Rewards and Rest (6th August 2014)
Bow – Ranger
Cormac – Fighter
Johan – Cleric
Maximillian – Thief
Tarquin - Fighter
Theoderic – Fighter
Vox – Magic User
Return to Castleford - Wodensday 24th Hextember (day 85) – mid-morning
After an uneventful night the adventurers woke up to the smell of freshly brewed tea. Johan completed his morning prayers and used all of the divinely granted Healing dweomers on everyone who had suffered an injury over the previous day’s adventures. Vox found he had little energy and sweated more than he ordinarily would have done upon the effort required to prepare breakfast, and he mentioned to the others that he felt like he had when he last suffered an infection of the Grey Ooze. He thought back over the last day or so to figure out when this infection might have occurred and realised that when he was in wolf form he had bitten one of the Temple servants. Johan rummaged through his back pack and gave the rapidly weakening mage one of his remaining pots of Keoghtom’s Ointment, which, when applied to his other minor scratches, got into his blood stream and removed all traces of the pathogen.
Prince Thrommel watched all of this with interest but said nothing. He stood up, stretched and then made his way outside of the barn to make his water. After a few minutes, the rest of the party heard a loud whistle from outside the barn, so they grabbed their weapons and hurried to join the prince outside. A few moments later the sound of hoof beats were heard and a heavy war horse arrived in the clearing outside the dilapidated barn doors. It snickered a greeting to Thrommel and the prince patted its snout before feeding a handful of oats to his mount.
Johan approached Thrommel whilst he reacquainted himself with his war horse and asked if he could cast a magical spell upon him to Detect Evil intent. Thrommel refused permission and responded to the cleric that he saw it as an affront to his honour, and that trust should have built up over night. Johan kept pestering him and arguing his case which annoyed the warrior, so Thrommel Commanded him to Silence and explained that if he persisted in pursuing this theme then he would be forced to take firmer action. Whilst the members of the party discussed this, Thrommel mounted his warhorse and requested that everyone else did the same. Some mounted their riding horses that had been left in the stables whilst those that did not have a mount prepared for the forthcoming jog back to Castleford.
The adventurers rode into Nulb around lunch time and grabbed something to eat from their saddlebags whilst they stretched their legs and looked about the rapidly changing village. The new stone church dedicated to Sol Invictus had been worked on the most and was beginning to take shape. The ditch for the moat of the new stone castle tower was almost completed and the two razed inns were being rebuilt in Thuringian fashion.
Whilst the adventurers took all of this in, Thrommel had trotted up to the blacksmith’s forge. He leapt from his warhorse at the sight of the grizzled ex-mercenary veteran and the party noticed that they greeted each other as if they were long-lost friends.
Bow realised that he would have a little time to himself whilst Thrommel and the smith got reacquainted so he walked up the road to see Mother Screng in her herb shop. She was as miserable as ever but she answered his questions about the Skull, Sword and amulets. She also gave him a little insight into the history of Prince Thrommel and the timeline of him going missing; he was involved in the fight against the Temple the last time it arose in the area, but went missing about 12 years ago just before the final raid on the Temple itself.
She recalled the story of the five great mages who had sealed up the Temple behind four huge bronze valves and thus imprisoned the demon queen within its confines whilst they sought for a way to destroy or banish her for good. Unfortunately most of those mages had either died or gone missing in the interim, so could not be relied upon to help out this time round. She also told the ranger that the amulets were created by the Temple followers to destroy the doors but they had been taken from them by the Sol Invictus followers in order to stop the release of their demon queen. Unfortunately they had been re-found by the Temple but work was underway to reclaim them again. Bow showed her the three that he had about his person and he saw her smile for the first time. A muttered praise from Mother Screng’s daughter who hovered in the background was heard by the intrepid forester.
The wizened old crone then went on to mention that the small skull idol had also been fashioned to help the demoness and her followers but it too had gone missing; it was assumed to be located within a small enclave on the third level of the Temple underground complex. In the meantime, she continued, whilst these devices were created by the temple’s followers, the priests of Sol Invictus had studied ancient manuscripts and found a way to banish the demoness for a very long time. The way all of the magic items inter-reacted meant that if the amulets were attached to the skull and then it was sundered by the Sword of Solitude, that was forged especially for that purpose, in Zuggtmoy’s presence she would be sucked back into the Void from whence she came. Bow thanked her for the story and said that he and his fellow band of adventurers were going to try to return Zuggtmoy to her own realms. Mother Screng smiled again and thanked him for his enthusiasm. She wished him well on his ventures and ushered him back to the street outside.
Thrommel finished his impromptu chat with the smith and remounted his warhorse. He called for the rest of the party to follow him and spurred his charger along the road to Castleford.
The party’s arrival at the Southern Gate of the town was greeted with shock and then jubilation by the guards. After a few moments passed, the captain of the guard appeared with a score of well-turned-out men-at-arms and formed an honour guard to escort the prince towards the castle after which the town got its name. Word of his miraculous arrival spread like wildfire and the streets were very quickly thrumming with crowds to get a closer view of their future ruler. Thrommel turned to his fellow travellers and said that there would be a feast up at the castle great hall later that evening where the party would be rewarded for their part in his rescue.
Theoderic, Tarquin and Johan decided to continue to accompany the prince up to the castle whilst Bow, Cormac, Maximillian and Vox booked the party’s rooms in the Talehangers’ Inn. They were greeted warmly by the innkeeper and their usual rooms were made ready, occasionally to the chagrin of their current occupants.
