Sunday, September 14, 2008

Played, Friday December 30th,

The party quickly went about their business in Tashal, closing deals and gathering their equipment. Xavier and Borian then looked at a detailed map of all Southern Kaldor and the Oselmarch. The coming journey South down the Genin Trail back to Chybisa would take them 23 days to do.

Knowing the Marshal of the Realm, Baron Kobing was along the way and remembering the confrontation the party had with his men last time and wishing to avoid the same, the guys looked for a possible alternate route. Seeing that the Kald River flowed south and was met by the Osel River which was the Southern border to Kaldor and bypassed Kobing the party had their route...

The guys spoke to Irian the boat maker and secured a large river craft that was sufficient enough to take the party all the way down the Kald then up the Osel River to Oselbridge outpost. The journey would take 11 days to get to Oselbridge.

On a blustery cold midwinter’s morn the party set off down the mighty Kald, the trip was uneventful and reasonably quick. The countryside passed each day was typical of this time of year and villages passed by were quiet and their residents indoors with very little activity due to the weather.

The party soon left the civilized regions of Kaldor and on to wilderness that became hillier as they went on. Great forested areas could be seen looming grey in the distance but bird and animal life was very minimal. Eventually the boat sailed into the fork of the Kald and the Osel and Irian the boatman turned the vessel to port and slowly up the Osel River.

The wind was kind and the party made some distance for the next few day and the boat made great progress all considering. About three days up the river the party was spotted by Pagaelin horsemen sitting on their horses one morning on the river bank but nothing happened and the boat continued on its way. The next five or six days were uneventful and the party eventually while rounding a bend in the river finally came into sight of the Osel River Bridge up ahead...

Erixorthien (Alan's Elf Ranger) suddenly noticed a banner flying over the decaying arches of the bridge; it was a green field with two crossed spears surrounded by stars. This meant only one thing; the Baron Kobing's men were here! Xavier quickly urged Irian the boatman to pull the vessel about and return down the river. The party did not wish to confront the baron now while so close to leaving Kaldor.

Irian sailed back down the river for a league or so, birthing on the southern bank bid farewell to the party who were to continue the journey on foot south to Chybisa. Xavier did not lose the chance to talk to Irian about the possibility of future business with him using his boats and the rivers to ferry his goods back and forth from Chybisa to Kaldor once he had established his fief in Osel. After a hand shake the party continued on their way.

The party quickly settled into the long 2 week trek southeast along the Genin Trail. The wilderness of Osel was bleak and bare, the trees had long since given up their leafy canopies to the earth last Fall leaving only great grey trunks and branches that looked more and more uninviting as the party travelled south. Each night the group set up camp amongst these scenes without a campfire but keeping warm as best they could with the many furs the guys had remembered to gather in Tashal.

Days had passed by and the group had become weary of the journey, the weather was closing in as the days continued and before long rain set in. The party trudged on in the desolate countryside down the trail ever watchful were the two Elven Rangers, Borian and Erixorthien

One late afternoon the party could see looming ahead the outline of a dark deep forest, not wanting to venture inside so late in the day the party made camp a few hundred yards from it along the road. The night passed uneventfully and next morning Erixorthien decided to check out the road ahead while the party packed up the gear. To his astonishment he clearly saw the tell tale signs that a group of goblinoids had been in the underbrush the night before the party must of been watched! Borian took a look, being a more experienced Ranger could tell they were, "goblins" and must have a cave nearby, being nocturnal creatures.

That day the rain had cleared leaving a bright golden sunny morning, and the party entered the forest ever weary of the depths of the forest expanding both north and south of the trail. The day went on uneventfully and the party stopped that night to make camp again. The party set themselves up ready on sundown and waited a goblin attack that was not long in coming. A low, deep guttural growl was heard to the South in the distance of the dark night. Something bad was out there and coming.

The sound of Chittering and screeching voices was then heard to the North! Borian was ready...he cast a Light spell around the campsite emanating the area in a rich light. To the party's surprise the goblins did not charge in but stayed on the edge of the light taunting and screeching at the group... The group did not stray out of the light but Erixorthien took aim, downing a couple of the ugly creatures while Borian cast a power bolt of energy at a couple more, exploding upon the unfortunate targets tearing them to shreds.

At this point Xavier, being experienced and the leader of the group turned his gaze South again into the darkness beyond the light. In a loud cry he yelled a word, “Ogres!". Six massive dark silhouettes could be seen lumbering out of the dark towards the camp. Turning to confront these creatures Xavier braced himself for the fight, axe and shield in hand.

