Marcus of the Shield – male Human priest of Shallya, Goddess of Healing, Mercy, and Childbirth
Zoglug Ironhide – “civilized” male orc warrior
Jacien Ghel-Aurum – male human wizard, member of the Gold Fellowship
Belladonna "Frongle" Leagallow
With Quetzal off following a clue to the man who killed her teacher (player was out of town), the rest of the group decided to hold off on exploring the temple ruins at the end of the Valley of the Landsharks. Instead, they decided to explore areas closer to Lucan’s Clock. Additionally, rather than walking, Jacien brought out his recently unpacked “spider-walker” – a contraption shaped like an open-topped wagon, but with eight legs instead of four wheels. It can carry eight people (or a driver and seven people-worth of cargo) and move across any surface, but it is amazingly noisy in operation. After fueling it up with an alchemical cake of reagents, Jacien convinced the others to climb aboard and strap in. He then fired up the contraption by concentrating gold magic into it and drove it up the side of the cliff Lucan’s Clock is built along. After clearing the rocky escarpment edge, Jacien drove the spider-walker among the farmlands that follow the river above Lucan’s Clock.
[A geographical aside: Lucan’s Clock is built on a cluster of ledges on a 100 ft tall cliff that wraps around the bay, right at a point where a single river passes through a short tunnel/chute at the top of the cliff and into the bay, creating a waterfall that forms the edge of town. The inhabitants refer to the river simply as “the river” as Lucan’s Clock was not founded by explorers or colonists but by pirates looking for a natural port with access to fresh water.]
After an hour’s drive, the group got out and explored the farmlands area a bit. They found that the majority of the “farms” were actually vineyards or orchards and all were walled to some extent or another. A few even had watch towers with people in them. Additionally, the “farms” were generally speaking small and spaced apart from each other, many making use of the gently rolling terrain for defensive purposes. This went a long way towards explaining why the town was perpetually short on food, but not why the walls were necessary. The group speculated that perhaps pirates from town would periodically come out to the farms for “discounted resupply” and the walls were so the farmers could keep ahold of their crops.
Remounting the spider-walker, the group attempted to head further east. However, Jacien found that controlling the spider-walker consumed so much of his attention that he could not operate it and use his navigation equipment effectively. (They got lost.) After passing the same farm a third time (Frongle had marked it with chalk the second time past it), they stopped to get their bearings. While Jacien was using his sextant, a group of farmers casually holding staves and shillelaghs came up to the spider-walker and asked what the group was up to. The adventurers talked with the farmers, who were cautious, but not hostile. After getting some directions (and Zoglug a heavy-lifting job offer), the adventurers moved on.
Working their way back to the river, Jacien piloted the spider-walker along a dirt track that followed the river. Along the way, a broken wagon wheel was spotted by the roadside. Jacien claimed the metal parts and the wood was broken up for use as firewood later.
After leaving the farmland areas, the group stopped again to explore the area. While doing so, Jacien and Marcus independently noticed armed groups of men moving to encircle the adventurers. They headed back towards the spider-walker, gathering Zoglug and Frongle along the way. Just as they reached the spider-walker, the bandits attacked!
The 15 bandits were split between men with swords (9) and those with bows (6). Marcus was able to get of his ward vs. harm* spell at the start, which turned out to be very helpful during the fight. The adventurers learned the hard way that the archers were very skilled. Early in the fight, Jacien missed one group of archers with a fireball. “Luckily” for him, all the archers targeted Marcus with their first volley. Marcus was not killed, but he was knocked unconscious by the volley. Frongle brained one of the three bandits charging her with a rock, taking the bandit out of the fight, but she spent the rest of the fight tangling with the other two.
Jacien led three other bandits over to where Zoglug had gone frenzied and was chopping bandits in half. This slowed the bandits down a bit as they each waited for the others to attack the frenzied orc first. The archers started targeting Jacien at this point, whittling him down. Nearly unconscious after a second volley of arrows, Jacien tried to even the odds by dropping another explosion on half the archers. He failed his spellcheck and the backlash from the spell knocked him unconscious.
This turned out to be a minor blessing as the archers assumed Jacien was dead or unconscious due to the arrows sticking out of him and switched targets to the orc, closing in slightly for better range. This was a mistake as it put them just within charge range of the orc, who did so (after the last of the swordsmen broke morale and fled). After unexpectedly killing one of the archers in a single blow (unexpectedly to the archers at least), the archers scattered and fled. Zoglug, gripped in his frenzy, chased after one of them, eventually catching him and killing him. A lot.
