Friday, October 29, 2010

What's cooking?

At first, there was stunned silence. Miss Adventure was the first to charge ahead. She dove under the closest weasel and began stabbing upward, soon up to her elbows in blood. Laramine swung at the other beast with his great sword, cleaving its head nearly in two. Gildrid was pelting them with arrows, and Nemon threw daggers.
Only Gruffydd stood, unmoving.
All the adventurer's rage at the loss of Dimzad was taken out on the giant weasels. The creatures were dead before they ever struck back. Miss adventure crawled out from under one, just before the beast collapsed.
It was time to take stock of the room. There was an almost identical door at the opposite side from where they came in. A large pile of weasel dung was piled in one part of the round, domed earth room. Amid the pile was undigested bones of large humanoids. There were two large copper bowls, full of water, and writing in a strange tongue on them.
Gruffydd began hacking away at the chest of the one who ate Dimzad. He cracked open the ribcage and dug the top half of Dimazd out. The others watched in muted disgust. Gruffydd was caked in gore by the time he was done with his grizzly task. He loaded what there was into a huge sack, kept for treasure and began to head toward the door they came through.
"Where are you going?" asked Gildrid.
"He was the last of his clan. He deserves a proper burial." And with that Gruffydd was gone.
Nemon spoke, "All right then, time to see what's behind that door."
A loud racket came from the other side. Nemon slowly creaked open the unlocked door.
Through the crack he spied a large Kitchen, full of large pots boiling over, and pots and pans of all description. A giant oven covered one wall. A horrible stench eminated from the roasting, boiling and baking food. It reminded Nemon of one of the layers of hell described in his grandfather's library.
All the noise must have covered the party's battle with the weasels. Above the racket was the squealing barks and hisses made by the cooks and their helpers. There was a small army of kobolds slaving away. One, a largish female by the strange, out of place dress she wore, seemed to be in charge. She wielded a huge frying pan she whacked other kobolds with occasionally, to reinforce her orders.

Interlude: What's been explored....

A map showing what has been explored Beyond the Wall. Each hex represents a days walk, unhindered by weather.
Now, set within the larger context of the campaign world.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Fire burned through Gildrid's veins. Pain, ...such pain. He dropped his shield and the spider with it. Laramine sprang forward and cleaved the spider in two. He quickly pulled out a vial containing the Tears of Verena to administer to the now collapsed elf. Black and blue veins of poison spread from the bite mark like a web. Laramine pressed the healing potion to Gildrid's lips and forced a drink down. The elf came to consciousness.
The spread of poison stopped, but had not been cured. Gildrid felt terrible. His muscles burned, and his vision blurred. Laramine helped him out into the sunlight and the square beyond. It was then, that Nemon finally won his battle with the temple door. With a great crash, it caved in, Nemon stumbling behind.
The others now swarmed inside. The temple was a round, domed, stone structure, sparse in it's decor. There was a raised dias at the far end with a stone altar, and a statue behind of a stern looking, robed man. The dome above was cracked, and let a few rays of sunshine in. There were long wooden benches, jumbled all around. Several were stacked against the now demolished door. But there was no one inside. No bodies.
Laramine, used to sacking such places in his youth, stomped up to the altar and kicked it over. As he suspected, under the stone was small hole. In it, was small bag of coins, and a large gold key. The key looked like it fit the temple doors, as there were no other portals in the temple.
Gruffydd, had meanwhile, found a loose floor tile. He kicked at it, finally getting the toe of his boot underneath and shoving it off.
There was a rush of cool air, and on it, more of the strange whispers. There was a tunnel. It went through the foundation of the temple and into the earth beyond. The passage went straight down then eased into a ninety degree turn horizontally. Everyone looked at everyone else, waiting for a volunteer.
Gruffydd let out a deep sigh, "all right, I'll go first. Dimzad, you're next."
The dwarves dropped down the tight passage, shoulders scraping at the packed earth. At the bottom, they could see the tunnel was reinforced with roughly cut timbers. It wasn't pretty, but it was well constructed. "I don't like the looks of this." Gruffydd whispered to his fellow dwarf. "Seems familiar some how."
The end of the tunnel held a small, round door. Gruffydd examined it, while the others noisily slid down the hole. Dirt and dust fill the cramped passage.
The door, like the tunnel, was crudely, but well construct. It had simple wooden latch on the outside. Loud breathing, a snuffling, sniffing, noise came from the other side. That was when Dimzad decided to jab his dagger under the door. There was a loud "Squeeeeel" and then scratching at the door. Gruffydd shot Dimzad a dark look. He looked at the others and gave a nod. "Are we ready?"
He yanked the door open and the others flew past into the room with much shouting and war cries. It was enough to startle the two giant weasels beyond. They filled most of the domed, packed earth chamber, two huge versions of an every day weasel. They hissed and showed their teeth, backs arched.
Gildrid, even in his weakened state, managed to sink a few arrows into the closest. It didn't seem to notice.
Dimzad led the charge, axe swinging, bellowing the war cry of his clan. The arrow wearing weasel hissed again, gave a great pounced, and simply bit the top half of Dimzad off.
The dwarf's legs took a few steps, blood spurting from the ruined waist, and toppled.
Side Note: Dimzad, the gods rest his soul, belonged to Lead Addict's middle son, a lad of 10 years. He took the loss of his first PC very well, better than I would have. It helped that the grownups all cheered his death, and called it heroic. 
His secret background was he was the last of his kind, or in this case, clan. So farewell to Dimzad Ab Zogenbreth, known as the "Beardless", last of his clan. He joins his faithful goat Bob, in death and glory.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Interlude: Laramine

