Campaign of the Month: April 2014

Tyellador

RaF S.1: Atten-SHUN!
Bootcamp- the final day

Atteeeeeeen-SHUN!

Today is your last day of boot-camp. As of now, you are no longer cadets. But you are not yet soldiers of the Second Great and Bountiful Human Empire. To gain the honor and the privilege of becoming soldiers of the Second Great and Bountiful Human Empire, this letter of recommendation that I have here in my hand, must make it to the Commandant’s mailbox. Only then will he be able to take my recommendations into consideration. Until said time, you are neither cadets nor are you soldiers.

NOW! It has come to my attention that some unauthorized personnel will attempt to enter this base. You will see stationed around this base soldiers with a red flag on their belts. Those soldiers, as long as they are wearing a red flag, are charged with keeping all unauthorized personnel from entering the base. As you all know, the only personnel authorized on this base are cadets and soldiers.

And I shouldn’t need to remind you, but the killing of a soldier of the Second Great and Bountiful Human Empire is a capital offense.

But I digress. I shall now place my letter of recommendation on this table next to me. If you want to be the best of the best, the elite of the Second Great and Bountiful Human Empire, it is your job to see that the commandant receives this letter. That is your final mission from me. I wish you luck, and Gods’ speed.




With that the sergeant snaps his fingers and a giant glyph glows beneath your feet, sending light and crackling energy up all around you. Everything around you grows hazy and you become dizzy, Suddenly all light seems to disappear, and the crackling energy begins to disperse. As your eyes become accustomed to the dark, you notice that you are no longer in the middle of a military outpost, but in the middle of a dimly lit stone room…

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Downriver Obstacles
Are we there yet?

That evening, after stumbling back to Healwud from the woods with the mysterious acorn, the band of adventurers asked Lord Xavhorn if they could use a barge to get down the river to get to Easteðgeat. Going downriver would be much swifter than travelling by foot, saving as many as five days of travel, so Xavhorn grudgingly agrees to lend them one, but only as far as a two days’ walk outside of Easteðgeat, as he didn’t want to risk losing men by going all the way down the Beorhstream river. Barges have not been returning from Easteðgeat to Healwud any more than foot caravans; it appears that whatever mysterious blockade was continuing outside of Xavhorn’s interests, in addition to the blockade which Xavhorn put up himself on the instructions of Zorn. It is agreed: Shil McTire pays off his debts to Orville Redinpoplar with monetary contributions from Runa Egilsdottir and some help from Ra’s Al Ghul and Lina Bowman, and they buy rations and prepare to leave first thing in the morning.

When dawn breaks, they load up on the boat, and travel two days downstream peaceably. Ieldranweald.png Midday on the second day, the raft is poled over to the left side of the Beorhstream, and the raftsmen instruct the adventurers to head due west to hit the southern road leading to Easte-geat. All four adventurers (and the donkey, Jonathan PuppyMew,) are unceremoniously alighted on the side of the river, and the barge poles its way northwards.

The afternoon walk progresses easily, until Who notices something on the road ahead. Largely unconcerned, the group splits into the usual formation (Ras to one side of the road, Shil to the other, both sneaking, Runa and Lina looking like easy prey walking down the middle) until they can get a better look. Having gotten a better look, however, the whole group stops and reassesses, unnerved.

A thick, tall tree has been felled across the road, blocking the path. In front of it stands an assorted group of archers and swordsmen, some dressed in robes of light-colored dappled skins lined with furs, others in fur-lined jerkins. Runa, with some thinking, recognizes their look as that of the Hestvöllren, the people who live in clans rather than countries and who trade horses north of the bounds of the former Great and Bountiful Human Empire. While the Hestvöllren have been known to raid Feldlond’s rich fields or even sack caravans going to or from Mereleigh, they have never been noted as being this far south (much less without their horses). It is immediately apparent that something is going to go wrong. As they are a people who hold respect for martial prowess, Shil is called back from the trees with the hope that he can act as delegate.

A noise is heard from the left, and Ras disappears, invisibly crossing the road to the other side and preparing to attack what he discovers are Orcs, unseen this near to Easteðgeat in a century despite his misleading words to Sheriff Leaf of Healwud. Coming around a bend in the road, Lina sees three Hestvöllr men draw their bows, while one stands armed with a sword in front. She shoots her bow, and battle is engaged, ruining Runa’s hopes of communing or negotiating their way out of this. Runa runs into the woods where she last heard rustling, and comes face to face with Orcs. She and Ras dispatch the four Orcs, with spells and ninja-ing, while Lina shoots arrows true into the eyes and throats of the Hestvölleren men. Shil slays another where he stands, sets three aflame with an alchemist’s fire grenade, and traps another with a tanglefoot bag.

