The longest winter

Rogue Trader

(And not the warhammer 40K kind)

Characters present:

Frank Wyvern’s Tooth (Played by Steve)
Loraella Ironcore (Player absent, but played as N.P.C. by her request)
Marellian Ironcore (Played by Dave)
Rayne (Played by Amanda)

It has only been two days since the party’s return from the Shrine of the Lady of the Healing Waters, but a lot can happen in two days.

Marellian has discovered a new calling, and has begun his training as a priest of the Compassionate Church. He has, however, failed to reach communion with his new god, and remains unable to cast divine spells. This set-back has not dimmed his enthusiasm, and he is even more determined to uphold the morals and tenets of his new faith, in order to become a better priest.

Frank has learnt to channel his rage in new ways. He has been practising a move he calls ‘The Wyvern’s Spring’, in which he leaps into battle, axe raised above his head. When he tried this in the practise ground of his clan’s holding, his opponents found it terrifying.

Daveak has been practising with the bow, and has managed to increase his rate of fire. He has decided to concentrate on his Archery, rather than get into melee combat, reasoning that the others in the party are more melee focused. He has also been taking in more knowledge about the geography and nature of the land.

Loraella has realised that she enjoys seeking out and finding traps. Indeed, her recent dabblings in trap finding and opening have honed her instincts, and she now has an uncanny knack of getting out of the way of blast effects. Since the revelation of her old clothes being given to charity, she has avoided her brother.

Elden has been practising his swordplay, and can now deliver a more powerful blow (at the expense of accuracy). He is hoping that this will lead into a great sweeping blow that will cleave through his opponents.

Rayne has now found her feet, and is no longer content to be the junior member of the party. She wants to be treated as an equal to the others (to which they reply they’ve always treated her as an equal, but she’s been quiet and thoughtful rather than being ignored).

A council page has been searching for the party all day, but has only managed to find four out of six. Those he has found, he informs that they are requested to meet with Councillor Manos (Prospector’s Guild) in his private offices.

When they arrive at the offices, they are met by a scribe, who goes off to inform the councillor of their arrival. He returns quickly, and informs them that Councilor Manos will see them shortly. Frank takes this opportunity to visit the office privvy, while Loraella listens in on the idle chatter of the two militiamen guarding the offices. Rayne wanders round the room inspecting the rich furnishings, and Marellian waits patiently for the councillor to arrive.

In a short while, Councillor Manos appears, and asks them to join him in his private office. There he tells them that he has heard some disturbing rumours, and would like them to investigate the truth behind them. He explains that it has come to his attention that certain members of the merchant’s guild have been breaking the Township’s trade treaty with the Snowbolds, by selling them weapons and armour. Such violations of the treaty could have terrible repercussions, as it could threaten the safety of the Township. Snowbolds and Townsmen have been in peace for years, but if they are armed, the Snowbolds could decide to take by force what they usually trade for. Manos asks the party to look into these allegations, and bring back their findings to him, so that he can put this matter before the council.

Marellian asks if Manos has any specific leads, to which he replies that his scribe has a list of those merchants licensed to trade with the Snowbolds (It is not said, but implied that a non-licensed trader would have been discovered by now). Leaving Manos’ private office, Marellian goes off to speak to the scribe. Rayne uses this unwatched moment to have a peek around the rest of the offices, and finds a map with a highly detailed surrounding area to Flint-Harrow on it, which she discretely pockets.

The scribe informs Marellian that there are currently five merchants licensed to trade with the Snowbolds, and gives him a piece of parchment with five names scribbled on it. The party decides to go down the list in order, although Marellian has a gut feeling about one of the traders, one ‘Kindle Burdick’.

The first trader they track down is Travis Redbird, of the Ridbird Trading company. He is a jovial man, quite portly, with a bushy black beard. Frank and Marellian decide to play ‘Good cop, bad cop’ on him, while Loraella distracts his customer and Rayne searches his wares. The rather intimidating figure of Frank is enough to make him confess all his sins, but trading weapons to the Snowbolds is not one of them. They find that he is selling the Snowbolds foodstuff that is considered unfit for consumption by rich townsfolk. As they are leaving, the customer is heard demanding a refund for spoiled food, to which Frank once more leans on the trader to gain the customer a full refund. Rayne then remarks that maybe they should ask him if he has any idea who would be likely to sell arms to the Snowbold, to which he replies Darnel Ericole is known to be in financial difficulty, and is on the verge of selling up. He would be the most likely.