Laramine grew, as most from his village did if you were strong, smart, and had the stomach for it, to become a sea-raider.  The rest, to weak of body or mind, just became fishermen and reed-cutters, and started families.   Laramine came from a region off a far ocean coast named the Kraken’s Teeth, a series of tall pinnacled isles known for piracy and death, where any good merchant ship captain avoided unless he was headstrong or stupid.  As sea-raiders Laramine and his kinsmen spent journeys raiding coastal villages along the main coastlines, looking for gold and goods, or the occasional attractive maiden, although the latter was usually a short-lived fray, as the sea and adventure beckoned, while the maiden’s voice too often became shrill and that of a harpy.  Laramine’s family had been small, born to a father who had also been a sea-raider, and eventually lost his life doing just so; and a mother who herself had been one of the hapless stolen maidens, taken against her will from some now unknown fishing village long decimated.  Laramine had one sibling, a brother, ‘Salamel’, three years his junior, and with a temperament considered cold and ruthless even by a raiders standards.  Some had even ventured to use the word, evil.  This ruthlessness by Salamel propelled him to become influential as a leader, and many raiders followed his lead, with raids becoming more brutal, and focused on creating chaos and killing, and less about reaping gold and spoils to live on.  While accustomed to killing and a life of raiding, Laramine became intolerant of the new breed of raiders, and journeys for fresh plunder became farther and farther away.  There was no hint of honor or purpose in the attacks carried out, it was mayhem.  On a warm day, while the winds were blowing fresh salt air across the isles, Laramine gathered his sword, armor, and what few possessions he favored, and took a small sailed fishing boat and headed for the mainland coast, putting his life of sea-raiding behind him.  He sought a new course, looking for adventure and personal glory on solid ground.  There was so much more the mainland had to offer.  For several years Laramine roamed from village to village, joining small bands of adventurers, seeking hidden and rumored treasure, but as was so often the case personalities clashed, or the rumors were just that… rumors, and as always he moved on, looking for a better fit, trusting only in himself, wary of most.  Finally in the 28th year of his life, he happened upon a town simply called ‘Wall’, and in a small smoke filled tavern, with a one-eyed barkeep, he met an odd band of adventurers, Dwarves, a thief, an elf, a human, with backgrounds not so dissimilar to his own.  This group of personalities intrigued him, as did the untamed land beyond the wall, and the rumors of treasures and creatures unheard of.  Maybe, just maybe, Laramine had found a place he could stay a while.

