It was midday as your small caravan came upon the telltale signs of battle littering the roadway. The rutted clay roadway gave way to swept and scuffed dusty, dirty tracks partly hiding dried splatters of blood. Nearby was shunted a jagged length of fractured yoke. A strip of worn leather, a handful of armoring rivets, and tufts of waddling cloth remained scattered about where a fierce fight had occurred, the fallen dragged away to the east. Caravan master Erdonnel made a quick prayer to Saint Cuthbert as he ordered the train to a halt. Watch quickly, but see if anyone remains. Guards to the front, rovers stay close. He'd feared for days now of a raider attack, the warnings in Verbobnc suggesting the raiders had returned with the spring. Thoughs fears appear to have struck not your own caravan but instead the clerical pilgrims which had been spotted marking a good pace yester evening.
A careful examination of the rutted trail and surrounding brush suiggested the raiders made an effort to hide their efforts. A large band had struck the train hard from all sides, likely unawares or in such numbers that the priests failed to flee more than a few feet before meeting their deaths. Wise scout Merlimoot pointed out to anyone interested how it appeared the wagons stopped unexpectedly nearly centered within the small clearing, giving all advantage to those hiding among the tall trees and camouflaged trails along the roadway.
They covered themselves with prepared blinds of bushes and hedge trimmings. Spotters were likely perched among the higher branches, firing bolts while others rushed the outriders. Must have been over in moments...
The wagons had been led away from the road, along a makeshift path going deeper into the forest to the east. The bodies had been gathered and taken as well. Cart tracks mingled with the wagons before the woods thinned and traces faltered upon the flowing hills. The master and scout argued whether it was buchveer (bugbears) or kells (gnolls), rumors having indicated either could be growing in strength with the past winter.
While they argued, some folk fanned out, taking the moment's stop to rest and take an ease before pushing to reach the safety of Hommlet by nightfall. The master would certainly not want to wait another night under the stars when the quiet haven was but a hard stretch of road onwards.
It was only then that a soft groaning was heard. Overhead a spring storm was brewing, the wind taking on a slight wetness and with it the calls of a dying survivor...
Hidden off the track, curled up and bloody beneath a large holly bush a yeoman of the blades had escaped the battle. His side had been torn from armpit to navel a deep and jagged gash, barely held together by the tabard pulled close around him. A thin wooden sliver hung around his neck, a tiny crafted cudgel. Weakly his eyes focused, a moment's strength returning. He reached out, seeking assistance. They came from everywhere... Took the girls sire. They... they have them now. I failed you milord. Forgive... Saint forgive me...
Welcome to "Beyond the Tentacled Eye"
Musami looks about for a priest, a healer or at least someone who has some level of medical experience. I am a smith, not a doctor. Can someone see to this man?
After a moment Musami cannot contain himself any longer.
I cannot abide those who prey upon others. I must get the girls back before they come to any harm. If the caravan wants to continue to Hommlet then I will catch it up within the city walls later. I may only be a smith, but I have some combat experience in the militia back home. Who is with me?
Though at first glance the woman who's been roving with the caravan looks like a dusty wanderer, at second glacé she seems like a young farmwife, and the days of travel have revealed her as a resourceful and well-read woman who isn't afraid of some hard work.
Upon spotting the wounded yeoman she is quick to respond, heading toward him on light feet, kneeling down, then calling out, "Healer! We need a healer here!"
She takes the young man's free hand and squeezes it gently with her own. She removes her wide-brimmed hat and says seriously to him, "Help is on the way."
|Filnefillan "Fil" Lotusbow|
Fil stands forward, his bow out and knocked, looking about for any enemies that may be watching for others who will tracking them.
"I may not understand this situation, but kidnapping and murder are gross crimes wherever we roam. I believe we are in agreeement. My name is Filnefillan, but you may call me Fil, and you have my bow, as well as any other tricks I may have up my sleeve." Fil smiles wryly. "But I do agree, we need to get this man medical treatment as soon as possible."
Cedryk distractedly looks over at the man bleeding on the ground. HIs life force slowly ebbing, the Druid looks around until he spies the priest who accompanied them on their trip.
"Ummm...you there! I think that man is in need of your patron's help."
His duty done, the young man moves into the area of bushes and speaks softly to the plants of the area.
