Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Doggerland Session 2:11 (Castleford)

Castleford – (27th November 2013)

The Adventurers
Bow – Ranger
Hallan – Fighter (RIP)
Johan - Cleric
Paulix – Thief
Vox – Magic User
Spugnoir – Magic User (NPC)

Leaving Staneford - Sunday 14th Quattrober (Day 19)

Grey clouds scudded across the leaden skies whilst the heavens let loose a torrent of liquid torment upon all who travailed beneath. The companions collected the body of their friend from the druid Jaroo from beneath the trees that stood like sentinels within his grove. The rain quickly soaked through the linen covering the corpse as the party loaded Hallan’s body onto the warhorse. The herbs and liniments that Jaroo had pasted upon the fighter kept most of the stench of decay at bay, but the horse still shied a little when the load was settled upon his broad back.

The adventurers trudged for hours along the rutted road that was rapidly turning into a quagmire beneath their feet. The incessant rain bore down on their shoulders and sunk their spirits as each drop weighed ever more heavily upon their consciences.

As the skies darkened further into evening the lights of an inn shone through the gloom. A warm fire, a wholesome meal, and a dry mead bench welcomed them to a restful night’s stay. The inn was as full as the weather was dreadful, but no trouble brewed within the ale house that night as all the patrons kept to their own.

Fleeced in Nulb - Moonday 15th Quattrober (Day 20)

The following morning dawned dark and dreary again. The fellowship gathered their belongings and loaded the now very pungent body of their companion onto the warhorse.

The short journey to the village of Nulb took only a few hours so the party decided that they would pass straight through and try to gain Castleford that same day. The sight of greasy smoke rising from the chimneys of dilapidated ramshackle buildings reinforced their view that they should hurry on through this veritable den of ne’er-do-wells.

As they approached the river crossing, the small hovel at the side of the bridge showed signs of life. Two guardsmen sauntered out of the hut and asked their business in Nulb. The party replied that they were just passing through to deliver their companion into the care of the gods. The guards sneered and said that they would need to pay the toll on any goods they were to carry through the village. The party looked confused until the warhorse was pointed out to them by the men-at-arms with avaricious eyes. As the party started to argue that the horse belonged to their dead companion the guards summoned the rest of their band from within the hovel.

The argument carried on with the guardsmen demanding twenty gold pieces for the party to pass or they could try their luck with the bandits in the wilderness; bridges cost a lot to maintain you know?

Bow was just beginning to get angry and itching for a fight when the guards rang the warning bell to summon their commander from within the village. A few moments later, a battle-scarred veteran and twenty ill-visaged companions approached the party from a large building within the village. The captain demanded to know what was happening and he was told that the party did not want to pay the toll until they were told the proper cost. The captain weighed up the party and said that the toll would be ten gold pieces. The party were about to argue that the original guards wanted twenty gold coins when Johan handed over a pouch of coins and said to his companions to just leave the trouble behind. The captain let them pass across the bridge but followed the party at a short distance until they had left the confines of the village to the east. Then he laughed at his good fortune in being able to fleece rich travellers so easily.

Wolf Attack – late afternoon

As the party approached to within an hour’s journey of Castleford, Bow’s ranger senses warned him of danger. He had picked up the sounds of pursuit from a mile or so back and warned the party to be ready for an attack. The wolves, driven by hunger and attracted by the smell of Hallan’s corpse, burst from the undergrowth and made straight for the warhorse.

The companions readied their weapons and chose their targets, but other than Bow, the wolves were faster. The alpha male and two others made for the warhorse and its burden whilst the rest leapt upon the other members of the party.

One of the wolves and the alpha male were injured in the first few moments of the foray, but several other members of the pack managed to pull Hallan’s corpse from the back of the horse. They pulled the linen covered cadaver a few yards away from the warhorse as it shied away in fear, but they were stopped in their tracks by the Sleep spells cast by Spugnoir. The rest of the adventurers managed to kill one of the remaining un-Slept wolves and the final one ran away.

The party quickly dispatched the sleeping wolves and Bow skinned them for later use. They recovered Hallan’s corpse and re-wrapped it in the linen shroud before they continued on their journey.

Arrival in Castleford – early evening

Castleford - First Draft

As the party broke through the final confines of The Gnarley they espied a great wonder; great grey stone walls surrounded the largest inhabitation they had ever seen (with the exception of Spugnoir who came from this town). Blue-grey smoke rose from scores of stone chimneys and the rain-soaked slate and wood roof tiles glistened in the early evening light. Several stone towers stood sentinel over great iron-bound wooden gates, and siege engines manned by dozens of well-armed warriors bristled above the crenellations. In the distance they also espied a huge stone fortress that brooded over the whole town.

As the party passed through the town gates, they were halted and briefly questioned as to their business in Castleford. After they had told the guards the nature of their visit and showed them the letters of commendation from Lord Burne the guards quickly waved them through, only for Bow to briefly stop and ask for the best place to get wolf-pelts cured and the best inn in town.

The party took the advice of the guards and booked themselves into some very fine rooms in the largest building they had ever visited; The Tale Hanger’s Inn.

