Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Wilds - The Aftermath

I missed posting a turn or two of my Wilds game, because the last couple weeks have been filled with family obligations and a long road trip to run my biannual Daruna game. More on that another time. After Urúvion's death, the party fell into a bit of disarray. Some wanted to pursue the beastmen and seek revenge; others wanted to continue exploring westward, looking for Blackpool Maze; and a few wanted to turn back. After long discussion and a full day's rest at the abandoned quarry site, the party finally decided to continue west, with the proviso that if they failed to find anything in two days, they'd bend their path to the north and try to find out more about the beastmen. Here's the result (and a revised map of the group's explorations)...

The Qarry Camp

With camp established in the trees atop the hill and the mules picking at the scattered clumps of grass, those that can set about securing the site, while Rawon prepares Urúvion for his final rest. Saurabh inquires as to any assistance needed, but Rawon seems to have things under control. "Dawn tomorrow we will lay our friend to rest," he says.

There is good news and bad news concerning the site. The good: it is fairly well-protected on two sides, the sheer face that drops away into the quarry to the southeast, while the northern slope is covered with a dense thicket. The other slopes are open but rocky ground. The bad news: the only water is the quarry itself, and hiking water up the slope is a tedious task.

The rest of the day passes quietly, though Maro seems nervous. When queried, he says, "I feel like I'm being watched. Doesn't anyone else feel it?" No one else notices anything, and Nissa makes a derisive comment about Maro's overly-sensitive nature.

That night the only thing you hear is the sound of something visiting the quarry for a drink, deer or some other animal perhaps. Nothing disturbs the camp. The next morning the clerics cast their spells. [Durego on Gorvil and Ingvild 5 and 4 respectively. Dagmarten on Maro and Grit 5 and 3 respectively.] The rest has done everyone some good [HP recovered: Durego 2, Raúguey 3, Grit 4, Maro 2, Gorvil 2, Invgild 4, Saurabh 1].

At dawn you place Urúvion's remains in the tree Rawon selected, a good-sized oak that stands on the cliff-edge above the quarry. There was talk of returning to the old elm, but the idea of placing one of your dead near the site of the battle, and exposing yourself to potential attack (not to mention... lightning tree!) put everyone off that idea. Rawon says something in Elven, a blessing for the dead according to Ohwatoo's translation, and it is done. "Short and sweet, that's what I like about the elves and death," mutters Grit.

With Urúvion dealt with, and people feeling better, you decide a day in camp is a good idea, but that scouting the area with a small group is also prudent. Maybe you'll get lucky and find some game to supplement your food supply. Rawon seems preoccupied, possibly with the death of his fellow wood elf, or perhaps its his flask of whiskey, hard to say, so Locky, Nissa, and Dagmarten, the fully healed, missile armed, and slightly quiet members of the party, spend the day roaming the nearby woods. When they return it is with a fat buck slung over a pole.

As Nissa and Locky outline the surroundings, Dagmarten and Ingvild skin the buck and the cleric sets aside the beast's heart. When the Raúguey asks why, the cleric says, "Agnia provides. It's only fitting to offer her the heart as tribute." While the others discuss the day and begin to roast the meat, Dagmarten moves a short distance from the camp, pulls out his holy symbol, and performs a short ceremony. Raúguey follows along and watches, never having learned much of Agnia's way. By the time this small task is done, the smell of roasting deer has filled the camp, and the group has gathered to eat (with guards posted of course).

The surrounding area is a mix of sparsely wooded hills broken by patches of grassland, and cut by ravines and gullies, much like the area southwest of Brekkevale. The old road continues westward, but it's clear it's not been used in ages. The only other point of interest the scouts found was an old cabin foundation, little more than a fireplace and a few timbers. Dagmarten noted that the deer he and the others spotted were alert, as if they'd been hunted, not what he'd expect in a true wilderness. Those that stayed at camp did a little exploring around the quarry itself. Aside from a small sandy beach (where various deer and small game tracks gave evidence of regular visits from wildlife), and an old broken pickaxe (possibly human-made), there is nothing else of note in the water-filled pit. By nightfall, everyone is caught up, and those still injured turn in, while the rest of the party splits up the watches.

The night passes quietly. With the sun coming up and everyone fit to travel, talk turns to plans for the next day. What to do, what to do? [HP recovered from rest: everyone fully healed]

And Onward!

Start Date: July 11, Year of the Badger, dawn
Start Status: Go west, young party
Start Location: The wilds, at the abandoned quarry

West it is then. With a last look at Urúvion's remains in the tree, the party heads out, following the old roadway. The thin woods flank the north side of the road, becoming thicker and darker, but the land opens up a bit to the south, revealing open meadows and in the distance, a woody hill. After several miles of this, the trees engulf the road like a dark green swarm, with undergrowth and twisting roots making for slower going. Despite this, the general line of the road is pretty clear, and the party makes good time. By midday they've covered a solid twelve miles, and ahead the trees seem to thin, perhaps a meadow or perhaps more open ground.

