Ch1: Bahil, Nobit and Tlond
Stepping over the last rise on the winding road to Phandalin, the three dwarves, Notbit, Bahil and Tlond, stopped for a second surveying the small town before them. The town was small and old by human terms. In the middle was a small hill with a house. Its structure had caved in years ago and was long since abandoned.
Bahil was first, and always first to march. He trained in the ancient citadel of Gauntlgrym, as his father and father before. Dressed in chain and wielding a heavy axe and shield, he was an imposing sight. His beard flowed uncontrollably to his waist and his head adorned with a chunky trim dwarven helmet.
Second was Nobit, a cleric, not as stout as Bahil, but still wore chain armor. At his side, a mace and shield on his back. His beard hangs to his belly and separated into two long braids which split proudly displaying a holy symbol of Clanggedin, the dwarven god of honor and battle.
Following up the rear is Tlond. He is the smallest of the three and wears a boiled leather shirt and cloak. On his waist is slung a short sword and several throwing daggers. His beard is short, unlike the others, and he is far younger than his brethren. Tlond is light-footed for a dwarf and his visage is more subversive rather than imposition.
“Lo’ betta times been seen ‘ere, laddies.” Bahil said gruffly.
“Aye, ‘ere’s to hopin’ tha’ there be strong ale ‘ere. Finally, ‘hat Elven swill ‘hey tried to give us in the last town. Humans have no taste for quality ale.” Notbit replied with disdain.
Tlond followed in silent contemplation. As moments passed, the others waited for a reply.
“Are ye still thinking of that ‘alfling girl in Saltmarsh?” Bahil said.
Tlond’s face turned flush. “She tried to kill me, you oaf.” Tlond responded.
The others hearty laughed.
“I jus’ remember see’n ya nak’d, lyin’ face first in the street. She musta’ had a knife hidden in yer nickers.” Bahil blurted.
“Aye, she was a tricky witch. the sight of true dwarven manhood must have shocked her too much, eh?” Nobit added.
“She was a ‘tricky witch’, she was, but my god she could move.” Tlond faded as if seeing it all again for the first time.
Bahil and Nobit glanced at each other and smirked.
It was not long before the trio reached the edge of Phandalin. It was a small sleepy town of mostly farmers and a few shops. The two most prominent buildings were the Lionshield Coster and the Miner’s Exchange. Most of the inhabitants were human, however the Miner’s exchange played host to several other races, most notably to the trio were Dwarves.
Nobit hailed one of them and asked where the nearest tavern was, in his native tongue, and quickly met with the answer of “The Sleeping Giant.” With a point of his finger motioned him across the tiny village. A short walk later landed them in front of a worn building. Weather, wear and disrepair seemed to haunt this structure, but smoke still billowed from the chimney, offering promise of a warm place to rest your weary feet, if only for a short time.
The three made their way inside and were greeted by a small establishment with only a few tables. Townsfolk already took two while the third sat empty. The commoners paid little attention when the three first came in, but when Bahil placed his axe across the table they all stopped and looked.
There was one who paid a lot of attention to the three, a middle-aged dwarf by the name of Grista. She had run this tavern for a long time, and there was only one thing she did not trust, dwarven men. She eyed the trio intently. They wanted ale. They wanted dwarven ale. She did not have much and was keen not to give it to them. She looked at the thrice nailed door hinges to offer her proof of drunken dwarves and the havoc they can cause.
She brought three mugs of ale over to them and gave them the price of three copper. When only one paid up, she retorted, “Each.” The other two paid up and grumbled. Money was not as easy to come by.
Nobit raised a finger as if to ask the woman something. She coldly turned. “If yer lookin’ for work, you need to see the town master. It’s right in front of the Lionshield.” And with that, she walked away. ‘Best not to give them too much.’
Bahil looked at Nobit with a raised eyebrow. “Tough one, that is. A real dwarven woman. She knows not to give us too much, nor too little.” Nobit shook his head in reply.
Tlond took a sip of his drink. “Argh, ale again!”
Bahil and Nobit just leaned back sipping what was perhaps one of their least favorite drinks.
In an instant, the dwarven woman stormed back over, her loud footsteps reverberating the floor. With a quick flip of her hand she grabbed the young dwarf by the ear and pulled.
“Ahh” is all Tlond uttered before the woman spoke.
“Ye’ don’t like my ale?” She pulled a little harder on his ear, forcing him out of his seat and to the floor. “If you don’t like the ale, you can drink from the horse trough.” She guided him closer to the door on his hands and knees.
Tlond’s eyes widened. He grabbed the woman’s arm, but could not break her grip. “No, no. It’s fine, all fine, I am happy.”
The woman released his ear and turned and walked back to the bar, muttering.
The dwarves and townsfolk all laughed as Tlond crept his way back to his seat and huddled over his ale.
The next morning the trio made their way to the town master’s Hall. Outside they found a notice on a board with large letters: “Orcs spotted at old mill fork. Inquire within.” the letter bore a seal and signed with a non-discernable signature. They then went to the door and found it locked. When they knocked a shy, elderly voice replied. “Who, who is there?”
The dwarves all looked at each other. “We are looking for work and saw your notice.”
“Work? Ah, the orcs.” The door creaked open, but only enough to allow the passage of a note. When Nobit took it, the door slammed shut. Each of the trio looked at each other in amazement.
The letter read.
A Band of Orcs has encroached on the old mill fork. Halius Tumble has offered a reward of 50 gold coins to the one who will remove the threat and bring the sword of their leader and return it to the town master. A white marking will identify the sword on it.
“Well, we have a task then.” Nobit said.
After about ten miles out of town on the miner’s trail, they arrived at a crossroads with a signpost. Phandalin was in the direction that they came, Durin mine was ahead, Stronggrass was to their right and Old mill was to the left.
They walked off towards the mill. What was a road filled with miners and farms on each side quickly turned into a vacant, windy road which led up toward the mountains. After another ten miles, the mill came into view. It was old and falling apart. The sails had fallen off many years ago and decay on the ground in a broken state. Tall grass has crept into every nook in the grounds.
The dwarves made their way up to the mill. They found the door, long since removed and the floor of it covered in soil with a rich earthy smell. They could make out footprints, but from years of sporadic traffic. The millstone also covered in soil, which aside from a few areas being scraped off, then redeposited over the years did not show that the orcs stayed here. The roof was still relatively intact though, only a few holes that still would not let much rain in. Bahil gauged that it would not be but a few more years and it would collapse, returning the mill to nature.
“Aye, we should rest here tonight and get ta’ seekin’ them out tomorrow then.” Bahil said. The others nodded.
They set up a small campfire and ate some bread as the day passed into night. As dwarves, they were not used to the smell of the fresh soil, but it was intoxicating to them. It was the smell of earth and sky, a hint of dampness and a freshness, that was now uncommon in this world.