Somarrian Hunt – Adventure Notes
May 6, 2021
The following transcript is a direct translation from the RPG session, in the player and DM's own words.
Mixed with a small dose of creative license spice from the DM filling in gaps where needed.
(*) Please forgive typoes: written and produced at Actoroke speed.
Darrell Judd “Torgrum Thorsvoldsomsen” – Dwarven - Barbarian
Denise Robinson “Claw” – Wilder elf – Druid
Gabriel Mondo Vega “Armando Equis Blake” – Human – Bard
Patrick Keeffe “Calsimeer Alderman” – Human – Cleric
XiaoWen Wu “Pansy Lightfoot” – Halfling – Rogue.
Rahat (the Merchant of Granada, who is the Merchants Guildmaster of Andalus)
Razin (Agent of Rahat)
Aggee (Calsimeer’s Targonian Guide)
Jfray (Torgrum’s guid)
Vintu and Ngoyi (Armando’s guides)
Pierre de Clement (Aimilleus graver)
Lonji (Gravers Dig street boss)
Rashidi (Somarrian Hunt Referee assigned to Ballbarians)
Our heroes elect to call their little hunting party:
EPISODE 2 BEGINS
The members of the Ballbarians finished their shopping and in some cases thieving, (from episode 1) and have now regrouped on the edge of the market district as the shops shutter for the evening.
Sun saluted a fond farewell to the day, giving Warrior the evening stage. Brightly manifested he cast a brightly purple and hue over Gravers Dig. A couple of other anumians appear, pay their respects to warrior and then go about their nightly business.
Aggee gathered everyone close, “We and the other guides have prepared a special dinner treat.”
He beckoned, “Follow. Come. Come. The morning will come quickly, and you need food and rest for your big day.”
As Aggee led the hunters to the field and their waiting dinner, a familiar voice sang out from the shadows, catching Torgrum off guard.
“Torgrum, is that you?”
Torgrum wheeled, his attention drawn to an Inn and a balcony overlooking the street.
The voice, feminine and easily identified as dwarven, was a blast out of the past. Decades since Torgrum had last heard his cousin’s voice.
He squinted, craning his neck skyward. Hoping his eyes would confirm what his ears already knew.
Serakka Cloudforge, a first cousin from his family’s clan. She was no ordinary dwarf, but an aristocrat, nearly a princess, the heir to Clan Cloudforge. One of the wealthiest clans in Chaldea.
Torgrum had been born and raised in Clan Cloudforge and after, a falling out, had tried to distance himself from Saratof, family and the clan.
Clan Cloudforge was based in Saratof, the capital of the empire. They peddled in wealth and influence, their business dealings permeated pretty much every facet of commerce, from banking to real estate to weapons manufacturing. In Roosh, Cloudforge was a household name with an impeccable reputation.
Somarria was the ass end of the world. It was chaotic and wild—uncontrollable by any reckoning. No one in the empire gave two shits about Somarria until Emperor Kordaava divvied it up into kingdoms and made people care. But the emperor was dead and Somarria had quickly shifted back to in consequential.
Or had it? What possible reason could Serakka, the heir to Clan Cloudforge be doing in Gravers Dig of all places.
Torgrum’s heart thumped rapidly, as an uneasy dread sank deep into Torgrum’s heart. This couldn’t be good. Not good at all.
“Wait right there,” she said and disappeared off the balcony.
Wait? For a brief second, Torgrum considered his options.
Torgrum hadn’t always gotten along with most people in the clan, especially his immediate family. Serakka had always treated him well, for the most part, boldly ignoring politics and family pressures to shun him as others did.
That really wasn’t much of a surprise. Serakka didn’t always toe the family line—habitually bucking tradition and getting into a whack of trouble on her own. It wouldn’t take much of a nudge, Torgrum thought, to convince Serakka to embrace her wild nature. She was a heluva warrior, trained by her father and some of the best soldiers the clan had to offer. In the Somarrian hunt, she would be… unfair is what it would be.
Should he make a run for it? It had been a couple of decades since he’d had direct communication with anyone from the clan. Dinner in the field with his friends was sounding, at least less stressful than…
“Torgrum!” the double doors crashed open, revealing Serakka at a run.
Behind her came five Dwarven Host Axe Bearers struggling to keep up. Her bodyguards were clad in full military heavy plate, led by High Commander Khurg. His burnished mithril armor shone brighter than most anumians and was probably worth more.
The street shook as the warrior princess, Serakka skidded to a stop, for a brief second, Torgrum was unsure if she was going to hug him or attack.
“Thor’s forked beard, girl. Your looking good,” said Torgrum.
“Thank you,” she said and embraces him affectionately and he returns the gesture, happy to see his favorite cousin.
The axe bearers arrived, panting heavily. They sneered divisively through clenched teeth at the sight of Torgrum. Four turned their backs on him in admonishment, while Khurg hovered, his axe gripped tightly ready for action.
Aggee tapped Jfray on the shoulder and, jerked his thump to Torgrum and made a gesture for the kid to keep an eye on him.
“Don’t be too long, Torgrum,” said Calsimeer slyly.
Torgrum nodded, “Long enough”.
Armando sniggered, “I guess that makes Torgrum a kept dwarf.”
Jfray peeled off and took up station in a nearby door frame.
Aggee leads the rest of the group away.
Serakka finally lets her victim breath, “Torgrum, it’s been so long”.
Torgrum heaves a sigh, “Baldur’s balls. What are you doing in this shite hole?”
Sheepishly, she takes in Gravers Dig. By her reaction to the stinky mud pit, it seems maybe, she’s seeing it for what it is for the first time.
“Do you… have a few… do you have some time? Let’s catch up.”
“Sure. I could use a drink.”
“Come to my villa. This place is no good.”
