Journey to the East

The Brinewall Legacy
7th October 4711: 4.30 pm

When Ragnar woke he felat much better; the aroma of a thick stew wafted towards him, and Sandru offered him a bowl and one of the flat breads Vankor had made while they were asleep. He saw that Dinald was reading an old diary or jounal.

“Listen to this”, he said. “It’s the diary of someone called Andril Kortun”.

“From the Dragon Helm you brought back” interrupted Sandru, “I would say that was the dad man you fought. He was the Commander of the Castle, and the Dragon Helm was a badge of office. I saw a picture of it when I was reading up on Brinewall.”

“Commander Kortun, right,” continued Dinald. “Anyway he says that the castle had been overrun by men dressed in black, and they had surprised and kileld ,most of the Garrison. He and a few others were holed up in the east tower to make a last stand. They were going to light a beacon on top, but didn’t have much hope of it being noticed. Then it all gets splattered with blood…..”

Ragnar listened, but shivered at the recollection of the dead mans eyes,his bone chilling touch. He did not like the undead.

“Let’s finish this now, while there’s still a few hours daylight " suggested Reynald. All were agreed and once more the group headed towards the castle, Ragnar walking quietly at the rear.

After half an hour or so they re-entered the forbidding structure. There appeared to be no sign of life. Ragnar did not find this particularly reassuring.

Heading left into the Troglodyte room, they headed down a narrow set of stairs which spiraled round and eventually re-emerged into what appeared to be a den-the troglodyte stink was everywhere, and there was evidence of food remains on some old tables. All seemed deserted however.

Checking a door on the eastern wall led to another empty den, and an old armory with a few pieces of armour and crossbows still in good condition. There was also a obox of Alchemist’s Fires, which the group distributed. Checking a few empty rooms and natural caverns to the north, west and east, they eventually saw light spilling from beneath a set of wooden doors to the east of a cistern room.

Checking along another corridor to the north of this they surmised that another door along that might lead into the same room. Splitting into tow groups they shoved both doors open, and rushed in to see a large ogre staring at them, wielding a portion of an old tree trunk in one hand.

Forward they charged, but not before a swipe of the club sent Dinald flying through the air with a resounding crack. Ungo’s axe and the blades of the others hacked and chopped att he creature, and its next swing fortunately went wildly astray: it did not get a third chance.

Within this chamber were a number of cells, and in one of these stood a tall Ulfen woman, her clothes in tatters, silently glowering at the group. She said nothing, but reynald picked up a bunch of keys, and undid the cell door. The woman nodded at Reynald, and walked out.

“I am Kelda Oxgutter, of the Haerling Clan. I thank you for your rescue.” Walking over to a pile of arms in the corner, she started to pull these on. Ragnar looked at reynald and raised his eyebrows. Reynald shrugged.

Suitably armed and armed she hefted her shield and nodded. “I am with you while we are in this place” she volunteered shortly.

Rasha had been checking around meanwhile and noticed something odd about the eastern wall. Feeling along it he pressed a stone and heard a click: a portion of the wall swung outwards.

“This way?” he suggested. It led into a pitch back natural cavern, and so stealth was out of the question as Ailkukka and Spivey provided illumination with their spells. The passage twisted eastwards into a larger cavern.

A shimmering movement of air, and a woman appeared: beautiful but severe, with strange blue skin and long white hair. She pointed solemnly at the group.

“This place is not for the living, and I guard the dead. You must turn back from this place” she intoned in a clear voice.

Dinald appeared to be about to say something inappropriate when Ailukka jabbed him in his wounded ribs.

“That” she said, “is an image of Pharisma-the Guardian of the Dead.” The group hesitated and started discussing what they should do next.

Rasha meanwhile had noticed a corridor leading off to the south, and had slipped along this as far as the range of the groups illumination would allow. This led to a roughly circular cavern, only dimly lit. Inside were two halves of some leathery looking ovoid shape.

“An egg?” he thought, “But of what?” a sixth sense told him to look up and his question was answered. Clinging or hovering up near the ceiling were a pair of malevolent eyes,and he had the impression of a large number of writhing, tenticular arms. There was a bright flash, and a ray of flame shot down and seared his cheek, scorching the stone nearby. Without hesitation he fled.

“Look ouutt”" he shouted as he dashed into the main cavern, and seconds later the air assumed a greasy, acrid quality, and everyone in the group doubled over in pain, a tingling pain inflicting their skin and their insides. Spivey held up her symbol to Desna and chanted one of her healing prayers, as the horror rushed along the ceiling of the corridor towards them. The image of Pharisma appeared frozen in mid sentence.

Reynald nocked one of the four magical arrows they had found earlier, and fired it at the beast. It squealed in a shrill high pitched voice as the shaft hit hard. “Use the magical arrows” he cried.

The creature stayed out of melee range and shot gouts of flame at Ragnar. He was wounded twice, though each time Spivey stepped up and miraculously healed his wounds.

Another spell caused Dinald to double up, his body wracked with pain as though some powerful toxin raced through his veins. Of the four arrows they possessed, three hit home, each badly wounding the creature, but still it survived.

Ailukkas icy spells seemed to have little effect, and neither did the ordinary missiles fired by the rest of the group. Although the thing was badly wounded it seemed that they just could not finish it off-unlike it’s jets of flame (from a wand Ragnar noticed) which were a persistent threat.

The groups salvation came from an unlikely source. Noting that the groups bolts and arrows were having little effect Spivey muttered and cast a spell on three small stones which she produced from her pouch. Flinging one of these it produced a somewhat unexpected effect.

The creature once again squealed in it’s high pitch voice and writhed as though in panic.

“Father! Help! Faaaathhhherrrr! Pazuzu!” it cried, but Spivey cast another stone, and this time it cried in mortal agony, and crashed to the ground in a seeming avalanche of gelatenous goo.
Almost immediately the air started to fill with a strange greasy quality, as the thing’s substance started to smoke and evaporate.

Watching in relief and horror the group noted that the image of Pharisama had vanished. “Just a spell I suppose” said Ailukka.

Reynald espied a glitter among the remains, and as well as retreiving his wand they found several items, including another circular disc like the one they had found on Kikonu. This one however had a symbol of the Moon engraved on the front.

Exploring off to the north they emerged into something like an alter room, and here they found a small statue of a four winged demon, as well as a selection of valuables presented as offerings.

Dinald picked it up. “I’m guessing this is Pazuzu. I’m going to chuck it into the river from the tower” he said.

Westwards the corridor led back to the Troglodyte area, and they climbed back up the stairs.

