The party had returned to their home town following their successful venture into Elwyn’s Sanctuary. As they sat supping ale in the Blade and Stars they were approached by a man calling himself Stephan. He was looking to recruit a team to help out his brother Pyotr. Stephan was known to the church as a good man, so Vyaarnen and Stephen were happy to hear his proposal.
Pyotr owns a farmstead, Sukiskyn away to the east, and makes a living catching and taming wild horses. Recently, a herd of white horses have been captured and Pyotr hopes to sell them for a fine price to the Callarii tribe of elves, as the white horse is their tribal symbol. He will need help to take them to Rifflian, where the main horse trading occurs.
Stephan offers 100gp each for the job, as well as free food and lodgings, and free transport upriver. Most of the party are happy with this, but Morkel haggles with Stephan and they finally agree on a price of 145gp each. Stephan explains that a boat, owned by Kalanos, will leave in a week’s time.
The week passes without incident and the 5 ‘horse herders’ board the rowing boat and they set off upstream. Morkel starts to ask the others if they had picked up any rumours in the tavern the night before, but they realise it is too late now!
Just before noon the boat strikes something under the water and jerks to a halt. Jubal rushes to the front to look over the prow and see if he can see anything. Just then, 8 figures break cover on the right bank and loose a hail of arrows. Every member of the party is hit by an arrow – who said this was going to be a gentle trip upriver!
The oarsmen all hit the desk and took cover below the gunwales. The party are in something of a state of confusion too – Morkel returns fire, Stephen and Vyaarnen duck for cover, Jubal continues to look over the prow and Maglor considers cloud formations overhead. Jubal spots that a chain had been pulled tightly across the river and calls this out to the others. “Row back downstream!” calls Stephen, and indeed, the boat has started to drift. However it soon hits a second chain that must have been raised – caught!! At the same time, 9 more men emerge from the bushes and with daggers between their teeth they begin to swim towards the boat.
The crew are still frozen with fear so Stephen and Vyaarnen take an oar each and attempt to row to the far bank, while Morkel, Jubal and Maglor return fire. During the exchange of arrows, a thought strikes Morkel and he puts down his bow and begins to chant. As his chanting finishes two things happen simultaneously – 5 of the swimmers stop swimming and seem to sink, and he gets a shock as one of the crewmen stabs him between the shoulder blades
The boat had reaches the far bank, and the remaining swimmers are nearly at the boat. Jubal and Maglor continue to return fire and are concentrating on the figure who looks like the leader. Morkel engages in mortal combat with the crazed, traitorous crewman and Stephen and Vyaarnen await the arrival of the swimmers, who are now aiming for the bank rather than the boat.
The bandit leader falls, along with several of his archer colleagues, the unarmoured swimmers are no match for the zealous power of Hellim and the turncoat oarsmen, while putting up a strong fight, finally succumbs to elvish blade work. The final two archers flee into the forest. An examination of the bodies reveals little treasure but some interesting marks. The swimmers and the traitor all have a brand on the left forearm that resembles a set of manacles. The swimmers also have scars on their wrists. Maglor muses that they might have been manacled at some time, and be ex-slaves. They then row the boat was over to investigate the bodies of the archers. Again, they all have the brand on the left forearm, and the archers also have the manacle scars� Some sort of cult or gang??
Kalanos is eager to get underway, and it is dusk by the time the boat reaches Misha’s Ferry – the agreed drop off point. The place appears deserted, but Kalanos assures the party that Misha often goes hunting with her pet bear and will be back before nightfall. They should make themselves at home in her cabin and await her return.
A brief exploration confirms that the cabin was empty. Rumbling stomachs prompt them to prepare a fire in the fire pit in front of the cabin. Suddenly there is a rustling sound from the bushes behind the cabin and a huge, angry looking bear appears. When it sees the party it roars and starts to charge. They hurry into the cabin and shut the door. After a bit more roaring and scratching at the door, the bear wanders off. The rest of the night is uneventful, although the howling of wolves makes them glad they decided to sleep inside.
The non-return of Misha by the following morning is a cause for slight concern, and the party try to follow the bear tracks to see if she is lying injured nearby. However they loose the tracks within 50 yards of the cabin and give up.
The trek to Sukiskyn through the woods is without mishap. Morkel feels more at ease than he has for a long time� As dusk starts to fall the sound of shouting voices can be heard. Also, the horizon is aglow with flames. Hurrying along the track they see a river and the bridge to the Sukiskyn homestead. Beyond the palisade fence they can see a barn is burning..
Before they can take in much more a squad of eight goblins wearing wolfskin cloaks burst from the undergrowth and hurl spears. Jubal and Morkel are hit and the party quickly engage. The battle is short lived. The final two goblins panic to see six of their comrades fall so quickly and the scurry back into the bushes. A howl is heard and seven more goblins are seen, riding wolves and hurtling along the river bank attempting to cut off the bridge. A call of “Look Out! Quick, before they cut you off!” focuses the mind, and the party tear across the bridge and through the open gate.
Session date: 27Sep2010
As the party enter the yard, the gate is closed behind them. To their left is the burning barn, ahead and to the right is a solid-looking building with a tower at the north end. Suddenly a party of scarlet clad goblins appear through a breach in the palisade wall beyond the barn and make a beeline for the party. Two fall to missile fire from the tower but the rest press on. Stephen, Morkel and Jubal adopt defensive stances to allow the others a chance to rush through the nearest door. Morkel fells one goblin before they manage to slip through the doorway and bar it from the other side. They appear to be in a kitchen, and the lady who held the gate for them introduces herself as Alfana, and her husband Taras is the man who shouted from the gatehouse. She bids the party to come through to the main hall to meet Pyotr.
Pyotr welcomes his visitors and quips about the warm welcome they’ve received. He then asks them who they are. Stephen explains that they have come to help herd horses. “Ah! You’ve met my brother Stephan!” exclaims Pyotr, “Then you are most welcome here, although we will need your help to hold off these goblins”. He then proceeds to explain the current situation and to introduce the other residents of the homestead.
Sukiskyn is surrounded by two tribes – the Red-Blade? and the Wolfskull. There was a third tribe, the Viper, but they stole the horses from the pens and disappeared. Sadly they killed two residents in the process – Novannes the smith and Hakos his son-in-law. There have been several raid on human homesteads over the past few days, which seems unusual. Pyotr muses on whether someone has been stirring up the goblins. Having tribes working together is unusual in his experience.
He explains the layout of the main building and the strength of his defensive force (3 archers, 2 slingers). Stephen de Hauteville soon takes the lead on suggesting observation points and who should keep watch from where. Pyotr is happy with the suggestions.
Vyaarnen and Irina go to the top of the tower, Pyotr watches to the west from the windows in his own bedroom and Jubal and Morkel peep out of the arrow slits in the tower. Stephan is concerned at the possibility of a ladder-based attack and asks about the whereabouts of some long sticks or poles. Matvey (Pyotr’s young son) suggests the tack room or smithy ight have some. He volunteers to rush across the yard to have a look. Both Pyotr and Stephan say no, but Stephen suggests that Matvey could man the door while he goes hmself. Matvey is satisfied with this – he is very impressed with this dashing hero of Hellim! Stephen finds four six foot staves and on his return he stations himself in the upper level of the hall, looking out to the south.
All the while they have been talking the goblins have been banging drums and chanting� Night has now fallen, the sky is clear and the moon is beginning to rise. The atmosphere is tense and forbidding, but everyone is pleased that the moonlight will allow them to see any assaults.
About an hour after sundown the drumming and chanting suddenly stops. Eyes strain to see movement in the darkness of the tree cover, but nothing seems to happen. After five minutes of eerie silence, the drumming and chanting restarts.
A quarter of an hour later, Vyaarnen cries out as a stone hits her on the head and two others rattle off the walls of the tower. She ducks down and peers out, trying to where hwere they came from. As another volley of stones rattles off the tower she spots movement in the bushes to the west and Morkel returns fire (he figures his infravision will help his aim). Vyaarnen and Irina are both hit by more stones before Morkel manages to fell two of the three goblin snipers. The third retreats back into the bushes.
