|Beers and Dragons #5|
Beers and Dragons #5
The session 4 ended with the party dragging their prisoner down to the beach. The youngsters had posted a watch, but the majority of them had drunk heavily the previous night and were still asleep. Everybody had to wake up and hastily depart the cave and beach. They had wind in their back, but nobody thought about putting up the mast and the sail.
Our party is composed of Oswald, a young saxon who loves music and tricks, Gerald, young and saxon as well and strong as a bull. They met Anders an Irish-Norwegian sorcerer, a bit lost on the east side of Northumbria. The campaign started with Dungeon and Dragons 5th edition and switched to Wolves of God as the adventurers reached level 2. Anno Domini 89x, north of Jorvik. (previous sessions)
A longship, seemingly danish built, sailed past them, heading southeast for its next tack. The adventurers were quite happy to see the ship ignoring them and heading its own way.
The kids kept rowing. Anders checked their prisoner's health, he was asleep, his major injury probably a broken knee. At some point, he had opened his eyes, called Oswald to him and told him "You know the crabs? How they have pincers? Some crabs have more than pincers, they sting!" and he fell back asleep. Oswald had never seen a crab, he had trouble understanding.
As the longship sail was about to vanish in the South, another sail appeared. Another longship on a course similar to the previous one. Anders, our Norwegian-Irish adventurer looked carefully at the ship, it felt Danish, but there was something else about it in its build. He also noticed the aura of discipline the crew shew in its evolutions. Perhaps it was the contrast with their current rowboat staffed by hungover teenagers.
A giant of a man hailed them, asking about another longship. The adventurers pointed at the South, those were probably pursuing the former sail. "Where do you come from?", our adventurers answered vaguely "half a day up north". The conversation didn't continue further, the longship had kept its heading and speed, but Oswald, Gerald, and Anders could get a glimpse on the lord standing port at the back of the boat. One the kids muttered "It's the Lord of the North". They noticed one other kid had shat in his pants cowering as the longship had approached. The last word heard over the sea were something like "Use your sail!".
Gerald tried to help by replacing one of the youngest rowers, but he soon learned that his strength alone didn't matter much, he had to adapt to the rhythm of all. Anders double checked on Chatz's health, hoping the wounded old man wouldn't start telling stupid crab stories to Oswald.
Night came, the kids hadn't found the landmark that could lead them to their home port. They explained to the Saxons that they would spend the night at sea and find their way home with the morning sunlight. The adventurers were not keen on spending too much time above water, especially Gerald who still felt the humid sensation of a fishy hand on his hand on the first leg of the sea trip.
Oswald and Gerald huddled in the center of the ship, trying to sleep or at least rest. Anders kept awake, quite happy to be among the waves with a faint moon reflecting endlessly. One of the kid stood up and peed in the water, the next instant a splash and he was in the water. The kid on watch looking over board. "What happened?" hailed Anders. "I saw a hand pulling him below!".
Oswald and Gerald didn't get much sleep after that episode. Anders was explaining them all he knew about sirens and how to use beeswax to avoid hearing their call. The kids told them the missing sailor was named Higgs. "We'll have to tell chief Runesieg that we couldn't bring back the whole crew... Let's hope he'll still honor his part of the contract".
Morning came without further loss. Oswald had found his peace and was snoring. The kids recognized the landscape and soon the boat was rowed towards Ravenscar's beach. Niall the intendant was waiting for them, his servant helped the kids lower the prisoner still in his sail and they took him away. Niall then invited all the members of the expedition to share a breakfast in the chief's hall.
(Yes, the whole trip back was done with the wind in the back and none of the kids thought about putting up the mast and raising the sail)
With all the youngsters in the hall, the breakfast was a lively affair. Sweterun, their friend, was among the women serving the band food and water. She seemed to be getting used living among the Danes here. There wasn't much time to discuss. As Oswald was explaining to Niall that the young Higgs was taken by a nøkke last night. The intendant demanded confirmation to the leader of the kids "Apart from Higgs, did you all make it?" The kids went sent silent "Well, actually, Tormod isn't with us, we think we forgot him in the cave as we left in a hurry..." The teenager took a slap in the face from Niall who angrily left to hall to go in the back room. The kids finished their food quickly and all ran away. Oswald, Gerald, and Anders were left in the hall and went on eating quietly.
As the silence came in the room they could hear a loud conversation going on in the back room. They realized it was Niall and Runesieg talking to Chatz, the prisoner.
Niall came back "Thanks for bringing Chatz here" - "How about Tormod?". Niall laughed "the kids will take a small skiff and grab him back. Yet an another lesson" - "Should we accompany the kids?" - "No, we want to see how the solve that issue on their own".
Niall continued "We promised to grant you passage to Frisia or Frankia. How about gathering some extra wealth before crossing? We've learnt about the location of our treasury and how it is guarded. We would like you to help us defeat the guardian. You can keep a part of the treasure. That'll be helpful on the other side of the sea."
