Ambushed – (20th November 2013)
Bow – Ranger
Hallan – Fighter
Johan - Cleric
Paulix – Thief
Vox – Magic User
Spugnoir – Magic User (NPC)
Card Games - Freyasday 12th Quattrober (Day 17) – late evening
The huge severed head of Lubash the Ogre was slowly unwrapped from its cloth sack to the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ of the gathered crowd within the Plough and Stars Inn. Meanwhile, outside the tavern’s walls, peels of thunder sounded like the rumble of boulders hauled over the hills by storm giants.
The party were not in the mood for celebrating their latest foray to the moat house. They had been severely compromised due to the major injuries borne by most of the party and the lack of treasure that they had found. The magical cloak identified by Spugnoir might go some way towards massaging their money pouches if it was sold but that thought did not help lift the mood of the party much. They decided that the following day they would head to Castleford to collect the rewards in person from the rescued merchants, find out a way to get their magical items identified, and generally take in a change of scenery before returning to the moat house to rid it of the presumed high level Cthonic priest that still inhabited the lower dungeon where they found the zombies and ogre.
Bow however decided to make the most of the situation and carried on carousing whilst the rest of the adventurers headed to their beds for a rest. He spotted the card shark and decided to play him at dice. He had noticed how his luck was always just about good enough to make him a small but tidy sum each evening. Bow suggested that they used a different set of dice other than the one that Furnok had been using. The card shark agreed to this and they diced for silver. After a few rolls, Bow decided that dice were indeed with Furnok and that maybe he was just a lucky person, but his inner voice was adamant that he was a cheat who fleeced passing merchants with his card and dice con tricks.
A Visit to the Tower - Godsday 13th Quattrober (Day 18)
The following day, they all rose early to the sound of constant dripping from the gutters of the inn. The rain had returned, albeit as just a light constant drizzle. Their limbs still stiff from the cuts and bruises gained the day before, the companions paid a visit on Johan who had been advised to stay at the temple of Sol Invictus overnight. He was in good health; all signs of the infection from the grey ooze had been removed by the Canon Terjon. With the exception of Paulix and Vox, they all returned to the inn to prepare for their journey to Castleford that day.
The mage and thief had decided to tell Lord Burne about the theft of the metal amulet. Burne, a concerned look on his face upon hearing this news, was able to answer their questions with a little more information. He had found out through further research and conversations with his more learned contacts that the amulet was indeed a key to the doors that imprisoned the demoness Zuggtmoy; the terrible demon that was fought and defeated by the elders of his order ten years previously when the Temple was razed and her followers defeated. The cartouche was an abbreviation of her name written in runes of power. It was essential that this key and the three others like it (one for each door in the spell-locked Temple) were recovered and kept away from agents of the Temple as they could release Zuggtmoy upon the world and her reign of terror would begin again.
The mage was also able to tell them that his informants had noticed several furtive characters had left the village of Staneford over the last day or so. He was unable to name them but there were maybe half-a-dozen or so suspect characters identified by his network.
Ambushed – late morning
The party pulled their cloaks tightly around their heads and shoulders and stepped out into the rain. As they walked past the stables of the inn they noticed that the heavy warhorse belonging to Kobort was absent. They made their way along the north road, past the temple dedicated to Sol Invictus towards the despicable village of Nulb. They could have gone via the forest road past the moat house but that way was more likely to be fraught with danger and was actually a slightly longer path.
Three hours into journey the party came to a short straight in the road between two curves in the forest path. Bow’s trackers’ senses tingled and he felt that something was wrong just as four bandits burst from the bushes to the right of the party. They had waited until the magic users were in sight and then pounced.
A quick flurry of blows pushed the mages back and stopped them from casting their spells, so they were reduced to fighting with their more mundane weapons. Spugnoir tried to step back from the fray after being hit by a sword but the numbers brought to bear by the bandits was enough for one of them to break past Johan who valiantly held most of the bandits at bay and cut him down, his body falling into the bushes at the side of the road. Meanwhile, Hallan and Bow tried desperately to get back to help their companions, and Paulix, as was his usual method of travelling, was hidden in the trees off to the left hand side, quickly crossed the path to enable him to get round behind their attackers.
As he entered the forest on the opposite side of the road the thunder of hooves was heard coming down the forest track way from the direction they were headed. Paulix had his attention fixed on the sound of hoof beats as he passed through the trees but it was his lightning reflexes that allowed him to dodge out of the way of the fists of Turuko; the small companion of Kobort.
The battle between the bandits and the magic users was eased by the arrival the fighters and Paulix set himself upon the little monk. The charge of Kobort on his heavy war horse was halted by Hallan with a hefty swipe of his great two-handed sword. This slowed the rider and horse enough that they were kept within the melee, but the numbers were in favour of the attackers now that Spugnoir had been dropped.
Paulix made short work of his opponent, proving that a blade was a far better weapon than one’s fists, and he re-joined the fray on the track way. Unfortunately, things did not go well for the party thereafter. Kobort on is warhorse rapidly reduced the battered fighters to little more than weak kittens before he landed a telling blow on each of them; Hallan took the worst blow, a severed artery in his leg pumped his life blood into the forest leaf litter. Johan and Vox had more luck and were able to kill two of their opponents but the remaining two bandits and Kobort held the upper hand.
