The Alarm Bell (5th February 2014)
Blaise - Druid
Bow – Ranger
Hallan – Fighter (NPC’d)
Johan – Cleric
Maximillian - Thief
Paulix – Thief (Not present)
Ryze – Magic User
Ulf – Fighter (Played by new player)
Vox – Magic User
Reward for Service - Moonday 22nd Quattrober (Day 27) – mid-afternoon
The bellowing of the oxen straining under their heavy loads broke the silence of the forbidding fenlands. The small party of adventurers looked up from their damp reverie atop the grey gatehouse towers to watch the approach of the work column of their lordships Rufus and Burne. Wagon after wagon arrived at the moat house and hove to in front of the main gates. The workmen, who until recently had been finishing off the tower fortification at Staneford, had been repurposed to repair and reconstitute the fortress in the marshes.
The lords hailed the adventurers and asked them their news. The party responded that they had cleaned out the dungeon below, and other than a possible return of the giant crayfish and a few nasty sights, there was nothing left in there of any danger. They produced a hastily drawn map of the underground lair and pointed out all of the secret entranceways that they had so far found. The lord Burne issued the small band of adventurers with a credit note for the promised one thousand silver pieces as their reward and also a parchment detailing that upon showing the seal to the appropriate people they could also gain some training at the hands of some of the best warriors, mages and artisans in the environs.
The work party began to divest the wagons of their loads and the men-at-arms set up a perimeter to guard the work force. A field kitchen was soon set up and work began apace on the resurrection of the moat house to its former glory; only this time it would be the Thuringians in charge of it.
New Companions – late afternoon
Incessant rain still dogged the heels of the companions as they trudged their way through the fenlands back towards Staneford. An hour or so into their journey had them meet with a Thuringian patrol. The leader of the lance requested to know who they were and what they were about, but soon warmed to the party when they heard that they were friends of Rufus and Burne, as well as knowing that they were the hardy bunch of adventures who had been putting the Temple in its place recently. News of the resurgence of the Temple was beginning to spread and rumours of whom and what was involved grew in wonder as the tales spread throughout the region.
As the party arrived back in Staneford they went their separate ways to carry out the chores they had set themselves upon their return. Bow made his way to the Temple of Sol Invictus to redeem their reward and take it in hard cash so that he could split it later. He also changed up some of his own treasure into an easier to carry note that could be exchanged for coin in any Sol Invictus Temple provided they had the funds readily available.
Whilst Bow was changing up the coin, Hallan, Johan, Paulix, Ulf and Vox made their way to the Plough and Stars Inn. They were given a royal welcome and shown to a large central table that soon became heaped with foodstuffs, wine and beer. As the adventurers looked around the place they noted that it was not particularly busy for late afternoon. True, the farmers and herdsmen were yet to return from their fields but there was a distinct lack of many others. They assumed that the usual off-duty guardsmen were assigned to moat house duties and the stone and wood workers from the camp by the tower were also most likely to be at the moat house too, but there seemed to be a lack of any other business. The usual half-a-dozen merchant trains seemed to be absent, as did many of the local artisans. There were only a few itinerant fortune hunter types hugging their half-empty flagons waiting for news of adventure.
Paulix, subterfuge more his forte, decided to head off to Castleford to try to find out more about the Iron Ring and the names given to the party by the captured bandit in the moat house. He grabbed his personal effects and stored treasure and headed off into the encroaching twilight; his magical cloak drawn tightly around his body hid him from all but the most eagle-eyed observers.
As the party wore on into the evening the tales of derring-do grew in stature with each retelling, and a crowd gathered around the party. Bow asked Vox if he could use his magic to identify their treasure, so the magic user gathered the items and retired to his chamber to meditate on the items they had found. He was able to make out that the sword they found in the crayfish pool was magical and the last unidentified potion was one that rendered the imbiber invisible. His exertions put him into a deep sleep from which he didn’t wake until the following morning.
Meanwhile, the rest of the wolf-pelt companions welcomed two new members into their midst; a robber named Maximillian whose purse contents matched the emptiness of his belly, and a theurgist named Ryze who was also new to the area and came in search of furthering his thaumaturgical knowledge. As the companions welcomed them to the fold and invited them to sup with them, the door opened once more. The rain blew in on the wind, soaking all at the table; a fitting entrance for Blaise, a druid of Cernunnos. He had been sent by his master in the Gnarley Forest to deliver a message to Jaroo. His task completed his orders were to then help to balance the forces of nature within Vannin - the weather had gone haywire and there must be an unnatural cause for it to do so. After listening in on the adventurers’ tales, he realised that this party could help him to fulfil his goals. He was invited to the table and offered the bounties contained thereon.
