Dark days, great deeds

Session 4: Across the darkened water

Wineday, 17th day of Palesun, year 456

Awakening before dawn, the party mounted their horses and rode hard for the little village. After little more than an hour, the trail descended down out of the hills and they caught their first sight of the mighty Lake Gulam, with Lemmas nestled on the shore.

It was a small village, less than five-hundred people, mostly fishermen and their families, living in modest daub-and-wattle huts clustered around a small natural harbor, a semi-circular palisade fence enclosing the landward side of the village. As they descended, the heroes caught sight of a few larger structures made of timber, a tavern, a town hall, and some small storage buildings. They also noticed a tiny stone church bearing the eight-pointed star of Maskius among the rest.

As they reined up before the simple wooden gate, a head popped up over the fence and a pair of deep-set eyes glared at them suspiciously, “Who approaches? Name yourselves.”

Gregory walked his horse to the head of the group, “Greetings friend, I am Warder Gregory. My companions and I are pursuing some criminals and we have reason to believe they might be headed here. A tall man with, fair-haired and wearing a green mantle, he kidnapped some children from our town and we are trying to rescue them. He might be traveling with one or more companions as well.”

The wild-haired old man peered closer at the party and, seeing the eight-pointed star of Maskius on the paladins kit, broke in to a gap-toothed grin and shouted his welcome.

“Come on, come in, my lords. Be welcome in our home,” he declared jovially as he opened the gate. “I’m afraid we’ve not seen these kidnappers you seek. We get few visitors here, traders sometimes come from across the water, but right now there is only one outsider here, a fellow of your order I believe.”

This interested Gregory, “A fellow brother, where might I find him?”

“He stayed the night with Wilan and his wife, up at the pub.” He’ll be there now I don’t doubt.”

The party looked across the village green, seeing the tavern across the way. The sun was only now coming up over the water to the east, and they say the villagers going about their business. A dozen long fishing boats were arrayed along the beach with men hauling supplies over to them for the day’s work.

The heroes stood in the center of the village and discussed how best to proceed. Even though Arhus and his lackeys hadn’t shown themselves yet, they were still convinced that this was the only place they could go. [:granwell|Granwell]] decided to go down to the beach and talk with the fisherman to see if they had noticed anything suspicious lately, while the rest of the party went to the tavern to see what they could find out from the publican and the visiting Maskian cleric.

Granwell made his way towards the boats. He came up to a man with an expansive, auburn beard hauling a bundle of rope towards the lakefront.

“Excuse me my good man, I wonder if I might have a word with you?”

The man turned and regarded him with curiosity, “Yes?”

“I am Granwell, an arcanist of some renown, and I am seeking some fugitives, I’d like to know if you’ve seen anything out of the ordinary recently?”

“An arcanist, is that…like a wizard?”

“Well, yes of course.”

“Oh-ho-ho,” shouted the man with obvious delight, grasping the young mage’s hand in his meaty paw and pumping it vigorously. “What a wonder, a master magician visiting our little corner of the world. Please, tell me how I can help you my lord.”

“Well, I was wondering if you’ve seen anyone suspicious lately, perhaps a man traveling with two children?”

“No, there haven’t been any visitors lately that had children with them, hardly any visitors at all, really.”

“Hmm, well they might be heading this way. Keep an eye out for anyone like that; and be carefully, they’re dangerous.” Granwell said, turning to head up to the tavern.

The pub itself was a squat timber building with a hanging sign with an indiscernible smear of paint on it.

“What is this place called? Asked Nathaniel.

“Not sure. Maybe some kind of aquatic creature; the Manatee tavern?”

“No, is horse with arrow in head. Is Dead Horse Inn.” Grunted Uzel as he pushed his way through the door.

Unable to think of anything more likely, the others shrugged and followed him.

Inside the inn, they saw a man and his young daughter bustling about, seeing to the needs of the few patrons. A small group of local men were sitting together at one table eating and drinking, and at another a lone man sporting a freshly shorn tonsure sat in trail-worn mail armor.

“Welcome to the Two Unicorns tavern friends, what can I get for you?” asked the publican.

The local men snickered at the mention of the inn’s name, but seeing an opportunity, Content Not Found: olympia stepped forward. “Thank you, and might I compliment you on your most excellent sign.

The barman beamed in sudden delight. “Why thank you, there aren’t many around here that can appreciate art for its own sake.

“Yes, the detail is exquisite, did you do it yourself?”

The barman’s smile looked to split his face, the two continued on in much the same way as he bustled over to a table to offer the young priestess a chair and continue to fawn over her.

Meanwhile, Uzel sprawled untidily across a whole bench and loudly demanded to be brought meat and beer. Gregory stepped over and addressed the lone cleric, “Greetings brother, I wonder if I might have a word with you on a matter of some import.”

“Of course, what troubles you?”

“We come here on a quest. Some few days ago our home was attacked by beastmen, and in the confusion a small group of villains kidnapped a pair of children and made off with them. We’ve tracked the rogues here and we mean to capture them and rescue the children, have you by chance seen or heard anything that might be of use to us?”

The cleric furrowed his brow, “No, I’ve seen nothing like what you describe, but if there is anything I can do to help you in your quest, you need but ask.”

At that moment Granwell entered the bar and they discussed what they had learned. In the course of their conversation they became aware of a commotion going on outside. When the publican reacted to it they knew it to be out of the ordinary, and all rushed outside.