Despite appearing to be completely entangled, the soldier in furs, broken arrow in his hand, attempts to fatally stab himself rather than fall into the “Southerners’” hands. Tied up, he refuses to speak, despite entreaties from Runa on behalf of his gods, the Sun goddess and her consort, and his leaders, despite threats worse than death from Shil and Ras, despite the fact that revealing the Southron scum who hired them to dishonour themselves would bring honor to his clan. Runa leaves the scene, pointedly, as shouting and then screams indicate that Shil and Ras are questioning the captive, and she wishes she did not hear.


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Going on Contract
Contracts, Acorns and Owlbears

Let it be known to all that I, Xavhorn of the House Souleaxe, perpetual Lord of the Council of the City of Healwud of Eastmarch agrees to take the undersigned, Runa Egilsdottir, into his employ under the following terms, conditions and payments:

That the undersigned is to search out and discover the reasons for the recent delays and loss of communications and shipments from the South-East, i.e. from the Capital Easteðgeat and the mining communities of Mizimînbad. If at all feasible, if the undersigned is to correct the aforementioned problems, a bonus shall be paid upon their return to Healwud.

Itemized Payments & Deductions:
To be paid on this day:

- 100 Gold for her performance at the festival on the Seventeenth
- 700 Gold as a down-payment for her assistance in the aforesaid matters of this document, as to cover fees, Per-Diem, etc. and as a token of friendship and good faith
- 10 Gold Donkey Deposit, to be returned on the return of the donkey

To be paid upon partial or total completion of this contract upon returning to Healwud:

- 100 Gold for general information in regards to the preceding matters
- 400 Gold for information leading directly to the resolution of the preceding matters
- 1,000 Gold for the resolution of the preceding matters

After settling down from their confrontation with Xavhorn, the party agrees to meet at Xavhorn’s mansion the next day. Runa and Ra’s leave Lina and Shil and head back to the Temple of Ehlonna for a night’s earned rest.

The next morning the party meets up at the Temple before heading to Xavhorn’s mansion. They are let inside and soon meet with Xavhorn, who has his Steward write up individual contracts for everyone, including some deductions on Shil and Ra’s’ (although Shil is able to talk Xavhorn out of one of the deductions, as he showed a flaw in the manor’s security.) As part of the agreement, Xavhorn allows the group access to his guards’ armory, where the adventurers find a plethora of Masterwork items. Shil also takes 3 sticky grenades (and an extra rapier), and Lina takes 3 sunrods.

After suiting up, the adventurers head back upstairs and negotiate renting a steadfast donkey, Puppymew, for their journey. They are also informed that a message awaits them at the Temple of Ehlonna, and head off in that direction.

Let it be known to all that I, Xavhorn of the House Souleaxe, perpetual Lord of the Council of the City of Healwud of Eastmarch agrees to take the undersigned, Lina Bowman, into his employ under the following terms, conditions and payments:

That the undersigned is to search out and discover the reasons for the recent delays and loss of communications and shipments from the South-East, i.e. from the Capital Easteðgeat and the mining communities of Mizimînbad. If at all feasible, if the undersigned is to correct the aforementioned problems, a bonus shall be paid upon their return to Healwud.

Itemized Payments & Deductions:
To be paid on this day:

- 100 Gold in her role as my personal adviser
- 700 Gold as a down-payment for her assistance in the aforesaid matters of this document, as to cover fees, Per-Diem, etc. and as a token of friendship and good faith
- 10 Gold Donkey Deposit, to be returned on the return of the donkey

To be paid upon partial or total completion of this contract upon returning to Healwud:

- 100 Gold for general information in regards to the preceding matters
- 400 Gold for information leading directly to the resolution of the preceding matters
- 1,000 Gold for the resolution of the preceding matters

The head of the temple gives the group an indecipherable map that has a faint sense of divine magic to it. The best he can tell the group is that it was given to the temple 100 years ago, and that they would know when to give it to someone. He informs them that there might be one who is able to help them decipher the map, Bearclaw, who can sometimes be found at a bar in town.

