option. Not just violence but causing others to suffer. After yet another story about how gifted his father's torturer was at prolonging the agony as he skinned people alive, I had had enough and moved as far away from the halfling as possible.
Disappointed that I hadn't found a new friend who could tell me tales of the outer world, I wasn't paying much attention when Bran started yelling at Guido because Guido had been pulling feathers from his bird. When I stood up for the bird, the little halfling tried to push me off the wagon so I grabbed him and pulled him off the edge with me. As we fell, I was able to twist so that Guido landed in a pile of donkey droppings. And thus the nickname "Stinky the Halfling" was born.
Later that day as we were getting ready for the evening I was exploring the hills when I made an amazing discovery. My first treasure! At first I thought it was just a bone, but as I dug away I realized it was a giant's bone. Even more exciting, as I pulled the bone from the ground I noticed a glint of metal. A giant's spearhead! My head swam with possibilities … it was clearly high quality steel … it could be reforged into a warhammer head. The bone I could use as inlay on the handle and the cheek of the hammer head. Rebuild something that was lost, incorporate the old into the new.
Later that night, we were in our wagon when the caravan was attacked by wolves. Not just any wolves, but winter wolves that had coal dust rubbed into their furs to make them darker. I grabbed the giant's bone and with a silent prayer to Clangeddin started swinging away while Yari fired off spells and Wolf started wrestling one of the wolves and pulled it off the wagon.
The combat was frightening, horrible and exhilarating. The image of the snapping jaws of the mangy, yellow-toothed, carrion eating wolf still looms large in my memory. Even though we carried the day, there was a strange figure on a nearby hill that we spotted. The Yari and Rissa's father gave chase but wasn't able to catch the mysterious figure.
Once the fight was over, the rest of the trip back to the keep was pretty uneventful except for a song that Rissa performed at the inn. I think I remember the first couple of verses correctly:
It's stinky the halfling, that smelly little shit!
When he walks up-wind from you, you will sure know it!
He's the smelliest little guy for miles around
When he let's it rip people run from the sound
'Cuz it's stinky the halfling, that smelly little shit!
Sure enough there's as smelly cloud comin' your way
If you stay around the ground will rumble and you will sway
If you smell his odor much less hear him let go with a fart
You better start running unless this world you want to part
'Cuz it's stinky the halfling, that smelly little shit!
Returning to the keep was uneventful for me, but probably pretty exciting for Wolf as he met his parents and found out he had a sister. I say probably because I think the poor guy was in shock at the news and didn't really seem to respond much. I guess some dwarves are just more stoic than others.
The cave assignment was pretty uneventful with the usual speeches and pagentry, nothing I hadn't seen or heard before. I saw Yari, Rissa and Quock talking to Trent. Trent is interesting for a human. Grandfather speaks of their adventuring days together centuries ago, yet he looks young, even for a human. Maybe he's really an elf in disguise. Or a dragon. It would be awesome if he was a dragon. It would also explain why some of the students claim to see smoke coming out of his ears occasionally.
But the big news was the cave assignments. I got assigned to Gargoyle along with Yari, Rissa, Wolf, Bran and Quock.
Sparky got assigned to Hippogriff. I'm not sure how to feel about that. Hippogriff fits for her, but I'm not the leader she is. Besides, she will always be my sister even if she is a pain in the neck sometimes.