October 26 - November 5, 2014
Onward to Xitaqa
Moldain 14th Flaurmont
Planning the Journey to Xitaqa
The members of the Grey Company crowded around a small table toward the rear of the great hall of Susikyn. Though the hour was late, the room was packed with people, mostly area refugees who have found their way to the homestead. Griffin pointed to the place on his map that the Fairy King of Horses had indicated as the location of the ruins of Xitaqa. The tower where Stephan was rumored to be lay some 40 miles to the north. There were a few possible routes to the ruins, and none of them sounded to be the best. Travel through the moor would require going through the swampy mire in the north. Travel across the plains included unknown territory and potentially dangerous river crossing.
“And don’t forget about the DRAGON!” Remar interjected. “That beast is on the lookout for us!” To punctuate his point, the howling wind outside picked up a bit and rattled the temporary repairs made to the roof of the homestead where the Dragon Argos had just earlier that day, ripped a hole.
Iris studies the map and points to a location just north of Sielo. “Here is where we should cross. The ford that we found just the other day. That should put us on the right side of the river just south of the ruins,” her words drifted off and she gazed off, away from the group, thinking about what the ancient ruins might reveal to her.
Pytor shuffled up to the group, his eyes were tired and his face was weary. “My friends, you have no idea how grateful my family and I are for your continued help. I know that on the morrow, you will depart for this place you believe my brother to be. May Halav give you strength, may Petra protect you and may Zirchev guide you way.” He lowers his head for a moment in silent prayer. “I own you much for all that you do, and in time, I will repay you, somehow. But this I must say to you. Our stores are nearly bare and with all the additional mouths to feed, I fear that I cannot provide you with much more in the way of travel rations. We have been foraging in the nearby woods, and that has been getting us by, but with the appearance of the Dragon yesterday, I fear to take these good people beyond the protection of my walls. We do have feed for the horses, and of course water and other supplies that you may need. I am sorry that I cannot offer you more. Your quest is valiant and important, but I cannot allow those under my roof to starve.
“You are doing the work of the gods here, Pytor, and they will smile upon you for it. In the same fashion, they will see us through if times become lean. D’jaea will not frown on us for our own foraging, and Patura will watch over this household while we strive to find Stephan”, says Draven, praying fervently that this be true.
“It may be that we must tighten our belts before we finish our tasks, but then so be it.”
Pytor nods and manages a weak smile at Draven, a quiet “thank you” escapes from his lips.
“Pytor,” Draven asks, “is there any means of getting word back to Kelvin of the situation here?” He looks to the others. “I don’t feel right leaving the place undefended - no offense meant to you and yours, Pytor, or your bravery - you’ve fought more than good people should need. If pressed, we might get a few men of stout heart and strong arm to come to their aid, by way of the holy church.”
“Barring that, we’d need to leave some of our own strength behind, and I suspect that Xitaqa may tax us enough that we will feel the sting of their absence if we do.”
Pytor scowls at Draven’s suggestion, “This is our land, our home. We live here by our own hands or we don’t. Petra has delivered you unto us, I will not deny that aid, but I will not go to uncaring Thyatians in their towns. Even if we DID ask for help, I suspect none would be given. We are inconsequential, unimportant to them.”
Draven tries to mend fences, placing a hand on Pytor’s shoulder. “They would not find you inconsequential, my friend, but also they would not be coming here because you asked for help but because I did - for I can’t be in two places at once, more’s the pity, and I feel beholden to help guard this homestead in whatever way I can. After all, what is a holy man without a flock - even if they are unruly Traladarans that think he is nice, but foolish and naive.” He finishes with a smile, hoping to win the settler back over.He growls. They villagers need their help, and have little in the way of means to help themselves. Do we need to start tomorrow morning? Or can we stay and help? Griffin wrestles with these questions as he wraps himself in a blanket and finds a quiet corner to sleep.
