Perfectly Legitimate Adventuring Party

Pretty fly for a dead guy

Feeling fairly battered and bruised from the encounter with fungus-zombies, and in desperate need of recharging our spell-batteries, we settled down for a night’s rest, not far from the really-I’m-sure-it’s-properly-dead-this-time tree.

“Rest”.

We were interrupted in the middle of the night by some very aggressive tendrils. An assassin vine made a grab for Es and dragged her into the hedge, Al slept through quite a lot, Maul was grappled then embiggened (after Al finally woke up), Mel was entangled and stood there trying unsuccessfully to move… but eventually, we dispatched the vine. And then got the remainder of a very twitchy and paranoid night’s rest.

As dawn broke, thin and misty, we made our way the rest of the way through the maze, whereupon we found ourselves a farmhouse, surrounded by some fields and crops. Beside the farmhouse was a barn. Nearby, we spied some holes in the ground, where it appeared trees had been uprooted, and wagon tracks near the holes leading away across the fields (in the general direction of the village… now we see a way to the farmhouse that didn’t involve the hedge maze). We also saw some dead bodies in the field. To prove that we really do learn from experience, Al set to work liquifying the bodies (“splish, splash, I was taking an acid bath…”). We’re not getting zombied from behind again by being “respectful” to the “dead”.

As we headed towards the barn to check it out, we saw a cart out front of the barn with an ox harnessed: it looked like someone had been loading the cart. And then that someone came out of the barn, saw us, and ran back into the barn. This fell neatly into our unprofessional assessment of “suspicious behaviour”. As did the spellcasting noises which then began emanating from inside.

What followed was a somewhat jumbled and unusually three-dimensional fight in and around the barn: our assailant was a gnome hovering 50 feet in the air, firing a heavy crossbow at us, who then locked some of us inside the barn and set the roof on fire. This was followed by a ground-to-air firefight outside the back of the barn (those of us inside had got out by now, and those outside had got around). Several more rounds passed: she sending acid arrows, a sleep spell, some magic missiles, and crossbow bolts as us, while we sent spear, crossbow bolts, and acidic rays at her. A few more shots from us, and a few more… until finally Cog realised that she hadn’t done anything for a while. We paused, and just looked. There she was, still hovering. Turning gently in the air. Dead, but stuck in the air with a “fly” spell.

Oops!

We weren’t about to leave her up there (again, less about respect for the dead, more about the looting). So we snagged her with a grappling hook, and managed to drag her half-way down before the fly spell wore off, at which point she fell on top of Cogs.

The barn was well on fire by this point. Deciding it was neither worth trying to put it out nor to sift through the ashes afterwards, we searched the house. We didn’t find anything of much interest at first. A few valuables. Some coins. And a major plot point journal!

So, that’s what was going on. It seems Lady F had already left town, but the trail should still be fairly warm, and we have a notion that we will learn more about her – and whatever has been going on in Bleakfield – if we can pursue our investigations back in Northport.

We returned to town, and to the inn, to tell everyone what we had found. We also gave them the news that that Lady F appeared to have moved on. Naturally, this was greeted with dismay – there is little doubt that time has run out for Bleakfield’s bounty.

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Totes Amazing
Everything is so F&#(ing GREEN!

That night, we started our trek up to the estate house. Did I mention that the whole bloody thing was surrounded by a hedge maze? No? Let me tell you about it…

We left Wallace back at the Prancing Pig because it wasn’t really his scene. That, and he’d had quite a few windfall apples and was sleeping the sleep of the completely stuffed full. Es agreed to join us, so we readied ourselves with the usual weapons, quiet footwear and such.

We snuck up to the edge of the maze, then Mel hopped up on Maul‘s shoulders to survey the maze and try and work out a way through. Which was all well and good, until us shortarses found ourselves beset by a tentacle – and a fungal one at that! I fired the slingshot (so I didn’t have to get too close, and besides, I had a feeling they were more vulnerable to being hit with a blunt object than to a pointy one). It didn’t make much difference – I really need to practise more. Al cast her usual armour spell, but the bloody tentacles got through it and hit her, leaving her looking a little violet around the gills. We all flailed rather ineffectually, except for Es who showed her value by blasting the beastie with a jet of fire. Mel then got her act together, and applied Roderick with aplomb, splitting the Magic Mushroom into pieces of toasty fungus. Al was in a bad way, though, and I’m not sure if Es didn’t get a face full of spores or something because she wasn’t really very with it from then on. Suddenly rather less animated than she had been before.

We traipsed a bit further into the maze, and came across some poor soul’s remains, with rotting clothing and no obvious cause of death, and currently all grown through with grass. In fact, after a quite short distance, there were bodies in the hedge, in the grass – I felt like I was in the hedge around Sleeping Beauty’s castle or something. Then, ahead, a tall dead tree stood in a small clearing, with green shelf fungus coming out of it. Death_tree.jpg The whole thing stunk – and I don’t just mean the whiff of decomposition and mould coming from the area.

Then there was a “Whuff”.