It was clear to the party the Goblins used themselves as decoys to gain the attention of the party while the Ogres charged in from the South. The party could see the Goblins had no intention of entering into a fight but were intent on waiting for the Ogres to finish the job for them. Knowing this, most of the party faced south leaving only a couple to continue to face the goblins while the majority turned south to face the ogres.

Erich the Mage (Denis) faced one of the Ogres and let off his only remembered spell, "Sleep" this he managed to target on the beast at this point almost at his feet crashing to the ground in slumber. The rest of the party went on the attack themselves and a general melee ensued. Erixorthien fired arrow after arrow at the ogres managing to critical hit one of them in the upper leg with the point imbedding itself deep into the bone causing the ogre much pain and anguish. Ordeth the Dwarf (Danny) fought valiantly against another managing to slam it in the head causing it a severe concussion, decreasing its ability to fight back effectively.

Some of the Goblins at this point became brave, moving into the light taunting the party to advance at them, pulling them into the darkness. This Aedon the Cleric (Chris) and his Squire would not fall for, instead remaining steadfast on the North of the Campsite guarding the rest of the party fighting the Ogres.

Borian cast a powerful bolt of energy again at an Ogre caused it much damage. The beast lurched forward at him. Borian tried to dodge the blow but was slammed with full force in the stomach with a critical that caused internal bleeding. Falling to the ground Borian was in trouble at this point. Xavier meanwhile fought on against another Ogre; Xavier’s small but lethal Axe causing much damage to the beast downing it with each devastating blow. Erich the Mage managed to sleep another Ogre that had targeted him. The Mage was proving very adept at sleeping creatures with a Wisdom of "01, 02 or 03" :roll:

Borian in trouble tried to dodge the ogre’s blows but each time chose his dodge direction badly and the ogre hit him again and again. Borian had not been in this position for a long long time, even so he remained calm and eventually managed to regain his feet. In great agony on his own (down to 10 Body points now) he managed to fire his bow bringing down his foe. But his wound to the stomach became dangerous with the internal bleeding worsening.

Ordeth managed to further damage his foe by causing a great slash above the eye of the ogre further reducing its ability to fight. Lulled into a false sense of security Ordeth took no defensive measures at this point that proved dangerous. The Ogre swung its heavy maul wildly at the Dwarf, unable to see properly and concussed it still managed to hit him squarely in the groin with a critical his of his own. The critical proved lethal causing massive internal bleeding but somehow Ordeth managed to survive the hit, remaining conscious and able to continue the fight. The bash was also surprisingly low (I rolled a 2) and he remained upright to face his foe.

After another 5 or 10 minutes of combat it was all over with Ordeth downing his foe last while the rest of the party watched on. Then slumping too the ground in agony from the previous critical.

The Goblins at this point seeing the Ogres were losing fled North leaving the party to take care of the critically wounded without worry of attack. Both Ordieth and Borian had suffered massive criticals to their groin and stomach respectively and needed medical attention immediately. Xavier gave them both herbs to swallow that would stop all bleeding but would take time to become effective. (D10 Turns) Borian swallowed the herb and lay down to await the effects, by the time it began to work 25 minutes had past and he lapsed into semi-consciousness.

Poor Ordieth was in a worse condition; he slumped down and slid into unconsciousness as Xavier plied his Staunch Wounds abilities upon him. Fighting against time Xavier worked hard for 32 minutes to stop the bleeding before Ordeth would die. The Herb had not yet taken effect and Ordeth was losing D6 Body damage each five minutes. Finally Xavier managed to stop the bleeding as Ordeth was rapidly loosing Blood Loss.
The party let out a sigh of relief as then the Herb had just kicked in.
Xavier was then awarded 650 exp for saving the life of a 5th Level Dwarf. I give saving life rewards like this to characters that save others lives equal to the reward given to slay the being. They love it and enjoy the reward and adulations by the others for doing so).

At this point it was late in the night and we stopped the game here.

To be continued...

Played Friday, December 23rd,

Due to the Christmas holidays we did not pay last night, a few of the guys did do some valued, "Downtime" on their characters but no game was played.

We will probably begin again in the New Year with the journey of the party from Tashal back south to Chybisa to petition to the king to allow them to rebuild and begin a new fief in North Oselmarch.

Played Friday, 16th December,

Well we had a full group last night for our game; Jonathan was now amongst us again after a 2 year absence in Canberra. Brad had arrived from Adelaide for Christmas. All the usual group were there so we had 10 players again and I and everyone know what kind of nightmare that gives a C&S GM!

