Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Fragments of the Last War 1.24

This session began where the last left off.

Auras, Tirane, Eifer
Ogronn 24, 21 OC

Laying across a sack of oats, Malpais stared at the snow now falling on him.  The wagon hit a hole in the road, and he snapped back awake.  His muscles ached.  His skin burned from hundreds of small puncture wounds left by the ebon mirror's explosion.

Though he knew they were most likely returning to Auras, Malpais' attention wandered.  He closed his eyes again.  His body slackened even as the wagon hit another hole.

"Malpais," a voice called him.

Mal, unable to ascertain the direction of the voice or who was speaking, stirred and muttered.  He tried to speak, to acknowledge, but the pain damped  his voice.  "Yes," he finally managed.  "Yes."

He heard the sound of rain falling through tree branches and smelled a thick meal worm stew cooking - plop, plop - nearby.  "Quiet my son," came the voice and a frail grippli hand touched his forehead.  His eyes focusing, Mal saw he lay on a small cot in a wooden stick-slatted room.  Beyond he smelled the great trees of the south forests.  His mother sat on a small stool beside him wiping his face with a warm damp cloth.

"Madre?"  He struggled to lift himself, to meet the cloth with his head.  He couldn't and sank back defeated.

The room shook.  A shelf lined with decorative pottery shifted sending them all crashing to the floor.  She smiled.  "We don't have much time, Mal."Lifting his head, she held a cup of water for him to drink.

His lips touched the rim of the cup.  The liquid cooled them as it flowed down his throat.  It took all his concentration not to breath, not to choke.

The room shook again, and the limb which held the house creaked.  "We are leaving soon, my son.  The whole village." She sat the cup on he lap.  "A hole has opened in the world.  I have seen it.  I felt it hurt you."  She wiped his face again.  "If you want to come with us, you must do so quickly."

Malpais managed to wipe his mouth.  "Yes, Madre.  I saw the hole open.  I tried to stop it, but..."

"I know," she whispered sadly.  "I saw you my son.  I know you no longer feel welcome with us."  She sighed.  "I know your father is still angry, but if you do not come now then there may be many years before you can come home again.  If ever."  She glanced toward the window.  The sky had reddened.

For a while, Mal was uncertain if this was simply a dream or more than that.  "Yes, Madre, I think I would like to come home."

She smiled.  "Then you must come south my son."  She wiped his head again.  "Heal and come quickly,"  she frowned.  "But if you do, you will leave Cymru behind.  We are traveling south to the edge of the ice."

The room jolted again.

"Si, madre," he said.  "I am coming."

But he was already awake.  "Already staring, again, at the snow grey sky, already conscious of the thousands of pinpricks across his body.

He new now that he was not dying.  Uncertain how he new, he knew.  The ogre hadn't ended him.

***

After permanently opening a portal to a Horror Realm, losing the holy icons - which they had been hired to retrieve - and nearly losing a few party members, the Irregulars decided it was time to return to Auras, recover, and see what their options were.  All in all a setback for the team.

Malpais slipped into unconsciousness despite stabilizing him.  The rest made their slow ride/walk.  Though the snow had briefly returned after the shattering of the Ebon Mirror, the weather settled into a steady, cold rain.  Fog crept up onto the road from the forests.

Dinty sang a chipper song about horse-brain pie to raise everyone's spirits.  He was unsuccessful.

Back in Auras, Louis contacted Yavie and begged her for help.  Once she saw Malpais, she agreed to help everyone except Grind.  This was fine for the ogre.  Between potions  and some healing from Piper, Grind did his best to recover.

The Irregulars alerted the Factor of the horror-portal, which terrified the village.  A fast rider was sent north to Cymru.

***

Orgronn 27, 21 OC

They decided to stay at Auras for a few days while Malpais and Grind recovered.  Piper was willing to assist in minor healing, but Grind sought out the old human wisewoman, Taddy, to help Malpais, and received some healing from a young dwarven priest of Grumbar himself.

