17th of Shorn, 1048 TR, Late Morning : As the caravan took its sweet time organizing, Lord Taumus of House Daure revealed his map of the environs of Frandor’s Keep, that he’d acquired during the last couple days of waiting, and it was passed around. <<see>> Taumus then asked after Melendus the Merchant from Captain Tallus, learning that he always came to The Keep with new “companions” each year. “…he’s nefarious… friendly enough, but with an endless stream of new companions…”.
The group began walking through the caravan to familiarize themselves with the various merchants and guards. Consisting of eight wagons, and a dozen mounted guards, it was large, and represented the last expected caravan of the season. While Edensor the Merchant had three trade wagons, and a supply wagon for himself, a fifth wagon served to carry various paying passengers (including a pair of officers from The Keep, returning from an extended furlough), another pair of merchants with a wagon of goods each (mainly consumables such as oil and cloth), and Melendus’ own wagon of wine and cheese. They met with the passengers of the wagon, and struck up a conversation with the soldiers, Lady Vathra banRainha taking a particular interest in them “…are they… Hot? Mm-m-m-m-m… Purr-r-r-r-r…”.
Captain Tallus placed the group in the caravan rear with orders to keep an eye on anyone trying to follow the caravan, the adventurers left south along the Bronze Road. The adventurers saw “someone” leave south, though they soon left the trail and moved into the fields to the west, and the caravan was left alone. The day’s journey was almost without a break to make up time lost getting organized, and arrived at the village of Twix where a ferry would allow them to cross the Brightwater River to its sister-village of Overtwix. The crossing took much of the night, with two wagons on each crossing, but allowed everyone to rest and recover before the morning.
18th of Shorn, 1048 TR : Facing cloudy skies, the caravan started across the Fallen Hills, passing a few isolated homesteads and a single inn, before camping near The Watcher’s Wood and the first of the serious climbs into The Trackless Heights.
19th of Shorn, 1048 TR : Continuing up the Borderland Trail, the caravan met some steep climbs, but reached the village of Sabre River by dark, camping inside its walls at the central market. That night, the adventurers set their camp to one side of the wagons, and were approached by Melendus with a pair of ale kegs from the local tavern. He offered them in thanks for their saving him, and after some discussion as to whether or not to drink, they eventually broached them and began asking Melendus questions about their journey. He had, indeed been on this trip with Edensor before, and related various encounters with goblins, orcs and minotaurs. He had been on the road ten years ago, during the orc invasion, and had been under siege in Yew for the entire winter. He also related the greatest danger of the pass to The Keep, The Ravens, warning that they were among the most fearsome to merchants. Melendus was also asked about his companions, but he related that they were always “…quite pleased with their service…”.
20th of Shorn, 1048 TR : The group was given orders to travel on ahead of the caravan by 1/2 an hour, and warned they were approaching goblin territory. The adventurers moved on ahead, and as they approached the enclosing mountain pass, Ash Cogward and Kruck both noticed jabbering from a nearby woodland east of the trail. The group quickly engaged a group of goblin javelin-throwers and archers, while the casters stayed near the trail. Another group of goblin warriors dropped from the trees, and were met by Lady Vathra who surprisingly pulled a morningstar from her robes to brain a goblin near her, until another hidden goblin “Blackknife” slipped from a spot behind a rock and tried to stab Taumus, whose powers had shattered the main goblin line. The battle ended promptly, under the combined assault of the casters powers and Kruck and Fangrik’s blades. Although a handful escaped quickly to either side of the trail, the adventurers claimed the site, salvaging weapons and a few handfuls of coins. The group mounted goblin heads on some spears by the roadside, piled the corpses and waited for the caravan to catch-up.
The caravan finally arrived, and after explaining their encounter, were told to go ahead and secure the campsite for the evening. Travelling forward, they reached the height of the pass, and looking down into the valley beyond, set a camp near a small lake. The caravan arrived and they all camped.
21st of Shorn, 1048 TR : The adventurers awoke to find Fangrik fishing in the lake (unsuccessfully), and moved down the Borderland Trail to the village of Yew with no other events. The caravan placed itself in the stone-walled town market, while merchants and passengers went into the “Grey Griffon Inn” for a night’s stay. The adventurers also followed along, taking rooms and placing a huge order for food and ale at the main table, at Edensor’s expense. Kruck then camped under a wagon for the night (having taken his charge as a guard very seriously), and Fangrik moved into the stables with an armful of sausage.
Late in the evening, Kruck was prodded awake by one of Edensor’s guards, with an “…Orc! Orc! Awake! There’s something going on at the far wagon…” _Kruck told him to go awake “…the wolfman…” in the stables, and tightened his armor, grabbed his axe and moved off to investigate. He found a cluster of five small figures huddled against the far wagon, pointing towards the inn and whispering something. He charged forward, hacking into the closest, revealing the invaders to be a band of gnomes… He was soon joined by Fangrik, who charged into the fight with a battle howl. The pair quickly eliminated most of them, capturing the toughest one, while the caster among them took a pair of nearly mortal wounds, vanished and teleported away… Fangrik scented carefully on the wind, using his tracking abilities, and quickly found the gnome hiding in the stables, and gutted him in a quick single strike with his spear.
The adventurers and various residents from the inn poured into the street, as the village came awake around them. Fangrik took the survivor by his scruff and while he held him, Lady Vathra moved forward, and seductively kissed their prisoner with red-glowing embers for eyes. She began to interrogate him telepathically, with the party only able to hear his answers. He readily reveled he was of the Basalt Clan, a family of gnomes who were intent on claiming their “bloodright” and their “ancestral lands”. “…even now, my brothers and sisters are sweeping through this village, seeking to claim back what was rightfully ours…”. Sure enough a series of lights and explosions reverberated around town, and the group moved off to investigate the nearest. Fangrik smacked his prisoner around like a rag-doll, muttering “…pitiful gnome…”, before tossing the corpse aside and loping off after his battle companions. Lady Vathra sighed at the loss and moved off too.
The group quickly came upon a merchant’s house that had been broken into, and its family taken hostage by another group of gnomes. As the they approached the broken doors, a female gnome holding the lead merchant hostage cried “Come closer and the family dies!”. The group quickly bashed past the door guards, and moved into the large hall, blades and powers flashing. Quickly overwhelmed, two tried to escape out the side window, but neither made it, the toughest being captured by Kruck, who crushed the gnomes’ head with the cry “DO YOU SURRENDER!?!”, and an assistance by Lady Vathra’s psionic powers. The caster in this group, once again vanished and teleported away into the shadows, but this time, escaped into the night. The family in the hall were freed and hunkered quietly in one corner of the hall.
All around the village, the town militias and guards had rallied and cornered most of the invaders. Fangrik sniffed about, and found the section of wall where some thirty gnomes had obviously slipped over the walls, and then, as things grew suddenly quiet, the adventurers returned to the inn, and encountered Edensor talking animatedly with the town mayor and many members of the town council. The adventurers reported to Edensor what they had encountered. The gnomes quietly began to vanish, slipping away into the night, and avoiding all the village guards. The merchants were concerned about heading out with gnome bandits on the loose, and even the lord mayor was concerned. Edensor assured he would send “his” adventurers out to investigate the matter, and resolve the conflict in the morning. The mayor also assured the gathered notables that the local knight would be contacted, and he would probably wish to speak with the adventurers as well… The group broke-up and tried to settle back down for a good night’s rest…