The Stories of Errath the Bard Chapter 5
The missing Shepherd boy
Earlier Chapters here
Thorn, James, Errath and Gnoman are in Greymoor city having wintered here. With thoughts of a new year of adventure they buy items and a mule and think about what to do with spring coming. Were will adventure take them this year the last two have been eventful. Thorn receives a message in the Month of the Wave week four via the temple in Greymoor from Arnost their companion of old.
To Thorrie Oakenleg Cleric of Hombel of the Hammer and Rose in Greymoor.
I am in Longreed in the Blue river valley, Duchy of Betheny.
It would be good if you could join me here I came north looking for adventure I will wait for you till the month of the Rose then I will head further north.
The Blue River valley is kind of a hidden gem: the farming here is really good, and the trade in Whitesand is really good and Longreed, too. These valley-folk have it easy, but that doesn’t mean life is perfect – there’s plenty of strange happenings here, too, mostly down in that Great Marsh. There have been some strange deaths of late in the town. I am working with the sheriff and the local blacksmith at the moment. Sir Poldark is also interested in seeing you.
Hope to see you soon Arnost.
Thorn is happy about going there as it might allow a side trip to see his family in Boskenland after visiting Sir Poldark in the Whitesand area where he can explain about Ron to his patron. We can get a ship which will take a couple of weeks or walk which will take more than a month. We decide to take a ship cheaper and faster. We join a merchant ship going that way from Greymoor city @ a cost of 100gp sleeping in a common covered area with rations and drink served by a steward. We will also be expected to defend the ship if needed. The journey will take one to two weeks depending on wind and stop offs. We leave Greymoor by sea on Herday week 1 of the Satyr heading towards the Northern Borderlands to meet up with Arnost. The spring voyage is fast due to good winds and uneventful.
We arrive in Longreed midmorning on Bleday of week 3 of the Satyr and wonder where we will find Arnost. We unload our mule and gear onto the quayside and look around. Longreed seems to be an unwalled town although we can see a walled building near the centre of the town. The harbour area seems to be full of mainly small fishing boats with ours and another merchant ship docked.
James eventually asks around and hear that the sheriff and his men are to be found at the sheriffs weekly court as most locals will be there dealing with town business. So we head off to find the court and Arnost.
Thorn, James, Gnoman and Errath enter the sheriff’s court along with and older man and what looks like his son. They appear to be farmers. You recognise Arnost standing intimidatingly by the sheriffs chair, with another big human sat the other side keeping records. There are also a couple of other guards in the hall and two at the door checking people as they come in.
The Greybark’s, Timson Greybark and his eldest son Pengle, ask for a hearing before the lunch break and are given it. They report to the Sheriff and all assembled, that three days ago their son Jonno disappeared: he was out walking the extent of their grazing pastures, and did not come home. The family mounted a search, and did not find Jonno; what they did find was the head of one of their sheep on a stake at the edges of their farm. The Greybarks took this as a sign that Jonno had been made off with by raiders or bandits, and came immediately to personally request the assistance of the Sheriff in finding and returning his son. ‘ I am sorry’ the sheriff say’s ‘I just does not have the men to send so far from town on a wild sheep chase as they are busy looking for a missing person in the town.’ However he asks the assembled people if anyone will go and help the Greybark’s. There is a stunned silence as all heads turn to look at the Graybarks and the strangers, obviously adventurers as the four consist of two mages a cleric and a bard and two of them also seem to be members of the fighters guild, stood near them.
With no one saying anything, the tall man by the sheriff stands and asks the sheriff to let him go as his honour requires him to help people against bandits. The Sheriff, Sir Viktor Haag, looks over at Arnost and says you had better go with Guido as well. Thorn says ‘what is the payment?’ as James says ‘the company of the Hammer and Rose will go as well.’ Timson Greybark offers you all the coin he has it comes to 20gp, ‘this all we have as a family I hope it will do?’ James says ‘only if we succeed will you have to pay’.
Timson says we will need to head back to Three Roads village and stop the night there and continue to his farm in the morning arriving around midmorning. The party of eight walk mainly in silence until Pengle gets close to me, next morning, and says he believes that Jonno may have disappeared around “the old tower”, a place where all local farmers forbid their children to go, because it’s an old ruin and thus dangerous. Pengle believes that Jonno may have done this because he saw Jonno hiding a treasure in his things: a piece of worked jade. Pengle has brought this with him as proof of Jonno’s activity, but has yet to reveal it because he’s afraid of how his father will react. He shows me the jade and it looks like such as might appear in a necklace, this one might even be elven. I tell the others and we continue on our journey.
We arrive at the farm and are welcomed and given hospitality by a worried but conscientious family, wife her parents and their daughter and 2 neighbours, a couple from nearby. They are all happy to have Timson and Pengle back home but, all the same, everyone’s attention is focussed on Jonno’s fate. The Greybark’s graze sheep and have around 200 and 2 sheepdogs on the moorland.
The farm is a walled enclosure with all the windows facing in towards the courtyard and only a double farm gate as access. After a good midday meal Guido and I give 3sp to them to cover it. ‘You do not need to’ she says, Guido says ‘we want to’.
With the meal over Timson says I will show you where the sheep head is and he and a neighbour leads us onto the moors. It takes about an hour to reach the site of the gruesome marker. It is at the edge of the Greybark’s grazing land, in a nearly direct line between the farmstead, and a line of hills. The sheep is undeniably one of the Greybark flock – the left ear of the sheep is tattooed with a Greybark mark – while the stake is, in fact, a short, roughly made Dagger Spear. Guido recognises the dagger spear as a cheap goblin weapon a dagger tied onto a spear shaft. Gnoman and James look for tracks and find quite a lot I then help Arnost to id the tracks and we see where they lead. The tracks are of a bunch of Goblins and a human presumably Jonno the tracks lead towards the hills. I ask, without thinking, is this the way to the tower and Timson says, ‘Yes’. He tells us that In ages past, the tower lay at the top of a round hill, but sometime in the past (before the time of any local, or their memory) a seismic event tore a rent through the top of the hill, causing a ravine to appear along the part of the ridgeline that stretches down to the lower lands where the farmsteads are. A shallow creek bed now runs at the base of this ravine; the creek runs during and after heavy rains, but for the most part is intermittent or dry. The earthquake that split the hill top also caused the collapse of one side of the tower; a full third of the roof collapsed into the ravine, and a fifth of the first floor.
We follow the tracks in a line with Arnost and I in the middle following the tracks, leaving Timson to go back home. The tracks lead towards the hills, the ground is soft from spring snow melt and rain and so the tracks are easy to follow. We walk for about 4 hours always getting closer to the foothills of the mountains in the distance. As we get closer to the hills the moorland changes to a more hilly terrain and the grass gets much longer about 2-3’ high there are also small groves of thick thorn trees with nasty barbs. Eventually we can see the broken hill with the broken tower on it.
We can see smoke coming from the building, and we think we can see movement around the roof area. Gnoman casts invisibility on himself and says he will scout ahead and into the gully. We move up close to the gully mouth and he goes off, at first we can see him moving through the tall grass then he must enter the rocky gully and we can no longer follow his progress.
Gnoman moves up the stream bed and once level with the tower he can see a cave like hole in the gully wall. Keeping away from it he climbs the gully way and enters the ground floor of the tower. He sees smoke coming from what he assumes is a chimney the smoke slowly curls up and out the roof. There is a stair case in the far corner leading up to the roof area; there are some high barred windows in here 2 each side. These are high being 5’ up, but let light into the interior. The ground floor has rubble from the roof and other rubbish, bones, bird nets ect, lying around. The front gates are iron bound and shut. Gnoman moves quietly across the floor to the stairs and slowly goes up them, as he pops his head over the top step he can see four goblins sheltering in the shadows with one popping its head out to see every so often.
Gnoman goes back to the ground floor and climbs back down the gully side, dislodging some stones as he goes. He then hears a low growling like from a wolf coming from near him. He casts an illusion of a rabbit and has it run past the hole which brings more growling and then a small voice says something and the growling stops. Carefully he returns to the group and throws 3 stones to announce his arrival.
He explains to us what he saw and heard we then start to plan what to do. This seems to take a while and suddenly four sling stones fall around Guido, not close but in his area. It seems he has been seen by the goblins in the roof. So with no more planning we have invisibility on all of us and James, Arnost, Guido, Thorn and Gnoman head off well I think they do as I can’t see what they do. I stay with the mule.
Gnoman stops at the beginning of the gully to cover the rear in case the goblins in the roof come down. Arnost, James, Thorn and Guido mange not to trip over each other getting to the cave entrance, not easy to move as a group when you can’t see each other. I will take the story on for each of them separately as they explained it to me later as they could not see each other enter until they became visible.
As they reached the cave Thorn, James, Guido and Arnost can see a fire with what looks like a sheep roasting but little more in the gloom of the cave.
Arnost went straight into the cave and the wolf growled as it scented him as the goblins started to scatter one with the wolf heads off to the side towards a cell. Arnost goes into a rage and although he would like to have charged them he goes slower due to the rubble on the floor and heads towards the main goblins in front of him.
Guido went in and seeing the goblin and very large wolf, looked where they were going an saw a child in a cell and assuming it was Jonno throw his spear at the wolf. The spear lodges into the wolfs left front leg smashing it and the wolf falls. He then starts to advance on the quickly organising goblins that are forming groups of four in front of him and Arnost. He does hear James cry and starts to back away.
Thorn stopped and cast Barkskin on himself but arrives in time to see the goblin entering the cage and attacks him with his mace. The goblin parries with his spear then strikes back but Thorn parries as well. Thorn then attacks again misses and the goblin parries and trips him down. The goblin then goes into the cage and holds his spear over the boy, calling in goblin stop or he dies. However none of those in the cave speak goblin. Thorn stands and sees the goblin with his dagger at the boy’s throat and backs off.
James reached the area of the cave and stopped to cast Shield on himself then enters the cave to see the goblins an injured wolf Arnost moving to engage 4 goblins and Guido also moving towards 4 goblins. He starts to cast Colour Spray but when he hears the goblin say stop or the boy dies, he knows goblin, and calls out to the others in common to back off he drops the spell. Her calls out 5 sheep for the boy and we will help your wolf.
Meanwhile Arnost and the four goblins in front of him exchange blows, he hits one a glancing blow with his mighty hammer which knocks it out however at the same time two of the goblins hit him with their spears. He parries one but takes the other in his head; the spear gets past his armour and catches in his cheek. The other two both thrust again getting a spear stuck in his right arm and abdomen. None of the blows are life threatening, mainly due to his raze, but he is in trouble with 3 spears impaled into him and another group of 4 spear armed goblins nearby along with 4 more nearly ready to release their sling shot at him.
End of session
Guido, Thorn and James are just inside the cave facing the goblin leader with the boy. Arnost deeper into the cave has 3 spears stuck into him with another four goblins with spears and 4 more with slings nearby while he is still in a rage.