Session One Hundred Forty-Five - June 9, 2018

Wherein the ongoing story of the FtF campaign may be found ...

Session One Hundred Forty-Five - June 9, 2018

Postby Matt » Mon Sep 17, 2018 5:46 pm

Peonu 18, 733

The gargun stream out of the woods as the party moves into a chevron formation. The knights and men at arms ready their weapons, and Sir Reklan, keen-eyed, gives a shout “They’re behind us!”

The gargun reveal themselves on the ridge that the party was counting on to protect their back. Ewen, taking in the situation with a glance, orders the group to move to the south at a run. The horses are sent running, slapped on the ass, dashing to the south and quickly out of sight. Later they will be rounded up and maybe eaten depending on the victor of this engagement. The group quickly makes their way to the open area and reforms the previous defensive chevron. The knights, men at arms, and squires stand in the front and others in the rear. The gargun are quickly upon them. Ewen scans the front line for the fiercest gargun, sighting the naked gargun running at the front and directly at him. Ewen readies his power for a chance to, gods willing, intimidate the beasts to give his men better odds. He sways under the pressure of the power and the weight of command hitting his thoughts at once. Cekiya, steps slightly out of line as not to touch her master as he regains his footing. She glances to the side and hears Baris praying to Sarajin, his axe gripped tightly in readiness.

Ewen swings his sword at the shameless gargun as the beast brandishes his weapon but the brute moves quickly. The gargun swings the mang and Ewen blocks most of the weapon. However, the gargun manages to slice the silk surcoat of the Baron of Ternua. The beast screams “Feazurk!” and moves to strike Ewen again. Again Ewen blocks the blow, but another slash appears in his surcoat. Ewen strikes again, striking the nude gargun with a blow the slice off the left hand, but the blade merely bounces off. Again the gargun screams “Feazurk!” and slices again into Ewen’s surcoat. The Baron’s armor – which once protected his paternal kinsman – still can turn most blades.

Baris slashes out with his axe, striking the right shoulder of his foe. He is struck upon his own left shoulder in turn, but his armor protects him from injury. The gargun quickly attacks again and the blow bounces off the burly knight’s mid-section as he blocks most of the blow.

Sir Ritzar, the Thardan lads, and Sir Reklan all swing their weapons and clashing with the weapons of the gargun, the sounds of ringing metal filling the air along with the shouts and cries of the combatants.

Sergeant Denyl readies his bow, and shoots an arrow into the mass of gargun and one falls. Nothing less than he expected. He nocks another arrow.

Goreg swings his sword low and strikes the unprotected knee of his foe. The strategem works and the gargun falls, quickly trampled from behind him as another orc moves in, swinging his weapon at the squire. Goreg is blocks the blow, his arm feeling the force of it.

Cekiya, knives in hand, has moved to the woods to strike from behind. As she runs past the others in the party, she shouts as an explanation, “I am a wood nymph!” No one has the time or inclination to parse the little adder’s latest inscrutability.


Baris again moves to attack and the gargun dances out the way. If anyone had been listening they would have heard the knight command the beast to “hold still.”

Ritzar and Reklan had managed to kill their opponents but the Thardan lads are still locked in a duel with theirs. Denyl shoots another arrow and another gargun falls.

Goreg swings and shatters the shield of the gargun in front of him.

Lord Ewen attacks his opponent again, but the swing goes wide and the gargun strikes the Baron’s upper right arm. Ewen strikes quickly again and hits Feazurk’s mid-section. Unlike Ewen, the gargun has no surcoat to slice, and now entrails spill out of the wound. As the naked fiend falls to the ground, the gargun pause and give a cheer. The party is momentarily nonplussed at this outpouring of cheer for the death of one of their own. Ewen takes advantage striking out at the gargun nearest him, but the beast dodges the blow at the last moment. Ewen pivots and strikes again, shattering the shield of his new foe. The orc moves to attack Ewen but the brute is no match for the Baron. He moves deftly out of the way of the attack and in turn slices the arm of the gargun.

Baris, following Ewen’s lead, strikes out and hits the gargun in front of him in the thorax. The gargun falls. Ritzer also strikes and knocks his opponent into the dirt. Two Thardan lads continue the duel with the gargun in front of them, but the third takes a wound. Sir Reklan puts a bit of might behind his blow and and cuts his opponent in half at the waist. Denyl lets loose a third arrow and a third gargun falls to his deadly shafts.

Goreg, inspired by his liege, puts a bit too much effort into his swing and tilts slightly off balance and the gargun in front of him takes advantage. Goreg is just able to block with his shield, but the wooden boards of its construction shatter.

