It Started with a Chicken

On the Road to Bard's Gate
Sir Ernie Dies Fighting

Hello, gentle reader. What follows are some of my raw notes from the journey to Bard’s Gate. Due to the need for vigilance against unknown perils, as well as combat actions, I only have these notes, rather than a cogent narrative. — Solstice Summerwind

At first watch, Cath is surprised by stirges. 
3/4 attach. 
We jump up and start trying to pull them off him.

We spend the night secure in a Waymarch tower. There is from enough for Horse and Karry Orcbane. The Waymarch are a group of warriors that patrol the roads out of Bard’s Gate.

Must travel through the Stoneheart Forest, aka stirge forest. 

As night falls, the next Waymarch tower is a bit further on. We continue a little past dusk to reach it.
Approaching the tower, we are ambushed by six gnolls. Ernie of Justice charges their line as they step from the woods next to the road. We drop Ernie’s guy with archery from the wagon after Ernie hits him good. A large, well-armored Gnoll then steps up and kills Ernie with a mighty blow of a two-handed sword. 

We continue in the wagon and cross in front of the Waymarch station; 6+ gnolls are pouring out of a hole in the fence. We speed up and out. 

Meet a caravan headed South. They turn back at our behest. Then we meet some sheriffs and report the gnolls. 

We arrive at Bard’s Gate. 

There is a tent city. 
We enter. There are restrictions on weapons. 
We learn their money is different. 

We stay at M4.  It is the Felled Ogre, run by Durst Hammerhand. He has a gnarly huge metal hand. They have lots of different alcohol. Some they make here at the inn. 

The Freya Contract Chronicles - Fairhill Goof Troop vs the "Lich"

People have asked how I can be a killer. I reply that I am not – I am an Assassin, a contracted means to fix a problem. The guild has always been fair with me, and saved me from a life much worse then my other realistic options. They also taught me not only to observe the contract in letter but also in spirit, otherwise we are no better then the Lowers, but don’t be doing stuff for free just for the greater good – that’s just for the irresponsible Uppers. No, do things by the book and be fair to the contractor. A paladin might turn on you in the name of his oath, but an Assassin never breaks her contract.

At least that’s what I tried to explain to those hicks. Even the priest of Obee didn’t seem to get it. I have a written contract (retainer in this case) with Freya. But they don’t seem to understand how the world really works. Just because I am not like them doesn’t mean I will kill them. Ah well, they are handy in a fight and haven’t betrayed me (…well, one did, but I never trusted him).

So there’s this priest of Obee (Big man that insisted to wrestle me. Very odd. Forget his name), a paladin (Sir Ernie of Theyr, I think. A typical paladin. Eventually was reasonable though.), an effeminate, backstabbing wizard (Corrian), the useful wizard (Z. Efficient name, I like that), and a ranger (Solstice I think. Also talented and useful.). The priestess at the local church of Freya directed me to work with these folks to deal with the local menace that torched their church. Apparently, they (this group excluding the horrid Corrian, not the torchers) had hunted down the torchers to thier lair in a castle, and dealt with most of them, but lost one of their members and needed support. And this time, that support is called Salash.

On the way we meet this “Corrian” that stated that the group had a necklace that he stole from a friend of a friend (I think?) and that fellow wanted to be come a lich, and he also was in the castle. I doubted it – I don’t know many things about the undead, but I do know that liches are strong, and powerful. This untrustworthy fool that’s telling us this can only cast 1 spell – if this is his collegue….well, Ancient Dragons and goblin infants don’t hang out together. That’s all I have to say about that.

So we get to this run down castle, and the paladin recommends I dip my short sword in this goop above me, as its a good poison. Doing so, some drops on my head and the priest burns it off. Sigh – embarrassing.

The ranger notices that large humanoid footsteps lead to a tower. We decide to check out the tower opposite 1st. I convince Ernie to go down 1st…..he reports the 2nd floor is rotted, and the 1st floor steps are covered in cobwebs. Large. I yell at him to toss his torch in, and he does – and the fire spreads like syphilis on the docks. We retreat off the tower, and we can hear chattering and pops – ever burnt a bug as a kid? Yea that smell. Smells like efficiency.

