On Monday, March 10th, Year 4, a new arrival in the Vale joins the Citadel House adventurers on a cold day after a snowy night. Cripis is introduced to Verdis who is considering a trip to the Satyrs to investigate the disappearance of their elder. He agrees to join him on the journey:
- Verdis (HuS): Level 7 Human Fighter
- Pet Rock Phineas
- Cripis (CoB): Level 1 Halfling Soldier (thieving background)
Citadel House had received word from the missionaries among the Satyrs that they had been excited about a gift the elder was preparing for them, but when the Satyrs went to check on the gift, they returned and reported the elder missing.
Not knowing where in Satyr lands the elder might be found, they bring 6 days of food each. They go by way of Timberford and stop briefly at the ruined elven castle Verdis had explored to check the water levels in the basement, finding it still deeply flooded. By noon on the 11th, they arrive in the village familiar to Verdis, where he helped slay an “Elf Eater,” traveling with a Satyr who joined their camp the night before.
Verdis is received as a hero, but the excitement dissipates when, not speaking elvish himself, he responds only through Phineas. The missionaries staying in the village explain a little more about the missing elder and offer to talk to the Satyrs in their Ensignal class to find one that might serve as a guide and translator for Verdis and Cripis on their way to the elder’s home, deep in Satyr lands.
They take lunch at the public Satyr feast, where they are introduced to Crunis, the Satyr who has agreed to escort them. As the feast is ending, Cripis attempts to lift a hunting knife off one of the Satyrs and is caught, but Verdis urges Phineas to pass it off as curiosity, keeping him out of trouble.
They depart quickly, with Crunis assuring them that if he does lose his way, there are only a few other places they can end up. In the relative safety of Satyr lands, their journey is uneventful but for a Satyr traveler whose bow Cripis steals, only to put it with their firewood where the Satyr finds it upon returning.
By noon on the 12th, Verdis senses that rain will start around 6, but Crunis assures them they are only a few hours away, giving them hope to escape the rain.
Sure enough, they reach the house at 3. The door, embedded in the side of a hill, is torn almost completely off its hinges, but the house is quiet. Verdis indicates that they’re going in and Crunis offers to stand far away with his bow ready.
While they discuss particulars (primarily the extent to which they will not rob the house, contrary to the claims of Verdis’s sentient bag of holding, who believes himself to be stolen), Cripis sneaks away, creeping into the house. He finds himself in a receiving room with a high enough ceiling for a gleaming chandelier. From the doorway, he is wary of an orc (a new sight for him) standing motionless near the side of the room. He hears the sounds of an animal eating through the double doors across the room.
After a moment staring at the unmoving humanoid and even throwing a rock at it, Cripis steps into the room, moving to get a closer look. He notices shimmering golden dust appear in a sheet overhead and begin to descend. This spooks him and he runs out of the house to rejoin the others, warning Verdis about the animal and the orc.
With Crunis ready to support them in case if a retreat, Cripis and Verdis enter, making directly for the animal this time. As the powder again begins to descend, Crunis goes to peek through the partly open door, but it creaks loudly and the massive wolf inside is alerted to his presence.
Recognizing Cripis’ vulnerability, Verdis rushes through the door and engages a familiar foe, the first creature to have nearly killed him. But that was when he was a green adventurer. Since that time, many enemies have made the mistake of killing him only nearly.
In the ensuing battle, Verdis resists the “Elf Eater’s” terrible howl, but Cripis is scared stiff in the doorway, shimmering powder beginning to settle around his head and shoulders. Verdis and the wolf, meanwhile, seem well matched, with neither inflicting much damage on the other, but Verdis starting to gain the upper hand.
Desperate, the great beast tackles Verdis to the ground, pinning him briefly before he struggles free, escaping a bite. It is in this moment Cripis comes to his senses, loosing an arrow into the wolf as it grapples Verdis and then rushing in with his rapier. With Cripis flanking, Verdis scores some powerful hits and Cripis delivers the final blow.
They find that the “Elf Eater” was eating a satyr, which they presume to be the elderselder’s cook. Apparently considering the area secure, they split up. Cripis takes the right, spending an inordinate amount of time trying to open a locked door without tools before searching a kitchen and the cook’s bedroom (both in disarray). He steals some trinkets the cook won’t be missing, then returns to skin the “Elf Eater”.
Meanwhile, Verdis searches the right hall, finding two guest bedrooms tossed by the intruders and seeing scuff marks on the ceiling evident of the passage of people taller than satyrs. He searches the guestrooms, to no avail, and then, searching the elder’s workshop and bedroom, finds a dead orc burned to a crisp, a number of projects under construction, and other belongings of the elder’s which he doesn’t disturb. He returns to find Cripis working on the “Elf Eater” and gets report of the other side. Upon hearing about the locked door, he searches the cook and finds a key, gaining access to the pantry and wine cellar, but finding nothing of import there.
