Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Distant Inheritance 15

We had the second meeting of a Distant Inheritance last weekend where, as planned, we covered the material I had listed as Sessions 2 and 3. 
In Treemast Edgir and company spent their time preparing themselves for the rest of the adventure, using their just-won gains from the Nokken island. I got a chance to give Ellana grief for her Distaff status while still letting her purchase some of the hunter's poison she wanted for her arrows. Fredigar and Rolf got pretty engaged with the stylized map they found on the back of the Castillain's amulet but haven't yet figured out if it really will show them the location of the lost Tarmalanian tomb - they do know enough now to know they're going to want to head through the ruins of the city to look for it. The princes did the right thing by the Treemast guilds by paying off some of their outstanding debts and passing along the threat of Zagor the Canny's presence in the area. Merogas was able to (despite Rolf's help) identify the sword they found as Halthastor, the Wavecutter, a slightly better than average blade from the goblin wars that does especially well against water spirits. Since Zagor has a reputation for having made deals with foul water-spirits his hiding and guarding of the sword in parts south made sense to the princes, and made them happy to have it when they went north. 

At Edgir's suggestion the elf mage spent some time walking up and down the docks talking to the birds and the fish to see what awaited them up north. He was warned about the increasing number of shipwrecks, and Merogas spent the rest of his days in Treemast preparing himself for some sea based encounter. The rest of the company, now forewarned, also accepted that the path north might not be as easy as planned. They boarded the Silverymoon with some trepadation, but Edgir had complete faith in Captain Sven and his company (especially after bucking the crew up with a good Lineage roll).

Three days out from Treemast the unnatural storm kicked in, and while Merogas (with is air lore, water lore and elven weightlessness) expressed some surprise that the mortals were having some problems with their sea legs (frinkin' elves!) Rolf and Fredigar spent many an hour get a close look at the sea by way of hanging over the rail. The eagle-wizard spent his time on the perch on top of the crow's nest, where he was the first to see the oncoming menace, a black shadow under the water that surfaces as he head and shoulders of an giant man, who eventually reached the surface riding half of a wrecked ship and poling his way towards them with a redwood tree. 

Upon seeing the giant - the very vision of which is enough to make men flee in terror - more than half the crew lost their ability to function, with many leaping over the rail. Merogas, unable to contemplate attacking or even engaging such a thing, adopted his eagle-shape and began plucking those maddened unfortunates from the waves. Ellana is barely able to hold herself together, but spends several moments aiming her bow at the oncoming giant in what the ungenerous might call stock terror. Fredigar, equally put out but able to act, flees below decks to gather the truly important things to bring with him should the ship crash. 

Edgir and Rolf manage to keep Edgir's company and Captain Sven together enough for Rolf's readings on sailing to point them to as safe a harbor as possible, banging the ship against some reefs and finally catching it on a sandbar close enough to shore for the sailors to escape like fleeing rats. Edgir grabs Elanna and runs belowdecks to loose their horses grab what supplies they can and drag out the hobbit. The trio (and the company's three horses) swim for shore where Edgir helps Rolf keep the sailors and their company from fleeing too far. The Giant, a Draugen, roars in impotent rage as his prey escapes to land. Elanna again raises her bow to take a shot at the thing when Edgir grabs her arm to stay the shot. 

"What are you doing, lass?"
"I want to take a shot at it just to annoy it."
"Can you run though the last half of that again?"

Eventually the creature returns to the depths and the Tarmalanian princes take stock of their situation. After leaving supplies for Sven and the sailors to live on while they repair their boat and return to Treemast the company had 9 days worth of rations to make it to either Brinder's Gate or the Slate Hills. Elanna is for pushing up the coast to Brinder's Gate but the princes are against it: they have been there before and know that they have even odds of ending up press ganged if they show up in such a rough town in this condition. So low have the lands once overseen by Tarmalania fallen. Instead the princes op for travelling through the woods, where Rolf and Merogas quickly find one of the old Tarmalanian roads that are still extant even as the cities and towns have fallen prey to the forests' relentless predation. 

After a couple of days they find the remnants of one of those towns and feast on just ripe berries and apples and growing carrots and squash from abandoned gardens before setting forth again. Along the route Elana's skill as a huntress and trapper keep the company modestly provisioned, letting them eat forest meat and save their jerky for later. This proves useful, for shortly thereafter their march is accompanied by the sounds of jaunty fiddle playing from inside the woods. Stopping to discuss if they should investigate Rolf and Edgir bicker, with the younger brother reminding the elder about the whole 'Nokken Horse' incident. Merogas patiently watches the mortals bicker while Elanna and Fredigar slip away into the woods to investigate. 