Irina suggests that someone more heavily armoured should be up on the tower and eyes Jubal appreciatively. Jubal agrees, although Pyotr suggests that she should come down from the tower and keep watch from the upper level of the hall. She looks a little downcast but agrees.
Approximately an hour later the chanting and drumming stop again. Nothing seems to happen and after five minutes the noise resumes. The psychological ploys of the goblins do seem to be having an effect on some of the members of the homestead. Masha, upset at the death of her husband and her father is getting more tetchy and tearful.
Soon it is Jubal who is startled as a stone rattles his helmet. This time there seem to be more snipers as several more stones are heard hitting the battlements. At this point everyone agrees to keep off the roof and watch from windows/arrowslits. Some sharpshooting from Morkel, Jubal and Stellios seems to stem the tide of stones and peace (!) returns.
Between 9 and 10 pm a small raiding party are seen by Pyotr coming across the bridge. Two larger goblins riding wolves lead another 10 goblins into the courtyard where they proceed to attack the barricaded door into the kitchen area. At the same time, 8 goblins, all clad in red, scurry from the tree cover to the north, take shelter behind the ruined barn and provide covering fire with stones�
The defenders are able to get good angles of fire from the tower stairway while being well sheltered from the covering fire and they concentrate their fire on the mounted goblins. One goes down and his mount flees back over the bridge, but his companion rallies his troops to continue hacking at the door. Maglor and Jubal concetrate their fire on the goblins by the barn, again, slowly reducing their numbers.
The turning point comes when Morkel casts Sleep and Pytotr scores a crucial hit on the remaining wolf rider. The wolf rider drops to the ground and those attacking the door are reduced to only three in number. Jubal is called by Stephen, and they open the battered but still functioning kitchen door and sally forth to confront the goblin raiders. With the light of Hellim burning in his eyes Stephen swings his mace in a deadly fury. Goblin brains splatter across the courtyard and drip from mace and sword alike.
Jubal and Stephen continue on to the goblin party by the barn and these too are soon introduced to the power of Hellim. The sleeping goblins are swiftly despatched and the raiding party is no more.
The bridgehead under the remains of the gatehouse is barricaded with stakes and any other debris in order to prevent a repeat attack. No one was serioulsy injured in the attack and Pyotr is thankful to Stephen for leading such a sturdy defense of his homestead.
Another silence in the drumming occurs another hour or so later. But no one pays it much attention now. Flushed with the victory against the raiding party they feel they can hold out till dawn whatever is flung at them.
Morkel remembers that he has an invisibility potion, booty from a previous adventure, and offers to sneak out into the woods to check out the strength of the goblin tribes. Before he can formulate any plan shrieks are heard from the woods to the north and everyone rushes to the windows to investigate. What looks like a human female, clad in a yellow dress can be seen being dragged through the woods. Darya begins to wail that her friend Katerina of the Cherkass homestead has a favourite yellow dress and is clearly in the goblins hands. She must be rescued!
Pyotr dismissing the whole thing as a goblin trick and refuses permission to anyone to even consider a ‘rescue’. After 5 minutes or so the cries fade away and the drumming continues�.
Session date: 8Nov2010
Morkel is still keen to try his invisibility plan. He notifies Stephan of his intentions and creeps out of the homestead via the horse pens. While still in shadow, he drinks the potion. Once satisfied that he can see through his own hand he proceeds to the eastern woods and aims for the first fire he can see.
When he gets closer to the fire he relealises that there are no goblins around it. Could it be a dummy to make the attacking force seem bigger..? He creeps to the next and finds half a dozen goblins. One drumming, two chanting and the rest gnawing bones, supping from cups and bickering in what he suspects is the normal goblin way. As he sneaks away from the fire and starts to creep on to the next one he steps on a large twig which cracks loudly. The bickering behind him stops instantly and he hears the tone change. After 30 seconds or so, the bickering re-starts with greater intensity. Breathing an inward sigh of relief, Morkel continues.
The next fire is again vacant, but the next has maybe a dozen goblins including two bigger ones. A similar size to the wolf riders. Could they be the chiefs? Here too are drummers, chanters and bickerers! Although the behaviour is generally better, probably due to the presence of the big guys. As Morkel creeps round to the next fire he steps on another twig. Again, the bickering stops instantly – how are they hearing anything over the drums and chanting? Morkel freezes again, this time a hail of sling stones peppers the woods around the clearing. Luckily none fly anywhere near the invisible elf and he continues on.
As he approaches the final fire, Morkel steps on a third twig. He’s had enough by now and races back to the homestead. He reports that based on what he saw and the number of fires they see there are about 20 goblins and two leaders.
Several hours of continual drumming later, dark shadows seem to flit across the windows. Then, several giant bats squeeze through into the main hall and attack! Currently on watch there are Stephen, Tarras and Vyaarnen. Stephen is bitten by one of the bats and falls to the floor! Tarras fights on while Vyaarnen rushes to Stephen’s aid. He is still alive and she prays that Hellim will save his faithful servant. Colour comes back to Stephen’s face, but he remains unconscious.
By now Maglor, Morkel and Pyotr have joined the fray and the bats are taking damage. Tarras is bitten and also drops to the floor. Pyotr is shocked to see his son fall in battle and utters an incomprehensible war cry! A few short sword thrusts later and the bats are all dead.
Within 10 minutes Stephen and Tarras both wake, feeling groggy and a little sick. Some food from Darya and some quiet rest soon revives them.
Talk begins to turn to what will happen at dawn. Stephen is clearly feeling better as he suggests charging out to finish off the tribe just as they are weakening in the sunlight. Pyotr counsels against this, saying that the defence of the homestead is the main objective.
Maglor announces that the sky is lightening to the east so dawn must be on it’s way. Pyotr beams at this news and begins hum to himself. He clearly believes that they have nearly made it through the night. Suddenly, everyone becomes aware that the sound of the chanting has changed – there’s a new ferocity to it. Pyotr stops humming.
Maglor calls out – approximately 30 red-clad goblins, some carrying ladders, are charging across the clearing from the north east. Three of the largest goblins, including one enormous one, break off from the main group and veer off into the northern courtyard. Two other larger goblins continue to lead the main group, with the ladders, towards the main hall.
Stephen calls all the defenders together and makes a brief plea to Hellim to aid them in their final defence of the homestead. The sun god must be listening as everyone feels the Blessing cast upon them.
The goblin king, for it is he, and his two bodyguards proceed to attack the north door of the main hall. Stellios, Jubal and Morkel have already managed to score a couple of hits on this group before they even reach the door. They focus their attacks on the king and through a combination of short range, the power of the sun god and some good luck they manage to fell him in a matter of moments. The two bodyguards howl in anguish at this and redouble their efforts on the door. Several more accurate bow shots and their attack is over, the door is battered but still standing. Jubal and Morkel rush to join their friends…
Meanwhile, the balcony of the main hall is under siege by the main body of goblins. Lined up in defence are Pyotr, Tarras, Maglor and Vyaarnen. As the first ladder is laid against the wall Maglor is ready to fend it off and succeeds in knocking it to the ground. The other ladders are up, and soon goblins are swarming up. Pyotr fends off another ladder and manages to injure two goblins as they fall. A goblin reaches the top of the ladder facing Tarras and engages, neither manage to land a blow on the other. Maglor moves to the top of another ladder and engages a climbing goblin. Morkel, having finished off the goblin bodyguards, quickly surveys the scene and decides it’s time for another Sleep spell. A dozen of the goblins waiting to scale the ladders drop to the ground.
Two goblins have managed to scale the ladders and reach the balcony. They both engage Vyaarnen and she does well to hold them off. Stephen returns from barricading the door and aids her defence. Morkel now switches to his bow, and together with Jubal and Stellios they start to pick off the remaining attackers.
Morale amongst the goblins eventually breaks and the last two elect not to climb the walls, or revive their sleeping comrades but turn and run for the woods. A last volley of arrows ensures that there are no survivors.
The battle seems to be over. As everyone recovers their breath from the excitement of the siege, Irina and Kuzma offer healing to those in need – Stephan, Maglor and Tarras. Now that the sun is fully up it’s time to assess the damage…
Session date: 29Nov2010
Kuzma prepares a steaming pot of porridge for the weary defenders. As they eat they agree to scout around the homestead first, then search the woods for survivors, clues or anything else they can find.
