Aaron Aspodel (SteveR) - Former Soldier
Jaina of Tessar (Tammy) - Air Mage and Messenger
Tanar Ranvek (GM NPC) - Hunter/Ranger
Japrian 5th, 2556 GA (Galenian Age)
Japrian 5th, 2556 GA: In the town of Southgate, one of the cities in the southernmost Barony of Carzala on the frontier of Alusia, Air Mage and Messenger Jaina of Tessar is contracted by one Hiram Moode, a healer in the town, to deliver a scroll (weighs 3 ozs.) in a not waterproof scroll case (weighs 14 ozs.) with a wax seal to the healer of the village of Faversham, Carl Vannis. The payment for the delivery is the standard rate, to be made by the recipient upon delivery. Jaina has never heard of Faversham, and Hiram tells her that it is a relatively new village, an outpost of the Barony that has been established on the River Running, near the forest of Karsharak. Since the trip into that wilderness can be dangerous, Hiram has also hired a former man-at-arms now a soldier-of-fortune named Tanar Ranvek to act as her guide and bodyguard to Faversham. After their meeting with Hiram, Jaina and Tanar set out the next morning (Japrian 6th) from Southgate, following the easternmost trail heading south into the edge of the Fastness of Girwyllan. As the two characters travel together, Jaina learns that Tanar was chosen for this job because he is familiar with the area of the Sweet Riding they are heading into; he was one of the scouts who helped take the new villagers to their home to be, and has also made a couple of other trips to Faversham. Some twelve or so days later, the two find themselves approaching the River Running and the edge of the woodland that marks the border of the Karsharak Forest. [Note: the trip is 6-1/2 days travel from Southgate to the edge of the trail end in the eastern Fastness, and then 6 more days to the point where the scenario starts near the River Running.]
Japrian 9th, 2556 GA: Former soldier Aaron Aspodel is accompanying the caravan of Frool Anday, a young somewhat foolish merchant trying to make a name for himself, and attempting to get an early start by beating more experienced caravan masters to some of the desirable routes for the start of the season. He encountered the caravan at Crystal Spring, where it started off, and signed up as a guard [at a rate of 3 SP per day] at Southgate. The caravan set off into the wilderness from there, travelling the trail through the eastern edge of the Fastness of Girwyllan, and then out into the plains. They encountered a few hazards, but nothing the six guards could not handle at the time. [As they travelled south and into the western edges of the Sweet Riding, disaster struck and the caravan was burned to the group, everyone except Aaron Aspodel was killed, and...aww, that would be telling! Whatever happened has left Aaron with no memory of the events... - jk]
Japrian 19th, 2556 GA: It is a somewhat cold, crisp early Spring day as Jaina Tessar wakes in the small campsite she and Tanar Ranvek share. The copse of trees is in a large, meadow-dominated region near the Sweet Riding, the Running River located to the south, and the darkly vegetated green of the woods that mark the Forest of Karsharak dominating to the south. From the fire that he's tending, Tanar greets Jaina, and offers her some berry tea and leftovers from the evening meal the night before as breakfast. As she looks around, Jaina sees the denuded trees of the copse from the winter, and spots of frost on the ground here and there. Tanar tells her they had visitors the night before, as there are wolf prints outside the copse in the melting frost. After getting herself together, Jaina attempts to climb a tree and see what her affinity with air can tell her about the day. However, she fails in her attempt to do so [backfiring in the process, rolling 35 over what she needed], and goes "air blind" for a period of 3 hours. Noting that something seems to be off with her, Tanar tells her they are not in a rush to depart this morning. He tells her they are running low on food, and that he's going to go hunting for a few hours, though he's not sure what he'll find in the wilderness. Jaina says she'll pack up the campsite and tidy the ground, and wait for him to return. Grabbing his bow and dagger, Tanar heads out of the copse.
