Thursday, 21 April 2016

[Actual Play] Cruth Lowlands Campaign: Session 9 - On the Usefulness of Perfume for Escaping Vampiric Mists

Previous session reports can be found here

PCs present:

  • Jason, playing Naghmeh, a 3rd level magic-user
  • Patrice, playing Dragosta, a 3rd level fighter

Andy's player, Luke, was unavailable today, so it was just "the girls" in this session - although as was pointed out fairly early on, the PCs are now quite a procession: Dragosta on a warhorse with barding, Naghmeh on a fine riding stallion, a cart pulled by oxen, another pulled by mules, two hirelings (Zoe and Zeno) equipped with fine chain mail and longswords, their cleric retainer Philemon, and the bullywug Yokomosok. This doesn't include Andy and Sir Gerard (who we decided had returned to Riverfork to oversee construction of the new inn.)

The band left the Jann's tent and headed in the direction of the Tower at the Fork, where they were going to investigate the activities of smugglers in the area, and a missing shipment of grain. This led them to the village of Myrsina, a small hamlet where there was a ford over the wide Magos river and what appeared to be some sort of pit. The villagers came out to greet the newcomers and Dragosta and Naghmeh began questioning the headman, Christos, after showing him their letter of marque from Sir Georgios. Christos informed them that there was small garrison at the Tower at the Fork led by a knight called Sir Acamos, but Sir Acamos rarely ventured out of his tower and seemed to prefer the pleasures of wine, beef and whores to stopping smugglers. The PCs rapidly surmised that Sir Acamos might well be in cahoots with the criminals. 

The PCs also learned that in a week's time the village would host the annual wrestling tournament, with fights taking place in the pit in the middle of the settlement. People would come from all around the neighbouring area to watch or take part, and the victor would get the hand in marriage of the local Beauty Queen - or a tithe of the proceeds from last year's harvest. They were naturally extremely keen to take part, and decided that this was perfect timing to sort out the smuggling problem and then return for the wrestling. 

There was some talk of visiting the tower and taking on Sir Acamos directly - perhaps even offering to garrison the holdfast for Sir Georgios themselves - but ultimately the PCs decided to head South down the river and try to tempt an ambush. As night fell they set their carts and oxen by the river and then hid nearby, watching to see what happened; eventually, as dawn approached, a small raft or skiff appeared, crewed by two figures. These figures apparently noticed the carts and then set off back downstream. 

Yokomosok was sent in pursuit and he swam off down the river. A few hours later he reported back, saying that the raft had gone downstream to a series of caves. The PCs and their entourage immediately set off to investigate. This resulted in a quick but bloody battle in which sixteen smugglers were killed, with Zeno shot through the eye with an arrow and instantly slain in return. But the PCs were able to kill the leader and also capture an elf woman who was with him. This woman, called Naomi, revealed herself to be an outlaw from her homeland who had been cast out for delighting in murder, theft and blasphemy. She had taken up with the smugglers as a result. Dragosta, wearing the magical cloak taken from the elf wraith the party had tangled with earlier, was able to use its strange suggestive power over elves to persuade Naomi to join the party. Naomi agreed (probably sensing opportunities for more murder, theft and blasphemy), and informed the PCs that there was a much larger fortress nearby which the smugglers had infested, and they were led by two mighty were-boars who would not be easily defeated. She also confirmed that Sir Acamos was in league with the smugglers. 

Hidden in the smugglers' caves was Niketos's missing shipment of grain and a flat barge-like boat. The party piled all the grain on board, together with the corpse of the leader, and began the laborious journey back to Riverfork, with their oxen pulling the boat slowly upstream. Their plan was to head back to town, deliver the grain to Niketos, plan an attack on the smugglers' fortress, and then go to Myrsina for the wrestling tournament.

On the way, they came across a group of five pixies sniggering in the trees, and engaged them in conversation. Dragosta eventually offered the pixies her bottle of elven perfume (also taken from the elf wraith) in return for them warning the party of any threats while they were travelling in the forest. The pixies, loving the smell of the perfume, agreed. This was to come in very handy that night when the pixies warned the party of approaching vampiric mists, advising them to flee as quickly as possible. The PCs abandoned the boat and cart and quickly fled with their oxen, returning a few hours later when it was safe. The only sign that anything untoward had happened was the smuggler chief's corpse, now entirely drained of blood and totally dessicated.

It eventually took four days to get back to Riverfork. On the way, Naghmeh suddenly remembered that she could cast the Read Languages spell. She used this to spend 20 minutes reading the books she had recovered from the elf wraith's tower. The first was apparently a diary and largely useless, although it did contain many references to something called The Emerald Fortress, which she found interesting. The second was seemingly a book of clerical wisdom that a holy man might use to enhance his power. Naghmeh asked Naomi about The Emerald Fortress. Naomi told her that The Emerald Fortress was a now-legendary and lost castle made entirely from green, volcanic glass, which had once been the capital of an elven kingdom in these parts, known as Cruah. That was the origin of the word "Cruth", which the humans now used as the name of this land. 

Back in Riverfork the PCs recovered their payment from the delighted Niketos for the return of his grain, and also reported to Sir Georgios on the treacherous Sir Acamos's doings. Sir Georgios agreed that there needed to be some way to trick Acamos into revealing his betrayal, but the PCs decided to take care of that after storming the main smugglers' fortress and killing their were-boar leaders. For this, they would need silver weapons, and discovered that in a halfling village a few days to the South West there could be found three dwarf triplets who were expert blacksmiths....

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