Entering The Pig and Spigot, the adventurers notice a very large man at the far side of the bar. Although brushing off Shil at first, he is amused be Lina, and is interested in the map. He informs them that it is Druidic in nature, and that the trail and markers on the map aren’t so much as physical locations, but are waypoints that a druid can decipher.

The group follows Bearclaw into the woods, although the further they enter the woods, the faster Bearclaw seems to travel, and the group soon loses him. However, they do find an ill-tempered Owlbear.

Let it be known to all that I, Xavhorn of the House Souleaxe, perpetual Lord of the Council of the City of Healwud of Eastmarch agrees to take the undersigned, NAME T.B.D. McTire, into his employ under the following terms, conditions and payments:

That the undersigned is to search out and discover the reasons for the recent delays and loss of communications and shipments from the South-East, i.e. from the Capital Easteðgeat and the mining communities of Mizimînbad. If at all feasible, if the undersigned is to correct the aforementioned problems, a bonus shall be paid upon their return to Healwud.

Itemized Payments & Deductions:
To be paid on this day:

- 100 Gold fee for repairs to L.Xavhorn’s office
- 200 Gold fee for re-casting of defensive spells
- 700 Gold as a down-payment for his assistance in the aforesaid matters of this document, as to cover fees, Per-Diem, etc. and as a token of friendship and good faith
- 10 Gold Donkey Deposit, to be returned on the return of the donkey

To be paid upon partial or total completion of this contract upon returning to Healwud:

- 100 Gold for general information in regards to the preceding matters
- 400 Gold for information leading directly to the resolution of the preceding matters
- 1,000 Gold for the resolution of the preceding matters

Dispatching the Owlbear, they walk further on, soon encountering a giant sleeping bear. Upon waking it up, they find the bear to be Bearclaw taking a nap. He takes them a little further into the woods, and informs the group that this is as far as he goes. He points them in the generally right direction.

Travelling on, a large vine suddenly lashes out at the group as 3 arrows zip overhead, pinning it to some far trees. A dark-haired woman in ranger garb with a longbow approaches them, telling the adventurers that she is concerned with the state of the forest. She is somewhat puzzled that the adventurers only amount to 3, but that prophecies can be hard to interpret, as prophecies are hardly ever static. The prophecy is a superposition of many states, stating that the number of adventurers were 5, 6, 3 and 4. However, she expects to see them again soon, and leaves Lina with a single acorn. She parts ways with them leaving questions unanswered, telling them that the trail will take them back.

The adventurers walk back, and spend one night last night in the town before heading out in the morning.

Let it be known to all that I, Xavhorn of the House Souleaxe, perpetual Lord of the Council of the City of Healwud of Eastmarch agrees to take the undersigned, Ra’s Al Ghul, into his employ under the following terms, conditions and payments:

That the undersigned is to search out and discover the reasons for the recent delays and loss of communications and shipments from the South-East, i.e. from the Capital Easteðgeat and the mining communities of Mizimînbad. If at all feasible, if the undersigned is to correct the aforementioned problems, a bonus shall be paid upon their return to Healwud.

Itemized Payments & Deductions:
To be paid on this day:

- 100 Gold fee for repairs to L.Xavhorn’s office
- 200 Gold fee for re-casting of defensive spells
- 700 Gold as a down-payment for his assistance in the aforesaid matters of this document, as to cover fees, Per-Diem, etc. and as a token of friendship and good faith
- 10 Gold Donkey Deposit, to be returned on the return of the donkey

To be paid upon partial or total completion of this contract upon returning to Healwud:

- 100 Gold for general information in regards to the preceding matters
- 400 Gold for information leading directly to the resolution of the preceding matters
- 1,000 Gold for the resolution of the preceding matters








































.

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Expectations met;
Mystery remains.

Startled, Runa sprung up from her chair and chased the man who grabbed her lute. With calls to “stop!” people in the audience started to notice the ruckus, including Lina. After many rounds of attempting to tackle him, and of Who divebombing the thief, Lina succeeded in grappling the man and throwing him to the ground— without tipping anyone off to either her or Runa’s magical abilities. Xavhorn’s personal guards led the cursing man away, leaving Runa and Lina wondering why the theft occurred in the first place. Shaken and slightly unnerved, Runa finished her preparations for performance, for without it, there would be no distraction to protect Shil McTire and Ra’s from being investigated at Soulaxe manor.

