"Second Son of a Second Son" - An Aquerra Story Hour (*finally* Updated 04/19)

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
How is everyone liking the pace of posts?

Too fast? Too slow? Just right?

I am planning for another one tonight. . .
 

log in or register to remove this ad

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Session #2 – “The Road South” (part 2 of 3)

The Slutelot Canal was first made by the people of the Sunra Kingdom during the Third Age, in an era called “the Time of the Six Kingdoms”. Records of how they were able to accomplish such a feat of engineering are incomplete, but in 239 H.E. construction began to re-create it, and now it runs nearly forty miles, connecting the Captured Sea with Drie-Hoek Bay, to bring the goods of inner Thricia to the outer islands and the world. Old Town Bridge is approached from the north by a winding ramp that climbs to a height sufficient to cross the canal, and at its center, thick hinged metal plates could be drawn open by oxen, allowing very tall-masted ships to pass through.

Bleys, Laarus, Markos, Telémahkos, Timotheus and Victoria rode their horses over the bridge. They were waved past lines of peasants with hay filled carts waiting to get into the town, and laden merchant wagons waiting to get out of town by the bridge guard. Nobles and esteemed priests would not be made to wait or pay the toll. A light rain began.

The other side of the bridge had a similar winding stone ramp that led to the narrow shore of the canal, just north of South Wall. ‘South Wall’ was actually two walls, and they were made to walk their horses through one gate and then nearly half a mile to the west before emerging from the gate in the southernmost of the two walls.

On their right, between them and the distant emerald sheen of the Captured Sea were rolling farmlands as far as distant dirty-looking hills that caressed the southeastern edge of the sea. As they rode southward, the land on their left gave way to tall beach grasses and the sound of the bay lapping against the island’s eastern shore welcomed them. At mid-morning a sandy track diverted to the left and the followed it noting a hand painted wooden sign declaring it the Beach Road. Soon they were following a trail within sight of the bay. It wound around tall basalt outcroppings in many places, or else was washed away in a spray of sand and surf. Sudden gusts of wind sent fat raindrops clattering violently against the pea green sea.

Laarus and Timotheus led the way, with Victoria and Bleys taking the rear; the latter bringing the packhorse along as well. Telémahkos and Markos took up the middle rank.

As they approached mid-day, the rain let up and they saw a group of fishermen repairing a net near the surf. Telémahkos rode ahead to talk with them, Timotheus riding up behind him.

“Hail and well met!” Telémahkos called to them.

“Hail good sirs! Taking the Beach Road are ya? Brave men… Brave men…” The old fisherman chuckled. He was missing a good number of teeth, and only had patchy steel gray hair on his wrinkled head. The others were younger and fitter, wearing tall leather boots and kilts.

“Yes, we heard there were dangers on the road,” Telémahkos replied. “But you are here and working unharassed…”

“We’re still within a day’s ride of the Old Town, as you well know,” the old fisherman said. “But after a day… Well, it does get a bit rougher…”

“In what way?” Telémahkos asked.

“What kinds of dangers might we expect?” Timotheus asked. Bleys rode up as well.

“Ya know, the usual… Greenbacks… Ya know, Lizzies, right? And the froggies sometimes…”

“Greenbacks? You are referring to lizardfolk?” Bleys said. (1)

“Aye,” the man spat.

“And the froggies?” Timotheus asked.

“The ‘wugs, sir,” the man replied. “And of course, damn Weirspierogener brigands! Pfah!”

Telémahkos looked to Timotheus.

“They hide in the bogs on the far side of the track and leap out atch’ya,” the fisherman went on to explain.

“And the lizardfolk attack travelers as well?” Bleys asked.

“Ach! Who knows? Half the time they want to eat ya, that other half they wanna trade ya a bone necklace!” The fishermen all laughed.

“Wanna buy some fish? Only three coppers,” asked one of the younger men, holding up a line of seven fish, each about seven inches long. Telémahkos nodded.

The Signers of the Charter of Schiereiland ate the lunch provided by Barton Digits in shade of a tall bluff. As they mounted to ride on, they noted large wagons up on what must have been the High Road. But as evening fell, the High Road was far from sight again, and they made camp in a wedge of black stone, which helped to hide the fire from the road and the distant bluff. They cooked the fish on the fire, and then split into watches.

Markos and Bleys took first watch, and the watch-mage showed the sailor how to brush down and care for his horse. Wise use of prestidigitation made the cleaning portion much easier, and Markos ended up taking care of everyone else’s horses.


Telem, the 13th of Sek – 566 H.E. (637 M.Y.)

A day and half later, the companions broke their second camp. This one was in spot set back from the breach, where a narrow stream of fresh water trickled into the sea.

“We saw some boat traveling north in the night,” Bleys told the others. “It was small galley of some kind, and set with torches on its sides.”

“I think it was a ferry going to Sluetelot,” Markos reasoned. The others shrugged, and the journey southward continued.

At mid-morning Victoria spotted a great plume of dust, as some group of riders passed the up on the bluff, which the Beach Road had veered inland and close to once again. The bluff itself was becoming less and less of a sheer cliff, and descended slowly and unevenly towards the beach to the south. She mentioned it to the others, but no one seemed to care much.

It was a couple of hours later when another cloud of roiling dust appeared up on what was left of the bluff. Now the way up was not nearly as steep and tall beach grass shored up the slope. They could see a handful of riders coming down in their direction.

“Stay alert! Riders!” Timotheus called to the others.

“Look at the standard! Yellow and black, the colors of House Swann,” Telémahkos said.

“Just because they appear to be of House Swann does not mean they are,” Bleys warned.

“I shall greet them,” Victoria Ostrander spurred her light warhorse forward, past the others and soon was many yards ahead.

“Victoria! Wait! No!” Timotheus called, but the eager Militant of Anhur was already galloping away. He increased his own pace, and Bleys moved up between Markos and Telémahkos, who fanned out.

Victoria could see the lead rider was a man of slender build; he wore a chain shirt with a yellow and black tabard over it. He was guiding his horse down the treacherous slope with the lightest touch of his reins, as he had a short bow resting on the saddle pommel before him, an arrow bouncing up and down with the horse’s gait, but no doubt a half-moment from where it was to string and then to air.

