Thursday, 13 February 2014

Doggerland Session 3:19 (Nulb II)

The Village of Nulb II (12th February 2014)

The Adventurers
Blaise – Druid
Bow – Ranger
Hallan – Fighter
Johan – Cleric
Maximillian – Thief
Paulix – Thief (Not present)
Ryze – Magic User
Ulf – Fighter
Vox – Magic User

Skirmish on the bridge of Nulb - Tirsday 23nd Quattrober (Day 28) – late afternoon

Mud sucked at the boots of the small band of adventurers as they halted their advance further into the village. The sight of three growing bands of ruffians assembling in the near distance made them check their steps. The companions realised that it might be prudent to retreat to a place that they could easily defend and then escape from. They decided that the bridge offered the narrowest area for them to defend, so they quickly retreated to that position of relative safety.

The first motley band of ruffians to be ready advanced on them rapidly from the vicinity of the Waterside Hostel. Their leader full of self-importance puffed up his chest as the gang approached to within bow range of the bridge. The tough-looking leader demanded that the party explained themselves and ordered their surrender.

Johan stepped forward to parley and offered a small sum in recompense for the loss of the five guardsmen. The leader of the ruffians warned them that recompense was in order, but not just a paltry few days’ wages; the families of these guards would go hungry without their man to provide for them. Johan tried to placate the leader by offering some food but he was laughed at by the gathering throng. Whilst this parley continued, Bow spotted his chance and began to retreat from the conflict.

The leader of the ruffians smiled, his lips twisted his countenance to make him appear even uglier than was his usual mien. He held his hands out placatingly and suggested that Johan join him in the Waterside Hostel to discuss the situation like grown men. Johan accepted but the rest of the party realised that a trap was being baited for the cleric and implored him not to go. Hallan threw his spear between the conversants to lay down a marker that suggested it would not be suffered for it to be passed. It then took the main strength of Hallan to stop the goodly cleric from joining the ruffian leader in his lair.

As Johan was pulled back into the group safety of the party, a shower of arrows thunked onto the bridge causing an injury or two amongst the companions. The party backed up a little and formed their battle lines just as the second group of ruffians arrived. A brief conversation sparked up between the two leaders and the leader of the second group joined the first captain at the front of the ever growing band of ruffians.

The party had begun to get nervous by now and had started to retreat slowly back across the bridge, keeping their eyes firmly fixed upon their adversaries. Max, the new party thief, ducked under the bridge whilst Ulf downed his Potion of Invisibility. Blaise, a few paces behind the main party lines began to chant a spell. Meanwhile, Bow had made the safety of the trees beyond the village.

Just as Blaise’s dweomer began to work, the party spotted a newcomer to the conflict. Carried by an air of supreme confidence a tall figure in black plated armour and a full face helmet emerged from the Waterside Hostel. The armour bore the golden Eye insignia of the demoness Zuggtmoy upon its breast and a voluminous black cape flowing from his shoulders completed the outfit. More menacing though was the large mace in the figure’s right hand and the magically glittering staff in his left. The figure made a few mystical movements with his hands and he seemed to grow more powerful each minute he stood there.

Blaise’s magical conjuring forced an enormous amount of smoke to billow from a nearby hovel on the opposite bank of the river over the bridge to hide the party’s escape. However, the smoke did not hide the eight or nine figures that the party saw walk into the river a few dozen yards upstream from where they stood, nor did it hide the fact that a large ship was weighing anchor at the pool downstream. The denizens of Nulb were converging on the party from all sides, and that left the party little choice but to run for their lives.

As the smoke covered the party’s retreat, another shower of arrows whumped into the wooden floor of the bridge and they heard, through the smoke, the advance of many feet onto the wooden gangway. A large splash from within the depths of the smoke told Maximillian that his small trap had had its desired effect, and at least one of their pursuers had taken a tumble into the Imeryds Run.

Johan retaliated by casting a Silence spell in the hope that it would stop the enemy cleric from casting any further spells. The spell took affect and much of the noise of the multitude was deadened. However, it did not silence the servant of Zuggtmoy as they heard his voice yell out to his zombie horde to kill them.

The remnants of the companions on the bridge broke into a run along the mud-caked road, slipping and sliding as they went, but Johan and Hallan did not get away fast enough as they were temporarily halted by the small horde of living dead that had emerged from the river. They recognised that the zombies were the remains of the men-at-arms and trackers that the lords Rufus and Burne had sent to guard the east road into Staneford a few days earlier.

Johan called upon the power of Balder to turn these abominations away from him and his companions. The zombies cowered away from the righteous light that was emitted from Johan’s holy symbol. The party ran and joined up again deep in the woods, where they decided very quickly to return to Staneford with their news.

Return to Staneford – Wodensday 24th Quattrober - mid-morning

A weary and footsore band of travellers trudged past the gleaming dome of the church of Sol Invictus. The overcast skies and drizzle sapped at their last reserves but they had made it to their destination without further incident. They had struggled through the shin deep mud all night, but at least the incessant rain had at last abated somewhat to a constant drizzle.

The spell casters made straight for the Plough and Stars Inn, where they washed up and fell straight into the welcoming softness of the feather mattress beds. The fighters, meanwhile, headed to the tower of their lordships Rufus and Burne to tell of their latest adventures. Throughout the interview, the warrior Rufus asked many questions about the strength of the Nulb defences whilst Burne instructed his scribe to record the salient points. Burne’s interest piqued when Bow made mention of the cleric of Zuggtmoy. Having gathered all the information they could from the weary travellers, the lords had them escorted back to the entrance whilst they bowed their heads in deep discussion.

The warriors followed their magic using companions to the Plough and promptly got cleaned up and fell asleep in their allotted rooms.

