We welcomed a new player to the table this week. Hopefully he enjoyed it enough to come back next week and continue with the adventure. The party should be ready to head to the main village in the area from next week and get to the root of the problems that are currently affecting Vannin. Anyway, on wiht what happened at the last session...
Mara Hunt (9th October 2013)
Hallan – Fighter
Johan - Cleric
Paulix – Thief
Samson - Ranger
Vox Comwy – Magic User
The Hunt Begins - Thunorsday 4th Quattrober 963 – Day 9 – morning
The enthusiastic barking of hounds greeted the four adventurers as they made their way to the mill to meet the huntsman and fellow guards. The drizzle dulled the spirits of Lord Richard’s men but they agreed it would make for a nice break from the hum-drum day-to-day routine that they had grown used to over the winter, even if it turned out to be nothing more than a wild goose chase; who’d ever heard of giantesses stealing sheep?
When the adventurers had arrived and greeted the huntsman and his cohorts, they were joined by one of Jared’s trained trackers too; a man by the name of Samson. The large party of hunters set off after giving the dogs the scent of the mara from their weapons used in their previous encounter with the beast, and the dogs took off enthusiastically. The party splashed across the ford to the south side of the river where the dogs picked up the trail.
They made good time until they reached the Imeryds Run; the larger river that the Darenth converged with about two miles out of town. The scent ran out and the dogs milled about in frustration. The huntsman, who knew his dogs well, suggested that they needed to cross the river at this point, to pick up the trail again. However, as it was maybe seven or eight feet deep at this juncture according to Vox, whose river knowledge came in handy, they stopped to work out how to continue. It was too deep to wade across and their armour and weaponry would most likely weigh them down too much if they attempted to swim it. The huntsman, Gregory, said that due to the river’s depth and width, the party would need to either turn back to Darenth in the hope of grabbing a boat to take them over, head north to the next ford about fifteen miles away, or travel upstream a few miles to Ostverk which was the next fordable area this side of the Darenth.
The party agreed that too much time would be wasted trying to find a boat, the northern route across would take them via Staneford, a thirty mile round trip, but the southern route via Ostverk was less than a ten mile round trip. They decided to travel via Ostverk.
The rain continued to fall upon the party as they trudged miserably through a hamlet even smaller than High Beeches. A few thatched wattle and daub huts huddled around a small wooden chapel devoted to Sol Invictus was all that they could see other than the fields of wheat that surrounded the settlement. Even Vox, with his hatred of clerics, was persuaded from performing any mischief against the church building such was the pity with which he observed the pathetic vista.
Ambush (early afternoon)
Just after lunchtime, the party advanced through the fringes of the Greater Gnarley. The birds twittered in the trees and the squirrels chittered whilst going about their daily business when suddenly a buzzing sound filled the air. Several stones pinged off of shields and armour, but one or two made it through the defences of the warriors roaming point of the small party. A second barrage allowed the warriors to work out where the shots were coming from and so they charged towards the undergrowth where they were met by the howls and whoops of several small dog-like creatures that they had encountered before. Combat was joined quickly but was soon over as the warriors defended their comrades without much need for support other than a few arrows from Paulix and a spell that improved their morale cast by the cleric Johan.
The party quickly divested the kobolds and their goblin leader of any valuables (their weapons and armour proved useless to the party), and again found one of the small wooden amulets with the strange symbols upon it. They pocketed the amulet, checked the bodies over for grey ooze (of which there was none) and carried on with their journey.
An hour or so later, the scouts spotted the back of a waggon in the distance along the tree-lined trail. Cautiously the party prepared weapons and advanced upon the waggon. After a few moments they spotted that what they originally saw as one waggon turned out to be a couple of vehicles that had been ambushed, the occupants killed and anything of value had been stolen. The horses lay in their traces where they had been mercilessly slaughtered. The party only found a few sacks of produce that were worth salvaging, so placed them onto one of the waggons in the hope that they could return later to collect them. Upon looking over the bodies and giving them last rites to help them on their way to the underworld, Johan noticed that they were smeared in the grey ooze. This panicked the main party members who stacked all of the bodies onto one of the wains, piled it high with bales of hay and some of the split sacks of grain and set light to it. They did not want to see the grey ooze bring the cadavers back to life.
The Mara at Bay (late afternoon)
The hunting party left the waggons and burning bodies behind and carried on with their mission. About an hour after the incident at the waggons, the dogs began to bay a lot more loudly; they had sensed that the object of their hunt was not very far away. A heavy crashing through the undergrowth alerted the party members to the presence of something huge. The two scouts, Paulix and Samson, managed to catch sight of the mara as she lumbered away from them at top speed. They realised that they would not catch her at the speed at which she was currently travelling but would most likely be able to wear her down eventually as a wolf pack does a stag.
Just before dusk, the sounds of crashing from ahead came to a stop. The party advanced cautiously towards the end of the trail that they could see before the mara’s unerring accuracy with large stones came to the fore. Hallan took a blow from such a stone, but subsequent missiles failed to hit their target as he sprinted forward, dodging as he went. The whole party advanced rapidly, leaving the dog handler and his two guards behind as they had completed their job thus far.
A few more stones were launched from within a copse a short distance away before the huge shape of the mara strode into view. All of her previous wounds had healed but she looked like an animal at bay. She bared her teeth at Hallan and charged at him with the large cleaver in her hand.
Before Hallan could react, the mara had struck him a mighty blow, but the magical missiles from Vox, arrows and sling stones from Paulix and Samson, and the encouraging magic of the cleric Johan soon put her on the defensive. She struck out blindly and managed to land a few blows upon the party before the onslaught of steel felled her. Her body crumpled to the ground as the companions drew breath.