Cekiya, emerging from the woods, moves in low to the ground, behind the gargun. Unseen, she lashes out with her short sword and takes the left foot of her chosen prey.

Ewen, realizing how badly they are outnumbered, strikes out a blast of power, deliberately visible. The bolt of psychic energy flows from his hand and trepans a gargun near the front of the line. The beast cries out with an unintelligble word and the mass of his fellow foulspawn shrinks back. At this moment, when this might have turned the tide, the gargun that had broken off from the initial rush come out from the trees attacking the party from behind with a yell.

Ewen turns, “Close the gaps!”

Sirs Ritzar and Reklan move to meet the new wave of gargun. Baris turns and strikes at the new foe rushing from behind but is blocked. The ladies and the caravan master are all now on the front line. Every weapon is needed to stem the orc surge. They move to defend themselves from the new threat but there are too many – the party is in danger of being surrounded. Two of the Thardan lads have better luck. One kills his opponent outright and the other wounds his. Denyl lets a fourth arrow loose and another orc corpse lays with a protruding arrow.

Goreg moves to help the Thardan lad to his right but a gargun takes advantage of the movement and strikes at the squire. Goreg feels a blow land upon his hip, but it bounces off his armor. Goreg gives a silent thanks to the craftsman who made it.

Cekiya, alone on the orcish flank, strikes at another gargun, taking his head and sending it flying into the mass. Her mouth set grimly, she seeks out for more.

Ewen tries another visible strike of power but fails to bring together his focus and staggers with a bit more fatigue – the chaos of battle is hindering his concentration. As no gargun is in front of him for the moment, Ewen catches his breath, watching with approval as Baris wounds another brute. The gargun still stands and attacks Baris in turn. Yet he is no match for the knight’s sinews, who swings his axe, taking the top of the orc’s head. Pate and helmet go flying into the mass. Ewen is smiles and as the attacker comes for him, follows Baris’ lead, counter-striking and while the gargun’s blow lands on Ewen’s helmet with no effect, Ewen’s strike takes the head of the gargun and sends it into the mass following the pieces of skull from Baris’ blow. Somewhere, Sir Aeomund smiled at an unbidden thought of headhunters on the chase.

Sir Ritzar strikes and also kills a gargun. A Thardan lad is wounded in his attack. Goreg misses his swing on the new attacker but as the gargun attacks him in turn, Goreg strikes again, killing him. Cekiya dances out of the way of a gargun’s clumsy attack. The rest of the party have their attacks blocked. None of them are shouting now, simply going about the grim business of slaying.


Lord Ewen looks to the gargun on the ridge in a lull. He sees that they have made no move to join the battle but have moved closer. His eye notes that they are fully clad in armor, much better compared to the hodge podge pieces of those nearby brandishing weapons at him and those under his protection. Ewen takes one last look at and spies one carrying, to his eye from the distance, a high quality sword. Their king, he surmises. Just before returning his attention to the battle, Ewen notices that some of those on the ridge are looking to the north.

Baris moves to attack a new foe. He strikes the right thigh and the gargun falls to the ground and is trampled – the fate of those who go down in this press of orcs. The wounded Thardan lad has went down under the new attack, but suffers not to be trampled, at least so long as the line holds. Sirs Ritzar and Reklan kill more gargun, their blades running red with gore. Jorlak the caravan leader manages to wound the gargun that he was facing off with. Arva and Mellori realize they are outmatched and move out of range so as to not lose life or limb. Denyl shoots and kills a fifth gargun. Goreg has his attacked blocked, as does Cekiya. Cekiya does not like being blocked. She smiles and as the gargun moves to attack her, she leaps and twists in a manner that has the gargun attacking another of his kind. The second gargun manages to dodge out of the way. The original gargun moves to attack again, and again Cekiya coils away and the second gargun finds himself under attack from a fellow. The second gargun manages to dodge again, but looks to his attacker and then throws his sword down and quits the battlefield.

Goreg moves from his blocked attack into a counterstrike attack. He is cut on the left but manages to hit his opponent’s elbow. Ewen swings his sword and hits the shield of his attacker who moves to strike the noble. Ewen moves and with a counterstrike that ends up blocking the blow, shatters the weapon of the gargun opponent. Ewen takes advantage and his sword flashing swiftly, cuts off the right hand of the gargun.

As Ewen stands to face his next opponent, twenty mounted lancers appear as if from nowhere and charge into the rear of the gargun. They carry a white banner bearing a blue portcullis. The caravan master shouts “The Baron of Habe’s men!” A Thardan lad, standing in front to shield his wounded comrade, asks, “Are they are on our side?” Goreg, watching them cut the gargun down, replies, “I don’t care.”

