And so it was that on the 27th of the Fyrmont our heroes grew weary of poring over tomes and supping on fine ales and hearing the pleas of petitioners, desperate to join their band.
Much had happened. Shing and Niffa were all but lost to the world, pouring over captured tomes and scribing many spells. Our heroes had attended the wedding feast of Lord Kaerin Penhaligon to Lady Alerena Vorloi, a daughter of the wealthy Clan Vorloi and renowned for her chastity and beauty. They suffered the reprimands of the Lord Kaerin good naturedly as he complained and moaned of the great reaping the Tax collector had taken of his wealth, and took a drunken Baron Sherlane’s offers of a Patriarchical Writ for One Raisinge Of The Dead in exchange for Ilyana’s accursed hellsword.
On the wedding feast they learned that their actions had not gone unnoticed. It was by Duke Stefan Karameikos direct request that Ioric, the official designate of the band, set out for Karameikos, under Elven Guard, to receive his Court Lordship and serve the Lord Karameikos in whatever fashion he might desire. With regret, and many well-wishes, they bade goodbye to Sir Ioric, and spoke of him fondly. And perhaps it would not be the last time they met. With him he took his enchanted steel, and his share of the loot.
Into Penhaligon Estate they went, to scour its taverns and dingy alleyways for replacement fighting men. Many applied, though few were suited. The first being a cleric of the Cult of Halav, Vimir, who claimed to be mighty in healing ability, and a great foe of the beastmen. “Thou art a great healer?”, quoth Rallo, “Then heal”, and he stabbed him in the arm, and Vimir fled yowling, spreading ill rumors about Balan’s Lame Ones. Second was Svir, a hillman and doughty fighting man. He showed them his knowledge of sling and axe, and they made him a paltry offer. Disgusted, he walked away, spreading many ill rumors of the miserliness and knavery of Balan’s Lame Ones.
There were two who applied, after persuasion, and after they were offered fine horses and plate armor in exchange. The Ylari Aziz, who was a great horseman, but foolish and headstrong besides, and the Darokinian Hyacinth, a fair pole-fighter who saught coinage for many a paramour’s trinket.
So it was said and so it was done. On the 27th of the Fyrmont they took a Drover’s offer to venture to the homestead of Syskind and accompany a great herd of horses there to Riffilan for sale. Hundreds of gold pieces were offered, and the best member of the flock, but otherwise Balan’s Lame Ones were content with his offer. It was at the river barge of captain Kamelos that they stumbled onto great distress, for there was no room to berth their great many fine horses.
“Then we shall ride for Syskind”, quoth Niffa. But Stephan, the drover, cautioned them against such plans, for the forest was dense and housed many terrors. And much did they argue until our heroes conceived an ill-considered plot. Sleep spells would keep the creatures under, while they would be piled up on the cargo platform. Foolish, to give away so much for stubborn habit.
On the 30th they left Kelvin and made great headway, rowing upstream and covering many miles in only half a day. As the forest closed in and the morning turned into midday they cast both their sleep spells on the horses once again, and Niffa staying with them to keep them docile, as did Hummingbird.
With a terrible quake the boat did stall and ran right into a great iron chain spun across the river. Arrows from the trees heralded in a terrible ambush. Over a score of them, hard men, scarred with shackles and old brands, killers and fanatics of the legendary Iron Ring. Arrows fell like rain as they scrambled for cover.
Niffa was pinned, keeping her horse down. Hummingbird hesitated not and drove his fist into the creature’s temple, stunning it, before rushing to cover. Arrows struck our heroes as 12 of the Iron Ringsman, in loinscloths and daggers, fared into the river, to board the barge.
