Darksoul

Sam Holbig 12
Sam's Story

20th of Wintermarch, 9:42 Dragon

As it turns out, stopping in Ostagar was more or less a waste of time, as everyone who was worth talking to had apparently decided to just forget about the whole bandit thing for a while and head to the next town over for a festival of some sort. Apparently there was a medicine woman there who could help us track down some shadow moss, so it was in our best interests to head over, as well. So, we hopped back on our horses and headed out that way, and soon found ourselves in a big open field full of food tents, games, and general revelry. Enna wandered off pretty early on to sample the brewer’s wares, and seemed to be enjoying herself. Me, I wasn’t in much of a festive mood; a little too distracted by the bandits and our moss hunt to feel like partying, to be honest.

In an effort to try and make some forward progress, the lads and I tried to track down this medicine woman and ask her help in finding our moss. We were told she was already out in the wilds somewhere, so we decided to go looking for her — but we had to be careful, the locals warned, because there are tribals out there in the wilds, and they don’t take kindly to Northerners like us poking around in their lands. (The medicine woman apparently has some tribal blood in her, so the wild folk are more willing to play nice with her.) We kept an eye out, but didn’t see much of anything — medicine woman or tribal — and elected to head back before it got too dark.

When we got back to town, we found that apparently this elusive healer had slipped by without any of us knowing and made it back already; she was sitting in the big main tent, waiting for the town sheriff to give his festival-opening schpiel. It was a bit annoying that none of us had managed to spot her, but to be honest I’d half-expected that she’d get in trouble somehow and we’d have to go fight off more darkspawn and rescue her, so at least we wouldn’t have to deal with that. (Turns out I was celebrating a bit prematurely there, but more on that in a moment.) More happily, we also found out that apparently Tracii had finally woken up and made her way down here, and had brought a human fighting-man with her. Perhaps he’ll end up roped into all this questing nonsense, as seems to be the trend for this party. Incidentally, I wonder how he and Tracii made it past the bandits? Neither of them strike me as the sneaking type, and I doubt they fought their way past with just the two of them. Maybe they got lucky?

Anyway. We went into the tent to go find the medicine woman, and arrived just as the sheriff was starting his speech. Or trying to, anyway — the man had barely opened his mouth when we heard screams and howls from outside, and then a trio of jaundiced-looking wildmen cut their way into the tent with axes. Because of course they did. We managed to take them down, but the bastards took a cussedly long time to die; even with blades and arrows stuck through them, they refused to fall until their bodies shut down from shock. They managed to get some good hits in on us, too. I know Legnar got cut, and one of them managed to stick an axe in me before dying. It looks like there’s something nasty on their blades as well, which I imagine can’t be good for us. Now we DEFINITELY have to go talk to the medicine woman — just as soon as we’ve finished murdering our way through a few more frothing berserkers. No rest for the weary, I suppose.

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Sam Holbig 11
Sam's Story

6th of Wintermarch, 9:42 Dragon

Our trip back to Lothering was quiet. I chatted a bit with Tom Sharpeyes — he’s apparently in much the same boat I am, looking for adventure and silver in any place that isn’t Ostwick — and briefly talked with the knight, Sir Korben. Apparently he and Alenka were in on this “fake a kidnapping of the Arl’s children” plot, though they never bothered to inform old Tom. Seems they mostly just want better pay and a change of scenery (a familiar story by now, hey?), and someone in the group finally hit on the idea that having them simply come back to Aneth Ara with us might be a less trousers-on-head way of going about getting that. So we dropped the kids off with the Arl, got paid, and then… ergh… decided to head on to the Korcari Wilds, doing something about the bandit camp that’s troubling Ostagar on the way.

… Hold on, I need another drink.

All right, so, here’s the gist of it. I don’t quite remember how he figured this out, but Legnar informed us that the bandit camp that’s causing all the trouble was a lot bigger than we had thought, say around 100 men or so. No small obstacle, to be sure. So we spent the next Maker-knows-how-long arguing about the best way to deal with the problem, and whether we even WANTED to deal with the problem right now. Ultimately, the issue seemed to boil down to the fact that no one with the manpower to try and stamp out the bandits could be arsed to go out there and chase ‘em down, and vice-versa. Eventually we settled on the plan of skirting around the bandit camp for now, with Legnar sneaking in to see if there was anything we could do about them.