Tarras accompanies the party around the homestead. The bodies of the Wolfskull and Red Blade raiding parties lay where they fell. Jubal investigates the body of the Red Blade chief and find two red gemmed earrings. He is also intrigued by the goblin king’s battle axe. He scrapes some of the red paint off the blade and sees that it if made of fine steel and is very sharp. He is sure it’s not of goblin construction and takes it for himself. He also searches the bodyguards and finds a few hundred gold pieces. Any coins on the rest of the goblin attackers are left for Pyotr, to help pay for repairs to the homestead.
The search then heads north into the trees. The remains of the campfires seen by Morkel on his invisible exploration are smouldering and surrounded by gnawed bones and fruit peels. Many footprints are visible, the vast majority corresponding to the small feet of goblins, however Maglor notices a few larger footprints, nearer human size – who else was here..!!?? Also, a rather nice silver amulet in the shape of a tower is found in the mud. Discussion turns to the fate of the stolen horses. In a case of stating the obvious, Maglor suggested searching around the stables and pens and looking for hoof marks.
An examination of the pens reveals several dead goblins with snake tattoos on their cheeks. Tarras identifies them as Vipers – the tribe that made off with the horses. There is also a clear trail of hoof and footprints leading directly west away from Sukiskyn.
Following a discussion with Pyotr and Tarras, in which the party are offered a 20gp bounty on each horse recovered, it is agreed that Tarrs and the party will follow the trail in order to recover the stolen steeds. After taking some time to gather food they mount up on some of the remains horses and set out in good spirits.
Not long after entering the trees the trail veers to the north and after a few miles reaches the edge of the forest and promptly turns east, following the edge of the treeline. Soon after this, Maglor notices that there are what look like wolf footprints in the trail as well. The trackers continue, wondering what they will eventually find�
Suddenly the trail veers back into the forest, and about 200 yards in is a clearing which is a scene of devestation and destruction. Dead goblins and dead horses lie, grotesquely twisted. The stench of death hangs heavy in the air. A larger goblin hangs by his feet from a tree, swinging idly. It soon becomes apparent that the trackers are not the first to arrive at this hell-hole as six large beetles stop their scavenging and scuttle over menacingly. Jubal, Stephen and Morkel engage them while Maglor provides covering arrow fire. As the party engage the beetles a goblin drops from a nearby tree and attempts to escape into the undergrowth. Jubal breaks off from combat to pursue it. Within 30 yards he has run it down and sits on it until Vyaarnen arrives with some cord to bind it’s hands and feet. The beetles are despatched, but not without Stephen and Morkel suffering some painful blisters from some sort of oily liquid squirted by the beetles.
The female goblin captive rapidly crumbles under questioning and explains in pidgin Common that her Viper clan were overrun by the rival Wolfskull tribe who proceeded to massacre them for ducking out of the siege. She then proudly explains that her brother and a few other Vipers managed to escape with most of the horses and gestures in a vaguely south-easterly direction. Stephan decides that the captive should remain alive as she may provide further information. Leaving the clearing to the south-east they soon pick up the trail of the horses and continue on.
After a few miles the hoof trail meets and follows an overgrown trackway. After a couple more miles there is a sign at the side of the trail, indicating that a horse trader operates in the vicinity. The party halts, dismounts and continues cautiously. As evidence of an encampment appears, Maglor and Morkel scout around to see what’s what.
The encampment consists of four rather dilapidated caravans around a firepit, plus a large corral with around 30 horses, a lot of which are white. Several figures are seen around the firepit including a female wearing a blue robe. Tarras and Stephen decide to walk up to the camp and negotiate a non-violent settlement.
They approach the camp and strike up a conversation with the female who turns out to be an elf and introduces herself as Fyodorll. Tarras explains that a large herd of white horses were stolen from his farmstead last night and he has tracked them to this encampment. Fyodorll explains that she bought them in good faith from a group of goblins an hour or so ago. She didn’t know they were stolen but is happy to sell them back at the cost price of 50gp each. Tarras is unwilling to pay for his own property and the elf explains that she would be heavily out of pocket if she simply gives the horses back. Stephen valiantly steps in and offers to pay 20gp per horse, for all the horses that Fyodorll owns. Tarras starts to protest, but Stephen quietly points out that they should easily be able to recover the money from the gobins when they catch up with them. Fyodorll won’t accept 20gp but finally agrees to sell all of her stock for 25gp each.
The party chose a horse each while Tarras fashions simple bridles to keep the herd together during the ride home. The journey home is uneventful and they arrive back at Sukiskyn around dusk, tired and hungry but in good spirits at retrieving the horses without bloodshed.
The atmosphere within Sukiskyn is not so jolly however. Three men from a lumber camp upriver staggered into the homestead earlier in the day reporting that they had been raided 2 days previous. Everyone felt sad to hear that the crew of Kalanos’ boat had been slaughtered, and a truly sombre mood descended when it was announced that pyotr’s brother Stephan was captured by one of the goblin tribes – likely the Wolfskulls from the description.
Despite the bad tidings, a feast of sorts was held that night to thank the party for their stout efforts in defending against the goblins and for retrieving the horses. During the feat Pyotr finally broke his silence and asked Stephen to consider taking his friends to rescue Stephan. He offers a half share in the profits of the horse sale, plus any equipment or supplies that he has. Stephan accepts, saying that he knows Hellim would want him to help and to punish the sun-fearing goblins.
Everyone retires to bed knowing there is much to be done in the morning.
Session date: 13Dec2010
The following day is spent resting, sharpening swords, maintaining equipment, and checking over the horses bought from Fyordyll. The group also discuss their next steps and consider that a trip up to the Ilyakana lumber camp would be in order to check for clues in the best Scooby Doo style. Pyotr asks Stephen about the goblin prisoner they have brought with them. This reminds him that they forgot to question her about the recent goblin activity.
The female goblin is scared of her captors but seems willing to talk in broken Common. She haltingly explains that the Vipers and Red-Blade? tribes were allies and were recently recruited/rounded up by the Wolfskull to take part in the recent raids. When asked about the location of the tribal lairs she starts to scratch a crude map on the dusty floor. It shows the Red-Blade? lair is to the south east and the Viper lair further away to the east.
The following morning the party ride north from Sukiskyn to explore Ilyakana. Spirits are high and they make good time through the forest. After an hour or so they come across the remains of another homestead which was clearly beseiged and destroyed by the goblins a while ago. A quick search reveals no bodies or clues as to which tribes were involved. The press on to Ilyakana.
After a few more hours riding tree stumps become more common and it is clear that the lumber camp cannot be far away. The track they are riding on becomes more defined and show the mark of cartwheels. Around a corner they spy a scene of devastation – human and goblin corpses litter what must be the remains of the lumber camp. Amongst the bodies wanders a dishevelled man, muttering to himself. Jubal recognises him as Kalanos and approaches with a hailed greeting. Kalanos screams and runs into the trees banging trees with his axe. Jubal figures that Kalanos has been affected by the slaughter he witnessed and follows on horseback. Kalanos stops at a tree, turns and raises his bow to fire an arrow, luckily missing. Jubal leaps from his horse and attempts to wrestle Kalanos to the ground. He is soon joined by Morkel and the three engage in a fistfight. Kalanos soon drops to his knees and is bound at wrist and ankle.
A search around the lumber camp reveals no survivors and no treasure. The only useful info it reveals is that the Wolfskull were aided by the Red-blades. Stephen is appalled at the lack of funeral rites for the dead humans and enlists Vyaarnen to help him gather wood for a funeral pyre. Luckily, being a lumber camp there is plenty of wood around so they, with the help of the others soon create a pyre suitable for the 10 lumberjacks and boatmen. The pyre is lit and some prayers are said, then the party return to Sukiskyn. Kalanos is taken into care by Kuzma and the party feed and rest.
The following morning they decide to investigate the two goblin lairs they know the whereabouts of. Hopefully they will find clues to lead them to the Wolfskulls. They elect to start with the Red-blade. Having lost their king during the siege, there should be little resistance.
The trip to the Red blade lair takes the party near to Fyodorll’s encampment, and with the day already passed into late afternoon, they pop in to seek shelter for the night. Only one stable boy is present – he explains the Fyodorll is out attempting to procure more horses after her complete stock was bought. He is hapy for some company and invites the party to stay the night.