We go the the top of the next tower, and this lumbering ogre comes out. The prient burns him, I stab him, the ranger and the pally hurt it, Z help, and Corrian the weasel wets his pantaloons. Down we go.

2nd floor – nothing notable.
1st floor – nothing notable, except a trap door under a carpet.
1st under-trap door. Dark! and Skeletons. Ah, not a problem. We all help in the fight, except the useless Corrian. You could almost smell his ineptitude, if it wasn’t for his emptied bowels into his cloak. And there’s a door that won’t open….except Corrian the corrupt uses the necklace that my co-party members found (…that Corrian the despicable STOLE from a friend, apparently) to open the door. Ernie points out that even if Corrian the cowardly wasn’t here, they would have tried that eventually. I agree with my oath-bound party member. In this room there’s a door and a trap door. Through the door a bed and – a spellbook! One that could contain the means to be a lich, and/or information on those that attacked the church of Freya! I grab it and Corrian the untrustable whines like an infant, and tries to cast a spell on me.

Got that? He tried to cast a spell on me. A fellow party member. He’s lucky I didn’t fillet him where he cowered in his filthy robe.

Ignoring him, we open the last trap door.

2nd under-trap door. Darker then dark! and no ways down. I and the priest agree to hold the rope as the rest descend. There’s a body on an altar, with some items. And then we hear screaming, and Ernie mentions something about a shadow. The priest brings out his holy symbol and forces the shadow down, as Solstice, Z, and Ernie eventually destroy it. I know thjat I would be unuseful in the fight, so I stay holding onto the rope, above. They banish it, collect much treasure, and we all return to the Church of Freya. Corrian the inept chicken leaves us, and we drink to his eventual self-inflicted horrid painful death. Hopefully.

Dear Diary
(copied from forum)

Dear Diary,

Today we went back to the orc fort after resting up to finish the job. But this time, the Church of Freya insisted that we bring along some assassin (I think her name was slaanesh?). Also this wizard guy named Corinth said that the orc fort wasn’t an orc fort; It was a lich fort! He said that he got some letter from some other wizard guy about how some other other wizard guy was going to try to become a lich. I’m not sure what a lich is, but I remember Bert used to tell me stories about evil undead liches being defeated by supercool paladins of Thyre.

I miss Bert. :(

That slanash assassin girl sure is mean! >:(
I normally don’t like working with assassins; I don’t understand how a guild full of people who kill each other for money even got legalized. Normally, I would have flat out refused to work with her, but the Church of Freya insisted that I work with her, and I am under orders from the Church of Thyre to work with the Church of Freya, so I guess I have no choice. :(

I figured the very least I could do was try to get along with her. Bert told me once that although it is always important to bring evildoers to justice, trying to redeem evildoers and making them into fully functioning members of civil society is also important. So I thought I’d be nice and point out to her the green slimy goop that hangs from the ceiling. Assassins like poison, and poison is green and slimy, right? So she tries to get some, but she stumbles and spills it all over herself, and then she blames it on me. So I thought I’d be nice and heal her wounds for her. Turn the other cheek.

So when we went exploring, one of the first things we noticed was that the Scorpion crossbow things were missing! Solstice and the priest of Bobee were really sad about that. They wanted to hook it up to the back of the priest’s wagon and shoot orcs with it. Well, in that tower we found a trap door. Even though salad the assassin always brags about how sneaky she is, she insisted that I be the first to explore the trap door. And every other one after that. I think that she’s actually really bad at sneaking, and just lies to make herself not feel bad. Just like how the priest of Bobee lies about being able to heal people with his spells. Is he really a priest? I’ve never seen him cast any spells. The only priestly thing I’ve seen him do is turn the undead. Well, for now I guess I’ll just play along, for the sake of his ego. All in all, he’s not a bad guy. I trust him.

