Trial the First: Crossing the Sands
We left Duvik’s Pass with a few new friends, who had expressed interest in joining the Exodus. First of them was Saihoushi Bo, as he introduced himself, and he seemed to be a fairly jovial young halfling. He spoke of being a shaman of sorts, although I knew nothing of what magics he might posess. His almond eyes gave away his origins – it had been some time since I saw someone from the Faraway lands. Secondly there was Amoraq, who said he came to Duvik’s Pass originally to trade silks for silver. However, with the plague setting in, he had to sell off his silks at a loss – so he took up a sword, and decided to do his best as a hired blade in the Exodus. Thenar had the same idea, although, it seemed as if that was his idea all along. He seemed to be particularly eager for the fight, and, that doesn’t surprise me, as dwarves go.
So, we set out together, with our new friends. Franklin and Tindel had promised to catch up to us. Tindel was taking care of matters involving his voice, he had mentioned, and Franklin was waiting on something he was having crafted for him. I had no doubts that those two would have any troubles along the way, and Jonas, no doubt would keep an eye out on them.
On the first day of travel, we narrowly avoided some five-headed beast that was hunting by the riverside – it, thankfully, seemed pleased with whatever it had caught in the river, and we managed to sneak around it. That evening, however, we weren’t so lucky to avoid some of the beasts of the desert. It was almost time for us to set up camp when I heard a distinct flapping noise right behind me. I turned and saw what was clearly a demonic agent! I let the party know in the most calm manner that I could – it tried it’s best to escape, but, it was quickly cut down by the party. I don’t know why an agent of the Abyss was out in the desert, and I’m still investigating what would have attracted such a beast. Of course, that was certainly not the last of our troubles that evening.
During the night, when we had our camp set (and Ru had his trap set, the boulder trap he’s so proud of), we were attacked by a group of spiders that looked the size of dogs! They tried to take down our horses, and drag them off, but, thankfully our watch wasn’t without merit. Ru and Mae had spotted them – first Ru kicked a rock down onto Renzo trying to wake him. Renzo, of course, didn’t budge. Mae’s animal call, however, went out, and most of us woke quickly – except for me, I’m told. I slept fairly well for a few moments more. When I did wake, I saw the party batting these huge spiders off away from our mounts. Mae’s dog, in the excitement, ran between Ru’s legs, tripping him in the process. This is what, I think, set off Ru’s bad mood for the next few days. Ru managed to crush one spider underneath his trap, regardless of this, and, while some of us were bitten and shaking from the spider’s venom, we managed to escape the worst of the effects and sleep out the rest of the evening.
The second day and evening, thankfully, went without incident – Ru fed Mae’s dog some of his rations, in an apologetic gesture. He had kicked it after getting up from his fall the evening before.
The third evening, while we were in camp once more, we were set upon by what seemed to be the skeletal remains of ogres, still-moving. Ru, reflexively, shot at them at a distance, and, they began to close with the camp. Thenar and Panbatter rushed forward, to delay the beastly skeletons, and I ran out to the best of my ability and threw Fharlanghn’s symbol out towards them, in hopes of keeping them at bay. Fharlanghn must watch closely over travellers, because the skeletons, upon seeing the symbol of my god, turned and fled. I wish I knew what energies were filling the desert with such malice so as to animate the dead, but, perhaps it’s a question best left unanswered – we are moving away from all this, after all.
After a couple more days of travel, which went by uneventfully, we finally approached the Exodus, which we saw in a great dust plume in the distance. Amoraq rode ahead of us. We began to approach a small cottage, which seemed to be on it’s lonesome, far from the upcoming town of Iredell – Thenar noticed a small winged thing, not unlike the demon we had noticed before, fly into the open door of the cottage. That in addition to the plumes of thick black smoke coming from the chimney of the house, led us to investigate…
Trial the Second: Something’s Cooking
I honestly don’t trust wizards, and after this particular incident, I don’t think that will ever change. I know that I should respect anyone who travels any path, but, wizards simply seem like they’re trying to take one too many shortcuts.
We stepped, cautiously, into the house, looking about the sitting room that we entered into. The house was extraordinarly quiet, and we had seen no sign of the winged thing that few in here just moments ago. There was a distinct smell from further in the house, a smell of some pastry or some such. Renzo, of course, immediately started into the next room. We began to follow, but, as I mentioned before, this seemed to be the house of a wizard. A draw cord from a windowshade snaked around my throat, and several other items in the room started to move of their own volition, too.
I struggled free from the cord, while a table bucked like a horse, kicking at Thenar – a chair was trying it’s best to sit on Panbatter, while a book flew about the room trying to teach us a quick object lesson. Lastly, a firey hot poker, that had been sitting the fireplace, tried it’s best to stab at Mae and Ru. Renzo, seeing the party in trouble, headed back into the room, smashing the table and the chair, and Thenar managed to swat the poker from the air. Ru obliterated the book, and Panbatter cut the cord.
We moved quickly through the rooms and into the kitchen, which was demolished. A breif encounter with the stove’s fire, which flared up aggressively as we approached it, but stood down when we moved away from it, let us know that this kind of thing would likely be happening often in the house. Ru and Thenar quickly rummaged through the kitchen for “clues” (and a number of the “clues” ended up in their pockets). There was a set of footprints that led to a door that a chair was propped up against – there was also signs of someone being dragged from this room down into the hallway. We couldn’t help but move down into the hallway and investigate.
The hallway led to a smallish bedroom – an older man was tied to the bed, horribly bruised and covered in what looked like blood – three winged things sat in the room, idly destoying what they could find – they seemed exceptionally surprised to see us. The lot of us immediately moved in upon them cutting two of the three of them down quickly. The third was injured, but managed to fly out the door, and off to report to whatever master sent him. I was able to bring the man back up to conciousness – it turned out the “blood” soaking him was merely tomato sauce, although he was, admittedly, badly beaten by the imps that had up until recently took up residence in his room.
