Shadows of the Mercenary Part 8

SkidAce May 13, 2014
After departing the area of the ruins the party climbed back over the wall. With the use of the rope, most members eventually made it over fairly uneventfully.

When the party stood at the outside base of the wall, Aeron and Nitram were astounded to notice the rapid growth of the thorny vines. The path that Aeron had blazed with the use of the pipes of building was still there, and still easily traversable, but the edges had grown back inward by at least six inches overnight.

(corrected map)

The party set out easily on their exodus from the forest, passing crumbling ruins and partial buildings, and the statue of the stag headed man. It took about an hour of travel to reach the juncture where they had been attacked and had responded by utilizing the bagpipes.

As before, the southern exit of the clearing had become overgrown and disappeared, but this time, without the distraction of an ambush by the druas, the group was able to force (with some scratches and much difficulty) their way around the blockage to where the path resumed.

Cragthor.jpgThis path having been cleared by force by the mercenaries, also showed signs of the thorns and vines having grown back rapidly overnight. It was about thirty minutes of travel to the forest’s edge. Just before the group reached the point of their original entry into the Faerfell forest, Cragthor raised a hand and spoke to Blend. “Mercs be waitin, most likely.”

08 Jannissary (Winter) 509 PE (Year of the Ravens)
1030am, Moonday

mmartin_10 mmartin_10 May 13, 2014
“Shall we take a look?” Nitram asked Blend. “I don’t have a problem going out there to talk to them, just to make sure they don’t do anything stupid. But, I’d appreciate a few bows to cover me.”

ProfessorHill ProfessorHill May 13, 2014
Aeron replied, “Perhaps we can buy them off. How much gold do we have? These are mercenaries after all…”

mmartin_10 mmartin_10 May 13, 2014
“I think you’re looking at this backwards, Aeron. Perhaps they can buy us off,” the ranger replied with a smile.

the_app the_app May 14, 2014
Rumil, still recovering from the slightly disturbing act Aeron performed on the dead druas, simply move along with the group – ever watchful of the surrounding area for signs of another ambush – utilizing Detect Magic when appropriate to scan the area for signs of lingering magic. He did not understand the desire for treasure seeking – unless it was a lost or stolen relic. Defenders were generally well compensated and needed only ask for supplies from the quartermaster – but perhaps this was the nature of the world into which he had stepped.

AFCop AFCop May 14, 2014
Blend nodded in silent acknowledgement at the bruteman’s input. “I’ll go first with Cragthor,” he said turning toward the rest of the group. “Wait in the treeline and watch our backs.”

mmartin_10 mmartin_10 May 14, 2014
Nitram silently moved to take cover in the treeline and readied his bow, surveying the area opposite the group.

ProfessorHill ProfessorHill May 14, 2014
Aeron added, “If the goal is to negotiate…you would be better served taking the bard, Frederick, with you…if the goal is to pick a fight…I would take Cragthor. Either way, I will be in the tree line in case the terms are…unacceptable.” (Aeron using his Transmutor power to adjust 1 physical attribute by 2 points to nullify the strength loss from the shadows. Activates Mage Armor on robe).

SkidAce SkidAce May 14, 2014
The winter sun was clear and high in the sky as the group determined their actions, The sunlight was a welcome change from the ever present low light and dimness of the Faerfell forest.

When the group members moved into their various positions, they could easily see that the mercenaries had built some temporary fortifications just outside of the entrance path to the forest, strategically blocking any advancement.

As Blend and his group traveled forward, they saw quickly dug trenches and freshly set up wooden stake palisades about 110 to 120 feet from the wood line. Central to the wooden fence line was a wooden gate, and flanking it were two mean looking ballistas, placed to cover the exit from the forest.

Halfway between the wooden palisade and the forest edge was a dug out pit, surrounded by outward pointing spikes. Two mercenaries crouched down within the pit holding shortbows. When the sentries noticed Blend and his companions, one of them waved a small red pennant back at the main fortifications.