We all held our breath, and moved back, out of range of the spores that started flying out. Something struck out at us – I fired the trusty crossbow, and I know I’ve never fired better, but the rising dead thing just took it like a normal bolt. And then suddenly we were in it, totally. Not only was the dead thing after us, but so was the fungus on the tree, AND EVERY BLOODY DEAD BODY WE’D PASSED!

Shit.

Es used the fire on the tree, and didn’t that flaming look good! Mel and Roderick smote the armoured thing and we cheered as it split asunder, but the other plant zombies whacked and hit and it was NOT good. Luckily, once the big guy was down, a lot of them lost their inclination towards live flesh, and a great number turned on each other and saved us a lot of trouble. Maul struck the tree-fungus a great blow, and reduced it to spores (and I have to tell you, holding breath during a fight is damned difficult). I was firing with accuracy and attitude, but against these things, it made not a great deal of difference. Es has a great club (or should I say an awesome club), which did great damage. There were a few close calls in the heat of the battle – sometimes you just have to fire and hope that if you miss the bad guy, you don’t hit the good girl. Al’s acid was applied diligently, and Maul – I don’t understand that girl. I could swear she took at least one huge blow that would have dropped a normal fighter. Must be something in her orcish blood. Es, Mel and Maul seemed to do a lot of waving their weapons in the air – must be some sort of ritual in these cases. For a bit there, I think the spores had us all confounded, waving our weapons like a bunch of clients in the local cathouse. Then, in a concerted effort, Es, Mel and Maud hit out together, and the last few creatures exploded in a cloud of bones and bark.

From the body under the tree, and from the odd bits of creature around us, we scavenged up a plate armour set (in pieces, and in dire need of cleaning and resetting), and some minor, damaged pieces of jewellery. I feel that the experience has been beneficial as well, but now is not the time to dwell on that. Onwards!

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Go West and the joys of Bleakfield
The birds have flown and the donkey's name is WALLACE!

We found ourselves once more at the Inn at the Crossroads, but we weren’t as welcome as last time, due to the Inn being full. Seems that a local knight by the name of Sir Agatha the Kind was resting there with her entourage. Well, it didn’t take Chireep half a second to start with her Oh but Arabella is so brave, Mayor’s daughter did she save song. As it turned out, Sir Agatha was looking for a squire and was actually on the lookout for Arabella, the songs having spread as far as we’d hoped (and payed) for them to. So Arabella now has a sponsor, and Her Ladyship is happy to take on Chireep as well! We wished them well, and then went to sleep in the barn with Wallace, who was glad of the company. Of course, I made sure I had the cleanest straw to sleep on.

We headed on to Kym’s Harbour, and managed to get a decent night’s sleep for once. Restocked the goodies, got the treasure valued, and Wallace had a nice grooming and his hooves polished. Best of all, it turned out that the shiny mail shirt that fits me perfectly is a mithril shirt! And the cloak is a Cloak of Elvenkind, made for a halfling and even with its authentication stamp on the maker’s tag, so I scored bigtime! Alas, this now means I owe the rest of the group a fortune, but we’ll worry about that at the next divvy-up of the funds.

Anyway, because we’re a pack of gullible idiots we support each other in our endeavours, we cast around for word of Argenias Lat for Al’s sake. Word soon filtered through that he (or at least his goons) had been last seen heading west, towards Bleakfield. Irori only knows who the hell is in charge of naming places on this forsaken piece of crap … So it’s off to the west for Fun and Adventure! Yay! Thank goodness we don’t have Chireep with us to sing about it on the way. I don’t think I would have coped.

So we headed west, and after a couple of days, made it to Bleakfield. Pretty little village, with a decent pub (The Prancing Pig). We ran into another visitor there, a lass by the name of Esmeralda, who is looking into the changes in the farming practises of the locals. Es is rather fond of dryads, and is rather distressed that a great number of them have had their trees cut down around Bleakfield. Also, the name used to be accurate – rocky soil, poor drainage, fine for trees but not so good for crops. Now, it’s a green paradise. Fruit plantations everywhere, glorious green grass (which Wallace adores) (and doesn’t drop dead from), and it’s all happened in about a year – which Es is very suspicious of.

Apparently this all happened when a Lady of Quality arrived in the village a year ago, and took up the old farmhouse on the hill. (Not so much of a farmhouse as a small estate). Anyway, she’s got her own team of southerners, and she tends to keep to herself. Of course, this now demands investigation by a bright, intelligent team of adventurers – so we asked Es to join us.

And that night, we decided to head into Her Ladyship’s house. Of course, that started with getting there, which I will detail in the next post.

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Our a-maze-ing adventure
Or, wherein we learned to show less respect to the dead

When we left our valiant adventurers last time, we had just begun our journey into the giant hedge maze between us and Lady F’s farmhouse, wherein we encountered a giant tentacled mushroom thing. As a result of those tentacles, Al was feeling a little off (you guessed it – poisoned again). After dispatching the flailing fungus, we continued our trek into the maze, and some way in Maul noticed something that looked like a body, poking out through the wall of the maze. Mel asked Roderick to investigate (“lots of dead smell ‘round here!”), then investigated further, but the body didn’t seem to be going anywhere, and plants had already grown up around it. Based on what we had observed so far, this either meant it had been there a while, or maybe five minutes.

