February 1-10, 2016
The Lizard Riders
Lunadain 25 Yarthmont
Welcome to the Neighborhood
The lizard riders start fanning out, the tips of their stone spears pointing at the members of the Grey Company. The stocky, muscular men sneering and making barely comprehensible threats and accusations of murder, pointing to the three dead bodies that lay nearby. Marcel tries to talk to them and struggles even though the language feels very familiar to him. Clearly it is some form of Traladaran with an accent that Marcel has not heard before.
Griffin and Draven both glance over their shoulders back toward the rest of the Company, who can also see the approaching lizard riders. A horse whinnies and several of the lizards and riders scamper off in it’s direction. The horses start to get a little nervous when the giant lizards move up toward them.
“He just keeps saying that we killed them and that we must return the favor,” Marcel says, looking quite confused. “What favor does he want returned?”
Griffin pitches his voice low, while not taking his eyes off the strange lizard riders. “I think they’re going to kill us back, Marcel. Is there any way you can convince them that we didn’t do this? We just got here, our weapons don’t have blood on them, something?” He tries smiling at the riders. “We’re the good guys - see if they can let us show them.”
Sensing that the riders are not getting on well with Marcel’s attempts, Draven steps forward, slowly, and places his mace on the ground in front of him. Straightening up, he addresses the de facto leader, who has been speaking most. “We did not kill. We found your friends like this. Swear on Halav, Petra and Zirchev. Friends, not foes,” he says, choosing the simplest, broadest Traladaran words he can, and recalling his own attempts to learn the benighted language of these hinterlands as a boy. He raises his left hand palm out, and the bandaged right, in what he hopes is a universal gesture of peace.
The lead-most rider leans forward and stares at the Company for a moment then jabs his spear toward them. “Not like them, you,” he shouts. “You no mutts. Where you come?” He waves the tip of his spear around his head, looking around the valley. Marcel and Draven gather up most of his intent while Griffin struggles with only understanding a smattering of the words, seemingly out of context, but some quiet whispers from Marcel keep him in the conversation.
The leader then points back toward the rest of the Company, “Them you be close lived? Bring to them this place now,” while he waves his spear in a motion that indicates he wants the rest of the Company to approach. “No you be no of the mutts. You like us. Have with too much hair on the top but you to help us following and be end of mutts. Close this place they to be! You here you kill and us kill!” He thrusts his spear skyward and shouts a guttural warcry that is taken up by his companions who also pump their spears into the sky!
He then turns and speaks to some of his riders and two of them move off away from the group, heading in opposite directions, leaning low across the backs of their lizard mounts. He then dismounts, as does another rider in the party. The two burly men approach, the leader keeps his spear at the ready while the other man approaches with his hands clasped behind his back. The leader is wearing what looks to be poorly cured leather armor and carrying a stone tipped spear and at his belt he wears a long, curved knife of some sort.
The other man is wearing a long, rough-spun robe that covers him from his neck to his feet and the only weapon visible on him is one of the curved knives tucked into his belt. This man is bald as can be and just on the chubby side. He smiles and nods at the three companions as he approaches but does not say anything.
Gesturing to the others to approach the parlay, Draven calls back “It would appear we may have a common enemy, or so this fellow seems to think.” Turning back to the leader, he pauses before speaking, trying to find the right words. “We come many days from south,” he says, gesturing, “mutts attack us along the way, many mutts we send to hell.” He stoops to pick up his mace and places it, slowly, on his belt. “We are called The Grey Company.”
The leader of this group smiles at the mention of killing “mutts” and smiles wide at Draven. “Me Kastok,” he says, thumping himself in the chest. “This Voell. Him vocal,” he says, jerking his thumb at the other man.
Voell smiles and says hello. His voice is deep and resonant and he reaches out to clasp Draven’s arm. “Good see Grey Company,” he says, struggling over the word “company” as if he was unfamiliar with it. “Who is to be this Petra? And Zirchev? Halav is to be who you swear on?” A look of confusion hangs on his pudgy face as we watches the rest of the Company approach. The other men on the lizards stay where they are for the most part, watching both the Company and the surrounding area. The many trees, bushes and elevation changes make this area somewhat dangerous, holding many places for enemies to hide.
“Oh, my brother,” says Draven as he clasps hands, awkwardly, with Voell, “we do swear on Halav and others of his kin. We talk later, yes, we talk later.” He proceeds to introduce the rest of the company, speaking for them where they lack the Traladaran to converse directly.
