ASFTD: Session II

A Shadow from the Deep

General Summary

As the morning sun began to strengthen in the sky, Elijah, Flintwick and Rain waited outside the coaching inn of Turm Castle, to see what was in store for Thorwald their companion, and what they might be able to do to help him. Thorwald, still disguised as one of the Castle’s guards, was brought out in chains from the cage in the barracks building where he had been imprisoned for the night, flanked by guards, and was brought before the Captain of Turm Castle, to learn what his fate would be. The Captain, addressing the small crowd of bystanders that had gathered in the Castle’s courtyard and stated that in punishment for his insubordination, Thorwald would be escorted to the sight of what was believed to be a raided merchant caravan on the main road to Kleinhaupt, alone and unarmed, and that if he did not return with a good enough assessment of what had taken place there, he would face a harsher punishment. With that, the Captain finished the audience, and Thorwald was led out of the Castle by a detachment of five guards, who began to lead him down the road towards the raid site.   As their companion began to be lead away, Elijah, Flintwick and Rain, re-joined Wynstan, the merchant they had been contracted to escort to the Barony of Hohensten and suggested that they set off with Wynstan’s trade cart and tail the guards and Thorwald. Wynstan, who was keen to press on so that he could sell his produce agreed, and they set off, Wynstan using the permit Elijah had procured for him the night before to bypass the long queue of carts waiting to be inspected and taxed. For several hours the party tailed Thorwald and his escort through the rugged grassland and heather of the Tafelland Valley, keeping to the road so that it would appear that they were a merchant party just going about their business. Eventually the guards up ahead stopped at the summit of a small hill, apparently indicating to Thorwald where he was supposed to go.   From the top of the hill, Thorwald could see a small valley below them through which the road cut straight through, with a large number of carts and wagons strewn across the roadway. From his vantage point he could see that the vehicles in the middle of the group were still mostly on the road in a reasonable semblance of order, but also that the vehicles at the front and back of the column were spread out all over the place, as if they had been trying to manoeuvre quickly to avoid something. As they surveyed the scene, the guards unshackled Thorwald and pushed him a little way down the slope, saying that they would wait for him there to ensure that he carried out a thorough enough search. Thorwald requested that one of them give him a weapon in case there was anything dangerous down amongst the carts, but the guards refused, laughing amongst themselves. Gingerly, Thorwald began to slowly descend the slope towards the carts and wagons, uncertain of what he would find there.   Thorwald had not gone far down the hillside, when the rest of the party drew level with the guardsmen, who were readying their crossbows to open fire on the Dwarf, and were making bets about how far they thought he would run before they brought him down. Posing as an innocent bystander, Flintwick tried to enter into a discussion with the guards to stop them from carrying out their plan, attempting to appeal to their sense of reason, and then eventually threatening them with a little light blackmail. Rain, however, misunderstood Flintwick’s plan, and instead began enter into the Guard’s wagers, claiming that he could hit Thorwald by throwing his hand axe before they could with their crossbows. As the situation intensified, Flintwick managed to snatch Rain’s hand axe from him before he did anything too stupid, but at the same time Thorwald, who could still hear the conversation going on, took his chance whilst the Guards were distracted and made a dash for the cover of the wagons. Seeing Thorwald bolt for cover, the Guards started to raise their crossbows to fire, tired of the conversation with these strange, meddling travellers. At this point, Rain seized hi opportunity and attacked the Guards, throwing the group into a confused mêlée, with Elijah, Flintwick and Rain fighting the Guards at close quarters on the hilltop, and Thorwald attempting to magically snipe at the Guards from below.   When the last of the Guards eventually fell dead, Thorwald was reunited with his companions and his gear. However, seeing that two of the Guards were still just alive, he moved to stabilise them, stating that Gwenhyfryd-y-Gwaedlyd his deity demanded that just as they had taken lives they should also preserve them. This led to a heated debate in the group as to whether they would then leave the two Guards half-dead and unconscious in the wilderness, take them somewhere, or kill them for good so that they wouldn’t blab and lead to them becoming fugitives. Eventually, Thorwald was overruled, and Elijah arguing the more pragmatic approach, cut the throats of the two unconscious guards, with Rain then incinerating their bodies to hide some of the evidence.   With the debate over, the party moved down, with Wynstan and the cart to investigate the raid site below. There they found that all of the draft animals had been killed, still tethered to their vehicles, and that all of the goods they were carrying had been left intact, and apparently all accounted for. They also discovered that there were only four corpses in the whole area, all of which looked like Caravan Guard, who bore the coat of arms of a fish on a green and white background. As the party began to search more thoroughly for tracks, they discovered tracks of people moving quickly down from the slopes flanking the small valley they were in, and then a large amount of tracks, that looked as if a large number of people had been chained together and then marched away under guard moving off towards the northern Felsspitze Mountains that bordered the Tafelland Valley. The party concluded that whoever had attacked the caravan had been more interested in enslaving the people than taking the merchandise they were carrying, and as they were coming to this decision, they heard the sound of movement from one of the nearby wagons.   