Draven tries to mend fences, placing a hand on Pytor’s shoulder. “They would not find you inconsequential, my friend, but also they would not be coming here because you asked for help but because I did - for I can’t be in two places at once, more’s the pity, and I feel beholden to help guard this homestead in whatever way I can. After all, what is a holy man without a flock - even if they are unruly Traladarans that think he is nice, but foolish and naive.” He finishes with a smile, hoping to win the settler back over.
Marcel is unusually quiet on that evening. He looks back at what the company achieved in amazement. The drab life of a brother carpenter is nothing but a mere rumor of the past. He is afraid that Argos will come for the homestead. However, he doesn’t find in his heart the fortitude to advise them to walk away. They worked so hard to make this place their own.
Marcel scans the company’s weapons and offer a quick maintenance on the blades. He doesn’t feel like talking to men and women tonight. When he closes his eyes, the picture of horrors like Bailask, Argos and the FKoH seemed etched on his retina.
“Anyone needs a silver retouch? I need some alone time tonight.”
Draven shakes his head. “Waste no more silver on my mace. It seems I am unlikely to make much use of it in my state. My holy symbol holds more power than silvered weapons, I suspect.”
Marcel takes some time going over the weapons of the Company. He sees that for the most part, the silver plating is beginning to crack and flake off. With the exception of his spear, most of the weapons will no doubt be unusable as “silver weapons” soon enough. The shields are faring the worst and the longer blades next. The knives are not too bad, though. He does what he can to prolong the weapons, but he knows it is only a matter of time.
After several hours spent out in the tool shed, Marcel feels the strain of exhaustion pulling him toward his bedroll.
Griffin looks around the great hall. The goblin war has definitely taken a toll on the area, and unfortunately the Susikynites seemed to be bearing the brunt of it. He tries to catch Irina’s eye, but the weary look she gives him as she hurries to aid some of the refugee children tells him that she will have no time for him this evening.
He turns his attention back to the map. I wish we had some idea what Xitaqa was like. That Fairy King was less than helpful. Now what did Babaka say? Big, nasty hobgoblin named Vlack. “Old Skinny-Legs.” Goblins with iron collars. And something about a “big map.”
Nytdain 15th of Flaurmont
A Hunting We Will Go
The following morning comes, and with it comes a cloudy sky, strong gusts of wind and warm rain showers. The sun is shining, trying to peek around the clouds, but the rains still fall. It looks like it will be an ok day for travel, despite the dampness.
As members of the Grey Company gather to break their fast, Griffin pulls them together for a quick meeting. “Okay, folks, I know we’re eager to get rolling, now that we have a destination.” He pauses. “But I say we’re not leaving today. We’re leaving two days from today.” He is greeted by looks of confusion around the table. “I know, I know. But these folks need our help, too. Here’s what we’re going to do. We are all going to hit the woods and bring in as much food as we can. Draven, Iris, since you don’t have weapons to hunt with, you’ll be going with Burik and Ree. Burik, you get to teach these two how to fish. Then Marcel, Akaios, Remar and I will hit the woods, try and bring in some game. When we leave two days from now, these folks should be a little better off, and we can still hunt and forage as we head to Xitaqa.”
He looks around the table. “I know that’s two days later that we want. If enough of you say so, we can still leave this morning. What say you?” He leans back, bracing for the team’s response.
“While your plan has merit, Griffin, do you think we will manage to bring in enough extra food to even make up for the extra mouths to feed that we add to the supper table? I’m no longer a soft-handed city boy, but my skills with a fishing line are likely dubious at best.”
“Well, that’s why I want Burik to start teaching you. I think with two days of work, you and Iris can pick it up pretty easily. Then we can leave these folks with a tidy store to ride out the next few days. I don’t know what their plans are, but they can’t just sit in here forever. Give them some breathing room, give Argos a chance to calm down and stop bothering them, and then they can hopefully send some of them either home or down the river to Kelvin.
“But point taken. Anything or anyone else?”
