Eighth Session Summary:
GAME CALENDAR/DATES — 40 days have passed (06 NOV – 16 DEC 1300); Start 16 DEC 1300
Session Introduction: Iorveth had recently sent a note to Baron Merrick Harland via a special courier arranged through Trindam Pass’ sheriff and magistrate, Peter Lawson. The sheriff told Io, now one of his trusted sergeants, that it would likely be two weeks or more until a reply (if any) would come now that winter had Trindam’s Pass in its snowy clutches. A courier’s summer travel would be four to five days, given the message riders at each way station were prepared to run dispatches. However, in the winter and with this year’s heavy early snows, the roads would be less hospitable.
Io’s message was simple, efficient, and ensured the party’s business obligations with House Harland and the young “baron-let” were fulfilled. Yet, as a sell-sword with some experience, he may have been looking for follow-on business as he wrote the following:
On another one of the pass’s snowy evenings, the Sisteenth of December and the first day marking the start of the two-week long Midwinter Festival, a militia member from Trindam’s Pass found Io and his companions once again in the common room of the Mountain Goat Tavern sharing in the festival’s opening revelry. The party was even able to coax Saleigh into being with them in public for this evening, but she had already made her excuses for the actual day of the coming Winter Solstice where she indicated that she’d be doing something on her own that night.
“Master Iorveth! I’m glad to have found you!” the guard said in a huffing pant as the snow flew from his cloak onto other now-grumbling tavern dwellers as the guard reached for a pouch. “A dispatch rider just road into town and Sheriff Lawson said to get this to you as quickly as possible and report back so he could debrief the rider.”
With that, the guard produced a message sealed in wax with the House Harland’s crest, a roaring lion’s head and decorative mane, but with a special flourish decoration over the lion’s head signifying that this was from the Baron himself. All present recognized the lion’s head because it was worn by all the baron’s personal bodyguard, but the crowning flourish very few of the masses knew meant that the message originated from the baron himself.
Mike Luit, upon recognizing the mark, motioned to all of you to follow him once again to the back room saying, “C’mon…all of you. Back here quickly before you’ll have to hunt down and skin some overly curious cat later tonight.”
And with that, everyone was led by by Mike to the back room as he told Cecilia to bring their drinks and food back there, too. Cecilia, already overly busy tonight, shot him a dirty glance and almost sent a barrage of heated words to him, but the slap on her buttocks from a town newcomers allowed her to lay into that poor gentleman instead, much to the amusement and frivolity of his table companions — and everyone else in the room.
Once the party, including Mike, was securely in the back private office of the tavern and the door was closed, Io opened the note and began to read it…
Session Summary: The decision made by all was to travel to Aspenwood, but on foot, not on horseback. Despite the time advantage mounted travel would have given the party, they all chose to not go and talk to the stable master once again and ask for more horses, especially after what happened the last time they rented horses for an expedition…
After a few days of preparations, the part set-off towards Aspenwood. The weather was, for this time of year, quite cooperative. Freezing temperatures, some snow, but nothing like the earlier blizzard that nearly killed two of the party’s members. But the journey wasn’t without event.
As the party was about one day away from reaching Alduin, a smaller town somewhat midway between Trindam’s Pass and Aspenwood, a pack of eight well-armed and well-trained gnolls attacked the group. By the looks of them, they were advanced scouts looking deep into the human-inhabited territory called Harland Barony for reasons still yet unknown. While the fight was touch and go, the party came out of the scuffle victorious but well bloodied. It appeared as if the first group of gnolls they met in the woods a few weeks ago were not they kind they would be facing if their fears were to be believed.
A quick respite in Alduin helped refresh the party and they set-out once again for the rest of their journey. The remaining few days saw nothing happen on the road — and that is to say NOTHING. No birds, no animals, no fellow travelers, no tracks, and no sounds. It seemed as if the entire world had stopped and they were the only ones left alive. It wasn’t until the party spied the rooftops of Aspenwood that fears some normalcy crept back into their senses.
After entering the lower city’s reaches, Martha told the party that things in the town, while quiet, were little changed from her four years of living on the streets here. While Martha couldn’t tell the exact way to get to the Baron’s keep in town (a place she purposefully avoided during her time spent waiting for her friend, Carion, to meet-up with him again), she did recommend going to a hole-in-the-wall pub called the Rusty Knife. While there, Martha was able to get some information from older acquaintances who had helped her in the past, but Io did as he normally did and chose not to be subtle about where he wanted to go.