So I noticed as I went down, that the floor was rotting, and the next floor down was covered in giant cobwebs. The priest of Bobee said that when in doubt, just set it on fire. So I did. As we rushed out to escape the flames we heard as strange chittering noise. Everyone else said that it was the death cries of giant spiders. That priest of Bobee sure is smart.

So when we went to explore the next tower, a giant ogre jumped out and attacked us! Me and Solstice were attacking the monster as hard as we could, but we couldn’t quite kill it. But as a very wise priest of Bobee once said “When in doubt, set it on fire”. So he did. His quick thinking saved us again!

Well, we went down into the tower, and found the area where the orcs had been living in. They had taken the tapestries of the tower and were using them as blankets. The priest of Bobee insisted that these smelly orc blankets were a priceless treasure, worth more money than any of us could even count. Sometimes, the priest of Bobee can be very smart. This was not one of those times, I think. We went down further and found a trapdoor with silver nails set in. The priest was sure that this was a ward against the undead, and Corinth seemed excited that we were getting close. As we descended down a level, we were attacked by zombies! But we managed to beat them pretty easily. We then found a trapdoor we couldn’t open, but Corinth and Z said that it was locked with magic, and they used the amulet we found to open the lock.

When we got to the next room, a scuffle occurred. I wasn’t really paying attention, but the assassin girl said that Corinth had attacked her. Corinth claimed that it was because she stole a spell book from him. Axel Slash claimed it was on the floor and she picked it up. I wasn’t paying attention, because the priest of Bobee had taken me aside to express his concerns about the slansh girl, and that he didn’t trust her. I don’t trust her either, but I do trust the Church of Freya. So I figured we’d give the spellbook to Z, as he’d know best what to do.

But then salaz just explodes on me. Yelling about how the book was hers now, how we were all out to get her, how I was a terrible Paladin and how Thyre was going to take away my powers because I wouldn’t agree with her, and so on. In the end, I figured the only way to calm her down was to just give her the book and let her hold on to it until we reached the Church of Freya.

We found another trapdoor and inside there was a corpse. A dead one. Not undead. Me and solstice were examining the corpse, when a shade attacked us from behind! Solstice bravely took on the shade by himself until the priest came over and held the shade still so I could attack it too. We manage to kill it. The wizards think that the shade was actually the wizard who tried to become a lich and failed. We left the castle and took the shade wizard’s stuff. I figure that it’s a sort of justice to take the tools of an evil man and use them in the pursuit of good.

Well, Corinth said he wanted his share of the cut. And why not? We would have never known how to get to the shade wizard without his help, or that the tower was even an undead tower to begin with.

Shlanass exploded again!!! She said that she was taking all the stuff to the church and that if Corinth tried to take any, she’d kill him in the name of the church! Well, Corinth ran off crying, and I felt really bad for him. : (
But there was nothing I could do. Slanna got a talking to from Shandril about her behavior, but I don’t think she’s really learned her lesson. If she stays in the group, I really hope her attitude improves. We ended up giving all the wizard stuff we got from the tower to Z, he’ll know best what to do with it.

Well the people were really happy we cleared out the orcs for them! :)
We got all sorts of requests from people who needed help from us. I would have loved to help them all, but I forgot, I had a pilgrimage to Bard’s Gate that I had to go on. It’s why I was in this area in the first place, I just forgot due to all the excitement with the necromancer and the orcs.

One of the townsfolk said that the road to Bard’s Gate was dangerous because it was covered in knolls. I don’t know what’s so dangerous about hilly terrain, but I’ll keep a look out!


An Orc time in the ole town tonight
Temple burns; orcs die

We are staying at the Drunken Cockatrice, the inn we’ve been staying at in Fairhill.

We are awakened in the night. The town is lit by an orange glow, ash fills the air. Orcs have set the temple of Freya on fire.

Arlen and Shandrill run toward the inn shouting for help.

The temple is lost. She tells us the orcs have taken the crucible of Freya, which she uses to bless the crops.

She gives Ernie of Justice a sword named Valkuria to borrow for the quest, and two potions of healing to the group.

