Return to High Beeches (25th September 2013)
Hallan – Fighter
Johan - Cleric
Paulix – Thief
Vox Comwy – Magic User
A Defeated Patrol - Sunday 28th Tresober 963 (Day 5) – mid-morning
The smell of freshly baked bread, oat porridge, honey and sweet dried fruits assailed the noses of the four intrepid adventurers. They took their places at one of the vacant tables in the Miller’s Arms in Darenth and began to discuss what they should do next.
Albus would not be leaving for the return journey to High Beeches for a few days yet, and as a result they would miss the New Moon time frame for seeing what had caused those enormous footprints beside the river. A showdown with Simeon Graize was also in the offing due to the attacks his henchmen had made on the caravan they were protecting. They also wanted to work out what the symbols on the amulets might mean, but that would entail a journey into the unknown and meeting with people who were some of the local bigwigs, which left them a little nervous as to whether they should explore that avenue just yet. However, after a thorough debate of the pros and cons of each choice, they decided to head back to High Beeches and at least see what was making those raids on the local farmers.
Runes on back of Albus's (and goblin's) Amulet
Symbol on front of Albus's (and goblin's) Amulet
Just as they had made their minds up, they heard the rumble of a waggon outside the inn. They peered outside the door and noticed that the two farmers who had accompanied them on their outward journey had hired on two guards and were due to leave on their homeward course with their waggon loaded with goods that would be of use to the villagers around High Beeches and beyond. The party asked if they could accompany them at least some of the way (through the dangerous Jordan’s Wood at least), and the farmers nodded their agreement but mentioned that they could not pay them. The adventurers stated that there was safety in numbers, so began to walk alongside the waggon as it set off on its homeward journey.
The journey through the forest was uneventful, and the weather was fine, so the companions decided to leave the farmers and their cart to make their own way (it would take the waggon maybe a day and a half to reach their home village).
A couple of hours later, just after they had taken their lunch break, they spotted a patrol of horsemen in the distance. As the small patrol got closer, the party noticed that there were only two of the original six riders in their saddles. As the patrol pulled up alongside the party, they noticed that the leader, the scribe and two of the archers were draped over their horses; dead. The other two were quite beaten up and sported a few cuts and bruises themselves. The party asked what had happened and the tale that they were given was one full of woe. They had been ambushed a few miles up the road by a large force of bandits wearing brown cloaks and robes. They were well-armed and knew what they were about. They had engaged them in combat, but the bandits had killed his commander and the scribe as fast as possible and then got out of there as quickly as they had arrived. This puzzled the survivors of the patrol as they were not robbed, and were left able to pick up their dead and return to Darenth with them. They then questioned the party as to whether they had seen anything unusual but the party responded that all had been quiet so far on their journey.
Just as the patrol moved on, a broken satchel fell from the horse bearing the body of the scribe. The patrol did not notice this and carried on but Johan, being an honest type, called after the patrol and notified them of their loss. The warrior thanked them for bringing it to their attention, placed it within his own saddlebags and then continued upon his way.
Bandits! (early afternoon)
A short while after leaving the patrol, the party decided it might be best if they advanced with Paulix covering their flanks from the woods and brambles at the edge of the track.
They made good steady progress until suddenly four arrows hissed through the air. Hallan and Vox were struck by a shaft each but the other two missed. Hallan drew his cudgel from his belt and charged at the bushes from where the arrows had come from even though he could not see where their assailants were. The bluff worked, and it flushed four brigands from their hiding places. Paulix let fly with his arrows and managed to wing one as the others joined combat. Hallan’s supreme strength soon took down one of the bandits and the others soon made short work of two of the remainder before Hallan finished the last one off as he turned tail to run.
Paulix quickly stripped the bandits of any valuables and weapons before removing their armour for later use. He rolled up three suits of the armour and tied them for easier carrying whilst Johan healed Hallan of his arrow wound. Vox, his distrust of clerics coming to the fore, refused to be treated and changed the subject by asking Paulix if he could hand him one of the leather jerkins from the bodies that were now laid at the side of the road. Paulix did so and helped him into the garment just as they both noticed that there was a grey gunge smeared over part of the inside. Paulix returned to the corpses and noticed that they too had some of the same gunge upon them.