The next trader on the list is Solien Terrie, a pale, blonde woman who sniffs a lot. Here, Frank tries a different tact, and goes for a charm offensive. To his (and everyone else’s) surprise, it works wonders, and Solien opens up to his flattery. She confides in him that rather than being a trader, she is more a transporter of goods. When asked who she transports goods for, she confesses that she is in fact an agent for the Free Villages, a group of hamlets made up of people who have fled the oppression of guild law in the Townships. She begs the party not to reveal her secret, as in the past the guilds have sent armies to crush all who oppose their way of life, the last being under the leadership of Akizellian Ironcore (The grandfather of the two half elf siblings in the party…). Marellian is suddenly rather uncomfortable, and Loraella pretends not to have heard Solien’s words. Rayne, meanwhile, has been looking around Solien’s workplace, and finds sleeping pallets. Solien explains that she helps people escape from the Township, and that these are some of those who are declared as ‘the missing’ (but not all). The party tell Solien that her secret is safe with them. As they leave, Frank realises that they forgot to ask Manos how much they would be paid for this job. He then muses that he’d like to visit with Solien again later, but this time on his own.

After two strike outs, they move onto number three on the list, Marybeth Townsend. Marellian tells them he’s sure she has nothing to do with selling weapons, as she’s one of the main benefactors of the compassionate church, and runs the Townsend soup kitchen. for the sake of completeness, they carry on to the soup kitchen, where Marellian is greeted by Priest Token, one of the supervisors of the volunteers at the soup kitchen. Marellian explains that they are on a special fact finding mission from the council, and wish to speak with Mistress Townsend, to which the priest leads them off towards her private dwelling. Rayne decides to stay behind and speak to some of the down and outs in the soup kitchen, hoping to find some gossip regarding missing people.

Marybeth Townsend is aghast at any suggestion that her mission to the Snowbolds would be supplying them with weapons. She explains that she takes donated clothes (such as those Marellian gave her), food and blankets to the misguided creatures, and talks to them about the god of compassion and a vision of a fairer world for all. Frank speaks up, asking if she knows of anyone who would sell arms, to which she asks him his name. when he tells her, she comes over all tearful, explaining that fifteen years ago, a young half-Orc woman was brought to her door heavily pregnant and in danger of losing her life and that of her unborn child. It seems that her family had some silly idea that she should give birth without aid, to show the strength of her blood, but the baby’s father brought her to the mission for help. Marybeth’s late husband callled upon the power of the god of compassion, and the child was delivered on her kitchen table (where they were presently sat around). The parents named the child Frank in honour of Marybeth’s husband, and it was Marybeth who ushered Frank into the world. Marellian and Loraella both wipe away tears at this happy reunion.

While this revelation is going on, Rayne is talking to a young woman called Aliusa, whose husband is missing. She tells Rayne that he is the only one of the missing who was not last seen in the Township, as he was one of a bunch of charcoal burners who set out over two weeks ago. The rest have returned, but they were unable to locate her husband, Pinner. She describes to Rayne the clothes her husband was wearing when she sent him off, and Rayne realises that these clothes match the description of the clothes of the corpse the party found on their first adventure. She asks Aliusa if anybody is looking into the missing people in the Township, to which Aliusa replies there were two militiamen looking into it, but they have now gone missing too. Rayne tells Aliusa if she finds anything out about her missing husband, she will return .

Next, Rayne talks to an old man called Tormand, who claims to have once been a miner. He tells her that he has been unable to work since he came face to face with the dead of the (now abandoned) mine where the Frosterlings performed their unholy ceremony. He claims the restless souls of the dead still haunt the mine, and that is why the mine was abandoned. Rayne politely makes her excuses, convinced the old man has lost his mind.

