Hollow's Last Hope

The Interview

Red Eye was just tying his trousers shut when he turned around and saw the bear.
He’d avoided the town as much as possible after the funeral of the Tyran Moonsliver. He’d been trying to work up what he would say to the adventurer Dhohar so he could move on. He’d been so preoccupied with his situation while he was under the tree he was caught completely off guard by the small black bear that had wandered behind him and was studying him. Red Eye stared back at the beast wondering if he was going to have to blast the poor creature when he heard the polite cough to his left.
Red Eye didn’t even turn around when he said “Hmmm… you have a habit of catching people with their pants down…”.
“My apologies, you surprised us as well” responded Dhohar. Red Eye turned and looked at the speaker with the pet bear. “I thought you were further towards the river.”
“It’s better not to get too close to the river and attract possible attention from boats. Also it’s unwise to pee where you eat.”
Dhohar snickered “Well then. May we join you in your camp?”
“We?” Red Eye said with a nod to the small bear.
“Of course. That is my friend Rumble.”
Red Eye smiled and said, “Please follow me them.”
Red brought them to his small fire and tent. He laid out the bed roll for Dhohar to sit on while he claimed a fallen tree for himself. Red motioned to Rumble, “Does he like jerky?”
“He certainly does.”
Red reached into his pack and tore a small bit of some jerky he’d been chewing on and tossed at the feet of the bear. Rumble sniffed it gingerly, lapped it up in his mouth, and began to chew noisily.
Dhohar grinned, “You’ve made a friend for life.”
“God’s know I don’t have enough of them.” Red replied.
“Speaking of the God’s I did notice you were a member of the Green Faith.”
Red took a glance at his armor lying on the ground and retorted, “Whatever gave you that idea? Yes, the Stormlord grants my simple prayers.”
Dhohar smiled, “I happen to dabble divine magic as well.” He seated himself on the ground with his back to a tree, “But … I can’t do what you do.”
Red seated himself on the other side of the small fire. “So that would be why you sought me out?”
“Yes,” Dhohar replied, “Can you call the power of Gozreh to discern truth from lies?”
Red looked hard and long at the druid and thought about his options for a moment. He hadn’t committed to anything yet. But this looked like the best thing he had going for him at the moment. “Yes I can.”
“Are you prepared to do it now?”
“Yes I can.”
“Demonstrate please.”
Red Eye sat straighter, grasped the silver leave of the holy symbol around his neck, and looked inside his heart to the holy connection with his God. The cleric proclaimed “Gozreh knows all and hears all on the winds of fate! Let the truth be spoken and lies undone!” As he jabbed his finger at Dhohar a warm nimbus of light formed around him for a second and vanished as quickly as it arrived. He told Dhohar, “Speak your name to me.”
“Dhohar Ker’ki’hel”.
“Are you a druid?”
“Yes” Dhohar replied.
“How many men in your party?”
“Five men.” As Dhohar spoke a stiff gust of wind breeze blew into his face ruffling his hair and a spray of water from nowhere hit him in the face. Dhohar wiped the water from his face and eyes. “Ew… it’s salty.”
Red Eye grinned, “That was a lie. Tell me the truth.”
“One man, one woman, and myself,” Dhohar replied.
Red Eye looked at Dhohar hard, “Do you mean to do me harm?”
Red Eye watched as Dhohar flinched as he said “Yes.” Spray and wind lashed out at his face again. Dhohar wiped more spray out his eyes and said “Lying sucks with this spell.”
“That’s the point. Do you think your party will accept me as I am?”
Dhohar thought about it for a moment. Red Eye prepared for another spray to blast Dhohar in the face. “If you prove to be true and not do us wrong I see no reason why they will not.”
Red Eye was actually surprised at that answer. It was clearly in the scope of the spell as he only asked what Dhohar thought. Red was rarely accepted
Dhohar looked Red directly in the eyes and said, “You seemed surprised by that answer.”
“I truly am, but I’m also very pleased with the idea of people wanting me around. It’s pretty rare.” Red Eye tossed another piece of meat at Rumble and said, “So … when do I get to meet the rest of your friends?”