SkidAce SkidAce May 14, 2014

mmartin_10 mmartin_10 May 14, 2014
nice pic…warhammer fantasy?

xLucix xLucix May 14, 2014
It’s so cute! I mean, imposing and grand. Yeah, that.

ProfessorHill ProfessorHill May 14, 2014
Aeron cast his whisper spell and asked the party, “What do you think is behind the gate? 50 heavy cavalry…100 infantry. With the palisades as hard cover it will be impossible to hit anyone behind the gates…”

mmartin_10 mmartin_10 May 14, 2014
The ranger tried to assess the situation and determine the best course of action. “That fort is just over a bowshot from the trees. Their two _ shortbows are in the pit at the edge of their range. We could almost as easily go around and not deal with them._ Nitram looked at his companions for a moment before speaking, “Why exactly do we need to go through the merc fortifications? Why don’t we just exit the forest and move along the treeline until we are far enough away from the fort that we can head west? Or, better yet – we can have a couple people do that while the bows stay in the trees to see if anything emerges from the fort.”
“Do we need to warn them? They are probably keenly aware of the threats in these woods. They don’t need to know that we killed a powerful mage in there though. What do we hope to accomplish by addressing them? Would they attack? Could they?”

SkidAce SkidAce May 14, 2014
Blend and Cragthor could see the wooden gate of the palisade emplacement begin to move off to the side. What looked like Lt Expedient on a horse was preparing to ride out to meet Blend’s group.

mmartin_10 mmartin_10 May 14, 2014
Nitram whispered to Blend, “Blend, we’ll wait until you speak to Expedient and let us know that it’s safe to come out.”

AFCop AFCop May 14, 2014
Blend approached cautiously and stopped just out of bow shot range and waited for Lt. Expedient to come to them.

xLucix xLucix May 15, 2014
Frederick whistled quietly, looking at the merc camp in the distance. “It’s certainly out of the fire and into the larger fire with this group, isn’t it?” he murmured.

the_app the_app May 15, 2014
Rumil nodded at Frederick’s comment, saying a quick prayer to Corellon to calm himself.

mmartin_10 mmartin_10 May 15, 2014
Nitram trained his arrow on Expedient, thinking that he hadn’t yet found a hobgoblin that he liked.

ProfessorHill ProfessorHill May 15, 2014
(If the discussion looks like it is going badly Aerin will cast: Extended Gravity Bow, Cat’s Grace, Ricochet Shot, Haste)

SkidAce SkidAce May 15, 2014
Blend stopped just after exiting the treeline. It was the best he could do. Looking over the mental map in his mind, he had to give credit to whomever set up the fort and the dugout. Both the light ballistas and the shortbows were within short range of the forest edge, covering anyone who came out of the opening, but the palisade itself was out of short range of normal longbows. It appeared Cragthor had the same thought as he paused with Blend and shrugged his shoulders.

Lt Expedient rode slowly up to the party and dismounted just out of melee weapon range. He looked a little frustrated and spoke quickly to Blend, after glancing curiously at Cragthor.

“So, another coincidence that I will have to accept an explanation for ehh?” He stood and waited.

AFCop AFCop May 15, 2014
“It would appear so.” Blend continued on without additional explanation. “We rescued some of your men from the druas. Cragthor here was one of them. He may put your suspicions at ease. If not, well, I am not going to try any harder to convince you. In any case, you matters for being here are yours and ours are ours. We merely wish to be on our way back to Farhills without any…unnecessary…delay.”