The night started with the mopping up of the Agrikian’s and the turncoat Men-at-arms. The fall of Thurl brought about the retreat of these men and the party was in no condition to pursue them. The wounded were being attended too and poor Ordeth the Dwarf was left in the middle of the courtyard for along time before someone thought to come to his aid. Paralysed as he was he was still conscious but now suffering the effects of the Frost spell, he was beginning to fade.

As the Agrikian’s dropped back towards the North wall, Thorvald could see 2 of their number lagging behind. Thinking quickly he rushed the gap in order to cut them off. One managed to out run him but the other; suffering from slight wounds did not make it. Thorvald covered his only retreat and turned to face him; the man wearing a torn Agrikian surcoat, shield charged Thorvald but failed. Hitch the Thief (Victor) coming up rapidly, lunged his short sword at the man’s flank wounding him further. Suddenly Thorvald was attacked from behind, the man that had out run him had returned to save his companion. Thorvald ignored this threat to focus on the Agrikian in front as did Hitch. Other party members by now were rushing to help. The blows were exchanged one after another as the combatants fought on.

Meanwhile Erich the Mage (Denis) had cast his sleep spell on two other men-at-arms; being successful he brought down both men to the surprise of all. Xavier and Erich quickly bound these captives and moved on to come to the aid of poor Ordeth.....eventually :roll: I had Ordeth rolling his CON CR each turn and a failure meaning he had lost HP but he managed to stay conscious

Back at the fight the Agrikian’s, now fighting for his life yelled at his companion to forget about him and, "RUN"! Hesitantly at first he did finally run while the Agrikian Soldier was surrounded by the party. He fought on bravely until it was clear he would not escape. He had suffered many wounds and was out of breath, no hope was left but to call for mercy.

I asked each player in turn their reaction to the call and each one in turn said the same "drop your weapons". This the badly wounded Agrikian did do and the fight was now over. All three captives now tied and bound were guarded as the party gathered the wounded and went about cleaning up the area (looting corpses).

At this point Experience & Honour points were handed out proportionately to each member as per their involvement etc...I gave Honour to those whom worshipped the Gods, Larani, Peoni and Siem as they are diametrically opposed to Agrik. (Religion plays an important part in Harn and we actually enjoy its diversity and depth of detail. Thurl's corpse was covered and bound and taken with the party when they left in order to take back to the Larani temple to prove the Agrik Evil Priest leader was dead.

The party set off after a five hour rest and recovery of fatigue, moving off at day break for Tashal. After 4 hours they passed thru the village of Kathane and on to the North. Upon reaching the walls of Tashal the party were confronted by the city guards whom demanded to know who the 3 bounded men were and why they were so tied up and who were their guards? Xavier in a haughty voice declared that the captives were Agrikian Worshippers and the party were charged to deliver them to the Larani temple. The Captain instantly summoned four of his men to accompany the party to the Temple to oversee their safe arrival at their destination.

The Larani Knight Commander plus many Priests and acolytes gathered to see the foul and distained Agrikian’s and to take charge of them from the party. After the official dialog was finished the party, especially Xavier were officially recognised for their efforts and as a reward experience etc. was rewarded to each member for successfully completing the scenario.

The game had finished after this as it had become late in the night. The party next week want to set off quickly for Chybisa and leave Tashal behind them for another 3 years at least. They are striving to set up their own Manor House in Chybisa so next week the journey South will begin. Being now the dead of winter the dreaded Pagaelin horsemen should be non-active but you never know...

To be continued…

Played Friday, December 9th.

It was the ancient courtyard of the Castle that became the field of battle for the party and the Agrikian’s. Xavier and the Dwarf, Ordieth charged across the courtyard with 6 of the men-at-arms only to see these men had stopped short and spread out blocking both from escape while the Agrikian’s also came down from the walls to their front to seal them between the ruined stables and the old blacksmith's workroom.

The rest of the party had become separated while moving thru the ruins around the left of the massive ruined shell of the castle itself. This second group of characters included, Erich the Mage, Borian the Elf, Erixorthien the Ranger, Aedon the Cleric, Thorvald the Viking and a Squire Npc. Votta the dwarf had remained outside to wait for a suspected doublecross...

Both groups moved thru the ruins til they got within 50ft of each other in the ancient courtyard, visible to each other they now had to contend with their own separate situations.

The second group headed by Aedon had with them also 4 men-at-arms, part of those that Xavier had hired earlier that month. Realising what was happening, the guys turned around to see the 4 men had now also blocked their line of escape. The party lunged at these men and the melee began. Erixorthien the Ranger was crippled early in the weapon arm; bruising and lacerations reduced his ability to fight for the rest of the melee. After a desperate fight these 4 men-at-arms were despatched after about 5 mins of combat. Borian, the Elf Ranger using his bow to deadly effect killed his foe rapidly to then help the others.

