Bloodright : Rise of the Border Princes

The Invasion of Yew
"The Borderland Trail... past the bandits, along the orc-haunted road and through the dragons... it's easy..."

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…

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All Aboard!
"Brightwater... a city ruled by the power of the coin. Merchants are the kings of the realm."

Like winds from the distant edges of the Border Kingdoms, they came. Each had an agenda, and each had a plan. Chance had led them together, and soon would forge them into a force of power and strength beyond even their understandings. It was not the beginning, but it was a beginning…"

14th of Shorn, 1048 TR : Brightwater – City of Coins, the Hearthstone Inn : Searching for work, with the winter drawing close and snows looming closer, the adventurers found themselves in a difficult position. “Loose” wandering adventurers, were considered lower than goblins; their unwillingness to join sides in the conflict raging across Land of the Two Princes, meant that they were powerful rogue elements in society. Their search for a means to support themselves, had led them to follow a handbill being circulated among the mercenary forces of the city, stating :

Now Hiring – Adventurers! Easy Work! Good Pay! Free Food! Visit the Hearthstone Inn for a feast and job opportunity!"

The group were all told to meet at a central table in the inn, a table heaped with food and their cups filled with ale and wine. Their host was nowhere to be seen. The group was a little uneasy, at first, but between Fangrik eating entire joints of roast with his javelin next to Kruck who ate handfuls of food, but just silently glowered at everyone. Ash Cogward took the downtime to spread out his tools on the table and start cleaning and greasing them. Turns-out, the fairy was the first to start talking.

Squirrel began making introductions, introducing her “mistress”, Lady Vathra banRainha and slowly the group began to introduce themselves. They had indeed all come in answer to the summons, and were looking for some answers as well. Only Kruck, silent during the exchanges, noticed the sneaky little goblin huddled in a corner by the stairs leading to the inn’s rooms. He leaned forward and in his first words of the day muttered “There’s a goblin watching us…”. Everyone went silent and glared at the goblin in the corner… it immediately shrieked and slipped up the stairs towards the rooms.

Most of the adventurers continued to talk among themselves, but Ash, ever the inquisitive one, gathered his tools back together, and making sure he was ready. shouldered his kit and “snuck” away after the goblin… clinking and rattling as he went. Drew the Avaricious slipped off to meet with a pair of local farmers, and quickly pretended to be interested in whatever they might be talking about. Lady Vathra, Squirrel, and Lord Taumus of House Daure all slipped away from the table, following the clanking sound of the gnome, Ash.

Ash found the corridor above the stables empty, with four doors leading off into common rooms for guests. He noticed one of the doors was “goblin-sized” open, and crept (clanked) up to it, peering in. He saw the usual four bunks of an Argothic inn, but with a chair in front of the single window, holding an armed mercenary guard, with the missing goblin cowering at his feet. This was their introduction to Captain Tallus.

He welcomed the “little one” to enter and join him… Ash took a quick look around the area of the partially opened door, and realized it was trapped, with a bucket falling on their heads if they entered freely. He nodded as Ash removed the trip-wire,a dn carefully pushed the door open further. His companions followed him in as well and Captain Tallus eyed them all with a discerning gaze. “You have passed the tests, and I would offer you employment…” he began.

“You are discerning and capable of leaving comfort for danger. You are smart enough to investigate the unusual, and you have wary enough to refuse to accept an open invitation. Adventurers, for certain.”

“I would offer you, on behalf of my employer Edensor the Merchant, work for a couple weeks. We will pay you one gold piece per day, pus room and board while underway, to act as scouts and auxiliary guards to a caravan my master is organizing. We suspect it will take at least a ten-day, weather permitting to travel from Brightwater, through the Bronze Hills and into the Trackless Heights, where we intend to spend the winter trading and preparing for a caravan to return home the following spring at Frandor’s Keep.”

“If you remain in the area the following spring, we might likely hire you for a return trip, it you feel so inclined. Any questions?”