ProfessorHill ProfessorHill May 16, 2014
Aeron’s magic whisper drifted from the forest edge across the open grassland to merchant Blend’s ear, “If you can’t find out who hired the mercenaries…try to find out what they were trying to accomplish in the Shadow Veil. Nod if you would like Frederick, the Scald of the Skularian Hills, to recite the Tale of the Thousand Swords….or the Ballad of the Black Company to convince Lt Expedient not to underestimate small groups of dedicated (or crazy) men.” Aeron knew reciting a parable to goblinoids was a dangerous proposition as they were likely to lose interest in the middle and start killing things…but he was willing to take that chance. Aeron added, , “See if you can buy the light ballista for Fort Farhills…and arrange delivery.” Aeron spoke some arcane words and touched Frederick’s arm. The dirt disappeared from his traveling clothes, his teeth sparkled, a gentle breeze wafted through his hair….and seemed just a little more charming than usual (Prestidigitation, Breeze, Transmuter ability to increase an attribute by 2: Charisma). Aeron spoke to him, , “If you go to assist the negotiations you might want to keep the prose short…I’m thinking an apropos poem or limerick is about right.”

AFCop AFCop May 16, 2014
Blend found himself momentarily distracted by Aeron’s whispered voice inside his own ear. After it was finished, Blend wondered if the wizard’s ability to alter reality, had, in fact, created a completely alternate reality inside his own head.

SkidAce SkidAce May 16, 2014
Lt Expedient cocked his head as if he had heard something (Per 14), but then proceeded to address Cragthor and Blend.

“Rescuing our men is most laudable on the surface. My thanks.” he said as he bowed formally. “Perhaps you could release them to us?”

From the gate that had remained open, the group could see “Lord” Captain Cider deVilliers and Lt Shasta riding out and approaching the conversation. Lt Shasta remained mounted, while deVilliers got off his horse and approached Lt Expedient and Blend. After hearing Expedient explain that the party had rescued some of their men, the mercenary captain approached Blend in conversation.

“It is certainly most fortuitous for our men that you showed up where you did. We sadly thought them lost.” deVilliers shrugged. “We were working our way towards mounting a more ‘forcefull’ entry towards the ruins when our scouts reported your entrance into the forest. You fared well, I dont see your ‘lord’ Nitram, did he fall?”

Cider.png“So any word on the status of the occupied ruins, and or a large black orb would be greatly appreciated and well rewarded. Our benefactor is of course most concerned with reclaiming his castle at this point.”

AFCop AFCop May 16, 2014
“The rest of my party is just inside the treeline. They should be joining us momentarily, along with your men. I do not know anything about a black orb, but the druas who occupied the ruins have suffered significant casualties, if, indeed, they are the same ruins in question. I will let…Lord…Nitram explain in more detail.” Blend waited patiently for the rest of the group to join them, his stance portraying a betraying indifference that was anything but. He did not like Expedient and he was sure Expedient shared similar sentiments. Not so far in the distant past he would have ended the miserable creature’s life without a second thought. These days, however, he put more thought into the decision to sever someone from their mortal coil.

mmartin_10 mmartin_10 May 16, 2014
Nitram whispered too the others,“let’s join our friend out there. Stay spread out and keep your guard up. Shylent, watch the mercs we freed. We are the ones outside the walls now.” the ranger made his way out if the tree line, ensuring Cider and Expedient saw him return his arrow to his quiver.

ProfessorHill ProfessorHill May 16, 2014
Aeron surreptitiously pointed a small copper wire at Lt Expedient and whispered to the group of companions and mercenaries standing in the grass field. “Feel the rhythmic gust of wind that bends the blades of grass to and fro. The breeze that blows from the forest carries a message of peace and harmony. Listen well to Merchant Blend and head the historical perils of pugilism that Frederick the Skald shares with you today.” {color:orange} Message on Lt Expedient and then Hypnotism (ST vs Will DC 21) to improve their Encounter Reaction two levels in the direction of whatever Blend and Frederick are trying to convince them of. Hopefully this will make the mercenary leadership friendly and implant a Suggestion to “Help us attack the jade staff druas wizard’s tower (map available upon request)” or “Sell us your ballista at a very reasonable price” or maybe just “Hold off the druas army that will be chasing after us very soon”

ProfessorHill ProfessorHill May 16, 2014
(Was there a black orb on the cathedral altar…and if so, did we pick it up with the other magic items?)