The morning of the 27th was drizzly and cool.  The extreme snow and hot temperatures from a few days earlier had begun to subside.  Louis noticed a gnome had moved into the village overnight and setup a tent over his traveling wagon. He busied himself setting up his wares.

Louis, Grind, Nota'Cor and Piper decided to investigate the wagon after Louis mentioned that this might be the gnome that the elf, Gerren de Andalus, hired them to find.  Because of the morning rain, the gnome stayed under his tent, next to his wagon, with a small fire in a metal cage burning.   He smoked deeply from a waterpipe.

As they approached, the Irregulars realized he had several small metal animals with exposed gears sitting on a table and a five-footish sized mechanical man in his wagon.

"Greetings, my fellow travelers and purchasers of fine goods," the gnome squeaked.  "Welcome to Lumpy Snortwood's Bazaar of Tick-tock Wonders!"  He puffed a few smoke rings.

Louis examined the mechanical man, while Piper poked at the windup dog.

Grind asked,  "Do you know an elf named Gerren de Andalus?"

"What!?" the gnome sputtered.  "Why is here here?"  His face grew red.  "I know him.  He wanted to buy my tick-tock man there.  I won't sell a thing to him.  Not after what he did!" Louis glanced at Grind and shrugged.   "Why?" continued the gnome, "Do you work for him?"

"Who wants to work for an elf?" Nota'Cor stated. "We are free agents." Good job Fast Talk!

With this the gnome calmed down, "Of course, wonderful."

Louis pointed to the windup dog that Piper had examined.  "How much for this dog thing?"

"500 silver,"  the gnome replied.

"And the tick-tock man?" Grind asked.  "We are interested in buying him."  Grind has a negative modifier to reaction checks, being an ogre, but even with this, some good Diplomacy rolling and the 100 gold coins convinced Lumpy to sell.

 "Let me show you how he works," Lumpy told them, counting out his coins.  He proceeded to fold a metal key from the chest of the tick-tock man and wound him.

The mechanical being whirred loudly (Noisy disadvantage), stood up, and greeting them.  "Greetings!  I am Zanpip 385 of 8001, the All-Purpose Unit, P3CVL14R edition.  I am pleased to meet my new owners."

And with this I introduced out new player who had been reading the Basic Set: Characters book up until this point.

Nota'Cor tried to get him to attack Louis, which Zanpip refused.  Grind decided Zanpip wasn't a good purchase, but figured the elf would be the one out of the money once they were paid for the job.


***

Later in the day, Factor Jacques Aurem of the village approached the Irregulars.  While he recognized they probably wanted to return to Cymru soon, he asked if they could stay and look into some incidents of livestock mutilation.  He offered to pay for their time.  Since they weren't expecting to be paid now by the Temples (failing to recover the lost holy items), Grind recommended they do the job.  Everyone else agreed.  Well, Zanpip just said he would help out his family in anyway they needed.

Grind asked for a cow in addition to payment as he was hungry.  Nota'Cor also wanted a cow, suggesting he would "have his way" with it.  While the character meant he wanted to practice some alchemical experiments, the player decided to play up the Clueless disadvantage for laughs and to make the townspeople uncomfortable around the half-orc.  Piper wondered if Nota'Cor couldn't just rent some animals to "have his way with" as she, Grind, and Louis laughed at him.

By midmorning, the rain lightened to a slight drizzle.  Grind recommended they investigate some of the farms that had already been attacked.

Piper obtained directions to the Garem and Seldfor family farms, while the group collected their gear.  Grind checked on Malpais who was still in the care of old Taddy.

Though a side road lead to the Garem's farm, the furthest to the west, movement was slow going in the mud.  Louis hoped the horrors miles to the south hadn't spread too far north yet.  Nota'Cor figured they were too frightened of him to do so.

Under a few trees, Piper found the remains of snow, but she noted the temperature and rains had well melted the rest.  She found tracks of horses and foot traffic on the road, but most of it was old or unidentifiable.

Eventually by early afternoon, they found their way to the Garem farm.