We add an Elven wizard, Content Not Found: Zee to the party.  We catch him eavesdropping as we debate plans to pursue the orcs. Z mentions he speaks orc, and agrees to come along in pursuit of the raiders.

We gear up with some extra oil, and mount up on borrowed horses. We ride as quickly as we can with a lantern out. I, Solstice Summerwind lead.

We reach the bridge at approximately 5a. Lannet hears the flapping of wings. We are attacked by 3 stirges.

Solstice falls off his horse as a stirge flaps and screeches around his. We make short work of the stirges.

I, Solstice, spot a secret path that heads directly to the fort (presumably). We have to walk our horses. 

The orcs and us stumble into each other. Snarf charges forward through the underbrush and fells an Orc warrior with a might blow. Thanks to Z’s sleep spell, we make short work of the six of them. Unfortunately, Snarf is caught in the spell and will not awaken for some time.

6 ringmail, six shortbow, six quivers w/20 arrows each, six short swords
12 flasks of oil, six tinderboxes,
16gold 6d6
47 silver 7d8
one of them has the crucible; also a large iron key.

Thrown over his horse for the journey back, we learn that Snarf talks in his sleep. In his waking life, Snarf can only say own his name. In his sleep, he speaks coherently. Z says it sounds like he’s reciting books of history. We make a pact to never speak of this again.

We return to the Drunken Cockatrice.

Shandrill and Arlen are there. They have taken over the common room for a meeting — we are invited to the meeting.

Baran, the guard captain and his lieutenant Loriel is there.  Baran berates us for not continuing on to the Orc Castle outpost and gather intelligence.

We wanted to return the horses, as the warnings to bring them back were dire. We suspected they were made of gold.

Baran suggests bringing the fight to them, which we had already been discussing

We leave the next morning to go count orcs; find and follow the secret path. It leads to a door at the rear of the keep. Lock and door hinges are well-oiled and quiet.  Beyond the door are the guts of the ruined tower. The second floor above is rotted; sunlight filters through. We hear voices from above, a patrol passes.
About fifteen minutes until the look-outs move along. 

Meanwhile, wet green mud falls on Ernie of Justice’s helmet. He scrapes it off, managing to get some on his hand. It burns and starts to turn him into green slime. We manage to burn out the slime without lighting him on fire.

Solstice points out a “safe path,” that avoids the dripping slime.

We hole up in the tower to discuss our battle plan. From the layout of most walled castles, we calculate that this door opens on the courtyard, which is likely occupied or easily observed.

Dangerous Travel
A sorrowful time and equine vengeance

The party emerges from the crypt carrying the body of Sir Sneaky. We head to Poverty’s Bethel and in the late morning of a chilly, overcast day, we lay Sir Sneaky to rest.

Bert says these words: “He was a brave lad, first fighting the shadow, and then got his face smashed in by a zombie. He will be missed. We shall never see his like again.”

Nothing remaining for us in Lessef, we say goodbye to Almary, load the wagon with oats, water, and our gear, and head to Fairhill.

Around midday, just after a lunch of dark bread and goat cheese, a harsh shout from the trees slows us. Three armed green-skinned creatures dressed in ring mail charge us.

Before Cath gets the wagon up to speed, Snarf and Bert leap from the wagon to the hard-packed dirt of the roadway to give battle.

with a scimitar and two with spears. 

Cath snaps the reins and the wagon lurches forward, heading up the road. Bort jumps out and hurts himself. 

One of the savage creatures, sunlight glinting off the blade of his raised scimitar, charges Bort. Seeing Bort engaging the creature and clearly outmatched, Snarf charges to save Bort. 

Solstice, from the back of the wagon, scores a few hits with his arrows, but inflicts little damage. Cath’s cries for everyone to get back in the wagon go unheeded.

Outnumbered two-to-one, Bert charges the savages, almost daring them to score a hit with the spear each carries.

Solstice’s missile fire damages one of the spear wielders, but in the same instant, the creature’s scimitar cuts across Bort’s throat, killing him.

Moments later, Bert is likewise brought down. 

Snarf runs and with his great strength manages to pull himself into the wagon as it leaps forward, gaining speed.