Well, as it turned out, Legnar’s sources had been wrong about the size of the bandit camp. It wasn’t 100 men, it was 200 at least, along with various hangers-on. That’s not a bandit camp, that’s a bloody army! How the hell are that many cutpurses supporting themselves on nought but silver taken from hapless travelers?! And how the hell did the locals let the problem get so bad in the first place? As it happened, the berth we were giving the camp to avoid the patrols wasn’t nearly enough, and we had a number of close calls that evening with bandit patrols. Patrols! Proper fucking patrols! The fucking Lothering guard are less concerned about securing their fucking perimeter! Anyway, we somehow managed to avoid getting in a fight with any of the bandits; much rock-throwing was involved. Ultimately Legnar caught up with us (and because it was so dark, the whole thing was a mite more tense than it needed to be, but that’s just gravy at this point) and told us that there was basically nothing we could do to make the bandit camp any easier to attack. So we kept walking to Ostagar, and after convincing them we weren’t bandits ourselves, found that the whole place is a shambles because the bandits keep nicking all their supplies, and Denerim can’t be bothered to deal with the problem, and now we’re stuck in the arse-end of nowhere with a bunch of losers and a bandit infestation that’s only going to get worse and no good way to get reinforcements and—-

Gah. GAH. This whole situation reeks worse than wet nuggalope shite, and it’s making my head hurt. I need ale. Or something to stab. Possibly both.

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Sam Holbig 10
Sam's Story

9th of Haring, 9:41 Dragon

First, a quick apology: it’s been a long day and I’m tired, so some of this may be a bit muddled.

After taking our rest, we elected to keep traveling through the night, since we were on a pretty tight schedule and didn’t want to keep the Arl’s children waiting. Of course, there’s a reason most right-thinking people don’t generally do this, and we were soon beset by the inevitable darkspawn as we made our way through the woods. This time it was a pair of blighted eagles swooping out of the darkness; luckily, the mages soon had the area lit up bright as day, and we quickly dispatched the annoying birds.

We made it through the rest of the night and the next day without significant incident, and around sunset we found ourselves at the children’s carriage. To the surprise of absolutely no one, it had been raided by darkspawn. We found a couple of dead guards, but the children themselves (and the rest of the party) seemed to have fled elsewhere. This was a bit of a shock, though: among the dead guards I saw old Burl Magven from the Ostwick garrison! I wonder what brought him out here? He had naught on him but his clothes, gear, and a small purse of silver; I took the silver to send back to his family, and gave him something like a field burial with the rest.

Of course, we couldn’t tarry long there, as the children and what was left of their guard was clearly still wandering around somewhere. We followed the tracks, and eventually came to a hill near a dried-up riverbed, where a knight and one last guard were protecting the kids against an approaching horde of darkspawn. Poor bloody idiot was only armed with a crossbow — powerful, sure, but not the best thing for crowd control. Luckily, we arrived just in the nick of time; we managed to intercept the darkspawn horde before it reached them, and even spotted and took down a pack of blight wolves that were trying to outflank the group. Even the kids got in on the action! The young lad is a reasonably-deft hand with a sword (if a bit short on common sense, seeing as how he thought it prudent to go charging a blight wolf instead of hiding behind Alalen), and apparently the girl is a mage, though she fainted after only one spell. Can’t blame her for that, really — hell, Tracii did the same thing (our only casualty in the fight), so apparently it’s just a mage thing.

Once the shouting was over, we regrouped with the children and their one remaining guard. And surprise surprise, it turns out Mr. Crossbow is a familiar face as well — it’s my old garrison mate Tom Sharpeyes! I’ll have to ask what brought him and Burl out here, once we’ve knocked back a few ales.

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Sam Holbig 9
Sam's Story

25th of Firstfall, 9:41 Dragon

Well, this has been an exciting trip so far. We met Alenka and started making our way north, but were barely out of sight of Lothering when we heard an almighty “BANG” come from somewhere up ahead of us. We arrived just in time to see a great big Tal-Vashoth setting fire to some darkspawn with her magic. (She says she’s a “she,” at any rate. Me, I almost have to take her word for it. And yes, for those of you keeping score at home, that’s TWO Tal-Vashoth and no actual bloody Qunari as of yet, not that I’m complaining.) The Tal-Vashoth introduced herself as Tracii, and mentioned something about looking for a library or somesuch out here. Naturally, we offered her a place in the party, since Emery seems to have gotten bored and wandered off more-or-less permanently at this point.