After some puzzling they realised that the only direction they hadn’t checked was a set of staris leading below ground from the haunted east tower. Ragnar shuddered at the recollection of the dead commander, but steeled himself as the group made their way up to the first floor. Dinald fling the statue as far as he could out of a narrow northern window, and perhaps only imagined that he heard a brief fluttering of wings.

They then descended down to the ground level where they had encountered the dead man; his corpse still lay flat in the corridor. Hurriedly they sought the other stairs and climbed down deep below ground level.

The stairs ended in a short corridor, and then in a lowered portcullis. On either side was a circular depression with a semi circular lug; one of these was marked with a Sun, the other a Moon. Ragnar put the discs in place. There was a click and the portcullis raised, revealing a dusty and long abandoned chamber, with two open doors to stony vaults lying beyond.

He stepped forward, and then stopped short as dust on the floor swirled into the air, and then
coalesced into an ominous shadowy form that took on the ghostly image of an old but handsome Tian man. The spirit adopted a defensive pose, his Tian sword held before him menacingly.

Ragnar, the hairs raising on the back of his neck stepped back with a short oath, but Ailukka leaned forward excitedly. “I haff seen him! I haff seen ‘dis man! His portrait sits on der valls on Ameiko’s home in Sandpoint” she said.

“Talk to him! Talk to him” said Dinald. Ailukka took a step forward with open hands.

“立派な六郎。 私たちは、あなたのグランドドーターAmeiko Kaijitsuによって送信されて、彼女の継承をシークします。 彼女は、キャンプであればありえないが、この 彼女の支援がありことを期待します。 " She paused.

“I knnoww this nnameee!” wailed the spectre, in the Common Tongue. A moment later, he raised
his arms and cried out in anguish, then turned to face Ailukka, tears of dust running down his incorporeal cheeks.

“Take the Seal away from here—take it to my grand child—it is no longer safe—and I am no longer worthy of guarding it…” The wraith pointed toward the eastern wall. “While the Seal remains within the box it remains hidden.” it then lowered its arms and with a wail and a small whirlwind of dust, collapsed into nothing.

Reynald checked the wall, and sure enough soon located a hidden door. Pushing it open this led to a corridor and a small room, and within this were three chests.

Two of these held a small horde of Ulfen arms and armour. Rasha eyed a bow covetously (and pretty much everything else). While Ailukka weighed an Ulfen Battleaxe experimentally,she had to shove him away to stop him trying to snatch it out of her hands. Ragnar laughed- the Sorceress had more than once beaten Rasha, Dinald and Reynald in arm wrestling bets.

The third chest contained only one item. A small laquered box of obviously Tian design.

“I guess that’s it” said Reynald. “Let’s get out of here”

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Back at Camp Again
7th October 4711: 7.30 am

As they tramped back though the woods Dinald was looking forward to a proper sleep. He had been stabbed and shot by arrows, and his clothes still stank of the Troglodyte stench.

After being shot Spivey had awoken him inside the gatehouse. Apparently Kaiobe had been having fun shooting at everyone and everything, but she had done so at such a rate she had rapidly run out of arrows, at which point she had flown off.

“Fine. Let’s go back to camp” he had said, but Ragnar had overruled him. And so they had been dragged back inside the castle to check out the ground floor of the eastern tower-only reachable from the first floor, as the doorway from the main hall was both robust and locked.

Well what happened next had served Ragnar right. They had gone down the narrow spiral staircase into a small room with a short corridor running south. There were skeletons of long dead guards and a creepy silence that had made him uncomfortable. The old barricades indicated that some sort of stand had once been made here. And then it came.

With a soft opening of the door a tall figure in armour and an antique Dragon Helm had paced forward out of the darkness, its face pale and obviously long dead, and a green balefire glittering in its eyes. It radiated menace, and most of the group were too terrified to do anything-not that they could much in the narrow confines of the tower. Even Ungo had disgraced himself, he remembered grimly.

Ragnar had recovered first and rushed at the thing, in fact dodging past it into the room it had emerged from, to allow more of them to bring their weapons to bear. It had turned back in, and they all heard him cry out in fear and pain as it attacked him.

By the time Dinald had entered the room it had been hacked down however, and Ragnar was crouched on another set of steps leading up to the first floor. He was shivering and as they spoke to him he shied away slightly.

“It has taken something from me” is all he could say, his teeth chattering. “I could feel my life draining away when it touched me.” Spivey tutted, and said tha the group should return to camp, as this was potentially very serious. And so here they were.

When they entered the camp Ragnar, led by Reynald sat down, and Ailukka threw her fur lined cloak over him. Spivey went into quiet conversation with Koya. It all looked very serious.

“You’re lucky we have this scroll” said Koya. “Its one of the ones you’ve aquired. Otherwise this would be very bad for you-the creature has stolen a portion of your life force. But hopefully with this ritual we should be able to restore it.”

Koya stretched out the scroll and started to read it, while Spivey muttered some arcane payer to Desna. And then she touched Ragnar on the forehead, and he collapsed insensible to the ground.

“Pick him up and let him rest now” said Koya. “Perhaps that’s a good idea for all of you.”

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An Unlikely Ally
7th October 4711: 6.00 am

Re-entering the upper floor of the keep, Spivey tut-tutted at the state of the shrine, and flitted around in some apparent distress.

“We can’t afford the time now Spivey” said Dinald, “But we’ll set it aright after we’ve dealt with the bad guys here.” She saw the sense of this, and settled down on Ailukka’s shoulder.

Looking north through the Dining Room they found the entrance to another tower, and here they saw evidence of some old battle. This area seemed undisturbed by the Corbies, and dust lay heavy on the floor. It gave Rasha an uncomfortable feeling and he shivered.

Skeletons with broken weapons and armour, probably the garrison judging by their gear, lay shattered on the floor. Heavy blows had been dealt, and two sets of stairs led down. Checking some side rooms revealed the skeleton of a small child- skewered to the floor by a short Tian Blade much like Whispering Shrike.

“So the attackers used Tian weapons?” thought Ragnar. “Interesting.”

The group retreated to the darkened room they had first entered, and saw that this was another tower- this time with steps leading up and down. Cautiously they moved upwards.

Dinald opened a heavy wooden door to reveal a semicircular room lined with bookshelves. Although the majority of the books lay in disorganized piles on the floor, a large nest of grass, branches, and strips of was tucked into the northeastern corner of the room, while a wooden door sat in the wall to the northwest, slightly ajar. He moved over to the door, and opened it.