Elsewhere, Aaron Aspodel wakes up to find the wreckage of the caravan still present, so it wasn't a nightmare. Several fires from the burning wagons are still active, though they've died down considerably since he last woke. He can't remember what happened and how the caravan was destroyed, and worries about the loss of his memory. Wearily and in great pain, he rises to his feet, and looks around. He sees two of the horses, at least their dead remains. Looking around, he spots a nearby small tree and his belongings lying beneath it, just as he remembers leaving them. Gazing around once more, Aaron sees the carnage from the fight(?) all around him, and vomits from the smell of sizzling human flesh that still taints the air. Checking out his physical condition, Aaron finds that he's got several severe wounds [he's suffering 10 FT damage and 8 EN damage]. He decides to attempt to heal his injuries using his limited first aid abilities, but due to his injuries and addled state injures himself even more. [He suffers -2 to FT, EN, and MD until he is properly healed.] Waking up from another momentary bout of dizziness, he notes there is a symbol carved into the tree below which his belongings rest. Coming to a decision, Aaron decides that he cannot remain here, and needs to return to Carzala proper and report what has happened at Regar's Keep...if only he can remember what happened. He collapses once more into unconsciousness at the base of the tree.
Several hours later, after having tidied up the copse of woods they occupied and prepared all the belongings for travel, Jaina is looking around, concerned about wolves returning again. She suddenly hears a flapping sound, and looking around, see a white dove. To her surprise, it speaks to her with a high-pitched male voice. "You have to help him," it says. Jaina recovers her senses and asks who she has to help. "The one who survived." She asks where to find him. "Where the first tried but failed, and the dead rose." She tells the bird that she doesn't know where to look. "The path is marked if you can follow," the dove states. While she thinks, and before she can say another word, a strong wind rises from nowhere, and the white dove appears to dissipate into the air itself.
Aaron regains consciousness once more. He notices that one of his wounds is bleeding again [and loses 1 EN point]. He decides to just use his first aid tools at hand, and binds his injuries as best he can. He goes in search of a bit of food, being cautious in his movements, but finds nothing remaining from the caravan goods or those of any of those who were part of the caravan. He determines that it is about mid-morning, and tries to orient himself. Seeing the massive swath of green from Karsharak, he decides to head in that direction at a light pace.
Jaina waits for Tanar's return, mulling over the events that have occurred and the business with the bird. Shortly after, she hears crunching footsteps in the remains of the frost, and sees Tanar come into view. Tanar returns to the campsite, carrying three braces of rabbit. Tanar asks if she's all right, and she tells him about the appearance of the white dove and what happened. He scoffs at her tale at first, but the more she tells him the more he realizes that magic and/or the Gods are involved in this matter, though he stays quiet on that subject. Jaina tells him that she's packed up their various belongings, and they're good to go. Tanar takes a large, reddish stained sack from his backpack, uses a bit of water from his water skin to clean most of the blood from the rabbits, and then stuffs them into the sack. He tells her that on his way back he found a large set of tracks, very recent, indicating a caravan had gone through the area. Jaina is somewhat surprised, but says that perhaps some merchant was trying to get a leg up on his competition. Tanar agrees, and the two set off and follow the caravan tracks once he leads them back to them. He tells Jaina that they'll need to set up a camp at some point, as it's another two or three days to the village of Faversham, and he still needs to take care of the rabbits as well.
After a couple of hours, Jaina and Tanar enter an area with some trees and shrubs scattered about here and there in somewhat tall (for the season) scrub grass. Jaina spots someone up ahead, about 50 feet away, leaning up against a tree [it's Aaron]. They move closer, but as they do so, Jaina sees something shadowy moving through the scrub grass, but can't make out what it is. At first, Tanar sees nothing, but as they get closer to [Aaron] he sees them, too. As the two run towards Aaron, Tanar drawing his sabre, Jaina shouting a warning to Aaron, figures start to rise out of the scrub grass - they are skeletons!