Side note:  This character belongs to Scott, a.k.a. JrGMan. He was one of the first people I ever played D&D with. Many moons spent in his basement spilling monster blood with his PC, Rasputin the Massive. It's nice to have him back in the fold.
I have my PCs randomly roll for a "secret background". Laramine's was "sibling a force for evil the world".

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Beating, and a Biting

The great wolf snarled and snapped. It paced the campfire, eyes always on Dimzad. Then it leapt and knocked the dwarf to the ground. The wolf tore into Dimzad before the others could react.
With the horses in turmoil, the camp was chaos. It was Grufftdd who noticed the scar on the wolf's left eye. "Don't kill it him, subdue it!"
The order didn't keep Gildrid from drawing a silver tipped arrow."I said subdue!", Gruffydd shouted at the elf.
Gruffydd smacked the wolf in the side of the head with is hammer. It yelped and let go of Dimzad. Laramine slammed the flat of his great sword squarely on the wolf's skull. It dropped instantly.
"Quickly," Gruffydd shouted again," tie it up".
Bound and unconscious, the creature was kept by the fire and under watch all night. Dimzad had to be restrained too, in order to keep him from kicking the captive.
With the sun's rising, the wolf began to change. As Gruffydd expected, it shrunk in mass and hair, till only a filthy, naked Logun remained. He awoke with a start, "ohhhh, my head. Hey!" he looked around, frightened. He just noticed he was bound. "What's goin' on here, fellas? Some kind a joke again?"
"At what point", Nemon asked,"were you going to tell us about your little affliction?"
"Whatcher talkin' about?" Logun sputtered.
"Werewolf!", Gruffydd shouted. "You're a werewolf!"
The old trapper's eyes went from horror, to a look of resignation.
"I always kinda suspected. But I been out here alone fer so long, I also thought I might just be going crazy. You hafta believe me, when I say I didn't means ta hurt nobody."
"Kill 'em," said Dimzad. Gildrid reached for his silver tipped arrow again.
"No", Gruffudd said with a sigh, "let him go." The others began to untie Logun. "But, you're not with us anymore. You helped us find a way across the river. That's the only reason I'm letting you go."
The old man got up, rubbing his wrists. "well, I guess I thank you fer that."
"Next time we see you,'re dead!" Gruffydd yelled, as the old man headed into the woods. Logun turned and gave the party one last look. Gruffydd could have sworn there was a smirk on the old man's face.
By noon, they reached the ruins of a large village. The size and scope of the ruins were impressive. One could tell this had once been a wealthy town. It sat astride the Old Trade Road itself, which ran directly north. The remains of a large mill were the closest, on the west side of the road. The place was strangely quiet except for the occasional creaking from ruined shutters, or the mill's water wheel, now hanging unused above a dry creek.
"I'm headed for the temple", Nemon said, gesturing at a stone building on the east side of an over grown square.
"I'm going for the mill", Gildrid said stringing his bow. Laramine followed the elf.
Then, the wind blew. Gildrid and Laramine froze, looking at each other. Just above the sound of the wind, came the hint of whispering. "did you...?" Laramine started to ask, when his words were lost under the noise of Nemon battering the temple doors down. He bashed into the sturdy wood of the doors over and over with his armored shoulder. The noise was deafening, compared to the silence of the ruins.
Gildrid approached the ruined doors of the mill. He looked through hole that had been smashed into the wood. Inside, he could see sunlight filtering from the damaged roof. There were sacks of grain and flour, long moldered and plundered by vermin, and the great grinding wheel sat askew on it's base. The most interesting thing though, was the fact boards had been nailed to the outside of the door. Rather than try to keep something out, they were trying to keep something in.
Prying at the rotted wood. Gildrid entered. Laramine followed, along with the sounds of Nemon's ongoing struggle with the temple door. The elf put away his bow and pulled out his sword, the better to poke and prod at the different sacks and boxes laying about.
On the third sack, a shape sprung from the shadows. A huge spider, the size of shield, leapt on him. Gildrid couldn't shake it, or get sword on it. The furry arachnid lunged and bit into his neck.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Another visitor to the campfire