With that bit of excitement out of the way, we started making our way north again, only to get stopped by ANOTHER BLOODY CHASM. For Maker’s sake, where do all these damn things come from? And why don’t they label them on the fucking map, it’s not like they spring up overnight! (Then again, maybe the mapmakers just got sick of drawing holes in the ground all over the damn place!) This particular bloody chasm had a bridge over it once, but that’s gone now for whatever reason, because of course it is. Also, a pack of darkspawn — genlocks, I think they’re called? — tried to ambush us and collectively push us into the chasm while we were trying to figure out how to get across. I think Tracii might have gone over once, and a couple of the others came close, but mostly we just stabbed the annoying bastards until they ran away or stopped twitching.

Eventually we hit upon the brilliant idea of stringing a couple of ropes across the chasm via archery and gymnastics, and using that as a bridge to get across. The others, being some combination of lightly-equipped and nimble, made it across with no trouble. I am… neither of those things, shall we say, so there was a lot of bumping and cursing and a bit of falling down a cliff face on my part before I made it to the other side. Not my finest moment, to be sure, but at least I got there in the end. (In hindsight, I should have tied one of those ropes around myself, both for support and so that we’d have it with us for the next leg of the journey. Oh well, that’ll be a lesson for the next time we inevitably encounter another fucking chasm we have to get across.)

We were all pretty worn out by this point, so Alenka suggested we set up camp. She and I stood guard while Alalen and Legnar went to go find food, and Daryel and Tracii did… magic… things. (I don’t even remember at this point what Enna was up to. Maybe she helped with the hunting? Or went off to find more kidneys?) While we were on watch, Alenka suggested that perhaps the good Arl isn’t being as generous as he could be with his money, and that by setting up a fake “ransom” for his kids we could rack up a bit more coin from this errand he has us running. Well, I’m no fan of the man, but breaking a contract with an employer is a sure-fire way to stop getting contracts in the future, and I told Alenka I was having none of that. I couldn’t tell whether she was unhappy about that or not; maybe this was another of her tests? I hear she made the same offer to everyone else in the group, and from what I can gather no one took her up on it, which I’m perfectly fine with.

Also, Alalen and Legnar mentioned something about finding a one-horned deer in a magic sylvan glen. They may be on drugs. I’ll worry about that later.

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Sam Holbig 8
Sam's Story

11th of Firstfall, 9:41 Dragon

Well, it took him long enough, but Azrael eventually got his pointy magic backside back to Aneth Ara and gave us some silver for our troubles. He was less than thrilled that the demon was no longer inhabiting its chain — apparently having it around would have made the magic more potent — but considering the non-existent security surrounding the thing it’s a damn miracle it was even still there to begin with. Our next stop is the Korcarri Wilds, where apparently some kind of rare moss is growing this time of year, and then we’ll be heading to Orlais to get… something… or other… Azrael was a bit non-specific on that part, but I’m sure we’ll figure it out when we reach that point.

After a brief stop in Denerim to pick up some supplies (and to acquire a new asset for the town — apparently the Denerim blacksmith’s apprentice has finished his training, and Aneth Ara could certainly use a new one of those!), we made our way southwest to the town of Lothering. We had only intended this to be another rest stop on our way to the Wilds, but wouldn’t you know it, whenever people gather you tend to get folk who need to have jobs done and fools stabbed in exchange for money. Legnar mentioned something about a bandit camp in the vicinity of Ostagar, between us and the wilds, and Daryel said that there’s a Sister at the local Chantry who needs an escort back to Denerim when we head back over that way. As for Alalen and I, we learned that the children of the local Arl, Neruda, are coming into town from the north, and he wants us and his steward Alenka to go and fetch them. The Arl’s a right bastard to his elf house-servants, by the way. Between that and Legnar’s hang-ups about nobles, I suspect there’s going to be some trouble with the man before we make it out of town; I’m just hoping we have coin in our pocket before everything goes to pot. And there’s something queer about that Alenka woman: apparently she “accidentally” dropped a gold coin while she was leading us to the Arl, and I have a feeling she was waiting to see what we did with it. (Alalen gave it back, upstanding sort that he is.)