There were six other riders, five of which were in studded leather, with dirty but young-looking faces. They wore similar tabards, all with a quartered field, the black swan of House Swann in the top left, and a gull hovering over a stylized curling wave in the bottom right.

“Hail! Who travels the Beach Road?” called the lead rider, slowing his pace. Victoria could not see his slender features that betrayed the elven heritage of some near ancestor.

“I am Victoria Ostrander, Militant of Anhur, and these are my companions!” she announced.

“Signers of the Charter of Schiereiland!” Timotheus added as he finally caught up. The others slowed way down, as the armored riders fanned out. They saw the rider closest the half-elf was a grizzled middle-aged main a suit of chain mail. He bore the standard.

“I am Lieutenant Lorkas Twelf, we hail out of Gullmoor, a keep of House Swann, in search of brigands who have been causing trouble in the vicinity of Bog End, which is where we most recently ride from,” the half-elf said.

“I am Timotheus Smith of House Briareus, as is my cousin, Telémahkos,” the tall blond smiled and gestured to Telie, who waved. Laarus and Bleys rode forward, but Markos hung back with Telie.

The others introduced themselves as well.

“We have seen no sign of brigands,” Timotheus said. “Did you chase them from nearby?”

“We have not seen them,” Lorkas said. “We were told of their presence and sought them out. We think they have a hideout nearby on the beach somewhere, but we are not sure where… Though we did track them on the High Road…”

“Is that the High Road right there?” Victoria asked.

“Yes,” the half-elf nodded. “You are close to where the two roads converge again, in the hamlet of Bog End.

“We are traveling to New Harbinger,” Timotheus said. “Is there some way we might help you, or some news we might carry?”

Lieutenant Lorkas hesitated, and then looked to the older-looking man in chainmail before answering. “Well, we were being led in our hunt by Sir Quintus Gosprey, when he left us to pursue some contact he felt would have information regarding the location of the brigands’ hideout… He was supposed to have caught up with us by now, but there has been no sign of him either. He returned to somewhere near Bog End, perhaps if you pass through there you might ask of him, or if you see him, send him our way…”

“Of course!” Timotheus said.

They all nodded to each other and bid their farewells, and then the two groups went their own ways.

“You should not have charged ahead like that,” Timotheus admonished the militant.

“And why not? I was not so far ahead that you all could not have caught up with me,” she sneered. “And if need be, I could have swung Argos around closed our distance in an instant.”

Timotheus just sighed and took his spot back at the front of their line.

As the afternoon dwindled towards evening, the track that was the Beach Road, turned southwestward, and the companions found themselves climbing a shrub-covered hill as the sun melted orange into the Captured Sea. The shadows were long as they passed several houses of mud and straw among some poorly constructed wooden structures. The land sunk again, and the steep way wound out slowly in a barren patch of rocks and mud, and finally merged with the hard flat stone of the High Road, coming through the tiny village from the north, continuing south by southeast.

Just beyond where the two paths converged was a dark bog that went as far as the eye could see, and built upon a dock hanging over the fetid water was a public house.

“This must be Bog End,” Timotheus said.

“Let us hurry and find out how much further to New Harbinger,” Bleys said, riding forward. “If it is not much further I would not be averse to riding on a bit into the gloom to arrive today…” The watch-mage’s words trailed off as he noticed a hut door clatter shut as they rode by. He made note of which it was.

They could hear high spirits and angry voices from within public house. A dirty yellow sign hung from a post, showing a poorly drawn neck of some waterfowl being twisted in a cartoonish fist.

“Welcome to the Wringneck!” Timotheus laughed, as he and the others tied their horses to the post out front. There was already a light warhorse tied here. It was saddled and its legs and lower body were splattered with greenish mud.

“Don’t bother going in there,” Bleys said. “It’ll only be trouble… I will be right back.” The purple and crimson-garbed mage hurried back up the path to the door he had seen shut before.

Bleys looked back to see his companions gathering round the entrance to the pub and shook his head. He knocked softly on the door to the hut, and there was no answer, but certain he heard someone within, he knocked again.

“Who’s there?!” came the frightened voice of an old woman.

“I am Bleys the Aubergine, watch-mage,” Bleys called through the door. “My companions and I are bound for New Harbinger and wanted to know how much further it was…”

“Oh! Uh… Three or four hours south, I guess…” the woman called back.

Bleys thanked her and began to walk back to the pub, noting that at least some of his companions had gone in.

“Come on! Show us yer cunny then!” The pub exploded with laughter. Timotheus stood in the doorway, with Victoria on one side of him and Telémahkos on the other. The stench of stale sweat and beer permeated everything within. There were many small round tables and a handful of long benches, and at the far end of the one room, was a makeshift bar made from tall wooden tables, with several large casks behind it.

The clientele were common men of a range of ages from their teens to their toothless venerability, but most dirty-faced middle-aged workmen in overalls and damp boots; a few wore straw hats. There were a handful of trollops in the common room as well, hanging with loose bodices on drunken men deep in their cups, or giving a flash of a breast or a squeeze of a buttock for a spare copper as they poured drinks.

Timotheus was regarded by a broad young man with bush of wild orange hair standing by the door with his hands folded across his great chest.

At the center of the pub was a circle of five men laughing at a boy of about fourteen summers who was getting up off the ground. He had long chestnut hair in the Thrician style, and wore a chainshirt and a muddied tabard displaying the wave and gull of the Gospreys of House Swann.

“What common and ignoble men you are!” he complained in a voice that was supposed to be haughty, but was reed-thin.

“Shut up and sit back down!” said the largest of the drunken commoners about him, and he pushed the boy down with a boot to the ass. “Ya come crying to us and then you insult us?”

“You know, Bleys has the right of it,” Telémahkos said to his cousin. “We should just ask someone in a hut.”

Timotheus stepped into the tavern, and Victoria followed. Telémahkos looked around before taking a meek step in. Laarus kept an eye out for Bleys, while Markos stood in the shadow of the doorway, taking in the situation.

“Good sir!” The boy sprang to his feet, and tried to reach Timotheus, but another kick and a smack on the back of the neck, and he was on the floor again. The five men burst out in laughter, and there were grumbles and jeers from the rest of the crowd as well. The boy looked up at Timotheus. “You seem like men of some birth, will you not make them pay for failing to help a knight against the lizardfolk?”

