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The Arvan Game Pt. 10: The North Spur

Our intrepid heroes find themselves at a feast with the Ivoran Paladin of the Hyvalian Theocracy Sir Chinsalis and his squire, Xingri after agreeing to and being converted to the Hyvalian faith of course. Sporting their new wooden chalice symbols around their necks they recline on pillows as servants pile smoking meats and dew beaded fruits on the low tables before them. They are introduced to the guests for which this feast was set to receive, three Hill-Lander warriors. The first, a half-faun/half-hill giant brick named Skran, the second a half-faun/half-human ranger/archer named Han and Baalkra a faun and fighter/satyr by class the leader of the three. The two adventurers immediately took a liking to the whiskey swilling three, especially Bers (Jen’s character) since Baalkra was flirting with her (she said she also liked Chinsalis since he treated her like a lady and he defeated at arms as well, sheesh).
During the feast the pair (Dead-Eye and Bers) learned that Chinsalis was awaiting “his master” who had commanded him to keep the bridge and his retinue, a small force of Hyvalian crusaders led by an exiled Hyvalian noble named Han-moro, a Templar. Realizing that they are in the nest of the enemy Dead-Eye immediately began formulating an escape plan (though since they converted Chinsalis, or “Chinless” as they kept calling him, would’ve let them go anyway, but…).
The next day they were waked from their whiskey/ale stupor by Xingri and told to “suit up”. They walked out in full gear and saw the Chinsalis being mounted on his Sleipnir in full battle armor and the Hill-Landers fully armed and ready for a fight. Across the bridge they could hear the shouts of a familiar and fanatical voice, that of the druid Siamnecca. He was inciting the farmers whom were still stuck on the opposite side and with him a female archer clad all in green bearing very good gear. It was at this moment or heroes immediately bolted with their donkey and cart (also rescued by the paladin) and continued on their way towards the North Spur to investigate the mystery of the missing girls. Needless to say they made record time. Later that night they could see the glow of a great fire on the horizon in the direction of Miller’s Bridge and were glad that they had had the “foresight” to flee.
They found their way to the Old High Road after traveling North from Miller’s Bridge for a night and walked the road Northward for 4 or 5 days (I can’t remember which) and then traveled East to reach the small collection of farms and ranches at the edge of the Granfor Forest and its spur known as North Spur to the North of the farmers. They noticed the road was an ancient paved road and millennia worn. They found distraught parents in farm after farm in the North Spur whom were missing their young daughters and complaining of a weird presence and overwhelming feeling of dread that something “unnatural” was wandering about the houses at night. Emanations or hideous fiends were wandering in from the forest, possibly originating from the cursed ruins of Hornstone to the North beyond the North Spur past the Horn Wood and Satyr’s Grove. None of the farmers have dared to go past the North Spur and those who did in the past were never heard from again (how’s that for cliché). They decided to stay in a barn at the farm closest to the Old High Road. In wait for something to happen, around midnight they heard a clattering as of hoofed feet on the roof and then a strange haunting tune such as the eerie sound of pan pipes playing in the distance. They failed their saves and fell asleep. In the morning they found the farm and family was unharmed though the now youngest daughter was ill with a fever and chills, Dead-Eye found the unmistakable mark of the vampire on her throat. They inspected the outside around the farmhouse and found hoof prints beneath the windowsill of the girl’s room. They decided to use her as bait and stay in the room with her under the pretext that they were “protecting” their daughter. They chose to get their sleep during the day. Later that night around midnight they heard the same eerie sounds of a pipe playing but through the beeswax that was plugging their ears and they readied to pounce, Dead-Eye was well-hidden under the sill on the inside, Bers was basically just squatting at the center of the room. They heard the sound of a very human tread on the roof after a fairly loud thump as if something had landed on the apex of the roof. They then spied a black-cloaked figure drift down from above before the window the creature appeared as a very pale human in obviously antiquated bronze plate armor and an open helm. His black cape had the odd penchant for flapping and resembling a pair of large batwings. He immediately locked eyes with Bers and Dead-Eye shot at his chest. He backed off as the two fighters leapt through the window and the fight was on!
It lasted for 1 minute (4 melee rounds) as the vampire was very hard to hit and was in fact laughing as he bobbed and weaved slashing at them with his scimitar he continued to hover and back into the woods. They eventually began to score a number of hits as did he and he hit hard. After 4 rounds he suddenly broke off and flew deeper into the woods past a ridge. Our two heroes made chase, Dead-Eye picked up a trail of broken branches but lost it at the other end of the North Spur. By the time they got back it was nearly evening again and they found that the daughter that they were supposed to be protecting was gone, only a small spot of blood remained of her on her pillow.
They got a few hours rest as it was in the afternoon and Dead-Eye would try to pick up a trail and follow it though he correctly surmised they would be heading towards the ruins one way or another anyway. At evening they were up and following a trail that consisted of broken branches, hoof prints and small barely perceptible drops of blood. Bers (and her player Jen) seemed somewhat concerned for the girl, a bit guilty maybe? They followed the trial back onto the Old High Road where it went cold but the general direction was of course heading straight for the ruins of Hornstone and the shortest path would be through Satyr’s Grove into Horn Wood to Hornstone on the other side. They wound up camping at the dead center of Satyr’s Grove and Bers was on watch around midnight when she a strange light in the woods and chose to investigate. She went a way into the trees and found that the light was a tiny dragon-fly winged fairy which suddenly flew to her and began dancing and flying all about her, she was charmed until it darted away and held up a very valuable gem, a fist-sized diamond that she had had on her person. As it flew away giggling she pursued at a full run and fell into quicksand, her yelling for help attracted a prowling wolf and thankfully Dead-Eye who shot the wolf, it ran away to basically die of its wounds, Dead-Eye lamented the loss of an arrow. Bers learned a valuable lesson: beware faeries! They emerged from Satyr’s Grove by late morning it was then that Dead-Eye noticed that the trees of Satyr’s Grove were too evenly spaced and some had the overgrown remnants of old druidic runes carved into their warty trunks.
The crossed a narrow meadow still following the ever fainter paving stones of the old road North into the tree line of the Horn Wood. By dusk they had to camp at the North edge of the Horn Wood and for obvious reasons decided to not have a campfire and made attempts to camouflage themselves while they slept. They could see the outline of the ruined tower of Hornstone hardly identifiable as a ruin by the deceptive black silhouette limned by dusk. On his watch Dead-Eye spied two forms fly from the top of the ruinous tower which flew in the direction of the farms of North Spur.

