After traveling a few days in the Giuthais forest, the party has an interesting encounter. While Nuada and Severath were keeping watch, an elf shows up at their camp and “pssts” at Nuada to get his attention. She waves him over while Severath, suspicious, wakes up the party.
Her name is Urizana. It turns out there is a camp of elves nearby, and she snuck off on her own to investigate your camp fire. She was excited to find more elves out here in Dwarven lands, even if it is in the woods. She takes Nuada to see her camp, and invites you to come visit them in the morning.
In the morning, the whole group heads over to see the elves mostly packed and ready to leave. One in the center is slowly stowing cooking pans in a pack, as if he’s unsure about whether or not they’ll still be needed.
It turns out that they’re anthropologists sent on a five-year mission to study Dwarvish culture. They’re all wearing earth-toned clothing for better camouflage, but some of them have bright white robes.
Introductions are made:
Bezaen Mylysa – Leader of the group. A male grey elf with a falcon companion named Eyebright. Hes a bit stern and impatient, with all of the usual snobbishness of a grey elf despite his love for nature.
Stadis Farweaver – The only high elf in the group. He seems truly fascinated by dwarves and everything they do. Somewhat nerdy but is mostly passionate about his studies.
Sharieth Sethil – Grey elf female with striking jet-black hair. Wears spellcaster robes and is most likely a sorcerer. Doesn’t socialize much during the encounter.
Lacmae Jafillaeth – Most likely also an arcane spellcaster, and seems to be in a relationship with Sharieth. He’s spent some time on Tolgar studying various human cultures as well.
Urizana A’thae – Shes the one everyone first met, and is very taken with Severath. Despite being a grey elf, shes very sweet and whimsical, and loves the forest life. She manages to convince her troupe to linger another day and “get to know” the party a bit better.
Ineeon Yameaenya – Ineeon is pretty tall and skinny, even for an elf. He sees Kuma as a curiosity, but his bluntness about sharing a tent was a bit off-putting. Still, Kuma happily joins him, being curious himself.
Queval Uyfaethil – Mostly quiet, Queval is somewhat of the newbie in the group. Made to pack everyone’s goods and cook their food, its mostly in good fun since the acceptance for it is “they’ve all been there.” He wears the symbol of Corellon Larethian. When chatting, he comes across as genuinely warm and inviting.
Everyone enjoys a lovely day getting to know their new friends. Thorsun is still a bit suspicious that their intentions may not all be for study, and wonders why they don’t announce themselves to the dwarven people. Their argument, is that their presence would cause the Dwarves behavior to change, and like a scientist studying a microbe, they don’t want to interfere. People behave more naturally when they don’t know they’re being studied.
The next morning, everyone goes their own ways – Urizana more reluctantly than the rest.
The party eventually makes their way to Iasga’bhaile (Ee-ahs-gah, Bay-eel), which translates to “Fish city.” Unsurprisingly, this city is known for their large hauls of fish – mostly bass – along the Silver River. Its an imposing structure – every tower on the outer wall is at least a hundred foot high. Made of strong grey granite, the city is a squared flat-colored blemish on the sparkling azure river. Its a very dull and yet intimidating settlement. Several large angular towers stretch above even the walls, most of them densely packed against each other on the southern side of the city. Every tower is rectangular or square in shape, with no soft curves or rounded edges to be seen.
The outside guards are wary and suspicious of such an eclectic group, but they’re not mean. They inspect the contents of your wagon, and are a bit taken aback by the amount of treasure you have. One of them states: “We are an honest and proud clan, and honorable beyond all else. However, we cannot be responsible for any stolen goods left out in the open like this. Walking around with a cart full of wealth is asking for trouble. And we do not tolerate trouble.” After a 2cp/person gate tax, they allow you in.
Inside, the entire city is covered in shadow. You can’t see any buildings shorter than three stories tall, and most are far taller. Everything is built of the same solid gray granite, and even the roads are stone – albeit a loosely packed darker gray cobblestone, worn smooth due to years of traffic. However, despite all the grey, splashes of color can be seen everywhere – from balconies hanging clothes to dry, banners and signposts above tower entrances, potted shade-loving flowers and green vines climbing up walls, children running around with yellow and blue clothing. The streets are packed with wooden wagons, barrels, fountains, and market stalls. Not to mention – dwarves. Many of them awkwardly staring at you.
It was recommended that you visit the Tower inn. Its the entire 6-story tower, along with three basement levels, and sounds like the fanciest inn in town. The nicer rooms are single bed, but you decide to sleep two to a room and save your gold.
Its nice being in civilization again after months of being on the road. A hot bath, a bed, and a good meal were sorely missed. People use their time to relax a while and run a few errands.
Thorsun searches for a post office to write home. He writes letters to Alexa – his father’s royal adviser, Helena, his older sister, and Torson, his twin brother. He tells them about the axe he found, and asks if they’re familiar with such powers. Kuma, having just learned to write, eagerly joins him to send his own letter home, but quickly discovers that it would be cheaper, and most likely faster, just to deliver it himself.
Nuada visits the docks and secures the party passage upriver. He takes a break in a somewhat seedy tavern to make local acquaintances and search for a “merchant guild” branch. He has no luck, but does overhear some gossip -
News from Newspring is that orcs managed to breach the walls of the gnomish city, but were pushed back. Supposedly an army of gnomes swarmed in through a portal, flanking the orcs and trapping them inside the city walls where they were crushed.
Some claim that the elves are even helping the gnomes, and have sent several ships of their best hunters to engage in guerrilla warfare against the orcish horde.
Fishing has been great lately, and the town is prospering despite increased attacks from the Runicstone clan.
Severath ends up in a curiosities shop owned by a very dark and curly-haired dwarf named Balbii Strongarm. He makes a trade of exotic perfumes for dwarven hair clips. He gets a bit friendly with the shopkeeper, and asks him to dinner. After clearing up a little confusion, Severath takes Balbii and his wife Alyssa out for a platonic meal in order to get to know them better.
It turns out that there is a whole section called the Inner city, where travelers are not allowed to go. Thorsun heads to the gate between both sections and convinces one of the guards that he has important information to report to a guard captain or other official member of the city’s militia. Kuma heads to the market in the meantime.
Once escorted to the Inner city, Thorsun is taken to an underground office and left in the dark – literally. There are no windows or source of light. After waiting several minutes, the captain of the guard, Barafur Firmsteel, shows up. He takes Thorsuns statement about the elves in the woods, and thanks him for his time. Thorsun makes sure to act like his “commoner” character the whole time, even acting surprised at Barafur’s brief use of magic to light a lantern. On his way out, Thorsun spots a fancy wagon with the Redspear crest on it. Wagons like this are commonly used for higher nobles in the family.
The rest of the party explores the market a bit, restocking on food and enjoying the difference in culture.
The barge everyone is taking upriver is leaving a few hours before dawn. Its captained by Elgan Fireshadow and his wife Roki. They’re taking barrels of fish and piles of timber upriver to Airgid Drochaid – Silver Bridge.
Severath: “Permit me to take you to dinner?”
Balbii Strongarm: “Oh.. um… I’ve got a wife…”
Severath: “Well then please invite her too!”