The longest winter

cries in the night

adventure 1

The party:

Daveak Swordhand (Played by Paul)
Elden Spirefield (Played by Matt)
Frank Wyvern’s Tooth (Played by Steve)
Loraella Ironcore (Played by Leanne)
Marellian Ironcore (Played by Dave)

Intrductions:

After a few weeks running meaningless errands, and guarding empty offices, the party are summoned to the council chamber. There, they are let in by two half-orc guards. At the end of the great table sit councillor Kincaid and head councillor Ore, along with a scribe to take notes.

Councillor Ore tells the party; " We have had a request from the peat cutters to find out what is stalking their camp each night. Men have been going missing, some have returned after a couple of days, but two have never returned. Those who have returned seem strangely lethargic, and they are suffering from lack of production. Several of the men had complained about an eerie whining moan that kept awaking them during the night. We need you to find the cause of this, and end it. There will be a reward of 1,000GP in total should you manage to discover and end this nightly pest."

Marellian begins asking questions concerning the job, and the peat cutters, to which Ore looks a bit flummoxed. He turns to Kincaid and asks, “Why is Calpurn here? Shouldn’t he be looking after the religious needs of the town?” to which Kincaid replies that this is Calpurn’s son, Marellian, and that Calpurn is dead some 17 years.

The party then ask whether they can be supplied with extra trail rations and ammunition for their bows and crossbows. The scribe issues them with a requisition form to gain what they have asked for from the stores. He quietly says that all expenses incurred will be taken off the reward money. It seems nobody either hears or cares about this, as they accept and leave.

The trail to the peat cutter’s camp is well travelled, and has been gritted for ease of travel. The partry seem in high spirits to be out from the claustraphobic atmosphere of the town, and make good time. After about two hours, they are within the borders of the Shelter Wood, when Frank and Daveak spot a splash of crimson red in the whiteness of the snow ahead. As they get closer, they realise it is a body.

Frank approaches the body and pokes it with his axe. It doesn’t move, and he sees that it has been killed by a savage slash to the throat by long claws. Bite marks cover the corpse, and it’s face has been savaged so much it is unrecognisable.

Daveak finds a trail of dripped blood, and tracks of some large creature. He begins to follow the tracks, but stops when he hears a low growling sound. From a tumble of rocks springs a Dire Wolverine, the size of a bear. It goes for Daveak, but he jumps back from the reach of it’s sharp claws. The party all pile in to help Daveak against the beast, and it is finally killed by a discharge of magic from Marellian, to the surprise of nearly everybody (including Marellian).

The party then discuss what to do with the corpse. Frank is all for burning it, but the others discuss whether it would be best to take it with them to the camp, in case it is one of the missing men. In the end, they decide to take the clothes of the corpse for identification, and allow Frank to burn the body. With this completed, they continue on their way.

After a further two hours of travelling, Frank smells the smoke from the camp’s cooking fire, and the three half elves hear men’s voices ahead. Two men seem to be discussing cleaning their tools before night. Marellian calls out to them, much to Frank’s annoyance. The men are delighted to see the party, but arre a bit put out when Marellian asks to speak to Andiron. They ask why he wishes to speak to just him, to which Marellian replies he had heard Andiron was in charge (a snippet he had picked up in the council chamber). They grudgingly agree, but say that everyone mucks in equally. Marellian diplomatically then says he’d like everyone to be there, which brightens them up again.

Inside the bunk house, The party meet all the remaining peat cutters. Andiron introduces himself, and the others. He explains that they are short staffed, as the men who went missing have decided to go back to town, rather than face more nights out here. Elden mutters that he wishes he’d known that before they set out, so they could have interviewed the men in town, to which Andiron replies they had given up waiting for the council to act. He then explains that the first man went missing from the tool shed one night, but that others had been inside the bunk house. After a fine evening meal, the party ask Andiron to show them round, so that they can plan where to patrol that night.

While showing the party where they dig the peat from, the sharp eyes of the adventurers make out shapes of bodies preserved in the peat. Andiron helps them dig out the two bodies, little more than flat outlines. It is suggested that these may be the cause of the nightly hauntings, and Frank once again suggests they burn the bodies. It is finally decided not to just yet.

That night, while patroling the south east corner of the camp, Loraella sees a dark misty shape drifting aimlessly towards where her half brother is sitting. Fearing for him, she rushes towards him. Meanwhile, on the south west side of camp, a dark shape drifts towards Daveak, an act that catches the eye of Frank, who is up a tree. Frank jumps down and begins to stalk the dark shape.

