Definitely one of the more unexpected successes I've had in the role of the Barbarian Prince...
I slip out of the merchant caravan near the ruins of Jakor's Keep and cross the river without difficulty, making fast progress across the open countryside beyond.
As I enter the forest to the south, I'm surprised by three bandits but manage to escape deeper into the woods with only a minor wound.
I make my way through the woods toward a steep range of hills visible to the southeast. The dense undergrowth hinders my progress, but through a gap in the trees I spot the signs of a halfling village concealed amidst the hills.
Emerging from the forest at last, I make my way up a narrow trail winding into the hills, hoping to reach the halfling village before nightfall. Rounding a bend in the trail, I encounter two armored warrior monks descending along the same path. My friendly salutation is brushed aside with a brusque demand that I contribute the sum of 10 gold coins to their "holy order". I attempt to explain that my purse is empty, but the words have barely left my mouth when the two draw their swords and attack me! I put up a brief resistance, but in the end barely manage to escape with my life, losing my pursuers as I scramble higher into the mountains.
An old man accompanied by a man-at-arms approaches on horseback as I rest along a mountain trail binding my wounds. When he reveals himself to be an itinerant wizard in search of adventure, I take the risk of telling the men of my quest and am gratified to accept their offer to join my cause. I am sure my two new comrades will prove invaluable in the days ahead.
Over dinner, the wizard shares with me a tale he's heard of a valuable treasure hidden in a swamp several days' ride to the northeast, not far from the village of Weshor. Whether there is any truth in the story, he cannot say, but I agree that it seems worth investigating.
As my companions’ mounts are unable to forage in the mountains, we break camp at dawn and attempt to descend into the fertile countryside below. Unfortunately, our attempts are repeatedly frustrated and in the end we are forced to spend another night upon the mountain.
The next morning, we finally succeed in negotiating our descent, my companions leading their starving mounts behind them. As we pause below to allow the horses to graze, however, we are accosted by two mounted constables, presumably from nearby Cumry. So antagonistic is their demeanor that I decide to attack immediately while we still enjoy the element of surprise rather than risk allowing them the first blow. We dispatch them both quickly and, while the bodies are searched and hidden from view, I capture one of their horses to provide myself with a mount.
Day 8 - 12
For five days, we remain encamped near Cumry while I recover from my wounds and hunt to stockpile provisions. On the fifth day, I spot a nearby farm while hunting, but decide not to approach.
Day 13 - 18
Having recovered my strength, I attempt to lead my companions into the hills to the north where I spotted the halfling village. Halflings are a notoriously inquisitive people, and if anyone might have heard a useful rumor this would seem a likely place to ask. Unfortunately, the rough terrain makes for slow going and it proves nearly impossible to find trails our mounts can easily manage. In the end, it is not until the sixth day that we finally succeed in locating the well-concealed village of halfling dwellings burrowed into the hillside.
I take inventory of the few coins recovered from the defeated constables. There is an awkward moment when, driven by our limited funds and the need to stable the horses lest they be stolen, I am compelled to ask the wizard's henchman to attend to his own lodgings for the night -- a most embarrassing exigency for any leader, but the man assents without any apparent ill-feeling.
We spend the day gathering information amongst the halflings. These friendly folk are most eager to talk to outsiders (whom they rarely see here) and ply us generously with food and drink, but I’m afraid they learn more from us than we do from them. Worse, I am chagrined to discover that my purse has at some point been picked of 2 coins, leaving me with insufficient funds to pay our lodging for the night. The last of my coins perforce goes to stable the horses, leaving me and my companions to spend the night shivering on a hillside on the outskirts of town. Fortunately, my new friends are made of stalwart stuff and their loyalty seems undiminished.
Penniless and in poor spirits, we make our way through the hills toward the northeast, heading for the swamps near Weshor and the rumored treasure which may lay therein. We make fast progress through much of the day, but are brought up short by a river running along the foothills to the southeast which offers no easy opportunity to cross.
Day 21 – 22
We make our way along the Nessett for two days before finally locating a suitable spot to ford the river, only to find ourselves stuck on the far bank with no apparent way of climbing up to the plains above the riverside cliffs which loom over our heads.
As we make camp for the night, a wild-haired ancient approaches our fire, followed closely by a well-armed henchman. This visitor is quickly discovered to be yet another wandering wizard, but one far less friendly than the one who now accompanies me. There appears to be some unspoken enmity between the newcomer and my own wizard, but a few well-chosen words on my part seems to defuse the situation and the two strangers continue on their way without incident.
