The snows have deepened and the temperature is finally comfortable again. I won’t ever get used to these sweltering lowland summers, the heat becomes almost more than I can bear, and the insects! They are everywhere! Well I’ve wasted entire weeks of diary entries on this topic before, so I won’t go over it again here, but I am very grateful that the halda has once again covered the lands, even if I am not in the best position to meet its kiss.
This past fall I have spent most of the season in my sickbed. Master Klendir’s wife Gretchin tended me while I lay sweating the fever sickness from my joints. I remember very little of the worst of it, but I do recall the long days of recovery, with Goodwife Gretchin kindly leaving me to a backroom with the shutters open. It was the same illness I healed the Master from that summer, but I was too weak to use the runes that would alleviate my symptoms as I had with him, so I had to suffer through them. By the time enough strength had returned to me that I could use the runes, I had spent over two months in the Master’s house without earning my keep. That which I had earned from my work, I had consumed in my sickbed, and though Master Klendir is too proud to break the rules of hospitality that the lowlanders live by, Father Winter had arrived, and what the Master had was just sufficient to carry his household through to Spring. It was time for me to depart.
Master Klendir is a kind man, and he gave me provisions enough to get me to Dalsetter, about a week’s journey by foot. With the improvement in the weather, and the good frozen roads, I could even shave a day off that time. The roads however are dangerous, and so I left a bit earlier than Goodwife Gretchin wanted me to, as there was a travelling group that had taken shelter in Master Klendir’s barn one night. They were reluctant at first to accept a stranger among them, but with the Master’s good word, and a small demonstration of my healing arts they agreed to let me accompany them. They are Saxa folk, and none would speak to me for most of that entire trip, save to order me to fetch this or that, or to have me look as some ailment they suffered. These Saxa are a suspicious and introverted lot, but they are good people. I have worked with their kind before and if you can gain their confidence a dwarf could find no truer friends.
We made it to Dalsetter without incident, and though I made no friends on the road, I parted with these good people on comfortable terms, which is happy progress with folks such as these. I hope in the future that I might encounter them again. Looking about this town, it struck me as no different than dozens of other such villages I have been in since I entered the lowlands. The lumber here appears better, and so the buildings were constructed with closer fittings and seem more durable than usual. The town has the usual market found in all such places and so it was there I went hoping to find winter employment with a local healer, or perhaps with a herbalist in need of skilled hands. This is when I happened across a post set near the market. It appeared to be there for the sole purpose of attaching messages for it was thick with nails and assorted pieces of board and bark which had messages scrawled upon them. One large battered board had painted on it an advertisement, " Skilled men-at-arms, adventurers, healers, men of lore needed to aid Dalsetter in her time of need. Inquire at the “Four Sheaves” in town at dusk." This to me seemed promising. The best way to find acceptance in any community is to prove your worth, and this seemed to be just that opportunity.
Being that it was still mid day, I made my way to the tavern. The folk of Dalsetter seemed an unusually friendly lot, and were willing to point the building out. I was dismayed to see smoke rising from a chimney as I approached the Four Sheaves, but I won’t say I was surprised, and upon entering the heat was typically oppressive for a lowlander house. I was directed by the tavern-keep to a table ridiculously close to that inferno feeding the chimney, but my irritation at this was immediately forgotten as I marveled at the strange collection of people who sat there. Two elves, gods bless me, sat at that table! I have heard that they lived here in the lowlands of course, but I had never actually seen any of their kind until now. I tried not to stare, as I didn’t mean to be rude, but such grace and beauty! Both female, one tall, slender and pale with startling eyes of deep black; she could only be Frostborn, which I suppose makes her no elf, but even more curious. She must have hated that hellish blaze in the hearth even more than I. The other was petite and lovely, with long slender braids of pale bluish hair and a slightly up-curved nose. Neither so much as looked upon me as I approached, intent as they were at frowning into mugs of dark ale. Two others were at this table, one a wilder from the outer lowlands. Dressed in thick furs which never the less did little to hide his heavily muscled shoulders, his mass of dark matted hair hung in braids cascading down his chest. On his back the carefully hide wrapped handle of an axe jutted over his left shoulder and several empty mugs lay upon the table before him, while a fourth was busy trying to drown him in it’s dregs. He saw me as I came over and eyed me over that mug, slamming it to the table when he emptied it and letting out a belch that drew looks from across the room. The Frost-maiden’s frown deepened at that. Lastly, at the head of the table, closest to the fire was a young-ling dressed in charcoal grey robes of fine felt. He had an expensive air about him with his finely cut hair and neatly, close trimmed beard in the style of human aristocracy. The staff which leaned against the back of his chair immediately announced his profession which was quite shocking considering his age. A Heahwisard of such youth is not something I have ever heard of before. There was something else about him, a radiant friendliness that is just so out of place in this world, I found him immediately fascinating. I found an open bench near the Heahwisard, and received his permission to be seated. That he was a Lord was obvious from his manners, but he appears to be too young to have grown into his full arrogance, for he offered me his name (Argius ap-Geidan) and a smile; both courtesies that I don’t expect from humans I’ve have no introduction to. The beast sitting across from me I was surprised to learn is a man of noble title as well, Sir Slad, a Knight of the Rhode. Mistress Ember was the maid with the coldfire hair, and the quiet and severe Frostmaid was introduced to me as Stormborn. I did my best to remain silent among this dangerous but incredibly interesting group until our patron arrived, and he soon accommodated me.
A wealthy Saxa, obvious from his attire, approached our table and promptly paid the expenses that had been incurred there. While these folk are typically insular, they are by nature generous hosts. He named himself Rodgar ap-Annwn, and he is a man of influence in Dalsetter. In Saxa fashion he wasted no time with pleasantries and got right down to the job. 50 gold coins each would pay for our services to retrieve 50 barrels of ground wheat for the village, which was suffering from a lack of such, and he would provide the means (a wagon and horses) with which to ferry the goods. The village of Dunross was our goal, and Dalsetter was its destination. There was no discussion or haggling over the payment as it appears we are each strangers here and have no credit with these people. I will say here that I cannot understand why such creatures as I find myself with would condescend to such mundane chores. Myself, I have no home, none to vouch for me, and a great need to fill my stomach for the winter. These here however are folk of means. As no one was volunteering such information however, I would not intrude by asking. The deal was sealed and we set off immediately to provision. I confess that I find myself a bit intimidated by the company I found myself in, and I will be cautious and quiet as I try to figure out how not to give even the slightest offense.