Thursday, 19 September 2013

Doggerland Revisited - Session 0.2

Something is Stirring in Vannin (17th September 2013)

The Adventurers
Hallan – Fighter
Johan - Cleric
Paulix – Thief
Vox Comwy – Magic User

Ambushed in the Woods - Freyasday 26th Tresober 963 (Day 3)

The sun rose over the verdant vista of the great Jordan’s Wood, burning off the morning’s spring mist as it did so. The first hour of the journey that morning was uneventful and Hallan was as comfortable as he could be lying in the back of a waggon of farm produce. However, just before they were to enter the shade of the great woodlands, a party of horsemen was espied up ahead.

Albus and his head guard were unable to make out at that distance whether they were friend or foe, so called for everyone in the caravan to make ready for either situation. As the party of horsemen approached it became clear that they were a Thuringian patrol; a knight, a warrior, three hobilars (bow armed men-at-arms) and a scribe or page. Albus ordered the caravan to the side of the road to allow for the patrol’s passing but the leader of the section of men pulled up and asked who was in charge. Albus nudged his horse forwards and greeted the knight saying that he was the leader of the caravan. The knight proceeded to ask if the party had encountered anything untoward on their journey and he was responded to in the affirmative as both Albus and the party chimed in with the encounters they had experienced so far. The knight was happy with their honest response but upon bidding them a farewell he noticed the amulet around Albus’s neck. He suggested that he might want to hide it from view, and so Albus did so by tucking it inside his shirt.

The journey through the woods was eerily silent after the birdsong of the meadowlands before, and lunch was a quiet affair. The caravan continued upon its journey and took the left path at the fork in the road that led towards Darenth. It was a short while after this that a whirring sound was heard and a buzzing, as of wasps, was heard within the air. One of Albus’s men-at-arms crumpled to the floor just as Albus called for all to be upon their guard. Everyone readied their weapons just as half-a-dozen strange looking little creatures burst from the undergrowth at the side of the track way. The five smaller beings were dog-headed and reptile-like about three feet tall and the larger one was a grey-green skinned being with a mouth full of sharp teeth. All had dropped their slings and had drawn a variety of spiky weapons and wicker shields, their leader wielded a short sword. The strange creatures made quick progress across the sward, avoiding being hit by arrows that were sent their way. Albus called for the caravan to keep moving as he and his remaining guardsman drew their weapons and raced into the combat. Hallan carried on shooting arrows into the melee but his injury must have been hampering his aim as his shots went wide. Vox and Paulix managed to head off a couple of the beings and hand-to-hand combat was entered.

Albus’s guardsman made light work of one of the dog-like men but Albus was hit and fell from his saddle. Paulix made his way towards his stricken employer, cutting down a creature as he went, and Vox held his own with another of them. An accurate shot by Hallan dropped one of the two attacking the last caravan in the line, its peasant farmers would now only have to face one adversary with their stout clubs. A final flurry of blows put paid to the grey-green humanoid before the rest of the attackers turned tail and fled. A flurry of arrows followed them into the bushes.

The corpses of the assailants were quickly robbed of any valuables by Paulix and their crude weapons were set in a small pile, except for the short sword which he kept for himself. They also found a small wooden amulet of similar size and shape to Albus’s metal amulet around the lead critter’s neck, which also had inscribed upon it the very same set of symbols that could be seen upon Albus’s amulet; Paulix pocketed it for future use. Albus’s remaining guard and teamster rigged a pallet for their unconscious boss and strapped him into the back of the lead waggon. He had a nasty bruise on his head but his breathing was steady. The unfortunate guardsman was put onto the second waggon alongside Hallan whilst the bodies of one of the little critters and their leader were loaded onto the third waggon and covered in sack cloth. The caravan pulled away with a heavy heart and plodded the rest of the way towards Darenth.