A Journey to Nulb – Tirsday 23rd Quattrober (Day 28) – early morning
The following day dawned much as most of the previous few days had, wet and windy. The rain continued to come down in sheets causing those about to venture out some consternation. The farmers that passed by the adventurers on their way out of the village cursed the weather and the effect it was having on their crops; they were sure that famine would dog them by the end of the year if the rain carried on much longer.
The party of adventurers had swelled to nine members, although Paulix was running an errand away in Castleford, so that meant eight were left to carry on with the investigation into the Temple. The ranger and fighters led the party along the track to Nulb, closely followed by the magic users. Blaise, uncomfortable around people, brought up the rear of the column.
Bandit Attack! – late afternoon
As the party wended their way through the forest along the main track way, Blaise the druid, Maximilian the thief, and Bow the ranger had a distinct feeling that they were being watched. This feeling carried on for a few minutes before three arrows shot from the greenery at a point that they had just passed. Vox was hit by one of the shafts, but not too seriously wounded. Not knowing where the attacks had come from, the rest of the party either took up defensive positions or bolted for the cover of the trees. The fighters moved forwards to engage the enemy but their exact location was not yet known.
A few moments later, there more shafts burst from the greenery, narrowing down the location of their assailants. Ryze used a spell to throw his voice into the greenery behind their attackers and suggested that they were surrounded, only to hear an order to ignore the scare.
Now that the bandits knew that their situation was compromised they charged from their cover in the hope of taking down the two spell-casters at the back of the column. Vox became surrounded by several attackers but Blaise managed to extricate himself from the combat as Hallan burst into the melee and put the leader of the bandits to the sword straight away.
A small gap opened up between the two opposing sides, so Blaise saw his opportunity and called down lightning from the heavy rain clouds overhead. This burst between three of the bandits, killing them all instantaneously. The party looked at Vox and wondered to themselves why he was not capable of such amazing acts of sorcery. Ulf, meanwhile had circled round and joined the fray, killing another of the bandits, upon which note the final attacker turned tail and fled only to be feathered by a shot from the ranger’s bow.
The party gathered what coins they could from their attackers’ pouches and burnt the grey-ooze covered bodies. Vox checked his wound for infection but found that he was OK; at least another trip to the Sol Invictus priests was not on the cards just yet.
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Bow was nothing if not single-minded in the task of regaining the gold that had been taken from them in what he saw as an unfair tax on their warhorse the last time they passed through Nulb. He saw it as unfair on Johan who had paid that tax and he wanted it to get it back for him. Johan was not too bothered by material possessions, most of what he owned he gave to the poor and needy anyway. He was a little perturbed by Bow’s single-mindedness and hung back as they approached the final hill that led down into the village of Nulb.
The Village of Nulb - copyright TSR/Wizards of the Coast
The plan was to sneak in and take the alarm bell from watchmen on the bridge and then teach them a lesson that they should not try to extol taxes on weary travellers mourning the loss of their comrade in arms. Unfortunately, like all plans in battle, their preparations all went out of the window as they approached their enemy on the Nulb side of the bridge.
Bow made straight for the bell but was blocked by the three men on guard, so he drew his sword. Maximillian saw his chance and snuck to the side of the building where the bell hung on its chain on a small wooden arm attached to the wall. Hallan saw that his bulk would be needed to stop the rest of the guards getting to the thief before he could remove the clapper. A brief scuffle broke out and as weapons were drawn, two of the guards were quickly dispatched. At their cries of alarm, and the clash of steel, three more guards burst from the doorway, two joining the melee and one ran for aid. Maximillian managed to remove the clapper from the bell and throw it into the river behind them; this would stop the guards calling for reinforcements for a while at least.
Ulf made his way into the combat and very swiftly put down two of the guards whilst Johan held the one running away in a magical dweomer. Whilst the rest of the party milled about on the bridge guarding the rear of the party, the local denizens of Nulb watched the unfolding combat from the riverbanks with interest. The fisher- and barge-folk were hesitant as to whom to support so just watched the battle unfold, but several other locals, unseen by the party, scampered off towards the main buildings of the village.
The penultimate guard was felled and Johan commanded the fleeing guard to forget. The guard’s eyes glazed over and he ambled around looking mightily confused, especially when Bow said that he wanted his gold back. The ranger robbed the bodies of the fallen guardsmen as some recompense towards the party’s previous loss.
Just as the companions gathered their wits and decided to advance on one of the main taverns in the village on the lookout for the guard captain, they heard a shout go up in three separate quarters of the village. The citizens of the village had formed a welcoming committee; it was not to be tea and cakes that welcomed the party to Nulb but torches and pitchforks.