Thursday, August 25, 2005

Chapter 1. Feb 3, 2005

It was the day of the great festival, when all four of us gathered in Hammersdale, the small village that lies at the foot of mountain above the dwarven delve of Kundrukar. Rufus and Luke were the first to arrive, while Taliesin had come down from Glamis a full week early in order to spend some time with his uncle El├┐as. Paheri was the last to join, arriving from his temple-garrison in Glamis only hours before the climax of the festivities: “ the rabbit chase”. “The rabbit chase” is a local game of hide-and-seek, where small groups of villagers: men, women and children has to find a small child carrying a rabbit, who is hiding in the nearby forest. As the chase was afoot, we also joined and entered the forest. We had not been searching long, when movement was spotted in a nearby bush. Luke sneaked closer to discover that it was not the child, but a man weary and bruised from travel. He was obviously scared at first, but as Paheri was able to calm him down, he revealed his story. He’s name was Elmon and came from the village of Dire’s Cove in the mountains, about a week away over land, to seek the help of Kundrukar, as his village had been attacked by a large number of “rough and barbaric humanoids, some furry and some much larger than a man”. We immediately escorted the man to the village and further towards the dwarven gates, where Lord Jodmar met us. The dwarf lord was very inclined to help, however, since the snow would make travel in the mountains very dangerous, he was reluctant to march his troops up there just to perish in the freezing cold without further investigation. Hence, a scouting party should be sent to investigate, and the four of us readily volunteered for the job, receiving 100 gp per head for provisions. Already on the next day, at mid-day, we left Hammersdale, having equipped ourselves with provisions, winter gear, and a large cart pulled by Rufus.The first days of traveling were uneventful. As we started the climb, though, the weather rapidly got colder and snow started to hinder our path. Higher up the roads were inaccessible for wheeled carts and snowshoes were essential, therefore the wheels were taken of the cart so as to be pulled like a sleigh by Rufus. There were also other hindrances: heavy tree trunks suddenly blocked the mountain path. It turned out to be a roadblock erected by at least three primitive humanoids as large as Rufus, demanding a “road toll”. Focused on our mission in Dire’s Cove and realizing that they had a clear advantage of ground, we paid the toll of 5 gp per head and were subsequently allowed to move on. A few cold days later, approaching the village, three cat-like creatures carrying goblin riders attacked us. As battle commenced, the creatures turned out to be some sort of beast, whose howling made the blood freeze in our veins; fortunately Luke and Paheri were able to shrug it off and finish them quickly, since Rufus and Taliesin panicked. Abandoning the scene of the battle, we soon after reached the outskirts of the village. While the rest were hiding the “sleigh” and recuperating from the days of climbing, Luke sneaked closer to investigate. The two wooden guard towers were obviously manned by some humanoids, but distance and the heavy clothing made identification impossible. It was decided to try to sneak closer under cover of the morning twilight. Again, Luke took the point, the rest hiding just out of sight of the nearest guard tower. Unfortunately, Luke was discovered and soon an alarm drum could be heard, calling out to a group of orcs! Paheri and Taliesin still in hiding, Rufus appeared and tried to bluff the orcs into believing that he wanted to join their band, alas without success and the orcs attacked. In the ensuing battle, Rufus was cut down by the orchish swords and only saved by Taliesin’s healing, however, the orcs were eventually defeated (the last few spectacularly so, as Rufus toppled the 30-ft guard tower killing three orcs underneath as well as the archer on the lookout). Investigating the village closer, the surviving villagers, mostly women and children, were found to be captives in their own houses. Approaching them, we learned that they were scared of something (or someone?) dwelling in a building, residing high over the village itself; it looked like a small temple of some sort, but at the distance it was impossible to make out the symbol protruding from the roof. So we went closer …

No comments: