Last Updated: August 4, 2014
Black Sheep of the Family
The caravan from Tilverton to Ashabenford that Risca guarded was organized by the Black Eagle Coster in Mistledale, which is run by a former adventuring band and led by the swordsman Illetion Blackeagle.
Before he was ostracized to night sentry duty, one of the caravan guards told Risca how the drow first entered the dales through passages under the Abbey of the Sword in Battledale and caught those Tempus worshipping idiots with their pants down. At least in Mistledale, the dwarves of Glen know how to defend their entrance to the underdark. No drow have entered the surface from there. Even far way in the sword coast, Risca had heard tales of the dwarves of Glen and their Deep Mine. Especially since they are rumoured to also have a brisk trade in the buying and selling of actual dragon eggs. They are also said to farm some of the best mushrooms anywhere.
Some of the merchants in the caravan also stood out. In particular there was the Sembian merchant Brechtu, a cloth merchant, being escorted by several armed guards. One named Olef seemed to have a habit of plugging his nose whenever Riska walked by while the others laughed at some hidden joke. At one point during the journey, Brechtu approached you and started to ask Risca lots of silly questions, where he is from, where he is going, before finally asking him if he might like to buy some fine cloth for a more civilized outfit. Even after Risca's gruff response, Brechtu continued to chatter away, telling him how he hopes to get out of the cloth business and start to transport rare and valuable types of wood that could be found throughout Mistledale. He's heard that even the Druids from the Oakengrove Abbey, led by a young half-elf named Teegahn, are getting in on the action. Druids cutting down trees, Risca grumbled to Guifoon, what will this noisy merchant try and sell him next. All he needs is some good coin to savour some sweet wine. Brechtu laughs and says he may be able to help with that in the future, as he may need some extra guards to protect him from the drow when he next goes on to Sembia.
Another merchant group also caught Risca's scrutiny. Chathi Chathendum's Company of Thayan Traders consisted of two women in yellow robes (odd, you thought it was the Red Wizard's of Thay, not the Yellow Wizard's of Thay) with two bodyguards, a big one and a small one. In addition to their tattoos etched all over their bodies, the feature that stood out and which is utterly repulsive to any dwarf, is the fact that they have absolutely no hair, anywhere, even the eyebrows (Risca had once heard that to be a gnomish custom, but never believed it). Risca also observed that they all wore holy symbols of Kossuth, a deity from the elemental plane of fire. One of the bodyguards, the big one, also had two swords of note. One is magical bastard sword sheathed in flame. Risca knows this cause he saw him use it to light their campfire each night. The other is a longsword at his belt, prominently displaying the Unholy Symbol of Bane, evil god of strife, hatred, tyranny and fear. Perhaps all is not as it seems with the big one or these Thayan Traders. That's OK, Risca could take them, especially the big one. After all, the bigger they are, the harder they fall to the ground...
Risca Foraker is an outcast from the Sword Coast Region. Originally from Mirabar, in the northern section of the Sword Coast, Risca has journeyed far and wide. Constantly traveling, his only companion has been his waraxe, Guifoon. One reason for his unending trek is that Risca has a roving foot. Another reason for his travels is the fact that Risca talks to Guifoon on a regular basis and treats "him" as a family member, albeit an unusual and shunned second cousin. This quirk has gotten Risca into trouble over the years, causing his welcome in new places to be worn out quickly.
Risca has no family to return to and no place to call home. Spurned by his clan, Risca was forced out of his homeland. Though bitter initially, he realized that his hubris led to this state of affairs. Risca's most profound wish is to return to his homeland, though it will never happen in his lifetime. He no longer feels of ill will towards his clan, just a dull ache. His exile came about in this manner:
Risca Foraker was born into the Stalkers, the dwarven clan responsible for monitoring the dwarven territories found above ground. Their role was to ensure the safety of their kin below ground from any surface walkers, and to ensure the clan was well-supplied with necessary provisions. At an early age, he learned to hunt to bring in viands and other uncommon victuals for the rest of the dwarves. He was never good at trading or interacting with others; he was more proficient in the martial skills. He honed his survival skills, subsisting only on what he could find. He was a quick study; his scars and bruises impressed upon him the importance of knowledge and experience. In truth, he was not the best at what he did, but he always perceived his skills as being superlative. Always the first to volunteer for any dangerous task, Risca proved talented, though impulsive. Often acting without any planning and certain that his abilities would win him through, Risca's ventures were often pyrrhic.
