With Ike Greil in tow, the party set forth from the destroyed fort. The road behind them has been wrought with pain and destruction. Several of the party members offered up silent prayers for safe passage the rest of the way out of the mountains.
The mountain peaks were out of sight, hidden behind a barrier of clouds. The ground, mostly uneven, was cracked with the growth of a thousand trees. A forest in the valley of the Cloud Peaks loomed over the party as their steeds plodded forward. It was not long before the road became a trail and the group was forced to travel on the narrow path in succession.
“It’s one abreast for a ways now,” Ike called out over his shoulder. “Don’t fret, we’ll get through this quick as you can say ’Never-”
“Halt!” a booming voice called out in front of them. “Touch yer weapons an’ it’ll be the last thing ye do.”
“Who goes there?” Ike called back. Wherever the voice was coming from, it was hidden in the trees.
“I’ll be askin’ the questions here, boy,” the imposing voice responded. “Off yer horses real slow like an’ we won’ gut ye where ye sit.”
Vlad, Emerick, and Arily all grimaced, their hands still twitching at the hilts of their weapons. “Commoners,” Vlad spat. Everyone’s eyes shifted warily around them, searching for anything that might give them a sign of their assailants.
“Do it,” Derek commanded as he slid off his horse. The others followed, albeit reluctantly.
“I am Ike Greil of Fort Gratis,” Ike called out. “We mean you no harm. We only wish to pass.”
A pause. “How do I know you ain’t lyin’?”
“I carry the sigil of the Flaming Fist, a mercenary company from Baldur’s Gate. I was once a captain in their ranks and have since forged my own mercenary company here in the Cloud Peaks. My fort was recently beset by orcs. I seek aid from the dwarves in these mountains to help rebuild my fort and put a stop to this menace. I know that these are but more words, so it is up to you to determine their worth.”
The figure stepped out from the trees. What he lacked in height he made up for in stoutness. The figure responded. It was definitely the same voice, but the dialect was completely different. “I am King Rothgar Swiftaxe of the Shieldbreaker Clan. These are my dwarves.” He gestured to the trees and a dozen dwarves armed to the teeth emerged. “Ike Greil, you have my assistance.”