"Tell me, my friends, what has happened. What monsters cut and uprooted you?"
Toruk is a warpriest. Fingers crossed
A young man comes rushing over from the third wagon, a Rhopan exile called Kalizar. He has been travelling with the caravan as a healer and cook, an eclectic character who mostly keeps to himself. Knowledge Local checks might tell you more about him.
He carries with him a small bag of ointments and herbs, as well as a collection of steel blades and oddly shaped tools. He hands a stained red towel to Jocasta, asking her to press it's ends above and below the gash in the man's sides. He pours a yellowish liquid all over the wound which begins to bubble and steam, the man writhely slightly under the effects. He then begins tucking and pulling at the man's wound. Clearly he has some healing training, though perhaps he trained more as a butcher. Healing check 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (9) + 13 = 22
We have the bleeding stopped, yes. He is to being very weak still. I will be needing to spend the time with him yet, before he can be the moving.
The scoutmaster Merlimoot approaches your group gathered around the survivor. Master wants us movin' right quick, thinks this here storm's a gonna catch us out in the airs 'tween here n Hommlet. Quick as you like, loads him into the Attloi's wagon n catch us up. We ain't waitin' fer the dead n dyin', lest we be thinkin' a joinin' em.
It is up to the group whether you want to ride on with the caravan, stay with the survivor, or something else. It will take Kalizar about 30 minutes to attempt to suture the man's wounds and make him stable enough for travel. This will give you some time if you want to search the area or perform other activities. The healer should be able to wake the man for a few questions, but he won't stay conscious for long, and the longer he delays the longer it will take to get back to the caravan.
|Filnefillan "Fil" Lotusbow|
I wouldn't think of joining the dead quite yet, scoutmaster. However, would it not do the caravan good to bring word to the town of Hommlet that something terrible has befallen their town? Perhaps some of us can stay here to see that he survives, or provide a proper burial to prevent the raising of the undead if he does not?
Umm, assist someone else with the diplomacy check?
|Toruk the Traveler|
Toruk looks up at the sky and nods. Storm clouds gather. The time has come to prove my mettle. Fharlanghn guide me.
He then follows his fellow travels to the wounded man. He places a hand on the healer's shoulder. "You have done well, son. Let me assist you."
Toruk casts cure light wounds on the man.
CLW: 1d8 + 1 ⇒ (6) + 1 = 7
He then turns back to the others. "Perhaps this will be enough to allows us to transport him to the village with the caravan."
Toruk's spell further stabilized the guardsman, easing his pain and calming his condition. Kalizar suggests it is possible to go ahead and move the man to his wagon, if he has some volunteers to help him.
The man is still dressed in his cloak, uniform, and chainmail, but is missing his weapons and other gear.
Are you to being able to help me? He is to being too heavy to carry without causing his wounds to be opening, yes.
Musami lends his muscles to the lifting of the man.
|Toruk the Traveler|
Toruk casts a second healing spell on the man. "That is all that I can do for him."
CLW: 1d8 + 1 ⇒ (5) + 1 = 6
He helps Musami carry the man to the wagon.
|Filnefillan "Fil" Lotusbow|
Together you lift the man using his own bloody cloak and carry him around to the Rhennee's hard covered wagon. A team of four brown horses nervously jostle it as you lift the man up and into the transport.
Inside you see the compartment is crammed full of an odd assortment of hanging herbs, potions vials, tincture jars, bottles of fluids, cans of dusts, and a collection of assorted brik-a-brak. A rack holds an assortment of scroll tubes and books below a hanging assortment of charts and maps. The man's bedding is cluttered with probably half his wardrobe, along with a variety of blankets, scarves, wraps, and tatters of cloth.
He moves aside a small altar, the idol of which you fail to recognize before it is shoved into a small chest nearby. A stack of illustrated cards and stones are likewise dumped into the chest, wrapped in the bright green cloth on which they were strewn.
Kalizar pulls down a small sideboard which doubles as a travel bed, indicating to lay the man there. He pulls a long cord from a drapery over his own bed, handing it to Toruk. Be to securing him with this yes, we are not to be wanting him to fall off during the journey. Braun and the team can be to the much bumpy when they are excited, yes. We are not to be having the guests often you see.
