The Safka Expedition: Part I
By Nori Yfelcleaver
This is the story of the Safka Expedition funded by the town of Safka two generations after the Great Demon War. The town council came to an agreement that it was time to come out of isolation and seek the northwest pass to the larger subcontinent. Beyond that pass may lay opportunities to acquire exotic goods and more lucrative trade deals.
The truth be told, not many applied for this expedition. Most of us are young and bored with life on this isolated peninsula. I Nori Yfelcleaver for one, want to get out and see how the other settlements have fared. I want to learn more than is possible making the same potions day after day in Safka for the rest of my life. So, I fell in with a bunch of like minded young adventurers and entrepreneurs.
What started as a fact finding mission has developed an economic side to it thanks to our self-styled leader, the brewer Dar-Wynn. Dar-Wynn gave the mission some added interest beyond exploration by bringing along several kegs of her seasonal brews. We have been joined by Flan, a gnome weapon smith with anger management issues and Kudreg Bloodbane, a wide bodied Dwarven Armorer. We were expecting Edith, a gnome trapper to join us. But she was missing when we gathered at the Inn prior to departure.
As we met at the Safka Inn to discuss our final plans, a traveling bard dropped in to deliver the news. Dar-Wynn struck up a conversation and offered up some of her Leila Root Beer. The Bard was friendly and named some of the towns farther up the peninsula along the path to the northwest pass. As the conversation turned into the vagaries of seasonal brewing, I lost focus and stared across the room for a moment. It didn’t even register at first. Slowly I realized that the small figure attempting to stealthily walk upstairs with a short full figured human woman was Flan. The sight made me spit beer, snort and chuckle. “Is there something wrong with the Leila Root, Nori”, Dar-Wynn asked. “No. The beer is fine. I’ll tell you about it later”, I replied with a Leila Root induced grin.
In the morning we were met by most of the town of Saska before we set out on our journey. A small round young woman very seriously and gracefully presented Flan with a flower and prayed for his safe passage. After that somewhat awkward bit of ceremony, we set out to the northwest toward the Bay of Alderenden.
The first few days passed uneventfully, with a bit of a party atmosphere to them. None of us had ever been more than a day out of Safka in our lives, so we began to play a road trip game. The first one to find a plant, an animal, or anything that we couldn’t find at home would win their choice of a pint of Dar-Wynn’s ale. We realized soon that this was more than a game and that we should document all our findings. On the third day of the journey, Dar-Wynn won the contest by finding a flower that looked like a daisy except that it had a red border. Dar-Wynn drank some of her profits to celebrate the find.
On the fifth day, as we approached the bay, Kurdreg spotted a tower in the distance. It was late, so we decided to forage for seafood and set out for the tower in the morning. My team was gracious enough to share a seafood feast with me my despite my poor luck in trying to dig up clams. So, we sat by the fire enjoying our seafood watching a full moon rise over the calm and peaceful waters of the bay. I let my mind wander again and noticed lights that were barely visible out in the bay near the horizon. Dar-Wynn noticed them too. They seemed to fade and come back periodically. There didn’t appear to be any fog. It was a perfectly clear night. We made note of it while Dar-Wynn made a sand pit to store some of the catch.
We approached the tower after breakfast. The tower turned out to be the newly opened Stubborn Piglet Inn by the sea. Before entering the Inn, we started to plot how we might be able to sell some of Dar-Wynn’s brews. We entered the Inn and spoke with an old woman at the counter named Nathanya. We sampled the beer and ale available at this establishment and it was all swill. We were blind to the fact that despite a menu filled with exotic items, the Inn had no decent beer. It should have been a red flag. But we were too interested at the moment in the “art of the deal”. We made our first trade deal offering a half keg of Winter Nut Ale in exchange for food, lodging and additional rations. We agreed to advertise for the Inn, while the Inn keeper agreed to peddle the ale, with Dar-Wynn getting ten percent of the sales revenue from the ale.
With the business of the day out of the way, we continued to chat. We learned that the builders of the Inn were from Falston-by-the-U. We eventually settled down to a very good sleep, satisfied with the successful first deal. We awoke in the morning to confusion, lying on the ground where there once had been our rooms at the Inn. We were discouraged at the loss of our first customer maybe even more than by our own naiveté. After thinking further about the incident by the bay from the safety of a room here in Lispspee, I don’t think our first trade deal need be a total loss. I’ll get back to that later however. I have a more harrowing tale yet to tell.
Late in the day after departing the site of the vanished tower, I found an interesting fungus the likes of that I had never seen before. Flan warned me to check for traps as I bent down to take a sample of the fungus. I turned toward Flan as I began to dig my dagger into the fungus and yelled to him, “What freaking traps? We haven’t seen a soul since we...Aughff!” The fungus was attached to some sort of plant hive being that walked on two legs and had just attacked me in defense, knocking me flat on my back. Krudreg came quickly to the defense of his fellow Dwarf and Flan struck the creature with a blow.
The reminder of the encounter was a wild and desperate affair with me and the other Dwarf Krudreg getting knocked unconscious. We were totally hapless in trying to defend ourselves. I even hit the unconscious Kurdreg, nearly ending his life when I tried to defend him from the creature. Flan cast a distracting spell into his own ears. Eventually Flan was able to distract the creature with a dancing lights spell, allowing three of us to escape to the horse and cart while the more nimble Dar-Wynn fired arrows at the creature as she retreated. None of her arrows struck a living being other than a tree. We all were able to get into our cart carrying our beer and outrun the creature to live to continue our mission.
The next night, during my watch, a diseased looking feather fell and laid to rest on my arm. As I looked up to notice carrion eating birds in the branches of the trees above us, I could not help but think of the ending of a story about a simple man touched by a randomly drifting feather after living a charmed life where he was in all the right places at all the right times. I got the sense that the feather in that story stood for fate. I was beginning to feel like I was in all the wrong places at all wrong times. I woke everyone as silently as possible and motioned for them to head for the cart. As we cautiously entered the cart and got under the tarp, I had the random thought that I didn’t know the name of the horse pulling our cart. Under that dark and evil canopy I named him just as Dar-Wynn cracked her whip. “Run Forest! Run!” I yelled.
The flock of evil birds dove at us a few times. They scratched Forest a little bit, but soon tired of their prey. We had a few more days of slow travel through the woods until we approached the town of Lispspee. We were met by a very tall Elven guard who gave us a hard time before letting us into town. We walked wearily into the nearest inn and spoke with the half-orc innkeeper. The specialty here is rat stew. After we made our pitch and sold some ale for room and board again, an elf came into the Inn and ordered some rat stew. We went exhausted to our rooms on an empty stomach.
Here in my room, my thoughts have returned to the disappearance of the Stubborn Piglet Inn. I remember in some stories that faery people often play pranks on other races as a test. While we proved to be gullible, whoever was responsible for the Inn and perhaps the lights did us no harm. I think we need to revisit the area on the way back. We may yet find an ally there by the bay. For now though I must rest my mind and my body and recover for the journey ahead.