ProfessorHill ProfessorHill May 16, 2014
If the hypnotic suggestion took, Aeron will depart the tree line and join the rest of the party.

mmartin_10 mmartin_10 May 16, 2014
Nitram could be seen whispering to Serre as the two moved toward the small group gathered between the trees and the fort. Nitram patted the griffon’s side and the beast leapt into the air, eventually orbiting overhead. Nitram was sure that deVilliers and Expedient would understand the support that Serre could provide.

He greeted the mercenary captain as he neared, “Capt Devilliers, I’m glad to see that you aren’t a shadow. I’d ask how your ‘expedition’ was going, but I saw the bodies littered through the woods. We had hoped to catch up to you to warn you of the forests’ dangers, but it seems we are too late and you are already aware.” He waiting a moment, searching for the words, “I’m sure Blend already let you know we found some of your men. We were missing one of ours and it seemed appropriate to bring them all out to safety. I’m not sure what your goal is, but we passed plenty of ruins – as I’m sure your group did as well since we were following your trail. Good luck with the rest of your mission, feel free to stop by Farhills on your return. We’ll be on our way now.”

SkidAce SkidAce May 17, 2014
Blend’s response caused deVilliers to become quiet and thoughtful. Blend did not need any special insight to see that Expedient was just about feed up with him and the group. But Lt Expedient followed deVilliers’ orders faithfully, so he merely stood there, watching Blend with distrust.

Cragthor hefted his axe and moved casually but obviously between Expedient and Blend. deVilliers noticed this and raised and eyebrow. “Something we need to know Cragthor?” Lt Shasta called out. Cragthor replied as he pointed at Blend “Lifedebt” Expedient just shook his head and spit on the ground.

“That’s fine Cragthor, just see Shasta about any pay you may be owed.” Capt deVilliers said calmly.

A faint droning whisper was heard drifting amongst the group, and Lt Expedient’s eyes went slack momentarily. deVilliers looked up sharply and suspiciously, but was then distracted by the sight of Serre launching into the air and circling overhead. deVilliers barked an order at the two men in the pit “Signal the ballistas to HOLD THEIR FIRE!” The two mercenaries in the pit frantically waved a red and green pennant back at the fortifications.

Cider just looked at Blend and sighed. Looking past Blend, he waited patiently as Nitram, Aeron, and the rest of the group advanced from the treeline.

After Nitram gave his greeting and speech, Lt Expedient let out an uncharacteristic cheer and thanked Lord Nitram for saving the two men, whom he dispatched back to the fortifications. Smiling Expedient looked at Nitram and said “Well played sir, we are men of honor indeed.”

Capt deVilliers however seemed to have taken some slight insult at the tone and words of Nitram’s greeting. His face turned slightly red, and his voice almost lost its “oh so polite” aristocratic tone that it normally had.

“Why thank you Lord Nitram. I hope following my very small advance scouting party didn’t lead you into any travails. As said before back at your ‘fort’ our mission is to secure our benefactor’s rightful property, said castle ruins. Any help you may have provided we are extremely thankful for. Have a wonderful day.”

Captain deVilliers signaled to his lieutenants, and all three rode back into the temporary fortifications, leaving Nitram and company staring at two mercenary sentries sitting in a bunker, who looked back awkwardly.

(There was a black orb sitting on a wooden altar in front of the black portal, it was providing a lot of the purple/bluish electric glow. You would have taken it.)

Servantes coughed and mentioned “Ahh, mes amie, the elven horses await with their handler to the southeast”

mmartin_10 mmartin_10 May 17, 2014
“Well, that went strangely better than expected. What was the deal with Lt. Expedient? He seemed…more odd than usual. Once we get to the horses, should we ride around the woods and enter near the wizard’s prized possession?”
Skid, Did we all hear the whispered droning? I suspect the Spider may be controlling expedient or something like that.