Kalizar steps out of the wagon, giving you a few moments with the man. He hands a small vial to Musami, even sealed it has a strong acrid odor. You can be to using this to awaken him, yes. But please to be putting the lid back, I am to be sleeping here you know.
Holding out the small vial Musami consults those around him. Should we awaken him? If we have nothing to ask him we should let him sleep, I think. And the trail of those taken is getting colder by the minute.
The caravan guide and guards indicated the trail grew cold as it exited the eastern edge of the small copse in which the ambush was held. It seems the group split the wagons and headed of in different directions.
Nodding to what the plants say, he takes down his friend Hedgewyk to help speak with the local flora.
"Can you show me the direction the hairy ones went. Speak with your neighbors and show me the signs of their travel."
He lets his leshy friend commune with the local plants to help them understand his request.
Knowing the general direction that the foe traveled, Cedryk gathers up his friend and goes to talk to the others in the caravan.
"The creatures were hairy and headed off towards the east. Do we wish to follow them and rescue those captured?"
"The caravan needs to get safely to Hommlet," says Jocasta as the party manages to secure the injured man. "I don't like the idea of splitting up right now... especially if there's bad weather coming on." She pours some water over her hands to wash off the man's blood.
Braggi walks slowly to the place where everyone is gathered and has a close look at the situation. "I agree with the lady" he says, pointing at Jocasta. "If we leave a group of people in danger to save another group that we don't even know it can be still saved, we're doing no real good." He mentally notes down, though, the place where it all occured, for it can be that this Lord the wounded guard was talking about offers some coin for the rescue of the girls... or their remains.
|Filnefillan "Fil" Lotusbow|
Fil frowns. "A cold trail would be hard to follow I'm told. Then again, ancient things are found all the time. Perhaps our sleeping friend can give us more information once he has awakened, helping us to discern what actually took the other members of their party, in a less inhospitable place, perhaps."
Fil definitely has a defeated look, as he sees that Braggi and Jocasta do not wish to go. He sighs deeply.
"And splitting our number away from the caravan would spell disaster if a terrible storm struck, let us be off to Hommlet."
Kalizar sees the disappointed and concerned looks the group seems to be sharing, and moves around to the side of his wagon. He takes a short leg pole from fold down slat which you've seen him use as a shelf when cooking evening meals. He unties one of his colorful scarves and quickly twists it into a knot around one end of the pole.
Here friend, be to using this yes to mark the trail head there. When caravan is safe, and weather is done, maybe you be to coming back and retrieve it for me no?
Musami grudingly agrees to travel with the caravan to Hommlet and return to this spot as soonas the others are safe.
The caravan master calls for the wagons to load up and move out. The train slowly picks up the pace, passing out of the small copse of trees and out onto a series of rolling hills, the well worn road winding to and fro amongst them. The winds begin to pick up and before your band has traveled two miles the first droplets of rain begin to fall. Lightning flashes off to the west, followed shortly after with bouts of rolling thunder. Shortly later the skies open and a cold, steady downpour washes over the area, soaking the hills while a small stream builds along the roadway, filling the ditches and washing over the path in a few valley patches.
Kalizar offers anyone interested a spot on the buckboard beside him, or for two-three of you to ride in the back with the survivor. But please to be not moving anythings around yes. It is a mess, but it is to being my mess, and I am knowing how to find the things no. Madness follows method yes?
You can choose to ride on Kalizar's wagon, with Master Erdonnel's lead wagon, alongside Merlimoot on a borrowed mount, or with one of the other five wagons comprising the caravan.
Cedryk stays out in the rain, stripping to his trousers only. Hedgewyk rides on his shoulder, soaking up the rain. Before leaving, he sets the area and it's location firmly in his mind, so there will be no question as to finding the place again.
Musami resumes his position within whatever cart he was in prior to the disruption. He is a man of habit and falls back on well worn routines.
"I'll be happy to accept your offer." Braggi takes a slot beside Kalizar. No one said he needed to stand and march in the rain.
"It seems we wouldn't have gone far anyway, if we'd tried to follow those tracks back there. A shame tomorrow it will be completely wiped out" he says to no one in particular. Then he turns his head to Kalizar. "Do you have any idea who the "Milord" that man mentioned could be?"
|Filnefillan "Fil" Lotusbow|
As he had not gotten to know the dwarf previously, Fil chooses to sit with Musami. He sits in dour silence, glaring at the rain washing off of the wagons as they go.
