During Which the Heroes Make a New Friend
After a well deserved long rest, the First Heroes and the House Marquis Caravan continued their journey west through Q'barra on the Long Road to Sharn. They were making very good time through the region of Hope, a collection of several small mining towns in the northern region of the Kingdom.
5/13/5003 Update - The next afternoon their path crossed that of a traveling Shop owner whose cart had gotten stuck in the mud. The wheel had snapped off and there was a Human Male fussing over the inconvenience. He looked up as the caravan approached and hurried over to the road to flag it down.
"Sirs, sirs! May I beg your pardon, please?"
The caravan slowed as the man ran up, but Thoris d'Marquis refused to bring the wagons to a full stop.
"Marvelous, marvelous, marvelous, I say!" said the man excitedly, fast-walking alongside the Heroes's wagon. "What a fortuitous occurrence to follow such an unfortunate circumstance! It's kismet, it is, simply kismet that you should be passing through when you did! As you may have observed I've run aground, so to speak, while traveling through this beauteous countryside. My wagon, sturdy as she is, hit a mud hole and now the doggone wheel has gone and broke! Pardon my savage tongue, if you will, but I'm just s'darn miffed about the whole thing. Why, everything I own is in this here wagon, and now look at it! Say, might I perhaps be able to conscript any or the lot of you to lend your..." he quickly eyed Shai Hulud, "...clearly capable assistance to a poor refugee in need?"
Thoris sighed as he rolled his eyes and brought the caravan to a halt, directing the other drivers to pull into formation around the wreck in case of any trickery. The man paused to catch his breath as the Heroes departed the wagon.
"Much obliged, much obliged indeed," he said. "The humble Russel Kindly, at your beck and call, my extraordinary Heroes."
Russel continued to reveal his backstory as the Heroes helped to fix his wagon. "I'm from Verdun, you see. I was away on holiday on the Day of Mourning...I lost everything. Just like that I was alone - no home, no family, no country to return home to."
Once the wagon was fixed the verbose man continued. "Thank you ever so kindly, folks...Russel Kindly, that is. Now I feel I'd be remiss if I failed to ask - if it's not too much trouble now, it would be preferable to me if you would be so kind as to allow me to tag along at the back of your fine caravan, House Marquis sponsored by the looks of it - a fine house indeed, for only for as far as the next settlement or so. I'm on my way to Wyrmwatch now, you see. It's a small mining town just to the west, near the tri-kingdom border (that's Brindinford, Hosuth, and our grand land of Q'barra if you like). I'm not sure your heading, but the road upon which you already travel leads straight to Sharn after a few days journey, and not much place else aside from that. Passes right by Wyrmwatch, it does! So what do you say? There is safety in numbers I hear (or at least so I hear)."
Happy to help their new friend, the Heroes hitched Russel's wagon to the back of their own. The man's horse had run off into the nearby woods and was presumed dead (at the very least the hunt for the beast would take more time than even Russel cared to spend on the matter). "Again," he said, "I must thank you fine folks for your acquiescence. Assuredly your benevolence shan't go unnoticed...or unrewarded."
Thoris d'Marquis ordered the caravan to resume its journey and they continued on, the Heroes naturally bringing up the rear. Their carriage was already the slowest and pulling a second wagon along behind them only slowed them further. As the trip continued, they eventually lost sight of the rest of the caravan when it followed the road ahead around a bend.
Very shortly after they had been separated from the rest of their group, the Heroes were set upon by unseen assailants in the woods. Having already experienced a similar situation on their journey (see "Taking the Long Way") Goose spotted the attackers immediately [with the help of a Nat 20] and tried to point out their location to the rest of the team. This time the ambush was not by Halflings; it was by Lizardfolk.
Realizing their group had been spotted, another band of assailants emerged from various hiding spots in the field on the other side of the road, completely surrounding their target. Russel swooned and fainted at the horror and "grotesquity" of the entire ordeal.
Once they were able to see their foes, the Heroes and Jarturim were able to dispatch them without too much effort. Shai and the Dragonborn defeated the attackers in the field while Goose took on those in the woods opposite them, even cutting the hand off of one Lizardfolk who tried to board the wagon by using his spear to climb aboard (he escaped by disappearing into the woods). Meanwhile, Simon LeQuack aided Thoris's attempt to evade the ambushers and had Manchot, his Clockwork Penguin, ensure that Mr. Kindly's wagon did not detach.
Triumphant yet again, the Heroes managed to wake Russel Kindly just as the last of the foes had been dealt with. The man began to gather his gear so that he might spring to their aid - he even equipped his rapier - but was genuinely disheartened when they informed him the action was all done. He thanked the Heroes profusely once again and nearly fainted once more when he saw the Lizardfolk hand still clutching the spear stuck into the back of his wagon.
Identification of a tattoo on the back of the hand suggested that the ambush had been set by members of the Confederacy of the Poison Dusk, a militant lizardfolk resistance group. The confederacy was prominent throughout the entire kingdom and its members were steadfast in their frequently violent objections to the invasion of Q'barra by outsiders.
5/14/5003 Update - The sun was setting on the horizon in front of the House Marquis Caravan as it reached the small mining Town of Wyrmwatch near the edge of Hope. The place was unlike any the First Heroes had experienced on their travels thus far (at least while traveling together). Ladies of the evening peddled their wares on the street corners; a shootout was taking place in the town square (presumably over leadership of the town); performers and beggars alike shared the sides of the street with shop-owners and their patrons.
The Heroes departed their wagon as the caravan headed toward the hitching area. They made their way first to the local Tavern, a saloon called the Moonly Dawn, to get their bearings and set up lodging for the night.