SkidAce SkidAce May 17, 2014
(You heard what may have been Aeron whispering)

Servantes hesitated, then spoke in response to Nitram’s question. “I think stopping whatever they were doing with that portal was a good thing. I am not so sure we should try raiding what is more than likely one of their villages. And there is the Spider’s motives to consider.”

the_app the_app May 17, 2014
“I am afraid I must agree. First, we have a map now, which we can use at any time. Second, while it is valuable or prized to the dead wizard, we do not know what that item is – perhaps a gift from his wife or a magical trinket he got from a mentor – certainly nothing to speed off after. Finally, we have wounded, we have a ton of items to dispose of, and we have a staff that may prove useful if properly identified.” Rumil suddenly realized he may have said too much, especially when his council was not sought.

ProfessorHill ProfessorHill May 17, 2014
Aeron hefted the sack on his shoulder that contained the glowing black orb. “Hail and well met, warriors of Falconaire. Good luck finding the orb. If you can tell us the orbs purpose we may be able to discern its likely location. (If they provide a orb purpose then Aeron will give them a map to the wizardstower). Any assistance you can provide delaying the druas that are following us is well appreciated.”

ProfessorHill ProfessorHill May 18, 2014
Aeron struggled with the weight of the magic orb in the sack, contemplating its weapon potential…when he was brought back to the reality of the situation by Acolyte Rumil’s inspirational speech for inaction. Looking about, Aeron realized how desperate the group appeared. The party’s clothes were in tatters, no one had escaped the Shadow Veil forest without injury, and they were filthy from leading the refugees to freedom. As the swarm of refugees fled to the palisade, Aeron wondered how wise it was to provide armed new recruits to Anshar mercenaries…and how wise it was to bring Cragthor along with them. Refugees are dirty enough, but a bruteman refugee are practically putrid. Aeron cast a minor mending spell on everyone’s clothes (Mending). All the damage from the druas quarrels, swords, and brambles disappeared, though the wounds underneath still ached. After another minor spell (Prestidigitation) the group was cleaned of dirt and sweat and looked as fresh as the day they walked out of Septcygne…which was yesterday.

ProfessorHill ProfessorHill May 18, 2014
Aeron went over the mission objectives with the party, “We have discovered that the druas are not allied with Spider Bramble. We have prevented the human mercenaries from killing the druas…mostly by killing them ourselves dressed as agents of Spider Bramble.” After everyone was cleaned up and ready to travel Aeron added, “We may not be the best diplomats…but we are the best dressed.” Aeron’s grey embroidered robes billowed after him as he made his way towards the horses.

SkidAce SkidAce May 18, 2014
Aeron’s shadow moved next to Nitram and began to moan and leer at the ranger disturbingly.

Servantes took Aeron’s movement towards where they had left the horses as a decision and helped Shylent lead the way back along the path they had traveled.

The elven attendant was quietly penning some type of poem as the group approached. He put away the quill and paper and led each member of the group to the horse they had ridden before. The solchevalle nickered softly and prepared to depart. The elven attendant looked at the new arrivals, Cragthor and Frederick, and turned to Servantes with a question in his eye.

Servantes pondered for a moment, then spoke to Nitram. “Forsooth, did we determine to return to Septcygne, or would you return to your fort? We can ride, sadly at normal speed, and waiting for those that must walk, to your fort, then the attendant can return the solchevalle to Aelvinwode. That is probably best, as it will save you a trip. Or, they can return now, and we can all walk to the fort. Tis not far to the west, relatively.”

mmartin_10 mmartin_10 May 18, 2014
Nitram moved closer to the wizard, “Aeron, how much longer can you control the shadow and what are your plans when that time expires? He seems to be getting a little restless.”

well done, Skid. I completely didn’t connect Aeron’s hypnotism of (at least some of) them with Expedient’s reaction.. That explains the hobgoblin’s reaction.