Arrival in Darenth (mid-afternoon)

The caravan pulled into the village of Darenth. The waggons dropped down the short incline, crossed the river at the ford and trundled past the water mill. The train then passed the round stone church dedicated to Sol Invictus on its way towards the second stone building in the village. The wattle and daub cottages and barns of the villagers passed by on either side were well kept and consisted of both toft and croft with the main fields spread out across the fields on the hills beyond like a patch work quilt. The only thing to spoil the view of pastoral tranquillity was the great stone manor estate set at the far end of the village.

As the caravan made its way past the church, Hallan hopped off and hobbled towards the main doors. The remaining guardsman halloed when the caravan got to within a few yards of the stone building within the village, and called for Jared, Albus’s brother. A gaggle of people emerged from the grounds of the building and then hurriedly made their way to the caravan as they realised that Albus had been injured. The womenfolk, full of concern, demanded he be taken to the church straight away, so the men of the household did as they were bid and carried both him and the dead guardsman to the church. Whilst this was going on orders were given to unload the waggons and to rub down and tend to the beasts of burden. This was carried out meticulously by Jared’s farm workers, all except for the unloading of the dead bodies of the humanoids; they were stored out of sight by Paulix and Vox who then proceeded up to the church to see how their employer fared – they wanted their money!

Johan, a local lad practicing his healing lore under the watchful gaze of the two priests at the church, watched as his superiors laid healing hands upon Albus. Albus was brought round and his wound was tended to by the two priests. A collection tin was then rattled at Jared, who placed a few coins into it. Johan, seeing what was expected of him did the same for Hallan, but rather than give the money to the grasping church of Sol Invictus (he was still allied to the Old Gods but was practicing his healing lore at the only available church in the area), decided to pocket it for himself. He was able to do so unseen by his two superiors.

Albus cleared his head and was quickly brought up to date by his trusted guardsman. He turned to the three adventurers and thanked them profusely for their aid on the eventful journey. He handed each of them a small purse containing the promised twenty silver pieces and a bonus of five silver coins so that they could work out what they wanted to do over the next few days in the comfort of the Miller’s Arms tavern opposite Jared’s stone house. Albus needed to rest up before his return journey and mentioned that he might wish to hire them again if they were willing. He would be leaving to head back to High Beeches in about one week, so they did not have to hurry to make up their minds.

The three adventurers headed back into the village and sought out the tavern, closely followed by a curious Johan. Albus was carried back to Jared’s house and put safely to bed to recuperate from his ordeal. The body of the guardsman was prepared for burial. Just as they got to the door of the tavern they noticed that the waggons were about to be trundled into Jared’s farmstead, so Paulix and Vox retrieved their ‘sacks of produce’ from the hiding place and took them with them into the tavern. The sacks easily stood up in the corner behind their bench as rigor mortis had begun to set in.

After the events of the last few days, the adventurers ordered up a flagon of ale and cups for each of them and Johan who had joined them at their table. They then surreptitiously showed him what they had been attacked by. The shock of seeing the strange creatures’ faces made him blanche but he wanted to find out more. The inn-keep, curious as to what was going on, approached the adventurers’ table and asked them what they were up to. When Paulix then put on his finest pomp of showmanship he convinced the inn-keep of how they could both make a bit of money. The tavern keeper sent his pot-boys out into the village to tell all and sundry of the strange sights that could be seen at the Miller’s Arms. The villagers arrived in droves and the tavern went into lock-down with a guard at the door. The tavern keeper and Paulix made a goodly few handfuls of coppers for their efforts, as well as the respect of the oohing and aahing villagers.

Discussions (late afternoon)

The last couple of hours of sunlight allowed for the party to work out what they wanted to do next both with themselves and reporting the presence of the strange creatures that they had killed. Johan said that he would consult the church library to see if he could find out any more about the creatures in the sacks whilst the other three discussed the merits of returning to High Beeches with Albus to investigate the sheep rustling and Simeon Graize affair or whether they should see what adventures this new village brought them. An hour before sunset, though, they were invited by one of Jared’s henchmen to a celebratory meal at his farmstead. They packed up the bodies and carried them to the stone manor across the street.