Maul & Mel pulled the body out of the hedge, whereupon we were able to identify it as definitely ex-human. Es determined that it had been dead about a week. We examined it, and couldn’t find anything interesting about it, nor could we figure out what had killed it.

We left the body otherwise unmolested (a choice which would come back to haunt us – almost literally), and continued on. As we trudged further into the maze, we saw a couple more bodies. They all seemed to have been locals, not adventurers or other noteworthy characters. And on none of them was there any sign of violent death, except for scratches on the bodies as if they had bumped into the hedge.

The next thing we found In the maze was something completely different (“It’s…”)… a dead tree. Or so it seemed – the trunk broken, bare limbs, and covered in a lot of shelf fungus. And slumped at the base of the tree was… someone in full plate armour. Maul & Mel began to pull the body away from the tree, and there was a phwump. Shit – spores! Why so much fungus? Why? (Yes, I know, high humidity, lots of organic matter, circle of life, yadda yadda yadda). And then the body in plate armour grabbed at Maul.

We began to fight the body and the fungus tree – not too bad, right? – and then ten (yes, ten) bodies came shambling out of the maze from various directions. Damn. In retrospect, Al’s unlimited Acid Splash spells were probably a better option than “respect” for those dead bodies we’d encountered. Noted for future reference. Fool me once, surround me with zombies. Fool me twice… guess I got out of the zombies alive.

Maul killed the armoured zombie, and with something of a team effort we killed the tree fungus… after which the surrounding zombies (which had already done a fair bit of damage to us) started turning on each other. Quite a blessing really, as the damage had mostly been dealt to us by them, and now at least someone was dealing damage to the zombies. Al attempted to fire off a bunch of acidic rays, although the nearby hedge plants caught far too much of that damage. It wasn’t pretty, but in the end, all the zombies went down.

There’s one more problem with fungus and zombies (apart from the smell): after looting everything, the one and only good thing was a suit of masterwork full plate – its rather beaten and shabby surface still lighting a gleam in Maul’s eye.

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Evenin', Squire!
Farewell to Arabella and Chirreep

While staying at the inn at the crossroads on our way back towards Kym’s Harbour, there was a bit of a bustle outside. A Someone! A Someone in Fancy Clothes (possibly missing a bit of the bustle?). Lady Sir Agatha the Kind!

It seems that word of our recent adventures had exceeded preceded us, and Sir Agatha, who had heard of Arabella’s heroic deeds, had come to seek her out (Chirreep did not miss her cue to sing the song of heroic Arabella). There followed a conversation in which it was duly established that Arabella is indeed heroic, and that we had done hardly anything to help – indeed, that she had saved us, we would have been in deep poop without her, etc etc.

Unfortunately, Sir Agatha and her entourage had booked out all the decent rooms, so we’re staying in a pile of hay (speaking of being in deep poop)… and with thet, Arabella and Chirreep left the party and set off with Sir Agatha. We know Skrark won’t exactly be thrilled that his daughter is off adventuring instead of coming home, but at least she has some muscle looking after her (and presumably she’ll be looking after the muscle, too).

And so the next morning we headed off to Kym’s Harbour, and after an uneventful trip we arrived safely.

The first stop, on returning to something we might consider calling civilisation (it certainly smells more like what we usually call civilisation), was identifying items: a mithril shirt, masterwork cold iron longsword, potion of true strike, handy haversack, and elven cloak. Most of these items seemed most suited to Cog, who thus ended up owing the rest of the party at least five hundred gold pieces and half a kidney… each.

Next stop, we decided to sniff around for word of Argenias Lat. It seems he is known in the area, and some of his goons have recently been seen heading to the west to a place called Bleakfield. So, I guess that’s where we’ll be headed! But first, we took the time to go and meet the tengu in the docks, and had a chat with them about getting a message back to Skrark. Confident that word of his daughter’s relative-safety would be on its way to Skrark as fast as any could reach him, we found out what we could about Bleakfield. Bleakfield, so it was reported to us, is a farming town about three days to the west of Kym’s Harbour. As it was now afternoon, we asked Skrark’s cousin for his recommendation of a decent place to stay the night along the road. His recommendation was that we stay at the Prancing Pig. We’re always pretty happy to spend the night in an inn if it is a member of AAAAA (All Alliterative and Assonant Accommodation Association).

And what luck! While spending the night at the Prancing Pig, we met a botanist by the name of Esmeralda (“call me ‘Es’”), also heading towards Bleakfield… because she had heard that people in Bleakfield may have been doing extremely unnatural things to the plant life. Some dryads had gone missing from the forests further west of Bleakfield, and the dryad’s trees had also gone missing. That’s some pretty twisted dryad-napping. Chatting with other folks around the inn, it seems Bleakfield has recently achieved some notoriety, on account of doing a lot better with their farming than they used to. Winning vegetable prizes, etc – something no-one would ever have expected to happen in Bleakfield (which used to be aptly named).

