Novak pushed his way through the crowded main thoroughfare of Slateholm. After a walk of several days along dusty mountain roads, his first stop was not refreshment but the armorer. He counted out many coins for the commission of a suit of plate armor, trading his worn chainmail for a great helmet with bat wings to match those on his newly found ring.
Following that business, he took the armorer’s advice to seek the guild of the adventures, a house for hired swords. There he enrolled in further instruction in the ways of fighting for a sizeable donation of funds. This began a commitment of several weeks of daily training with a senior warrior.
On one of his spare days, he went with the elf to the emporium of of a halfling dealing in rare treasures. For some gold he found his ring to be one of magical protection, one of the lost Sheebalb rings. The diminutive merchant they called Ben told him many details his mind were incapable of retaining. What he did understand was that with his new armor and the ring, his chances of being struck in combat was much lessened.
Ben the halfling asked the three adventurers to perform a job in exchange for telling the elf something. Novak didn’t care much about what the deal entailed, but it sounded like there’d be fighting he’d enjoy. The elf and ranger decided they wanted another priest and found one at the local church. The four of them headed off to a distant outpost along a river called Malcolmsfort.
A tall timber palisade surrounded the fort, and an elderly soldier stood guard. The elf explained to Novak their job was to deliver a package to a hermit. With night falling, they retired and planned to cross the river in the morning. The poor ranger, without any coin, begged for shelter. Novak took pity on him but so as not to hurt his pride, offered to pay for his lodging in exchange for entertainment. The ranger performed an amusing demonstration for the crowd of the tavern and Novak gave up a gold coin.
The next morning, they party crossed the river by ferry and walked along the river to find the encampment of a druid. The package they delivered contained books, of which Novak had no interest given his inability to read or write. In fact, his command of spoken language was frequently in question. Novak’s intuition, however was reliable. The druid, worshiper of unpopular gods, seemed to be hiding a secret. Despite this, the party walked back to the ferry crossing.
At the crossing, they asked at an inn about the hermit druid. They wanted to explore the dense forest on this side of the river even though everyone warned them of danger. The conversation turned to lost sheep and eventually Novak found himself following the ranger deep into the trees. The mix of shadows and sunlight cutting between the leaves lulled his mind until they found themselves in a clearing filled with tattooed halflings, the stolen sheep and big rat thing.
The halflings spoke angry gibberish. One fired a dart at Novak. It spun off one of the plates of his armor. He marched toward the tiny savage whom he took as little threat. Suddenly, the ranger fired an arrow and battle began. The rat thing charged at the ranger with blinding speed that revealed a more pronounced danger than they judged at first. However, quick blows from the party cut it down.
During the battle, the little savage men landed darts they spit through tubes and those hit fell down asleep. Novak dropped his shield and trident to grapple with the toughest-looking halfing. Several times he caught the little guy but failed to rip the axe from his hand which allowed him to escape. Becoming frustrated, Novak snatched up his trident in two hands and drove it deep into the chief’s neck.
Before long, the battle concluded with two of the halflings surrendering. They took these prisoners and the sheep back to the inn run by the shepherds to prove this task complete.