This opened out onto a small balcony looking over the river. Perched on the stone balustrade was a female figure-with large reddish feathered wings and long hair. Her feet however terminated in bird-like talons, though the overall effect was exotic, if somewhat disturbing. She held a longbow with a nocked arrow, and stared straight at Dinald. Neither moved.

“Well…” he smiled, baring his teeth and taking in her scant attire and obvious good points, “Helloo….” He held his hands out open, and moved cautiously forward.

The woman watched, and then took one hand off her bow. She reached slowly forward towards Dinald, and a she did so he noted a not unpleasant smell of something like cinnamon. He saw that her hand had very sharp looking nails, with some nervousness.

The hand was simply laid gently on Dinalds forehead however, and he almost started when he heard a clear voice-inside his head.

“I am Zaiobe. I have watched you from the tower. You will help me kill Kikonu. I can draw the Fool to me. With him dead your task will be all the easier.”

For once Dinald was speechless. As he looked at her something started moving in his trousers.

“Could this finally be it?” he thought to himself. “Could this actually be my first time ? (with a Girl anyway?)”

His reverie was interrupted by Reynald shaking his shoulder. He explained what had transpired, and nodding and smiling the two backed out indicating that they would discuss her offer with their friends.

“My enemy’s enemy is my friend” said Ragnar. “We should go along with this, while assuming we can’t trust her at all afterwards.”

Dinald went back out onto the balcony, and again Zaiobe touched him. He shivered as her voice spoke inside his head.

“We agree,…er, Miss. We are just going to check out the ground floor for enemies and then we will meet you outside in the courtyard.” Zaiobe nodded, and then jumped down off the tower, the sound of her wings beating.

Climbing back down the tower, the group decided to follow it down to the ground floor. Reynald cautiously padded down the narrow stairwell, and peered cautiously into a medium sized room exuding a terrific stench which reminded him of both rotten fish and excrement. His gorge rose, and he narrowly avoided vomiting.

The room had some glimmer of illumination as dawn peered in through a few high windows, and he saw two manlike reptilean shapes growling and gesticulating over what appeared to be the corpse of some giant bug spread out on a table. Several doors seemed to lead off the room, including one on the eastern side which he guessed led out into some sort of main hall of the castle. He crept back and reported his findings.

“This stairway is too narrow- better if we try to lure them up” suggested Ragnar. Reynald crept down again and peered out.

“Yoohoo! Are there any more at home like you?” he waved, before pelting back up the stairs. They waited swords drawn. Downstairs doors slammed and gutteral voices were heard.

“Um.. they’re getting reinforcements I think” said Rasha. Lets make ourselves scarce and approach them from ground level. They rapidly rushed across to the upper balcony of the old ballroom, and made their way down to the lower floor.

Cautiously opening the west door of the ballroom revealed a short corridor leading to a large hall: at the southwest this terminated in large double doors which led into the courtyard,while in the northeast sat an ornate throne- currently empty.

Rushing across to a western door Reynald and Dinald rushed in, the nauseating stench also greeting them as they entered into the eastern side of the room they had spotted the Troglodytes in. None were to be seen. Dinald noticed that an door in the western side was now open however, and as he looked round a large lizard-easily 9 feet long- rushed out and snapped at him. Yelping he jumped back, and he and Reynald jabbed at the thing, joined shortly by Ragnar and Rasha.

Fighting was made more difficult by the choking aroma, which increased in severity as a northern door opened and three of the Troglodytes rushed out.

Ungo felled the lizard, fortunately before it had managed to do much damage, and after a short and somewhat bloody combat, they decided they had had enough. Opening the front doors they stepped out into the main hall, gagging and retching.

Once they had recovered their senses they went back towards the ballroom, this time opening a door to the south revealing a short corridor. Opening a door on the eastern side of this Reynald revealed a largish room with old wooden cages surrounding it-possibly a former kennels. He was interrupted by a ferocious roar however, and this time saw another of the large brutish figures: this time with pendulous breasts and strange, freakish dog- like legs which lurched towards him.

He flung his back against a wall and defended himself as the creature swung a flail which narrowly missed his head; an iron clad fist smashed into his jaw however, stunning him momentarily. Another blow caught him again before Ragnar and Ungo managed to rush in and engage the thing from behind. Snarling and surrounded, the beast fought savagely but eventually fell under the hail of blows. Spivey tut tutted as she cast her healing magicks.

Beyond the ballroom was an additional short corridor ending in a door, and this time Dinald took the lead in opening it. He though his luck was in when he espied a small, beautiful, elfin like woman holding a sharp knife and some other tool. She appeared to be dissecting something on a crowded workbench.

looking round, he saw that it was impossible to tell what this room may have originally been used for, as the walls and floor were decorated with countless preserved animals and creatures, ranging from small birds and forest creatures to fearsome predators. Several of the displays however, looked uncomfortably fresh or humanoid in shape. The figure looked towards him and smiled winningly.

“Oh Goody! More playthings.” she said. Dinalds chest puffed up.

“I’m on a roll today” he thought. “Ah madame, what a pleasure to meet such a beautiful younf maiden as your…..Yowwww!” As he looked the figure seemingly vanished, and as a sharp stabbing pain appeared near his groin he saw that the figure had somehow appeared to his side, and had just withdraw a wicked looking stabbing sword from his thigh.

“Help! Mercy!” he shrieked, and limped back into the corridor, bleeding heavily. Ungo and Ragnar pushed forward, and the figure retreated backwards into the room. Near the rear, Rasha strained to get a view of the target.

“Ah’ll tak yer then Ah’ll F**k yer, ye wee bitch!” shrieked Ungo, hacking forward with C********r, catching the creature with a glancing blow. Once again she seemingly vanished, and he started smashing up the furniture in frustration.

Seemingly from nowhere she appeared again next to Dinald way back in the ballroom, and stabbed at him mercilessly. Once more she drew blood and Dinald backed away.

Rasha however had finally realised what they were fighting. “Quickling” he thought to himself, from his background knowledge regarding the Fey. He fired an arrow which hit her full in the chest, and crying with pain she once more vanished.

The combat however seemed to be over, and setting a wary guard the group once more succombed to Spivey’s ministering.

“I think it’s time to see if Kaiobe was lying to us” said Rasha. “Let’s try to finsih this while we still can”. The others agreed, and they moved out into the courtyard.

Rasha noticed Kaiobe waving at them from one of the western turrets. Nodding they concealed themselves in the Gatehouse and around the courtyards. Kaiobe nodded and then waited in full view on the parapet.

Ten minutes later Kikonu appeared, still apparently wearing his bright red mask. He looked up and spotted Kaiobe.

