Fellowship of the Goose

Party time

Well, the night in the Fursty Ferret went as expected…

To be continued…

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Out Of The Frying-Pan Into The Fire

Drugo led the company toward the entrance of the lair of the Sih hel. Once they got closer, they noticed a Menhir with an inscription, they could not identify it, but the carvings looked similar to some they saw back in the gnomes’ caves.
Once they walked down the entrance, silence and stillness, such those of a long forsaken tomb, fell on them. The stairs were covered in dust,and the ceiling in cobweb. Soon they reached a room. They needed no light, as a puplish light was radiating from the walls. Ricardo examinated the source of such shining. The walls were covered in small crystals. He tried to crush one of them: a dark liquid oozed out. In the room, which was partially collapsed, they notice that, under the fallen ceiling beams, the remains of a chest were hidden. Ricardo spotted it and tried to reach it. Is effort made collapse a larger portion of the ceiling (with a lot of noise connected) more than this: three animated skeleton appeared and engaged the group. Luckily they were no match for them.
Once they dispaced the skeleton, the exploration of the room went on. A door was visible on the wall situated right in respect to the entrance. Drugo and Ricardo walked lightearthly toward the fake door, because this is what it was. As soon as their feet touched the floor in front of the door, a pit opened under both of them. They fell for several meters, landing luckily in the water. But the danger was not over. 3 huge rats attaked them. They were as large as young halflings and as hungry as they usually are. The fight went on in the water. From above, Gallion tried to take part to the fight with his crossbow, unfortunately a bolt it Ricardo. He then threw down the poor John and his fellow villager, who caught in surprise, did not quite survive the fall. However, they managed to distract the rats, providing food that does not fight back.
The mighty trio exited the water though a set of stairs that led them in front of a door. Even tired, they decided to proceed. They were not aware of what was waiting for them. It appeared clear as soon as they stepped into the room. They were greeted by the awful small of blood, bird nest and animal feces. At the bottom of the room an hulking figure was moving toward them – an owlbear! – they fight took quite long, but the trio had the upper hand also in this case, though at a great cost. Exausted, the trio tried to rest in the room, but after a while a purplish cloud risen from the floor. Not trusting it the group decided to disband the camp and to move forward.
Through the next door, a spiral staircase awaited them. Descended they ended up in a large room that had, has main feature, a golden door on one side and a small passage on the opposite part. Some roots were appearing. Lately was revealed that the root were actually alive, although uncapable of moving. The effort of the trio was directed toward the golden door, which they managed to open after few trial and error.
After walking for a while they ended up in a even larger room , that featured a descending path spiraling around some huge floating crystals. On the crystal, peaceful imagines were displayed. As soon as they descended, the images started changing, showing picture of pure terror. They felt compelled of leaving the room, rushing to the next one. Six sih hel were waiting for them.
The fight roared and the trio was ready to butch some of the enemy, however, destiny prepared quite a trick for them. The sih hel got the upper hand.

They wake up weapon less, armour less and tied to a huge Mushroom. In front o them lied a small island…

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CSI:Leavendale
or how came the head in the soup..

When Gil, Braenn, Augustine and John (Content Not Found: ragnar disappeared in the night but left his flint and steel) woke up the next morning, they decided to burn the cursed pumpkins and to take the normal ones for food ration. After “killing” the bad pumpkins the group continued their journey to Leavendale, now with a handcart full of smelling cabbage, pumpkins, the hen Ophelia, some stakes and a good made wooden javelin from Gil.

After walking a long time a trail of smoke appeared on the horizon – it wasn’t not a group of adventurer burning “dangerous” pumpkins – but an inn surrounded by a large hedge. The roadhouse was filled with about fifteen guests, so the barman guided the fellowship to a table with only three persons. To their all surprise they recognized two of them. It were Tim and Mr Dieb. The third one introduced himself as Ereborn. After Gil treat drinks for all the guests they had a nice evening with drinking and talking. Only Braenn was dry because the barkeeper didn’t have her favorite herbal cocktail “the green one” and served instead a cup of tea. Ereborn told them that a strange wizard and his followers visited the inn some days ago. The code name of the wizard was Vernon but his followers called him with another name, perhaps it was Alfrond Ravenflight.

