Fireday, Fertility Week, Storm Season, 1625
As the cold winds of Storm Season blew through the quiet streets of Laodice, Lieren walked through town, looking pensively about for any of her former companions. Eventually she made her way up to the manor, where a servant bowed and took her to see Illiaro. The Humakti was doing what he always did, training. Lieren cleared her throat, something she noticed humans did when they needed someone’s attention.
There is a missing write-up (because I suck). The session before this, was a bit… disjointed. We only had three players, one was Egajia’s player, playing a new priestess of Orlanth that he decided to play instead of Egajia. Lieren’s player was only partially present due to some required time away from the table during the session to deal with an emergency, etc. The short version of that (to bring everyone up to speed) was that the Orlanthi (Vingan) joined the heroes, Illiaro glowered about grumbling about Arkat cultists, Irvanos went to see the Arkats to trade sorcerous knowledge, and Lieren persuaded a few families of elves from the woods near Arkat’s Hold to move to the forests she was setting up near the Troll Wash. Lieren was able to complete the transaction with the Queen of Valadon to buy the land for 500 lunars.
They all returned to Laodice, just in time for the Aldrya high holy day. About 4 weeks have passed since then. In the interim, Lieren has gone back to Valadon with the rest of the money from Milindiahna (Lieren paid 100 of it already) and finished talking with the elves near Arkat’s Hold, gaining assurances they would be in the woods by Sacred Time.
Vostor was the first to stop fighting, which earned him a solid thunk from the wooden practice sword Illiaro wielded. Wincing, the young Tarshite glared at his cousin, who finally turned to the Aldryami priestess with upraised brows. “Hello again, elf. Do you need something?”
Lieren pulled a bag of coins from her belt and rattled it. “I need to hire swords to protect me. I must survey and prepare the new forest for inhabitants. I know you and your people are well versed in these matters, perhaps you could point me in the right direction?”
Vostor grinned, knowing Lieren was baiting his cousin, but said nothing.
Picking up a cloth and wiping the swear from his face, Illiaro asked calmly, “How much are you paying for this protection?”
Shrugging, Lieren admitted, “I’m not sure what a fair rate is, I was hoping you could tell me and point me in the direction of swords I could hire.”
Finally, Illiaro cracked a bit of a smile. “My men and I are available, and we can protect you for 2 lunars a week each for the swordsmen, plus I would hire a few levies from the village at 1 lunar a week. It’s a steal really, being as we know each other. You are getting the family discount.”
Lieren tossed him the pouch. “Wonderful, my kin from the Old Wood will be arriving before Sacred Time, that gives us about three weeks to ensure the woods are safe from trolls.”
Later that day, Lieren asked Irvanos to accompany them and make a map of the area. Irvanos decided not to admit that he knew little about mapping. He hoped that he might be able to try out the new sorcery rune he had been practicing in a more practical setting.
That night, Mirava and Illiaro lay together, discussing the journey ahead. “Do be careful husband.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll make sure no harm come to any of the villagers,” he noted with a wry grin. It earned him a slap on the chest. “Ow. And I will be careful too.” He rubbed where she had slapped then pulled her closer.
In the morning the small band of heroes and their retinue headed out to the northeast, to the forest beneath the shadow of the massive Shadow Plateau, just south of the Troll Wash. Three swordsmen, a priestess of Aldrya, a philosopher, and four bowmen, they were a motley group, but their numbers just might help ensure their success.
Upon arriving, half a day later, at the outskirts of the forest, Illiaro and Lieren scouted the edge of the forest, and found a good spot for them to make camp and stash the wagon of supplies they had brought. “In the morning we should scout the entire perimeter of the woods, and make sure we know what we are up against. Lieren, are you listening?” Illiaro frowned at the Aldryami, as she watched the farmers gathering firewood.
“Oh, sorry,” she stammered, then motioned at the men. “Only deadwood… right? And…”
“Make sure nothing is living in it,” intoned several of the men together. The priestess grimaced and almost even seemed to blush, though it was to turn a darker shade of green.
“Lieren, we know.” Irvanos plopped down beside her. “We will respect your wishes within the woods, after all. This is all yours.” He waved a hand toward the forest in front of them. Lieren swallowed hard and stared at the dark woods, wondering just what she had gotten herself into.
The check of the perimeter revealed a half dry creek bed, and a trail, recently used by a large group to move into the woods from the east. They were not alone, and the east lay only the Shadow Plateau. While no one could identify the tracks or their age, they certainly were large enough to indicate it could be trolls.