“My Dear, you have come to your senses at last I see. The old charm just too irrisistable eh?”
He saluted upwards. A pair of flaming arrows streaked down, one hitting him full in the chest.

“Wha…?!” he staggered backwards clutching the arrow. He lifted one hand in an overly dramatic gesture. “Infamy! Infamy! You’ve just got it I…….Gaaarkhh!!”Two further arrows streaked down, this time both finding their mark. The second of these hit him full in the throat with the point emerging several inches on the far side of his neck. Ragnar and the others rushed out, and Kikonu collapsed to the floor in a confusion of chopping axe and sword blades.

There was a rush of some foul stench and a horde of Troglodyte shapes emerged from the main hall, presumably having been told by Kikonu to follow him upwards. Once again waves of nausea washed over the group as they moved to engage these new foes. Rasha glanced up and saw that Kaiobe had raised her bow in the air in silent triumph, and appeared to be laughing. The two Troglodytes rushed at him and he was pushed back into the gatehouse, and forced to fight for his life.

For Dinald a jabbing pain in his back signalled the return of the Quickling, as he was additionally beset by one of the reptilean figures. Arrows streaked down from the turret killing one of the Trogs.

As they fought the nausea engendered by the stench of the creatures started to overtake each of the group. Thie problems were compounded when glancing up, Dinald saw Zaiobe grinning and sighting one of her arrows directly down at him.

“As if I don’t have enough problems right now” he thought, but making a good choice for once he grabbed the Quickling as she stabbed at him and pulled her towards him. He absently noted the points of small nipples tight against her dress, as he pulled her towards him.

Instantly however she jerked, and blood shot out of her mouth into his face, as one of Zaiobes arrows slammed into her from behind.

“Now that’s a shame " he briefly thought, and then a second arrow penetrated into his shoulder, and a wave of blackness washed over him.

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Back at the Churchyard
7th October 4711: 5.40 am

Spivey sighed and motioned for the group to gather round. Her lilting voice chanting prayers to Desna the group were surprised to find that their wounds were rapidly healed. Rasha especially seemed somewhat surprised.

Ragnar gave a brief description of their adventures, and the description of the shrine. In aside room they had discovered several items, and Ailukka displayed a silver symbol of a winged demon she had found on the priest. Spivey wrinkled her nose.

“Is very bad” she said. “Pazuzu- a Demon. And they have desecrated the shrine of Desna to worship him?”

“We should go back while Ailukka’s spells last” said Dinald. “If we go back to the Caravan they’ll only regroup”. Ragnar concurred. Ailukka shrugged. They headed back to the castle, leaving some of their loot hidden in the crypt of the cemetary-this time with Spivey agreeing to come with them.

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Third Time Luckier
7th October 4711

It was just after 5 am when Reynald climbed silently up the south eastern wall; attaching a knotted rope with a grapnel to the parapet, he was soon followed by Rasha. Looking westward toward the top of the gatehouse he could see that he guard had started to return, and he crept quietly into the intervening turret to silence the Corbie as it came past.

Rasha crouched in the shadow of the wall, noting that down below in the courtyard two hulking humanoid brutes were carrying out large tubs of water, and seemed to be about to swill out the yard.

Reynald waited silently and then struck. Unfortunately he struck nothing and his rapier slid along the edge of the Corbie’s torso, causing it to yelp in pain, but little actual damage. A secong thrust missed entirely, and the alarm was raised.

The creature yelled again and its fellow from the Gatehouse started to race along the wall. The two brutes looked up in incomprehension as Rasha popped up and missed with one of his arrows to clatter near their feet.

“This isn’t going well” he thought.

Reynald now stood in the turret doorway, and was losing steadily to the birdlike creature. As it raked him with its claws his thrusts continually went astray. The two brutes rushed out of Rasha’s view towards the lower gatehouse, and more corbies emerged up onto the wall from the lower gatehouse.

Reynald retreated backwards, and finally gave way to Ragnar who had finally climbed up onto the wall. The enemy were now somewhat crowded up, as the narrow wall only allowed one at a time to approach. Rasha retreated eastwards along the wall, looking to position for a longer range shot.

Ragnar however had a little more luck: cutting down the first badly wounded Corbie, he was able to rush onto the cloister bridge linking the wall with the main keep, while Ungo rushed behind him and careened into the next in line, cutting it down instantly. With two sets of blades now in play, supported by occasional arrows from Rasha or Reynald, half a dozen Corbies were cut down one by one, as well as the two large brutes which had managed to reach the wall-although Ragnar did suffer a crushing blow in the process.

As if this was not enough opponents, the door to the stables opened and a large spider rushed out, followed by a further brute- presumably its handler. It was too late however, and the creature was hacked in two by Ungo. Finally all went quiet on the wall.

Padding along the wall quietly to the gatehouse Ragnar could hear what was apparently blubbering coming from down below, along with references to a “Poor Mr. Legsy”. Pointing toward the turret on the far side of the gatehouse and nodding to Ungo, Ragnar moved into the most easterly turret, and tried to spy through the trapdoor leading down into a small guardroom. He could see nothing directly ,but the noises were more distinct. He called to one of the others, and made a few clattering noises, giving Ungo sufficient time to climb down into what he presumed was an opposite guardroom. After a short time he started to descend the ladder, keeping a wary eye out.

He was neither surprised nor quite quick enough when another of the brutes rushed in from the gate areas, and swung at him with a spiked club, winding him badly. Jumping off the ladder he turned to face the creature, and at that moment Ungo appeared behind it, cutting its leg away with a swing of his axe.

Ungo eyed him as he breathed heavily. “Yer gettin’ auld Man…reflexes like an auld biddy” was his only comment. The two climbed back up onto the battlements, and Ungo started to walk around the walls westwards.

Something whistled softly through the air, and then there was a loud crash and an explosion of stone and just near to Ungo; he dived flat onto the floor. “Whit the….?”

Realising that something had fired from the north side of the castle the group moved carefully from turret to turret around the perimeter, until Rasha espied the frantic figure of a Corbie hovering around some machine set on the battlements. Donald and Ungo rushed round while Rasha attracted his attention with a few arrows. As he inevitably fell they saw that the wall widened out into a weapon bay, on which was perched an antique and hazardous looking stone firing crossbow. Adjacent was a door which entered the western side of the main keep, but this was locked.

Reynald tried to pick the lock but failed. Then Rasha reached for the old key Dinald had given him after finding it in the ruined lighthouse, and, after some initial concern that it might snap, the door opend with a click.

“I don’t think this old key will last much longer” he said.

“Give to me”, said Ailukka, holding out her palm. Taking the ket she rubbed her other hand over the top of it muttering some enchantment. She handed it back. “Key stronger now” she remarked.