The next morning Mr Dieb woke up on the floor in his on puke with a hammering head. He was so hang over from the party last night that John had to put him on the handcart. They said goodby to Ereborn and continued their journey with Tim and Mr. Dieb as new companion.

A days march passed without anything special. When nightfall came the build a camp. Tim used his magic power to detected if the place was troll safe, but he didn’t find trolls. For supper they grilled the poor Ophelia and some pumpkins. Suddenly while eating a shower of arrows came out of the dark. A group of kobold with dogheads attacked the camp with their crossbows. Gil dried to put the kobold to sleep by a spell. The spell didn’t take effect but instead a loud buzzing of a bear ringed. All the kobold run away frightened by the buzzing except one who stood still like turned into stone. John caught him and they tried to talk with him, but the kobold didn’t speak any language they knew. So John let him escape, but Mr Dieb killed him with an arrow.

The next day they met some farmers on the fields eastward of Leavendale. After having a little argument because the purse of one farmer was suddenly lost and a spell from Tim to calm the farmer down, the farmer told them, that Old Gray in Leavendale perhaps knows something about the headless rider and that Ada, a woman on Bruilder farmstead saw the rider when Aennwyn disappeared. Mr Dieb payed the farmer with the farmer’s silver coins for help, kept the cooper, and they left before the farmer could realize what happened.

Before dawn the Fellowship of the Goose reached the Grendelstuir farmstead. There they interrogated Fol, Urgmer’s cousin, Biorn, Urgmer’s father, aunt Rowen and the Grandmother of Urgmer. They found out, that Urgmer was riding on his brown horse Old Bill to the Bruilders to see Aennwyn before the rider killed him and threw his head through the open window right in the soup pot .The rider was taller than normal men and wore a black cloak with a big collar. His horse was either brown or black but looked quit normal. The Grendelstuirs didn’t understand why the series of murders took place, because there was no special relationship to the Bruilders or the Hurnesons. The fellowship stayed the night at Grendelstuir farmstead until next morning.

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The roof, the roof is on fire!
No Fried Chicken though

Augustine was on his way to Galaron. He had encountered the Sheriff on the King’s Highway, who had advised him to catch up with a group also traveling westwards, as it is safer to travel in bigger groups. He was hurrying along the road when a group emerged from the forest. They turned out to be Gil, John, Braenn and Ragnar, who had returned from their ceremony at the oak. What a surprise!

They marched along the road, but rain set in. It got worse and worse until they were drenched in their overcoats and the cart trail that was the king’s highway was a morass of mud. They decided to seek shelter, and John found a suitable overhang in the forest. They made a fire to dry themselves, using John’s lamp oil as starter on the wet wood. Gil entertained them with songs of a famous elven bard, Garfunkel, and sang to them of Leavendale fair. John wished for the sound of silence and shut his helmet visor to at least dampen the sounds. Augustine took a nap.

They returned on the road and resumed their journey, until at some point Augustine and John noticed something strange. A cart trail was leading away from a trampled area. They followed the tracks and found a lone handcart. It turned out to be full of cabbage under a sheet to protect them. Exploring the area to find the carter John stumbled over a ledge and fell on his head. His helmet saved him from injury, but was badly bent as a result. It took a woman’s strength to twist it off of his head.

They followed another trail of in the mud to a farm. It consisted of a simple house, a barn, a field of grain with a scarecrow, a pumpkin patch and a vegetable garden. No sign of anyone. As they explored the house they found the farmer and his wife dead in their bed, ripped by mighty claws. A stacked bed hinted that two kids might be around somewhere. They found the broken body of the young daughter in the well, giving her location away by the smell.

A longer search of the premises netted a living hen they caught in the barn, and the dead body of the teenage son, which somebody had stuffed inside the scarecrow. His bones were also badly broken. And Braenn stumbled over another body in the pumpkin patch, probably the carter they had been looking for. He was ripped open and his blood was wetting the ground.

Further inquiries found nothing. They buried all the bodies, something Augustine as a former gravedigger was quite used to. Augustine dug out a pit trap in front of the front door, and Gil put some sharpened stakes in there and covered it. Gil fashioned himself a quite exquisite Javelin out of one of the fenceposts. Braenn cooked cabbage soup dinner, because Gil insisted to keep the hen for the eggs. And John fashioned himself a burning sack bola with a stone, a sack doused with oil and a bit of rope.

