The Well of the Halfhollows, Part Two

Last night we continued our game testing campaign after having postponed from the previous Monday to Saturday evenings. Saturdays seem like they might be an easier night to play for the time being, so I’m delighted that we’re planning our third session for this coming Saturday. Thanks to all the players who participated in the continuation of this campaign. Of course, more interested players are welcome to join us as we continue the story.

Our second session consisted of the following players:

  • Hodjai, “Ji-HO”, the Djenndan fighter, played by @Evan
  • Lemurt, “Lem”, the kahlnissá ghost, played by @Terri
  • Sookta, the Djenndan blacksmith, played by @xSubNuke
  • Ts’uviti, the viantu savant, played by @saelbrin

The adventurers awoke just after Dawn in Pike’s Watch, some having camped near the edge of the town while others stayed in the bug-ridden comfort of The Pond’s Edge tavern. Morning in the town square was mostly quiet, but there were some of the previous night’s adventurers already awake and about the town. Our group took note of the Uskelian merchant they had met the night before as he haggled for a price with an odd adventurer. At the center of the square, two Peacekeepers–one of them elaborately adorned–were preparing an “honor cart,” which Sookta would find out later is a Pelmoran tradition of honor for someone deceased. In front of the house where Rad Boleshin had called his meeting the previous evening stood a young woman and her father. Having just regrouped, the adventurers decided to leave the square to its own business and seek out Dezeva–the viantu they had met the night before–to see if she had yet located the blacksmith Itoar.

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Heading west into the residential district, the group noticed many makeshift mud and wooden shacks all haphazardly arranged and silently standing in the early morning. Just beyond these rudimentary homes they could hear the sounds of work from a larger stone and mud structure. There they saw Dezeva in her grand purple robes, seemingly frustrated as she tried to gather information from an old but muscular blacksmith. The group approached and made their greetings. Sookta, being a blacksmith himself, tried to compliment one of the pieces that Itoar had forged, but the old man was either too busy or too flustered to notice, and he told the large Djenndan that the piece could be purchased for three threnns. It seemed as if Itoar was overly tense, flustered, almost worried that there were so many people trying to talk to him.

The rest of the group took Dezeva aside and discovered that she was having an equal amount of trouble getting any information from the blacksmith. The purple-robed viantu deduced that Itoar seemed reluctant to estrange himself any further from the townsfolk of Pike’s Watch, as they had already branded him a “brigand sympathizer” after the events during Lady Grilea Miren’s arrival over a week before. It was during that time, the group recalled, that one of Lady Grilea’s Knights had killed a brigand in the street, and Itoar had cried out that it was an injustice.

Sookta took the opportunity to realize that Itoar was currently trying to reassemble a cart that had been broken the evening before. Without divulging any details about how the cart might have been broken, the large Djenndan began to help the blacksmith with his work. This eased Itoar’s tension a bit, and he welcomed the help. Sookta began to engage Itoar in conversation, mentioning as he worked that it was a nasty bit of business, the killing of an unarmed man. This took Itoar aback, and nervously he steered the conversation away from talk of brigands toward the more immediate tragedy of the death of Radiis. The group recalled that Radiis was the young man who fled the altercation with the Peacekeeper the night before. Had he been murdered? It seemed that the honor cart was being prepared for him.

The group began to realize that Itoar was linked to the brigands somehow. Briefly stepping to a quiet area of his yard, the blacksmith leveled with them, stating that the death of Radiis would likely go uninvestigated just like the death of his father the week before. Itoar pointed out the location of the brigand camp in the north and asked the group to tell Radiis’s true family what had happened to him. With that, the adventurers left Itoar to his work.

Ts’uviti had heard enough. Having gained a rapport with one another, he and Dezeva were content to travel together and wished to head north, following the trail of Lady Grilea toward this so-called brigand encampment. The rest of the group, however, wanted to learn more from the town square if they could. Ts’uviti and Dezeva reluctantly stayed with the rest of their pack, and they all headed back to the square. Once again ignoring the Peacekeepers preparing the honor cart, they approached the young woman in front of the meeting house. As they approached, the older man took his leave. The young woman introduced herself as Eliana Hevas. She was reluctant to give up any information, but she did hint to the notion that these “brigands” are not the evil cutthroats they are made out to be. Additionally, she gave the adventurers a broader context of the tension between the Pelmoran Knights and the people of Pike’s Watch. Eliana didn’t like many of the groups questions though, and she quickly took her leave.

The adventurers then sought out the three hardened adventurers they had seen the night before. Sookta greeted the Djenndan in their band, a giant warrior by the name of Throbtar. He and his two human companions–a marksman of some ilk named Enas and a thinly robed man named Maryk–branded themselves as “Dragonkin Hunters.” Maryk was a charming fellow, and the first wizard anyone in the group had ever seen. The self-proclaimed dragonkin hunters were in the area due to a growing threat and fear of these elusive creatures. Throbtar made no apologies for his crude mannerisms, and told the group flatly that they would be no match for any dragonkin should they ever encounter any. After exchanging jibes with these seasoned adventurers, the group decided it was time they took their leave of Pike’s Watch. Itoar had shown them the roads to take to deliver the news of Radiis’s murder, and so they set out north just as Lady Grilea’s caravan had done over a week ago.

The journey began without complication. The group still traveled with Dezeva, who frequently jabbered on in Volaani to Ts’uviti as they made their way north. Overall the journey was six and a half miles–not an overly long trip but one far enough to seem isolated from the nearby township. Just a mile or two into their trip, Hodjai noticed a pack of wild dogs in the path ahead. He carefully crept toward them with an offering of food hoping to catch their attention. All but one of the pack fled as the Djenndan approached, but the boldest and most curious of the group took to Hodjai almost immediately. Hodjai named their new companion “Dogedan,” presumably as some conglomeration of Alldedan and the common tongue. Hodjai and Sookta accepted the new pet’s name, even though the word seems to mean literally “From the dog.”