Unfortunately, Shil and Ra’s had trouble nonetheless. Shil did what little healing he knew to bring Ra’s back from the brink of death, and, slinging Ra’s over his shoulder, ran outside, throwing Ra’s over the wall, and jumping the wall himself. With Ra’s unconscious body he burst into The Pig and Spigot. As the bartender asked “Is everyone alright!?!,” slightly horrified, Shil shouted over his shoulder, “I paid you for NO QUESTIONS!

Throwing Ra’s body on the bed of his inn room, Shil comprehended immediately that the amount of healing necessary was over his pay grade. He dashed out to grab Lina from the festival.

Runa took the stage, accompanied by dancers and other shenaninganery, and started her repertoire. Shil pulled Lina away from the crowd by Shil; after making sure they were not being followed, they ran back to The Pig and Spigot. Carefully, Lina healed Ra’s to the point where he, faintly, could make his way back to the festival so as not to arouse suspicion by his absence (as he so heavily advocated for the festival in the first place). They arrive just as Runa finished her last song, to great applause (which was a great relief to her).

Xavhorn strode onstage after the last chord faded. The two exchanged niceties, and as an encore Runa sang “the Ballad of Xavhorn Soulaxe,” composed in his honor. He appeared pleased.

“I would like to thank Runa for her humbling encore. Among these festivities there has been some troubling news, but I am delighted to report that the council has taken care of things. The Clerics of Vecna have been found.” The audience gasped, everyone’s interest clearly piqued. “Though there have been kidnappings outside our great town for several days now,” - weeks , Shil, Lina, and Runa thought- “my head guard has just reported to me that they have found the camp where people were being held, slain the perpetrators, and are currently reuniting the kidnapped, who have remained unharmed, with their families. Our city is safe once more!” Runa, Lina, Shil and Ra’s stood dumbstruck as the audience broke into thunderous applause. “Thank you! Thank you very much.”

As Xavhorn walked briskly offstage, Shil intercepted him, in disguise as one of his many aliases. “Well, it seems that you’ve heard news of my success with the Clerics of Vecna.”

Xavhorn examined him coolly, “Yes. I suppose you are here for payment? You may collect it in the usual manner from Mr. E., your ”/wikis/non-governmental-organizations" class=“wiki-page-link”> ICU contact."

Runa next intercepted Xavhorn on the pretense of making another ballad, inquiring about how he found the missing. Xavhorn deflected with a cheerful, “I’d love to tell you, but I haven’t heard myself yet! Marvelous performance, though— you can pick up your payment from my manor tomorrow.”

Frustrated, the group decided to meet up in the Pig and Spigot to decide their next moves. Shil met with Mr. E before returning to the pub. Once safely in the room with the other three, and with instructions to the bartender that they were not to be disturbed, Shil explained that they needed to leave town— stat— because Ra’s exploded the book and Xavhorn would surely be tipped off that it was their fault.

There was the small matter that Runa hadn’t been paid. Out of kindness, they agreed they would all meet two days walk from Healwud on the road to Easteðgeat to see if they couldn’t figure out about the kidnappings— which Shil revealed connected to his mission from the ICU on why trade was stopping— from there. Hopefully, Runa wouldn’t be implicated and could still collect pay. Lina quickly tried to decipher script on Xavhorn’s stolen ledger, but couldn’t make out all of it— something about over 8,000 gold was moved into a slush fund, but no details.

A knock came at the door.

“GO AWAY!”

The knock persisted. And persisted. And persisted. Shil opened the door indignantly, “WHAT?!”

The abashed barmaid stood there with a tray of drinks. “Four pints from the man at the bar.”

“Which man?!” She refused to say, but insisted that he wanted them to come downstairs, and that she couldn’t possibly take the drinks back. “Fine! Don’t bother me again!” Slamming the door, with the drinks, Shil wondered why there were four. Someone knew they were all up there; and all associated. They decided they needed to leave immediately.

Another knock at the door. “GO! AWAY!” It continued, insistently. Shil opened the door again.

The woman stood at the doorway with a cheese plate. “The man at the bar sends a cheese plate, and insists that you come downstairs.”

After telling her to hold on a minute, the door slamming in her face, the group decided to invite the men up: if there would be an encounter, it would be on their terms. Opening the door again, the waitress passed the cheese plate to them, and returned downstairs with their message. With only a brief interlude, the waitress came up with the statement, “The men really insist that you must come down. They have offered sandwiches, as well. They will not come up.”

The money at hand was divided into four, and they decided to split up. Ra’s went downstairs, Runa following at a distance; Lina lurked in the stairwell; Shil jumped out the window into the arms of two waiting guards wearing Xavhorn’s livery.

Downstairs, Ra’s met the men who sent the drinks; two, hooded, who insisted that he, and then Runa, sit down and join them. Ra’s began, “Hello my friends,” as he usually does, getting no where without admitting to the knowledge of Shil, and Runa fast-talked, draping herself on the one with leather armor (who looked increasingly awkward), weaving a tale of adventure and kidnapping and being victims bound together by fate and the blessings of Ehlonna. The second man in a hood starts cracking up at their antics, particularly as a huge thud and the sounds of a scuffle and a shouted “HELP!” ring through the doorway from outside the pub.

Outside, Shil was bound without comment by the two guards. With many objections, he struggled, then tripped, pulling a dagger from his boot. He was halfway through his bindings when one guard noticed the dagger with a “hey!” and tried to swipe it from his hand, the guard cutting his hand in the process. Swiftly, Shil dropped a grenade of Tanglefoot, forcing all action to cease as the guards struggled in the mess.

At this point, the man cloaked in leather stood up and walked to the door. Ra’s tried to intercept him; Lina swept by them both to get onto the scene. Shil grappled with one guard, finally freeing himself, and held him at knifepoint. Runa bursts out of the door as well, as one after the other each adventurer demands to know “What is going on?!”

The hooded stranger takes off his hood, ordering the guards to stand down and revealing himself as Lord Xavhorn Soulaxe. “If you all come in and sit down, I shall explain.”

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Pieces in Play

pronouncement.png

The festival has arrived, with all of its madness and frivolity. Runa, Lina, Ra’s and Shil meet clandestinely up at the Healwud Temple of Ehlonna, and solidify their plans. Runa, and her performance, are to be the primary distraction for guards, townspeople, and Xavhorn alike; Lina will make sure that Xavhorn, his steward, and as many of Xavhorn’s personal guard are away from his mansion as possible; Ra’s and Shil will infiltrate the mansion, and find out what Xavhorn has been hiding.

At the Xavhorn mansion, Lina engages all of her charismatic, sultry wiles in convincing the Steward, and Xavhorn, that there may be fringe benefits to attending the festival. Xavhorn reluctantly leaves his work; the Steward is love-struck.

Meanwhile, Runa sits tensely offstage, tuning her lute and trying to practice. A crowd begins to amass out front, as vendors set up selling mead and ale and meat roasting on spits around the fringes of the Aldeon Ehlenestra. Guards and servants from the Soulaxe manor start to arrive, along with Lina. Lord Xavhorn has gone all out for this performance, hiring local gnomes to do pyrotechnics, dancers, and percussionists… and suddenly, someone runs by and snatches Runa’s lute from her hands.

Outside of Xavhorn’s manor, Ra’s and Shil notice a decrease in guards along the grounds. First, Shil and Ra’s start to climb over the outer wall, dropping in surprise as a sleep rune explodes in their faces. Luckily immune to its effects, they continue, jumping to the roof of the warehouse. Thunk! The bolt of Shil’s custom crossbow with rope attached wedges into the wall of the manor proper, allowing the two to aerially traverse the gap between the warehouse and the main building. Slipping through the window and then cutting and removing the rope from the bolt to hide their traces, they enter Xavhorn’s manor.

Ra’s, having been at the manor before, leads the pair quietly up the stairs to Xavhorn’s private study. Reeking of luxury, the room is woodpaneled with mahogany desk and bookcases, brightly colored tufted rug from Tellzmala and fine leather furnishings. Quickly casing the office, the pair identifies the safe (emptied in opportunistic fashion by Shil), and a book which seems to hold account information. Shil breaks into the desk, finding what appears to be the real ledger, and pockets it in his satchel. Ra’s opens the book on the desk and…Boom. An explosion rocks the room, nearly burning Ra’s face off and splattering blood and embers of the book across the wall.

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Cleaning up the Mess
One day to the festival...

Standing in the middle of the road from Easteðgeat to Healwud, the group of four determine to split up. Shil McTire remains behind to make it appear as though the three men are the Clerics of Vecna that Lord Xavhorn is searching for, and to make it appear as though they put up more of a fight. Lina Bowman and Runa Egilsdottir head the hour and a half or so back to town to alert Sheriff Leaf to the bandit camp, now confirmed, in their minds, to be the single same that they had been kidnapped to previously. Ras returns to Healwud also to bring word to Lord Xavhorn Soulaxe that he has found and slain three Clerics of Vecna.

