Note please, if you are part of my Sunday gaming group, please do not read this blog entry! There are Spoilers galore within.
Earr 5th, 907
The player characters awake the next morning to find the cold and frigid weather from the day before was an omen of things to come, as light snow is falling. The Ansailéir and the Demorthèn come to see them each, asking if they intend to depart on the day, and are told that they will. Once the characters are prepared, having said goodbye to their friends and loved ones, the group of characters meet outside the Tálesh communal hall.
By group consensus, the varigal Morvena (Angela) is put in charge, and she tells the characters that they will start in the small community of Bläs. The characters make their way to the main gate, and once outside the palisade are buffeted by the heavy snowfall and the winds. Mylofa Kranet (Kathy) and Corentin Syanaf (Tom) are not happy about travelling in these weather conditions, but Morvena and Mazeo Balcaren (David) tell them they must deal with what nature provides, a fact reinforced by a nod from Nolwenn (Joanne). The characters move off into the snow, following Morvena as she leads the way towards Bläs.
The five-mile trip to the tiny community of Bläs goes by, though Nolwenn and Corentin have several scary moments sliding on ice, and Nolwenn almost falls into a small crevasse, but is rescued by the combined efforts of Morvena and Guirec (Nick). They arrive at the community of Bläs cold and tired, and are greeted harshly by the inhabitants. When they explain why they have come, the two guards tell them that they have not heard or seen any other caravans, but perhaps the wisewoman will know. A small outpost at one time, Bläs now inhabited by 35 very tough men and women, led by the Demorthèn Fala.
Fala and the others of Bläs greet the characters, but tell Morvena that they must eat and share news of the outside world before they talk of "important matters". Bowing to the wishes of the aged demorthèn, the characters tell her what they know of the news. Once they are done and have had some hot refreshment, Fala tells the characters that she knows of Faroe Mac Toran, but that his caravan has not come through Blas. While she offers the player characters a place to stay through the snowfall, Nolwenn tells her that she and Morvena have judged it will not be so bad, and that they must press on since they have the full day to conduct their search. Fala bows to their wisdom in this matter, but says that the ionnthén and the varigal may be surprised by nature this day.
As the characters depart Bläs, the wind and snow taper off somewhat, much to the delight of Mylofa and Corentin. Morvena tells the others that they must now veer to the east, as the Mac Toran caravan would have come from Frendian. So they must track the caravan by what would have been its established route. In agreement, the party set off, and soon come upon a well worn trail, once fully bricked, but now overgrown and somewhat difficult to navigate in the current weather. The air gains an even chillier bite to it, and the characters hunker down in their cloaks.
The characters continue their travels, stopping for a hot meal around noon, as they are about to follow the road into a deep, pine forest. As the characters round a sharp angle in the path, they smell what appears to be burnt flesh. Ahead of them, are the remains of what seems to be a pair of burned out wagons, several corpses, and some large, squirrel-like animals with sharp claws and fangs. Morvena is repelled by them - skorons! Several of the animals, for they are carnivores and scavengers, are picking over several bodies that can be seen in the area. Guirec's sharp eyes spot a couple of bodies that are not corpses, with the two people attempting to drive off the scavengers, and when he informs the party, they attack the skorons, and manage to drive them off, killing a pair that will make good eating over the night's campfire.
Tending to the two survivors, the player characters learn that they are Faroe Mac Toran, and his guard captain, Eswion. While being tended to by Morvena and Nolwenn, the merchant and his man-at-arms tell the characters that they were attacked by a group of well-armed, well-led brigands. He says he believes they were led by Caitine Teress, whose band of brigands have been terrorising the area for the last few years. He tells them that the brigands took all of the caravan merchandise and supplies, as well as two of the women that he was travelling with, and headed back for their wilderness base of operations. The characters quickly realise, due to Corentin's level headedness, that they must go after the brigands and retrieve the foodstuffs and other mercantile goods, or T´lesh will be seriously deprived.
Morvena and Nolwenn take the others aside. The Ionnthén tells them that the only reason the two men are still alive is because of the cold, and that if the weather had been warmer, they would have died of their injuries. That said, they must get them back to Bläs, and for that someone will need to go and bring some of the folk of Bläs back with them, with some caernides. Morvena says that, as a varigal, she can make the trip the fastest and the safest, and the others are agreed. While Nolwenn and the others make the two injured men comfortable, Morvena sets out on the trip.
The rest of the player characters decide not to remain idle, and begin to take stock of the situation. Mylofa and Mazeo search the remains of the burnt wagons to determine if anything of value remains, but determine there is nothing. However, they do come across a young girl who has concealed herself in among the filth and wreckage of the wagon. Even through the dirt and soot, they can see that she is perhaps 11 or 12 years of age, and Tarish. Once Mylofa and Nolwenn have convinced the young girl to come out from her shelter, she tells them her name is Marija (Ellie). Travelling with her mother as part of the caravan and heading for T´lesh, she's secretive, scared, and starving. Going somewhat off the road, sheltering the injured among the trees, the group sets up a small campsite and a sheltered fire, taking advantage of Corentin's and Nolwenn's outdoor skills. Guirec and Mazeo search the area, and find many sets of caernide prints, but a clear indication that someone led the animals and the other two wagons into the forest, leaving a clear trail. The group awaits the return of Morvena and the hardy folk of Bläs, and continue to take care of Faroe and Eswion.
Close to early evening, as the sun begins to set, Morvena returns with a group of Bläs villagers, and some caernides and a wagon. The group decides to stay in the area for the nonce, setting up proper camp after burying the remaining bodies properly. Morvena says that the Bläs men were hesitant to come, but were talked into it by Fala; they are very stubborn, but once their minds are made up, they do what they can with swiftness and efficiency. The others introduce Morvena to the young girl, Marija, and the varigal is distrustful of the girl at first sight, though she doesn't know why. The group sets up their camp and a series of watches for the night, but the evening goes smoothly, other than a return of a contingent of skorons that are slaughtered by the party and the Bläs men. More food for the next day!
And that wrapped up the second session of the Shadows of Esteren Friday night campaign. The one sequence that was not written up in detail was Morvena's (Angela) trip back to Bläs and her convincing the villagers to come and help them. It was an interesting sequence, but Angela and the others agreed that it could be kept to a flashback bit when she returned with the Bläs men to the wagons on the road. The players enjoyed the session quite a lot, are finding the rules to be relatively simple and easy, and got to experience the first of the Mental Resistance rolls during the session.
Look forward to next week's session.