Anvil Road, 19 May 216
The 18th of May 216 found our heroes deciding on their next move, as they have a choice of three quests before them.
- First, they could investigate the disappearances and dismemberments in and around Dwardel. No-one seemed especially interested in that.
- Second, they could investigate the Archmage’s secret facility under the town hall. A couple of people wanted to look into this, but the consensus was that it isn’t going anywhere and they can always come back to it later.
- Third, they could investigate rumours of orcish spies encroaching on the Artalin estate. This has the advantage that their patron, Countess Casila, has specifically asked them to do it, and it won the vote by a tidy margin.
So, having collected rumours from travellers and barflies, and decided where they thought the orc spies were, they gathered up their numerous followers, horses, and a cart, and set off early on the 19th along the dwarven trading route towards Anvil. The day passed uneventfully, but during the second watch of the night, Vor (one of Valore’s followers) noticed a large batlike creature with a long tail circling the party’s camp before heading off to the north-east. At roughly the same time, Villen (Balthazar’s squire) noticed movement in the bushes to the south. They party woke up, tooled up, and after a brief debate set off in pursuit of the latter, elves to the fore to take advantage of their superior night vision, Boris temporarily assuming the form of an owl.
This led them to a small ruined building in the woods just off the road, wherein flickering light from a fire could be seen, and low voices in discussion could be heard. Aditi and Ssh’ta stealthily approached the nearest door with the intention of eavesdropping, but this plan was rendering obsolete by Soreth breaking down the door and discharging her breath weapon into whoever and whatever was inside.
This proved to be Decanus Matteus Fulmens of the Duke of Glitterhaegen’s Marines and the remains of his patrol, who have been following the party for several weeks pending instructions from their commander. Three marines were instantly incinerated by Soreth’s fiery breath, and seconds later two were smashed into a bloody pulp by Hayes’ ferocious charge and shield bash. Aditi slipped in behind them and tried to stab Matteus himself, while Valore dropped a brick on him from her vantage point 20 feet in the air above.
With all his men obviously dead, and a conviction that this was not going to end well for him, Matteus set off a Blast spell in the middle of the room. Only Balthazar was seriously wounded, although several others were blown through the doors. Matteus took advantage of this to flee the building, only to be caught in a Fear spell from Boris, who had flanked him moving up through the woods in owl form, which impelled him to even faster flight. Sadly for him, Hayes charged from the building and tackled him, while Boris summoned a female construct and Ssh’ta also joined in the melee. Low on mana and badly injured, Matteus still put up a good fight, but alone against a party of seventeen he stood no chance once pinned, and after battering him unconscious, Hayes slit his throat.
As far as the party knows, there are no surviving witnesses.
The party now consists of 9 player characters (including a new player, whose first session this was), five NPC followers, three horses, one dire wolf and a chamaeleon. That’s the biggest party I’ve run since 1983, when I ran a party of 12 through FGU’s Alien Base adventure using Classic Traveller rules. The session was a bit hampered by us all being rusty after three weeks’ off, and numerous technical issues.
By my count, two of the Marines survived by virtue of not being in the camp during the attack. I shall have to consider what they might have seen and what their next move might be.
I spent most of my prep time over the holidays on the Archmage’s secret facility, which seemed to be their next target when we broke up, with very little thought given to the other two options. I shan’t make that mistake again.