Night's Dark Terror

Night of Loshdain, 9 Thaumont AC 1000
More goblins, anyone?

The party crossed the tributary using the late Misha’s boat and made their way upstream. The undergrowth made the going slow but at least there was a definite path to follow, and the water made it difficult to get lost.

As the day began to wane. Allele caught a whiff of woodsmoke and spied what looked like firelight ahead. Roger slipped into the trees to investigate, but before getting very far, a pack of goblins came out the woods in front of him.

Martin quickly cast a Sleep spell and dropped the creatures in their tracks. As the group dispatched the goblins, the observed they all wore scraps of wolf pelts, like a badge or token. As they pondered this, the firelight ahead seemed to grow larger and the smell of smoke stronger.

Approaching cautiously, the party found that the light came from a fenced farmstead, where a barn was ablaze! A narrow bridge crossed the stream and goblins were harassing the gatehouse. As the characters approached, several wolf-riding goblins burst from the trees, closing fast!

Allele cast a Sleep spell, but it only toppled one mount and rider. A couple other riders slid off their still running wolves, though. The group poured arrows at the goblins and Martin also used a Charm spell to slow one rider’s charge (no longer clear on why they were attacking “friends”). The fighting was thick for a few moments but after the goblins were cut down, the wolves’ morale broke and they fled into the trees.

At the gate, a young woman named Alfana hurriedly gestured them through. Once inside, she barred the gate and a man named Tralas climbed down from the platform above. they told the PCs they had to retreat to the main house as the burning barn would eventually leave the yard open to attack and the gate couldn’t be held with enemies behind it.

Quickly entering the main house, the party met Pyotr, the head of the farm and their client. A wandering warrior named Fyodor was also there, having sought shelter at Sukiskyn earlier that day.

Pyotr described the initial attack and explained that while goblin tribes were not unheard of in this region, they rarely attacked in such earnest, or in cooperation with other tribes, as these forces seemed to consist of at least two. He also told the characters that there had rumors of other farmstead in the area being attacked.

The assault began an hour or so ago. Two of the men were killed when a group of goblins came into the south yard and began stealing the white horses. Some of the other goblins appeared angry at this and chased the first group as they drove the steeds into the trees, but soon the attack resumed on the household. Drums pounded out in the darkness and fires burned in the trees.

Gobsukis

Pyotr believed that the goblins would not continue the fight beyond this night, as they loathe the daylight. With that, the party began to make arrangements for the defenses.

Nails from the smithy were bent into caltrops, doors were reinforced, oil and tallow were poured on straw as possible fire traps, and the farmsteaders were set to watch for sorties; the first of which came all too soon.

A group of goblins, led by two wolf riders, came over the bridge and smashed the gate. Then they crossed the yard, taking some arrow fire, and began to batter at one of the doors. Martin expertly dropped a torch into the oil that had been poured there earlier, causing one of the goblins hacking at the door to catch fire and retreat. More arrows and slingstones flew, and the few goblins that survived fled.

Later, a high pitched scream was heard. A dim shape of someone in a yellow dress was seen being dragged through the trees. Fyodor, over protests that it was likely a trap, charged out to save the woman. Of course, his comrades were correct and several goblins charged out of the forest to slay the lone warrior.

Fyodor’s armor proved too tough for the goblins’ attacks and he managed to retreat while cutting a few of the goblins down. When he was close enough, the characters’ bows covered the rest of his escape. After a few goblin curses from the darkness, the drums fell silent.

It was well after midnight when the next attack occurred. Stellios, a young stablelad, and Alfana were on watch atop the old stone tower attached to the main house when Fyodor, making rounds from window to window inside the house, heard them scream. Pounding up the spiral staircase, he found them both on the floor with dark shaped flapping around them. Alfana was swinging her cudgel at her assailant, but Stellios lay still with a shadow on his chest. More shapes flitted about in the air above them as well: Giant Bats!

Fyodor cut the one over Alfana in half with one swing of his sword, but then two more closed on him from above. He kept his shield between himself and the creatures’ fangs and cut one more out of the air. Alfana wounded one badly enough that it dropped from sight off the tower. The last flew off of Stellios’ chest but was brought down by an arrow from Roger, who had arrived at the top of the steps moments before.

Stellios was dead, blood soaking his tunic where the bat’s fangs had opened a vein in his throat. Fyodor, fearing stories of vampiric curses, beheaded the corpse. Alfana was shocked at first, but had grown up on similar tales and understood the warrior’s motives.

Shortly afterward, a rattle of slingstones pelted the windows of the eastern wall as snipers had snuck close enough to hope for a lucky shot, but no shot told.

False dawn was just beginning to fade when the biggest assault yet occurred. Packs of goblins came in from three different directions. One crossing the bridge, one through the smoldering remains of the barn, and the last –and largest– at the gate beneath the tower. The fighting was thick and fierce for several minutes. Martin, most of his spells exhausted, hurled more torches to light the targets for the archers. The gate by the tower shattered and the goblins poured in. Fyodor leapt to the ground floor from the balcony to prepare for any that got into the house. Cromartie and Alleles’ longbows harried the wolf riders in the yard, picking the riders off their mounts. Finally, the last goblins’ morale broke and they attempted to flee back to the trees, but the defenders’ arrows found them and dropped them in the clearing.

As the party took stock of the situation, the sky paled and the sun broke through the trees. No sound or sign of any living goblins could be seen. The siege appeared to have been broken, and the dawn found the characters triumphant.