Peering inside Rasha could see a darkened corridor leading eastwards towards a junction leading south, and beyond that a wider open space. All seemed to be quiet. A torch was positioned somewhere near the junction, giving a little light. Padding along, he tried an unlocked door on the north, but it was dark and unoccupied. “Save that for later” he thought.

Looking down the southern corridor he moved quietly down it with Ragnar. Ragnar perked up his ears as he could hear muffled voices coming through one of the doors to the south.

“Duh… Wen shall wetree meet agen, in tunder lightnin’ or in rain?” the voice sounded like it was from a congenital idoit.

“When the horlllie burrlies dun, when the battles lost and wun”. This voice was horribly nasal, and reminded him of the way the natives spoke in an inbred village he had once passed through called Brumgen.

“Dat will be er Nest of…”

“Not Nest idiot!” a third voice interrupted, both sharper and much more precise. “Set! That will be ’ere SET of sun! Got it?”

“Duh, sure Ting boss. Where does the Nest come in den?”

“Gahh! I’m working with imbeciles. Imbeciles! Someone of my talent….just get on with it!”

Ragnar was about to head toward the southern door when he heard a squawk behind him, and turned to see that Dinald had oped an eastern door into a room comtaining a couple of semi awake Corbies. Sighing he drew his blade; battle was joined.

The corridor confined the participants, so Ungo opened a western door revealing more corbies. Dinaled an Ailukka moved round to the open space revealed to the north, dicovering a somewhat rancid and foul smelling dining room, dimly lit only partially from a few torches in adjacent corridors. One of these looped round south ,and then east back towards the rooms Ragnar and Ungo were engaged in.

Having disposed of both corbies Ragnar jerked open to the door to the south, while Ungo still battled behind him. This room was lit, and revealed two further Corbies, both wearing pointy hats. Beyond these was a very strange person indeed: a man (or somethign very like it), wearing a fine silk tunic and trousers which he later recognised as Tien. Most prominent however were a large pair of black raven- like wings and a sort of bright red painted mask, with a prominent nose.

“You idiots- you’ve ruined my rehearsal. Witches one and two-get him!” The two corbies lumbered to obey.

Ragnar sidestepped one of these and took a swing at the figure, who easily sidestepped aside. He then produced a sickle and chain weapon from his belt and swung it round, cracking Ragnar hard on the side of the shoulder. He staggered back, badly hurt. An arrow fired through the door from Reynald skewered one of the corbies and allowed him to retreat.

Meanwhile Rasha had opened up another door along the corridor further to the east, and then wished he hadn’t. Inside was a shrine-probably the shrine to Desna Spivey has told them about- but it was a shrine to Desna no longer.

Daubed on the walls were dozens of paintings of a towering humanoid figure with four wings, a bird’s head, and a scorpion’s tail, seemingly painted in blood. Old pews sat in a line facing the eastern wall, where a hideously defaced statue of Desna stood: its head had been severed and replaced with a crude rock roughly fashioned into the shape of a bird, and a tail constructed of braided nettles had been attached. The two stone wings had been split and pinioned to give the impression of four wings. The whole stank badly, and a robed corbie holding a longsword stalked toward him. It cast a spell of some sort, fortunately with no effect; Rasha managed to cut the creature with Shrike before retreating backwards.

As Rasha retreated a badly wounded Ragnar rushed past him, taking refuge further up the corridor near Ailukka, and preparing his crossbow. Ailukka gestured, and the sir froze between her and the creature, and it snarled before plunging the corridor in front of it into darkness. A brief panic ensued.

Ungo finally disposed of his opponents in the westerly room,and rushed into the room containing the winged man- but it was completely empty. He started to swing round randomly with his axe, suspecting some invisibility or trick.

Meanwhile Ailukka headed toward the chapel with her lit staff, forcing the darkness to retreat. It was empty, and a southern set of double doors out onto the battlements was wide open. “Run away” she commented.

Ungo was calmed down, and some of the groups few healing potions were redistributed. Rasha started to bind Ragnar’s wounds, as Reynald explored one of the doors near the eastern side of the dining room.

In the old chapel there was a rush of air; something large flew in, Swooped at Rasha, turned and flew back out the doors. Ragnar, Rasha and Ailukka rushed out through the doors, and only the cloister walkway joining the main keep and the southern wall. As they did so ragnar could see a large bat -like shape turning back towards them, while from beyond the turret adjacent to their rope and grappling hook, the Hooded Corbie flung some missile which rattled nearby. As Rasha and Ragnar turned their missile weapons on the large bat -thing, Ailukka raced forward into the turret with her battleaxe.

A two pronged melee ensued, with the bat creature swooping and diving at Ragnar and Rasha, while they tried to fire at it as it dived or rushed past. Ailukka swung at the robed figure repeatedly yelling barbaric northern oaths, and surprisingly the sorceress seemed to be getting the best of it, receiving only one slight wound, while her battleaxe hacked down repeatedly on the priest.

Reynald had opened his door revealing an upper balcony surrounding a round room below. On the far side stood the red masked figure.

“You imbeciles again! Stop wasting my time!” it cried, expertly swinging its sickle weapon and chain.

“Ungo I need help!” yelled Reynald, and rushed towards the figure with his rapier. Ungo raced in afterwards and both swung at the over dramatic figure. He snarled and gestured, and the outline of a rectangle appeared next to him. He walked into it- and vanished. Ungo howled in frustration.

Outside Ailukka had split open the robed priest’s head. The bat creature, though peppered with arrows, continued to swoop and claw Ragnar, Rasha and Dinald: none were in good shape. Hearing their cries for help Ungo too rushed out and unlimbered his bow, but he too fell foul of one the creatures attacks and retreated back inside. The target was difficult to hit: it was going to be a near run thing.

With only Rasha and Reynald still firing, and Ailukka casting one of her freezing magicks from the safety of a turret, a telling blow finally had the desired effect, and the beast crashed down into the woodland outside of the castle.

Inside Ungo, Ragnar and Dinald sat down; Rasha and Reynald limped in. All were badly wounded.

“I suggest we leave for now” suggested Dinald. " We’re in no fit state to do anything."

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Second Time Lucky
6th October 4711; Evening

Reynald’s mood had improved only slightly by the time they returned to camp: a bemused Spivey had healed his wounds with a gesture, and by some magicks had stopped the burning in his arm. He fealt somewhat better, but still cold, oderous and miserable.

As the others related their tale he stripped down and poured water over himself, before drying off and changing into spare cloths. Sandru seemed somewhat interested in the report of ‘Bird Things’.