The group asked for a few more exacting points, but they felt tehy understood the situation, and welcomed the opportunity. They were informed to meet at the south “Caravan” gate of the city in three days, early in the morning. They were also advised to acquire whatever winter gear and supplies they might need, as they were heading into the deep mountains to a fromtier outpost, possibly to be isolated for several months. The group was also told that they might invite their less observant friends along if they’d like… their choice. Dragging the sneaky goblin by the scruff and calling him “Grippa”, Tallus left the room.

Drew the Avaricious noticed the man leave dragging the goblin out the front door, while Kruck and Fangrik continued eating. The four adventurers that had headed into the passageway returned to the table, and after a quick discussion, told their companions about a job they were all offered. Drew had been busy talking to the locals and learned that the chief thing on their minds was the fact that the winter was looking to be turning into a “Wolf Winter”… cold, hard and when the humanoids of the region starve, often swarming into the civilized lands.

Squirrel slipped over to Drew, and plopping on his shoulder related that there was an offer of work for the group, if he wanted to come over and talk about it… Drew shooed her away with a swat of his hand, and then realizing the locals were a little concerned Drew was more than a local merchant, excused himself and rejoined the group. Relating all the information they knew, Drew also informed the group of the facts behind Edensor the Merchant, and how he always makes moves seemingly before opportunity strikes, making him a wealthy man. Whatever the reason he was heading to Frandor’s Keep, it was likely a smart and prosperous trade-related one. Drew tried to convince the two quiet, strong ones (Kruck and Fangrik) that they should ask for more money, at least 2 gps per day or more.

The group all agreed to meet together in three days, and join this caravan, several taking rooms in the inn, while Fangrik slipped away with an armful of roast fowl to the stables. Lady VAthra and Squirrel both nosed about for a couple hours trying to identify some of the facts about Edensor, eventually locating his manor and small estate in the “merchanty” part of Brightwater.

The group spent the next couple days acquiring supplies for the journey, notably cold weather gear and extra ammunition. Drew bought pack animals and extra supplies for trading. Fangrik and Kruck mostly just slept.

17th of Shorn, 1048 TR : The group all arrived to find a large caravan gathering for their journey south into The Beast Shards; Edensor was easy to spot, talking to Captain Tallus near a couple brightly-painted wooden wagons drawn by oxen. He had about a dozen guards on horses with crossbows, and each of his wagons was eaquipped with a driver and a guard next to him also with a crossbow. One wagon was declared to hold supplies for the journey (tents, torches, rations and other important gear), and a portion was being used as his personal quarters. Three others, holding barrels of ale, wine, preserved fruits and other important trade goods, like ironware and cured leather hides.Another five wagons were paying to accompany the caravan, one acting as a transport for several well-to-do people, including a couple officers from Frandor’s Keep. The other three were independent merchants hauling various personal goods. None had additional guards, though they had apprentices with crossbows.

While Drew argued (unsuccessfully) with Captain Tallus to get a wage increase, (being told to either accept it or leave), Kangrik gathered a heap of jerky (turkey!) from the supply wagon. It was quickly made aware that payment would be concluded upon arrival at The Keep, and not before, but the group had free access to basic supplies (oil for lanterns, torches and such) until then. Squirrel upon arrival, gave everyone a gift, a pretty flower, except to Drew, who got a rock. Lady Vathra was introduced to Edensor by Squirrel, and the merchant proclaimed “My dear! You’re positively infested with fairies!”. To which Squirrel admitted the reason was “I can read her mind!”. Edensor excused himself quickly and looked confused.

The sharp shout from a nearby alley caught both Fangrik’s and Ash’s attention, and both lured into the entrance to see four masked thugs beating a man half-to-death near a bend in the passage. They shouted and charged against them, followed by the rest of the troop, with Fangrik, Kruck and even Drew taking the lead to keep them engaged, while the rest spread across the alley’s entrance, laying down magic and psionic strikes. The man they had been beating, slowly crawled away from the fight, and within a short amount of time, the brigands were contained.

