Uncomfortably Tall Adventures
Rusty of Wheale Borough
Halfling striker extraordinaire
It’s funny how the least intimidating member of the UTA might also be the most dangerous. Rusty stands at a daunting 4’2" and weights a whopping 78 lbs but, boy, he can pack a punch from time to time. Old Rust seems to be a endless fountain of comic relief for the other members of the UTA. He always seems to get himself and his friends into some sort of trouble. Rusty also always seems to have gold on his mind. Whenever he isn’t getting the UTA into trouble by looting some treasure or picking someone’s pocket, he spends his leisure banking or reading economic treatises. Above all else, Rusty’s favorite is Adam the Smith’s Mage Hand of the Marketplace.
Over the years, Rusty has become a wizard with a dagger…well not an actual wizard, he’s just really good with a dagger. He wields a hand crossbow in one hand and his trusty dagger in the other. He wears dark black leather armor and is almost comically decked out with various knives and daggers across his chest.
Alignment: chaotic neutral
Deity: Avandra, but not really. He’s a lapsed Avandrite
Hair Color: dusty brown
Eye Color: blue
Skin Tone: freckled
Body Type: slender
Birthplace: Ol’ Gaff’s Memorial Hospital, Wheale Borough
Rusty comes from a long line of halflings from a small bucolic borough called Wheale. To a human’s eyes it isn’t much to look at, but the dirt paths are straight and the food is plentiful. All in all, it is a quiet place, just like we halflings like it. Although the halflings of Wheale are not a xenophobic people, they do prefer to stick to themselves. They do not like to call attention to themselves or go on adventures of any sort. They like to eat and drink, merrily, in peace.
To better understand his life, Rusty’s story needs to begin two generations prior. His grandfather, Red Wheale Borough, was a gentile and caring halfling. He enjoyed sailing and travel much more than most halflings, and so in time decided to make that his profession. Red started a small company which later became known as the Wheale Borough Mercantile Shipping and Trade Company. While this sounds impressive in name, Red’s only clients were farmers who needed to transport their produce up and down the Nentir River.
Over the years, Red turned his company into a modest regional powerhouse with an impressive total of six clients. He grew to the ripe age of elevendy and died a happy man, bequething his company to his only son, Harry.
Harry was only ever called “Harry” by his father however; to everyone else, he was known as “Squeaky” Wheale Borough. Although a very intelligent and business-savvy individual, Squeaky could also be manipulative, underhanded and sometimes ruthless. He engineered a few lucrative deals which saw the lucrative height of the WBMST Co. and made him a rather wealthy man. Although this prosperity was not to last. Traveling north to Fallcrest on many occasions, Squeaky became consumed with the operation of the company and involved himself with some undisclosed dark dealings with the most shady of people.
It was around this time that Squeraky and his young wife Sandy (née Butternubs) had their first and only child, a boy by the name of Rusty. Rusty was soon abandoned for reasons unknown and was left to fend for himself. He grew up as a member of society’s underbelly, surviving as a thief and a pickpocket on the mean streets of Wheale. However, Rusty soon grew tired of this meaningless existence and in his late twenty’s learned that some information about his early abandonment could be unearthed in Fallcrest. So without any other thought, he left his beloved Wheale to travel north.
There he met a strange assortment of characters in a musty tavern one day in a small town called Winterhaven. There was a creepy old priest of Avandra and what appeared to be his strong-jawed muscle-bound slave-boy. There was also a smelly, unkempt nomad and a wide-eyed tiefling wizard who looked like he had seem some terrible shit. Miraculously however for the people of the Nentir Vale, these five men of uncomfortable height decided to join forces after learning of their common goals and set out together in the general direction of Fallcrest as the Uncomfortably Tall Adventurers.
But they couldn’t go right to Fallcrest, of course. That would be too easy. The newly-formed adventuring party agreed to take down a chaoticly evil necromancer named Kalarel whose goblins were capturing townsfolk from the nearby villages. They followed the leads to a cave hidden beneath a waterfall and were confronted by a mean-looking orc named Irontooth. He was no joke either, Rusty misjudging his opponent’s strength caught the sharp end of his axe a few too many times and was eventually felled by the terrible beast.