No help was offered in The Rusty Knife when asked for assistance to get to the Baron’s residence, except for the typical “…it’s up on the hill…” and “…keep going and you’ll find it…” answers. Frustrated from the rudeness and extra caution (and distrust) the locals gave to strangers, the party decided to make it on their own.
About twenty minutes after leaving the bar, the party was approached by a beer-sodden drunk they noticed earlier in the pub. He said his name was “Mate” and that he’d help get the party to the gates leading to the upper quarter of the city and point-out the road that lead directly to the keep’s gatehouse — the entry way to the Baron’s audience room. Mate agreed to help the party this much in exchange for a few pieces of silver, likely enough to set himself up for a week’s drunk on something better than the swill he smelled of. Despite the risks and some of the party’s misgivings, the party as a whole accepted this proposal in order to make-up for lost time spent traveling.
Mate cheered-up, puffed-up and began to strike-up conversations with the group while he was playing tour guide through the city’s lower quarter. Martha sensed that Mate was taking them on the longer route, likely in an attempt to garner a tip at the end of the tour, but said nothing. It was as the party moved into a larger area with a number of smaller alleyways that a larger ruffian approached the party and told a confused and now cowardly Mate to “…beat it or be dead…”
The ruffian tried to extort money as a “toll” as the alleyways were blocked from all directions by two-dozen archers, club-wielding bandits, and otherwise armed thugs. Even a few window shutters displayed glints of nocked arrows pointing directly down at the party. While the price for passage was set at an outlandish and extremely unforgiving ten gold pieces for the party to continue traveling unscathed, it was a price the party could neither pay nor was willing to pay…and it appeared as if the toll-takers wanted it no other way as well.
The fight broke-out with Io and Martha striking at the apparent leaders of the group while a few of the crossbowmen on the street took some well-aimed shots at Saleigh. Early in the fight, one of the lesser bandits took the brunt of Io’s blade and went down quickly, but not so quick that the party didn’t notice that as he took his last breath, his face and skin changed from pink to a whitish grey and sallow color and his hair changed from a dirty-brown to an almost translucent clear white as he bled-out on the city street.
Somewhere in the middle of the fight, Martha, not comfortable with fighting in such tight quarters, took-off down an alley to the taunting of some unseen foe — unseen except for a glance by Io. Martha came back into the fight again to see Saleigh the obvious target of the bandits’ wrath. Micha did what he could to help-out, but given the fight in the city and his magic being suspect in these settings, he still was able to dispatch a few of the bandits while also starting a corner of one of the buildings on fire.
As the bandits had more reinforcements appear and the party was nearing the end of its stamina, a final set of boots running along the pavement echoed in the alleyways and as everyone heard a half dozen bowstrings pull back and loose as many arrows, it was to the party’s relief that feathered shafts appeared in the backs of their assailants. Two volley’s from the town’s guard was enough to send the rest of the bandits scattering along with seeing their leaders fall.
The leader of the archers introduced himself as Gunter Atur, Captain of the Baron’s personal guard. The tabard on his uniform sporting the baron’s crest was enough to make his claim official, as were the markings on his men. Gunter asked if anyone in the party was named Iorveth, to which Io answered. Gunter told the party that he came as soon as he heard that the party had made its entry into the city because he was told by Baron Merrick to be expecting a group traveling from Trindam’s Pass very soon with the same numbers and description fitting those here.
The captain quickly saw the dead lying around and his attention quickly fell upon the white-skinned, clear-haired human-ish figure fallen in the melee. He ordered that the body be quickly covered and that it be taken to the keep immediately. Martha, upon hearing this and being closest to the body at the time, grabbed a cloak and covered the body and relieved the corpse of its purse with no one seeing her slight of hand trickery.
Captain Atur and his men escorted the party to the baron’s keep and upon entering, quickly instructed some of the servants to prepare chambers and fresh clothing for the party members while he murmured something to the soldiers carrying the unique corpse hurrying them off to a darker hallway in the castle.
Gunter, right before the party reached their chamber rooms, said that he’d inform the baron that you were here and that you would be joining him for dinner later. Gunter said that he now had to go tell the stewards that there needed to be one more table set for the banquet, the one celebrating the last of the midwinter festival.
So, a mere eighteen days after receiving Baron Merrick Harland’s invitation to be guests, the party was getting cleaned-up and preparing to be guests at the Baron’s Midwinter Festival Banquet and Ball held on the 3rd of January of this new year 1301.
It looked to be a very interesting start to this coming year…
End of Session XP gained per party member: 2150