January 30 - February 11, 2015
Across the Moor
Moldain 28th of Flaurmont
Crossing the RiverThe next morning comes with no further incident, though Griffin is still a bit tired from being woken up in the middle of the night. The intense heat of the previous day seems to have gone away, though it still proves to be warm. A cool breeze blows in off of the river and the sound of many birds fills the air around Misha’s Ferry.
Draven and Remar finish up with a little bit of minor healing for the folks that had sustained more serious injuries the previous evening. Everyone is all healed up and at full strength. It is going to take many hours to get all the horses and wagon across the river, easily half the day, and the whole day would not be out of the question. After a quick bite to break the fast, everyone quickly gets to work on preparing the horses, wagon, gear and raft for the crossing.
Griffin lets Stephan and the Susikyn homesteaders take the lead in organizing the horses, while he and the Grey Company focus on security on both sides of the river. Most of the team moves early to the other side of the river, particularly Marcel and his squad, and Iris and Ree. Burik takes tail-end charlie, and Griffin lends help as needed with either watch or horses, since he has skills for both.
Marcel bumbles around for most of the day but the whole thing is going a bit over his head. He hangs around for a while but his presence doesn't appears to be making things better. He decides to take a step back and observe the others who seems to know what they are doing, sitting on the sideline, chewing on a twig.
Despite the good weather, the river crossing does not go as smoothly as desired and the event takes nearly the whole day. Once all the people, horses and wagon are across the river, there are only a few hours of light left remaining. It was thought that some travel could have been managed, but Marcel had mistakenly began setting camp just up the hill from the ferry and by the time the group was ready to move, too many supplies had already been unloaded. Stephan seems a bit perturbed but his anxiety is soothed a bit by Griffin when he tells him that he believes that the weather should hold for at least a few days.
A Pain in the AssAs camp is being set up, Griffin, Draven and Marcel are doing a walk around the perimeter, talking about some logistics for the upcoming trek across the moor, hoping to get everyone on the same page. As they walk past some of the horses, Griffin notices something wrong with one of them. He goes over to check and sees a large leathery protrusion on the horse’s flank. The horse stomps it’s feet a few times and shakes it’s head, snorting a few times. Griffin steps to look closer and sees that it is the folded wings of a stirge attached to the backside of the white horse. Griffin quickly does a scan of some other nearby horses and sees a few more stirges as well, all attached and sucking the lifeblood out of their horses!
With nothing but a mace and a calling that precludes bladed weapons, Draven feels certain that he has little to offer, but points out the other stirges to his compatriots. He readies his mace anyway, with hope that he can bludgeon one of the stirges if they choose to take flight rather than being slaughtered on the horses’ backs.
Some hope that Chardastes and D’jaea are on speaking terms right now, that my healing gift might take root on the horses once we purge them of the blight of the stirges.
Griffin mutters something about “rain pouring”, then stomps off. He returns a few minutes later with Stephan. He points to the stirge. “Normally, I’d just slice ‘em off and stomp on them, but I want to make sure whatever we do doesn’t hurt the horses.” Or their sale value, of course. “Got any suggestions?”
|blood sucking Stirges|
Griffin slaps Marcel’s hand away from the feasting stirge, making the horse flinch. “Dude, hold on a minute. Stephan? You must have seen this before - is that the best way to get them off?” He turns back to Marcel. “I don’t want to hurt the horses if we don’t need to. If we hurt their coats, they might be worth less when we get to Rifflian!”
Marcel thought that Griffin meant not to skewer them in place with his spear. Seeing that his sense of initiative is unappreciated, he backs down and looking to Stephan.
Stephan frowns when he sees the blood-sucking creatures affixed to the horses. “Yea, that’s a problem,” he sighs. “Happens every time. These damned things breed on the moor. Can’t get away from ‘em. I sure never thought we’d have to deal with em the first night. You can get these little ones off pretty easy. The bigger ones can be a bit of a problem though. Here, lemmie show ya.” He steps up grabs one with his thumb and forefinger right at the base of its skull. “Ya push up, like this, with your thumb muscle, here on the left side. That stops it from swallowing the blood, makes it easier to pull out. Then hold the horses flank where the sucker goes in and slide it out.” He carefully removes the stirge, which immediately begins thrashing in his hand. “Next ya gotta kill it. Snap its neck, cut it, stomp on it. Whatever, though I suggest you move away from the horses before doing it, otherwise it might spook ‘em even more. These things have some sort of numbing toxin in their beaks. Sometimes the horses don’t even feel ‘em there. Usually they get worked up when they see one on the next horse’s ass!” He clenches and twists his wrist which produces a wet snapping sound, like breaking a carrot in half. The stirge’s wings stop immediately and he tosses the thing aside. He moves to the next horse and begins the process of removing the parasite.
Griffin moves to the opposite side of the herd and commences stirge patrol.
Need Moor FlowersIn all, about 10 stirges were removed from the horses. Upon removing the stirges, the wounds begin to bleed considerably. Taras instructs everyone to staunch the wounds with a handful of mossy mud and then asks if anyone has any type of knowledge of the certain plants that are found in the moors. Iris says she is familiar with the plantlife of the Moor. Taras explains that a certain combination of plants grown locally will not only help heal the horse’s wounds and stop the bleeding, but it will help keep the stirges away. “I was going to start looking for the stuff necessary once we got traveling across the moor, but since we just crossed the river today, I haven’t had the time,” Taras says. “While everyone else works on camp, I am going to go looking. We need a fair amount. Will any of you help me?” he asks.
