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Swamp Rat Campaign Journal
Occasional campaign journal for The Swamp Rat Century and by extension, Centurion Skwibs Cavalry.
Place: North Dalatia
Date: Taramis 5 – Early winter / Imperium ????
Who: The horse troop that was once the Swamp Rats.
Characters: Centurion Skwib, Bork the Northman Carl, Greer the Northman Trader.
Special Task: Spot the GM’s mistake.
Skwib gained the blessing of the beloved and comely Queen Taramis to for a new unit of horse soldiers. Finances being tight, his mandate was initially to recruit new soldiers who could preferable bring their own horse and grow the troop into a sizeable fighting unit. To this end the unit of a few stalwart Swamp Rats who had decided to take on the cavalry life as well as some new recruits were dispatched north, to the distant fortress town of Dun Atholl.
Skwib and co had arrived late the previous day and presented their letter of passage to the captain of the guard. They had been billeted in the visitors barracks, which was situated some distance from the main gate of the fortress.
Dun Atholl is situated on a low hill, overlooking a small lake which was formed by the influx of the local river into a depression. Over the years the Dun’s original purpose as guardian of the north has softened and a small trading town has sprung up between it and the docks on the lake.
Early the next day, as Skwib’s cavalry are enjoying a meagre breakfast under the glowering appraisal of the local master of horse, word comes of a Northman long ship that has put in for a spot of trading. It is late in the season for sure, already some mild snows have visited, dusting the countryside white.
With sweet nothing to occupy them, Skwib and some of his comrades mosey down to the docks for a look at these Northmen and what they may have to sell. A bit of trading ensues and after a while Skwib et al find themselves in possession, inter alia, of some small barrels of mead and the companionship of two Northman, going y the names of Bork and Greer. The mead is drunk, and is soon followed by ale and spirits and a night of carousing and feeling wenches up in the local tavern.
Some hours after day break, as the hung-over punters are going about reviving their dulled wits, it comes to pass that captain Snorri has pushed off with his long ship, eager to return to his homeland before the real winter storms start. Bork and Greer are left behind, having not returned in time. Over the following month the two Northmen make friends among the visiting cavalry, who in turn set about training under the Dun’s master of horse. At first it is fun to watch the green cavalry flail about and fall off their horses, but that novelty soon passes.
When word comes of the need for a sortie to the nearby village of Litz, which Skwib’s men are volunteered for, the Northmen do not hesitate to join in. The mission is a simple one, escort the Dun’s healer and tax collector to Litz and once their duties have been performed, escort them back.
The trip to Litz was uneventful, but word came the next day that a healer was urgently needed further north, at a farmers croft. Rather than wait around gambling and drinking, Skwib, Bork and Greer escorted the healer to the farm.
The farm was in the form of a wooden walled skally, and the home of an elderly horse breeder who had taken ill. The healer tended him but the shortening day was dying by the time she was ready to depart. A light snow had started to fall, so the adventurers decided to stay overnight and depart the next day. Some time after dusk, there came a booming knock at the skallys gate. The knock was answered and eftsoons the gate had closed did a short man get escorted into the warm longhouse.
The man, besides being short of stature, was unlike anyone they had encountered before. Once he shrugged off heavy furs, they beheld a sturdy, slightly bow legged figure. Though old, the strength in his muscles was quite evident. His face was wide, with deep set eyes shadowed by heavy brow ridges which were topped with a sloped forehead.
The old farmer, who feeling somewhat better after being tended by the healer, had by this time made his way to the table, recognised the visitor as being from a people who dwelled far to the north. He claimed to have briefly stayed with them in his youth, while adventuring into the northern wild lands. And forsooth, the aged visitor did speak. None could understand is language, even the old farmer, who had only stayed with these primitive people briefly decades before. It was fortunate though, that the old primitive spoke Nar-Haaz orc. Though Skwib had a smattering of the language, he as unable to make out what was being said due to the old mans guttural accent. Fortunately one of the farmers hands spake Nar-Haaz, having spent some time as a slave of that brutal orcish race.
And the ancient primitive spake: “I come from the land of ice and snow, where the sun shines dim, and the grass grows low.” He spoke more, though his words were brief, they were powerful. His tale was of how his tribe had been forced south from their homeland by a monstrous beast that had killed many of their hunters. Though they had fled, the beast had apparently followed them. He had left his tribe encamped some days march away and come south, to seek help from the tall men.
Though he could offer nothing by way of payment, his plight struck a cord with all present. Each came from a harsh land where the most basic law of survival was that of helping ones neighbour. Were there any doubt about helping the Snow Bear Clan (for that is whom the ancient primitive identified as being), it soon passed as with dawn arrived another.
This new arrival was no visitor, but the farmer’s son, bearing a tale of woe and destruction from the north pasture. During the night, as he had slept, the horses under his charge had started shrieking in terror and pain. He and his friend had burst from the lodge in which they had been sleeping, but it was already too late. The newly covered meadow had been painted red by the blood and gore that was once seven horses. Of their assailant, nothing but a set of massive, unidentifiable tracks remained.
His friend has started off following the beast, while he had come here to bring the bad tidings. Ill was the news, the old farmer called for his long sword, and it was only his wife and the healer please that kept him from rushing forth, to avenge his dead livestock and suddenly shrunken purse.
Horses are loaned to the Northmen, others are despatched back to Lutz to fetch more cavalry and without further ado, Skwib, Greer, Bork, the old primitive and the farmers son sally forth, heading north. They come upon the sons friend at the edge of a strange landscape which stretches across a wide, shallow valley. It is a forest of petrified trees, but not like any trees any of them have encountered before. They are forced to leave their horses as they make their way down narrow, darkened paths, taking care not to be cut on the razor share petrified branches.
