Colymar tribal moot
Earth season 1625. Leika called on us to guard during the Colymar tribe meeting. At the meeting prominent people of the Colymar tribe discussed the future, made deals, and passed sentences on those brought to justice. It was decided that Anderida of Raibanth would be released for a ransom at the Greenstone earth temple, while Andrega Silverflame was to be executed for her part in the invasion. The execution was held early in the morning outside the Humakt shrine. Andrega prayed to her gods, held down by Jarolar and beheaded by a Humakti initiate wielding a two handed sword.
During the Colymar tribe moot we overheard the following rumours:
- Argath Whitebull is recruiting an army of Praxian barbarians to conquer Sartar and make himself Prince of Sartar.
- Jar-eel the Razoress, resides in Furtherest and is assembling a new Lunar Army to retake Dagon Pass.
- Harrek the Berserk marches north with an army of Wolf Pirates to plunder Dragon pass.
- The Feathered horse queen is an initiate of the red goddess.
- Kallyr Starbrow prepares to perform the Lightbringers hero quest of Harmast Barefoot!
The day after the tribe meeting was finished Leika called Jarolar to discuss our next assignment. Leika asks us to escort Anderida of Raibanth to the Greenstone earth temple where she would stay until the ransom has been payed. The Count Julan of the Lunar Coders has agreed to pay her ransom.
Secondly Leika told us to secure a village called Apple Lane. Once a prosperous village well known for its apple cider and trading, the village had suffered during the war and was now being robbed regularly by tusk riders.
The guests at the tribe meeting started to pack up and to return home. We spoke to a delegation from the Grey dog clan and agreed to travel together since we were heading the same direction. It was a pale grey day when we left Clearwine for the winding roads towards Greydog village. While we travelled I talked to Anderida about the future. It was clear that she had no hopes for peace, with a patient smile she looked at me and explained, “While you surely view the empire as a ruthless oppressor, you do well to remember that we kept peace and order within our borders. For the empire war is a constant, for you cannot have order without a struggle.
With the empire weakened you have rebellion brewing in Prax, unclear succession in Sartar, raiders preparing to pillage Dragonpass. We are not at the end of a war, we are at the beginning of a war on many fronts. The war of heroes has begun.” Her words rang cold and clear in the winter air. They had a strangely prophetic tone to them, I nodded solemnly and memorized her words carefully. Anderida was dressed in Sartarite clothes and taken a wig as a disguise, it struck me that she was very beautiful as she rode her horse in silence. Trying to break the silence once more I asked what she thought about the state of the empire after Dragonrise.
She looked visibly pained when she answered that it would be a turbulent time even in the empire heartlands. The Red Emperor was weakened and would need to crush rebellions to keep the empire together and stay alive. After a moments silence she conceded that the emperor should have waited for the Strong Moon, he had overreached and now he had reaped a bitter harvest. I said nothing and we rode silently as occasional snowflakes fell to the ground around us.
We followed the Goodale path and a day later we reached Grey dog village. We rested at the Greydog inn where they served a filling mutton stew with a rich beer. Dark season were only a two weeks away and the roads were bleak and cold now. Next day we headed north along a well beaten path, it took us two days to reach the Greenstone earth temple. After a brief farewell we delivered Anderida to the high priestess and spent a sombre night in a guest house adjacent to the main temple.
Early in the morning an apprentice served sturdy breakfast with porridge, milk and a spoon of butter. It was simple and filling. The priestesses advised us to take a path to the south past the Tarkalor keep and then follow the main path to Apple lane. It was a cold ride through a barren oak forest, the path covered with a thick layer of leaves that sloshed around the hooves of our horses.
After a few hours oaks started to thin out into a vale with the main tower of Tarkalor keep at the north end. Korl spotted some tracks in the mud and guessed that four tusk riders had passed here recently. In a small oak grove near the tower we spotted a team of big boars mucking around in the leaves. We could not see any Tusk riders but the beasts looked much like the ones we fought on our way to Clearwine.
We carefully dismounted and snuck closer to investigate. As we got closer we could see four boars happily eating the oak acorns. Geiri noticed that the oaks were black oaks and suspected that the boars probably are influenced by their poisonous acorns. We prepared for battle and carefully crept closer until we were just a few steps from the boars. We still could not see any Tusk riders, even the tower looked empty.
Silently we charge the boars. Jarolar drove his spear deep into the side of the first one and it slumped without a sound. The boars must have been sedated by the poisonous acorns because they hardly reacted as their companions fell. The attack quickly turns into oddly silent slaughter, the silence pierced once with a squeal when I hamstringed a boar with my rapier. The scream was cut short by Korl’s axe.
Tarkalor keep was built in a narrow pass between the mountain sides. The main structure was an impressive square tower, at its base it was 20 meters wide and at least four stories high. No guards could be seen at the battlements and the arrow slits were dark and empty. Following Jarolar’s lead we silently moved to the tower gate. Inside we saw four tusk riders sleeping around a small fire pit with a charred shank of sheep laying on the floor and some broken amphorae beside it. We attacked and it was over in moments, the tusk riders had been drinking heavily and was taken by surprise. We knocked and bound one of the riders for questioning.
A little later we climbed the heavy stone stairway following the inner wall of the tower. Just as I set my foot on the last step of the stairs I was struck by lightning. My memory of this is hazy, but I remember falling backwards into the wall and seeing a wisp of smoke from my abdomen. Next I see Geiri rest his hands on me and the warmth of healing magic. We guessed I was hit by a ward meant to protecting the tower against foreigners since I was the only one born outside of Sartar.
The others helped me down to the ground floor and went to explore the upper levels. A while later they return followed by two elderly women and 11 children. We gave them water and as they drank they told us they were from the Hiording tribe and that they had fled to the upper levels of the tower to escape the tusk riders. We offered to return them to their village and they gratefully accepted. After searching the tower more thoroughly we found three amphorae of Clearwine.
