OK, here’s how it went down. Valeriya brought her pair of juicy hot hams to my place and we carpooled over to nerd central, gathering at the usual time and place. Raynard showed up next. We had no plates, but no matter, we tore spiral slices off those birds, dipped them into the juices and slopped them down. Soon, the rest of our merry band joined us and dove headfirst into the bottomless bowl of salt-cured pork. Well fed, we settled in to where we’d left off two weeks previously.
Our heroes secured employment with the twelve wagon caravan heading northward at first light. At least five of these wagons serve Rezmir and the dragon cult. After a few last minute preparations, (Tan Meng sought disguise and was reminded that many had already disguised themselves for the trip) the parties met at their wagons and enjoyed the predawn Rashemaar (also known as Dragon’s Breath brandy) toast to their mutual health and success.
Beyd Sechepol, traveling ale merchant, got into a minor altercation one evening with Terredon and Valeriya over Beyd’s animal husbandry skills. Beyd was generous with his ale pours, but preferred the lash when it came to dealing with his horse. Beyd and company arrived at a new standards of care understanding after some suggestions were beaten into his face. And the merry company journeyed onward.
With some guidance from the halfling teamster, Enom Tobun, the Fields of the Dead were safely traversed, save one particularly fierce encounter with a hobgoblin raiding band. Terredon was foraging off the trail and noticed a goblin warg rider ahead and streaking away from the caravan. Discussion followed. What to do? Should the group wait and make ready for hobgoblin attack? Or, should they advance en masse, or send out scouts? In the end, Himo and Terredon went forward to scout. A single wagon besieged by hobgoblins blocked the road ahead. The draft horse lay dead in its harness. The occupants sheltered beneath the wagon and barricaded themselves in with crates and boxes. The hobgoblins were busily torturing the teamster, possibly leveraging his pain and suffering to get those beneath the wagon to surrender.
Himo ran back (very fast) to get reinforcements while Terredon waited in ambush. Soon, a goblin scout was sent toward the large caravan to determine their next move – that goblin died as he ran back to warn the hobgoblins that our heroes were advancing. Seconds later, sword clashed on shield and arrows sung from bows driving deep into flesh. It was a hard fought, bitter battle. Hobgoblins are masters at close-order combat and used every move to their advantage. Brokk, raging, strode into the fray and his fury hacked down the enemy before him. So affected were they that Valeriya and Garr hew the foe as they railed against the barbarian. Soon, it was over. Blood was everywhere, the hobgoblin count was high. Valeriya and others set about posting the helmeted heads on poles along the road.
From beneath the besieged wagon came Aldor Urnpoleshurst, lawyer and society insider from Baldurs Gate. His teamster and bodyguard, Edlkin Agetul was tortured and executed at the hands of the hobgoblins.However, his daughter, XXX, and their servant girl, the ebon skinned XXXX, survived the ordeal, along with his wagon load of tapestries and dry goods. Discussion ensued. Aldor and company could not continue to Baldur’s Gate without a horse. Finally, Aldor’s wagon borrowed a horse, joined the caravan, and all journeyed northward to the next inn to safely await the next southbound opportunity.
Heavy rains conspired to slow the caravan days before and after their parting with Urnpoleshurst. Late on the first rain free morning in several days, tiny puff balls sprouted along the route. Soon, the fungi were growing everywhere, even within the roadbed and far to either side of the road. The mushrooms appeared to grow taller before their very eyes, and as they matured, they began to scream horribly when trampled beneath hoof and wheel. The screaming, and clouds of spores drove many in the caravan to emotional paralysis. Terredon and Tan Meng, along with others began to sweep clear ahead of the caravan. After a few hours of sweeping and relentless fungi-screaming, the caravan passed safely from the strange fungal phenomenon. More cold rains and biting winds followed. They spent yet another night out away from the protective walls of a caravanserai. Everyone was wet and much of their bedding was soaked and sodden.
Finally, after another day of wet, cold weather, our caravan pulled up outside a well fortified inn and courtyard. As some wagon crews prepared for shelter, many teamsters and guards headed for the fire and something warm to put in their bellies. A trio of well dressed nobles were were comfortably relaxing as our wet travelers doffed their dripping capes and hoods. The innkeeper asked what he might offer. Before our heroes could even mention the words warm or dry, one noble dressed in finery with a leg raised on a chair beside the fire and warming a snifter of brandy shook a long soft finger and shook his head toward the innkeep,”tsk, tsk…remember my good man, the inn is occupied this evening.” The Inn was completely rented. Even the empty stables.
The well dressed travelers delighted in seeing our hero’s fallen faces and the crushing disappointment of their poor sodden comrades. Begrudgingly, haltingly, everyone walked back out into the rain and began to make ready for the night. From the doorway, the gentleman with the brandy appeared and, wagging that same long finger said, “ah, no….outside the walls!”… He wouldn’t even let the caravan members camp within the walls of the caravanserai. Out into the wind and rain they went.
They set their wagons close together and many closed up for the night. But, Beyd Sechepol, beer seller and horses beater, had had enough. He decided to “go in there and set my feet by that fire one way or another.” Tyjit Skesh, the flame haired, hot tempered dwarven shield maiden and guardian to Lai Angesstun’s load of scented oils, swore a similar oath in dwarvish. The two went inside and…all remained surprisingly quiet.
Later, in the deep dark of the night, some were woken by what sounded like a scream of pain or terror from somewhere within the walled courtyard or adjoining buildings. Valeriya climbed one of the outer walls and from an adjoining shed roof peered through a stained glass window to see the headed and limbed corpse of a female dwarf slowly roasting to a golden brown before the fire. Tyjit.
Wake up! The attack is on! Himo climbed the outer wall and opened the gate. Radecere Perethun, quiet coach-woman and priestess joined our heroes along with seven and a half foot tall Sulesdeg the Pole.
Valeriya was first through the door – and she was greeted by a rain of deadly fire. Three horrible giant-frog-like beasts with strange tattoos, heavy piercings, and giant tooth filled mouthes flung fiery hell at the doorway. Valeriya burst in and confronted the one in the corner to the left. Behind came Brokk and Garr – also through the flame and into the fiery fray.
It was a brutal bitter battle. Sulesdeg fell, charred and smoking backwards down the stairs out of the room, but Radecere was there to aid him. Himo was hesitant to even enter the room. “Himo! Where are you!”…. He finally came after profane reproach. Tan Meng was in the room among the flames, healing left and right. The beasts flung fire and lashed out with their horrible claws and bit with venomed jaws. Garr and Brokk and Tan Meng stumbled now and then, but Tan Meng and Radecere kept them up. Terredon was there as a giant bear, mauling first one beast and then the next. Raynard flung his dark magic striking mortal blows to the abominations. The whole chamber filled with smoke and flame and death.
At the end, our heroes emerged scorched, scarred and satiated. The foe were vanquished.
Sadly, the innkeeper’s son, Latham, Tyjit and Beyd were lost. Members of the caravan set to work to clean and straighten where possible. The bodies of the horrible frog-beasts disolved and dissapated; Terredon felt they were abominations of a sort, perhaps a type of feared and legendary Slaad. The other fallen were buried in a quiet service at dawn. Taphor, the old man of Hill House, even in his despair is forever grateful. He is resolved to gather funds to raise his Latham. Many of our heroes donated what they had to the cause.
Slowly, amid the chill and gentle rain, the caravan gathered their wagons and pulled away. North.