The Well of the Halfhollows, Part Ten

In our tenth session, the adventurers decided their course and began a long and in some ways grueling journey toward the capitol city, after the Ad’Tai made their intentions known that they would leave these lands and travel north. The adventuerers negotiated with the Ad’Tai and with Lady Grilea’s entourage, travelled around Pike’s Watch and did their best to remain incognito as they hurried toward the coast.

The tenth session was staffed by the following player characters:

  • Hodjai, the Djenndan fighter code named “Djaiho,” played by @Evan
  • Sookta, the Djenndan blacksmith code named “What’s it to you?,” played by @xSubNuke
  • Lemur-o, the kahlnissá ghost code named “Lemmademmadoo,” played by @Terri
  • Ts’uviti, the viantu savant code named “Soo Vee Dee,” played by @saelbrin

We began our tenth session right where we had previously left off, in the middle of a discussion regarding what must be done next. The adventurers agreed that Dolyos must be stopped at all costs, but which course of action would they take? They could encourage Lady Grilea to travel west and employ the help of the Moghul clan, or they could travel toward the capitol city and appeal to the Outer Council. Alternatively, they contemplated storming the Pelmoran Palace and ridding the land of Dolyos Miren for good. Any of these seemed like good options; certainly they seemed like the only options, since the adventurers were too committed to leave with the Ad’Tai and too loyal to hand Lady Grilea over to Rad Boleshin in Pike’s Watch.

Ts’uviti noted that he wanted the people of Pelmora to know what had transpired here, to expose Dolyos to the Empire as an evil tyrant. To that end, the viantu composed a song about the tale of his treachery and sorcery, hoping to perform it wherever they might travel next. After much deliberation, they decided that it made the most sense to them to escort Lady Grilea to the capitol city where they would seek the aid of the Outer Council and the Empire’s Peacekeepers. Exhausted, and with a moment’s closure, the group decided to catch a couple of hours of sleep and wake after dawn when Elder Soburu was announcing his decision to travel north.

The adventurers groggily rolled out of bed as most of the camp was gathering in the square to hear Elder Soburu. He proclaimed that the Ad’Tai would travel north to Turalenth, to escape the dangers in Pelmora and reunite with other Kimenians who might be able to help them. He also stated that the traitor Kelbur Hant would undergo tribunal when they arrived north in Turalenth. The adventurers roused a protest, claiming that they needed to address what to do with the prisoner, Kelbur Hant. Ts’uviti wanted no part of this tribunal. The party had heard rumors that the tribunal was a violent community spectacle, and while Hant would probably survive the physical torture and trauma of a tribunal, such a gauntlet was unfitting of Kelbur Hant’s crimes. Sookta spoke out to the crowd, claiming that Kelbur Hant was needed for evidence of Dolyos Miren’s crimes against the Ad’Tai, but Soburu stated that Hant’s crimes against the Pullar family were what needed to be answered.

That’s when Ts’uviti asserted a diplomatic negotiation, noting that Elder Soburu himself had already addressed these crimes many years ago when Kelbur Hant was banished. “Hant was banished and is no longer one of your kind,” the scholar noted. “He is no longer yours on which to exact justice. He is our prisoner.” Elder Soburu contemplated the viantu’s words, and finally agreed that Ts’uviti had a good point. “We have our own problems to deal with in the coming travels, and your logic is sound. Perhaps Kelbur Hant should no longer be our concern.”

This exchange caused some murmurs from the crowd, which were then overshadowed by the shouting protests of Jeysin Pullar. The angered Ad’Tai drew a sword and challenged Ts’uviti, shouting “No,” and claiming that the murderer of his father must die, and so should anyone who stands in the way of justice. Before anyone else had a chance to react, the two Djenndan rushed toward Jeysin Pullar, charging the angered brigand and wrestling him to the ground. Sookta held the man while Hodjai grabbed his sword arm and squeezed, shouting “Dolyos is your problem. Dolyos is the man who manipulated this person you want to kill,” pointing at Kelbur. The booming voice of the large warrior continued. “As long as Dolyos is alive, your sons and daughters are in dangers. And that matters more than your petty call for justice.” The two Djenndan bound the still-struggling Pullar, but the tension was largely diffused. It was clear their course. Kelbur would be released to travel with these adventurers.

After the crowd dipersed and the Ad’Tai began to gather their belongings, the adventurers also rallied their supplies and prepared to depart. Ts’uviti attempted to domesticate the goat gifted to the adventurers, and tried to mount the poor creature like some kind of horse. The goat squealed and jumped, tossing the scholar into the cold dirt. The surrounding encampment took some time out of their activities to point and laugh at the spectacle. Dusting himself off gracefully, the viantu stood and decreed that goats should not be ridden. He named the goat John Barbury. The group traveling to the capitol consisted of the four adventurers, plus Kelbur Hant, escorting Lady Grilea, Ser Jahann, Ser Rynan, Ser Donnan, Ser Runt, Dogedan plus two of Ser Rynan’s dogs, a goat named John Barbury, a nameless mule, and a cart packed with supplies.

