Damaran Gambit, entry 1

18th of Ches
The Swaying Yeti inn, Helmsdale

I've never been more thankful to see the sun rise than I was the morning we emerged from the Underdark onto the muddy slopes of the Galenas foothills. After the grainy black and white of the last long weeks, the bleak colors of the winter landscape seemed sharp and vibrant. Even the wind's cold bite felt good on my cheek, which had grown used to the dank, breathless air of the Deep Tome's stale halls.

We all agreed that the most pressing order of business was to find a tavern and get ourselves around a hot meal and tankard or three of ale. A hot bath wouldn't go wrong, and when Juju reminded me that the inn might have a bed with a mattress softer than a cold stone floor...well, you can't blame me for setting a stiff pace down the hill toward the town he had glimpsed in the distance. Featherbeds! Down quilts! Cold ale! So I wasn't paying much attention when a centaur broke into view, lathered and slowed down by a couple of arrows. I started paying more attention, though, when three worg riders loped around the hill after him. They brought him to bay not twenty paces from our location. They were focused on bringing down the centaur, so I can say with a fair degree of certainty that they were shocked by our attack. We dropped them in short order, and Thurs healed the unconscious centaur, one Warin by name. He informed us that he had been running to Helmsdale to warn of a goblin raiding party on the farms to the north, when the worg riders had caught his trail and followed him. He begged our aid, and when he continued to Helmsdale we headed north to defend the farms.

We arrived too late to prevent loss of life, but managed to slay all of the hobgoblins except for their shaman leader. He was not very forthcoming when we put him to the question. His eyes gleamed with fanaticism, and he seemed certain that a "mighty sorcerer Wyrmlord Koth" is going to lead them against the "softskins" on the "Day of Ruin", and that the human "river-town" will soon fall. After he continued to rant and rave in this manner, we allowed Mistress Olmede to negotiate with him. Her husband had been killed in the raid, so I'm not sure the "negotiations" were to his advantage.

We accompanied some men from the surrounding farms to Helmsdale, five miles to the east on the Trader's Road. The town is a pleasant-looking town, surrounded by a 15-foot-high wall. However, it seems to be manned by militia, which means it won't survive long if the hobgoblin's threats of a "mighty horde" are true. We were directed by Sergeant Hersk at the gate to make our report to his superior, Captain Soranna, at the Old Toll House. He also recommended this fine inn as the best place in town to relax. And I must say, their Farmer's Pie is simply delicious! Our innkeeper, the halfling Kellin Shadowbanks, has provided us with every comfort.

After talking to the Town Speaker, Nollo Wiston, the situation becomes more clear. The messages they've sent to the dwarven mines of Ironspur to the north, and to the Steward of the Duchy in Goliad to the south, have not been received. The goblin attacks are increasing in number and ferocity. Speaker Wiston has begged our aid in discovering the nature of the threat facing them, and has promised to reward us handsomely for our assistance. We must discuss this offer and decide on our course of action. And until we do so, I will enjoy another tankard of this fine ale...