The White Star Orcs have swept across Berwickshire, roaming bands of foul spawn forming a new and common threat to the travellers, traders and wanderers of the county. So, when a group of foul spawn are spotted lingering on the road west of Durholme, someone has to do something about it.
Tasked by Warden Rupert Tallow of the Newcroft Foresters, a band of adventurers set forth from Durholme on foot to put these beasts to rout and recover anything unusual from a small ruined library at Corroncrest.
The adventurers who left the cathedral city of Durholme one Highsummer evening were:
- Geezer Smough and Tillian of the Mercenaries Guild;
- Ranger Finn of the Scouts Guild;
- Dr Leofrik Kyle of the Physicians Guild;
- Master Mortimer Lowe of the School of Necromancy;
- Sir Peter Sabloir-Flessan of the Knightly Griffin Order;
As they left the city they encountered the city folk returning from their day’s labours. Whilst nervous at being outside the city walls after nightfall they were more than willing to answer questions as to what trouble could be about. They spoke of the usual things – bandits, trouble makers, layabouts, but all were in agreement that the Foulspawn were the worst. Horrible monsters that lurked shifty like on the roads, looking like they were crouching in bushes hidden from sight rather than being out in the open. Most odd. Most odd indeed.
Advancing on the adventurers came upon a Scout who warned them of more foulspawn in the area, having already put one down himself. As the Griffin Knight and Ranger Finn tried to understand what had happened, Dr Kyle examined the fresh corpse for signs of sickness or some other thing to describe why the Foulspawn were acting out of sorts. His conclusions were that the foulspawn were normal – not malnourished or scrawny which could lead them to prey on the weak for food, not built like a warrior so unlikely to be part of a White Star raiding party. He could offer them little else, but they discussed the root causes as they pressed on.
In a short tunnel they came upon a Troll who cowered back from them, clearly hiding from something. Unable to communicate there was a brief game of “guess the gesture”, all watched by a shadowy figure in the bushes. But as Dr Kyle tried to speak to the Troll the creature shrieked and turned and ran – leaving the party and their accompanying werewolf surprised.
On the road they came upon more dead foulspawn, though the cause of their demise was clear – hacked, torn and slashed to pieces as if with something possessing fearsome claws. The mercenaries had spotted their shadowy watcher and went to investigate whilst Dr Kyle investigated the bodies and the party offered hypotheses on the causes of the wounds. But, with no other evidence of the assailant, the party continued on their way.
They met small groups of foulspawn who approached them warily and nervously until they launched themselves frantically at the party when threatened, seeming to fear the woodland around them. They either fled in fear from the Doctor in his wolfish form or attacked him, seeming to speak no words of common to explain themselves when pressed.
But all became clear soon enough. As the adventurers came to a natural clearing of the road a goblin shaman in a green robe commanded them to stop, urging them to back up so they could talk peacefully, each party warily resting their hands on a weapon. The shaman, when asked as to why he was no longer in the woods, told them that big scary wolf things had chased them out and told them to keep out on the roads or meet a sticky end (or words to that effect). Keen to remove the cause of the foulspawn problem the adventurers eventually came to an agreement to solve the matter of the wolf things so that the foulspawn could return to their woods, which was most agreeable to the shaman and his tribe. But before the adventurers continued the shaman gave them some words to pass onto the others of his tribe.
Finn had an encounter with a talking animal, and eventually the party came to an opening in the thick undergrowth where a group of orcs and a troll seemed to be looking for something. The “pass phrase” was uttered but to ill effect. The creatures seemed to take great offence and a pitched fight followed, which ended with Sir Peter having to fight the troll several times before his party’s wounds were tended and another was able to dispatch it for him.
Battered, bruised and limping, Finn set out into the darkness to scout out the path, whereupon she encountered a pair of strangers who stepped from the bushes in a decidedly sinister fashion. Blowing her whistle to summon the others she was quickly out of harms way as another person stepped from the trees to block her escape. With the arrival of the rest of her companions, the strangers where challenged – who were they and what were they doing out here? The leader spoke to Leo, eventually telling him they were hunting fae with the rest of their pack and for his group to keep out of the way. But as he corrected them, indicating Sir Peter was their leader, the three expressed surprise and confusion that a member of their kind would bow and scrape to a man in tin. Meet the Brotherhood, your “friendly” local werewolf group. Tempers flared as veiled insults were traded, but things eventually calmed down so that they learnt the general direction of the fae and the library. The Brotherhood left with a warning – get in their way on the hunt and they would not be responsible for telling friend or foe apart. They didn’t need the human’s help …
Following along after them, the adventurers began to encounter the fruits of the Brotherhood’s hunting – dead Sorrows with their sackcloth masks removed. Then they stumbled upon a pair of Red Caps out for a stroll with their Sorrow, and then came to a bridge with a shiny fae pendant. Finn, curiousity getting the better of her, picked it up and was bound to defend the bridge. I’m still not quite sure how they managed to get her away from that spot, but I can only assume a well-timed bop on the head allowed her to be carried out of sight.
Here they fought with a group of Sorrows and a Red Cap in the company of the Hanged Man, who Sir Peter duelled and defeated, before witnessing the Brotherhood hunting fae. Then over the river to the shell of the Library. Except it wasn’t abandoned as they thought …
Inside the Library a knight in armour sat playing court to a collection of Sorrows and Red Caps, reading from a leather bound book of the tale of Jack the Lad. At the adventurers approach she stopped and offered them the text, believing them sent at the appointed time to the appointed place by one whom she had a deal with. She gave the brief outline of her prior agreement, but refused to name the hapless fool who’d made the agreement with her even when threatened with the Brotherhood hunting her down for breaking the concord that kept the fae out of Berwickshire. It was only after she taunted them that Sir Peter took the book from her disgustedly before ordering her and her “friends” off Arda. But all she wanted was to take someone with her, to be her friend and eventually to become a new friend like her fellows. This outraged the adventurers who threatened her and refused to let her leave the library until she agreed to leave Arda and return to fae. But this was what had been agreed with the other one … that she would leave Arda and return to fae … with someone in tow.
After a snarling match between the two knights Sir Peter challenged Fain to a duel which she accepted when he stated his terms – he wins, she leaves Ithron and returns to fae; she wins, she gets to take one of his friends back with her. They agree to the traditional three-touch duel and step outside to fight it out. Sir Peter struck her twice on the leg before she could land a blow, but her axe cut through his helm and coif and left him bleeding to the delight of her companions. But, as she had agreed to a fair duel, she permitted him to be healed before striking at him again. He landed the final blow and stepped back, demanding she leave as she promised. And with a wry smile she agreed, but as she walked off she told him she was off to Mithim or Ethron to find a new companion, for she had agreed to leave Ithron without taking anyone …
Furious Sir Peter raged at her and was still raging when a member of the Brotherhood came to the library on the trail of Fain and her entourage. I do not believe things went well, but the adventurers left there with all their limbs intact and returned to Warden Tallow with the strange book and the tale of the strange goings on along the west road out of Durholme.