The skeletons, some seven in all, rise up, carrying rusted daggers and short swords, but are wearing flashes of remnants of clothing and perhaps scraps of armour. Aaron wearily rises up to face them with Jaina and Tanar, drawing his broadsword. Jaina opts to stay as close to Tanar as she can. Once the skirmish begins, the three characters find themselves somewhat on the defensive and out-manuevered by the undead creatures. It does not go well for the player characters, though only Jaina is injured [a scratch for 3 FT points, that does not become infected later]. Eventually, the three characters decide they have to outrun the undead creatures and escape them, though Tanar is hard pressed to keep them from Jaina, and Aaron must fight his way out from among them. While Tanar manages to destroy two of them and it looks like Aaron will not make it out alive, the characters are saved when the remaining skeletons turn to dust or their bones fall lifelessly to the ground.
After the fight is over, the skeletons either having turned to dust or merely broken into lifeless pieces, the characters look around and assess the situation. Aaron was not injured in the fight with the skeletons, but he is still the worse for wear after his initial injuries during the attack on the caravan. Jaina took a minor dagger wound from one of the skeletons, but is fine [her natural good health having overcome any chance of Infection]. Tanar took no injuries, but he seems discomfited by the whole incident. After the three introduce themselves, Tanar tells Aaron and Jaina that they were on the edges of a former battlefield that occurred in this area several centuries ago. He tells them that dark magic is required to activate skeletal remains such as these, and that their collapse was "fortunate." Jaina asks several questions, and the group posits that since there was no necromancer or the like in the area, perhaps the magic of the Karsharak was what caused the dead to attack the group; sheer luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
While Jaina asks Aaron how he got to where they found him, Tanar moves off to examine some of the skeletons. Aaron tells her he doesn't remember what happened exactly, but the caravan that he was guarding was attacked, and everyone was slaughtered and all the goods were taken. Meanwhile, Tanar mutters to himself and calls Aaron over. When Aaron tells him he was a soldier, Tanar asks him to look at the dagger and short sword of one of the skeletal warriors. Aaron examines the weapons, and points out they are not the weapons of a soldier from centuries ago. Indeed, they're quite modern, and Aaron comments that despite the dried blood on it, the dagger is of Carzalan make, pointing out the weapon maker's logo - which he recognizes from his time as a soldier at Regar's Keep. The two talk some more, and Jaina becomes horrified to learn that the skeletal warriors might actually have been caravan guards, or perhaps soldiers, from Carzala. Jaina and Tanar realize the caravan that Aaron guarded that was destroyed may have been an attempt by a merchant to get the upper hand on his competition by trying to reach Faversham first; however, they must have been travelling near the middle of the former battlefield, and thus faced perhaps hundreds of the dead. Before the implications of that can sink in, Aaron's injuries cause a moment of dizziness and weakness, and Jaina suggests that they find a place to camp for a bit. Tanar has the braces of rabbits to skin, and perhaps he and Jaina can also tend to Aaron's injuries and allow him a bit of time to recover. But not where they are.
With Jaina and Tanar's assistance, Aaron and the other two set off into the bright, post-noon wilderness, the bright green Forest of Karsharak looming ahead of them...
Sunday afternoon's game session of the start of the DragonQuest RPG campaign was a pretty good one, marred only by my spending about twenty minutes or so in the bathroom towards the end, inconveniently in the middle of the fight with the skeletons. The session went as well as can be expected, given I've only got two players [anyone out there want to join the Sunday group and play? - jk], and Tammy got some good roleplaying in, interacting with the NPC Tanar Ranvek. SteveR seemed puzzled at times about what to do, but he's also dealing with other issues at the moment, so I can't say I was disappointed or surprised. Both players seemed to enjoy the game session, and are looking forward to the next game session.
Overall, it was a decent game session for the Sunday group, and started off the new campaign in a relatively straight forward manner. I'm looking forward to the next session of the game.