“I got your lizardfolk right here!” One of the commoners made a lewd gesture and then bent over to grab the boy by the ankle and drag him back. A patron at an adjacent table emptied the dregs of his mug on the boy’s head as he passed. This drew more laughter from those that could see.

“You do not look like a knight…” Timotheus had to keep from laughing, looking at each of the men with narrow glare. “Tell us what is going on!”

“Unhand the boy at once!” Victoria barked, her voice as harsh as a schoolmarm’s.

“No need for violence!” There came a high-pitched voice from the front of the pub. Atop the makeshift bar stood a small and pudgy figure. It was a halfling in a soiled apron, with black curly locks and a set of impressive jowls. He wore black boots.

Timotheus looked to the young bouncer. “This is gonna get ugly if you don’t call your boys off.”

The bouncer just shrugged and shook his head, “Just don’t you dare think about weapons.” He cracked his knuckles and stared down Timotheus, being two full inches taller than the Schiereilander. Tim nodded and smiled and then charged into the group of men, seeking to drive them apart with his sheer size, but he tripped up over the first commoner, who jerked out of the way with the awkward grace only a drunk can have. Timotheus slid headfirst along the floor to an explosion of laughter from all the patrons. He scrambled to his feet.

“We are agents of the Crown! Desist at once!” Telémahkos called out in the most authoritative voice he could muster, but was met with more derisive laughter.

to be continued. . .

-----------------------------------------
Notes:

(1) “Greenback” and “Lizzies” are disparaging names for lizardfolk.
 
Last edited:

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Session #2 – “The Road South” (part 3 of 3)

“Laarus! Get your ass in here!” Markos tapped his cousin on the shoulder impatiently as he saw three of the commoners grabbing at Timotheus. The big man avoided two of them easily, and palmed the bald head of another shoving him back. The squire spun around to break free of the grip of another of the men and got a fist in the face.

“You dare strike the squire of a noble knight!?” the boy said, the cracking of his voice undermining his attempt at noble mean.

“All right! What’s all this then!” Laarus of Ra barked stepping into the inn.

“Get the f*ck out of the way!” Timotheus grabbed the squire in a loose headlock and began to drag the boy away from the scrum. Victoria moved to block pursuit. “Settle down,” she said. “We’ve just come for the boy. We’ll leave peacefully once he is taken from here safely.”

“Blimey! It’s a lass in armor!” said one of the commoners.

“Must be a northerner!” said another, hurrying around her to grab at Tim, but missing.

“Attention!” Markos was up on a table, a quick flash of false fire emerging from his hands. (1) “We are agents of the crown! Cease and desist as my companion has ordered or know that this establishment will be watched more closely in the future!” He was forced to duck and cover his head as the patrons sent hailstorm of wooden mugs in his direction.

“Are we leaving or are we going to make these commoners pay for their impudence?” the squire asked Timotheus, slipping from the man’s grip and standing behind him. Tim did not respond, struggling from keeping two commoners from pinning his arms, as a third sent a flurry of drunken fists in his direction.

“By the Glory of Ra!” Laarus called channeling divine energy to surround himself in a hemisphere of daylight, (2) that made some of the patrons at nearby tables rear back in fear and hide behind their chairs. “Cease and desist! Stand down!”

“DO NOT DEFY THE PRIEST OF RA!” came Bleys’ voice booming by means of his announce spell, but there was another rain of cups, some half-filled with ale. The watch-mage stepped into the inn and surveyed the scene and had the squire shoved in his direction.

“Don’t let the baldies tell you what to do!” came a weasally voice from across the inn. It was a tall lanky commoner waving a pitcher of ale in the air, sending great splashes in all directions. “We keep our own counsel in this part of Thricia!”

“They’re probably Weirspierogeners!” cried another.

“Naw, they’re northerners!” came the answer from across the pub. He pointed at Telémahkos. “Look how that one’s dressed!”

“Who asked them to come down here and innarupp our fun?” asked the one on the table.

“Shut up!” Telémahkos commanded, throwing a metal mug at the man on the table striking him right in the head.

“Bleys, this is Sir Quintus Osprey’s squire,” Tim said. “Keep him safe.” And he turned back to the brawl.

There was another rain of utensils, mugs and bowls, and Markos ran for the door, avoiding being grabbed by a corpulent patron, by Victoria’s interference. She was grabbed about the waist by the largest of the brawlers, but she forced her way free and knocked into one of the three trying to get Timotheus down on the floor for a better beating.

Laarus was surprised when a fist came his way. He avoided it only to be grabbed by two others, who pawed and ripped at the priest’s fine travel clothes.

“Stop attacking the priests you ignorant sons of whores!” Timotheus roared, pulling one arm free to slam a fist into the nose of one of the patrons grabbing at him.

“You ugly wart-covered cocks!” Markos swore, coming back into the fight to pound one of the men on Laarus in the back of the head. The man turned around surprised to find Telémahkos suddenly beside the thin-framed wizard. The blond ne’er-do-well had somersaulted off a chair, and closing his eyes punched out with an awkward fist. He felt something crunch. Telémahkos looked down to see a blood pooling out on the floor, flowing from the now unconscious man’s mouth and nose.

Suddenly happy, Telie spun around and gave the bouncer a wink.

“Are you mad? Let go of the priest!” Victoria tried to pull men off of Laarus, latching her muscular arms around one’s neck. “Timotheus! Help me!” (3)

The fight became a scramble of bodies in the center of the pub. Laarus began to drag the fight towards the door by pure strength, while Telémahkos backed away as two of the patrons came at him. Bleys told the squire to stay where he was and leapt up on the table Markos has been on just moments before, raising his arms in the air to allow his watch-mage’s robes to flair out and be seen clearly across the room.

“Fools!” He cried. “Can’t you see one of your number is hurt and may be dying?! Stop already!”`

Three of the patrons at a nearby table stood laughing and tipped over the heavy wooden table the watch-mage stood on. Bleys leapt deftly to land on his feet with the table between them, and then ran back towards the door, cursing under his breath as he went outside, followed by the squire.