Once everyone has come together, he asks Kastok, “this best place to wait for mutts? This safest place to take them by surprise?”
He shakes his head, “No, no wait here. Go get. They be to here by. You come. You kill mutts too. You like us!” One of the scout riders who had gone off on his lizard to the south comes back and the rider shouts to Kastok, “Find me did mutts. Close to by this way. In hole. Lets us come kill mutts!” He indicates with his spear to the south.
Kastok looks at Draven and the rest of the Grey Company and smiles, “You fight mutts with us? You kill like us?”
“Well, gentlemen, ladies,” Draven addresses the Company in rather florid Thyatian, perhaps as antidote to the rough pidjin Traladaran. “Perchance this be our entree into validating our bona fides with yon tribesmen.”
Griffin frowns. “While I appreciate them not killing us and all, how do we know they’re not just using us as cannon fodder? We don’t know what the situation is here at all.” He sighs. “But if you have reason to believe that this is necessary to clear the way forward, then let’s get to it.” He motions to the others to form up and gives a nod to the young cleric.
“I’m less worried about needing this to get clear than I am about really liking the elimination of at least one party with intent to kill us being on our heels. If we play this right, we leave the remains of the gnolls as a warning against those that follow.” He looks around at their erstwhile allies. “And, if we play our cards right, maybe we can get you a new mount from their stable…”
Joining the Attack
The Grey Company follows the lizard riders a short distance away when one of the lead riders calls for a halt. He makes some quiet sounds like blowing air out of his mouth a few times then points to the edge of a nearby ravine and makes some hand gestures to the others. Voell, seeing the slight confusion on the faces of the Company, explains. “There are be mutts crawling under that rock. Dogs hide scared. They be number not three hands,” and he holds his hand up and opens and closes it three times, possibly meaning the number 15. “They no can run away. Open ground we to see them. We come from both sides. Some go over side, climb down rock. You help. Greys come from this side. Us come from here.” He points out toward the kill zone.
Nodding, Draven turns to his companions once more. “I’m no tactical genius, but an attack from the front and both sides sounds murderous to those we’re enclosing in our deadly grasp. What say you, Marcel?”
Marcel shakes his head as he tightens his shield straps, “Yep, that’s pretty much the point right?”
Griffin mimics the warrior, readying his shield and surveying the scene. “Okay, you lead us in, Brother. Stephan, you and Iris hang back, cover Ree and Remar while they lay down some suppressing fire. Keep an eye out for bowmen or spellcasters, you two.” He shrugs. “Let’s get this over with.”
Draven follows the lead of the others, girding himself for the fight. He pauses briefly to offer a benediction, with a heavy focus on Halav - who knows if he actually held any sway in these heathen lands, but he wasn’t wholly forgotten at any rate.
Kastok explains that the “mutts” are good at spotting approaching enemies and implies that they probably already know that they are about to be attacked so the best bet is to use cover to get close then spring the attack. He thinks they will probably keep to the ravine until they know they can escape or just dig in and fight a defensive fight.
He tells the Company to move up behind bushes, rocks and trees until they hear the fighting start then just rush in. He looks at the horses and asks if they will be bringing their large goats to the battle? “Good ride on? Fierce in battle? Big goats brave?” After some last minute instructions to his men, Kastok and Voell take most of the riders with them around to the south while two are tasked with sneaking up to the top of the ravine to make their attack from above. The Company believes that the riders at the top of the ravine will signal the attack by climbing down over the edge, hoping to gain a small bit of surprise.
Griffin creeps forward slowly, hoping to get a good edge on the foes. He hides behind a bush and waits for the signal from the lizard riders.
As Griffin gets into position, he sees a handful of slim, dog-headed beings huddled against the base of the ravine wall. He can see about 8 or so beings. Surprisingly, they look nothing like the Gnolls he was expecting, instead, they have long ears and snouts and short hair, not the mangy, tangled mess of the Gnolls. These “mutts” look more like the living statues and carvings that the Company has been seeing recently, though in the living flesh and not stone or metal. There are about 6 of them. Some of them dressed in red tabards over leather bearing shields and spears and some wearing purple shirts over leather armor armed with maces.
As Griffin observes them, he hears Draven and Marcel advancing up behind him quite noisily. The nearest of the “mutts” speaks quietly to his companions and jabs his spear in the direction of the Company. The entire group of “mutts” tense and adopt battle crouches. Griffin can see the top of the rise above them, 12 to 15 feet up, but cannot see over its top. Just then, he sees the first of two lizard riders crest the rocky ridge and scramble down, wading right into the middle of the enemies. With a loud warcry, both warriors fling one of their spears at the closest “mutts.” Another cry, this one louder, deeper and much more clear, can be heard from further south, where the rest of the lizard riders are lying in wait.