A few moments later they were joined by Johan with some important information which they said they would discuss at Jared’s. A leisurely meal was had and thanks were again given to the party for saving Albus’s life before the conversation turned serious. Jared wanted to know what was in the sacks and what had happened to bring on such misfortune to his brother. The adventurers revealed all; both about the hassle that Simeon Graize was giving Albus back in High Beeches and along the journey, as well as the attack by the strange creatures. Talk then turned to what Johan had found out. He was able to tell them that the writing upon the amulets was an old script from the dark side of the Old Faith; most likely the name of a demon or some such but evil nonetheless. He was also able to tell everyone that from the grimoire he had read, there were creatures matching their description called goblins and kobolds; creatures of nightmare from millennia ago.

Jared suggested that they would need to report this to the local lord up on the hill, but the following day would do – he would put the bodies into cold storage to stop them decaying. At this point Albus came downstairs from his cot to thank the adventurers personally again. After a brief discussion he said that he no longer wished to be party to ownership of the amulet as it had brought him nothing but bad luck since it had mysteriously appeared in his coffers a few months previously, and if the adventurers could find a buyer for it they could take 10% of what they make from its sale. The party agreed to this, Johan took the amulet into his possession, and then they bade him and Jared a goodnight and returned to the inn for a good night’s rest.

A Meeting with Sir Richard (Godsday 27/3/963 - Day 4)

Jared had a few chores to run in the early morning, so he said he would be ready to escort them up there in a couple of hours. The party completed a few chores themselves and bought some adventuring equipment, then joined Jared at the appropriate time, walked through the village, and up the hill to the large manor complex. They were greeted by two well-armed guards at the gate. Jared spoke to them in a tongue strange to the adventurers and after a few moments they were let into the complex. Beyond the heavy wooden gates and large stone walls they entered a compound consisting of several stone buildings, men-at-arms in training, a black-smith hammering and horses being exercised; a real hive of activity.

The party were brought into the presence of the local lord, Sir Richard and his small body of advisers. He was aloof, but polite and showed an interest in what the adventurers had encountered. They showed him the bodies of the goblin and kobold and he requested that he be allowed to destroy the evidence before it became widely known that there were strange creatures afoot in the local vicinity. He didn’t want to scare the local populace after all. He asked if they had seen anything else unusual so they presented him with the goblin’s talisman. This brought a glint of interest to Sir Richard’s sage and he asked if the item could be left with them for further study. The party agreed and Sir Richard said they could collect it again from him the next day. He then dropped any interest he had in them and Jared suggested it was time to leave.

The adventurers returned to the village to pass the day as they saw fit. Hallan was beginning to heal well, and a couple more healing spells from Johan helped him along the way further. He passed the rest of the day limbering up and working out. Johan returned to the church for his duties but also managed to try to get more information from the grimoires held within the church’s small library, unfortunately with no new leads. Paulix went around the local farmsteads and bought himself some more adventuring gear whilst Vox, for reasons known only unto himself, visited the miller and worked a full day for nothing. He said he wanted to find out how the mill worked.

New Leads (Sunday 28/3/963 - Day 5)

The following morning, the four companions returned to Sir Richard’s manor. They were met with the same rigour before being ushered into his presence. He laid the wooden amulet upon the table and confirmed the details that Johan had already found out over the previous couple of days. He said he would be interested in finding out what the amulet meant and suggested that someone in Staneford might be able to help. His friend, the most worshipful mage Lord Burne had an extensive library, and the local canoness Y’dey of the church of Sol Invictus had extensive knowledge of legends and lore, as did the local Old Faith druid Jaroo.

The party gave thanks to Sir Richard and said that they would report back any findings they made on their journey. The party made their way back into town and sat down at a table in the tavern to discuss their next steps.

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