This adventure is NOT part of the Foresite Irregulars storyline, skip to Lost in Sigil to pick up the latest in that chapter.
THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS
Our heroes have braved The Black Road and successfully delivered the Statue of Angharradh to Chandra Stol, half-elf priestess at the Shrine of the Axe in Parnast.
Part 1: Parnast
A cool breeze blows in from the mountains to the west and whistles through the needles of the trees, a stark difference from the hot sands of Anauroch. This place would be easy to adjust to, you think. Looking around the square, you take in the entire village in a single glance.
The statue was delivered in the evening, so after a brief cleanup at the Shrine, the group heads to the The Golden Tankard to see if overnight arrangements are available.
As you enter the conversation dampens slightly and heads turn your way. A large burly man with prominent side burns and dark hair is making the rounds and notices you enter. “Welcome friends, welcome! I am Raggnar! Come in and make yourselves comfortable.” He ushers you in and to a prominently placed table near the hearth. “This is my daughter, Elspeth.” The young woman politely curtseys and proceeds to fill each of your goblets with a very stout brew.
While Raggnar and a young boy working as a kitchen hand lop out soup to the growing crowd, it looks as if most of the village is present for the evening meal. You get the feeling that isn’t always the case based on how frantic Raggnar is, yelling orders at the poor boy. Elspeth begins to bring your dinner, serving everyone a rotisserie squirrel with potatoes, greens, and bread. The pitiful animals bear little meat and look as if they are still attempting to escape their fate. Raggnar returns, “Well? I trust those mugs are treating you kindly? The road can be an unwelcome companion without a proper pint and a friendly place to enjoy it.” He pulls up a chair, “Well, I suppose I’ll not waste any time then. Here’s what I have in mind…”
[Much spoilery detail and negotiations omitted] In short – he’s hired them to supply some big game meat for a feast he’s planning for two days from now.
Gundalin Cartwright enters the tavern with his son Wallace. He sees Raggnar talking to the adventurers…
“I knew it! Haven’t you done enough Raggnar? Now you’re going to drag these poor folk into our troubles? What are you cooking up this time? It’s because of you that we had so much trouble with the wyrm fanatics to begin with!”
With that, the room erupts into a roar of back and forth between everyone in the tavern. The room seems split on who they support. The comments boil down to:
“Raggnar is a traitor and can’t be trusted. He’s going to sell us out again!”
“Fool! Were it not for Raggnar’s cooperation, our village wouldn’t even be here today.”
Finally, Sylas stands and the room falls silent out of respect for the elderly widower.
“That does it! I’ll not be quiet anymore. It’s time we ate proper and stopped hiding. We need this feast. I’ve had my last bite of vermin.” With that he throws his sad squirrel to the floor.
Gundalin turns to appeal to Chandra, “Surely you object? You know that this somehow benefits him.” Chandra just shrugs and says, “I am not his master.” Gundalin appeals to the villagers, “And we’re just going to send them out there without any representative from our town?” Everyone looks down.
After an uncomfortable silence, Gundalin’s son Wallace speaks up. “I will go! I will represent our village in the hunt!” This is quickly met with opposition from Elspeth, “Wallace Cartwright, you’ll do no such thing!” But she is waved silent by her father who then turns with a smile, “Well now, it seems we’ve worked everything out. That is of course assuming our brave hunters are still up for the challenge?” All
eyes turn in your direction.
Nym’s musical performances for the tavern goers has earned him the right to rest behind the bar for the night, and Mercy will stay at the shrine. The remainder sleep in the Gundalin’s empty stables for the night.
In the morning, the trading post and apothecary are open early just to equip our happy hunting band.
Sylas (who calmed the bar last night) is the widower to Rue, the recently deceased village apothecary. He caries on as he might, and sells several supplies to the group, including two vials of unknown origin.
Part 2: The Hunt Begins
Give a Little Whistle
Entering the wood, the age of the trees is overwhelmingly apparent. The boughs begin high overhead and the ground is covered with a carpet of green and purple mosses. There is very little undergrowth. A beautiful blue mist hangs heavy in the air. Occasionally the branches yield to allow streams of sunlight to reach the floor creating a dramatic display. Birds and butterflies flutter about, and there is plenty of small forest creatures, but nothing worth an arrow.
Wallace is eager to get his first kill, to prove his worth to Elsbeth and her father, Raggnar – “The rivalry between our fathers is getting in the way…”
After about four hours of trekking into the wood, you begin to feel the effects of the journey. The air seems to be getting thinner, and your breathing more difficult. The feeling was faint at first, but suddenly strikes you all at once. It’s now much harder to breathe and any action takes extra effort.
Our heroes managed to overcome the mist by having Professor Wellsalt [spoilers removed] and continued…
You eventually begin seeing signs of larger game. Suddenly, you spy a stag directly in your path and it has not seen you.
Wallace unexpectedly steps forward, raising his bow and quickly releasing his arrow!
But Mercy was alert, an casts Sleep upon the stag just as the young villagers arrows flies.
“Just what do you think you’re doing? Stop that immediately! You can’t be here!” – coming seemingly from nowhere.
The Stag falls – but was it from the arrow or the spell?
A tiny flying figure appears from nowhere near the stag and shouts in a small voice “It is only asleep. The Stag is unharmed!”