“That’s odd”, he said. “Before we left I did a little background reading on Brinewall. When they were excavating to build it they had a lot of trouble with creatures they called Dire Corbies- ‘like a humanoid crow with oily black feathers, glittering eyes, and a sharp beak’. There was an old woodcut illustration in the book. Very strange.”

“When excavating? From underground then?” asked Reynald.

“Most probably; it would seem they’ve returned anyway.” replied Sandru.

The group discussed their options; it was decided that Ungo, Reynald and Rasha would return to scout that evening, while Ailukka rested to recover her spells. If all proved well they would all then return to the castle very early the following morning- hopefully before the inhabitants had arisen.

It was two hours later when the three stood beneath the western side of the looming castle walls. They has seen that he gates were locked, although there was some indication of red torchlight behind. Having circled the outside of the walls they had ascertained that a couple of guards were patrolling the walls, although they could not see them directly.

Reynald chose his moment, and when the guard had passed he stood on Rasha’s shoulders, and then like a cat, aimed by his magic ring, he managed to pick his way quietly up the decaying stonework.

Slipping over and crouching he could see a courtyard below, and a main keep in the northeastern corner. Several small turrets dotted the perimeter, and over the gatehouse he could see a strange humanoid, birdlike figure, briefly illuminated by the flickering red light of a torch. Off to his left another such figure was currently walking away from him doing its rounds. He made a mental note of what he could see. Before the patrolling figure could return he slipped back over the wall, and the group returned to camp to catch a few hours sleep.

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A Dour Destination
6th October 4711

“Well this is it” said Sandru,pulling his wagon to a halt. He walked back to the second wagon as people jumped down to stretch their legs. Ameiko drew Sliver, and made a few experimental lunges and stretches. Dinald watched with interest.

Rasha shivered. The thick mist and the thick woods gave an oppressive feel to the place. Sandru seemed to be hunting along the western side of the trail,and then he crouched down.

Gathering round they saw that he was picking a young shrub away from a stone waymarker. Scraping away the moss they saw that it was marked with arrows pointing ahead to “Bridge”, and west to “Brinewall”. Sandru looked west and scratched his head, as there just seemed to be thick scrub- no trail a wagon would easily negotiate.

“I imagine it hasn’t been used in a while?” asked Reynald.

“Apparently not. I suppose that’s a good sign?” suggested Sandru.

Shaleelu appeared through the wall of mist ahead of them. “The Steam River crossing is about 100 yards ahead” she indicated, “A fairly decent wood and stone bridge- it should be fine.”

“Well we may as well make camp near here then” suggested Sandru. The wagons were arranged and a campfire set going. As they sat round warming their hands they discussed their plans.

“I must go” said Ameiko. " My family, my problem really". It was eventually agreed that Ameiko would scout the village with Ragnar, Ailukka, Ungo, Rasha and the twins, while the others protected the camp. It was early afternoon as they set off into the thick woods.

Unfortunately for Ameiko, however, it seemed that exploration of Brinewall was not on the cards. Rasha noticed first when he noticed that Ameiko was dragging behind somewhat. Moving closer he saw that she appeared a little listless and sickly.

“No. No I’m fine, just a bit tired.” protested Ameiko. “Let’s press on.” Shrugging to no-one in particular, Rasha moved off.

Minutes later he heard Ailukka calling from the rear of the group. Moving back he saw the others gathered round Ameiko, who was being supported by Ailukka and leaning heavily against a tree. She appeared to be about to say something, when she started to slump to the ground.

“We get her back, Ja?” suggested Ailukka. Ragnar picked up Ameiko’s slight weight, and they headed back towards the camp. At first Ameiko was passive, but as they approached the camp she started to moan and flail about.

As they emerged near the wagons Ragnar almost dropped her as her thrashings grew extremely violent. Moreover she was gabbling in some alien tongue, in a voice that sounded unnatural and strained. She did not seem conscious of her comrades around her. Koya motioned over and she was deposited in a covered wagon.

Once again her body started to contort and flail, and Ragnar and Dinald had to hold her down on either side to stop Ameiko injuring herself.

“What is she saying?” asked Dinald. “What language is that?”

“It is Tian” said Ailukka. “What she say is nonsense-very strange”

“You speak Tian?” said Dinald impressed. “What’s she saying?”

“There are many Tien in Kalsgard” said Ailukka. “She say ‘One treasure beyond two seals in the third vault’”

“Treasure?” said Dinald, “Well that sounds -nice.”

" And now, ‘A key you seek lies in the grip of the ten-handed one—his fear is your greatest ally’"added Ailukka.

“Um, that doesn’t sound so nice” frowned Dinald.

“And ‘Grandfather waits in the dark, but he knows not who he was’”. Ailukka frowned.

“Maybe we should just leave?” said Dinald, “After all Ameiko is very ill we should get her away to a healer. That would be the noble thing to do, sacrificing wealth and fortune to help this fair maiden.”

As he said this Ameiko started to thrash ever more violently. Shaleelu helped to press her down, and Koya moved over and poured something down Ameiko’s throat. Slowly she started to calm down, and Koya started to check her.

“Well?” asked Sandru.

“There is something strange at work here.” said Koya.

“What do you mean?”

“What I mean is that there is nothing physically wrong with her.”responded Koya, “Whatever is causing this, I believe is some sort of magical effect. I suspect the agency is something to do with Brinewall.”

As the discussion progressed Rasha went back into the woods to scout. After a mile or so, he emerged near the forsaken end of an overgrown trail which emerged to the east of an apparently deserted village, positioned around a kidney shaped bay. In a wide semicircle around it lay what was once cleared farmland, now overgrown with scrub.

He edged forward through the overgrown grassland and gorse, eventually hitting an overgrown cobbled road. He could see the settlement below him in closer detail now, and could see it comprised houses, warehouses and a few more formal buildings, as well as a number of wooden piers.

On the eastern tip of the bay, on his right, Rasha could see an old stone Lighthouse, while on the far side of the bay , below a brooding cliff, he can make out what appeared to be a line of warehouses. A small peninsula jutted from the southern shore which appears crammed with the majority of the buildings.

The whole exuded an air of decay and abandonment however. Except that is for a low hill he could see away on his left, slightly separated from the main settlement. This appeared to have a largely intact picket fence fronting it, and numerous stone monuments- a Graveyard apparently.

On the western side of the bay the land rose up into tall cliffs, and perched silently atop this sat a brooding castle, its sombre shape still visible through the mists.

“Brinewall Castle” he muttered to himself, and then turned round an returned to camp.