Moving to investigate the source of the noise, they found a badly wounded Caravan Guardsman, who had been hiding beneath a wagon, and had been too weak to move very far. Though initially frightened by the party, who he supposed were bandits, he calmed down after Thorwald healed some of his wounds and gave him some food, and told the party what he had witnessed. According to the Guardsman, whose name they learned was Arno, the trading caravan had been uneventfully passing through the countryside on its way to deliver supplies for the The Feast of Ludgera in Kleinhaupt, but when they had reached this small valley, they were suddenly rushed by humanoids, clad in black, with their heads and faces covered and that wielded strange weapons that were designed to subdue rather than kill their targets. Where their skin was exposed, it was grey in hue, unlike anything Arno had ever seen before. He told the group that he had been struck by several arrows when the attack began, and had been knocked unconscious. Arno supposed that the attackers had thought him dead and left his body to rot. After hearing Arno’s tale, Elijah, Rain and Thorwald investigated the northern slope of the little valley, and found that the tracks leading off to the north cut a distinctive, easily followed trail to the north.   Grouping together once again, the party decided that they would strike out north to investigate who these mysterious attackers were, and what had become of the prisoners they had taken. With Arno patched up enough that he could travel, they told him to travel with Wynstan, who would take his cart and head for the northern village of Ormur, where he would wait for five days, after which he would strike out for Kleinhaupt without them. With that the party bid farewell to Wynstan, and set off following the tracks to the north. The trail was easy to follow, and after a while, they noticed another, much smaller trail leading off into the thick heather. Nearby, wrapped around a small tree was an item that Rain identified as a Bolus, a weapon he had seen used in the ‘Free States’ from which he originated. Believing the trail to have been made from a captive that attempted to escape, Elijah and Flintwick moved to investigate it, and on discovering that it ran parallel to the main track, Elijah and Flintwick set off down the smaller track, whilst Rain and Thorwald kept to the main trail. As the day drew to a close, both tracks led to a natural scooped out bowl of land, right at the foot of the Felsspitze Mountains where the slaves had clearly been stopped for the night by their captives. At the end of the smaller trail, Elijah and Flintwick found the body of the escapee, a deep knife wound in his belly and covered in flies. With night drawing in fast, the party decided to withdraw slightly into the mountains, and rest.   The night passed by without event, until early the next morning as Flintwick was taking the last watch. As the light of dawn grew stronger and stronger, he became aware of a small, winged humanoid creature that flew down from the mountains and settled next to the corpse of the Guardsmen down below them. After watching it for some time, and unable to establish what the creature was or what it was doing from such a distance, he alerted his companions and Elijah began to creep up on the creature from one way, and Flintwick from another, Rain and Thorwald observing the proceedings. As Elijah got within a couple of metres, he saw that the creature, that looked like a diminutive, emaciated man, with an elongated skull and large bat like wings, was intently studying the bones that it was extracting from the corpse and muttering to itself. Thinking that the curious creature might be of interest, Elijah leapt from the bushes, attempting to grapple the creature, but he was not fast enough. The creature took to the air, and hovered above Elijah, as if assessing how much of a threat he might be. Seeing that the creature was not immediately going to attack or flee, Elijah offered the creature one of the bones it had extracted from the corpse and it settled down next to him, taking the bone and muttering to itself again, and then to Elijah, speaking to him in Elvish about how ‘the bones can show many things’. Seeing that the creature offered no immediate harm, the rest of the party gingerly approached the creature to observe its strange whisperings over the corpse. As they looked on, the creature, that called itself Zakeel used its long gnarled fingers to pull back the flesh of the corpses head so that it could directly touch its skull, and reaching out to take Thorwald’s hand the creature described to the party, and showed a ghostly projection to Thorvald of the man’s life, speeded up greatly. The creature showed them the man working as a caravan guard in the same caravan they had found, and the attack taking place. They watched as the man made his escape, and then sat, confused and distraught about what to do, before choosing to tail the slavers and their captives. Eventually they all saw a projection of the man’s last moments, in the place that they stood, as he was recaptured and murdered slowly and painfully so that all of the other captives could see. As they watched the man fall to the ground and breath his last breath, they saw the face of the slaver that killed him, it was the face of a Shadow Elf.   Knowing now that the Shadow Elf Slavers would be moving to take their captives underground to The Deep, Rain began to move off towards the track, eager to get going, only to hear Zakeel call after him that he ‘had seen bones like his before….’
Report Date
27 Sep 2018
Primary Location
Tafelland Valley
Secondary Location
Turm Castle

Cover image: by Chris Pyrah


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