January 24 - February 12, 2014
Journey to Susikyn
Moldain 7th of Thaumont, 1001AC
The air is quiet, the only sound is that of the water lapping against the sides of the boat. Everyone is still, scanning the bank of the river, looking for more assailants. None can be seen. The silence is broken by a splash as Marcel hops over the side of the boat and begins pulling himself along the chain to the far side of the river in hopes of un-hooking it. At least three unmoving bodies can be seen on the near bank. One of the archers, the groups leader and one of the swimmers who did not make it back to shore before Remar’s blasts of eldritch power took him down.
Kalanos, the captain, begins yelling, “What the hell just happened? Who were those bastards? And which one of you vouched for that asshole Marin? We had a traitor in our midst!” He turns on the crew and begins scrutinizing them closely. He is shaking and looks as if he may fall over for a moment, then he regains his composure. “I have plied these waters for many years and never have I seen such a coordinated attack, by MEN none the less! This does not bode well for the coming trading season.” He turns and busies himself, checking the rest of his crew for injuries and re-stacking toppled cargo and gear upset during the fight.
Griffin starts to remove his armor. “Akaios, Ree, I’m going to go check out the near bank. Cover me?” He dives into the water and swims to the shore. He’s taken his sword, but left his armor and other gear on the boat. He wants to check the bodies for anything that could explain this strange attack, as well as gather his crossbow bolts and any of their gear to sell later (gods know these corpses don’t need things any more.) Once that’s done he will deal with the chain’s connections on this end.
After some careful maneuvering, Marcel makes it to the far side of the river. He sees that the chain has been wrapped around a tree and crudely tied with some rocks stacked upon the knot. He tugs and pulls on the chain, but it is pulled quite taut and he is unable to loosen it. The tension on the chain will have to be released some before he could even have a chance of undoing it.
Meanwhile, Griffin makes his way to the near bank and sees that the downed bandits were actually still alive, just unconscious. The bandit that had been swimming is wearing padded cloth armor and armed with only a long knife. He has a pouch tucked into his armor that contains 15 silver. The archer has similar gear and money pouch with the addition of a shortbow and quiver with 7 arrows left. The leader, however, is outfitted differently. He wears a light chain suit covering his torso, arms and legs and has a small light shield laying at his side. A broadsword and large knife are sheathed at his waist and a shortbow with quiver and 12 arrows lays next to him. A pouch with 50 gold hangs from his belt as well as a heavy set of iron shackles. A pile of several more heavy iron shackles is laying on the ground near a rock.
|you are the weakest link, goodbye.|
After looking over the bodies, Griffin turns his attention to the chain holding the boat in place. The heavy chain comes out of the water and loops around a tree and is attached to a log that looks to be angled and braced with some rocks. It looks like the chain was tightened by pulling the log back when the boat was passing by, raising the chain and causing it to catch its sharp hooks on the hull of the boat.
After a careful scan of the surroundings, Marcel looks for a way to shatter one of the link in the chains. He inserts a stick into a link and start twisting some tension in the chain, this doesn't take too long since the chain is already under a lot of stress. Once the resistance is such that he can't twist anymore, he jams the stick against the tree and start hammering at the chain at a weak point.
Griffin takes a few moments to separate the bandits from their weapons and gear (and coin!). After a moment’s reflection, he rips his crossbow bolt out of the leader’s shoulder and strips him of his armor. Might fit Burik or Marcel. About this time, Griffin sees Marcel’s efforts and turns his attention to the log holding the tension on the chain. He starts kicking at the rocks, trying to dislodge the lever. Recalling that some of the bandits might wake up, he keeps an eye on them as he works.
As Griffin releases the crude lever holding the chain in place, Marcel manages to break one of the links on the other side of the river. The chain goes loose and with some help from those in the boat, it is removed from the boat and quickly sinks to the bottom of the river.
Tending further to Griffin’s injured associate, Draven appeals once more to the gods for assistance in healing.
