Hoard of the Dragon Queen
Sarl the Slight
A short Golaith
The village of Sarl’s birth has no name by his people, but it has some local fame – and not only for the talented dwarven gatesmith who once made it his home.
From a young age, helping his mother in the workshops of Gary Gatesmith, Sarl was different. A Goliath that was always short in stature and slight of frame for his age, Sarl had an aptitude for music, and an understanding of mechanical and social forces that few in his tribe had.
Gary had a fondness for Sarl’s mother, and endured the questioning ways of the ‘littlest Golaith’ she brought with her to his quicksilver forge. The little one picked up Dwarven speech and writing quickly – so much so that Gary put Sarl on the task of recopying old dwarven designs from Gary’s library. The young Sarl fell in love with language, even more so the occasional Dwarven song written into the margins of the books. These Sarl devoted to his prodigious memory, as Gary had little patience for marginalia in the fresh copies.
Soon however, the elbows of an adolescent tipped over one too many inkwells, and Sarl was banished from the inner workshop till he became an adult.
The scrapyard by the workshop then became Sarl’s wonderland – old and obsolete dwarven mechanical drawings were his school books, and the broken leaf springs, snapped tension wires, and steel pipe cutoffs were the instruments of musical discovery.
As a young man, singing to himself a dwarven boasting song, Sarl realized that he had a gift no other in his village had. Not only could he sing – he could lie.
Quickly taking this to his advantage, Sarl sang songs of love, songs of peace, and songs of plenty. Soon his village traded food instead of blows with the other tribes of the mountain, and his people no longer needed to constantly scrape for sustenance.
The other young men of his village soon grew idle, and restless. A worrying storm was brewing, but Sarl recognized these feelings from old Dwarven siege songs – and felt the solution has hidden in them.
In the Dwarven siege songs, they tell of long years locked in mountains, waiting out invaders that were too numerous, too strong, or too foolhardy. They tell of young men growing weary of idleness, and stirring up trouble just to feel alive. They also tell of the wise solution of a unnamed bard, who rallied the young men to an unreachable balcony overlooking their foes, to chant bawdy songs to the delight of the men and the anger of their enemies.
Sarl took this idea, and ran with it. Gathering scraps from Gary’s workshop, he fashioned simple musical instruments even the lowliest Goliath could play, and be used as weapons of the hunt too! Soon, the young men in his village were playing for the occasional traveler, then larger groups, and within a few years were a well known tourist destination – caravans would come up the mountain just to hear the talented musicians, and purchase their uniquely styled ‘scrapyard’ musical instruments. Sarl was overjoyed, and content – his village was on the path to greatness, and no blood need be shed.
As in any good tale, this is when tragedy struck. Gary, an ancient dwarf by any measure, fell ill and could no longer work. The scrapyard, once the source of the village’s musical wealth, soon became little more than a heap of picked over rust. Sarl pleaded with Gary to take him on as an apprentice, but even after their long friendship, there were too many Dwarven secrets that could not but entrusted outside of his race and guild.
But Gary proposed an alternate plan, one to which Sarl solemnly agreed. Upon his death, Sarl took a deathmask cast of Gary’s face, which he is to present to any Dwarf of the Gatesmith’s Guild, and explain the situation. Sarl was also given an encoded message, one that only a Master of the Gatesmith would comprehend, that would be guaranteed to fill the position at Gary’s workshop with a suitable replacement.
Taking the mask and letter, and saying goodbye to his musical companions, Sarl left his village a deeply saddened and full of unanswered questions.
Would his village keep their peaceful ways?
Would he find the Guild, much less a new Gatesmith?
Or dust his boots of the past, and choose a new adventure for his life?
The Message to the Gatesmith Guild
From mountain of Gary Glavephalntyvi, a treasure you find,
but only if you read these words, and understand in kind.
On Margan’s Shelf there is a tome of metal and of wood,
to reach it, you must upon Varreneck’s Beak be stood.
There you will find within its leaves a key both thin and wide
that must be used as per Kim’s Chest, wherin I do hide.
A Roger’s Choice you will see, in the floor of my abode
drop the key in Sarl’s Hope, and Kessler’s Ramp will unload.
Sarl’s Hope – you may ask – what Dwarf of note is that?
Merely the final key, which my messenger keeps underneath this hat.
To snatch this prize from his nut, a small task you must do:
Fill my scrapyard to the brim, and present to him Glavephalntvyi’s Opus, Volume 2.