Ancient Blood

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Character's Come Together

CY 9141, Month 6, Day 8Belim and Beeddel Jones leave the Dunstrand Faire together. Belim has 4 months left on his enlistment. Beeddel serves as his groom until CY 9141, Month 10, Day 1 when Belim musters out of the High King’s army, in the capital city of Oerdney. They slowly make their way back Dunstrand, hoping to possibly meet up with their companions, but as news from the area continues to reach them, they grow more fearful. Countless rumors of the deaths of the Crows circulate and then by CY 9142, Month 3, Day 2 the word of the bounty reaches them and Belim and Beeddel think twice about their association. Belim instead decides to go to one of the contacts he met at the The Dunstrand Faire, in Dunstrand City and see if he cannot find some leads there. Besides, Beeddel is well liked there for seeing the spirit of the woods. They are temporarily taken into the employ of the Duke’s Honor Guards, with Belim having the rank of Corporal. After a couple months (9142, Month 5, Day 24), they are released from service as the cost of the honor guard is being shifted toward regular soldiers. They are released the same day with a young man named [[:Bill Clay]], just come from the western reaches of Dunstrand and the war there. The three of them all know some of the same people, the talk of the Dunstrand Faire, the legendary Band of Crows (Bill corrects them and informs them they are going by the name ‘Brave Companions’ now). They drift a bit, but money is getting tight, even with the good will from the Faire (it seems like so long ago). War, strife and famine abound and all begin to fear they may be pressed into a force the Duke is raising to defend the western lands of his duchy. Then they are introduced to sira Goll Saren on 9142, Month 5, Day 30, a merchant’s aide and a representative of ‘certain powers’ who have an interest in the struggle for power in Dunstrand. Goll tells them he would like to hire them for a task, a research task. Belim, Bill, and Beedel were busy waiting for Goll Sarens’ summons to meet with the researcher when they discover Gellwin. They are out scouring the armories for good prices when Belim recognizes the halfling from his hair color in a crowd. Surprised and happy, they all reire to a local tavern to catch up. Prior to their meeting with sira Goll, Belim sends word of a new addition to his ‘crew’ that Goll must include in the hiring. Goll introduces them to Grumwell, a scribe (though the man is nearly 2m and a massive body suited more for war with a blade than a pen) and says that together they will be traveling to southern Dunstrand to perform this task – should they accept. As to why a scholar needs protection – well, he says that certain parties may not be happy with the outcome of the research. Sira Goll says only that he works for the Shady Rock Merchants (part of a larger allied group or merchants called The Surefoot Merchant Coster), and that with war and all the uncertainty that been brought to Dusntrand, his masters want to be able to take advantage of whichever way the wind blows, and need more information to do it. Specifically, they want you to research the blood lines of the ancient Riverdan houses and trace all of them to as far as possible. Grumwell says that a couple are said to be fallow – their line ended long ago. Sira Goll says it may be true, but they want confirmation – the old houses lost their power when the course of the river turned, but change is inevitable, and the course of politics may change in Dunstrand to their favor and the merchant houses want to be able to capitalize.

Gellwin Joins

The taciturn and dour halfling Gellwin joins the group in meeting, brought at the last minute by Sira Goll.

Dunstrand City and Pekki

Go to the Blackfoot Stables in Dunstrand City – seek out Pekki Netherwood, the owner of that fine establishment. He can help supply you and get you started on you path, the merchants and him are allied in this matter, and all further contact should be through him.

The Mission

200 silvers per month, per person. Help with healing, repair, and supply where possible, reimbursement in kind where not – after the fact. In return, the fate and status of each of the old families must be completely researched and documented. Is there a living heir? Who was the last? Is their branches not dead? Gather what proof can be gathered. Get signed witness statements as much as possible.