It doesn’t take more thana few hours the next day to find the goblin lair. The horses are tied up a good 100 yards from the entrance and Maglor is sent on ahead to scout about. He reports nothing and so the whole party approach the front door.
Just as he approaches the door Maglor hears an echoing sound like the rustle of a leather robe. No other sound is heard and so after a pause they enter…
Suddenly there’s a flapping noise from above and several large birds with pointy beaks are flapping around, attacking! Stephen and Jubal are both ‘bitten’ by the birds who latch on like giant mosquitoes and start to suck their blood. The flying, pointy beaked chickens are eventually all killed, and Stephen uses his Staff of Healing to repair some of the probiscis damage.
Investigation of hte lair seems to indicate tha the place is deserted. Room after room of rubbish, the odd chair or table, but no signs of life, or clues as to the Wolfskull, or more importantly, no treasure! There are mutterings about leaving, when a stout, iron-boud oak door is spotted at the end of a coridoor. Maglor checks it over and manages to pick the lock – hurrah! As he opens the door there’s a rustling and six giant ferrets leap out and attack. One sinks it’s teeth into Maglors arm, the rest are momentarily dazzled by torchlight. Morkel elects to use a Sleep spell and all the ferrets fall to the ground. Within the room are an ornate tapestry, some jars of wine, a large ruby on a cushion and a chest. Maglor examines the chest – he sucessfully finds a removes a trap and then pushes his luck further by picking the lock as well! Within the chest are gold pieces, gems, an amulet and a potion – a tasty haul. Jubal, who was holding the large ruby suddenly notices that the colour has ‘drained’ out of it and it now look rather more like it is made of glass. He decides something is a bit odd about it and leaves it behind.
The party returns to the first room of the lair – outside the light is already fading. They decide to fetch the horses, camp in the lair and seek the Viper lair in the morning.
Session date: 10Jan2011
Rosy-fingered dawn struggled to penetrate the heavy cloud and driving rain. Stephen and Vyaarnen said a prayer together to Hellim, asking him to show his face. A brief search for tracks left by the departing Red-blade goblins was rapidly abandoned when it became clear that a) there were no obvious tracks and b) any fainter tracks would soon be washed away. The only remaining option was to trek north-east and aim for the Viper lair.
The journey was uneventful save for the endless rain. Vyaarnen mused that in such foul weather even wandering monsters would elect not to wander. By late afternoon the rain had eased off and the sky brightened somewhat. Feeling that they didn’t wish to approach a goblin lair in early evening, a search was made for a suitable camp site. They found a dell, with well drained soil that seemed dry enough to camp in. Stephen used his magic staff to cure the remaining ills of the party, and took the midnight watch.
He hears a flapping, fluttering noise and is attacked by giant bats! Calling out to wake the rest of the party he engages with his mace. Jubal is first to react to the call and grabs a burning stick from the fire to aid his sight of the flying foe. Stephen is bitten and curses loudly – Vyaarnen doubts his godliness. Vyaarnen is bitten too and another curse is aimed at the sun god. Maglor slices a bat in two then comes to Vyaarnen’s aid, killing her assailant. Jubal gets his act together and fells the final bat. As the party return to slumber, Stephen recalls that the previous bat attack involved paralysis – likely from Vampire bats. Was this set of bats the native species for these woods and the vampire bats a strange anomaly, or were these bats the odd ones….
Rosy-fingered dawn has an easier job the next morning. The cloud is lighter and there is some drizzle, but it’s far nicer than the previous day. After a breakfast of roasted bat, the trek to the north-east continues. Maglor spots a trail through the undergrowth. Morkel confirms the suspicions that it’s a goblin track. It leads to a steep sided hill, where it veers to the north. The horses are tethered in a sheltered grove and the party continue on foot. Maglor is sent to climb the hill to investigate further. As he crests the rise he spots more trails on the other side, they seem to converge on a spot below him. Angling round for a better view he sees a cave entrance – this must be the Viper lair!!
A plan is concocted – to slither down the cliff side and attack the cave entrance from both sides. When the plan is put into action a small hiccup is encountered – the cave entrance is blocked by a large, barricaded door. Next to the door is a patch of disturbed earth. Stephen seems exasperated, ‘Have these bastards fucked off too!?!’ Jubal, being more a man of action, wields his mighty axe and hacks the door to pieces. Within the resulting corridor is a broken totem of a large snake. A brief and not very complex piece of detective work suggests that it was removed from outside and used to bar the door.
Exploration of the caves reveals very little of interest – the place appears abandoned… On turning a corner however, the way ahead is blocked by a barricade of rocks and general detritus. There’s an approximate 4′ gap at the top and small, gobliny figures can be seen. A knife is thrown but fails to reach the party. Then some loud discussion in the goblin tongue, followed by an expectant hush… Morkel attempts to communicate in Hobgoblin but this only earns him another knife, which manages to hit him. Jubal attempts to throw a Molotov cocktail, but his judgment is off and he simply sets fire to the barricade itself. Stephen suddenly decides they should backtrack to check for secret doors that may allow them to circumvent the barricade. None are found, and in the time taken to search, the oil fire has died down sufficiently to allow Jubal and Vyaarnen to charge to the top and engage the goblins in melee combat. Jubal is hampered by the low passage ceiling, but Vyaarnen is aided by the power of Hellim and brains the first defender. They force their way down the other side, allowing Stephen and Morkel to follow. Three more goblins are felled and the scream, and flee. Stephen’s holy mace manages to catch one on the back of the head, Maglor looses an arrow from the top of the barricade to fell another and Jubal bundles the last one to the floor using a technique he refers to as ‘rugby’. Vyaarnen’s injuries are treated with Stephen’s staff.
Morkel now proceeds to shock the rest of the party by remembering that he can speak Goblin, and then interrogating the captive in rather an unpleasant manner. The terrified Viper is too scared to speak and Morkel gets no information. The rest of the party continue to explore more empty rooms. Finally however, they reach a door.
On opening it, Stephen sees a room *full* of snakes, and is greeted with a hail of daggers and a thrown snake!! He quickly shuts the door. The party are readied, Morkel recalls the incantation for Sleep and the door is re-opened. The Sleep spell is effective and causes most of the goblin defenders to fall to the floor. The goblin chief throws another snake, which hits Maglor, coils round him and starts to squeeze. Maglor battles the snake and Morkel aids him with a careful slicing action. The snake dies and slumps to the floor, as does Maglor while he attempts to regain his breath. Another snake is thrown by the Viper chief, but this one fails to hit anyone so slithers about the floor. Stephen fells a goblin and the chief elects to run away down a narrow passage that no one had noticed. Jubal is lightning quick, and cleaves the chief with a mighty swing of his axe. The snake continues to slither – Vyaarnen hits it with her mace but Stephen misses. Maglor deals the killing blow and peace breaks out.. It seems that most of the snakes that Stephen saw were carvings or stuffed.
The goblins are searched. The search reveals 23 gp and a belt with gold inlay. Vyaarnen is not mightily impressed. The two clerics discuss the escape passage, but Maglor is keen to search further.. He rummages around the largest of the carvings and finds 3 gems, a pearl necklace and a box with a keyhole. Maglor detects no traps, but Vyaarnen detects a key on the dead chief. Three vials of potion and 50 platinum pieces are held within the little box. Sips of the potion cause the taster to feel stronger, wish to order about birds and squirrels, and see distant lands… Also within the casket is a small scrap of parchment which looks to be a map – could it be marking the Wolfskull lair….?
Session date: 17Jan2011
Following a breakfast of roasted snake steak the party mount up, planning to head to the place marked on the map – it looks like an island on a lake to the north east. A track from the Viper lair leads in an easterly direction, so for ease of travel they elect to follow it. Maglor is placed at the front to scout ahead. After a couple of hours he sees two bodies lying on the track ahead. He stops and dismounts, approaching cautiously. As he gets closer he notices a pack mule grazing calmly a few yards off the track. The two figures appear to be a human and a goblin – he kicks the leg of the human but there is no reaction. As he circles the scene it becomes very clear that both are dead – by a quirk of fate they must have struck killing blows simultaneously. He calls back to the others and they join him. While they approach, Maglor checks the mule’s pack – it contains many animal pelts, a tent and bedroll, some food, arrows and a vial of liquid – a potion maybe. On the bodies are about 50gp and the trapper also has a scrap of parchment – it features the same lake as the last map, but this time has three crosses in the far north-west. A tasting by Stephen suggests the vial contains a potion of Healing. The dead trapper is strapped onto the back of his mule and taken along – once it stops raining a funeral pyre will be built.
