Destruction on the Road to Abiswick (19th February 2014)
Blaise – Druid
Bow – Ranger
Cormac - Fighter
Hallan – Fighter
Joan - Cleric
Johan – Cleric
Maximillian – Thief
Ryze – Magic User
Ulf – Fighter
Vox – Magic User
At the Ruins of the Seven Stars - Thunorsday 25th Quattrober (Day 30) – late afternoon
The leaden clouds shrouded all colour from the heavens, the grey of the overcast sky leached all the brightness out of what should have been a bright early summer evening. The growing band of adventurers shouldered their newly cleaned arms and continued their journey towards the wayside inn that would make a most welcome sight over the next rise.
The vista that greeted them as they crested the rise was bleak. The Seven Stars inn had been destroyed by fire but a day or so previously and had been left as a smouldering ruin. Smoke rose from the last few timbers that were thick enough to hold onto any latent heat in the chill, wet weather.
The party approached the gently smoking ruins wary in case of ambush, but their fears were allayed when they noticed that the only signs of life were the handful of crows fluttering around trying to pluck any remaining flesh from the bodies that could be seen within the confines of the inn’s walls.
The adventurers spread out and began to search for survivors or any loot, but found nothing but mutilated bodies, burnt wood and cracked floor tiles. The cellar proved to be ruined too; there was no sign of life in there amongst the smashed and burnt wooden tuns and barrels.
Johan prayed over the remains of the bodies and as the party gathered what was left of them together Ulf, on lookout, spotted a pair of travellers on the rise to the north. He approached them as unthreateningly as possible and asked them who they were. The pair of wanderers accompanied the fighter to where the rest of the party were digging through the ruins of the inn and introduced themselves as Cormac, a sword for hire, and Joan, a curate of the goddess Freya, the Chooser of the Battle Slain.
The rest of the party introduced themselves and asked the new arrivals what they were doing in these parts. The pair of adventurers responded that they had travelled from Castleford cross-country to seek adventure around Staneford as they had heard rumours that there were strange creatures roaming abroad, and a Temple cult, newly risen, was causing trouble with the local caravan routes.
All were at a loss as to what may have happened at the wayside inn as the rain had obliterated all traces of any spoor that was left. The damage done to the inn suggested a great force had turned up and razed the building to the ground. The only anomaly was that the dozen or so bodies had a limb or two missing.
The two newcomers concluded that the band of adventurers that they had just encountered promised a better prospect of adventure, so agreed to join them on a return journey to Castleford, albeit his time along the roads via the large village of Abiswick.
The party were tired and the mages were out of spells, so they decided to head for the nearby copse of trees to rest for the night before continuing their journey onwards the following morning. The ranger and druid found the warmest, driest spot and made a small campfire that allowed them to have a hot meal and tea.
Encounters on the Road to Abiswick – Freyasday 26th Quattrober (Day 31) - morning
Ulf and Maximillian had drawn the straw for the last watch. The night had passed uneventfully for everyone else, but just as the fighter and thief were about to wake up the rest of the band, they heard the jangle of harness, the creak of wagons, and the snorting of tired horses.
Ulf kept watch from the cover of the trees whilst Maximillian woke up the rest of their comrades. When all were awake Blaize, Ulf and Johan stepped out from the cover of the trees and approached the halted caravan in as friendly manner as possible. A dozen crossbows whipped up in their direction and two outriders couched their spears in readiness for a charge. The half-a-dozen or so well-dressed merchants huddled together and then met the small party a few paces from the main door to the inn.
Greetings were exchanged and the guardsmen dropped their crossbows to a safer, less threatening pose. Both parties swapped stories and rumours. The caravan had been travelling from Castleford but due to the weather slowing them down so much their travelling times had been adjusted accordingly. They were hoping to get some rest at the Seven Stars before continuing on to Staneford to deliver the supplies, foodstuffs, and stone and timber building materials for the repairs to the moat house.
The adventurers within the trees joined their companions and then set off towards Abiswick whilst the wagon train lumbered its way towards Staneford.
Brigand Doom – early afternoon
The incessant drizzle kept the party under the cover of their hoods for the journey along the road. This had the effect that they did not notice their attackers until several arrows hissed through the air and struck a couple of them.
The party looked around but could not see exactly where the shafts had come from. A second flight of arrows thudded home but by now the party had readied their shields. A shout of “Kill them!” was rapidly followed by the undergrowth bursting open to reveal several brigands and their leader armed to the teeth and promising death. The party adjusted their defences in readiness to stop the onslaught from their right flank when a shout of “Charge” sounded upon their left and several more brigands joined the headlong charge towards the band of adventurers.
Weapons were readied and spells were cast as combat was joined. The magic of the clerics held many of the attackers in place whilst Blaize’s druidical powers summoned heat and insects upon the leader of the brigands. A swirling melee erupted but Ryze and Vox, the two magic users, were able to pick off the few bandits that the fighters and clerics were unable to get to. Bow lived up to his name and shot down bandit after bandit with his arrows. Once the heat and insects had done their job on the leader of the brigands, the remnants of the attackers stole away into the bushes.