Marcel is eager to get started on this plan. He nods, smiles and asks what they are waiting for? Although hunting for him is a business that must be done in close quarters. Maybe he should bum a bow from someone and get at least a crash course and a few arrows out for a start?
Griffin frowns. “Well, okay, sure. Ask around and see if there’s a spare to be had.” He pauses. “If that doesn’t pan out, I suppose you could use Eran’s bow and quiver. They’re in the wagon with the rest of his things.”
He clears his throat. “Anyway, let’s get moving. Akaios, I’ll go with you and Marcel. Let’s put some distance between us and the settlement - we don’t want to hunt out all the game near them.”
While the group gets their gear ready, Griffin has a quick chat with Pytor. “Just so you know, we’re going to take a couple of days to do some hunting and foraging, get you some supplies to last you for a bit while we’re gone. I wanted to ask you about Taras’ sword.” He nods to where the blade’s hilt rides on his hip. “It was indeed helpful against the werewolves, and again against the ice demon of the mound.” He unbuckles it and hands it to the village headman. “Thank you for all you have done to support us.”
He turns away. “Of course, I’m sure it would come in handy in our mission to Xitaqa to rescue Stephan. If you would be willing to loan it to me again, I would appreciate it. In any case, don’t decide now - we’ll be leaving bright and early on the 17th, so I’ll be around.”
Griffin, Marcel, and Akaios head over the Susikyn Bridge and a ways along the road to Misha’s Ferry, into the western reaches of the Dymrak Forest. Best not to clear out the game near the homestead, and west into the woods is probably our best chance to avoid Argos if he’s still on one of his rampages.
Griffin ponders as he rides. Now if Argos attacked the Wolfskulls, and the Wolfskulls were working with Vlack kidnapping villagers, then it stands to reason that Argos was not behind the goblin raids lately. So Xitaqa may be the source of them. Which makes it likely a stronghold of bad guys. Great…
Draven gathers Iris, Ree and Burik and the hooks and line that Pytor provides. “I make no promise to be a quick study, but you’ll get a solid effort out of me, Burik.”
“Where do you recommend we go, Pytor? Is the best fishing back at the river?”
Everyone moves off and does their thing, hunting, fishing and gathering the bounty of nature. The rain comes and goes all day, not ever raining too hard, but making it impossible to stay dry. Each member of the team does its part and at the end of the long day of work, a considerable haul has been gathered. The food is returned to the homestead. Wide eyes watch as all the food is deposited. Quickly others take over and begin preparing the food for either a large meal or to save for later. The only problem encountered during the day was Ree twisting her ankle. A quick bandaging of her foot, keeping it from moving for a while was all it took to make it feel better though.
That evening, Griffin also realizes that the magical light on his necklace has gone out again. Pytor also announces to the large number of new people currently inhabiting Susikyn that any or all of them are welcome to stay on at Susikyn and has thought about plans to expand the homestead. He plans to begin the following day, assuming the rain stops.
Griffin seeks out Brother Draven. “So I noticed your spell has run it’s course on my necklace. Could you make some time tomorrow night to get all our various lights, um, I don’t know, ‘charged up.’ Better now before a few days of travel than when you might need your resources elsewhere on the road, don’t you think?”
“Indeed, best to do so before I take my evening prayers. A few days here leaves me freer of spirit than I’ve been in some time, and more closely aligned with the will of the immortals. Remind me again before bed and I will ensure that we’re well provisioned.”
After taking care of business, Griffin will seek out Irina. She is serving food to the refugees out of a great pot in the kitchen. Griffin slides up next to her and starts handing her bowls and plates and then passing them out to the grateful homesteaders. She smiles at him as she brushes a lock of hair away from her face.
|The beautiful Irina|
They work together side by side until all are fed and the kitchen is tidied up. “Well, I noticed you did not get a chance to eat.” He turns to a tall cabinet. “Oh, look, I found some food up here!” He smiles, and his eye twinkles. “You wouldn’t care to join me, would you? I know a quiet place with quite a view…” She punches him in the shoulder, but grins. He grabs a convenient blanket and some glasses and his canteen, and leads the way to the top of the tower. Bahaznic, standing watch, takes a look at the two and heads down out of the tower, rather artfully palming the silver pieces that Griffin slips him. The young man has a new post, standing watch at the bottom of the stairs.The rest of the evening for Griffin is spent as best he could want it - good food and beautiful company, the stars blazing across the night sky.