Sure enough, as we walked towards Bleakfield, we found the surrounding terrain rocky and inhospitable, but as we crested the last rise overlooking Bleakfield, we saw… green, lush, and totally anomalous. People growing apples, vegetables, green grass. Everything was clearly unnaturally productive.

Not wanting to draw excessive attention to ourselves, we offered to work for food, and the local farmers were happy to have us, since they now need assistance picking fruit before the trees collapse under the weight. Apparently up until a year ago, it was barren, and then a certain “Lady F” settled in town, who offered to help everything grow if she could have a farmhouse. Asking about the farmhouse, we were told it was “up that way”, but that Lady F and whoever she keeps at the farmhouse “don’t really like visitors”. And since they had helped the town so much, the townsfolk are very reluctant for us to disturb them.

Inquiring more into the recent history of Bleakfield, we learned that It took a few months from when Lady F settled here for the change to come over the fields and crops. But since then… well, everything (apart from the suddenly prolific agriculture) has been suspiciously normal. No obvious changes in the town or the populace (apart from those changes attributable to their bounty of produce).

Wouldn’t it be great if we could leave “well enough” alone? Perhaps, but only if “well enough” didn’t have a distinct reek of creepy and wrong and perversion of the natural order of things. After dark, we headed out to lady F’s farmhouse. Even had the villagers not told us that Lady F liked her privacy, we would have got the message soon enough, as we encountered a vast hedge maze at the entrance to her property. As we began to find our way through, Mel stood on Maul’s shoulders to have a look, but as she did so, a tentacle went whistling over Al’s head. “Oi! A… pretty large mushroom with tentacles (?) just took a swing at me!”

And then it took another swing – four tentacles! – and OUCH. Al was not feeling too great (distinctly weak and wan) after that set of hits… what the hell is it with Al and being poisoned? Fortunately, Maul and Mel managed to dispatch whatever-the-hell-that-was in fairly short order, and with that… we headed further into the maze.

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And then there were four...
... plus Wallace, of course. Wallace. Not Hoatie.

After our night in the barn, we all felt a lot better… except that Chirreep seemed to have a bad reaction to the spider venom, so Maul stayed behind to care for her. Cog reassured the farmers that Chirreep & Maul would be no trouble – and certainly the 10gp donation seemed to convince them of this.

With Mel, Arabella, Cog and Al feeling much refreshed, we set out for the village, to tell them about the spiders we had discovered, particularly the fact that they appear to be custom beasts for tourneys. The villagers were pleased to be able to put a face (or at least, a collection of eyes, fangs and pedipalps) to the mysterious disappearances, but clearly wanted someone (anyone? anyone?) to go and put a stop to the one that had got away… and any others that might be lurking in the vicinity.

So off we went. This time, we blazed the trees on the way into the forest so we could find our way out again. We found the area where we had encountered the spiders yesterday, and found the carcass of the dead spider, but no other signs of spider activity. Mel asked Roderick to track the spider… which he did exceedingly well! Roderick found the trail of ichor, which led into deeper and darker parts of the woods. Where we began to find skeletons. One or two cow skeletons, at first. We headed down into a ravine, encountering an increasingly noticeable smell of death…

… and then Hoatie Wallace stepped on something that seemed like a log, and a large chunk of tree fell on us. This deadfall was far too true to its name: leaving all four of the humanoids among us decidedly the worse for wear, and Wallace not even up to that standard. At first, fearing that whoever set the trap might be upon us quickly, we hid up the side of the ravine. While we watched, saw some kind of creature came down the ravine, found the donkey, then ran back up the ravine after hearing a metallic noise issue from one of our party. We followed its trail up the ravine, and Cog (searching carefully this time) found two more traps – one of which was disarmed by Cog (with a shiny point for a reroll), and one of which was disarmed by Mel throwing a branch into it.

Shortly after the third trap, we saw a pair of big eyes – with a brightly coloured body behind – peering at us from behind a log… spider! Cog shot his crossbow (and missed), the jumping spider leapt into our midst, and the battle was joined. The spider just missed Cog (which was just as well), then with a whack from Arabella, and a whack from Mel, the spider was down. With some handy sword-work, the peacock section of abdomen was removed to be adapted as a shield decoration for Arabella, because nothing says “squire” like a shield made from the brightly coloured carapace of a vanquished enemy.

But that wasn’t what we saw running along the ravine earlier, and spiders aren’t known for setting complex traps. Searching further in the direction the earlier creature had run, we saw… something like a nest? Al (with an excellent Knowledge roll) figured out the nest belonged to an ettercap (spidery humanoid, gets along with spiders, keeps spiders as pets, generally solitary).

As we were all more than a little shaken from our earlier encounter with the deadfall, we decided discretion was the better part of valour: Cog lobbed an alchemists fire into the nest, which duly burst into flame, and immediately we saw the ettercap heading off into the forest and up a tree. Three of us took shots at it, doing quite a bit of damage, whereupon it dropped down out of the tree and out of sight. We began to follow, then (fortunately) happened to notice it hiding waiting to ambush us. We pretended to be fooled until within range, then let fly with our ranged attacks – crossbow, acid, etc… and off it runs, again. It wasn’t looking good, but it was still moving.