Serakka marches north to a section of Gravers Dig where Torgrum had not yet been too with her axebearers struggling to keep up in their heavy armor. She’s no wallflower princess, spry and physically fit.
Gravers Dig is divided into two loose parts, the lower portion with the marketplace and lodging, smithies and what is where the riffraff typically loiter. Towards the north is a stout wall, a demarcation line for
The Casino where they had exchanged their currency earlier straddles the wall and can be accessed from either side.
Serakka heads purposefully past the temple of Set, into and through the Casino, into a private VIP area and eventually deeper still into a small stone Keep which she has leased. More axe bearers stand guard, warding off vagrants and graver undesirables who might spoil the mood.int.
The guards stamp their feet as she enters the main foyer.
“How on earth did your father ever let you to leave the Clan holdings?” Torgrum said.
“I’m here on a mission,” she grinned heading to the stairs.
“I’m here on a mission.”
“O’ well then, what kind of mission is this?”
“I’ll tell you all about it.”
On the second floor in her private solar, Serakka motions to servants who quickly dart off to bring decanters of wine and food delicacies.
Serakka and Torgrum sit opposite each other, sipping wine. Serakka has enough gems and jewelry woven into her beard to choke a dragon and likely worth more than the GDP of many small kingdoms.
His cousin looks happy and sad. Happy to see her favorite cousin, but sad. Downcast for how far Torgrum had fallen to have landed in Gravers Dig.
Torgrum’s eyes floated from the vast wealth festooned on Serakka and about the luxurious surroundings, “I see you’re slumming as usual”.
She grinned silently in acknowledgement.
“It’s sad to see how far you’ve fallen.”
“Freedom, I call it,” Torgrum shrugged and downed the rest of the wine. “Do what I want. When I want it. How and where I want to do it. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. So don’t be sad, be happy for me.”
“I’m sad for me. I’m sad for the clan. I’m sad for what we lost in such a strong spirit in leaving the clan. But I understand the arguments, the fights between you and your mother were legendary.”
Torgrum shrugged, “Well, yeah.”
Sensing his unease, Serakka quickly switched topic, “I’m here on business. I don’t know if you knew, but our clan owns all this land.”
“Do they now? I had no idea. How much land, enough to start your own little kingdom over here?”
“We have no interest in having a kingdom here. We buy land and we rent it out.
Torgrum laughed at the thought of dwarves picking up rent checks from everyone at Gravers Dig.
“We just own the land,” she maneuvered past his mirth, “we don’t have anybody live here.”
“I can see that,” he looked around the palatial surrounding, “It is kind of a… yeah.”
“We weren’t making very much money off this land for a long time. Because when we bought the land The Hunt was the thing. And we made good money for a while. Brigthwyna
refused to bend the knee to Emperor Kordaava. Emperor Kordaava exiled her from Chaldea. Do you know who Brigthwyna is, have you met her yet?”
“I don’t think so”.
“She is the person running this.”
“The Mistress of the Hunt, she calls herself. But don’t be fooled, she is a Fomorian of the Celtic ways. A sower of chaos and destruction.
“Sounds like fun”
“Now that the emperor is dead, she has returned, and reclaimed her position over this hunt. And started it going again, if you will. But she is not paying rent.”
“So you’ve come to remind here?”
“She knows, we’ve come to get eyes on the place, if you will. To see for ourselves, what is happening. Because I’m going to go back to Saratof, and our family is going to lodge a complaint, well, with the Senate I suppose. With whoever will listen these days. There are bigger problems in the universe right now than our land deeds here. But we will follow the process and file a complaint and see what can be done.”
“Why don’t you send a cohort of dwarves over here, all plated up in mithril and kick some ass.”
She laughed boisterously at the thought.
“You know that is not our way. We are here on a legal function. We are filing a land use claim. I am here to remind Brigthwyna that we exist and that we are not to be trifled with. Make sure she knows we will be looking and that we will be filing a complaint. The problem is, the government of this kingdom has collapsed. The government of Arusha, which was always sketchy to begin with, was not abiding by any kind of imperial laws.”
“Too much talking. Not enough doing, dear.”
“Have you grown tired of this life yet, Torgrum?
I love this life.
“If you wanted to come back to the clan…”
“If the clan ever wanted to take action,” he interjected, “Instead of all this talking. By Heimdal’s hairy arse, I’ll be there swinging my sword.
“You were the one that left the clan. There was never any actual formal denunciations of you. I made sure of that. If you ever decide to return, there might be legal ways, but…” she tugged on his unruly beard, “you might want to improve your beard a little bit before you come back.”
“My beard?” He stood up feigning outrage, “This is an awesome beard”
She giggled and patted his silky-smooth bald head.
He ran his hand through his missing glorious thick curls and grunted proudly. “I know the guy who did the ink, if you need some.”
“Ink. I’ll show you some ink and she began stripping armor, revealing skin and ink: A hammer and an axe on her biceps.
Servants brought in dinner and for the next hour or so, Serakka tried to convince Torgrum it was in his best interest to return to the clan. She talked about Saratof and the politics of the day, especially the momentous times surround the emperor’s death and Drasildar chaos that followed.
She fed Torgrum well, better than he’d eaten in a long time and well liquored up.
[DM Note: Peter provides Darrell the opportunity to dig deeper and receive specific information later offline. If he so chooses, he can provide questions to fill in the blanks.]
“You are the one person in the clan, worth talking to. I appreciate you bringing me up here. And thank you for telling me what’s going on in the clan. I’m sure if I was there, ten-minutes later someone would be throwing me out.”
She laughed but didn’t object to his summation.