The adventurers asked for more details. Niall told them they'd all leave in two days on the rowboat, reach a small beach half a day south and access a cave there. It seemed the treasure stored there hadn't been accessed in ten years. Niall and sixteen of the kids would constitute the crew with the Saxon and Anders spearheading the repossession.
They felt some relief not to have to think about ways to fetch Tormod left in his cave. Defeating some guardian and putting their hands on some valuables felt enticing.
Someone came to talk to Niall and the intendant left to attend some meeting. The adventurers had a look at the backroom, they saw Chatz there, sleeping, his bandages redone, but tied to his bed. Since there was no one left, they entered and woke up the old man. He opened his eyes and saw Oswald: "Don't focus on the pincers, remember it stings too!".
With some prodding of the broken knee, the adventurers could extract some detail about the cave they were about to explore. Chatz told them that the whole village was a pirate operations ten years ago, but the Lord of the North had weighed in on them, wiped the intermediate generation, the 15-35, the actual pirates and left kids and old men. Chatz had left with his two sons at that point, taking with him the secret to access the treasury cave.
"What is guarding the cave? Crabs?" "No, it's a big dog" "How big?" "As big as a cow!"
With some prodding of the knee and curses exchanged back and forth, Chatz explained to them that there might be a way to bypass the giant dog by taking a narrow passage "on your left hand in the first room, the storage room".
The preparation for the sea trip to the beach and its cave went on for two days. The adventurers obtained half a pork carcass and an old woman (the one who probably poisoned her husband) gave them a flask of poison.
Since on the previous trip, two longships were spotted, this time they hugged the coast more closely to hide if necessary. Around noon the beach was reached and the entrance to the cave was found. It required climbing a few meters, but that promised a dry cave. It was effectively a natural cave with high vault-like ceilings. It didn't feel like the mining caves they had explored when the adventure bug bit them one or two months ago.
There was some debate on who enters the cave to do what. Niall weighed in "we hired you to defeat the guardian, I am giving you two torchbearers, but you go first".
The sound of the sea was deafening in the first leg of the cave. It turned left and lead down to a fiften by thirty feet room with three alcoves. There was no dog smell in there, only spears and shields stacked.
The Saxons ordered one of the two torchbearers to tell the kids on the beach to come and collect the spears and shields and also bring the pork half and the poison to this room. Oswald and Gerald then had a look at the alcove on the left hand while Anders kept a watch on the passage leading further away from the sea. "I can't smell any dog"
The alcove effectively hid a door-like passage to the south. After some enlarging the party could go through. The kids had come back with the carcass and the poison, they poured the poison on the meat and placed the lot in the tunnel exiting the room north west, as directed by Anders.
The plan was to follow the tunnel they had discovered. The march order was Gerald - torchbearer 1 - Anders - torchbearer 2 - Oswald. The artery immediately turned right and lead to a T. North or South? Gerald decided for South (left).
The light of the torch behind Gerald was projecting the Saxon's shadow in a small room, but there was something else adding to the shadows there. Despite his almost supernatural awereness, Gerald got a hit from the wraith and he felt some tiredness or exertion in his muscles.
What went through Gerald's head? The saxon fighter decided to press on, shield first and he went through the wraith. The young man bearing the torch found himself face to face with the undead, dread. Anders cast a Red Disk on the wraith and it did damage. Oswald readied an arrow and tried to calm down the torchbearers.
Gerald gave a stab with his sword at the shadow and it hit, but the thing flew away. A second wraith appear from the north tunnel and attacked Anders, it hit and left the Norwegian with a feeling of weakness. Oswald fired his arrow at the new opponent and it went through without any visible effect. The two kids dropped their torches and ran away. Anders cast a second Red Disk on the wraith who had just hit him, the magical fire affected the thing.
The first wraith came back at Gerald and hit him again. The fighter was starting to feel, well, "drained", he stab the undead and hit too. The wraith in front of Anders fled the magical fire. Oswald felt some inspiration and placed himself between the first wraith and his friend Gerald. Oddly the undead tried to hit but Oswald's armor, the one he had received from the Faery King, glowed and the monster was blocked. Gerald side stepped and stabbed the thing from behind Oswald. It was visibly diminished and fled.
It went calm. Gerald and Anders were badly shaken, and Anders had cast many spells (one dud). In order to cast more he would have to sacrifice hit points.
They cautiously went exploring westwards. They found seven ingots of gold and some fine leather gear that was slowly rotting. The ingots went in their bags.
"Guys, I think we're done with this place"
The wraiths had been diminished and kept at bay by the magical fire, but the adventurers inferred they couldn't survive further encounters.
As they filed by with a careful rear-guard, they arrived in the first room, the weapon store room, empty now and there were two kids with bows and Niall. "Did you find the valuables?" The Saxons dropped four ingots at the feet of the intendant. "We're done here." "Did you defeat the dog?" "Did your two kids tell you what they saw they in there?".
Niall was puzzled. Four gold ingots was a lot, but there should be more in there. "Did you seen tin ingots? Silk?" "Go check for yourself!".
Everybody went back to the beach, with Niall feeling stalemated.
The session ended.