Being the stories and recollections of Dozril Tumbledown, traveling minstrel and friend to all, regarding the exploits of the wandering band called the Heroes of Harkenwold – Andrasian the elvish warrior, Krillorien the eladrin priest of Pelor, Melanie Good-Melons of the Arcane Tower, and Lyria Thorngage of the Junction Thorngages.
Yes, yes, gather ’round, gather ’round! I bring you a tale drenched in blood and bedecked with honor, fraught with danger and harrowing the faintof heart! You have heard, I’m sure, of the Battle of Albridge, the first blow struck for true against the Iron Circle cronies of the vile emperor-boy Lysander as he skulks on his thrown in Nerath. Yes! You have! But you know not of the crucial part four intrepid souls in turning that battle’s tide, and the good service they did after at Harken Keep! You will, good folk, as I, your humble storyteller Dozril Tumbledown, speak the names of this fearsome foursome –
(as Dozril says each name, it is echoed by the patrons who drink to each adventurer)
Andrasian! Elf of the Feywood, whose axe has cleaved many an Iron skull!
Krillorien! Eladrin noble of the dwarven manse bearing the light of Pelor wither he goes!
Melanie Good-Melons, lovely of form and keen of mind honed in the mysterious Tower of the Arcane!
Lyria! Sweet Lyria! Sly Lyria! Call her short at your peril, good sir, for she’ll shank you for it!
Now I begin my tale! Dark was the dawn when the rider found the four, and roused them to ride to Albridge. Dar Gramath, mighty of wind as well as fist, summoned them to assist in rebuffing the oncoming tide of iron. They had already done a good service to him, to Reithann the druid, the folk and fields of the Harkenwold – even the Woodsinger elves, cagey and aloof, pledged themselves to the defense of the ‘wold after these four rid them of an ancient evil, one that they said could never truly die! Ah, but that is a tale for another time…
So! Albridge! A fair jewel in the Harkenwold, rivaled only by Harken itself and facing annihilation at the hands of vile Nazin Redthorn (audiences tend to hiss at the first mention of his name) and his tar devil brood, his lackwit sellswords and his Iron Circle minions. Yet Redthorn did not anticipate resistance. Indeed, while his caravans had been sacked and his outriders disappearing, he had no notion that Dar Gramath had retained the services of four souls so keen to see him fail and fall! So when he rode to Albridge, he anticipated a quick tussle and an easy victory – not a hard-fought battle that would end in a rout!
For Krillorien prayed with the defenders of the Harkenwold, and Pelor shone his light upon them! Melanie’spells and… other charms (here Dozril waggles his bushy eyebrows) … gave the warriors help and hope to defend their homes! Andrasian’s crass, direct critiques of their fighting styles emboldened them! Lyria, sharp as her knives, conferred with the leaders of the resistance to draw Redthorn’s cronies into a brilliant trap – and so it happened! Like a steel snare for bears the resistance waited, and when the Iron Circle stepped into them with hoof and boot, the trap snapped shut!
(Dozril claps his hands and the audience bangs tankards and silverware on their tables)
Oh, many an Iron Circle tunic was tarnished that day, friends, and many sellswords threw down their arms and ran when the battle went ill. There were tar devils! Magics most foul! The flail of Redthorn and the bites of his drakes! Yet the defenders of the Harkenwold stood their ground, not giving up an inch of their precious land that was not paid for five times over in Iron Circle blood! Six times! (“Six times?” calls someone from the audience) SIX TIMES the Iron Circle came! SIX TIMES the Harkenwolders beat them back! And in the middle of it all were our heroes! Nazin Redthorn found them, friends, swore out an oath against them and set upon them full of vengeance and anger!
And what did this mighty warrior do, this warlord of sellswords, this most iron of Iron Circle men?
(“What? What? Tell us what!”)
HE RAN AWAY!
(Dozril takes on a frightened face, tucks his tail between his legs and runs in place. The audience laughs long and loud)
He ran away, good folk, back to what he felt was the safety of his keep, called Harken Keep when good Baron Stockmer held it, rechristened Iron Keep by Redthorn and his yes-folk. Yet not long after his shameful defeat a wagon of Iron Circle warriors came to the gate with a delivery for their dread lord. Into the keep they came, two men and a women with a large box between them.
Up into the great tower they went! Past behorned gatekeepers and guards born of dragons, they bluffed and parleyed their way to the highest room, the baron’s chamber. There was the craven Redthorn, who recognized his tormentors immediately in spite of their disguises. Lyria Thorngage sprang from the box, and the fight was on! The sound roused the others in the tower, save those below in the gaol, and what seemed to be an endless tide of iron washed over our heroes. Yet Andrasian’s arms did not tire! Krillorien’s voice did not fail! Lyria’s fingers remained deft! And Melanie’s spells struck for true! Only when the guards from without tried to strike within did the heroes slide into the hidden stairwell that Redthorn would have used himself, if halfling daggers hadn’t put an end to his reign of terror!
Down into the gaol they stole after recovering their wits, and it was there that they found good Baron Stockmer, half-starved but willing to fight. Through the postern gate they slipped, only to find elves of the Woodsinger tribe awaiting them! Dar Gramath had rallied the defenders of the Harkenwold, felled one of the mightest trees outside of Albridge and was battering down the gates even as the Iron Circle struggled to find someone to lead them! Thanks to the Heroes of Harkenwold striking the head from this iron serpent, the remnants of the body slithered away to the south, to the city they called Sarthel but good folk remember as Adamanton and…!
That, too, is a story for another time! Thank you, friends, for your attention and kindnesses! Though if you wish to convey futher kindnesses in gold and silver, this humble teller of stories would be much obliged…