As Ras, Lina, and Runa enter Healwud at about four in the afternoon, Lina and Runa dash over to the Guards’ Headquarters, seeking assistance. They explain to Tegan Riverlarch, Leaf’s second-in-command, that they have found the bandit camp and that they need a detective or high-ranking officer with ranging or tracking experience in order to find out where the people in the camp have been taken. To their knowledge, there are also a few people left in the camp, so Runa and Lina request other support. Frustratingly, Tegan says his hands are tied, as he needs to remain in the city, and there is no one he can send, as he already has two bands of guardsmen sent down the west and south roads where the kidnappings have been happening. He offers no help, but is willing to lend the two women a horse from the East Gate to ride to find Sheriff Lyfalia, sent on a fool’s errand by Ra’s to find orcs in the East.

Meanwhile, Ra’s Al Ghul arrives at the court of Lord Xavhorn, and requests a private audience to disclose delicate information. Lord Xavhorn accepts this, and listens as Ras describes encountering three men on the road who fit the description of the clerics of Vecna, though, as he says, “words are just words, and one should never assume.” Xavhorn is pleased with this, and recommends that Ras, in the name of “keeping the people calm”, destroys all evidence of the bodies, for a fee. Ras accepts the bursary, agrees to destroy the evidence, and departs to spend some of his purse-change at the blacksmith’s shop.

Equipped with a horse at the east gate of Healwud, Runa and Lina ride straight east, turning only once when they see an explosion of flame to the north. After a ride of an hour or so, they encounter Lyfalia Greyelm, alone but having slain two wolves, and not too pleased with her lot. She is surprised at their appearance, but hears their story: while investigating out of town, they were ambushed on the road, but then found out where the bandit camp was. To their knowledge, some people still remain there, and they entreated Leaf most heartily to come with them and solve this present mystery, with evidence and enemies clearly visible, rather than remain in the East near the Ieldranweald hunting shadows of Orcs. As she had in a day’s march only encountered one camp, which did not even wholly resemble that of an Orc scouting party, Leaf is convinced to go.

The three women ride back to and through town, heading down the southern road from Healwud, and then letting the horses go, trek west through the woods, encountering the bandit camp. It was indeed the camp which Lina and Runa remembered; however, it was clearly abandoned. Tents were gone, shallow graves had been dug, tables had disappeared, tarps were in disarray, and footprints reflecting massive movement were scattered throughout the main clearing. Frustrated with coming up emptyhanded, the women entreat Sheriff Leaf to do some tracking and detective work. They explain that the way they met was in being abducted and brought to this very camp, and Runa rambles on about how detective work needs to be done to find out who employed Garrick, the ranger who kidnapped her in the first place, who appeared to lead the operation under the directions of some unseen foe, and who was likely in one of the shallow graves. Leaf is very much disturbed, but promises to follow up with a tracker the next day, despite the festival.

Back at the bodies, Shil is perturbed to see that all of his disguising has been for naught once Ra’s returns without Lord Xavhorn. Taking the pieces of “evidence” that his men were Clerics of Vecna— some black cloaks and a letter vaguely resembling the one which was found on the bandit Ranger— Shil walks back to town, intending to find Lord Xavhorn and at least get the money for his ICU commission before blowing open the whole case the next day at the festival. In town, Shil decides to head north to the shack in which he met Lord Xavhorn and received the commission in the first place. Frustrated with the lack of answer to his knocking, he picks the lock and enters…

Ra’s remains with the bodies and inters them as befits the traditions of Nehrule. Eventually, he returns to Healwud

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Frame or be Hanged
In which we do the ambushing.

Meeting at the Temple of Ehlonna the next morning, Shil shares with Lina, Rasand Runa the information from his encounter with Lord Xavhorn. In order to better investigate the kidnappings, and to set up fall-men to be the “Clerics of Vecna” that Lord Xavhorn is looking for, the quartet head out of Healwud’s gates down the West road towards Clifforð.

On the road they run into an apple merchant (Runa: “Song for two coppers!”), who informs the troupe that he hasn’t had any trouble on the road, nor has he heard of any road blocks, nor seen any guardsmen. Sensing that the West road is clear, the group cuts through the forest to the south road, where they spot an archer and decide to divide and conquer. Lina and Runa startle the archer with the usual offer (Runa: “Song (and dance) for two coppers?”), and distract him as Ras and Shil clear the right and left side of the road, respectively.