(Map of Sukiskyn)

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Moldain PM, 7 Thaumont - Loshdain AM, 9 Thaumont, AC 1000

Pavel, a Traladaran cleric, had taken passage separately from the party on the Pride, but was “praying” (sleeping) below deck when the attack occurred. He emerged blinking in the waning sunlight and the aftermath of the melee, but donned his armor and joined Martin the Ineluctable and Roger Agrippa in following Zak the Thrall back to the Iron Ring’s campsite in search of “Rocko” and answers. The remainder of the party stayed on board the barge.

After almost an hour or so of tramping through marsh and moor, including Zak briefly getting lost, the campsite came into view, laying on a relatively bare hilltop. It was nearly full dark by then and the rain had become steady, but not hard. Wisely, the characters had elected to blaze their trail going into the moors to avoid getting lost on the way back.

Roger scouted the camp from a safe distance then reported back seeing no movement. The camp itself was little more than a few bedrolls and packs scattered about as though tossed down in haste. The party approached and as Roger went to check the firepit, he stepped in a hole, causing him to pitch forward onto a tarp which was covering several pointed stakes driven into the ground. Suffering only minor flesh wounds, righted himself quickly, but took more care in moving about the camp.

Martin and Roger questioned Zak about the camp. He said that it was not is such disarray when they left for the river. Further questions about the Iron Ring’s operations led to Zak growing suspicious of his new “friends” and breaking the fog of enchantment over his mind. Running in panic, he stepped in one of the trapped holes and was stuck long enough for Roger to put two arrows in his back, killing him.

A few more minutes were spent by guttering torchlight investigating the “camp”, but nothing of interest or value was found. “trip holes” were dug near each bedroll and tarp, which several stakes hiding beneath each one. The packs were stuffed with rocks and grass and the rain had obliterated nearly any chance of tracking anyone or anything out of the site. With that, the trio began their soggy journey back to the boat.

Meanwhile Cromartie, a Traladaran warrior and scout, had been working his way along the river toward Kelvin when night fell and the rain increased. Spying the Pride tied up along the bank, he hailed the boat and was allowed aboard. Not long afterward, the three returned from the moors and, after asking to see that the newcomer’s arms bore no brands, offered to recommend him to their prospective employer. With that, the group set the watches and tried to get some rest. Before retiring, Pavel used his healing magic on Roger and Martin to remove the wounds from the fight and the stakes. Except for what sounded like a panther growling in the darkness along the bank, the night passed peacefully, though the rain continued and conditions were crowded under the tarp.

The dawn (8 Thaumont), broke with a heavy mist on the river, but the sun came out and burned it off before midday. By early afternoon, the barge pulled up outside the ferry hut, situated at the fork between the Highreach and a small tributary. Misha, the woman who runs the ferry did not answer Kalanos’ hail, but he assured the party they could stay at the hut. His said she and her pet bear were likely hunting and would probably return before dark.

The party put their gear in the hut and decided to try their hand at some hunting and fishing as well. Cromartie went into the woods with his longbow while Roger rigged a pole and fished from the tiny dock. Cromartie managed to down a scrawny doe.

Roger, while he caught no fish, did make an interesting discovery. Spying a boot submerged in the water by the dock, he, Martin, and Pavel, pulled it out along with the corpse that was wearing it. It had been a middle-aged Traladaran woman. She had obviously been dead for at least a day, but the fish and river creatures had been at the body so she was in fairly bad shape, though no obvious wounds were to be found. Roger dug a shallow grave, Pavel said words over the body and they buried her.

Meanwhile Cromartie had returned and dressed the deer, carving a few steaks for the party. The group retired into the hut, barring the door and enjoyed a hot meal under a roof. The night was clear, but chilly.
Oryx steak3

Later on, scuffling sounds were heard outside. Cromartie peered through the shutters and saw a large brown bear pawing at where he had dressed the deer, digging up the buried offal. It seemed agitated and came over to the door and clawed at it several timed, but did not seem to try and force it open. After a few minutes of growling and scraping, it lumbered off and all was quiet again.

Grizzly bear 566 600x450

The next morning (9 Thaumont), the weather was cloudy, but dry and the group arose refreshed and ready to complete their trip by following the tributary upstream to Sukiskyn.

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Moldain, 7 Thaumont, AC 1000
The campaign begins

The characters, after having spent some time in Kelvin, find employment from a man named Stephan, who hires them to help guard a herd of rare white horses being taken to market in Rifflian, where it is hoped that the elves will pay a good price for the beautiful creatures.

The party departed via the Marilenev’s Pride, a river barge captained by a man named Kalanos. He has promised to drop them at the fork in the river near a ferry house. From there the party can find their way upstream to Sukiskyn, the farmstead run by Stephan’s brother Pyotr where the horses are located. It is a cool day in early spring and overcast.

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En route up the Highreach, a submerged chain in the river trapped the barge and men attacked from the banks. The PCs quickly shot down several men attempting to reach the boat by swimming, but arrows from the trees killed a couple boatmen. One of the crew turned on Martin the wizard and wounded him with a knife to the back. The cleric dispatched the turncoat with a single hammer blow. Martin loosed a sleep spell into the trees to neutralize the snipers. All the men who were swimming toward the boat were killed before reaching their objective.

Chain rightAfter the fight, the party found and tied up four men with shortbows. Investigation revealed a brand on each of their left forearms showing a length of chain links. Interrogation yielded little results as the men stubbornly refused to talk, forcing allowing Roger the thief to dispatch three of them with impunity.

The last prisoner –a man named Zak– was magically charmed by Martin, who is currently attempting a ruse to get the slaver to lead the party to the ruffians’ base camp out on the moors which surround the rivers around and north of Kelvin. Kalanos has agreed to keep the Pride tied up at the bank for the night as the PCs chase down their lead, but will not wait past noon the next day or if he sees any trouble.

Moor

As the sun begins to set, the wind picks up slightly and a light rain begins to fall.

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