Griffin calls out “Well, don’t just sit there! Come get me!” He makes his way back to a convenient landing place and collects the gear he found on the bandits. He waves to Marcel to move up the river. Once he’s aboard, they can cross and move upstream to pick up the soggy warrior.
Once the boat reaches shore, Griffin quickly loads up his captured gear and pushes off again. He doesn’t want some of his friends to notice that the bandits aren’t dead - they might take the opportunity to make things a bit more final. Out of the fight and weaponless are good enough for him.
“Captain Kalanos, are there any prisons or anything around here? Those bandits seemed to be carrying a lot of iron shackles. Or have you heard of problems with slavers?”
The captain looks at Griffin, “Prisons? Not that I know of. I have heard rumors of slavers in the western lands of the Duchy, but I have always dismissed those as mere rumor. The Duke will not stand for slavery in his realm. But you are right, shackles can only mean they were looking to take us alive. Thank goodness for you and your friends.”
Draven finishes up his prayers and looks at Eranthil’s wounds. They are not completely healed, but he is nearly as good as new. The Elf thanks him solemnly, bowing low. A quick check of the rest of the crew shows that two of the rowers had been grazed by stray arrows and one had twisted his ankle trying to take cover during the fight. Quick applications of first aid is enough to get them patched up.
The crew, skittish from the recent ambush, rows extra hard for the next few hours. Akaios and Burik both volunteer to take turns at the oars to make up for the missing rower turned bandit. The boat makes good time upriver.
Marcel waits patiently to see who would express interest in the chainmail. He really would like it, but wouldn’t want to deny it to someone else who’d benefit from its protection. After a few hours of glistening into the sunshine. Marcel approaches the loot and put his hand on the warm metal. No-one is interested. He feels that he should ask around but instead bit his tongue. He sits down near the front of the ship, takes off his lousy leather armor and slip on the light chainmail. That monster is not as heavy as he thought, and he now is much better covered. For the best of the hours, he fiddles with the links between his finger, smiles earnestly as he keep an eye on the tree line on each side of the river.
Marcel gets the mail armor on. It has seen some use for sure. He has worn mail before, but his suit seems to fit poorly. He turns and stretches and notices several places where the mail does not overlap properly. Marcel thinks that he should be able to make some modifications to it to make it wear better, though he will need access to some tools. He thinks that maybe the Susikyn homestead may have something he can use.
Griffin grins as he watches Marcel’s tentative approach to the armor. “Yea, it will need a bit of tweaking, but it could serve you well, tovarisch.” He leans in a bit for a chat. “I liked how you jumped in, literally, when we needed someone to do something. That chain was not going to let us go.” He stretches, then draws out his new sword. “It’s certainly better we use these than those slavers.” He points to the bows and quivers. “Are you any good with those? Help yourself. I figure we can sell the rest when we get back to town, or trade ‘em or something. Hey, Eran! They had a lot of arrows if you’re interested.”
Eran, still a little sore from the backstabbing, gladly replenishes his arrow supply from the arrows of the raiders. He inspects one of the arrows closely then spits over the side of the boat. “They are crap arrows, but they will get the job done.”
Captain Kalanos continues to thank his passengers for helping them out during the ambush. He eyes the shortbows and remaining arrows. “I know that, by rights, the spoils belong to you all, and again, I thank you for your defense of my boat. But I was wondering, if none of you are interested in taking these two bows, maybe I could keep them. I used to be able to handle myself, back before I got soft on this boat. These woods are dangerous, but we are usually able to float right past it on the river. I have never heard of such an attack on a boat like this. I think it’s time I better arm my men and make sure they are capable of defending themselves, the boat and our cargo.”
“Sure, Captain, help yourself. It looks like these lands are getting more hazardous, and I’d not begrudge someone the tools to defend themselves.”
|no one waited at the ferry|
By late-afternoon the boat reaches the jetty at Misha's ferry. As the crew
help you off with your baggage, Kalanos calls out to Misha, but gets no reply.
"Don't worry," he says, "Misha often goes off hunting with that flea-bitten old bear of hers. She'll be back before night and won't mind you making yourselves at home. Good luck!"