The gargun scatter, the battle over. Ewen watches the king on the hill and sees that he is the last to leave the bluff. Beyond the horsemen, a company of heavily armed dwarves marches down the road. Ewen catches Goreg’s eye and motions for him and the lads who remain standing to fetch the horses. Mellori moves to tend the wounded Thardan lad.

Ewen finds the corpse of his first opponent, the naked Feazurk, seeking to remove the only adornment that the gargun wore, an amulet. Ewen finds it gone, taken by one of the faithless foulspawn.

A knight rides up to Ewen and introduces himself as Sir Yenin Paryn. He tells Ewen that his family holds a manor for the Baron of Habe and is in charge of this squadron, whose sole purpose is to patrol the Silver Way. Ewen thanks him for his timely arrival. As they speak, one of the two dwarves mounted on mules a the top of the hill rides down. The remaining dwarf, boasts a head of white hair and is richly arrayed.

Ewen sees that the dwarf riding toward him is a female – the first lady Khuzan he has ever seen. Sir Yenin introduces the dwarf as Sigam Asandril and then introduces Ewen and the others of note. She is intrigued as to why the Lord of Ternua is practically at the gates of the dwarven kindom.

Lord Ewen informs her that he has been sent by Queen Chelebin IV on an embassy to the mountain kingdom. He explains that Kaldor has a new monarch and she has sent her envoy to pay her respects to the King of Azadmere.

“Then it is well we saved your lives,” Sigam replies with a chuckle. “His Majesty knows nothing about the new monarch of Kaldor. We merely received word of unknown travelers of noble bearing. We thought it would be unfortunate if King Margum made a feast of you. Allow me to escort you to my kinsman, Lord Esatol Asandril. He awaits upon the hill.”

Upon the hill, Sigam bows and her kinsman bows back. She introduces Ewen and Ewen greets Lord Esatol in Khuzan with the perfect poise of a poet and without fumbling the pronunciation. Lord Esatol regards the human peer, gives a slight bow of the head, and responds in the same language. “I am Lord Esatol Asandril, Steward of Zerhun, kinsman to the King of Azadmere. I welcome you in his name to Azadmere. It is gratifying to see so many dead gargun. No credential better could you present.”

Ewen responds in just as a flowery manner about the welcome arrival of Sir Yenin and Lord Esatol. Esatol nods, “We will remain and give the light horse time to gather the gargun and light the pieces of shit on fire.” Ewen stifles a chuckle at the brief departure from the formal court language and watches as the gargun are stacked. He notices that his retinue have recovered the horses and have moved as not to be downwind from the growing pile. Soon the orcs are lit on fire and the party with the squadron begin the trek to Zerhun. Jorlak mentions to Baris as they ride that the only reason is to prevent the rotting of the bodies. As those gargun fell in battle, the other kyani consider them weak and not worthy of eating. Jorlak goes on to say that attacks are common along Bungalek, the area where they were, but attacks along this current path are uncommon.


Peonu 19-20, 733

The party moves up the Silver Way for two days along the Guthe river. They eventually go to the right and are greeted by a spectacular view. There is a ten foot wide bridge about one hundred feet above the river. The path is two leagues long. One of the light horse tells Goreg that folklore has it that over fifty dwarves worked over a hundred years to carve it. They eventually cross a stream and travel up a ridge called the long stair. They camp there one night. As they travel up, the party notices that the stairs are stone with wheel ruts, set exactly five feet apart. The center of the steps are worn from the tread of many mules pulling the wagons. In the morning they cross over the Axxon River. This portion of the silver way is better maintained. They pass the occasional ruins of villiages. The Barony of Axxon, they are told, was destroyed by gargun raids. After the second crossing of a river, the party learns that it is now a straight path to Zerhun and they should arrive in an hour or two.

Upon arrival, the party is sees the great gate of the keep. They are permitted in and through to the other side. Ewen and his retinue are led to the right and are installed in a large clan house. There is one private bedroom, a bedroom with four beds, and a barracks. Lord Esatol tells Ewen to make himself at home, food and drink will be brought to help refresh them from the journey. The party takes advantage of the house to rest, bathe, and to fully clean the grime of the battle and road. Baris, feeling the long road most harshly, takes a keg for his own personal use. As the ale is dwarven in recipe and origin, the new composition has the knight belching for some time as he accustoms to the strong new drink.


