Lieren, having spent almost a season in service to Mirava’s household returned, as she often did to Milindiahna’s Grove to visit with the dryad and discuss their next move in establishing a new grove for Milindiahna’s daughter. She had discussed it with Mirava on the walk back from Laodice, having witnessed portions of the seasonal holy day to Ernalda at her shrine in Laodice.
Mirava saw two options, go to the northwest, firmly into the civilized lands of the Valadon Queen Entaressa. These lands, have little danger, but are valuable to the Valadon ruler, and generate income for their owner, and taxes for the queen.
On the other hand, the lands northeast of Laodice are closer to the Shadow Plateau, and considered by most to be wilderness. While also part of Queen Entaressa’s domain, these lands are far more wild, dangerous, but also produce little in the way of taxes. Lieren also discussed with Milindiahna, the strange Ernalda worship rituals of the humans, and the slaughtering of a goat, which she found quite strange and a little unsettling.
In the end, Milindiahna left the decision up to Lieren, trusting her to find a place the Aldryami could begin to expand into. There was also discussion of taking Milindiahna’s daughter up to the Old Woods, to join an Aldryami there, but in the end, Lieren decided that Milindiahna would probably like to have her daughter closer.
Later that week, in discussing this with Mirava, Lieren was surprised how quickly Mirava took to the plan, and readily offered her husband to escort Lieren north to parlay with Queen Valadon, and even offering a gift to take to the queen to help smooth the discussions.
Critical roll on a Charm check, had Mirava offering up other PCs in aid in no time.
Upon hearing of the group assembling to go north, Irvanos quickly offered to join. He had heard of the sorcerer of the House of Black Arkat of Arkat’s Hold, and wishes to travel there to seek more sorcerous knowledge. Lieren mentioned that after Valadon, she too would be traveling north to the Old Woods to search for her kinfolk, and see if she could recruit some to help her establish the new Aldrayami enclave.
All of that assumed Queen Entaressa agreed to let the enclave establish on her lands. She also considered ignoring the queen and taking the foothold on the land with her people, how the humans had done to their lands in ages passed, but decided that would put them in further risk, and having an ally in the queen would aid them.
So it was on Godday of that week, the trio and Illiaro’s cousin Vostor set out to first scout for a good forest to use, and then proceed northward to Valadon. It was a cold trek to the northwest, especially for Illario, whose Humakt gaes prevented him from riding for another full day. Lieren had offered to postpone the trip a day, but Illiaro had his own designs of recruiting men to his banner in Valadon, so wanted to get on the way.
We didn’t look at the season and weather information for Esrolia until well after this, so I’m adding some detail here that didn’t happen in the game until later. Mainly they are traveling in late Dark Season at this point, something that likely wouldn’t have happened for such a non-emergency, but I’m still getting used to incorporating the seasons of Runequest into the game, and weather in general. Oh well. Its only a light dusting of snow.
Reaching the lands northeast of Mirava’s holdings was easy enough, and they struck out into the wilderness a ways before coming upon a large stand of forest, several kilometers wide and deep. It looked like it could be a perfect place for the Aldryami to expand into, even if it sat in the shadow of the Shadow Plateau. As they scanned the area, Irvanos noticed something moving around in the trees.
I hadn’t planned on them seeing anything from outside the forest, but a critical on a Scan check had me scramble to think of something to reward the critical with, so …
Whatever it was, it was large and quickly moved further into the forest, before the others could see it. They dismounted and tied their horses off at the edge of the woods and proceeded in. Not able to find any sign of the creature, Irvanos called upon the Truth Rune and cast Reconstruction (Rune Magic spell, pg 337 RQG). There he saw a dark troll, armored and armed. It peered out of the woods at them on the hilltop, then loped further into the trees.
The group followed the phantom image that only Irvanos could see until the spell ran out some 15 minutes later. There Illiaro called up on the Truth Rune this time, casting the rune magic spell of Find Enemy. There were no enemies within range of the spell (160 meters) so they proceeded down a hunting trail the troll had been following until Illiaro’s spell told him 9 enemies had entered its range.
The group was concerned, nine enemies could be quite an issue to deal with. And the troll apparently wished them ill will, since it was being revealed by the spell. Lieren crept forward and saw down into a small troll camp, where the one uzko (dark troll, pg 75, RQB) they had seen earlier was grabbing and pushing towards the trail eight enlo (trollkin, pg 77 RQB). Hanging from the trees, were limbs of other creatures, the trolls had obviously been hunting.
Lieren quickly moved back toward the group, and they discussed their options. Should they engage? Lieren certainly didn’t want a troll wandering around the lands she was trying to claim for her people. It was only a camp, not a village, maybe it would go away. Still, it was hunting in the area, and leaving it to slaughter others didn’t sit well with any of them. The trolls started down the trail towards the heroes, forcing them to action.
I got tired of the talk and planning, the trolls were hungry, if the party wasn’t going to them, they were going to the party. It was time to see if they were gonna be heroes, or tuck tail and run due to the superior numbers the trolls had on them.
I want to be clear, this was not a murder hobo scene. My players are not those kinds of players. They could have talked to the troll, but between seeing the body parts, and wanting to claim this land as theirs, the group decided this particular troll had to be stopped.