“You want some of this?” Timotheus slammed his fist into the face of a patron, and could not hide his glee as the man crumpled from the blow. He spun around and shoved another back and took a swing.

Markos kicked at the men grabbing Laarus, helping the priest to free himself, as Victoria and one man stumbled away in each others arms. “Get off me!” she commanded, but he smiled and winked and pinned her arms around her and began to brush his sore–covered lips against her face.

Laarus checked on the bleeding man on the ground, calling to Ra to close his wounds in case there was a danger of his dying. (4)

“Timotheus! I could use some help over here!” Telémahkos called to his cousin, a bruise swelling up where a fist had grazed him. But three more patrons had joined the fight against the tall young man from House Briareus, angered by his cockiness.

“Telémahkos! I’m coming,” Timotheus rushed past his foes, feeling knuckles slam his temple. He turned away from the blow and drove a fist in the back of the neck of one of the men menacing his cousin. The man folded with a moan.

Using the momentary distraction Telémahkos leapt onto the end of a nearby bench as one of the men that had tipped over the table stood over it. The bench flew up between the man’s legs and he fell over with a grunt. The toga-toting young noble kicked the man in the face twice, until he stopped trying to get back up.

Markos moved over to put a man between him and Tim and kicked him right between the legs from behind. The drunken man howled and grabbed at his privates.

“People stop this madness!” It was Bleys again. He ducked as he rode Victoria’s warhorse into the bar. Everyone stopped for a half moment and looked up at him as if he were the mad one.

“No horses! Get that horse out of here!” The bouncer grabbed at the reins and the horse began to rear up.

“No horses! No horses!” the halfling proprietor’s high-pitched voice was heard to echo.

Thankfully, Bleys was a skillful enough rider to keep Victoria’s steed from kicking the bouncer’s face in. He dismounted and called to the squire. “Boy! See to this horse. We shall handle every thing here.”

“Yes, sir,” the boy said with easy deference, and he led the horse back out.

“Okay, little man, kiss this!” Victoria drove her forehead towards her opponent’s face, but the man shoved his head into the hollow of her shoulder avoiding the worst of the blow, and popped back up to kiss her again and laugh. Laarus moved to pull the man off the struggling militant of Anhur, but the man managed to spin her around to avoid the priest.

“You stay right there!” Timotheus pointed to the man still hopping around with his hands cupping his crotch and spun around to step behind a man going for Laarus. The man spun around too late and Tim’s big fist sent him down to the ale and blood covered floor.

“I give up!” said a man closer to fifty than forty who had helped topple the table. He put his hands up and stepped away from Telémahkos, but eager now, the young man took advantage of the opening and cold-cocked him, sending him down.

“You should leave fighting to men!” said the man still grappling with Victoria, but she broke free of his pin and slammed her forearm in his chest to drive him back. Another man took a swing at her, and as she stepped to avoid it, her opponent grabbed her once again. “Have you come for another dance?”

She roared in frustration.

“Good to meetcha, sir! Good to meetcha!” said a stooped greasy man with slicked long black hair and a dusty black cloak. He had a powdery pallor, and a patchwork goatee. Bleys the Aubergine nodded and stepped around him warily heading for the bar, choosing to ignore the dying melee. The watch-mage had walked calmly past the fight, ignoring patrons that grabbed or punched at him, and now this man followed closely on his heels.

“Barkeep!” Bleys looked up at the corpulent halfling still standing atop the makeshift bar to watch the brawl. “A bottle of your best wine and six glasses, please.”

“Please sir, call me Wallaby!” the halfling said, looking down. “They call me Wallaby Wringneck, though that is not my real family name, but it is the name of me place.” He leapt down behind the bar and disappeared, though his voice came out from behind it, cutting through the noise of the fight. “Now, we have no wine… At least none worthy of you and your fine companions, but we have do have a fine local brew…”

“A pitcher of that then, and some water,” Bleys cut him off. “And make sure the water is not muddy.”

“They call me Mister Tickle,” said the dark-haired man, leaning up against the bar beside Bleys.

The fight wound down. Timotheus left a trail of groaning or unconscious patrons behind him, and finally, the bouncer came over and easily peeled Victoria’s opponent from her, saying, “This fight is over.”

The drunken patrons who were at the edge of the fight began to back away at the bouncer’s words, and Telémahkos got up into the face of them, menacingly. He punch one man when he opened his mouth to speak.

“Ow! He said it was over!” the man complained.

“It’s over now,” Telémahkos retorted. He shook his the hand he had struck several people with because it was throbbing, and frowned when he noticed some skin scraped off his knuckles.

The bouncer recruited some the patrons who had fought, but were not unconscious to carry their beaten friends home, and sent others to fetch the sons of the fighters to get them.

Laarus of Ra looked over those who unconscious to make sure none of them were too seriously injured, while Telémahkos Timotheus, Victoria, and Markos joined Bleys at the bar and had some ale to slake the thirst of brawling.

One of the floozies, with long brown curly hair and most of her teeth still in her mouth took an instant liking to Telémahkos and sidled up next to him to whisper and kiss at his ear.

“We just have some spirited patrons around these parts,” Wallaby Wringneck was explaining after introducing himself to the others. “Just some good clean fighting… Nothing crazy… Keeps them from doing anything too bad… If you know what I mean… That lad just came in here at the wrong time, I guess…”

The squire introduced himself as Valerius Esmus Tarchon. He explained that he and his master Sir Quintus Gosprey had gone into the bog in search of a contact that would provide information regarding the whereabouts of some brigands they were after along with a patrol out of Gullmoor. The patrol continued north to see if they could pick up the trail, while he accompanied his master.

“Yes, we ran into the patrol on the Beach Road,” Timotheus said.

“And then we were beset by lizardfolk and he was taken away, probably to be eaten,” Valerius said. “I was able to get away, and came here to find help for him. The gods smile upon me, for you have come to my rescue from these common ruffians and now can help me rescue my master…”

“Who was this contact?” Bleys asked the boy.

“I do not know.”

“And what do you mean exactly by beset?” Bleys continued his questioning.

“They rose up out of the water on either side of the track, and Sir Quintus dismounted to talk with them, and suddenly more appeared and took hold of the reins of his horse!” The boy’s lip quivered as he spoke. The first ones grabbed him as he tried to draw his sword, and he called for me to flee, so I did so. I am certain they plan to eat him!”