Meanwhile Xavier and Ordieth now in a perilous situation decided to try to break thru to the other group by shield charging the men to the left before Thurl's Agrikian's could get there. Xavier charged only to be halted by 4 men who slashed at him with Broadswords and Long swords. Poor Ordieth followed only to be hit with a devastating critical hit to the back that paralysed him. Crashing to the ground Ordieth was then hit by two men while laying there on the ground helpless. These men then satisfied the dwarf was no more continued on to join in the attack on Xavier. Ordieth was to remain here close to death for the rest of the fight.

Xavier now surrounded and being hit from all sides knew he had to do something fast or die here. Unable to help Ordeth he focused on the man to his front. Calling a "Great Blow" Xavier slammed his axe into the man downing him in one huge hit. Now having a way to his front clear he decided to flee towards the rest of the party to his front only 50ft away. The other 3 men slashed at him as he ran.

Borian the Elf seeing the other Agrikian’s coming quickly drew on his magical powers unleashing a spell of "Frost" that he targeted in front of these onrushing men. The spell hit the area creating a circle of Ice and Snow in a wide arc that began to spread out in all directions, its effects even climbing the ruined walls of the stables forming icicles on the remains of the roof.

Ordeth was inside this coating of Ice and quickly disappeared beneath its effects...All this as Xavier fled to the rest of the party who had just finished killing the last of the 4 men-at-arms facing them.

The Men-at-arms that had attacked Xavier and Ordeth did not follow but instead formed a line with shields raised and awaited the rest of the Agrikian’s to arrive...Thurl now realising his plan to trap the party had failed rushed his men as fast he could across the icy surface slipping and sliding. To increase the line of men formed up at the edge of the ice near the ruined stables.

The party now all together decided not to counter attack but await them while the Archers of the party, Borian and Erixorthien began to fire on the line of men now climbing too about a dozen or more. Eric fired with his crippled arm but pulled out as his deep wound made it impossible to fire effectively. Borian however was deadly accurate and made the men close ranks and form a shield wall to protect themselves while the Agrikian’s formed up now with them.

While this was happening Votta still outside the castle decided to grapple up the outer wall and onto the ruins of the old battlements about 60ft up. Once up there he proceeded along it to the North Tower looming dark ahead of him. Crossbow in hand, Votta was suddenly confronted by a shape in the doorway that lunged out to fire a bolt from his own crossbow. Votta not being surprised actually got off his own shot first but missed! This shadowy figure firing a split second later also missed! Votta then charged the doorway only to see the figure disappear inside. Votta then spent the rest of the turn searching high and low in the tower for the crossbowman but without any luck.

Meanwhile....The Party in a line with a gap of around 50ft confronted the line of Men-at-arms numbering by now around 15. The idea was brought up to throw a flask of oil at the line. After a couple of poor attempts, (one of which almost resulted in Aedon the Cleric hitting Xavier and Thorvald with one of these flasks!) the guys were able to get one on course which flew thru the air only to be caught in flight by someone within the rank of these men ! The party astounded by this soon gave that idea up...

Then something happened that soon rose the stakes on this skirmish...the fight seemed to be going to a Mexican stand off where neither side wished to provoke the other. Erich the Mage decided to retreat back around the huge castle shell in order to hopefully get around the left flank of the Agrikian’s. This was going to take some time to run so he used a haste herb that allowed him to run at double speed and off he went.

While this was happening, the party then saw a dull red glow appear in the rear of the enemy line, this glow became brighter and brighter then suddenly flashed out to reveal a huge summoned being at least 8ft tall radiating in a violet ethereal like light. This ethereal being advanced thru the men-at-arms directly and at the party who now began to panic. As it got closer they could see this being was adorned in what appeared to be heavy plate armour and wielding a 6ft long sword also of violet colour. The party started to roll Ferocity checks that caused Thorvald the Viking to panic and flee! The Squire Npc also panicked but was so frightened he stood in place in an almost catatonic state.

Borian surviving the Ferocity check thought quickly and cast a FOG spell from his magical ring, targeting the area directly in front of the men-at-arms then himself darting back away from this oncoming being and around the corner to go inside the ruined castle shell. Borian was hatching a bold plan of is own....

Now as the being advanced into melee range of the remainder of the party only Xavier the Knight and Aedon the Cleric remained to face it! Things indeed looked gloomy for the party at this point. Xavier began to defend against this powerful ethereal Knight to give the rest of the party time to unfold their part in the plan. The creature slammed his gigantic sword at Xavier who was able to block most of the damage as his own armour and shield was itself very magical but the power of each attack was evident!