"Glad to know someone else would have looked for lost souls," he says forlornly to Musami.
Musami is serious as he watches the road roll by beneath the wheels of the cart. Dwarves are miners. Inside a mine you always go looking for those lost, even if only to bring back the bodies for burial.
Jocasta shrugs and says, "If you want to go after them, fine. Then when we find the ruined remnants of the caravan dead with everyone carted off by bugbears or whatnot, you can feel bad about that, too."
You speak sense Jocasta. Once these people are safe I will be going looking for those lost. Scratching his beard Masumi falls deep into thought. After a few minutes he speaks again We should use this time to plan who will go looking and how we will do it.
It will take another three hours of very hard pushing through the rain to reach Hommlet. The spells and rest have stabilized the survivor, so he should be recovered enough for questioning when desired. You will reach Hommlet during the last hour or so of daylight, or what passes for it in the waning rain. Feel free to discuss your plans and let me know when you're ready to enter the village and begin the next stage.
|Toruk the Traveler|
Toruk opts to walk with Cedryk in the rain. He walks close enough to Musami's wagon to join the conversation. "I think we all agree that we will search for the missing once the caravan is safely back at Hommlet. I would suggest that we travel back in the morning after resting for the evening. This will give us a chance to question the survivor and then properly prepare for the expedition. It is clear that whoever perpetrated this violence is extremely dangerous - we must be ready for anything."
Musami will nod at Toruk's words. That sounds like a fine plan. We have time to prepare. When we get to town I would like to find an apothecary or temple to buy a healing potion. The woods have proved dangerous and I would not like to be caught unaware.
Gavin, the drover leading Musami's wagon comments, a bit loudly to be heard over the rain and splashing mud. I hears tell them there bandits tooks em a dozen wagons last season, holding up seven fingers. Theys servin sum lord what's called the Flamin' Eyeball or sumin such. Bests be to stayin clear of em.
|Toruk the Traveler|
Toruk raises an eyebrow at Gavin's comments. "I would see these bandits smited for preying upon free travelers and defying Fharlanghn's will. Stay clear of them? Nay sir, I seek to destroy this scourge. Who can tell us more about these Flaming Eyeballs?"
"Flaming eyeballs? What?"
Cedryk suddenly seems to catch just the last part of the conversation.
"Bandits need to be pruned and cutback to ensure the trade and flow of goods are not hampered."
Once he had made this statement, he goes back to walking with his face turned to the sky, a large grin on his face. The small plant-like creature you have seen with him before mirrors it's masters actions.
Gavin looks Toruk over, then at Cedryk and Musami as well. He spits a bit of tobac juice politely away from the group before responding. Iffin youse wants to know morin I'd be talkin to ol' Gundigoot or the churchie folks. Theys prolly knows morin anyones elst. He then nods back over his shoulder before continuing. Kalizars what gots sum good healin stuffs, pots an bottles an suches. He brews em up all the times. He leans a bit closer to Musami, I hears he's sum kina priest sumin or such. Keeps it all quiets like an such.
Musami makes a mental note to speak with Kalizar after they reach Hommlet.
The remainder of the journey is a cold and wet one. The early spring has stepped back a bit, the wind and storm bringing with it a cold breeze and gray skies. There is a bite to the air which suggests it might actually sleet a bit overnight. The low lights of Hommlet seem warm and welcoming indeed as you crest the last hill and find yourselves overlooking the town.
You approach from the north, passing by the Church of Saint Cuthbert on your left. Lights in the upper windows suggests the acolytes have not yet retired for the evening, yet the survivor asks Kalizar to deliver him instead to the village inn along with the rest of the caravan.
Master Erdonnel instead leads the wagons over the wooden bring which crosses Hommle's Creek. Sorry, it was removed from the above player's map during an old game, washed away, and I couldn't find the original image we used with it, which was borrowed from someone else's campaign.
He heads the wagons on adjacent to the relatively new town hall then cuts left past a tall hickory tree and into a partially fenced in field. Many caravans have a standing agreement with the village to use the field as a way stop and wagon's market.
