Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thursday 5 July 1280, Late Afternoon (Discussions at the Northstar)

Oloc asks the rest of the party: "Do you think we should try and organize the folks here in case the gobs are advancing? I guess we don't know how long it will take for the cavalry to arrive."

Duran turns to his companions and quietly begins to discuss their options. "I agree we should try and calm the folks down and try and set up some defenses. I could go to the roof of the inn to act as a look out for the goblins and the captain."

Varros adds: "I agree with calming down the locals and perhaps try to hold out at the inn. I will accompany Duran to the roof as a lookout. About how long would a fast march for Belloc take?"

A quick discussion of the various factors involved leads you to estimate Belloc should arrive somewhere between six and eight that evening (it's currently five in the afternoon). The goblins, you estimate, if they came toward the Northstar straight from Timm's farm, could make that march in about two to three hours, though you have no idea when they would have left Timm's farm, or if they even intend to turn south toward the Northstar at all.

If the goblins had left Timm's farm in the direction of the Northstar at the same time you sent Karnak to Belloc, the goblins would already have arrived. If the goblins were to leave Timm's farm only now, they would arrive at roughly the same time as Belloc.

From off to the side, you hear a moan of pain, and your attention is drawn to the halflings once more.

"Light!" exclaims Gaven. "Is it possible the goblins are in league with the highwaymen?"

Hazel is still cleaning Filbert's wound which, while ugly and painful, at least does not appear life-threatening.

Gaven hopes the men they met earlier at the inn had nothing to do with this. Gaven goes to Filbert and Hazel and starts to tend to Filbert, "How did you come to such a nasty wound?"

As soon as Filbert begins to tell his tale, Gaven's hope is quickly dissipated.

"Those quiet gray men who were in here earlier. They must have known I was a gem merchant, and followed us from Woodfield yesterday. We left shortly after they did this morning." Filbert seems to have gotten over the surprise you gave him that morning, and he talks quite freely. "We had only gone a short way down the road toward Fairbrook when they ambushed us."

"Filbert bravely tried to resist them," says Hazel, "but they were too strong. One of them struck Filbert with the pommel of a sword. That's how he got that gash. They pushed me to the ground and told me I'd hand over our gems if I knew what was good for me." Hazel looks down at the floor. "I knew we couldn't overcome those men, so I gave up our gems."

Meanwhile, Harlon tells Duran and Varros that the easiest way to get to the roof is the ladder that leads up to the attic. Once in the attic, there's a trap door in the ceiling that the innkeeper uses to go up and out to repair leaks and broken shingles.

While all this happens, the local farmers continue their agitated conversation, and you sense the tension rising in the room.

One of the farmers, a short but sturdy looking man, stands on one of Harlon's tables and bangs the handle of his pitchfork on it. "I say we head out now and put an end to this menace once and for all! We've seen this before, and we know how it goes if we take no action! Are we going to let goblins – or ogres or anyone else – come onto our lands and plunder and burn as they please? I say no, by the Light! No!"

A stout cheer goes up from a fair portion of the farmers in the room. Others seem less than roused by the sturdy man's speech.

OOC: Actions?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Thursday 5 July 1280, Late Afternoon (Quick March)

Varros gives Karnak the command to return to Belloc. The raven clearly understands and takes off, flying south with unexpected speed. In just a few minuets he has disappeared over the horizon.

Oloc suggests the party backtrack to the Willis farm. "We can try and convince Ned and Tom to come with us to the Northstar. Then we can move out to try and intercept Belloc."

"I agree with Oloc," says Varros. "We should try to convince everyone to move south to avoid danger and meet Belloc."

Duran realizes the party have completed the task assigned to them agrees with the others to head back and warn the others.

Gaven nods in agreement with the rest of the group.

Given the urgency, you head back to Willis farm at a quick march,* covering the ground more rapidly than you did on the way out. You soon find Ned and Tom, who are in the process of gathering all their sheep in an easy to guard enclosure near the house. It takes only a moment explain the situation to them.

Ned rubs his face as he thinks over what you've said. Even from here the smoke can be seen rising to the northwest, though it looks thin and far away now. Tom looks on anxiously as his father makes up his mind.

"Alright," he says. "We'll head toward the Northstar and the main road, and from there maybe even south across the river. But not without my sheep! They're like children – almost as precious as my Tom here, and I'll not leave them behind."

When you point out to Ned that this will make the going very slow, he simply says he could no sooner leave them behind than he could his son. "I realize you need to meet up with Captain Belloc, and it won't do for you to be slowed down by a herd of sheep. So you just go on ahead. We'll make the best time we can."

Realizing the farmer won't budge on the matter, you turn and make another pressed march** westward along the track toward the Northstar. Again you make good time, arriving at the inn just before six o'clock.

Entering the common room, you find a group of about fifteen or so local farmers in a state of agitated excitement, chattering and yammering. "We saw the smoke! Is that Timm's farm? Was anyone hurt? Who did it? Was is the goblins? I heard it was ogres! Are you crazy? There's no ogres round here! I'm sure it's goblins! Are they coming this way? No, they'll never..."

You also note the two halflings you met earlier, sitting off to the side. It looks as though Filbert has a nasty wound on his forehead, with dried blood smeared from the wound down across his face. Both he and Hazel look disheveled and dirty. Harlon is trying to clean up Filbert's gash with a wet cloth.