Several hours later, the party awoke fully rested and ready for a meal. The magic users stayed in their rooms studying their scrolls and spell books or prayed to their relevant gods for the granting of more divine power for the coming day. The warriors and thief made their way to the common room for some banter and a few beers. The inn was still relatively empty, so they spoke to the tavern keep, Ostler Gundigoot, who revealed that the harsh weather had slowed down the caravans and that had affected business. The repairs to the moat house had also taken the workmen from the tower (which was all but finished now anyway), as well as maybe half the men-at-arms that usually frequented the inn. That said, after the six o’clock bells, many villagers arrived to hear the party’s news and to wind down after a day toiling in the fields trying to save as much of their crops as possible, and the drinks began to flow.

A Debt Repaid - evening

Later in the evening, Calmert, the under priest from the temple of Sol Invictus up the hill, made his way through the busy tap room of the Plough and Stars and approached Vox at the party’s table. In his hand he carried a small scroll. He nervously broached the subject of the impending payment of the monies due for his healing from the grey ooze carried out by the priests at the temple in High Beeches. Vox, his dislike for clerics coming straight to the fore, point-blank denied all knowledge of the incident and angrily cast the cleric away from the table with a wave of his hand. Calmert left the inn.

The rest of the party tried to reason with the angry mage but he would have none of it. Bow, unnoticed by the rest of the companions, slipped from the table and made his way into Vox’s room to search through his packs as he knew that the little mage had a tidy sum squirrelled away somewhere.

About fifteen minutes later Calmert returned to the inn with two guards and Burne. He again asked Vox to consider his debt and waved the scroll at him. Vox, whose anger had returned at the sight of the cleric, began to argue again but Johan, fed up with the little mage’s tantrum, Commanded him to sleep. The magic user fell instantly asleep in his plates. The party were just about to explain that the monies would be forthcoming when Calmert, chuckling, unravelled the scroll and revealed that it absolved Vox of the fees due to the good works he had carried out in the fight against the Temple. The worshipful mage and his cohorts left with the under priest to go about their business.

Bow returned to the table with Vox’s savings and asked what was to be done with them. Hallan, quick off the mark, suggested that as the fine had been paid he would look after them until such time as the funds were required. A few minutes later, Vox came round from his magically induced slumber wondering what had happened. In his mind he had seen off the most powerful man in the village and got rid of the pesky priest too. His companions didn’t have the heart yet to tell him what had actually happened.

Several drinks later, the companions headed for their rooms in readiness for an early start the following day. Hallan, upon rising from his mead bench realised that the pouch had gone missing. Everybody scratched their heads wondering where the purse might have got to until Vox piped up from his room that he too was a pouch of gold down. It was at this point that the party explained their ruse and how they had hoodwinked their fellow mage whilst he had slept at the dinner table. Hallan quickly made his way to the village watchmen informing them of the theft of the pouch and its contents.

Mission to Castleford – Thorsday 25th Quattrober (Day 30) – early morning

The adventurers awoke to the sound of water dripping from the eaves. No longer could they hear the constant patter of raindrops on the roof or window shutters. Unfortunately, the rain had not stopped completely but the current drizzle was a lot less insistent than the rain of the last month or so.

The party armed and prepared themselves for the journey ahead before heading to the common room to break their fast. A quickly eaten meal saw them on their way to Abiswick within just a few minutes. They hoped that they would be able to make the wayside inn that stood along the road before nightfall. Ordinarily the travel time would be no more than a day as the ox cart moves, but the weather had turned everywhere into a quagmire. Progress was very slow as a result.

The bird song they heard whilst they trudged along the quiet road did nothing to break the monotony of the journey. The cloying mud sucked at their every footstep and every footstep sapped their strength and their will to continue.

From the directions given by Gundigoot, they knew that they would not have to travel too much further for a rest when they passed the lightning struck old willow. Just as they made a collective sigh of relief that their journey was nearly at an end for the day, the growling of wolves was heard directly ahead. The companions barely had time to draw their swords before a large pack of a dozen hungry, wild eyed wolves, erupted from the undergrowth.

The warriors rapidly advanced to the front of the column whilst the mages prepared to cast some magic upon their attackers. Ryze thought the better of casting a lightning based attack as he realised that the water logged ground would take the magic not only towards the wolves but also back towards the party. Blaise, however, used his druidical powers to Entangle several of the rapidly approaching pack in rapidly growing brambles. The two mages decided that discretion would be the better part of valour, so cast protective spells upon themselves.

Meanwhile, the alpha male wolf had reached Bow who was on point and a savage fight ensued. However, the fight was very short lived as Hallan hacked down the pack leader with his great sword. A few of the smaller members of the pack noticed that their leader was down and that a few of their brothers were ensnared, so they turned tail and scarpered.

The hardier and hungrier wolves drove on at the party and a melee of tooth, claw and steel rang out across the dell. The superior armour of the warriors absorbed the majority of the damage from the wolves’ bites and claws, and soon the wolves began to fall one by one. During the melee, one particular wolf went down injured by a spell cast by Ryze and Vox ran in to dispatch it before it could get up again. This angered Blaise, his druidic nature forbade the killing of helpless animals, so he broke the wizard’s staff with a dweomer and explained the situation to him; a wolf can be killed in self-defence but not cruelly when it cannot defend itself.

The last of the fighting wolves were either killed or driven off after just a few minutes of intense fighting and the party breathed a sigh of relief at coming through the combat relatively unscathed. Bow and Maximillian made their way to dispatch the three wolves still Entangled but Blaise forbade them. If they wanted to make cloaks they would have to take the pelts from the dead ones only.

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