Conquering the Barbarian Altanis: Session 38
|Fighter level 3
|A generic Nordic guy.
|Thief level 3
|Swarthy, good looking, dark-skinned thief. Sweet opium-like aroma is his fragrance of choice.
|Elf level 1
|Wears a dark green cloak to hide his bulging muscles and crippling anxiety.
|Barad the Bald
|Magic-User level 1
|Bald, beardless, chinless, and lazy-eyed.
Sunstrong 8th, Earthday
Gomm silently wept as the party buried Delphine, the wife of his last 72 hours. Then they rode to Kestizar, intent on following up on their newest leads regarding bandits assaulting the fishing village.
Sunstrong 9th, Fireday
Norvin the Ranger, whose brother and father have been killed in recent attacks on Kestizar, happily joined the Hydra Company as their guide.
Based on their current knowledge, the party made an informed assumption that bandits are hiding somewhere withing the three-mile area. Norvin proposed three spots where he'd hide such a gang: The Solemn Glade, The Secluded Cave, and The Circle of Stones.
Here is the plan they come up with.
Rhovar was to take command of the mercenary force counting eight heavy footmen and twenty-two archers, and march towards a central point between all three suspect points. They were to pitch tent and wait for the scouting party to report their findings.
Gomm, Eccy Throi and Norvin were to take the light riding horses and check each location for bandit presence. They were not to engage, but scout.
The trio rode to The Solemn Glade first.
“You see those beautiful trees? These are the ones. The woods aren't deep, merely few steps in and you will reach a small pond. It is gorgeous. But do you notice how we don't really see anything beyond the first row of trees? That is the magic of this place...”
Gomm dismounted the horse, took his backpack and climbing equipment, and carefully approached the woods. No matter how close he got, he couldn't make out what was deeper in the woods. He did feel certain warmth as he got closer and closer.
Pressing his back against a tree and peering around the side hasn't revealed much more. He decided to scale the tree and scout from there. Lo and behold, despite climbing to the top, he still wasn't able to figure out what lies deeper.
So he decided to swing from tree to tree.
“What are you afraid of?” boomed from all directions.
Gomm froze and quickly scanned the surroundings. He couldn't see anyone!
“Are your intentions pure?” the disembodied voice boomed once again.
“Yes! We are seeking evil men who have been troubling the village of Kestizar.”
As he passed to another tree, Gomm could suddenly see a glade straight beneath him. In the center of it stood a massive oak tree—so big that is should be obviously visible from at least a mile afar. A crystal clear pond sprawled around the tree, seemingly emanating from the tree itself.
On the north-west side of the pond a humanoid figure sat on a bench. The figure seemed to reflect the sun-rays. It was leaning backwards and looking up, as if it was sunbathing.
“May I come closer?”
“Apologies for interrupting you and your sanctuary...”
“Oh, I'm just a visitor enjoying this beautiful glade. Just like you.”
Norvin refused to join Gomm into the glade. Eccy on the other hand, was curious to learn more.
Little is known about the details of what transpired in that glade, but one thing was certain. Neither Gomm, nor Eccy were the same persons after meeting the mysterious figure dressed in gold cloak.
“The Wanderer.” still echoed in Gomm's head as he pondered the meaning of gold-yellow rose he was gifted. Eccy seemed very disturbed with moral quandaries. He spoke to Taegen as if his muscle elfbro was still invisible...
“Let's move on. There are no bandits here.”
The Secluded Cave was next.
“Oh... The cave seems to be inhabited with cave bears at the moment. Should we investigate further?”
So the scouts rode to The Circle of Stones.
Four figures dressed in light armours, carrying maces and bows, were moving some three hundred yards away from our scouting party. They were moving in the direction of circular stone formation.
“Let's hide and observe...”
Indeed, the four figures approached the stone formation. Then they paused few hundred feet away from the treeline on the stones. They did some movement with their arms before proceeding forward.
“Yes, this it the place I wanted to take you to.” Norvin confirmed.
“You wait for me. I'll check it out...”
Gomm left all his stuff with Norvin, tied his cloak, and smeared cold mud all over himself. Then he prowled, slowly approaching the formation from west.
Although it was already nightfall, Howla and Vannis were out in their full might. In other words there was plenty of ambient light provided by Sister Moons.
“I had enough of this grovel!”
“When will we be allowed to cook again?!”
Gomm could overhear several masculine voices arguing in Common as he pressed against one of the large stones. The voices were coming from behind. He slowly started to scale the stone.
“Shhh! Keep your blabbering mouths quiet!”
Thud. Thud. Thud.
The thief froze in place.
Heavy footsteps stopped.
So did the thief's breathing.
On the other hand, whatever it was that stood above him breathed quite loudly.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Numerous light footsteps could be heard.
“I'm sick of watching over these pathetic humans.”
Gomm understood the creatures lamenting in Goblin.
Thud. Tap. Tap. Thud. Tap. Tap. Thud. Tap. Tap.