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An Awkward Meeting

“Two gold and not a penny less” said Cobrin the Butcher.
Red Eye was not amused. He knew he was being cheated on a grand scale but what was he to do? He knew he was a freakish looking monster to the people of Falcon’s Hollow and it would take a LOT to change that. He’d even been more than happy to help clean and prepare the body of the adventurer that had been sacrificed in some gruesome kobold death ritual. He’d done such things far too often and was very familiar with the Rights Gentle of Repose. It helped if the body didn’t smell so badly at the funeral. The only thing that smelled worse than corpse was a corpse on fire. He’d cast his spells and said his prayers to Gozreh to take his spirit amongst the clouds. Yet they still stared at him throughout the funeral as if he were cursing their children. Some probably had said as much and it was unlikely he would be able to change the minds of the locals anytime soon. But yet he had to try.
“That seems quite steep for beef jerky. Couldn’t I interest you in a reading of your local weather in trade? I could tell you if there was a tempest brewing or…”
“The sky looks clear enough for me! God’s know even IF we had rain it would just help business.” Cobrin leaned forward and gave him a stare. “Rain and weather can hide monsters approaching unwary hunters… Sensible people stay in town” . Cobrin had just finished his statement, which Red Eye understood too well as a barely veiled Get the hells outta my town, when the door opened and someone stepped in.
Red Eye glanced behind him as he was putting his helmet back on to leave and stopped as he recognized the half-elf standing before him. He was of the same height as Red Eye. The half -elf was wearing an unadorned but well built coat of leather plates over a full length tunic that was long enough to brush the floor. He had very long ears for a half-elf, although the whites of his eyes gave his half breed heritage away. His long hair was pulled into a pony tail on top of his head. Red Eye also noticed the large and very shiny axe handle poking over his shoulder and that some of the leather plates were discolored as if they’d had blood recently scrubbed out of them.
He’d first seen the half-elf at the funeral but the town was full of stories even Red Eye could overhear. He was one of the adventurers who had brought the body back and rescued the local children. Red Eye had bolted from the funeral immediately after the rights and had not spoken to any of them yet. He’d not had time to assess if they would be friendly to him or not.
The half-elf flashed a grin at Red Eye and said, “Green Faith’s blessing on you Sir.” The half-elf then addressed the butcher and said “Am I intruding Cobrin?” The butcher waved at Red Eye to be off and spoke “No he was just leaving”.
The half-elf looked wistful and said “Indeed… it’s a shame. I’d wanted to speak with…” the half-elf raised a questioning hand at Red Eye as he trailed off his statement.
“I’m called Red Eye, follower of the Lord of Storms.”
“You may call me Dhohar. I’m pleased to finally be able to meet you. Corbin did you manage to get Red Eye’s purchase already?”
“He was not willing to pay the price I asked.”
“And what price was that?”
The butcher at least had the grace to blush as Dhohar patiently awaited his answer. “Two gold for 5 lbs of beef jerky.”
Dhohar whistled. “Beef jerky has gotten more expensive since I was in town last.” Dhohar turned to Red Eye. “So in celebration of our acquaintance let me purchase that for you.” Dhohar reached into his pocket and pulled out two dull and beaten gold coins and placed them on the butcher’s counter.
Cobrin looked shocked, and even redder in the face, as he murmured something about coming back and hurried to the back of his store to retrieve the jerky. When Cobrin was out of earshot, Dhohar whispered, “May I speak with you later? Privately?”
Red Eye knew this adventurer was either looking for an opportunity to rob him or could genuinely be reaching out to him. So he had but one course to sail. “I’m camped outside the town to the west by the river. You can find me there.”
“Wonderful.” Dhohar whispered. “I’ll see you in an hour or so. We might have need of your talents.” Dhohar changed to louder voice as Cobrin approached with the meat from the back of the store. “Ah… your victuals have arrived. A veritable feast of… salted cow.”
“I brought you my personal stock,” replied the butcher, “It’s even flavored with eleven herbs and spices. Nothing but the best for my… customers.” Cobrin handed the package quickly to Red Eye and attempted to say cheerily “God’s be with you!” but it just sounded like he was trying his best not to pass gas.
“Thank you Cobrin, and thank you Dhohar. I will not forget this courtesy.” And with a nod at the butcher and the man with the axe Red Eye walked out of the butcher’s shop contemplating who the “We” Dhohar was referring to could be.

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The Little Warewolf

Dhohar hadn’t been out of the Crucible for even a full day when his mind kept going back to the promise he had made to a little girl in the woods. He had promised food and clothes to the poor eight year old who had the disfortune to have the curse of lycanthrope forced upon her by Elara, the woman who had used the cover of a “halfway house for children” as a breeding ground for her very own pack of warewolves. Jeva had been the only survivor and could not return to town due to her curse. Dhohar had heard many stories about lycanthrope and of many attempts to cure it. His research showed that wolfsbane was the best way to give the girl a chance at a normal life. The plant should grow in the woods of the Vale and he could get her some clothes and food.

