“To see a Keeper is not an easy thing, especially one who does not wish to be seen. We have a need for those as gifted as yourself. If you’ve grown tired of how you live, come with me and we will show you a different way.”
Synopsis : A tale in which our adventurers exact revenge upon the least of the Thornkeep Blades, embark on a short quest for the Barony, and encounter an unknown entity from the depths of the Faewoods.
Echos the 2nd, TR 1049 : During the morning meal at the hall, the group discussed the legend they needed surrounding the “Tale of the Axe”, or rather the tale they intended to tell as they gifted the masterwork greataxe they had taken from the dungeons of Caer Wyrmgrave in Mosswater to Sword Brother Eldrast for a casting of Remove Curse on “Shiv”.
Soon thereafter, they travelled to Thornkeep, noting the weather seemed colder and overcast, with a hint of new snow. Arriving at Thornkeep several hours later, they met with Brother Eldrast, and shared their intent to exchange the axe and its tale for a casting. The tale seemed to impress him suitably, and he accepted it, bringing Shiv and “Sweet” into the sanctum and performing the ritual. Shiv was no longer in fear for the burning wounds of his encounter with werewolves were going to force him to become a lycanthrope.
The group then visited the Green Forest Inn, where they stabled their horses and began discussing their next options. The first thing proposed was “dealing with” Tardin “Ironjaw” and his goons. “Ricochet” insisted he was going to remove these weak Blades from power one way or another, and laid-out a plan to humiliate them and force them into a fight. While the group was initially against the bold attack, Ricochet’s intent to confront them with or without his friend’s assistance, meant that eventually they all caved in and chose to follow him.
With the adventurers dragging their heels behind him, Ricochet boldly strode into the shop, noting Tardin himself, and four of his thugs were present. He confronted Tardin, insulting his goods and then demanding a 100 sp per ten-day bribe to not trash the place and kill him. Tardin did not take it well, demanding the group leave his shop, and when that didn’t seem like it was going to happen, told one of his goons to rouse the guards.
“Scales”, Kahli, and Shiv were blocking the door, and as one of the thugs tried to push his way past, Scales took a swing (and missed) at the man, and immediately blades were drawn, and the fight was on.
Ricochet took several blows from handaxes, but easily kept his ground, moving to directly challenge Tardin himself. Outside, Sweet and “Sprout” were on overwatch, and Sweet noticed a shadowy figure hiding around the corner of the shop, dressed in an odd cloak and dark hunter’s clothing. and immediately moved towards him, asking “Can we talk?”. He immediately turned and fled, almost disappearing into the open daylight, as though he had become invisible.
Inside the shop, _Scales cast several Magic Missiles at one of the wounded thugs, killing him. Kahli followed up with one of her Eldritch Blasts wounding another. Sprout slipped into the entrance of the shop but missed with a dart. Shiv managed to get in a savage murderous blow that slew another thug outright.
One of the remaining thugs got a critical strike on Scales, and Tardin got in a savage critical blow on Shiv, though he was able to deflect most of it with his uncanny dodge abilities.
Ricochet and Tardin started in dueling each other, and he got in a good solid series of blows. Sweet ran to the spot where the figure “shimmered” away, and found a trail of glass, round as though from a bulb or a potion bottle leading off behind the shop. Scales pulled out the Sword of Zog, and struck the closest thug, then followed-up with a magic Missile., but he refused to go down. Kahli missed. Sprout caught one thug off-guard, and slew him.
The remaining thug double-clubbed Ricochet, but Ricochet strikes Tardin, once to let him know he’s present, and then once more for good measure, to slay him. Scales responded by tossing a double Chromatic Orb on the remaining thug, utterly slaughtering him. The shop went silent, and handful of people out in the streets had long since fled from the area.
Sweet, out back, investigated the glass shards, finding them covered in something like ash. She gathered several of the larger pieces and tucked them away in a pouch for later. The group began searching the room, looking for any hidden areas, but failed to find anything beyond poorly tanned hides, though there were a lot of them. The thugs were poorly paid, but Tardin had gold and six (6) of the spidery platinum coins the adventurers had begun to associate with the underdark.
While the adventurers secured the shop from casual intrusion, gathering the corpses in a tidy row on the floor, RIcochet jogged up to the castle. He was, however, unable to gain access to Caer Dragonscorn, due to his having the Yeoman’s Blade being silvered, and the guards present not recognizing either his name or appearance. He left the guards with his name and intention to meet with Lady Ivis Blackshield. Shiv went to the Green Forest Inn, but Flitter Fernwise was still nowhere to be seen. Soon the group gathered together at the former merchant’s shop, and agreed to inquire after the so-called “Hunter’s Guild”.
They made their way quickly north of the millpond, and visited Huntmaster Jaervon “Longshanks” Mardesal at his hall, finding him and several hunters gathered to discuss techniques. Ricochet interrupted the gathering, and once the other hunters recognized him, they quickly dispersed, leaving the adventurers to talk with Longshanks alone. They informed him of the incident, and that they needed to search Tardin’s quarters on behalf of the Baroness. Longshanks agreed that the brute wouldn’t be missed, and gave directions to his cottage in the woods to the west.
