The Journal of Fawkes Hamelain #4

Mirtul 4, 1480 DR

Western Heartlands, Town of Daggerford

at The Dragonback Inn

Our cups run over with ale this night! Despite the initially gloomy reception we received upon our arrival in Daggerford, the Dragonback Inn has proved a welcoming oasis in this town. We are hosted by Thali Orespeaker, a red nosed bald headed dwarf who keeps a damned fine stock of ale. He has good reason to keep us happy. It seems that aside from the local drunk, we are the first customers poor Thali has had in quite some time.

The rumors of the blight cursing the town have turned out to be more than true. No citizens of Daggerford walk the common streets openly for fear of catching the disease. When our boat first made way past the town we feared the entire population had been killed. The only sign of life was the distinct stench of an active tannery at the western edge of Daggerford by the river. We disembarked and after I knocked a few times we were met by a man who introduced himself as Arvil.

Windows boarded, doors closed, no lamp light. The eerily quiet streets of Daggerford.

He seemed shocked to see us - or anybody - coming to visit him. When we explained to him we were adventurers and here to help the town, he told us the nature of this blight which has come over Daggerford and the surrounding farmlands. They call it the burning plague. First a fever develops, the skin turns red, and finally the victim is covered in boils as the fever burns them up from the inside. It affects plants as well as men and beasts, killing much of the spring crop and cattle which was needed to feed the town. He assured us that all were not dead however, they merely sheltered in there homes only moving when absolutely necessary.

We thanked him for the information and brought our boat up river to the proper docks. It seems we had been spotted on our earlier scouting pass of the town as now a small man stood at the end of the docks waiting to greet us. At first I mistook the fellow for a halfling but upon closer inspection he was in matter of fact a gnome! His name is Raffin and he was hoping we might be traders with a boat of stocked goods ready to relieve the town. We told him what we had told Arvil: we are here to help.

He was disappointed at first, but we assured him that while we did not have food stuffs we did at least have gold to trade which he said would please the merchants in town who have not had customers since word of the blight first got out. We were able to discard our haphazard orc equipment for newly smithed gear. I am once again armored in scale and armed with my preferred weapon: the flail.

I offered to Raffin that perhaps we ought speak with the Duke of Daggerford and Raffin appeared hesitant to discuss the Duke who has barricaded himself inside and not left his manor since the burning plague began. Instead, he offered to take us to his friend Ariana Tungstan. While we walked through the quiet town to her house, Raffin explained that most of the day to day affairs of the town are not managed by the Duke but rather a council of Guild members who command prominent businesses in town. Mrs. Tungstan and her husband are heavily invested in the silver trade themselves.

Raffin also told us the sad account of the high priest of Lathander who's temple was the largest building in Daggerford. The priest had poured all of his divine magic into trying to cure the blighted men and women who came to him but no spell he could conjure could remove the burning plague. The priest himself eventually succumbed to the blight.

The priestess of Chuntea at the temple graciously accepted my offer and honored me with a prayer of favor in her name.

Speaking of the goodly gods, this town also houses a lovely temple to the great mother Chauntea. It reminded me of the shrine we keep in Goldshire, though nearly twice it's size, and before I came to rest here at the Dragonback I stopped into the temple to offer prayer and gold to the priestess there. Chauntea has always provided a bountiful and healthy harvest to the families under my protection in the dale and I mean to become the instrument of her will here to repay the debt. We must find the source of this blight and root it out.

Where was I? Ah, yes.

When we arrived at Ariana Tungstan's house she welcomed us inside once Raffin explained whom we were and why we had come. She did not know how we might help with the blight generally but her largest concern was for her husband. Mrs. Tungstan recounted how no communications have been heard from a new mine which Mr. Tungstan was scouting for their silver business. At the time he and his miners entered the tunnels they were not afflicted with blight and were regular in communication with the town via couriers until 15 days prior to our arrival.

After some deliberation it was decided among the party that our next course of action should be to investigate the mine. Not only had communication with Mr. Tungstan and his companions gone dark, we later heard from Thali that some of the first to be afflicted by the disease were in fact miners working the surrounding silver veins. I suspect we will learn the answers we seek in those dark tunnels.

For additional caution, I have commissioned an alchemist who resides in this town to silver my battle axe and flail with pure ore I obtained from Mrs. Tungstan. I once heard from a man who described himself as a monster hunter passing through the dale that a silvered blade was almost as good as a magic one for some supernatural beasts.

Let us hope that is true! We set off for the mines at the break of dawn.

~Fawkes Hamelain~