When Harlon sees you, he hands the cloth to Hazel and the dwarven innkeeper rushes over to you. "By the light!" he says. "A stranger day I've never seen. Goblins to the north it seems, and highwaymen on the road south!" He casts a glance back at Filbert and Hazel as he makes the latter comment. "I sure hope Belloc is on his way – he'll set things right, no doubt!"

OOC: Actions?

*I took the liberty of assuming a quick march – you guys are fit and uninjured, the ground is familiar and the distance is relatively short, so it has no downside of any sort. Given the lack of downside, I thought it OK to assume this. If not, let me know and I'll correct.

**Again a judgment call; the previous comments indicated you'd "try" to convince them to head south (which they are doing, albeit slowly) and then make for the Northstar to intercept Belloc. If I was wrong in this (i.e. if Ned's choice to head for the Northstar slowed by his sheep would change your course of action), let me know and I can edit.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Thursday 5 July 1280, Afternoon (Where There's Smoke)

Seeing the smoke rise above the trees, Gaven is the first to speak:

"Is this enough evidence to send Karnak back to Belloc or should we try to get closer?" Gaven frowns, "As much as I hate goblins, I don't think we can take on a large squad."

"Companions, I am troubled," says Varros. "Unless I am mistaken, that smoke comes directly from the area of Timm's farm." Varros looks grim as we continues, "Gaven, you are right my friend, our chances are slim against a host of goblins." Varros then speaks Karnak's name loudly and firmly and mimics his cry, while readying a reward for the bird. "We must act now, I am sending Karnak as soon as he collects his pay. I trust his instincts in this."

Varros suggest the possibility of backtracking to meet the incoming forces and while doing so making a decision as to either join them or go back to town. He also indicates that a course directly back to the inn overland to warn those within is another option.

"We should definitely keep our distance from the Goblin host," adds Duran. "However, I think it may be wise to at least keep them in sight or just out of sight to monitor their movements. If that is the farm there is nothing we can do to help now. We should be able to move faster then the goblin host if they come our way. When the Captain arrives I have no problem helping out in the battle."

Oloc says: "Friends, I trust your judgement in this matter. Surely with this amount of smoke the fire must be large indeed, which means there is likely little we can do." He looks back to the south. "But should we return to the Willis' farm and inform them?"

The hurried discussion results in several options being laid out. Watching the smoke, and thinking of the other small farms at stake, you know you'll need to make a decision quickly.

OOC: Actions?

Just to sum up:

Varros intends to send Karnak back to Captain Belloc right away. In addition, the following courses of action have been proposed:

1. Stay on the goblin host, to monitor their movements, keeping an eye on them from a safe distance.
2. Backtrack toward Fairbrook to meet the guard as they come north to deal with the goblins.
3. Head back to the Willis farm to warn Ned and Tom.
4. Head back to the Northstar to warn Harlon and anyone else there.

Option 1 would almost certainly exclude the possibility of also doing options 2-4, unless the party is split.
Options 2-4 could be done in succession, (the most "economical" order in terms of time being 3-4-2) though of course doing all of that would take some hours and take you off the Belloc's probable line of march.

And of course you could do some lesser combination of options 2-4 (only two of them, or even only one).

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thursday 5 July 1280, Afternoon (Footprints)

Looking at the prints Duran turns to the others and say, "I think we should follow to prints due north towards the woods near Timm's farm. If I had to guess I would say the other set was continuing to scout down the road while this set might take us near the goblin host."

"I agree with you Duran," says Gaven. "Let us make haste."

Gaven and Oloc both examine the ground more closely to see if anything was dropped by the "goblins" or whoever else may have left the tracks.There is nothing apart from what the party spotted already.

The mage nods his head. "Agreed. Let's move out. And let's enter the woods at the first opportunity - we are easily spotted here in the open."

Varros concurs with the rest of the party, with the idea that if nothing is found on the search to the north they should subsequently make for the other local farm once the party is to the east of it or talking to those that live there as they seem to be closer to the source of the goblin menace.

You set off due north in the direction of that set of footprints. The prints are not clear at all once you are into the short grass, but you can still pick them up from time to time at irregular intervals. Like most of the ground in the area, the land consists of mostly flat, open field, with the occasional low rise, or tiny, isolated grove of trees.

The sporadic prints, when you spot them, do not move in a straight line either, but rather deviate slightly as if the individual who made them shifted right or left of due north in order to move from one small clump of trees to another. Once you realize this, following the tracks becomes easier, and you also get to benefit as much as possible from what little cover there is, as Oloc had suggested.

Gaven continues to watch the ground for dropped items as the party follows the prints. You find no dropped objects, but you do spot snapped branches sometimes in the small areas of foliage, that seem to confirm what the sporadic foot prints tell you.

After about two hours, you find yourself in sight of the large wooded area Harlon had mapped for you. Here, even from a distance, there are several details that catch your attention.

The first thing you notice is a very large swath of earth running to the woods from the east which has been thoroughly and clearly trampled by many, many small, booted feet. The path of trampling leads directly into the woods.

Secondly, even from this distance, you can see, at the edge of the woods, an obvious path of broken branches and smashed undergrowth.

Third, while you are still far enough from the woods to see the sky above and beyond them, Karnak caws down to you from his vantage point. When you look in his direction you can discern, rising high into the air from somewhere on the far, northwest side of the woods, a fairly large amount of smoke, as from some great fire.

Lastly, as you get closer to the woods and the trampled path, you note on the ground sparsely scattered bits of broken gear – ends of leather straps, useless arrows, scraps of cloth, bones of small animals – all of which look consistent with the passage of goblins.

OOC: Actions?

Time Update: It is now about 3:30 pm.

The party is just inside hex 52, at the south edge of the woods, right near the line between hexes 52 and 53.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Thursday 5 July 1280, Early Afternoon (Chasing Shadows)

Oloc sits on the edge of his seat as Ned tells his brother's story. 'The Frost Giant's Eye' he says to himself, his imagination wandering in an attempt to visualize such a treasure. He snaps back as he hears Ned addressing him. "We aren't headed for the ruins directly, but once we finish our mission for the Captain, I hope to convince my companions here to pay a visit. And I promise, when we do, we'll keep an eye out for your ring."

Gaven agrees: "If we find your ring, we will be sure to return it."

Then Gaven pulls out the map Harlon drew, "Master Ned, the barkeep Harlon drew us a map of the area. Would you or Tom be able to fill in any additional details, like where you saw the goblins and any other areas where scouts or even a host could hide?"

Ned and Tom both lean over the map and give it a quick scan. "That looks about right," says Ned, "though I'm not too familiar with the ground west of the road. But on this side, those three big patches of woods and scrub are your best bet. I'm guessing if these goblins come from Stagwood, you'd be most likely to find them this side of the road – and most likely in one of the patches nearest Timm's farm, if my shadow-man was in fact one of their scouts."

Tom adds: "As for where scouts could hide, there are too many places to count. Why I can think of at least a dozen small groves of trees on our property alone where a scout or two could keep out of sight. Searching for one would be like looking for a needle in a haystack."

Gaven puts on a more serious face, "The goblins plan on raiding farms. You should do your best to fortify yourselves. Better yet, you may consider taking holiday in Fairbrook."

Ned nods. "I thank you for the warning. But Tom and I have got to protect our sheep, so we'll be staying here. But we're both pretty handy with a bow, and we've got other weapons if things get close. My Tom's a big strapping lad, and I reckon I can still give the hammer a good swing too, if it comes to that."

"Thank you for your hospitality," says Gaven, who leaves 2 gold on the table before leaving. Oloc, Duran and Varros also thank Ned for the meal and the information and all prepare to head out toward Ned's 'encounter' in order to investigate this 'shadow.'

The sun is high and the day begins to feel a bit hot as you march out to where Ned spotted the shadow a few nights earlier. Based on Ned's description of the place, you find the location without difficulty. You can hear locusts chattering as you approach the small patch of trees where Ned claimed to have seen his shadow.

A careful inspection of the ground around the trees reveals the remains of a squirrel impaled on a broken arrow. About half of the small creature appears to have been eaten raw "on a stick" as it were. The arrow looks distinctly like the ones you recovered from the goblins at the farm.

The ground in and around the small area is somewhat dusty, and seems quite trampled. It's difficult to make anything out from the footprints. However, moving away from the trees, before the dusty area gives way to grass, you spot very faint footprints going off in not one, but two directions.

One set moves away toward the northwest, running roughly parallel to the direction you know the main road to run; the other heads due north, straight for where you've been told the woods east of Timm's farm are located.

The prints in both directions are very faint, barely perceptible, but they are clear enough, before they disappear into the short grass of the fields beyond the farm, that you are quite sure of the directions the two individuals headed. Otherwise, you cannot get any detail from them apart from the fact that they are booted and smaller than human size – not at all inconsistent with the prints goblins might have left.

OOC: Actions?

Time Update: The time is roughly  1:30 p.m.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Thursday 5 July 1280, Noon (At the Willis Farm)

"Hail friend! I am Varros Blackwater and these are my are my companions," Varros introduces each in turn and continues, "Might we approach? We have important tidings that could be important to you."

The young man nods motions you forward. "What news?"

Varros tells the man that they are on a mission for Captain Belloc. He explains the imminent goblin danger and ask the usual questions that the party has been asking regarding the ruins, area, goblins, etc.

Having lagged behind Duran catches up with the others and gives a nod as he his introduced. As Varros talks to the young man Duran and Oloc scan the area around them for signs of Goblins or places where they might hide. The fighter and mage notice a few patches of trees and tall grass here and there all very small. While certainly not large enough to hide a host of goblins, they could provide cover to one or two scouts.

When Varros mentions Captain Belloc and the goblin danger, the young man frowns. "You'd better come with me." He turns and leads you through the gap in the fence toward a farmhouse and some outbuildings.

Oloc adjusts his robes and let's his mind wander to the ruins and what treasures may be found therein. He lets out a barely perceptible sigh, and focuses on the conversation with the local.

As you pass through the gap in the rails, Gaven asks, "What caused damage to the barrier?"

The young man loses his seriousness for a moment and laughs gently. "Time," he says. "Wind, rain, rot." He looks across the fields "It's a never-ending task – we have a lot of fence"

"What is the barrier supposed to be keeping in or out?" asks Gaven.

"It keeps in our sheep – most of them are grazing over on the other side of that rise." He points to an area just past the house and outbuildings.

Gaven then asks if he has heard the strange sounds and saw the strange shadows that Ned Willis heard. In answer to that, and to Varros' earlier questions, he simply calls out to the house as you near it. "Paw! Someone out here you need to talk to!"

