January 16 - 28, 2015
Starting the Drive
Tserdain 27th of Flaurmont
In the end, it is determined that a side trip to Kelvin is just not going to work out. It is too far and out of the way to make such a trip. Pytor is in too much of a hurry to get the horses sold so he can purchase needed supplies for the homestead. Stephan tells the Company that they can buy most of the mundane supplies they need at the Gnome’s Ferry and other stuff can probably be purchased in Rifllian or in one of the towns further along the way, Verge or Threshold. Even a trip back to Kelvin wouldn’t be that far out of the picture, if Stephan could bear to backtrack for a few days.
It takes a couple of days to get everything ready and on the morning of Flaurmont 27th, the Grey Company heads out of Susikyn driving a herd of white horses for Rifllian. Stephan and a few folk from the homestead have joined the drive and a handful of refugees are tagging along, at least as far as the Gnome’s Ferry so they can get back to civilization.
The night before the Company is to depart, Akaios comes to Griffin and asks to be paid out his share of the loot taken by the Grey Company thus far. He wishes to leave the bulk of it in Susikyn so he does not have to travel back with the whole amount after selling the horses at Rifllian. “I’ll just come back with my share of that job. It should be enough to buy some things we, I, uh, hmm, I need in Kelvin,” he comments.
Griffin takes a deep breath. “Of course, my friend. Come with me.” He leads Akaios out to the wagon parked outside the smithy. They climb into the cramped interior, made more so by Akaios’ prodigious size. Griffin pulls up a floorboard and extracts a large leather sack, obviously very heavy. Very carefully, he extracts another, smaller pouch as well. Akaios sits quietly, almost speechless, as Griffin spreads a soft cloth on the floor and sits down across from his old friend. Methodically, he starts laying out piles of gold and silver coins. Twenty coins to a stack, five stacks to a pile. Akaios' eyes get bigger and bigger as soon there are six piles of gold coins, and four silver before him. Griffin finishes by pouring the contents of the smaller pouch out and, with a practiced eye, selecting four perfect gemstones. He lays them next to the piles of coins.
Griffin looks up at his friend and smiles. “There you go, buddy. Your share of two months of getting shot at, chopped, gassed, and bit. Your share of the Grey Company. $8400. A nice little nest egg.”
Akaios stares with wide eyes at the stacks of money in front of him. “I, uh, well, yea. I didn’t think it would be so much. I didn’t realize how much we have made, that’s quite a lot. Maybe the adventurers life IS for me,” he ponders for a moment, then he looks back at the money. “That there is worth almost 9000 corona? That’s more than our shop profits in a year I think, and out here, that money will stretch for a long while. No, this is what I want. Enough of getting shot at, chopped up, bit and gassed. I think there will be plenty to challenge me here at Susikyn. Pytor is good man, these are good people. We have been friends for a long time, Griffin, but I think the time has come for our paths to go in different directions!” He leans forward and clasps his friend on the arm, pulling him in for a hug. Griffin is almost certain he sees a tear in the big man’s eye. “We still have another week or two together, on the drive, let’s have some fun, shall we!”
As Akaios starts scooping his Company pay into a large sack, the back of the wagon opens and Burik sticks his head in, “There you are, I was, hey, what are you guys doing? What’s with all that coin?” he queries.
Akaios and Griffin explain that Akaios is leaving the Company after the drive and this is his share of the loot so far. Burik is exasperated by the news as well as the size of the loot pile. He merely grunts to his friends and turns and heads in the other direction.
Griffin keeps a smile on his face at Burik’s sudden appearance, but inside he swore. That boy and his greed are going to be a pain soon, I just know it. Hope we don’t have to beat each other up like last time.
The rain has stopped again and Griffin thinks it will be dry for a few days at least, but the wind has picked up quite a bit, sometimes blowing so hard it is hard to see. The sun is blazing bright in the sky and it is already getting hot, even in the early parts of the morning. Everyone has built up quite a sweat before even leaving the Susikyn yard.
The party will be plenty large, at least until the Gnome’s Ferry is reached. There are the 8 members of the Grey Company and old Markos. Stephan, Taras and Bahaznic are coming along from the homestead and 10 refugees that had been staying at Susikyn have opted to tag along for safety on the way back to civilization.
There are a total of 26 white horses of Pytor’s to be sold and the Company is currently in possession of 10 more horses recovered from previous encounters. Pytor loads you up with as much food and supplies as he can spare and gives you a sack of coins with which to buy some more at the Gnome’s Ferry. He estimates you can cover 10-15 miles a day at best, though suggests that you may not make it that far every day depending on the weather, terrain and other complications. “If you keep the wagon hitched to four and switch them out from time to time, that would do better for you and help keep you rolling,” he suggests. He also says that he does not mind using the white horses as pack animals from time to time, he warns against using them as draft beasts. “The white ones are spirited, they won’t look kindly to being hitched up to the wagon. It’s not good for them, they aren’t built for it. The horses you have should do fine with pulling, though,” he shares.
