Marpenoth 19, 1367 DR - Year of the Shield
No one had spoken much the night before. Combat had made them fast friends, but the morose idea of lizard men assaulting settlements had left them all mute. All except for Haeming, who had not been much for talk to begin with.
They knew they had another ten hours of rough travel ahead of them. Watching the tall grass along the sides of the roads, while avoiding the common road dangers that risked horse, wagon and man alike; ruts and rocks in the road that could cost a man his ankle, a horse its leg, or a wagon its wheel.
Before the raid the Captain had been relaxed. This portion of the road had been patrolled by the massive city-state of Waterdeep to the north. But with lizard men on the prowl all it would take is one of the opportunistic creatures to realize how easy it would be to stall a wagon and leave the whole caravan vulnerable to attack. The Captain continued to puff on his pipe. A nervous habit that left his teeth a blue shade similar to the smoke that billowed out from the blue stained bowl of the pipe. .
He appreciated the professionalism all his guards were now showing, even the new ones. But he did miss the more carefree atmosphere just prior to the attack.
"Young men grow old too quick on the road," he mumbled to himself. The rest of the day showed little change other than the constant and paranoid drive south. Forced only to stop when the light had faded to near black, and men and horses began to stumble from exhaustion. Even on the nights when Selune was at her fullest danger looked in the shadows and darkness. Trip wires, bandit snipers, and untold creatures from the nearby Lizard Marsh prowled the road.
Begrudgingly the Captain forced everyone to make camp, breaking it the moment a soft pink and orange mist hit the horizon.
Marpenoth 20, 3167 DR - Year of the Shield
They arrived in Daggerford early in the morning. The sun just beginning to peak and bring warmth to the Sword Coast. The bite in the air, brought on by fast approaching winter, would leave until once again the sun set. The pennants and flags, featuring a sharp dagger on a blue field, snapped sharply on their towers in the cool fall breeze.
The Captain cursed out orders. Though he needn't have bothered as his most experienced hands knew where to set up the wagons, and who to talk to at the caravan gate.
Justian had lived in this area his entire twenty years of life. He was from a small hamlet on the River Shining that had changed its name so often that they stopped giving it a name, and instead just called it Home. His mouth gaped as he jumped down from his place in the wagon. He had been told that Daggerford was small as cities go. But he had never seen such a large place that was not an ancient ruin.
"Close your mouth son, lest you wish a fly make it home." The Captain laughed as he pat Justian on the back. It was a hoarse and smoke tortured sound. "Not sure how you got so off track, you must have been half way to Waterdeep. But you earned your keep on the road, from the moment we picked you up. You're free to go. My men said the Caravan Gate is open."
Justian watched as the Captain entered the gate. He followed suit, unsure of where he needed to go. The city was a maze to him. Sights sounds and smells assaulted his every sense as he made his way through the gate. The gate itself consisted of a stone bridge over a pit. Flanked on either side by stone towers. The wall to the city itself was a palisade of wood mounted on top of a mound of earth. It was much better defended than Home had been. From the corner of his eye he could see the stark blonde hair of Coryn, as the cleric took a moment to take in the sights of the city.
They had not talked to each other since Coryn's revelation by the fire. The sights of Daggerford were now overshadowed by thoughts of lizard men violently killing men, women, and children. Justian tried to will those thoughts away, but it was of no use. He could hold his tongue no more.
"How did such beasts come by a 'household' idol?" The concern that weighed deep in Justian's thoughts carried in his voice. "Perhaps a noble's villa in the hunting grounds was ransacked? We should inform the town guard."
"Indeed," Coryn said as he nodded in agreement, "I can only assume fell deeds resulted in this idol being in the possession of those lizard men."
"Priest," Justain started to scratch his chin in thought, "do you think a temple to Lathander would be able to ascertain the household who worshiped it?"
"I believe that would be a fair place to start," Coryn admitted, unsure of where else to go.
"Then let us continue a search for this temple, that is, if the other two who rightfully own part of this statue agree." Justian said as he adjusted his bag of personal items that was strapped to his back, "What say you, lads?
"Do as you wish." Haeming's soft voice brought the young skald to Justian's attention. The Northman had walked up on them, unobserved. The thought of being taking by surprise by the skald made Justian feel cold, as if a ghost had passed through him. Justian shook off the feeling. The skald was dour, but had proven himself an ally.
Justian looked back at the skald, his legs already moving, only to find the large frame of the Captain in his way. Justian began to apologize for almost running into the merchant and caravan leader.
"Sir, Captain. I am-"
"Hold up lad, lads, your forgot your fee," the Captain explained, "you all performed great as guards." The Captain pulled out a small purse made of linked loops. It jingled with coins and its own chain links.
Coin by coin the Captain counted. Each silver coin stamped with the mark of Cormyr.
"Thank you kindly, sir." Coryn said as he quickly stashed his seven coins in his purse before tucking it back under his armor.
"Well now," Justian commented, "Cormyrean Falcons. Isn't that a sight."
"I do get around." The Captain laughed once more with his smoke tortured laugh.
The Captain continued his payout, as he counted out to Haeming, the young skald continuing with his stoic silence, and waived over Remenissions. The paladin was examining the palisade closely, thoughts of martial exercise and defensible positions always on his mind.
"Everything alright lad?" The Captain prodded as he counted out each coin of silver.
"A wooden palisade." Remenissions said as he pointed to town's main defensive wall. "I would have thought a town of this size would use stone. It seems unwise."
"You'd have to talk to talk to the people in charge." The Captain smiled, "I just trade here."