The path continues on and turns slightly north, after another couple of hours the trees start to thin and the party emerge out into the open and can see hills ahead and are aware of a river away to the east. They elect to follow the river valley north, this must be the river marked on the map that flows out of the lake, but they will try to stay off the skyline and also off the riverside. Half an hour after leaving the forest they hear the rather familiar sound of flapping wings. Vyaarnen, Morkel, Jubal and Maglor all release their stones and arrows at the approaching bats. Two are felled and the remaining three swoop in to attack. The bats fail to make any impression on the armour of our heroes and a few mace and sword swipes soon drops them from the sky. Just as breaths are being caught, a cry is heard from about 70 yards away. They all turn to see a large humanoid riding a white wolf, accompanied by four marching companions. While he rides a wolf, this is surely not one of the Wolfskull goblins… Morkel and Maglor drop their swords, whip out their bows and send arrows flying. One strikes the wolf rider in the chest. He emits a cry of anger and spurs his mount to charge. Jubal steps up ready to face them. The wolf rider swings a huge sword, Jubal swings his red axe. They both connect. Jubal is seriously hurt, but not as hurt as the wolf rider, who is virtually decapitated, blood spurting from a massive neck wound. As he falls from his mount, the wolf yelps in fear and runs off in a north westerly direction. The hobgoblin retinue, for this is what they are, yell with anger and advance. Once again, Morkel casts Sleep and the bodyguards all drop. Three are run through straight away, while Morkel wishes to keep one alive for questioning. After tying up the captive he slaps it awake. The hobgoblin looks sulky and says little. Morkel asks about the great sword of the chief, what does it do how does it work to do such damage to a mighty warrior like Jubal? The hobgoblin shrugs, “It’s a sword”. Morkel kicks the prisoner. “It’s a nice sword, pretty gem”. Morkel tries a different tack, asking where he is from. “I’ll never betray the Vlackagg!!”, realising he’s given his tribe name away the hobgoblin looks annoyed with himself. Morkel tries more, saying that he’s recruited the Viper tribe and they are just the other side of the hill. “Jaggadash would never betray us” is the response. After this, the hobgoblin refuses to say more. Morkel puts a sack over his head and ties a line to the trapper’s mule. Meanwhile Stephen and Vyaarnen have been tending to Jubal’s wounds. Feeling better he gives some preliminary swings of the great sword. He pronounces it to be nice, but he will stick with his red axe. The sword is strapped to the mule as it is too valuable to leave behind. Some other treasure is found, but nothing to indicate who these hobgoblins were, beyond a severed head motif on the tabards of the retinue.
The Lake of Lost Dreams
The journey to the lake resumes. A mist on the water makes is hard to make out any detail but Morkel says he can make out a small island. As they get closer they can see a group of figures standing by the lake shore. They are elves and greet the party. One steps forward and introduces himself as Goriidel, he seems unhappy but friendly. He greets Morkel as a brother Elf and asks what brings him to the Lake of Lost Dreams. Morkel provides a brief summary of the events of the previous week. Goriidel nods and says he has heard about goblin attacks on human settlements and knows of the Viper clan and their lair. He is particularly pleased at the news that the Viper and Red-blade clans have been wiped out. He has heard of the Wolfskulls but doesn’t know where they live. Morkel shows the two scraps of map to Goriidel – he confirms that the map from the Viper lair is pointing to the island in the lake, and he is sure that the other map is pointing to the tombs on the ridge. He’s never been there, but knows that away to the north west are three ancient tombs high on a ridge, clearly visible from many miles away. Morkel asks about Goriidel, his tribe and the lake. Goriidel explains that he is a member of the Vyalia tribe and they live within the Dymrak Woods to the south east of here. The lake is a source of fascination and fear for them. The island on the lake is truly beautiful at dawn on a clear, summer day. However it has been taboo for members of his tribe to set foot there since and ancient Elven king visited and was driven mad by some evil force. More recently, a tribe of Pixies now live on the island and they are causing problems for the Elves too – they attack foraging parties and steal goods and items of value. Most recently, Goriidel and his 4 companions were returning from a visit to the Gnomish gold miners to the north (He marks the mine on one of the scraps of map), with a beautiful statue they’d been given as payment for supplies. They were attacked by the pixies and the statue stolen. Goriidel has sworn to retrieve the statue but doesn’t know how when he cannot approach the island. He asks Morkel if they will go, and offers 600gp worth of gems as a reward. Morkel is unsure if he wants to go somewhere that turns minds to madness. Goriidel says that he is sure it only affect members of the Vyalia tribe. He also offer his and his companions services aid in making a raft to cross the lake. The party accept, and with the help of the elves the raft is made the following day. Using some of the spare wood they also construct a funeral pyre for the dead trapper. Morkel also decides he’s had enough of the hobgoblin prisoner, runs him through and throws his body onto the embers.
Rosy-fingered dawn makes a spectacular entrance the next morning, with light cloud and no rain. Goriidel wishes the party well and they paddle across the lake. An hour later they reach the island and disembark. Almost instantly they become aware of something, or somethings, attacking them. “Invisible Pixies!”, mutters Morkel. The initial surprise attack fails to cause any damage and Morkel casts his signature spell – the attacks cease, but the Pixies remain invisible. They are stuffed into a sack and left on the shore. Morkel feels a headache coming on, but doesn’t mention it to anyone. Ahead is a grove of trees. Exploration of this reveals a small temple. It has stone statues at 3 of it’s four corners, the other has a silvery bronze statue of a woman. This is surely the statue that Goriidel seeks. The temple is a one room affair, but that one room contains a ladder heading down about 30′ to a flagstoned room. Stephen elects to descend and finds himself in an empty room with a corridor to the east. The rest of the party climb down to join and Vyaarnen lights a torch, she also activates her Amulet of Protection From Evil, fearing what might reside down here. The passage to the east ends at a door. Jubal and Morkel approach the door and listen. Hearing nothing they open the door – skeletons!! The room is packed with skeletons who react to the door opening by shuffling towards it. Jubal slams the door closed and they all hurry back to the first room. Stephen and Vyaarnen ready their symbols of Hellim and the door slowly opens. As the skeletons approach Stephen invokes TEH POWAH and 5 skeletons crumble to dust and bones. More are coming and Vyaarnen manages to turn another 6. With some skeletons attempting to flee while others try to advance, a log-jam ensues leaving Stephen and Vyaarnen with a relatively simple, if time-consuming task of destroying the skeletal horde. When the last skeleton drops to the floor the party clamber over the remains and inspect the room ahead. It appears to be empty save for a ladder going further down. As Stephen grasps the rungs to climb down he gets an electric shock, this causes him to lose his footing and he falls down the ladder for further damage. Luckily, in this case bad things don’t come in threes and there is nothing waiting for him at the bottom. The rest of the party climb down to join him, no one else suffers any pain. They are in a small room with a short passage to the east ending in a door. Morkel and Jubal listen at the door and hear nothing so they open it. Two darts shoot out of the wall slightly further down the corridor. One tinkles off Stephen’s armour, Maglor isn’t so lucky though and falls to the floor. A quick check confirms he is still alive, but attempts to revive him proves useless. They put him into the recovery position and investigate the room ahead. It is black, very black, so black it seems to absorb the light from Vyaarnen’s torch. Stephen casts Protection from Evil on himself, but based on recent experiences allows Jubal and Vyaarnen to enter first. Two statues at the far end of the room suddenly come to life and advance. Stephen wonders if they are gargoyles like the ones in Elwyn’s Sanctuary… Jubal and Stephen engage one while Vyaarnen and Morkel engage the other. Jubal lands a heft blow, and is bitten by the statue in return. Stephen also lands a blow – the statue staggers but keeps fighting. Vyaarnen connects with her mace but it seems to bounce off as if having no effect.. Morkel seems to be behaving strangely adopting odd poses and being uncharacteristically rubbish with his sword. The statue is equally rubbish and fails to land any blows. Stephen finishes off his statue and he and Jubal turn their attention to the other. It soon falls to their combined blows.
