“Calling the Cavalry”
Mid afternoon of the 25th of Dasad, 1331 Avard.
In the town square of River Crown, a short, vicious battle left three men dead – including Sir Tyrne le Bouef, Lord of River Crown. Two of his men-at-arms had died by his side, though a third and his knight Sir Tucker barely survived. The town square was a wash of broken ice, the bodies of snowfell wolves, and red blood on white snow.
The remaining members of the Caerne Clan had rushed to Sir Tyrne's rescue, but failed to protect their leige lord. Despite that failure, they managed to defeat the snowfell wolves, led by the possessed elf Ethelen. Most of the Caerne Clan was in sad shape, with only Lucard and Telemon left standing. Lucard and Sir Tucker, and the man-at-arms Gamal, praised Telemon's strength and bravery. Telemon had defeated the possessed elf, and though the toll was high, River Crown was safe.
For the moment.
The spirit that had possessed the elf Ethelen had fled. The clan knew it would be back, with more of the undead. Each of the undead snowfell wolves had worn a collar, and on the collar had been a small bone of black. The black elf bones – a vertebrae, a hand bone, a foot bone – were becoming a common theme. Ethelen had used a black elf humerus to control the snowfell. The boy Ghed had used a black elf femur to control an army of undead. The green glowing light and the blackened elf bones were indicators of more trouble to come.
Maleah's body dissolved in a blueish light. The Clan of Caerne had known Maleah for many years, when Caerne's second wife, an elf by the name of Kaala, had recognized the wandering deva. The devas were agents of the gods, often kept secreted by churches or leading holy armies. Each time a deva was 'killed', its body appeared elsewhere in the world, to do the work of the gods. Each time a deva died, they returned with only a scattering of their memories, and a holy purpose. Kaala had taken Maleah under her wing, remembering the deva from when the elf was a youngling, and helped fill in many of the gaps in Maleah's shattered memory. Maleah, in turn, had accompanied Kaala and her husband through the Inquisition, doing the work of the gods, healing the wounded and the dying in their war with the mages.
And as Maleah's body dissolved, the grandsons of the former inquisitor known as Caerne looked on, knowing that she would appear elsewhere with no memory of Caerne or Kaala or them. It gave them hope to know she would return, and perhaps one day, remember a name or a face of Caerne's Clan. But it saddened them, too, to know that their godmother was gone, perhaps for the rest of their lifetimes.
There was work to do. Sir Tucker was in a state of deep shock. Liam, his apprentice, helped to take control and organize the town. The bodies would be placed in a state of gentle repose, until late spring when there could be a proper funeral pyre. The town square would be cleaned up, the snowfell removed, and the blood-red snow turned over. The snowfell bodies were ground to dust at the mill, despite the miller objections.
The ruined corpse of Ethelen, its face beaten to a pulp by Lucard even after the elf was defeated, was also set in a gentle repose within the temple, and covered by a woolen blanket.
The situation was rough. Only five men-at-arms remained in River Crown, and Sir Tucker was despondant and depressed. If the spirit were to attack again, with more elementals or more undead, then River Crown would perish. Caerne's Clan opted to leave on the morrow for Baron Wilhelm Delling's, Lord of the Northern Plains. They would leave the thirty or so kobolds they had hired from Mount Basilisk to defend River Crown, and armed them with what weapons and armor they could.
The leader of the kobolds, Sebathik, was a veteran sniper and a tough fighter. He alone spoke the common tongue among the kobolds, though others were learning. One of the now empty homes was given over to the kobolds as a barracks and armory, and the townspeople and the remaining men-at-arms were told of the situation.
Telemon's wife, Tammi, gained considerable stature in the town by being a woman of the Caerne Clan. Her husband's exploits circulated widely in a town beset by undead too often in the past few weeks. Though some of the sheep and goats had been lost, most of the herd that the clan had brought back from Mount Basilisk, along with the kobolds, still remained.
Lucard, on final lookout while training the kobolds, spotted something out on the horizon. At a distance of miles, it was difficult to discern, but it could have been another possessed and a snowfell. Lucard sent the kobolds to gather the rest of the clan, using pantomime and urgency to convey his intentions.
One of the kobolds knocked on Telemon's door. The happy groom answered the door naked, and saw no one at the door. The kobold, gesturing frantically and then barking, grabbed at Telemon to help pull him along. Telemon was rather too startled by the event to say anything for a moment, especially when his wife Tammi came to the door in her shift to see what all the barking was about. She suppressed a giggle at the surprised Telemon and the hurrisome kobold, who knew not a whit about mammalian reproductive organs.
The clan was gathered, and the guard put on alert. The kobolds, took up positions, while the clan pushed out to meet the foe.
The foe, it turned out, was anything but. A wilden – one of the ancient line of elves, with a light seasonal fur about her body – greeted them. With her, she had a huge lynx that seemed as tame as any house cat, and an intelligence beyond any domestic animal.
As she petted the cat, waiting for the strangers to come out of their town, the younger members of the clan could only dumbly mutter, “She's petting her kitty.”
The wilden's name was Saebael, and her lynx was Rumus. The two had traveled out of their home woods across the pass, when the undead had begun to infiltrate the forest. She sought the source of the undead, and had tracked the undead snowfell from the pass – and the area near the elemental cave Boredmin had sought.