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In the best of weather, while pushing the limits of comfortable mileage in one day, a trip of this distance would take the adventurers 9-10 days, and so they set off. Bad storms greeted them by midday, and they were forced to seek shelter to wait out the weather. After a day of waiting, they set out again, arriving outside the general area of Pike’s Watch. They circumnavigated the township at a healthy distance, hoping to avoid encountering anyone from the area. The adventurers did not want anyone to be able to get word to Dolyos that they were headed toward the capitol. So far as they could tell, no one in the surrounding areas of Pike’s Watch saw them pass through the area. They continued along the roadway after bypassing the township, but soon encountered severe storms that caused them to hole up for three full days.

When the storms let up, the group continued along the road once again. The travel was largely uneventful. The group encountered a small herd of pigs that Lem’ scared away. Just before arriving at the halfway point of their trip, however, a rare beast of grotesque form spotted the group and asserted its presence from the skies. The Djenndan in the party immediately knew what this hideous flying thing was. Called “blood bat” in the common tongue, or “macsenaaja”–meaning “the one who spills life”–in Alldedan, these beasts have a ravenous appetite for blood. The group feared for their lives as the blood bat swooped down toward them, appearing like a grotesque, oversized, viantu man with translucent, rigid wings. Just as they thought it would collide with one of them, the macsenaaja tore into John Barbury, nearly ripping the goat in half as it hoisted him into the air, leaving only a flash of blood behind. The blood bat flew to a nearby tree branch where it fed on the goat, cooing loudly.

After eight days of travel, and just having lost John Barbury, the party arrived exhausted at sundown in the town of Virrad, a settlement at the halfway point between Pike’s Watch and the port city along the coast. Virrad is a small town, and the group did their best to remain unnoticed, but it was clear after a short time that most in the settlement were aware that travelers had arrived. The party was directed that shelter and provisions could be found in the center of town, at the home of a man named Dyrakos who takes in weary travelers for a bit of coin. The party relished the idea of a good night’s sleep in warm walls, so they sought out Dyrakos and found his place in midtown.

Dyrakos answered many questions for the group and helped them warm and rest. An inquisitive man himself, Dyrakos proved thoughtful in a way that intrigued and perhaps slightly concerned the adventurers (if only at first). After talking with the man for quite some time, they decided that his quirks were his unique way of relating to the world. Ts’uviti decided to try to convince Dyrakos to travel with them to the capitol city. Surprisingly enough, the viantu scholar’s petition was heard and accepted. Dyrakos made his preparations to depart with the travelers while the rest of the group rested.

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Dyrakos Virrados is an odd fellow. He wears thick, brown-dyed robes that are cinched at the center with braided leather cording. His warming clothes under the robes are simple and unassuming. He seems to carry no armor or weapons of any kind. His supplies also seemed minimal, carried in a modest leather pack. Attached to the side of his pack is a leather fold that appears it might hold parchments and scrolls. His feet were clad with equally brown hardened leather lace-boots. When he met the adventurers in the morning after breakfast, he was ready to go, accompanied only by his modest pack and an ancient-looking walking stick that stood as tall has he did, made of toughened, gnarly, grainy wood. The man looked toward the ground, slightly to the right in his usual fashion, eyebrows raised, and swaying slightly back and forth waited to join the party as they left Virrad.

The rest of the trip seemed longer than the first leg to Virrad, though thankfully without much incident. Weather persisted at times that held the group from making the best time, but they pushed forward when they could. Ten days into their overall journey the adventurers encountered a small group of pangolins. The odd-looking creatures were frightened away. Two days later, during midday, the group encountered a few Peacekeepers who were traveling along the roadway.

In some ways, the Peacekeepers proved more of a challenge than even the hideous macsenaaja that stole John Barbury from the group. They stopped the travelers and began to ask questions. Not wanting to reveal their identity, the adventurers quickly decided that they were a traveling performing group, on the way to the port city to perform their next show. The Peacekeeper in command asked them to perform something for their tired protectors, but Ts’uviti’s harp must have been out of tune. The unwanted attention and suspicion seemed to grow. The Peacekeeper noted that sharing the wealth of their lucrative performances with the protectors of the Empire might help them feel like they were doing their part to keep themselves and others safe. Sookta realized immediately that these slimy enforcers were simply trying to shake them down for a bribe. Reluctantly, the group contributed some gold to the Peacekeepers. “Your Empire thanks you,” they answered, grinning, before sending the travelers on their way.

As they approached the coast, the weather seemed to improve quite a bit, and they finished out the next four days of their travels with a renewed momentum. By midday on their sixteenth day of travel since leaving the Ad’Tai encampment, the travelers rounded a corner that opened into a clearing. Just a mile ahead they saw the port city of many names–the place where they would need to procure a ship to travel to the capitol city of Thrennum. Alarest, Aldat, or sometimes called Asnarathia, the port city was a melting pot of diverse civilized activity. Four times the population of a place like Pike’s Watch crammed into an area half the size, all centered around the harbor docks where dozens of ships exchanged points every day. The energy of the activity in Asnaranthia could be felt even at their current distance, and they were about to make their way there toward their ultimate goal. The group would be leaving behind the wilderness roads for a different kind of challenge.

Now the adventurers are poised to escort Lady Grilea into the capitol. How will they procure passage to the capitol? Will they seek out the voices of the Outer Council here, or try to find a clandestine way to arrive at the capitol unannounced? We will find out as the adventure continues!

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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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