Hallfred Stronginthearm, the founder and hero of this little village, was a stone mason and a famous warrior who lived a hundred years ago. Back then, the High Road which today passes by the village and connects the two towns of Ellsborg and Jarlscliff was nothing more than a dangerous, half-discernable streak of mud. Hallfred dedicatd himself to clearing the surrounding lands of bandits and orcs, and built the stone bridge, which still stands today, over the river Fjenn. He was awarded with land by the Jarl, thus becoming a Thane, and built the first cottage in what would become Hallfreds Bridge.
The village lies on a side track, two hours journey from the High Road, and another day from the bridge itself. The nearest town is Ellsborg, three more days travel to the north. Hallfreds Bridge is a peaceful settlement and rarely has problems with bandits or beasts. Travellers from near and far stop by when travelling to or from Ellsborg, bringing commerce and money to the villagers. The village consists of a small centre, complete with a smithy, an inn, a stable and the Thanes manor. A half-dozen or so farms surround the centre, producing all sorts of crops, keeping animals like sheep, pigs and chickens. The lot of you have arrived here today, looking to get some rest and a pause from the walking and riding. Winter has turned into spring and the village is once again bustling with acivity, but something seems strange. The villagers seem wary, somehow. Suspicious, almost. You haven't had the time to really investigate the matter yet, but now that the evening's come and todays work is done, you might be able to get something out of the villagers at the local waterhole, where most of you are staying the night.
Vísla had been stationed in the same spot since midday, and even though his arse was getting sore from sitting on the log he had no plans on getting up. Mainly because of all the ale he'd drunk, sure, but he just didn't fancy the idea of moving away from the hearth. The fire burned before him, filling big room with the dancing orange light of the flickering flames. The heat of it was a welcome change from the cold nights he'd spent on the way here, sleeping beneath the starlit skies. He tore his gaze from the intruiging, ever-changing display before him and looked about the room. The only ones in there apart from himself was the host and his daughter. Business was still slow. The night had not yet begun, it seemed, but Vísla was sure it would before long. And what a night it was going to be! He'd been here before, in Hallfreds Bridge, and knew for a fact that the residents could throw a real good party. Last time, he'd danced and laughed and drunk until night turned to day. He smiled at the memory and stared back into the fire, closing his eyes to it but still seeing the light through his eyelids. Those had been the days, back then. Simple and safe, and without a care in the world. Not complicated and dangerous like nowadays. He lost himself in thoughts of better, but lost, years and started muttering to himself. Then he heard the door open, and turned around to see who the newcomer was.
Kolmadi found it hard to pull himself away from his forge today. He had made good progress on the repairs for the farmers equipment and wanted to keep going, but his Dawrven nature got the better of him. He put away all his tools and tided up the forge before locking his house up and heading for the local watering hole.
As he walked, he whistled a hearty Dwarven tune, one he would normally keep to himself as he worked in his forge.
He approached the inn, and pushed open the door, looking around to see if he could find a empty seat and a full glass.
Cyrus had his staff in his right hand and was walking from the small keep that was owned by the Mage that trained. Cyrus knew of the adventure that was going to take place. His master foretold of it. Cyrus continued too walk occasionally passing some farmers and soldiers. Cyrus checked the map, he was nearing a small town called Hallfreds Bridge. It was in the middle of nowhere and nothing.
'This is the place were I will meet some of the adventure.' Cyrus thought. He continued too walk into the small settlement. The buildings were cheaply made, there seemed to be a disorganized guard there.
' Very shabby place. I don't know why the Master wanted me to come here' Cyrus thought.
The quartet crested a hill in time to see the sun setting behind the stoic bridge in the horizon, they had been traveling since dawn on rumors and vague directions, though what they were looking for was equally so. Entering a small village the four small men called to an elderly man tending a flock of sheep.
After the initial greetings and salutations, the old timer merely laughed at their inquiries as to the whereabouts of his gold, chastising the dwarves for their greed and pointing toward's Afgar's golden pick.
The prideful dwarf Frunt set into a tirade, berating the old man and waving his tiny arms menacingly. "Would you speak the same of your own king's Scepter? You obviously have no idea to whom you speak, sheephand! I'll have you kn-mmmphmhpm!"
It took Muldun and Garret both to stop Frunt from blowing their cover, jabbing him with elbows and stamping his well-worn leather boots, before finally covering the sod's mouth in desperation. The two looked uneasy at the man's expression before Afgar spoke up.
"Y-you see, this isn't really something I could feed my family with. I have a rather large family, even for a dwarf." He chuckled lightly as he thought of the several hundred souls who heralded him as their king; a big family indeed! "No, what I need is a rather sizable bit of gold as quickly and quietly as possible...I don't suppose you have any mines nearby?" A sheepish, chipped grin played within his beard as the old man stood a while in thought.
"Well... I don't know much about minin' and the like, but I do know what its like to have people dependin' on you." The shepherd's eyes grew soft as he spoke, no doubt remembering his own family; living or dead, there was no way of knowing.
"Eh... I ain't one for trustin' strangers, especially in times like these..." His eyes again became stern, almost suspicious before he spoke again. "I-I can't help you. Just turn back around and leave us to our lives." With a dismissive wave of his hand, he returned to his sheep.
"Please, we only need be pointed in the right direction. If you could ju-" Afgar's pleads were cut short as he was nearly whacked across the side with the shepherd's crook, the old man braying at the four to leave him be. Instinctively, Garret and Muldun again latched unto Frunt, mere seconds before the small man raised his halberd towards the man.
With a startled look, Afgar bid the prideful dwarf to stay his blade, opting rather to march toward the tavern. Whether mead or information, a dwarf's best bet was always the tavern.
Sun was setting over the distant hills and the darkness was approaching. Shaded figure slowly crept outside a large forest near the little hamlet and carefully threaded trough the meadow. Silent as a night he bore an elven longbow with an arrow drawn. The village was only minutes away and realizing that it would be very suspicious for a human to see someone creeping around with drawn bow, he slid the beautifully crafted longbow to his back. Slowly, step by step he had reached the village. As soon as the villagers saw this shaded figure, they gave him strange look as he appeared to be standing very straightly and he walked with strange grace typical that of human court noble. Some knelt but he was only to raise his arm, signaling that it is unnecessary and quietly asked some boy where could he find some lodging. Boy, startled by the figure gave him gesture that pointed to building which appeared to be inn. His arm slid in the pocket and he wasn't surprised that he didn't have a single gold coin with him. The door came open and he walked inside and went straight to the inn keeper, quietly asking about the cost of some food and lodging for a night. Answer was quick and it demanded gold. Shaded figure went straight to his bag and took out silver medallion and asked how much this simpleton wanted. Half. Quickly, almost quickly as predator jumps on his prey, he drew his short sword and divided the medallion in half. He kept the chain with other half and moved the shinning silver towards the inn keeper and accepted the deal. Realizing that there aren't too many patrons around as of now, only some drunken man and some dwarves who he despised for some reason, he found a table in darker corner and took out his pipe and lighted it. The cape hid his face well and the smoke moved upwards from the pipe, filling the air with smoke that would naturally draw strange aura of mystery to him. He kept his gaze at patrons and smirked for a moment, as he knew that they were miserable creatures who he despised as their only needs in life were gold and simple pleasures. He didn't even knew the name of this sinkhole and in which part of human kingdom he was.
Even as night approached, Rygar could still clearly see Hallfred's Bridge from his spot on the hill. He had been camped over the village all day for a rumor. His investigation of the Dwarven traitor led him here of all places. It was unlikely that a Dwarf would hide among humans, especially ones that seemed weary of everything. But, his trail had started to go cold and he had only a hint that his target may have come here or was on his way. All day, he had no luck and started regretting wasting time on a silly rumor, until if finally paid off. From his shaded spot under an elderly oak tree, Rygar watched the village and saw a small band of Dwarves arriving. It was strange enough for one Dwarf to be in such a small human village, but even stranger for four to pay it a visit. It was likely they were just miners passing through, on their way to look for work, but the rumors that led him here and the golden pick that glinted in the setting sun sparked his curiousity. Deciding to investigate further, he kicked dirt over the smouldering fire and packed up his gear.
The village was quaint. Sticks and mud seemed to be the theme, vastly different from the stone and earth that created the grand cities of the Dwarves. He had to push of the feeling of being home-sick as headed towards the inn. He hadn't actually seen where the band of Dwarves went, but if a place had plenty of ale, meat and a warm bed to pass out in after, then that is where you'd find a Dwarf. He pushed open the frail door and was pleased to see that the town had all ready started to gather and the festivities of the night were beginning. They were no Dwarven party-goers, but humans were known to throw quite a night of drinking and singing. In the corner, a tall man carried a lute and began to string cords and sing a traditional human drinking song. He didn't much listen to the words, his mind focused on something else. Rygar went to the bar and climbed up on the tall stool. After a heavy breathe from the feat, he motioned for the innkeep.
"What can I do for you?" His tone was simple, but Rygar swore he caught a hint of unpleasantness like he was some kind of burden or unspoken enemy. He shrugged the thought off.
"Pint of your finest ale, a room for the night, and information if you have it." Rygar placed a small purse of gold on the table so the man knew he was not some poor, wandering traveler. The innkeep turned around for a minute and returned with a mug of ale that smelled sweet and a small iron key with the number '4' etched into it. He went to take the purse, but Rygar quickly pulled it back. "I'm looking for a Dwarf. Would have passed through here recently, may have left soon after." Rygar pulls out the wanted poster he was given before setting out on his hunt. A drawing of a young Dwarf with no hair and a small beard was above the words 'Wanted for Murder'.