The footsteps resumed, moving southwards.
Gomm exhaled, dropped down, rejoined Norvin and Eccy, and then they all rode off to meet Rhovar and their mercenary force.
They ignored a huge, metallic-looking bull that was marvelling the Sister Moons. In fact, they made sure to ride at least half a mile around it.
Sunstrong 10th, Spiritday
Majority of the party, including the mercenaries as well, had a miserable sleep. Eccy felt as if something horrible had happened during the night. The Sister Moons kept everyone on their toes. It was a vile night.
Regardless, the force marched on to The Circle of Stones.
They paused hundred yards away from the southern entrance.
A man exited the stone formation, holding his arms up in the air.
Eccy and Gomm rode on to meet him.
“Welcome good people. My name is Eardley. You seem quite armed!”
“Quiet! We want everyone to come out and lay down their weapons!” Eccy demanded.
“Oh, we are just a group of lumberjacks. We've been working the woods, and have been camping here since it is quite a safe spot. We apologise if these are your lands–”
“Gather your men and come out!” Eccy cut Eardley off.
“I am sorry, but you are quite aggressive in your demands. Who are you and what do you want?”
“You are in no position to ask questions!”
At this moment Eardley suddenly produced a white handkerchief in his left arm. He dropped it, turned around, and made a run for the stone formation.
A volley of arrows flew out from behind the trees that perched atop the stones. Both commanders were wounded. Even worse, Gomm's slain horse fell on the thief, pinning him to the ground.
Eccy turned around and retreated behind his force.
“March on!” Rhovar commanded. Heavy footmen were lined up front, while the archers were divided into four groups.
“Fire at will!” Eccy roared at the archers.
Twenty-two archers unleashed a volley, shooting blindly.
Another volley came back from the woods, killing four archers.
Gomm managed to free himself from underneath the horse. He leaned on the horse, aimed, and shot Eardley straight through his left eye.
Yet another volley killed several more archers.
“Charge!” Rhovar and heavy footmen broke the formation and started running towards the formation, their targets still invisible.
Archers kept moving on and unleashing volleys into the woods.
Gomm prowled towards the east side of the stone formation. Once he reached the stones, he continued north until he found a solid stone to scale.
Rhovar and Eccy kept the morale of their forces, despite the death march.
Hidden foes fired volley after volley.
“Pass me another flask...”
Gomm could see three figures around a box. One of them was passing around flasks filled with oily substance. The thief quietly lit a flask of his own, and then threw it straight into the box.
The explosion sent the bandits flying in different directions. It also set all the nearby trees on fire.
“Now! Death or glory! C H A R G E!”
The Hydra Company rushed into the formation, finding a small camp consisting of three tents. The camp was full of dead bodies, some of them with arrows in them. The survivors fled down the dark tunnel bored into the northwest stone.
“Check the tents!”
The largest tent was to west, it had two large chests, several bearskins and wine casks. The other two tents were smaller. One had two chests. There were twelve bedrolls in total. Plunder was about to begin.
“Who the fuck are you and what the fuck are you doing in my camp?!”
A stocky man dressed in chainmail, wielding a serrated handaxe in his right hand and a chopped off head in his left marched out of the tunnel. He was dirty, sweaty, and had mad eyes.
“Oi! Pointy-ears! I challenge you to duel!”
“Finegan the Brutal, I presume? No way scumbag!”
The man was joined by four creatures dressed in chainmail, armed with maces, longswords and shields. The man knew these monsters as hobgoblins. The group charged Eccy.
Four heavy footmen formed a perimeter in front of the elf.
“Coward! Fight me one on one!” Finegan yelled as he threw the head at elf.
“Fuck you!” Eccy retorted.
Finegan cut down one of the mercenaries with a single blow. He broke the man's collarbone, driving his handaxe deep inside. His face lighted up, as in ecstasy, whilst he grinded the serrated edge against the man's flesh.
The party surrounded Finegan and his retinue, and chaos ensued. Gomm surprised one of the hobgoblins, killing him from behind. Unfortunately, in doing so he revealed his location, and was promptly reward with a sword to heart.
But something fantastic happened—the sword hadn't penetrated his flesh. In fact, the tip of the sword turned gold. Then the rest of sword turned gold, until it disintegrated into gold dust.
Gomm staggered backwards, grabbing hist chest where he was stabbed. It was the pocket where he had hidden the golden flower gifted to him by the Wanderer. Despite keeping his life, he felt as if something of great importance has been lost.
Brace, one of the soldiers in Eccy service, drove his sword into Finegan's side, dropping him to his knees before smashing his temple with the pommel.
The remaining hobgoblins were promptly dealt with.
Eccy wiped off the blood from his face. He looked down at the brute's corpse. Then he cut off his head.
The looting was about to begin.
But what if something else comes out of the same dark hole Finegan the Brutal crawled out from?
Player Session Reports
- Eccy Throi's letter
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