“But I will keep your offer in mind. I have this whole, Somarrian Hunt thing I gotta do. I have debt I have to pay. I have companions I like to hang out with and I have a new dog. I’m a busy dwarf. If you ever need some boots on the ground here, to do something, action and just not talking, get in touch.”
“Very well. Should you need to get ahold of me, send messages through the Casino. You can also, always send a Gekkon.”
“Do you have a token you can provide, they will pay attention to so they will no I’m not just a vagrant?”
“I will let them know. I am very happy to have bumped into you, Torgrum.”
“I did not expect to see a happy face here.”
Torgrum tugged on her beard, playfully, even… lovingly and departed.
Outside the Casino, Jfray is waiting their dutifully for Torgrum, to make sure that he is safely reunited with his companions.
BACK TO THE COMPANIONS AT THE FIELD
Meanwhile, Aggee escorted the rest of the Ballbarian companions to “The Field”; a flat piece of barren earth indiscriminately organized in camp sites with fire pits and minimal essentials.
The Somarrian Hunt attracted all walks of life, not just thrill-seeking gravers. Aggee led them past a group of bonafide mountain folk, hunters and fur trappers. They had a small army of pack animals to carry their entire worldly possessions; mules, camels and even a miniature pygmy elephant.
A brute of a man, close to eight feet and probably weighed a thousand pounds was tending the animals. Outside a yellow aged tent splattered with mud was a middle-aged targonian fellow fixing cargo netting.
Two dwarves, fraternal twins, male and female lounged lazily by the fire drinking and singing bawdy songs.
When they arrived at their campsite, four guides were already there and had prepared an evening meal of local cuisine: goat meat, dates, rice wrapped in green broad leaf. And there were bowls of strange tropical Somarrian fruit, most of which no one could identify.
The guides, all younger than Aggee bowed respectfully and made busy, scurrying about the camp taking care of all needs required.
As the companions ate dinner, the guides danced and sang Arushan songs in a strange alien dialect. Armando particularly enjoyed the performance, drinking heavily from a local lemonade concoction spiked heavily with some kind of liquor.
Later belly full, lute in hand, he played along with the guides.
Aggee explained that there is an array of entertainment available in town, but it’s been a long day. Everyone is no doubt tired from arriving in port, dealing with the heat of the tropics, learning new currencies and shopping.
“Tomorrow morning sneak up very quickly,” Aggee said, “arrive before you know it. Best that you sleep and get rest. The hunt can take a lot out of people. Surprisingly so.”
Aggee was doing his best to manage the companions, being the adult in the room as it were. Making sure they didn’t do anything silly, get themselves into trouble before the big hunt. Everything he did was to help them relax, mellow out, hit the bed early and get much needed rest.
Claw observed "The Field", quiet was definitely the new loud. Bombastic revelry washed over them as people excessively drank and ate, and talked with unpleasant outdoor voices.
If Aggee wanted the companions to relax and sleep, the rest of the camps hadn’t been informed or they weren’t complying with the game plan. Echoes of loud boisterous people echoed far and wide, but not enough to drown out the singing dwarves.
Two men brawled in the dirt nearly, a drunken dispute over gambling while others looked on in amusement.
A couple of heavily armored knights clanked by.
“I’m not participating in their little human song and games. Thank you.”
“Should I take offense?” Calsimeer smirked.
“No, no,” Claw said, waving their hand dismissively like a queen to a peasant, “You’re one of the good ones. It’s okay.”
“Sounds good. Thank you.” Calsimeer smiled demurely, not buying Claw’s platitudes.
“You mean, the chaos happening at the casinos?” Aggee asked, concerned Claw wasn’t happy, “the bars?”
“The locals, here,” Claw motioned to the raucous camps around them, their noise spilling out into the night. “Otherwise, I’m sure I would be dancing and…”
Claw course corrected, “The food is delicious. My compliments to the chefs. Very tasty and wonderful.”
Calsimeer nodded in agreement, “Yes, thank you.”
The fatigue of the day finally catches up with the Ballbarian companions and the guides help them settle in for the night.
“Does anyone want to join me, watch my back?” Claw said, heading to a bedroll the guides had laid out., “Camping here isn’t a solitary sport.”
Calsimeer joined Claw, “You did say, I was one of the good ones.”
“Wonderful. This is cheaper and more adventurous.”
Calsimeer laid down with his head on a bag, “I think I will rough it a little bit this evening. Get ourselves acclimated to what we’ll probably be experiencing.”
“And we will certainly not miss the dawn.”
“Pansy?” Calsimeer motioned for her to join them.
“Yes, I will join you. Enjoy a nice night and not miss the dawn.”
“Exactly,” said Claw basking in the faint glow of the Warrior constellation, “under the anumians.”
Exhausted and full bellies and dreams of the morning Hunt, the Ballbarians bedded down for the night and reap much needed sleep. Or at least that was the plan.
General ruckus and late-night parties and tomfoolery from nearby camps was in no means slowing. If anything, laying quietly on their bedrolls, the noise from flamboyant celebrations seemed heighted.
Claw rolled up on an elbow, “I only need to rest for four hours. I’ll glad keep watch.”
An hour later:
Torgrum had not yet returned from his dinner with Serakka and the rest of the Ballbarian companions twitched uncomfortably unable to sleep with so much loud distractions from the field camps. Even Claw was finding it hard to meditate.
Finally, when things were just simmering down to a low boil new arrivals awoke the world setting up camp with loud outdoor voices, animals yammering distressingly—yelps and howls. There was head pounding, hammers beating in tent pegs, chopping logs for fire, prepping and eating a meal. The new denizens of the field were agents of chaos, or so it seemed, sent to purposefully to disrupt peace and sleep. Their ability to agitate and annoy was absolute—creating discontent from people everywhere pleading for sleep.
“Shut the fuck up!” came a voice from the dark.