Peonu 21, 733

Just after breakfast as the dishes were being cleared from the table, there is a knock on the door. The door enters and Sigam enters the room. She enquires about the party’s rest and if there is anything that they might require. Once the assurances of restful nights’ sleep and nothing to be added have been sounded, she then turns to Ewen to impart the message that Lord Esatol would request the honor of the Baron’s presence at noon in the great hall. Ewen indicates that he would be honored to meet with the esteemed gentledwarf.

As noon nears Ewen enters the great hall with Baris at his heels. In the hall the two knights see it is split into two levels with the dais at one end. As Ewen approaches he sees that Lord Esatol is flanked by a number of the same men-at-arms that were on the road. Ewen assumes that they are part of the Esatol’s private guard. As Ewen reaches the base of the dais, Lord Esatol gives Ewen a bow to which Ewen recipocates. Ewen had learned during his language instruction that the dwarves bow to each other according to rank, with the perceived lower rank bowing first.

“A messenger will be dispatched to the city of Azadmere to see if you are permitted to enter. Until then I would gladly see you rest and remain as a guest here in Zerhun. If you are given leave to enter the city, you will have to leave most of your men-at-arms behind. I give my word that you will be in no further danger on the road and the men you must leave behind will be well treated.” Esatol says.

“Thank you. I have no doubt that the men will not be needed should I move forward.” Ewen replies.

“One more thing. The men might be bored as they wait for your return. They and mine have at least one thing in common, the desire to kill gargun. We organize hunts and if those left behind wish to join, they will be most welcome.”

Ewen thanks Esatol for the offer and will pass on the invitation to his men that he plans to leave at Zerhun.

As Ewen returns from his meeting with Esatol, he finds Jorlak preparing to depart.

“It has been interesting, Lord Ewen. I have fullfilled my end of the bargain: delivered you safely to the gates – practically to the gates – of Azadmere. I am staying here, hopefully to organize a highly profitable caravan – the first of the year. I wish you luck.”


As the days pass waiting for word, the party explores the surrounding town. They find it is entirely populated by humans, with the dwarves populating the unusual keep. Goreg takes advantage of the lull to find a replacement for a boot that was damaged during the trip. Baris, knowing first hand the dangers of wandering off alone, accompanies him. First they try the mercantyler near the docks, but have no luck. The squire and the knight wander into an inn called the Lock and Lantern. Goreg reads the menu written on the wall above the taps and orders a drink called ‘gargun blood.’ The barmaid sets down a dark hoppy porter in front of him and the squires sets his mind to enjoying his ale in a proper manner and to forget about the destroyed boot. The man sitting across from Goreg introduces himself as Darmyn. Through a bit of conversation, it comes out that the man is the head of the Pythaens - the family that runs a goodly number of businesses in the town.

“You don’t look like caravaners. It’s a bit early in the season for you.” Darmyn says.

“We are in the retinue of the Baron of Ternua,” Goreg replies before Baris has a chance to interrupt and introduce himself in the first person. Goreg continues, “We are not part of a caravan. Our liege lord has been tasked by the new Queen to lead an embassy to his majesty in Azadmere.”

“A queen? A bonny lass?”

“A queen.” Goreg looks at the man sternly. “I do not know if it would be proper to call her bonny. She wants to open communications along the Silver Way to ensure the troubles of last season do not occur again.”

“What troubles? Was there a rebellion?” Darmyn asks, picking at his teeth with a small piece of wood.

“No, vikings!” Baris interjects before launching into a only slightly embellished story of the invasion and the demise of the Lady of Paladins contingent and those in the Silver Caravan.

The story is appreciated by a number of the men at the surrounding seats and Baris moves down and is soon telling more tales of battle in Kaldor and Golotha.

Darmyn says nothing, looking a bit amused at the storyteller. He notices the boot that Goreg had been trying to repair or replace.

“What happened to your boot? It’s gonna let in the rain.”

“It was struck in battle by a rather sinister gargun. I have been in search of a chandler but I am finding nothing in a size comparable.”

Darmyn takes the boot from Goreg and turns to hold it slightly behind him, “Nephew! Come down here! Find a boot in that size.” A boy only slightly younger than Goreg comes from behind the bar and takes the boot before disappearing into the back.

“I am indebted to you sir.”

“It’s the least I could do. You killed gargun,” Darmyn says. “But if you insist, you can carry a message for me. Stop by tomorrow. I will have it and a boot for you.”


Peonu 24, 733

After breakfast, Goreg returns to the Lock and Lantern and picks up his new boot and a sealed packet with instructions to deliver it the House of Clan Garibeth in the City of Azadmere.