The real trouble would being able to have enough healing power there to give her a fighting chance to push the curse out of her body once she had ingested the wolfsbane. He would need a priest to help with the blessings and such. You couldn’t be too careful with these kinds of things. As much as he wanted to believe Jeva’s story and think of her as the victim, Dhohar also had to face the facts that she may not be telling him the full truth. A priest’s ability to discern lies from truth would come in handy if Jeva proved difficult in his next meeting.

The answer was very simple. Dhohar needed the help of Red Eye. Dhohar had met the recent arrival to Falcon’s Hollow earlier that day after the funeral pyre of Tyrin. Red Eye had only been in town a couple of days and was looking for almost anything to bide his time and get out of town. From his brief discussion with Red Eye, the interesting Half Elf/Half Orc, it seemed he had suffered some sort of misfortune that landed him in this backwater town. Red Eye had made no effort to conceal his desire to find passage out of town as soon as possible. Perhaps a voyage into the wood, and the promise of some coin, would easily convince him to seek out the warewolf girl.

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The Water Wanderer

He finished his prayer and opened his eyes.

He was waste deep in the water shallow water of the river bank, holding completely still to minimize the ripples. He slowly looked about and took in the new morning surroundings. He beheld the oranges and golds of the sunrise, the still winds and the unswaying trees, the rocks and their colorful mosses, and thanked the Storm Lord for another clear day.

He glanced down as his own reflection in the calm waters of the river he nealt in. He knew what he would see, but he looked anyway since it would change nothing. He was in a shadow so his pale green skin looked almost black in the reflection on the water and was indestinguishable from his long black hair. It almost matched the color of his left eye which was naturally blacker than night though he saw quite clearly thru it. His right eye, completely missmatched, was a black slit cats eye in a field of red. His other left “eye” stared straight back at him, the orcish ceremonial tattoo that took up half the side of his head stared back at him balefully.

He regarded his gaunt face for a moment and in a rush swept both of his hands down into the water and splashed two handfulls on his face and in his hair. He wouldn’t have too much time before the barge was underway upriver.

He stood to his full 6’2" height and stepped back onto the rocky shore. He shook the water off himself and put on his clothes. His armor was in a pile leaning against a rock and his trident was thrust bottom first into the sand under the layer of rocks on the shore. The silver tines were just being toughted by the light of the dawn and glinted brightly as he rolled up his bedroll and stuffed it back into his backpack. He finished his packing quickly, they would be finishing breakfast at the main camp by the boat that had brought them this far. The men he travelled with were not comfortable in his presence. He wasn’t sure what bothered them more, the fact he was a priest of Gozreh or the fact that he was a half-orc. Staying out of the main camp was a poor option, who knew what gathered in the wilds here, but it was better than dealing with the stares and whispers.

However, the barge master was more than happy to have him since he could divine the weather and predict when they should hole up or when they could safely travel the river. It certainly was not the most impressive boat he had ever served on but the barge master had coin to pay and he was terribly short of coin at this point. Even clerics had to eat, and he was down to a only few gold pieces left.

He plopped his helmet on his head, shouldered his pack, grabbed his shield, and pulled his trident out of the rocky soil. They were scheduled to be at the dock near the town of Falcon’s Hollow this afternoon and the barge master would not want to be delayed. This was one boat Red Eye couldn’t wait to get off of.

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Dhohar's Journal: Shavaros, Items and More

Early the next morning Dhohar headed out of Jak’s to see Cobrin and get some meat scraps for Rumble and Mischief. It was going to be a brisk hike to get there, out to the companions and then back to Shavaros’s home before breakfast…but he was going to try. The butcher was up and preparing to begin cutting. He brightened at the Dhohar’s arrival, greeted him warmly and didn’t even look askance at the druid when he asked for scrap meats and some entrails in a hemp bag. They chatted briefly and Dhohar confirmed the dwarven ruin was now much safer and that he was happy Mikra seemed fine after the ordeal. The butcher insisted the meat was free and Dhohar reluctantly agreed. He figured he could gather some basic tubers or berries and bring them back on his return for breakfast that day – while not a completely fair trade it was squarer than getting the meat for free. Just before leaving he made a mental to note to ask Cobrin on his return about the girl named Jeva.