Griffin rides easily, a crossbow in his hands. His mind is on the mystery of the tapestry and the wizard Golthar. He was searching for the tapestry, and had the clout to send out savage goblins to raid the settlements in the Dymrak Forest. Not a foe to be underestimated. His escape probably meant that they would meet him again - this big a project was not abandoned at the first obstacle.
But if we have the needle and the tapestry, he’ll have to come to us to find out what he needs. Great…
Griffin starts trying to figure out what they might expect in the days ahead. They need to protect the tapestry, perhaps even make copies of the magical map it contains. Perhaps they could leave it with the Elves in Rifflian. How would the mage find the map again? He’d have to ask Remar and Ariadne about that.
Marcel shakes his head. He really wanted to head to Kelvin for all this wilderness was starting to drive him insane. Many times while on the cusp of death, he had had a vision of returning to the city and ask Shaumaine for her hand. He wasn’t sure anymore, but still, he wanted to head back to the city and spend a few days without the stench of a campfire and the threat of being pooped on by foul bats.
The company left without much fanfare. Many seemed deep into their own thoughts. Marcel wondered how much gold he’d have to work with when all accounts were settled and done. Not that he cared enough to turn into an accountant himself, but a few ideas were brewing in his mind.
While riding ahead with the company members, he stared at the tired silver on his spear tip. He complained to the others that if they were to travel some more, it should be in more comfort that they did. He was thinking of hiring 1-3 camp hands, and enough equipment to sleep and eat more like officers than grunts.
Marcel keeps his eyes out on some of the other folk traveling with them, hoping that maybe some of them might have what it takes. A few of the young men, 2 lumber men and one teen from Cherkass seem like they could handle themselves well. Sen, Rood and Esir are all eager to learn from the Warlock Marcel, and they follow closely behind him.
Draven commiserated with Marcel on this return to the field once more before a return to Kelvin. Having endured so much recently, he wanted little more than to confer with his superiors and perhaps bring back a handful of other faithful to help secure a foothold on these hinterlands. And maybe, if the gods were kind and he had returned to the fold, a bit of restoration for his missing hand. Of late, it seemed less a badge of his courage and commitment than a hinderance to his goals.
Perhaps, though, this change of plans was in line with the desires of those self-same gods - a chance to redeem himself further.
Draven finds that several of the Traladaran refugees that are tagging along are very open and eager to hear the stories of his Church. They ask questions and make many comparisons between his Patrons and the Traladaran Three. This conversation does much to take the young priests mind off of his own personal hardships and help keep him focused on helping others overcome their own.
The members of the Grey Company lead the horses away from Susikyn, through the forest. Stephan eagerly moves from member to member, going on about heading north after Rifllian to search for whatever lay at the end of this tapestry map. Iris thinks it is all very exciting and she spends much time talking with Stephan about the possibilities She thinks it could be something from the Taymoran, Nithian, Traldar or Hutaakan civilizations, based on the patterns on the tapestry, probably Hutaakan or Traldar. She pats the carved bone scroll case that is in her pouch and says, “That reminds me, I need to check with Griffin on this scroll.”
Griffin keeps an ear toward Iris and Stephan’s conversation. The names sound familiar, from his father’s tales of the Star of Sairalinde. Wouldn’t it be funny if what started out as a simple job herding horses could eventually lead him to answers. Maybe even the Star itself!
Iris rides up and asks Griffin if he thinks it is ok to open the scroll case. It does not appear to be magical in anyway, but being cautious is never a bad idea. He takes it from her and promises to check it out when they stop next. “Be careful with it,” she adds, “it’s contents may be very old and fragile. I would hate to lose whatever treasure it holds due to mishandling.” He nods at her and tucks it in his belt.
The first leg of the drive should get the horses up to Misha’s ferry. Hopefully nothing unexpected falls in their path. Most of the first day is spent figuring out how a horse drive actually works.
All the extra horses makes even simple riding a challenge, and not everyone manages to be very useful at helping to wrangle the horses. Fortunately, there are no major mishaps and just as night begins to fall, the lead riders spot the break in the trees ahead that signal Misha’s Ferry. The moon is just a sliver of silver in the sky and does not help light up the area at all, only the recently set sun gives any light to see by. The sound of the river can be heard up ahead. Everyone is hot and tired, covered in sweat. Working the horse train was hard but the heat kept rising and rising all day, almost to the point of being unbearable. The shade from the forest and the strong winds saved the day, and the cool waters of the river are calling to Human and horse alike.