Stefan remains on the boat, having business of his own upriver. “Set out for Susikyn in the morning. The forest here is dark and dangerous. I wouldn’t want you getting lost before you even get on the job! It should take you the better part of the day tomorrow to reach my brother’s homestead. He will be expecting you. Good luck. I will arrive in Susikyn in a few days, before you embark on your journey. Be well, friends.”
Kalanos gives the order "Cast off!", the boat pulls away from the jetty, and continues upriver on his way to Ilyakana, one of the lumber camps to the north.
The jetty is narrow and rickety and sways under the weight of the 9 travelers. Not wanting to crash into the water, Akaios grabs several packs and quickly moves to the shore, followed closely by Burik and Markos.
Several small boats are tied to the jetty and one larger log raft sits nearby, pulled up onto the bank. A small house sits up the bank a bit, nestled into the encroaching forest. No lights shine from the house.
Griffin grabs his sack and the extra gear from the bandits. “Well, let’s go get the gear moved inside. It looks like we won’t have time to make it there tonight, but we can get settled in and turn in early, maybe get a quick start in the morning. Markos, you ever been to this place before? You know the way? Or should Eran and I take a look around?”
The older man shrugs. “Just what Stephan told us - I imagine it’s down that trail healing south-east. I guess we go until we can smell the horses.” He picks up his kit and shuffles up the trail.
Not wanting to be last, Griffin makes his way into the cabin. Not very fancy, but he goes around and lights a few lanterns. Better than sleeping out in the woods at least. He takes the initiative and stakes out a spot on the floor for his blanket. Soon Markos and Eran have something cooking, and they all settled in for the evening.
While folks are still picking out spots, Griffin will wander around and just exchange a few words. He checks in first with his friends, then heads over to Draven.
“Brother, thanks for your help on the boat today. I know Eran appreciates it. Listen, the bandits had a few coins on them - here’s your share. We take care of each other around here” He presses a few gold into Draven’s hand, then nods and moves off.
Next he approaches the mage, Remar. “Nice moves today, Remar. Here’s your share of the take from those slavers. Don’t spend it all in one place!”
And last, Marcel. “Here, Marcel, I don’t want you to think that you got wet for nothing. A share of the meager loot the slavers were carrying. Once we get to a forge, I’m sure you can get that armor fitted better.”
With all that, Griffin wanders over to the center of the room. “Now, since I KNOW you can probably afford it, who’s for a nice friendly game of cards?” And he grins.
The group of travelers settles in to the simple cottage. As the sun begins to set behind western horizon, the air begins to chill. The quiet evening is broken by the sound of a distant wolf howling. Then another. Then a third, much closer howl.
Griffin looks up and says “Werewolf.” Eran frowns, then points to the east and says “There. Wolf.” Griffin smiles.
Akaios chuckles at this exchange between his friends. He cannot count how many times he has heard this between Griffin and Eran. Just then, Burik comes back into the cottage after gathering some firewood from the pile outside. He is visibly upset and slams the door, dropping the firewood all over the floor. “There’s something big out there, moving through the forest. Fast. Coming this way!” As everyone looks at him, there is a loud, bestial growl from just outside the door and something heavy hits the door from the outside.
“Goblins!” Exclaims Marcel as he springs to his feet. The chainmail rattles and he wobbles a bit. He pulls it off and lets it hit the ground. “I don’t fight with a rug around my waist. This bad boy will have to wait.” Marcel scans the rest of the room and invites everyone to their feet.
“Who is with me?”, he asks as he opens the door by a slit before slipping into the night with the tip of his spear showing the way.
As Marcel slides out into the darkening night, a huge shape looms up and over Marcel. He can hear its heavy, animal breathing as it strikes out at him in the darkness. A giant bear, easily over 10 feet high at the shoulder, growls at Marcel.
Marcel is not quite a fool and step back, shutting the door as if the bear was to observe social conveniences and knock.
“That’s a big goblin, guys. Anyone has a bell with them?”, he smiles but the jokes gets lost in the stench of the bear’s bad breath.