The orcs taunt us as we go. We hear the name Tavik in the orcs’ guttural gibberish. The wagon turns the corner as the Orc with the scimitar waves Bert’s magic sword, still shouting curses and taunts. 

We make it to Fairhill late that day. 

We are greeted at the temple. Cath delivers his report to Shandrill regarding our foray beneath Poverty’s Bethel.

We have a service in absentia for Bert and Bort (no relation), whose crumpled bodies we left in the road. 

Shandrill, reads from an old tome and relates that long ago, 8 churches came together to create the Scepter of Faith. It was used to disrupt the magic in Akruel’s heart. The heart is missing from the scepter, and hence Akruel walks again. 

We are healed. We rest at the Drunken Cockatrice. We are put upon by a Halfling named Lannet, who insists on joining up with us. Everyone knows that halflings are horrid little rodents best killed on sight, so we resist.

We meet Ernie, Bert’s brother, and at his behest, we set out the next morning to recover Bert’s body. 

Lannet stows away.  Along the way, he tells us that he thinks the Orcs have plans, but are waiting for something. Also, he knows the orcs speak of an amulet. 

We reach the site about a half day out of Fairhill. About high sun.

Solstice follows the drag marks and we find the bodies of our companions, stripped and left and the mercy of halflings. I mean scavengers.

Three sets of footprints lead further into the woods. 

Lannet says he knows the ruin where the orcs are headed. Discuss that orcs can’t travel the road, so we might be able to cut them off. 
Ernie summons a warhorse, naming it Karry. 

Snarf drives the wagon back to Fairhill, his only company the scavenger-ravaged dead.

Off we go to return the favor of an ambush.

Days later, as they approach our hidden positions along the trail, the raiders are wary, and approach with caution and weapons drawn. They look haggard after hard travel, and still bear the wounds from our earlier battle. 

Ernie charges the Orc wielding Bert’s sword, but misses with his blade. As Ernie charges by, a hoof lashes out, catching the Orc leader in the skull, killing him instantly. 

Lannet drops behind one and kills him. Karry kills the remaining Orc. Go Warhorse!!! They should make a movie … er … a song. 

They held the funeral until we got back. Shandrill does a nice service, even though we are not followers of Freya. 

We’re back at the inn. Downstairs for a meal. 
Next day is market day. 

We sell the ringmail, spears and scimitar for 69g, 3 silver. 

3 sets of ringmail. 
Two spears. 
Nothing else of value. 

Lannet claims the sword, Ernie offers his share of the gold for his brother’s sword as his share if the spoils. Ernie keeps the sword. I’m not sure that was truly in doubt.

We purchase gear, preparing to head to Bard’s Gate. 

Horse: 2hd, 15hp, AC 12, Move 18

Thirty Days in the Hole
It seemed even longer to me

It was overcast in the late afternoon when Sir Sneaky and Snarf returned to Lessef riding on our creaking wagon. Pulled by our creaking Horse.

In addition to supplying Sir Sneaky and Snarf, well, Sir Sneaky anyway, with information, the Priestess of Freya in Fairhill sent along companions.

Bert and Cath were sent to get the whole story on the hole in the hill. Or perhaps to asses the threat. Or search out lies.

Desperately Seeking Chicken
Session the First

My name is Solstice. Well, that’s what I go by, anyway.

I write like I talk, which ain’t too good, but Bort’s been telling me he’s gonna copy this here journal and put some fancy words in and make it make sense. So, if this here narrative don’t make sense – well, that’s him’s doing most like.

There’s a song that warns about pulling on a thread – it undoes the whole weave. Which means that the whole cloth can come undone, and then folks freeze that winter.

Least wise you’d a sung that if you was from Potter’s Pitch, where I hail from.

Anyways, we didn’t so much as pull on a thread as we pulled on a chicken. Well, the absence of a chicken, really.

Some time ago, having little or no money in my pockets, I was traveling toward Bard’s Gate. I was counting on good fortune there or on the journey to show me an honest way to earn a few copper or even a silver or two.