While exploring the forests near the mountains named the Spine of the World, Risca's party of Stalkers stumbled upon a group of orcs. Spying on them from cover, the orcs appeared to be a small warband, possibly set out to test the dwarven defenses. Seeing that they were evenly matched in numbers, Risca felt confident that they could quickly rout their enemy. Rising out of the underbrush, he charged the orcs. His actions committed the rest of the party to supporting him. Not wishing to let him face the orcs alone, the other Stalkers emerged from hiding to aid Risca. As Risca and the others raced towards the orcs, a hail of arrows rained down on them. The orcs they had found were the bait to lure out defenders so they could be easily dispatched. Dazed and wounded by this sudden turn of events, a second group of orcs, much larger than the first emerged from the forest and counter-attacked. The dwarves fought bravely and managed to drive the orcs away, but at a heavy price. Well over two-thirds of their number never returned home, though half of the orcs lay dead. When the events of this fiasco came to light, Risca was brought before the Council to be judged. Risca was found guilty of endangering the welfare of his people. His past actions saved him from imprisonment. Instead, he was sent away to prevent him from causing any further harm. Since that day, Risca has been wandering.
Risca traveled extensively through the Sword Coast. Living day-to-day, he survived off the land. When he needed something requiring money, whether it was new equipment or a skin of wine, he would collect bounties on people or creatures. Wanting a change of pace, Risca moved more inland to the Dalelands. Ending up in Tilverton, Risca found the city not to his liking. Being unfamiliar with the area, he decided to sign on as a caravan guard to familiarize himself with the region. His first assignment was to help ensure the safety of a small caravan carrying silk, cotton, and other textiles, some very rare, to Ashabenford, capital of Mistledale. The journey was uneventful, though Risca's habits grated on his associates' nerves. Two nights out from their destination, Risca was assigned night sentry duty. His habit of talking to Guifoon had ostracized him and no one wanted to be around him. Alone, Risca wasn't bothered by the situation and continued his vigil by his campfire. Hearing the cry of a thrush, Risca spied a female human, clad in forest green, attempting to move stealthily along the edge of the camp. "Amateur," he thought to himself. "Can't even sneak up properly! Her bow keeps getting tangled in the undergrowth." He shook his head with disdain. "What in blazes is she doing out here? Trying to scout us out? What a sad showing. Doesn't even notice the pair of bugbears sneaking up behind her." He sighed. "Guess I'll have to help her. It'll break the monotony at least."
With that, Risca freed Guifoon from his belt loop and charged the bugbears. The human female gave a startled squawk and fell over in shock. Lifting her arms, pleading for mercy, Risca ignored her completely. Stepping over her prone form, Risca engaged the bugbears. The bugbears drew their longswords and rushed to attack. Roaring out his challenge, Risca struck at the bugbears repeatedly. Using short swings of his axe, he managed to keep both bugbears in front of him. They constantly sought to flank him, but Guifoon moved too swiftly to get around. Though larger than their opponent, the bugbears were not as skilled. Their defenses served them poorly. One of the bugbears left a large opening and Risca took the offer. With a yell, Risca drove Guifoon's head into the pit of the bugbear's gut, knocking the wind out of it. Stumbling, the bugbear's head flew from its shoulders as Risca followed through with a deadly swipe. The second bugbear, seeing its friend decapitated, flew into a berserk frenzy. Swinging wildly, it only desired to cut the dwarf down. Blocking the clumsy strikes, Risca prepared to end the conflict when an arrow whizzed past his head and caught his foe in the shoulder of its sword arm. Though the wound was crippling, it was hardly deadly. Dropping its sword, the bugbear leaped at Risca, hoping to rip out his throat. Guifoon lashed out a final time, and a headless corpse fell to the ground.
Risca turned to the human female. She was young and seemed inexperienced. She had her shortbow out and an arrow half-drawn. Her hands were shaking. He strode over to her and gently pointed the arrow towards the ground. "What's your name?" he asked gruffly. Before she could answer, he continued. "Well, whatever it is, this is no place for an untrained whelp to be running around in." Getting her back up, she replied cooly, "I am Swan Battlestar. Thank you for saving me. I will now be on my way."
Risca grabbed her arm. "Oh no you don't. You wouldn't last out there on your own. You're coming with us to Ashabenford. Once we're there, we can figure out where to send you. Looks like you need a company of troops to keep you safe. Maybe we'll find you a man to keep you out of trouble." Swan gave an indignant squawk. Dragging her to the captain of the caravan, he explained the situation to him. Though Swan claimed to be a well-trained scout, Risca found it hard to believe. The captain of the caravan gave her a post as a scout in the caravan, though Risca watched over her to make sure she wouldn't hurt herself or endanger the others. Two days later, the caravan arrived safely in Ashabenford. As they unloaded the carts, Swan came up to Risca. "Where are we?" she asked. She seemed very nervous and on edge; she jumped at every little sound.
"You haven't had much experience in cities before, have you?" Risca asked. "Listen, I'll let you hang around with me so until you get your bearings." Swan gave Risca a grateful look. "The money we've earned from this little trip will get us lodging for a few days, so we won't starve." Throwing the final bundle of silk off the cart, Risca dusted off his hands. "We're done here; let's head over to that inn and get ourselves a meal. I'm starving." With that, Risca led Swan to a nearby inn to grab a bite to eat and to learn more about his newly acquired sidekick.
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