I can’t quite put my finger on why but I was feeling very discomfited last night – I was in and out of the coach throughout the evening. I suppose that could be the natural result of what happens when a crabodile comes close to biting your head off. I’ve had my unfair share of brushes with death but this was the worst one, or maybe it just seems that way because it’s the most recent. Time has a distorting effect on things you’ve experienced, and you never know which way it’s going to go – some scrapes becomes less awful, almost turning into fond memories – others get exaggerated until they’re remembered as far worse than they were. Another little joke of the Gods I suppose.
I was pacing around the campsite several times and I noticed whichever of Gisa’s men was on watch at the time giving me some side-eye. I suppose they think because I don’t need to sleep that I should be the one on watch. What a bit of foolishness that is. Aside from being below my station it’s just not a wise idea. My talents lie elsewhere. That being said, in the predawn light I was the first one who noticed a group of people coming our way. Although I will admit that they were so unkempt and were shuffling along so painfully that I thought it was a horde of zombies coming through the woods – that’s the kind of thing that happens to me you know.
Instead they were townsfolk fleeing from Renwick, you know the place we’re heading towards. They said that early in the morning three days ago several fires had started in town which were caused by or used to summon a fire creature of some sort. The creature was slain and the fires brought under control (eventually) but they had heard rumors this was just the precursor to an attack of some kind so they fled, intending to take shelter in Penside’s Ferry, which is reputed to be strongly defensible. However they found Penside’s Ferry to be under siege. They claimed that it was being attacked by bandits, but that makes no sense. Of course it doesn’t make sense that it’s being attacked at all so, grain of salt there.
“Well that’s a fine how do you do. Gisa it looks like we found that quest you owe me.”
Her dismay was palpable “We can’t fight an entire army!”
“We’ll figure something out, don’t worry. Alright, here’s the plan, you lot – anyone that has a weapon come with me, we’re going to see what’s going on at the Ferry, The rest of you, my good friends Hardra and Tudos are going to lead you to a village not far from here. The headman is a real jerk but you’ll be safer there.”
The fleeing refugee that had done most of the talking bristled at this suggestion.
“We’re not going back there! Who are you to give orders to anyone?”
“What’s your name sir?”
He tugged at his belt in a way I guess was supposed to be self-important. “You are addressing Sheriff Braham Arnassis madam!”
“As the washerwoman said to the bishop, come again? You’re the sheriff and you ran away from your town because it was going to be attacked?”
“My job is civil authority not military defense! I’ll have you know that . . .”
“I’ll have you shut up right now. How about that? I’m giving the orders because I’m in charge. It’s pretty simple. Now gather up whatever scraps of courage you have left because we’re going. And if you don’t I’m going to have my man Otacvio here rip your hair out.”
“He looks drunk.”
Otacvio managed to look menacing for once “Aye, I am, but that’s when I’m most dangerous.”
“Alright people, you heard me so let’s rally – it’s time to sally fucking forth.”
Altos was terrified because I thought I intended to take him with me to the Ferry but I told him he would be heading to Gibson with the rest – what kind of monster does he think I am? Aside from the sheriff and his albino-looking bailiff there were about a dozen other townsfolk that turned right around to head back to where they were fleeing from. I’ll give them credit, they didn’t speak one word of complaint. Although they may have been too tired – they looked bone weary, they must have been fleeing all night. Sadly I sent my magnificent coach with Hardra to Gibson and was left to hoof it up the road to Penside’s Ferry. Martialla fell in beside me.
“Should we be on the road if there are enemies soldiers about?”
“We don’t really know what’s going on. Besides we’re not foresters, trying to beat our way through the woods isn’t going to help anything.”
Gisa came to join us and I could hear the good Sheriff making disgusted noises behind us. He remarked in a loud fake whisper to someone that if the three of us were in charge they were all doomed. Without turning around I addressed him.
“Arnie, I’m going to institute a special rule right now. If you don’t have something helpful to say you won’t say anything. Simple right? And that includes world weary sighs and wet snorting and any other kind of weird man-noise you might want to make.”
“What if I called you a stuck up bitch with delusions of grandeur, would that be helpful?”
“No, it would not. Otacvio?”
I heard a meaty “smack” sound followed by a high pitched yelp and then some soft crying. A couple hours later we stopped to let the townsfolk rest and Martialla and I disguised ourselves as best we could as “attackers” based on their very poor descriptions. The Black Bard wanted to come with us but I didn’t feel like a flutist would be terribly helpful in this situation so I rebuffed his advances- the two of us sneaking through the woods as best we could to get a look at Penside’s Ferry.