Whilst Hallan was being treated, Paulix investigated to see if he could find a camp for the villains. Their trail into the brambles was quite easy to follow and he found a small camp fire burning with four sleeping bags evenly strewn around it. He carefully inspected the camp and found more of the grey gunge as well as another small pouch containing a few silver coins. He returned to the party and told them what he had found and they continued upon their way.
Another Patrol (mid-afternoon)
An hour or so later, just as they were getting close to the final small woodland before their destination, the party espied another patrol approaching from Darenth. Paulix was still hidden within the side growth, so was not seen, but the other three stood to the side of the road as the patrol approached. The six-man patrol was made up in the same way as all Thuringian patrols (a knight, a man-at-arms, 3 bow-armed hobilars and a scribe/page), and was just as inquisitive. The patrol pulled up their mounts just as they reached the party and questioned them as to their mission. The party answered truthfully about their journey and what had happened to them, only omitting the presence of Paulix. The leader of the patrol asked them to stay in High Beeches the night as he would like to question them further. The patrol then about-faced and headed back to the site of the ambush that the party had described. It was at this point that the party realised that they had not seen any signs of the place where the ambush on the other patrol had taken place.
Vox, his head spinning a little, realised that he may need to get his wound seen to soon as he was starting to feel a little weak; from loss of blood was his thought. He balked at the thought of any priest touching him, so pulled on his reserves and battled on, the broken tip of the arrow still in his shoulder.
Arrival in High Beeches (dusk)
The party carried on with their marching order to the outskirts of the woods before the long downward slope to High Beeches. Paulix said his farewells and took up position in a large tree overlooking the bridge and the approach road to the hamlet. The others carried on in to the settlement; Vox leaning on his staff much more heavily now, his breath coming in pants and his brow drenched in sweat.
They were greeted warmly by the tavern keeper and also questioned as to the whereabouts of Albus. They responded by saying that his caravan was still in Darenth and would be arriving back in High Beeches sometime in the next few days. They passed over the soiled leather jacks to the serving maid to be cleaned, booked a private room each, and retired to them in quick order; Hallan to rest from the combat, Johan to pray for more spells from Balder, his deity, and Vox as he felt so rough.
An hour or so later things got too much for Vox so he knocked for Johan and asked if he could heal him and remove the fever that he had. Johan sighed at his companion’s reticence to trust a priest but cast a healing spell upon him. The arrow wound expelled the shaft easily and the cut closed and knitted nicely, but it did nothing for his fever. Johan suggested that Vox visited the priests of Sol Invictus at the church up the road as they most likely had more skills than he in this type of healing.
Vox was aided up the street by Johan and welcomed into the church where he was shown to a pallet and asked to lie down. The two priests examined him for injury and remarked upon the good work done on his arrow wound; Johan swelled with pride. However, they noticed that something nasty had got into the wound and it would need extra work to cure than an ordinary infection would. The chief priest went into the library to meditate on the cure and Johan headed back to the tavern as his work was done there for the night. The priest returned a short while later and said that he could cure him but it would cost as that kind of power did not come cheaply. Vox, ashamed at having to be administered to by the priesthood, swallowed his pride and agreed terms. The cleric prayed to his god and the power of Sol Invictus shone down upon the magic user, removing the dreaded disease from his system. But it also needed the help of some holy water to aid the process; a procedure that had not been used in many years according to the grimoires.
Meanwhile, Paulix saw the arrival of the patrol that said they would return that night. He kept his head down and his eyes upon the bridge; looking out for any unnatural movement.
Back in the common room, the patrol asked the ostler to fetch the three companions. When only two of them arrived for the summons the patrol asked where their companion was. They responded that he had been taken ill and was up at the temple being treated by the priests. The knight was happy with this and carried on interrogating Hallan and Johan. They wanted to know their movements since their meeting on the road and wondered why when they got to where the combat was there was no sign of the bodies where they said they had left them. The party gave them the details omitting any reference to Paulix but had to answer that they did not know what had happened to the bodies. The leader seemed satisfied for now and proceeded to book a few rooms with the tavern keeper. They quickly retired to their rooms. The two adventurers were now tired and Johan was out of spells, so they too retired for the night.
Shamblers in the Night (late evening)
The bells for the ninth hour had peeled and Paulix sat alone and cold in his forest hide away. The last couple of hours had made him stiff and his attention was beginning to wander as he tired from the days’ strains. Then, out of the corner of his eye he just managed to make out slow movement on the road leading into the village.