The group retreated back to a spot of higher ground they had seen, and prepared a bit of an ambush. When the trolls came in sight down the trail, the three warriors started firing arrows at them, hoping to whittle the numbers down before they were engaged. Almost as soon as the arrows began to fly, Vostor yelped and began hopping around, clutching at his helmet. The bowstring had somehow caught one of the strap, twisting his helm and blinding the man temporarily.
Yep, another fumble. Vision impaired for 1d6 rounds. Heh.
The troll hid behind his trollkin as they raced down the trail, and four trollkin fell before an arrow sliced open the troll’s cheek. Enraged it ran forward, only to be hit twice more. Still it stood, but its bloodlust was overcome by its survival instinct. The troll stopped and called upon the spirit magic spell Dark Wall, shrouding it and its allies momentarily from the arrows raining down the path.
Behind the wall, the creature cast Protection (pg 263, RQG) and Heal (pg 262, RQG), while its minions poured toward the wall, then they and the troll burst through and were nearly on top of the heroes.
Illiaro had spent the time casting bladesharp (pg 258, RQG), while Lieren had moved to a new location a bit back from where Illiaro would meet the trolls in combat. When they came bursting through the Darkwall, the heroes braced for the onslaught of the trolls. The dark troll charged Illiaro and slammed into him, while two of its trollkin swarmed around to the side. One trollkin chased toward Lieren, and another split off to attack Vostro. Irvanos stepped up to help protect Illiaro’s back, brandishing his quarterstaff, trying to engage one of the trollkin.
The geas of Humakt may prevent Illiaro from riding two weeks a season, but it has strengthened his arm, and whenever he attacks an enemy’s right leg, he tends to leave them laying on the ground with one less limb attached! As it was with the dark troll. It slammed its heavy mace into Illiaro’s raised shield, and his sword sliced the trolls leg off. It crumbled to the ground, blood pouring from the wound. Lieren felled the trollkin coming at her with another arrow. Vostor engaged the trollkin on him and Irvanos managed to get the attention of one of the trollkin at Illiaro’s back.
Having felled the troll, Illiaro shouted at the trollkin to flee now that there master was dead. Unfortunately, the bloodlust that the troll had worked up in them, or their own hunger, spurred them on.
Failed Intimidation roll.
The trollkin attacking Irvanos smashed the side of his knee with its mace, and the philosopher went down with a yelp. Prone he lashed out at the trollkin only to to get his staff tangled in some tree roots, the trollkin stomped on his extended arm and the philosopher passed out due to the pain.
He’s a lover, not a fighter… Got hit once by the trollkin, went prone, fumbled his next attack, went unconscious due to being at 1 hit point! 1!!! Eek. Good thing he bought some light leather armor before this trip or he would be dead.
Illiaro laid into one of the trollkin, sending another right leg in a different direction than the body it had been attached to. Vostor downed his opponent, and Lieren attempted to engage with the sword she had been gifted at the beginning of the journey by Illiaro. She didn’t manage to hur the trollkin, but Illiaro dropped it soon enough.
Illiaro’s player targeted the dark troll for the leg hit, knowing he had the blessing. The trollkin leg hit was just luck of the dice, but it was funny, and thus Illiaro is now known as the de-limber, or cleaver of limbs, or something like that. Heh.
All of the enemies dead or crawling away, Vostor went about dispatching them, while Lieren began healing Irvanos. It took many castings, but eventually Irvanos was able to put weight on the leg again, and soon enough he was walking around, having escaped death the smallest of margins.
The group mounted the troll heads as a warning to other trolls, burned the camp and the rest of the bodies, then bedded down for the night to get some rest. In the morning, snow was falling and when they reached the Trollwash, they realized they would need to follow it downstream to the bridge on the road between Valadon and Laodice. They spent that day getting to the bridge and camped again in the cold Dark Season night. The next day they arrived at Valadon, and sought an audience with Queen Entaressa. While she was pleased with the gift, she did not immediately welcome the idea of elves creating an enclave on the edge of her lands. She already had elves to the north, and the idea of them as a buffer to the trolls was not enough to convince her to give up the land, despite the fact that none of her people were using it.
At one point, Illiaro was asked about the troll they had slain, and when he bristled at the hint that he was not believed, the Queen’s advisor laid into the Lunar Tarsh about his people’s aggression in the land. Irvanos had to step in to calm things down. Eventually, the heroes retired to discuss their options, while the queen considered the offer.
Vostor talked Lieren into offering up some sort of mutual protection pact with the queen. If Lieren was able to establish the enclave, if Queen Entaressa ever had need, she could call on the elves for protection. This did more than just give her a small buffer on her southeast corner against trolls, and instead gave her a small armed force of capable archers and scouts she could call on in a time of need. The lands would be given to the elves, and while they would not owe fealty to her, and thus not pay her taxes, etc, they would be required to aid her militarily in a time of need.
They summoned the queen’s advisor and proposed the new terms, he bowed, and promised to take the terms to the queen.
Meanwhile, Illiaro went out into the city, and found a mercenary willing to hire on to his banner. The small force he envisioned building was starting to grow.
Well, one combat, lots of NPC interactions later, that is where we ended for the night. Will Queen Entaressa accept the terms? Will Lieren find elves to come to the enclave? Will more trolls be a problem? Will Irvanos find some sorcerer’s knowledge in the House of the Black Arkat? Will that knowledge make him useful in a fight? I don’t know, but I’m eager to find out in two weeks!