Burik and Akaios look at each other and shrug. Remar likewise says he would be no help looking for marsh plants and stays in the camp. Iris is eager to join Taras, hoping her knowledge of the area will help. “Well, we better get going, there won’t be much of a moon tonight! We will need torches or other means of light,” he glances at Draven and Remar as he says this.
Griffin shrugs. “I’ll give it a try - maybe I picked up a few things from Eran.
Marcel figures that he would be making a great torch bearer for this expedition, assuming that he considers the camp to be secure in the absence of so many of the company's members. He grabs a torch and unsheathed the light on his shield: "Just call me sunshine... The bearer of light. I'll keep my head up while you guys sift the mud."
|flowers from the Moor|
Once back at the camp, he begins putting together a concoction from the plants that were gathered and then applies them to the horses wounds. “They should be better by the time we get to Rifllian. I hope,” he mutters.
The rest of the dark, moonless night passes quietly and without incident and everyone except Griffin sleeps well and is ready and rested when the sun rises in the morning. Griffin is groggy and tired as he is most mornings, though this morning seems a little more severe.
Nytdain 1st of Yarthmont
To LummAs the new day wakes from darkness, it is clear immediately that it is going to be a good day. The sun warms the air and the morning mist that covers the moor dissipates almost immediately.
Marcel whips up a pot of his famous stew chock full of “Traladaran spices” that he had collected the previous night while out with Taras and the others. He mindlessly hums the tune of the Fairy King of Horses as he goes about his business with the precision of a highly disciplined soldier.
Draven rises and realizes that it is the first day of Yarthmont, dedicated to Chardastes the Healer.
Spends some time going over some of her books, as do Ree and Remar, while the others begin preparing the horses for the drive.
Griffin looks over his map and checks the weather, hoping that the perfect weather holds and they can make good time today. He thinks that they should be able to make it to the ruins of Lumm or even farther if everything goes as planned.
The camp is broken down quickly and the horses are readied for the drive in a timely fashion. Taras says the stirge wounds are looking good and he reapplies a fresh coating of his herbal concoction to them. Everyone else does their part to keep things moving along and for the most part, things go well. And though it has been clear that Iris actually likes horses, she continues to struggle with her share of the horse duties. She does not work well with the animals and sometimes it seems as if she would rather just let someone else take care of her duties. She moves slowly when working with the horses and gets things wrong even after being told and shown how to do things over and over again. The Thyatian girl gets exasperated more than once and nearly walks away from her job several times but always comes back and often times heard apologizing to the horses she was working with, always being as diplomatic as possible with them, as if they could understand her words.
Griffin tries to help Iris in her struggles with the horses, although he’s confused by her difficulties. He just seems to know what’s going on with the beasts as they stomp and whicker and neigh. Still, Never turn down a chance to rescue a pretty girl, as Dad always said. He stays nearby her as they get things ready for the day.
|the white horses|
Once they get rolling, however, he grabs his crossbow and takes point, moving far out ahead of the herd. His mind keeps trying to guess the next step for their foes, Golthar and the Iron Ring. Another ambush? Something else? He chuckles grimly. No wonder I had trouble sleeping last night. Can’t get my brain to turn off. He tries to focus on the task at hand, scanning the moors as they move out on the ancient road towards Lumm and Gnome’s Ferry.
But Griffin’s mind keeps slipping back to the bigger picture. What had the half-Orc said? Golthar was part of a group of slavers called the Iron Ring? Connected with Fort Doom? He’d said “He will find you and follow you directly to where he wants to go!”
What does that mean? Where does Golthar want to go? Griffin thinks back over the past few days. The wizard’s plot ransacking all the homesteads was to find that damned tapestry. He had the needle. The tapestry is a map. So Golthar wants to get to the place the tapestry showed them.
So, should we turn around and head the other way? Golthar will follow us anyway, and either try to kill us or steal the tapestry and needle back. Is there any way to use that? Lure him into a trap? Where could they do that?
In the meantime, what to expect, and how to plan for it? Hide the tapestry and the needle. Separately. Easy. What else? The half-Orc said that Golthar had gone to Kelvin to gather more. How many could there be?
And what was that about a camp on the moor? Griffin trebles his efforts to detect anything out of the ordinary as they continue their way along the road to Lumm.
It is a good day for travel, perfect in fact. Everyone seems to be in wonderful spirits and the horses seem to cooperate quite well. Great time is made across the moors and even the wounded horses seem to be doing better. Just a few hours after lunch, the caravan comes across the ruins of Lumm. Iris seems excited to once again return to the ruins though some of the Traladaran’s in the group seem a little uneasy approaching. Stephan brushes his kinfolk off as being superstitious. “It’s nothing more than a few stones in a field,” is his only comment. Iris proclaims that it is a wonderful place to camp, even though there are several good hours of daylight left for travel.
NotesSpecial thanks to +Muton Z. over at Virtual Tabletop Gaming for his work on the GURPS Dire Stirge, which I have used as the basis for the bloodsucking pest in my game as well!
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