Dawn, 2 Imogen, 973 IR
Outer Bailey, Grimilon Keep
Having presented yourselves to the guards on duty at the main gate of the keep, you've been allowed inside the outer bailey, and directed to a relatively out-of-the-way spot, on the opposite side of the yard from the castle's blacksmith and stables where it will be difficult for you to get yourself set on fire or trampled to death. Despite the early hour, the castle is already awake and buzzing with activity, although the Master of Horse for the stronghold, whom you are supposed to meet concerning mercenary work, is nowhere in evidence.
While you cool your heels awaiting his attention, you have time to size each other up. The most striking so far is a black elf—he's literally so dark that you'd lose him down a well if he closed his eyes, with skin like coal and dreadlocked hair of the deepest possible shade of blue-black. His eyes show like blue ice against this background, and he has somehow been tattooed with white ink, lending him an entirely otherworldly air. He's armed with a spear, and near him you can see a short bow and various other personal effects.
Somewhat overshadowed by the elf, two . . . things. Scaly, humanoid in shape . . . kobolds?!? One of them is two feet tall if he's an inch, mottled grey and brown, and clad in a tiny little suit of mail and a cloak. The little creature's hands are compulsively busy with a set of tools, but it seems unarmed despite the armor. On the other hand . . . those claws of look substantial.
The other kobold is much taller, which is to say that it stands somewhat shy of three feet tall. This one's scales look a bit ragged, and that's to say nothing of mishmash of leather and nobles' silks that swath its body, or the bands of yellow cord that it's wearing in place of jewelry . . . or the . . . are those SPRINGS it's wearing as rings, set with colored glass "gems?"
Less exotic, there's a dwarf in scale mail with an enormous axe and a shield leaning against his legs. Well, probably it's a he; the chest-length beard suggests masculinity. He looks like his nose has been broken at some point in the past, and there's a sour expression plastered across his face, like maybe he's stepped in dog shit and has just started to notice the smell. Not a cheerful look at all.
And another dwarf, though not obviously associated with the first. This one's a woman. Probably. At least, her hair is up in a bun, and there's no beard, and she's more . . . woman-shaped than the first. Although that's admittedly no challenge whatsoever. She's wearing studded leather or brigantine armor, there's a short sword at her hip, and a morningstar looped at her belt as well, and there's a truly stuffed backpack propped against the wall near her, along with a bow and a halberd. Obviously, she believes in being prepared.
Then there's the hobo. Or maybe a runaway wizard's apprentice? It's hard to be sure even of his race, although the luminous green eyes would suggest elven heritage of some description. Regardless of his species, his robes are stained, and patched here and there with what looks like sailcloth. And it looks like he probably trimmed his own hair with a knife, just enough to keep it out of his eyes in the front. A second glance shows that he doesn't stand like a hunched derelict, though; he may look like he weighs as much as a petite human woman, but his hands are knobbed and callused like a sailor's, and his hair, a deep blonde at the roots, is bleached white from exposure to sun.
Not far from him, there's a rangy-looking, mustachioed human draped in hide armor, with sensible travelers' garments under that. He's lightly armed with a club and a wooden shield, but they both look businesslike. Alone among your fellowship-to-be, this man has acquired a pack animal; he clutches the reins of a rabbit-eared mule in one hand. Not far from his heels, a large dog—or is that a wolf—with gray and cream fur lounges.
Last but not least (and actually, the first to arrive) there's a positively enormous human male. He's easily six and a half feet tall, and he must tip the scales at more than 300 pounds. He's dark-haired, and has the old-young face that often settles onto young people who've come up from poverty and have worries beyond their years to give them premature lines around the eyes and mouth. He's got a short sword strapped to his hip, looking more like a knife due to his sheer size, and there's a crossbow slung next to the backpack across his shoulders. A hint of steel at his neck suggests the presence of a chain shirt under his jacket and cloak.