While this was happening Aedon began to kneel further back and pray for "Summon Lawful Aid" this prayer would take time so Xavier had to fight alone, when suddenly Thorvald charged back into the melee after successfully rolling a further FER check. He began to swing his own weapons at the Knight to some effect.

With Divine Intervention rolls I had the roll in a cup that hid whatever was rolled until the prayer was finished, then I allow the cup removed to reveal the dice, this always causes nervousness in the players and excitement at what will happen. I have the Cleric roll against his Bardic Voice CR-8 then -5 then -2 etc each blow... until he is successful. Once he is then this indicates his prayer is finished and the Divine Intervention roll is shown

So while the prayer was going on the fight continued, each time Xavier tried to shield parry he failed and the ethereal Knight's weapon did more damage but never enough (7+) to do any real critical hit. Xavier was continually bashed backwards but each time remained on his feet to the astonishment of all!

Suddenly Thorvald the Viking had another idea, he bypassed the Knight and advanced at the Agrikian’s line still standing quietly while the fog faded off. He challenged them at about 30ft and 4 men advanced at him, surrounding him as he himself charged them! To the rest of the party including myself I thought this was going to be his death...he parried and slashed against these men being hit several times in the process...

Meanwhile....Erich the Mage had run around the castle to the other side and could make out the Agrikian’s ahead in the torch light as the fog faded away. He advanced to 30ft to entice some of these men to attack him! Sure enough 3 men did and Erich still being hasted pulled them after him keeping at all times 30ft between them and him. This effectively broke up the Agrikian’s line further leaving only about 6-8 men still in the original line....the plan was working!

At this point Votta the Dwarf has decided to move along the shadows to the left f the Agrikian’s behind the stables to try to get unseen behind them on the opposite side to Erich the Mage. At a point only 25ft to the right of the Agrikian’s, Votta had to move silently across the open flank in order to get into and climb up a Tower. He rolled and was successful! He slipped into the tower unseen and proceeded to climb up the stairs...

Meanwhile back at the fight with the Ethereal Knight, Xavier was beginning to drop in Body Points. He had lost by now over 20+ BP now and the Cleric had not yet finished his prayer...

Borian the Elf at this time had slipped into the dark shell of the castle, quietly and gracefully running thru the ruins over crumbled and fallen walls he was near the other side running down the end of a dark passage when suddenly! A dark figure jumped out from the open left wall and swung a massive Infantry Flail directly at Borian's head! Borian rolled his surprise and succeeded allowing him to duck the oncoming blow to see it slam into the masonry above his head!

On the next blow Borian being faster in this exchange fired a Magical +9 arrow that hit the shadowy figure for a massive critical in the head. This man stumbling back could not respond and Borian fired his second +9 which flew into this poor man's neck killing him! The players all cried out in cheer for Jonathan (Player of Borian) for witnessing an act so rare in a game that it was worthy of much praise. It really was something to see and Jonathan showed us his hand was still shaking after the action....

But the best was yet to come...

Back at the fight with the Ethereal Knight, Aedon had finally finished his prayer! All the players now stopped what they were doing and watched Chris (player of Aedon) lift the cup...he needed a 35 or less but alas...a 41 was revealed. Everyone sighed ...Aedon not disheartened by this had another idea...

He advanced on the Ethereal Knight alongside Xavier and hurled the contents of his vials at the being, it was Holy Water. The being lurched backwards in revolution from the obvious damage it suffered from the liquid but did not flee! Instead it lurched forward again now at poor Aedon and slammed him into the ground with a mighty blow of his ethereal sword.

Xavier unable to intervene watched helplessly as Aedon fell suffering an obvious critical wound to his chest. Xavier launched himself at the being and struck it heavily but it did not flinch. It hit poor Aedon again causing him to lose unconsciousness. (Aedon by now as a result of the second hit dropped to -7 blood loss). Xavier had no choice now but to continue the fight.

The party now became very worried that if Xavier went down all would be lost. They literally prayed for a miracle ...and one actually happened from nowhere.

Votta had managed to climb up to the second floor of the tower but could not get a clear view of the Agrikian’s, so he continued to the next. Up here he could clearly see the fight with the Ethereal Knight and Erixorthien running into the darkness followed by 3 men to the left. To the right ahead he could see Thorvald surrounded by 4 men about to die it seemed to him.

The situation looked doomed at this point but now he could also see directly below him about 50ft out, the remaining line of Agrikian’s and Thurl! Crouching behind them! He quietly aimed his crossbow thru the slit window in the wall and fired! The bolt slammed into Thurl's lower leg doing 2D6 damage! this was not all...he had coated it in P/10 poison before hand and so While Thurl rolled around on the ground screaming Votta calmly reloaded another bolt and fired a couple of blows later, this was the killing blow and Thurl died...

Xavier about to be hit again and in serious trouble saw the Ethereal Knight suddenly with a screeching and wailing sound, dissipate sky wood leaving nothing! It had vanished the moment Thurl was killed to the relief of Xavier and all. The remainder of the Agrikian’s rolled morale and failed. They began to fall back to the old breach in the North Wall.

Thorvald, whom had thought he was going to die, watched as his foes fell back from him with raised shields to defend themselves...

It was at this point that I stopped the game after asking the time, it was 3am Saturday morning and we had started 9pm so our fight had gone on for close to 6 hours and everyone was exhausted. The rest of the fight is to be played next Friday night to mop up the remainder of the Agrikian’s and heal the wounded...

I have I know left probably many things out of the fight and will be reminded as such by the players during this week but this fight for the players was again one hard fought touch and go contest. They were glad to have it nearly over and to survive.

To be continued…

Played, Friday, 3rd December.

The last 3 days of the month began with a meeting between the party members, Xavier wanted to know more about the Castle ruins and its history. He spoke again to the Larani Knight Commander who told him of its dark past...

The ruins you speak of has a history dating back over 700 years, it was the domain of an Earl of early Kaldor at the time of, "Lothrim the Foul Spawner". During this time of turmoil the Foul Spawner sent an army of Orc and Men to sweep east and attack Kaldor, the Earl fought this foul army only to end up sieged within his castle. The Army of the King tried to break through but could not cross the river successfully. The Earl cut off was eventually forced to surrender after a horrific fight. The Earl and some of his followers survived only to be tortured to death by the Orcs. His ghost and that of his followers is said to still haunt the lonely castle ruins.

With this knowledge Xavier wanted to check the ruins again for any clues as to the present inhabitants. Thorvald the Viking (Robert) volunteered to go to these ruins and check them out. With only 3 days left before the planned attack he set off the next morning and spent most of the day getting to the nearby village of Kathane at the base of the foothills to the East of the ruined castle. Thorvald arrived in the hills that evening and ventured in the dark to the vicinity of the ruins. After three hours climbing higher and higher into the hills the castles decayed and crumbling walls appeared dark in the distance. Thorvald skirted outside of the massive bastion to the North side, suddenly a shadow appeared from within the dark interior and lunged at the Norseman slashing two swords.

The fight on the fallen stone blocks of one of the towers started badly for Thorvald, he was cut several times and decided to fall back down onto flat ground. Just as it seemed Thorvald was going to fall he managed to hit this dark assassin with a critical to the face, covered in blood the man reeled back on the stone missing his left eye! Thorvald finished him off and cut off his head to bring back to the party. Not able to re enter the city that night he slipped back in the next morning with the unknown mans head in a sealed bag.

That day Xavier and Thorvald took the head back to the Larani Knight Commander's Temple to show it too him in order to find out a little more about his possible identity. The Knight washed the blood from its face to reveal the man had a dark complexion, tell tail signs of a tattooed face, probably of Heperkerian origin, (Hepekerian’s were known for being excellent warriors and assassins). The plot now thickened to the intrigue of all.

The party now armed with a little more knowledge agreed to go along with Thurl's plan and meet at the ruins at midnight 2 days from now. These two days went quickly and the party gathered their numbers including the hired men-at-arms and set off for the ruins at dawn on the last day. Travelling all day the party entered Kathane mid afternoon and waited for dusk before continuing up into the foothills to the West.

After dark the party set off but Votta (The Dwarf) spotted a shadow between the huts of the village as he turned back one last time to check the rear. (He is a thief) Without telling the party, he fell behind to watch this mysterious person. The party ventured on high into the hills for the next 4 hours, Votta lagging behind 30mins by the time the castle was eventually spotted. Votta lost all sight of this person and eventually caught up to the party as they came close to the ruins.

The Castle loomed ahead, massive of size and engulfed in light from within, it seemed that Thurl was right and the Agrikian’s were in fact there. Now only to find Thurl....

Not long after a dull light flashed from the forest, the party knew this was Thurl making contact. Soon after, Votta was sent forward to make contact. Votta not at all comfortable with the idea of getting close to Thurl and his men alone out here in the dark became very cautious and untrusting when he closed too talk to him on a dark hill away from the party.

Not wanting too venture closer than 10ft to Thurl, Votta squatted in the tall grass to listen to Thurl's voice... My men and I will charge thru the breaches here on the North Wall, once Xavier hears our charge and is sure the battle is joined tell him to have his men ready to charge on the Southern wall breaches. The Agrikian’s will be engaged with us totally by then and he can charge in and surprise them from behind. We will have a great advantage in our favour. Votta nodded and took this information back to Xavier....

Xavier agreed to this plan but asked Votta to go back onto the hill and watch Thurl's men in case of a double cross. Votta crept back and hid again in the tall grass.

Not more than 10-15 mins went past before the party heard Thurl’s men charging thru the crumbled walls of the castle, screaming and yelling could be heard, (Xavier felt relaxed now realising Thurl was obviously trustworthy). Xavier waited for an entire 5 mins (turn) before also starting his own attack from the South. The party and the hired men-at-arms scrambled over the breached fallen walls, clambering up over the debris and into the darkened interior walls. As the party closed they could see Thurl's men engaged with the Agrikian’s along the north wall, swords clanged and men fell it could be seen.

The party became separated as they moved thru the maze of interior walls, chambers and debris until finally crossing to an ancient courtyard. Xavier raised his weapon up high calling out, "charge!!" to the party and his men-at-arms as he ran towards the already occurring melee. As he and some party members began to run he realised the sound of running feet beside him had dropped off! Only he and a few party members were charging...and then it dawned on him......

To be continued...

Well, tonight is the night...

The party will soon learn the identity of the mysterious man called Thurl, they will know one way or another true reason they were contacted. The Agrikian’s have in the past posed a real threat to Kaldor and they very well might be back! The party suspects another reason that they cannot for sure say with clarity as of yet.

The meeting with Thurl seemed honest and forthright enough but you can never be off your guard or trust anyone, especially if you and your followers have been seen throwing around a lot of cash all month. There are many out there ready to take it from you one way or another without the slightest reservations as to the morality of their actions.

Tonight will set the record straight and the party will triumph or fall, I only hope they have sharpened their blades!

To be continued...

Played, Friday 25th November,

Well after nearly a month in the great city of Tashal the party were in the last couple of days finalising their business and gathering supplies for the coming journey back to Chybisa. The party were approached by a man calling himself "Thurl" (he would not give any more info regarding his identity).

The meeting was originally initiated in the busy Kald Square, but as this was not suitable to the party they agreed to meet again at the "Red Fox Tavern" an hour later. The meeting was held and the mysterious man called Thurl outlined a bold plan involving the party to destroy a suspected sect of the Evil Agrikian Church. Thurl (including 2 silent bodyguards nearby), explained the situation to the party as follows...

The Evil Church of Agrik (church of War, Bloodletting and Chaos) have over the last few years began to send soldiers of their fighting order, "The Companions of Roving Doom" to Kaldor and are trying to establish a following through out the realm. We are a secret sect of the Church of Larani, (Lady of Paladins) sent to hunt them down and eradicate them from Kaldor, but we need your help doing this...

These evil men are lead by an Agrikian Knight about a company in number. (about 20). They spread out all over this region of the kingdom and meet on their holy days in an abandoned castle ruins about 5-6 leagues to the East of Tashal in the wilderness of Semethshire...These men are recruiting from within the kingdom and have been successful thus far with some Kaldorians joining their ranks.

As I said, we are a secret sect and cannot offer you any reward or position other than recognition for yourselves if we are successful. Xavier, as you are a Knight Errant of the Holy Fighting Order of the Lady of Paladins, if you were to bring to the Temple a shield showing the emblem of the Agrikian church that belonged to one of their own Knights that you have despatched, think of the honour and glory this may bring you and your followers...

The party, unsure what to make of all this probed Thurl of more information but not a lot was forth coming. The party still not sure what to make of all this asked to meet again the very next day in the Red Fox Tavern. The meeting was held, Thurl arrived with his 2 bodyguards and talks began again. Thurl told of a story that about 6 weeks ago a group of Peoni Clerics returning to the Temple with Offerings from the brethren were attacked and murdered in a ritualistic killing where their throats and wrists were cut and the money gone. Thurl went on to explain that this is what the Agrikian’s do in order to for fill the blood lust of their god as an offering to him by spilling the blood from their enemies onto the ground sanctifying the area and themselves in the eyes of Agrik.

It was plainly obvious that the party were very intrigued by this story and of its possible ramifications if true, but yet they were still not totally convinced... Xavier then asked Thurl to prove his adherence to Larani by finishing a passage from a Larani scripture that Xavier began to recite. Thurl finished the scripture satisfactory with only one or two words out of place.