Griffin runs over and leans against the door with Marcel. He has to shout to be heard over the roaring outside. “Didn’t Captain Kalanos say the proprietress of this fine establishment had a pet bear? Maybe this isn’t a coincidence! Let’s just sit tight until she gets him under control.”
The bear roars and bangs on the door, rattling the whole front wall of the cottage.
“A pet? Boy, Do I miss the whore house right now.” Marcel waits for the door to give way at a fair distance.
The bear can be heard grunting and breathing heavily just outside the door, though no one seems eager to open it for him. The beast rattles the door a few times, claws at the window twice then becomes quiet. Glances out the window cannot locate the large creature.
Eran steps to the door and sniffs the air. “I think it may have gone back to the forest. We should probably stay inside tonight.” Another distant wolf howl punctuates his comment. The Elf shoots a sideways glance at Griffin before he can continue with his old joke.
Marcel puts down his gears and sits at the kitchen table. He motions Griffin to sit down and get the cards on the table. Griffin, happy to indulge, explains the basics of the game while Marcel acts as if he barely understands the game. Griffin doesn’t buy the trick, but sees in Marcel a competitive streak that he likes. Marcel catches on Griffin’s amusement and admits to his bluff. “Alright, that seems pretty straightforward. Do we need to get more people around the table to clean them up?”
Griffin chuckles. “Ah, but remember, I said a friendly game. I play with these guys all the time. We just see how the cards fall for the most part. I use it to practice reading folk. Let’s just see what happens.” Griffin calls to the room at large “We need a few more of these seats filled, folks, for this to be any sort of challenge. C’mon, like you have somewhere else to go, like outside with the giant bear?”
Akaios, Markos, and Burik pull up to the table. Eran begs off, pleading the need for rest after having his kidneys rearranged. Even so, four is a sufficient number of players and soon a vigorous game of Three Dragon Ante has commenced!
Having been quiet since the ambush, Draven has a hard time staying silent much longer. “Surely, amongst friends, a game like this can only breed ill feelings. Perhaps if we were to play for stakes that will leave none with a sore temper in the morning? A friendly game…”
Griffin looks around the table, then breaks out laughing. “I said a friendly game, Brother, and stop calling me Shirley!” He chuckles.”So, what stakes are low enough that you can lose without developing ill feelings? That gold I dropped on you earlier should give you at least a little cushion.”
“T’isn’t the loss of those funds - though they are already earmarked for the Church - so much as the ill feelings that such competitions can cause. Leads to angry rows which may lead to theft or fisticuffs, all of which would imperil a man’s mortal soul.” As Draven speaks, it becomes clear by the change in intonation that he’d drifted into church dogma he’s heard a thousand times himself and has become a part of his mental makeup. “Gold isn’t the root of evil, but it does seem to have the gift of magnifying it. I won’t try to stop you, mind, but me, I feel certain I’ll find more profit in contemplation than in a pair of dice or a deck of cards.”
“We’re in this for the long game. There is no evil in gold that you can afford to lose. Once them horses are where they are meant to, there shall be no evil anymore in your pocket change!” Marcel laugh out loud, at first by himself.
Griffin turns to his friends. “Boys, we’ve been playing cards together for how long? Years? Any hard feelings?” Akaios and Burik vigorously shake their heads, Markos just shrugs. “Brother, I think you misunderstand what this,” and he waves his hands at the table and cards, “is all about. It’s true, some coin can change hands. Tyche can visit anyone she chooses, at any time. And there might be some individuals who can’t handle a friendly game of cards.” He shakes his head. “Always sad when that happens.”
“But this, this is not about the gold. This is about getting to know one another, and comradeship, and fun. You may find profit in contemplation, but I find value in making friends.
“And you’re always welcome to join us.”
