A few hours after splitting from the army on a recruiting mission among the farms just south of Merdna the slayers were traipsing through a wild field crowded with high grasses and peppered with clumps of woody bushes. The land was eerily quiet, no sounds of any birds. In fact, they had not seen any birds in the area since shortly after breaking away from the main force of Vorahd’s army. That was when the stench of troll and rotting flesh invaded their noses and the nerve grating buzz of flies seeped into their ears.
They slowed and continued stealthily ahead until a large corpse, the grey oozing bloated remains of a troll rotting in the sun came into view lying among the grass and weeds, then another, and another, and another. The flies grew thick and hovered in great buzzing masses about the eight blubbery corpses and swept over the field in sickening black waves. As the slayers moved through the gross masses flies began to crawl up their noses, gather on their lips and they could feel them pop and crunch as they got under their armor and clothes. The cacophonous buzz became deafening and the slayers began to run through the swirling clouds of flies. While running Vorwulf and Bers saw vague humanoid shapes and ephemeral sneering faces take mercurial form in the constantly shifting masses. Grom caught sight of them also and, after a successful spirit lore skill check, guessed that they were malignant spirits which were assembling gestalt bodies from the fly-swarms. As the other two continued to run at top speed he stopped and raising his arms, rebuked the spirits. The malignant spirits fled and the flies not blanketing the troll-bodies soon after began to scatter. The three continued on to the farms reaching them within the hour.
They approached the farms careful to make sure they were seen as they could see the farmers at the nearest stead were armed and bearing javelins behind a makeshift bulwark consisting of stakes studded logs and a shallow defensive ditch surrounding the central cabin. Grom walked ahead and was able to act the diplomat allowing the slayers to recruit 20 farmers armed with wooden round shields, short spears, 2 javelins apiece and a battle axe on their belts. The shaman “blessed them welcoming them into the company”. The group returned to the army whom they met on the road 2 hours later.
Vorwulf took up the lead and accidentally followed a game trail leading the army off of the road and into the Aeoch Woods west of the South Road. He realized his mistake when he came upon an ancient monolith at sundown. The slayers and the army set camp, all save Rock-Puncher kept their distance from the monolith. After the camp fires were started the shaman began to cook up a stew consisting of a few dead chickens, he pulled them out of his Bag of Holding, and the wheel of cheese he had taken from Ekit’s Watch of which some of the soldiers partook of. The farmers had their own rations.
Just before dawn the woods were silent save for the army which lay sleeping around smoldering embers except for a couple of guards, a symphony of snores drifted over the camp. Marshal Rock-Puncher lay propped up against the monolith. An ear-shattering roar ripped through the air rousing all except for Grom, the shaman, whom due to his newly acquired deafness remained peacefully unawares. Another roar ripped through the air and Vorwulf identified it as a dragon and as the roar seemed to originate several miles to the south he assumed it was the zombie dragon sieging Achoran. Vorwulf went hunting while the camp sprung back to life intent on getting fresh meat for breakfast. They broke camp shortly after he came back empty handed telling a tale of running into a Chaos Boar. He avoided it by hiding then fled back to camp.
By nightfall Vorahd’s army reached the South Road-High West Road fork where they set camp. Bers tried to seduce a strapping young farmer tempting him with a bottle of fine wine (taken from Ekit’s Watch) but he ultimately drank the wine with her and fled her tent shortly thereafter. During the night as all the slayers slept the fighter-lich haunted their dreams once again fortunately all successfully resisted the constitution drain.
By late the next morning the army had traveled to the town of Marnez marching into the surrounding fields which were a patchwork of fences, fallow fields, tall late season crops of grain all crisscrossed by irrigation ditches. The town’s arms consisted of a golden wheat stalk against a brown field which was painted on most of the buildings that squatted along the main street. The slayers were told just before they entered town that they would be scouting the Low West Road which went southeast along the bank of the Arz river to the South Road Bridge which crossed the Arz to make sure it was safe and clear. The slayers decided to “lunch” in Marnez before heading out. Later just as they were leaving town Bers had to talk the shaman out of buying dozens of chickens getting him to settle for 3, which he put into his Bag of Holding.
Following the Low West Road they, being Bers and Grom led by Vor, reached the bridge by evening. Vor spotted a trail of large clawed footprints which he identified as those of a dragon, a skeletal dragon apparently coming from the water near the bridge heading towards the forest lien then turning back towards the water. He knew they were less than 24 hours old. Vorwulf found a well hidden camping spot in the tree-line. The shaman took the first watch while Bers took the second and Vor the third.
The night passed quietly, again too quietly for the first 2 watches. On the third Vorwulf caught sight of the skeletal rising form the river waters and slinking unnaturally quiet towards the campsite. He shouted the alarm and the other two sprang to action. The battle didn’t last long with Bers getting in 3 power attacks the third smashing the creature to powder. Only the shaman was slightly wounded having been bitten as he engaged it with his magic mace. At sunrise the group returned to Marnez to report the way cleared arriving by midmorning.
They found Lord Vorahd and his jarl were only able to recruit 4 warriors from Marnez whom were armed with round wood shields, battle axes and wearing leather jerkins with the golden stalk embroidered on the chests. The slayers purchased supplies of dried fish, a few casks of ale, and wheels of bread for the road. By the afternoon the army was marching out of Marnez south along the Low West Road. The army set camp by the bridge at the tree-line.
By late the next morning the slayers again found themselves sent on a scouting-slash-recruiting mission. They were to push ahead of the army and then travel off of the road heading east into the north-receding tree-line of the Aeoch Woods where they would find a woodsmen’s camp. It could’ve gone better. The slayers made it easily to the camp after only a few hours and Vorwulf announced their intentions to the woodcutters whom met them with shields and axes. He found that the foreman, Forgax, an older man, was reluctant to commit and was essentially bluffing them when he said, “We’ll meet the army in a few days at Asternor”. So Bers tried to intimidate the woodcutters into following them which did not go over well.
Vorwulf (trying to smooth this over): “We don’t want to kill all of you.”
Strangely enough, this seemed to work as his statement gave them enough pause to look over the very experienced and very well-equipped dragon-slayers more thoroughly. Grom jumped in and helped to disarm the situation with a Social Aptitude skill check of natural 20.
Vorwulf: “A few days then.”
The slayers slunk back to the road and Vorahd’s army with Grom gathering various herbs and roots along the way.
To Be Continued…