Cover Story: A rich and powerful family from far away to the south (who wants to remain un-named) had one of their line marry into one of the Riverdan lines – though she never wrote back. You are looking to find her name or one like it in the lists. Her name is ‘Heather’ (or whatever)

Taking the Job

The crew goes to meet Pekki Netherwood at the Blackfoot Stables. There, they also meet Grak (a big half-ork who prefers to be called Abani), and Don – Abani’s assistant. Pekki pitches his deal, 200 silvers a month, healing, equipment replacement – he even claims that it may take a year (which we were all interested in – more silver). We excused ourselves to talk about the deal away from the stables and prying eyes of our potential employer. The mission and pay all seem to be acceptable.

Greetings: Pekki greets you warmly and thanks you for accepting the job. “It may take a while, a year even, but whatever the time it takes, it needs to be done. Me and mine, we got patience. Maybe not the coin and the power to make it all happen at once, but we’ve learned to wait – thats just the way of things when you’re small fish in a big pond. But, with your help, us wee fish can move fast and eat up all the big pieces when things change around here. Of course, if you do this well, we’ll want you in on that action as well (if you are interested, of course). Whatever comes, someone will pay handsomely for the job you will do – no doubt there. So, we’ll want you to get started right away. Coin we may not have a lot of, but we are merchants and businessmen – ‘things’ we got plenty of and anything we can help with (within reason, of course) we’re willing to help with. There’s several shops here on Cardman Street – in addition to the gambling halls. I’m known to all the fine establishments around here, so you just go see what you need and you just go ahead and ask – and if you have any problems, you just see my business associate Grak – he’s the assistant head stablemaster and lives above the mains tables just around the corner. In fact, if you have any problems, you see him. I’m just as liable to be out of town as in (i’m a busy man you know), so you report to him when you are ready to leave. I’m gonna give each of you a hundred silver crowns right up front – you seem trustworthy. You can stay here in the stables if you have nowhere else – Grak will see to everything. I’m sure you are going to like him, he was once an adventurer like yourselves. Well, then, business must be taken care of… i’ll let you enjoy some grub i got here – not much, sometimes i just don’t eat and there’s lots here. When you’re done, you can see Don, Grak’s assistant and he’ll find you beds. tomorrow you can ‘gear-up’ and ‘head-out’. Ha! Best of luck then.”

With that he snaps his fingers, winks and waves as he leaves – whistling to himself. Don comes in and helps you wash down the last of the 2 pitchers of beer and finds you clean stables to bed down in.

Reflections on the Mission

They have given us a strange ring, so that their affiliates along the way will know us as allies and aid us – a ring with some sort of raised, black lizard on it. We talk over our fears; ‘certain parties’, and ‘certain powers’ always scare us…we really don’t know who we are dealing with. On the other hand, we’ve all been given a bonus of 100 silvers without doing a single thing. We confirmed our desire to work on the research project after meeting Grumwell and discussing it. Pekki seemed pleased and said we should contact Grak with all issues – so we do. Grak gave us a list of all the place in the ‘dans where we can find shops and persons part of the Surefoot Merchant Coster which could reimburse us, re-supply us, and help with healing. Its about 1 place in every other ‘dan territory, and widely varied in their business (smith, crofter, etc.). We were told to talk to the locals for any supplies we may need. Belim haggled down the cost to nothing in a few cases, but the most we paid was half price for any goods. Don helped us find a bed and we vowed to set off the next day.

What Needs to be Known

The group is given a quick knowledge dump of basic basic Riverdan information.

Phony Statues of the White Sisters

[- Play Scenario Reference: Aiding the White Sisters -]

9142, Month 6, Day 5; Before we left, Pekki brought us into his office and said there was something we could do for him. Apparently he ‘knew someone’ that was having problems locally. The church of Aerna was having its authority undermined and losing money to counterfeit statues. The White Sisters’s work was being cranked out and passed as the real deal. At first it was annoying and but then the industry grew. Over the last few months, they have investigated and narrowed it down to one area of the city they think its coming from… and the reward is 400 silvers – plus healing and re-supply. WE agreed, as there seemed to be hints that it would be a short job.

