Journal Entry: War of the Lance
Entry Date: 9/22/2002
Day 22 - December 1, 351AC
For three hours the two of them marched through the swirling snow until they came to a place where the steep canyon opened up. The road turned eastward, but a set of tracks passed south-west into another canyon. Flint and Gilthanas both agreed they belonged to a dwarf. They decided to follow, hoping to find the dwarf or even a dwarven town. Determined not to slow things down, Flint hustled, keeping Gilthanas' pace. The two of them followed the tracks into the night.
Back at the camp, Goldmoon had a vision. She saw Elistan as a great cleric of Paladine, bringing the word of the True Gods back into the world. She rushed to find him and finally discovered the weary councilor returning to his tent after a long council meeting. She told him of the Disks of Mishakal, encouraging him to read them. He seemed uninterested, convinced that he had turned too far from the gods to return. Goldmoon insisted, and he took the disks, agreeing to take a look at them.
Goldmoon returned to her shelter. Behind her, Elistan opened the disks and began to read. At first it was curiosity that drew him to read the first sheet, but from the first word he found himself entranced. He read all through the night, still devouring the text as the sun rose and the camp began to get ready for the day's march.
Deeper in the wilderness, the elf prince and the old dwarf had pushed hard through the night. This westward canyon finally opened up into a broad valley with a single mountain spire rising from the middle. The tracks continued south out another gap into the mountains. Flint's breath was coming hard, and sharp pains stabbed through his chest as his heart raced from the long march.
With the sun rising in a clear sky, they should be heading back to the refugees. Tanis would be moving out soon and they had to meet up with him, unfortunately, though they had traveled over ten miles in the night, they had found little besides the tracks. Flint proposed that he would rest a short while and then continue on while Gilthanas returned with their news. If Gilthanas hurried, he could be there and back in a few hours, while Flint pushed on. Gilthanas did not want to leave Flint alone in the wilds where he might be attacked. Flint assured the elf that his axes would serve well if that happened. What about dragons? Was Gilthanas' response. Flint responded that if a dragon found him, it would kill two just as easily as one. At this Gilthanas drew out Wyrmslayer, brandishing it and saying he could stop the dragon. Flint chuckled, mentioning the day before when Gilthanas "ran screaming like a little girl" when Flamestrike chased him. Finally, Gilthanas agreed to the dwarf's plan and headed back.
After three hours, Gilthanas found Tanis leading the refugees south, just north of where the path branched. When Gilthanas arrived back earlier than agreed, out of breath and without Flint, Tanis became alarmed. Gilthanas told Tanis of what they had found, and Tanis agreed that this was good news. He sent Gilthanas back after Flint and promised to send more people. He would also try and convince the Council to change course into the canyon.
With Gilthanas back on his way, Tanis found Eben and asked him to gather the Council for a quick decision. He found Caramon, told him to take Sturm and follow Gilthanas. Tika was with Caramon and asked to go too. Tanis agreed.
The Council met and Tanis informed them of the scouting news. Locar and Eben were hesitant to find hope in a lone set of tracks. Both wanted to continue along the road. Indeed, Eben suggested splitting the refugees into two groups, with some following this path west and the rest following the road. Tanis, Elistan and Locar all opposed this plan as it would reduce the defenses of the individual groups to the point where if they ran into trouble they could not defend themselves. Elistan argued for Tanis. Now a follower of Paladine and a true cleric, he was eager to see his god's work in any sign. With no news from the road and these tracks, he took that as a sign of hope in that direction.
Goldmoon, used to getting her way in political meetings became frustrated at the arguing. She declared that she would go with Tanis and the refugees could follow or not. She stormed off.
Tanis, trying to repair the damage, promised to go with the refugees in any course they chose, but urged them to follow the trail. The road ahead promised nothing. Better a slim hope than no hope at all.
The vote, again 4 to 1 in favor of following the tracks. Locar was the sole holdout, wanting to push on down the road. With the vote taken, when the refugees reached the split, they turned west into the narrow canyon.
After a further three hours of hustling, the winded elf finally caught up to Flint who was just approaching the southern exit from the valley. The tracks were becoming clearer, no longer filled with the snows of the storm. Another two hours and Sturm, Caramon and Tika arrived.
In this narrow pass they found numerous track ways leading up into the wooded hillsides. They decided to continue on into the next valley rather than follow any of these track ways. Further on, they descended a gentle slope, and a small dwarf village came into sight, built next to a small lake. As they approached, the dwarves took notice of them, and a small group of warriors came out to meet them.
