Banestorm

**A Thick Red Leather Notebook Part IV**

The Personal Adventures of Halfling Scout and Brave Adventurer Fuzzytop Pathtreader

(a few weeks later…)

I awoke in the forest. Two tall folk were guarding a tree with an un-natural lump in it. I recognized it immediately as a tree magiked by Mr. M’tan to hide something. The guards were hacking away at the tree trying to break into the lump.

I asked them what was going on and they insisted that Mr. M’tan wanted me to join them down the road for a battle. I was not about to leave whatever he was hiding there with the two rogue guards, so I insisted they join me by threatening to tell on them.

We journeyed down the road, and found our companions in the thick of a major battle. Two soldiers were dragging Mr. M’tan behind a shed. He did not rise. I rushed to him to find out what was wrong.

An arrow, pierced through his arm, but stranger was the reddish poison traveling up through his body. I tried dispelling both poison and contagion to no avail. So, I dressed the wound and arranged for his evacuation back to the tree.

Once back at the tree, Mr. Carthage (an elf that took passage with Mr. M’tan and Mr. Aziz in New Jerusalem) had found a young elf who had been maimed by the Hospitalers named Erdolliel. She was schooled in the arts of herbology and she consulted with me on Mr. M’tan’s malady. She said that she had seen something similar in the past which her people contracted in the Blackwoods. It resembles a magical curse that can only be cured by elvish magic. We must either travel to the Great Forrest, or the Blackwoods for a cure.

The tall folk then debated for a while whether or not to take the risk to go to the Blackwoods. Eventually they decided to proceed, and we waited through the night before setting out for New Jerusalem. We met only one Hospitaler along the way, who seemed thick and did not see through our disguise.

We arrived in New Jerusalem in the evening, and made for an inn at the docks. We put Mr. M’tan in the bed and left Erdolliel to care for him. She seems smitten with Mr. M’tan as a child is with a beloved mentor. I don’t think Mr. Carthage is pleased with her showers of attention on the other elf.

Mr. Aziz and Mr. Carthage went to find the boat. I went to find a map at the library.

We meet the captain at dock 57. We load Mr. M’tan back in the wagon. And leave for the docks. The frustrating tall folk argue over money so that we can take the oxen, cart, and horses on board. Finally we board and I spend the night snuggled up with Fafner in the back of the wagon. Mr. M’tan is moved to the hull by the doting Erdolliel.

When I awoke in the morning, I saw the Captain slipping coins into the hand of a Hospitaler. He then announced that it was time to set sail and we shoved off.

The only rations on board were fruitcake, which is certainly one of my favorite foods. However, after breakfast, everyone seemed to have a very bad opinion of me. They felt that I should have eaten just one ration and one bottle of ale. I was shocked to hear this, as of course my people would never take the chance of trying to sustain ourselves on such meager sustenance.

To make amends, I decided to face my fear of the rushing river and try my hand at catching a few swimmers. The luck of the Halflings were with me today and I pulled out five plump trout. The men will be pleased with this fresh fare tonight! I best get to cooking!

I cleaned and filleted each fish, leaving the skin on and the cavity intact. I then chopped up a few pieces of dwarven jerky and sprinkled them inside for a touch of extra salty flavor. As a side, I sliced thin pieces of the fruit cake and served the two together.

The crew seemed well fed and satisfied with the meal. After dinner, we shared stories, raised glasses, danced and sang Halfling songs until we were hoarse.

With a full tummy and a light head, Fafner and I curl up in the hammock for a good night’s sleep. I cast my watchdog spell around us, so that Mr. M’tan is well protected through the night. Fafner will wake me before the ten hours elapses.

The journey takes us past amazing sights and cities. Craine is a vast city that stretches as far as the eye can see. I wonder if there’s Halfling folk there. These are the largest fields I have seen in all my days. In the towns, golden domes rise from the buildings and the sound of prayers drift out over the water. Ships crowd the river, and the world seems a bustle to me.

On the 11th day we arrive in Hyrnan on the edge of the Blackwoods. As we readied to disembark, three of the crew attacked us. The tall folk took quick care of two of them before I could even get a pain spell off. The third was just a kid and he was visibly quaking in his boots. He told us that Commander Terrance, the head of the Hospitalers in New Jerusalem had hired them to kill Mr. M’tan. Even unconscious his enemies are after him!

The captain arrived and was in shock to see the crewmen scattered on the floor. Apparently he had warned Mr. Carthage to watch out for them earlier in the journey. They were new to his crew he said. When the rest of the crew found out I had been threatened, they hauled them off into the bowels of the ship. I reminds a Halfling that a little kindness and good cookin’ always pays off, and sometimes in very unexpected ways.

We loaded our gear and disembarked quickly after the scuffle. We were not eager to wait around and find out who else had it in for Mr. M’tan. I really don’t know why tall folk hate him so. He seems to only help those he meets.

We find a room at the Inn of the Falling Leaf. I get a pint of ale right away. I’m parched from limiting myself to only one pint per meal. I treat the rest of the party to a hot meal, especially since I was too hungry to wait for them to haggle over it.

The dinner was delicious, but it left me wanting for something sweet. When I asked if he had any sweets he said that they didn’t bother to stock much because people where to afraid to come to Hyrnan anymore. He said the elves of the Blackwoods were expanding outward and that people who ventured into the forest did not return. Finding someone to save Mr. M’tan is going to be costly.

We spend the night and in the morning go out to gather supplies for the party. At the market I buy: 15 (12) apples (5 farthing) 2 (1.75) wheels of cheese (10 farthing) 10 loaves of rye bread (10 farthing) 16 (12) ale (72 farthing) 12 (11)eggs (2 farthing) 1 (.8) lb flour (2 farthing) .25 (.15) lb sugar (15 farthing) 1 pan (12 farthing) 72 arrows (60 farthing) 2 throwing knives (12 farthing) Total: 200 farthing

We set out. The female elf seems annoyed that I went out for provisions. I just don’t understand why tall folk are so grumpy.

The forest has an eerie sway to it. The trees bow and bend in unison. Instead of branches, they look like a uniform membrane. There are no sounds. No birds. No insects. I’m frightened.

The tall folk decide to camp in the forest. Once we find the clearing, I cast watchdog immediately. Then I start the fire. I dice some apples and mix them with some flour, sugar, and egg. Then I fry them up in the pan over the fire. I give each person in the party, one of these scones, a thick slice of cheese, and a half a piece of jerky.

While I was cooking, a creepy sense of dread blew through the camp. I curled up with Mr. M’tan and Fafner in the wagon to sleep. Mr. Carthage and Mr. Aziz switch off as a second watch.

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