Paulix noticed that she no longer had her sack with her, so he headed off into the bushes to retrieve it, but couldn’t find any sign of it. Puzzled, he returned to the rest of the group, who had now called up Gregory and his dogs, just as Hallan heaved a mighty blow at the mara’s neck with her own cleaver. He swore that the wounds were starting to heal before his very eyes. One of the two guards that Sir Richard had sent along with the hunting party produced a sack, into which he thrust the gory head of the beast, before the rest of the party stacked up firewood around the remaining torso and set light to it in the hope that fire would stop it regenerating.
As darkness was now rapidly approaching, the handler mentioned that they might want to find shelter for the night, to rest up and get out of the incessant rain. Paulix wondered if the mara’s lair was close by and voiced his opinion that they should search for it. The dog handler got his dogs to work again and within a quarter of a mile, the party came across a small clearing with a cave on the opposite side that disappeared into a small hillock.
The Cavern (late evening)
The sun had now set and the party decided to gather some firewood before heading towards the cave. They approached carefully but could hear nothing from within. They got under the shelter of the overhang at the entrance and started a fire. The smell that came from within the cave was overpowering, but they managed to position themselves in such a way that what little breeze existed allowed them to rest as comfortably as they could.
Paulix was up for exploring further, but as they had heard no noises from within the cave and that the mara was dead they assumed that they would not be troubled further that night, so dissuaded him from further action. Johan addressed the wounds of those who had been hit by the mara and the party settled down to a small meal of bread, cheese, dried fruit and some small game that Samson was able to trap over the first few hours of their stay. The party set an uneasy watch which gave the magic users in the party time to regain their strength and study or pray for the spells they assumed that they would need the following day.
The Cavern - Freyasday 5th Quattrober 963 (Day 10)
The night passed uneventfully, so the adventurers readied themselves for entry to the cavern outside which they had slept the night before. Johan cast a spell that enabled him to keep a bright light upon the end of his staff, and the party set off into the darkness.
The small outer cave led back into the hill for about fifteen to twenty feet before narrowing slightly to go through an opening. The smell emanating from the opening was so bad that the party had to breathe in shallow gasps. The wood smoke from their small fire at the entrance did not penetrate this far back into the cavern showing that perhaps there was no other way out of the complex. The soft earthen floor continued through the opening and the light from Johan’s staff lit the way. The narrowing only continued on for a few feet before the cavern opened out again to a size that would have allowed the mara to stretch out in any direction she so wished. The floor was a mass of half-eaten bones and skulls, the fleeces of sheep were thrown into a corner to make a nest of some kind, and branches and twigs covered the rest of the floor.
The party fanned out, and searched the floor and bedding for signs of anything valuable. They were just about to give up hope when Samson yelled out that he had found something buried at the back of the cave. He dug around for a bit before hauling out a sack covered in earth. He shook off the excess and the party retired back outside.
In the lighter confines of the outer chamber he tipped the contents of the sack onto the floor and was happy to hear the chink of metal and see several items spill onto the earth. A quick search through the items revealed a few small pouches that contained a goodly amount of coins, a few gems, two small vials that contained liquids and a long, cylindrical bone case.
The treasures were shared out amongst the party, with Vox claiming the case. He carefully undid one of the greased stoppers at one end and tipped out the contents. He saw that it was a scroll with magical writing upon it. He carefully wrapped it back up after a brief skim through with a smile upon his lips.
The hunters broke camp and headed back to Darenth the way that they had come.
Rewards (early afternoon)
The party arrived back in Darenth without any further encounters along the way. The huntsman, his dogs and the two guards said their farewells but were pleasantly surprised when Vox handed each of them a gold coin for their troubles. They headed off towards Sir Richard’s manor with the sack containing the mara’s head, closely followed by Hallan, Johan, Paulix and Samson. Vox had never held so much money in his purse before in his entire life and went off to see what he could get with it.
As the party reached the gates to Sir Richard’s compound, Gregory and the guards were allowed straight through but the party had to ask for an audience with the lord. After the usual ten to fifteen minute wait they were shown into the presence of Sir Richard. He was accompanied by several of his council, including the vizier Godefroi. He nodded towards the sack on the table beside him and asked the party for their version of events. They dropped the heavy cleaver, made from a plough share, onto the table in front of the lord and told him their version of the story. The story obviously corroborated with what his own men had told him, so he dropped a pouch of coins onto the table in front of him saying that the content should cover their expenses and a little something as a reward.
Smiling, Paulix grabbed the purse and said his thanks. Hallan and Samson asked if he could supply them with some weapons but he merely laughed drily at their request. Godefroi suggested that they might wish to talk to the smith and the armourers in the courtyard outside to see if they had anything that they may wish to purchase.
The party said their thanks and bowed their way out of his presence before going to see the smith. He was able to supply them with a few small items and a broken battle axe at a knock down price. It was of decent quality but just needed a new haft to replace the broken one and he had no time to run the repair. Samson decided that he would like the axe, so purchased it before heading towards a bowyer and fletcher. He purchased a long bow, two dozen arrows and a quiver and pouch to hold everything in. Johan and Samson also purchased a shield each; everyone now felt like true adventurers. Just as they were about to leave Sir Richard’s manor, Vox entered the courtyard. He had bought so much equipment from around the town that he must have spent a goodly part of his new found wealth. At least he was ready for the journey to Staneford that they would undertake in a couple of days’ time when Samson’s axe was ready.