“Rude. Humans. Am I right?” Claw winked at Calsimeer.
“I’m beginning to see why you do not like my kind,“ Calsimeer said, “Honestly, I’m not a big fan of them right now, at the moment, either. Anyone have any solutions?”
The two dwarves at the next camp over, seemed to be energized by the newcomers and in return, they too became louder and began singing.
* * *
Meanwhile, Jfray led Torgrum to the field and were weaving their way in and around the many camps. Most were quiet, but some were still alive with kinetic energy.
Torgrum stopped when he heard the two singing dwarves, his mind traveling back to Clan week when his family would sing similar ballads.
Jfray tugged on his sleeve and motioned to the next camp over where their companions were sleeping on bedrolls next to a low fire.
Aggee appeared, running and out of breath. He quickly surveyed the sleepers and knelt by a bedroll.
* * *
Pansy, like all the others, continued to struggle to sleep, drifting in and out. Something moved nearby and her eyes shot wide to find Aggee leaning tight over her.
“Pansy. Pansy,” he whispered frantically, “Last night. There was a dagger stolen.”
“What?” Pansy said blinking, her mind foggy from half-sleep.
“Someone thinks you did. If you stole this dagger and you have it. Quick give it to me. Because they are coming here to search you. But they won’t search me.”
No way was she going to give up the dagger, she thought.
Aggee glanced over his shoulder to shadows of men quickly approaching.
Pierre de Clement—the Aimian man from the softgoods store Pansy had lifted the dagger from stormed the camp flanked by angry men, kicking butts in bedrolls, searching for someone. Presumably Pansy.
“Where is my dagger?” Pierre yelled. All pretense of his loverboy charm gone from earlier in the evening.
“Shut the hell up over there!” came a woman’s voice from the dark.
Pierre spots the focus of his ire and snatches Pansy off her bedroll, leaning close growling.
Seeing a strange stranger attacking Pansy, Torgrum runs at him.
The camp came alive—everyone rolling quickly to their feet.
Pierre wheeled, spinning and tossed Pansy hard sending her sailing over the low cook fire. If she would have been human, she would have hit the ground hard. Instead, she landed merely awkwardly on her shoulder and flipped onto her back.
The other men stood over the companions.
An athletic Targonian woman in high style byzantine overcoat dropped from the darkness high above, landing outside the tiny camp with the grace of a cat.
“Pierre. Stop!” the woman said loudly, leveling a stone-cold finger at him.
Claw wanted no part of—whatever was happing – made to hide dragging her backpack.
Torgrum’s momentum now at full capacity had dagger-in-his-eyes for the man who dared assaulted Pansy.
The dogs were now fully awake and barking madly.
Having tossed Pansy aside, Pierre madly began rummaging through her belongings searching for something.
The woman who had just appeared out of the sky leapt fifty-feet, performed a high wire acrobatic flip and landed next to Pierre dragging him off Pansy’s belongings.
“She’s a Chan,” Torgrum bellowed.
Calsimeer pulled his wine concentrate vial from his pocked and moved toward Pierre and was immediately blocked by one of his cronies shaking his head and holding up a hand.
Pierre’s collogues, dressed in Aimilian hose and finery had rapiers at their waist but made no move to brandish them. If it came to a fight, it would be with fists and bare knuckles.
“Friend. There is no worries here,” Calsimeer said holding out the vial of concentrate.
He cast Command. “Drink. We are more welcoming in our camp, than you might think.”
The man took the vial offered, popped the cork and without hesitation down it.
The magic infused Miracle Wine reacted as advertised, although not quite as intended. Calsimeer stepped past the man as he toppled over unconscious, his blood turned to wine.
A few paces distance Armando burst into song weaved with sleepy incantation, “Go to sleep my brigands. My brigands. My brigands”.
The irony of casting sleep on the men, wasn’t lost on Armando. He probably should have put his friends to sleep earlier when they were struggling, but then where would they be with Pierre and his dandies. “I always hope for the best,” he grinned.
The closest man, lulled by Armando’s sweet lullaby, eyes droop and then began to snore before he hit the ground—right on top of the unconscious drunk. The two appeared like a couple of drunks passed out in a field.
Calsimeer gave Armando a hearty thumbs up, “well played”.
Claw who had intentions of grabbing her stuff and hiding, found she was being scrutinized by one of the men guarding Pierre’s back.
The last of the five men faced Torgrum, his hands up gesturing for him to stop. Maybe he thought a couple of raised hands would make the dwarf think twice before barreling headlong into trouble.
Right! Stop a barbarian. I don’t think so.
Torgrum waved a rule bone at Odin, (his new hunting canine companion), “Sick ‘em! Odin!” he said.
In a flash the man went down under the flash of paws and snapping teeth.
The situation was quickly spiraling out of control. As of yet, blood hadn’t been spilled, but matters would quickly unravel, if someone became injured or worse.
The Targonian woman, grabbed Pierre by the lapels, “STOP”. And then whirled on the camp at large, “Everyone, just back the hell down.”
Pierre shook free of her grasp, pointing an accusatory finger at Pansy, “Lonji, that halfling stole my dagger,” he said spitting foam. He was half crazed, foaming at the mouth, “Let me search her things, I’ll show you.”
“The hell you will,” Lonji said. “You know the rules. Registered Hunters are strictly forbidden from conflicts of any kind while in Gravers Dig.”
“She started it,” he blurted, struggling to get past Lonji.
“What proof do you have of this? We are all tired. We are all exhausted. Clearly two of your men have already fallen asleep in the midst of this rout.”
Armando laughed heartily.
“Are you sure you aren’t not simply confused? It’s been a long day for everyone. The Hunt is coming up. Anxieties are high.
