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 On the Road Again

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Number of posts : 761
Registration date : 2007-04-26

PostSubject: On the Road Again   Tue 1 Feb - 13:11:09

On the Road Again
We left the village of Yah still standing, which was something of a remarkable achievement in itself. We did however deprive it of certain pieces of fauna, namely two, ahem, camp followers named Matilda and Werther,* a dog named Harvey** which just attached itself to Getz*** and a distinguished physician, one Doctor Quackers.****

*Certainly an original, blessed with the gift of prophecy, you’ve no doubt heard her famous forecasts.

**Full Kennel name Harvey’s Bristol Cream

***Unexpectedly attached to a dog? Ask Phil for details of his unique dog disengagement system

****Who doubtless found himself in this lawless frontier mining village on account of his surgical brilliance, although judging by his somewhat obvious professional interest in Oakshadow’s buttocks, the theory that he is one step ahead of a number of medical malpractice suits is gaining credence

A major development: The wizard Carstein, still nursing his injured arm and concerned that he was losing himself after long exposure to his doomstone, decided to accompany a caravan north back through Winter’s Teeth pass. He passed the dread crystal to Getz who commenced study of its mysteries, greatly aided by Carstein’s knowledge. The wizard set off for Nuln, a great care lifted from his shoulders: Would we ever see him again?

We tracked back to the main trade route from the pass ourselves but turned south instead, intending to cut back towards the river in our search for the fourth stone. I quickly struck up a good relationship with Matilda and Getz, apparently back to his old self and now backed up by the power of his own stone had a clear the air discussion with the witch elf.

After a couple of days the sea elf and I scouted east of the road seeking the river, guided by the ancient elvish wisdom and woodcraft that have stood the elves in good stead for generations of humanity. Several hours of wandering in circles followed until I managed to guide the idiot back to the roadway and our puzzled companions.

I was pretty sure that I at least still had my navigational faculties intact and Getz followed my lead as we struck out into the woods. In due course we arrived at the river that had so eluded the elf and turned upstream, intending to follow it to its source where lay one possible location of the lost dwarf hold.

Our journey was relatively uneventful: Hunting, fishing, camp following; Oakshadow trailed always by her undead bodyguard robed to conceal its true nature, the good doctor driving the cart, the elf and I scouting ahead regularly, I riding Silver Strine. The new fellow Owen had claimed some local knowledge, but it quickly became clear to me at least that his credentials as a guide might be great, but not for anywhere around here.

Snorri meanwhile seemed to be even more sullen, morose and monosyllabic than usual and at times seemed to be in pain or discomfort. Eventually Getz persuaded him to allow the doctor to have a look at him, but our learned friend pronounced himself mystified at the irritation of which the dwarf complained.

Then on one of our scouting missions, we came across the tracks of a small party of humanoids, also following the river bank upstream. Over a couple of days we established pretty much to our satisfaction that we were closing slowly on a group of four dwarves, one possibly injured, certainly appearing to be limping behind the first three any way.

Meanwhile we were slowly gaining altitude as the trees began to thin, then the trail of the dwarves ended, and across the river we could see a newly made raft tethered to the far bank. We debated long and hard about what to do: Continue to follow the river on the basis of a hazy ill remembered map recalled by the mistrusted dark elf? Or follow a positive lead; dwarves who might be returning to the very hold we sought, or perhaps searchers after the very doomstone that was our goal?

Enemies or potential allies, a source of intelligence or a threat? We had already prepared a cover story that we were miners travelling up to pan for gold. This we felt had the twin advantages of being instantly believable to your average dwarf whilst accounting for any reticence on our part about our exact destination. Eventually we decided to continue up river, avoiding the difficulty of crossing the river, a prospect that filled me with dread after my several previous bedraggling near drowning experiences. After all we could always back track later.

We moved up to the snow line, past the confluence of three streams that joined to form the river and reached the point of no return with the cart. Owen, Oakshadow and her wight, Snorri, the elf and I spent another day climbing until we reached the bleak cliff below the summit where the water emerged from the rocks. No battlements greeted us; there was no secret dwarf rune leading to a cunningly concealed gateway; no age worn statue with beardy visage; no deep set arrow slits defending a mighty dwarven keep. We were in the wrong place.

We returned, half frozen to the rest of the party and turned back together to the point where the ice no longer troubled the river flow and the raft bobbed quietly in its moorings on the far bank. Leading from the front,* Getz swam the river together with his enthusiastic mutt Harvey who was making good progress in his training. We used the raft to ferry the team across and once more resumed following the trail south east.

*For once

Our mystery dwarves seemed to have made very slow progress, possibly hampered by their injured colleague, or perhaps uncertain of their own direction. Daring they were indeed, or powerful, as the four seemed confident to travel this wilderness where the Bloodaxe Alliance and other horrors might lie round any bend in the trail?

Our best guess placed us only hours behind our quarry when our sleep was troubled by lupine howling, and the next day our fears were realised when we heard more howls in the distance. I rode ahead, arriving to find three fresh dwarf corpses and one survivor. The goblin warg riders had already disappeared after their brutal handiwork was done.

A dwarf scholar, saved by his potion of invisibility asked for our aid. His name was Gimbri Flintbrow and he was trekking to find a lost dwarf hold, Karak Zulnor, seeking documents relating to the history of his clans. He was close to his objective and believed that Karak Gravening lay beyond it further south.

He offered us a rich gem apiece to replace his slain bodyguards and dangled the carrot that we might find more definite clues to aid our quest in the dwarf hold he aimed to search. What could we do but agree to accompany him? He even seemed convinced at Getz’s flimsy explanation as to the presence of the wight. How he might feel about the presence of the taint of chaos in the party we would have to wait and see.

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