The four of us made an expeditious march north until we saw the comforting glow of an inn only a few miles in the distance. Esben still had the unconcious Balasar slung over his shoulder, his endurance seemingly unwavering despite the hastened pace I set for the party. Upon arriving, we immediately put the injured dragonborn to rest and sought to procure the necessary components for an alchemical concoction that would prevent his physical condition from worsening.
Fortunately, our close proximity to the well-traveled Neverwinter road meant that there was a host of traveling merchants plying their wares, and we were quickly able to locate an apothecary capable of brewing a suitable curative. He was a dubious looking fellow, and my instincts immediately led me to believe that he would attempt to take advantage of our desperate situation. Sure enough, he agreed to sell us a rare ingredient for an exorbitant sum, an amount that would have surely bankrupted all of us and left our party destitute prior to even reaching Neverwinter. I considered threatening the unscrupulous fellow for his extortionate tactics, but my companions quickly recognized my growing discontent and ushered me away before I escalated the situation. I decided to keep watch over Balasar as the rest of the party concluded the negotiation and discerned the location of the remaining ingredients.
In addition to the rare ingredient offered by the apothecary, we needed a very specific form of baker’s yeast of which the innkeeper had precious little, as well as a mushroom known only to hunters familiar with the surrounding landscape. The innkeeper of the establishment agreed to part with his yeast if we were able to capture or kill a particular bandit leader that had been terrorizing the nearby roads. We readily agreed. Before departing, we were able to join forces with a ranger who could not only recognize the mushroom strain that we needed, but also lead us in the direction of the bandit encampment if we agreed to help him kill a dire wolf in the area.
After slaying the dire wolf, the ranger pointed us in the direction of where he suspected many of the bandits were congregating. Soon after, we walked brazenly into the bandit encampment, the untrained half-orc rabble completely unaware of our presence until we were almost on top of them. The fools hadn’t even posted sentries to alert the rest of the band of highwaymen of our approach. Normally I would have led the men into an immediate charge and cut down the unsuspecting miscreants before they had the opportunity to react (such lowly brigands would hardly have been worthy of an honorable fight after all) but I realized that the bandit leader would be more valuable to us alive.
Just as swords were about to be drawn, I immediately issued a challenge to the female leader, one that I knew she could not refuse without losing the respect of her subordinates- Our best fighter against theirs, the terms being that she had to come with us willingly if her champion were defeated. Naturally, as the strongest one-on-one fighter, the goliath Esben was the logical choice to represent us, and the female leader herself stepped forward to face him in this test of arms. After a flurry of axe blows by Esben, the female leader was quickly brought to her knees, but she reneged on our agreement and combat ensued. I should have expected as much to begin with. Nevertheless, their leader already significantly injured, the remainder of the orc rabble were swiftly dispatched, and we were able to capture the bandit leader alive.
After returning with our prisoner, the gracious innkeeper agreed to part with his precious baker’s yeast as well as provide us with free room and board for the duration of our stay, but there was still the matter of acquiring the last ingredient from the mischievous apothecary.
By the Light, the bastard had the audacity to attempt to entice us to poison his competitors stock of wares in lieu of full payment. I was very near assailing the man for even pondering such a proposal, but once more my companions pulled me aside and reminded me that Balasar’s life was still hanging in the balance, and we had no other options to consider. Discretion, as they say, was the better part of valor in this instance, and we cleverly crafted a plan to dupe the ne’er-do-well into thinking we had actually completed the task. Normally the codex would compel me to combat the misdeeds of lawbreakers directly, but I believe that Amaunator will sanction the necessity of my clandestine actions this day.
Shortly after, we had the restorative potion in hand, and administered it to the injured Balasar with due haste. He has already begun to show improvement, and I believe that he will be in a condition to travel in a few days. With any luck, this will be the last obstacle we overcome on our way to Neverwinter.