Session date: Monday, December 7, 2015
Game date: Tuesday, September 24, 208 to Thursday, September 26, 208
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 3, hp 15, xp 5868/8800
Caryatid, Magic-user 3, hp 15, xp 7501/10000
Axel, Thief 2, hp 4, xp 1875/2400
The voyage across the northern sea aboard the Black Marigold continued. On September 24, 208, the fourth day of their journey, the winds fell still and the ship made little progress eastward. The ship's cook took the opportunity of the calm winds to cook a hearty pot of meat stew in a sandpit on the deck of the ship.
On the fifth day, the winds returned in full force, as if making up for lost time. The Black Marigold skipped along the surface of the sea as if a stone skimmed across a pond. At times the crew and the party needed to mop up water that had splashed overboard, to avoid taking on water. During a lull in the gales, the sailors brought out leftover stew from the day before. As the party ate, they noticed a small flock of birds flying over the water from the shore that was visible in the southern distance. As the flyers grew closer, it became clear that they were not birds, but giant insects of some sort. At first, the adventurers took them to be giant bees, which alarmed them greatly, but as they approached even closer it became clear that they were not bees, but even larger flies, about three feet long, attracted by the odor of the cooked meat.
The flies circled around the boat and began divebombing the people onboard. The adventurers attempted to scare them off with arrows and crossbow bolts, but the nimble insects were difficult to hit. Caryatid saw an opportunity to use her magic wand, and timed it to catch as many as possible in its paralyzing magic. She raised the wand in her arm, there was a pop and a cone-shaped pulse of sparks, and then all of the flies dropped out of the air. Several fell into the sea and drowned, and a few fell onto the deck of the ship, twitching and spasming and unable to move. The adventurers grimly tossed the oversized pests overboard and returned to their meal.
They made such good progress that day that they arrived in Trobadanz that evening, several days earlier than anticipated. As the walls of the city drew near, the party could see the colorful banners and tent tops of the famed marketplace. A pair of harbor officials rowed out to the ship in a dinghy. They boarded and spoke briefly with Captain Kerr, and then a long line was attached to the Black Marigold and it was slowly pulled into the harbor. Captain Kerr thanked the adventurers for their help defending the ship against the giant eagle and flies during the journey and wished them good fortune in their business here. She recommended an inn called the Grizzled Harpy, an inexpensive favorite of sailors, merchants, and mercenaries.
The city of Trobadanz was much smaller than Idalium, but in many ways even more cosmopolitan. Its nature as a trade center was immediately evident, as a babble of languages filled their ears as they walked away from the harbor and into the market square. Men and women with a wide variety of clothing fashions, facial features, and skin tones, and a fair number of dwarves, elves, and hobbits as well, bustled from stall to stall haggling and inspecting goods. They could hear heavily accented Idalian being spoken as a common trade tongue by many of the merchants.
The adventurers stopped to ask directions to the Grizzled Harpy, and found it on a side street off of the market square. It was a rough and tumble place, and the barroom was filled with a rowdy crowd who clearly hailed from all directions. The group approached the bar, and spoke with the innkeeper about a place to stay for the night. Private rooms upstairs were deemed too expensive for the party, so they purchased cots in the large common room in the back of the inn. The common room was large but rustic. Crude wooden cots filled the room, each with a scratchy mattress and pillow. The party set about stowing their belongings underneath their cots and eyed their fellow lodgers suspiciously. Gulleck made a show of inspecting his mighty battle axe after sliding the dwarf-sized coffin under his cot.
Having secured their equipment as well as possible and leaving a few of their number in the common room to keep an eye on it, the group returned to the tavern to inquire into hiring a guide into the mountains. The bartender confirmed that the mountain halls of the dwarves lay a few days travel into the mountains to the south, and that perhaps once a season or so there would be a large trading party of dwarves to Trobadanz.
"You know anyone who might be willing to lead us there?"
"Yeah, maybe. You folks know what a ranger is? A tracker, a woodsman. There's your man over there," said the bartender, pointing towards a crowd who had gathered near the dartboard on the wall. "Grimbo Shimspall," said the bartender, "the best ranger in these parts."
The group thanked the innkeeper and approached the crowd, as a knife flashed through the air and embedded itself into the bullseye. Cheers went up through the crowd and the clink of coins could be heard. "Chug, chug, chug, chug, chug!" shouted the crowd, as the adventurers took in the sight of a rugged, battle-scarred hobbit standing on a stool and downing a pint of beer from a stein as big as his head, while holding a hat laden with silver coins. Cheers erupted again as the hobbit finished off the ale and wiped his mouth on his sleeve. He hopped down from the stool and empties the coins from his hat into his belt pouch.
The adventurers approached the hobbit cautiously. "Are you Grimbo Shimspall?"
The hobbit looked at them appraisingly. "Well, who wants to know?" The adventurers introduced themselves and asked if he would be willing to escort them to the kingdom of the dwarves.
"When are you looking to leave?"
"Tomorrow! Guess I'd better stop drinkin' now then."
They succeeded in hiring the hobbit ranger's services and made plans to meet early in the morning. They passed the night uneventfully if uncomfortably in the crowded common room, and met up with Shimspall as planned in the morning, he looking a bit hungover and tired. He took them to buy horses (and a pony for Gulleck) and restock their supplies of travel rations. Then, the assembled party left the town of Trobadanz through the southern gates in the city walls, and headed across gently rolling plains on a cobbled road that had clearly seen better days. The high mountains loomed in the distance ahead of them. Somewhere within those mountain hills lay the ancestral homeland of Gulleck Stonefoot, and beyond that, the rumored monastery to which they had been sent to retrieve a holy relic of the Great Church...