He eased down from the tree that he was hiding in and made his way towards the road so that he could get a better look. The sky was dark but there was just enough light from the stars, the last sliver of moon and ambient light from the village to see four shapes walking slowly towards the sleeping hamlet. He followed them at a discreet distance before seeing them clearly in the light of the torches in the cressets outside the temple of Sol Invictus. As soon as the four beings got to within a short distance of the church, they veered off towards a farmstead up on the surrounding hills. It was at this point that Paulix was able to make out that these were the four bandits that had accosted them on the road earlier that day!
He panicked a little whilst he contemplated that these might be risen dead and he ran to the church and began to beat upon its stout wooden doors. The porter’s hatch was opened and he was asked what he wanted. He raved that he had seen the dead walking and that they were headed up to a farm in the hills. The priest behind the door just shook his head and closed the porter’s hatch muttering something about drunks under his breath.
Exasperated by the lack of willing shown by the priesthood for an incursion of walking dead he headed to the tavern to wake his companions and enlist their help in tracking down the animated cadavers. He banged at the door for a few minutes before the ostler opened it and allowed him egress, but only after it took him a few moments to realise who Paulix was. He asked which rooms his friends were in and was shown to them. He knocked them both up but luckily neither were asleep; Johan had managed to request another spell from his deity during the brief rest period and Hallan swiftly donned his armour as Paulix explained what he had seen. The whereabouts of Vox was also explained and so they left as soon as they had equipped themselves for combat.
They swiftly made their way up to the farmstead but as they approached they could see no sign of the not dead bandits. They made their way to the small thatched wattle and daub hut’s door to ask if the inhabitants had seen or heard anything when they saw the four walking dead in the pig sty, munching on the remains of the pigs that were in there.
As soon as the zombies saw the three companions they dropped their meals and shambled towards the companions. Johan raised his holy symbol and called upon Balder to rid the world of such abominations, but the call fell upon deaf ears. Paulix, meanwhile, stepped in with his dagger and stabbed one, but it seemed not to notice. Hallan leaped at another whilst the last two then rounded on the priest of Balder and Hallan. The combat went on for a few minutes with the companions grunting at their efforts, but nothing seemed to work for them. Paulix yelled for the inhabitants of the hut to come out and help them but they only heard furtive movements within the farmstead.
Hallan began to take a few wounds now and he became desperate to be rid of his assailants that just did not seem to go down under his blows but carried on grasping at his flesh. This made him panic and miss more and more of his strikes. After a few more minutes Paulix managed to down the zombie fighting him, just as two spear and shield armed farmers emerged from their hut. He rushed to aid his companion whilst Johan Commanded one of the farmers to get help from town. The other farmer joined in the melee on the zombies attacking Hallan.
The farmer was quickly able to dispatch one zombie just as Johan downed his opponent. Hallan then finally summoned up a huge blow and half-severed the body of the final zombie. Paulix made sure everyone was OK and then sped off back to his vantage point in the trees. Puffing and panting and covered in grey goo, the rest of the party examined the corpses just as it started to rain.
A Collection of Evidence
A few minutes after the fight had finished the lance of Thuringian men-at-arms, the priests and a few of the braver townsfolk arrived at the scene. The captain of the soldiers began to order everyone around, suggesting that the bodies be taken to the church and be burnt forthwith. The scribe took a few small glass vials out of his knapsack and began to ease some of the grey ooze into them. He stoppered the vials and put them away just as the bodies were wrapped ready for incineration.
Hallan, his fear now subsiding, made his way back to the inn and demanded a hot bath to wash the muck from him. After a few swift drinks to steady their nerves, everyone made for their beds.
A Collection of Evidence (Moonday 1st Quattrober 963 – Day 6)
The following morning Vox awoke in the cot at the temple of Sol Invictus. His fever had broken and he felt much better. The priest at his side smiled and said he was free to go now if he was up to it, but he was to remember his vow to pay the 500 silver pieces (about nine months’ pay for a journeyman!) for the healing power of Sol Invictus within the month or he would need to run a geas for the church. Grimacing through his feeling of being beholden to such a huge debt to the priesthood, he headed down to the tavern to see his companions.
Hallan and Johan managed to get some rest after their encounter with the walking dead the previous night and went down to breakfast just as the troop of Thuringians were about to leave the village and head back to their commander in Darenth. The rain was still coming down heavily.