Loshdain 16th of Flaurmont
The next morning dawns to what looks to be a much nicer day. The sun is shining and warm, the sky is clear, a light breeze brings the smell of wildflowers with it. The group again gathers in the open yard in front of the house. It had finally been all cleaned up since the Goblin attacks over a month ago. The Captain, finally recovered from the trauma he had received during the attacks comes and thanks the Company for their considerable part in saving him and helping to protect and care for everyone in the region. He shares plans that he is preparing to head back to Kelvin, taking Villie, one of his rowers and a few of the others with him. He plans to recover some debts owed to him in the city and attempt to rebuild his shipping business. Most of the others have expressed the desire to stay, at least for the time being.
Griffin shakes the good captain’s hand. “Captain, godspeed. Mayhap in the we can catch a ride with you again. Look for us in Kelvin!”
Draven entrusts a letter to the good Captain, asking him to deliver it to the church in Kelvin for
him before setting out for the river with the rest of the fishing crew, and keeping an eye on Ree lest her ankle is still giving her difficulty. He does his level best to forget about how he ignominiously bullied his way into being the one who got to wrap her injury up, and just what that was all about.
“One more day,” he said instead, stoutly, “and we’ll leave with a few bites for ourselves, and a good stock of food for these good people.”
The second day of hunting and foraging ended even better than the first, resulting in the Company bringing in over 70 meals worth of food for the homestead. While it would only feed the inhabitants of the homestead for a day, it will still help stretch their current food supplies. With the rain stopped, and the Dragon hopefully gone, it will be easier for them to continue supplementing their own food. By the time the members of the Company return to the homestead, it looks like the repairs on the roof have been completed and quite a few trees have been felled at the far end of the clearing north of the settlement. Preparations are well under way to repair and expand the current living situations at Susikyn.
The mood in the great hall is much more relaxed this evening and everyone is able to have something of a good time. A hearty meal is prepared, music is played, songs are sung and stories are told. Everyone is very eager to hear the recent tales of the Grey Company. They all lean in close and listen intently as the exploits are retold over and over again.
Griffin smiles. He hangs back, letting the other members of the Grey Company bask in the well-deserved attention from the homesteaders. Inside, he knows that the mission to Xitaqa could well prove the most dangerous undertaking of the fledgling group to date. Some sort of organized effort to purge the area of settlers using goblins and hobgoblins? He fears that that hints at an effort by a power above his pay grade.
Still, the fact that they could do something for the folk of Susikyn gave him hope. They were proving that they were a force in the region, a force for good. And that meant something. Just trying to carry on the family traditions, Dad!
He makes one more sweep through the stores of the homestead, looking for any last-minute items that he will no doubt need as soon as they leave. His supply of crossbow bolts was sorely depleted from the hunting of the past two days, despite his efforts to retrieve them from his kills. He is afraid that his crossbow, while sufficient for the basic job of hunting up dinner, did not treat the bolts well as they flew. Most were warped or broken when he found them at all.
While Marcel regales the group with the story of his conversation with Argos (or maybe the Fairy King of Horses - some of the details seemed to be getting jumbled), Griffin pulls Bahaznic aside. “So, we’re going to need a few extra hands to maintain a base camp in Sielo, protect the horses, that sort of thing. Flat rate, unless you see action, then standard contractor share. Think you and a couple of your friends here would be interested in making some easy coin?”