Deep within the forest, they were when a troop of gibbering goblins attached tem. Emaciated and twisted from a life in this bleak terrain, they stupidly hoped to eat of succulent human flesh. Swords of iron prevailed and the goblins were soon dispatched, but alas, the scent of blood spilt had attracted a far more dangerous foe.
Towards our heroes they floated, their lethal tentacles dangling at head height to ensnare and immobilise any flesh they may encounter. Torches flared, swords were swung and they were seen off, but not before Bork had felt the icy burn of a baleful tendril across his face.
It was with considerable relief when the heroes stepped from the petrified forest and onto the open, snow blanketed northern plain. A short march brought them to the Snow Bear encampment, where they received hospitality from the pitiful survivors of the beasts predations. Few were the men who remained alive and of those remaining, only a handful were able bodied hunters. It was time to turn ofn the beast and destroy it, before it destroyed these simple people.
But first, spiritual preparedness was required. The heroes and hunters stripped down and entered the low skin tent. Within was a fire and stones, which were sprinkled with snow and pungent herbs to create steam. As they sweated and mentally prepared for the hunt, they found themselves feeling light headed. One moment they were in the tent, the next they were already on the hunt. But something was not right. Overhead the sky was red, while dark clouds blotted out the sun. They sensed their prey more than saw it, feeling its heartbeat as they stalked it, or was it stalking them. A feeling of ancient malevolence washed over them as some unknown horror watched them, waiting.
Slowly the came back to reality, in the vision tent. The dream had been invigorating and disturbing at the same time. Its affect on the primitive hunters was visible as they eagerly reached for their bone shafted spears and made ready to depart.
The hunt took them north east where the snow grew deeper and colder with each passing hour. Dark clouds were overhead and the sun was low on the horizon when they came upon the beast. One moment nothing was there, then next a great white bulk of fur and long pointed teeth exploded into them, instantly impaling one hunter on a long, sharp spike of ivory. Initial chaos soon gave way to a planned assault as the primitive hunters spread out, gripping their bone thrusting spears. Our heroes stepped in, tossing javelins and shooting bows before stepping in to engage in close combat.
Ill the timing was for Greer, as he stepping in with sword drawn. Too early did he engage, too late did he realise his mistake and the beasts spike pierced his chest and came out his back. Blood bubbled from his mouth as the beast shook its head to dislodge him. Light faded as the cold took him. When he opened his eyes, he found himself of a long dark path. Others were there, some walking fast, others slower. Nearby was the primitive who had died moments before. Greer felt a pull, as if someone called him. He closed his eyes and when they opened, he was back in the snow, the ancient primitive magician looking down at him, hand on his chest. But scarce had his eyes focussed when a cough brought a gush of blood from his mouth and he slumped back, back to the long dark path.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the recently deceased Greer, the battle raged on. Though struck many time, by javelin, spear and arrow, and bleeding from many small wounds, the beast raged on, lashing out with its strange long mouth filled with rows of razor teeth. It stomped the ground with its massive hairy feet and reared and plunged, but the primitive hunters were weary, rushing in to thrust at its soft underbelly. Sword and axe in hand, Skwib, Bork and the farmers son also stepped in. Much hacking and flailing occurred, until the beasts, worn out from a hundreds small wounds, crashed to the ground.
Our heroes did not tarry to butcher the bears. They returned to the camp with their dead comrade. At the camp they beheld a strange man, while as the snow in countenance, with large, totally black eyes. The stranger had been found by the Snow Bear Clan, and cared for, though he had been unconscious since they found him. Much was the suspicion of our heroes that he was somehow linked to the beast, but they spake not of it, choosing instead to return to the farm and further to Dun Atholl as soon as possible.
Place: North Dalatia
Date: Taramis 5 – Early winter / Imperium ????
Who: Skwibbs Horse.
Characters: Centurion Skwibb, Bork the Northman Carl, Assorted NPC’s
Special Task: Fill in the gaps.
Coverage: 2 Sessions third quarter 2009
This Adventure (Part2)
On return to Dun Atholl Skwibb’s horse started on their rigorous training regime. Skwibb, his legate Trajan and Bork were invited to dine with Lord Boris of Atholl and within a short span the company began to settle in.
Winter in the northlands is a harsh affair, with frequent snowstorms keeping men shut indoors often seeking avenues to relieve tedium. Tempers started to fray but thanks to strong discipline instilled by rigorous Gissian legion training, the company was able to persevere, though oft in miserable spirits, especially for those who hailed from sunny Araktor.
It was thus somewhat disappointing when the sergeant of the castles guard arrived with two guardsmen to place Amun under arrest for the murder of a certain lady. A quality soldier and veteran of the Swamp Rat campaign, Amun protested his innocence. Skwibb, knowing the man well had no reason to doubt the truth of his tale.
Amun admitted that he had in fact been bedding the lady in question, but she had been healthy and satisfied when last he had seen her. Lord Boris as regional Law speaker would hear what evidence could be brought against Amun the next day, but relented to Skwibb’s request to launch an investigation and postponed the trial by a week. (A Gćn standard week numbering thirteen days, by most civilised reckonings).
The investigation soon revealed some circumstantial evidence. A silver jewelled comb belonging to the lady was found amongst Amun’s possessions. Amun of course denied pinching it. It also immediately revealed that the lady’s handmaiden – a pretty girl from the countryside – had left to return to her family at about the time the lady had been murdered. The lady Kara herself had been missing for the better part of a day before one of the kitchen staff had discovered her body on the woodpile, lightly covered by a few branches of kindling wood.
Bork took some men and was thankful to a break in the weather, soon hastening to find the farm whence the handmaiden had fled. Skwibb for his part continued to investigate, but was unable to discover much, although his suspicion was slightly roused when he witnessed a guardsman, one of Amun’s accusers, having a whispered conversation with Lord Boris’s older son - ?????.