In the meantime, Frongle had nearly killed both of the two swordsmen attacking her, using well-aimed rocks to the head. Noticing the rout of their companions, the two battle-drunk swordsmen retreated; shouting threats back at Frongle as they left. Jacien, recently recovered, finally dropped an accurate explosion on the two bandits, killing them. End of threats.
Comparing notes after the fight while Marcus healed folks up (and Zoglug took his fury out on some innocent trees before finally calming down), the adventures noted that the archers were noticeably skilled. Checking the bodies of the two dead archers turned up amulets bearing the symbol of a bow and arrow, with the arrow head being the sunburst symbol of Dazh, the Kislev God of Sun and Fire. This seemed significant, but they could not work out how.
Gathering the salvageable gear from the bandits, the adventurers moved off a bit to a more defensible spot and made camp. They set up a false camp 100 ft away with a large fire surrounded by some of the damaged bandit armor stuffed with grass, posed to appear sleeping. The adventurer’s own fire was made in a pit and kept low so it would not be easily seen. The night was quiet, but in the morning they found the bandit armor in the false camp missing. With no immediate danger, the group rested in camp for another hour to make up for some of the lost sleep due to their watch schedule (they slept only 6 hours each so no one person was on watch alone).
After packing up camp, Jacien fired up the spider-walker and continued following the river upstream. They reach the fork in the valley. The trail they have been following continued to parallel the river up the left-hand branch, but they decided to follow the right-hand branch towards the Dry Plateau. They noticed that there were no signs of travel nor habitation this way.
The Dry Plateau is demarked by a tall escarpment (cliff), which Jacien walked the spider-walker up. The Dry Plateau itself is miles across, surrounded by tall hills, and covered with grasslands. Riding in the spider-walker, most of the group was able to see over the tall grasses, but not Frongle most of the time. They followed the southern (right-hand) side of the plateau and eventually found a tall (7-8 feet in height) but flat stone with a man standing atop it, apparently giving a speech or sermon. They could not see who might be in the grass receiving the speech/sermon, so they decided to approach cautiously…riding the incredibly noisy spider-walker. They got much closer than they expected before the man on the stone noticed them.
Once the man on the stone noticed the group approaching (and they shut down the spider-walker), they realized that what the man was doing was raving, with no audience in the grass. They eventually learned that the man was Ivar of the Stone (as he called himself) and he warned them he had walked the Stone Road and seen the impending doom of mankind – although he was not forthcoming about the specifics. He was also wearing a hat formed out of very thin sheets of what appeared to be tin on his head. He ranted about the Lightning Heart and the Great Bird a bit, but completely freaked when the adventurers mentioned the stone egg they had found. When Jacien pulled out the egg itself and set it on the enormous stone Ivar was standing on, Ivar retreated immediately, running back to a previously unnoticed small yurt behind the stone, convincingly slamming the flap of the yurt behind him.
Curious, the adventurers approached the yurt and continued talking to Ivar through the leather walls of the yurt. Zoglug looked around the big stone and found poorly-carved little figurines stashed on and around the big stone. Marcus decided to pull back the flap of the yurt and nearly got hit by a heavily inscribed “crossbow bolt” from a homemade (and completely ineffectual) crossbow in Ivar’s hands. Ivar dropped the crossbow and continued ranting at the adventurers.
While the group continued to talk at Ivar, he started gathering pieces of junk from around his yurt and assembling it on the floor. He laid out some long bent strips of metal into a rough circle. He placed a large quartz crystal at one of the junctures of the metal strips and a carved stone statue with weird glyphs on it at another. He then set a large ruby on the stone statue and sat himself down in the circle. At this point Frongle brought up in conversation the metal circle the group had (from the wagon wheel) and went to go get it (conveniently moving herself away from the yurt – “just in case”). With a final “Ha! I’ll show you!”, Ivar turned the quartz crystal to “face” the stone statue. The quartz lit up with a blinding light (and suddenly registered as magic to Jacien’s alchemechanical eye) and then the yurt and everything inside it disappeared. Being cagey, none of the adventurers had actually entered the yurt, so they were still present.
Jacien started analyzing the magical residues (with his alchemechanical monocle) and found a thin (but fading) line of magic connecting where the yurt had been to the big stone. The magic appeared to be High Magic. Thinking the yurt was somehow inside the big stone (it was large enough), Jacien analyzed the big stone. He discovered three thin lines of magical force emanating from the stone, each heading towards a different point on the horizon.
Not certain what just happened, the group decided to instead return to Lucan’s Clock, riding on the spider-walker at top speed. This took the rest of the afternoon, but the group made it back to town just as the sun was starting to set.
End of Session
* Ward vs. Harm – provides +1 DEF, +1 Mental Defense, +1 Power Defense, and +3 DCV