Exploring the room they find a large, black mirror in a jeweled frame hanging between the two far pillars. Looking into it, Stephen sees a distorted image of himself and Morkel appears to be standing behind him. Further back he can see many pixies, seemingly in a lot of pain. Could the mirror be sucking their souls?? He strikes it with his mace and it shatters. Morkel notices that his headache has gone, and also notices that the frame of the mirror looks to be worth a pretty penny!
Exiting the temple with Maglor still unconscious, the party are greeted by the happy looking pixies. They thank the party for freeing them from the strange curse that fell on them when they arrived on the island. They offer 3 healing potions and promise to return the statue. It is agreed that they will travel on the raft back to Goriidel in order to accompany the statue and to make peace with the Vyalia elves. Goriidel is overjoyed when the raft returns and accepts the apologies of the pixies. He suggests a celebratory feast on the lakeside and happily hands over the promised gems. One of Goriidel’s companions examines Maglor and says the poison will wear off by morning. During the feast they decide to head north to the goldmine, as Goriidel suggests that the gnomes may know where the Wolfskull lair is. He’s heard mention of the tribe during his dealings with the miners.
Session date: 24Jan2011
The morning after the feast with Goriidel, dawn breaks to reveal a cloudy sky with drizzle on the wind. Morkel harumphs at the seemingly continual dampness. Goriidel wishes the party safe travels to the gold mine and advises that there is a ford across the river about 2 miles upstream of the lake.
Not long after they leave the lake and begin to follow the river, a mighty black stallion accompanied by three other horses appears a few hundred yards off to the left and seems to follow the party on their journey. All the riding horses start to whinny and neigh, although they all remain calm and do not appear upset. The party halt, wondering what is happening. Vyaarnen dismounts slowly and sprinkles some oats as a friendship offering. The wild horses ignore this offering, and just after the riding horses fall silent the stallion seems to nod it’s head and the wild horses trot off.
Gold Mine and Nasty Spider
During the next hour, while continuing to follow the river to find the fording place, all are pondering what happened with the horses. No one has an answer, but they feel that nothing untoward occurred. The fording point is fairly easy to spot as hoof and footprints mark the river back and trails lead away in several directions. With safety at the forfront of his mind Stephen orders Maglor to rope up and cross first, while the others keep watch for bandits or other dangers. Maglor’s horse stumbles mid-river but he crosses without mishap and the rest of the party also make it across in peace. During the afternoon trek, the finger of the mountains that contains the goldmine becomes visible as the drizzle clears and the day brightens. It soon becomes clear that they will need to camp out and so a suitable campsite is sought.
The night passes peacefully, and Jubal, on dawn watch notices that the wind switches direction and it seems to be getting warmer. Indees, as the sun rises it promises to be a lovely day. Breakfast is being prepared when suddenly there’s the sound of commotion from the horses. Jubal springs to his feet and runs over. It seems the horses have been spooked by a rattlesnake. It strikes at Jubal but it’s teeth bounce off his sturdy boots. One swing of his trusty axe is enough to provide an interesting side dish at breakfast.
The journey northwards towards the mountain spur is a pleasant one and soon the party notice that they are following the path of a swift stream. After several hours trek what looks to be a dam across the stream ahead can be seen in the distance.
At the mine, they meet the mine owner, a gnome called Vissaryon. He is pleased to hear that the party were able to help out the elves at the Lake of Lost Dreams and he confirms that he knows the location of te Wolfskull lair in the Dymrak Forest. He is willing to share the information, plus a pile of gold coins if the party can help him. The miners have been suffering from the unwelcome attention of some orcs appearing from deeper in the mine. Explorations to find their lair have resulted in the appearance of something much worse – a giant spider!! (although the orc attacks did stop) Since then four of his dwarf miners and his beloved brother Tekaryon have disappeared while in the mine.
He begs the party to find and kill the spider and search for his brother (and the miners). Stephen agrees as the locaton of the Wolfskul lair is vital to their mission.
Exploration of the mine accompanied by Stumpy and Shorty as guides, reveals the room that the elven statue was found in and further on, a large cavern. Several times, scuttling sounds are heard, and at one point, several pairs of glowing blue eyes are seen in the distance. The dwarves explain that it was here that the spider appeared from. Examination at the far end of the cavern reveals a cave or passage high up. Maglor climbs up and then lowers a rope for the others. It turns out to be a passage rather than a cave. After encountering a rather nasty jelly creature (luckily susceptible to burning oil, they come to what seems to be the spider’s lair. No sign of the monstrous arachnid though… A search reveals many bodies, both human and demihuman, but mainly orc. Towards the back is another cave with three bundles hanging from the ceiling… It’s Tekaryon and two of the miners. They are paralysed by the spider’s webbing, but once cut free soon recover movement.
On retracing their steps back to the entrance to return the prisoners more scuttling sounds are heard. Suddenly, at the edge of the large cavern, the giant spider appears and tries to spit/flick web fluid at Jubal and Stephan. Luckily, it’s aim is poor and the counterattack begins. The spider’s poison seems to be weak and Jubal’s axe is strong – the fight doesn’t last long…
On return to the mine entrance there’s in an emotional reunion for the two gnomish brothers. Tears of joy at the return of the captives and tears of sorrow for the two miners who remain somewhere in the darkness.
Stephen and the rest of the party vow to head back inside to search for the bodies and to eradicate the orc tribe.
They trek back through the damp tunnels and reach the spider’s lair. A thorough search reveals some bones that could be the remains of two dwarfs but it’s hard for anyone to be sure. Stumpy and Shorty ask that the remains be taken out, so everyone agrees to return outside again. On the way through the large cavern footsteps are heard and an orc patrol appears. Another short battle ensues. The last orc, seeing his companions fall makes a break for it and disappears. He is followed into another chamber, but cannot be found. A search of the walls reveals a narrow passage. The passage is entered and it appears to be the ‘secret’ back way into the orc lair. The orcs don’t put upmuch resistance, and it is soon all over for the Black Web clan.. The chief’s room contains a rather threadbare stuffed lion. Maglor reckons there’s something down it’s throat – perhaps treasure.. No one is willing to reach in though. Stephen suggests slicing it open with a sword. Maglor does so, but it’s less slice and more hack as the hide of the lion is tougher than it looks. Within is a heap of treasure, a single boot and a torn and slashed scroll.
On the return trip to the fresh air the party avoid what looks like yellow mould and a potential roof fall. They also encounter a room full of small silver statues. A tricky battle ensues after Stephan attempts to pick one up. The ‘dead’ statues look valuable so all 12 are gathered up and taken.
Once they return to the miner’s camp Vissaryon pays what he promised, plus a beautiful necklace, and of course, the location of the Wolfskull lair together with clear directions.
The party decide to rest up for a couple of days to recover before treking south back to the Dymrak forest…
Session dates 15th & 21st Feb
The party journey south from the gold mine towards the Dymrak Forest. They cross the river at the same fording place as before and eventually reach the Lake of Lost Dreams without incident. Here they meet some companions of
Goriidel who are pleased to hear the news from the gold mine. They camp by the shores of the lake and the night
passes in peace. Dawn however, is not so peaceful! A mountain lion, attracted by the smell of cooking breakfast
rushes at the camp. Once again, Jubal swings his mighty axe and the mountain lion falls.
The journey to Dymrak continues and the edge of the forest is reached by late afternoon. Everyone agrees that it will be safer to camp in the forest that at it’s edge so they continue for a further half hourthen look for a campsite.
As the camp fire warms their bones, footsteps are heard in the distance. Morkel, Maglor and Jubal hide behind trees ready to defend. A disheveled group of humans approach the fire. They are unarmed and look utterly harmless. The leam man intoduces himself as Grygor and says they are residents of Segenyev, a homestead destroyed by a goblin attack a week or so ago. They have been wandering in the forest since. Lost, both physicaly and spiritually. Stephen reminds them of the watchful eye of Hellim and seems to revive their spirits. They stay the night and are intrigued by the tales of the paties adventures. They know Stephan and Pyotr of Sukiskyn, and decide that they will head for Sukiskyn the next morning.