Taking their leave, they travelled to Tardin’s cottage, finding it a noisome place filled with the smell of curing leather hides and other debris. After a careful investigation of the cottage, they found a trunk buried under a pile of cast-off blankets, looting several pounds of gold, silver and copper coins, and a potion bottle identified as a Potion of Invisibility. The critical piece of information, however, was a large tanned hide that had been covered with charcoal writing. Careful examination of the hide revealed it to be the scattered ramblings of what one assumed was Tardin, listing various local hunters and even Longshanks. It outlined Tardin’s plan to kill several of the better hunters and frame Longshanks, thus removing him from the local Blades as a power group, though the exact details weren’t listed. It seemed Tardin didn’t quite know how to make it happen.
Relieved they had some hard evidence of Tardin’s bad intentions, the group began to formulate a plot using the evidence as why they killed the man in the Baroness’ name. Their plan decided upon, and given Sprout’s litigant seal of approval, the group made their way back to the castle, and confronted the guards at the gate, gaining access, once Shiv displayed his own status as Yeoman. They were escorted to the Great Hall, and waited for Lady Ivis Blackshield. They also noticed the number of livestock in the commons had been dramatically reduced in the last few days.
Eventually, Lady Ivis arrived, and the group described The Incident, handing over some of the silver and gold they had confiscated, along with the charcoal plans to the Lady as proof of his bad dealings. The Lady agreed with their actions, and hinted that the merchant’s goods would be seized by the realm and would help alleviate their present hardship. The fact the realm was nearly penniless and had been forced to cull their herds to pay for fodder for the winter (as much of the realm’s fodder had gone up in flames when the manor burned). And now with the payment of mercenaries (to the tune of 10 gp per day), there were not many options available for the winter. These seized goods would help.
When asked if there was something the group might do to help, she charged them with recovering any caches of weapons or other supplies they might have encountered in their fight against bandits in the realm, as arming a militia would be crucial to any coming war. The group agreed, thinking about all the supplies and weapons they had left abandoned in Thorn River Crossing, and said they would presently see about recovering what they could.
The group made one last trip to visit Longshanks, sharing with the man a quick synopsis of their understandings of the situation in the realm, including the “Fiendish Plot of Blackmaw”, and the “Night of Claws”. He quietly listened and grew graver as their tale unfolded before him. They concluded with their explanation of the “Death of the Ironjaws”, and how he had been planned to become the means of that gang to rise to Blade status. Longshanks seemed grave, and thanked them for their efforts, before they left him and returned to Green Dagger Farm for their nightly meal.
Shiv began asking Sweet for details about the worship of The Gray Slayer, expressing an interest in converting. Sweet obliged. The group discussed making the trip to Thorn River Crossing, using the two carts they owned, and recovering as much of the supplies and arms as they could. They also figured, while they were there, they might be able to attract the attention of some local fey guardian and see about getting access to the Black Fens, where Scales had a treasure map.
That night, they also spoke with Shadowmist, asking him to be their spokesman if they needed to travel into the Marta’Tauri, as he was fey and had a little influence in the courts. Plied with an armful of withering, but tasty apples and some fine wine (from the stock they had recovered in Raider’s Roost ). He readily agreed, though their offer of a finely-appointed gold and gem-studded saddle was less than a popular choice for him to accept (The signs of horse oppression and bondage!).
3rd of Echos : The day dawned cold and again threatened light snow. After a quick morning feast, the adventurers had their huntsmen and Mourde Carter ready the carts, and convinced Mistress Firlan Brooks to spare one of their oxen to help in the journey, and they paid her a “deposit” of 50 gp for the beast. The group decided to take the “easy path” by travelling the Dagger Road south to Daggermark, and thence along the old forest path to the fire camp east. From there, they would have a difficult few miles south-east to Thorn River, but the journey would be easier on their horses and the oxen for most of the trip.
The trip south was fairly uneventful, though a distant pack of wolves shadowed them for a mile or two, before fading off into the woods again, and they reached Daggermark with ease before nightfall. They found the stables to be the best part of the Grey Moon inn, though their nightly feast of pottage with fresh bread and roast fowl washed down with imported ale and wine was welcome from their rations, and the warm barracks proved snug enough.
The local farmers and huntsmen were mostly dominated with talk about the recent batch of goblin raids. Unlike previous attacks, these were by small disparate groups of goblins, and were mostly centered around light pillage of winter stores and livestock, rather than the concerted efforts of the entire tribe from the Pit of Chains to pillage entire farms of people and property. They also talked about how the cols was fast approaching and how winter was surely about to turn very quickly to harsh winds and deep snow. A Wolf Winter was indeed due.