Ned Willis is large, somewhat pot-bellied man on the boundary between middle age and old age. In his youth, he was no doubt as broad and muscular as his son. "It's just about lunch-time. Why don't you come in and we'll talk over a meal."

Inside, you sit at Ned's table and he serves you a hearty stew of mutton and potatoes – both of which he produced himself on the farm. As you eat, he tells you about his encounter of a few nights before.

He'd been out working on the northeast fence with his son, Tom. Just around sunset, he sent Tom back to the house with a barrow-load of tools. He stayed behind to finish up the final repair, and as he picked up the last couple of tools, he heard a rustling in a small patch of trees and underbrush. At first he thought it was some animal, maybe a deer. But then something dashed out. It looked like a man, only smaller – and ran off to the northwest where it, whatever it was, disappeared.

When Varros brings up the ruins, a darkness passes over Ned's face. "Yes, I know the ruins," he says. "Or at least I know all I need to know." Tom reaches over and puts a hand on his father's shoulder.

Ned goes on: "My brother – the damned fool! Twenty years ago he was having trouble making ends meet on his farm. Thought the only way to save it was to strike it big by dragging some great treasure out of Blackwell. I'm sure there's plenty in there. My brother, Al, said he'd heard a tale at the Northstar about some great blue gem. The Frost Giant's Eye he called it. But of course there's other things in ruins, too. It's not all treasure and gems. 'Don't do it!', I said to him. But he didn't listen. Ran off to make his fortune, and instead he met his fate."

He looks at Oloc, as if seeing something in the mage's face at the mention of the gem. "I won't tell you your business, but I wouldn't go in there for anything."

Then he pauses. "Of course, if you do go in someday... My brother wore a ring – a family heirloom. I know it's been twenty years, and you almost certainly wouldn't find him or it. But if you did, and could return it to me, I... well, I'd be grateful." Then he adds "It's just a simple silver ring, with a 'W' carved on it. It doesn't have much value, except it belonged to my father, and my grandfather before him. I always thought I'd pass it on to Tom. It's probably not worth more than 10 gold, but I'd gladly pay ten times that for it's return."

Ned then stands up, and Tom starts clearing the table. "Is there anything else I can tell you or do for you?" the farmer asks. "Or will you be heading off again? If it's goblins you're looking for, I'd say to head northwest after my running shadow."

OOC: Actions?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Thursday 5 July 1280, Late Morning (The Road to the Willis Farm)

Gaven expresses his appreciation to the dwarvish innkeeper: "Thank you very much for the information Harlon, may the Light shine on you."

To the Company, Gaven says, "It seems our best lead is the farmer Ned Willis. I say we head to his farm, question him, and if we gain no useful information we can search the woods to the north of his farm. We know the goblins are from Stagwood, and since Stagwood is to the east, it makes sense that they would start in the woods to their west. Plus, no one seems to have seen goblins on the road, so maybe they haven't passed over it yet. Does anyone else have a better idea? I am open to other suggestions."

"I agree Gaven. That seems to be a sound plan." Varros continues, "If we fail to uncover anything we can head cross country to the second local farm."

"I also think it is a sound plan," Oloc adds. "We visit Ned Willis and then make our way north." The mage then collects his belongings and prepares for the departure, thanking Harlon again for his help.

Once outside the door. Varros calls to Karnak and feeds him some more meat. The raven takes it gratefully. Varros also explains the plan to Karnak as he believes the bird to be quite intelligent. The bird tilts his head to one side as Varros talks, though it is difficult to really know if Karnak actually understands.

You head eastward along the narrow track that leads to Ned Willis' farm. Your march is uneventful, and as the sun climbs almost directly over head, you spy a split-rail fence in the distance. As you get nearer, you notice a tall, very strong young man working on a section of the barrier that looks in need of repair. There are several fresh rails and an assortment of tools leaning against a nearby intact section of the fence. The young man's dog begins to bark loudly as you approach, though the animal does not leave his master's side.

Seeing you approach, the young man stops what he's doing, picks up an axe in one hand, and raises the other in greeting. "Good day, sirs," he calls, while you're still roughly fifty yards out. "What can I do for you today? We don't often get visitors up this path. If you're looking for the Fairbrook road, its about six miles back the way you came, and then south at the fork."

OOC: Actions?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Thursday 5 July 1280, Mid-Morning (Details from Harlon)

Oloc frowns a bit as the men leave without engaging in conversation. Perhaps they could have shed more light on the ruins.

The men make their way out the door, and close it behind them.

After the three men depart, Gaven turns to the group and says, "Rude, untrustworthy fellows. Normally, I would want to follow them to determine their intentions, but we have a more immediate concern to address."

"Agreed Gaven," says Varros. "Unsavory indeed and just what I feared, however, only the gods themselves know their motives."

Gaven pulls out Belloc's map and goes to Harlon. "Master Harlon, we have a map of the area that is rather lacking. Would you be able to help fill it in? Particularly the farm and ruins you mentioned and any other structures or areas of interest to the locals - settlements, woods, hills, caves, etc. that a group of goblins can set camp." Gaven lays out 2 gold coins to entice Harlon to help.

Varros looks closely at Harlon when he comes to the table and matches Gaven's gold and says, "Inkeep Harlon, this could be your lucky day, just between new friends, what do you know of the three gentlemen that just departed, maybe you overheard a snippet or two, or perhaps they are regulars? I'm sure Captain Belloc would like to know of any aid you give us as well. I'm sure that with a kind word he might send a few more patrols this way," Varros pauses, "for a vigilant friend that is..."