“If he has not been eaten already,” Timotheus said.

The boy looked down for a moment and then back up at the young nobles. “I can lead you to where it happened. You must rescue him. I implore you!”

“I am not sure how wise it is to go wandering the bog in the dark,” Markos said. “They may have been attacked on the track, but I am sure wherever the lizardfolk took him, it was deeper into the bog…”

“We need to recruit a local to help us, perhaps,” Victoria said. “But the negatives of the situation are really quite beside the point. We have a duty to go try and save him.”

“We do?” asked Markos.

“Yes, we do,” replied Timotheus. “This is just the kind of thing we were looking for, a little adventure while helping people. And helping a son of House Swann cannot be bad for our reputation…”

“You hear that knight they are talking about? Gosprey?” The woman hanging on Telie was whispering his ear. He had an arm around her waist, and his hand clutched tightly to her ample thigh. “He’s a right bastard and doesn’t deserve to be rescued. No one here likes him. Why do you think they fell upon his squire? He is always pushing people around and he did this to me…” She pulled down her blouse to show deep black and green bruises on her breast and side. “And there are more…”

Markos walked over to the bouncer to recruit him, impressed by his strength and demeanor, but Cuttsy begged off. “I’d rather not go into the swamp at night.”

They all re-gathered out on the dock to talk it over in more privacy.

“I think it is death to go now,” Markos said. “The bouncer will not go and he is local… We should wait until morning…”

“Also…” Telémahkos looked around and then leaned in to speak quietly. The squire had been sent to ready the horses, including his own. “The barmaid has bruises from Gosprey. The villagers have good reason to not like him. I’m in no hurry to fetch him out of the swamp.”

“But if they captured him, they may have captured other people,” Timotheus reasoned.

“You make a fair point,” Telie replied.

“Have we heard of anyone else being taken?” Bleys said, shaking his head. “Something in the squire’s tale strikes me as wrong…”

“It doesn’t matter. We must go,” insisted Victoria.

“Boy! Come here!” Bleys called Valerius back over. “Is it true your master beat on that woman?” The watch-mage pointed into the pub at the serving wench.

Telémahkos’ eyes opened widely and he stepped to the side behind the squire to get the watch-mage’s attention. He cocked his head and frowned and shook it.

“Who has said such a thing about Sir Quintus?” the squire was shocked. “He is an honorable man and would do not lay his hand on such a trollop for any reason!”

“I do not think anyone wants to fight a duel over such accusations,” Telie said, his eyes were still opened wide as he gestured to his neck with an open hand.

“What is the matter with your eyes?” Bleys asked back, oblivious to his blunder.

Telémahkos sighed in frustration. Bleys walked over to one of the patrons now dragging folks out onto the dock.

“You know this area?” he asked. “You know the bog?”

“As well as can be known,” the man replied.

“And there are lizardfolk in there?”

“The greenbacks? Yeah, they showed up recently though… Maybe less than a year…”

“And they attack people?” Bleys asked.

“Not that I know of… Most smart people avoid them…” The man said.

“Will you guide us? We will pay you two pieces of silver… One now and one when we return.”

The man nodded his assent. And introduced himself as Tavius. He wore a shiner on his right eyes where Telémahkos had struck him at the end of the brawl. He was lanky and tall with the shaggy long brown hair common to Spice Islanders, and the shabby woolen and burlap clothes of a commoner, with torn high pants, and tall oilskin leather wading boots.

“Well if we must go, I am glad we have gotten us a local guide,” Telémahkos said, as Bleys returned with the man. “Though chances are if they planned to eat him, he is probably already eaten. And if we are actually voting on going, I vote against it.”

“If we are lucky perhaps they ate his horse first,” Victoria offered.

A vote was taken and it came down to a tie. Laarus, Victoria and Timotheus were for going, and Markos, Bleys and Telie felt they should wait for first light to enter the bog.

“But … But … Where is your noble spirit of adventure and righteousness?” Valerius protested. “These savage monsters have my master, and I must try to save him… With or without you…”

“Going back into that bog by yourself would be foolish…” Markos said.

“Then I must go to Gullmoor and report this to Sir’s father, and how you plan to wait until dawn to go…” The squire replied.

Telémahkos’ shoulders sagged. “Wait a minute…” He walked back over to Tavius and drew him away, whispering “I will pay you two extra silver if you take it slow… Maybe lead us through a safer part of the swamp until dawn breaks?”

“Right-o, governor!” Tavius winked. “Like a tortoise I’ll be!” Telémahkos slipped the man the coin with some sleight of hand.

“Okay! I changed my vote… Let’s go!” Telémahkos said turning to the others.

“It is a mistake, but I will abide by the group’s choice,” Markos said.

“I have to go get my pony,” Tavius said. “Or if you like, I can find a barn where you can keep your horses and we can go in on foot…”

“I would rather keep my horse with me,” Victoria said, and the others agreed. “But I shall accompany you to get your mount.”

“Have it your way!” Tavius smiled, and walked off, followed by Victoria. He took nearly forty-five minutes to return, and gave Telémahkos a wink when he did.

“He put the saddle on backwards and it had to be redone,” Victoria explained. “Twice…”

And with that, they began to walk their horses into the bog…

End of Session #2

-------------------------------------------------------
Notes:

(1) Markos used prestidigitation for this weak effect.

(2) Priests of Ra may expend a turning attempt to manifest The Glory of Ra; a daylight spell.

(3) Of course our first real fight involved a huge grapple with multiple participants. . . But at least we went over those rules and pretty much have those rules down for the future.

(4) While we still play with the 3.0 rule that any non-lethal damage beyond that needed to knock someone out becomes real damage, I mistakenly subtracted the additional real damage from 0 hps, instead of the man’s full hit points. He should not have been dying.
 
Last edited:



el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
monboesen said:
A surprising amount of the new characters come of[f] somewhat as pricks in these first updates ;)

Whaddya expect from nobility? ;)

Can you rank them in order of least to most prickish? :D
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Session #3 – “Into the Bog” (Part 1 of 3)

Tavius led them to a broad muddy field behind the village to the west. The muck was deep, and they could see rough edge of the bog’s willows and thorny shrubs a few hundred yards ahead of them in the light of the waning moon.