To Be Continued…

The Arvan Game Pt. 9: Duel on Miller’s Bridge

The knight introduced himself as Sir Chinsalis and, “none shall pass as I claim this bridge in the name of my Lord and of the Shuen [the pope-like figure of the Hyvalian Theocracy]. Those who wish to pass must convert to the true faith or defeat me in duel!”
Of course Bers challenged him.
Both of our fearless adventurers realized after the duel was agreed upon however, that they had encountered the crusader who has a bounty on his head (see Pt. 5) but were confident that Bers would triumph even though the paladin (it was obvious to Dead-Eye) had excellent equipment (full plate and a 6-legged [the Sleipnir] warhorse with chain mail barding). It was to occur at dawn at behest of Dead-Eye as he “had a plan.”
During the night before the duel while Bers rested in the farmer’s camp Dead Eye (Cris’ character) decided to sneak over the creek bed to feed Chinsalis’ camp and feed a Miniaturization potion to his warhorse to even the odds a little but was spotted by his squire whom was keeping guard (just in case something like that should happen, you can’t trust those barbaric Westlanders ya’know) and shot a bolt from his crossbow and missing by a mile after hailing the half-seen shadow in the depression of Farm Creek. Dead Eye slunk back off knowing he wasn’t seen well enough to be identified.
Dawn came and Bers faced down Sir Chinsalis whom was in full plate armor and mounted on a fully armored warhorse at the entrance to the bridge. The fight lasted for about 2 rounds with the horse dealing the majority of the damage to Bers and Bers severely wounding Chinsalis until the paladin backed down and purposed that they break and he dismount, to which she readily agreed and so they went back to their respective ends of the bridge and quickly drank potions as both were very near death. Once healed they went back at it with Chinsalis dominating the fight with his paired weapon: sword & shield ability using a shield bash to unbalance Bers and then to follow up with a sword slash, Bers was using her great axe with a two-handed grip through out the fight by the way. Of course, to regain her balance Bers would have to forgo an attack so she always chose not to catch her balance so inevitably she got knocked to the ground with a shield bash, on the first downing Chinsalis allowed her to get back on her feet the second time he held the tip of his sword to her throat and made her yield. This presented some cultural role-playing opportunities which never were explored (Jen’s new at this RPG thing so I let it go).
Westlanders (Bers’ culture) have a separation of society into civil and warrior and within those their own separate hierarchies or caste system. As Bers (and Dead Eye) are of the warrior caste they are bound by its laws and basically Bers was supposed to become the paladins thrall by Westlander law, now he is not a Westlander but an Ivoran whose culture is vastly different though sharing some similarity. Of course, the way around this is the paladin is not a Westlander and that he did not explicitly claim her life.
Anyway, after the duel our two faithful adventurers decided to walk around the bridge through the creek bed further up enough to not be seen even from afar but especially the bridge (the farmers couldn’t do this as they had fully laden wagons). They rested for another day to allow Bers to fully heal. During the night they had to fight off 3 medium sized trolls (probably latter generation trolls as they were bestial and had no equipment) getting them back into the good graces of the farmers whose lives they essentially saved. They had to wait another day as they both needed to heal after the fight. They left just before dawn and traveled North into the cover of a large copse named Old Grove and began to cross the creek just as they were able to pull their mule to the top of the opposite side they were confronted by an Otkid hunting party they were making quick work of the hunters and even slaying the chieftain but were unable to get to the real threat, their shaman. They both failed their saving throws and were transformed into rabbits. They were both grabbed by the feet and were about to be slaughtered and dressed for dinner right there.
Luckily this was when Chinsalis galloped up and having caught site of the situation as he came up was able to chase off the Shaman and the surviving faun savages and later restored the pair whom woke up in a tent realizing they were in Chinsalis’ camp after peaking out of the slit.

To be Continued…