After the brief exchange of coin for the rooms and stabling for the war horse, the party split up to carry out their tasks. Bow headed into the Artisans’ Quarter to see if he could get the wolf-pelts made into warm cloaks to keep the incessant rain out, whilst Spugnoir relaxed in his newly booked room. Vox, Paulix and Johan led the war horse and its burden up the steep incline towards the great golden-domed tower of the largest temple devoted to Sol Invictus they had seen on their travels. They passed by The Wynde when they travelled along the Market Place, and were followed by a small gang of young scallywags until they came within sight of the tower guards who scowled at the youths. Johan threw them a handful of coins and the children fought amongst themselves for the treasure.

The evening prayer session was in full flow at the temple of Sol Invictus when they arrived, but not wanting to enter a church whilst a service was being performed, the party decided to wait until it had ended before they approached the High Priest Ralph. They presented him with the letter of commendation from Lord Burne and he read it with interest. He then said that he could perform the service they required but it would cost them just a little less than 6,000 silver pieces. The party said that they just needed to exchange some goods and would pay him when the service had been conducted. The High Priest scratched his chin and said that it would take a lot of preparation to conduct the ceremony so he would like some kind of surety as to their trustworthiness. Paulix offered up the jewel hilted dagger found in the snake room of the moat house and the High Priests eyes shone with avarice. Yes, that would do nicely as surety. He suggested that they were to return at noon the day after tomorrow when he would carry out the incantations, but they would need to leave the body so that it could be prepared. He mentioned that the spell was not always successful; the longer the body has been left, then the further on its journey to the afterlife it will have travelled. They returned to the inn where they stabled the horse and cleaned themselves up for the evening’s entertainment.

Bow meanwhile had found a trustworthy tanner and furrier who would help him carry out the work on the pelts the next day for a reasonable fee. The ranger knew that he would have an hour or so left before his companions finished their business at the Temple, so he drank his way through several small taverns on his way back to the Tale Hanger’s Inn. On his journey he discovered that there were five or six temples dedicated to Sol Invictus (including the great one on the hill in the Upper Quarter which his companions had gone to), a couple dedicated to the Old Faith (one each to Thunor and Woden), and one to a foreign deity called Ishtar. He also found out where the Merchant’s Quarter was as well as a little on how the town worked.

Bert and Ernie - Tirsday 16th Quattrober (Day 21)

After a night of unabashed luxury, intoxication and entertainment the party rose to a fine and hearty breakfast. Bow made his way to the Artisan’s Quarter to begin working on the pelts whilst the rest of the party headed out to sell the war horse in order to raise the money for Hallan to be brought back from the land of the dead.

A few copper coins placed in the palms of a couple of small scallies from The Wynde that dogged their every step got them delivered to the door of one of the merchants that they had rescued from the Moat House. Robert welcomed them into his elegant home and bade them be seated whilst he plied the party with fine wines and dainties. He also handed over a pouch containing one hundred silver coins and again offered his heartfelt thanks for his rescue. The party asked what type of business he was in and he mentioned that he dealt in fine linens and cloths. They then asked if he knew of anyone who dealt in fine horses, and they were pleased to hear that the other merchant that they had rescued, Ernest, was a dealer in fine horse flesh. Robert asked whether they would like to join him tomorrow evening for a proper feast in their honour and they accepted with glee.

They were ushered out of Robert’s mansion at just the right point of politeness and given directions to Ernest’s abode. The party knocked on the gates of an even more opulent house than Robert’s. The companions were again greeted very warmly and offered all the dainties and fine wines they cared to sample. They were given a second pouch containing one hundred silver coins as reward and asked if they would join him for a proper meal to celebrate. They mentioned Robert’s invite and they all agreed to meet at his mansion for the celebratory meal.

The conversation then turned to business and Paulix asked if he could take a look at their war horse and whether he would consider purchasing it. He said that he would send a few of his men down to the inn around lunch time to check the horse over.

At lunchtime, three men approached the party in the main common room of the Tale Hanger’s Inn. They asked to see the war horse for sale, so the companions showed Ernest’s men the beast and allowed them to take it for a run outside the East Gate. The three horsemen came back and said that they would give their honest opinions to their master.

An hour later, a page approached the party in their snug at the inn. They were invited up to Ernest’s mansion to hear what kind of deal he could offer them. They were again welcomed into the opulent reception room and Ernest came straight to the point. He said the fine war horse was worth 7,000 silver coins but he would offer them 6,000 as he would need to make a little profit on the destrier as well as pay for it to be ‘finished’ in readiness for sale. The party agreed to the price but said they would prefer not to have to carry it all in coin. They settled on a note of credit made payable to the Temple to the value of the incantation and the rest in gold coins. Ernest agreed to this and got the document drafted.

The party bade their host farewell and promised to see him the following night at Robert’s manse. They then made their way towards the Tale Hanger’s to meet with Bow and Spugnoir.

There were still a couple of hours to kill before they decided to turn in for the night, so Vox and Spugnoir decided to head out to the Artisan’s Quarter to see if they could pay for some magical tuition. They made a few enquiries and eventually found a willing Thaumaturge who would teach them a new spell for a small fee. They asked what spells were available and they both settled upon an incantation that would protect them from evil beings. Happy with their evening’s tuition they reported back to the inn just as Bow finished his long day’s toil in the tanner’s yard.

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