They went to sleep while Gil held watch, but he fell into a trance and had strange dream-spasms, which woke Augustine… that and the smell of digested cabbage soup. A sound from the shutters in the bedroom startled them. When they went to investigate the shutters in the kitchen were disturbed. They decided not to check outside, relying on Braenn’s ability to detect evil creatures. She sensed a big evil (announced by a foreboding, yet heavenly fanfare) moving around the house, and they were trying to deliberate how to defend themselves, when a sharp whoosh was heard and they could smell the thatch on the roof starting to burn quite quickly.

Out of the house they moved, which had become a trap for themselves, carefully avoiding their own pit however. Around the corner stormed a frightening sight to behold, a large mass of vines shaped like a big human, with a burning jack-o-lantern as head! Both clerics were too panicked to do anything, so Gil tried to insult the creature from the other side of the pit to make it charge him. Apparently elven taunts need improving, but John threw his fire missile, and caught in on fire indeed – only the creature did not seem to be harmed by fire at all!

A fight ensued. Gil tried to engage the creature to keep it away from Braenn, while John tried to maneuver it into the pit with a spear. Braenn got a hold of herself and tried to turn away the unholy creature, but Ildavir was not hearing her pleas. Gil got quite badly hurt, while Augustine failed to shake the panic. The creature tried to slam the well-armored John unsuccessfully, but also he was not making a big impression on it either.

Gil spellburned himself and cast chilling touch, attacking the creature with his hands of ethereal smoke after. This indeed found a weakness on the strange thing. Finally Augustine came around and paralyzed the creature after enchanting his own weaponry. John delivered the final blow. The shape of the creature began to broil and shudder, and they dispersed quickly, just in time to escape the head exploding, showering burning spores ten feet around it.

The farm house burned down, but they made themselves at home in the barn for the rest of the night, including the saved hen. Braenn had some atoning to do, so she prayed for more than an hour before seeking sleep. A sleep well-earned on everyone’s behalf in this place of blood and mayhem.

CSI:Leavendale
or how came the head in the soup..

When Gil, Braenn, Augustine and John (Ragnar disappeared in the night but left his flint and steel) woke up the next morning, they decided to burn the cursed pumpkins and to take the normal ones for food ration. After “killing” the bad pumpkins the group continued their journey to Leavendale, now with a handcart full of smelling cabbage, pumpkins, the hen Ophelia, some stakes and a good made wooden javelin from Gil.

After walking a long time a trail of smoke appeared on the horizon – it wasn’t not a group of adventurer burning “dangerous” pumpkins – but an inn surrounded by a large hedge. The roadhouse was filled with about fifteen guests, so the barman guided the fellowship to a table with only three persons. To their all surprise they recognized two of them. It were Tim and Mr Dieb. The third one introduced himself as Ereborn. After Gil treat drinks for all the guests they had a nice evening with drinking and talking. Only Braenn was dry because the barkeeper didn’t have her favorite herbal cocktail “the green one” and served instead a cup of tea. Ereborn told them that a strange wizard and his followers visited the inn some days ago. The code name of the wizard was Vernon but his followers called him with another name, perhaps it was Alfrond Ravenflight.

The next morning Mr Dieb woke up on the floor in his on puke with a hammering head. He was so hang over from the party last night that John had to put him on the handcart. They said goodby to Ereborn and continued their journey with Tim and Mr. Dieb as new companion.

A days march passed without anything special. When nightfall came the build a camp. Tim used his magic power to detected if the place was troll safe, but he didn’t find trolls. For supper they grilled the poor Ophelia and some pumpkins. Suddenly while eating a shower of arrows came out of the dark. A group of kobold with dogheads attacked the camp with their crossbows. Gil dried to put the kobold to sleep by a spell. The spell didn’t take effect but instead a loud buzzing of a bear ringed. All the kobold run away frightened by the buzzing except one who stood still like turned into stone. John caught him and they tried to talk with him, but the kobold didn’t speak any language they knew. So John let him escape, but Mr Dieb killed him with an arrow.

