Galeon had painted a pretty ugly picture of the situation in FHD. Two families eaten, and likely another since he had been gone, and no help to be found. FHD sounds like a really rural community, made up of mostly farmers and basic craftsmen. Even their local constable is barely worth of the name, and their Church of Everlasting Hope has a clergyman so new that he isn’t even shaving yet. You can imagine my surprise when we arrived in town and found a huge celebration already in progress. You’d have thought that we were country locals in a big city for the first time the way we were staring at everything – this was the last thing we were expecting. Caddis’ surprise quickly turned to disappointment – I think that he thought that he had just wasted his time coming all the way out here. I could only think about how Ecanus had apparently died for nothing.
We asked around to find out what happened, and everyone was celebrating the death of the Beast of FHD. Caddis was very eager to find out what had happened, and we were directed to the only tavern in the town where we met Halbert. Sorry, that’s Halbert the Slayer. That’s what everyone was calling him. He didn’t really look like a slayer when I first saw him. He was of average height and approaching middle age. His hair was thinning on top, and he was wearing a shirt that was of very nice quality, but clearly not his size. I couldn’t tell whether it was a gift from some grateful townsfolk or perhaps it was from younger (and thinner) days. To his credit, he did have most of his teeth and his eyes were clear and alert. Maybe a bit red, but based on the line of empty mugs in front of him I guess we should have been thankful that he was still conscious.
I’m not sure that we helped matters by buying him a drink, but he seemed very happy to share what happened. He told us that he was out at dusk carrying his grandfather’s bow (which he called Giantslayer) when he encountered the Beast. This was while we were still traveling to FHD, and after a third family had been eaten. He said that they saw each other at about the same time, and the Beast charged him. He brought his bow to bear, and somehow managed to shoot it in the face. His language began to slur, and he seemed to be batting at something around his head. He was a little vague about what happened next, but I think he somehow killed the creature and chopped off its head. He pointed a stained finger directly at the bartender, who grasped Halbert’s wrist and lifted it until he pointed at a wolf’s head mounted above the bar. It was a nasty looking wolf, with mouth agape and yellowed canines snarling out of an evil face. Caddis, Kenjio, and Galeon asked him some more questions, but I couldn’t hear as there was some kind of loud drinking game going on at the time.
Our group went back outside to talk, and I could tell that nobody in our little group believed that Halbert had really killed the Beast. Kenjio and Kaila said that they wanted to go look at the place where the last attack happened. Master Caddis decided to go look for the local priest to see if he had anything he could share, and I think he was also going to see if they could do anything for dear Ecanus. He told me to stay with Elwll until he got back. Elwll and Galeon wanted to go talk to the kids that survived the most recent attack. There was another survivor from an earlier attack, but for some reason they wanted to talk to the two younger kids. I didn’t really follow that as it would seem to make sense to talk to the older survivor first, especially if he is talking.
We went to the place where they were staying and a young cleric introduced us to Stanley and Sarah. They were young, maybe 4 or 5 years younger than me. Caddis I guess had hoped that I might be able to get them to talk, but they did not respond to anything I did. I don’t think I was trying my best though, as all I could think about was the corpse that was still lying in our cart. I spent about half an hour trying to get them to do something, anything, but I got nothing. Elwll then removed a worn looking bag from is belt. He reached in, and pulled something out, then threw it down. There was a strange sounding “pop” noise, and then all of a sudden there was a full grown honest-to-Pelor badger there in the room. I didn’t know what was going on, but Elwll was able to get the badger to do the most amazing tricks. I played along, but it wasn’t that hard as it was amazing to see Elwll make the badger do all kinds of tricks. He played with the badger for about 10 minutes, and then the badger got a funny look on his face and then popped away. I was confused, but Elwll seemed to have been expecting it. Neither of the kids responded to the badger, so Elwll tried something different. The next thing he pulled out of his bag was a bat. I’m a little scared of bats myself, but I tried to play along like it was a wonderful thing. It was pretty neat, but bats carry all kinds of diseases, and what if it was some kind of vampire bat? Elwll played with it for a minute or two, but when he was sure that they were not going to respond to it he sent it away. The next animal he picked out was some kind of weasel. Finally, Sarah began to look over at Elwll, and began to respond. By respond I don’t mean ask questions or anything, but she was very interested in the weasel and it was clear that she wanted to see more. Elwll seemed to be content that she showed some interest, and it was time to head back to the tavern anyways.
Kenjio and Kaila were huddled together when we met back up outside the tavern, quietly talking about something. Caddis, Galeon, and Elwll all went over and they began to have some kind of discussion. I found that I was still wearing the purple scarf that I got for Ecanus, and I realized that I never found out what his favorite color was. It was probably good that they were talking for a while as I was a mess. One of the serving girls saw me crying out front, and she came over to see what was wrong. We talked for a bit, and it turns out that she was engaged to the son in the first family that was eaten by the Beast. It turns out that she is only 4 years older than I was, and she reminded me a little bit of one of the older girls at Anerin’s Home of Blessing, even her laugh was a silly snorting one I found out later. Anyway, she found out that I had some training as a cook, and convinced me to talk to the tavern owner, Mr. Sanno. The last month or so has seen a steady trickle of homesteaders from the surrounding area arriving at FHD seeking safety. As a result, the town is a little busier than normal, and his trade has been higher also. He has been complaining about needing extra help, and I was able to convince him that I would be able to help out in the kitchen. At first I think he was just going to have me scrub pots and dishes, but I showed him how to add some mint and fresh apples to his lamb stew, which he seemed to like. Anyways, he told me that I could help him out as an undercook in his kitchen when I was there, and he would pay me 2 silvers a day! I went to check with Master Caddis, and he said that was ok as it turns out that they were going to go see if they could track down the real Beast. Caddis was going to go ask that young cleric, Alear, and also see whether Halbert would come along too. I was working on the lunch menu the next day when Caddis dropped by to let me know that he was taking Spot, and that I should stay here and wait for instructions. I asked him what I should do with Ecanus’ body, as some of the stableboys asked me what was in the smelly package in our cart. He started to say something, and then seemed to bite back his response. Finally he told me “Do what feels right. We’ll be back as soon as we can. Wait for instructions.” Kaila poked her head in too, and she was happy that I had made a friend here and was working and staying busy. She asked me to drop by and check on Sarah and Stanley every day, just to make sure that they are being looked after. I wonder if she has any kids of her own – she seemed to be genuinely concerned with our wellbeing. I’m really glad we are traveling with her.
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