From a ridge to the south of the woods, they spied a clearing in the middle of the forest. It would have to wait; their first foray would take them back to where they had fought the single troll and several trollkin a season earlier. There they noted that someone had made an offering at the small shrine to Humakt Illiaro had constructed. The troll head on a spike had been removed and buried beneath a pile of stones. Lieren stopped to ask Aldrya if any enemies were nearby.
Her eyes snapped open and she leaned into Illiaro. “To the east, one enemy. I will duck away when given the chance…”
“And we will draw it closer,” the Humakti finished. With a nod he turned, “Vostor, lets go back to camp.” The three were alone, having scouted ahead while Irvanos and the rest of the men prepared to survey a portion of the woods. Once they were out of sight, Lieren slipped into the brush and doubled back. With the aid of Aldrya’s guidance she was easily able to pick out a trollkin warrior stalking after them.
When it finally got to the point that it could see the two warriors walking away, it looked around, knowing there had been three only moments before, then turned to flee down a trail to the east. Quietly, Lieren followed the creature, hoping to see where it led her. Further and further into the woods it went, meeting up with another much muddier and less warrior like trollkin scrounging in the muck of the creek bed. They conversed then headed off to the east, the muddy trollkin snatching up a basket of something.
While they walked and talked in their guttural troll language, the one reached into the basket and pulled out a massive grub the size of its fist before plunging it into its mouth. Lieren tried not to gag. Before long they came to the large clearing, which turned out to be a pond. On the far side of the pond Lieren could see several more trollkin foraging in the muck and at least two trolls. Further beyond them she could see others moving in the woods.
The job of clearing the woods had just become much more dangerous. Lieren moved quickly back to her own camp, warning Illiaro and the others of the troll encampment. “Where there any permanent structures? How many of the trolls were there? And trollkin?” The questions came rapid fire from Illiaro as he mulled over the best tactics for what lay ahead.
“No, several, more than that.” Lieren’s hopes were beginning to fray.
“Did you see any bodies? Or body parts?” Irvanos stroked his beard and paced.
Lieren wasn’t sure why that mattered, they were trolls. “No… why?”
“Well,” began Irvanos, “the last troll we encountered in these parts was clearly an initiate of Zorak Zoran, the troll god of hate. Perhaps we will get lucky and these will be of Argan Argar.”
Vostor chimed in, clearly confused, “Sorry scribe, but what’s that matter?”
“Argan Argar,” Irvanos went into teaching mode, pacing back and forth as he talked, “is a god of darkness, but he and his cult act as intermediaries between the trolls and our people. Troll mercenaries and traders that work amongst us almost all worshippers of Argan Argar.” He glanced at the others who looked at him with a fairly blank expression. “They eat less people,” he sighed.
“Oh, well, then. You should have led with that.” Vostor seemed satisfied. “I like the non-eaty trolls.”
Illiaro gave his cousin a stern look and started to draw a map in the dirt with end of a stick. “Fine… here is the plan then. We’ll set a trap here. With archers here and here. Then we will go talk to these trolls and ask them to leave nicely. When that fails, we will fall back to this position, and lead them to their deaths.” He stabbed the stick into the dirt and stood up. “Let’s move out.”
Vostor, Lieren, Irvanos, and Illiaro walked down the trail, the rest of their men and women set to ambush the trolls if things went poorly. By the time the trail met with the northwest edge of the pond they were clearly within sight. Trollkin let out warning hoots and the entire troll camp began to mobilize.
All Illiaro could think of was how many there were. Over a dozen trollkin, several of them warriors, and nearly half a dozen dark trolls all grabbed up weaponry and prepared to meet the heroes. Illiaro’s hands were up, his sword away. Walking straight into a full camp of trolls with his sword away seemed stupid but fighting this full camp under any circumstance would be dangerous in the best circumstances. Hopefully it would not come to that.
As the trolls prepared to meet them, weapons drawn, Irvanos peered from the back of the group. “Oh good, they are followers of Argan Argar.”
As the massive troll in bronze armor stepped forward with a long bronze tipped spear Vostor muttered, “I’m not sure that is going to matter.” He swallowed and tried not to look too nervous.
The troll stopped behind a line of trollkins. Another armored troll stood beside her, shield and spear at the ready. The female armored troll finally spoke in halting Esrolian, “Greetings outsiders. What are you doing in MY forest?”
This is part one of two for the last session. Will write up the other half when I get time. In attendance were only Illiaro and Lieren’s players. Thus the focus on them and Irvanos (who Lieren’s player thought was required for the mapping of the woods).
There was a lot of really good role-playing, this session, and a good bit of action (in the next half of the write-up).
At this point in the session (where this write-up ends), both Lieren and Illiaro are down a rune point for casting Find Enemies (he didn’t find any after casting it the first night they made camp).