Early morning; the group meets at the gates to the keep; prepared to begin their trek to the Caves of Chaos in the Cat’s Paw Forest. Their mission: to find a gold plate and return it to Master at Arms, Dexter. They appear a ragged group of miscreants; young and green, never having seen real battle, they were eager for a chance to prove their prowess. There was Salvath, a human magic user claiming to be of noble blood and the son of a powerful mage; Rauli, a grey elf with a penchant for ‘sleight of hand’ acquisition and an apparent dislike for half-elves. Two human fighters; Deathadder, obnoxious and headstrong with a reputation for racing headfirst into a fight and Sabine, who uses her feminine wiles to obtain an advantage in ‘negotiations’ with men; the lone wolf, Aramil, an elf of few words but a crack shot with his bow; two clerics from the local guild, both human, Allbright and Darlah; and last, but not least, is me, apprentice to the famous bard, Orion, eager to earn my place in Bardic circles next to my mentor as one of the most heroic of our times. We, this small band of eager recruits to the militia of Forestwatch, are about to embark on our journey into the legacy of Jordania.
The task bestowed upon us seemed a simple one; enter the Caves of Chaos, locate proof our presence there and return to the keep to claim our rightful places in the militia. Should we happen upon the outcome of the previous group of recruits that never returned home, our names could be immortalized as heroes, a standing each of us strives to achieve. As we stood outside the gates, awaiting the order to begin our mission, the bartender, Louie, from the local tavern comes huffing over to our group with the iron golem Rustbucket stomping after him. It turns out, some of our group made a bet with Louie, and now we had an additional task of performing our upcoming mission better than Rustbucket. He’s a rusty, heavy, metal construct with no ability to strategize. No more than a brute; slow to react, with little more than a basic ability to think. I am concerned that his presence will slow us down, but it is not my place to question Master at Arms Dexter or his decisions. We will outdo the metal man and prove our worth at the caves. After being inspected and briefed, our group, plus one, headed East.
According to the information obtained by Sabine through her ‘usual methods’, we followed the main path through the forest. We encountered several passersby, including a group of faithful we conversed with shortly. Just moments after moving on our way, Rauli began acting in an agitated manner. It brought more than a smile to this half-elf’s face to learn he believed his money pouch had been pilfered by the religious group only to find it along the side of the path we were on. He had dropped it in his own attempts to be sneaky. I giggled. In fact, I was so amused by the antics, I almost missed the blur that was hiding in the trees off a dusty path. We turned off the main path and headed down the beaten trail, curious over what we were following. As we reached the end of the path, and stepped into a clearing, the trees seemed to shimmer. Thinking we had headed down the path that leads into an Elven City, clearly the wrong way, we turned back and continued toward the caves. The caves themselves were like nothing we have seen before. Three tiers of cave openings placed in a horseshoe valley, with only one way in or out. Because Mother Moon had already begun her journey across the skies, we decided to make camp for the evening outside the entrance to the valley, thinking it was a safe location; unfortunately, that assumption wasn’t so accurate.