Othwic, Maud Balliol, Jarl The Lame, Hob The Bastard, Konrad, Alys and Baine
Current Date: May, 1012TR

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Chapter Two: If You Go Down To The Woods Today...

Date: May 10 to morning of May 16
Entering The Forest Of Ascetir
Jarl The Lame finally caught up with the group at The Iron Door tavern and as Maud was still too frightened by the lightning storm the others "borrowed" her broken-down, old horse for Jarl to ride on (so he didn't slow them down).

They reached the edge of the Forest of Ascetir that evening and made camp. During the night strange rustling and "clicking" were heard within the darkened confines of the forest, but nothing was actually seen.

However, it wasn't long into the next day, when the group was heading deeper in the forest, that they discovered the source of the noises - giant, black scorpions... and heading right for them.

Sensibly, the group headed away from the scorpions, leading the mounted Jarl off the rough track they had been following and deeper into the trees.

Carrying on, they began to spot overgrown, but clearly worked, stones dotted around the place and following the clear line of ancient destruction they came upon the base of a ruined tower.

A search by the eagle-eyed Hob and Alys discovered not only signs of a partially-buried trap door, but a scrap of paper wedged into the rocks. Hob succeeded in tearing it half when he tried to extricate it and Alys managed to retrieve the other half.

However, even though symbols like a mountain with a skull on top and a rough sketch map (of the coast of Scotia) on the back were recognisable, it was at this point that the group realised their only member who knew her letters was Maud... and she was back at the Iron Door. So, the exact contents of the old, faded note remain a mystery.

The Malte Volk
As the group set about moving the old moss-covered stones to unearth the trapdoor, they were ambushed by three Malte Volk who, thankfully, hadn't been quite as stealthy as they might have hoped.

The three barbarians were quickly felled and then 'our heroes' carefully buried their bodies under the rocks they were moving from the other part of the ruin.

Listening at the trap door, Hob heard an odd rhythmic humming, almost, but not quite, like a heart-beat.

Darkness was setting in, so Othwic headed out to forage up some foot while the others tried to figure out how to open the now uncovered, but handleless, trap door. Eventually, Hob discovered that jumping on it caused it to open - luckily he was nimble enough to avoid falling through.

Alys, Hob and Jarl descended into the dark depths below, finding themselves in a curving tunnel that they followed round until they came to a door. The humming sound was louder now and opening the door they discovered a circular central room, with an elaborate frieze running around the wall and a very posh, leather bed in the middle of the room - with three bed bands sticking out from each side.

As Jarl stood guard, Alys made her way slowly around the frieze - discovering that it pictured three distinct species (a tall, noble, armoured race; snake-men; and monkey-faced demons) and four distinct locales at the cardinal points of the compass - to the east was a battlefield, to the south a tall tower, to the west a mountain with a skull on its peak, and to the north a pyramid with rays of some kind arising from it.

Going around a second time, she noticed something peculiar about the pyramid and pressing it caused it to open a small drawer in the wall, containing a long golden rod set with various protuberances that she quickly deduced was a key. This she tucked away in her pack before anyone else could see.

While this was going on, Hob had climbed onto the bed and lay down. The metal bands had arced over him and he fell into an unnatural sleep.

Meanwhile, Othwic's hunting had been interrupted by a Malte Volk warband, of about a dozen men, heading towards the ruins. He hid as they passed then followed them back to the remains of the tower. The Malte Volk formed a circle around the ruins and stayed there for about an hour, unwilling (it seemed) to enter.

Eventually they took the party's horse and headed back the way they had come. At this point, Othwic slipped into the ruins and descended through the open trap door.

As he came into the "bed" room to meet the others Hob woke screaming and then lapsed into an unresponsive state, only able to walk and feed himself (with the help of others).

The group decided it would be a good idea to leave now and headed off to the west, Othwic having caught a faint scent of salt and reasoning that the coast was that way.

They made camp, but on Alys's watch were again attacked - although this time only a single Matle Volk, who sprung from the trees, knocking her unconscious with an axe blow before a groggy Othwic came up behind him and decapitated him with a mighty swing of his own axe.

The next day the group carried on and eventually found themselves at the coast, and there they decided to make camp and hope that Hob would come out of his traumatised state.

They were also hoping to find some landmark so they could get a bearing on where they actually were, and see if anything tallied with the grubby sketch map they had discovered in the ruined tower.

Monday, 30 January 2012

The Baron Is Not Pleased!

May 9, 1012TR

Baron Tiberius
"What do you mean 'you can't find her'?" Baron Tiberius growled at the sobbing maid, who his daughter Sabrina was trying to comfort. "Somebody must know where she has gotten to - if not my daughter or her maid, then who? Greyjoy, any magical insights?"

The wily castellan stepped out of the shadows of the great hall, slowly shaking his head. "Maud Balliol is a factious child, my lord, we knew that from day one..."

"This must be kept quiet," the baron cut in over his old friend. "Her father must not hear of this. She has been with us less than three months and we have lost her already? Wars have been fought for less and I don't fancy crossing swords with Baron Balliol and his Valyard allies with my sons still off in Delos."

