21st of Wintermarch, 9:41 Dragon
After a night of rest in Ostagar, we woke the next morn and struck up a conversation with the innkeeper. In the wake of supply runs being hijacked by the bandit camp we managed to avoid on our way there, many of Ostagar’s citizens had decided to travel further south to the nearby township of Stenhold for a festival.
Sadly, among those who had made that choice was Ostagar’s herbalist, whom we were hoping would have some shadowmoss and save us the trouble of the trip to the Kolkari Wilds by agreeing to part with it for some coin. At that point, our party decided to follow suit and travel to Stenhold, as it wasn’t a far detour from our path to the Kolkari Wilds.
After leaving a description of Tracii with the innkeeper, on the off chance that she managed to overcome her illness and catch up to us, we struck out for Stenhold. The journey was uneventful, but also sadly proved rather unfruitful: we consulted with the town sheriff only to discover that the herbalist had left town, but planned to return by nightfall.
Despite our attempts to search for her outside the town, we were forced to return empty-handed and wait for her there. As fate would have it, Tracii had awoken and followed us, and with a strange new companion by the name of Vetorious in tow to boot. I’m rather curious about this fellow and plan to keep an eye on him.
The reunion was short-lived, however, for we were soon after waylaid, rather randomly, by a couple of barbarians. With the prowess of our warriors and my healing skills, we managed to make short work of them.
We didn’t find the herbalist, but I suspect we’ll stay in Stenhold for the night and continue our search in the morning. I’m not optimistic about our luck; it seems likely that a trip to the Kolkari Wilds remains in our future.
6th of Wintermarch, 9:41 Dragon
The battle with the darkspawn ended, we set about making camp. Sam piled their bodies and set them aflame. Tracii, as best we could discern, had been victim to a spell casting gone awry and had fallen unconscious, so Sam and Alalen fetched her and brought her to the campsite. We got a fire going and moved Tracii and the children round it. Hannah, Mythal bless her, had fallen asleep. Joseph, on the other hand, seemed to suffering from the same post-battle rush as the rest of us.
We had rather stern words for him, as he’d tried to contribute in the battle but really only ended up making things more difficult for the rest of us. His intentions were good, though; I believe he wishes to show himself a capable warrior, more than merely the son of a nobleman, and that is something I can respect. I offered him a ration, which he took. Sam took him to the side for some combat training, which amusingly involved mostly running the boy around and giving him a few friendly blows to tire him sufficiently enough to make him sleep.
We took watch in turn. Conversations were had over the course of the night and the next morning as we began traveling south back to Lothering. Piecing them together, we came to discover that Alenka and Corbin had intended to hold the children ransom to their father, the Arl, and to use the collected monies to start a new life elsewhere. They had no ill intent toward the family, but wanted the means to escape their present lives.
Their goal certainly wasn’t one for which I could fault them: the Arl showed himself to be a less than likable character, particularly in the way he treated his servants. However, none in our group could well abide the thought of crossing a wealthy and powerful nobleman, putting the job we’d agreed to do in jeopardy, or keeping the children from their family — however unloving — for the sake of coin.
Considering the matter further, we came up with an alternative to present to Alenka and Corbin. Legnar elected me to present it to them, saying that he felt I spoke for the group and referring to Sam and I both as “level-headed.” I agreed to his proposal. Sam offered to accompany me in speaking with Alenka, which I certainly appreciated despite not needing to take him up on the offer.
I called Alenka over to speak with me in private, then outlined our alternative for her: we would give to she and Corbin the two sovereigns that we’d managed to find on the battle site — which was coincidentally equal to our shares from returning the children to their father, one sovereign apiece — and, once our other jobs in the area were completed, we would then take them with us on our return trip to Anetha Ara, as she’d expressed the desire to live in a place with a better attitude toward elves.
While Alenka was skeptical, particularly with respect to the possibility of being able to receive more money with the ransom scheme than from our plan, she spoke with Corbin and they agreed to accept our offer. I suspect the prospect of having to wrestle control of the children from the rest of us seemed an unlikely one, as none of our party seemed inclined to go along with the ransom scheme, myself included.
We returned to the Arl’s manor. Conversation with him was rather curt, but he kept his end of the bargain and we each received our sovereign. We gave what we promised to Alenka and Corbin, then left Tracii in their care and traveled south to our next job: dismantling a bandit camp between Lothering and Ostagar.
Unfortunately, upon nearing the area, we found a patch of land four or five miles wide filled with tents and one or perhaps two hundred bandits. After spending some time discussing our options, we resolved to forgo the task of dismantling the bandit camp for now and attempt to travel around it unhindered to our next question: obtaining shadowmoss from the Kolkari Wilds for Tyrael.
Legnar stealthily rode near the camp to gauge its contents while the rest of us maintained a wider berth to avoid detection. In the few instances where we attracted the attention of guards — my own clumsiness is in part to blame, I’m afraid — we managed to misdirect their attention elsewhere, until we eventually met with Legnar again outside the camp. We traveled on to Ostagar and agreed to remain there for the night and strike out for the Kolkari Wilds in the morning. I can only imagine what we will find there.