“Ra smite it!” Telémahkos cursed. He had veered way off the general path Tavius led them on and his horse got one hoof stuck deep in the mud. (1) He yanked at the reins awkwardly and kicked futilely with his legs as the horse whinnied nervously.

“You didn’t need to go that far out,” Victoria said. She dismounted and walked over to help free the horse, instructing Telémahkos what to do. “No! No! You are fighting me! To the left!”

When the horse was finally freed, Timotheus had turned back, followed by Markos. Laarus of Ra rode up ahead to stop along side Bleys and talked with him in quiet tones. Ahead, Tavius and Valerius the squire waited for them.

“Telémahkos! This is ridiculous! You know if you pulled something like this when we are in a dangerous area you could get yourself killed! Or any of us!” Timotheus scolded his cousin.

“He was just stuck for a moment. He is free now,” Victoria said, taken aback by Timotheus’ outburst.

“This is just the kind of stupid thing that could get him killed,” Tim said. “I won’t have him killed on my watch!”

“And that is why it is foolish for us to go into the bog at night,” Markos said. “It increases the chances of one or more of us dying by an unacceptable margin…”

“And what do you suggest?” Victoria asked.

“That we wait until daylight…”Markos began.

“I thought we went over this? Sir Quintus will likely die if we tarry too long,” Victoria replied. “Time is of the essence.”

“I do not agree,” Markos said. “Either they have eaten him already in which case, our hurrying and blundering into bog is only a danger, or they still hold him alive, in which case we lose nothing by waiting until first light. Lizardfolk can see well in the dark. We cannot.”

“Is this not what we discussed and voted upon? Need we go over it again?” Timotheus asked, exasperated.

“Yes, we voted on it, and I said then what I am saying now, but there seemed to be some renewed doubt, so I was reiterating my point,” Markos replied.

“Well… I could stay behind with the horses…” Telémahkos started.

“No! Let’s go and stay close to me!” Timotheus did not hide his emotions. He spurred his horse and headed back towards the guide and the others. Bleys and Laarus were just starting to turn around to see what was keeping the others when everyone fell in line again. This time, Telémahkos was close behind his cousin, and Markos rode along side, continuing to argue his point.

Tavius reached the edge of the bog. He looked back at the group from the entrance to a gravel track winding into the darkness, to make sure no one was straggling too far behind. He raised his lantern high as he straightened his tall lanky form on his mud-cover pony. A sudden breeze carried a fetid smell down their line.

Markos held up his horse to fall back into his spot on the line, as suddenly Telémahkos started having trouble with his horse again. It whinnied and then its rear dropped towards the mud and it half-stumbled back forcing Telie to grab about it neck to stay on. The ends of his blue-white toga dipped in the mud, and he sighed as he pulled at his chain shirt, and then looked at the reins in his hands as if they were foreign to him.

“That’s it! I change my vote!” Timotheus announced, turning around at the entrance to the bog. “This is too risky!”

“So, you are suggesting we leave a noble to his fate…” Laarus said in an even tone that somehow still suggested disappointment. His sharp features, with a prominent hawk-nose and his close-cut red hair and thin eyebrows helped to reinforce the authority of his holy symbol and bejeweled and gold-threaded finery.

“I could go back…” Telémahkos began again. He slipped his old fashioned Lethean helmet off his head, careful not to catch the knot of blond hair that stuck through a round slot at the top of the helmet.

“No, we should all go for help,” Timotheus said. “We should go to Gullmoor and see if we can raise some men-at-arms from Sir Quintus’ father’s keep, instead of going into the swamp looking for trouble…”

“Who is looking for trouble?” Laarus frowned.

“We are going into the swamp to save a knight from lizardfolk who abducted him. Do you think we will be able to just ask nicely and they will give him back?” Timotheus.

“Yes,” said Laarus. “If they fall under the jurisdiction if the Thrician Racial Covenant, then perhaps they simply need to be reminded of their responsibilities to it as well.”

“Unless of course, they see our arrival are an invasion of the territory, in which case we may be liable to their sovereign laws, according to that same covenant,” Bleys explained in his typical emotionless tone.

“Be that as it may, diplomacy shall have to be our first and most aggressively pursued option,” Laarus said.

“I still think this is foolish,” Markos said. The small man looked uncomfortable on horseback. He rubbed the back of his suntanned neck after slapping at a midnight mosquito. “We should seek out the knight’s keep and seek his kin to aid us in his return.

“Your opinion is known to all, cousin Markos,” Laarus replied.

“And sirs… If I can be so bold to interrupt,” Valerius had leapt of his horse to help lead Telémahkos’ steed to surer footing. “Gullmoor is nearly two hours away at best, and is past the deep part of the bog…”

“The kid’s right,” Tavius said. He was covering his mouth intermittently to arrest his laughter at the party’s bickering. “Unless you have a boat and good route mapped out, we’re talking six hours to get out there and then back out to where he said they took him from…”

“If we are to continue on then let us do it more slowly and carefully,” Telémahkos said.

“Yes, I agree,” Timotheus said, sighing. “And… If I call a retreat, I want everyone to retreat, okay? Do you all agree? I don’t want anyone lagging behind to play martyr…” He looked around and there were a few nods, but Victoria’s face looked stern in the lantern light.

“Victoria? Do you agree?” Timotheus asked again.

“If you choose to retreat and want to lead the others to safety, then that is your business,” Victoria replied. The militant’s dark eyes were shadowed by lantern light against her open-faced helmet; her dark hair curled out beneath the edges of it. “I shall do as Anhur would have me do. It is up to you if you should choose to shame the gods by fleeing…”

Timotheus’ jaw dropped, and Markos winced at the woman’s cutting disdain.

“Fine,” Tim decided to ignore her tone. “Then we all agree; if I call a retreat, Victoria shall be the rearguard.”

Tavius of Bog End warned them to be quieter. Timotheus followed him with Telémahkos close behind, and then came Bleys the Aubergine, Valeris the Squire, Laarus of Ra, Markos Ackers and finally Victoria. Markos tried to hand the militant a lantern.

“No thank you,” Victoria said. “If we should need more light I can call to Anhur to provide.”

