Before the Rise of Tiamat

Envisioner

Explorer
Lyle departs the home of his fellow halfling, or "hin" to use the small folk's own word for themselves. (The few humans who know this term at all mostly only know it in the context of the famous children's nonsense rhyme, "How much kin can a man count hin, if the men c'n count hin kin?" Most of those who had this doggerel repeated to them while still in their swaddling clothes don't even realize that "hin" is a real word in the Common Tongue.) As he walks out onto the streets of Greenest, the puzzle of Galena Goodboroughs's tale nibbles at the edges of his mind.

Imsa, the green woman. Such coloration might suggest a being who lived very close to nature, but if so, she likely wouldn't have been sensitive when asked about it. Otherwise, such mishaps are typical of dabblers in witchcraft; if anyone would know more about her, it would be the local "wizer", a gnome by the name of Hodgkin Cobblehoof. On the other hand, she was supposed to be going to Waterdeep, so maybe she didn't bother to seek the wizard out; if her goal was to simply get back on the road asap, she might have headed to the stables at the far west end of town, where the human whom everyone in town simply calls Saddlesore rents out swift horses, to anyone who's in too much of a hurry to rely on the more unwieldy draft-horsed carriages used for long-range caravan travel.

Preznak was described as "rather sinister-looking", which Lyle's experiences in the Underworld have taught him is a fairly meaningless description. Most of the most dangerous predators in the urban jungle know how to blend in a good bit better than that; someone who goes out of their way to look evil or frightening is likely just trying to deflect unwanted attention, and while this may conceal a nefarious motive, it's at least as often simply going to prove that the person is fearful enough to try and bluff their way out of trouble.

Leonard Never-Sin; that ridiculous name could only belong to someone as sheltered as a Candlekeep monk. On some sort of religious pilgrimage, Galena suspected; a man of learning with a habit of asking questions, probably having no more reason to want those answers than the simple desire to know. Such a person likely poses no direct threat, though the naivete and ineptitude that commonly accompany such an idealistic mindset can make them perilous to be around, despite their own lack of malice.

A dragonborn; you seem to recall hearing that these most often come from the Old Empires of Unther and Chessenta, far to the Unnaproachable East and a little bit in the Shining south's direction. Certainly an exotic creature, and quite dangerous to seek out; you've heard horror stories of a hin who double-crossed one of these black-scaled monstrosities, who simply picked him up and vomited acid right onto his face, dissolving his eyes, nose and lips. The poor fool lived, but rather wished he hadn't. Then again, the dragonborn in question was the same kind of scum and villainy as his victim, in that scenario; perhaps the one who was here in town was of a different ilk. But is it worth the risk of trying to track him down? If you decide it is, you should have little trouble finding more witnesses who would remember seeing him (or her? who can even tell with reptiles).

And the exceptionally tall and dark-skinned (though humans in general are usually both of those things by your people's standards) individual who was referred to as "the pole". You have the least basis to think he might have any meaningful relationship to you, since just being of unusual stature proves nothing about what this person does with his time. But as with the dragon-man, his remarkable appearance should have been remarked upon by someone besides your neighbor.

None of these individuals (with the possible exception of Preznak, if he actually was what Gal took him for, but you'd bet this is less than half-likely) seem at all likely to be related to the trouble that you're here trying to avoid. All of them sound likely to be involved in other, hopefully more profitable sorts of trouble, and while you've kept your inquisitive instincts on the back burner while here on your home turf, you are beginning to grow just a bit restless. Like the storm that's begun to roll in, you feel an energy building inside yourself; it's only a matter of time before it will need release.
 

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gnarlygninja

Explorer
Lyle chewed over his options as he chewed on one of the goodies from his pocket. He had done his best to avoid attention, but a line kept too tight would break. There's probably no harm in looking around he decided. Lyle headed home to grab some of his gear and then over to the stables.
"What could go wrong talking to a man named Saddlesore" he said to no one in particular.
 

gargoyleking

Adventurer
Mornock looks back at the barkeep and nods, understanding the need to get away from such dire weather himself.

"Aye, Best we be gettin' back to yon inn. I hopes as they've a spot I c'n rest me bones. May'ap in th' cellar."

He tosses a silver to the barman with a nod and pulls up his hood to step out into the wind.
 

JustinCase

the magical equivalent to the number zero
Grimnir likewise nods and pays, then follows the other dwarf outside.

”No sense in staying outside,” he agrees. ”That storm will increase for a while, and I’ll keep an eye on it. But from the warm side of a window.”

Grimnir suspects there are sufficient rooms at the inn, but he’s not picky if they need to bunk up.

”Perhaps we can travel together tomorrow? I’ve got no set destination at the moment, unless Umberlee shows me one tonight.”
 

gargoyleking

Adventurer
Mornok chuckles and nods a bit more vigorously than usual as the wind starts whipping at them. Not sure if his words will carry.

"Aye, though neither 'ave I."
 

Envisioner

Explorer
OOC: As I mentioned on the OOC thread, my life took a turn for the worst, so I'll stop drawing out a scene that I was hoping to explore in great detail, and proceed directly to the action beginning. Please take it as read that your characters are at least somewhat positively inclined toward the folk of this village, since I don't have the time I was hoping to take actually portraying them as unique individuals so that you could organically grow fond of some of them.


