Date: Fall, 1332 Avard
One the eve of the Freeze, a wounded monk arrived on a slathered horse, desperately calling for help. The monk had been the monastery's liaison with a special shipment of books and scrolls, and they had been ambushed. The shipment had been scheduled to arrived before the Freeze, brought by fast-moving carriage and mounted escorts, but only the wounded monk arrived, barely coherent, and poisoned.
Brother Cadwhol set about organizing Procurators at once, hoping they could arrive to safeguard the shipment before it got away – or track it down, if necessary. The monks of Samis were rarely fans of the saddle, given more to working with their hands than their feet. Brother Cadwhol knew of two monks, however, that could certainly assist – newcomers special-sent to the monastery by the Church of Samis, who have undergone special training within the monastery for the past seven years.. Koristhene and Jariskorn immediately set to preparing the horses for a night's journey through starlight.
The Lady Stonda had recently been found by a childhood friend of hers, and the friend had more than a touch of the arcane. With Stonda's vouchsafe, the man known as Halkad was admitted to the Procurators after performing an elegant mission for Brother Cadwhol.
A brief interview with the wounded monk turned up little. His poisoning was missed by the apothecary and chirurgeon, Sister Becca. Lady Stonda attempted to slip into the mind of the wounded monk, with little success. All she did gather was an image of a giant wolf whose howl was a bludgeon – and he led an army of thousands upon thousands of souls. The monk's left arm had been broken in two places, perhaps by a mace. Two half-length arrows had been embedded in his back.
The four Procurators left quickly, their mounts sensing the familiar trail in the starlight, the road often covered in a dense cover of foliage that blocked out the light. They rode as hard as they dared, as quickly as they could, switching out mounts to keep them fresh. For the twin monks Koristhene and Jariskorn, their greatest fears were that the scrolls and books would be lost, either because the bandits went somewhere else with them, or because they would damage or even destroy them.
Brother Cadwhol had said that three items in particular were invaluable to the monastery: a book in the draconic script, a book bound with snakes, and a scroll in old Karatikan written in jibberish.
The four rode through the night, looking for signs of struggle in the darkness, hoping against hope that they could find the site of the attack.
The wounded monk had been able to tell Brother Cadwhol that the caravan had been two marks west of Takanal. When the Procurators approached that position, Koristhene and Jariskorn rode ahead as scouts, while Stonda and Halkad watched for any missing signs.
Koristhene and Jariskorn found the site of the attack, and managed to trace where the wagon had been pulled off of the road and through the brush. They left their pairs of mounts tied up nearby to signal to Stonda and Halkad the location of the attack, and rushed off in pursuit of the wagon, worried more about the manuscripts and scrolls than their own lives.
They found the bandits several hundred yards north of the road, encamped on the far side of an outcropping of rock. There were a half dozen humans and four horses, a good-sized fire, the wagon, and a wolf lying on the ground near the wagon and watching the humans. The humans were soused, despite the later hour, high on drugs and wine and spirits and ale.
Koristhene and Jariskorn attempted to get closer, to see if the manuscripts were intact or being fed to the fire. The wolf saw them, unfortunately, and that's when a kobold popped up from inside the wagon and shot at Koristhene. The arrow was poisoned, and chaos erupted. The two monks attacked from the darkness, hitting one of the men with a flurry of blows, knocking him back into the fire, and killing two others before disappearing back into the darkness.
The bandits spread out, some helping their friend, and others attempting to find the shadowy men that had attacked them. The bandits began sobering up as weapons went to hands and they spread out to take down the night time threat. The kobold leapt onto his wolf, and bounded into the darkness after the two attackers.
The fighting was getting intense, and the poison from the kobold's arrows was beginning to take its toll, when Stonda and Halkad arrived on horseback. The tide turned – although Halkad was shot through the arm by a light ballista that had been hidden in the wagon.
When the battle was done, they carefully went through the wagon and chests that had been in it, and through the bandits. In a saddlebag on the wolf, they found the draconic book they had been sent for. The other book and the scroll were still in the wagon, along with many others of interest to the monks. One of the books had a binding covered in snakes, and the number of snakes intertwined on its cover seemed to change every time they counted. The scroll they were sent for was the ravings of a mad man, and when read cast a spell on the reader – one that made him want to continue reading, without sleep, without food, and without water – until the reader died.
Under one of the chests' lids was a hide armor shirt with heavy enchantments upon it, perhaps as part of the shipment to the monastery. Other bits and clues pointed to a problem. The wolf's saddle had been made in either Kashin or Chasadan. There was a message in the kobold's possession, written in the kobold's near-draconic script, telling of the draconic book's route and authorizing the use of human hirelings; a message signed by 'Vedik'.
DM's Notes: Ross and Paul had worked together on a new idea for characters, and eagerly tested out twin elven monks. With Sam adding a new character, a warlock, the party had three strikers and one controller – and the damage dealt was phenomenal! Paul 'crittied' with over 30 points of damage to an enemy in one round, and I knew right then and there I had a group with powers very different than I was used to, especially when three of the four characters could do the same, perhaps to the same target on the same round!
Reference: Campaign IX
These monks are a ton of fun, and offer quite a bit of role-play and story opportunity. Great session all around, and looking forward to next Thursday!
Stonda did not take a single point of damage, although Halkad surely did. He was bloodied by a huge bolt to the right biceps, but he did not waver. He made that thief pay dearly…
We had a great company this time around. Lots of good rolls. I'm going to ask Stonda to remain in the (relative) safety of the Monastery for the next few rounds so that I can play Halkad and Lo-Kan (new Fighter character). Stonda will be put to good use by the Priestess of Star's End. I'm sure there is lots of diplomatic and academic work to do. The next time tact is involved in an adventure, she may be called upon to serve. In the meantime, Halkad's darker side is growing day by day. It seems that he can find any way to justify vengeance. Does someone who looks at Halkad with a strange glance deserve to be whipped by flaming lashes or sprayed with magical acid? It is only when Halkad returns to the Monastery to see Stonda that he remembers himself. By the way, none of you better try to make a move on Stonda. The last thing you might see is Halkad muttering some words and raising his hands… or you might not even see him at all