Finally, Rayne talks to Wandel, a young ranger who is down on his luck. Wandel claims to know the area around the high pastures and the Snowbold lair very well, and tells Rayne he often saw Kindle Burdick and his porters struggling through the snow, heavily laden with goods. When Rayne asks how often , he tells her Burdick travels to the lair at least once a week. Rayne decides to hire Wandel, as Daveak the ranger is not with the party, and they haggle over his fee. In the end, Rayne manages to get him for three gold pieces, and 5% of any treasure they find on their adventure. She tells her new hireling to follow her, and she’ll introduce him to the rest of the party.

Frank, Loraella and Marellian are still sitting round Marybeth Townsend’s kitchen table when Rayne appears, Wandel in tow. She explains what she has discovered, which reminds Loraella that she overheard the two militiamen back at Manos’ office talking about two of their number who had gone missing, and been declared deserters. Apparently, there was now a reward for their return, dead or alive.

Marellian is glad to hear that Rayne has found someone who is looking for a missing person with clothes that match those they found, and he hurries off to fetch the clothes. When he returns, the party go off to see Aliusa. Seeing her husbands clothes, she is quite distressed, telling them that she knitted those woolen mittens herself. Upon hearing that his body was found in the shelter wood, she asks why a charcoal burner would consider going into the wood, where the spirit of the wood is known to guard against desecration of it’s trees. She asks the party to find out for her why her husband was there, and they say they will try to find the answer for her. Leaving her to her grief, they set off to find the next name on their list.

Kindle Burdick’s shop premises is in the lee of the trader’s hall. It is closed up, and when the party knock, nobody answers. Frank knocks louder, bringing out an old woman from a neighbouring building. she tells the party that mister Burdick is off trading with the Snowbolds, and left only this morning. They spend a while to consider their options, while the old lady wanders off again. In the end, they decide to break into his shop to find any evidence of wrong doing. Loraella keeps a lookout, while Rayne easily picks the lock. With Loraella still lurking around outside, the others have a look around the shop.

Rayne considers that Burdick might have trapped his shop in case of snoopers, and carefully searches around for traps. Instead, she finds a secret trap-door under a large table, which Frank and Wandel move out of the way. Lifting the trap-door, Rayne and Marellian look into a secret cellar where empty weapon racks line the walls. There is also evidence of mineral oil, used to keep weapons from rusting, found on the table they have just moved. They all agree that this evidence is not strong enough to convict Burdick, but it does look highly suspicious. Marellian suggests waiting for Burdick to return, and force him to reveal his secret, but the others believe it would be far better to catch him in the act of selling arms to the Snowbolds, and Wandel tells them he can lead them to the Snowbold lair easily. At that moment, Loraella enters the shop, telling them that the militia were coming. Rayne uses her innate ability to call down darkness, and they all hide under her magic while the militia pass by. Making sure nobody is watching, they slip out of the shop, and Rayne locks the door behind them.

The trail to the Snowbold lair winds north east, and soon they enter the area known as high pastures. There, they meet a shepherd, who tells them to watch out on the trail ahead, as he’s seen wolf tracks. Wandel is confident that wolves would not attack an armed party, and they continue onwards. Pretty shortly the trail slopes down from the high pastures, and they walk along the ‘Last Doggie Trail’. Rayne wonders if the traders would have set traps for anyone following them, and spies out the trail. She finds no sign of traps, but does see a small camp, that seems to have been overrun. Dead bodies lie scattered around, and tents have been flattened. The bodies, upon closer inspection, are of Dwarves. Frank finds one who is not yet dead, and uses first aid to stabilize the unconcious Dwarf. Marellian then calls upon the power of compassion to heal the Dwarf, but his feeble efforts are only enough to raise the Dwarf to conciousness. The Dwarf asks them who they are, to which Rayne asks who he is. He gives her a dirty look and replies that he asked first.

On hearing that they are adventurers from Flint-Harrow, he replies that he doesn’t know what is worse, the fact that Goblins managed to surprise him, or that he was saved by ‘Humans from Flint-Shallow’. The party do not pick up on his mis-pronounciation of the Township’s name, but instead ask why he and his fellows were here. The Dwarf, whose name is given as Garian, replies that they were a scouting mission, out to see what had got the goblins all stirred up. Goblin raids have become more frequent around the Dwarf holdings lately, and they wanted to know the reason why. Frank asks why goblins would be raiding so close to this area, to which Garian sniffs, and says that he smells the stench of Orc upon Frank. Frank replies that he just smells something foul about the Dwarf.