The next day they met some farmers on the fields eastward of Leavendale. After having a little argument because the purse of one farmer was suddenly lost and a spell from Tim to calm the farmer down, the farmer told them, that Old Gray in Leavendale perhaps knows something about the headless rider and that Ada, a woman on Bruilder farmstead saw the rider when Aennwyn disappeared. Mr Dieb payed the farmer with the farmer’s silver coins for help, kept the cooper, and they left before the farmer could realize what happened.

Before dawn the Fellowship of the Goose reached the Grendelstuir farmstead. There they interrogated Fol, Urgmer’s cousin, Biorn, Urgmer’s father, aunt Rowen and the Grandmother of Urgmer. They found out, that Urgmer was riding on his brown horse Old Bill to the Bruilders to see Aennwyn before the rider killed him and threw his head through the open window right in the soup pot .The rider was taller than normal men and wore a black cloak with a big collar. His horse was either brown or black but looked quit normal. The Grendelstuirs didn’t understand why the series of murders took place, because there was no special relationship to the Bruilders or the Hurnesons. The fellowship stayed the night at Grendelstuir farmstead until next morning.

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yo mama is so fat..

The merry fellowship was way more merry after escaping the Sih’ hel assault, nevertheless, they decided to pursue them. Guided by Parwa, the group chased the sih hel transporting the paralysed horse to their lair. at the first light of the day, they reached a massive hill in close sight of the mountains. there they spotted the entrance of the lair.
They also noticed a massive building (how well is the condition of it, was something impossible to determinate at such distance).
Suddenly a darker cloud approached them. Winged apes! those vicious beasts find pleasure in harming people (and in feeding on them – some speculate that the immolate some of the kidnapped people to some forgotten demon, called demog…hey! you are not supposed to know this!). Truth is, the group was quite suffering the attack. Poor Gallion was struck several time by the rocks, luckily Ricardo was there to revive him. Nottall and Drugo in the meanwhile were answering with a volley to the Winged apes. Finally they flew away.

Pradwa guided them in the vicinity of the village of Berthdrain. There, they were greeted by the leader of the community, which told them of the many trouble they are having lately. In particular they mentioned of the disappearance of Sam, the brother of John, leader of the community. The group accepted to help, in exchange of support for their attempt to raid the sih hel lair. In the meanwhile, they group enjoyed also the meals prepared by big mama, a incredibly large widow, who, however, is far from being overwhelmed by grief (as lately Drugo will discover).

the group found went out looking for sam…finding him literally within an owlbear. Notable was also the finding of a dagger with a demon on his hilt (which apparently vibrate everytime Ricardo successfully casts a spell).

having kept their word, the men that vowed to follow Ricardo prepared to leave the day after. During the night two notable things happened: Ricardo managed to convert John to the Chaos Titan and Drugo enjoyed the company of big mama.

the day after they hit the road in the direction of the sih hel lair. During their way they were attacked also by a strange rabbit.

they night fell and they were forced to camp. They did not notice, but Parwa was following them, eyeing closely Drugo.

during the night they were assaulted by a small group of Sih hel. Parwa was kidnapped!

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Letters from Gildorel: 1 - A sister's demise

my sound greetings to dear Alrik the Polecarrier,

it is I, your very elven friend Gildorel. My apologies for distracting thyself again from your dutiful guard patrol activities, but the current fruits of our investigation appear just to make the matter even more complicated. This, alas, shall take more time of ours before our inevitable return the cobblestones of Cillamar, also because at the moment we are very being sidetracked by juicy and moneymaking sidequests in Leavendale.

As you see, in the plentiful paperwork bundle I sent you there are crusty books and scrolls which escape my sublime elven comprehension. The scrolls are for our Hommletian very human friend Gory: his brutal, handwaving grasp of magic might succeed where elven subtlety and elegance fail. Keep the books in a safe place instead. I am very sure Ricardo will very take pleasure in reading them. It is maybe for the better if Clio does not know about them… i fear how she may react.

Oh, and since the other elder archives we managed to unravel, namely some ancient chronicles of Erinye’s church, are turning to dust in this very moment, I shall try to wrap them up in these pages. You will forgive me if fact is mixed altogether with elven speculation here, It is difficult for myself to grasp distinction between the two.

Well then, where to begin… ah, VERY yes.