Traveling light, leaving the horses to carry his heavy armor and shield, Draven still suffered under the heat. Talking himself hoarse to the various Traladarans about their faith and trying to chivvy them towards the truth didn’t help, for all that he caught them looking askance at his ideas more often than not.
A Pointed Welcome
As the lead horses begin cresting the rise approaching Misha’s ferry, the wind stops blowing for a moment. Nearly at the same time, Griffin, Marcel, Draven and Ree reach for their weapons and go on the defensive. “Ambush!” Draven yells out as Marcel points his spear toward the trees to the right as a volley of arrows flies out from the trees. One strikes Marcel’s shield while Burik cries out as one hits him and he falls from his horse. Several more arrows find marks at the rear of the line as well. Iris is thrown from her horse as 2 arrows strike the beast. It rears and then bolts once it’s rider is down. Several of the white horses begin to whinney and stamp their feet, though Taras, Bahaznic and Stephan do their best to keep them calm. Some movement can be seen in the darkened trees to the right of the road, just a handful of yards into the forest.
|The horse caravan is ambushed|
Marcel, unsure whether the ambush is a misunderstanding or not, feels his blood boil. He motions the bulk of the convoy to gain the cover beyond the crest while he rallies his fighting friends for a proper, dispassionate, reaction.
Keeping an eye out for rogue arrows he faces the archers with defiance.
“Show yourself!”, he barks with a rasp in his voice.
Griffin sees Marcel’s action and started thinking. Either they obey, which is unlikely, or they’re reloading, which means that Marcel is about to draw a lot of fire. Great.
He urges his mount forward, around the front of the herd, bringing up his crossbow and scanning the trees for a target, any target.
As soon as the refugees realize what is going on, most of them scramble into the forest off to the left and behind the wagon. The three young men that Marcel had singled out, though, step up, hoping to prove their worth in the eyes of the Grey Company.
Ree urges her horse up toward where Iris fell, hoping to help her friend to safety. Akaios tries to push his horse through the herd toward the fallen Burik but he is unable to get his mount to cross the line. Standing up on the front bench of the wagon, Remar starts chanting a magical spell.
Marcel and the Greenies
Marcel had hoped for a stream of frazzled refugees to come out of the wood, but didn’t wait for long before he slips down to the ground and motion Sen, Rood, and Esir to follow him. He plans to draw the attackers attention while the others scramble.
“Eight eyes in the underbrush. Keep low, don’t be a target and watch my flanks.”, he orders the kids.
|Marcel engages the enemy with his three protegees|
The four shuffle off the path following Marcel’s lead. Marcel, they proceed forward, pretty much as Marcel had envisioned: maximum field of view, minimal exposure. Marcel is ready to let out a startling warcry when he is exposed.
Marcel and his boy soldiers move into the woods, skirting around a large rock. As they get into the trees, the light from Marcel’s shield and the torch Sen is holding up above his head reveals two dark clad figures crouching in the trees. They both loose arrows at the approaching warriors. One comes straight at Marcel and he brings his shield up in time, the arrow thunking into the wood of his shield. Esir tries to dodge the other pointy projectile but fails and lets out a sharp cry as the point rips through his clothing.
Marcel seize the opportunity while the bows are unready and call for a charge: shield first, spear at the ready, hoping to close in for a devastating strike while the warrior (lower one) is readying a weapon. He indicates to the other to gang up and swarm the rightmost bandit.
“On your knees, silly boy!”, he shouts to the warrior facing him as close the gap to his foe.
|Esir and Sen are eager to prove their worth|
Over on the other side of the large tree, Marcel shouts at the warrior, telling him to kneel down on the ground. The warrior looks at him strangely, then throws his bow down and draws his sword, stepping up toward Marcel and Rood. Esir and Sen both charge forward toward the other warrior, who has also drawn his blade, discarding his bow on the forest floor.
Back toward the rear of the train, Draven wheels his horse around and cuts across the front of the wagon, heading toward where Iris fell off her horse.
Marcel steps forward and wait for the miscreant to enter his reach.
The warrior charges Marcel, howling loudly. As he steps inside the reach of the spear, Marcel launches his attack, connecting with his shield but missing with his spear. The warrior continues his attack, bringing his short sword down, trying to slash at Marcel’s neck in an all out attack! The seemingly berserk attack goes wide, missing everything. Rood swings his club at the attacking fighter and connects solidly across his back. The other savagely attacks Esir, hitting him across the shoulder and cutting him deeply. The young lumberjack, already wounded from the arrow graze, wobbles and falls to the ground. Sen stares at his comrade wide eyed and takes a step back, away from his opponent.
The sounds of yelling and fighting mingle with the cries of frightened horses from the rear of the train. Remar can be heard shouting some magical words then a whooshing sound and a bright orange light indicates some sort of successful fire magic being cast.
Marcel, seeing that the bandit has lowered his defense, make clean and deliberate with a strong and committed dual-attack to his face.
Marcel's spear goes wide but his glowing shield smashes his opponent square in the face. The enraged swordsman lets out a sickening grunt then crumbles to the forest floor, unconscious.
Marcel doesn’t let the momentum dies down and proceeds to the other warrior to its rear aspect to trip him to the ground so that his proteges can finish him off.
|Marcel spots another bandit further in the woods.|
Marcel steps over his downed opponent and starts fighting his way through the forest toward the other one. He signals to Rood to move as well. As Marcel makes his way through the bushes, he sees a movement off to his left, further back in the forest. He spies another figure, the light from his glowing shield glints off of chainmail armor. The figure takes a step further back into the forest as Marcel’s light reveals him.
The other warrior leaps forward and viciously attacks the startled Sen. The young boy leaps backward, away from the strike and manages to avoid being hit but trips over a root and falls, dropping his torch on the forest floor.
Marcel sets his eyes on the Reaver coming from the dark corner of the woods. He steps forward, scans the surrounding beyond for more foes rather than to dash into the underbrush blindly.
As the reaver moves back, he quickly steps sideways and sweep the remaining brigand in hope to give the kids a fighting chance.
|Marcel takes a tumble|
Marcel sweeps his spear shaft, hoping to knock the legs out from under his opponent. He hits the man in his shins and he makes no effort to avoid the strike but somehow still manages to keep his feet. The raider turns his attention away from Rood and makes a wild slash at Marcel’s face with his shortsword. Marcel steps back and brings up his shield to protect against the blow. The blade clangs loudly against the shield and as Marcel steps back, his foot catches on a root. He loses his balance and falls backward into the foliage.
Hoping to aid his new mentor, Rood swings his club at the savage bandit in a very obvious overhand strike. The club hits the man on the shoulder solidly. This draws a growl and the attention of the brigand. Nearby, Sen pulls himself to his feet, raising his torch back up above his head.
Marcel jumps back to his feet as fast as he can and strikes the warrior to its vitals with his spear.
As Marcel starts scrambling to his feet, the Hound slashes viciously at Rood. The boy leaps back, desperately trying to avoid the strike. He manages to stay out of the way of the blade, but he stumbles and falls to the ground. Sen comes to Rood’s aid and lunges forward, swinging his club at the brigand, hitting him on the collarbone. The bandit makes no attempt to defend himself at all and Marcel can hear the sound of bone breaking from the blow. The warrior lets out a guttural howl and slashes at Sen’s face as Marcel finally climbs to his feet. The blow misses, much to Sen’s delight and the boy swings his club again, this time missing as well. Marcel, on his feet now, steps to his left, directly behind the Hound and rams his spear home. He grunts as he drives the spear into the brigand’s back, pushing so hard, that he feels the tip puncture through his chest on the other side. The man goes limp and falls forward, nearly pulling the spear from Marcel’s hands. Rood and Sen look on in horror. Rood takes a step back and leans on the large rock there while Sen turns and vomits all over himself. He drops down to the forest floor and begins weeping quietly. Marcel quickly looks the two young men over and sees that they are not hurt. The third recruit, Esir, on the other hand, is bloody from other wounds.
“There are more.”, Marcel intones. He motions Sen and Rood to keep a watchful eye while he assesses Esir’s wound. In the distance he hears Griffin congratulating everyone as the rumble of battle dies down.
Marcel is unsure of the situation at the other end of the caravan, but is concerned about Esir’s bleeding. He rips a strip of cloth from the yellow cloth that he has taken from Xitaqa and applies a fast tourniquet. The bleeding slows to a trickle.
He approaches the others.
“This is not exactly what I had in mind by camp hands. But you are a tough bunch.” Sen wipes the vomit off his lap.
“It may not feel like it right now.”, he offers his waterskin to Sen. Searches something comforting to say: “You should have seen my pants the first time that I was in a fight.”
The two chuckle but are left wondering whether this was a joke or a confession.
“I’m going to bring Draven over. Esir isn’t looking great right now. Keep an eye on the kid.”
He then heads for the rear of the caravan.
The Griffin and the Hound
While Marcel ran off into the undergrowth with his three amigos, Griffin angled his mount into the woods, around the large tree that no doubt was providing great cover for the ambushers. I wonder if the mage Golthar is here. I’d love to tidy up that loose end. He keeps his crossbow trained on the area behind the tree, hoping to get a free shot before having to engage.
|Griffin moves into position|
As Griffin maneuvers his horse into the forest, the creature balks a bit at stepping into unknown, dark undergrowth. It whinneys and snorts loudly. Up ahead and to his right, Griffin can see that Marcel and the boys have moved off into the forest, but the wide tree ahead of him blocks the entire area. As he peers into the foliage, he sees two shadowy forms detach from the tree. One, an ugly, dark skinned fellow, points at Griffin and commands, “Get ‘em, hound!” while the other rushes forward swinging a shortsword over his head! The man reminds Griffin of the other warriors they have encountered recently, aggressive and not overly concerned with defense.