“The shop keeper saw her,” Pierre said to Calsimeer and then to Lonji, “The shopkeeper saw her. I was at the Lynnwood Softgoods buying boots when this, this, this halfing thief…”
“Did you see her steal your dagger?” Lonji asked.
“Let me inform you of something that happened to me earlier today with one of these shopkeepers. I bought fifteen potions of healing. For quite a great sum of money. Do you know how much they heal?”
“I don’t know. I don’t care,” Pierre said. “What does…? She stole…”
Calsimeer continued past the blubbering Aimian. “Just a very little bit. They are incredibly diluted.”
Calsimeer shook his head sadly, “These shopkeepers, they are not the most honest bunch. I would be very careful of what they tell you.”
“Well… I… umm,” Pierre’s angry steam gave way with a heavy sigh.
Calsimeer stepped closer, seeing his words working their magic on Pierre better than any miracle wine. He said, “All they are trying to do is make money and make fools of us all. I think you may have been made a fool, friend.
“I want my dagger,” Pierre said. He tried to step around Lonji who shoved him back with a stiff forearm.
Lonji shook her head, “No. No. No.”
Every time Pierre tried to move, Lonji mirrored his movement thwarting his eagerness to seek revenge for his lost dagger. Whoever this Lonji was, even though Pierre seemed desperate to recover his stolen property, he apparently was wise enough not to test the Targonian.
Likewise, the other Aimian’s, (those not unconscious or asleep), gave Lonji nervous respect.
“You don’t want to mess with us,” Lonji warned, “You know, you don’t want to mess with us. You know it. You know it. You know it.”
Pierre spit frustration, “You have not heard the end of this deal. You have not heard the end of this.”
“You should check back with that shopkeeper, to verify she doesn’t have your knife,” Calsimeer said, heaping on unwanted advice.
“Maybe, you dropped it,” Claw said helpfully.
“Gozon!” Pierre yelled at the man Odin was growling at. “Stop playing with that mutt and wake up Vacce and Loier.”
Pierre shoved the man next to him, “Help him.”
As the men helped arouse their sleepy companion, Pierre had parting words for Pansy and the others, “You often meet your fate on the road you take to avoid it. Remember that.”
And with that cryptic parting shot. Pierre and his friends disappeared into the darkness.
“That was a waste of good wine,” Calsimeer said regretfully.
“You can always get more,” Claw said, trying to cheer up their friend.
“It ended right before I could get into it,” Torgrum growled. “Damn it.”
“Curse those short legs of yours,” Claw said, never wasting a moment to land a verbal jab.
“Hell’s frozen tit,” he moaned, giving Odin a friendly pat on the head. “Good boy, Odin. Good boy.”
Calsimeer patted Torgrum measuredly on the shoulder, “Next time, Torgrum. Next time.”
Aggee happy to see the Aimians leave, and tensions fall reassures Lonji, “She doesn’t have it. I asked her. I know she wouldn’t lie to me. It’s not here.”
Lonji however wasn’t so easily convinced by Aggee’s charm, “uh-huh.” But wasn’t willing, at least at the moment, to press matters. With a fist of shirt, Lonji escorted a crestfallen Aggee out of the camp and into the night.
“Now that we’ve successfully ensured no one else can sleep,” Claw said brightly, “do we want to try one more time. When is sunrise happening?”
Pansy adjusts her bedroll that had been kicked into a ball during the kerfuffle, “Thank you, for helping out. Sorry for the trouble. I appreciate the help.
“If you need any of us to carry anything for you,” Torgrum said, “Let us know.”
People in nearby camps that had been aroused by the spectacle of fight, eased back to their tents and bedrolls.
The dwarf brother and sister had mellowed considerably, their drinking slowed, and now their songs had a mournful and somber lilt. One of them sad drunk, sniffles, inviting the other to give ‘em a hug.,
“I didn’t mean to take it. I should have never taken it.”
“It’s okay, I love you.”
“You should never have stood up for me. You would still be back home.”
“That’s very sweet,” Calsimeer said.
Torgrum scoffed, rolling his eyes, “Whiney little outcasts.”
“And also very depressing and sad.”
“Dwarves. Am I right?” Claw said.
Torgrum trudged over to the two, patting them soundly on the back, “Odin’s crow, boy. You’re better off without them.”
“That’s what I told him,“ the sister said. “That’s exactly what I said.”
Torgrum performed a respectful Chaldean solute, “Baldur’s balls, man. They can shove that whole clan thing up Heimdal’s hairy arse.”
“But I shouldn’t have taken it,” The teary-eyed dwarf said bursting out in new waves of sobs, shoulders shaking.
“Get some rest,” Torgrum insisted, “You’re going to need it tomorrow.
THE NEXT MORNING CAME AGGRESSIVELY EARLY
…with the smell of bacon, eggs, and Koffie.
Aggee who knelt over the fire tossed more bacon into the skillet. Grinning cheerfully to the sleepy companions who shuffled slow as zombies, “Sleeping in the field. Free breakfast to anyone registered for the hunt.”
Claw tossed a rule bone at Aggee, “When advertising field accommodations in the future, friend. The field maybe free, but there is no sleep to be had.”
Aggee and the other guides had all their materials and provisions prepared and ready to hunt.
Pansy handed Aggee ten Casino chips, “Thank you, Aggee. You deserve a good tip.”
Calsimeer followed suit, giving him ten likewise.
Once everyone was up and eating, Aggee conferred with the other guides and left to Danika’s, to make sure their horses would be ready.
Later, after everyone finished eating and packed their possessions, Jfray, Vintu and Ngoyi escorted our heroes, tired as they were to the stables where they found Aggee.
Aggee motioned to Calsimeer, “This I have for you,” he said, handing him a map. “A map of the hunting grounds.”
