16th of Cloudreach, Dragon 9:43
We took our leave of that pleasant farmer couple and made our way towards Dro’s village, where apparently there was some business that needed doing. I reminded everyone that we had somewhere we needed to be soonish, but Dro felt that this wouldn’t be anything that would take too terribly long, so we decided to go and make ourselves useful again.
As we made our way towards the village, we were greeted by the sound of drawing bowstrings. (Yes, we heard them before we saw them; these are Tal-Vashoth bows, which means they were essentially pointing siege equipment at us.) Not the sort of welcome we were hoping for, to be sure, but Dro seemed more annoyed than troubled at the development. There followed a bunch of arguing in Qunlat, a bunch of very burly and behorned fellows taking us to meet the grumpy-looking village head, and more arguing in Qunlat. From what I was told afterwards, it seems this fellow is just the ACTING village head; the actual village head apparently disappeared a little while ago after going to meet with some nearby elves, and Grumpy here is convinced that treachery is afoot and is on the brink of launching a war. (Hence the tension earlier, as a party with three elves in it walking towards their gate made the guards a little nervous.) My understanding is that all this is DESPITE the fact that the elves apparently sent envoys with the message that their leader was missing too. Nice to know that being a warlike arsehole is an affliction that crosses species boundaries, I suppose.
Dro apparently worked things out so that we had 24 hours to get things sorted out before Grumpy went on the warpath, so we decided that the first thing to do was go visit the elves and get their side of the story; luckily, Dro’s friend seemed to know where to find them. (Unfortunately Alalen had to stick around in the Tal-Vashoth village as a hostage, and about half of the party, including Legnar, decided to stay with him to make sure Grumpy didn’t do anything stupid.) Our initial contact with the elves… involved more arrows stuck in the two Tal-Vashoth than either of them would have liked, I think, but we managed to get that sorted out, and afterward the elves were a lot more inclined to work things out peacefully than Grumpy had been. They told us that the two leaders had gone to an old ruined city to talk diplomacy, and were probably in a shrine to an fallen archdemon, whose entrance had conveniently collapsed. Also, darkspawn sightings in the area have been on the rise. There’s no way these two things could possibly be connected, no sir.
The elves gave us a couple of guides to take us to the city, and since we were on a time limit we headed out with a quickness. We hadn’t gotten far, though, when we found our path blocked by a trio of foraging bears. No problem, they’re animals, a party of fully-armed adventurers should scare them off, right? Well, apparently not; even after we’d stuck blades in all three of them, they kept trying to tear us apart until we turned them into steaks and rugs. The guides told me afterward that these bears were starving, probably due to the local game all being gone or tainted. Again, not ominous at all.