And it turned out to be a close thing for Mel: this time, while we were again in pursuit, it surprised us, and its attacks brought Mel almost to the brink of death… but that was its last chance: Roderick gave a big bite, and the ettercap bought the big one.

The ettercap itself had no loot, but searching the bodies around the nest, we found one corpse which was wearing a nice cloak, and a nice longsword, and a rather spiffy very light chain shirt (all halfling sized), as well as an (empty) potion bottle marked “healing”. Searching the ashes of the shelter, we found several dead spiders, and charred remains of a scroll case. Let it go! Let it go! Scrolls never bothered me anyway…

Returning to Wallace, we aided him to recover, and we dragged our sorry selves back to the village (while Arabella dragged the ettercap along with her peacock spider shield-to-be). The villagers were thrilled to hear that their vanishing cow problem was over, and agreed to write a glowing reference letter for Arabella, as well as telling her tales at the next market day.

And with that, we need a rest. Back to the farmhouse, where we’ll spend a couple of nights in the barn, before we get ourselves back on the road to Kym’s Harbour, there to identify our loot and to try to find the trail of Argenias Lat.

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Spiders are supposed to eat insects

Before leaving Bridgeford, we discussed with Chirreep & Arabella if they’d like to come along with us, because we need to find Argenias Lat and dissolve him slowly in acid take him before the appropriate authorities. They said they would, and Chirreep also agreed to contact her father (and tell him especially all about the wonderful, amazing, talented, handsome, incredible Arabella, who is definitely never going to give Chirreep up, never going to let her down…)

We also discussed with the mayor the idea of finding someone in Kym’s Landing who can repair the bridge. He liked the idea, and has sent us with a letter, along with the commission to offer up to 400GP for the work (but try to get it for less, he says… yeah, after what we went through with your ogre nonsense, we won’t try that hard).

And with that, we crossed the ford (which, with considerably less water flowing, was much less eventful this time), and returned to the inn where we had stayed on the way out from Kym’s Harbour. What could possibly happen?

As we were about to turn in for the night, a businessman (named Rory) from a nearby village came to tell us that his village has a problem: cows keep going missing. Sometimes people stay out to watch the cows, and they have gone missing too. This has been going on for years, and they’ve lost lots of cows, and cows are expensive. They’ve lost about one every few weeks. The village was to be found a bit out to the west – half a day detour… so naturally, after an uneventful night in the inn, we set off with Rory.

On arriving at the village, we found that it is surrounded by forest, and the villagers let the cows graze in the forest… and that’s where they go missing.

So we wandered into the forest… literally, just wandered. Not so much as jotting down a map or marking trees or anything. And just like that, we got lost. After our best survivalist (the half-elf) managed to get us even more lost (Mel!), we sent Chirreep up a tree to see if she could see any sign of where we were. Chirreep managed to spot the sun, but we couldn’t tell where she was pointing, so Al walked a little way away from the tree to identify direction. Which worked very nicely right up to the point where Al was attacked by a giant peacock jumping spider.

This drew all of the party away from the tree up which Chirreep had climbed. No sooner had we done a bit of damage to that spider, than it jumped away through the trees… but then we noticed that Chirreep had stopped singing. “Um guys? I’ve found out what’s taking the cows. It’s a spider.”

We all headed back to help, to find a rather panicked Chirreep making her way down the tree as fast as she could go without falling… and then the spider that was pursuing her down the tree managed to fall out. At which point, a swarm of baby (where “baby” means “only the size of toads”) spiders fell off the big spider’s back.

Between a sound burst from Maul, some handy sword-work from Mel, and then using torches to burn the swarm of spiderlings, we managed to dispatch the big spider and disperse the swarm (albeit with a few escaping), then made our way out of the forest and found ourselves a farmhouse. The farmer seemed unsurprised by our mention of spiders taking the cows, thanked us for helping with the problem, and offered us their barn for us to sleep in. We gratefully accepted, and Maul settled down to care for a tengu who is very, very much the worse for wear.

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Maul's scribblings, part 7(?)
Towards. and beyond Bridgeford.

Walking to Bridgeford, we found a man called Galain who also wanted to be a knight. He hurt himself, and was going home to Bridgeford. The girl who went missing is his brother. It is very sad. He has also broken his leg. That is worse.

I hope it will heal. I have done what I can to help it be fixed, but I am not sure I did good enough. Legs are the worst bones to break, I think. You cannot move if you have no legs.


I asked a farmer who was helping Galain if there was a bridge toll at Bridgeford. The farmer said yes, but the bridge was broken, so we would have to cross without paying a toll. Nimbus must be smiling on me.


We have made it to the broken bridge, and the small bird is here too! We have also found her friend. She is Arebeller Arabella of the Pigery Piggeries. We are very lucky that the bridge is broken. Nimbus is smiling on us greatly.

Mother river, I will be happy to cross your waters.


Mother river, you are strange in your blessings. I did not like crossing these waters. I am cold and my scrolls are wet.


