CHAPTER 1: DRAGONS OF DESPAIR
Road just north of Solace in Abanasinia; Late afternoon, Reorxmont (September) 25th, 351 AC (After Catacylsm)
An eclectic band of four travelers found themselves walking down a dusty road a few miles north of a town they had heard was called Solace. The band consisted of a young, sturdy Dwarven warrior from the realm of Kaolyn by the name of Thorn Stoneshield; a nineteen year old Solamnic with a heroic bearing called Garth Blackwood; an inventive Gnome known to anyone other than a Gnome as Yuri; and a quiet woman with kind, wise eyes from Northern Ergoth named Maxavel "Max" Lar Vhon. The foursome had crossed the narrows of the New Sea from the northern Solamnic shore of Ansalon and come to the southern region known as Abanasinia. Their first stop was the appropriately named village of Crossing; where they had enjoyed a nice meal and a pleasant evening at a local Inn before they began their journey south.
The group was traveling south for two main reasons; the first was Thorn's mission to attempt to re-establish contact with the Dwarven nation of Thorbardin; which was located in the mountains south of Abansinia; if ancient maps were still correct. With the Catacylsm that had struck the world of Krynn some 351 years earlier; it was anyone's guess if the mother nation to the Dwarven colony of Kaolyn was even still there. Garth Blackwood; who had grown up near the Dwarven nation and become friends with Thorn in his childhood had been assigned to help Thorn's mission as his final Test before becoming an official Knight of Solamnia.
In addition; the one-time sailor and orphan Maxvel Lar Vhon had had several prophetic dreams of a beautiful woman in blue garb who had told her that she must travel to the south and would be instrumental in red-discovery the True Gods. Becoming companions with Thorn and Garth on the trip; she enjoyed their company and vice-versa; so the three decided to travel together. Along the way; an errant Rocket Flight crashed into the New Sea near the vessel the three were on; and lone Gnomish crewmember; Yuri; was fished out of the sea and brought aboard. Having no where else to go and reasoning that traveling with capable people was smarter than going it alone in a strange land; the Gnome tagged along with the trio; making it a foursome.
It was approximately 60 miles to the town of Solace; which the people in Crossing told of in wondrous terms. Supposedly; the town's building were all nestled in the boughs of giant Vallenwood trees. The foursome weren't sure if this was just some exaggerated tales or not; but seeing as how the ancient road went into the valley that Solace occupied and continued to the south; they decided to head that way themselves. It was on their fourth day of travel that they began to see the giant trees in the distance; becoming closer and closer as the continued along the way. At a rocky outcropping the road descended down a mild incline and the foursome could clearly see the massive size of the grove of Vallenwood trees. The people in Crossing had certainly not lied about the size of the trees, at least.
The air surges fierce and sweet in the late afternoon air, carrying the clear musk smell of the woodlands. The soft murmur of stirring leaves, of insects and of small animals fills the landscape. The clear highland sky blushes with the end of the day approaching. From this rock outcropping the valley below seems peaceful, untouched. Dense forests of pines carpet the nearby mountainsides, varied only by thick aspen woods. The mountains, deep blue in the distance, circle the valley floor and form a soft, highland bowl.
It is a wonder that any beautiful places are still left in the world after the literal earth-changing event known as the Cataclysm re-wrought the earth; but looking below in the vallenwoods; with indeed homes and buildings built cradled in the boughs of the trees themselves; the adventurers do indeed see a sight they will remember for the rest of their lives. After a blissful moment of silent wonder; the four began to move down the road and towards the beckoning warmth of a night under a roof....even if that roof is under tree branches!
With the town barely a mile or two from sight the road enters some sparse woods and suddenly; the brush rustles with noise from both sides of the path. Half a dozen dark shapes suddenly emerge from the trees; three from either side; fencing in the party. They are humanoid and all stand around 6 feet in height; with yellowish-green skin and dark leather armor on. They have the flat-faced, ugly features of Hobgoblins; and all are armed with curved blades; which they have in their hands. Some of the more sharp eyed members of the party notice red armbands around their right biceps; and then the sudden sound of a mounted rider arrests everyone's attention.
A stout pony clamors into the area; sagging beneath the weight of a muscular yet flabby Hobgoblin with noticeably better armor than his fellows. This hobgoblin looks at you with a haughty look in his yellow eyes then disdainfully snorts from above his double-chin and calls out; "We have been tasked with the recovery of the sacred Blue Crystal Staff and to collect a toll from all travelers on this road. Forfeit the staff if you have it and the toll is ten steel pieces each."
With that he barks an order in Goblin to his fellow hobgoblins; wheels his pony and rides back into the woods. Those who understand Goblin translate the order in their minds as; "If they have the staff; bring it to me; otherwise kill them after collecting the toll."
The half-dozen Hobgoblins smile wickedly and advance towards you all....
OOC: There are 6 Hobgoblins carrying Scmitars and currently all are within melee range of all of you. Please make a post with your intended action and then I will do any rolling that needs to be done and make the next post. Please let me know via the OOC thread or PM if you have any questions/concerns.