On receiving his news Ungo, the Twins, Ragnar and Ailukka agreed to return with him to explore the village. By the time they returned to Rasha’s earlier vantage point it was early afternoon.

Heading first to the old Lighthouse, they were able to get a better view of the bay below them. The town definitely appeared deserted, but they were able to see an Ulfen Knarr beacked in the shallow water near on of the jetties. The ship appeared to have been rammed or damaged amidships, and the reason why could be seen lying nearby-the corpse of a 20 foot long bright green aquatic reptile with finned, winglike arms and a draconic visage was floating nearby. As they watched there wasa movement in the water nearby and the corpse seemed to move.

“Something is eating it” said Rasha. “And the corpse isn’t that old- which means that ship hasn’t been here very long. Some days I would guess.”

Wondering what new complications this might involve they checked the old lighthouse, which appeared deserted except for birds nesting in the roof.

Moving southwards along the path they skirted the eastern half of the bay until they came to the wrought iron gates of the cemetery on their left. Mounted on each of the stone gateposts was a small statue of Desna.

Opposite the gates on the southern edge of the central peninsula was a small temple, and it was into this that they cautiously went. The layout was simple, but many of the simple wooden pews seemed to have been smashed or vandalised at some point in the distant past. Interestingly Reynald noticed that some attempt appeared to have been made to tidy up some of the lighter debris.

“Maybe the same person who is keeping some order in the graveyard?” he suggested.

In the ready room of the temple was a smashed skeleton- a cleric judging by the garb. There were old stains on the wall and her ribs seemed to have been smashed in. Whatever fate had befallen Brinewall also seemed to have befallen her.

Turning their attention next to the cemetery they pushed open the iron gates. Close up they could see that the grass was several inches long, but it was free of shrubs and the graves seemed to be
clear and well tended.

“It’s like the place used to have several gardeners, but now there is only one” commented Reynald.

On the eastern side was a stone crypt, belonging to a person of some importance- Admiral Mercatio Kiameleu, Brinewall’s founder. What appeared to be a gravestone set apart from the rest of the cemetery was in fact a well-tended shrine to Desna that consisted of a marble statue of the deity holding aloft a small copper bowl.

As Rasha reached for it his hand was slapped away by Ailukka, who placed a few coins at the base and knelt down to say a silent prayer for a few moments. The twins followed suit.

As Reynald arose he caught a slight movement out of the corner of his eye, and for an instant he thought he saw a small face peering at him over the hedge fronting the cemetery. Motioning for the others to stay still he moved and peered over. Apart from a few shrubs between the boundary and the path there was no cover for a human-but the face he had seen was smaller- much smaller.

“It sounds like a Fey of some sort” said Rasha, fingering an arrow. “Better kill it if we can.”

“Is killing everything all you can ever suggest?” said Dinald scornfully. “Whatever it is it hasn’t harmed us, and its probably tending this shrine to Desna and looking after the place. That makes it alright by me.” His brother and Ailukka nodded. Rasha sighed,and muttered something to himself.

With little more they could do they moved back outside, and scanned the village for other buildings.

“Hey that ones a Glassworks!” said Dinald, “And look! That’s the Kaijitsu mark- Ameiko’s family.”

It was indeed a small glassworks, though inside the furnaces were long cold. Upstairs there appeared to be a living area, furnished in a spartan style, and now heavily vandalised. Amidst the debris however, Ragnar picked up two small figurines of green stone- an Elephant and a Mounted Warrior.

“Chessmen” he said," Und der stone iss Jade- very valuable.".

“Maybe we should just give them to Ameiko” suggested Dinald. “An heirloom of her Grandfather’s maybe.”

As they exited the building this time they all clearly saw a small flying figure, hovering on shimmering butterfly- like wings. It appeared to be small woman-maybe only 7 or 8 inches high, with elfin features and long greenish hair, clad in light armor. As the others stayed still, Reynald slowly moved forward making a show of open and empty hands.

“Who”, asked the small figure in a lilting voice, “Are you? You’re not from the Castle?”

“Ah no Miss” stumbled Reynald, “We’re traveller-we’ve come here searching for something long lost. And you are…?”

“I am Spivey” said the hovering figure, “And I protect the shrine and the graveyard.”

“Er i see” said Reynald, introducing himself and the others (Rasha with a scowl). “And can you tell us why the place is deserted. And about the castle?”

Spivey seemed fairly communicative, and seemed happy to have someone to talk too. She said that she had wandered here about ten years ago ‘after her mistress was slain by a Hungry Plant ’. The village was already deserted, but on locating the Shrine and the old temple had seen this as a sign, and had set about protecting it. She had tried to explore the castle and discovered another shrine to Desna there, but it had been desecrated and vandalised by the ’bird things’ that lived up there. There were many of them, and they sometimes came out of the castle to hunt game in the surrounding woods.

“If you go up there and clear them out maybe I can restore it?” she suggested. “If you do that the cemetery is a safe place, and I can look to your wounds.” She seemed to think this was her mission here.

As this seemed like a good offer Reynald agreed, and indicating that they would return soon, the group moved off towards the waterfront.

Standing off from the stricken Knarr, they could see that its front end was only in maybe three feet of water.

“We should go on board” suggested Dinald, “I could make a distraction on the pier while one of you ran for the ship.”

“What is Point?” asked Ailukka frostily. “Is just trouble.”

“We need to look!” said Dinald. “Hey, will you kiss me before we do this Heroic feat?”

“I don’t kiss Dead Men.”

“Or idiots” muttered Ragnar under his breath, drawing his crossbow and positioning himself well away from the water. Rasha and Ungo followed suit. Dinald smiled at Reynald.

“Ah it’s the old team Brother” smiled Dinald. “I’ll distract and you run for it.” Reynald sighed.

Dinald walked along one of the piers and then waved at his bother. Then he started capering, waving his arms and shouting like a loon. Ailukka looked sideways at Ungo. Ungo aimed his longbow at Dinald.

“Go!” shouted Dinald, and Reynald raced into the freezing water. He almost made it, when a chitinous be- pincered shape reared up in front of him, cutting his arm with one of its wicked looking claws.

Rasha and Ragnar fired. Ungo fired too, missing Dinald’s feet only by inches. He shrieked and leapt up into the air.

“Arrgh get it off me!” screamed Reynald, as a second creature reared up behind the first. Arrows and bolts thudded into its body, and the foul smelling thing toppled forward towards Reynald, the sliding pincer ripping more flesh, which was now burning as though poisoned.

“Don’t shoot me! Don’t shoot me!” yelled Dinald. Ungo laughed hard, and shot another arrow into a post near his head. Both twins were now screaming in panic.