They find a blue skinned man under a waterfall playing a fiddle. Elanna's attempts to engage him in conversation prove fruitless as he is dismissive of her, assuming she must be married or confused (Nick is really not being helped by his 1d Lineage, never mind the Distaff ability), and she stalks off. Fredigar settles in and listens to the music. When the rest of the company arrives, led by Elanna after her description let Merogas identify the man as a Fossingrim and being no threat, they find the hobbit happily ensconced on a tree root puffing his pipe. 

"Where did you get the bloody tobacco?" Edgir asks in amazement, thinking of their recent travails. 
"You said to get the essentials before the boat sank, so I did."
"What else did you grab?"
The hobbit proudly lifts a small jar "Pickle Relish!"

Introducing themselves ot the Fossingrim, Edgir follows the elf-mage's example and offers the faerie, Stylke by name, meat from outside his forest. In exchange the Fossingrim spend the rest of the day and the next night teaching elf and prince both the secrets of the fiddle. Rolf questions the fiddler about the area but Stylke's time sense is a little off, thinking it just weeks since Tarmalania fell. He does let them know there are Naiads about and speaks of having once been able to see the towers, but now the woods block his view. The next morning, refreshed and restored, the company strike Northeast again towards the main road. 

They reach it in another day and, after one last argument from Elanna about what they might be able to learn there, turn away from Brinder's Gate and head due East to the Slate Hills. They avail themsevles of other remnants of Tarmalanian glory, way stations a day's march apart that are warded against evil forces by rune stones outside them. Despite these places of relative safety the company become ever ore wary, convinced that they are being watched though there is no sign of any watchers. Edgir starts sleeping with Halthastor unsheathed so that its enchantment might warn them of goblin approach. Rolf starts checking each of the runestones before they settle in. 

On the fourth night he finds one of the stones damaged, likely by a swipe from an animal's claws. The shelter is no longer safer than the woods. A brief debate breaks out as to staying there, moving elsewhere or pushing through the night to find the next shelter but ultimately the princes decide to stay, with with all the defenses they can muster. The shelter is checked over, some ground is cleared and a rough palisade constructed. Merogas as eagle circles the area looking for trouble and Rolf rouses Fredigar (who had turned in early being told that they were staying there) that his scouting skills were needed. Edgir unsheaths Halthastor and sees it glowing. The blade is glowing brightly, and the prince gets suspicious feeling in his gut, grabbing one of his squires and heading into the shelter. 

As the sun sets Fredigar sees Goblins rise out of camouflaged shelters in the ground just feet from him and quickly scrambles to cover to avoid combat. Marogas sees them rising and swoops in to the shelter, shrieking a warning with his eagle's throat. Rolf leaps into the saddle and Elanna, seeing the goblins coming, leaps into a tree and hides herself, convinced that there is no victory against these numbers. Inside the shelter Edgir's suspicions are validated as a cunningly concealed bolt hole opens and disgorges goblins. The first falls to Halthastor's blade as Edgir tries to hold them back in the confined space, but is forces to retreat with his squire, goblin corpses in their wake. 

Outside Elanna, hearing the second front of the assault raises and lowers her bow several times but keeps to her original plan of escaping to assist later. Rolf and the princes' company hold the palisade for a short while but then one goblin swings down from the trees and strikes Rolf full in the chest with his weight behind a spiked shield. The prince's armor holds but he is tossed from his saddle, his horse bolting over the palisade and into the woods. Merogas swoops down to help, drawing blood on a pair of golbins with his talons, only to fall under a cloud of the goblin's poison darts. 

Fighting back out of the shelter Edgir rallies his men, tossing his stunned brother to cover and having his men cover the elf, but even he cannot hold their position for too long. In the end he and his men had seriously wounded or killed more than half of the 30 goblin force, but it was not enough. All are poisoned and dragged through the woods. The goblins take Elanna's mount as a prize but their attempt to claim Edgir's stallion Redmane results in another Goblin injury as the warhorse bolts into the woods. Elanna and Fredigar shadow the goblins' back to their camp, which exists in the basements and sewers of a fallen human city. 

Once caged the princes and elf are rudely awakened for questioning by Zelor the Huge, the goblin leader. Zelor focuses originally on the humans, where Edgir's attempts to claim his true name are repeatedly stifled by kicks from his brother. Merogas calmly informs the goblin chief that he can explain where they came from and, once he is pulled from his cage, needles the goblin chief with nonsense until the elf is lifted and tossed bodily away in frustration. Free from any fetters or goblin embrace Merogas takes his othershape and vanishes into the sky, much to the goblins surprise. 

