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Adventurers are not the only people out in Ithron looking to make a quick penny or two. Oh no; you have mercenary companies, would be “heroes”, bandits and rogues – not to mention the “anti-venturers” in Mr Niels’ employ. Some times adventurers cross paths with these types; sometimes you can work beside them / tolerate their existence and sometimes you just can’t.

People have to eat, you know? Or at least that’s the argument some would use.

 

Monster Mission – The Starfall Company

A hiring notice went out calling for aid in removing the lingering foulspawn remaining after the fall of the Whitestar camp a couple of months earlier. A group of adventurers headed north expecting to meet with the hirer, settle a price and set out upon the task. They did not expect to have competition …

The adventurers who travelled to answer Lord Celther’s request were:

  • Pathfinder Wulfric Nolastname of the Scouts Guild; Ranger Conchobar of the Berwickshire Medium;
  • Guild Enforcer Christo Eadronhart of the Berwickshire Medium; Sean Baseborn, Red Kent, Nancy and Reynauld of the Mercenaries Guild;
  • Brother Don of Vleybor; Brother Robert Eddlemann of Sidhe; Novice Valtr of Kharach;

As the adventures approached the noted location they found a group of interlopers (?) already in talks with the hirer, many of them wearing matching tabards or belt sashes as if they were some kind of mercenary company. The audacity of these people! The more senior members of the company and Brother Robert stepped in to talk with the hirer and explain that they too were here to look into the foul spawn problem. Whilst the commanders talked, the rest of the company mingled together and traded stories. Some members of the Starfall Company were aghast to learn that some of the adventurers had been there when the camp was razed to the ground – these guys were their inspiration and heroes! The actual Pathfinder was there! The Guild Enforcer of the Mercenaries too! Oh boy, just to tell people they’d stood in the shadow of these giants …

An accord was reached. The two teams would race against each other – dead foulspawn were dead foulspawn regardless of who got the pay in the end. Each member of the company would receive some money for their work, but by collecting a single ear off each dead orc and goblin would earn them a bounty. The only snag? Only one company would get the remainder of the purse and the one with the most ears would win.

The Starfall company agreed to take the cavern, the adventurers the first of the “camps”. Shaking hands and armed with their maps the two groups split – the Starfall Company scouts taking quickly to the brush and beating a trail for their fellows to follow. The adventurers set off at a slightly slower pace.

Unsuprisingly they encountered roving bands of foulspawn and wrecked one camp with efficiency – the Pathfinder even stalking through the woods to burst from the undergrowth and deal some damage …

But things then began to turn bleak. A trio of Starfall were lying on the road being picked over by Orcs – two of them being the scouts who the Pathfinder was sure had been headed the other way. Surely their commander wouldn’t be fool enough to split his inexperienced group? Patching them up they questioned one of the scouts who admitted that they had been sent ahead of a splinter group with the aim of clearing more targets at once. But they’d been jumped and suddenly acting the hero didn’t seem so heroic anymore. The Pathfinder soundly reprimanded them and ordered them back to the hiring square.

Continuing on they fought more foulspawn in roving packs, caught another of the Starfall scouts who seemed out of his mind in fear as he cowered in a bush alone, and wrecked another Orc encampment. A group of Starfall were engaged in battle with the Orcs and the adventurers steamrollered to the rescue before thrashing another trio of foulspawn and catching up with the commander of the Starfall and most of his company – including some of the scouts they’d caught earlier.

Christo took charge and tried to get what little information he could out of the company’s leader as Valtr measured a dead member of the Starfall for his coffin. Hearing how they’d “dealt” with the “cave” – read shallow crack in a rock face … – the two companies returned to the hirer and handed over the ears. The adventurers “won” – they had been clearing up the Starfall’s mess after all. Hopefully this fledgling company will learn what it means to be “adventurers” and learn better tactics in future …

 

Player Mission – Mr Niels and his “Anti-venturers”

Mr Niels, the Oluthen merchant,  has become somewhat of a problem in Berwickshire as he pursues his obscure goals involving magic and sigils and whatnot. A group of adventurers were hired to look into a growing number of bandits causing trouble up to the north of the Celther lands. So adventurers gathered together, some of them using the hiring to get into the area for their own goals – hunting Mr Niels and following the trail of bandits to the Abraxian High Father Blanche – and set off.

The adventurers who attended the hiring were:

  • Lord Ash of Stocktown, Baronet Seaburn of the Guild of Alchemists;
  • Guild Protector Roger of the Blacksmiths;
  • Fortescue Everbright of the School of Enchantment;
  • Squire Ivers of the Knightly Templar Order;
  • Mother Brigit Wooller and Supplicant Trevelyan of Crowa; High Father Crag McFist of Vleybor; Father Ithilden of Longstor; Tungdil Stonehammer of Tralda;

The adventurers were warned that a great number of “fighting types” had been seen in the area, and rumours of Mr Niels persisted. If they could find the reason behind the bandits they would be aiding the county. If they caught Mr Niels and brought him back they would earn a bonus. But Brigit cared more about rumours of Abraxians – or the lack thereof – for her brother Colwyn had vanished yet again.