Iris creeps up slightly and puts her back against some rocks. With a brush as cover, she looks over to wait on Griffin’s actions with her crossbow ready.
When the attack starts, Griffin springs into action, charging parallel with the base of the ravine, hoping to prevent the mutts from escaping that way. Marcel and Draven follow closely behind, covering Griffin’s flank the best that they can. Ree and Remar slowly make their way along the line of bushes, hoping to get into better position for cover fire.
One of the mutts in purple takes a spear to the chest and staggers backward, crying out. Griffin spots several more of the mutts who had been hidden to him before due to the angle he had been observing from as well. He cannot yet see the other lizard riders approaching from the south but he can hear their cries and see many of the mutts turning to brace for an attack.
One of the mutts in purple lashes out at the closest lizard that had clambered down the side of the ravine and smashes with its mace. The blow sends the lizard reeling then it slumps over on its side, unconscious. The rider tries to dismount safely but ends up landing face first on the ground next to his downed lizard.
Griffin slows his approach, eyeing the two spearmen in red closely, and waits for his comrades to catch up.
Everyone moves up as Griffin pauses to wait for his companions, not wanting to get too far separated from them. A previously unseen mutt equipped with a spear, shield and leather covered by a red tunic leaps out and rushes up behind Draven, trying to skewer him in the back. Marcel and Remar both shout words of warning too late. Draven has no time to dodge, but the hasty attack does not find it’s mark.
The two waiting mutts change their tactics. The one on Griffin’s right steps up and then lunges forward, stabbing at Griffin with his spear while the other one goes after the downed lizard rider nearby, trying to pin him to the ground but the rider manages to roll away at the very last second. The other mutts continue getting into attack position while a few of them attack the other lizard that came over the edge, causing it to throw its rider to the ground. Some of the purple wearing mutts appear to be spell-casting.
Griffin steps in, thinking It might be hard to wield that spear with a crippled arm. He slashes at the ‘mutt’s’ right arm with a fierce blow.
The dog faced combatant leaps back away from Griffin’s strike and brings his shield up to block the attack, successfully sending the blow wide. Almost simultaneously with Griffin’s attack, another mutt leaps out of the nearby bushes and thrusts a spear toward Griffin’s belly, snarling something at him in a language he does not understand.
Griffin takes a step back to give himself some breathing room. Okay, maybe we have to outsmart them. He waits for the nearer mutt to close again, and then makes a feint at his face, hoping to make him flinch as he charges forward.
Iris lets a bolt fly at the mutt closest to Draven after taking a step to her left. Come on, Griffin - let’s hope your little bit of training helps!
Iris sighs as she watches her bolt fly right past the mutt she was aiming for and then lets out a brief cry as she sees it bury itself in Draven’s leg!
In mid-turn to face his attacker, Draven cries out in pain. His head spinning from the pain, he brings up his shield and mace into a defensive stance.
After a yelp in panic, Iris yells out to Draven, “I missed!” She drops the crossbow and reaches for her saber. Sometimes, you have to stick with what you’re good at. I’m sorry, Draven...
The two mutts nearest to Griffin adopt defensive stances and begin to circle him slowly, their shields and weapons held at the ready. The mutt battling Draven takes a step in front of him and lashes out with his shield and spear both, a la Marcel. The shield connects while the spear misses its mark. Another nearby mutt leaps forward and jabs forward with his spear, skewering the lizard rider who was trying to get back to his feet after his mount went down while another nearby mutt stabs his spear at a lizard mount but fails to connect.
The purple garbed mutts, apparently spell casters of some type, all cast spells. One steps up behind the two Griffin is fighting as he completes a spell and readies his mace while the one behind him is wrapped in a blurry cloud, much like the one the Gnoll’s in the Death’s Head Valley utilized. The blurry mutt strikes the lizard crouched in front of it. Further down the ravine, other mutts and lizard riders can be seen moving around and clashing.
Griffin backs up, trying to keep a tactical distance from his two attackers, and to rejoin the rest of his team. Where’s Marcel? Gotta even these odds somehow! He shouts, “Remar! Ree! Where’s my covering fire?!”
Anger at having been caught off-guard fueling him, Draven takes a swing at the mutt he’s facing off against.
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