ASFTD: Session I
A Shadow from the Deep
The brewer and merchant, Wynstan Arturson set off in the early autumn of 553S.E. from the town of Sanwic in the Kingdom of Dazscor and Aramore with a shipment of beer and ale that he intended to sell in the Barony of Hohensten. Wynstan knew that he could make a tidy profit through selling his wares at Hohensten’s baronial seat of Kleinhauptt, especially if he could get his wares there in time for the annual The Feast of Ludgera. Knowing that the road ahead might well be dangerous, especially when travelling through the multitude of baronies, dukedoms, earldoms and city-states that make up the Mountain Principalities , he hired four guards to accompany him on his journey and act as a deterrent to anyone who might view his precious cargo as an easy target. The motley band that Wynstan tempted away from the small comforts of Sanwic was made up of the Half-Elf Elijah Darkblade, a roguish ex-pirate who has turned his back on the high-seas for the time being, Rain Stoneblood, a Half-Orc warrior with an intuitive ability to use magic, Flintwick a Rahhailian Human arms trader attempting to promote Blackpowder technology across Turoza, for a profit and Thorwald Strumphjaelm, a Dwarven cleric of the goddess Gwenhyfryd-y-Gwaedlyd who had travelled extensively with Flintwick and acted partly as a sales assistant. After several weeks of relatively uneventful travelling, Wynstan and his retinue entered the Tafelland Valley, and began to make their final approach to the Barony of Hohensten. After making swift progress through the Earldom of Fürstenkreis, progress slowed as they entered the long winding paths through the Dunklerwald Forest that borders the Earldom and Hohensten. After two days of travelling through the forest, the party came upon a cart, abandoned in the middle of the road. The mule that had once pulled lay dead though still harnessed to the cart, its flank riddled with arrows. The cart’s goods had been ransacked or spoiled and its owner was nowhere to be seen. Wanting to ensure that they did not run the risk of being similarly ambushed, Elijah began to explore the forest immediately surrounding the roadside, and discovering a track leading off into the trees, began to follow it deeper into the forest. The track led to a small clearing where a small group of scabby, dishevelled tents had been pitched, home to a small raiding party of Goblins. Not wanting to take the chance of leaving the Goblins be, lest they attack them later on the road, Elijah began to make his way silently through the camp, dispatching one Goblin at a time. Meanwhile, Elijah’s companions, Flintwick, Rain and Thorwald were becoming concerned at the amount of time that he had been away, and took it upon themselves to venture off the road to find him. The three of them managed to locate the track Elijah had followed and began to follow it, disturbing the silence of the forest with the clanking of their arms and armour, and the occasional shout to try and better locate their compatriot. The noise began to rouse the sleeping Goblins, forcing Elijah to try and extricate himself from the encampment as quickly as possible which led to a rushed assassination of one of the raiders, whose death cry echoed loudly around the clearing. As the Goblin raiders leapt to their feet in alarm, and Rain, Flintwick and Thorwald began to thunder towards the clearing an open mêlée broke out, that resulted in the party despatching all but one of the Goblins with steel and lead shot. As the last, beleaguered raider tried to assess their escape route, Thorwald stepped forward and tried to cow the Goblin into submission by magically enhancing his voice and commanding the creature to lay down its arms and surrender. Unfortunately this terrified the Goblin so much that it fled into the forest, never to be seen again. After a quick and fruitless search of the clearing, for any signs of the missing cart owner, the party returned to the road and Wynstan, to continue their onward journey. After several more hours of travelling, they emerged from the Dunklerwald Forest into the Barony of Hohensten, where they were confronted by the border fortress of Turm Castle. Eager to increase the taxable income from imports of food and drink into the Barony for the The Feast of Ludgera, Baron Theobald Hohensten had order the dramatic increase in border inspections, to ensure that every copper of vaguely justifiable import tax was extracted from the merchants entering the kingdom looking to profit from the impending festivities. As a result, Wynstan was forced to join a long queue of wagons and carts awaiting inspection, and the party, judging that Wynstan would be safe in the presence of so many Hohenite soldiers, dispersed to explore their surroundings. Rain, Flintwick and Thorwald made first for the castle’s well-appointed coaching inn, and after imbibing a few of the establishments ales and water from its well (Flintwick’s beverage of choice that greatly confused Rain and the barkeep) Flintwick decided that the castle’s grounds would be as good a place as any to give a demonstration of the ‘innovative’ products that he was peddling along the road. With the night drawing in, and the merchants giving up on waiting in the good’s inspection, and retiring back to the castle for the evening, Flintwick and Thorwald set up their demonstration of palm pistols to entice and excite the small crowd they managed to gather around them. With Thorwald acting as a living target, Flintwick demonstrated the effective self-defence potential of his wares leaving Thorwald with some nasty bruises and flesh wounds he had to use his Cleric’s healing powers to patch up. The pairs efforts led to the sale of one palm pistol to a slightly inebriated merchant, now weaponised with something he doesn’t fully understand. Whilst this was going on, Elijah had been investigating how best to skip the long wait for import inspections that Wynstan and the party would have to endure. After bribing a pair of guards in the inspection barn, he learnt that a special permit for immediate passage could be acquired from the Captain’s office located in the central tower of Turm Castle, but that the Captain would only issue such a permit for those with an exceptionally good reason. Entering Turm Castle to assess his options, he came across a long line of rough looking men and women, who had been chained together under guard and were resting for the night near Turm Castle’s storehouse. Listening