The ranger looked at the rest of the group for any input regarding the magical horses. “I think it may be best that the attendant take them now, although I would not mind returning to Septcygne to inform the Queen of our encounters.” Addressing the rest of the group, the ranger added, I still think we need to at least see what the object of the treasure map is. If it’s a town or something of that scale, we can continue on our way and return at a later time. If it’s a single cave or tower, I would prefer we secure the object instead of the Anshar mercentaries. There’s no telling what the magician considers his most prized possession."

the_app the_app May 18, 2014
Rumil began to wonder what he had gotten himself into. He understood the need to venture out and gain worldly experiences – but the desire to venture forth and “acquire” some hypothetical loot, which was, by his understanding of the map, on the far side of the forest – with the gods know how many druas in-between – seemed mad. At least Aeron, a fellow elf, seemed to understand. The rest of the party seemed to suffer from the fate of short life-spanned races – get it now, because tomorrow you’ll be dead. Of course, he was on a mission to gain experience to better serve him when he formally joined the guard at 180 years of age. If only Aeron knew how to commune with spirits as well. Rumil had seen, albeit only under special circumstances, elf sages question spirits of the recently departed to help find information. What we have here, unfortunately is simply a map to…

Rumil did, however, agree that the undead create was making things a bit uncomfortable. Rumil was no fan of the necromantic arts – although he knew of a few of his kind that specialized in some of the practice to bolster the defenses of the People. Aeron seemed quite capable of controlling this creature – but how long and at what cost? Was this spirit not able to cross over? Was a second death at the hands of this party its only escape?

“Corellon, give me guidance to see the path, patience to endure the journey, and strength to overcome the trials.”

SkidAce SkidAce May 18, 2014
08 Jannissary (Winter) 509 PE (Year of the Ravens)
1145am, Moonday

ProfessorHill ProfessorHill May 18, 2014
Aeron sensed there was dissention in the ranks. “I prefer to head back to Aelvinwode and report to the High Councilor of Magic on what we have seen and heard. Lord Nitram is concerned that we may not be able to see the forest through the trees. Our focus on the magic and mechanics of the jade staff wizard opening the portal to the shadow plane may be distracting us from some greater magic and larger druas strategy at the location marked on this map. It is true that we don’t fully understand the motive for the druas opening portals to the shadow plane. Because of this gap of knowledge and the likely existence of powerful magics that we know not what they do…due diligence requires us to investigate. On the other hand, timely reporting to Aelvinwode may assist in the proper defense of the realm. We may be able to fufill both requirements.” Aeron took out out a small stone statue of a horse and carefully placed it in the grass. After chanting some unintelligible words the small stone toy grew into a lifesize living elven steed (Carry Compantion). Aeron pet the horse and spoke to the group, " The party will travel together to Aelvinwode to report and reprovision. I will enchant Merchant Blend so he can fly and then he can fly to the secret location of the jade staff wizards prized possession, collect some intellgence and then exfiltrate out of the Shadow Veil to the Aelvinwode capital."

mmartin_10 mmartin_10 May 19, 2014
“Will that bruteman, Cragthor, even let Blend recon alone? I doubt it. I’m not a fan of splitting the group, especially if it leaves one of us alone. And, what to do with this bard? He most likely isn’t connected to the Ansharians or he would have said something about the orb. It still might be best for him to become a little more independent before jumping into potential combat again.” Nitram shifted his weight as he tried to find the right words. “While I’m not keen on splitting the group, your suggestion does have some merit, Aeron. I doubt that Blend’s new friend will allow him to venture that far from his presence. I may not know what lifedebt means to a bruteman, but I know what it means to me and I doubt there’s much difference. I think Serre, Blend, Cragthor, and I should take solchevalles to investigate the map. The rest of you can travel back to Aelvinwode. Shylent and Servantes should be able to protect the magic users and the bard in case of an ambush. The attendant can ride with us if he worries that the mounts won’t return home. We will meet in Aelvinwode once we have an idea of what the map tells us.”

the_app the_app May 19, 2014
“I am not as learned as Aeron, nor as good with a blade as Blend, but I do know that splitting the group, especially to the point where you investigate a mage’s lair without a mage along, seems a poor decision indeed. I am starting to get the hint that the allure of treasure means more to some than I first suspected. While I do not wish to die this day, I will not abandon those with which I have spilled blood. If the group travels to Aelvinwode – we travel together; if the group chooses the map – then so be it.”