Lyle
Saddlesore proves to be a fairly uninteresting conversationalist; he hasn't seen the green woman, though he does confirm that Preznak rode out of town in a hurry, heading north and a bit east in the general direction of Scornubel and Berdusk (or maybe it's Beregost, nobody can keep those two straight). Other than that detail, you learn nothing from him, and for lack of a better idea what to do, you head back toward the center of town, trying not to dwell upon the rapidly worsening weather. You're just in time to see a pair of dwarves, very slightly drunk by non-dwarven standards, emerge from the pub, seemingly discussing the weather.

Dwarves
As a halfling you know nothing about idly strolls in his and Mornok's direction, Grimnir takes a look up at the sky and ponders what theology he knows. Though never formally educated, he's collected plenty of tales from pious travelers, and as he sifts through these in his mind, he realizes that a storm this far inland seems increasingly unlikely to be the work of Umberlee; she might have set it in motion, but once it was well clear of the waves, it ought properly to have become the purview of Talos the Thunderlord, a deity even more feared and less loved than the Sea Witch. The two are notoriously rivals, with one breed of island-dwelling humans of your acquaintance even believing the two of them (although for some reason they think Umberlee is male, and never call her by name) are the only gods who exist, that sea and sky are constantly at war, with land little more than a neutral zone designed to keep them apart. Their cult is certainly nonsense, and probably won't survive past the first time a cleric of Tyr or Tempus or Silvanus lands on their shores...still, their odd belief is a microcosm of what you've been taught is true, that these two ill-tempered Powers are eternally at odds, and that storms traveling this far inland are either Umberlee's attacks against Talos, or his violent usurpations of the initially-harmless (well, mostly) weather systems that she creates.

As you dwell upon this enigma, sunlight falls unexpectedly on your face, and you look up to see that the storm clouds are dissolving almost fast enough for the naked eye to see. The flanks of the shadowy cumulonimbus continue to extend far to the north and south, but Greenest itself is illuminated by the last setting rays of Amanautor...and, looking down the main road directly to the west, you see that the newly emergent light is catching the upper layers of a massive dust cloud several miles away, whose dim outline you can then make out in the gloom beneath what remains of the cloud wall. No caravan could kick up that much dirt as it ambles slowly along...but an army riding fast certainly might....
 

gargoyleking

Adventurer
Mornok watched the sight in a state of awe. One minute they were being beaten about by the wind, the next the clouds were dissipating and the sun was coming out for a last showing.

"Oye, is this may'ap some sign from yer' goddess? An' is ther some war goin' on? That dust cloud dinnae look good."
 

JustinCase

the magical equivalent to the number zero
"Not from her," Grimnir mutters as he processes what he knows, and what he can imply. "The Stormlord, maybe. But there's something else..."

Shielding his eyes from the sudden sunlight, the dwarf peers at the dust cloud in the distance. His mind goes through the options of what it could imply, because as a sailor he is not used to interpreting these landbound signs.

But then, like the sun breaking through the clouds, it dawns on him.

"An army is approaching!" he yells loudly, unconsciously reverting to Common. Gathering his wits he turns to Mornok.

"We need to alert the guard and get everyone to safety! Greenest is under attack!"
 

gnarlygninja

Explorer
Lyle knew the only thing that traveled faster than bad news was gossip, and that the hin in Greenest had well established channels of communication for it. He found the closest halfling and yelled "Go tell your grandmother the town is under attack!" He knew that news would spread like wildfire. Lyle turned to the dwarf who yelled about the attack. "That human down the street with the lantern is an officer, but he may need to be reminded what to do in a situation like this. The watch is mostly ceremonial here."
 

Envisioner

Explorer
Even the halfling gossip network takes a few minutes to work, and the humans who lack this resource are even slower to take up the word. Many of them come to investigate the dwarf's warning, but they tend to be initially skeptical, peering out into the darkness with their own, far more night-blind eyes. A few even begin tentatively expressing doubt about the validity of Grimnir's hue and cry.

All that changes literally in a flash, as a massive bolt of lightning from the storm crosses about a 30-degree arc of the sky and strikes a flying body in midair. Though unharmed by the strike, the form is momentarily outlined by arcs of coruscating electricity before it completely absorbs the charge, and that gives everyone who's looking at the sky a very clear look at the size and shape of the creature - a thickly muscled body roughly the size of a barn, with a long tail lashing behind, an outstretched neck ending in a massive head, and broad bat-like wings. These few details, even glimpsed for just a second, send an immediate and unarguable message: dragon.

Those who witnessed the sight immediately begin running, either headed directly for the town's central keep, or quickly rushing into their homes to grab a few possessions and/or relatives. Those who didn't see the dragon do see the reactions of ones who do, and in short order the entire assembled crowd is in motion. A moment later, a loud horn-blast blares from the top of the keep, three times in quick succession, and then repeating fifteen seconds later, and fifteen seconds after that. Evidently this signal is meaningful to the locals, because before long ever door flies open and the stream of people heading for the fort is up to well over 100.
 

Voidrunner's Codex

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