The banter between the cleric and the rogue goes back and forth for a while as the card game progresses. Griffin, Marcel, Akaios, Burik and Markos all play. Ree sits quietly in a corner by one of the windows while Eran stands watch on the opposite side of the room, keeping an eye out for the bear or any other trouble. After getting settled in, the quiet mage, Remar, goes through and checks through his gear with the precision of a soldier before settling down to a large tome pulled from his backpack. A careful eye notes that Ree watches him closely as he studies his mages grimoire. Draven settles himself into a comfortable chair and spends the remainder of the evening in quiet meditation and prayer.
As the night goes on, the gathered travelers begin to wonder where this Misha is. Eran reports a few times that he sees the bear move through the nearby trees, but it does not approach the cottage again. Eventually the card game is over and Burik is the big winner of the night. He pockets 3 Gold Royals while Griffin and Marcel both manage to break even. After a late dinner everyone beds down for the night. It is decided to set and keep watches, given the dangerous nature of the surrounding area.
During the night, Griffin is awoken by Burik scrambling across the room, “The bear is back! It’s back!” he whispers loudly when he sees Griffin sit up. Quickly Griffin begins to move, but then hears what has startled his companion. Nearby, Akaios sleeps on his back with his arms folded behind his head. The large man’s mouth is wide open and he is snoring loudly. In Burik’s defense, it does sound like the bear. After this incident, Griffin has trouble falling back asleep and is considerably tired the next morning when the sun finally rises.
Nytdain 8th of Thaumont, 1001AC
As usual, Eran is first up. The bear seems to have wandered off, so he sets to waking the group with a quick camp breakfast. Griffin groans as Eran shakes his shoulder. “Just five more minutes, Mom!” The Elf chuckles and moves on as the young rogue sits up and rubs his eyes. He looks around. “Oh, good, the cabin is still standing. I thought for sure your snoring would have shaken it apart, Akaios.” The burly warrior looks at him, confused. “What are you talking about, man? I don’t snore.” The rest of the room looks at each other and bursts out laughing. “What? I don’t!” he protests.
|Elvish spices. yum.|
Griffin gets slowly to his feet and starts putting on his armor. “Okay, let’s get ready to hit the road. Eran, thanks for cooking as usual. You wanna take a look around for our absent hostess while we get ourselves loaded up and fed?” Eran nods and heads out, grabbing his bow from beside the door. Griffin heads over to the stewpot and takes a taste. “Oh, you guys don’t wanna miss this. It’s the Elvish spices…” He fills a bowl and then sits down again. He eats slowly, and it’s obvious that in spite of the banter, he’s having trouble getting rolling this morning.
Marcel is at first reluctant to try “Elvish spices”, but soon finds out that his doubts were groundless. He recalls out loud how the food tasted so good back at the Maiden. The rest of the crew banters a bit a lot about what life would be living in a whorehouse. Marcel explains to them that it was, in fact, very nice. Clearly the homely boy never really had a chance to live in a family: eat and share the good and the bad. Certainly, he won’t be looking around this crowd for a weekly servicing, but he got the feeling that he may just have found a new family. Not knowing how to express this without coming across as weird after talking about whores for a while, he looks for a way to show how much he appreciates the company. He quickly inhales his food, pulls out his stones and files and offers to remove the burr on people’s blades. He does a bit of a rough job, but at least it came from the heart.
A quick prayer in celebration of the morning, and Draven takes himself off to join the rest of the team at breaking their fast. Marcel’s stories hold his attention for some time, and he wonders if he was perhaps foolish to leave town so quickly after all. It may have been safer, and certainly would have been faster, to stay in the vicinity of the whorehouse and simply minister to those too weak to stay away.
Griffin thanks the soldier as he tests his blade with his thumb. “I appreciate it, Marcel. I think we all have skills we can contribute to the team - maybe you’re our new official armorer!”