In the mean time the company was not popular. Locals who had befriended them turned away, while others whose regional suspicion of these foreigners (foreign in some cases being as far as the next village) oft spake against their presence, the more influential and vociferous urging Lord Boris to send Skwibbs Horse away.
The only ally appeared to be the other company of light horse garrisoned there. They did not form part of Dun Athol’s castle guard, but were rather a regular army company, garrisoned at Dun Atholl. They were also oft treated as foreigners, though a large portion of them hailed from that region.
The trial drew nearer and things looked bleak for Amun, who by all appearances abused lady Kara, to gain her trust and steal from her. The common thought of the populace was that she had discovered his nefarious activities and had confronted him. He in turn brutally murdered her to ensure her silence. Fortunately for Amun two new items of evidence were to be discovered.
Bork found the farm whence the handmaiden had fled, ostensibly returning to her family with a handsome dowry bestowed on her by her recent employer. Some questioning and appealing to the simple, but honest peasant folk soon unravelled her lie. She had been searching for the lady ????? when a guardsman had accosted her. He had pressed a purse of silver on her with instructions to leave the Dun and speak to no one of this. Fearing the worst for her lady as well as her own continued health, she had done as instructed – braving the bad weather to go to the only other place of safety she knew.
Skwibb in turn had gone boar hunting with a few of the Duns officers as well as Lord Boris’ two sons. Fortunate he was top overhear and urgent, anger charged conversation wherein the younger son - Davith repeated to his older brother: “I did it for you! She was no good, a whore whose eye wandered as soon as those southerners came through the gate.”
“I care not what you say. I loved her, why would you do such a thing?” ???? had complained in mixed anger and sorrow.
Skwibb was unfortunate not to be able to challenge the two brothers there and then for at that time a boar had been flushed out of some nearby undergrowth by one of the large hunting dogs the party had taken with for that purpose. Overconfident in his legendary skill with a javelin, Skwibb had eschewed the heavy boar spear that had been offered him before they set out. Now in haste he cast his dart but missed. Moments later the enraged boars tusks were in him, gouging through his leather vest and sinking into his soft abdomen. Shouts followed and it was only the proximity of some fellow hunters that stopped the boar turning his innards into so much tattered offal.
When Skwibb came to, he was back at the Dun, having been tendered by Lord Boris’s finest healers. Bork was back and thankfully the trial had not started. They swapped notes, drew certain conclusions and instructions were given by the bedridden Skwibb to waylay the suspicious guardsman. After a session of drinking had loosened his tongue, they ad enough evidence to present their case.
Amun was acquitted, while Lord Boris’s own younger son was exposed, eventually confessing to arranging the murder and trying to frame Amun
In the mean time, while Bork was away and Skwibb was busy being gouged, a bedraggled exhausted man had arrived at the Dun. Near dead from numerous small wounds and exhaustion, he had told a tale of Queen Taramis’ half sister, whom he and another man had escorted north with a message for Skwibb and how they had become lost and attached by a band of orcs.
Grim was this news, grimmer still that the trial must happen before a rescue party could be mounted. Connaught, for that was the messenger’s name, was able to recover sufficiently in that short time to accompany them when they set out.
Connaught had borne a message from Queen Taramis to Skwibb. It contained instructions of what activities he should persue once winter passed as well as a request that her sister join the horse and be trained as a warrior woman, much as Taramis herself was before she gained the throne. It also ended on a surprising personal note, hinting at what could be perceived as something more tan just a queens affection for one of her bravest and most resourceful commanders.
Eftsoons the trial was over and Amun freed, the whole of Skwibbs Horse, set forth heading due east. The sky had remained clear since Bork first set out in search of the handmaiden, and thankfully remained so. Their trek took them first down tree lined avenues with orchards either side, their bare winter boughs clawing through the snow. Later the avenues became rural roads, with low stone walls separating road from field before these too disappeared, leaving only a slight depression and the occasional wind break of evergreen trees as marker of where the road was. Soon this too disappeared as their direction began to veer slightly to the north and into hilly country.
Connaught, though still frail, proved to be a skilled scout and soon had the company on a trail through the deciduous woodlands that matted the hills. During their journey, they had passed the odd farm, but once they neared the woodlands, the only sign of human presence that may once have existed was the occasional ruined croft or tumbled down, snow covered barn.
The path that Connaught followed was however no mere animal track. Axes had hewn trees and branches at some time in the past. Now it was that they came to a crossroads of sorts – a clearing whence the path split. To the north, the path appeared, well used and in places recently widened. It lead up a hill on whose summit rested a small fortress, vaguely reminiscent of Dun Atholl. They had come up the western path. To the south the path appeared overgrown, having received little traffic, but to the east there were signs of movement.
Most disturbing was the remains of a once great tree in the middle of the clearing. Its dead, fire blackened trunk still sporting a few equally dead branches. From one branch hung the remains of a man. His legs had been chewed away just above each knee, roughly the height a wolf could reach if it stood on its hind legs. Connaught was distraught, for this was his cousin, Llewellan, with whom he had travelled to deliver the Queens sister to Dun Atholl. Llewellan appeared to have been dead for some days. His battered remains were brought down and buried under a small cairn of rocks collected by the sympathetic soldiers.
The fortress on the hill’s name was Dun Gwar - one of Dun Atholls sisters in a line of defences that had guarded a far younger Dalatia from the predations of barbarians and orcs in past centuries. At some time it had been abandoned, but now it had apparently been refurbished to and extent and gained some new, orcish defenders.