After he awoke, he explained to us what had happened… not many of the party really seemed to want to listen, but, he explained anyhow. He had been working on a golem of sorts, made of foodstuffs – these beasts attacked him when he had finished it, and the golem went berzerk – he managed to lock it in the basement before the imps knocked him out, and that’s all he remembered. He then, quite bluntly, asked if we might be able to take care of it. The party asked what they might get out of the bargain – and while I’m usually for helping the needy without a reward, I had been accosted by this man’s furnature. He offered his ring, which he claimed was magical, and potions that he had hidden away… the party shrugged, agreed, and went off to destroy this golem made of foodstuffs.
A rich, and tempting smell came from the basement door, and my mouth watered – until, of course, the door opened, and this beast the shape of bread emerged, bringing it’s pastry fists down onto Renzo. Renzo, who can usually take a hit, staggered a bit – this thing, although it was meant to be some exotic treat, seemed to be better as a killing machine. Every time we cut at it, it spurt forth hot sauce, which stung like nothing else. Renzo actually fell over during one point in the struggle, but we managed to bring the thing down fairly quicky – we simply overwhelmed it. After it fell, Renzo began to devour parts of it, of course.
It was about this time that the man’s wife arrived home, and gave us all a rather suspicious look – the man quickly tried to explain to the wife, but it was clear she wasn’t in the mood for talking, and left without a word. The man, thanking us quickly, dispensed with the promised goods, and escorted us quickly out of the house…
Trial the Second: Trouble Times Two
Arrived in the town of Iredell, finally, with the Exodus camped along the perimeter of the little hamlet. It looked as if the town had doubled in size overnight with all the carts and tents suddenly springing up. Amoraq, who rode ahead of us last evening, was awaiting us in the town. In hurried tones, he told us of bandits that were once simply ragtag orcs and goblins that were becoming uncommonly organized. The party was distracted from it’s travels across the sands and it’s misadventure in the cottage on the way, so, Amoraq had trouble getting his point across – that this posed a threat not only to Iredell, but to the Exodus as well.
Eventually, the party focused. While many of the party thought it wasn’t much of an issue that these bandits were running rampant and ambushing travellers and merchants, eventually the decision was made that they were going to do something about it. I actually suggested that we dress up as commoners ourselves, and travel out to the roads where the ambushes were happening and waylay the waylayers – and perhaps interrogate them or have Mae’s skills in tracking help us to find where they were coming from. This plan was agreed upon, and everyone got to working on their disguises.
I covered my armor and weapons, and made myself to look much more like a simple travelling healer, than a battling one, that I have been of late. Ru and Mae dressed as farmers, and Amoraq slipped easily back into his merchant garb. Panbatter already looked the part of the unassuming cook. Thenar seemed confounded by the idea of disguising himself, and made no efforts to hide his weapons, which was fine, ultimately – we wanted to keep up appearences and look as if we had SOME protection.
Renzo dressed up as a tree.
After setting Renzo straight, putting in some common garb, and wrapping his sword in a burlap sack, we moved out to the roads, to catch our query. It wasn’t long until we spotted them, and they, no doubt, spotted us. We made efforts to pretend that we hadn’t seen them, but, they caught on quickly. Thenar moved into the fray quickly, charging down a goblin, and Amoraq and Ru tried to sneak around behind the boulders to flank the goblins that were intending to attack them. The battle went by at a dizzying speed – I recall casting a spell of confusion upon on goblin who then charged me, then, upon me blocking his blow, looked up at me pitifully. Renzo, of course, cut his way across the battlefield with amazing speed. Ru didn’t seem to be having as much luck, and was visibly upset after we had felled the would-be bandits.
I kept a number of the orcs and goblins alive, so that we might question them later, and the party bound them tightly. Mae, in the meantime, had quickly found the path that the bandits had followed to this place – she noted that it was about a two hour travel to a plateau off in the distance, where the tracks seemed to lead. After a brief discussion as to what we should do, it was decided to simply move on then, and stop the bandits as soon as we could. Ru had asked the Exodus to wait for them for but a day – so he was particularly eager to get it done with. So, we moved on, another trek through the sands.
When we arrived at the base of the plateau, it was clear that Mae hadn’t led us astray – the tracks she followed led clearly to the mouth of a cave in the base. Thenar and Renzo peered in for signs of life (they being able to see in the darkness)… and saw none. Amoraq and Ru moved in then, with myself, Mae and Thenar providing light to them. Renzo stalked over to a pit in the center of the cavern, which contained a pair of emaciated wolves… he motioned for the rest of the party to move in. When they did, Renzo’s eyes widened – he spotted something that he had missed before. He quickly indicated that there were orcs hiding in an alcove of the cavern, and motioned for Thenar to move over with him. The orcs quickly realized they had been spotted, and another dizzyingly fast battle ensued. Ru made a wrong turn in the cavern and found himself cut down by an orc’s axe, while another pair of orcs tried to push Thenar down into the pit with the wolves (Thenar seemed almost amused by this, shrugging off their efforts and cutting them down in the process). Panbatter lept to Ru’s aide, holding off the orc that had cut him down, and Mae and myself ran to Ru’s side, in efforts to heal him. Renzo jumped ’cross the pit to aid Panbatter, as she was rushed by a number of orcs, and, as Renzo often does, he cut through his opponents like a hot knife through butter.
Ru was revived by Mae, but obviously still aching badly from the wound that the orc gave him. And that is where we are now, not sure where to progress from here…