Rawon, Raúguey, Ingvild, and Maro scout around while the others prepare a basic meal, adding fresh deer meat from yesterday's kill to dried rations makes for more palatable fare. When the time the food is ready the scouts return, and report the area ahead is more open, scrubby trees and some grass for the mules. The road continues, WNW, as far the eye can see. "We found something interesting though. A camp site," says Maro.

"How many?" asks Durego, worried expression on his face.

Rawon answers, "Only one or two, or so it looked to me. Pretty basic, a lean-to, small fire pit, and that's about it. The place was well hidden. It was hard to tell from the tracks, but I don't think it was our beastman friends. The tracks were smaller, human-sized."

"Best keep our eyes peeled then," grumbles Grit as he layers a piece of hardtack with a bit of roast deer and a few pieces of dried fruit.

"Water is going to be a problem this evening if we don't find a stream or spring," says Jonquil, eying the mules.

"Next time we do this, we better plan on carrying more skins."

Rawon eyes his casks and debates converting one from whiskey to water, then shakes his head. "I'm sure we'll find water soon. With all this plant growth there has to be water somewhere."

"So should we keep following the road? See where it goes? Open ground may mean less water. What do you think Maro?"

Maro blinks, startled out of his contemplation of the kits, who hare crouching beside him, eyes on the woods. "We agreed to check out the road, at least for today. Let's continue and see where it leads us. There's something..." He shrugs, and returns to watching the kits, who haven't stirred since you stopped for lunch. "It's nothing."

Lunch over, the party continues along the old roadway, leaving the thick trees behind. The road bends a bit northward, and after an hour's march Dagmarten points ahead. "Look! Someone built that."

You loosen weapons and advance. The pile of stone that caught Dagmarten's eye is clearly artificial, barrel-sized boulders piled up and held in place with smaller stones, a single finger-like rock, five feet high, rising from the center. "Looks like the road forks here," says Nissa, pointing to where a faint track, no paving stones here, leads west, away from the main road that turns SW.

While the others fan out and keep watch, Durego and Ohwatoo study the upright stone. There are old lines scrapped into its face, and flecks of color show here and there. Finally Durego speaks. "This is a shrine to Vostat! [see below] Look, you can see the circle, and spokes, and bits of gold dye or paint here and there."

The others, well the other humans, gather round and generally agree with Durego's opinion, with a feeling of relief. "If Vostat protects this road, then we must be on the right path," says Dagmarten. Nissa and Grit exchange an amused look.

"Over here!" calls Rawon. When the others gather around, he points to a small clump of trees northwest of the shrine. A small lean-to, old and disused, is tucked away beneath the branches. A small fire pit, shielded by a screen of woven branches and bracken, is in front of it. "Looks like the same work as the other site."

"A trapper maybe? Someone that was just passing through?" asks Raúguey.

Rawon shrugs. "Hard to say. There are no tracks here, too old. Judging by the fire pit and the branches, at least six months, probably from last summer."

"Come on, let's keep moving. There's nothing else here." Grit is, as usual, impatient to get somewhere. After brief debate the party elects to continue along the more prominent roadway, which heads SW and through more open terrain. After a brief prayer led by Durego and Dagmarten, the others rejoin the march, heartened by the positive sign the shrine represents.

The road continues SW for a few miles, then bends SSW. Scrub thins and rock outcroppings rise from the ground. It's getting dark, and Rawon climbs one of the stones to look for any sort of campsite. From this vantage-point he can see woods away NW and SE. and more open ground S and SW. No obvious camp sites though, and no sign of water either. With no better choice in sight, you set camp at the base of the outcropping, using the stone as a shield on one side. At least the open ground allows better sight-lines. Water will be an issue tomorrow.

Night. Pleasant and breezy, with a good moon peeking out of scattered clouds. The watches pass quietly, one after the other, the only disturbance, a big spotted owl that circles the camp a couple times as night falls, lured close, perhaps, by movement and noise. Tomorrow is another day, and Dagmarten predicts sunshine.

End Date: July 12, Year of the Badger, dawn
End Status: Rock and... rock.
End Location: In the wilds (the very SW corner hex)

May the sun light your path, and the moon light your camp.
                                              -- common Vostat traveler's blessing.
Vostat is a guardian aspect of The One, popular among both the Hasuden and the Toresden. He is depicted as a mailed figure bearing a long spear and a shield marked with a golden spoked wheel. He is often shown stabbing or standing over a great cat. The golden wheel is his most common symbol.

Though he has no great temples or churches dedicated to his name, Vostat is a popular deity, and many folk, particularly traveling merchants, and bards, wear his golden wheel as a token of safe travel.

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