Chapter 1 – Homecoming
2nd of Sarasbember I had left the family home over two years ago, a hard decision but one that felt right. I needed to gain further understanding of the teachings of the Monks of the Veiled Fist. The time away had been productive and I had gained much understanding of my heritage and I was now a monk! However the message I had been expecting had finally arrived – father was retiring and the family were gathering to help him move – it was time to return……
Returning to Walsingham, a small fishing & farming village near the western sea brought back memories of Madaline, our mother who had died 12 years ago. The family had already gathered in the Fisherman’s Tale, our local pub when I arrived on the 2nd of Sarasbember. Kerwin, our father and the others were already deep in their pints when a trundle outside caused Teghan to raise her head from the inn (she still can’t handle her carrot juice).
The carts passing by belonged to an Old Sage who had purchased the farm from father for a tidy sum. The dour looking men on the carts refused our offer of help unpacking and passed on by but not before Teghan had spotted a rather expensive ornate mirror partly uncovered on one wagon. Her tail started swishing in that “I’m thinking something naughty” sort of way…..
Against my better judgment the others persuaded me to accompany them to the farm that night. “Just to check out the new owner” they said. So in near darkness myself and Teghan climbed onto various windowsills and parts of the roof in order to get a peep at the old sage. We didn’t quite manage to spot him but did spot the mirror in a room and also another room that had been set up as an Alchemy lab. There was nothing else suspicious about the setup much to the disappointment of my brothers.
Tegham and Sagramor checked out the old barn and did overhear the craggy faced man talking of dealing with some creatures that made him feel nervous. He referred to some sort of payment that had been made.
3rd of Sarasbember Early the next morning we were woken from our rooms in the inn by an alarm call. Jaran and Sarah’s farm, just the NE had been attacked and killed. Their young son had been beaten and left for dead and there was no trace of their daughter Ellie. Apparently Goblins had attacked in the night and burned down the house, killing the family as they fought to defend their home.
We volunteered to try and track down the evildoers and accompanied by the Sheriff (who actually had some tracking skills!) set out for the farm. At the place we discovered the body of a Hobgoblin but no sign of Ellie. Following the trail we came upon a group of hobgoblins and an ogre. The family quickly swung into action and showed that our year or two away from Walsingham had taught us a wide variety of skills. Fortunately for Sagramor this included healing skills from Brother Wookie as he did seem to spend a lot of the fight absorbing the sword blows with his body rather than his armour. [Note to Self – Pack more bandages!]
Having bested the fowl beasts we discovered poor Ellie – in the orge’s sack but still alive and we delivered her back to the village.
Back at Walsingham the mayor eventually signed the proclamation to offer a bounty for all green skins and after a little persuading offered to pay us for the work we had done that morning. [Note to self – Must thank Brother Wellformer for his lessons in “The arts of gentle persuasions” Seems he was right and ripping someone’s throat out with ones claws is not the only way to get your point across]
While at the Sheriffs office, Garren – the dour man from the farm joined the posse. This may not bode well but we having no strong evidence against him we could say nothing.
Back at the Inn father drew us together and told us that he wanted us to have his adventuring gear. A few magical items had served him well during all of his travels and he now wanted them to be of use to us. We thanks him profusely and promised that as we were family we would distribute them fairly between us. No one seemed to notice that all but one member of the family got something of fathers precious few gifts.
Following a quick trip to the temple of Pelor we agreed to accompany the regular supply run from the village to the fort to discover how the green skins had managed to bypass our northern protectors.
The fort was just 4 hours away and so at early afternoon we arrived to find the place in a shocking state. The boarder fort had been mostly forgotten by time due partly to the 20 years of peace in the region but mostly due to a corrupt Captain – Keel, who only turned up once a month to draw his pay and appeared to be claiming for a compliment of 30 when he only had 16 men on the staff.
The place itself was run down and in a poor state of repair with the moat overgrown and trees grown up so close to the fort that sighting lines were poor.
Worse news quickly followed in that a large force of 6 Goblins, 40 Hobgoblins, 6 Bugbears and most worryingly, 8 Ogres approached with scaling ladders and even a catapult! We also saw signs of magic use as the ammo pile for the catapult was being generated by throwing small objects to the floor that instantly became large boulders.
The soldiers started to take flight but were strengthened by some stout words from myself and my brothers. The fort was made ready with defences as best we could in the short time and we watched as the enemy surrounded us on 4 sides.
Toronid suggested we could use this split to our advantage and suggested we sally forth and try and overwhelm one of the groups. Following our adventures the day before we were feeling reckless and probably overconfident. In just a few moments 2 ogres and 10 hobgoblins had fallen to our attacks, the ogres felled by lucky blows to soft parts.
Bolstered by this second success we once again went forth only to find that the expected force was much smaller than we had anticipated. Even so, Sagramor proved that my bandage purchases were justified as we took a real pounding from the Ogre, as this time our blades and claws found no purchase in its soft parts and instead had to whittle away at its bulk.