The drone of wings was almost deafening. Logun ran up the river bank, away. Arrows, rocks, throwing daggers, were all being hurled at the strange wasp-like things. Those that hit, bounced off harmlessly.
"We seem to have upset the nest!" Nemon shouted over the noise.
"They're not making moves towards us," Gruffydd yelled," they must be guarding something in that keep."
Without further word, Miss Adventure plopped down on a rock, and started putting on her magic boots. With a whush of air, she was gone.
Inside the broken tower, the halfling discovered interior walls packed with eggs, dripping a golden goo.
"Blech!" she she said with a shiver, and dashed out to the others. "The only thing in there is some gross looking hivey thing," she said to the party.
Gruffydd, looking over his shoulder to where Logun had disappeared, shouted, "Still, it bears investigating later. Let's get out of here." Just then, one of Gildrid's arrows struck home. The wasp-man-thing fell from the sky with a squish.
"Run!" he yelled as the drone grew louder. The party mounted, and raced up the river back, and didn't stop till they reached the road again. Out of breath, they found Logun gathering wood for a fire.
"I though everyone could use a drying off", he said.
Wet clothes were placed by the fire. A quick review of their packs found some of the rations ruined by river crossing.
"Logun," Gruffydd asked, "you're a trapper. Care to find us some meat?"
With a shrug, the old man headed for the woods.
The rest of party prepared for the evening. In the hazy distance, up the road, a ruins of large village stood. It would be another days march to their destination, if in fact, this was the village they were looking for.
By nightfall, Logun had not returned. The watches were set, and one by one the group retired. "Good," Dimzad said with a huff," I hope the ol' geazers dead."
During Miss Adventures watch, a rustling was heard in the nearby woods. She had been happily munching away on what remained of her rations, when she spied a dark shape at the edge of the trees. This shape exploded from the under brush, autumn leaves flying everywhere. With a heavy thump, a mass of teeth, claws and fur dropped into their campsite. The biggest wolf she had ever seen...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Swarm