Marellian sees the shape drifting towards him, and recalls that he once read in a book about such a creature; an Allip, the spectral remains of someone driven to suicide by a madness that afflicted it in life. By now, Elden has seen the creature, and fires an arrow at it. when his shot passes through the creature, he realises that nothing he posesses can harm it, and keeps his distance. The creature drifts off to the north east, away from Marellian, and Loraella berates him for putting himself in danger to get a closer look at it. Meanwhile, the other Allip has drifted towards the bunk house, and seems to be screaming silently at the window. Frank and Daveak keep a respectful distance, and it slowly drifts off to the north east. The party follow the two Allips, but give up when their quarry get too misty and fade from sight.

Upon their return to the bunk house, they are confronted by the sight of one of the peat cutters apparently sleep walking, wearing only his small clothes. They wake him , and he is understandably perturbed to be out and about when the last thing he remembers was going to bed. The noise wakes the other peat cutters, and Andiron asks the party what they have found out, and why one of the men is being manhandled in only his briefs. Luckily, everyone calms down, and the rest of the night passes without incident.

The next day, Frank gets his way, and the two bodies found in the peat are cremated. One of the peat cutters sets off into town with a cart load of peat, and the others dig out more. The party wander around looking for anything unusual, but all seems quiet. They discuss what to do the next night, as they are still unsure if burning the bodies would stop the haunting. The general consensus is to stay inside and watch, but Daveak, perhaps because of the overcrowding upsetting his solitary nature, elects to stay in the tree that Frank had used the night before.

That night, there seems to be no sign of the wandering Allips, but Daveak hears an unearthly song of misery. Due to his previous experiences against Fae creatures, he realises it is the song of a Dryad, but it seems twisted somehow. He he fails to respond to it’s woes, and it seems to get louder and more eerie. He goes to the bunk house to tell the others about it, and Marellian, listening from the doorway, falls under it’s spell, and takes off to the north east. Loraella mutters under her breath, and sets off to bring him back, followed by the others.

In a small wooded glen, they catch up with Malellian, who wakes from his enspelled trance, just as Frank, Elden and Loraella are taken by the song. They march off into a small opening that yawms open in the north west. Marellian and Daveak quickly follow them, but Frank’s long strides take him further than the others, and he passes out of Daveak’s sight in the gloom. Marellian attempts to disrupt the spell on his half sister by using a cantrip called ‘ghost sounds’, and miraculously suceeds. As he crows about saving her, she retorts, “About time it was the other way round for once.” Daveak manages to catch Elden, and grapples him to the floor, waking him from his trance. The party then chase off after Frank.

They find Frank in a small hollowed out area, with roots and twigs seemingly forming a loose cage , as well as the two missing peat cutters. One of the peat cutters has be driven close to insanity by the Dryad’s song, but the other is more interested about getting away. As they escort these men back out, thet realise that the roots have intertwined to form a barrier, preventing exit. Marellian attempts a burning hands spell, but barely manages to scorch the roots. Frank and Elden resort to more mundane weapons, and quickly turn the barrier to tinder.

As the barrier falls apart, the Dryad makes her appearance. Some ancient curse has transformed her into an undead creature. Stepping out from the wooded wall behind Daveak, she narrowly misses him with her long nails. His cry of shock alert the others, and she falls quickly to the party’s blades, with Loraella making the killing blow. Elden, meanwhile, is annointing his blade with holy water to make it more potent to such an undead creature, but by the time he has completed the task, the battle is over.

The battle over, the party decide to take the peat cutters back to the bunk house, but the mad one rushes off, fearing to step outside the Dyad’s lair. They find him in a room which is a parody of a tree’s canopy, with branches upon which hang trinkets that the Dryad has collected from her victims. Loraella takes a silver comb, encrusted with moonstones, Marellian takes a curious flute carved from bone, Elden takes a strange looking rusted gauntlet, Daveak takes a necklace threaded through shiny stones, and Frank takes a large leather belt.

The peat cutters are overjoyed that their ordeal is over, and Andiron gives the party a small bag of gold that they have all saved up. Loraella takes it quickly, and counts 25GP through the cloth. The party take the poor mad peat cutter back to town, and leave him in the care of the Temple of compassion.

The adventure ends with the party still unsure who the dead body was, and they still have the clothes to try and identify it by.

Comments

BarryParker

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