When they came out, they saw the bulk of the town down by the waterfront gathered in a large group. As they approached, the cluster broke up and teams of villagers began walking quickly down the beach in either direction.

“Search parties,” said Nathaniel. “Maybe they saw something , we should go check it out.”

They went down and Granwell found the bearded man he’d spoken with earlier. When he asked him what had happened, the local informed him that they had discovered a missing boat. A small rowboat had been taken sometime in the night.

Relaying this information, the heroes felt certain that this meant their quarry had made their way across the lake during the small hours of the night. Refusing to give up, they asked about to see about transport themselves. Most of the local fisherman were reluctant, the lake was inhabited by dangerous creatures that would attack small boats. Finally they were told of a man named Dungarth who had a boat and might be willing to transport them. They were told that at this time of day he would invariably be found at the tavern.

Returning to the pub, they approached the table of locals and asked about passage, one of them identified himself as Dungarth and said he might be willing to talk them across the water, if they would be willing to accompany him and his mates to Ostwin, and providing a small retainer for services.

Seeing no other option, the party agreed and made arrangements for all their goods that could not be transported in Dungarth’s boat to be given to the locals. Gregory also made it a point to check with a local hunter and acquire a very fine hunting dog, as he had been impressed with the ferocity and loyalty of the dogs they had seen at the lumberjack encampment. Once this was done, they followed the fisherman down the beach a ways and all piled in.

The boat itself was about twenty feet long, with two sets of oars and a moderately deep draft for storing the catch. It appeared that it had not been used for some time as the bottom was filled with mostly rotten bits of fish and other evidence of neglect.

Dungarth and his two companies took it in turns to do the rowing, and they had been going for several hours when something bumped the bottom of the boat. The rowers stopped and everyone sat stock-still in uneasy silence for several heartbeats. Suddenly, a fish-belly white mass whipped out of the water and knocked Nerle, one of the other locals, into the water. He screamed and immediately grasped the side of the boat and was hauled back in by his companions. An instant later and a great column of sickly-pale flesh, fully 30ft tall, rose out of the water and slammed into the side of the boat, hanging there and a circular maw filled with rows of razor sharp teeth opened and loosed an earth-shaking roar.

Not wasting an instant, all of the heroes produced weapons and laid into the massive creature again and again. It lashed back at them, but was unable to catch any of the nimbly darting adventurers. Soon the matter was decided as Nathaniel and Uzel opened a massive wound along the side of the great lake worm and it slid back into the water and floated there for a moment before slipping beneath the gently rolling waves.

“We need to get out of here, before more creatures are drawn to the blood.” Said Dungarth shaking himself out of his momentary shock at the sudden attack. The rowers bent to their tasks and soon the little craft was fairly flying across the craft.

The party reasoned that, whatever their purpose, the kidnappers must be making for Ostwin, no other place made sense. If they were planning to sell the children, or give them to some foul benefactor, the great city would be the only logical place for the transfer. Assuming this, they decided to make for the southern edge of the lake, towards the outflow of the White River, as it flowed directly towards Ostwin.

After several more hours of steady rowing, the party approached the southeastern coast of the massive lake. A narrow, marshy strip of land loomed out of the mist in front of them as the sun slowly descended towards the horizon. A peninsula jutted out of the land into the lake and on the beach directly in front of them they saw a small rowboat pulled up onto the sand.

Not believing their incredible luck, they all hopped out and rushed over to examine it. Inside they found little material, but they were unnerved to see that there was a large dried-blood stain in the bottom of the boat. Gregory led his dog forward and had it sniffed the boat to acquire the scent. It cast about on the sand for a moment, then let loose a piercing howl and loped off to the south, into the marsh.

The party ran after the baying hound, trying gamely to keep pace while afoot and loaded down with gear. They ran for only a few minutes, when they came over a small hummock and finally caught sight of their prey. Two men and two children were making their slow way southwards. One of the men appeared injured and was hobbling along with the help and support of the other three.

The fugitives saw the party come in to view at the same time and immediately quickened their pace. The heroes gave chase and gained ground quickly. They followed the kidnappers and their victims down a sloping gully and saw them disappear into a small wood. Drawing their weapons, the party spread, looking forward to ending the chase.

They entered the wood walking abreast, alert for any tricks their foe might have in store. They didn’t have long to wait, almost as soon as they entered, a dozen orcs burst from cover and charged in to attack. With no time to coordinate, the heroes simply met them head on. In the struggle several of them took minor wounds, but in the end the orcs proved no match for them and either ran off or were cut down.

“I can’t believe anyone would stoop to consorting with foul beastmen.” lamented Gregory. The rest of the party agreed. It appeared that the kidnappers had used the orcs to cover their escape. They cast about in the muck for a trail and eventually found one. It appeared to lead off to the southeast.

They followed the trail as quickly as they could, having almost caught them once they were unwilling to let them get too far ahead. Gregory’s hound and Taran, a local huntsmen from Lemmas, proved invaluable in allowing them to continue the pursiut.

They kept up a gruesome pace long in to the night but finally had to concede that they wouldn’t catch them in the night and finally set down to camp for the night.

Thunderday, 18th day of Palesun, year 456

Arising early, the party continued their dogged pursuit. They picked up the trail again, but were alarmed to see that within a few miles they began to see evidence that a party of horseman were also following their quarry.


Experience and treasure rewards

720xp from monsters killed
2400xp bonus for making contact with the children

Divided evenly

60xp for henchmen
720xp for PC’s

10 horses.

Comments

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