“By the time we realize we need light it may be too late,” Markos said. “This will help spot anyone approaching from a distance…”

“I do not need to carry it…” Victoria said.

“We need light and whoever holds the light is a target, thus… I need you to carry it,” Markos said with a weak smile.

“Heh,” Victoria spurred her horse and snatched the lantern from the diminutive man. “If we are attacked I will be handing it back to you…”

“Of course,” Markos replied.

Bleys lit a gnomish torch, and the green-hued spitting flame of the strange light source hovered around him.

The track through the varying dripping growth of the bog was made of piles of gravel smoothed out further and further into the wetland. In most places, it was two or three feet above the surface of the fetid water around, but in others the track was flooded over, and cracked by thick vines that had pushed their way violently through the piled stone. Every now and again, they had to dismount at Tavius’ direction to lead their horses over wooden planks laid across sudden deep narrow gullies, or slick and uneven muddy streams. Other times it was simply the thickness of the growth above that forced the riders off their mounts.

Isis’ light flittered fitfully from the waning moon, hovering somewhere between half and a quarter, casting muted webs of shadows on the companions as they marched deeper into the bog for over an hour on edge with every nearby croak, screech of bats overhead, or random gurgle of the water all around them. But suddenly there was another sound: A muted neigh followed by some splashing.

Ahead the track veered to the right, and on the left of it was a deep pool of black muck. The sound came from within the pool. Timotheus readied his shield and drew his sword. Telémahkos dismounted and began to load his heavy crossbow.

Laarus of Ra leaned over to Bleys with a smile. “If this is the reaction to a horse, I fear for our future endeavors.”

“Can we be so sure it is a horse?” Bleys asked, ever-serious.

Tavius spurred his pony forward and raised his lantern as everyone, but Victoria, dismounted. Those at the front could see the upper portion of a warhorse in the thick muck at the center of the pool. It was kicking and leaping to free itself, but was only succeeding in wedging itself deeper and deeper.

Bleys muttered an arcane word and smeared a bit of phosphorescent moss on the bridge of his nose and suddenly the light of Tavius’ lantern shed light twice as far for him. (2) The watch-mage could see large rounded rocks creating a craggy wall beyond the pool.

“You heard that?!” Laarus asked. There was an animalistic clicking coming from beyond the pool. There was an answering triple-click and a hiss. Bleys noted glowing eyes low between twq rocks where the sound had come from, but when he turned to get a good look they were gone.

The horse struggled some more. The muck in the pool churned, gurgled and splashed.

“How do you suggest the free the horse?” Timotheus asked Tavius. The local guide shrugged his shoulders.

“It is a waste of time to try to get it out,” Telémahkos said

“My cousin may be right,” Timotheus said. “It will take a great deal of effort and we still may not succeed in anything but being delayed.”

“I have a spell that could help in freeing the horse,” Markos suggested, moving forward amid the horses. He had to squeeze by Vaerius who was struggling to keep three horses in line, as the nearby horse in danger was making them skittish. “But it will take me fifteen minutes to prepare the spell in question…” (3)

“We are here to rescue the knight, not his horse…” Telémahkos said.

“Is there a difference?” Laarus asked. “I mean, might we not need his horse if we rescue him and need a quick escape?”

“I was thinking the same thing,” Bleys said with a grunt. He was loading his heavy crossbow.

“I will prepare the spell.” Markos moved to the back of the line again, and spreading out his cloak, sat down on the track to prepare his spell.

The clicking and hissing came again.

“Tavius, what sort of creature do you think is making that sound?” Timotheus asked the guide.

“Oh that? That’s them there, muckies… ‘Muckdwellers’ they call them. We call them lizard rats,” Tavius said. “They generally too afraid to mess with humans, but they are clever.”

”So they are animals?”

“Well, smarter than a dog,” Tavius said. “But not as smart as a human or a greenback…”

There was an excited hiss and the stuck horse let out a stomach-turning scream as a small reptilian creature, vaguely bipedal, with a crest on its head and back, and a stubby tail about half the length of its foot-long body leapt onto its haunch. It was brown and green, and latched itself onto the side of the horses neck and began to tear small strips of flesh from it.”

“Lizard rat!” cried Tavius.

Bleys the Aubergine’s dark purple robes rippled like shadow in the lantern light as he spun to fire his heavy crossbow at the creature. The bolt flew high, as he was trying to avoid hitting the horse.

“Let them have the horse!” Markos called to the others, slamming his book shut and giving up on his study. “Why bring them down on us?”

“What a tiny lil thing!” Telémahkos cried. “It’s almost cute.” He fired his heavy crossbow as well, and also missed. He turned to his cousin. “Maybe we’d be better off aiming at the horse and putting it out of its misery…”

“Tavius, you have the light, you keep an eye out!” Timotheus ordered, dropping his shield and sword in the mucky gravel and drawing his longbow from his horse.

The horse screamed again and leapt futilely as a second of the creatures leapt upon its flank. The horse’s agony echoed across the bog, as did the voices of the signers of the Charter of Schiereiland.

“Telémahkos! Timotheus! Beware!” From her vantage point still atop her horse, the woman warrior had noticed the wake of two small forms approaching the edge of the pool. Two the tiny reptilian creatures splashed out of the mire about ten feet in front of the line. With a flick of their little heads, they spat globules of swamp water at the two cousins, but both were able to turn their heads and avoid whatever effect was meant from the attack.

“Ahhh!” Telémahkos’ womanly cry echoed as he panicked and hurled his heavy crossbow at one of the creatures. As usual, Bes’ luck was with him. The weapon slammed into the creature and then the bowstring caught about its neck and spun around knocking it twice more before dragging it the muckdweller into the muck it emerged from. (4)

As Laarus moved up, shield strapped to his arm, and drawing his flail, Timotheus sent one of the attacking muckdwellers yelping into the muck as an arrow buried itself in its side. “Laarus! Don’t get to far too far ahead. We don’t want to be separated.”

“We are being watched from behind!” came Victoria’s warning from the rear of the line. She had noted the silhouette of humanoid creature at the edge of the shadowy illumination of Markos’ lantern.