Paulix saw that things were going badly for the party so extricated himself from the combat leaving Johan and Vox to carry on the fight. He thought of running away but at the last moment remembered the two potions in his pouches. Trusting to luck rather than judgement, he unstopped one of the elixirs and poured it down Spugnoir’s throat. His luck held, and the Healing Potion restored the mage to full health. Luckily they were both still in the bushes and were unseen by their assailants, so Spugnoir was able to recover his wits and cast a spell that rendered all of the remaining combatants into a stupor.
The last two adventurers quickly tended to their companions and saw that all were OK with the exception of Hallan who had bled to death at the side of the road. In his rage, Paulix grabbed up his dagger and quickly dispatched the rest of their sleeping attackers. He then searched the bodies and robbed them of all their valuable possessions. He kept the scroll case and potion secret from Spugnoir but told him of the coins and the two more wooden amulets that he had found.
After everyone had been given first aid and the bandit’s bodies disposed of on the opposite side of the road, the party rested up to allow Johan to regain his healing spells from his god Balder.
A few hours later they heard the creaking of harness and the snorting of horses. Paulix quickly grabbed Kobort’s war horse that was on the trail eating grass and brought it under cover with the rest of the party.
A merchant caravan passed by that consisted of about four or five wagons and a large body of guardsmen. Luckily they were making quite a bit of noise and did not notice the snickering of greetings that Kobort’s war horse gave to the passing horses.
Return to Staneford – a Visit to Jaroo and Burne
Johan recovered his spells and healed the party as best he could until all his magical power had been drained again. The party loaded the war horse with Hallan’s body and the booty gained from the bandits and they headed back towards the village that they had left only a few hours previously.
They made straight for the druid’s grove to see if he could prepare Hallan’s body for burial in sacred ground as they did not wish for him to be tended to by the priests of Sol Invictus. Jaroo said he would prepare Hallan for burial overnight and stand vigil upon his body to keep away any evil spirits before he was interred. Vox volunteered to dig the grave of his friend and help out with anything that Jaroo required for the ceremony.
During their conversation they found out that it would be possible to bring Hallan back to life provided that he was seen by a priest within the next week or so, but it would cost a lot of silver. Paulix made a quick calculation and realised that if Kobort’s warhorse was healed up and given a good brush down it would raise enough silver to pay for the ceremony to bring Hallan back from the dead. They thanked Jaroo for his help and headed back towards the inn.
On their way up the path from the grove, Bow noticed that there were tracks made by a huge bear criss-crossing the area. The small movements in the undergrowth of the grove he had spotted whilst talking to Jaroo convinced him that the druid had a powerful protector beside him at all times.
Paulix and Vox said that they would head off to see Burne and report their findings whilst the rest of the party returned to the inn to rest up. Johan got straight back to praying for guidance from his god and was rewarded with several healing spells again, which he used on his companions.
At Burne’s tower the thief and young mage were again granted an audience to tell their story. Burne listened with interest and offered them guidance on how they might get their friend brought back from the dead. The two companions grimaced internally as they were told the ceremony could only be performed by Burne’s friend the High Priest Ralph in Castleford; a priest of Sol Invictus. He reiterated it would not come cheap but he wrote a note of commendation none-the-less that they could show to the priest to hasten an audience.
They mentioned the wooden amulets that Kobort and Turuko were carrying, which fitted in with the intelligence that Burne had gathered concerning the furtive persons that had left the village recently. They also mentioned that they had a number of magical items that required identification. Burne said that he was unable to identify these items but the lady Mathilde in Castleford could do that for them. He wrote another sealed note addressed to his superior and handed it to the party.
Finally, Paulix produced the scroll case that they had found on the body of the evil fighter. Burne sat up with interest and asked what it might be. A quick movement of his fingers meant that he was able to decipher exactly what it was, a spell that enabled the caster to give the ability to climb walls like a spider to either himself or a companion. He asked what they would like in return for him keeping the scroll and Vox replied that he would also like to learn it at the right hand of someone so knowledgeable as the worshipful magician of Staneford. Burne instructed Vox in how to add the spell to his spell book and said that as this was a spell he had not seen before and as he had been flattered by Vox’s compliments he would teach him another lesser spell that he might find useful. As he was short of offensive spells Vox requested that he would like something that allowed him to cause damage at a distance. Burne knew just the spell and taught him how to cast an invocation that sent forth burning fire from the spread hands of the caster.
A Morning of Rest - Sunday 14th Quattrober (Day 19)
After a subdued evening of chicken broth and healing at the hands of their cleric, the party rose the following day to the sound of rain pattering against the shutters of their rooms. They got up and finished a large breakfast whilst Johan used up the first of his new set of healing spells getting his companions back to full strength.
The party then visited the stables to see what they could do for the badly injured warhorse that was now in their possession. Paulix suggested that they might want to heal it and groom it so that it would fetch the best possible price in Castleford and thus allow them to get their companion Hallan raised from the dead. Johan healed the horse to the best of his ability and as he had a few spells left he and Vox wandered up to the workers building the curtain wall around Burne’s Tower. He healed a few sprains and breaks for those who had picked up a few injuries during their work over the last few days and mentioned that the power of Balder would protect them if only they would worship him with all their hearts.
It was at this point that Vox and Johan noticed that one of the more militant workers had left the work gang.