April 24th Small moon is waning, large moon is waxing
We prepare for our journey north, purchasing supplies and mending gear, and then we head out. Travel is uneventful; evenings by the fire are spent in song, with Coy and Keth bending over their paper and pens by the firelight. Coy is learning the written word, setting aside his concerns of madness in an attempt to learn more about how to control his affliction.
Travel is pleasant; we stop in several active and productive villages along the way. The weather is good to us as well; it is almost too easy to put aside the dark purpose that pushes us on.
We reach Thorn, the large town is protected by high wooden walls. It is odd to see such substantial walls made of such an insubstantial material, walls of this size and fortitude would have been constructed of stone in the lands we’ve come from.
This is a more troubled town that the ones we’ve passed through to get here, there is evidence of local strife that creates more of a military feel.
Keth initiates a discussion of faith and belief. He tells a story to illustrate his point that sounds like a “How the world began” sort of thing. Of course, it is from the Elves perspective, “The People” as he calls them. It is interesting to me how we humans are vilified, the cause of their fall from grace. I can see from their perspective how it could be seen as such, we are so short lived and spread so far, so quickly. Our short lives and the machinations our different nations play at, what seems to us an age, to them must be the blink of an eye. I can see how that lends itself to their seeing us, almost as insects, taking over their world.
Keth’s story is a story that reflects that belief. He states that he does not believe it, that it is an untruth, but if others are believers, maybe that explains the motivations behind the recent actions we’ve seen against our race. Divinely assisted supremacists are a truly scary thought.
We decide to seek lodging for the night with the manor house of the town. The sigil of the Order of the Star is present, though bedraggled and threadbare. The town is on a par with Laibach in size, though maybe a bit more rundown. We head toward the barracks, leaving our horses off at the stable for a negotiated rate and seek audience with the officials of the town.
We are brought toward the military barracks and summarily refused entrance, they kindly offer to bring the “ladies” food in the hall, I politely decline, offering to school any that wish it as to the value and mettle of my sword. Curse them, if they don’t wish to hold us in respect, maybe they don’t care to hear our word of warning either!
Kuni takes me to dampen my ire at a tavern. Ale is good for dousing the flames of trampled pride, so is the handsome young bartender. I regal them all with stories of my prowess at arms and of the adventures we’ve had.
We make our way back to our lodgings, the rest of the group gets back shortly after, Coy has brought me some of the fine venison from their meal, they may be right bastards, but I have to admit, they are skilled with the victuals.
We travel in more wild lands on the last leg of our journey, being careful to set watches at night. The second afternoon brings us the smell of smoke hanging in the air. We come up on a manor house that has been sacked, burned with bodies strewn around. The remains of the building has been burning for a while, the fire appears to be finally running its course and was most likely set a day or two ago.
There are gaps in the palisade around the main building where it has been breached, the openings wide enough to let a mounted rider pass through. The bodies have had the heads removed, with the heads having been burned in the fire. I ponder if the dead have been treated in such a way so as to ensure they do not rise up to fight as undead. The livestock has also been killed, with some obvious signs of butchering for meat.
We find a place to tether our own horses, away from the smoke and smell of death, and then we go back in to search the main house. A statement was made of the man we assume was of highest rank, he is ritually laid out, spiked into place on the table, headless with his heart removed. His tabard has been smeared with his own blood and fastened to the wall with a knife.
We find a surviving serving girl who tells the tale of what happened. The walls were overcome by a giant gnoll, who just tore its way through the walls. The attack was fast and brutal; the few guards quickly overcome by the 20-30 gnolls that attacked. Deciding to bring her with us, we pack her some necessities and do what we can for the pore souls massacred here.
About a ½ hr from the manor house Kiki calls a stop as we find an obvious ambush point. We all dismount as we see gnolls coming out of the woods. I take a moment to pray over the rod while Coy does his usual growing big. Cilka casts that speed spell of hers and we prepare to bring swift death to the gnolls. Alaric casts a spell on me to make me stronger and Coy and I rush forward to engage.as I rush forward I over compensate on my swing and while I connect solidly don’t make nearly the impact I would have liked only minimally hurting my gnoll.
Clouds of dense noxious fumes spring up in several locations, luckily I am not caught in the vile ick. The sound of retching and gagging is almost louder than the wails of the injured. Through the gloomy cloud I can see one of the monsters is positioned just in front of me, and I split him nearly in twain, Ha! Female sword swingers, we’ll show you! Take that you craven star knights! They are right to fear Callie! My presence alone would have been enough to overwhelm them!
Another huge monster comes looming out of the smelly gloom in front of me, he swings and misses, but I am hit with an arrow from just beyond him, cowardly archers! I hear an electric snap from my right, followed by a gurgling scream and a thud, that must be Coy’s work. I step forward, plant myself and heave a mighty blow, following through and coming back around again, he may be large, but that just means he falls all the harder. Oh how I wish those foolish star knights were here to witness this! Can’t eat in their precious hall, not good enough to sit at their table and share their meat, HA! They are no match to ME!
I am running out of monsters to hit! I full out charge one of the last two remaining cowardly archers, all but shearing the side of his face from his head. He is done, all that remains is to loot them for the treasures they stole from the sacked manor.
We travel onward for the rest of the day. As the day winds down toward evening, we can see a small trading town, Dahn far off in the distance of the swamp. It would be difficult to reach the town before darkness overtakes us, we will rest tonight and enter the town tomorrow. The keen eyed among us can see gnolls hanging from the walls, this could explain the brutality we witnessed at the manor, retribution perhaps?. A few more hours of travel will get us there tomorrow. We’ll pass through and continue on. At Dahn we give the sad news of the raided manor house and make sure the lone survivor, Abbey the servant girl, will be well cared for. We continue on our way.
May 7th brings us to Koshlin.
A huge castle dominates the diminutive city; the castle is constructed of red brick and stone, it sits nestled up against the river. The city is enclosed in another of the wooden style palisades we’ve seen so often throughout the area. We ride on in.