Well, we’re heading out to meet Alenka again in about an hour so I’d best quit futzing about with this journal and get my crap together. More later.

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Sam Holbig 7
Sam's Story

28th of Harvestmere, 9:41 Dragon

With the Dalish scout guiding us, we made good time through the forest heading back to the village. Vintiver, that’s what it’s called! Maker above, not even forty yet and I’m going senile already. Anyway, there was a small encounter with a large spider, but we made short work of it and soon found ourselves back in the village.

Obviously, having had several hours’ head start, Harralan and his elves-turned-darkspawn had managed to beat us to Vintiver, but the townsfolk were doing… not too badly, to be honest. A decent number of them at least knew to stick the bad guy with the sharp bit, which is more than I can say for the folk in the separatist village when they were first starting out. (I learned later that Tyriel decided to call that place something like “Aneth Ara,” which is apparently elvish for “my safe place.” Seems as good a name as any to me.) The town’s sheriff, Tauril Dale, was also holding his own quite well, and who should we see when we arrive but our old friends — the dwarf, the Tal-Vashoth, the tree-shaped elf, the human mage, and their two buddies — squaring off against Demon-Harralan himself. Between them all they were doing a fine job of keeping most of the townfolk alive, though the town itself was in a bad way and getting worse. And then as soon as we run up, Harralan lets out this nasty wave of fire that knocks everyone fighting him on their arses, showing us all that he means business.

Well, that seemed a good a cue as any, so Alalen, Legnar and myself charged into the fray while Enna and Daryel held back and peppered the demon with arrows and magic. (Emery cast his firey weapons spell on us, but I think he must have gotten distracted or something, because I’m fairly certain I didn’t see any flame blasts hit Harralan after that.) The demon put up a decent fight, and let out another one of those fire-waves at one point, but that didn’t stop us from literally beating the hell out of him. Ultimately our attacks must have proven too much for the demon to bear, because it shot out of Harralan’s body like a bolt, leaving nothing but a dead, naked elf on the ground with my spear buried in his junk. (Which can’t have been either of our finest moments, let me tell you.) It must have been the demon’s magic that was keeping the others as darkspawn, because when it fled, they all turned back into confused-looking elves.

So the town was saved… in a manner of speaking. The townsfolk were mostly fine, but Vintiver itself was wrecked beyond saving — and it figures that I’d finally remember the damn place’s name just in time for it to disappear from the map! There was little point in any of them staying, and Alalen managed to convince Tauril that he and his folk could do worse than pulling up roots and starting over at Aneth Ara. We spent the rest of the day salvaging what could be salvaged and honoring the dead, and the rest of the night celebrating being alive. I confess I had a bit too much ale for my own good; I vaguely remember challenging the Tal-Vashoth to a street fight and getting turned down, and I’m pretty sure Enna tried to steal one of my kidneys while we were both too deep in our cups. (I gave her a quick jab in the backside with my spear the next morning, so we’re all squared away.) The Dalish we’d left behind on our dash to Vintiver also arrived in the night to pick up their living and their dead, and we convinced them to travel with us a while until we hit Aneth Ara.

The trip back was mostly uneventful. We swung by Denerim, picked up a Grey Wardens representative so we could be damn sure they knew where this chain was going, and I hear our elven party members took the caravel’s lorekeeper to take a look at the quarantined alienages. We got back to Aneth Ara by means of a summoned rock bridge — a fancy trick that, not going to lie — and left the folk formerly of Vintiver to get settled while we tracked down Azrael. Wouldn’t you know it, the bastard’s not here! We’ll have to wait for him to get back from some manner of Circle business before we can properly get paid and get on with this amulet business. (I chatted a while with the Grey Warden during the trip, and apparently this whole scheme has some basis in actual practice and isn’t as trousers-on-head as I’d originally feared, so that’s a comfort at least.) Still, it feels good to have this trek finished and behind us, and I admit I’m actually looking forward to seeing where that crazy wizard sends us next.