Everyone awoke, weapons drawn.
"Easy now, ...easy," the stranger said. "The names Logun. I'm just a simple trapper, alone in these cold woods, attracted by the warmth of your fire."
Gruffydd stepped forward, to eye the shaggy man more carefully. "Well, Logun, is it? What's someone like yourself, doing out here alone, Beyond the Wall?"
"Ask myself that every day," he said with a cackle, showing his crooked yellow teeth. He opened his cloak. Everyone tensed, ready to spring if he drew a weapon. But, instead, the insides of his coat were filled with old pelts, beaver, fox, squirrel, and unknown.
"Ohhhh", Dimzad spoke in awe. "How much for that one?" He pointed to a fine fox tail.
"Looking for a replacement?" Logun held up the pelt to his chin, mimicking a beard. A beard that Dimzad had been missing since his encounter with a oversized crayfish. They all laughed. Everyone but Dimzad.
"Welcome to our fire", Gruffydd said patting Logun on the back. He nodded to those around the fire. It was all right to put away weapons.
The talk quickly turned to the area around them. How much did Logun know about the area? Was there a way to avoid the bridge, and the toll there? What was the toll?
Ol' Nik?" Logun asked. "Biggest, meanest troll I ever did meet. And bat-shit crazy, ta boot. Last time I saw him, cost me every shiny penny I had, and some furs, too. But, I found a few ways around him."
"We'd make it worth your while," the Northman, Laramine put in, "if you could show us those ways."
"Well, I ain't much fer company, but the fur trade ain't what it used to be up here. Fewer and fewer animals these days. So, I guess, so."
The rest of the evening and late into the night, Logun regaled everyone with his adventures Beyond the Wall. There was laughter, and the dark mood of the previous day was lifted, if just for a little while. Slowly, the party drifted off to sleep. Dimzad had been the first to his bedroll, but he did not sleep. He waited.
He waited until everyone was asleep, except for Gruffydd, who was on watch. He snuck quietly out from under his blankets and over to Miss Adventure's pack.
"What are you doing?" Gruffydd asked from across the fire.
"Shhhh!" was the only response. Dimzad furiously dug through the halfling's bag. Finally, he spied what he wanted. The nastiest, stinkiest cheese Miss Adventure carried. On several occasions, it had been debated amongst the party, whether to use it as a weapon against monsters. Now, Dimzad had another use. He carefully placed it in Logun's outstretched hand. Then, with just as much care, he plucked an arrow from Gildrid's quarrel, and began slowly tickling Logun's nose.
The old trapper sniffled and snuffed, almost sneezed, then brought up his cheese filled hand to swat away the imaginary pest.
The cheese exploded in Logun's face. "What in the Seven Bowels of Hell?!" He was angry.
The party, once again awoke with a start, weapons drawn. Dimzad couldn't contain himself. He howled in laughter. It was infectious. Soon everyone, including Logun was laughing. "You got me there, shorty", he said.
The next morning was bright, but still cold and wet. Logun led them cross-country, pointing out this and that. Where he had escape a rampaging Bullette, or dodged a Hobgoblin patrol. Soon, they reached the river. At one time, there had been a ferry. The ruins of a well built imperial mile fort straddled both sides of  the quickly flowing river. All the rain lately had swollen it's banks.
"Gildrid", Gruffydd said to the elf,"you have the best eyes. What's on the other side? I don't want to get halfway across and get ambushed."
"Only a flock of birds, They seem to have roosted in the tower," Gildrid replied.
With that, they secured a rope to each other, and to a sturdy stone post, and crossed the river. To everyone's surprise, they made it across without incident.
But, as they untied and checked equipment, Miss Adventure noticed something strange about the "birds".
She yelled to the others, who followed her pointing finger to a fastly approaching creature. It had the body of an enormous wasp. Four limbs ended in clawed hands, and another two in sharp looking hooks. A nasty stinger protruded from it's abdomen, and strangest of all, it had a humanoid face. But, probably worst of all, it wasn't alone. Hundreds were swarming behind it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Of Fires and Furs

"Yes," the Dryad said. "That is my name".
"B-but, you look different..." Miss Adventure stumbled.
"Different?" Newly asked."I don't feel different". She approached the group, but stepped back when Gruffydd moved toward her.
"Newly, do you know of village near here? Perhaps up the road?", the dwarf asked pointing up the road, which disappeared in the rain.
She gave the dwarf a questioning look. "Village?"
"Where people live" Gildrid said with a little too much exasperation in his voice.
"Oh!" Newly said excitedly, perhaps understanding now. "I know what those are." But her face grew quickly dark. "They make their places to live from my dead friends...." She began to fade back into her tree.
"Wait!" Gruffydd tried to say as calmly as possible. "We need to know where it is."
"It is, as you said, up the road. Across the river. Be careful. The trees say something up there poisons their roots."
Before she vanished completely, Miss Adventure asked one last question, "Newly, have more people come around here since we visited last?"
"Always. Always someone or something searching... for you...." Then the dryad was gone.
Then, they too, were gone, up the road.
Just before dusk they picked a campsite on one of the rolling hills that covered the landscape. It was decided not to have a fire. First, in this landscape, a fire could be spotted for miles around. It would act like a beacon for any wishing them ill. Second, the rain was still coming down. A lack of any woods nearby, combined with the wet, would have prevented a fire anyway.
So that sat, miserable, eating what cold food they had. It was decided the two Men, Nemon and Laramine, would take the first and last watches, as their lack of night vision could be compensated for by some light at dusk and dawn.
Nemon fell asleep on his first watch. He woke to Miss Aveture beating him over the head with loaf of stale bread.
The rest of the watches came and went without incident until morning. Laramine had taken a moment to simultaneously admire the first dawn in ages without rain, and relieve himself. It was then he noticed something in the mud just outside their camp. Another older campsite they missed in the rain. There were scraps of clothes, bits of crockery, all strew about as if a struggle had happened.
Without waking the others, perhaps foolishly, he followed the trail of refuse to a small ravine. There he found a body.
It was torn and crumpled. It was a Man, at least from the size and shape. The face was gone, and body had been partially eaten by scavengers. The leather armor was ripped in half as if by huge claws. In a bag beside the body Laramine found a few coins and a black hood. He ran back to the others and showed them his discovery.
"Great." was all Gruffydd said.
Another days march, slowed by the mud. The little talk on the road revolved around the body, and the oddities of dryad life cycles. Another camp, but this time the landscape had changed, and there were woods. Which meant a fire.
Nemon fell asleep on watch again.
Miss Adventure woke again with a start. Nightmares again. She saw Nemon asleep and prepared to pummel him once more. Then, she saw a huge pile of fur parked by the fire. Before she could scream, the furs moved, turned to her a said" Hello."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Long Walk in the Rain