Reckoning with the Wolfskulls
After saying goodbye to Grygor and his companions, the search for the petrified forest which contains the Wolfskulls begins. Soon, notable landmarks mentioned by Visaryon are noted. The valley is entered and plant begins to give way to stone. A clear track is visible and Maglor scouts ahead. There is no movement of animal nor sound of bird – truly a petrified and strange place.
Footsteps and voices are heard and everyone hides in the (petrified) undergrowth. A goblin patrol appears around a corner. Three of the goblins ride large wolves. A whispered plan is agreed and the party wait for the patrol to approach. As they draw level Morkel casts Sleep and every goblin falls to the ground. The rest of the party leap out and engage the wolves, who growl and bare their teeth. Vyaarnen despatches the sleeping goblins. Again, the power of Hellim is behind the party and the wolves fall quickly, although Vyaarnen is bitten.
The tracks of the patrol lead deeper into the valley. Again, Maglor scouts ahead and an hour later reports back that he’s found a murky, black river with a log bridge. On the far side is a hollow tree with light spilling out of a clearly goblin-made entrance.
Maglor volunteers to scout further but requests that Morkel make him invisible. This done, Maglor presumably sets off. After about 30 minutes his voice is heard explaining that there’s a guardroom beyond, but the two guards on duty prevented him from exploring further. The plan of attack is for Morkel to sneak close to the river’s edge and cast Sleep, then the rest will charge over the bridge, which is only wide enough to traverse single-file.
A battle ensues at the guard point and it becomes apparent that the Sleep spell has only affected a few goblins, perhaps it was weakened by distance or the thick, petrified undergrowth.. Stephen calls on Hellim to hold fast more of the goblins. Two are stuck fast, but the battle is not simple this time. The crowded space and the fact that there are many wolves present causes the party soem issues. They all survive, but are significantly wounded.
Pressing on they find the wolves ‘kennel’ with two goblins in the process of releasing the chains holding the wolves back. Smart arrow play my Jubal and Morkel fells them before they can complete the task and the wolves are left alone.
Through a couple of doors is found a ‘room’ with a petrified tree. Invisible Maglor scouts it out and reports several goblins waiting behind the tree. Armed with this knowledge there is no surprise and the goblin party are swiftly dealt with. Morkel keeps the lead goblin alive for questioning, when it drops to its knees in surrender. It says the prisoners were taken by Vlack a few days ago, Vlack stays here sometimes but isn’t here at the moment, and that his king, Kloss was recruited by Vlack for the goblin raids. He gives no more information. There is a cell on one side of the room. It is currently populated by a terrified old woman. The woman and the goblin swap places, and, while she is too scared/traumatised to say much, she does give her name as Babushka. She also indicated that she will wait in this room for the adventurers to return and escort her to safety.
Further exploration reveals the throne room of Kloss, decked out with many furs. His guards must have heard the ruckus with the front guards and the wolves as they are poised to attack as soon as the door is tested. They charge out in a blood lust. However, cooler heads step back slightly to allow a better encircling position. The guards don’t stand a chance. In facing down Kloss, Jubal is amused at the thought that it is the axe of the Red-Blade? king which kills the king of the Wolfskulls. The goblin’s treasure hoarde is located, and Jubal claims the white wolf pelt that Kloss himself wore. In taking down the best of the fur hangings a door is found to the south. It leads to a room with dirty bedding but no occupants. However there is another exit to the south in the form of a hollow tree trunk that seems to be a tunnel/bridge/passage. Over the top hangs a crude sign with a split skull motif. Maglor volunteers to go through the trunk first, and halfway through spots a trapdoor. Poking it with his sword it opens and reveals a murky, black river below – presumably the same one they crossed to enter the lair. He calls back with this nes and everyone passes safely through the log and into the next room.
This appears to be another minion’s room, although it is better furnished than the others. Wooden furniture and beds, rather than carved from the petrified forest.A snuffling, scratching sound catches everyone’s attention and three weasely/ferrty creatures appear. They are sniffing the air with teeth bared. Maglor has a brainwave and suggests feeding them. Some food is thrown and the ferrets happily descend on it. Indeed several more appear from the hollow tree they live in to join the feast.
Another door leads onwards, to another room. As the door is opened, three vacant-eyed hobgoblins advance. Stephen attempts to turn them with the power of Hellim but it has no effect. Again the party step back from the door to allow an encircling attack. Vyaarnen is hit by one of the ‘hobgoblins’ and is paralysed!! The rest of the party manage to fell the creatures, but Jubal is also hit and paralysed – strong defenders indeed! Within the well furnished room there appears to be little of interest.
The invisible thief (and the others) check the walls for hidden doors or switches. A small panel is found in the trunk of a pertified tree. Maglor checks for traps and attempts to open it. His addiction to invisibility may be affecting his skills as he triggers the trap and a stone branch crashes down into the room, injuring all. Within the hidey-hole are gold, gems and some rather swish looking arrows – Morkel claims them.
The party leave the Wolfskull lair, collecting Babushka on the way. As they travel out of the petrified valley she tells her tale. She lived at Cherkass and was captured during the goblin raid there. Other prisoners appeared including Stephan of Sukiskyn. All prisoners were questioned on Vlack’s orders about a ‘great map’ but no one knew what this meant. A few days ago, goblins wearing iron collars arrived and took all of the other prisoners to Xitaqa, where ‘skinny legs’ would get some answers. She was considered too old and likely to slow them down.
As they make camp later that day, they are joined by more refugees from Segenyev, Egor and Dzhulyetta. The night passes quietly and Stephen heals all with his magic staff.
It takes another two days travel to return to Sukiskyn, including a night’s stay with the horse trader Fyodorll. She is interested in all the news, and happy to hear of the eliminaton of the goblin tribes.
Back at Sukiskyn they are welcomed with joy and a feast of welcome. Grygor and his companions arrived the day before with news of the parties progress. On arrival, Maglor punches his horse and reappears. He says he was getting sick of being ignored by everyone.
On hearing the name ‘Xitaqa’ there is a series of blank faces. Kuzma then suggests asking the horseman on the moors. Pyotr is dismissive, reminding her that their trade of capturing and selling horses means that he distrusts them. She persists though and Stellios backs her up. At this point, Matvey rushes in from the stables where he was tending to the parties horses and luggage. he is clutching the boot found in the goldmine, and insists he’s seen one like it in the homestead. He rushes off again and returns 20 mins later with the complete pair. Maglor tries them on and crosses the room in silence – magical boots!
Stephen chats further with Kuzma on the subject of the horse man and mentions the meeting they had with the black stallion north of the Lake of Lost Dreams. She is sure that it’s one and the same.
Session Date 28Feb2011
On the advice of Kuzma, and with no other leads, the party head up to the moor and at midnight whistle into the wind. Unsurprisingly, nothing happens. They return the following night and repeat. As their whistles drift away on the breeze they hear the sound of hoof beats. A centaur rides up and asks why he has been called. Stephen explains that they seek a place called Xitaqa and hop ethat Loshad can help them. He thinks for a while and then says that as he spoke with the horses during their previous encounter and heard that they were well treated he will help. If the party bring him the heads of the two werewolves Bailakask and Kalkask he will give them clear directions to Xitaqa. They are to meet Loshad back here on the moor in 4 nights. He gives directions to the werewolf lair and recommends a night time attack when most of the pack will be out hunting.
The party return to Sukiskyn and engage Yuri, an Ilkyakan refugee and blacksmith, to create silver arrowheads, and a silvered mace for Vyaarnen. A day is spent on these preparations. They set out the following and head towards the remains of the Ilyakana lumber camp where they will then follow the Volaga river north. Thay camp for the night at the edge of the forest and continue at a leisurely pace the next day. They can see the hills rising in the distanceby mid-afternoon – the wolf lair is in a crack in the cliffside overlooking the river. They stop a few miles short of the high ground and send Maglor ahead on foot to scout out the location of the lair and report back when the hunting pack have left.