Form the battlements the others had seen a group of 12 tusk riders following the road south. We packed some flanks of meat from the boars we slaughtered in the grove and headed towards the Hiording’s village. Down by the main road we met a group of carls on horses that was searching for their kin. They thanked us and helped the women and children home while we continued towards Apple Lane.
It was late afternoon when we arrived outside Apple Lane only to find thick smoke from a fire billowing from the centre of the village. Jarolar urged on his horse and rode in gallop to see what was happening while the rest of us followed as quickly as possible. Inside the village we found that one side of the stable was burning and a group of villagers were frantically throwing water and sand at the fire. Streaked with sooth and mud we put out the fire and caught our breath. A priestess named Aileena from the local Uleria temple approached us and gave us a heartfelt thanks.
We introduce ourselves and told her and ring of curious villagers about our mission from Leika Blackspear. Aileena told us that tusk riders had settled in the nearby wood and regularly raided the village for food and supplies. This time they had been searching around the stable for something. She told us that the tusk riders sought to tame a giant boar that lived in the nearby forest. Tired and weary we gave the Clearwine and the flanks of meat to the cook in the Tin inn to prepare for everyone. It is a good dinner and we sleep soundly while taking shifts as guards through the night.
The next morning while we were eating breakfast a woman ran into the inn and announced that a group of warriors were approaching. It was eight thanes from the Hiording clan that had hear of us rescuing their clan kin at Tarkalor keep. We discussed what had happened yesterday at the tower and here at the village. They were willing to help us as a way of thanking us so we brought out our tusk rider prisoner questioning.
The prisoner snarled savagely and refused to speak however. Jarolar put him against the wood chopping block and threatened to cut his head off. The tusk rider told us that the others were preparing a ceremony to bind the giant boar the first day of dark season. “Your reward is a clean death”, Jarolar said before he cut of the head of the tusk rider with a might swing.
Dark season were only a couple of days away and we wanted to disrupt this ceremony before it was finished. After some deliberation with the thanes they set out to find the tusk riders. In the evening they returned and told us the tusk riders has made a camp in the forest near a clearing called Pig Hollow.
In Pig Hollow a handful of tusk riders were performing some kind of ceremony. We decide to attack them at first light the next day. The thanes would attack the camp and we would simultaneously attack the ceremony. Janira, a young Ernalda priestess, offers to aid us, which we graciously accepted knowing this would be a difficult battle ahead. The villagers told us that the group of tusk rider had originally been about 60 men on boars. Even though some of them had been killed or wounded it was a good guess that about half were still in fighting condition.
We rode out in the damp cold night, with only the rustling sound of the horses stepping over leaves and twigs accompanying us. When we arrived near the camp the sky had brightened to a pale blue but the forest was still in shades of grey. The leader of the thanes whispered that he would charge the camp when the first rays of sunlight touched the ground and pointed us towards Pig Hollow. We hid behind some fallen logs just above the Pig Hollow.
The clearing was still completely dark and the only thing we could hear was someone beating a drum and a dull droning voice from the ceremony. The sun rose over the treetops and Pig Hollow turned out to be a muddy clearing filled with hog footprints. At the bottom of the clearing, a tusk rider was performing the ceremony beside a small fire, while three heavy guards standing beside him staring into space. A loud crash of battle could he heard through the trees as the Hiording thanes charged the camp.
We ran and slid down the muddy slope towards the guards. The first guard was struck by Jarolar and looked dazed, I saw a gap in the armour and sunk my rapier deep into his leg, blood pumped through the puncture as he kneeled and fell face-first into the mud. The other two guards were overwhelmed in moments and we tried to strike the tusk rider with the drum, but our weapons bounced of him at random angles. Geiri attempted a mighty swing and got caught off balance and cut himself in the leg instead.
Janira tried to dispel the magical shield protecting the shaman but nothing seemed to happen, instead there were a moment of silence and a heavy snarl. A giant boar stood in place of the shaman, its tusks curved and white like marble and its bristles oily and black. The air seemed to vibrate with magic around it. I leaped backward behind Jarolar while he trusted his spear into the boar.
The boar seemed unaffected by the spear and swept its tusks towards Jarolar, like twin scythes they sliced the air and struck Jarolar’s spear hard. Korl manoeuvred around the boar and me and Geiri tried to surround magic beast as well. More blows were traded until Jarolar sank his spear into the chest of the boar and Korl cut the head clean off with his heavy two handed axe. Everything was suddenly very still and quiet, the only thing to be heard were our own heavy panting.
Jarolar looked down at the boar and mused, “Are boars a symbol of masculinity?” Korl answers, “Why? Are you thinking of eating penis again?” With a short laugh we rested a bit and assessed the situation.
Later when we talk to the Hiording thanes they told us that it was a stiff battle at the camp, but when we had killed the boar and disrupted the ceremony the remaining tusk riders lost confidence and fled into the woods. We searched the camp and found a variety of stolen treasure. Jarolar decided that one third of it would go to the villagers of Apple Lane, one third of it to the Hiording thanes and we would keep the remaining third. The villagers thanked us with a lively feast with fruity cider and baked pork sides at the Tin inn.
I think I saw Korl sneak out with two of the Uleria initiates during the celebration. Aileena, the priestess of the Uleria temple offers Jarolar to become the thane of Apple Lane, which he humbly accepts. Geiri is offered to become patron of the Tin inn, and I am named Book keeper and custodian of the remains of Gringle’s pawnshop. A week later a massager from Leika Blackspear arrived from Clearwine with congratulations and a sturdy ash spear for Jarolar. Korl (stables)