I had some companions along, of course, and we were about a fortnight out of Reme when we came by this village.

Later we heard it was a town called Lessef, which was awful generous. Calling it a town that is. It looked like a dreary picked-over corpse of a camp. I was surprised to hear it had a name, truth be told.

Tired shacks, sagging roofs, and skeletal frames of what might have been cottages or smithies seemed to plead for the mercy of a spark.

There were some hardy souls still about, though. There was smoke from a few chimneys, and a tiny chapel with trimmed hedges hunched on top of the hill overlooking the town and nearby forest.

There were some voices, and someone shouting about “a fox had got my chickens.”

Well, I hadn’t seen fox tracks in a few days, and there wasn’t like to much game of any kind desperate enough to be coming around this sore spot in the road, so my curiosity got piqued.

We came up behind an old feller in brown breeches and a shirt that looked more like a grain bag with more dirt than his garden yelling to himself more than anyone else about chickens.

He was yelling about this fox, and I only saw prints of the beast that walks upon two legs, and I ain’t talking about crows. There weren’t no blood or feathers spread around neither.

This feller tells us that if we catched that fox for him, he’d give us a bushel of potatoes. Now, I wasn’t quite that desperate. I’d been hunting pretty good along out journey, but old Bort gets himself all excited.

He’s jabbering on about spuds like they was a sow from the king’s own larder cooked and dressed by the king’s own man. Bort’s more used to watery gruel twice a day up in that library castle near Winterberg that he’s from. Snarf was drooling, as usual, and Sneaky was somewhere “around.”

Before we get on the trail of the fox, we go up to the chapel to acquaint ourselves with the lay of the land a bit. It’s a temple to Freya.

Sure enough, except for them kids living with the priest up there everyone and every thing in this whole town looked like it had been stomped on by time. Even the goat tied up outside looked worn out.

I’m tuckered as I think about it.

Almary tells us about buildings in town being scavenged for firewood, and warns us against Scabby, the dishonorable owner of the pub.

The priest was friendly and offered us a healing potion. It came in handy later when the four of us ambushed two men. They passed our hiding place in the forest and came back a little while later with a squawking sack.

One was killed in the ambush. Bort was mortally wounded, but the potion brought him back from the brink. The other we took back to the priest.

Early the questioned next morning, we questioned our thief. He was part of a gang of men that was doing some mining, hidden behind the hill opposite Lessef.

We went to talk to them later in the day.

Their camp was empty of life, but there was a lot of mining equipment, and a wagon and bedrolls. However, that was all we saw on a quick look before it was our turn to be ambushed.

It was a hard fight. I and Sneaky took cover by the wagon while Bort and Snarf charged the archers. I won’t make a big deal of it, but I took a near-fatal wound to my shoulder. A hair better placed and it would have struck my heart.

We had another prisoner, unconscious, so we looked around a bit.

They had removed four giant slabs of stone that had sealed a cavern of some sort. We poked our heads in, but lacked the courage to explore further. I don’t think it was a mine, though.

In hopes the priest or our attacker might give us more knowledge, we packed up their wagon and gear and went around and up the hill to the church.

My recollection of the next part is a bit hazy, as a hands-length of arrow stuck out my shoulder.

The chicken-thieving group had been hired to dig under the town. I thought I heard talk of a necromancer wanting to get into the cavern. The stone slabs indicated to me that it was supposed to stay shut.

We also found that the stone the church was built on contained a message. Read it we did, but it was a riddle about a battle, a wand-thing, and evil sealed away.

We turned the thieves and would be killers to Lessef for justice.

Bort and the other fellers went up to Fairhill while I’m recovering. There’s another temple to Freya there. They are gonna see what they can learn about the writing on the floor, the man who hired the group, and the history of the area.

My drawing arm is stiff, but it’s getting better. I reckon I’ll be right as rain by the time they get back.

I don’t really want to go crawling down in some rat hole. I’m for sun and the caress of a light breeze. Trouble is, I got too much pride to have it known I was a coward to some hole in the ground, so I reckon I’ll be going down there.

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