A few hours pass before Maglor silently returns. He reports that he’s found the entrance to the lair and the hunting party have left heading north west. As they approach the lair they need to dismount and lead the horses as the scent of wolf is making them skittish and unrideable. Maglor holds up a hand of warning to the others. Five wolves remain on guard, they growl at the smell of horse and rise up. Morkel, quick as a flash drinks his potion of Animal Control and order the wolves to retreat. Their tails drop and they scamper off. A quick reconnaisance of the den reveals an open area with several caves. A looping path lead up from the back of the open area to a statue and vantage point. The statue is of a jackal-headed man, similar to the small silver ones fought in the gold mine.
Morkel discusses with Stephen and the others about what to do with the wolves. Eventually they decide that they should be despatched as they probably can’t be ordered to fight their own pack. Morkel summons each one into one of the caves and does the deed.
It is just before dawn before the hunting party return- a large silver wolf and seven regular wolves. Morkel, Maglor and Vyaarnen wait by the statue, Stephen and Jubal hide in the cave nearest the entrance. Morkel casts Sleep and 3 of the wolves drop. Maglor and Vyaarnen let fly with arrow and stone. Attention drawn to the attackers on high, Stephen and Jubal rush out to attack the large silver wolf from the rear. During the course of the battle, Vyvaarnen notces that her rocks are having no effect on one of the wolves – maybe this is Kalkask the werewolf! She draws her new silvered mace and leaps down to attack. No one is seriously hurt in the encounter (apart from the wolves) and the heads of the two werewolves are hacked off and shoved in sacks.
After a few hours rest they head for the spot on the moors to meet wit Loshad. He must be able to smell the dead lycanthropes as he trots up before they reach the designated spot. He is pleased to see his sworn enemies dead, but manages to extract a further promise from the party before he will give them the information they want – in 25 days the horses they ride must be set free. Reluctanctly agreeing, the party then get the information they seek. Xitaqa is a ruined town, overlooked by a tower. It is across the Volaga river, due West of the werewolf lair.
They return to Sukiskyn to report back, rest and plan the next stage of their journey – will they find Stephan at last..??
Session Date 7Mar2011
Travel to Xitaqa
After a good night’s rest the party journey back north from Sukiskyn in good spirits, excited at the thought of rescuing Stephan.
They find a ford and cross the river without incident. They then proceed north up the wide river flood plain. Within half an hour of crossing the river Morkel spots riders in the distance. It is clear that they have been seen themselves as the riding party is heading straight for them. As they get closer Morkel confirms that they are human rather than goblin or orc, and they have a warlike look about them. Indeed this is confirmed as the mounted patrol does not stop to greet or warn off, but spurs their horses to charge. Maglor, Jubal and Morkel all prep their bows and fire. Two are hit but the charge continues. Morkel then casts Sleep and five of the eight riders fall from their horses. The others are not distracted and close for combat. Superior numbers soon tell and the patrol are killed in short order. The horses are kept and Morkel attempts to interrogate one of the sleeping riders. He refuses to speak and it is then that the scars on his wrists are noticed.. Could this the same gang that led the attack on the boat all those days ago..??
After a few more hours riding northwards a ruined tower is seem rising above the escarpment to the west. As Loshad mentioned, several gullies lead up into the escarpment. Everyone agrees to explore the first one and they proceed with caution. Deserted houses are built into the rockface, some with doors hanging open, some apparently firmly closed. One is picked at random for exploration and it turns out to contain a small troop of baboons! They don’t take kindly to being disturbed and fight to the death. Having killed off the troop the empty house is considerd to be a suitable spot to stable the horses while exploring further on foot. Just before leaving, footsteps and voices are heard! Everyone keeps still and waits to see who is coming. A party of goblins, 2 leading baboons on chains pass by down the gully – a patrol!
The gully seems to be leading towards the tower, and around a corner a pair of double doors are spotted. Listening at the door, Maglor can hear goblin voices. He also notices a motif of a ruined tower carved on the doors. Morkel stands right in front of the door and prepares to cast. Maglor flings the door open and Morkel chants – the chatter stops and all the goblins fall asleep. One is selected, bound and woken for interrogation. He spills all without much protest – they are guards for King Plak of the Faz-Plak? goblins, also known as the Yellow Fang. He doesn’t know the way in to the tower of Xitaqa, but Plak would.
Stephen is keen to locate the entrance to the tower, but with two Sleep spells used up an attack today wouldn’t be a good idea. The party take their prisoner back to the baboon house and camp for the night.
Session Date 21Mar2011, 28Mar, 4Apr, 11Apr, 17May, 24May, 31May, 13Jun, 21 Jun, 26 Jul
Everyone rests overnight and spells are re-memorised. Further exploration of the gully seems in order. Going beyond the double doors there seem to be one or two possible doors near the base of the tower, but they turn out to be simple dwellings again.
Re-interrogation of goblin seems to be the best way forward – firmer technique from Morkel (he seems to revel in his role of Chief Inquisitor) reveals that the route into the tower is up the third gully and there is one patrol around the gullies. Living at the base of the tower are a squad of hobgoblin guards. Their leader rides a giant wolf but hasn’t been seen for over a week.
Cheered by the new info, they head up the third gully and send Maglor ahead to scout it out. He returns after half an hour and reports that the gully widens out into a plaza with some steps leading up to a large set of double doors. The doors are ajar and Maglor spotted some movement behind them – the hobgoblin guards?
Everyone creeps up towards the plaza and Morkel estimates that the doors are within range of his Sleep spell so he casts. At the same time Jubal and Stephen charge across the plaza and up the steps to engage any others. The hobgoblins are unable to put up much resistance and the entrance hallway is soon quiet. Two statues stand in corners of the room – they are of jackal-headed men. They don’t move and the party follow a passage towards the middle of the tower.
<Massive speed up of narrative in order to catch up>
The party fought an Ice Wolf at the bottom of the tower and then ascended. They found an ‘empty’ room and heard a call out just as they were attacked by an invisible monster. The voice was Stephan and the monster was a Minotaur!! On the next floor up they entered an ‘art gallery’. Two statues came to life and someone began to cast spells from behind paintings. Stephen and Maglor managed to engage Golthar and chased him up to the top floor of the tower. He blew a hole in the wall, seemingly in a bid to escape but Maglor managed to land the killing blow.
As they return to Sukiskyn Stephan explains what he knows, and his suspicions of Golthar’s motives. These are proved correct when a tapestry that has hung in the farmstead for years reveals the existence of a hidden valley in the mountains to the north of Threshold.
As it’s on the way, the party plus Stephan and Taras take the white horses to Rifflian. Taras will return with the money after the sale. Stephan will continue on with the party, to adventure, glory and untold wealth!!!
On the way they are ambushed by a small band of the Iron Ring and meet again with Loshad who urges them to free some horses from a slave camp. They arrive at Gnome’s Ferry on the Shutturga river. There is evidence that members of the Iron Ring are looking for them. And in fact, some appear in the inn that night and make a rapid exit on realising who is already there. No further incident occurs and the rest of the journey to Rifflian passes without incident.
The horses are sold and Taras departs. Again ,there is evidence in Rifflian that the party are Iron Ring targets. The party leave their mounts behind and take a boat upriver to Threshold. Out in the wilds they are attacked by piratical bandits, and see that someone is following them along the riverside.
On arrival they are welcomed by the town guard and asked to surrender all weapons except swords and staffs, and advised to no one wears armour as day wear! They also become aware that their Iron Ring followers have been met by a rat-faced man who is known to the guards.
A fortune teller tells them that a man in robes with revenge on his mind is staying at a riverside inn under the sign of the crossed swords. The inn is found (in the thieves quarter) and is staked out – it seems to be deserted. As the night progresses as large groups of ruffians appear and wait around. They seem to be waiting for something.. They depart and are followed back to what seems to be a base/safehouse.
The next night the party return to the inn and break in to check it out. A troll bursts out of the cellar and chases them through the streets. The guard post on the bridge provides support and the troll is killed and cremated.
Everyone is bored of town life and wants to get back to fresh air and killing things! They purchase a boat with the intention of laying a false trail for any more pursuers. Instead of heading north to the large lake, they double back to head up the Foamfire river which will lead them to the hidden valley. Unfortunately the boat grounds about 2 miles upstream so they attempt to hide it in a copse of trees and set off on foot.