Word comes that permission has been granted for the Baron of Ternua and select few to enter into the Kingdom and City of Azadmere.

Lord Esatol summons the group and informs them that it has been decided that he is to accompany them. The will leave in the morning and will be proceeding north and will indulge upon the hospitality of the Baron of Habe for the evening and then will continue onward.


Peonu 25, 732

The party and Mellori depart with Lord Esatol and his escort around the southern end of the lake along the eastern bank. The move through the tunnels elicit a few quiet gasps as the engineering is truly amazing. The road moves off to the right where the party can see a watch tower. There is no traffic on the road and they make good time, moving through the manor Llam near mid-afternoon and through three more villages. Goreg notices that the manors and villages don’t look as prosperous as those in Kaldor. Ewen thinks on this a moment and asks his hosts if he would and could explain the division of the crops received from Kaldor each year.

“The Barony of Habe produces enough food to feed itself, but not the entire kingdom. We need to drive the gargun out and perhaps Axxon could be restored and reduce the dependancy on the imported grain.”

The group arrives at Habe in the late afternoon, traveling through the village to the keep. Ewen notices that the placement of the keep is in such a position that its sole purpose is to defend Azadmere.

The Baron is waiting with some of his men. He greets Lord Esatol, bowing first. Esatol introduces those of rank to the Baron.

“Welcome to Habe.” the Baron says to Ewen.

“Thank you, and another thank you for the light horsemen you send in defense of the kingdom. I personally benefited from their dedication to their duty.”

“I can’t wait to hear all about it and your mission to the kingdome. Come in and relax.” Lord Habe motions them in.

A feast is held with venison, ale and warm fires in the hall. The party is happy to dry off from the mist of the road and warm the bones that continue to feel the damp year-round.

As the feast begins, Ewen recounts the battle he and the others had against the gargun and the timely rescue of the Baron of Habe’s men with Lord Esatol.

“Most of my duty to the King is in the procurment of the surplus of food, but there are some military dues as well – in addition, there is another squadron of light foot that is used for scouting purposes,” the Baron pauses.

“If I may be so bold to ask you for a gift. Your surcoat, the one that was sliced. I would hang it here in the hall and add your tale to tales of Habe.”

“It is yours.” Ewen replies without hesitation. “I hope the story heard and you and your men honored. Tell me, do you find the number of gargun have changed much from year to year.”

“No. They have many in a litter, but they kill each other as freqently as they whelp. If they were to organize they would overrun us, but they can’t so they don’t.”

The conversation winds from battle to skirmish. Ewen asks the Baron for a recommendation for an armorer to replace his squire’s shield that was shattered in battle.

“In my opinion, the best weaponcrafter - for weapons is clan Mazrabul. For armor, Klan Klarazhal. You could hardly go wrong with either of them.”

“Thank you.” Ewen says, “Tell me Lord Esatol, do you concur?”

“The Baron of Habe is strong in his opinons.” Esatol replies.

Dinner winds down and the party retreats to their assigned quarters for the evening.

Late in the evening there is a knock on Ewen’s door. Ewen opens it to find the Baron of Habe on the other side.

“I often find a turn around the battlements a cure for insomnia.”

“Yes, a turn would be welcome,” Ewen replies grabbing his cloak from the chair where he tossed it.

Once upon the battlements, the Lord Habe speaks, “There are things best said with known compatriots. The dwarves are wonderful overlords; they leave me mostly alone. However, opportunity to talk man to man without one of them listening is rare. I do not wish to see more trouble on the caravan.”

“That is exactly it. The safety of the caravan is paramount. Having a new monarch is a convenient pretense. I gather you are aware of the marauders from the north and the effect on Kaldor at the end of the caravan.”

“I heard rumors. Only the Silver caravan was taken. That is how we pay for food. I offer assistance, not betraying my king or kingdom, but your mission should help both. I offer assistance. I shall find excuses to be in the city within a week.”

“I will take you up on the offer. I have come to understand that the King and kingdom are slow to change and rather stoic in nature.”

“Essentially. It their greatest weakeness and their greatest strength.”

“I shall speak in a simple fashion. If we run the caravan the same way as it has been ran along the route that it always runs, the marauders will strike again. A slight change of the route is to be indicated.”

“You will need a repeat of the debacle that struck this year for any change to be heard. But you are right that it is prudent to change. You have given me something to ponder. In the meantime, a good night’s sleep is needed. You will find the city a very interesting place.”

With that, the two peers withdrew into the keep, and their own thoughts.
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Matt
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