Turns out, the short duration is due to the fact that people who go investigating are usually ‘taken care of’ in about 2-3 days. They’ve spent months collecting information, zeroing in on the culprits, but its cost a dozen dead and more wounded. There’s 6 candidates for the culprits, and they all live in or near Mandarn’s Cross (called ‘mans cross by the locals). It ranges from houses, apartments, and even one shop. The addresses where the only thing turned in by the last scout they sent into the area.

The first thing we tried was the bait method – we posed as people coming late to market weekend wanting to buy a statue. Belim, towards the end of an almost fruitless day, got a contact of a drunken boisterous priest. They made arrangements to meet after rest day.

9142, Month 6, Day 8; Attack on the Gang Headquarters: [combat]

[Seeking clues to the culprit]

9142, Month 6, Day 9; [running out of time after one assassination attempt, the group starts breaking down doors. No one is obvious and beat up and wiped out, the group decides its best not to make a mistake and reports back to Grak.]

Ruminations After the First Job

Leaving Town: 9142, Month 6, Day 10 – After brief discussion we decided to tell everything we know to Grak, but not to formally accuse anyone. We suspect the man and kids in the apartment with the sign of Aerna on the door, but thats about all we are willing to commit to. Wounded, poorer, and tired from being up all night, we left town at first light…embarrassed. Grak said the he told Pekki the job was probably too much for us, but he did not listen.. maybe he should have told us!

[Bill Clay] Alright Grumwell, i think you better follow Gellwin’s request this time and tell us what exactly are you? You are no simple scholar, those powers you have shown don’t come from nowhere – i’ve seen magery before and i know its stench. I’ll be damned if i get into another fight without knowing just what you can do to back me up.


Gellwin Leaves

Before leaving the city, The halfling Gellwin decides that he is not suited, and wishes to return to the more remote areas of the Duchy – perhaps to see his home again. All remark on what an dour and unhappy fellow he is.

Arrival of Vraxen Pax

9142, Month 6, Day 10; Abani Yorton meets the group on the road out of town. He brings with him a large man named Vraxen Pax. Vraxen and him seem to know each other – though the half orc speaks of Vraxen as if he just hired a new mercenary. Vraxen is a troubleshooter type, served in the Dukes Guards and protecting his interests. He desires to get out of Dusntrand City and is seeking a new adventure independent of a specific lords interest. He strongly hints that it would be in the party’s best interest to take him on as a partner in the research endeavor. The party briefly confers and decides that another warrior could not hurt…

Applebottom Farm

9142, Month 6, Day 11; We meet the peddlers Jim and Jack and decide to travel with them. They move too slow – trying to sell their wares, so we decide to split off. They tell us about Applebottom Farm – a place to hole up before reaching the city so we do not have to travel at night.

9142, Month 6, Day 13; An ancient legend of a curse and pride; The nightmare effect; psychic maelstrom and spirits, cannot get out. Spend several nights under attack from spirits and undead. Beddel manages to find some strange goat like people and get them to guide us away, into the earth and through the lands of their enemies.

Free from Applebottom

9142, Month 6, Day 15; The moonlight faded from view behind us. We felt that the caverns we were in had not been tread in an ancient long time. Beeddel kept his wits about him, and guided us through the caverns, following the directions of the goat-people shaman. Just as we began to hear pursuit in the caverns behind us, we came out into fresh air; in a gully, under the midnight stars, quiet, alone and without threat. The moonlight makes the fading gate to The Deeping glitter… the ‘moon’ door slowly fades, and you can make out snake-like faces on the other side in the fading darkness…

After catching his breath, Grumwell says he remembers some half forgotten legend about the snake folk… he thought they were myth – along with the Drunnad (the goat folk)... it bears studying the matter – but old powers are at work here, and have made you all part of the ancient struggle… Beeddel’s connection to Dunstrand is likely what gave you the way out – again, these matters bear much more study! Belim (being the military man he is) says that while that may be true – you have to stay focused on the job at hand. As Bill gathers wood for the fire, both Belim and Beeddel stay his hand – ‘best not to tip off those who may be waiting’ says Beeddel…

Bill mentions that Grumwell needs to share as much as he can about these things, but Grumwell complains he knows nothing more than myths and whispered rumors from duty books. All agree it is a terrifying thought that an entire world exists just out of sight, so different from our own. Perhaps, says Grumwell, Beeddel should seek out a druid or at least a priest of the Wyld faith to learn more about his connection with Dunstrand.