“What do I owe, for this?”
“No worries, I took care of it,” he said, joyfully, “What you can do for me, is have a successful hunt. Come back safe and sound, so that I can earn more money.”
FINLLY, THE HUNT
The Ballbarians on their new horses arrive at the Hunting Lodge. A large structure that straddles the main entrance, between the wall and the wilderness.
Outside of Gravers Dig are elaborately carved hitching posts, each carved in the likeness of a celtic animal.
“We are at the Eagle post,” Aggee said.
Shortly after they hitch their horses, a Hunting official approaches the companions wearing rich black and silver robes. He is quite the distinguished Targonian gentleman, well groomed, head raised, perfect poised with erect business-like posture. He has an air of sophistication, wise and worldly. Neither young nor old—his piercing eyes reflect strange things few have witnessed.
Aggee whispered reverently to Calsimeer, “This is your referee, a Pentavalo. He will explain the hunt rules.”
“Welcome to the Somarrian Hunt,” The man said graciously bowing, “I am Rashidi. I will be your referee.”
For the next little while, Rashidi explained the rules of the hunt. Going into exacting detail, a well-prepared lecture no doubt told and retold many times. He made sure to cover every rule, not missing even the most insignificant regulation.
He handed each member of the hunting party a set of rules. “It is important that you study and memorizing these rules. You break or fail to follow the rules as outlined will result in harsh penalties, possibly ending in fines and imprisonment.
He ended the rules review, revealing a black satin bag. “I will carry this safely with me,” he said pointing to the bag, “Do not be fooled by it’s size. This bag has much more space inside than outside. It is a magical construct and will hold hunting trophies in stasis and in vast volume. As you kill and/or capture things I will store them in the bag for safe keeping. When we return, each trophy will be evaluated by tournament judges and I will recount the story, leaving out no detail, as to how you obtained the trophy. I will also everything that I have witnessed and whether or not you followed the rules as explained to you. Understand?”
“Wonderful,” he said, “next, I present to you, your safety flag.” Rashidi unfurled an obnoxious orange flag. “This is what keeps you safe from other hunters. While you prominently display the flag, other hunting parties cannot legally attack you and you cannot attack them if they have their flag displayed. However, if you and another party wish to fight, both parties can lower their flags and have at it.”
“Fascinating. You have a bag. And it’s made to hold stuff,” Claw said inspecting the bag. “So, it’s a bag of holding stuff?”
Rashidi nodded, “Exactly, a bag of holding stuff”.
“Catchy name,” Calsimeer said.
“Don’t all bags hold stuff?” Armando said pointedly.
“Anything you captured is worth double points,” Rashidi went on, “There are logs of how much trophies are worth. Anything you capture and bring back alive is worth double points. An party members missing or dead is a twenty percent reduction in points.”
“So don’t die, you guys. Okay?” Claw said to everyone. “No dying”.
“I think we should adopt a strict no dying policy,” Armando agreed.
“If anything happens to me,” Rashidi said maneuvering around their jibber jabber, “you are disqualified.”
“Ohh,” Calsimeer said, “Your coming with us?”
“Yes, I’m coming with you.”
“I am a referee, not a guide. I cannot provide guidance or advice what to do or where to go. I’m here to make sure the rules of the hunt are honored. I’m here to capture your kills and captures and put them in the stasis bag. Let’s say, someone is bleeding and near death. Inside the bag they will remain as such until we return to Gravers Dig, where will provide healing techniques to save them.”
“That’s good to know.”
“That’s convenient,” Torgrum
“Saddle up, Rashidi, “Claw said, “Cause we’re about to get going.”
“Don’t worry about me, I’ll keep up.”
“Okay, super. So, everybody. We’re going to play: Flee, Capture, Kill. This is great. These rules are simple. Where do we want to go? I saw a map?
“Yes,” Calsimeer shows the map Aggee gave him, “I have a map right here.”
While this was going on, the same scenario played out at other hitching posts as other parties arrived. Hunting officials reviewed the registered guests, wrote notes and conferred amongst themselves.
- The “Death Knights” were humans presumably, hard to say as they were encased in full platemail on horses, swords, shield with long lances.
- The “Flying Circus” were five halflings on giant bumblebees. They are sitting around casually smoking halfling weed and chowing down on pastries.
- “The Badgers” consisted of tough, dirty, mountain folk—actual wilderness hunters and fur trappers. This is the group that camped next to our heroes last night in the field with the two dwarves. They have pack mules, camels and a miniature pygmy elephant. The two dwarves are passed out and strapped down to the back of the mules. Tending the animals is a huge man, nearly eight feet. He had to had some kind of troll, ogre or giant blood in him to be that enormous.
- And of course, Pierre de Clement and his companions. Foppish duelist looking fellows will large floppy hats and wielding rapiers. Pierre is decked out in platemail armor and his horse is in barding.
- Another hitching post is empty, kind of. A referee is conversing with someone, who was there momentarily and then magically, faded away, ghost like? Something or someone was there, looking closely, the grass would occasionally bend over as something passed through it. If they have an orange safety flag, it’s not visible either. What does that mean, when it comes to interparty animosity?
Lonji, the Clan woman who had driven off Pierre and his friends came to talk with the Ballbarians. As she approached, Rashidi, Aggee and the other guides moved to a respectful distance.
Calsimeer glanced at Aggee who nodded and mouthed, “it’s okay.”
“I am Lonji, the street boss. Aggee and the other guides work for me. I just want to confirm they are performing adequately to your expectations. A performance review. How are they doing?
“Ten out of ten,” Pansy said cheerfully.
“Excellent. We would hire them again. Wonderful,” they all said at once, talking over each other. “Yes. Good job.”
“Wait,” Claw said, suddenly realizing, “I didn’t hire anyone.”