Someone chastened we fled back to the fort only to discoverer that the enemy had broken in via a knotted rope down the south wall and took control of the gate before we were able to return. While Tegham used her skills to bypass the walls, the rest rode around to our own rope entry point. As most quickly climbed in Sagramor discovered the joys of heavy armour and tried in vein to climb the rope.
Dispatching a ogre and 6 hobgoblins within the fort we discovered that the ogres now had a commanding position within the gatehouse and could not be budged without heavy losses. To our dismay the forces of the small army were also using this opportunity to stream into the fort and so we decided to make a measured retreat, following 2 soldiers who appeared to know a back way out of the place.
As I guarded the exit, allowingt the last of the soldiers to escape down the tunnel I spotted Sagramor (finally) successfully breaking into the fort via the knotted rope.
Watched as Sagramor left the fort again in a hurry, aided by the sword points of a pack of Hobgoblins.
Back at Walsingham the Mayor sent messages to Baron Warsborough but said that they would take 4 days to get there. Brother Hayshom was again called upon to heal our wounds and having miraculously remembered that he was able to spontaneously convert other spells to cures was able to offer much more healing than the day before. All praise the power of Pellor (and the memory of his priests).
Back at the sherrifs office we discovered that the mercenaries from the farm had brought in a group of 8 hobgoblins alive and they were locked in the single cell of the village. Toronid expressed his concerned at this ‘Trojan duck’ or something like that.
Mayor Adwick agreed to have a second chain put on the cells and he would keep the only key.
Wanting to investigate the situation further we visited the Old sage. Turm introduced himself and answered our questions politely. He had apparently been asked by Baron Warsborough to investiage the green skinned races. The farm was a place for him to work in peace and he has been scrying the fort. He had discovered that the Hobgoblin in charge was referred to as “Gru Macara”. He showed us around his new home and demonstrated the use of his crystal ball. [Note to self…. When Teghan’s tail swishes at more than 2 per second keep a closer eye on her]
He had noted that a group of green skin women and children were approaching the fort from the north and the mayor asked us to drive them away or kill them.
Huge storms lashed the coast that night – a dark portent of things to come?
4th of Sarasbember Although an unpleasant task we agreed for the sake of the village and while all surrounding farms and the village itself were being evacuated we headed north to fend them off.
Having killed all of the menfolk (scouts) with the family group and one or two of the female green skins who attacked us, the rest fled into the forest and I warned them away with a few words in goblin. [Note to self – must thank Brother Quentin for those language classes. It was worth missing a few lessons in “Raking with your hindpaws” in order to pick up a few language skills]
On the way back from this successful mission (didn’t even need to bandage Sagramor!) we spotted something far worse than anything we had encountered so far…. A small army of plate clad ogres and hobgoblins bearing the sign of the blazing fist led by an Ogre in a feathered plume headdress.
Before leaving the area we snuck into the underground escape passage beneth the fort and used a magic potion of eyes to investigate a small crack that led away into a glowing portal. As not even a well greased Gabriella could make it through the gap we decided to try and disguise the crack with a few rocks and sand.
While still travelling back we spotted wreckage on the beach and rushed down to see if we could find salvage (the laws of ‘finders keepers’ prevailed in these parts). A came across a body and a comely young woman who had been travelling from Freeport. A place so far away we had barely even heard of it.
We were able to salvage the following items:-
Climbing kit Spyglass Magnifying glass 5 smokesticks A Magical staff A gem inlaid box 50g Jewelry – 180g
The young woman, Jennie Liddle, said she had been heading for Badger Island to meet her father. It must be some way away as none of us had ever heard of it. Back at Walsingham the village was mostly deserted. There had been an attempt overnight by the captives to escape but the extra chain had foiled them – Hurrah! For Torjan Ducks…. Humm… or something like that.
As we waited for news of the Barons forces the Plate armoured leader of the new forces approached bearing a banner of peace.
We went to parly on behalf og the town and were amazed when he turned out to be both well educated and quite eloquent.
He said he was Gru Charak and apologised for the taking of the fort and the loss of life. He told us the actions of Macara (note no “Gru now”) were not in keeping with the will of the green skinned people and that Macara had been a rogue who had acted alone. He offered up the heads of 20 of the Hobgoblins and Macara among them. He also handed over a pouch of gems (5000g) as compensation for the families of the deceased. However he said that their people had once owned the land the fort stood on and that it was sacred to them (a temple of Hextor). As such they would be keeping it but would act as far better guards of the Northern boarder than the humans had ever done.
We told him of our suspicions that Macara had been paid to do this and asked as a sign of goodwill that he investigate this. We offered to return the Hobgoblin prisoners as a sign of goodwill on our part but said that we could not speak for the Baron or predict his reaction.
We took the prisoners to the fort only to see one third of them immediately executed. Brother Harquin tought us that we should not judge the laws of other lands and so I bit back my protestations at this barbaric treatment.
At the fort itself 50 armed and disciplined ‘Orc kin’ now stood guard and had already improved the defenses to a state that the fort had not seen in 15 years.
As the situation seemed to have been resolved for the time we agreed to escort the lovely Jennie Liddle to the nearest city to the South.
[So ends Chapter One of the Journals of Sparrowhawk An honest and accurate record of the events of the the family]