The City of New Haven and beyond
Lode of the Blackforge Dwarves
Lode was born a dwarf, and never lost his love of it. As the decades passed, despite his skill in crafting items, he knew his path lay outside the mountain and into the world. One thought follows him: will he ever be great enough to win the heart of his true love and her hand in marriage? Though strong of body and mind, and with a wicked edge to his Great Axe in battle, Lode fell in love with the dwarven equivalent of a high princess: the daughter of a great hero, of a family of great heroes. She, for her part, loved him deeply from among all the dwarves, despite there being seasoned heroes courting her and despite his own youth. He knew this, and gained a token from her of her affections. However, as she may only marry a hero (for the blood of heroes and a lineage of kings flows in her veins), she cannot simply marry even a mere cousin of nobility. Lode must be a hero, and more than that a great one. The task is daunting, yet like time it is inevitable for him: Lode set forth from his home some weeks back.
A romantic with deep respect for women, Lode's visit to the human town shocked him: dwarven women were hired to a brothel; immediately thoughts went to his beloved, and his sisters and cousins, and Lode's axe was in his hand. The bodyguards were too much for him, though, and the dwarven brothel-workers informed him they were there by choice. Lode sheathed his axe and walked away. However, along with a curse under his breath came an oath to return when he has more personal strength and level the brothel stone by stone. Perhaps even use gold from adventures and start up a dwarven mercenary company, giving dwarves in town a community connection and automatic jobs (rather than having to work in brothels for human lusts).
Lode soon found like-minded adventurers… well, adventurers, and one of them had a big sword. There was a mission: children had been captured, others murdered. Lode jumped at the chance to test himself, and was glad he had so quickly found an adventuring company with which to increase his skills. The company made their way past a suspicious grate leading underground, a place Lode was comfortable fighting in despite the smell.
They found a chamber filled with blue humanoids speaking a strange tongue. Lode and the others fought, though the dwarf found many smll injuries adding up to weaken him by the end of the fight. A battle cry in his eagerness to frighten his enemies had resulted in reinforcements arriving to crush them, but Lode and his companions triumphed. Opening doors, they found three of the lost children; Lode helped a girl, stripped and possibly brutalized, another example of women mistreated in this cruel world. Hearing one of the lads was an orphan, Lode offered him the traditional aid of a dwarf: an apprenticeship and a job. The lad's response was enough to shock Lode, who cuffed him for insolence and was himself cuffed by the barbarian Drecaril (who, unfortunately, also had a strong dislike for oppressing the defenseless). Lode's many injuries were enough that a slight headslap knocked him unconscious. The dwarf had, it seemed, a great way to go in understanding cultures other than his own.
Meeting the counsel of the town (and his cousin, Blackforge) was not easy, as there were the guards to deal with. Lode made sure the guards treated a dwarf of his standing (ie: a dwarf, period) with due respect. He also made sure to bring one of the Blue men bodies to identify this new threat. Finally their demands to see the counsel were heard, and the Blue men were shown as Outsider servants of Loki; and henchmen of Bluto, a local noble and troublemaker. The party was asked to seek him out and end his reign of terror. They agreed.
After several incidents with goblinoids along the way, Lode and the others came across a fireplace with several humans sitting around it. While Lode thought they were forest guardians as he approached them, or else Bluto's men, Lode told them the party were Dragon slayers; it seemed a reasonable ruse while on a secret mission, and there had been tales of a green dragon in the forest. Unfortunately, the tales said nothing of her human servants, men in cloaks with glowing two-handed broadswords ("bastard swords"), who had taken Lode's unfortunate choice of a ruse seriously; luckily the party bard had stepped in to salvage Lode's clumsy efforts at talking their way out of a fight. Diplomacy nearly won out, but for the actions of the rogue (the same one Lode had meant to meet in the building called a brothel, the one he intended to tear down): using stealth Soryl had gotten close and stabbed one of the men in the back. A combat ensued, and the party barely won.
Lode had run into the cave mouth the "rangers" had been guarding; it had turned out to be rather large, and in the wall were many green gemstones with a glow seen by Darkvision-using eyes. Lode took two of them, and thoughts of the Dragon treasure beyond came to his mind; perhaps he would return here some day and earn the title of Dragon slayer after all…
Upon fleeing Lode took up one of the falled swords. The group ran as fast as they could, until they needed rest. Lode's fortitude was greatest, and he kept vigil while their healer and spellcasters rested. As the start sparkled in the sky, a beautiful female with green hair and eyes appeared in the clearing. Lode knew this to be a dragon in human form, and though he wished some day to fight a being as great as this, he knew now some form of diplomacy was needed to save them all from death.
This time the Barbarian Drecaril had spoken too hasty, but Lode stepped in with polite words and bowed to the ancient one. He offed her back her servants' sword, with an apology and an offer of recompense in the form of his life if she should want it (Lode's memory flitted back to several tales of dragons and the cunning dwarven warriors who dealt with them, and nothing less than that or the fireballs of an archmage would satisfy their draconic social etiquette). She accepted the sword, and the gift of gold he'd been paid by the counsel, as the toll for entering her forest. As well, to repay her for the lost men, Lode and the others would need to bring Bluto and three of his henchmen to her, alive. They accepted, and she disappeared.
Lode informed those still sleeping as they woke. Afterwards, they headed to the castle of Bluto.