It was a dark and stormy night. I was awoken by a loud rapping at my door. I opened it to find an unexpected face. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” Michael casually remarked.
“We thought you were dead!” I proclaimed. I thought back to that fateful trip to Odin’s realm where I had seen my friend’s lifeless body after he had absorbed blow after blow from a particularly nasty pair of frost giants, refusing to stop insulting them as they focused the brunt of their attacks on him. “Nobody could have survived that beating!” I demanded, half in question.
He just slyly smiled and said, “We’re getting the band back together,” before he dragged me from my room to a dark corner in the inn’s bustling tavern.
“Two ciders,” he said to the serving girl.
“Make mine an ale,” I corrected. As the wench left to fetch our drinks I returned my attention to Michael. “You smell like you’re dead, too. Don’t you dwarves ever bathe?” I asked rhetorically before demanding, “Where have you been?”
“It’s good to see you, too,” he said, before he dumped a bag of what appeared to be bloodstained journals onto the table.
“Eww! Those reek! Is that swamp?” I complained, as I wrinkled my nose. “Or maybe that’s just you.”
“Just read them,” he said, as he glared daggers at me.
Under his gaze, I flipped through the journals. “Aha! That is swamp!” I exclaimed, as I found several entries detailing a journey through a swamp. “And maybe some jungle, too,” I realized, as I got to the part where they journeyed to a death-cult temple in a jungle. “What is this supposed to be?” I asked.
Instead of answering, he hid the documents as the wench returned with our drinks and unceremoniously deposited them on the table.
“Eight copper,” she said, as she held out her hand. Michael looked at me and gestured at the barmaid.
“Of course,” I muttered, as I gave her a silver. Michael then wasted no time telling her to leave us alone. She harrumphed under her breath before obliging him.
He returned one of the journals to the table and said, “Look at this,” as he pointed at one of the passages.
I looked where he was pointing. Something about a Blackthorn. “Ok,” I replied, “but what does that mean? I don’t know any Blackthorns.” He explained that Blackthorn was some lord of a dark world and that these journals described how to find him and, if we could defeat him, we’d be granted untold powers. As he finished, I incredulously asked, “Where did you say you got these journals again?”
“I found them,” was all he’d offer. He then produced another note about a meeting. The meeting was in 6 days in a nearby town after dusk.
“That ought to be long enough to gather the party”, I thought out loud. “Let’s just hope whoever this meeting’s with doesn’t know whoever the original owner of these journals was,” I said, as I finished my ale. As I got up to leave, I said, “I’ll make the arrangements,” and I headed back to my room. After a few steps I turned and admitted, “It’s good to see you, old friend,” before I continued to my room with a smile on my lips.