"Captain, there wouldn't by chance people a temple of Torm in this town would there?" The paladin's voice waivered slightly as he asked.
The look in Remenissions eyes surprised the Captain. He could see hope, and fear mingled together.
"Not unless they built one since I was last here," the Captain answered, unsure of whether Remenissions was relieved or pained at the news. Shaking his head the Captain secured his coin purse and began to make his way toward the merchant district. He glanced over at Justian. He could see the troubled grimace on the young warrior's face. A sure indication to the concern in the young warriors heart.
"Lads," the Captain shouted, "if you want to report the troubles seek out Sherlen Spearslayer, she commands the militia. Reports directly to Duke Daggeford she does."
Haeming raised a brow slightly, "...she?"
"My thanks, Captain." Justian saluted, "when swords part!"
The Captain nodded and continued on his way, lost in thoughts of coins owed and coins earned.
"Perhaps we should find a local," Justian said as he turned to his new found friends, "someone who knows the layout of this town. If there isn't a temple, we should go directly to Spearslayer."
"Shall we do just that fellows?" Coryn agreed, as he looked around, "she may also be able to aid us in discovering more about the lizard men's unrest and possibly the source of this idol."
"It could be," Justian offered, "that there aren't many nobles that the idol might belong to, and the militia commander would certainly know then."
"I'm up for it." Remenissions replied.
Haeming dropped his pack next to a wall of the closest building and sits on it leaning against the wall
"You, madam!" Justian shouted as he pointed at the nearest local. She was a young woman, brown hair down to her shoulders. Her home spun tunic, haphazardly dyed green, reached down to her calves. A belt cinched it at her waist. "My friend, would there happen to be a temple to Lathander here in town?"
The young woman gave a small shriek, as Justian shouted at her.
"Oh! Sorry my lady," Justian quickly apologized, "I was, out of turn."
"Yes," She stammered, "there is. Up by the castle. Big round building... you can't miss it."
"Why thank you, good Lady." Justian began as the young woman backed up, mouth agape. She looked to have found her feet, running off as fast as she could. Justian shouted after her, "again, my apologies!"
"I wonder what was troubling her," Remenissions said as he scratched his chin. A week's worth of stubble slowly coalescing into a patchy beard. "I would have liked to ask her about a local temple to Torm."
"There be no temples to Torm this far west of Hillsfar" Coryn offered, "to my knowledge. Well, shall we head to the town's temple, or the militia's captain?"
"The temple," Justian voted, "it is just morning and so we have much time."
Remenissions agreed. Haeming only offered a non-committal nod before picking up his bag again.
"If we are all in agreement," the young warrior said, "then I say let us go to the temple."
"Well," Coryn said, "let us make our way there. Shall we lads?"
Daggerford was not large, as far as town's go. Approximately forty permanent, and a dozen or so semi-permanent structures crammed behind a wooden palisade. But to Justian it was huge. Justian looked on at the signs of buildings on the way to temple, discovering what shops and inns made Daggerford their home. Every other building he would sound out the name of, trying to memorize what business was located where.
Coryn couldn't help but smile at Justian, the young warrior was staring intensely at the people and town of Daggerford. To Coryn the town seemed artificially jammed together, like a small town trying to be a big metropolis.
The town itself seemed to be in some sort of transition. Some buildings were made of wood, while others were entirely stone. The castle, which had been easy enough to locate as it had been constructed on the highest point in the walled town, was slate grey. Sharp and new looking flags hung and occasionally waved in the wind from the towers of the castle. The castle itself looked new, and a bit out of place compared to the earthen mound and wooden wall that protected the rest of Daggerford.
The temple sat upon the same hill as the castle, that alone would have made it easy enough to find. But its round structure made it stick out like a sharpened dowel pointed toward the sky. Made of stone, the temple had also been washed in some sort of yellowish and near translucent paint, giving it the illusion of glowing in the early morning sun.
As the group approached the temple they could see that the doors were closed. Next to the doors an older man stood. He would look at the doors, look at the sun, then sneer. An almost continuous loop of staring and sneering.
Coryn waived for the man's attention, only to see the loop of sneering continue. All three stopped, and stared at the sight. Unsure of the surly and sneering human.
The man was wearing a dark green cloak and a brown tunic. His hair was shoulder-length, straight, and black. His muscularly built body and dual swords (one short and one long) that hung from his belt led the three to believe this man was a warrior. The long bow strapped across his back only helped to confirm their thoughts.
He leaned against the wall of the temple, near the large, yellow dyed, wooden doors. His arms crossed and his eyes looping from door to the sun. Every other loop he would mumbled to himself in quiet frustration.
"Well met, friend." Justian once again was the first to break the silence, "are you a priest of this temple? We wish to know something of the god worshiped here."
"I look like a priest to you?" The man laughed. It was a sour laugh almost like he was mocking Justian. "This is a temple to the Morninglord, Lathander."
"My apologies." Justian said with a shrug of his shoulders, "I have no idea what a priest of Lathander would look like."
"Well you'll find plenty of them inside," replied. "Was looking to have a conversation with one myself. In private, of course."
"Oh, of course. Until swords part." Justian saluted the surly looking man.
As their brief conversation concluded, the doors to the temple burst open. The morning service apparently concluded.
Justian, Coryn, Haeming, and Remenissions watched as the congregation left the temple. The building had seemed so small from the outside, but sheer number of parishioners inside revealed the truth of its massive interior. After a few minutes, minutes that passed like hours, the crowd began to thin. As the last parishioner exited a loud voice echoed from within the temple.
The voice was crackled and dry with age. "Enter the Temple of the Morninglord. I have been expecting you all."