We have come to Bridgeford, and the men of the town have told us what happened to Isabella. She was playing in the grass, and an ogre snatched her away. It was strange to them. I have not met an ogre before, but as large as they are I do not think they would snatch girls for fun. Maybe it was a dare between ogre children? How big are ogre children? I will ask an ogre if I see one.

Cog the small has gone to talk to the mayor about his son (Galain), and his daughter (Isabella). I hope his lead tongue is lucky today.


Cog’s lead tongue was very lead today, and now we have to leave town.


Maybe Cog is not so unlucky. He says that the mayor does not care about Isabella being rescued by us. Maybe the mayor says it is because Cog asked for payment, but Cog does not think that is the reason. The mayor also looked only disappointed about his son having broken legs. I am scared for both of the mayor’s boys and girls children now.

(o)
/|\

We were chased out of town by the Mayor’s men, but we were able to leave towards the hills where the ogres are. We do need to save Isabella, but I do not think us going to save her will change much. If she is dead, she is dead. If she is not dead, she will still be not dead for a while. (orc saying)


Chireep was telling us about the rules for being a knight, and Mel and I thought of a thing. The rules say that a person who does not get squired at the parade of squires can become a knight if they do a “heroic deed”, which is what Arabella wants to do by saving Isabella.

But if the Mayor knew his son would not do well in the parade, and wanted a heroic deed to be waiting for Galain at home, he could make one happen. Galain being broken legged meant that he could not do the heroic deed made for him, which would make the Mayor very upset.

If that is what has happened, then I do not like what the mayor has planned. I do not know if Arabella should take the fake deed for herself either. I think we should find the ogre that the mayor is working with, and make them take Isabella back to the mayor themself. It will be a trick that shows another trick. I think Nimbus will like it.

Me, Mel, Cog, Al, Chireep and Arabella have gone to find the ogre. Nimbus, grant us luck.


HERE IS MY CLEVER PLAN:
“Hello ogre I have bad news”
“Ogre grunt”
“The boy who was supposed to fight you is very sick and he cannot come”
“another grunt”
“Do not worry if you take the girl back to the mayor right now he will give you more gold as thanks”

It should work, as long as Cog’s tongue is working well today.


It did not work.

We found the ogre and the girl! Yes, the ogre was paid by the mayor to kidnap the girl! Then two more ogres came, and they fought us. I feel strange killing them, I know that they wanted to eat us (they said it a lot), but maybe they were just hungry and stupid. I could have taught them a lot if I was not protecting the small people in our group. We took one ogre’s head, and the other one ran away. The first ogre (his name is Gnashtooth, I like it!) also ran away, he was scared of us and the other ogres, and was worried about Galain’s broken legs.

Gnashtooth was a nice ogre, and I would have liked to use my plan with him, but we have another plan now. Arabella is going to use the ogre head we have as proof of her heroic deed. We will also have to find Gnashtooth’s friend in town, Jared (a jungler? I did not understand) and tell him that Gnashtooth is not hurt. This is important, or Jared may spoil our plan.


We met Jared, and he is a jester! I do not know what that other word was supposed to be.

The bad news is that Jared brought Galain with him, but Galain’s leg is still broken. His head is also cracked, and he should not be on his horse. I will have to care for him more when we get back to Bridgeford (if they let us in), but now we have to kill the other ogre (not Gnashtooth, which is good).

I should say what I mean: Jared (Jaryd?) has agreed to tell a story of Arabella and Galain’s bravery together when we get back to town, but we will need two ogre heads to tell the story. One head for each of the heroic deed needers. In Jaryd’s story, the two worked together to kill the ogres and save Isabella. Cog did not seem to like this story, but I had to remind Mr. Lead-tongue that without the Jester, we would not be allowed back into town in the first place.

Forgive me Nimbus, talking down to Cog feels good.

We now have ten and one people in our party. Me, Mel, Cog, Al, Chirreep, Arabella, Isabelle (who is riding with Cog, for some reason), Galain, Jaryd and two of the Mayor’s men. I hope that is enough of us to find and kill the ogre quickly, before Galain gets hurt more.


The ogre found us. We have killed it. Galain got hurt more.

The ogre surprised us on a small divide, and threw rocks at us from above. Mel and Arabella ran to opposite sides of the divide to try and climb at it, while it threw more rocks. Cog helped Isabella shoot the ogre (I do not know if I like that) and Almaz made it trip onto us with a spell. Galain then did a stupid thing and swung his sword at it. He killed it, but fell off his horse and broke his leg more. Now he is barely awake. I am scared for him.


We have come back to Bridgeford, all ten and one of us. Jaryd has sung a song that makes us all sound like heroes (mostly Arabella and Galain), and Chireep is singing along very well. Isabella is safe (although I do think the only times she was not safe was when she was with us [by which I mean Cog]).


I have done all I can for Galain, but his leg is shattered and there are no better healers in town. He will walk badly for the rest of his life, and he will never fight as a knight. The mayor is not happy about this, but the will of stupid men is not very strong against the will of broken bones.

That should be an orc saying. I will tell it to an orc someday.