Travelling on the road they encountered a group of people taking a rest on their travels. Someone nearby was “testing” would-be mercenaries, and if they survived the trials they would get decent pay, food and armour – who could want more? Lord Ash talked a few of them into seeking work down his neck of the woods, and the company travelled on. The initial party were joined by Dr Krom and Ivers, and on the road there was a brief encounter with an old and familiar face. Ranger Nev, master of the Newcroft fighting pits, was out scouting for “fresh blood” but he found himself in direct competition with a certain Oluthen scoundrel. Confirming Niels’ involvement did little to soothe the adventurers, but a bargain was struck – if they could leave any likely lads alive then Nev would pick them up and put them to use in the fighting pits. They wanted a scrap? Might as well have one to save their necks from the gallows …

On the road ahead they caught sight of a trio of men dragging a stumbling man in white. Alarmed they ran to stop them and after listening to the three men claim the man in white was “their mate”, he was recognised to be High Father Crag McFist. Recognising him the trio dropped their act and drew weapons – and the adventurers fought them off. Sobering up Crag McFist meant he could walk, but it wasn’t a pleasant experience for the priest and Brigit promised to help him when they returned to Newcroft to reconcile his guilt from his previous occupations. But for now – they had bigger problems.

Another group of would-be followers of Niels were waiting to be “collected” for their trial. The adventurers tried to jump the queue, but ended up following the group up the hill. One of the men who was judging them told his companion to head off and warn “the boss” they had unfriendly company on the way and groups of thugs sought to waylay them, thinking this was all part of the “test”. Killing the leaders, leaving most unconscious and tied up for Nev, letting those who surrendered go free – this became the pattern where possible. Brigit had a long and serious talk with one mercenary who was now without a permit, giving the woman a piece of her mind and sound advice to boot. Mr Niels was not going to pay these people if he could help it. Mr Niels wasn’t going to care about any of them once he’d completed his goals!

They continued on, fighting a hardened group with a couple of the lads “jacked up” on Miss Tabanou’s brew. The party was strung out and clung to the fight as they tried to make ground, eventually besting their foes and finding evidence of Niels’ group’s experimentation.

Brigit found her brother facing down the Abraxian High Father and tried to convince him to let her help him – but the headstrong youth was all for taking the fight alone. The adventurers weren’t keen on this, and mobbed the Abraxian priest. Brigit was shoved aside by her brother who was subsequently wounded, but the Abraxian was beaten into the floor and left to bleed. Brigit roused her brother after he’d been patched up and they had a quiet heart to heart before Brigit sent him back to the shrine to meet her there. As they parted he asked her about the holy symbol he found in his hand – a crowan sword inset with a red gem. Brigit smiled to herself – a sign from the Lady indeed.

But their luck soon ran out. They came upon a magical barrier and a damaged rune, and after trying to force their way beyond the barrier Ash was able to do something to help them cross the threshold. Beyond them was empty woodland, but not for long – Mr Niels and his company had been waiting for them. Arrayed before them was Mr Niels, his remaining Anti-venturers and some of his hired thugs. He ordered the adventurers dead, and the fight kicked off. Brigit watched as Trevelyan fell, following him soon after as the mercenary she was fighting ran her through.

Brigit lay in the dirt, blood pouring from her wounds, and it was only through Lady Tralda’s best luck and some serious Longstorian rage that the enemies were beaten back and most of the company saved. When Brigit was healed she found High Father Crag McFist and Trevelyan dead; Tungdil, Roger and Fortescue gone; and only a weak grip on her remaining wits as her faced burned – an “N” for Niels branded into her face. Blessing a weapon she and the rest picked their friends corpses of useful things, Brigit offering a small prayer for Trevelyan’s soul, before hightailing it after the others. Fortescue came running to meet them and they hurried on – to run straight into a guard and two dead militiamen. He arrested them all for the murder of the militiamen, having come out into the woodland on a tip-off, and Brigit was barely able to contain her anger and hurt at the accusation as they were brought to trial. They were all innocent of course – just another ruse by Mr Niels to undermine the hard work and trust of the adventuring community.

Angry, grieving and in pain, Brigit is struggling to resist the urge to hunt Niels down with bloody fury. A fury that would only be satisfied when she saw the light fade from his eyes, her sword sheathed to the hilt through his body. For now she resists, but who knows what the future might bring …

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