Luckily for Old Rust, his friends decided to take their small halfling friend back to Winterhaven and revive him for a heafty fee. After recalling the his soul from the Shadowfell with Sister Linora’s help, the UTA proceeded to the aging Shadowfell Keep to investigate further. They met the evil wizard deep in the abandoned Keep on the Shadowfell and were able to stop his devious plot from coming to fruition but unfortunately lost his body in the process.
Kalarel’s creepy Shadowfell portal
The most troubling bit of information that Rusty learned was that his parents had been captured by Kalrel and the goblins and subsequently sold into slavery to an organization known as the Bloodreavers. Unfortunately shortly thereafter they had to partially break up the band; Helmfist decided that he wanted to take his talents elsewhere. So down one member, our four heroes pressed on towards Fallcrest.
They were stopped however, first by a goliath wrestler named Lo-Kag and then secondly by a rotund little gnome named Laird. After deciding to jump down the rabbit hole and four heroes and their new goliath friend found themselves in the lair of one Ice-Lord Febris and a mighty white dragon named Szartharrax. At the end of the non-stop action, Rusty found a note detailing that his mother has died en route, but suggested that Rusty’s father is alive and in the possession of the Bloodreavers, not in Fallcrest, but in Thunderspire.
Finding themselves a month or so later in Thunderspire, the UTA had expanded back up to five members and this time, employed. In their previous stopover in Fallcrest the met a grumpy dwarf devotee of the Raven Queen named Orsik the Seeker and a pretentiously obstinate young eladrin wizard named Finn Bailey. Finn was the son of a wealthy eladrin banker who started the House Bailey Banking Firm, so the catch was employment if you take this self-centered teenager off my hands. They obliged.
In Thunderspire the UTA had to deal with some unfortunate situations before learning any useful information. They tackled the Mages of Saruun power vacuum, the city’s duergar problem and the other issues of the Seven-Pillared Hall (including Jack Bornfist) before delving deep into the appropriately-named Well of Demons. Learning that his father was going to be sacrificed to perform a unholy ritual, Rusty made a deal with the devil. Eh, well, actually demon to be more precise but you get the point. In the climactic final battle at the end of the Well of Demons, Rusty sold his soul to the demon lord Demogorgon through his emissary Azuzu to rescue his nearly-deceased father.
He doesn’t seem that bad…
Pyrrhic victory. Dad’s a vegetable. Now I don’t have a soul. Fuck.
Over the next few months after leaving the Well, Rusty’s condition has slowly deteriorated. His skin started to take on a thicker-than-normal cold reptilian consistency and a reddish hue. His eyes grew slightly red and blood-shot as the days passed and his once brown irises changed to a stunning shade of yellow. Most unfortunately howver, underneath the hood of his cloak, Rusty begun to spout two small bumps on his forehead where horns would no doubt emerge.
The few months were tough on Rusty. He didn’t want to worship Demogorgon, he stupidly sould his soul to save his dead-beat dad. Alas, the road to the Abyss is paved with good intentions. The UTA’s next mission for House Bailey was a toughy: Go to the Shadowfell, drop off a package to a guy named Harskel and work out some super-difficult business transactions with the leaders of Gloomwrought. Sounds easy, right? Yeah…nope. Not just that but remember, Rusty is also slowly being driven insane at this point. A few weeks into the Shadowfell campaign, Rusty devoted himself to Aameul, the more scheming and conniving of Demogorgon’s two heads, to buy himself some more precious time. He’d probably need it. Interestingly enough, on the very next day the UTA traveled to the docks to break up a shady business transaction between Harskel and some other creepy dudes when aboard a ship called the Dagger of Ursh, Rusty was confronted with his own worst enemy, himself.
Yes, it’s true. When Rusty was slayed by Irontooth all those months ago and subsequently revived by Lenora, his soul was ripped asunder… One half stayed in the Shadowfell and the other was returned to his body in the Material Plane. The part of his soul that stayed in the Shadowfell was manifest in the form of a halfling lackey for Harskel named “Ferris.”