Ugly and hard was that fight. Shing all but paralysed with fear, reduced to throwing daggers from behind the cover of the barge at all who dared board. Niffa rendered inert, banned from grabbing weaponry as she watched over her horse. Rallo and Sarah loosed many a shot and took many in return, bleeding profusely from many wounds. Invincible Hummingbird leapt onto the great iron chain and ran to the other side, driving it loose, a fine plan, but the rowers too paralysed with fear to take advantage. A voice of command, like Ioric, was sorely needed.
Aziz fell first. It was a traitor’s dagger, hewn from bronze, dug up from old tombs, that did the deed, driven deep into his heart. One of the rowers an Agent of the Iron Ring. Through the water they came and soon the deck was lost to hard fighting. Many came within an inch of death. Hummingbird fell. Rallo bleeding. Sarah all but gone. A arrow took Hyacinth in the temple, and soon he was no more. Edmin rushed to and fro, staving off death from a dozen wounds. The deck was awash in the blood of enemies. Bleeding from many wounds, our heroes took cover against the boat and exchanged arrows until finally, the enemy retreated, leaving almost a score of them dead. But for the dagger, there was little that they carried of gold.
The riverbarge an abbatoir, it crept its way up the river, studded with arrowshafts like a porcupine, to arrive at Misha’s Ferry. The captain told them not to worry at its seeming desolation, for Misha was merely out hunting with her tame Bear. As Niffa tended the wounds of her horse, and the rest bound their injuries, a great cave bear, injured and enraged, came out of the forest. Some hailed Misha, hoping he was near, but he was nowhere to be seen. The bear came at them.
Niffa ran for her horse and rode off, and she was safe. Edmin and Sarah and Shing ran into the house, and they were safe. Hummingbird climbed up the rooftop, and soon he was safe. Rallo loosened an arrow at the beast, and struck it not, and the bear came on him, and ended him with a great bite of its mighty jaws.
They drave it off, Niffa circling round the house on horseback and peppered it with shots, while Hummingbird fired at it with sling stones. Edmin threw burning oil and rapidly closed the door while it was far, and so it was undone and fled back, yowling, into the forest.
So they were, ammunition all but spent, and three comrades dead, and this but the start of their new adventure. They spent the night in the cabin and thought long and hard about their next course of action.
Two of the Reavers
19 of the Hounds
The Book of the Living.
[B] Niffa (Elf 2, 9 hp)
[D] Rallo the Bastard (Thf 4, 24 hp)
[E] Shing the Golden (MU 3, 6 hp)
[F] Hummingbird Twiceborn (Mys 4, 11 hp)
[G] Edmund Os Traytor (Clr 3, 12 hp)
[NPC] Sarah (Thf 4, 16 hp).
The Book of the Dead:
[A] Ilyanka Pjottrsdöttr (Clr 1) – Beheaded by Giant Chameleon
[B] Liliath the Elf-maiden (Elf 1) – Skull-split by the horrid Bugbear
[C] Cold-Souled Fenrig (Thf 1) – Cut down by the Orc menace
[D] Balan the Lame (Dwr 1) – Cut down by the Orc menace
[D] Rallo the Bastard (Thf 4, 24 hp) – Throat ripped out by a Cave Bear
[B] Earendil (Elf 1) – Struck down by vile Orc Sorcery
[G] Azalesh Slyly (Clr 1) – Shanked by common robbers
[NPC] The Wardog Biter (Dog) – Cut down by the Orc Menace
[NPC] Aziz the Impetuous (Ftr 1) – Struck down by an impostor’s hand
[NPC] Hyacinth the Fair (Ftr 1) – Felled by an Arrow
The Rolls of Honour:
[A] Egil Soft-pate (Ftr 1, 18 Str) – Long may he Reave!
[C] Sir Ioric (Ftr 3, 17 hp) – Retired in glory, long live the Duke!
[NPC] Erren (Thf 3, 10 hp) – She wanders the roads, looking for who knows what.
[NPC] Merkull (Ftr 3, 20 hp) – He haunts the forests and roads of northern Karameikos, a killer with a heart of flint and the soul of a knight