As the women engage the archer in conversation, drawing him down the southern road, Shil ambushes a fairly unskilled bandit guardsman to the east of the road. At knife-point, the man is made to take off his belt and allow Shil to bind him with it. On the west side of the road, Ras ninjas another bandit man on duty, stabbing him through the leg and eliciting a scream of pain. At the sound, the archer with Runa and Lina becomes paranoid, shouting, “Who are you people?!” and attempting to make an escape. Shil and Ras drag in their bound bandit counterparts, and begin to interrogate them all.

After some violence and bloodletting, in which the throat of the most afraid bandits, clearly not one natural to the profession, is slit, Runa entreats and then demands for Shil and Ras to stop. When they do not heed her, she sings “sleep”, and, against all rulebooks and regulations, Shil, Lina, and the bandits slump to the ground. As Shil threatened from an ethereal realm that if the three men weren’t dead, he would kill Runa, she has Ras kill quickly while asleep the man which Shil brought in. Then, she and Ras interrogate the remaining bandit, confirming the information given by the other bandits:

-The man who recruited them was named Garrick, a ranger with a wolf who gave out odd jobs to the men of the town. The “bandits” were not informed of the end result of their kidnappings, only given instruction by Garrick to bring all travellers on the road to their camp, situated between the West and South roads. Every so often (yesterday was the most recent day, in fact,) the prisoners are taken away, to where the men know not.

-The remaining man expects there to be three more of their band at the camp right now, but then also expected Garrick (fairly surely confirmed to be the powerful ranger who we slew) to still be alive.

With this, the remaining man is killed as quickly and fearlessly as possible, and Shil wakes up frustrated, but with three bodies to present to Lord Xavhorn.

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Sneaking.

Shil McTire follows up on a lead from the ICU, meeting in the north-west corner of the Soulaxe Estate with Eny (Enigma) his ICU contact. Ironically, Lord Xavhorn Soulaxe has hired the ICU to investigate the presence of Clerics of Vecna at the town’s gate three days prior.

Lord Xavhorn had never seen reports of Clerics of Vecna operating in the day, stating that they were “not ones for polite society.” He had also never heard of Clerics of Vecna coming to a city gate and “knocking”. Shil pressed Xavhorn for more information: after sending Eny out from the room, and being made many promises of secrecy, Xavhorn finally admits more knowledge. He confesses to hearing of bandits on the road to the south and west kidnapping people, and potentially bringing them to the North. When asked about possible associates of the clerics of Vecna, Xavhorn mentions an Adept north of the city who may be knowledgeable about Vecna— or connected to clerics.

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Shmoozing.

In the late morning, Lina makes arrangements with the elders of the Temple of Ehlonna to become a religious adviser to Lord Xavhorn Soulaxe. Pleased both with her prestige and good looks, Xavhorn accepts Lina’s offer, hiring her shortly before Runa appeared for her 1:30 audition.

At the gate to the Soulaxe manor, Ra’s speaks to Frank the gatekeeper to get Runa in for her appointment. After the usual pleasantries, Runa plays her lute and sings a song of adventure (quaffing a potion of Eagle’s Might before starting, to be more convincing):

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While not entirely convinced by her surprisingly good performance, Lord Xavhorn is persuaded by Ra’s and Lina to hire Runa at least for a party in three day’s time to increase the morale of the townsfolk.

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Putting pieces in place
Our adventurers do all the prepwork.

Deep in night’s darkness, a shadow sleuths around the edges of the Xavhorn manor…

Having rested overnight in the Temple of Ehlonna, Runa, Shil, and Lina meet their second day in Healwud. Eager to uncover the mystery surrounding the kidnappings on the roads to Healwud‘s gates, the three make plans to infiltrate the court of Lord Xavhorn Soulaxe to decipher his involvement. Ra’s Al Ghul, being already employed in the services of Lord Xavhorn, enters the manor first, arranging an interview at an hour and a half past noon for Runa Egilsdottir to meet with Lord Xavhorn Soulaxe. A bit nervous about Runa Egilsdottir‘s capabilities, Shil McTire pulls out all the stops searching for an aid for her awkward singing voice. At Orville Redinpoplar’s General Store, Shil McTire uses all of his persuasive skills to get Orville to part with a potion of Eagle’s Might for a third of the price…

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