“Move the horses up,” Markos called to Valerius. “We need to keep the group together, feeling the gap between the rear and the front groups had gotten too wide. The horse screamed again, and this time it managed to make a great, almost impossible leap. It floundered on its side for a half moment, and then sunk again, having only moved perhaps six or seven feet. In that same moment, two more of the muckdwellers popped up and spat, and this time Timotheus cried out as the burning swamp water blinded him. He quickly pulled his bow over his shoulder and wiped with one arm, while reaching for his waterskin with the other.

Bleys moved along side Tim and took a shot with his crossbow, missing again. “I am on your right,” (5) he said to the blinded warrior. Laarus managed to get near one and crushed its skull with one heavy blow from his flail.

“Mighty Anhur! Our enemies seek to surround us in the darkness! Give me light to foil their plans!” Victoria prayed and suddenly the tip of her long spear shone like a bright torch. She raised it up to cast light widely, but the silhouetted figure she had seen was gone.

A third muckdweller was now tearing off chunks of the dying horse, while another popped up and spat at Laarus, blinding him as well. Tim had given up trying to wash it out and was fumbling on the ground for his sword and shield.

“Tim! Do you see my crossbow over there? Can you get it before it sinks?” Telémahkos was on the other side of his horse from the battle, retrieving a dagger and his rapier at a careful pace. Tavius held both the reins of his pony, and of Tim’s horse, keeping them calm in the chaos of the fight. He looked over at Telémahkos with astonishment, disgust and amusement.

“That is my master’s horse!” Vaerius cried when he was finally close enough to see into the center of the pool by the lantern light. He was struggling back and forth to keep the horses calm and move them up the track two at a time at Markos’ direction, but did not seem to be doing it fast enough for the sun-tanned son of House Raymer. He turned to see if Victoria was following him, but was shocked to see her going back down the track away from the rest of the group.

“Stupid bitch,” he muttered.

“Forget your crossbow! Find my waterskin!” Timotheus yelled back to his cousin as his vision returned. He scooped up his shield and weapon. “Let’s keep moving forward and drive these things back. Keep shooting!” He charged up and cleaved a skull in twain, and spun to block the spitting attacks of three others with his shield, as he heard them leap up out of the pool at the top of the track.

“How can I shoot without a crossbow?” Telémahkos asked dejectedly. He stepped out carefully from behind his horse and threw a dagger at one of the muckdwellers menacing Laarus, missing.

There was a twang as Bleys let loose with another crossbow bolt as he guided Laarus back away from the melee. However, half a moment later, the priest’s vision returned, as streams of greenish tears poured down his face. He let loose with a sling stone at one of the muckdwellers on the horse and missed. Noticing the ones at the top of the track he crammed his sling in his belt and drew his flail once again.

Bleys dropped his crossbow and drawing his saber charged into the muckdwellers attacking Timotheus. Laarus of Ra was on his heels. Tim, however, was not having much trouble. He killed one easily, and another flinched from a swing that missed and then fled. Bleys startled another, and before it could flee, Laarus killed it with a crunch.

“There is not enough room!” Valerius complained. Markos was still trying to move everyone’s abandoned horses up the narrow track by slapping them on the hindquarters, while Valerius with frazzled nerves tried to keep them calm and move them with more care. Most of the horses, including the packhorse, were not trained to remain calm in battle situations, and the scent nearby dying horse did not help.

”Whoever it was, is gone,” said Victoria riding up to re-join the others. The remaining muckdwellers fled into the rocks beyond the pool, laden with huge strips of raw horseflesh.

Telémahkos stepped into the edge of the pool to retrieve his crossbow from the muck, having to reach his arms up to his shoulders to get it. It would have to be cleaned well before it could be used again.

Victoria described what she saw behind the group, and everyone was fairly certain it was one of the lizardfolk.

“Well, they know we are coming…” Timotheus said.

“We could have guessed that already,” Markos replied.

“Could they have sent those creatures after us?” Victoria asked.

“Doubtful,” Markos said. “Most likely they were just drawn by the defenseless horse and thought we would take their dinner from them.”

Hardly more than twenty-five minutes later the gravel track led to rocky island covered in mud and roots, and lined with many small willows. The moon was setting, but they could see the blue-black outline of great hill before them against the night sky. They had noticed the hill once or twice before on their journey, looming.

“This where it happened!” Valerius announced. “My master dismounted over here, and then the lizardfolk emerged from the left and right.” The squire dismounted and walked over to each spot he was pointing out.

“Lizardfolk of the bog!” Bleys called out into the darkness. “We have come seeking Sir Quintus Gosprey! We wish to parley!” The watch-mage’s words echoed across the swamp.

to be continued…

----------------------------------------------------------
Notes:

(1) Telémahkos was actually using a combination of handle animal and bluff to delay the group further by pretending to be inept at riding it in the muck. All the other times during the journey into the swamp where he has horse trouble are similar attempts.

(2) This spell is low-light vision

(3) The spell he was thinking of is called, float. In Aquerra, wizards may overwrite prepared spells by spending 15 minutes per caster level to do so. However, the spell to be written over is immediately spoiled when the process of preparation is started. Thus, if the preparation is interrupted, the wizard merely has an unusable slot until he has an opportunity to begin preparation again.

(4) On his turn, Telémahkos threw his heavy crossbow taking the –4 penalty for an improvised or non-standard weapon, but hit anyway, and doing enough damage (on 1d3) to take out the 2 hp muckdweller.

(5) All tactics talk during combat in our games has to be done in character and characters can only speak on their own turn. This includes aiding/guiding characters that have some form of sensory deprivation, such as being blind.
 
Last edited:


Manzanita

First Post
Well, I managed to get behind on this story hour, and now I realize I shouldn't even be reading it, since I'm involved as a player in a campaign drawing on some of the same source material. My loss.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Manzanita said:
Well, I managed to get behind on this story hour, and now I realize I shouldn't even be reading it, since I'm involved as a player in a campaign drawing on some of the same source material. My loss.

Hey Manzanita!

Two things, if your group is ahead in the adventure path (i.e. two or more adventures in) then I don't think it will matter in the present, and since I plan to take it totally in my own direction not based on any of the actual later adventures this will definitely be safe for you to read in the future.

Anyway, at this point we still don't know what the PCs will be doing, so it might be that those hooks are completely ignored anyway.
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top