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Sam Holbig 6
Sam's Story

30th of Kingsway, 9:41 Dragon

Our path to the ruins was taking us deeper into the forest when we damn near fell over the edge of a 100-foot deep crevasse with a raging river at the bottom of it. Do those normally show up in forests? The only way across was by a fallen tree that conveniently served as a bridge. Of course, those of us who weren’t elves weren’t looking forward to making that trip, and as we were weighing our options, somebody did something to startle a whole bunch of crows out of the nearby trees. These crows started circling ominously over the tree-bridge, and most of us, having experienced enough of this kind of horse crap in our lives to tell what was coming next, were seriously considering killing the whole damn flock and getting things over and done with before trying to make the crossing. Only Legnar Talks-Too-Much suggested that perhaps we should just try to cross; he reasoned that, if we didn’t attack the crows, there was a chance they wouldn’t attack us, but if we tried to kill them they’d definitely attack. (For a fellow who seems to have dealt with blighted creatures before, he doesn’t seem to have thought the logic of that through terribly well, in my opinion….)

Well, the rest of us weren’t having that, so the elves and the mages started blasting crows out of the sky. They started swarming, naturally, and Legnar decided to keep the crows distracted by running across the tree-bridge at a dead sprint, making all kinds of noise and ruckus in the process. Talky little man’s got some serious balls, I’ll give him that. Our ranged fighters gave him some cover while the rest of us made our way across, albeit with much more care and much less speed; my bear-hug-and-shimmy method was probably the least dignified way of getting over the bridge, if I’m being honest. Eventually we all made it across without too many of us taking beaks in the back, though I think Daryel might be having nightmares about birds and bridges for a while yet.

More forest, more walking, and eventually we found ourselves in a narrow valley leading straight to the mouth of the ruins. (I’m still not entirely convinced this terrain is natural, and Alalen backs me up on that.) We made our way down the first set of stairs, and found an antechamber with some decidedly half-arsed defenses: a rusty old blade trap with a tripwire so obvious even I managed to see it, and a trio of decrepit old skeletons. I managed to take down one of the bonewalkers, and Emery managed to trigger the trap in such a way that the swinging blade took out the other two. (He claims this was intentional. I’m not so sure, myself.) The antechamber led to a hallway, which led to some dungeon cells, which held about a dozen beaten-up Dalish prisoners — the remnants of Eshara’s caravel. Apparently Mr. Got-Possessed-By-A-Demon — Harralan, that’s the bastard’s name! — had already turned the others into darkspawn and was on his way back to take out his frustrations on the village. Most of the Dalish were in too bad a way to do much, but one of their scouts agreed to take us back by another path, which will hopefully shave enough time off the trip that we’ll make it back before Harralan destroys everything.

… Hmm. If there’s another, quicker path, I wonder if Eshara knew about it? And if she did, I wonder why she didn’t bother to tell us? Might have to be having words with her about that, if we make it through this.

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Sam Holbig 5
Sam's Story

16th of Kingsway, 9:41 Dragon

You know, the thought occurs that, if anyone ever bothers to read this again (myself included), using people’s real names would probably be more useful than nicknaming everyone with snarky placeholders.

Our merry band of adventurers left town before first light, in order to avoid running into Colon the unfortunately-yet-accurately named blacksmith and whatever gaggle of racist halfwits he’d managed to drum up. Elf-girl wolf-bait — whose name is Eshara, apparently — came with us to the edge of the woods, and left us with instructions to find her caravel that I was reasonably certain our two Dalish — that’s Alalen the fighter and Enna the kidney-thief, for those keeping score — would be able to follow. We parted ways, and our group started pushing into the forest while Eshara went back to hide under the Chantry healer’s petticoats. (No, I don’t remember the Chantry healer’s name. Sorry, posterity.)

We had been walking for about five minutes when who should appear from behind the trees but Colon and the aforementioned gaggle of racist halfwits. I vaguely remember something about him saying it would be best if we left town, and us pointing out that we’d already left town, but I may be imagining that. Anyway, the gaggle of halfwits decided to get rowdy, and we had to defend ourselves. Alalen, Legnar (the dwarf who talks too much) and I were prepared to give the lot of them a quick swat on the arse and send them home, but apparently Enna decided she’d had enough of this horseshit and put an arrow through Colon’s brain. The two mages (Emery the human pyromancer and Daryel the elf healer) also defended themselves with lethal force because, as they spent the next hour explaining to Legnar, you can’t pull punches with magic. And in hindsight, I can’t say I blame any of them; Colon and his band of idiots had obviously been waiting for us, which means they had obviously left at least an hour or two before we did, which means he and his motley crew had gathered together and snuck out of town in the middle of the night without our watchmen realizing it. That implies a greater level of malicious forethought (and competence, to be fair) than I’d ascribed to them previously. Still, it’s bad luck that the town’s now without a blacksmith; I may have to see if we can do something about that once all this rage-demon business is concluded.

