The party travels north, back to the shifter encampment.
Arriving back at the shifters’ village we are greeted with much celebration by the tribe. Théorn speaks to Chael, who is in charge, and allays his fears that people will see the tribe as weak in the future. With their home restored, the tribe can produce warriors who could hunt a dragon. Chael promises Théorn a boon, and the party is given 3½ crates of pipeweed, which is given to Pennyworth to guard. Pennyworth uses his “Hypnotic Pattern” powers to create a light and smoke show to entertain the village during the celebrations.
All is not well in the camp as December Darkspoon, using Pennyworth’s light show as a cover, decides to make off with an owlbear and no need to be nice to people. As she tries to leave Smax accosts her and asks to travel with her. She reveals to him that she isn’t the Raven Queen and that his creation was an accident (calling him Smax for the first time). She then flees, leaving Smax puzzled and lost. He then seems to fall asleep and experiences a revelation from a pair of eyes in the dark that tell him he will soon meet another who he should travel with and that he will know what to do. Smax then pulls out his own blackened, beating heart.
The group awakes with some heavy heads (and pistons) and discovers that Darkspoon has eloped with the owlbear cub. There is some dismay and a certain amount of head-scratching, before we decide to travel on to Winimoocha. Without Darkspoon amongst us, we may well be welcome there.
Arriving in Winimoocha we see Janell, the dragonborn paladin who ran us out of town previously. He looks surprised, but relaxes and waves when he realises that Darkspoon is not among us. Pennyworth then enters the inn (The Bond of Friendship) with Korax’s skull on his head and terrifies the locals. Théorn tries to sell the pipeweed to a merchant who travelled into the town from Greely (which lies to the south) with a small girl and some mercenaries who appear to be talking to Pennyworth. Théorn realises that the merchant would just sell the pipeweed back to the shifters and so decides against this course of action.
Meanwhile one of the mercenaries, named Elkovar, asks Pennyworth if he would like to join their gang as they could do with someone to hit things for them. Pennyworth declines his offer and requests that Elkovar give him the rather natty jacket that he is wearing. There is a brief altercation in which a pair of gloves are set on fire, and then Pennyworth joins Théorn at the bar sporting some stylish new threads.
Whilst at the bar Théorn is approached by the small girl (looks about 12 years old) who says she would like another glass of milk, and someone to look after her as she travels to Ravensburgh where she is due to meet her protector, Baron Herbert de Courcey. Théorn senses something is off about the girl but is unsure what, besides that she speaks with a strange accent, ja?
The following morning we sell the barrel of spices we’ve been carrying and head off for Ravensburgh along with the little girl, Maxima. We avoid Gosfair and The Order of the Hammer as we don’t have the energy to fight them. Théorn is feeling under the weather, as he tries to absorb the power of the dragon’s heart that he ate. On the way the party spots some kobold tracks but leaves them alone as they are looking after the young girl.
The party continues travelling slowly, as Théorn is not well. He tries eating some of the medicinal fungi found in Korax’s lair, which seems to help slightly.
Day 30 – morning:
Further travelling, and Théorn is seriously unwell and going green about the gills (as though shifting into something different). He eats more of the fungi to alleviate the pain. Otherwise more uneventful travelling.
Hollan returned to Ravensburgh to inform Thena of the laboratory being cleared out, but gets lonely after a few days of waiting for his compatriots to return. He heads out to The Orc’s Head to hand out with Cezar and his cronies. Whist he’s there he hears some gossip that Bigby Ravenwing, uncle to Kadira (whom Hollan slew), is out to get him. It turns out that Kadira was a princess of the royal house of a nation that no longer exists, and there are succession issues to be resolved.
He spends more time talking to Clementine, a halfling barbarian, whom he becomes firm friends with. She tells him that she is off to Goblinfest soon as the rewards are fantastic if you win. In order to do so you have to collect as many goblin sacrifical implements as possible within 24 hours. Apparently these twisted artifacts are plunged into living beings’ chests and used to scoop out their organs and are known as “sporks” in the goblin tongue. Last year’s winners were The Band of Five, who collected a record-breaking 56 sporks.
Hollan also hears whispers of a warforged wearing a dragon on its head having been seen wandering around town asking about pipeweed, and decides to head to The King Valiant inn to see if the rest of his group has returned.
Day 30 – evening:
Arriving at The King Valiant late in the evening, Hollan finds Smax, Pennyworth, Théorn and new girl Maxima sat at the bar (Napoleon eating in his room). Théorn says he is “fine” and doesn’t want to talk about why he’s turned a shade of green. Maxima asks around town for Baron de Courcey and is told that Viscount Verdun is in town and heading for Goblinfest. She then heads to bed.