Now that we have found Chirreep, and Arabella has a heroic deed of her own, we have tried to persuade Chireep to go back to her father for a little while. I do not know if it worked. Small folk are very stubborn sometimes.

The good news is that we now have a friend (of sorts) in Jaryd, and we might be able to ask him about the sorceror that we still have to find. That will be for some other day. Today I must clear my mind and cleanse myself.


I forgot to ask Gnashtooth how big ogre children are! Silly me.

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Ogre Ogre Ogre
Oi! Oi! Oi!

After farewelling the Mayoral Heavies (we’ll get back to crossing the bridge one day), we made our way unobtrusively around Bridgeford and headed for ogre country.

On the road, Chirreep cheerfully told us about the value of Arabella’s impending Heroic Deed™ in setting her on the path to knighthood, as well as the importance of achieving knighthood for Arabella’s family. It seems that her family needed someone to become a knight: they are trying to run a piggery, but keep getting screwed over by what amount to zoning regulations, and having someone in the family with Influence could be instrumental to the long-term prospects of the family business. Arabella’s brothers are busy running the piggeries, so it’s up to Arabella… and she’s also better than they are at hitting things.

With varying degrees of brightness, the peculiar circumstances of Isabella’s ogre abduction, the mayor’s reaction to news of his son’s broken leg, and his bizarre aversion to the idea that someone else might rescue his daughter, began to dawn on our party: it seems the entire thing was a setup for Galahain (having almost certainly failed at the Aspirant’s Parade) to then perform a Heroic Deed™ and thus make himself worthy of being squired.

This resulted in some differing reactions from the party, as to what should be done about it: whether to embarrass the mayor, or to exploit him, or find a way to make everything work out nicely for everyone.

While trying to figure out the best course of action, our course across country soon brought us to an encounter with none other than Isabella and her ogre host, Mick (but please, call him “Gnashtooth”). Gnashtooth was surprised to see us, and exclaimed with disappointment that we were not “that other guy”, but stopped to listen when we told him that we were from the mayor, and that “the other guy” would not be coming. This was a cause of great confusion (due only in part to the ogre’s capacity for complex reasoning). Normally, it turned out, his friend Jaryd (a bard and all-round dodgy dealer, from the sound of it) handled all such details. However, while we were negotiating with him to get him to come to town with us – a couple of ideas regarding mock-fights were mooted – two other ogres, definitely not in on the act, came wandering over the hillside. Angered to discover Gnashtooth in their territory – and with a hungry look at Isabella – they attacked.

Sending Gnashtooth and Isabella somewhat out of harm’s way, the battle was joined. Arabella, Maul and Mel took up positions at the front, Cog and Al behind. Arabella took a serious hit from one of the ogres, whom Maul was then successful in Frightening. Al’s trusty Sleep spell sent the other into a slumber, from which he never awoke. He never awoke, because it is difficult to wake up when you no longer have a head. No sooner had ogre 1 recovered from his magical frightening than he looked back, saw Arabella and a now-enlarged Maul in hot pursuit, and behind them a headless version of his friend (do ogres have “friends”?). He then seamlessly replaced the magical version of fear with a hefty dose the real thing, and thundered away over the hills, never to be seen again (or so we thought).

This was more than enough for Gnashtooth, who decided this was all getting too scary, and also ran away. Before he was out of sight, we assured him that we bore him no ill will, and indeed Cog left him 50gp for his trouble.

We looted the body of the now-headless ogre, to find a haversack (potentially a Handy one), containing a lot of junk (now discarded), and a much less junk-looking glass bottle: securely stoppered, filled with green liquid with speckles in it.

With that, we collected Isabella, picked up our grisly (and also somewhat grizzly) proof of victory over “the ogre”, and headed (geddit‽) back to town. Our plan was to publicly announce Arabella’s Heroic Deed™, with a certain amount of head-brandishing, and let the mayor squirm over being presented with an ogre head that he couldn’t possibly point out was the wrong ogre, as doing so would have proven him to have orchestrated the whole kidnapping.

But we never had the chance to see how that plan worked. Instead, on our way back to town, we ran into into a party “led” (for a very stretched interpretation of the word) by none other than Galahain, heading out to where we had just battled. It seems that Jaryd intended to turn adversity to advantage, and arrange for Galahain to “defeat” the ogre despite having a broken leg, thereby making the Deed™ even more Heroic. After some debate with Cog and Maul, we ended up joining their party (or, given how useless most of them proved, letting them join us), and set out after the other ogre, in order to get a second ogre head, so that Galahain and Arabella might both receive credit for Heroic Deeds™ worthy of Songs.

It didn’t take long: we found the ogre… or I suppose, were alerted to his presence by the boulders pelted upon the party from the top of a shallow ravine. This time, it was Cog who copped the most substantial hit (and was downed, if not quite out), but not before he assisted Isabella in delivering as much damage to the ogre as our hero Galahain managed to do (at least until the very last moment). With very little we could do to damage the ogre from below, the fighters climbed the ravine to get to flanking positions beside the ogre atop the ravine. Meanwhile, after shrugging off two of Al’s trusty sleep spells, the ogre finally succumbed to a third… and it was a matter of great satisfaction to Al that she saw him come crashing down on top of Jaryd. Galahain – who was still quite badly concussed – now managed to fall of his horse, deliver a final blow to the ogre, and perhaps also a final blow to his chances of becoming a knight, as his already-broken leg shattered beneath him.