As Varros talks to Harlon he drops the traveller guise and assume the mantle of a trained swordsman.

Filbert and Hazel are a little suprised as it becomes clear that you are not simply fellow travelers at all, but something more. Sensing that something dangerous is afoot, they look simultaneously  impressed and just the tiniest bit nervous.

"Well," says Filbert. "It has been nice chatting but I see you all have very important matters to attend to.

"Yes, says Hazel. "And we must get back on the road to take care of business. Thank you ever so much for the drinks."

The two halflings politely bow and curtsy and, dropping some coins on the table, leave the inn.

With the room now empty, Harlon says "Hmph. I suspected you might not be the simple travelers you said you were. And if you're working for Belloc you're okay in my book. You ought to be careful about suprising folks like that, you know. Most folks are pretty confortable around adventurers. But they often don't take well to surprises."

"Now," he says, scooping up the halflings' – and Gaven's and Varros' – money from the table. "I'll tell you what I know. As for those dark fellows who just left, I hadn't seen them before last evening. Came in just after Mr. Filbert and Ms. Hazel. And they weren't any more talkative then than they were just now. Looked a bit like adventurer types themselves, they did. They might have been to the ruins, I don't know. They had the same quiet quality they all do afterward."

"As for the lay of the land around here," he rummages around behind his counter and locates a scrap of parchment and some red ink. "Let's see what I can do for you."

He quickly begins to draw out a rough map, at a much larger scale and with more detail than the map the captain gave you.

"Myself," he says, "I've only travelled along the main road, I know of some of the main features of the area from things folks have said to me. Now, if I remember... there are woods here, here,   and... here. Then there are some scub covered areas over here, and down here." He traces out each area as he mentions it.

"There are farms dotted all around, but I've only visited two of them myself. One is Ned Willis' farm along the east fork here – Ned was the one who's had the strange happenings. The narrow road runs right up to his farm. Whenever one of Belloc's patrols comes up and down the main road, they make their way up that track as well. I'm guessing they bring back some of old Ned's spirits for the captain."

Then up here is Timm's farm. There's no road to that one, though. I went out there a few years ago for grandfather Timm's hundredth birthday. The old man's gone now of course, as is his son. But his grandson, William Timm, he runs the farm now. He comes in here from time to time, though not near as often as his granfather did, rest his soul."

With that, Harlon announces that that's all he can think of to help you out, and he hopes that you will give his regards to the captain.

Eager to be on the road again, the mage waits patiently through Gaven and Varros' conversation with Harlon.

When Harlon finishes, Duran urges the group to leave to continue their scouting mission and following up with the farmer if they find nothing.

OOC: Actions?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Speaking discreetly to the party Varros says, "Companions, we all have our goals and to further those I propose we make a name for ourselves, I suggest, The Free Company." Varros looks them each in the eye and continues, "Gaven, trading on our name will only bring further money to the church, as well as renown..." turning and smiling to Olec, Varros continues, "Olec, my friend, many tomes, wands and training are more easily obtained with coin, correct?." Looking to Duran, Varros claps him on the shoulder and with a wink continues, "Duran, brother in arms, I know not your aspirations yet, but I know that gold and experience cannot help but to further them! I may just be able to repay your expertise with the bow, perhaps I can help you to master the elegant dance of the longsword."

"As for myself, revenge can be a powerful motivator..." Varros shrugs, "Trading on a name will most certainly serve all our aims."

"Your suggestion is a fine one," says the Mage in response to Varros' suggestion. "I am with you – even if you still do not know my name," he adds with a wink. "And I agree let us be on our way."

Gaven nods at Varros' words.

Duran replies: "That sounds like a fine name Varros, but then I am not much for making up names. As for me I just want to see the world and hear the whistle of my arrows flying through the air."

With a grin Duran continues:  "I think we should proceed on to the location we were tasked with scouting. If we do not find anything there perhaps we can follow up with this farmer before reporting back to the Captain."

The dark men at the corner table stand up having completed their meal. They drop a few coins on the table, nod at Harlon, then at Varros, and make their way toward the door.

With a smile to the group, Gaven stands up to address the three shady fellows leaving the inn.

"Good morning fellow travelers. Since it is dangerous times, perhaps we can travel together. Which direction are you heading?"

Oloc watches intently as Gaven addresses the fellows heading for the door. They certainly look suspicious to the Mage, and silently he begins to recall in his mind the words which form his spell of charming.

The three men pause, and the one who raised his mug earlier responds to Gaven. "Your offer is generous, but we are in a hurry to get to Fairbrook, and we will no doubt move faster on our own. Good day to you gentlemen."

The group begin to turn to make their way out the door.


OOC: Actions?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Thursday 5 July 1280, Mid-Morning (Conversation in the Northstar)

Varros answers Harlon's greeting: "Thank you for the warm welcome Harlon. I believe a round of drinks is in order, I myself need one at least as we received quite a scare about a quarter mile back up the road!"

Duran follows Varros lead and greets Harlon in turn. "Thank you Harlon I could use something to soothe my parched throat." Seeing Varros' act, Gaven also greets Harlan and asks for some ale and meat, while Oloc listens on intently as Varros takes the lead.

Varros does his best to seem a non threatening traveller, all the while carefully assessing the three male patrons and the halflings.