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Return from the Underworld

Kieyanna was enjoying her time relaxing back in Jak’a Napes after the adventurers had returned to Falcon’s Hollow with the children in tow. While stretched out on her much-comfier-than-the-stone-floor bed, her firefoot curled up at her side, she reflected on the past few days.

They had been brutal days, full of battles, fear, and anger. She’d been so worried about the children of the town, and was immensely relieved when they saved Hollin from an untimely demise, though she worried about his mental state—he’d been mostly catatonic since they saved him.

She had stayed back with the children while Zandu and D’hohar went up to the surface and procured food for the group. The children had been so excited to eat freshly caught game and ripe berries. All had wolfed down their shares and then some. During her portion of the watch, Kieyanna had mostly stared at Hollin and thought about his sister. She knew that Ralla would be glad to have her brother back, but wasn’t sure how well she would have been treated during his absence, and a less-than-smiling burlesque dancer wasn’t likely to bring in much business for her money-hungry boss.


After Kieyanna had returned back to the village and spent a day resting, washing her clothes, and giving her Firefoot ear-scratches, she had ventured down to the Rogue Lady to visit Ralla and see how she was doing with Hollin’s return and his mental state. What she had found was abhorrent.

Ralla was covered in bruises that she tried to cover with makeup and strategically placed scarves, but Kieyanna could see beyond it. After some coaxing, Ralla admitted that Kabran Bloodeye had been less than impressed with her performance while she was anxious about her brother’s safety. She was even now still worried about her brother —his mental state hadn’t improved much since his return, and he spent most of his time sleeping in a dark corner of his sister’s room. Kabran wasn’t taking too kindly to Ralla’s wanting to spend time looking after her brother, either.

Kieyanna thought a while about the situation before asking how Ralla would feel about leaving the Rogue Lady, leaving Falcon’s Hollow, and taking her brother somewhere else—a town with good health care for her brother and better opportunities for her. Ralla seemed scared; Kieyanna could understand. It would be scary to leave behind everything you knew and move forward into the unknown, but Kieyanna thought it would be best for her friend and for her friend’s brother. The two of them had discussed possibilities until early in the morning, and Kieyanna had promised to talk to her companions about the potential for taking Ralla and Hollin with them when they left Falcon’s Hollow.

She knew it would be tough to convince Bloodeye to let his big breadwinner go—together the adventurers had nearly enough money to pay her supposed debt to him, but they would need that money for accommodations, food, travel, other manner of things on their journey away from Falcon’s Hollow and on to other places. It might be that it would come to violence before Bloodeye would let Ralla go, so Kieyanna knew she would need to speak with D’hohar and Zandu before bringing that down on their party.

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The Trip Back

After re-uniting the children and seeing to Rumble and Mischief I was keen to get above ground. Having removed most of the denizens of this part of the Crucible, we were likely safest behind the secret doors in this room but I want air, fresh air. I hadn’t any idea of the time when Zandu proposed hunting and foraging for a few hours, if the light permitted it. I was quick to agree and while both of my animal friends were injured they too would appreciate returning to their familiar environs. Realizing that there was little need for all the trappings and gear while hunting, we stripped down some and re-stocked. I spoke briefly with Kieyanna and Zandu about swapping the use of Glintaxe for Manfeller and in using the crossbow from Kapmak. While I had a bit of guilt about requesting the use of two powerful and magical items my companions seemed little inclined to using them and much preferred I gain benefit from their use.

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FH-MusingsAroundTown

The three companions sat around the kitchen table in their four bedroom house on the evening of the third day in town after rescuing the children. Everyone was feeling fully refreshed after several days of proper food and rest. Dhohar had spent much of his time staring at the magic items carried out of the monastery and now believed he knew all the qualities for each item. It was a veritable fortune valued at over 40,000gp worth of magic items.

Zandu began his monologue: The real problem with this town is its lack of coin. I spent all day today trying to sell the stuff we brought out of the monastery. I sold a good bit of it; fair prices considering the merchants this village has to offer. I guess we are in high esteem right now. But based on the quality and the enchantments on some of our more impressive items there just isn’t anyone in town who has the coin to take it off our hands. I have talked to half the town trying to find anyone who would buy the gear. The lumber consortium took most of the weapons and armor. They had the most to spend, I suppose. We need to find a bigger town, probably a real city for most of these items, Almas, perhaps, but we would definitely find buyers in Absalom. Zandu fidgeted with the crown in his left hand. His eyes looked distant for a moment, his mind elsewhere: This is an item of incredible value to the right people. It has such rich history…older than that Kobold Tribe for sure. His eyes focused on the present again and the side conversation between Dhohar and Kieyanna.