A long time ago there were very three sister goddesses, pillars of civilization and law enforcement. Where Justitia found values in forgiveness, mercy and balance, the sister Erinye, also known as Nemesis, valued retribution, severity and vengeance the most. There was also a third sister, but her pillars have been thrown down to crumbles, her name erased from every record, and ultimately very long forgotten.
Still, the remaining two sisters were hardly standing eachother, for they did not share the means to uphold order even one bit. More oft than not, they waged war against eachother, followers slaying one another in one longlasting bunch of religious mess. Whatever.

It was in those days, seven hundred years ago, that the belief of Erinye was strong in the south; at that time it was a very true Faith rather than a Cult. In the Dragon Empire there were plentiful orders of militant believers dedicated to the vengeful goddess; and that made the police institutions of the empire very efficient, I may guess.

As always happens in these stories, the peaceful oppressive civilized police-state imperial dream never lasts long. Nor it did this time. It is mentioned that some heretic pagan disbeliever army invaded the Dragon Empire for good, around 600 years ago. These may likely be the Criestians… annoying very human people to say the least. Not satisfied enough by slaying the Dragon Emperor, they also persecuted the faithful of Erinye.

It was in that time that the exodus of Erinye’s believers started. Most of them moved north, more oft than not sttoping by the very friendly monastery in Hjaelbjorn. As the monks did not have room enough for a whole population of refugees, they mostly departed from there to one of two locations: the first being the keep of Whiterock, the second being a secret refuge of the cult whose location was known only by the first Abbots of the cloister. It is no surprise to me that finding this last location should provide a very consistent piece in the whole puzzle, if I may add, and I may.

Nevertheless, a most desperate moment in the everyday life of the monks was a fateful day when their connection with the goddess was broken, and their prayers went unanswered. Astonishing indeed. They feared for the worst, thinking that some god-slaying power ultimately managed to kill the goddess. And they were not alone in this assumption, even Ildavir was prone to believing Einrye lost, as we hear from Braenn’s visions. But then they convinced themselves, ask me not why or how, that she still lived in some sort on non-availability state of being.

After that, people of Crieste expanded north, seizing Widerock and some good chunk of nowdays Morrain. Apparently there was some rebellious turmoil, since the bishop of Justitia was killed and this led to an even tougher repression against Erinye’s cult. The people of the monastery looked for help, but they made the very unpopular choice to send the most unskilled, untrained, unlucky level zero characters as envoys out there. They did not make even 20 kilometers from the cloyster, like that Maynard, poor very human sod.

But now, going back to nowdays, we finally know that Erinye is still safe and sound. Oh, not to mention FREE, after Ricardo decided to release her from her magical prison. Meh, gods are very fickle and unreliable entities anyway, one more to their ranks will not change much, as I see it.

Still, all these wises and outpuzzlings do not help us one bit in figuring out what those cultists want from us at this very moment. Come on, very human not-so-friends, we freed your goddess for you. A little gratitude seems due here, which may be shown by NOT TRYING TO KILL US !! … or the beggars. Well, the beggars were very asking for it anyways.

I think that is all for now, very human friend. Good speed to thee.

Gildorel, fine craftsman
(craftsman is not my last name, i threw away my last name you know)

P.S. Oh, if you see Drugo, tell him to wash himself before I see him again.

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Aelbuern Cloister Library Uncovered
Where all Good Books come to rest...

After slaying the ogre they explored the ruins of the cloister of Aelbuern. Stone walls still protuded from the forest that had grown over it, and so did part of a tower. Gil made sure he had a rough impression of the layout of the place.

They then went into the tower and found the ogre’s lair, full of stinking, rotten bones, half-eaten meat. The stench was overpowering. It wasn’t above John to dig through the pile of bones to find a piece of jewelry, a silver necklace set with stones, on a rather petite skeleton. The remains of the tower didn’t even allow to look past the tree line.

Gil used his skills to establish which part of the cloister had been where and began to searched what he believed to be the consecrated area, while John began where the monks’ cells must have been. His elven senses helped him locate an area where success was likely. They used their shields to dig up the soft forest floor and found a trap door. The trap door had been sealed with wax, apparently to keep moisture out.