That orcs had abducted Taramis’ sister in the nearby vicinity. Orcs occupied Dun Gwar. It was an easy assumption to make that they were the same orcs. The men lost no time and by nightfall had planned a two pronged assault. A larger party was to make a half hearted assault on the gate, focussing on the poorly rebuilt section of wall adjoining the gate, while the main assault was to come from the rear, where Skwibb, Bork and a few other stealthy climbers would sneak from the forest that had been allowed to grow unchecked to near the walls. They would ascend the high rear wall and attack from above, working their way down into the keep.
The orcs fell for the ploy and ere long Skwibb and Bork were fighting shoulder to shoulder in a spiral staircase that lead down from the roof. There was a bit of a scuffle, with most of the orcish defenders making themselves scarce, although one hero had armed himself up and took the twosome on once they excited the stairway. Two to one odds did however not favour the orc and he too perished in the onslaught.
Attacked from the rear, the defenders found themselves running about in confusion. A lack of focus in the courtyard saw the gate opened and the frontal assault crew sweeping in to put any orc not sensible enough to have slipped down an outer wall to the sword.
But where was Taramis’ sister? Across the courtyard a low building, possible a barracks adjoined the main building. The door was closed and apparently barred. Fearing that the occupants had possession of ?????? and would take her life if further threatened, Trajan suggested a negotiation. A short but intense negotiation followed. Fortunately the companies experience with orcs, even until recently having an orcish officer, was on their side. The negotiation was a series of boasts and threats that saw the orcish leader, a large Nar-Haaz fra called ????? surrender on the grounds that she had been bested and it would be better to die in a fair fight than to be burned out.
???? was indeed inside, but in a surprise Stockholmesque twist, she begged for her captors freedom! Skwibb was not keen on the idea, but concern for ???? and his continued good standing with Taramis caused him to obey her wishes. ???? was disarmed and allowed to walk, accompanied by a handful of orcs who had escaped the sword.
Dun Gwar was to become the companies home for the rest of winter. The soldiers were tired from a long day followed by the nights assault. Some revelry and rest followed and by mid morning the next day it became clear that another storm was imminent. The keep was checked and cleared of the dead. The orcs had clearly laid some supplies in, although not sufficient for a prolonged stay by a company the size of Skwibb’s horse. They set to work repairing the walls as best they could with materials at hand and prepared to wait the storm out.
Waitig the storm out was a longer prospect than anticipated, as that storm was followed by another, then another as the reality of the far northern winter started to sink in.
It was in this period that ????, with Connaughts companionship began to communicate. She still perceived ???? as her savoir, saying how the large fra had looked after her. Still, she seemed to be feeling more positive and soon presented Swkib with a banner from her sister. It had a wolf’s head, grey on a maroon background. Taramis had included a short note, naming the company the wolves.
Aar it was a wan light that welcomed the cold grey wolves. A week, nay a month some argued of constant snow had seen them starve that their horses may nosh on their oneesha and oats. Many a horse would in retrospect have forgone the oneesha for it filled their bellies much like stones would, but at least their hunger pangs were staved off. Though none there knew, many a human after a flagon of orcish oneesha beer felt the same.
It was in this direst light when savior did arise. In the lull after the first storm a group of young, some of them barely fra, orcs arrived bearing large reindeer carcasses. In fact word in the woods had it that ???? was running a bit of a stronghold and they had arrived with offerings and a plea for a place to stay before the winter turned bad. A concern to the southerners, the implied threat that winter could get worse.
A mild parley followed. The orcs were desperate and so they signed over their hunting gains for winter shelter – though barley in time as it was soon evident.
A new, violent storm struck. The southerners were flabbergasted at the amount of snow and cold. Even Skwibb hailing for a goat raping southern peak savage tribe could not credit the harsh weather.
Verily did the wolves stay put, with some at least finding the joys of orcish bed mates. The reindeer was soon consumed to the bone. When the heavy storms finally lifted, allowing for a period of clear weather, the first people out found themselves inundated with calls for assistance. It would seem that rumour of new Dun Gwar masters had travelled and as it turned out, Skwibb was a more generous a master than ?????. The wolves found themselves put to mundane tasks like re roofing and having tea with ancient spinsters (whom the orcs had either raided or ignored) before ere long, following leads of “goblyns stole our goat, goblyns stole the pitchfork, goblins turned the milk sour, that a party came across a minor trail.
The goblyn cave, when they got to it, was well enough defended, from rats, or maybe a hungry snake perhaps. The wee buggers were near starved, many an emaciated form could be seen lying on the ground without the strength to rise and protest the wolves invasion.
Yet one creature was well and hearty, having been fed ceaselessly on prime rat, goblin, human, dog, pig, goat and whatever other flesh could be scrounged by the goblyns. Verily, from the innards visible, the punters who had tracked the goblyns down, there was near no corpse or once healthy animal they had not thrown to: The Lopsloss!
This murky gelatinous mound now reached for them as if sensing their vigour. Pseudopods reached like vile fingers – when severed soon replacing themselves and reaching further
The horror was upon them for verily within its belly could be seen the young of a whole new generation of goblyns!
It was only through the butter fingers of snake that they found a way to defeat the hungry brood master. In fighting within the darkened, confined space, he dropped his oil lamp. At last, the dropped oil lamp table could be used!
The lopsloss recoiled from the flames. A pseudopod that was too slow and got caught sizzled. Verily did it suffer when the punters worked out that it may be burned, throwing oil and all sorts of flammable materials at it until it was ablaze.
The oily stench of burning lopsloss drove all survivors from the cave. When the smoke did clear there was little left of the monstrous mound. Declaring a victory, Skwibb let word spread of how the wolves had delivered the nearby farms from the goblin threat. The company returned to Dun Gwar to continue renovations.