The three men in the corner wear long cloaks, which keep them well covered, revealing little of their arms. From what you can see, all three appear to be wearing leather armor, and on one you spy what looks to be the pommel of a dagger. One man has a long bow and quiver leaned against the wall just behind his chair. They nod almost imperceptibly in acknowledgement of the round bought by Varros, and one quietly raises a mug to him. The three men return their attention to their cups and their whispered conversation. They appear decidedly unsociable.

The halflings both wear elegant traveling clothes, and each seems armed only with a dagger, and no armor. They are at any rate are more friendly than the men in the corner and thank you profusely. The man introduces himself and waves you over to his table. "Come, come, do draw up some chairs and join us. I am Filbert and my companion is Hazel. We are merchants on our way to Fairbrook. Please, please sit down."

You move to the halflings' table and Harlon sets down your food and drink. Taking his drink Duran settles into a seat with a view of the room, and Gaven sits quietly and carefully to hide his plate. Oloc waits for the right moment to pose a few discreet questions.

Once you've settled at the table, Hazel speaks: "A scare you say? Just up the road?"

Varros goes on to relate the story of the noise and embellishes a bit by also claiming to have seen a lone Goblin on the road earlier in the day. Shuddering he bemoans the fact that the roads are not safe to travel as of late, "Why a well met traveller earlier even told me that there are fantastic ruins near the kings road that are the home of an evil Necromancer and his fiendish retinue!"

Duran follows Varros' statement with a query: "Any news about the road ahead from fellow travelers?"

"Well," says Filbert, "We just came from Woodfield yesterday, and we saw no goblins along it. I don't know about any evil necromancer in the ruins, though we did ride right past them, and they gave me a most unpleasant feeling, I can tell you. Didn't see any goblins, though.

"But there was that one fellow here last night," says Hazel, "a local type, who said he'd been seeing shadows and hearing odd sounds the night before in his fields. Said he almost didn't come to the inn yesterday, they worried him so, and that he didn't fancy heading back home in the dark." She looks at Harlon. "What was that fellow's name again? That farmer?"

"Old Ned?" answers the innkeeper. "Yes, he said something was spooking him. I'm sure he made it home okay last night, though. His farm is only about six miles away down the east fork, and he had his son with him in the wagon."

Oloc asks Harlon if he's seen or heard word or sign of goblin activity in the area.

"Goblins? Well, there always could be. And it wouldn't be the first time either. Small bands of them come in all the time – they steal stuff mostly. They run in groups too small to do worse than that, as a rule. A lot of the local farmers are pretty handy with a pitchfork! But some years ago, I'd say, oh..." He scratches his beard. "Oh, what, about six or seven years ago? A great horde of them came through here. They burned farms, and a whole regiment of the guard had to come from Fairbrook to drive them off. That was back when Captain Turin was in command. But apart from that scare we haven't worried too much about goblins in recent years."

"Now those ruins," says Harlon, looking at Varros, "those are another story. There definitely is something dark in there. Always has been, long as anyone can remember. I don't know for sure what it is, and I don't want to either."

Oloc further asks if Harlon has any other information about the ruins, or if he knows anyone who has ventured in.

"I've heard plenty of tales," says the dwarf, "but I'm guessing they're just that – tales. Almost all the folk I've seen venture in I never saw again. The few who did come out never wanted to talk about it. Somber they were, changed somehow. They went on their way afterward. None of them were locals and none stuck around. But travelers like yourselves shouldn't have any trouble, heading up that way, if that's what you're thinking. If you travel in daylight and stick to the road, no harm should come to you."

As Harlon finishes his thought, the men at the corner table stand up having completed their meal. They drop a few coins on the table, nod at Harlon, then at Varros, and make their way toward the door.

OOC: Actions?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Thursday 5 July 1280, Mid-Morning (Approaching the Inn)

Continuing toward the fork, you are led by the highway past a small field of tall, wild brush, maybe four to five feet high, that reaches right up to the west edge of the road. As you approach it, the brush rustles and sways as if something is moving within. You also hear a sporadic chatter-like clicking sound. Karnak continues to circle above you, either not noticing anything about the field of brush, or else not concerned.

"What in the world is that," Oloc exclaims. He draws his dagger and moves cautiously to the other side of the road. The mage points towards the brush. "Sounds like some overgrown insect - or worse."

Gaven looks with disinterest towards the brush, "There can't be goblins in such brush. We have a mission to complete, let's head to the inn to gather some intelligence."

"Make haste. To the inn. Quickly," says Varros, who positions himself at the rear of the party and readies his new bow, anxious, he faces the brush and protects the group's back as they head toward the inn. As he does this he speaks loudly but firmly, "Karnak...Scout!"

Taking an arrow from his quiver Duran readies his bow while scanning the area around them. He then quickly moves with the others toward the inn.

The raven continues his gentle looping flight above the party's path of advance. Whether he understood Varros' command, or whether this is the raven's manner of scouting, you cannot say. He simply flies as he has done all along.

Whatever was in the brush remains hidden within, and you press toward the inn unmolested. In another five minutes you find yourselves on the porch of a large, two-story brick building with a slate roof. A wooden sign reads "Northstar Inn."

Entering, you find yourself in a cozy, wood-paneled common room. There are five other travelers seated here. Two haflings – one male, one female, sit at a table near a window enjoying the sunshine, and three men speak quietly at a table in a dark, shadowy corner. As you quickly eye the guests, a burly dwarf in an apron comes out of a back room with a large, laden tray. After setting it on the table of the men in the corner, he turns to approach you.

