Caravan to Caldeia
It was the Ides of Sojourn, in the Year of the Wolf
Despite Geoff’s insistence on staying behind to carry out a task he had been charged to do, Spark, Galadiir and Drogo took job escorting a caravan to Caldeia for Orrando the merchant. Nine wagons with drivers carrying dried bananas, plantains and assorted trade goods. The journey should take around ten days and Orrando offered 25 Moons per person per day.
Drogo was given command of 5 guards wearing leather tunics and carrying short swords. Drogo rode his war buffalo, Galadiir and Spark walked beside the wagons. Eventually Spark used her charms to hitch a lift on a wagon.
Out on the trail, they camped for the night. The wagon drivers, in time-honoured tradition, rolled themselves in a blanket and slept beneath their wagons; Drogo set a guard routine. It was somewhat tiring and they were all tired the next day. Drogo had a re-think of the rota for the following nights.
The following day they were attacked by 7 mounted bandits. Galadiir took out two with a ‘Rose’s Thorns’, then something went badly wrong with his magic. Galadiir was struck with waves of pain and terror, when they faded the guard standing next to him was gone, gouges in the ground indicated he had been scooped up by a gigantic hand. Two bandits charged at Drogo, who was riding Deneris (his war buffalo), Drogo and Deneris despatched them easily. The guards and Spark finished off the other bandits.
The guards not happy about having a sorcerer with them; especially one who couldn’t control his powers. Drogo tried talking to them, but his words fell on deaf ears. As far as they were concerned, sorcery was a sin against The One True Faith. Overnight, two of them deserted.
The following morning, when the desertions came to light, Drogo made an impassioned Intimidation speech which did little to raise morale.
Later that day, they met up with four exhausted travellers from out of the north, the leader Allath, three other men and a female. All looked world-weary and wore tattered clothes.
They were fleeing the soldiers of the Tyrant of Quollaba. Spark had heard of the Tyrant, a sorcerer who seized the city of Quollaba through the use of dark magic. The desert around the city is the source of the fabled Desert Tears; the Tyrant has forbidden all gathering of the Tears save to his chosen supporters.
That night, on watch, Galadiir observed the moon veiled in a reddish haze. Briefly, on the far horizon to the north, he glimpsed the silhouette of gigantic bat wings in the sky. He roused Drogo and they scouted around, but found no tracks of any kind. At the time, this did not seem suspicious.
Following day, Allath and his travellers took their leave and pressed on west, as they travelled faster than the caravan. The day was uneventful and they made good time, Drogo and Galadiir scouted ahead but found no tracks. That evening, Drogo saw the moon set in a reddish haze.
In the morning, saw vultures circling over the hills to the west. Drogo and Galadiir rode out on Deneris to investigate; in a narrow valley found a terrible sight. Six sharpened stakes, with the travellers impaled upon them. The female was still alive (barely), and managed to whisper “The Tyrant’s curse… beware”, before dying. Galadiir, as a Tricarnian, knew about such things, noted that they had been here for some days.
“How can that be? We only met and talked with them a day or so ago,” said Galadiir.
They rode back to the caravan and relayed what they had found. The caravan passed through quickly, Galadiir noted to some alarm that the corpses were even more decomposed than they had been earlier; indications were they had been many days. They put as much distance as possible before camping for the night.
“What’s going on here?” growled Drogo. “I do not like sorcery. I put my trust in my skills”.
“Your skills let you down then,” laughed Spark. “You couldn’t even find the tracks of those poor travellers.”
Drogo stared at her in horror and put down the meat bone he was gnawing on. “You’re right. Why didn’t I find their tracks, either today or yesterday?”
The thought was too much for one of the remaining guards, by the morning he had packed up and gone.
They were on the final part of the journey, descending down into the valley of the Buffalo River. In the distance they could see the river and on the wind came the smells of the delta. They were passing through semi-cultivated areas, date, fig and olive trees were prevalent. Galadiir picked a handful of olives to use in cooking.
Passing through an olive grove, they heard the sound of screaming and crying, interspersed with shouted orders. Leaving Spark with the caravan, Drogo and Galadiir rode Deneris to investigate. They found a village of clay and reed huts; Caldeian soldiers were rounding up the villagers. One man was down on the ground; with three soldiers giving him a good kicking. An officer carrying a large scroll was watching.
“By order of Caldaios, king of Caldeia; this village is now the property of the king”
Drogo spurred Deneris forward but they had been spotted; from behind a warning horn sounded. The officer raised his hand.
“Halt! This is the King’s business. Be on your way.”
Galadiir responded with three “Rose’s Thorns” that shook two of the soldiers. They realised that the soldiers were wearing medium bronze armour and carried shields and long swords. Some carried bows.
“Bowmen”, called the officer. “Take them down. You men, bring them to me”.
There was the thwack of bow strings and Galadiir and Drogo were struck from behind by arrows, as well as from the sides. A melee erupted, with Deneris goring one soldier whilst Drogo ran another through with his spear. More soldiers ran forward; Galadiir was struck and took a serious set of wounds; he Soaked two of them but he still fell from the back of the buffalo and was seized by two of the soldiers. Drogo leapt from the saddle, grabbed his war club and stove in the head of the soldier holding Galadiir. Both sides backed off; Galadiir created a Wall of Souls to screen off the soldiers. They had forgotten about the bowmen behind them; although Galadiir took out one bowman with a ‘”Rose’s Thorn”, Drogo took another arrow. They decided to withdraw and rode out on Deneris back to the caravan. Even after healing, Galadiir was still Wounded.
Entering Caldeia, the caravan master went off to negotiate the sale of the goods. Drogo, Spark and Galadiir were drinking in a tavern by the main gate when they saw a slave caravan heading west, down into the delta. It was the people from the village, escorted by the soldiers.
A serving girl approached the table, carrying a tray of wine.
“Free drinks for all, compliments of the house. Here in Caldeia we pride ourselves on our hospitality”.
The PC’s all glanced at each other; then Drogo slowly reached forward and poured the bottle of wine onto the floor. They rose and left, preparing to return to Kularni.
Harry was on holiday, which is why Geoff didn’t join in. Also, Geoff wants to undertake the task set for him by Sergeant Vilir. I’m going to play it out using a solo system.