- Return to Red Larch
- Dropping off the Baggage
- Finding a New Guide
- Scarlet Moon Hall
Return to Red Larch
The party exited the deep ravine into an open and arid canyon. Far off to the east they could see the shimmering spire of the Feathergale Society which was their only point of reference to where they had come out of the ground. With the ex-prisoners in tow, the party moved to the south and east in hopes of finding The Long Road that would lead them to Red Larch.
The traveling was hard and brutal for the party had fought several skirmishes below and were tired and exhausted. As dusk began to fall, the party saw the light of a campfire in a copse of trees and decided to investigate. Valeria used her magic to make her invisible as she moved forward to spy on the camp. She found two humans, in rough leathers speaking quietly over a fire cooking some mystery meat. Three tents lined the campground with a horse tied to a tree nearby. The humans were talking over who'd take the late watch and grumbling over their chore duties. She couldn't get a clear sense over what they were but suspected them of being brigands of some sort. Investigating one of the tents, she found two other humans sleeping inside of the tent near the horse. Light was such that she couldn't make out details, but she did sense that each of these sleepers had helmets that were set beside them. With no other details to clearly make out, Valeria returned to the party to share her findings.
Not wanting to risk having another skirmish in the dark, the party decided to circumvent the camp site and continue on for 2 hours until they found a decent camp site. Once a site was found, the party decided to make camp, the ex-prisoners practically falling on the ground in exhaustion. Milpot, however, found himself in need of release and so thought that a return to the previous campsite a worthwhile excursion. Forgetting (or not paying attention to!) how long the group traveled, Milpot left the players' camp after his watch and trekked back to the brigand camp for some female company. After a 2 hour excursion where he managed to successfully track his way back, he entered into the camp's firelight with a large smile on his face.
Feeling confident, Milpot did not disguise his approach and so was heard as he tromped through the brush towards those on watch in the middle of the campsite. What he was surprised to find that the people on guard where not human brigands, but Earth Cult Guardians in full stone armor wielding large, giant, rock studded clubs. The Guardians reacted, one began to alert the camp while the first charged and attacked Milpot. Milpot fought a retreating defense, thinking that this was certainly not what he had expected in a booty call and wondering if his sneaking off from the party a smart move since no one knew of where he had ventured off to.
Milpot took a beating as he retreated away from the fire and was almost brought down low before turning and running into the underbrush. He managed, however, to not only elude his pursuers but to make a circular return to the camp which took a full 3 hours to do. Stumbling into camp bruised and dejected, Milpot was able to lie down for an hour before the rest of the party rose to start the new day fresh and well rested.
Dropping off the Baggage
The party finally stumbled into Red Larch and Merrick sighed with great relief when the ex-prisoners where dropped off at the refugee camp that had been set up in Red Larch's open market area. Milpot and Valeria gave a few gold over to the now refugees while Merrick felt unburdened like a parent whose kids finally went off to school for the day…
Valeria sold some items they had collected from Rivergard Keep and sought out a guide to take them cross country to Beliard. Milpot went for a bath and a tug and sought to rest up after his previous night's excursion. Merrick met with Imdarr Relvaunder at the All Faith's Shrine and update him on the situation they met with the Dellmon Ranch and after. The most colorful exchange was Idra's mission to have a mancatcher made.
Idra was directed to Ironhead, a half-orc who sold second hand weapons and armor to caravan guards and those looking for cheaper wares than from the blacksmith. Idra described what he wanted and commented that the town was infested and that he'd be using this to correct the issue.
Idra: I need a tool made, a mancatcher of sorts because this town is being overrun by vermin!
Idra: No, the short, smelly kind that walk on two legs and corrupt everything.
Ironhead: … Dwarves? I hate dwarves…
Idra: No, they're shorter and worse.
Ironhead: … Gnomes?
Idra: sigh no, worse!
Ironhead: … Goblins?
Idra: Look, you need to know this, follow me and I'll show you!
Idra then took Ironhead out of the store and towards the Helm at High Sun. Ironhead, sensing trouble, picked up a dented metal shield and a large battle axe in case the meeting with this vermin went bad. Within the tavern, Idra pointed to a halfling female who was sitting alone at a table eating. "Them," he said, "They are overrunning the town!"
Ironhead tried unsuccessfully to educate Idra that halflings did actually own property and businesses here and were allowed within, but Idra did not want to listen to any of his prattle. Pushing 5 gp. into Ironhead's hands, he said he needed to have the item made to his specifications and agree to any overages that went into the mancatcher's manufacturing.
Finding a New Guide
Valeria entered into the tavern at the end of this exchange and walked on trying to ignore the conversation. She had been directed to a halfling by the name of Doria who might act as a guide to make their cross country travels easier. Little did Valeria know that Doria had actually heard the entire conversation between Ironhead and Idra from her seat and was annoyed at the elf's views on halflings.
Valeria found that Doria was a druid on pilgrimage to a site where a powerful druidic rite was to be conducted. She claimed that druids from across the land were descending on this place called the Scarlet Moon Hall, an old ruined fort, where some arch-druids would conduct a rite to correct the chaotic weather patterns that were plaguing the area. While Doria wasn't going as far as Beliard, she offered that the party could travel with her as far as the ritual site for mutual protection. Valeria also found that Doria wasn't the most charismatic of her kind and was very blunt about not putting up with Idra's supposed racism.