"You and that lot are the first Dwarves to arrive since winter passed. I suggest you talk to them." The innkeep motioned to the Dwarves that Rygar had seen earlier and went to take the purse again. Rygar pulled it back again and this time he opened it and pulled out four coins and tossed them to the innkeep. He put the purse away, grabbed his ale, and spun around to scan the room while he drank. His attention mostly focused on the band of Dwarves, especially the golden pick. It was strange for any dwarf to be carrying such a trinket, especially miners.
Cyrus didn't know where to start but he figured the best place would be in either the inn or the Thanes Manor. Cyrus didn't want to get involved into politics just yet, he decided that the best place to start first would be the inn. He walked past several people, no one suspected that he was a mage of the 2nd level, and if they did he know he was one they might act in fear which was something he didn't want. Cyrus passed several of the shabby buildings. He saw one building that looked a bit bigger then the rest plus it had a sign out in the front saying inn. Cyrus walked into it he went up to the barkeep.
" How can I help you?" The barkeep asked.Cyrus grabbed some paper and pen and wrote something down. The barkeep took the list and read it out loud with some difficulty. The note said.
" All I need is a room, some bread and a bit of mead." Read the barkeep. " You're lucky I can read. I'm one of the few in this town. And that will be a total of two silver and one bronze coin." Cyrus took out the couple coins and placed them on the table. The barkeep grabbed them from the table and brought out what Cyrus wanted. Cyrus took the food and sat down at one of the empty table. He started to eat quietly. He was looking around seeing who was all here. He noticed several people some of whom might be in the adventure his master told him about others just drunkards. Cyrus continued to eat and wait patiently.
After a quick word with the barkeep, Kolmadi grabbed his meal and ale and made for the table with the local farmers, who had already started their merriment for the evening.
Noting the new arrivals as they each in turn enter the bar, Kolmadi is surprised to see several Dwarves enter. He had not seen other Dwarves since he left the city after his term of service, and it intrigued him to see so many so far from home.
The other that intrigued him was the entrance of an old man, one Kolmadi was certain didn't come from around here, as he knew all of the older farmers and this certainly wasn't one of them.
Sitting down at the table and joining in on his friends merriment, Kolmadi watched and waited, hoping these newcommers weren't brining any trouble with them.
As it turned out, the first person to enter through the door was a short, bearded man with a golden pickaxe resting on his shoulders. A dwarf. Vísla had never before in his life seen dwarves, but he reckoned this must be what they looked like. Three more identical little men came into the inn before the door closed behind them once again. The warrior looked on with interest as the quartet moved across the floor to where the host was at. The one with the golden pick spoke to the man in a low voice, apparently asking some questions. He didn’t look too pleased with the answers as he turned around. Víslas eyes met those of the dwarf for a short moment, and he found himself staring into them, measuring and weighing the person attached to them, but he quickly averted his gaze. He didn’t want to cause trouble just by staring. The Mother knew he had seen it happen before; he'd even been in the middle of it more than once. He left the four little men be and returned to his drink. They probably had more pressing matters than a ragged drunk of a warrior from a remote shithole of a village. As time went by, more and more people poured into the little house, making it quite cramped. When the musician began playing his lute, Vísla knew the evening had come for real.
If Vísla had been a bit tipsy earlier that afternoon, he must’ve been drunk as shit when the people finally started dancing. He couldn’t remember how many pints of ale he’d drunk, but that didn’t seem too important at the moment. What mattered was swinging and stomping and hooting and laughing to the sound of the music and the beat of the feet on the earthen floor. He saw one of the other newcomers in the corner of his eye, and took a moment’s pause to inspect the man. He was tall and slender, and had a posture than suggested noble heritage. He was also dressed in robes, and had yet to take part of the festivities. More likely than not, he was just a posh bastard on his way to here or there, but you never know with people. Vísla decided to keep an eye on him for the rest of the evening. To the best of his ability, anyway, which wasn’t promising much considering the state he was in.
There was something wrong about the whole situation in the village. He’d felt it when he’d first arrived earlier that morning, and the sensation hadn’t faded during the rest of the day. It was like the people here were afraid of something, but no one had told him anything – yet. He was going to get it out of them, had to; whatever it was, it could be dangerous to him as well. But he’d wait until after tonight. No sense in spoiling a good evening with unwanted questions. He decided instead to find out if the dwarves were friendly or not, dancing over to where they sat. Having arrived, he curtsied with a slight bow and offered his right arm as an invitation. Come on, you bearded bastard! He shouted over the clamor of the music and hooting, Show us what you’ve got! Give a little dance, will you?
Standing up from the table at which he had been sitting, Kolmadi stumbles over to the bar for another ale.
Collecting his ale, he stumbles back, tripping over a small animal running through the inn, and bumps into a ragged warrior standing near a table of Dwarves, spilling both of his glasses over the five of them and ending up face first on the table, laughing, his red hair and beard covering most of the table in a red carpet.