Recognizing the greater threat, Griffin fires at the bandit barking orders. Then he drops his crossbow and whips out his sword to defend himself from the charging ‘hound.’
|Griffin engages the "Hound"|
Griffin’s bolt flies true to its target. The ugly man, now appearing to be maybe something less than full blooded Human grunts and slides back behind the tree. The other warrior charges and swings his blade wildly at Griffin and misses!
Griffin takes a long wind-up and launches a powerful blow at the maniac in front of him. He targets the neck, hoping to put the minion down quickly so he could follow his leader.
As Griffin’s blade flashes in, the Hound’s eyes go wide and a spray of blood hits Griffin, covering his blade, arm body. The Hound goes down to the ground. Up ahead, the mail clad warrior leaps from behind the tree and charges Griffin. The warrior, clearly a Human with strong Orcish blood, wields an axe and wears chainmail and a cloak.
|A Half-Orc warrior steps up to battle with Griffin|
The young Thyatian braces for the rush, waiting for the bandit to close before releasing a slash at the thug’s torso, a swift blow he hopes will catch it off-guard.
The Half-Orc steps up, moving with the steady, paced movements of a skilled warrior, not like the erratic, aggressive charge of the Hound. As he moves into attack range, Griffin’s sword slashes out. The Half-Orc tries to block it with his small shield, but fails and Griffin feels the tip of his sword slash through the chain, if only barely. The Half-Orc growls and swings his axe, trying to chop Griffin down, but he misses.
Griffin retaliates with a chop at the foe’s arm as it flashes past, hoping to cripple his arm, but the bandit brings up his shield in time. He snarls as he swings his axe low, trying to take out Griffin’s leg. Griffin dances back and brings his own shield down deflecting the blow towards the ground, but the half-Orc steps in, pressing the attack! Hoping to change the tempo of the engagement, Griffin slashes back hard and fast, practically pushing his blade past his foe’s defenses. He smiles grimly as his sword bites deeply into his opponent’s side, then says, “Come get some more, ugly!"
The half-Orc looks to be off-balance from the blow, but still growls and launches a mighty blow, right at Griffin’s neck! He scrambles backward, trying to bring up his shield in time, but he can tell it will be too late. Just then, his foot slips on a leaf, slick with the blood of his foe, and he loses his balance, just for a split second! His eyes widen in relief as the axe passes just under his chin.
Griffin swallows and tries not to flinch as he senses several of the horses running behind him. The half-Orc’s attention flicks to them for just a moment, but the young rogue sees it and seizes the opportunity. He quickly throws another blow at the thug, his muscles screaming as he brings his blade around. The bandit’s eyes lock on his as he tries to bring up his shield, but he knows he is too late. Griffin’s sturdy blade (one he got from a bandit months before) proves up to the task, and it chops into the half-Orc’s ribs with a wet sound. The foe’s eyes roll up, and he drops to the forest floor. Get a move on, son, there’s bound to be more where that came from. Breathing heavily from the exertion of putting down such a sturdy foe, Griffin dashes back up the trail to see how his friends are faring.
Griffin hustles back to the path to see quite a few of the horses bolting past him, heading toward the rivers edge ahead. Up ahead, he sees Stephan herding in a handful of horses at the head of the rest of the train, he is dismounted and holding on to his own horse and what looks like the mount Marcel had been riding, using them both to stop the remaining horses from running past. Griffin sees his own horse has joined the running horses.
Straining his eyes to see the other end of the caravan, Griffin can make out some action coming from the rear of the train. A occasional flash of eldritch light indicates that Remar is still active, blasting at his foes, hopefully with some success. Off to his left, near where Stephan is herding the horses, he can see some lights in the trees and can hear Marcel barking orders at his three subordinates.
He nears Stephan, who appears to have things under control here and runs on past, hoping that Marcel and the three boys are not in too much trouble in the trees.
After a few more seconds, Griffin reaches Akaios and Burik. The big man is standing over Burik and another of the “Hounds” lays next to him, bleeding profusely from a large gaping wound in his side. Burik is sitting up and Griffin sees an arrow sticking out of his shoulder. Akaios is attempting to help him, trying to stop the bleeding.
Griffin runs past and sees Bahaznic off of his horse, holding two riding horses like his father was back at the head of the line. Just past Bahaznic, Griffin spies Taras on foot, covered in dirt as if he had been rolling around in the dirt. The legs of one of the bandits can be seen sticking out from beneath some of the horses he is herding.
|Lots of action around the Grey Company's wagon|
Finally, after what seemed like running forever, Griffin arrives at the rear of the train. He sees Markos crouched up on the driver seat of the wagon, trying to keep the horses calm. Draven is standing near Iris and Ree. Remar stands nearby, crouched and carefully watching the treeline. He brings up his hands in a throwing motion when Griffin comes skidding in. “Oh, you,” he says with a gasp. Two “Hounds” lay in the dirt nearby, both bearing burn marks and various other wounds.