After much interparty negotiation where: Vanguard wanted to kill neither Rusty, Orsik wanted to kill both Rustys, Leif was moderately on Demon Rusty’s side and Finn was moderatedly-but-not-committed-fully to Ferris Rusty’s side—a bit of a scuffle broke out. Leif tackled Orsik to keep him away from the pint-sized demon which gave the beast all the time he needed to hurl the Dagger of Ursh at Ferris. It sunk into his shoulder as he toppled backwards and the demon escaped off of the ship into the water below.
Finn shed a single tear for his now-close friend and shopping buddy.
After getting fixed up and escaping the notice of the guards, Ferris agreed (albeit with a little hesitation) to join the party of his two friends and two “newcomers.” However, he had one condition; his name is Rusty, not Ferris, Ferrous, or Faris…Just plain old Rusty. Upon agreeing to this, our heroes set out and Rusty tagged along with them, having a lot on his mind and a heavy conscience.
Chapter I — A long way from home
One of the last thing I remember of the Material Plane is a isn’t much of a memory at all; it’s just a feeling. I remember the moment right before we walked through that waterfall into Irontooth’s lair. I had such a strong feeling of loss. It was overwhelming, confusing. I felt both abandoned and forlorn but depressed isn’t the right word, since that month or so was quite possibly the happiest time of my entire life. It was almost as if I knew something was going to happen—something bad to me very shortly. Well, we walked through that waterfall and the rest is history, I guess.
I was off my game during that fight. I’ve learned a lot since then both in terms of combat and in life. Vanguard didn’t really have my back like he usually did either. No, I’m not upset at him, just, eh, well, maybe a little bit. I’ve had a lot of time to think about that day. That’s why I haven’t really brought it up to the guys. One, I don’t want to bring it up and two, I think no one else cares about it other than myself. Hell, Celeborn is dead. Helmfist ditched. Vanguard has got other stuff on his mind and Leif…well, * exhale * never mind.
Here’s what I remember: First I got that lovely cut across my neck courtesy of the orc Irontooth and watched as my blood sprayed out all over my armor. It wasn’t too painful—it was quick at least. I guess I should thank him for that. Then I remember my field of vision going blank, it felt like my senses were slowly recessing. Everything got cold and clammy. And after that was finished I woke up. Yeah, just like that. In a completely different place.
I laid there for a while half asleep, half in a stupor where I couldn’t really move. But slowly, my senses returned. It was windy and cold. I could feel the dirt beneath me. Something smelled like like decaying flesh.
Where on earth am I?
I further opened my already half-opened eyes. It was dark…everywhere. It took a while for my eyes to get adjusted. The hell happened to the sky? I thought to myself. I had trouble getting up. I put my hands down onto the ground beneath me, it was silty and coarse. Was that there before? Uh, ow, my neck. I gingerly touched my neck. There was crusted blood there sitting on top of a deep wound. There was still blood on my armor, now mixed with dirt and mud. I finally got up. It felt like I hadn’t stood up in months. I didn’t have the energy to move, shit, I could barely stand. Again however, the thought crossed my mind…Where am I? How did I get here?
I think I kinda hobbled my way around for a while. There was a lot of sitting and resting involved. I was so hungry. I remember that vividly. These bright lights in the sky, I thought they were stars at first, all traveled off in one direction, so I decided to follow them. Eh, why not? It was weird; I had never seen the sky look like that before. I couldn’t tell if it was day or night, I guessed night, but I couldn’t tell for sure. It took my a while to get adjusted but then I saw the most strange of sights. Before me was the desiccated yet putrescent corpse of what I thought was a man nailed to a cross. I was thoroughly confused and absolutely terrified.
A Dead Man on a Cross
I did not want to stay there, no way. So I took off in what I thought was the most heavily-traveled direction. I walked for about half and hour before I saw any sign of life. “Fucking final-” I said to myself upon seeing a torchlight about a hundred yards away off in the distance. Reactively I fell to the ground.
I stayed still for a minute or so, it was too difficult to see who commanded the torch, but at least there was a torch. I could barely hear two voices, no idea what they were saying though. I followed these two human-sized men for a while at a distance. Adrenaline was pumping now, another slight improvement in my situation. And before you know it I stepped out of this wasteland and now before stood a dark massive and macabre wall decorated with human hands and limbs and eyes. Everything was bathed in green light from a large lantern off in the distance. My first though? Yep, you guessed it:
Where on earth am I?