in to the conversation of the guards, and the merchant who was clearly in charge of prisoners, Elijah learned that they, and other groups of prisoners were being shipped into Hohensten on the order of the Baron, though for what reason other than to ‘give them a second chance’ no one seemed to know. Following this Elijah scoped out the patrols of soldiers that guarded the entrance to the tower, and using the cover of the crowd Flintwick and Thorwald had created with their demonstration, attempted to sneak into the Castle’s barracks, to see what he could find of use there. Unfortunately, he only briefly gained entry into the barracks, before being ejected by the forbidding, Half-Orc Sergeant at Arms, who threw him out of the building, and threatened worse if he saw him skulking around the barracks again. Unperturbed, Elijah went across to the Castle’s storehouse, and falling into a conversation with the Halfling Quartermaster, he discovered that for the right price, the Quartermaster would lend out some uniforms to Elijah as long as he got them back again. As Flintwick’s weapons demonstration came to an end, now disguised as a guard, attracted Thorwald’s attention and had him geared up as a guardsmen as well by the crooked Quartermaster. With the night now drawing in fast, Elijah and Thorwald marched up to the entrance to the central tower and convinced the guards that they were taking over the watch from them. Needing little convincing, the grateful guards left, as Thorwald took up a sentry position at the gate to keep watch, and Elijah used the opportunity to enter the tower. As this was happening, Flintwick and Rain, wondering where their companions had gotten to, returned to the Coaching Inn in search of their employer, and on locating Wynstan, Flintwick negotiated early payment for the group having successfully escorted Wynstan and his wares to Turm Castle, and the Barony of Hohensten unharmed. He then negotiated a new deal, whereby Wynstan would introduce them to some of his contacts in Kleinhaupt in exchange for them accompanying him along the rest of his journey. Rain’s part in the negotiations were to increase his share of the payment by one barrel of beer from Wynstan’s stores, which he gleefully collected. With their other companions still nowhere to be seen, Rain and Flintwick retired to the tavern and Rain, surveying the other patrons of the tavern, challenged a stout looking guardsman to a drinking contest. After many downed tankards of ale, Rain emerged victorious, earning him and Flintwick some extra gold from the bets placed on the contest. Following this, Flintwick retired up to bed, whilst Rain continued to enjoy the comforts of the coaching inn. Inside the Castle’s main tower, Elijah had managed to locate the officer’s quarters, and had begun to scope them out for clues as to which of the rooms belonged to the Captain of Turm Castle. Finding the most likely room to be locked, Elijah climbed out onto the exterior of the tower, through a window in one of the unlocked rooms, and scaled the side of the tower to gain entry to the Captain’s room through the window. With the Captain clearly not in residence, Elijah located the necessary paperwork he needed and began to seal the document with the Captain’s seal found on the desk. At the entrance to the Tower below, Thorwald, still standing sentry, watched as a small retinue of horsemen rode into the Castle’s main courtyard, the Captain amongst them. As the Captain approached the entrance to the tower with his retinue of guards and officers, Thorwald, not knowing how Elijah was getting on upstairs broke down into a long, loud, protracted coughing fit (the agreed signal). Failing to sufficiently distract the Captain, Thorwald cast Command on him before he could begin to ascend the stairs to his rooms, ordering him to wait. The Captain did indeed wait, but it also drew his full attention onto Thorwald, who was then made to explain why he was on guard alone, and why he thought he had the right to question the Captain about matters that did not concern a lowly guardsman. With the conversation rapidly going south, and the Captain becoming increasingly enraged, Thorwald was detained by the Captain’s men, and marched up to the Captain’s office, the Captain now recovered from the effects of Thorwald’s spell, leading the way. Having heard Thorwald’s loud conversation and protestations, Elijah realised that his only escape route was via the window he had entered, but in his haste to exit the room, he tripped and fell head-first out of the open window. Thankfully he was able to gain enough purchase on the rough stone walls of the Tower during his descent to slow his fall, but he still suffered a rather painful landing at the foot of the tower. Above him, Thorwald was given a grilling by the Captain, who decided that such insubordination required Thorwald to ‘volunteer’ for a job the next morning. The Captain informed Thorwald that he and his men had encountered a merchant caravan, further into the interior of Hohensten, that had clearly been attacked, and that Thorwald would be escorted there the next morning to investigate what had occurred. With that, Thorwald was taken to the barracks, and imprisoned in a cage with a heavy contingent of guards keeping watch over him. Having recovered enough from his fall to get moving again, Elijah followed Thorwald and his escorting guards to the barracks to see what had become of him. Seeing him imprisoned in the cage, Elijah attempted to steal a key to the cell that could be used later on to break Thorwald out. However, the key was kept by the same Sergeant at Arms Elijah had encountered earlier, who he attempted to pick pocket unsuccessfully. Managing to convince the Sergeant that he had ‘bumped into him’ because he was drunk, Elijah was picked up by the scruff of his neck and unceremoniously dumped in a water barrel outside the barracks to ‘sober up’. Extracting himself from the barrel, he was met by Rain, who had come to try and find Elijah and Thorwald. After a brief discussion of what to do, they agreed to wait until the next morning as ‘Thorwald isn’t going anywhere’, and they collected Elijah and Thorwald’s belongings from a slightly disgruntled Quartermaster and returned to the coaching inn. Before retiring, Elijah passed the entry permit to Wynstan, who paid him for his troubles. Retiring for the night, they wondered what the morning would bring for Thorwald, still incarcerated in the barracks of Turm Castle.