Nearly halfway along their route a severe storm rolled in and rain began to pour from the skies. Thunder, lightning, and heavy rains caused the group to seek out shelter, delaying their journey by a day and a half. Soaking wet, both Sookta and Ts’uviti felt ill as they began to set out again north on the third day. Dezeva offered them each a potion that would ease their lungs and help them recover from their sickness. The adventurers agreed, and quickly began to regain their composure. However, it seemed odd when Dezeva drank some of the potion as well, considering she showed no symptoms of the lung sickness.

The adventurers followed the path to the edge of a hill; below there was a small encampment where several lookouts noticed the approaching adventurers. Hoping not to appear threatening, the party approached the main gates of the encampment, invoking the name of Radiis and hoping to bring a message to his kin. The people appeared to be Kimenian, northern nomads who lived in the wilds. Were these the “brigands” of Pike’s Watch? The lookouts at the gate offered entry to the adventurers, and directed them to the family of Radiis. The Borran family was grateful that the group had come all this way to deliver the message, even though they had just learned of the news the previous day. First Ferohas, Radiis’s father, was killed by a Pelmoran Knight. Lady Grilea herself had come to tell the Borran family the news and to make amends. Now Radiis was killed, and no one knows by whom. The injustice within Pike’s Watch was growing, as was the propaganda of the “brigand’s plot,” an oft-spoken threat posed by these Kimenians. The adventurers were beginning to realize that these people were a threat to no one.

The escort who met their group at the gates introduced himself as Jeysin Pullar, and he introduced the travelers to an old man named Soburu, the Elder of the encampment. “We call ourselves the Ad’Tai,” told Soburu. They described their people having lived in what are now referred to as “Pelmoran Lands” for many generations. Since his Uncle Agleos, the former Pelmoran Regent had passed on, the High Lord Dolyos had over the last decade kidnapped many of their people under the guise of trespassing charges, but the Ad’Tai were not convinced that their people had simply been arrested and installed in some Pelmoran prison. There has been talk of the High Lord sending some of the arrested Ad’Tai to the Torlish ruins to the south. Why, the Elder could not be certain.

Abstract-Fractal-Art-Artist-Michal-Dunaj-3A seasoned survivalist who introduced himself as Dars “The Plank” Mardagin offered a bit more information. “Call me The Plank, everybody does.” The Plank carried an small hand axe and a large fashioned plank as his favored weapons. He noted that when Lady Grilea brought news of Ferohas’s death, she argued with two of her Pelmoran Knights before leaving the Ad’Tai encampment and traveling south. He guessed they were headed toward the Torlish ruins, and asked if he might travel with the adventurers if they were on their way after Lady Grilea. The group agreed, and after sleeping in the encampment long house for the evening, took their leave and began to travel south through the wilderness toward the Torlish ruins; The Plank served as their tracker and guide.

The journey was a long one, and not without peril. Dars noticed two large wild cats coming their way. “They don’t look like the friendly type,” he noted. The Plank threw his favored weapon at the cats, but missed shamefully. The adventurers fought with the cats, each attack in turn avoided until Dezeva threw a strange vial on the ground. It immediately made one of the cats fall to sleep. Hodjai took the opportunity to attempt to calm the other cat by grappling it, but after a brief struggle, the cat broke free. Luckily, it fled in fear, leaving the group standing over the remaining cat, still fast asleep. Dars collected his plank and Lem’ decided to tuck in the cat and then the group continued on their journey.

Thankfully, the weather held up nicely and The Plank seemed to know his way around the Pelmoran wilderness. It was just when Dars was saying that they must be close to the ruins that a large, grotesque rodent emerged from a stagnant puddle. Its eyes glowed green and it bared its fangs, hissing and drooling a foul-smelling ichor that burst into flames as it dripped to the ground. The beast charged the group; Dars threw his plank and missed again. Lem’ angled back and fired an arrow from her longbow. The creature howled in pain with a thousand voices. Spinning its head completely around, it hissed on the arrow, catching the shaft on fire and burning it away. Sookta lunged forward with his hammer, shaping the hellish rat’s skull as if it were an anvil task. The beast squealed and backed away. Dezeva lunged forward with her dagger at just the right moment, stabbing it through the eye. The rodent quivered as its brains exploded through the back of its head, and it collapsed to the ground in a heap of death.

Luckily the group escaped the encounter unscathed. It was certain that none of them had ever seen a grotesque mutation like that before, and if they were to talk about it with anyone, they would likely be applauded for their inventive imagination. There was brief discussion about whether or not they should take a trophy from the beast, but the consensus was that they should best move on and consider the gods were watching out for them. It was shortly after they defeated this mutation that The Plank pointed through the trees toward a large Torlish ruin. They had arrived. The time was just before the sun sets, but in the waning light they could see torches and signs of activity in the ruins below. The old Torlish draw bridge was extended over the moat, and for an ancient ruin it seemed very much lived in. The adventurers collected their thoughts and remained hidden in the trees as they planned their next move.

Will they camp for the night and keep watch for activity? Will they try to sneak close and see what waits near the main entrance? What came of Lady Grilea’s caravan? We’ll find out next Saturday. I’m looking forward to it!

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Fractalform is the gaming handle of Bret Woods--ethnomediologist, author, and lead developer of Augur's Lore RPGs. Bret is Thing 1 at http://descrypt-studios.com.

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