Garett's new character (Drodgen) had slowly been travelling north and west and found himself in the environs of Dun Gwar. It was late afternoon, when he espied a low croft cottage and approached the owners for shelter. Though suspicious of strangers in this inhospitable "frontier" (sorry, I will find a better less yank sounding wild west word) land, the crofter, one Bara (short for Barisis) reckoned he was a reasonable judge of character and invited him in.
In the mean time, Bork, Dog and Pwyll had been out on a patrol and had reached further south than before. They saw the croft and the single horseman approach and dismount. Seeing night was near, they also headed there for shelter. The crofter was most welcoming as word of Dun Gwar’s new residents and the cleanup operation they had mounted.
Some weak lager was brought out an soon the lads were telling tales around the table. Bork did a bit of a recruiting speech that got Drodgen interested in possibly joining the wolves. Soon Bara turned the conversation to local happenings and how the crofters in the area had been the target of some livestock rustlers.
The next day word came that a neighbour's sheep had been rustled and through he had tried to intervene, he had been knocked on the head. The locals were at the neighbours cottage, all angry with stock loss but all a bit too skittish to do anything. They looked to the wolves for help.
Feeling obliged to do something, Bork, Dog and Pwyll followed the trail of rustled livestock, taking Drodgen with. Though there had been a mild snow fall, the trail was easy to follow and by mid morning, had led them to the starts of a large needle leaf forest, that stretched east and north into the hills.
The lads were wary of ambush, but pressed on to the forest, where the snow was much thinner and going was easy. A path was easily found and followed for a while when they heard the bleat of an animal some way off to the left (north). Leaving dog with the horses, they moved forwards, spreading in a staggered line with bows ready.
Bork spotted a goat standing sniffing the air. It had a broken rope tether. Wary of ambush, he looked about before starting towards it. At that moment, an arrow sturk the tree next to him. He dove for cover, so too did the others. It soon became apparent that there was a single bowman. He hit Bork in the arm with a lucky shot, but fortunatly the head of the arrow lodged into a ring of mail and only gave Bork a mild lammie. A few more arrows were exchanged before the mystery bowman was injured and did a runner, shouting "Kai, Kai!"
The party gave chase but the bowman suddenly disappeared. There was a bit of debate about what to do before they continued, exercising caution. It soon became apparent how the bowman had disappeared when they came across a dry riverbed into which he had apparently leapt. His trail led north, footprints punctuated by the occasional blood drop. A tree had fallen across the river bed and rather than go under it and potentially expose themselves to a free arrow shot, they scrambled up the other side and started circling further east and then north, keeping where they thought the river bed to be in sight.
A flutter of crows startled them. Not long thereafter a crow landed on a branch near them and cawed at them. Drodgen felt the crows may be some sort of trainer or magical spies (methinks the herder superstition coming through here) so he nailed it with a crack bow shot, would that he had kept that special success for later......
Wood smoke, the sound of arguing voices and more crows. They came to a deserted encampment made of a wood and peat hovel (like the first stage house in caesar 3), a low burning fire with a tried pot on a chain pulled away from the heat. The carcass of a bull was the other side of the camp, being pecked on by a few more tenacious crows. A few sheep and goats were one side in a badly made corral of deadfall branches while in the trees above large joints of butchered bull had been hung to keep in the chill dry air.
A smaller tree had been felled to create a bridge across the dry river. then a movement, a small fur clad figure crossing and running away with a child like gate. Drodgen drew a bead with his bow, but Bork stayed his arm. Barely had he lowered his bow when there was a twang of bow string. An arrow sailed toward them, but missed and clattered among the trees. A man stepped out, notching another arrow. The party returned fire and shortly thereafter the bowman was dead. On inspection he was a human male, bearded and clothed in furs wrapped over old, ragged woollen clothing. More poorly preserved animal pelts were found in the hovel, as well as a keg of sausages, semi buried in the cold soil to preserve them.
They set off across the log following the easy trail. Coming to an outcropping of boulders, a voice challenged them, shouting that they should leave. It was shortly followed by an arrow, which took Drodgen in the leg. Bork and Pwyll charged the orcs, swords drawn. They found and slew a young man, from his wounded leg apparently the one they had encountered earlier. Further off they saw two figures running, one of them the child. They gave chase, but after bandaging Drodgen's leg.
It seemed that they had lost their quarry among the trees when suddenly a screaming woman bearing a long spear charged them. She screamed" "Beasts, murderers, she was only a child!" and was upon them. Bork, perceiving something was up, tried to bat her spear aside and disarm her, that they may try to reason, but she fought on. Menaced by a long spear, there was nothing but for someone to swpie her across the abdomen, spilling her innards onto the snow. Her tear streaked face twisted in pain before turning blank as she dropped face first onto the fast reddening snow.
Shortly thereafter they found the girl child. Maybe five or six years old, and thin with malnourishment. An arrow protruded from her back. Pwyll mused that it was not one of their arrows, when with a thwack, he was struck hard from behind, falling forward with a black fletched shaft between his ribs.
Unable to help him with their own lives in danger, Bork and Drodgen ran for the cover of nearby trees. They soon discerned four bowmen and exchanged some ineffectual shots. One of the bowmen started moving to outflank the two remaining party members, while another put their bow down, drew a sword and slunk closer, keeping a handy tree between them for cover.
Some bow shots followed before it became necessary to down bows and draw swords and short spears. A battle ensued, whereby Drodgen tried many a hero two sword move but to no avail. Bork gave a better encountering of himself, smiting one assailant through the eye, and another who had come forth with an axe and was swiping at Drodgen under the armpit and into the chest. The other two, wounded, one possibly hamstrung, managed to disengage and escape.
The new assailants were female orcs (fra's), apparently hunters whom had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
They returned and built a travois, taking Pwyll back to rendezvous with Dog and the horses. Whence they took him back to Bara's croft. Pwyll was unconscious, near death. No one had the skill to intervene and keep his feet from starting down that dark path. The locals had some argument before eventually Bara announced that he would fetch the healer woman. Many did not want her to come, fearing her and saying she was accursed, but Bara prevailed and he and dog went forth to fetch her.
The next day while Bara and Dog were still away and Pwyll slowly faded, expelling blood flecked foam from his mouth, Bork and Drodgen took the locals back to the camp to recover their livestock. As payment for services rendered, Bork layed claim to the butchered bull and sausages to take back to Dun Gwar.
That afternoon Dog and Bara returned, accompanied by a familiar figure. The witch lady Zor. She spent the night in prayers and sacred rituals, first healing Pwyll's severe wound, then convincing his weakened spirit to remain.
The following day, Pwyll was awake, although still very weak from his wound. He would recover, but not fully, having experienced pneumonia and internal lung damage. His health will suffer to the tune of him losing a CON point and a HP from Global as well as Chest.
Zor's payment could be a problem. She refused money or goods saying that, in communion with the goddess Nungar, she had been informed that Bork's destiny was to assist Skwibb to bear the heavy weight of the gaes that was upon him. She stated that there was a darkness on the land, but it was old, older than anyone could remember, so old that few knew of it, that it formed part of the fabric of the land. Skwibb, if he was successful in his quest, may in some way help to lift this darkness.
Thus ends the session, next time, spring approaches and so too does the Orc Gathering!
Skwibbb's Wind Wolves currently out long range patrol / exploring:
Skwibbb - Centurion - My glorious character
Trajan - Decurion / Second - Grizzled veteran of company, great
organizer, from original Swamp Rats
Amun - Veteran - Smooth / horny bugger who gets with all the wenches,
from original Swamp Rats
Tiber - Veteran - Good with animals, from original Swamp Rats
Snake - Veteran - Trusty, sneaky and good rider, from Vassness, from original Swamp Rats
Morrigen - Veteran, from original Swamp Rats
Nentut - Veteran - Company medic at the moment, from original Swamp
Rats, I once saved his life
Ebar - 1st Class - either joined with Pwyll, Edwar and the hunters from
Carillo or thereabouts or was with us from Araktor (will have to check)
Horse - 2nd Class - Big guy who funny enough is worst rider in unit,
joined somewhere on march up Gaia
Dog - 2nd Class - Horse's buddy, joined somewhere on march up Gaia
Ril - 3rd Class - Dodgy looking guy who joined up when we formed the
wolves, may be a criminal or something
Carla - 3rd Class - Young 16 year old girl who is the best rider in
unit, joined up when the wolves were formed.
Drogen - 2nd Class - Garret's character, joined recently and one of the
better riders in unit.
Rest of the Wolves currently back at Dun Gwar or some other fort.
Bork - 2nd Class - Jacob's character and standard bearer, joined
recently after wolves were formed. In charge on that side
Talas - Veteran - Part of the original swamp rats
Pwyll - 2nd Class - Hunter who joined from Corilla, young a reliable but
got a recent bad wound to the back which is why he stayed
Edwar - 2nd Class - Pwyll's brother / buddy from Corilla
Breva - 1st Class - either joined with Pwyll, Edwar and the hunters
from Corilla or thereabouts or was with us from Araktor (will have to
check). Got a serious wound and became a Ygg convert, the wound is why he stayed.
Jarva - 3rd Class - Merchant's son who is 16 and came along to become a man.
Davith - 3rd Class - Son of the lord of Dun Atholl, forced to join after convicted of murder.
Silas - Diplomat / Scribe who has been tagging along.
So basically a bunch of wounded and lowly types hung back under command
of Bork and Talas
A mid winter lull comes upon the land. According to local folk such an event is common and may last anything from a score of days to a full cycle of the white moon.
Winter depression and boredom are already weighing upon the company, causing short tempers and general grumbling that they are soldiers and not artisans – the last a dig at the fortress renovations they have been undertaking. The lull presents an excellent opportunity to gain information regarding the lay of the land further from Dun Gwar as well as attempt to replenish dwindling supplies.
Skwibb and Drodgen decide to ride out with a few men to explore to the north, leaving Bork in charge of the fortress. Bork further decided to take two men with him and set out hunting.
Heading due east Bork and co delve deeper into the forest. While predominantly a decisions forest, it starts too become denser and interspersed with evergreen species the further they go. One of the party is an accomplished woodsman and by midday they have already foraged a sack full of nuts and fruit – the latter being similar to a crab apple that have frozen on the branch, causing their flesh to be sweet.
Deciding to start circling back, they headed due north and were about to start back west when they came across a group of forest fowl. They managed to bag a few and set off after the rest. Another hour or so of stealthy movement found the group of fowl had settled again below another nut tree, this one on a slope, with the party at the bottom. Arrows began to fly but some near misses had the fowl fleeing up slope, where a second volley brought down more than arrows spent. The puzzle was solved almost instantly when a number of bow wielding hunters crested the slope from the other side.
Summing up the situation quickly – that the local huntsmen may be a bit grumpy with Bork et al poaching in their territory and, noting that they were outnumbered three to one, Bork quickly ordered a retreat. The huntsmen gave chase but after a short while of ducking and diving Bork’s party managed to elude them. They had however been caused to head east and then back north. Rather than risk going back for the bag of fruit and nuts they had cached, they decided to head further north and find the river they knew they were bound to encounter sooner or later. The self same river they knew would eventually flow not far north of Dun Gwar.
Skwibb and Drodgen
Noting the local history of the greater northern Dalatia area told of five Dun fortresses, Skwibb decided to head off and see if they could locate the next in the ancient frontier line. Deciding that the fortresses were likely to be within sight of the navigable river slightly to the north of Dun Gwar, they headed north and then began to follow the river east.