In the morning, we manage to locate a narrow path winding its way up from the river to the top of the cliffs and continue our journey, moving quickly across the open countryside. Late in the day, however, we encounter a natural barrier of steep hills in our path, slowing our progress significantly.
Day 24 - 25
We crest the narrow band of hills and descend into the open lands stretching out beyond. According to the wizard, the treasure he spoke of is said to lie somewhere in the swamp directly across the river to our north. Unfortunately, heavy rains in the area have left the terrain in sorry condition and we are forced to make our way very carefully to avoid injury to the horses.
Day 26 - 30
We locate a ford across the Nessett with little delay, but find the swampland on the other side to be slow going. Our mounts do not take well to the marshy ground, and with the difficulty in finding solid footing it takes us a full five days to make any distance into the swamp.
Guided by the wizard, we begin to search for the rumored treasure said to reside hereabouts. Investigating a low mound overgrown with poisonous plants, we find ourselves attacked by the wraiths of two long-dead warriors! To my surprise, the wizard hastens to take up his shield, an item which he has never before equipped to my knowledge. The mystery is resolved when the shield begins to shine with the light of the sun, bathing the wraiths in its radiance and by all appearances weakening them -- why, this can be nothing other than the legendary Shield of Light which my companion has been concealing from me all this time!
The battle is long, but the wizard shortens it by twice blasting the creatures with magical fireballs. Having dispatched the undead creatures which haunted it, we investigate the mound further, discovering 55 gold coins amongst the evidence of an ancient battle on the site. Sadly, after continued exploration in search of the treasure spoken of in the wizard's story, we are forced to conclude that the rumors must have been alluding to the ancient battle site we've already explored, as there is manifestly nothing else here to be found. Hiding my disappointment, I decide that we will search the nearby ruins of Jakor's Keep, a few days' ride to the west, before returning south.
At daybreak, we head west along the river, passing through a small copse of woods and up into the hills beyond.
We surprise a herd of wild horses drinking at the river as we seek a ford across the Tragoth. We capture three of them to serve as pack animals or reserve mounts and, with a simple incantation, the wizard uses his magic to train the animals for riding, saving us many hours of effort.
As we make our way along the river, swift-running and treacherous here as it winds through the hills, we encounter a group of able raftsmen who offer to transport us across to the far bank. I instead hire them to carry us downriver tomorrow as far as Jakor’s Keep.
At dawn, the men help us load our horses onto the rafts before launching their craft into the churning white waters of the Tragoth. As we navigate the savage currents, I briefly fear we will lose some of the animals overboard, but these men are masters of their craft and evening sees us making camp safely at the foot of the mountain where lays our destination.
The next morning, we take leave of the raftsmen and began our climb to the ruins. Reaching them by mid-day, we begin to search for anything of interest. Our efforts are interrupted, however, by the arrival of a half-dozen mercenaries on horseback in search of an unnamed fugitive -- even after all these weeks, it seems, the usurpers have not yet abandoned the search for me. Fortunately, these low-bred thugs are slow-witted and never suspect that their quarry stands before them. After questioning us briefly regarding anyone we might have seen in the area, they continue on their way none the wiser.
We return to our search, but fail to find anything before daylight fails, so we make camp amongst the ruins.
We resume our search at daybreak. After several hours of effort with nothing to show for it, a shout from the wizard brings us to his side at a run. He has discovered beneath the shattered rubble of a collapsed wall the remains of an ancient treasure room, wherein we discover a rotting chest containing no less than 500 gold coins! With this money, I will have no difficulty in raising a force to support me in reclaiming my throne and bringing justice back to my kingdom. We waste no time in loading the treasure onto our horses and depart the area in haste lest yesterday’s mercenary patrol return.
As we descend the mountain and turn our horses north, I reflect to my companions on the strange irony that my path should have brought me back here to the very spot where I began my quest five long weeks ago. Had I but known, I need never have crossed the Tragoth at all! The whims of Fate are strange indeed…
- Last edited Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:06 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Tue Aug 11, 2009 4:44 am
"Nobody gets me. I'm the wind, baby!" - Tom Servo
"Push the button, Frank!"
Great session report Christian! I've got the game but not played it yet. I've heard its very difficult to win so congratulations!
Good job! The dice can be cruel in this game, and overcoming the twists of fate that they offer is difficult indeed. Well done, and a good report.