Boredmin Dunnigan had brought with him an expedition to explore the cave, one of them being the elf Ethelen. Boredmin's dwarf was still out there, somewhere, and the thought sent a shiver down the spines of the clan. That the elf Ethelen had returned to the elemental cave and brought the snowfell back, as indicated by the tracks Saebael had seen, meant trouble for River Crown.
On the morn, the clan set out for Baron Wilhelm's. Saebael and her cat invited themselves along, to see if the baron had more news of the undead – or if the undead truly were confined to River Crown and the pass.
The clan traveled down the Western Cold River, frozen over in the depths of winter. They stayed the night at Simon's Place, raiding what remained of his larder. Around noon the next day, they moved off the river, following Liam cross-country towards the baron's. That night, a brutal storm moved in, and they sheltered closely together in a hastily made tent.
Before noon the next day, they made the Baron's home – a large, low-slung building, with several scattered buildings for the various livestock and grain. The baron met them just inside crossbow range near his home, covered by many a crossbow from his family. Once the baron recognized Liam, and introductions were made, they began to exchange news as the baron led them back to his home.
Inside, they told their tale as the baron's family listened raptly, and the baron made occasional inquiries into particulars of the story. When all was said, the baron made his decision. The Caerne Clan would accompany him to Fasra, there to coordinate with the chamberlain who ruled while the duke was at Mount Basilisk for the winter court. The baron's eldest son and his family would remain at the baron's manor, but the rest of the family would take what livestock and supplies they could, and make straightaway for River Crown.
The clan wrote out instructions for Sebathik, such that as soon as the baron's family was in position to guard River Crown, Sebathik and the kobolds should make for Mount Basilisk to purchase supplies for River Crown and return. They knew the kobold would be eager to comply, as he was setting up a lucrative monopoly on trade through Caerne's Pass.
On the morn, the baron's warhorse broke the trail through the snow, and they followed towards Fasra. It took them two days to make Fasra, where mounted guards in the golden tabard of the chamberlain's men met them and escorted them in.
The baron went to meet with the chamberlain, while the clan stayed at the Spinning Leaf inn on the baron's orders, on his tab. They explored the town of a thousand souls a bit, visiting the smithy and then the temple. At the temple, the priest there heard them out, and told them more of the tale of Master Heinz in return. That evening, the priest brought them a small package that he thought would help them in their travels: scale mail, a shield, a sword, and two potions of healing waters. All of the items were divinely protected, and would aid them in their quest to destroy the evil spirit. There was also a divine scroll to assist them in defeating the spirit once and for all, to prevent it from fleeing a body.
The baron returned that evening with word that they would move out on the morn. The chamberlain was sending a dozen mounted men, as well as sleighs of supplies. Word would also be sent to all the outlying baronies, to ascertain the extent of the plight of the undead.
A month prior, as the priest had explained, the mage assigned to the duchy was caught in vile necromancy. The old priest was killed, as was the original chamberlain, and most of the armed men of Fasra, besides. A goliath – an eight foot giant from the far northen lands – as well a mage child, and a priest of Arpelos were all that survived the confrontation and defeat of the mage. The mage's name was Toirin, and he had surplanted the real Master Heinz, enslaving him in necromancy. All thought of Toirin as Master Heinz until the final battle, a month prior. Toirin's apprentice Ghed had escaped, and the priest and the baron were glad to hear he had been killed by the clan, up in the pass.
Since the defeat of Toirin, a month prior, there had been no reports of undead, and the duchy had relaxed its guard – too soon, apparently. The defeat of much of Fasra's forces by Toirin's undead had meant too few armed messages between the baronies, and the new chamberlain had had little time to properly organize the duchy for his lord.
On the morn, they left out in sleighs pulled by teams of four horses. The clan rode the sleighs while the armed men rode their mounts. The frozen river proved a good highway, and their small army made it to River Crown in only two days.
The baron and the army arrived just half a day and a night after his family did. The clan had missed the kobolds by just hours, as the kobolds took their written word and headed back over the pass.
The baron gathered the people and announced his intent to remain there until the Spring, to protect them from the undead. Towards that end, he was sending an exploratory force to Wirebeard's Ledge, to probe the elemental cave and see if the source of the undead was there. Caerne's Clan was that exploratory force.
Midday of the 6th of Trisad, 1331 Avard.
THU12MAR2010. I hadn't realized this was to be Bo's next-to-last session. In April, he leaves for Shanghai to teach English, and this means the next session will be the end for the young elf. We'll have to figure out an awesome way for him to bow out of the campaign!
This particular session was all role-play, with d20s moving about, but no other die and no powers. One of the faults with 4E shows through, when professional checks are necessary. Deciphering the encrypted elven letter is not something straight-forward in the game mechanics, or at least I haven't seen where or how to handle such checks in the books, yet.
Telemon opting to answer the door naked was probably the most memorable part of that session – or at least the most humerous. Thanks for being a good sport about it, Ross. :)
lol Ross - it may just be that you character gets naked a lot…
Things always happen when my character's get naked. We can just forget how cold it was that night though…
Fun session. I don't need combat to have a good time. I just wish 4E handled skills more like 3E - everything had a skill even tradeskills and if it wasn't in the list there were blanks where you could add more… I guess we could do the same with 4E - just no spot for it on the default character sheet.