Rest and Onward to Tadeus

[Beeddel] I’m not sure about the rest of the gang, but I’m fairly beat up. I’m not so comfortable hanging around this place at night, though, either. How far away is town?

[Belim] Tadeus city is about 4 hours away in the dark – obviously a safer/faster journey if it was daylight – and we run the risk of getting lost without a good outdoors man.

[Bill] I would agree, i’m in pretty bad shape – a glancing dagger can kill me at this point, and i would rather wait for light where i can see foes coming and use range weapons where my thrown spear is my best weapon…

[Grumwell] yea, daylight and at range is best. I’m not hit hardly at all, but i have little mana to spare… morning would be better. I can get off 2 ‘Darts’ as it stands now and a lame-ass crossbow shot. Also daylight with range and human combatants could mean they are more susceptible to fear. Maybe i can ‘Mist’ up a couple of you if we know we are going to get shot at; that would give incoming missiles a severe disadvantage.

[Belim] Trying to make the whole run to the city in the dark, and beat up, seems like a bad idea; however, we are not staying right here. We seem to have been spat out the back door of a very bad place, and I am not going to stand around waiting for those snake people (or any of the other uglies in there) to figure out how to follow us out. So I say we put about a mile between us and this place and find a good lie-up point where we can see back (and around) as much as possible. A low hilltop or something would be great. Do we have any moonlight? (I’m not in too bad condition right now – some healing cuts and bruises, but nothing debilitating.)

[Grumwell] sounds like a good plan. I’m in.

[Bill] With full moonlight, lets send Beedell out to see if we can find a copse of trees or something. We have nobody with any outdoor skills…

[Beeddel] You know, i’ve been watching and thinking on a lot of this stuff, and i think i can figure out our direction…. at least keep us out of the effect. I’ve been paying close attention to which way we were going and i think i’m beginning to get the hang of orienting us.

Beeddel leads the group out of the gullies on the far side of the hill between us and Applebottom farm. At the very least, he does not allow us to get back into the effect zone, and finds an obvious copse of trees to picket the animals and set up watch against… No fires, though you do make a bunch of noise as you are hurt and tired, but no one jumps you or tries to attack you during the night.

[Grumwell] I have a few more 1 point poultices that can be used for healing checks for those that are down.

[Bill] I’m willing to burn through any mundane healing we got, as any brigand weapon can drop me with an average hit. This does obviously point to the need for even some leather armor possibly when we get to Tadeus… but i am not sure i can hold my shield and wear armor without being slowed down. I’ve been really trying to focus on being a better defender – i’m just not a warrior like some of you, but I can be a shield-man. Some day i’m gonna retire from this life and get my own farm. Animals and plants, farming and markets… i gotta stay focused on learning that too. Maybe i even want to be an animal doctor. I gotta get some sort of really light armor too – for when the blows that i can’t defend come through. Something that won’t drag me down…

We all discussed it and agreed to wait until light to move. Vraxen complained of a soreness in his back, and we all thought nothing of it until morning, when we found immobile. Bill checked him and we found a tiny needle where his soreness started – a minute dart with a serpent design carved on it. Perhaps the serpent people had gotten to us after all. Beeddel scouted the path back to the road. In the distance, coming from the east was a solitary traveler. We decided to seek what news we could and travel in larger numbers… we were not sure that the peddlers Jim and Jack, and their possible ally ‘Pete’ may not be waiting for us out there.


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