Down there they found the library stacks. Most of it eaten by dry rot, but they found three scrolls of strange and possibly magical runes, two chronicles and two books – “The Three Sisters” and “In the Matters of the Church”. Gil gave the books to Braenn for reading. The chronicles were falling apart and the pages could not even be lifted without crumbling. With these they could reconstruct part of the history of the world.

They found also hints to a place called “the refuge,” but no name and no location.

They set out back for Aelbuern. After the dark had fallen they arrived at the riverbank. This is when the ghost appeared. Gil spoke to him and offered the brooch. The ghost asked if they would give it of their own volition. Gil said yes, but that he wanted to also ask questions. He learned from the ghost of the dead Brother Maynard that the mountain refuge had never been mentioned by name or location to the common monks and that only the abbot knew where. He himself had been the messenger the monks of Aelbuern had sent out to find help with allies, but he was killed – by the very soldiers that may have also razed the cloister – before fulfilling his duty. After answering the questions the ghost described an area of the forest near Aelbuern, under a remarkable oak tree, and asked them to bury his brooch there.

In Aelbuern they rented a room and went to sleep. Braenn browsed the books during the night. In the morning other guests were occupying the inn – a patrol of soldiers. The innkeeper Yarl was talking with their leader, and he introduced himself as Harfmarr Geismarr, the Sheriff of the King’s Highway and Mid-Morrain. He had heard a bit about the party from the travelers with the broken cart that had been beset with wolves, and then John presented the ogre’s head. The sheriff let his paymaster pay out a reward of 20 gp for the slaying of an ogre, and was also impressed with the group in general. Until they mentioned the goose.

The sheriff now offered a different task. In Leavendale people had gone missing, one clearly murdered, and there had been reports of a headless horseman! After three incidents no further were reported, and the sheriff’s men had not been able to uncover the cause within four days and then had to move on. He offered a reward of 50 gp should the group be able to solve this case. They asked time to consider this and he offered to wait an hour for their reply.

They agreed to take the task and received two letters: One presented them as the sheriff’s deputies in the matter of the missing people of Leavendale. The other ordered any of the king’s officials (like the burgomaster of Leavendale) to pay out 50 gp on conclusive proof that the murders had been resolved. ( What we know about the Leavendale murders so far.)

The sheriff’s party also serves as postal service along the King’s Highway, and they took a bundle containing a letter, the two books and the three scrolls to Alrik and Gory in Cillamar.

They then sold a wolf skin and made Rosencrantz very happy for a short while. They bought a shovel. (They also found out that the river apparently comes from “uphill.”)

After they had buried the brooch of Brother Maynard near his bones they almost felt how their luck changed…

Braenn also revealed the story of the Three Sisters. Erinye and Justitia apparently started to oppose each other and the third sister is never mentioned by name or symbol, and all writings in that regard have faded from the pages of books!

She also explainedthat the center of Erinye worship had been in a place to the south called the Dragon Empire. The cult of Erinye is described as seeing retribution as a sacred task.

Back on the King’s Highway….

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herbal drinks, loincloth and ogres

The journey of the fellowship went on after the small accident with the wolves. Ragnar and John decided to skin the wolves; meanwhile Gildorel tried to find where the pack was coming from. Although his Elven heritage should have helped him in this tasks, it was of limited use (afterall he is a blue blood).
The band arrived to the village well after dark, and reached the only Inn available in Aelbuern (no sign out – it wasn’t needed). Inside, the tavern was almost completely empty safe for two patrons. The bartender, an old man, greeted the company, ignoring some angry shouts coming from the kitchen, and asked if they were going to stay for the night – after a bit of bargaining and some misunderstanding about the best use of a gander they secured their place. They relaxed a little bit with food (cooked by Isolde, the old wife of the bartender – the complaining lady in the kitchen). Many interesting thing could be said about the night: the most interesting one was the misunderstanding about the concept of herbal drink; apparently for some people it is only something alcoholic. The result of this was a dancing Braenn. Another interesting meeting was Timotheus. The poor travelling wizard was trying to place as many miles as possible between him and troubles: he wasn’t really happy to see them walking into the inn.
The day after the company investigated about the existence of the Cloister that was mentioned by the mentor of Braenn. Nobody knew about it, but they were pointed toward an old crazy druid that lived in the forest. The fellowship decided to leave immediately. Timotheus was asked to join them, though he firmly declined, a discussion followed – the mage decided he had enough of John and charmed him, exploiting the confusion followed to escape.
The group ventured in the forest. When night fell, they decided to camp. During Braenn shift, a ghost approached her once again. At the refusal of the priest to hear what it has to say, the ghost wailed once again, deafening her. It then appeared to the other member of the company and made his request: – a golden brooch that was left behind when its former self left the cloister.