Deciding that discretion was the better part of valour, Reynald turned tail and rushed back to the shore before the second beast could get near him.

Soaking wet, smelling of fish and his arm burning from some poison, he felt decidedly weak. It didn’t help that the others were all laughing at himself and Dinald. He was not amused.

“Best get back to camp I guess” said Rasha, and they started to walk off, leaving Reynald dripping. Dinald wandered up to his brother.

“Hee. Well that didn’t work out quite as planned did it Dear brother?” he grinned.

“Fuck off Dinald.” said Reynald sourly.

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The Journey North
5th October 4711

Ungo grumbled as the supply wagon bumped along down the difficult track. Over the last few days their trail had wound up into the Velashu Uplands, roughly paralleling the river northwest to a low pass in the mountains and then due north into the Nolands and, eventually, to Brinewall. The farther north this route went, it seemed the more disused the trail had become.

As they made camp that night the conversation steered towards their destination.

“The Caravan Trail is actually several alternate trails” Sandru explained, "As one becomes damaged by a landslip, or haunted by bandits another has been found. Over the years some have even come back into use again. The problem now is that with the loss of Brinewall as a viable port, most trade between Varisia and the Lands of the Linnorm Kings has been via the sea route, but not all the trails the caravans follow are completely abandoned. "

“Quite a few Varisian caravans take the route yearly, although they generally make a wide detour around Brinewall” he continued.

“And why is that then?” asked Rasha. “And why is Brinewall ‘no longer a viable port?’”

Sandru scratched his neatly trimmed beard. “Well most believe it is haunted,cursed, or both.”

“I’m guessing it had something to do with the events alluded to in Grandfathers’ letter” said Ameiko, “That would be 24 years ago.”

“What do we know about the place?” asked Ragnar.

“Brinewall was founded over 200 years ago” said Sandru, “But after Magnimar was founded in 4608 its profile picked up somewhat, with several important merchants basing themselves there, and helping the town to grow.”

“Perhaps that was Grandfathers idea too then?” suggested Ameiko.

“Very possibly” continued Sandru, " But some time ago- possibly in the timeframe outlined in your Grandfather’s letter, it became abandoned. A few more people disappeared-it got a bad reputation. And now people avoid it."

“And that’s weer we’re going”, muttered Ungo. “Great.”

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Broken Road
2nd October 4711

The road was winding steadily upwards now, and as the height increased the rain seemed to pelt harder. The trail narrowed to only about ten feet-the remnant of the old caravan road, while to the left was a steep drop of two hundred feet or so, pine trees clinging to the sides of the slope.

It was Rasha’s turn in the lead when he suddenly pulled the horses to a halt. “Whoa Boys! Hold. Hold!” He struggled with the reins and for a moment one of the horses started to slip, but he managed to eventually back them up slowly and calm the nervous pair. Ungo jumped out and looked.

“The road’s give way” he called. “There’s nae passin’ here wi wagons.”

“We’ll have to back up a few miles” said Rasha, “There was another trail leading a bit higher up”. Some of the others had dismounted and walked up to see what was wrong.

“Hey” called Ungo, “There’s a feller doon there. A dead horse further doon too!” Rasha peeked over. Sure enough about eighty feet down was a hooded figure huddled on a narrow ledge, his leg twisted at an odd angle.

“I guess the road gave way and his horse slipped” said Rasha. “He’s lucky anyone came along at all.” Dinald was volunteered to climb down, but before anyone could explain further he grapped a coil of rope and his brother’s ring, and started to pick his way down the slope. In the heavy rain the figure below seemed not to notice- until Dinald tapped him on the shoulder.

“Wha…wha….who?” stammered the man. Dinald noticed he had a neatly trimmed beard, and appeared to be of young middle age.

“Fear not noble sir. You are injured, and I, Dinald Flambeau” (here Dinald bowed)“Am here to rescue you. I have a rope.”

“But we need to get up there, and you’re still holding it?” said the man, with some confusion. Dinald stared blankly, and then comprehension dawned.

“Ah, er… Can you a lower a rope please?” shouted Dinald upwards.

“Who’s a friggin dope ye puffed up funnyboy?” shouted Ungo.

“A Rope. ROPE!” called Dinald. Ragnar lashed a coupel of ropes together, and lowered one end down. Under the guidance of the injured man, Dinald splinted his injured leg and a rope was tied around his middle. Ragnar, Rasha and Ungo started to haul. With some effort, the man was pulled to safety, and then loaded into one of the wagons, where Koya started to fuss over him.

The drivers then had the awkward task of backing up the wagons until they found an area wide enough to turn. Eventually this was accomplished and the train returned a couple of miles down the trail to the alternate high path they had seen. Wet and thouroughly fed up, they decided to make an early camp.

As they sat inside one of the covered wagons drinking hot soup, their guest thanked them and explained that his name was Raine-a weaponsmith and mage returning north to Kalsgaard. Ragnar and Ailukka showed some interest.

“But you are not Ulfen?” queried Ailukka.

“No, no. I’m originally from Magnimar” explained Raine. “But my brother and I run a weapon forge in that city now-his wife is Ulfen. At least he runs it: I do the enchanting.”

“But why are you here? And alone?” asked Ragnar.

“Family business” said Raine. " I had to take ship back to Magnimar, but on the return trip had a bit of a falling out with the captain when he pulled over into Riddleport. My options were to wait in a den of thieves for another ship, or risk the land journey. You can guess what happened."

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Seagulls and Saucepans
29th September 4711

At Roderick’s Cove Sandru set up shop for the day, trying to offload some of the processed timber and a consignment of saucepans he had picked up in Galduria.

With little else to do Ragnar and some of the others idled away their time in the various taverns and Dinald secretly buying some small tools (“for my Ship in a Bottle collection”, he explained) from a shop labelled “Demdykes Ironmongery and Locks: Repossessions our Speciality!”

Roderick’s Cove itself seemed to be quite an orderly and sobre little port; reputedly in sharp contrast to the Pirate Town of Riddleport which lay along the coast to the north: its many lights could be espeid as darkness started to fall. Also odd were the small gangs of toughs who seemed not at all like the other locals, and who appeared to maintain order in the Port.

“They’ll be the captain’s men” explained Sandru. “About ten years ago Rodericks Cove finally came under the ‘protection’ of Riddleport, but in an odd way it has benefited. The Port is protected from the Churlwood goblins and bandits, and visiting captains have an alternate ‘respectable’ port destination-not everyone wants to sail into a Pirate Harbour. The Pirate Lords take their cut of profits but overall the arrangement seems to work.”

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