4th of Echos : Snow was falling fairly severely, and the winds were beginning to howl. The group readied their mounts and carts (the carts proved especially difficult, as no one in the group were more than passingly familiar with either the harness or the carts themselves). They each picked-up travel rations of two loaves of warm, fresh bread stuffed with cold roast fowl, and a crockery of beer. Eventually they crossed Echo Creek and made their way on the east trail out of Daggermark into the woods, and with the snow and ill-used trail made poor time.
By mid-day, they reached the relative safety of the fire camp, taking shelter in the old buildings and stabling the oxen and horses for a mid-day meal, and pushed on through the snows along the old trail, until they reached Thorn River Crossing well after dark. The bridge that the bandits of the Stag Lord had built was gone, as was the large “torso heap” the adventurers had left of the bandits, but it was otherwise much as they had left things. The adventurers took stock of the supplies, finding some of them spoiled, but the barrels of pickled vegetables and pork was still fairly salvageable. The arms proved still intact, though rusted and in need of repair, so the group set aside twenty (20) sets of leather armor, shields, spears and short swords for the militia. They then took shelter outside the stable barn, and turned in for the night.
5th of Echos : Early in the morning, before even the sun had arisen, Sweet happened to notice an odd light down at the crossing of the Mythwater. Intrigued, she woke Kahli, and the two drew closer, spying on what soon became an obvious figure of a woman in a white glistening robe standing in the water. They returned and woke the rest of the adventurers, who quickly made their way down to the banks of the Mythwater. RIcochet confronted her, and she identified herself as Lady Sylessi, the Lady of Silvershadow Lake, but rather ignored RIcochet turning her attentions to Sweet, referring to her as “The Herald”.
Sweet explained they were only here to gather some of the supplies left by the bandits for the realm of their own people, and Lady Sylessi was extremely uncaring about what transpired in “… the mortal realms…”. Scales suggested asking for passage to visit the Black Fens, but she called it “…a foul place…”, and demanded to understand to what purpose such a visit would be for. When they described how they thought Blackmaw the Night Hag had settled in the swamps, Lady Sylessi claimed that “… the creature you know as Blackmaw is no longer fey, she has become something more and is ever-changing. She has lost interest in the Marta’Tauri, and is no longer considered a part of the Border Court, nor the River Courts beyond.”, hinting that Blackmaw was dwelling somewhere else in the MapN’Dor.
When the adventurers proved to have some knowledge of the subject, referring to these two terms, she brightened, and they asked after the Elder Scroll, describing it as a treaty, and sharing what little knowledge they had of the object. Lady Sylessi explained that is was ore than a simple treaty, it was an artifact that clearly granted power over the lands known as the MapN’Dor. It quickly became obvious to everyone that she was very ancient, and possibly had even been around during the writing of the document, and thus held great knowledge of the matter.
She seemed introspective on the matter for a bit, and then gave the adventurers a five day window to visit the Black Fens, claiming that perhaps this would teach something of value to the adventurers on the nature of the Elder Scroll. This invitation implied they could enter at their own choosing, but that at the conclusion of those five days, they needed to be out of the Marta-Tauri, as thereafter, she would have no controls over the creatures of the realm. She also bid them to neither slay nor harm any living thing outside of the “…ruins of Caharvaniel, lest the truce be forfeit.”. With their agreement, she suddenly turned into a pillar of water and slipped away into the stream and the night.
The group returned to their cold, snowy camp, and slipped back into sleep. With the dawn, they gathered the supplies together and covering them with tarps taken from the supply cache, they made their slow, steady way through the forest until they reached Daggermark without incident late in the evening. Taking rooms in the inn and stabling their mounts, they found it a welcome respite, despite the cost.
6th of Echos : Waking early, the group readied their mounts and the oxen on the carts, and made fairly good time through a snowy, blustery morning on the Dagger Road north to Thornkeep. Passing through town, Ricochet checked-in with Iozef Eversnow, finding his Yeoman’s Knife ready, following its silvering. Despite the hour, they made their way up to Caer Dragonscorn, and gained access, eventually meeting with Castellen Shearwater, the first time the group had met the old knight. He had some guards called to help haul the tons of supplies they had recovered. He examined the goods with some questioning eyes, but accepted them and the carts were quickly emptied and the goods set aside for storage on the morrow.
While watching the off-loading, the group acted a little haughty towards the Castellan, who seemed to look down on the adventurers. As they inquired about the supplies, the Castellen disregarded their disdain of his title and seemed to hint they should be rewarded for their actions, like other merchants had been, but he dismissed their attitude and once the arms and supplies were unloaded, sent them on their way with a curt goodbye. Ricochet was not terribly impressed with his cousin. Kahli reminded that the man was a duly appointed knight of the realms, and was due some respect for the office…
Despite the time, the group made their way through the dark and snows, eventually reaching home for a quick evening meal and broke for sleep, intending to begin their expedition to the Black Fens on the morrow.
And in the night, the snows piled-up and the winds howled worse.