There was silence in the room, except for the sobbing of the chastised maid, as the baron leant back in his chair, steepled his fingers and pondered the predicament of the missing 15-year-old.

Then he spoke: "Call Sir Gevan to me, I will send him out after her. He will be discreet. Greyjoy, go into the town and find me a new maid..."

Turning to the already tearful woman in the hall at her audible gasp, the baron tried to adopt a more conciliatory tone as he leaned towards her.

"Have no fear, my dear, you are not being replaced. I realise I was probably asking too much when I charged with caring for both my daughter and this troublesome new arrival. Sabrina has often spoken highly of you in the past, and I see she still cares strongly for, so I seek a second maid to be responsible purely for the whereabouts and well-being of Miss Balliol."

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Chapter One: The Road Goes Ever On...

Date: Morning, May 8 to 2pm, May 10.

It was the day after the May Day celebrations in Coggershall and most people were nursing back hang-overs. Konrad had gone with a random bar wench, while Jarl was presumed to have wandered off and fallen in a ditch somewhere.

Maud arrived at the Rising Sun with a spring in her step - as she had left the celebrations early with the Baron and his daughter, Sabrina - and surveyed the detritus of humanity before singling out her friends: Othwic, Alys and Hob.

Instead of helping the village to dig ditches and plough fallow fields, these youngsters had decided to pursue a rumour they had heard about treasure in a mysterious ruined castle just over the border in the land of the Malte Volk.

Maud purchased a horse from Wulfgar the blacksmith, which soon turned out to be a bit of a broken down nag, but that didn't slow the group's walk to the small village of Ducksford, half-a-day north of Coggershall.

They stayed there the night, as floors were offered for rest in exchange for stories. Unfortunately they didn't win any friends with their rather weak tales and as soon as they'd eaten breakfast in the morning they headed off.

Crossing the border into Baron Cenred's land they encountered an old tree adorned with offerings and this caused a minor bit of confusion - until Othwic concluded it was some kind of offering site for a nature god (although not his).

However, as they were discussing the possible meaning of the tree, Maud spotted a strange, winged cat leaping out of the long grass and taking flight. Unfortunately no-one else saw this and her descriptions became increasingly wild as she attempted to explain what she had seen.

They were making for the Iron Door inn, at a crossroads of cart tracks, and were welcomed by innkeeper Cleere, with tasty food and pints of the local stout - Ol' Evil Eye.

Maud was quite openly mocked for her assertions about the "bat-cat", as she called it, but the others, chatting to the friendly guests in the inn, including a midget delivery-cart driver called Tifford (who brings the regular supplies of Ol' Evil Eye to The Iron Door).

Despite his habit of twitching and cussing in ways that made Maud blush, he shared tales of 'Cleere family curse' (apparently the original Iron Door had collapsed because of the fairy magic) and the origin of Ol' Evil Eye (it uses water from a nearby spring which is frequented by hideous looking creatures called Catoblepas - hideous, twisted bovine beasts whose very gaze means certain death).

Bedlo The Bard
When it came time to go to their rooms, the two woman shared one (and got a great night's sleep), while the mean shared a second. Hob was out like a light, because of the vast amount of Ol' Evil Eye he had consumed, but Othwic was disturbed by a noisy neighbour, crashing furniture, shouting and singing.

When he went to complain he was greeted by the grinning face of Bedlo the Bard - who happened to be both very drunk and totally naked.

He invited Othwic in to share some wine and the forester took a seat and began to share stories and songs with the boisterous bard right through to the crack of dawn. 

While Othwic stayed in bed, Maud, Alys and Hob set off to the east to explore the ruins of the previous Iron Door (having learned that Cleere's sister had been kidnapped and replaced with a bundle of twigs and it was somehow connected with the murder of a dryad). The place was overgrown and very little remained - it having fallen down nearly a decade ago.

Maud was contemplating a divination spell, while Hob was jumping up and down in the middle of the ruins (hoping to activate some kind of trap one can only assume), when Alys spotted a rider on the horizon watching them. When he realised he had been spotted he rode off to the west.

Before the trio could decide what to do, the heaven's opened and a thunderstorm erupted, causing Maud to freak out, jump on her horse and ride back to the inn. The other two slowly trudged back through the mud, arriving at the inn as Othwic came down for breakfast.

Having secured her horse, Maud ran upstairs to her room and hid until the storm passed...

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Baron's Ward Spotted Mingling With Peasants...

The Baron's pretty, young ward, Maud Balliol has been spotted in the vicinity of The Rising Sun... and even conversing occasionally with commoners.

Thankfully, Othwic -  son of the late Othwade, the highly respected Chief Forester of Darkling Wood - has usually been around to ward off the unwanted attentions of well-known local fornicator Konrad who calls himself "The Barbarian".

It is unknown why the 15-year-old Maud, the rumoured acolyte of the town mage Greyjoy, is seeking the company of such low-born fellows.

Perhaps he has tasked her with retrieving some rare herbs or other components for his magics and she is looking to hire some suitably brutish guards to escort her into the wilderness?
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