I find this town out of sorts for the Spirit of Andoran. I had heard Andoran exhibited the freest peoples of the entire World. Their history is a mix of economic prosperity and subjugation. Repeated conquest after conquest as the Cheliaxian and Taldoran peoples raked in the wealth of the plains and forests. That is until about 20 years ago when the Andorans kicked them out and declared their independence. I would have liked to be there to see the Spirit. I suspect it is the same zeal that burns within Kieyanna. Your passion for freeing the oppressed kindles hope in my heart. But as I look around this village I have to wonder if these people are actually free. Are they better off than in the empire of Cheliax where devils run wild? The depraved acts that lie under a loosely veiled veneer are just as bad as those in the heart Egorian (capitol city of Cheliax).

Just look around us: rumors float on the wind of the ruthless Kabran Bloodeye who tortures his enemies in a cell beneath his gentlemen’s club; that the eccentric Shavaros Vade is digging up bodies from the burial grounds at night and using dark magic in an attempt to bring his wife back from the dead; that the Gavel, Thuldrin Kreed, has every member of the town so tightly wrapped around his finger that they don’t eat if he doesn’t allow it; that the herbalist, Laural, is using knowledge gained from a dark blood rite that cost her mother her sight; and that the nice woman who had founded the halfway house, Elara, was actually turning the children into werewolves. This town has more selfishness than I had expected to find.

Perhaps the one man who most cares for the people is Sheriff Deldrin. He approached me while I was out and about today. He thanked us again for bringing back the children and mentioned troubles brewing in the west. He talked of a darkness invading the Piren’s Bluff. It is rumored that Cheliax is looking to exert control over Andoran’s rich fields once again. I had heard of spies probing for weakness in the north and now he said that an army is moving east, out of Cheliax, for the Piren’s Bluff. (Piren’s Bluff is a castle type of defensible hold.)

Zandu ended his monologue and opened it up for responses and discussion from the others at the table. Where should we go? What should we do?

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Back in Town

Back in town things hadn’t changed in the four days since the adventurers set out to find the children.

Title ralla had been less than productive while living in fear of the worst. Kabran Bloodeye did not take kindly to his girls failing to put on a good show. She had beaten her badly for her failure to focus on earning him the money she owed him. It was in her contract. He had basically forced her to work at his brothel, The Rogue Lady. He then gave her rich clothes and furnishings. This all added up. He held this debt over her head as reason she couldn’t leave. The debt was 2,000 gold pieces and every month Kabran added on rent and food to the order of an additional 30gp. She only earned an average of 2gp per day after the brothel’s take. At this rate she would pay off her debt in five and a half years. And that was if he didn’t come up with a “new” debt that she owed. For now she was not earning any money because her battered and bruised body could not Perform the moves of her routine now was she pretty to look upon. It was another form of control. As if Kabran was saying, “I control when and how you ear your keep. And I have no intention of letting you go.” She was relegated to sweeping floors and washing clothes.

The look of shame was clear in Ralla’s eyes as she hugged her brother. She could barely make eye contact with Kieyanna, the woman who had been so nice to her and sworn to find her brother. Kieyanna was such a strong person and would have not put up with anyone beating her. Much less with any man telling her what to do. She was ashamed of her weakness to stand up for herself. But now that she had Hollin back she would focus on her dance and do what Kabran asked and they would get out of here one day.

Shavros Vade was elated at the return of his only son. He took him quickly away from the swarming mass of townspeople and back to his tower. But before leaving Shavros found Dhohar and thanked him for his selfless endeavor.

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Dhohar's Journal: Musings and Thought Wandering

I’ve had a number of revelations on this trip and journey. Perhaps it’s the time spent underground, perhaps it’s my greater experience in the world or perhaps it’s simply the role of my fury changing my views but I’m hardened after my time below ground. Before I could afford to be idyllic and high-minded in my opinions…but the time spent in those caves and caverns taught me hard lessons and re-shaped my opinion.

I learned that my desire to neither keep nor use a ranged weapon, as only killers and takers used those, would limit me and artificially grant others the ability to harm me and those I care for. If I had a simple bow or sling of some sort I’d avoid giving up my primary weapon, the spear, while attempting to hurt a foe at range. While these weapons ARE clearly the province of those that disturb the natural cycle of life by harvesting others before their time, they can also be weapons used to harvest those that take prematurely. I think of myself as being in the later category.

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