Floating in front of you, a tiny, yet regal, glowing humanoid form with dragonfly-like wings appears. “Young whelp, you should be grateful this woman’s quick actions. She most likely saved your life."
“You are not welcome here. I am Prince Thornacious and you are trespassing in my home and that is my friend. What have you to say for yourselves?” – The sprite turns from Wallace to be addressing Mercy.
A Diplomatic Solution?
The professor says quietly to his companions “Sprites! How wonderful for my journal. Be wary, my friends they stand on ritual and protocol. They are big on titles and affiliations. He will most likely speak to only one of us – and that seems to be Mercy for her quick thinking in saving the Elk’s life. We should address the Prince only through her.”
“We’re only hunting for food for Parnast – they’re been eating nothing but rat for weeks!” and other such please fall on the deaf ears of the Prince who replies “No. You will not hunt here. Be Gone.”
Prince Thornacious: “Though, I am curious how you defeated the mist that we installed to prevent the very meetings such as these?”
Thornacious, to his companions: “Test their hearts! Do they speak truth? Have they betrayed our friend?” – the reply “No. They tell the truth.”
“Very well, though you may not kill anything in this forest, you have shown yourselves to be pure of heart, and we will not let you starve – please take with you Balssios, who will guide you out of the wood to the Lonely Moor on the other side of the Black Road.”
Part 3: Greener Pastures
Blassios is a Satyr – “What’s this I hear about a Feast! I simply must help with the arrangements! I’ll take you to the very best spot, if you’ll let me help prepare the meat and drink the village’s ale!”
As they cross the Black Road, they encounter Nym and two new companions (Brother Percocet and his Monk traveling companion, who’d come to Parnast to see the Statue.) They bring fresh horses to pull the cart. Nym: “They’re setting up the town square to be quite a party venue! We’d better not let them down.”
The Lonely Moor
After a long hike into the moor, you hear strange noises directly in front of you. Hidden by the fog, you hear the sniffs and snorts of some type of beast. The wind shifts and you catch the full brunt of its bouquet.
Boar! Marcy quickly takes down the “normal” sized pigs, but the giant boar are another matter! They charge something wicked.
But hiding in the bushes were Gnolls, who, like the Sprites, don’t take kindly to poachers on “their” land.
Oh, Gnoll You Didn’t!
The newly refreshed and strength ed band quickly disables the snipers, capturing the last one. It promises “not to tell” the boss if they let it go. The players have mercy and release him.
The cart is loaded to overflowing, and they are ready to return to Parnast!
Part 4: The Feast
Arriving with your kills, the villagers come out of their homes and greet you with hails of good will. Before long most of the village is out in the square and cheering. Many of them come up to each of you to express their gratitude. Wallace is hoisted aloft and proclaimed the “Pursuer of Parnast!” The village anticipated a successful hunt. In the town square, tables have been arranged in neat rows with colorful banners lining the square. In the middle of it all, Raggnar assigns jobs to people.
Wallace joins Elsbeth near a fire surrounded by other couples huddling close together…
Let the Feast Begin
Huge casks are set out and three large fires at the back of the square roast the game that is being carved off and served. There’s music and children running about playing games. Raggnar invites you to sit at a special table at the font and then calls everyone’s attention. He begins what promises to be a long-winded toast.
There is music and feasting and a speech by Raggnar, of course!
Somewhere near what everyone hopes was to be the end of his pomposity…
A woman’s scream cuts through the sounds of celebration. The music stops as everyone looks around for the source. A woman comes running from around one of the eastern houses followed closely behind by a hulking, dog-like humanoid with cruel, yellow eyes and carrying an oversized black bow. More like him move in from opposite directions surrounding the square.
Grassy Gnoll Shooters
A larger Gnoll with long fangs rides in from the north road astride a giant hyena that snaps its jowls at villagers jumping out of the way. They all draw their bows in your direction as the captain lets out a broken howl!
Fighting the invaders in a crowded square proves challenging – there are dozens of children and helpless elderly running about frightened an screaming. Some of our heroes redirect their energies to saving the civilians from various hazards of chaos surrounding the attack.
As Gnolls are isolated or eliminated, some citizens are able to run to safety.
But the attack leader and his giant mount drive directly into the heart of the celebration – wounding some folk that were hiding under the tables. Brother Percocet is quick to administer aide.
By concentrating their attacks on the leader, he is eliminated before too much additional damage is done, but his mount viciously counterattacks our team!
When the invaders are whittled down to a single enemy, the town irregulars follow Wallace to surround the beast, who surrenders.
In the aftermath of the attack, Gundalin seizes the opportunity to point out how once again, Raggnar’s plans have resulted in hardship for everyone. However, other than a few of Gundalin’s usual confidants who also object, the villagers do not respond. The successful defense has inspired confidence in the majority of the townsfolk.
Cheers ring out as they stab a few of the motionless attackers one last time to be sure they are dead.
Azam, the caravan master from their trip on the black road says “I LIKE these people. They’ve got moxy. I think I’ll invest in this village and help rebuild it as a hub.”
After the feasting is complete, a messenger hawk arrives and lands on Azam – with a note attached addressed to The Inglorious Badgers, sealed with a strange seal:
What is this all about? Find out in our next chapter: Cloud Giant’s Bargain