We walked for a bit longer through the woods, and eventually the Dalish managed to track down what remained of the caravel. It was a right mess, with obvious signs of combat and struggle, but no bodies. Curiously, the only footprints we saw belonged to elves — none to whatever else might have taken them. Sam’s Thinking Cap says there’s three possible reasons for that: one, something came back and painstakingly erased the darkspawns’ footprints while leaving the elves’ intact; two, the elves were taken by something that could float or fly; or three, the elves were taken by other elves. My money’s on the last one, as no creature on Thedas is quite that dumb, and Eshara didn’t say anything about flying darkspawn, but she did mention that the search parties her clan sent out for Grumbleelf McRagepants (whose actual name escapes me — again, sorry, posterity) both disappeared prior to the attack on the caravel.

We spent the rest of the day following the tracks of the elven prisoners, which, surprise surprise, were headed for the ruins. Eventually night fell and we made camp. These cackling jackal-man darkspawn attacked us during the night, but we beat them down without too much trouble. I think Enna climbed a tree to get away from one, and kept shooting it out of the tree as it climbed after her. Clearly these were not the brightest of Thedas’s creatures; who knows, maybe they did think erasing their tracks while leaving the elves’ was a good idea.

Tired. Sleep now. More later.

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Sam Holbig 4
Sam's Story

2nd of Kingsway, 9:41 Dragon

Securing our campsite after the blight wolf attack led to us discovering two important bits of information about the wrecked farm. One, someone had scrawled “Mythal” on the wall of the farmhouse in blood. According to my elf companions, Mythal is the elven god of love, motherhood, and — according to some obscure sources — wreaking bloody-minded vengeance against one’s enemies. I suppose I have to hand it to those elves; whatever else you can say about them, their gods can certainly multitask! Two, there was one other person besides us left alive on the farm: a wounded Dalish girl that one of the others found in a pile of hay in the barn. And what should we find in a bag on her hip but a length of chain that matches the one we’ve been sent to find? Not suspicious at all, no sir.

Anyway, the elf-girl was in a pretty bad way, and though our healer was able to stabilize her he couldn’t get her to wake up again. The thought occurred to us that the healer in the nearby town might do a better job, or at least that the two healers could put their heads together and see what they came up with, so we made plans to head back that way. Come the morning, just before we left, we added another traveler to our merry little band: a dwarf rogue who likes to talk a lot, both out loud in the Trade Tongue, and to himself in what I imagine is some form of dwarvish. Not sure how I feel about the fellow yet, but I can deal with his peculiarities if he proves useful enough.

So we made it back to town, and left the wounded elf to the ministrations of the local Chantry healer. (Well, ultimately we did anyway; there was some shuffling back and forth between the farmhouse and the town with the healer’s apprentice in tow, but for all the good it did we may as well have just brought the elf there from the start.) As the day went on, the townsfolk started to get a mite tense, until eventually an honest-to-Maker torches-and-pitchforks mob showed up outside the Chantry demanding that we hand the elf over for some Ferelden countryside justice. Seems the local blacksmith is a hothead named Colon — and with a name like that I’d be pretty angry myself — who is none-too-happy with elves as a whole; he got in a fight with a band that came through town for a festival a few days back, and now he’s got the town convinced that they’re the ones responsible for all the darkspawn running about. To be honest, the thought crossed my mind at the time that he may well have been right — I’ve heard of stranger things happening. Still, the elf was the only witness we had to the farmhouse massacre, so we told the mob that unless they wanted to burn their own damn Chantry down, they could go home and wait until we had a chance to put some questions to her. The mob dispersed, and later the sheriff (who’s a much more reasonable fellow by my reckoning) came by to apologize for the whole affair. I get the sense that everyone except that fool blacksmith had the good sense to be a little embarrassed by it.