All right everyone. Let's make a quick bit of it, I want the wagons staked and the horses tethered. Make a rope corral off the side there, then end to end with the lot, ware boards in facing back towards the hall. We can set up the rest in the morning. He walks up and down the length, making sure everyone seems to understand their duties. Those that don't want to keep with us, the inn is just down the way over yonder pointing in the direction of the Inn. Those that want it are welcome to sup there tonight, or cook in their kits. Kalizar won't be setting up a grub line in this weather.
He stops at the wagon carrying the majority of your group. Merlimoot says you lot might be considering not carrying on with us, something about wanting to go after the bandits. I can understand it, in my youth I might have done the same. We'll be three days here in town, trading if we can, resting as we might, and getting bearings on the road ahead. You have until then to decide. He then starts to walk away but pauses, If you do go after the bandits, I wish you luck and ask a favor, Give em the Hells for all of us.
Musami helps where he can, carrying rope and hammering in stakes to tether the horses. Once the work is done he heads to seek Kalizar at his wagon.
Kalizar, a word? I have been told you may have a potion or two for sale. If we are heading back out into the wilds after these bandits I will have need of something like that.
Braggi and Kalizar have a long and meandering conversation during their ride to Hommlet. The rhennee indicates he has little idea who the lord might be the survivor referenced, mentioning he had not spent much time in Verbobonc himself. I have never being come to Hommlet before. I have been through Furyondy, the Bright Hills, the lands of the Veluna, but not to these places. Not yet so now, no?
Kalizar tells that he hails originally from Greyhawk, a wild youth you was too smart for his own good. While he doesn't mention what happened, he admits he was ejected from his clan for actions unbecoming a Rhenn. He tells how his mother passed away giving birth to him, how his father scorned him, and how he studied magic, alchemy, and the healing arts from his maternal grandmother. He mentions he got his wagon from the Attloi, land bound Rhennee, but even they found his peculiarities to un-Rhennee like, banishing him as well.
I am to be travelling on my own now yes, which is to being good for me. I am free to go here, be there, smile when I wish, cook what I like, be the Rhenn that is in my heart, no. Why must only Rhennii use magic, why must all Rhenn barter and trade and steal the hearts of the ladies yes? I am as good as any Rhenii, I can read the cards, the stones, the fortunes of the stars. I know the secrets of the womens, I am better lover than any Ghanno, and I take what womens of theirs I wish yes. Life on the road, the wind to my back, the sun to the clouds, this is the life the Rhennee have forgotten. Freedom, yes. Looking at Braggi, You have the sea in you yes, you know what I mean. Life is to be travelled, not to be setting in place all the times.
While the wagoneers settle in for the evening, Kalizar helps offload his passenger and sees him safely to the Inn of the Welcome Wench. Merlimoot is already there, informing the innkeeper, Ostler Gundigoot, about the attack on the other caravan.
Hearing Musami's question Kalizar confirms that he has a few healing potions for sale, and if given the time he can make more. I am to be having the half dozen yes, holding up six fingers, three per hand. Basic potions, good for a broken limb or the animal bites no. I am also to be having herbal and alchemical remedies to the boot yes. He gestures widely, talking with his hands as he continues. I make many things in my wagon, trade many things to peoples for other things. He places his hand on Musami's shoulder, pointing him back towards the wagon. My Babbanii she teach me many things. I have many old family secrets yet to be making. If you need it, I have it. If am not having it no, pointing at Musami, tapping him on the chest, I will be to making it for you. You see. He holds up one hand, three fingers up, his pinky and thumb curled. His other hand he places on his heart, back arched straight. Good deal, fair deal, right price. I no make to cheat like old Rhennee, I am true Rhennee, word is bond is life is good, yes.
Wow, gone to sleep for 4-5 hours and look at the party you lot just put together xD
Once the survivor seems awake, Braggi approaches him.
"Salutations. Glad to see you're better. We'd like you to give us a smoother explanation about what happened the on the road, and who are you serving. When we reach the town we're planning on coming back and track the girls."
Braggi listens to Kalizar's story with interest. When asked about the potions and noticing his answers, he tries to convince him to join them.
"Why don't you help us? We'll be delighted to have your fine skills at hand, and you'd be doing a good service to people who live to travel like you do."