"We just met him on the road," Edgir extemporizes, and both princes say they would have gladly paid a toll to the goblins if they had posted signs. "I know what we'll place on the signpost" Zelor grunts and Edgir is pulled from the cages, dragged to a tree, bound and whipped. Elanna prepares to move to rescue him but Fredigar restrains him. Now is not the time, and he knows the feel of the crowd frm escaping an angry mob or two himself – they aren’t going to kill anyone yet. Edgir maintains silence throughout the ordeal and is tossed unconscious back into the cage, where his brother does his best to tend his wounds. Zelor carries the goblin-killing Halthastor into his chambers and leaves the prisoners to rot for a few days until they decide to be more forthcoming. 

Then next morning, using the advantages of sunlight and shadow with the goblin;s poor eyes Fredigar enters the camp and approaches Rolf. The prince tells him they will abide while Fredigar prepares for a better escape, but that they will need Halthastor back. The hobbit nods and starts collecting odds and ends from the goblin camp that will supply them on the road. When he gets back to his and Elanna’s bolt hole the elf is present. Merogas has collected the princes horses, confirmed their location and then found his fellows. They are in the ruins of Oakholme, and that town had store towers at its outskirts, one of which still stands. The trio decide that would be a better hiding spot for the company rather than a desperate immediate run and make their plans. 

The next day while Zelor is speaking one of his attendants the subservient goblin sprouts a goblin arrow in the throat. Zelor, paranoid about some other goblin encampment, rounds up men and hurries towards the shooter’s location, but he finds no sign of them, as Elanna took the shot from much further away than a goblin bow could manage. In the chaos Fredigar slips unnoticed into Zelor’s chambers and finds Haltahstor sheathed and mounted on the wall as a trophy. He quickly finds a different sword and makes a switch, hoping it will go unnoticed. 

The goblin camp, already paranoid, becomes more on edge when Edgir starts telling them that it would be best to release he and his men. The goblins scoff at this at first, and the notice the ever growing cloud of ravens and crows circling nearby. The camp is near panic the next dawn when arrows fly in rapid succession, killing three of the nine outside guards. The rest rush to cover, with three going under the town to warn the goblins while the other three hide shelter in the doorway - this is when the princes’ company, lightly armed by the grace of Fredigar, with Edgir bearing Halthastor, burst from their unlocked cages and overwhelm the guards. Rolf leaps onto his horse as Merogas rides the mounts through on Elanna’s, tossing Redmane’s reigns to the high prince. Elanna leaps from the trees onto her horse as Rolf scoops Fredigar onto the pommel of his saddle. 

As the company flees the scene Merogas caws into the dawn and the murder of crows descend, blackening the air over the goblin’s camp. Merogas leads the prince’s company to the stone tower while Elanna and Fredigar wipe out their tracks with evergreen branches. They take shelter hopeful that the deception will hold. 

That night the goblins swarm the woods searching for them but do not find them in the tower – for all that they camp right outside of it in their covered pits. Cursing their presence the company plots their next move, but they are interrupted by ethereal singing coming from below the tower. Rolf and Fredigar head into the tower’s basement with its well and find inside a lovely young woman singing. They retreat discuss options with the others and agree that the Naiad is definitely not on the goblin’s side, but might not be on theirs either. Rolf is able to negotiate safe drinking water for the company but doesn’t push it any further. 

As Edgir plots their fighting escape Elanna suggests that they negotiate with the naiads for passage through the subterranean stream to somewhere outside of goblin lands. Edgir is reluctant not just due to a lack of faith in the fey creatures but since it would mean losing the horses. They decide to wait to see if the goblins give up the search that night. 

They do not, and in fact redouble it. Rolf and Edgir agree that they cannot stay hidden another night, and a plan must be made before dawn. Elanna presses again to get the naiads’ word but Edgir will not lose the horses. Merogas, who has been silent for a day and a night, tells them to make ready to ride (or run) with the dawn. He walks to the tower’s unstable roof and begins to chant. An obsidian black thunderhead rolls in from the sea as the wizard speaks. The goblins are at first thrilled as it blocks the hated sun and lets them search longer but then the skies open up with a storm not seen in a century. Lightning flashes down once, twice, three times, shattering the tower’s parapets and leaving the company sure they had lost their wizard when the inscrutable Merogas stepped from the growing fog and bid them to ride now. The storm was outside of his control but it would shelter them.

For a day and a night and into the next day they rode on, dodging the goblins who were madly seeking shelter from the storm. When the rains tricked out the next noon none of the company or horses were lost but all were soaked, hungry and pushed almost past exhaustion. Still, they have another day to compose themselves before riding through the gates of the Slate Hills with the hopes that the dwarves’ months old promises to them will be fulfilled.