Gathering the Horses, Tracks and the Wounded
“Everyone okay?” He asks the group, but his eyes search out Ariadne first. She nods once. “Burik took an arrow. Draven? And Marcel is still off in the weeds with his team. We need to round up the horses and the other refugees. Draven, can I borrow your mount? I’ll start trying to help Stephan.” Without really waiting for an answer, Griffin vaults into the saddle. He looks down at the two dead “Hounds.” “Nice work, folks.”
From his perch in the saddle, Griffin puts two fingers to his lips and whistles loudly. He bellows into the woods to the east, “All clear folks! C’mon back!”
As the other folk come slinking cautiously out of the woods, Marcel can be heard calling for help up ahead.
“We need a healer here!”, Marcel shouts. Waving his shield up to draw the attention of the men congregated around the cart.
Draven does a quick look over everyone at the rear of the train. Ree took a minor cut from one of the Hounds and Iris got bruised up from her fall from the horse, but nothing serious. After Marcel’s call for help, Akios calls out as well, “Burik took an arrow. Looks nasty. He needs healing as well!”
Markos looks around, very calm in this chaotic situation. “Come on, now, let’s stay calm, everyone. Bandits in the forest, not the first time on this endeavor, not the last, I’ll reckon. The Grey Company has laid them on their backs, as usual. We’re at the ferry, lets get the wounded up and into old Misha’s cabin. We can get the horses secure and set up watches.” He urges the wagon forward with a hiya. The white herd of horses begins to part then falls into place, following behind. Stephan, Taras and Bahaznic begin moving the rest of the herd forward toward the clearing on the hill in front of Misha’s cabin. “Somebody might want to check that cabin out first, though, just in case.” He smiles meekly as he realizes that maybe that should have been done before moving everyone in that direction.
Griffin rides ahead of the group, looking for Marcel and his own horse. When he gets back to the scene of his own battle, he snaps his fingers. He dismounts and disappears around a large tree, soon reappears dragging an unconscious half-Orc. He waits for Markos and the wagon.
Griffin can hear Marcel and the boys nearby and can see their light dancing about the forest. The horses move past his position and eventually the wagon and the others move up. Draven heads off into the woods, looking for Marcel and the boys. While Griffin pushes the unconscious Half-Orc into the back of the wagon, he sees Draven, Marcel and the boys come out of the trees. One of the boys, Esir, is being propped between Marcel and Draven. He looks to be quite wounded. Draven looks at Griffin shoving the Half-Orc into the wagon then shrugs. “Oh, you put him in there? I was hoping to let this fella ride in there. Oh well, we will help him up to the cabin. It’s not too far now.”
Griffin nods approvingly. “I’m hoping we can get this fellow to do some talking, but he’s in no shape to do so right now. I figure he’s pretty tough, but when you’ve done what you can for the others, I’d like you to take a look at him.” He glances at the bloody chainmail. “I beat him up pretty good, and we don’t want him expiring before we’ve had that talk.”
Griffin gives Draven back his horse, perhaps for Esir to ride, and sets off on foot again to clean up. He’s looking for horses, bandit bodies, bandits that aren’t yet bodies that we might have overlooked, his dropped crossbow, that sort of thing.
“There are more out there.” Marcel states ominously. I saw another one. A more clever looking bandit.
Marcel heads back to the spot where he had seen the other mail clad bandit crouching in the forest. There are definite foot prints here, several sets of booted footprints mar the damp earth. It looks as if more than one person congregated here recently, tracks lead in several directions toward the trail and one set leads away, mingling with multiple tracks that converged here from somewhere further in the forest. Ree takes a look at the tracks and confirms what Marcel is thinking. “This must be where the bandits planned, then spread out to attack us. These guys are just like the previous ones we have battled. They have the manacles on their arms. The Half-Orc carried several pairs of manacles on his belt as well.” Marcel thinks out loud. The easy-to-follow track leads to the north. Marcel, Ree and Akaios follow them for a few minutes until they lead down into the wide creek that follows the trail back to Susikyn. “Should we cross and look for tracks on the other side?” Ree asks Marcel. Akaios looks around, keeping his heavy axe at the ready. Marcel decides against a night-time tracking party but instead notes the location and leads the others back to the cabin.