“It is a wonder to me that the lesser races have survived this long. I can only imagine their proclivity for breeding, sadly even with my people from time to time, is what has kept them so plentiful.”

mmartin_10 mmartin_10 May 19, 2014
Nitram moved closer to the new elf addition, “I know you have not been long with our small band, so I’ll attempt to illuminate our general intentions. We have had several adventures together that started out as a small, seemingly specific threat to one or all of us. A band of ogres performing blood rituals joined us together. While the threat of ogres was enough to enlist us to oppose them, we found that there were bigger players involved. An international smuggling ring was supplying the ogres with magical “blood” items, facilitating their infiltration and attempt to cut off Falconaire from Highkeep and Aelvinwode. I don’t know who is funding the Anshar mercenaries. I am “allured” to treasure as much as the next guy, but my concern is not treasure. It is that the mercenaries’ benefactor is funding them to gain control over some powerful magic items that will be used to attack, weaken, or damage the neighboring human and elven kingdoms. I would rather not let that happen. That is why I’d like to know what is up there."

xLucix xLucix May 19, 2014
Frederick began idly looking around for any interesting magical things that someone might have left behind, ignored or just stopped caring about. Roll Spellcraft, Knowledge Arcane. Damned if I know what this’ll do, but it’s interesting for me

the_app the_app May 20, 2014
Rumil simply nodded at Nitram when he finished talking. The group would do as the group was wont to do. While he had lived for over 100 years, he was still young and would defer to those wiser and more experienced. Regardless, he would likely stick with Aeron – for while the elf was slightly off, as most mages were after countless hours of studying, he was still the closest thing to home.

SkidAce SkidAce May 21, 2014
The plan determined, the group divided into two groups, a recon team to “scout” out the map area, and a group to travel back to Aelvinwode and report their findings.

Blend, Cragthor, Nitram, and Serre formed the recon group. Aeron, Rumil, Frederick, Servan, and Shylent were heading back towards Aelvinwode.

SkidAce SkidAce May 21, 2014
Aelvinwode Group

Aeron led the group heading back to the elven capital towards the trees, after an hour they had re-entered the beautiful forest, and the solchevalle picked up the pace, running effortlessly through the brush and bramble at a blurring pace.

Interestingly enough, Frederick had never heard of solchevalle before, but their effectiveness in ttraversing elven forests was apparant.

About four hours later, the group reached the stable where they had picked up the horses previously, on the edge of the elven capital, Septcygne.

Aeron gathered those who wished to accompany him to meet with the High Councilor of Magic, and was quickly greeted by the High Mage, as the sun began to lower in the west.

08 Jannissary (Winter) 509 PE (Year of the Ravens)
5pm, Moonday

The High Mage received the groups news with some measure of alarm and relief. He explained that the druas had always had an affinity for shadows and gloom, and reminded those present that the particular coterie that they had encountered were mainly followers of Tenebrous, a power of darkness and shadows. After Aeron explained about the portal, the mage replied that they had always known the border between realms was thin there, presumably that was one of the reason the druas settled so heavily in that forest. What specifically was on the other side of that portal to the shadowrealm was unknown. But hearing about the knight infused with the power of shadow, and inspecting the amulet that had channeled the knight’s power, Solde inferred that they could be a dragon involved somehow. A dragon from the realm of shadow was a disturbing piece of information.

The party spend the night in Septcygne, researching various bits of lore, and resting. Together and separately they conducted their business and then slept.