The members of the party that went up to the castle were allowed entry but were then left to their own devices whilst preparations for that evening’s feast went on around them. They quickly got bored and returned to the Inn to get ready for the festivities.
Bow managed to arrange for a hot bath in which to soak away the strains of the last few days, whilst the innkeeper and his servants cleaned his weapons and armour. He then sent out orders to the finest tailors for some new clothes in the latest town fashion for that night’s celebrations.
Cormac and Maximillian wandered into the Artisans’ Quarter and visited upon Vox’s magical contacts. They got several of the magical items the party had picked up in the dungeon complex below the Temple Identified and then took their more mundane treasures to smiths and jewellers to be evaluated.
Vox meanwhile headed down to the docks in order to look for a boat on which to retire after his adventures were over. He was becoming jaded with the whole adventuring lark and decided that he wanted to spend more time in his own company with a personal laboratory or library than down a deep, dark, dank dungeon. Still, he had to just finish this mission to save the world before he could put down some roots and show his father that he was somebody after all. He wandered along the dockside wharfs and asked everyone he encountered if they knew of any boats for sale. He managed to find out that there were indeed four vessels available; a large merchantman, a slave galley, a long boat and a small raft – two were out of his current price range and the other two were not suitable. He would need to finish the adventures with his small band of companions to find enough treasure to enable him to purchase what he required. If he kept out of trouble, threw in a few mighty spells from time-to-time, and generally stayed alert, he thought he should be able to see things through to accomplish his wishes.
Rewards and Celebrations – late evening
The party readied themselves in their greatest finery (no armour allowed) and left the inn at the allotted time. Vox made his excuses and said that he would not be joining them this evening; he had too much to do.
A huge crowd had gathered in Market Street, the main thoroughfare that led up to the castle, and a long line of benches and trestle tables were laden with victuals and ale as preparations for the street party were finalised. The adventurers made their way through the teeming crowds and arrived at the castle gates on time.
The captain of the guard tied their weapons into their scabbards and then presented them with a guard of honour. They were shown to the tables closest to the lord’s dais, but much to their consternation they were given benches at the farthest end (lowest ranked). However, they were positioned above the majority of invitees on the lower ranked tables, so they accepted their lot.
The great hall was very busy; troops of tumblers and jugglers vied for space with musicians to provide entertainment for the throng, and serving girls and pot boys circulated in abundance to pander to the guests’ every whim for food and drink.
Just as the tenth bell sounded, silence was called for by the castle crier. The previous cacophony fell to a barely audible hushed mutter and then finally to silence as the party’s deeds were uttered and their names called. The party was invited one-at-a-time up to the main dais upon which Prince Thrommel held the seat of honour, closely surrounded by the Baron Tancred, Lady Mathilde and the lord Ralph, High Priest of Sol Invictus in Castleford, as well as other high ranking nobles and dignitaries from the immediate vicinity around Castleford.
Bow was called first and he was asked to kneel before the prince. The prince raised his holy sword and then knighted the ranger, who then had the Silver Star of Vannin and the Gold Crown of Veluna pinned to his chest in recognition of the deeds he had carried out. These honours granted him freedom to bear arms in each of the town’s environs in the presence of all others. The bindings on his weapons were ceremonially slashed and he was then given his monetary rewards; a magical shield, a Potion of Extra Healing, a magical Ring of Protection and a bag containing around 2000 gold coins worth of treasure.
Tarquin was called onto the dais next. He too was knighted and given a similar potion, ring and bag of treasure, as were Theoderic, Cormac, Maximillian and then finally a reluctant Johan; the non-fighters were dubbed Elders of the Land rather than Knights.
The prince noticed that one of the party’s members was missing, so he enquired after Vox. Bow made his excuses for him and Thrommel said he would summon him on the morrow to collect his rewards. The adventurers were then hailed as heroes and told about their new honours and responsibilities, and then returned to their seats in a higher position among the throng.
Meanwhile, outside, the townsfolk were treated to street entertainers, never ending rivers of wine and ale, and mountains of food, followed by a display of fireworks the likes of which none had seen before. Vox stayed sober throughout the night’s celebrations and when the fireworks were over he returned to his room deep in his own thoughts.
The Following Day – Thunorsday 25th Hextember (day 86)
Bow rose as early as his hangover would allow him and he headed back to the inn to find Vox. The ranger argued the prince’s position and finally convinced the sceptical magic user to return to the castle with him to collect his reward. Vox reluctantly went with his companion but refused any ceremony or positions of favour when the awards were offered to him. He did, however, reluctantly accept some monetary rewards for his part in the rescue of the prince; a bag of coins and his choice of the excellent riding horses, with full training, from the baron’s stables.
The rest of the party returned to the inn whilst Vox was up at the castle but then split up to find mentors with whom to test their new found fighting and thaumaturgical skills in order to piece together new techniques to aid them in their forthoming adventures.
The events of the last few days had Tarquin’s mind in a spin. He saw the attraction of the new church and held the prince up as a warrior of truest virtue. He had had an epiphany and was converted to the worship of Sol Invictus much to the disgust of Johan and Vox.
Theoderic noticed Tarquin’s and Johan’s religious impulses, and decided to seek solace with his goddess. He sought out the largest brothel in The Wynde dedicated to Frig, the goddess of fertility in people, and said that he would become its protector and benefactor when he completed his mission to vanquish the demoness Zuggtmoy. His large donation was gladly accepted by the maître d’hotel.
The remainder of the day was spent restocking their expendable weaponry and supplies from around the town and they then retired early in preparation for the next few days.