The young Traladaran’s eyes widen and he shakes his head, “Yea, that sounds great. I’ll talk to some of the others. How many do you need?” He looks around for some of the other guys. “Is this place you are going tomorrow, this Xitaqa, is this the place where my father is? Are you really going to find him and save him?” The young man is getting quite worked up and excited.
Bahaznic talks to a few of the others and 2 young Traladarans, Serg and Bori, agree to the terms and conditions of working with the Grey Company.
Griffin mentally checks off that task, then wanders around collecting the items that the Grey Company usually has Draven’s magical light cast on. He seeks out the young priest and lays them out on a table. “Here are those items for your blessings, Brother! See you in the morning!”Once again, his duty done, he makes time for some quiet moments with Irina. He is heading out into danger, and does not know when or if he will return. For a few moments, though, he tries to forget the trials ahead, and takes comfort in the arms of another human being.
Soladain 17th of Flaurmont
On the Road to Sielo
The members of the Grey Company rise early, hoping to get a good start toward Sielo before the homestead gets too busy. Pytor is already awake and looks as if he has been for some time. He holds his family sword and gives it to Griffin. “Please, bring my brother back.” Without saying anymore, he turns and heads outside. All the gear and horses are ready to go in the barn outside. Bahaznic and the other youngsters are already there, impatiently waiting to embark on the adventure.
Before joining the rest of the party, Draven takes time to delve deep into prayer, intoning the liturgy until he gets some sign that he has been heard, beseeching the gods of hearth and home, and of girding on of weapons, to protect the homestead in his absence.
After carefully studying the map and speaking to as many folk at Susikyn who had information to share, it is believed that the journey to Xitaqa should take more than one day. It will take the better part of the day to travel to Sielo and set up camp. From there, on foot, it may take as long as two days to actually reach the ruined tower, though much of that depends on the veracity of the information they have, the actual terrain and the weather, and barring anything else out of the ordinary.
The journey through the familiar forest to the lumber camp of Sielo takes longer than anticipated. Ree and Burik both experience trouble with their mounts and Draven has about the worst day of riding he has had in a long time. He managed to fall off his horse once and his saddle and gear kept coming loose, causing the group to have to stop multiple times to get him strapped back in. Hunting and foraging along the way did not turn up as much as would have been liked on this perfect day, but it would help. Ree also had some trouble as well, managing to re-hurt her ankle again when the group had stopped for a break around midday.
Griffin sighs. Well, this is not getting off to a great start, is it? How can we make up time tomorrow? Two more days of hiking to Xitqa will force us to divert resources to staying fed, possibly impact our ability to scout quietly.
Maybe Bahaznic and his friends could ride with us til noon tomorrow. Then they can lead the horses back to the base camp at Sielo, and we’ll have had half a day without carrying our stuff ourselves. Yea, that works, I think.
He tries to remember the map - would the ford come before or after that half-day mark? He looks at the one-handed priest. Do we want to ride across the ford, and then let Bahaznic deal with getting the horses back across, or ford ourselves and leave the horses on the east side? He tries to remember how easy or hard the ford was to cross before.Well, we will find out when we get there. Once beyond, I know that I want to get up on top of the bluffs as soon as we can. The fact that they are hard to climb means that the Xitaqans will be less likely to expect us to approach that way. Hopefully, we can take our time and scout things out a bit - find out where the enemies might be hiding, that sort of thing. Maybe even get a chance to snipe a few before we get into the thick of things.
Camping at Sielo
It was just after sundown when the group arrived at the lumber camp and though everyone was tired from traveling during the hot day, they quickly got working on setting up a camp. Griffin directed a comfortable campsite with good lines of sight of the surrounding area. Watches are set and the group beds down for the night.
Cast of Characters:Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard
Marcel Maas, a homely but sincere wielder of spears aspiring to cooking greatness commanded by +Christian Blouin
Draven Rickart, a Thyatian Acolyte of the Church of Karameikos ministered by +Jason Packer
Iris Varda, a Thyatian explorer and historian searching for answers and adventure guided by +Alex Safatli
and +Jason Woollard as The DM