"Good day, good day, gentlemen!" He wipes his hands in his apron. "Welcome to the Northstar Inn. I'm Harlon Blocker, the proprietor. What can I do for you?

OOC: Actions?

As usual, please give me a list of any questions you'd like to ask Harlon or the guests.

If you wish to simply have a drink/light meal, the cost is so small we'll ignore it and just say it's tossed somewhere in there the next time you spend the night somewhere (here or elsewhere) and pay the standard "cost of living."

If you wish to buy a round of drinks, the standard 1 gp for the round applies.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Thursday 5 July 1280, Early Morning (Crossing the Coldstream)

(Wednesday 4 July 1280, Night)

You relax and enjoy a leisurely dinner prepared by Sal and served up by Sadie, engaging in casual conversation and listening to the tales told by the locals. Oloc is very much interested in the new rumors collected about the ruins and the dungeons beneath. Before turning in for the night he has a drink or two, mulling over the new information. "Perhaps we can combine this scouting mission with an exploratory pass into the ruins?" he says.  The party considers this option, and various other points of the mission north. Varros suggests that the party meet half an hour before daylight to eat and prepare to depart for the scouting trip. Soon the locals begin to head home, and as it is clear no further information can be gathered about the road north, or the ruins and dungeons beneath, you decide to retire for the night.


Thursday 5 July 1280

Gaven awakes before the rest of the group and proceeds to the temple for morning prayers and meditation. He then stops to pick up his silvered club. As promised, a young halfling apprentice is awake and waiting to hand the club over.

As the pre-dawn sky slowly brightens, Gaven returns to the Tankard for breakfast with the others. Duran is oiling his bow, and Oloc seems to have just finished his spell preparation. In addition to his own breakfast, Varros seems to have picked up some meat from Sal and the fighter is feeding some small bits to Karnak, who now sits on the edge of the table.

Sal passes near the table as he does his morning chores, and leans in to talk to Karnak. "You're a handsome fellow!" he says in a gentle, cheerful voice. Then he looks at the rest of you. "You might not want to let Sadie see that, though. As clean as she tries to keep these tables, she might have a fit."

As if he understands, Karnak gives a squawk and flutters back out through the window. "What on earth was that sound?" asks Sadie, just coming down the stairs. Sal shrugs in feigned ignorance and returns to the kitchen.

As you make a final gear check, Varros suggests that the party take the main road to the inn that Belloc mentioned. He also suggests that the group keep a low profile while on the road by posing as simple travelers. The fighter is concerned that the goblins may have scouts of their own, and he is worried that they may even have disreputable humans working in conjunction with them. He asks that once the party leaves town they maintain this cover story for those they may encounter.

This seems to make sense to everyone, and those in armor cover themselves in traveling cloaks to make their martial nature less conspicuous, before heading out the door.

The morning is cool and the day promises to be warm, but not hot. As the party passes through the north gate onto the road, the sun just peeks over the horizon. Karnak flies high above the party, moving in wide circles along the party's route. Varros thinks it likely the raven will provide the party advance warning of any danger that may be in their path.

After about two hours' march you reach the stone bridge across the Coldstream. The sound of the rushing water adds a pleasant accent to your march through the countryside.

From the bridge, the road runs due north. For almost another two-and-a-half hours, you follow it until off in the distance, from atop a low rise, you can make out the branch eastward that Captain Belloc had mentioned, along with what must be the inn, maybe just a quarter mile down the east fork.

Descending the rise, continuing toward the fork, you are led by the highway past a small field of tall, wild brush, maybe four to five feet high, that reaches right up to the west edge of the road. As you approach it, the brush rustles and sways as if something is moving within. You also hear a sporadic chatter-like clicking sound. Karnak continues to circle above you, either not noticing anything about the field of brush, or else not concerned.


OOC: Actions?

I forgot to mention in my OOC to the last post, Duran and Varros are back up to full hp, thanks to the salve from Abbot Cuthbert.

The hex map here obviously represents the red lined area that Belloc pointed out to you. The outer hex being roughly 25 miles across, each smaller hex is about 3 miles, or one comfortable hour's march. You are currently in hex 40, heading north, just shy of the fork. The patch of brush is just at the west edge of the road to your left. The patch is clearly too small to be one of the "scrub-filled low spots that could hide a host [of goblins] that size" mentioned by Belloc earlier.

The current time is about 9:30 a.m.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

4 July 1280, Afternoon/Evening (Errands and Supper)

You visit the various merchants, selling your plunder, and depositing much of your cash at the royal banking house.

Varros gives Stan and Ollie 5 gp each from his current funds as a bonus for a job well done. Gaven also turns to Ollie and gives him 5 gp, "Spend it wisely lad."

The cleric then accompanies Stan to the armory, "Hold on to that spear, I think it will come in handy. Here is coin to purchase some chainmail. It will likely serve you better." Once Stan is fitted out in his new armor, his old leather protection is passed on to Ollie.

The two hired hands are quite happy that they get to share in their bosses' good fortune.

While still at the smithy, Gaven leaves his club to have it silvered. The smith assures him it will be ready by the time the party is prepared to depart the next day.