The others at the Hole hadn't been idle while Gruffydd was at the stables. Asking around, they had collectively gathered that the village of Ordilac or Ordilan (no one could decide on the real name) was somewhere along the Great North Road, across a river. This would be further Beyond the Wall than any in the party had ever gone. To complicate things, it seems a toll would be exacted at the bridge. Tancred, the barkeep, was unusually evasive about what the toll was. Was it in gold? In blood? He simply stated to "say hello to Old Nik" and "tell him Tancred gives his regards to his brother, Clem".
So, uncertain of their exact destination, and what they might find when they arrived, the party set out into the cold autumn rains. Weather kept the usual onlookers from watching them go. Only Sergeant Malloy witnessed their departure, and he was silent save the usual chuckle and head shake he gave them.
The Great North Road had been steadily deteriorating from lack of upkeep, and the elements for years. Combine this with steady downpour, it and took longer than usual to reach the deserted logging camp, and Newly the dryad's tree. They rested under it's branches, now covered in the orange and gold leaves of fall. Small saplings had sprouted in the area since their last visit. The little trees were trying to reclaim the area now covered by stumps.
Newly!", Miss adventure called, "Nuuuuu-leeeee!"
"Since when are you pals?", Gildrid said, sullen and wet beneath the tree.
"Shut up." The halfling replied. "I like her."
"First time you met her, you wanted to kill her," he murmured.
A shape emerged from the great oak. It was not the pale little girl they were accustomed to. Before them stood a tall, elegant, dark skinned woman in her middle years. She had fiery red hair, tangled with a few leaves snagged in the curls. Her eyes were a deep brown, like polished wood. She wore but a slip of a dress, that looked like it was made of cobwebs instead of cloth. When she spoke, it was with sound of rustling leaves, "Who calls?"