“Well, boys, um, and, uh, girl, let’s say we get this show on the road,” Markos calls out after everyone has eaten their fill on breakfast. Everyone prepares their gear and readies themselves for the day long hike to Susikyn. Markos goes over the crude map he has. “According to this map here, looks like we should be following a trail along this little stream that branches off from the river. Should be easy enough. The stream runs right up to Susikyn. Should take us the better part of the day. Couldn’t be more than 12 or 15 miles or so. Let’s go!” He heads out of the cottage, looking around cautiously for any signs of the giant bear or the owner of the cottage, seeing neither, he proceeds.
|the crude map|
Eran returns from scouting the area and reports that he found some tracks in the woods nearby and signs that may indicate a scuffle near the river just a little downstream. He reports several sets of small, booted footprints as well as large wolf prints mingled in with the occasional bear print. “Probably Goblins and their Wargs. Might have clashed with the bear, maybe even Misha, though I couldn’t find any sign of her anywhere. Can’t seem to find any signs of Human sized foot prints anywhere. We need to be careful in these woods. This is the northern edge of the Dymrak forest. Many Goblin tribes, and worse, inhabit these woods!” The Elf spits on the ground then heads toward the trail to Susikyn.
The group grabs their gear and soon falls into a comfortable arrangement. Eran takes the lead as usual, and Ree brings up the rear.
Marcel has flashback of his time in Kelvin’s guard as he scans the treeline with a keen eye. He places himself near the middle of the file and constantly plans ways to react to a surprise attack: where to defend and what to shout to make it happen.
The expected distance to Susikyn is not very far but the trail there proves to be long. The ground is broken by numerous small hills and valleys so the path cuts back and forth around the landscape, searching for the easiest path. The nearby stream often veers away from the path, or in several instances, crosses the path. Fortunately the water is easily crossed, no more than a few feet at its deepest, most times less than a foot deep at most fords. Occasionally the stream widens and starts to resemble a small river, definitely not crossable without swimming, though the far bank is definitely within reach.
“So, Markos, how are we going to keep the horses together through this terrain? Seems like they might head off in any direction. Will we be given horses and tack and all that? I’d hate to try and keep them together if I’m on foot. ” The young Thyatian looks enquiringly at the old horse trader.
“Ya know, that's a good question. I know these folk have been dealing in horses for years, I’m sure they know what’s going on. I would doubt that the horses would leave the trail under normal circumstances, individually, horses are pretty smart creatures, but put ‘em in a group and they just fall in line. Heh, like most folk, actually,” Markos laughs at his joke. “The trail is wide enough for the most part, and yea, I assume we will have mounts to ride on, if not some of the stock. We will be herding horses, after all, right? Each one will probably have a lead, we can probably loosely tie them together in small groups. We will figure it out. I know horses. You know which end to avoid at least. I’m sure that Pytor will be sending at least one more of his folk besides Stephan with us. You all are more along the lines of the ‘muscle’ of this operation. We will figure it out, don’t worry. At least not yet, we haven’t even gotten there yet!”
The weather is wonderful for a hike through the forest. The sky is clear and the sun is shining bright and warm, though the forest canopy blocks most of the heat and a good breeze keeps the air moving through the leaves. In places, the ground is damp, indicating recent showers, though there are no puddles or pools of water present, so whatever rain there was, it was light. Eran keeps out a little ahead of the group as they travel, reporting back occasionally, but nothing out of the ordinary happens on the trek.
Eventually, the sky above begins dimming as the sun sets to the west, out of sight from the forest floor, though still illuminating the uppermost reaches of the trees. “We’ve got to be getting close now,” Markos exclaims. Wanting to arrive before the sun fully sets, he pushes the group forward at an increased pace.
This is the 2nd installment of our GURPS Mystara campaign. This portion was played over a 3 week period in a play by post type situation. We utilize Google Drive, allowing each player to post when they can and makes it easy for us to edit and fit everything in. Works well for my campaigns. Unfortunately, one player was not able to contribute to this portion so Remar was very quiet during this time. I suppose he was just quietly watching, getting a feel for his new companions.
Continued on GDA3 - A Warm Welcome
Cast of Characters:Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard
Marcel Maas, a down on his luck Traladaran soldier turned mercenary commanded by +Christian Blouin
Draven Rickart, a Thyatian Acolyte of the Church of Karameikos piously played by +Jason Packer
and +Jason Woollard as the DM