Théorn, lying in bed without his shield, is finally able to overcome the effects of the dragon heart he ate and gains a boon. The rest of the party, besides Maxima (who appears to have gone to find her protector) head into town and sell all the various loot they have acquired recently.
Apparently Goblinfest is only 3 days away and it will take 2 days to travel there, so the party decides to head off promptly to go slaughter some greenskins. As we leave the inn a nondescript young urchin pushes a scroll into Napoleon’s hand, with the following text:
Meet me in the village of Barstow. M.
Leaving for Barstow, the party encounters a short person with a horse just outside of town. They are wearing full plate armour and a hood covering their face. It appears to be a person who speaks like Maxima, but more adult. They introduce themselves as Max and ask if we are competent fighters. Just as the party is about to prove this the group is ambushed by gnolls (Encounter 1). Smax is guided by voices to kill one of the gnolls, a Cultist Enforcer, as he has an interesting amulet. Unfortunately Théorn dispatches it instead while Max and Pennyworth deal with the others. Max and the party decide to work together as they seem a good fit, and the party continues to Barstow.
On entering the inn in Barstow we see Elkovar and Merrick sat in different corners. Merrick spots Pennyworth and indicates we should join him in the back room. Once inside he enquires what the hell has happened to the party. Pennyworth replies “Fleshlings: upgraded”, to which Merrick responds “You do remember that the team I put together was hand-picked by myself?”. He has only brought the cash for 4, not the 6 we now are.
After some discussion Merrick agrees to the new party composition and to 100gp a head for future payments. However there are further stipulations in this contract. For the next payment we must do the following:
- Kill a “proper” dragon
- Discover a hidden site/treasure that will inspire those who hear of our legend
- One of us must wield an artefact of legend, with a mythology of its own, to which people cannot fail to be impressed.
The party agrees to this arrangement, and wonders if The Spear of the Endless Winter that got Brysias into trouble is one of these legendary artefacts. Also, we hear that Brysias is going to be at Goblinfest this year.
The group travels to Nepping village, which is small and contained within a palisade. The inn is quite tall and completely packed. The village is filled with stalls selling weapons, unappetising potions and the like. The party heads off to register for the contest with the mayor, Thusia, and pay the fee (100gp +50gp per member). There are two main prizes. The first, for the most sporks retrieved, is The Sword of Gales. The second prize, for the first party to return with 20 sporks, is a suit of armour tailor made by Garn Gunderson the renowned dwarven smith and Merlua, a mage. We also discover that Brysias is one of the sponsors of the event and is holed up in the top floor of the inn.
We go to meet Brysias. When we get to the inn we see Obb stood alone at the stairs. When asked how he is he sobs and says that Pob is dead. We commiserate with Obb and go to speak to Brysias. Pennyworth gives her the skull of Korax, to be placed on Pob’s grave. Théorn gets a new spear, marked with strange sigils. Smax tries to persuade Brysias to get us two Talon Claw amulets, using Korax’s claws as materials. She agrees, but on condition that we get rid of the last of Korax’s followers, a group of dragonborn still in town and the group that killed Pob. We agree to this.
Also in the pub we find Viscount Verdun, Elkovar, Knight Saviour Stewart and Clementine (with her mob: The Bad, The Worse and The Ugly). We each buy a healing potion and then try to gather information on the four tribes of goblins nearby to assist us with the coming contest (Skill Challenge 1). Before running short of leads, we ascertain the following:
- Bat-wings tribe – most sporks per head. Located 4 hours north of town, with an entrance in a series of caves. Lead by a powerful shaman, though low population generally.
- Spider-bite tribe – average sporks/head. Located 3 hours NNW in a dense forest and lead by an assassin who specialises in poison.
- Wolves’ claw tribe – very numerous, but few sporks per head
- Bugbear tribe – average sporks/head
During these investigations Smax steals a map with the Bat-wings tribe’s cave marked on it from Elkovar, and overhears dragonborn voices in a small house in town. Hollan spends some time talking to the Paladins from The Order of the Hammer. Apparently they are in the area searching for a lost temple of Bahamut that they believe to be nearby.
Upon returning to the inn Smax reports the location of the dragonborn and the group decides to ambush them before the hunt begins tomorrow. Smax sneaks up to the house to confirm their presence, but Théorn isn’t so stealthy and alerts them to our presence (Encounter 2). After a difficult battle the group returns to the inn to rest before the contest.
Character status at end of session: