On January 25th, Year 6, Ragnvaldr returns with new explorers to continue mapping Wraecliff’s Demesne:
- Ragnvaldr (TrS): Level 6 Human Fighter
- Subdued Owlbear
- Stephen (EnS): Level 5 Human Thief
- Carl “Sir-Mage-A-Lot” Shiveneaf (CoS): Level 2 Elf Magic-user (Illusion and Stealth)
- Polly (MiM): Level 1 Dwarf Brawler
As they continue further East, they expect the to continue to encounter more unusual things, perhaps having to do with the Moaning Hill in the East. The set out into the North-Northeast of the Demesne.
On the first day, they are ambushed by a pair of starving owlbears, but otherwise they encounter no strangeness on the 25th. On the 26th, their travels are similarly quiet and they make good time without any encounters.
On the 27th, they see on a trip out mist and sparkling lights on their right, to the East. Their next return path is planned to pass through it, so they continue on and check it out on the way back. When they hit the patch on the way back, they find it to be very wide and deep.
The shimmering fog rises up from individual patches in the thick bed of leaves. Here, the trees are taller and there is little undergrowth. When Ragnvaldr steps into one of the plumes, he hears an alien voice and feels the urge to dig up the patch. It soon passes and they quickly surmise that these plumes are sealed fey, like the one behind the shack. They decide to avoid the whole region on future passes.
Near evening on Thursday, the 28th, as they set up their tent, Stephen spots a light flitting in the valley below. He and Carl leave the other two to set make camp and descend to get a closer look. Stephen is soon sure there are several lights, and that they are in buildings in a small village. He sends Carl back to bring the other two.
They enter the village, finding it to be dwarven ruins, but hear squeaking sounds from a number of the cottages. They knock on the nearest, but receive warning arrows from deeper in the village. While Ragnvaldr and Polly (heavily armored) run toward the arrows, waving and smiling their most amiable, Carl and Stephen take cover behind a cottage.
The advance team convinces a ratfolk archer in a cottage not to fire again and Ragnvaldr exchanges knocks with it on the wooden door before starting a drawing to communicate. Meanwhile, Stephen senses one sneaking up behind he and Carl. He indicates to Carl to reposition to face it in the open, but Carl goes the other way, turning to indicate he’s harmless. The sneaking ratfolk pauses and they communicate as best they can with signs.
Suddenly, three ratfolk burst from the house behind, grabbing Carl, but the assassin calms them and Carl doesn’t struggle. Stephen intervenes and learns that the assassin knows Thieve’s Cant and they communicate briefly. The ratfolk calls himself Night-Shadow and asks them to leave immediately. He agrees to meet them at their camp.
Stephen tells the others to head out and they all leave and return to camp. Night-Shadow eventually joins them and Stephen learns from him that there is a larger village to the Northeast with a chief rat. They are aware of Wraecliff’s castle and concerned that there will be conflict now they have been discovered. Stephen assures him that Wraecliff doesn’t intend conflict and invites him to return with him, but Night-Shadow insists he needs to speak with his chief. They give him a note to give at the castle to ask for Stephen and he disappears into the night.
They deal with wolves during the night. On Friday, the 29th, they explore, giving a wide berth to the reclaimed dwarven village. During the day, they see dark clouds in the East despite it being a clear day. They return to Wraecliff’s castle and spend the night there before heading East to find the cause of the clouds on the edge of his Demesne for Wraecliff.
Inside the area under the clouds, time seems to get away from them as they follow the ancient “Nefil Road” as the gnolls called it. They come upon a newly cut cart trail off the road with massive skeletal footprints, but also lots of booted humanoid foot traffic. As they follow it South, they come upon a crew of construction workers (humans, dwarves, and elves) who recognize them as Citadel House Adventurers and seem to be from the Vale.
Eventually, they come upon a river valley where a tower is under construction. They see skeletal ogres still working on to flatten the courtyard and a centaur. As they descend, the recognize the centaur as Dohasan, Rovert’s companion, and he greets them, inviting them into the tower for dinner. They dine with Rovert, Conan, and Rowan, who have been staying at the tower. In the morning, Carl decides to stay to learn magic and languages with the mages, but the others return to Citadel.
TrS was so excited to have the party notice his glowering clouds and go out to discover Rovert’s wizard tower. The enclave of wizards he is gathering there is something I didn’t expect. Next exploration mission, I suspect they will encounter some of the trouble around Moaning Hill.