Following the river revealed a plain to the north and in the distance, upon that plain, could be seen what appeared to be a structure. Rather than continue east they decided to cross the river at a narrow channel that circled an oxbow flood plain and head for the structure.
The structure appeared to be the long abandoned, roofless shell of a blockhouse. Scouts were sent out while the rest camped there for the night and the next day they headed further north as another structure has been sighted by the scouts. Thus they continued due north until they were many leagues from the river and the plain had become rocky and interspersed with hidden gullies and rocky outcrops.
Night fell early as it is want to do in winter and with it came a deathly chill wind bringing dark storm clouds. These were not snow clouds, in fact snow was in little evidence upon the rocky plain. Freezing cold rain began to fall in a deluge that threatened flash flooding. In desperation the companions sought shelter and in so doing, Skwibb and Drodgen found a cave opening, half way up the opposite face of a gulley. They scrambled up to it to see what shelter it may provide, but were in no way prepared for the mummified remains of two ancient warriors they found, apparently guarding the cave entrance.
Pushing past the long expired soldiers, they delved deeper and came across another mummified corpse, this time sitting regally upon a roughly hewn square rock. The horror was upon them as the thing slowly began to move, to confront them for disturbing its eternal slumber. There ensued a hasty decision to exit the cave and scream like young girls.
Later, after fortifying their resolve (with the contents of a flask proffered by one of the men), a group of sturdy fellows returned to the cave and with fire and spatha dispatched the skeletal remains, ensuring that any loot worthy items be retrieved.
The miserable wet night eventually turned to day and the companions decided to rest and dry out while scouts were dispatched further north and east. After a days rest and tending horses the main company returned to the first blockhouse. Some days later the northern scouts returned, claiming they had encountered no more forst but had seen a great wall of ice in the distant north. The eastern scouts were long overdue, so the company headed east to seek them out.
Skwibb and Bork
Shortly thereafter they came across a group of people on foot – the two scouts as well as Borks party, who had encountered the scouts. The scouts in turn told of how their horses had been rustled when they slept – incurring the caustic tongue of centurion Skwibb.
There was a brief switch of mount, with Bork swapping with Drodgen, who in turn returned to Dun Gwar with the hunting party, avoiding the barbarians while looking to collect cached food and scavenge more on the way back.
The twosome who lost their horses did not escape punishment. They were forced to track the thieves on foot, with the wolves following. Wolves literally in this sence, as an old lone wolf had been tracking the company, scavenging scraps.
The trail lead up a tributary and into hilly country. The thieves had made efforts to cover their trail, but the combined tracking skills of the grey wolves served to pick up the trail time after time, eventually leading up s small branch stream and deeper into wooded hills. The stream bed eventually widened into a flat area surrounded by hills. A small wooden fort had been built on the flatland.
Overconfident of their numbers, the wolves approached, failing to take account of the inward facing towers set amongst the trees of the surrounding hills. By the time they realised what was happening, the trap was sprung. Numerous women had appeared amongst the trees with drawn bows. Outnumbered and unable to respond, Skwibb was forced to surrender.
The shame of surrender without a fight had little time to settle in. The wolves were forced to dismount and hand over their weapons before being unceremoniously herded into the middle of the fort and forced to descend a ladder into a pole lined slave pit. Thence the encountered a number of children, also slaves captured by the woman raiders. The children did not know much, but expected to be sold to orcs to work in their lead mines. They did know that the women termed themselves The Northern Wind. One of the children was different from the rest. The other children thought him to be deformed, or an orc child, but Skwibb and Bork recognised him as being from the primitive people they had encountered before – who came from the land of ice a nd snow.
The northern Wind was lead by a strong woman with a general hatred for men. Over time she had built a small army of women. The deserted, homeless, abused or simply adventurous who found their way to fight under her banner.
The woman had however underestimated the resourcefulness and training of the wolves. By midnight a plan was already underway. A human pyramid allowed for some children to be boosted over the edge of the pit and in turn to drop the ladder and allow the wolves out. Wholesale rapine and slaughter followed. Though outnumbered five to one, the wolves soon began to even the odds. By dawn they held the fort and the few woman left were driven into the wilderness.
The fort was looted before being burned to the ground. Returning to Dun Gwar, barbarians were encountered, possibly drawn by the smoke. A few of the children belonged to them and their return caused much goodwill and a loose alliance , which would ultimately help re-establish Dun Gwar’s influence within this lawless area.
This latest adventure in the annals of the Grey Wolves ended with them en-route to Dun Gwar, laden with loot, extra horses and a few children.
This excerpt written by Skwibb
After a long journey back from the fortress of the Northern Wind with
troops laden with supplies and loot as well as some extra horses the
Wolves rejoined at the fortress of Dun Gwar. In the meantime Drodgen
had returned from escorting Taramis' cousin back to Dun Athol. Drodgen
arrived with a grain merchant and a barber in tow. The grain merchant
sold us some grain at exorbitant rates and the barber offered to join
the Wolves as long as he does not fight - until he feels his work is done.
The rehabilitation of the fortress of Dun Gwar had been going well
except the rebuilding of the collapsed tower which kept falling down.
After some serious digging thanks to some enslaved barbarians we
discovered the tomb of an ancient king similar to the thing we found in
the crypt. We dug up the bones and Sqwibb appropriated another large
gold disk - and almost suffered a horrendous spiritual attack because of
it. His resolve however was strong and the men set to work tossing out
the bones and preparing for rebuilding the tower. At this time the
weather turned sour and days of storming ensued. When the weather did
clear a plague lay on the land and only with the help of Zor the Black
did we link the digging up of the ancient tomb to the outbreak of
plague. Jarva the merchant's son succumbed to the plague and we sent a
missive back to his father. Trajan almost succumbed but Zor advised us
to rebury the skeleton and on doing so the plague seemed to dwindle.
After a few more weeks of building and preparing for the spring (as well
as the starting of some farming and preparing the fort for permanent
habitation) the relief arrived under Centurion Varo with a corps of
engineers. We wasted no time leaving all the remaining children rescued
from he Northern wind into their care along with the supplies, pigs and
sheep and instructions not to disturb the ancient tomb.
Much consultation with Zor revealed that the curse upon the land is most
likely linked to this mysterious place called Uthvas. The quest
continues to find out more about this.
Orders from Draskor remain the same to build the unit to full strength,
rustle horses where we can, stop and banditry in the wild frontier
lands. We also received a Letter of Marque to essentially operate as a
mercenary unit and attack and take what we wish without risking war.
With the arrival of spring and the relief the Wolves saddled up with as
many supplies they could carry and the Neanderthal boy who did not seem
to want to stay but displayed a keen ability to track and hunt. Bork
took him under his protection as he seems to show pity for the
disenfranchised creatures of the world. Following many leagues South
and East we headed for the grasslands of the Valosi with the Wolves in
great spirits being able to pick up some speed on the plains and give
the horses some exercise for the first real time in months. Zor
travelled with us for a way but left us in when we reached the hills
before the plains.
It was not long until we came across a burning homestead which seemed to
have been raided by brigands. We rode to their aide and slew a few
bandits attempting to make an escape with several cattle. Upon
returning to the homestead we sent the surviving woman with her cattle
and what remained on the farm back to Dun Gwar. We then crucified the
surviving bandits and made an example to any others considering an
equally dishonorable lifestyle. Continuing to track the rest of the
group of brigands for many days we came across another burnt homestead
with an ex-military man burying his family. The Wolves offered him
revenge and the opportunity to leave his ruined life behind and he
accepted. Together we rode down his families murderers and made
examples of them and appropriated their ill-gotten loot for the crown of Dalatia.
The bandits also provided us with about 14 horses of varying quality
which we ride have kept with us for future recruits and to carry supplies.
During the chase we crossed the Sylmar river into greater Sylmar. After a few days we came across a large herd of antelope and some armed men who were friendly to us. We hunted together and camped the night withthem.
Their leader - Bors agreed to join the Wolves with his dogs (10
well armed men with their own mounts) and we agreed on some standard
mercenary wages. We also confirmed that we had reached the grasslands
of the Valosi where we intended to bolster the Wolves with hired swords
That should be it. Not sure if I left out anything critical.
From here I would say the plan is to range far (with the help of local
knowledge thanks to Bors and his dogs) and find more warriors willing to
fight under our banner and see what else we can find out about Uthvas -
which may require a trip to a bigger city with libraries etc. While
doing this the men can concentrate on getting fit and getting the horses
to a good level of fitness and health and we can continue foraging and
hunting to bolster our supplies. We can also use this time to try and
find out more about the coming Orc gathering which we are supposed check
This excerpt written by Bork the Boar Slayer
Ok, the shortish version is we rocked up outside city, and they weren't too
happy with us doing too much there, so Squibb and Bork primarily went in,
and we found a fishmonger selling fish from a place called Uthvas, and got a
bit misdirected when trying to find any sort of learned gentlemen, etc. to
try do some research regarding the real Uthvas place which is meant to be
where we'll find the orc gathering, etc.
Anyway, we had some supplies etc. sent to the guys camped outside including
ale/mead, and some fish etc. with the idea being to sort of keep them busy
etc., and we also found out that there would be a form of circus on the one
main square, but it was currently busy setting up.
We did eventually find a sort of library - can't remember the
owner/proprietor's name, but we had a minor issue with some guards there,
but managed to sort of work around it without really hurting anyone much,
but seemed we had messed up the owner's attitude a bit although he didn't
seem to helpful to start off with.
If I remember correctly, we ended up sleeping in at the fishmonger's spot,
but on the next morning, some of us went on a giant boar hunt with the head
of the city guard, Alaric - think was basically Squibb, Bork and Broar
(neanderthal apprentice NPC), and we were moving through a slightly
wooded/misted area, and Squibb and Bork saw a rather strange horse riding
figure, which seemed a bit like a wraith/epehreal thing, but straight after
that, there was literally a huge, giant boar charging us - one of the
descriptive terms was that it looked like a mini elephant - and squibb got
up into some trees, while Bork was silly enough to try halt it's charge, and
he got knocked down with a bit of serious leg damage, while squibb cast
something like protection spells and attacked from where he was, but Broar
threw his spear at it, and scored a pretty much perfect hit, and it went
down, but then the issue was that it had carried on moving, and the guard
Alarric had still attacked it after it was actually dead, but we managed to
convince him after Broar pulled half his spear out of the carcass.
The next day we did - along with Alaric's recommendation - get to visit the
library of the other gentleman, but not sure if there was too much useful
information there - squibb? - and after that it was more sort of going
around city, visiting one or two pubs, doing a bit of shopping - replaced
Broar's broken, el cheapo spear with an actual iron one since he pretty much
took out the boar after it had messed up Bork (small add in here is that
maybe we can now say something like Bork, and Broar, the boar slayers!), and
we found a sort of maze/labyrinth where it seemed you could try find your
way through, but had to look out for a minotaur during passing through, so
we avoided that one, and I think it turned out that the circus was bit more
of a old-style circus with 'nasty' things happening so we didn't do much
around there either...
Like said that's my short, abbreviated version of the happenings, but the
three main things were trying to keep most of the guys outside of the
city/pubs/brothels, the boar hunt, and trying to find a library etc.
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