At that moment, there is a ‘twang’ of a bowstring, and an arrow flies past. Garian growls that the Goblins have returned. A group of Goblins, riding Worgs, bears down on the party. Unseen by Marellian, four more Goblins appear from behind the party, taking aim with their crude bows. Marellian tells the others to ensure the wounded Dwarf is in the center of the party, but Frank leaps off in a rage, striking at a Worg while unseating it’s rider. Rayne spots the Goblins in the trees behind the party, and fires her crossbow at the one who looks to be their leader. Her shot goes wide, but alerts Marellian to the threat behind.

The Goblins fire their bows, but hiding in the snow must have warped the bowstrings, as all their shots go wide. The same cannot be said of the Worg riders, as one of them strikes the wounded Garian, killing him instantly. Wandel strikes the Worg closest to him, while Rayne’s second shot finds it’s target, wounding the Goblin leader.

Marellian runs wildly towards the Goblin archers, and uses his magic to knock two of them unconcious with a spray of colour. The other two are shaken to see their leader felled, and fire wildly, missing again. Frank chops soundly at the Worg, killing it, but gets hit by it’s rider’s short sword. Wandel again hits his enemy, but fails to kill it.

Marellian repeats his feat of magic, this time on the other two Goblin archers. With the threat of arrows gone, Rayne attacks the Worg riders, hitting one with a flank attack, and killing it. It’s Worg bites Frank, injuring him quite severely. Frank returns the favour, killing it with a mighty chop of his axe, while Wandel finally kills his Worg adversary. The last two Goblins are killed with ease, but Marellian complains that they should not be killing sentient peoples. He ties up those his magic felled, using their own ragged clothing as ties. Wandel winks at Frank, and takes Marellian off, leaving the others to give the tied up Goblins the death blow.

Finally, they arrive at the entrance to the Snowbold lair. There, two large Snowbold warriors stand guard. Rayne is all set to attack them, but Marellian convinces her that it would be best not to, as they are still considered allies of the Township. She relents, and lets him speak to the guards.

It seems the Guards do not have much of a grasp on the trade tongue, but seem to think that the party are part of Burdick’s entourage. They let the party in, gesturing off to where the trader and his porters are meeting with the Snowbold hierachy. As they make their way through the lair, the party realise that the Snowbolds seem frightened of something, and are preparing to leave suddenly. Larger warrior Snowbolds seem on edge, as if they expect something terrible to happen to them.

The party enter the chamber where the Snowbold king is entertaining the trader delegation. They enter just as Burdick shows the king a rather nice leather belt, complete with scabbard and sword hanging from it. another of the Snowbold nobles is testing the sharpness of an axeblade with his thumb. They have managed to catch Kindle Burdick in the act.

Marellian announces that Kindle Burdick is under arrest, for breaking the laws of the Township regarding trade with the Snowbolds. The Snowbold king, Yap-Tar, is a better speaker of trade tongue, and tells the party that the Snowbolds have been trying to ask the council for aid for weeks, but only Burdick would help, and only then by selling weapons. Yap-Tar explains that the Snowbolds are under siege from a large Goblinoid force. This force is led by someone called ‘The Graveller’, an Orc king. The Snowbolds are a peaceful race, but have to defend their homes from this menace. The party realise that if the Snowbolds should fall, not only would Flint-Harrow loose a good trading partner, but gain a strong foe close to it’s borders. They agree that they should return to the Township with Burdick, but that a Snowbold Emissary should also accompany them, along with a ‘gift’ of a large assortment of gems, to plead with the council for aid.

Yap-Tar sends his son, who is well versed in the trade tongue. Burdick and his men go quietly. Wandel bemoans the fact that they haven’t found any treasure on this adventure, and he has risked his life for the party for the grand sum of 3GP.

To be continued…

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BarryParker

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