The day after they finally reached the hut of the Druid, who greeted them wearing only a loincloth. The conversation, which involved some theological dispute (apparently Torn, from the blackthorn druid worships nature as a deity persé, while braenn does it through the medium of ildavir), had the benefit to reveal them where the cloister ruins are and warned them about the existance of an Ogre dwelling there.
When they were about to leave , Breann spotted in the bushes nearby a hat. Tim was following them!
They slowly approached the cloister, with a plan in their mind: use a bait to drive the ogre in the right direction and strike him down. Tim offered himself as bait.
The fight went as planned – Ragnar, the hulking barbarian, jumped on the back of the ogre tearing open a wound, John boldly fought it on the same ground (with a little help from Braenn), Gildorel wounded the beast and finally the spell of Tim knocked him down.
The ruin lied in front of them…

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Only one way out!
Where the sun don't shine

Drugo, Nottall and Gallion started to search the Mountain Redoubt together. Night was falling, and they decided to stay and close the gate. Drugo helped himself (and eventually the others) to the stew that was still boiling in the kitchen, and raided the larder. You can never know where your next meal comes from! Ricardo found himself an axe. It’s not good for throwing, being a sharp axe for cutting wood, but in a combat it will do fine. Drugo found himself a small hide armor in a storage room. They also took stuff from the armory, where crossbows and spears were mostly found.

Then they queried the gnomes. Only Parwa was really able to report much. They had been in the prison for six days and were to be taken to another site to work as captured slaves, but she did not know where. The guards had taken in the dead body of the misshapen gnome and deposited it in a cell they also locked. It stank of rot, musky and damp, like of caves and bad mushrooms.

Then came the night, and Gallion took watch on one tower. Being blessed with night vision he saw something move over the clearing, many shapes and shades, up to two dozens of them! He informed the other. Also Nottall had seen something from the arrow slit above the main gate, standing on a raised platform to do so. They shortly talked about their findings, then went back on their posts to look, but now they were gone. Nottall heard heavy breathing on the other side of the wall. There was somebody out there, but not in sight!

Gallion heard the sound, too, and peered over the battlements. They were climbing the walls! He fired his short bow at the first few, but on second shot he fumbled his grip and lost the bow. The small hideous creatures swung over the battlements and attacked! Nottall and Drugo came to help, and a wild fight against ever more invaders began. In dire straits the elf spellburned heavily and cast a magic shield over himself and his companions, and started to press the advantage.

The evil, misshapen gnomes with their strange hook swords found that they were less effective, and managed to miss sure hits. The group brought several down, but the gnomes switched strategy, trying to grapple and tackle the smallest: Drugo. They had dragged him to the battlements and had nearly levered him over, when his halfling luck struck at the right moment: Nottall grabbed him with one hand and in the same motion swept an attacker off its elevated position, just as it tried to get an optimal pull on Drugo, having leaned fully back. Drugo scrambled free, having been badly pounded by several attackers, and went down the trap door, where Ricardo healed him up. The cleric was not crazy enough to join at these odds.

The evil lot now focussed on tackling Nottall, and at times up to four were grabbing the extremities of the noble dwarf. Shaking them off, only to be brought to his knees, and then tackled again, whereas the remainder madly hacked at Gallion to keep him at bay! In the end, luck and magic only last that long, and the elf’s exhausted shape collapsed under some stunning blows. Ricardo used a short moment of inattention to drag him through the trap door, and healed him up enough to save him from the brink of death.

Nottall was not as lucky. Fighting up to four attackers at once and being at times attacked with the strange swords, it was one huddle of grappling, spitting, slashing and clawing attackers. He lost his spear, and also his shield remained behind, but he freed himself for long enough on one occasion to dive into the trap door, shaking off three grappling gnomes. Ricardo barred that entrance right after. They fled the tower and blocked the door at the bottom with furniture. The trap door soon gave way, having never been made to shield attacks from above. But the attackers did not make it out of the tower… yet.

