Day 7, Month 9, 3 After the Night of Fire (ANoF)
After waking up the rest of the player characters, Devron Sharpis and Kiarra Foxten tell them what is going on, and the group hastily arms themselves. Torvu Peng tosses a brand at the main congregation of creatures, and the characters discover there are two slightly larger than normal, Broken badgers, along with three of their young. The creatures attack the characters, but Devron, Barm Vaks, and Maila Arette are able to fight them off with the help of several of Teela Goran's spells and the quick blade work of Kiarra. Once the characters have killed the creatures, which seemed to be somewhat emaciated, they salvaged what they could off the bodies of the animals, and then moved their camp to the edge of the walls of the former shrine. The rest of the night passed uneasily.
The morning dawns somewhat cool and drizzly, and despite Maila's assertions that they should travel ahead, the player characters decide that they need to check out the ruins of the shrine and determine if anything of value can be found. After several hours of scavenging, the party comes up with only a few items of value - a pair of bottles of red wine, some foodstuffs in a dark brown sack, a small sack with an assortment of Ascondean coin, and a red cloak of quality workmanship that Kiarra immediately takes a shine to, and appropriates as her own. Once they are content that there is nothing else of value in the place, the player characters decide to move on.
Continuing their travels, the player characters reach an area of rugged hills, small copses of hardy plants, shrubs, and trees, and scattered patches of vegetation. They manage to find a small stream, but Barm informs them that the water appears to be foul, possibly contaminated. Skirting the stream, the party continue on, and find a small campsite near a copse of stunted trees that seems to be quite recent. Kiarra Foxten notices there is a flurry of carrion reapers in the area. The characters cautiously check out the campsite, and find a dead body - that Maila instantly recognises as Vardek Tarl, one of her friends. Vardek has been feasted on by various creatures, including the carrion reapers, and the characters agree to bury him properly. Devron, Barm, Torvu, and Maila dig the shallow grave, and it is with horror that Barm notices that the body has corpse fungus on it! Kiarra is somewhat disturbed at this, and the characters treat each other the best they can, and Teela convinces them that it is doubtful that any of them are suffering from corpse rot.
Abandoning the shrine ruins, the characters decide to head in the direction of the forest and mountains that they can see (looming to the west). Maila is eager to find her friends, and knows that they should be waiting in an area near the forest itself, which she calls Kiton Forest. Devron, Kiarra, and the others agree to keep going, and Maila and Barm Vaks take the lead. The player characters travel the rest of the day through a strangely quiet land, where it becomes obvious to Teela Goran that something odd has happened to the magic of the land. She's unable to put her finger on what, but is very apprehensive. The characters set up camp for the night, and establish a defensive perimeter. Devron is adamant that some of the less combat-oriented characters learn some skills with weapons so as to adequately defend themselves, and before the evening meal he puts Teela, Kiarra, and Maila through some basic drills. The female player characters are not amused by this, but they grin and bear it and do remarkably well against the former Legionnaire.
The evening passes uneventfully, and the player characters decide to remain in the area for a short time, giving Barm time to do some hunting and foraging, as the player characters are running low on food. Barm is quite successful, having managed to catch a few small grouse, and the party is able to continue their travels quite quickly. Maila and Barm continue to lead the group, heading for the forest and mountains that lie ahead of them. Barm estimates that they should arrive at the edge of the forest some time later in the day.
The trip is relatively uneventful, although the party are attacked by a small group of bandits, five in all, men and women among them, who claim to be Warlanders. They claim that a small village, called Abreal, lies to the west, on the edge of the forest, and Maila is excited to learn this, but this is not the time to discuss the matter. It is obvious to all but Maila that these are not Warlanders, and the party makes short work of them, accumulating some additional weapons (including a short sword, that Devron insists that he learn to use), as well as a few trade items that Torvu Peng feels the group should carry, as they can be justified if they can make an arrangement in Abreal, if the village exists.
The players all seemed to enjoy the game session, although after it was over, both Kathy and Joanne commented that this session was much more dour than any that I had run in a while. That's saying a lot given the nature and background of the Desolation game world, and the veterans of the group explained some of what they meant to Angela, the relative newcomer to the group. The plot for the adventure is finally starting to come together, and Angela said that she's quite pleased about what seems to be happening, but that she hopes her character's friends aren't all dead! :) Ah, well, all will be revealed sooner or later...