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Answers and Questions

It was a cold a wet walk to the Royal Stables. There was no use in being quick, the stables were on the other side of town, and Gruffydd would be soaked by the time he got there, no matter what speed.
The Royal Stables was a vast complex, capable of housing hundreds of horses, from a time when mounted patrols still ventured Beyond the Wall. It was now mostly unused except for a dozen horses and countless mice, that now called it home. The ancient stable master Hogarth was shoeing a horse when Gruffydd arrived, soaked and in a bit of a foul mood. Hogarth indicated Gub's location with a wave of his hammer, and mumbled warning, "Be careful with young Gub, mind ya. He's a bit slow. Mule kicked 'im in the head when he was little, and we watch out for 'im. Bit of a mascot around here."
Young Gub, as Hogarth called him, had grown to be a burly teenager. He was twice Gruffydd's size in height and width. He was in deep conversation with a  mouse when Gruffydd approached.
"Err, Gub is it?," The dwarf asked. "My name's Gruffydd. Mind if I ask you some questions?" Gub looked up. His face definitely looked like he had taken a blow to head. He also looked a little embarrassed and quickly grabbed a pitchfork and began moving hay.
"Gub, I need to ask you about the village you came from." The giant turned his back and worked harder. "I know you very young," he dwarf continued, "but anything you can remember about it would be helpful."
"Me Ma's dead", Gub mumbled. "She died when I was little."
"I'm sorry to hear that", Gruffydd said,"but I need to know about your village."
Gub turned, and eyed Gruffydd. "Me Ma told me stories sometimes."
"Go on" said the dwarf.
"She said people kept dis-pearin' from the village at night. Sometimes behind locked doors. Everyone was scared. Then one night, they came." Gub had started to tremble slightly.
"Who came?", Gruffydd asked.
"They was in our house. Lots of 'em. They swarmed all over Da, all claws and teeth." His voice had become a wail. "Red eyes!" Gub screeched and pulled at his hair. He dropped the pitchfork and began curling into a ball. "Red eyes!"
Before Gruffydd could speak, Hogarth burst into the stall. "What's going on in here?" He moved to comfort the boy. He glared at Gruffydd, "Didn't I tell ya to be careful with 'im? There, there Gub. It'll be all right. Shhhhh...."
Gruffydd turned, and trudged out into the rain again. More confused than before.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A New Adventure

Though it was cold and rainy outside, it was hot and smokey inside the Hole. By the fire sat six adventurers, bound by past quests, and spilt blood. Gildrid, newly freed from the Land of the Dead and looking paler than ever, sat closest to the fire. Beside him was the halfling thief known only as Miss Adventure, munching on her cheese, seemingly oblivious to the conversation around her.
The talk centered around their next mission, led by the nominal leader of the group Gruffydd, the old dwarf veteran. They had been languishing inside Wall for months, waiting for a break in the terrible autumn downpours. There seemed no end to the weather in sight, and they were steadily using up their gold.
"Lake Merr,"Dimzad, the other dwarf present shouted,"we should head for Lake Merr. I heard there's something living there. Sea monsters mean gold."
Gruffydd shot him a tired look, "And how, do you suppose, we fight some lake dwelling sea beast? Drag a boat for leagues? Do you have some magical potion for breathing under water I don't know about?"
"There's always the rumors about the village." This comment came from Nemon, the fighter from the Free Cities. He stroked his well-oiled mustache. "I hear of a village where the voices of dead can still be heard. Haunted villages might bring treasure. What say you, Laramine?"
His question was directed at the new man, Laramine, a veteran sea raider of the Kraken's Teeth. They were a cold, hard people, who still made their trade from plundering the coasts.
"I'm new to your party, so I don't think I have equal say."
He was huge hulk of a man, accustom to hardship and blood. Gruffydd eyed him over his pipe. "I lean towards the village, but we can put it to a vote". All voted for the village, save Dimzad, who sullenly turned his attention to his soup.
Gruffydd shuffled over to the bar. The old barkeep Tancred collected rumors, like others collected coins or fine art. Gruffydd slid five gold pieces across the bar. Far too much for a tankard of ale. "What do you know of a village Beyond the Wall? One that was abandoned. One where the dead still whisper."
Tancred eyed him with his remain eye. There was one I heared of. Ordiland? Ordilock? Something like that. Was a nice place. Rich place. Made money off a furs and commerce along the Old Trade Road. That was back when the Dwarves still held the northern passes, and the Empire still had contact with the coastal cities.
Almost over night Ordi-whatever, emptied. People just disappeared. Only one survivor I ever heared of. She showed up in the middle of the night, banging on the gates. Had a small child with her. She was babbling about creatures in the night, attacking her village, getting people even though they were barricaded in their houses. She died soon after. Her boy has been living in the Royal Stables, mostly watched over by the Stable Master. He might have more information."
Gruffydd and walked out into the rain seeking the Stable Master.