Penside’s Ferry sit on a little strip of land jutting out into the river consisting of not even a half a dozen buildings but having an ancient stone wall that seals it off from the land – with newer wooden towers and a gate that seems to have several bodies nailed to it, people do that kind of thing during times of stress. It would have been trivial to attack it from the river, no walls there of course, but there were three keelboats protecting it from the waterside. I can see why you might flee to a place like this – for a tiny not even a village it’s pretty well protected. Of the alleged “besiegers” we saw no sign but there clearly had been recent fighting. Having no desire to test the forbearance of the bowmen in the towers I used my vocal talents to make contact with one of the boats. We dropped our disguises and approached the river to speak with Jasko Rallins, captain of the Double Entendre – I can only assume that name is the result of some hilarious mishap.
“Is that a lynx on your raft?”
“It is, that’s, my first mate Rascal.”
“Neat. We heard you’re under attack, where are the attackers?”
“They’re about, laying low, probably waiting for us to open the gates to two lovely ladies so they can make their move.”
“Good thing you’re here to ferry us around the backside instead.”
“Isn’t it just?”
Once inside the walls, or just wall I guess, we met with the owner of all this grandeur, a fellow both stocky and blocky, who wasn’t wearing shoes for some reason, by the name of Ordo. He said that somewhere in the neighborhood of forty men had attacked them twice before retreating but that they were still in the area. He only had ten men of his own but with the wall and the towers and the boats protecting the river he felt they were safe for now. He too seemed to think that the attackers were bandits but couldn’t explain their actions.
“Alright, here’s the plan, we have the boats sail off a ways and unload their men on shore – I’ve got about twenty folk down the road. We’ll hook up and when the bandits see that you’ve lost your support they’ll make their move. Once they’re engaged we attack from behind.”
“I think that sounds extremely risky.”
“Well the good news is that I’m here no so you don’t need to think anymore. The word is Renwick may be under attack as well, we need to get this place on solid ground as a base of operations and refugee center and so forth.”
As we discussed the plan we were approached by slightly overweight fellow who nevertheless looked gaunt in the face. Ordo tried to shoo him away, continuing what was obviously some previous argument but he claimed that he could help. Turns out he’s some kind of half-assed alchemist and he was proposing that instead of decorating the gates with those dead bodies they be taken down and turned into zombies with a concoction of his.
“Great, the more the merrier, let’s do that.”
Ordo looked like he wanted to spit “You can’t be serious.”
“Did anything about that seem like I was making a joke?”
“Necromancy is forbidden! This man should be arrested just for knowing how to do this. You cannot violate the dead in this way.”
“You nailed them to a wall, I don’t think you have the moral high ground here.”
“You’re talking about the dark arts!”
“I’m talking about giving us the best chance of staying alive, and if that means violating the corpses of those who’ve already died I’m not going to lose a wink of sleep over it. Get those bodies down and let’s get a move on!”
Meflias, as his name turned out to be, applied his mixture and only a little more than half of the slain attackers rose again as his obedient zombie slaves but for all I know that’s a pretty good success rate with this kind of thing. No one inside the Ferry seemed to like it much but once the fighting starts I hope they’ll see the value of having a literal meat shield in front of them. Not to mention the potential scare factor when the gates open and a very tiny undead horde comes spilling out.
Funds: 995 platinum, 159 gold
Inventory: Noble’s Traveling Outfit, Animated Riding Coat, Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Dagger of Venom, Bracers of Armor +2, Ring of Protection +2, Light Crossbow, Fake Signet Ring, False Papers, Bag of Concealment, Belt of Giant Strength +4, Vest of Resistance +1, Ring of Sustenance, Gem of Brightness, Silver Chain set with Moonstones, Gold and Emerald Ring (2), Glove of Vampiric Touch, Platinum and Silver Holy Symbol of Kralten, Holy Symbol of Kozilek, Ruby (2), Black Marketers’ Bag, 879 Garnets, crystal necklace
Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane,
Piltis Swine, Rince
Electrum, watchman Gridley, White-Muzzle the worg, Percy Ringle
the butler, Alice Kinsey , “ Patch”, Heroes of the Lost Sword, Claire
Conrad, Erist priest of Strider, Riselda owner of the Sage Mirror,
Eedraxis, Skin-Taker tribe,
Kartak, Królewna & Bonifacja Trading Company, Hurmont Family,
Androni Titus, Greasy dreadlocks woman, Lodestone Security, Kellgale
Nickoslander, Beltian Kruin the Splithog Pauper, The King of Spiders, Auraluna
Domiel, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee, Helgan van Tankerstrum, Lightdancer,
Bonder Greysmith, Pegwhistle Proudfoot, Lumbfoot Sheepskin, Lumber Consortium
of Three Rivers, Hellerhad the Wizard