Johan, not wanting to kill too many people had dazed the enemies he fought so that the party had a few survivors to question. The party made sure of the bandits that were lying on the ground and began to strip the bodies just as the usual warning about grey ooze went up; the two newcomers to the party had not encountered this particularly nasty surprise before. Luckily no-one who was injured had got any of the ooze within their wounds but that meant that the armour and weapons of most of the brigands was worthless as booty. Their purses, however, were cut from their belts revealing a small gem or two, a goodly amount of gold coins and a large stash of silver coins. A few dozen arrows were available to replenish depleted stocks and, after it was cleaned up, Joan replaced the chainmail shirt that she wore with the banded armour of the leader. She felt a lot safer in this heavier armour.
The party turned their attention to questioning the last three bandits that had attacked them. They asked them why they supported the demoness when there was so little tangible reward, but the fanatical replies showed that they had either been well and truly brainwashed or sincerely believed they would be well rewarded when she was finally at large in the world again. Bow removed from his pack one of the black cloaks with the Eye of Zuggtmoy embroidered upon it and showed it to the bandits. He asked them why they attacked when the party were clearly travelling under cover. The bandit retorted by asking how were they to know if the tabards were not worn, but Bow responded by saying why did they not ask before attacking them. The bandit followed the retort by asking if Bow knew the sign he was supposed to give to legitimise the wearing of the cloak. Bow’s response was a sword thrust to end the brigand’s life. The other two were also summarily dispatched. The rest of the bodies, because they were infected with grey ooze and could not be burned due to the weather and lack of decent firewood were decapitated and strewn about the landscape in the hope that they would not resurrect as zombies.
Arrival in Abiswick - evening
Just as the light began to fade from the overcast sky, the party caught sight of the glow of the street torches emanating from the village by the great River Abis. They wended their weary way down to the large village and sought out an inn. They easily espied the Rampant Lion; a tavern that was bigger than the Plough & Stars but not quite as large as the Talehangers’. They stepped into the common room and barked out their orders to the inn keeper. There was some confusion over payment as the party tried to get the ranger to pay for it all, but he soon put the tavern keeper back onto his companions and all paid up accordingly, if not generously.
During the course of the evening, the party got themselves cleaned up, fed and then warmed themselves by the roaring fire in the communal grate with a mug of beer in their hands.
Maximillian Goes Missing
As soon as she was clean, Joan headed into the village to seek out a trader to buy her spare coat of chain armour. She was lucky and managed to get a very good price for it. She counted the coins out into her purse and safely deposited it within the voluminous folds of her cloak. She returned to the inn and spent the evening enjoying the warmth that came from spending time with good friends and good food and ale.
Blaize also slipped out of the inn quite early on and paid his respects to the local druid of the grove in the town. Snapdragon greeted a fellow follower of Cernunnos warmly and introduced the adventurer to his two young acolytes. Blaize was also made well aware of the large beast that roamed within the shadows of the trees protecting the grove and its masters. The druids swapped news about the weather and how it was upsetting the natural balance of things.
On his sojourn through the small town Blaize also noticed that there were no temples other than those committed to Sol Invictus. The fortified tower on the hill to the western end of the settlement loomed over the town like an eagle surveying its territory from its eerie. This small town was definitely under the yoke of its Thuringian overlords.
Although the party saw Blaize leave the inn, no-one noticed Maximillian take his leave. He sauntered around town looking for signs of a local thieves’ guild. It did not take him long before he spotted a cryptic sigil, made to look like part of a piece of graffiti, carved upon a street post. He kept to the ever deepening shadows and cast about for other signs of the guild.
It did not take him long before he was on the trail and he headed towards the guild headquarters down a dark alley close to the docks. A squat stone building with a stone slate roof stood at the end of an alleyway surrounded by several large barns. All of the windows were shuttered and barred and no lights showed without.
Maximillian rapped upon the door and the small grille opened a fraction a few moments later. He was asked what he wanted and after his response the grille closed again. A few minutes later the door opened and he was invited within. He spent the night with the guild learning the local signs and power set up within the village of Abiswick.
Onwards to Castleford – Godsday 27th Quattrober (Day 32) – early morning
The following morning the party rose and ate a hearty breakfast of bread, ale and sausage. They made to leave for Castleford when they realised that their thief was missing. They asked about but nobody knew where he had got to. Vox suggested that he might have been arrested and so the party headed to the town gaol beneath the tower.
The jailer asked the party who they had come to see and they mentioned that their comrade had most likely been arrested and would like to pay the fine to get him released. The party took a quick look into each of the cells but none of the half-dozen inhabitants nursing hang-overs were their friend.
Vox randomly chose one of the drunks and said that he would pay his release fine. The jailer looked at the magic user disbelievingly but took the proffered handful of silver coins before he released Bert and bid him a good day mentioning that he would see him in here again tonight.
The party shook their heads in wonder at Vox’s antics and decided to carry on their journey to Castleford without their thief. Rogues seemed to work to a different set of rules to everyone else, so they shrugged, set their packs upon their backs, and started to head to the east end of town.