***

Walking spread out across the field, an ogre, a half-orc with a large sword, a faun, a human in a great coat, and a whirring mechanical man.  At the sight of them coming, the farmer ran toward his house and barricaded his family inside.

Grind attempted to convince them to come out and talk, but with no success. Finally, Louis took over and talked the farmer into coming outside.  "The factor has hired us to look into your livestock deaths.  Perhaps you have heard of the North Cymru Irregulars."

The farmer sized up the party and shook his head. "Can't say as I have."  He spit.  "The bodies're in the barn."  He led them behind the house.

When Zanpip saw the farmer's children, still scared, watching from the house.  He tried to comfort them with a song.  They hid in terror.

In the barn, they saw the remains of farmer Garem's cows.  Piper examined the bodies and found two kinds of lacerations.  One from the claw marks of what she identified as  bear.   The other from the beak of a larger bird.

After some scouting, she found tracks of the creature as well as the tracks of small and average sized humanoids leading to the northeast.

Sunset was a few hours away,  so the Irregulars decided to push on to the Seldfor farm.

***

By late afternoon, they had followed the tracks through the woods and came to another set of pastures.   Here a large, reddish-brown bull paced near a group of dead cows.  His back was raked open and blood still oozed.

Piper approached the bull from the side cautiously.  It snorted at her and eyed the whirring Zanpip angrily.  "I want to kill that loud thing!"  he yelled.

Piper whispered to it quietly.  "I can heal your back.  Ease your injury."

The bull stared at her, eyes full of fury, then snorted again.  "Very well."

Piper prayed quietly to the goddess of the world Eife, then touched the injured bull's back.  The long raked gashes healed closed.  After a few minutes, she looked around them at the dead cows.  "Who attacked you?  Who killed them?"

The bull, now healed, nuzzled her with his face.  "A great bear with the head of an owl.  A horrid monster.  With it were short goblins and tall goblins and orcs."

Piper rubbed the bull's ear.  "Where are the farmers who live here?"

The bull laughed.  "Those humans are cowards.  They hide in their barn and cry."   It stared at Zanpip, still hiding behind the fence.  "I wish I could smash that thing."

Piper laughed.  "I understand."

Following the bull's directions, she lead the Irregulars to the edge of the farm where the tracks continued northeast.

***

Traveling further east, they finally came to the South Cymru road.  Piper figured they were just north of Auras when the tracks split.  She determined that they tracks had gone to the east and then returned recently.

After a debate, the Irregulars decided to follow the fresh tracks along the muddy road north.  Arriving at a bridge, they had crossed a few days earlier, they found it fallen in on one side and mostly submerged.

Approaching the bridge, they spotted a large force on the other side of the river.   Before they could try to forge the sinking bridge, they were ambushed by a group of goblins, hobgoblins, and orcs.  They battle wass pretty fierce.  Grind and Rolli were both injured - the halfling severely so.

By the time they dispatched the remaining orcs and hobgoblins, the goblins fled.  Louis figured the group had been left to slow down their advance.  When they went to cross the bridge, they found it had been completely sunken with swollen river water.

With injuries sustained and night quickly approaching, the Irregulars decided to return to Auras. 

By this time, the Priests and Paladins of Grumbar had arrived in the town.  They were quickly interviewed regarding the Horrors.

Upon their return, they found that Malpais had left with his riding dog that day, heading south.

Grind and Piper decided to part ways with the group and headed east to search for Fae.

Nota'Cor and Louis took Zanpip to the elf Gerren de Andalus, and split the payment.  Returning to their headquarters they found all of their things had been covered with a tent and was being guarded by a member of the Guard.  They were told that a days earlier the ground had moaned, ejected all of their things and the buildings and underground disappeared.

With this news, they both went separate ways.  Louis signed on as a member House Ferum's guards and Nota'Cor went north.

Our session ended there with a few injured party members and the rest tired after a fight.  Piper got some good use of her Tracking skill and Speak with Animals advantage this session.

Due to group interest, Fragments of the Last War is on indefinite hiatus.

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