The next morning they rose to find Servan greeting them with the news that he wished to travel to Fort Farhills and see what the crude humans had created for himself. To gain a better and more broad perspective as he put it.

The party departed and traveled quietly through the winter day uneventful, reaching Fort Farhills in the evening as the sun dropped sharply behind the hills to the west, draping the fort in shadows.

09 Jannissary (Winter) 509 PE (Year of the Ravens)
6pm, Earthday

SkidAce SkidAce May 21, 2014
Valley Recon Group

Blend and Nitram lead the group northward along the edge of the trees and the hillside, heading towards the location designated on the map that Aeron had provided. Aeron had created a local map, and using it did allow the group to avoid some terrain features, such as skirting the edge of a beautiful waterfall gorge, and avoiding a mass of crumbling masonry and blocks the size of a small hill.

There were still thorns and vines in the area, but not as many as if they were traveling through the forest instead of going around.

Cragthor and Serre were not as quiet as the others, but with aid, the small group was able to move quietly enough to maintain some degree of stealth. After about two hours of travel, Blend noticed a druas patrol moving casually through the edge of the forest, across their path. The party was undetected, although it was apparent to Nitram that Serre felt inclined to hiss and attack the patrol.

08 Jannissary (Winter) 509 PE (Year of the Ravens)
2pm, Moonday

Looking at the tracks, Nitram concluded that the patrol was travelling at cross angles to the group’s advance, and should not be a problem in the short term. The group moved onward, and eventually came to a small valley, perhaps a quarter mile wide, nestled on the shoulder of the hillside, running parallel to the ridge line above and below it. The sides of the valley were steep in some places, creating choke points, but shallow for the most part.

The valley was filled with trees blocking most of the view, but through the gaps in the foliage, it was apparent that the valley was filled with houses and small farming plots scattered though and under the trees. Most of the buildings they could see had been constructed from the gray masonry prevalent in the area, and were situated in such a manner that only portions of buildings could be seen. With the exception of the three towers that rose above the tree branches in the center of the valley. The towers were slender, and rose 100 feet above the trees.

Leaving Serre hidden in the brush, the trio crept close enough to get an assessment of the population of the valley. Even in the middle of winter, some druas were farming mushrooms under the shade of dark green trees. Others were moving stacks of masonry and repairing buildings. From somewhere near the three towers there could have been some type of festival, for eerily beautiful and strangely light sounds of music flowed towards the group. Combining the buildings they could see with the druas walking around that they could count, Blend and Nitram determined that the total population of the valley was similar to that of a village (i.e. 61 to 200).

Tracks at their feet led the group to conclude that there would be an increasing high chance of discovery if they advanced, or stayed in this position much longer.

They group regathered together, and headed back along the forests edge towards their original position, successfully evading several patrols as they did so.

08 Jannissary (Winter) 509 PE (Year of the Ravens)
4pm, Moonday

Once they reached the glade where they had split off from the other members of the party, they discovered the elvish attendant had remained with three solchevalle. Not wanting to ride through unexplored country on the way back to Fort Farhills, the group decided to camp overnight here in the glade.

09 Jannissary (Winter) 509 PE (Year of the Ravens)
6am, Earthday

The next morning as they mounted up, Nitram noticed that Serre had gotten taller, and broader, and was almost the size of a small pony himself. Nitram was still learning about griffons, but he knew that they didn’t grow that fast.

It was 10-15 miles across country to the west to get to Fort Farhills, depending on terrain. Most of it was hills and scrub brush, allowing for the group to move about 2 to 3 miles an hour. With Nitram’s expert guidance (Survival 21) , the party was able to make it to Fort Farhills in about four hours, well before lunch, 10am.

Around evening time, the other part of the group made it back to Fort Farhills.

09 Jannissary (Winter) 509 PE (Year of the Ravens)
6pm, Earthday

Shadows of the Mercenary Part 8

Unconquered Kingdoms SkidAce