The day after Christmas and all were in need of a little family relief. Fortunately, in the shadow of the birthday of the Christ child, we were able to gather and share our own special sacrament. Raynard brought a crockpot full of chili and a couple of cornbread things. He had some fancy word for the cornbreads, rashers, or some such, but I don’t remember what it was. Some bit of southern speak that found no fertile ground in my northern brain. The chili and cornbread were excellent. Soon we were off.
We rejoined the scene following the caravanserai conflagration. Our heroes and the dragon cultists as well as the rest of the caravan set off again, northward, along The Trade Way. Wind, rain, and even sleet plagued the journey. Oyn Evenmor, and his teamster, Enom Tobun, along with Tan Meng and Brokk worked hard to keep Oyn’s wagon of exotic birds alive.
On the third day north from The High House (Taphor’s Inn), while crossing a rocky gully, Saul’s wagon tipped dangerously losing one of the crates of its cargo. It split open on the hard road bed, spilling silver tableware, some golden candle holders, and silver plate. Himo, Saul’s sole guard, witnessed the spill. Saul looked at Himo as if to say, “don’t you fucking say a word.” Himo, in his easy going monk-ish way, went with it and made off that it was no big deal. As Raynard mind raped Saul to see what he was thinking, Saul’s thoughts were all about whether or not or when he was going to have to kill Himo to cover the accident. He was under strict instructions from someone he feared not to reveal the contents of his cargo. Himo played it off successfully and the journey continued with Saul feeling he’d taken care of the leak.
A day later, the caravan came across a man buried up to his neck in the roadway with the word “oathbreaker” scrawled into his forehead. As Carlon Amofel was exhumed, Terredon noticed he bore a tattoo of a harp on his inner arm. Terredon began to inquire but Carlon shot him an imploring “not now” look. He claimed to have been buried here in the road way by bandits after unknowingly marrying into a family of thieves. He refused robbery and worse on The Trade Way and so, as revenge, they left him here to die. In actuality, later, he confessed that he too was following a caravan of goods being born northwards by dragon cultists and he was discovered after an incautious rendezvous at the last Inn. He seems a quiet fellow, if a bit ever-present and always listening.
A few days later, late on a cold afternoon, with an icy wind whistling through a narrow evergreen choked valley, the lead wagon was beset by three giant spiders and one of their fearsome herders – an ettercap! Most of the party rushed forward on the attack, just as three more ettercaps ambushed a wagon near the back of the caravan. The ettercaps quickly cut the team loose and began to haul the pair of horses deep into the forest. It was a furious fight with several of our heroes succumbing to the stinging ettercap poison. But, in the end, spiders were slain and the ettercaps cut down.
After bandaging and taking stock of group losses (none) our heroes were hungry for a bit more. “Perhaps they have a lair nearby?” They set off toward the deepest concentration of webs. Giant spiders of varied shapes and colors worked through the trees just out of range, shadowing the search. Far up an adjoining valley, a shadowy cavern in a web strewn clearing. Bones lay strewn about. Valeriya and Garr set off out front. Just then the surrounding forrest erupted with spiders coming from everywhere. More than a dozen of the giant creatures attacked. At the same time, the entrance to the cavern was webbed off from inside. Our heroes took refuge against the nearby cliff wall but spiders scaled down from above as well. A huge melee erupted and for a while, things looked very bleak indeed. Tan Meng was poisoned right away and repeatedly for several rounds thereafter. Others barely held on and stood their ground, just as the tide started to shift against the spiders, half a dozen ettercaps came from the cave and joined the bitter fighting. Finally, as the last of ettercaps was about to fall, a greater ettercap emerged with a nasty fanged spear – but that creature was not enough to resist the focussed fury of our heroes. Down he fell. Many of our heroes were either down, or nearly there. Covered in webs, their own blood and spider gore, they….set about searching for loot.
In addition to the spear of the ettercap lord, mixed in with piles of bones and desiccated remains of previous victims, our heroes recovered a suit of magical dwarven armor fashioned by the seafaring dwarves of Moonshae, a potion of greater healing, and a bone scroll tube containing a scroll of Leomund’s Tiny Hut.
Back at the caravan, many asked what had happened and what had been found… Here are our heroes, covered in gore and wounds, Garr sporting new magical plate armor – there wasn’t much that could be done other than to relate the heroic tale. Many eyes watched with great interest such a tale unfold.
Days further down the road and a couple days south of Daggerford the caravan selected a comfy looking camping spot for the evening only to find that it was already occupied by a pair of buxom young ladies. Arietta and Zelina Innevar. Twins no less. Great skepticism from the party. Achreny Ulyetin (purveyor of raw furs and hides) and his guard Sulesdeg the Pole, however, were quite taken with the young ladies. All stayed up way too late drinking by the fire. Finally, the girls, Achreny and Sulesdeg stumbled off to the ladies’ wagon. Terredon slipped in and found the men passed out, and the girls quietly resting.
In the morning, all woke slowly and many were regretful of the amount they drank the previous evening – especially Achreny and Sulesdeg. As the caravan headed out, Arietta and Zelina couldn’t seem to keep up. They had to stop for bathroom breaks, had to reorganize their wagon, had to re-harness the team, and so on. The rest of the caravan moved further and further ahead. Only Achreny and Sulesdeg stayed behind. Finally, a decision was made. Achreny, and his too-tall companion, grinning from ear to ear, demanded to stay behind and look after the ladies on their trip into Daggerford. “We’ll see you in town tonight,” were the last words Achreny was heard to speak.
At Daggerford, more of a walled fort with dirt streets than the storied growing frontier town on the Shining River, the caravan picked up a few more hands for the last run on up to Waterdeep. A female gnome named, Jamna Gleamsilver got picked up by the halfling merchant Losvius Longnose as a guard. Saul picked up a paying passenger named Azbara Jos, as well as Bomil Rusa, an ugly but strong-looking woman, most likely a half orc. Bomil picked up a position as a guard on Lai Angesstun’s wagon to replace Tyjit.
Exhausted, yet eager to end this long journey, the caravan departed early the next morning. All were blessed with a respite from the cold winds with a balmy sea wind coming in from the west. Late that afternoon, Lasfelro the Silent, riding beside is gargoyle companion, told the one about “how do you tell if a chick is too fat to fuck…,” and then, catching the eye of Raynard, said, “I finally figured out where I know you from.” “You were at the camp near Greenest.” Fuck. Lasfelro, a slow thinker and a man of few words appeared to have been puzzling this over for quite some time. Suddely, the log jam broke. Raynard, probing Lasfelro’s gray matter, sensed the quiet man thinking about telling Rezmir all about his recollection when they arrive in Neverwinter. Trouble.
The following morning, early, as the camp made breakfast and began to prepare for another long day on The Trade Way, Jamna halted Tan Meng from downing his oatmeal. Jamna revealed a poisoned bone splinter that someone had surreptitiously tried to kill him with. “We need to talk…tonight,” said Jamna.
Only a few days left on this epic journey of hundreds of miles. Your clothing is worn and tattered. Your boots are nearly worn through. It’s been long since you slept two nights in the same place. Neverwinter is just a few days ahead. What then? Is that the final destination of the dragon cult cargo? If it ends up in some safe house, some dark temple, what then? What are they doing with these riches? What is their plan?