The next day, they party met up with Doria and they left the town of Red Larch to travel cross country to the north. Travel was uneventful while the party picked Doria's brain for the reasons of the rite and what she hoped to gain from going there. Doria claimed that these arch-druids had found this ancient rite and had been preparing it for some time. The amount of power involved would require the assistance of other druids and so a 'Call to Arms' so to speak was sent out to various druidic circles for aid. Many had traveled there already, Doria assumed, and she was interested in learning this new rite and helping to bring about a normalization of the weather here.
During the trip a few tense instances and comments were made between Doria and Idra. First, Idra refused to follow Doria who was the only one to know where she was going. Idra would travel ahead of the party until he had to stop to see where the next leg would be directed and then when the party caught up (the halfling's legs being quite a bit smaller) Idra would set off again to 'lead' the party. Anytime Idra would need to address Doria he'd speak to a space above her head "to where her head should be." Doria in turn, would refer to Idra as 'that asshole' or 'asshole'. Merrick had attempted to curve her sharp tongue but she pushed back saying that Idra referred to halflings as vermin and she wasn't going to stand for it. Unfortunately Merrick had made a faux pas by asking her earlier what the gathering at Scarlet Moon Hall was and if it was a gathering of halflings or… Doria interrupted with a 'What the shit!" exclamation before Merrick could clarify. So traveling was tense but Doria seemed to weather the obvious racial prejudices with the not so obvious prejudices.
The party camped and Idra refused to sleep while Doria was awake so when it was her turn to take watch, Idra stayed up and just watched her. Only after a time did Idra feel a presence behind him and turned to exclaim and move quickly away as a large hulking suit of plate mail was found to be standing directly behind him. The armor was intricately decorated with etchings and mystical symbols, a large two handed sword rested sword point in the ground with both armored hands atop the pommel. This both freaked Idra and Doria both out and so as Idra began messing with the armor, Doria woke the party up.
Doria found tracks that indicated that the suit of armor had walked up onto the party's campsite which was refuted by Idra who had also looked for tracks and had found none. The armor did not react to any questions directed to it or to Idra's poking at it or throwing rocks at it. When Idra attempted to walk behind the armor only the full helmet of the suite turned and followed Idra's movement. With nothing else to go on, the party broke camp and hurried down the path to continue on their way as the suit of armor began following them after a pace. The party pressed on, leaving the armor behind as it clanked heavily in their wake.
Scarlet Moon Hall
As the party neared the site of the ritual they found the air full of wood smoke which drifted about like a thick fog. The smoke would move with the air currently so there were areas where it was thicker than others and Doria didn't seem concerned about it so it was perceived as being natural in origin. Coming to the base of a rising hill, the party could make out a ruined tower and a crumbling shield wall around it at the hills crest. This, Doria stated, was the location of the Scarlet Moon Hall. As they neared the base of the hill, they came across a small campsite where 4 other druids had made camp.
Doria spoke to the 4 campers briefly in a foreign tongue before switching back to common. It seemed that these 4 were also here for the rite. They had mentioned that there had been others from atop the hill that came through periodically and chatted with them. It seemed that the arch-druids were making auguries to find out when the best time to enact the rite was to be conducted. They mentioned that there were other groups here as well, indicating various campfire lights amidst the smoke covered hillside but that each group merely waited to be summoned for the rite.
Doria sat down to speak with them more as the rest of the party decided to climb the steep hill and attempt to meet with the arch-druids for themselves. The hillside was broken into two tiers. The first tier, on the main ground level had a trail that branched east and west to various campfires. A single trail climbed the hill to a second tier where another east-west trail along a flat section connected various other campfires. From the second tier the trail continued up until it met the summit.
As the party climbed, they reached the second tier where 2 druids were sitting alone by a fire. These two looked up at the party as they passed and when the party met their eyes, the druids refused to look away. For Idra, this seemed to be a quirky interchange so he kept his eyes fixed on one of the druids and the game of turn away started between the two. The one druid seemed to bristle when Idra stared at him, commanding Idra to move on. Idra responded in typical Idra fashion which did nothing to mollify the grumpy druid. After the one druid threatened to break Idra's nose did Idra pull out a handfull of gold and drop it to the ground saying he'd like to see that happen.
Once the gold hit the ground the two druid stood up and their form began to shift into a hybrid form of human with wolf features. Claws grew out of their hands and both of the druids leapt at Idra starting a surprise round. Idra bobbed and weaved blocking strikes and dodging others but under the concentrated effort of two maddened foes, blows were struck. One claw attack found purchase the first round and a bite attack made purchase the second as Idra quickly found himself losing ground from the onslaught. The party finally reacted to what was happening below them and under their concerted effort did they manage to take down the two enraged druids.
The night ended with the two druids being dropped and Merrick rushing to try and keep the druids from dying. Idra was wounded from multiple blows and the party watched as several figures from an adjoining camp were rushing to the noise of combat that had just happened. The clank, clank, clank of heavily armored boots could also be heard as the second round of impending combat seemed to loom on the party.