From the shadows above, a dark figure appeared, sniping down on the melee troopers with a woman’s hearty voice proclaiming “What have we here, my hearties?!?”. Fangrik tried to claw his way up the side of the building on the alley, but failed to get a grip on the wall. Even Ash summoned his little servant Clinkton next to the shadowy figure, and she responded by shifting into the shadows and disappearing. Magic fire sniped back and forth, with several mighty blows, and a devastating psionic blast to the last trooper, followed by a savage strike from Kruck who called out if he should be a prisoner. Ash shot the man squarely killing him before anyone could answer. The group picked through the corpses fnding nothing beyond their armor, clubs, raincloaks (which Ash and Taumus both took one), and a handful of silver and copper coins.

Taumus and Ash both approached the fallen man the group had been beating, and he revealed himself to be Melendus the Merchant, a merchant from the very caravan headed south. When asked why he was in the alley wiht these thugs, he stated… “I was looking to think about things, you know, before we head south into the montisn… some alone time, when they jumped me…”. It seemed a little odd, but he was freindly enough, calling the group “…true heroes…”, and offering to buy them all drinks at the next inn they visit. He introduced them to his “companions”, two pretty young maidens, Chantel (Blond) and Sacia (Brunette), and a married couple of personal guards on horses, Davidas and Ohtar. He was hauling ale and cheese to The Keep, intending to spend the winter there, trading.

No one seemed alarmed by the sharp fight in the alley, and the group returned to watch the final preparations of the caravan as it made its way out of the city…

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Land of Mist & Mystery

The Rhyme of the Lost Hermit

“Two for the Dwarves, in their halls of gold;
Three for the Elves, mid their bowers and bows;
Five for the race of Man, for their fire and grace;
That all might know why, and all have a place…"

How Adventurers are regarded on Argoth

Adventurers. Wandering sellswords regarded as dangerous men to be handled carefully and duped (if possible) in assisting one’s own position, but always regarded as “Outlanders”, since they live outside society.

To the common folk, these “outlanders” mean trouble; bandits and brigands at best, rampaging monsters at worst. Treat them with distant politeness if they prove civil but too strong to defy or trick; gang up on them and remove them from the area as quickly as possible if they can be defeated or duped to leave. To local lords and other wealthy upper classes, they are to be respected as long as they obey the traditions and laws of the land. They are, however, to be regarded watchfully at all times, as troubles of any conceivable sort could erupt.

Bands of adventurers, however, form a different position in society. Treated more like a mercenary band, they are accepted by people if they can be associated to a specific banner or crest, upon which their reputation hangs. Excessive use of magicks or powerful artifacts that alter the status quo quickly bring even the local noble’s wrath down upon them. Exile is the least of concerns, as other adventurers are often hired to deal with perceived threats of this magnitude.

In all cases, the people of the Dominioons do not have a deep love for wandering sellswords or adventurers, and take a dim view of those who result to tense situations with threats, violence, magic and generally sneaky behaviour.

Sometimes, local lords hire adventurers to bolster their armies, or hunt down monsters in the wildlands. Pay can be low, offering room, board and 2cp per day for a “soldier”, or up to 5sp per day for a personal “bodyguard”. The more mercenary tasks, such as monster-hunting often is triple the standard fee (around 1 gp per day), with a promise to allow the adventurers keep any loot or booty that cannot be traced to its owners, that they happen upon. Some bands make a killing in salvaged weapons and armor being resold to markets or the lord himself at a discounted rate. Some powerful lords, however, might promise much but be slow in repayment, as they have the ability to wait.

The most common duty adventurers might find is as bandit-hunters. Great wealth lies in successful bandits lairs, and nobles are often willing to pay in land or titles for the removal of particularly difficult bandit “lords”. Sometimes, the line between bandit-lord and neighboring nobleman, however, can be a matter of discussion with the king…

Steadings

Much of Argoth, particularly its mountains and woodlands, are little visited by civilized folk. There is always, however, a claim on the land, and it would do adventurers well to consult with the local political powers before claiming or altering the landscape for whatever purposes. Mountain strongholds are particularly imperiled by giants, orcs, trolls and The Tauri, and are often already claimed or occupied by the elder peoples; elves and dwarves.

Nevertheless, vast tracts of wilderness are abundantly available for exploitation, and the strong of will and body can carve out realms for themselves. Eager adventurers are reminded that the foundation of a kingdom can take a lifetime or more, and is neither safe nor easy…

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