Back at Misha’s Ferry, the cabin is once again found to be empty, though there are some signs that it has been inhabited fairly recently. Griffin gathers up his dropped crossbow and gathers up the cheap shortswords that the Hounds had been using, as well as collecting their cheap long knives, 15 Coronas off of each of them and strips a few of them of their armor as well, hoping the three boys can make use of it. He also gathers the axe and shield of the Half Orc in addition to his pouch. Three of the seven Hounds were dead, but the other 4 were only unconscious, though sure to die from their wounds eventually if left unattended. He contemplated what to do with them. He notes that it did not seem that anyone else checked them before moving on.
After gathering up the stuff, Griffin headed back toward the Ferry. Draven was in the cottage patching up the wounded, utilizing his mundane skills as best that he could before relying on magical healing. Stephan, Bahaznic and Taras all had the horses under control. Fortunately none were missing. They had all run until they reached the river then stopped for a cool drink. The horses seemed relaxed and comfortable now and Griffin and Markos helped the others string up some lines to form a makeshift corral.
Griffin seems lost in thought as he works with Marcos to corral the horses. After they finish, he grabs one of the Hound’s padded armors, one that is probably too shredded to be of use to Marcel’s recruits. He briefly lets Draven know that he’s going out, probably for a few hours, but will be nearby if they need him.
Taking the armor, he tears it into strips and makes his way to the four unconscious hounds. They seem pretty beat up, but he does his best with the improvised bandages. After his first aid, he leaves them in a group with a note.
You live at the grace of the Grey Company. Cross us again at your peril.
Griffin returns to the cabin at the ferry, It’s dark by now, and the stars are black against the night sky. Inside the building it is quiet. He grabs some food and settles into a corner to eat and think. He starts mulling the recent events, which reminds him of the scroll case he carries.
“Iris, you wanted to take a look at this. Now’s as good a time as any.” With great care, Griffin opens the scroll case and extracts it’s contents.
The scroll tube opens with a quiet pop and an old smell permeates the area. Looking into the end of the tube, Griffin can see a thick roll of parchment, it’s edges dry and old. “Be careful with that,” Iris intones, sounding just a bit more like a command than a suggestion. Smirking, Griffin slides the paper out carefully and lets it lay on the table. The parchment is incredibly dry and old and keeps its rolled up shape even after being extracted from the tube. “Hmm,” muses Iris, “I may have some tricks to get this thing unrolled safely. If you force it open, it will probably crack and crumble. Thanks for opening it for me.” She carefully slides the scroll back into the tube and puts the top back on. “Sometimes these things are trapped or worse.” She smiles at Griffin and tilts her head to the side as she moves away, presumably to further examine the contents of the scroll.
The hour is getting late and the little cabin of Misha’s is quite crowded. A mother with 2 children and the few wounded folk are sleeping inside. Everyone else is expected to sleep outside with the horses.
Some crude tents and lean-to have been erected near the house. The horses seem to have settled in ok and the ferry floats quietly in the water at the river’s edge waiting to be used the next day. It is estimated that no more than 3 horses will be able to be ferried at a time. The wagon might be a more difficult proposition. It looks like it will barely fit on the ferry raft, but it’s weight might be difficult. At best it will take much of the day to get all the nearly 40 horses and wagon across the river.
Ask No Questions and Tell No Lies
Griffin fixes his kit next to the cabin. Akaios has built a fire in front of the porch, and some of the team and some of the refugees were sitting up, talking quietly and laughing. Normally, he would be there, trying to get a card game going. Now he needs some time to think, to plan their next day, ways to make ferrying the horses over quickly and safely. So he picks a spot near the path down to the river, on the side of the cabin nearest the horses.
Damn, this was a day. Those cursed bandits! How did they know to look for us here? He gulps. Unless this Golthar character is using magic to find us. And how many henchmen does he have? I have way more questions than answers. He looks over at his recent foe, the Reaver. Maybe Ugly has some answers. Griffin checks the half-Orc prisoner, making sure that his bonds are tight and the big thug is still breathing.
“Hey, Marcel, Draven? Think we can wake up Ugly over there long enough to get some answers? I’d really like to know what the heck is going on with this wizard.”
Draven curls his lip up at the question and Griffin hears him mutter something like “...never suffer an Orc...” or something like that. Marcel grabs a bucket of water and throws it in the Half Orc’s face. He sputters and spits then looks around wildly as the Traladaran yanks him to his feet and leads him over to where Griffin is. The Half Orc is still quite wounded, despite Griffin’s attempt at bandaging his wounds. He snarls at Griffin and this makes Marcel laugh and roughly push the prisoner to the ground.
Draven gets up and dusts himself off. Then he speaks a loud and angry prayer to Vanya, the Grey Lady. “I trust you will deal with him when you are done? I shall have no further part in this. May the Inquisitor guide your questions. He casually brushes his hand across the Half Orc’s mail shoulder then walks away to check up on Burik and Eris. He had held off on his divine healing earlier, trusting in the other healing skills he possessed. After he takes a few steps away and the Half Orc is looking back at Griffin and Marcel, Draven nods his head toward the prisoner and raises an eyebrow then turns and goes inside.
