The Troll Bridge and the Will o’ Wisps

A little over 2 years ago a portal appeared in the temple at the city of Enoch. It was decided that Matthias of the Seventy would lead an expedition to colonize what lay on the other side of the portal. His first group of settlers found a fertile land and new volunteers have been going to colonize it until now there are 5 villages with a total population of about 1000 souls.

Going into the third summer of their colonization, unique issues have arisen and Matthias has prayed for adventurers to be sent to the new colony (Haven) to aid with these problems. He has prepared rooms for them in the boarding house near the Regional Hall in anticipation of their arrival.

On Monday, July 15th, four adventurers are gathered in the temple at Enoch to go through the portal:

  • Simon: a hermit survivalist, retired from the military after losing his command in an ambush and atrophied from depression and malnutrition. (Level 1 Human Druid, tracking, direction sense, and trapping from backstory.) He received a blessed necklace of bear claws as a sign to go to Haven. It allows him to see into the (often painful) truth of things. He goes to Haven seeking inner peace.
  • Thorn: an army medic with healing magics. (Level 1 Dwarf Cleric, Casting Focus, Tend Wounds, and Weapon Skill from backstory.) He received a plain silver disc blessed to give him a sense of strength. He put it on a necklace and left his comrades to go to Haven out of a sense of duty.
  • Legolas: a child leader of a crew of pickpockets. (Level 1 Elf Thief, Lie and Gather Followers from backstory.) He received a dragon engraved short sword that spews an illusory gout if flame. Despite inactivity in the local church, he brought the sword to the bishop and having been called to repentance by the flashy blessed weapon accepted the call to Haven, leaving behind his wealthy crew and friends.
  • Barfollowmew “Loamie”: a young man from a military family just starting his career. He dislikes violence and is aiming for a chaplain position. (Level 1 Half-Elf, Half-Human Cleric with Shield Mastery and Spear Mastery from backstory.) He received a wooden tower shield that rings loudly when stuck. He is leaving his family and career and going to Haven to escape the army.

They arrive in Haven amid hurricane winds, barely able to see the half-built temple before them. A man runs from the temple, saying he’s been waiting for them and bidding them follow him. Amid the hundred mph winds they make their way to the Citadel House, a boarding house where rooms have been set aside for them. Inside there is a tavern where they can take meals and a bulliten board with five postings from the surrounding villages asking for help.

They decide that the most urgent is to deal with a creature living under the Timberford bridge and exacting tolls during the night. With the high winds, they agree to wait until the next day to set out.

In the morning of Tuesday the 16th, they eat and set out for Timberford an hour away. There they are met by Branch President Nathan, who shows them the creature huddled on an island beside the bridge support midway across the 200 yard wide river.

They decide they need a closer look and Legolas wades into the river, getting within 10 yards before calling out in both Ensignal (the church tongue) and elvish. The creature awakes, startled and slowly becomes more agitated as Legolas refuses to leave, moving from gesturing, to yelling, jumping up and down, and swinging his arms wildly, to throwing things, and finally leaping into the neck height water and blubbering after Legolas as he flees to the shore.

Legolas describes the creature as muscular and hairy with leperous seeming skin and flesh. Concerned that it might be diseased and acting from an addled mind, but otherwise good, they decide to capture it and sedate it with President Nathan’s help.

The trap Simon designs is clever, made from rope and heavy stones and set in the center of the bridge and baited with an earring mysteriously produced by Legolas. At nightfall, the creature emerges. It noticed the jewelry and becomes excited, but cautious, testing a rope or two and circling before grabbing the earring and triggering the trap.

The ropes close around him at the waist, immobilizing him at the center of the bridge. They all run out, Loamie at the front and Thorn taking up the rear with President Nathan near the middle. The creature struggles mightily with the ropes, eventually getting a knee pinned against his hip, until the party arrives. President Nathan casts some sleep spells on it and it dozes off.

With the help of Brogan the shoer, they lead it in his wagon and haul it to Carie, the fishing village, with Nathan keeping it asleep. Once there, they construct a crude raft and set the creature floating down river across the lake. They return to Citadel in the wee hours of the night and go to their beds.

They sleep in until late morning on the 17th and decide to investigate reports of lights and humanoid figures in the woods across Vale Lake from Carie. They arrive in the village approaching noon when most of the men are already on the lake. They look for a friendly face and are met by a child running circles around them announcing the new people. They ask him what he knows about the lights and he informs them that his daddy doesn’t believe in the lights; most of the daddies don’t believe they’re there. They ask about fathers who do believe and the boy says that Billy’s daddy says he saw the lights.