“Aggee especially has been doing a wonderful job,” Calsimeer said. “We have been very appreciative of his continued assistance.”
“Good,” Lonji said, “Aggee is one my best. Please understand how this business arrangement works. The money you pay Aggee and the other guides, that money goes to me. They work solely for tips. I know some of you gave Aggee a generous tip last night and I want to thank you for that.”
“The way they have been performing, I hope they are treated very well,” Calsimeer said.
“Yes, of course. We take these kids off the street. Teach them to be guides. Some of the rowdier ones we teach to fight.”
“I can appreciate that,” Calsimeer nodded respectfully.
“Whatever skill that they have, they can go far. We take care of these kids.”
“This is more than just a kind visit, to make sure Aggee is doing well. Agge said you don’t have the dagger,” Lonji said to Pansy, “I don’t believe him. When you come back. The Reeve of Gravers Dig will probably be sober by then and will likely ask you questions. There is a reward for the recovery of the dagger. If you would like to settle this and not have any lingering repercussions. Mr. Pierre Clement, is offering four-thousand tortes for the reward on the dagger.”
Lonji beckoned Pansy with a finger and cleaned close clandestine like, “Based on Mr. Clement’s description and eagerness. I’d say, it is no simple thing. If I was you, I would at least take the dagger on the hunt, gets some use out of it. Before returning and handing it in for the reward.”
Pansy thought, considering her options, “That’s a great idea,” she said finally.
“So, you do have the dagger. I thought as much.”
Pansy shrugged abashed, “I knew it. You knew it. You aided me last night and I’m appreciative.”
“Part of my job is keeping commerce flowing in Gravers Dig. I settle problems, you know, before they get out of hand. Resolve disputes. Pierre is not going to let go of this thing. He’s gonna keep pushing. Maybe he wont survive the hunt,” She winked. “Maybe something will happen to him.”
Torgrum laughed, “Maybe that troll looking jotnar will have a little accident on the hunt.” He shrugged.
Torgrum gathered the group close, “Our plan, should be capture over death for double reward points. A druid could be helpful in locating some of these creatures.”
“Yes. A druid, who was familiar with any of these terrains, other than the forest, could be useful I’m sure,” Claw said, “I can tell you everything inside an average forest. This is not my continent monkey boy.
“You don’t have an affinity for animals?” Torgrum shot back, not quite sure if he would be offended by the monkey reference. “You can’t sense animals.”
“Sure, I can sense nature. My first nature.”
“GO!” someone said interrupting the nature discussion. The bombastic voice augmented by a megaphone echoed across the firmament.
Like the land rushes of old, the Death knights put heel to flank and were gone in a cloud of dust, their horses at a full gallop across the plains.
The Flying Circus of halflings rose in a buzz, circled a few times gaining momentum and soon they too were gone over the first rise.
Pierre de Clement and his companions sat motionless, hands cradled on their pommels waiting and staring intently, their thousand-yard stare at Pansy and the Ballbarians. Apparently in no hurry.
Team Invisibility… remained such. Their referee vanished too, or with them, or well, who could say. None of the Ballbarians could penetrate the shroud of invisibility to know much of anything.
Claw tied their orange safety flag to the end of their shillelagh quarterstaff making sure it was secure.
After a bit of deliberation, the Ballbarians decided the northwest was the best direction to pursue.
INTO THE PRIDE LANDS
Following the map Aggee had given Calsimeer, the party headed north by northwest. Pierre and his men follow at a safe distance, matching course and speed.
“We should lead them into a really tough fight,” Claw said agitated. They raised their long bow, testing the string, “I think they are beyond my range. There is no significance at all.”
On horse, they made decent time. It took some getting used to horse and saddle.
A couple of hours later, they came upon The Badgers, who were so tired and hungover, decided even though it was still midmorning, they were going to pitch camp and rest.
By early afternoon, the plains gave way to jungle in the distance.
Pansy cantered up next to Rashidi, “Is it legal to follow other teams, like this?”
“Sure,” he said. “As long as you keep your flag up, they can’t attack you.”
So far, Pierre had also kept their flag raised on the end of his lance, up right.
Our heroes approached the edge of the jungle and spook a herd of Rhinos who charge out from under the jungle canopy. Three direct their ire at the horses, hooves churning and pounding earth.
Staring down the barrel of a fasting moving berserk Rhino, Torgrum makes an executive decision, “I say we turn tail and lead these bastards to Pierre and have them deal with the situation.”
“I second that,” Pansy said, yanking her pony around one-eighty.
“Motion carried,” Claw said, directing their horse to follow.
“Pincer maneuver,” Calsimeer yells, “You go left”, he directed to Torgrum and Pansy, “we’ll go right. Meet up on the other side.”
“Armando’s horse, spooked by the Rhinos took peeled off in a completely different direction than anyone. “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” he said.
Team tall versus team small,” Claw whooped and tore off to the right. “Yee-haw.”
The team split leaving the hard charging Rhinos, crazed and full of momentum continued straight up the middle straight at Pierre.
The Aimians also, apparently, wanted no part of the berserk raged Rhinos and veered off as well, but kept their sights on their prey, turned and followed Claw and Calsimeer.
As they approached, Pierre lowered their safety flag.
Whatever had spooked the Rhinos, it wasn’t the Ballbarians. While they had charged directly at them, they continued straight and over in small hillock and out of sight.
Pierre chased Pansy, “Drop your flag and let’s deal with this now.”
“Leave us along,” said Pansy. “I didn’t do anything. You should focus on the hunt.”
With Rashidi watching intently, Pierre grunted, not wanting to be disqualified or face legal repercussions for attacking a protected party, “I’ll get you yet,” he called and led his troop back towards the jungle.
A FEW MINUTES LATER – NEAR THE JUNGLE BORDER
Claw, Calsimeer, Torgrum and Pansy had reconvened after their pincer maneuver around the Rhinos and Pierre.
“Where is Armando?” Torgrum blared.
“He’s chasing his tail,” Calsimeer said pointing.
In the distance, Armando came flying at a gallop over hill visible for a moment and then disappeared behind another one.
“How did he manage to mount that thing,” Claw said not impressed.
Just then, the ground began to quake and rumble. Where the Rhinos coming back?
All of the sudden, the ground beneath them heaved, like the chest of a sleeping giant exhaling and a large Tunnel Horror burst forth from a crack in the ground that turned out to be a huge tunnel.
Out came a massive trapdoor spider monstrosity.
Popping out all over its head, like infected boils were eyes too numerous to count.
Adding to the horror, a long prehensile tongue lashed out from its mouth trying to snatch and wrap itself around the closest horse carrying Claw.
The dogs, all of 'em, immediately go nuts, barking madly.
Claw dismounted their bucking bronco and landed gracefully, as did Calsimere and Pansy, although not quite as elegantly. Torgrum lost his balance, was thrown but managed to tuck and roll coming to his feet fast.
Armando who had been desperately trying to get his horse under some semblance of control, hadn’t seen the giant spider until too late. The horse skidded to a stop, nearly tossing Armando, reared up spinning the bard around and then bolt back the way they way the had come.
“How do you stop this thing?” he could be heard yelling as the horse galloped east across the plains.
“We need you,” Calsimeer said unbelievable.
“Armando, come back,” Pansy pleaded.
The horses scattered.
The dogs continued to yap loudly but kept their distance.
PARTY INITIATIVE -- ACTION AND VIOLENCE COMETH
Calsimeer rolled party initiative: 1 (3) – D’oh!
“Just blame, Armando,” Claw said.
SPIDER GOES FIRST (5 leg attacks and Tongue)
Two legs strike at toward Calsimeer, the first one hitting and knocking him down to zero.
A leg attack misses Claw.
Pansy takes leg damage (8).
And Torgrum, 9 damage to
And Pansy manages to dodge the Tongue.
“I’ve never felt so threatened by those words,” said Claw.
Claw throws “Healing Word” at Calsimeer, healing him for (6)
Pansy looks around to see if Pierre is around, not seeing him, she pulls out her newly acquired dagger.
She took a swing at the tongue and missed.
Torgrum attacks a support leg. Missed. Torgrum missed and is angry, he rages.
Calsimeer’s canine companion attacks a leg, misses
Claw has a hunting dog (attacks, misses), and a war dog (advantage pack tactics, hits 11 damage) and kills a leg, it droops.
Pansy’s dog attacks and misses.
Torgrum’s buddy Odin attacks and misses
TUNNEL TERROR (Round 2)
One leg damaged and out of the fight, it has four more legs that attack.
Claw, hit (9 damage)
Pansy, hit (10 damage—down to 7)
Torgrum, hit (12 damage halved to 6 for raging resistance)
The Tongue-lashed Pansy, (5) damage and it tried to wrap around her, but Pansy deftly rolled out of it, “I’m frightened,” she declared.
Calsimeer takes half his movement to get up, take his action to disengage and use bonus action and healing word on Pansy for 9. And the rest of his movement to get away from the spider. His dog following.
Claw casts Thunderwave: A wave of thunderous force sweeped out from Claw impacting the Tunnel Terror (inflicting 8 damage), and pushing it back onto Pansy.
Pansy pulls out Ball bearings. The terrain isn’t exactly conducive for ball bearings, hard surface, marble, stone perhaps. Regardless, she tried anyway. Yup, as expected didn’t work. The Tunnel Terror did not affect the thousand little balls.
Calsimeer’s safe, his dog bolts back into the fight. Misses.
Claws hunting dog, (misses), War Dog, (Advantage-hits-10 damage)
Pansy’s dog attacks, (misses)
Odin canine buddy attacks, (Advantage-hits-10 damage)
The Tunnel Terror bleeding and legs broken and inoperable, backs into its hole.
“I say we go after it, capture this thing,” Torgrum bellowed.
“Put it in the bag,” Pansy said gleefully.
“I want some points,” Torgrum agreed. “This thing needs to die.”
Torgrum looks down the hole, cracks his neck. “Anyone got any extra healing?”
“I do,” Calsimeer volunteers.
“Could you brush me up a little bit?”
“Sure” handing him a cure wounds for 9.
Torgrum jumped into the hole.
Pansy enthusiastic followed the dwarf. But Calsimeer slowed her down, touching her lightly on the shoulder, “be careful down there,” and cast guidance.
Torgrum and Pansy charge!
Still full of rage, Torgrum landed a decisive hit on an operable leg and shatters it.
Pansy followed up and misses.
The Tunnel Terror retreats further into it’s hole.
Pansy’s dog struck quickly for 5 damage.
Odin also manage a quick savage bit for 9 damage.
With only three legs to support is bulbous body, it can no longer fight and tried to flee but gets stuck cornered in it own nest.
“Capture it,” Torgrum bellowed to Rashidi. “Into the bag.”
Rashidi followed the rest of the party into the tunnel and into the nest. “You need to hold it down”.
The spider mortally wounded had little fight left. When they had it pinned, so that it couldn't move, Rashidi opened up the bag and scooped the spider up, as it touched the lip of the bag, (the magic Event Horizon) the spider turned gaseous and disappeared inside.
The spider gone, Torgrum searched the nest. “I wonder if there is anything else interesting in this nest,” Torgrum pondered, “say for instance… previous victims.”
“Where is Armando?” Claw asked.
FADE TO BLACK
Loot will have to wait until next session.
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