Xavius made sure I was fully provisioned before heading out to Falconspire, which included some of Baeldfor’s hearty chestnut waybread. It is excellent, to say the least, and I had no idea dwarves could be such talented bakers! It would take a few days to reach Falconspire, but I felt confident I’d make good time, so off I went.
The first two days on the road were uneventful and I only crossed paths with a few travellers. On the third day, however, as the sun was getting low in the sky, I came upon a short, stocky fellow setting up a campsite for the night. I was still a few hours away from Falconspire and if I continued on, it would certainly be well passed dark before I’d arrive. Travelling at night is rarely a good idea, so I decided to stop and perhaps see if I could offer to share my rations, in exchange for sharing the camp for the night. As I approached, he stopped his chopping (he was preparing firewood, by my guess) and I offered a greeting. I recognized him as a dwarf and he introduced himself as ‘Fynn’. I introduced myself and extended my offer to share rations in exchange for sharing the camp. He agreed, pointed me over to the clearing he had prepared, and added that he had set some ‘deterrents’ in various spots around the camp for protection. I found a spot to tie up Thunder and Lightning for the night, fed and brushed them, and set up my bedroll next to the fire. Fynn had obviously done this before. He had made an excellent campsite and even had several ‘dummy’ bedrolls set up to make it look as though there were more of us than there actually were. I prepared the rations, and after he came over to the main campsite, we chatted about places we’d been and made general small talk. During this time, I made measure of what kind of person he was. He seemed to be trustworthy enough, experienced (probably not in baking), and sure knew how to set up a campsite! He was armed with the oddest contraption I’d ever seen, as far as weapons go anyway. It was two crossbows stacked one on top of the other, but built as one. He said he’d had it made special. It would have to be, wouldn’t it?! Anyway, I felt safe enough to sleep (though my sword was closeby). Before bedding down for the night, I told Fynn I was a spellcaster and was going to cast a couple of protection spells in the area around the campfire. He was fine with that, though I think I surprised him a bit with that knowledge. So, I put up a couple of Wyvern Watch spells.
During the night, I had the oddest dream (which I will not pen here), and was awoken by a thoroughly horrid smell. Upon opening one eye, I saw the source of the stench. The most hideous dog I’d ever seen was staring at me curiously and breathing in my face. Quickly putting two and two together, I surmised that this was somehow Fynn’s pet, though I hadn’t seen it before and there was no mention of a dog. Earlier, Fynn had set aside the innards of the small game he had caught, apparently for this…thing. The dog obviously meant me no harm since it hadn’t bitten my face off, so I looked over at Fynn, who sounded asleep (loud snoring), but to my surprise was staring at me and motioning behind me. I couldn’t hear or sense anything nearby, but Fynn obviously knew something was close. The dog went back over to Fynn and lied down (though it’s legs were tensed and ready to spring into action) and as Fynn eased his crossbow closer to him, I slowly cast a Sanctuary spell on myself. He mouthed the word ‘Shadowskin’ to me, but I wasn’t entirely sure what they were, though by their name, I guessed they wouldn’t like light, so that would be my first spell when we engaged them.
With a shout of ‘Now!’, from Fynn, I rolled and stood up readying my Light spell. I dropped it on the ground nearby and illuminated the area in daylight. I could see a few of these things now, though I knew there were more around us coming from different directions, and I had not encountered them before. They were short black clouds, though I could see something vaguely humanoid within. Luckily for me my Sanctuary spell kept them from attacking me, but they went right for Fynn and his dog, who tenaciously engaged them. There were quite a few of these things attacking us (around a dozen, I’d learn later) and Fynn seemed to know what they were, so I figured he’d know best how to fight them. With that in mind, I decided to cast spells that would be to their detriment, while my Sanctuary was still active (and apparently working well). My Wyvern Watches paralyzed a couple of them when they got too close and a spell of Hesitation on the area nearest to Fynn would slow down some of their attacks. Only having enough power to cast one more spell, I cast a Hold Person on a pair of them coming in from the southeast of the camp. With my Sanctuary now defunct, I drew my sword and engaged them. As they died, they almost seemed to melt and stunk heavily of sulphur. It was quite unsettling. We fought well, Fynn and his dog faring better than I in actually striking them, and his dog was wounded badly, but we prevailed.
After the battle, Fynn sent his dog, Daggett by name, away and the dog slowly turned to smoke and disappeared. As I stood there confused, he told me the dog was a sort of summoned creature he had acquired and it would be healed and ready the next time he called upon it. As we looked through the remains of these ‘Shadowkin’ (dwarf beards make reading lips hard), Fynn explained the whole situation. He was a sort of ‘exterminator’ and was hired to clear out a den of these creatures that had gotten too close to a mining town. He had snuck into their lair and killed their leader, thinking they would disperse on their own, but that was not the case. They wanted revenge. So they’d been hunting him for a couple of weeks. He had finally decided to make a stand here, since he could no longer outrun them, and I had stumbled upon him at the wrong time (or right time by his perspective!). He didn’t really want to involve or endanger me, but it was probably safer for me being here, as camping on my own somewhere, I probably would’ve been killed. In the end, I wasn’t angry and could see the pragmatism of the situation. From the creature’s remains (which was mostly rags), we’d gotten a good bit of coin and even a couple of minor magical items, which we split up evenly.
The next morning, we cleaned up the camp. He had a bag similar to mine (though not as spiffy), as it held everything he had set up the day before! He asked if he could tag along on my jaunt to Falconspire, which I had no problem with. I even offered him a ride on Thunder, but he declined. So we walked to Falconspire. Upon arriving in the city, I told him of some good places to go for lodging and drinking (since he’d gotten some good ‘drinkin’ money’ the previous night) and we parted ways. Best of luck to you, Fynn!
I’ll look for Warwick a bit later, so for now my eldest brother, Alustair, is sure to want to see me at some point during my stay in the city. I do not look forward to this, but alas, it must be done and I may as well get it over with. Perhaps, I’ll go see Damon first and check in on Van Horn Trading and Merchantry.