When they ask to talk to Billy, he calls loudly across the village until Billy comes. Billy informs them that his daddy saw lights in the forest, and he’s the best fisherman and he’s the bravest and he has the best eyes and he definitely saw them. They ask for Billy’s mother and follow him as he runs yelling for her through the village. Billy’s mom tells them what she knows about what her husband, William, saw and invites them to share dinner with the family to learn more.

William explains that when he was looking for better fishing in deeper water toward the end of the day a week or so ago, he saw lights (probably lanterns) flitting through the trees. With them moving between the trees he couldn’t be sure how many there were, but he figures there were at least three. He saw them again the next morning. Since then, he has been keeping an eye on the shore and thinks he saw people watching him, but he can’t be sure they weren’t animals. A few days ago, his friend Fredrick ventured closer to the far shore and thinks he saw a ramshackle canoe on the bank.

William agrees to ferry them to the far bank in the morning. They wake before sunrise and set out toward the other side. William drops them off and agrees to return at 6:00 in the evening that day and the next before reporting them missing.

As William returns to his fishing, they split up, Loamie and Simon going Northwest and Thorn and Legolas going Southwest. They walk half an hour before returning to where they landed. Along the way, Simon notes various sets of animal tracks, including goat tracks that strike him as a little too deep and spaced strangely.

Upon regrouping, they decide to follow the tracks. Simon leads them to a set, but finds them had to follow (they’re at least a week old and it has rained, removing many signs). After nearly an hour of searching, he is able to pick up the trail again, but once again loses it after only a short distance.

As he searches again for signs of the trail, he happens upon a newer set of tracks, just a couple days old and since the latest rain. Over the next few hours he is able to follow the trail eight miles through dense underbrush.

Concerned with how far they are getting from the Vale, they decide to make camp on the path and wait for whatever made the tracks. While the others set the camp, Simon tracks and hunts a rabbit and Thorn discovers wild onions. They start a rabbit stew to save their rations and Simon goes back out to scout their surroundings. He discovers more fresh tracks and follows them far enough to be confident they eventually converge with the ones he has been following.

He goes back and tells the group and after eating their stew they agree to go follow the new set a little further. They follow them for two hours and other sets of tracks join it until it becomes a path anyone can follow.

By now it is growing dark and they break out their shuttered lantern and continue quietly. As they go, they see a light bobbing towards them through the trees and hear a whistling. They cover the lantern and move off the path, hiding in the brush.

As they watch, a lantern bearing Satyr bounds past, whistling merrily to himself. When he had passed, they proceed, eventually spotting a bonfire through the trees and hearing happy music and the energetic clopping of hooves. They send Legolas ahead to investigate and he approaches the brightly lit clearing. Outside the pool of light he spots a Satyr watching the dancing within and tapping his hoof.

Legolas calls a greeting in Ensignal, then Elvish as the Satyr turns and looks for him, lighting a lantern. The Satyr breaks into a stunned grin and responds in elvish, “an elf? But I thought all the elves were dead.” Legolas doesn’t respond right away and he continues, “come, come, friend! Join the dance!” He drags him into the clearing and he moves in among the dancers, spinning until they call come to a stop, staring at him. An elder Satyr comes forward, asking where the elves have been. Legolas indicates he has other friends in the woods and they come out into the clearing as well.

They see Thorn and are as surprised to see a Dwarf a friend of an elf as they are to see a dwarf living. They mock his dancing but other him wine if he can stomach it. Simon interests them greatly. They have never heard any tales of humans as they have of Elves and Dwarves. As he sits to watch the dancing and refuses drink, those that speak elvish come to him asking questions; how do you get your ears so round? are all humans so tall? are all humans so grumpy? are you the new people? He does his best to answer and eventually they get bored.

The dancing goes well into the night and in the wee hours the elder gets up to leave. Simon catches him and arranges for them to meet on the shore where William will be picking them up so they can go meet Matthias. With the party slowly winding down, they set out back to their camp, reaching it around sunrise and taking a four hours to catch some shuteye. After a long hike to the lake, they arrive at 4 PM.

They are joined by the Satyr elder and two younger Satyrs at around 5 PM. William arrives at 6, but without room in his boat for all of them with the fish, he has to make two trips. They spend the night in Carie again. The morning of Saturday the 20th they set out for Citadel with the three Satyrs and introduce them to Matthias before retiring to their rooms for some much deserved rest.

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One Response to The Troll Bridge and the Will o’ Wisps

  1. Pingback: The Contaminated River | Mind Weave Role-Playing Platform

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