Flint moved forward and spoke to the dwarves. The party waited while the two spoke quickly in the harsh dwarven tongue. The dwarf was suspicious, ready for a fight, but as Flint was kin and he agreed to turn over the group's weapons and come peacefully, the dwarves agreed to lead them into the village and hear what they had to say.
Gilthanas was concerned about giving up Wyrmslayer and asked Flint about binding the weapons. Flint asked, but the response was a resounding no. Gilthanas approached the dwarf who seemed to be in charge, offering Wyrmslayer, and asking if the grizzled warrior knew common. The dwarf responded that he did. Gilthanas asked for assurance that his weapon would be returned. The dwarf eyed him a moment "We do not forget the friendship we shared with your people in the great building of Pax Tharkas," a pause "but we also do not forget how we were turned away in the dark days following the Cataclysm. Behave and your weapon will be returned."
The heroes, escorted by the seven dwarves, descended into the village.
Back at the main body, the refugees have been traveling all day and are getting tired, grumbling about wanting to stop. A great commotion, screams, panic and a clashing of weapons is heard. Tanis and the other remaining heroes rush to see what is happening. Shoving through against the panic, they find five of the militia facing off against two massive cave bears.
Before they can act, they bears rush the poorly armed defenders. Two are mauled by the beasts. As the remaining warriors flee, Tanis orders his people to take then down one at a time. He and Riverwind fire their bows and Raistlin casts a lightning bolt at it.
Angered, hurt, and smelling of burnt fur, the bear charges, tearing at Tanis with savage teeth, while the other tries to claw Riverwind. Goldmoon lifts her voice in song to inspire the warriors, while swords are drawn and they close for battle. Tanis and Riverwind are both struck by tearing claws, but their swords and Raistlin's magic finally bring the beasts down. Goldmoon ministers to their wounds while Riverwind draws a knife and begins butchering the beasts for distribution to the refugees.
Back at the Neidar village, the party is led to the "great hall," a large, round, stone building in the middle of the village. They are asked to wait outside for a short time, but finally allowed to meet the chieftain. Entering inside, they find a reproduction, in miniature, of a Hall of Thanes. Stone seats for the entire village population decent like a theater to a dais where several thrones are placed. In one throne, off to the side, sits an elderly, but powerful dwarf, arrayed in finery.
Flint steps forward and addresses the thane in the Neidar language, introducing himself as Flint Fireforge. The thane recognizes the name and asks if Flint knows of the Fireforge who fought and died so bravely in the Dwarfgate Wars. Flint proudly admits that this was his grandfather. With this simple fact revealed, the thane is eager to hear what news Flint brings.
Flint tells of the war in the north and of the refugees fleeing south. The old thane scoffs at the idea of dragons, calling them childrens' tales. Flint asks if anyone has proof. Tas appears out of the shadows, surprising everyone and presenting a dragon's claw to the thane.
Flint tells the thane that they seek food and shelter for 800 refugees as well as the way to the Dwarfgates. The thane is able to offer little. He will sell what food and weapons his village can spare (not much). He advises that the party seek out of valley a couple days to the south, and that they may find food and shelter there. He also suggests that a hive of giant bees in the western cliffs of this valley might provide more food. In addition, if they can recover the royal jelly he will provide them with gifts. Finally, he tells them that no one knows the location of the Dwarfgates, but that they secret might lie in Skullcap, the ancient fortress of Fistandantalis. He warns that many a sturdy dwarf has plumbed those depths never to be heard from again.
The party thanks the thane, agreeing to ensure the refugees remain clear of the village. They again warn of the coming army, but the thane dismissed the warning. If such an army does come, the dwarves will slip into the mountains and fight. They know the mountains well and will not run or seek shelter among mountain dwarves.
Expecting the refugees to be arriving in a few hours, the party takes up lodgings for the night and begins pooling what little money they have to purchase weapons and supplies.
Back at the main body, things were not going too well. The bear attack caused a lot of panic and confusion and the refugees had come to a halt. It was getting late and everyone was tired and irritable. The "Council of Freedom," without consulting the heroes, decided to camp. Tanis tried to urge them on, but it was already done, so he was forced to accept the decision.
Entries in this Journal:
This item has been published here with permission from the author(s) and may not be reproduced without permission. This is a fan submission and its contents are completely unofficial. Some characters, places, likenesses and other names may be copyright Wizards of the Coast.