Griffin hunkers down until he and the bandit are eye to eye. “Okay, I’m getting pretty tired of you bastards. Who are you? Where do you come from? What’s with the manacles?” He leans in close, almost whispering, “And where is that son of a bitch Golthar?”
“I am Boors, of Fort Doom. The manacles are for taking slaves, stupid ass. That is what the Iron Ring does. We are slavers!” He snarls as he speaks then stops and a confused look crosses his face. He grits his large, Orcish teeth and clamps his mouth shut.
The young Thyatian pokes the half-Orc in the ribs, right about where he landed a very telling blow earlier only hours earlier. “Iron Ring? What’s that? And you still haven’t told me where to find Golthar, you worm!”
“I’m not scared of you. I’m much more scared of Golthar!” he spits out. “The last I saw Golthar, he was at the camp, out on the moor.” Again the Half Orc looks surprised at his words.
Griffin leans back, grinning. “You see, you can’t resist us. Is there anything else you think we ought to know?”
The Half-Orc grits his teeth and just glares at Griffin, saying nothing. Marcel pushes Griffin to the side then knocks the Half Orc over. He jumps down on top of him and crouches down, right in his face. “You are scared of that yellow robed coward? I am Marcel Maas, Warlock of the Moor! You will tell us what you know!”
Boors sneers at Marcel then spits out as he laughs at him. “Ha, warlock. Right. Golthar will teach you what a true wizard can do. You know nothing! He has gone back to Kelvin to gather the others. He sent us out to find you. Hermann will report back tomorrow and then Golthar will know! He will find you and follow you directly to where he wants to go!” The Half Orc lunges forward, smashing his wide, greyish forehead directly into Marcel’s face. Marcel reels back and Boors falls to the ground, unconscious again. Across the campfire, Akaios lets out a loud “oooohhh” in Marcel’s direction.
Griffin swears. “Marcel, didn’t you mention a more clever looking bandit before? I think that might be this Hermann fellow. It’s been several hours since the fight. Think we could still catch him?” He gazes out into the blackness.
Marcel shakes his head and winces as he is holding his nose, trying to stop the nosebleed. “We tracked hib to the creek. He could have god adywhere from there.”
Griffin swears again. “Well that’s just what we need.” He pauses for a moment. “We’ll need to get an early start tomorrow, maybe get ahead of these guys. But dragging all these horses and refugees along is going to slow us down.” He sighs. “But nothing we can do about that - got a job to finish.”
He calls Akaios away from the fire. “Need a hand here, old friend.” He grabs the feet of the unconscious half-Orc and waits for the big man to pick up the other end. “He’s made it clear he’s not worth keeping alive any more. Let’s get him out into the woods a ways - don’t want to scare the horses or the civilians.” Akaios nods, and they disappear into the darkness. Soon they are back around the campfire, short one half-Orc. Griffin realizes that he has a short time left traveling with his old friend, so he forces himself to join in the lively chatter around the fire. Eventually, after setting the watches for the night, he seeks out his bedroll. For a change, he thinks he will have little trouble falling asleep.
Cries in the Night
Marcel shook Griffin by the shoulder. “Griffin, hey, are you awake? Oh, good, you are awake. Did you hear that just now?” the Traladaran asks, whispering loudly to him. Groggily, Griffin sat up and rubbed his eyes. It was still very dark. The fire was low. The only sounds he could hear were the horses sleeping, the river flowing past, the wind in the trees above. And Akaios snoring. He could definitely hear that.
“Hmm? Wha? Marcel, I don’t hear anything. Aside from Akaios, and you should be familiar with that by now.” Shaking his head, he sits up. “Why? What did you hear?”
He shakes his head again. “Wait a minute, is it that dang bear?” Griffin climbs to his feet and grabs his crossbow. “We can’t have it bothering the horses.”
Just then, the sound echoes through the night, traveling through the trees from some distance. It started out low and growly, then went into a high pitched wail before ending in mid-range warble. It sounded like no bear Griffin had ever heard. No animal at all, in fact. The horses caught the sound this time. Some of them began snickering and stamping the ground. Griffin got up and the two companions walked to the north, away from the cabin and clearing, listening carefully in the night. They walked a ways into the woods, almost to the little creek, which was nothing more than a wide pool formed from overflow from the river. The sound came again, this time it was a bit longer, and without the higher pitched sound in the middle. The warbly end stretched out and then trailed off. Then silence. The wind had stopped blowing. The river could only barely be heard here, amongst the trees, and the horses were far enough distant that they could not be heard either. The sound did not come again. Marcel and Griffin waited for another 10 minutes or so quietly before heading back to camp.
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