From the general store everyone buys rations, and various sundry items. Amongst Oloc's purchases are parchment, quill and ink, and Gaven picks up, among other things, a case for the map given to the party by Belloc. Varros and Duran also acquire several items, and in response to Duran's queries, the owner gives Duran the name of a fletcher in town whose services he retains for his shop. If Duran has any custom needs for his arrows, the general store owner assures him that his man can provide it.

Varros looks to Duran and says, "Friend, I will accompany you to visit the fletcher, assuming you don't mind a stop for a few supplies. I could use your keen eye, as I need a fine longbow."

Once on the street Varros nudges Duran and laughs, "After we complete our errands Duran, I believe you should buy the first round of that wonderful local ale they have at the tavern," Varros looks serious for a moment, "Hopefully, our next mission won't call for another archery contest."

Duran gladly accepts Varros’ company while buying supplies. Duran is not use to the larger towns like Fairbrook having only grown up visiting villages as small or smaller then Ashwood.

Varros purchases a longbow under Duran's guidance as well as 20 of the best arrows available and five silver arrows. Duran also obtains some top quality archery equipment.

As the rest of the party continue their preparations for the next day's mission, purchasing rations and gear, Gaven returns to the temple to speak with Abbot Cuthbert, "We return from Lover's Grove with both good and bad news Abbot. We rescued Elsie Miggins, but were too late to also save Bill Barley. To add to the bad news, hoblin-led bands of wood goblins plan on raiding the nearby farms. Please be sure to warn the citizens to be vigilant and careful."

The abbot listens thoughtfully, and tells Gaven that he and his companions have done much good in the service of the Light this day. "Since you and your comrades must depart again with no rest," says the abbot, "take this ointment. It is a blend of herbs that should soothe their wounds quite nicely."

Gaven then makes sure he and the Abbot are alone before asking about the mayor. "Captain Belloc mentioned that Mayor Adsul wanted any goblins brought directly to him for questioning because he had a 'special' method of gaining information. I find this highly questionable. What can you tell me of the mayor and his character and do you know anything of his methods?"

"Ah," says Cuthbert. "Of this special method I had only hear rumors from unreliable sources, though I knew the Mayor wanted goblins – or any other enemies – brought to him for questioning. I had hoped the rumors were just that and nothing more. But coming from Belloc..."

The abbot thinks for a moment. "You should not trouble yourself with this. It is a delicate matter, that I will look into quietly. In the meantime, you and your companions have rather important matters to deal with. I shall pray that you may find the goblin host you seek." 

Once the discussion is over, Gaven gives the Abbot 150 gp. "Here is my tithe to the Light. Good evening, Abbot."

Gaven then spends some time in prayer and meditation before returning to the tavern for supper.

After visiting the various shops and helping Varros select a stout looking long bow, Duran heads to the Red Tankard. Oloc is already resting on the front steps and, soon after, Gaven return. Reunited before the door of the inn, you all also recognize Karnak sitting on the edge of the roof, patiently waiting for you.

Varros clicks for the raven to come down, and offers him a few crumbs of rations – the bird seems to appreciate the kindness, and almost seems to nod in gratitude before flying up to the roof once more.*

Gaven hands the ointment provided by the abbot to Varros and Duran, and the stiffness and soreness of their wounds is relieved greatly.**

Inside the inn, the regulars, who by now have heard of your adventure, treat you with a fair degree of celebrity. Not that they haven't seen adventurers before, but this time your band brought back one of their own to safety, and that counts for something.

Duran buys the first round of drinks, and says to Varros: “A drink well earned by a new friend and brother in arms. I hope to learn more from you as we go about our business for the Captain,” he says to Varros. With that he orders some dinner and settles in for a relaxing evening.

Knowing that the party's new mission will take them into the vicinity of the Blackwell ruin, Varros tries to glean any information he can from those he encounters in the common room.

The people at the inn are all too happy to feel that they can be of service to the new heroes of the common room, though much of what they tell you regarding the ruins seems too far fetched to be believable or of much use – almost certainly material made up by the wild imagination of non-adventuring story-tellers. But some of it rings true, even if a bit strange. You hear from them that:

1. At night high winds blow through the ruins atop the hill, so strong that torches and lanterns are blown out and cannot be relit;

2. An ogre lives on the first level of the dungeon, collecting tolls from adventurers in exchange for passage to the lower levels;

3. The dungeons are haunted by the undead soul of an ancient, malevolent wizard.

Of course, with the warm light of a summer evening coming in through the common room windows, it's easy to not be too troubled by such stories, true or not.


OOC: Actions?

*Let me know if I overstepped here, and I can edit. I figured this might be a good way of starting a connection between Varros and Karnak (taking charge of Karnak really isn't possible, so I figured to substitute a good rapport or potentially even a future friendship in its place). 

**Same thing, let me know if I overstepped here, and I'll edit. I assumed that Gaven (being lawful and a generally good guy) would quickly provide his comrades with relief for their wounds.

Also, generally, I recapped a bit in order to work in some of the statements and actions from the recent comments. In addition I edited the previous post to include some of Gaven's statements to Mrs. Miggins, Bill Barley and Belloc.

Finally, I held off on Gaven's return to the temple in the morning, and on Varros' suggestion that the party meet half an hour before daylight to eat and plan for the scouting trip, just in case there was any more post-dinner evening activity or conversation anyone wanted to make.

Time-wise we are still at the same point as at the end of the last post. It's now just after dinner, and still daylight. Let me know anything else you'd like to do in town after dinner; if nothing, let me know that you're ready for the party to leave town.