With the house cleared, Verdis goes back out to retrieve Crunis. Crunis deactivates the magical chandelier that was creating the gold dust in the front room and suggests that they spend the night in the house to wait out the rain. He also indicates that they should take the tent the elder had been enchanting for them.
With time on their hands, Verdis investigates the orc and Cripis cooks up as much of the “Elf Eater” as he can in the kitchen. Crunis explains that it probably suffocated or died of thirst encased in the sticky gold dust the chandelier creates when life is present. The orc has a Schek symbol that no one recognizes and they determine that in the morning they should go to the Sleeping Satyr, an inn known to Crunis and many of the Satyrs. It is on the edge of the fairy lands and Crunis believes it is well trafficked enough that someone there will have an idea where the orcs took the elder. Verdis also looks around and determines that the orcs came from the west.
By morning on the 13th, rain is still pouring, but not wanting to lose the elder, they set out toward the Sleeping Satyr anyway. They come upon it as the rain is ending a little before noon, a sleepy cottage with unusual quantities of smoke pouring from the chimney. As they enter, the sound of a raucous tavern washes over them and they find themselves in a common room that could contain the entire cottage, with doors leading the kitchen and guest rooms. A satyr swings from the chandelier and fey of all shapes and sizes mill about.
Cripis sets out to cut a purse, and succeeds, enriching himself greatly. Verdis and Crunis, meanwhile, go to the bar and inquire after the orc symbol. Viera, the innkeeper, takes Verdis’ old hunting knife as a payment for information. She informs them that the symbol belongs to Schek Villka, a cult that worships a god of slavery. When they express a determination to follow them, she muses about possible courses through the fae wilds as a shortcut. Crunis flatly rejects traveling through the fae wild and instead they settle on a course to more directly pursue them after picking up their trail near the edge of Satyr lands.
On Saturday the 15th, they part ways with Crunis at the edge of woods considered safe by the Satyrs. By a stroke of luck, they encounter a Nekolyn party before nightfall and share a camp with them. The Nekolyns inform them that they did pass a trail earlier that day that could possibly have been the orcs they seek. In the morning, the Nekolyns lead them to the trail and then continue on their own mission. By the tracks, Verdis estimates there are a dozen orcs among them, along with a few ogres and a satyr. Assured that this trail is their mark and estimating they are 2 days or so behind, he begins tracking, the clear trail making it an easy task that allows him to gather food as they go, keeping up with Cripis’ slower pace.
On the evening of the 16th, however, rain begins and they make camp, hoping the trail will still be clear come morning. They awake to hail, from which the tent taken from the satyr elder’s home protects them easily. Verdis knows the hail will continue for 4 hours and considers it a chance to catch up with his quarry. They press on, Cripis using Verdis’ shield to cover his head.
After the hail, the rain continues and soon Verdis is having to stop regularly to regain the trail.
After continuing thus for a while, Verdis finds bittersweet signs: a significantly larger party joining the first that allows him to continue tracking quickly despite snow. With this new boon, by the evening of Thursday the 20th, they see smoke on the horizon,
They approach the camp under cover of dark, seeing that the orcs have massive bonfires burning at the center of their camp. As they draw nearer, they notice an orc gathering firewood. As they continue to creep forward, Verdis makes a false step and catches the orc’s attention. They can’t understand each other but Verdis manages to keep his attention long enough for Cripis to put an arrow in him (Cripis is still hidden and Verdis is able to give him orders undetected). Verdis’ arrow drops him without any alarm sounded.
They hide the body and then make their way to the edge of the area the orcs have cleared for their camp. They don’t see a sign of the satyr, so Cripis creeps nearer and soon locates him near the central tent. They decide to get some rest before going to rescue him. They settle in for a couple hour nap with Phineas on watch.
Phineas wakes them suddenly to inform them there are patrols in the area, probably looking for their dead comrade. They decide it’s time to act and Cripis goes in, reaching the Satyr successfully and freeing him. On their way out, the elder moves less stealthily than Cripis and soon orcs are chasing them toward the woods. Verdis picks off the orc leaders as they approach and upon reaching him, Cripis continues while the satyr stops, casting a fireball to stop the pursuit. Verdis and the satyr take off after Cripis, soon overtaking him. Before long, Cripis resigns himself and Verdis has to pick him up so they can continue.
After a few miles, they slow to a walk again, but continue through the night and on until Friday evening (the 21st), when they move off the trail and collapse for the night. They continue three more days with no sign of pursuit, arriving on the 24th where they originally picked up the trail. Soon, they are again in the relative safety of satyr lands, leaving the elder in one of the larger villages on the 27th and continuing to return to Citadel, exhausted, on Sunday the 30th. Cripis levels up.
Do your players enjoy trekking through wilderness? What do you like best about it? Comment below!