- Alefa Frigeldötter, Human (Hältlander) Fighter (Sarah)
- Asanaria Quickrok, Halfling Bard (Emma)
- Baras Gouliou, Human (Tagean) Pankratiast (Sam)
- Hrodan, Human (Hältlander) Paladin of Augustus (Alex)
- Brother Solomon, Half-Elven Cleric of Toth (James)
- Wren Dre, Wild Elf Ranger (Gavin)
Once again Emma was unwell this week so she and Gavin didn’t make it. Again Wren Dre and Asanaria were played in ‘bot mode.
Once again we re-join the stalwart companions as they are marching eastwards from Kuthrad Ondal towards the Imperial Road. Having spent the night under decent cover and in the company of a bone-fide creature of Goodness, they are feeling relaxed and ready to take on the gnoll bandit Griznak.
They reach the old Imperial Road at about noon, having spent the morning labouring through the boggy ground from Kuthrad Ondal. The road is several feet wide, made of packed earth and gravel topped with stones and cobbles. The brush was cleared back at least the length of a bow shot on either side but time and nature have begun to reclaim it. The brush is growing back rapidly and has reclaimed half of that free ground whilst weeds and grasses can be seen growing up through the gaps in the stones.
After a short breather, the worthy protagonists turned their eyes and feet northward as they began the trek up the Imperial Road and into the Fallow Hills proper. Knowing that their destination was a strange statue in the road, the party spent an uneventful few days moving at a leisurely pace.
Uneventful that is, apart from the appearance of a small family of razorback boars that were found foraging for ground roots in a concealed dip in the road. Apart from the alpha male managing to gore the party’s alleged alpha male in the thigh, the boars presented little problem and were rapidly turned into chump chops.
Later in the journey, Alefa and Hrodan were disturbed during their watch by large strange shadows that could be seen off in the distance. Knowing not what to think, they quickly woke their companions. A somewhat disgruntled Wren Dre told them that the shadows were just those of a herd of grazing Aurochs, watched over by the herd alpha. He went on to explain that said animals were as tall as Hrodan at the shoulder and that the alpha’s horns would be at least 4 feet in length with a span of 3 feet between the razor-sharp tips.
By about evening on the fourth day, the party came across the strange statue, exactly as described by Nefratel. The years had not been kind to it, rain and wind and sun all ravaging its features to leave it just a semblance of something humanoid with a single solitary arm that pointed eastwards into the rising foothills. Covered in lichen and mosses, strewn with ivy; there was no way to tell what manner of man or beast was depicted by this carving.
The party made a cold camp, keeping well away from the road. At the behest of Baras and Hrodan, Wren Dre scouted the edges of the road looking for trails. Unsurprisingly, he found a couple of them leading off into the hills and following the direction of the pointing statuary. One of these was somewhat faint with signs of old use whilst the other was more recent with signs of heavy footfall and hobnail boots. As expected for such a lot of foot traffic, this latter path was quite obvious whereas the other was quite discreet and almost concealed. He expressed the opinion that the two paths headed separately into the hills but would most likely meet up to each other; the others expressed much scepticism at this statement.
The following morning, the party began following the trail with Wren Dre scouting ahead. As predicted the previous day, the two trails did indeed join up although the Elf did his best not to appear smug about it. After a lot of hard marching for the ground was rough and broken underfoot, they came in sight of a low hill with a set of ruined walls atop it. The party gathered for a quick huddle, doing their best to keep out of sight by hunkering down in a shallow valley. Baras disliked the idea of walking straight up the hill although both Alefa and Hrodan seemed to think that such an action could be fun. Wren Dre, Solomon and Asanaria chose to side with Baras, especially when the Elf pointed out that the tracks on the trail were fairly recently used.
Baras asked the Elf to lead the group to the far side of the hill by way of a large loop around the south. Wren Dre thought for several moments before nodding and leading off towards the south. He and Asanaria moved together with the ease of long familiarity, always taking their time and not rushing into anything. It was during this trip that the party came across another trail leading to the hill, this time coming from the south and showing signs of use within the past week. After pointing this out to the others, the pair moved off again and it was not long before the party were climbing the rocky outcrops to the east of the hill. The outcroppings were large, jumbled and secluded; so the party were able to find several vantage points that overlooked the hill as well as a secluded flattened area where they could set a camp.
From here, they could make out the trails from the west and south and could see the makings of another trail leading north. The walls were indeed ruined and lichen covered every exposed surface, sets of broken stairs lined some of the ruins but there was no sign of any camp or habitation. The three trails appeared to meet at a large circular feature in the centre of the rubble. Over a cold meal, it was decided that the party needed more information so it would be best to post sentries who could monitor the ruins whilst others were out foraging for additional food to supplement the rations. So it was that the brave and stalwart companions made camp and settled in to watch.
Over the course of the following days, the party learned that patrols or hunting parties left the hill by way of the trails after having emerged from the circular feature which appears to be a large stairwell leading underground. Each day, a party of goblins led by a gnoll would leave the hill or it would return to the hill with a supply of meat; on one brightly lit night, a pair of creatures emerged from the stairwell and bounded rapidly westwards before returning much, much later. By the third day of watching, the party felt that they had an idea of what opposition they could expect and thus they decided to take action.
Under cover of dusk, the six companions slipped from the rocks and onto the hill. They moved silently and swiftly through the ruins until they encircled the stairwell. A brief examination by Solomon and he ascertained that the stairwell was well made and unlikely to collapse under their weight. Once again, Wren Dre took point and moved carefully down the stairs, his bow strung and an arrow nocked in readiness. The remaining companions took a deep breath and looked around before stepping onto the stairs to follow him.
The stairwell was large, being some twenty or so feet in diameter and the stairs being shallow in their gradient, it took several turns about the circumference before the party were stood on the packed earth at the bottom. Here and there, the ground was strewn with rubble and bits of debris whilst a tunnel moved off into the hill ahead of them. With rapid whispers, the party formed up into a basic marching order: Wren Dre and Asanaria taking point armed with bow and crossbow respectively; Solomon and Baras behind them, armed with their melee weapons; Alefa and Hrodan acting as the rear-guard, being the mostly heavily armed and armoured.
Silently traversing the passageway, the brave adventurers found themselves at the entrance to a chamber. Asanaria and Wren Dre quickly peeked through the doorway to scan the room beyond, taking note of a statue in the centre of the room, two figures asleep on the far side and two figures at a nearby table. After relaying this information to the others, a hasty plan was put together whereby Asanaria and Wren Dre would enter the room with their weapons ready and move aside to allow the others to enter as silently as they were able. Once accomplished, the band would then take down the figures at the table as quickly as they can in order to avoid wakening the others or raising an alarm.
Sure enough, the band managed to carry out this plan with a modicum of silence and at a signal from Baras, the Elf and Halfling loosed their weapons at the seated figure. With a muffled gargling noise, the goblin slumped over dead with two arrows in his neck. His partner sat up slowly and stared blearily at the party, his slurred voice asking what was going on whilst hiccupping. Exchanging a quick look, Hrodan and Alefa quickly ran the goblin through and he too passed on, although he did manage to emit a not so small amount of flatulence as he expired. Following that, it was a matter of a moment’s work to ensure that the two sleeping goblins would never awaken again.
Now that the party were alone, they took the time to examine the room. It was a square room carved out of the stones of the hill and seemed to be in some disrepair. There was an archway leading out to the right whilst another passageway led to the left. Both Hrodan and Solomon recognised the statuary in the middle of the room, depicting a large humanoid with ram’s horns curling round its head, its hands resting in the butt of a large mace. They looked at each other with pale visages before letting everyone know that it was a statue of Unklar, the Horned God of Winter’s Dark. Solomon noted that the blood-encrusted bowl between its hooves seemed to be for votive offerings.
Rather than lingering here, the party headed right. As Baras left the room, bringing up the rear of the party, a loud braying howl came from behind him, reverberating through the stone and everyone’s bones. Looking over his shoulder, he could see that the statue’s head has shifted as though braying. The room they had entered was long and thin, with only a single passageway opposite the door they had entered. Thinking quickly, Baras pulled out an iron spike and used it to jam the door shut so that the party couldn’t be taken unawares. They took up positions around the passageway just as a band of goblins came barrelling around the corner ahead of them. The fight was short-lived as the party used every advantage they had: two were taken by bowshots from Wren Dre and Asanaria whilst the remainder charged … straight into a killing field as they were flanked and ruthlessly put down.
The party continued to explore the complex:
- They find a large room that housed mining tools that were sized for something much larger than a human.
- They find an unsafe passageway that Solomon’s childhood studies told him would collapse under their weight.
- They find an old storeroom which contained only the rotted remains of foodstuffs and religious paraphernalia.
- They find the old well which now has a very large spider in residence, and they quickly slam and bar the door.
- They find a room containing the recent loot from the goblin’s raids, and killing the goblins and their watchdog that were ransacking the loot.
- They find a room containing a total of six wolves in cages that set up a horrendous howling racket.
- They fight and defeat a large gnoll who had come into the room to cuff and silence the wolves.
The above image shows a map of what the party have managed to explore during this session.