Arabella did the honours of ogre decapitation, and with its head we all went gallumphing back. En route, the two bards (Jaryd and Chirreep) set about working the Song of Arabella and Galahain into a duel… at least, I think that’s what the thing they were singing is called. And the result seems sure to be a winner at firesides all over the Principalities, which should give Arabella a decent chance of being squired.

On our arrival at Bridgeford, we met with the mayor who, it turns out, is still an arsehole. Nevertheless, he recognised that he had little to complain about our conduct, and so we were at least not evicted from town a second time before the opportunity to recuperate. Despite Galahain being so badly injured he may never be squired, the mayor was not on board with our suggestions that Isabella might become a knight instead.

Jaryd made his excuses, and set off to wherever it is bards go. Only after his departure did it occur to Al that he might have a lead on where to find Argenias Lat. She has a score to settle…

Oh, and we still don’t know what’s in that bottle we found in the ogre’s haversack.

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On the road again
[We'd quite] like a bridge over troubled water

Before leaving the inn, we learned a bit more about the abduction from the innkeper. It seems that the mayor of Bridgeford’s daughter (Ingrid) was kidnapped by an ogre; also, in what we are sure is a meaningless Coincidence™, Ingrid’s brother was returning from the aspirants parade yesterday. We also gather that the Bridge is out, so it’s just Bridge Ford now. As for the ford, it wouldn’t have been passable for the past couple of days due to all the recent rain, but it might be ok now – the weather is beginning to clear, but still a bit grey.

And with that, we hit the road.

Around lunchtime, as we were passing a farmhouse, someone came out and waved to us.

“You heading north to Bridgeford?”

Yup.

“We’ve got a guy from Bridgeford inside.”

What a Coincidence™.

The chap who had hailed us seemed of honest intent, so we went inside. On our way in, we noticed a very nice horse in the stable. Inside, we found Galain, who turns out to be the mayor of Bridgeford’s son. He had come off his horse while riding too fast, broken his leg, and knocked himself out until very shortly before we arrived. We welcomed him back to reality with the news that his sister had been kidnapped by ogres. “My poor father – I failed him at the parade, and now my sister kidnapped”. Since he had been at the aspirants parade, we asked if he’d encountered the woman who had been turned away. “Rings a bell”, he said, but he couldn’t remember much more. Possibly because of the concussion, possibly because there wasn’t much more to remember.

Since we realised we’d be bringing unexpected, possibly unwelcome news to his father, we asked for something that we could use to prove we had in fact encountered him. He gave us his tabard so that his father will recognise and welcome us (and we’ll see just how well that turned out).

Once again we set out towards Bridgeford. And as we approached the river, whom should we see but a familiar feathery figure waiting by the river: Chirreep! Also… “Lady” Arabella: a woman who we found to be tall, gawky, friendly enough… and with whom Chirreep is – in some way or another (possibly her heroism, possibly something else) – quite clearly smitten.

Arabella had been in Kym’s Landing trying to find a knight to squire with, planning to go to the Aspirants Parade, and then ran into Chirreep when Chirreep had found herself in trouble at the Purple Crow. Then after being turned away from the aspirants parade for being covered in muck, they had heard about the kidnapping; decided that would be a way to get some reputation.

We offered to help Arabella and Chirreep find Ingrid. Chirreep seemed very keen on Arabella doing the rescuing on her own, although in the bits of Arabella’s reactions we could pick up, it seemed perhaps Arabella is not quite so confident of her solo heroic prospects, and might potentially welcome some assistance.

With nothing left to do on this side of the river, we attempted the ford. Despite taking some care, all of us went for various durations of involuntary swims, leaving us very cold and wet and sorry for ourselves. Recuperation was definitely going to require a night to recover in the local inn.

After finding ourselves a place at the pub, Cog went to see the mayor; unfortunately, the mayor was quite unwelcoming, and didn’t seem at all interested in having us rescue Ingrid. Indeed, he insisted we leave town by morning (either Cog really offended him, or he’s an arsehole, or both).

Meanwhile, we listened to local accounts of Ingrid’s abduction: Ingrid had been picking flowers in the meadow when a big ogre came out of nowhere and abducted her. Up until Ingrid’s abduction, it had been a very long time since they last had any problems with ogres; indeed, many of the townsfolk seemed to think the ogres had gone from the region.

After an otherwise uneventful night in the pub, on leaving the pub first thing in the morning, we were met by a couple of heavies intent on escorting us out of town (that is, back over the ford). We impolitely declined (Almaz is surprisingly intimidating – especially with the prospect of yet another freezing cold swim), and the heavies – deciding they weren’t paid enough to deal with this – “escorted” us to that end of town with a very “honest” statement that we intend to cross the bridge. We do. Some day. But for now, we’re walking around the town, and heading in the direction we originally wanted to go.

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