The meeting almost ended when others in the party tried to push Thurl to be more forthcoming about his identity, truthfulness and faith. Thurl became insulted and the meeting nearly ended there, as he gave his word in honour of Larani that what he was telling them was true. The meeting went on after apologies and it was agreed the both groups would unite and attack the Agrikian’s at the ruins. Thurl told the party that in 4 days time the Agrikian’s hold a holy day called, "The Feast of Balefire" it was proposed to attack them at midnight on this day after their celebration had finished as the Agrikian’s would be either intoxicated or asleep.

The meeting then finished there with a promise from both sides to meet at midnight in four days not far from the ruins....

Now once the party went back to their own Inn, the talk and discussion continued. Most of the party by now were not sure of the truth Thurl was telling them. Xavier was dubious and conspiracy theories began to fly around the group. In the end this proved too suspicious for Xavier and so he went to speak to the Larani Knight Commander on the subject and got some interesting information...

Xavier asked the Knight if it were true about the murders of the Peonic Clerics 6 weeks ago...the answer was yes and that he did believe it was the work of Agrikian worshippers and that the way they were killed was in line with their ritualistic killings but for one thing. He said that the way they were killed seemed very sloppy for Agrikian’s, they tend to be accurate in their work but this was done very roughly and amateurish.

The party then again discussed this in length until the Ranger (Alan) figured something out. It was said earlier that the Agrikian’s were recruiting in Kaldor, maybe as an initiation to become an Acolyte of Agrik you have to kill an enemy of their church maybe the new recruits did this in order to be accepted by the Agrikian Knight of the sect ? (I as GM then allowed Alan to roll a D10x50exp. he rolled 10 and received 1000exp for his correct assumption).

The very next day the party came up with an idea, three of them would leave Tashal by the three gates and wander out into the wilderness to see if they would be followed. The party was sure by now they were being watched constantly. Ordieth the Dwarf Warrior left by the North East gate and walked to the small nearby village but nothing happened that he could see. The Ranger left by the South gate and walked around Tashal to the bridge over the Kald river, crossed it and went out along the Salt Route all day and late into the night, seeing the castle ruins talked about by Thurl. He stayed there hoping that he would see some activity of the Agrikian’s there but alas, all was quiet.

However, Votta the Dwarf Lord's Son had a different experience. He left by the North West gate right next to the bridge over the Kald river. He crossed it and instead of travelling along the Salt Route turned off along a small trail along the river going north. Before long he was ambushed by two men wielding large pole arms, Halberd and a War Hammer. They charged out of the trees to his left and trapped Votta with the river at his back. The fight was quick but deadly, Votta despatched one of the men while the other, wounded fled into the woods.

Votta also slightly wounded and wearing heavy armour could not keep up with him. Instead tracked him using a special inborn skill he had. Votta has a keen sense of smell, like that of a wolf. He tracked the man by scent for nearly an hour only to find the man had doubled back and re-entered Tashal. The other dead mans corpse was then thrown into the river and Votta returned to the Inn to inform the party what had happened.

Now armed with the knowledge that this was probably the handy work of the Agrikian’s maybe the story told by Thurl was actually true? The party all got into another discussion and theories again began to form...

Maybe Thurl is part of the Agrikian Sect and is trying to lure the party out of Tashal to the ruins to kill them because Xavier is actually a Larani Knight and a prime target for Agrikian worshippers...if successful Thurl may gain honour and station amongst his peers in that church ?

Maybe Thurl was sent by someone high up in the Kaldorian government to kill the party because they may further the strength of Chybisa in Oselmarch. If Chybisa allows the party to build a fief in Lower Osel this would make things harder for the Baron of Kobing to enforce Kaldoric Law and Order in that contended region if they were to set up successfully...?

Maybe Thurl is actually a leader of a Brigand group or the Underground of Tashal that found out the party has lots of money. (It is and has been obvious all month that the party has a lot of money; many businesses have dealt with the party over this time with quite large transactions taking place) Thurl maybe trying to get the party out of Tashal and into the wild in order to ambush them murder them all and take their treasure and items...?

Then another possibility surfaced, Aedon the Cleric remembered more than 3 years ago (also 3 years real-time) when the party was last in Kaldor. The only members of the current group in that party back then was himself and Xavier, they had other goals and a totally different position in those days. They had brushed with Agrikian Knights on that occasion. The party tracked down a group of them set up in another region of Kaldor set up in a Country Manor and Temple hidden deep in the countryside. The Knights of Agrik were killed in the skirmish but it was known some survived and dispersed into the region. Could this be the same ones now plotting revenge on Xavier, Aedon and whoever is with them now?

Or maybe, just maybe he is actually telling the truth and do need the parties help to take out a possible Agrikian threat to Kaldor...?

To be continued.....