Dear Diary…we try a new approach

Alert: May contain spoilers for “The Village of Hommlet”

Lydia has been wearing Bakluni face-wraps while traveling. It draws less attention than her face, so I have to applaud her for that.

The last leg of the trip has been pretty quiet. We did meet a caravan of cargo wagons on the road…they told us that “oh, yes, Hommlet is Old Faith” and exchanged pleasantries. They’re passing through all the way to Dyvers.

Lots of gnomes in these hills. They wear different fashions than those in the Starkmounds, but so far they’ve been very hospitable.

****

Met a strange old man on the road today. He sat on the crest of a hill, and looked like a weathered herdsman except we didn’t see any flock.

Ezekiel (naturally) greeted him, and asked if we were on the road to Hommlet.

The man answered that one direction was Hommlet, but the other way was Verbobank. (So…like my brother Snarkin.)

He turned down Ezekiel’s offer that we accompany him, but asked us to “be kind” to any of his flock that we found in Hommlet.

I don’t trust it.

We’re staying outside a gnomish inn tonight, and according to the map we should reach Hommlet early tomorrow. We talked a little bit about what our approach should be, but I think we’re just going to see how things come. After all, our investigative technique in Orlane wasn’t that impressive.

Ezekiel agrees we should try to see if we can resolve this problem without killing any townsfolk.

****

When we first arrived in Hommlet, we passed a little farmhouse where a woman and some dogs came out to greet us.

Raven talked to the dogs for a moment, and told us they were a little worried about Nori.

The woman suggested we go to “The Welcome Wench” for hospitality, and shortly afterward a man who seemed to be her son came out and joined us on the road.

His name is Elmo, and he says he’s a man at arms in the militia (and that his dad is the constable). Hard to tell if he’s not all there, or if he’s just drained his brains into a beer-mug, if you know what I mean.

(Wonder if Reginald will end up like that one day? I don’t see Father giving him an empty title and letting him drink his life away, though…especially not on Father’s dime. Been forever since I’ve had a letter from them…I wonder what they’re all up to by now?)

Anyway, Elmo offered his services if we were to head into the hills looking for monsters with treasure…we told him we’d keep it in mind.

When we reached the inn, we decided that Ezekiel, Mikael, and Lydia would go check out the chapel at the north end of town, while Raven and I investigated the “Welcome Wench” (and its food). (Mikael told Nori to hang out on the roof. She’s pretty used to that…wonder if she catches birds in her spare time or something.)

The common room seemed pretty packed, considering the hour. One big, scar-faced man in the corner wore traveling clothes…I bet anything he’s an adventurer.

Raven promptly ordered a lavish breakfast (I got away with a simple breakfast) and an ale. Elmo, over at another table, was already deep in his ale. It’s a little early in the morning for me to be drinking.

At a table against the wall, a huge man sat with someone who looked Bakluni…they seemed to be watching us, but I couldn’t really hear what they were saying.

Raven told me to settle down and eat my breakfast, and that the food was truly amazing.

Well, so it was pretty good…as was the serving girl. (Hope Raven doesn’t show off his muscles again, or he’ll have another admirer…)

There’s a merchant with two bodyguards having breakfast. The propriater (Mr. Gundercoot) says lots of adventurers go looking for monsters with treasure in the Chron Hills — which explains all the strangers in town. It must be a pretty busy trade route, too.

He says the Wild Coast (beyond town and to the south) is particularly dangerous.

Well, all kinds of places to investigate for “trouble.”

**

Ezekiel, Mikael, and Lydia joined us for breakfast. Raven couldn’t stop praising the food…which, coming from an expert like him, is quite an endorsement.

Over his breakfast, Ezekiel told us the chapel is a church of St. Cuthbert and the under-priest is named Calmet. Turjon, the over-priest, wasn’t there at the time, but Calmet said the “high road” to Nulb has been especially dangerous lately. (Nulb being the village that sprang up around the Temple of Elemental Evil. Apparently even though the temple is nixed, the village is still there.)

This place seems to swarm with adventurers, as he said “the fighter at the tower” east of town got rich from killing a green dragon, and so he and his magic user friend live there with a bunch of mercenaries.

Not sure I’m up to a dragon. Still, these types may have come for the treasure, but they’re still killing monsters. What could have concerned the Cleric of Velnius that he sent us all this way? Did he even have something specific in mind?

We were just about finished eating when the Bakluni-looking little man and his enormous companion came over to our table. He introduced himself as Turuko (and Kobort) and they offered their assistance should we be planning to go adventuring in the surrounding hills. (Turuko said he was skilled at assessing things for greater value.)

Ezekiel said we would keep it in mind, but that our party was complete at that time — and I suggested they go join up with Elmo, since he had made the same offer to us.

I notice they didn’t go over to Elmo’s table, but went back to their own.

Raven told me to chill out, and finish my breakfast. What is he getting at?!

After some discussion, we reserved beds in the dormitory for the guys, and a private room for Lydia (and our bags). She went up with her books to study a little while Ezekiel and Raven go back to the Church of St. Cuthbert for some more information and Mikael and I check out the Druid Grove nearby (one of the people we talked to suggested we might find out more there).

Incidentally, St. Cuthbert isn’t exactly “Old Faith”…

**

The Grove was peaceful, but orderly. I always feel a little solemn around places like that. You know the stones lining the path and the structure of the shrine were put there on purpose…but sometimes you feel like even the blades of grass and the leaves of the trees are exactly where they’re supposed to be.

I don’t think Nori felt that way. She started frolicking and chasing a squirrel.

Mikael went toward the center until the master of the grove (armed and armored) came out of the shrine to meet him.

Mikael made a donation to the Grove, and asked the druid-master about trouble in the area.

The druid of the grove (Geru Ashstaff) said the “balance is upset”…that Evil is around… He couldn’t tell us more specifically, but said that something was definitely off.

Balance is more of a Druid thing than a Ranger thing, but I’m all about stopping Evil. Besides, you don’t succeed by messing up the place you live.

**

Back at the inn, in our private room, Ezekiel told us what they had learned at the chapel. Apparently the old Cannoness, who founded the chapel, was named Eday and disappeared one day. Under-priest Calmet says that one day, she just wasn’t there…and then Cannon Turjon came to replace her.

Calmet also suggested we speak to the village elder, who if I’m not mistaken was here when all the old trouble was happening.

Ezekiel says we’ll rest here tonight, and head off in the morning, looking for “trouble.”

In going over the room (because you can never be too careful) I spotted a panel in the ceiling that was loose.

Mikael pushed it over for me, and Ezekiel held his perpetually shining shield up there, but it was hard to see anything from a distance.

Raven, of course, can lift me one-handed – so he poked my head up through there, and I felt around for anything suspicious. Didn’t find anything, and I don’t think the space is big enough for anyone to fit through…so they could spy on us through there, but not kidnap our Magic User through there.

I hope.

Raven told me to relax and enjoy life.

Just what is his angle? What is he getting at?


To read where we left off last time, click here.

To read the next entry, click here.

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