Drugo had, in the mean time, ventured out the front gate, relying on luck and stealth, and found most gnomes were still focussing on climbing the wall (instead of bashing his head in and using the front door to flood the fortified building). He locked the gate again and took his crossbow to another tower, managing to shot two more before having to retreat. They ended up having to block access to all towers.

The regular gnomes were doing not so well, either. Parwa was fine, but the two males began to panic and lock themselves in the toilet. They were hysterical, but Drugo managed to talk them down. The seat itself was made like this:

A part of the room extended beyond the wall. This part was set on a wooden construction to keep it stable. The hole had a lid on it, and right and left of it were iron brackets. Into these a piece of wood was inserted to hold the lid down and prevent entry.

Not caring about entry, but about exit, they opened it. The whole was small enough for gnomes and halfling, but elves and dwarves have wider shoulders (and bottoms). They used a shovel to lever out another board as silently as they could, lowered a rope, and then escaped in this order: Halfling, gnomes, dwarf, elf and cleric. Their good luck held, not the least because of the company of the halfling. The invaders were busy breaking through the barricades, and had ignored the backside. The group escaped over the clearing and into the forest without detection.

They waited for a while, but Ricardo’s god refused to bring healing to the elf. In the end, Parwa dressed his wounds as good as she could. They sent the male gnomes home, and took the courageous female as their new tracker. And track they would … Still during the night the evil gnomes had taken over the building, and left with some plunder. They even carried off the paralyzed horse! Their tracks are not hard to follow – for now.

Parwa had identified them as the Sih’hel, believed to be a tale used to scare children. Nobody had seen one in a generation, and now they showed up in such number? Fearing for the children of her tribe she sees it as her duty trying to put a stop to them.

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The Road to Aelbuern

While Milva already started to think about the possibilities of a swift succession as a Queen of Beggars, John searched the fallen Beggar King and found a key upon him. Also a blood-smeared piece of letter was found on one of the attackers. Only the word “Blackheart” was discernible.

During the fight a barbarian from far north took a grab of his new freedom, taking a spear from an attacker and giving it right back, but the other way round. This was Ragnar, and they allowed the barbarian man to join them on their quest.

Clio gave Rosencrantz to Braenn to care for. The recent events had proven to be too much for her, and she chose to seek atonement and training in a cloister, finding peace with the goddess and to learn more about the healing arts.

As the bell of the praying hour sounded, Braenn returned to the temple, and sought out Mother Elviet after the service. Elviet had felt the disturbance in balance, and informed her protege that no mere demon was at work, but forces yet unknown. She recognized the symbol of The Tipped Scales belonging to a seemingly long-lost cult, barely known anymore in the lands of Morrain. She recommended to seek out the remains of a cloister in the forests near Aelbuern.

After provisioning themselves, the group set out for travel. Following the dirt road they set camp at the roadside the first night, only to find themselves surprised by a spectral apparition in the fog. Braenn heard the figure speak, asking if they came “to hunt it down as well?” After Braenn replied “Yes” the remainder of her sentence was lost in the ear-piercing scream. And then it dispersed again. John and Gil were deaf for hours after.

The next day they found themselves at a crossroads, but the Northlander heard the sounds of battle from one side, and they went to investigate. Or rather, the barbarian charged in, followed by Gil (who thought better to join him than abandon him), followed at some distance by John and Braenn. A small pack of wolves had beset people on the road. One of it was especially big, apparently the main beast. The cart of the people had toppled over.

Attacking the beasts from a distance proved not very effective. Ragnar trapped the biggest beast in a net he had thrown at it. John slayed the wolf that had attacked Braenn, Ragnar and Gil the wolves that beset them. Then he brought down the big entangled beast in one blow, proving that a big arm with a short sword is mightier than a small arm with a long sword.

Braenn saved the life of Rikah, daughter of the traveling merchant Behren. Behren thanked John for his mighty deed and asked to reward him. John engaged him humbly, impressing him much. Gil suggested that if Rikah bore child, she might dedicate it to either John or Braenn in name as her saviors, because surely she would not have lived to see another day without John’s mighty arm and Ildavir’s holy magic.

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