It seems that whatever-it-is that healer did worked, because the elf woke up later that night. She told us that her merry band had a hothead of its own, and that he was the one who got in a fight with Arsehole the Blacksmith. After the elves left town, their leader sent Hothead off to scout and cool his temper a little; apparently he never came back, and soon after the elves got taken prisoner by darkspawn and taken to the ruins we were headed towards. Seems there’s a big demon there now that no one seems to have heard of before. Elf-girl managed to escape with that bit of chain we saw, and apparently that annoyed the demon enough to send the darkspawn after her. One thing led to another, and next thing she knew she was back in the Chantry with a farm full of slaughtered innocents in her wake.

Okay, time for old Sam to put his thinking cap on. This chain we’re after was supposed to be binding a rage demon, right? The sort that, I don’t know, might possess a pissed-off elf scout with a bone to pick against human bigots? And then together, the two of them might start slaughtering random farmers and leaving the names of angry elf gods scrawled in blood on the walls, mightn’t they? I realize I’m jumping to conclusions, but it’s not hard for me to figure out a likely chain of events here. Speaking of chains, we’re still getting paid to get our hands on the damn thing, and now we’ve got even more reason to head out to those ruins; elf-girl wants us to save her band, and pretty much everyone agrees that rage-elf-demon-pants and his darkspawn will wipe out the town if we let them be. Looks like our trip is about to get a bit more exciting….

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Sam Holbig 3
Sam's Story

19th of August, 9:41 Dragon

Returning our share of the stolen goods went better than I expected. No one was thrilled to be getting back so little of what they’d lost, of course, but everyone handled it with a decent amount of grace, and we at least got a little bit of silver for our trouble. That other crew with the dwarf and the Tal-Vashoth invited me to join them; I don’t want to commit to anything just yet, so I left them with a non-answer and the hope that next time we meet, it will be on friendly terms. (Still, I have promised the dead guard’s widow to “take care” of the one that did the deed, so I suspect the Tal-Vashoth and I will be having a reckoning at some point.)

On the way back to the separatist village, we joined up with a Circle-and-Templar caravan that happened to be going to the same place; needless to say, it didn’t take a scholar to figure out they were friends of Babyface’s. When we got back, I found that the two Dalish had been hard at work whipping the volunteer militia into shape. Good for them — this town needs a bit more backbone if it’s going to last more than a fortnight. I was about to start putting the volunteers through the old Wall Guard paces myself when the Circle mage — who, it turns out, is an elf and Babyface’s brother — came out with a proposition for us. Seems he’s got the idea in his head that there’s a way to kill archdemons without sacrificing the life of a Grey Warden to do it. All he needs to do is gather these artifacts that are scattered around Thedas, and do some kind of mystical mumbo-jumbo to them, and he’s oh-so-certain that it will work because he’s done his reading and….

As you can no doubt tell from my tone, I think his plan stinks worse than Orlais cheese and has about as many holes in it. And it’s not just me, either; apparently neither the Circle nor the Grey Wardens themselves (who have the most to gain from such a thing, I might add) are willing to provide Mageyface with any support until he’s got more concrete proof. It doesn’t help that the first part of the puzzle is a chain that’s apparently ALREADY being used to keep a demon tied down. Not the sort of thing you want to go messing with based on some spellslinger’s half-baked theory! The whole thing strikes me as being irresponsibly reckless at best, downright insane at worst — and to be honest, I’m not entirely convinced that Mageyface isn’t some secret cultist with an evil scheme to destroy the world hidden up his sleeve. (That last part’s hopefully just paranoia on my part; it seems the local Grey Wardens have heard of him, and in an “oh, that crazy mage” sort of way, not a “this is a madman who needs to be put down” sort of way.) Still, the mage’s coin is good, and we decided we were willing to play along, if only to bring in the Grey Wardens and do this whole thing properly.

So, the Denerim mage, the Dalish, and I — along with a new face, an elf healer we picked up in the village — made our way south to where the chain was located. Word is that it was being kept in a Warden’s keep, which… may be ruined, now? That part wasn’t quite made clear, which is worry number one. Worry number two is, as we were getting close to the keep, we happened upon a farm that had been infested with blight wolves, whose house had been torn open by some horrible beast with great, nasty claws. I’m thinking a werewolf, myself. Needless to say, none of this is helping to convince me that this new quest of ours is a good idea….

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