Saturday, January 11, 2014

Westmist Session #62 - Booh's Back (and so is the King)

As the voices came closer, the party decided to face the approaching bandits head on. Except for Kern who slipped on his ring and Bjorn who cast invisibility and stepped back from the group a bit. Darnorth added a haste spell from his ring as well. Just in case you see. While Gurruk kept trying to convince Booh that they were his real friends (which the giant protested between bites of horseflesh) the others waited. In a few minutes the bandits were close enough to see the party, and they halted and called out  a challenge; “Who’s there? What do you want?”.  Darnorth was once more elected as spokesperson, all the more since half the bandits appeared to be dwarves (the others were goblins). He tried to convince them the party ment no harm, but were old friends of Booh who had come back to get him. The lead dwarf snarled at this, insisting the giant (who continued to munch on horse) was with them now and the party could bugger off. Back and forth went the argument. As things got heated , the dwarf bandit sent some goblins back towards the camp to get reinforcements. He also put down his foot, and demanded Booh came back to camp. The giant looked a little perplexed at first, but finally turned to join the bandits. With plan A failed, plan B came into effect. Bjorn cast web to keep the giant of uncertain loyalties out of the way, while Erijay cast sleep on the bandits.  Pausing only to slit the throats of the sleeping bandits, the hasted party then descended on the bandit camp at high speed, while Booh struggled in a rage to break out of the web.

Blazing into the camp, Erijay dropped another web on the golden haired Lutrol, while a sleep spell from Bjorn dropped a few of the bandits. As Lutrol struggled to escape, he transformed into a massive wolf, the golden armor dropping from his body. The wolf began to tear the web apart, so Bjorn dropped a second one on him for good measure. Erijay then used her lightning glove, and Darnorth a lightning bolt from his ring, to drop two ranks of bandits, who had opened up on the party with missile fire. The bandits started to waver, and one group of orcs slipped away behind the biggest hut in the camp. Meanwhile, Kern had gotten behind Lutrol, and in a surprise attack, drove his sword through the beast, which died in a howl of rage and pain.

The few orc bandits still standing, seeing the futility of continuing the fight, threw down their weapons and begged for mercy. But before they could be dealt with, a loud eagles cry arose from behind the large shelter, and a massive griffin rose into the sky. It dove at Kern, but the swift merchant dodged the creature’s claws and beak.  As it started to swoop away, the rest of the still hasted party arrived to help Kern, and the flying beast was beaten out of the sky before it could get away. At this point, Booh arrived in the circle of firelight, his rage soon turning to confusion and despair as he saw all his ‘new’ friends dead on the ground. Gurruk went to mollify the giant, while Kern questioned the captive orcs. He learned they were mercenaries from the Goblin Marches, hired by Lutrol to go a banditing with him and the goblins and dwarves. Lutrol was a bit full of himself, saying he was some sort of knight who happened to get infected with lycanthropy. But he was just another directionless bandit in the eyes of the orcs. Questioned about treasure, the orcs told them it would be in the large (Lutrol’s) shelter.

Letting the orcs go, Kern and Darnorth headed for Lutrol's hut. Erijay checked out the other huts, finding nothing but filth and junk. Riley examined Lutrol’s armor, which appeared to be steel embossed with bronze. On the chest was a sunburst symbol. Lutorl’s hut was simply but cleanly furnished, with furs on the walls and a huge bed in the center. Kern sliced open the mattress and once the featherssettled, he saw a trap door hidden in the bed frame below. Opening it up, he found the werewolf’s treasure; a pile of coins (silver and copper), gems and rich objects (candlesticks, jewelry, goblet, etc). As he started to scoop it all out, there was suddenly a ‘click’ sound from the bottom of the secret chamber. A half dozen darts flew out of a hatch at the bottom and whizzed past Kern’s head.

Looting complete, everyone met around the fire. Gurruk had convinced Booh that his best bet was to join with the party. The giant would stay out in the wilderness with Gurruk (no way he’d be allowed in Westmist!) and share in the party’s fortunes. That agreed, the party bedded down for the night, and at first light, started the journey back to town. Which almost ended the next night when a surprise attack by a band of bugbears caught most of the party sleeping. Good luck, good spell casting and good archery managed to save them.

Approaching Westmist on the evening of the second day, they were surprised to see the river crowded with vessels, each flying the royal banner of Kellowai. Sending Booh and Gurruk on their way, the party made their way to the town gates to enter as always. But were stopped by a band of guards they’d never seen before, wearing blue livery with the royal crest. For the first time in forever, the party was forced to pay gate taxes (100gp!). Asked why, the sergeant told them only that things were ‘going to be different in Westmist for awhile’. Back the house they headed, and questioned Riker. Their majordomo could offered little, saying only that the ships had arrived that morning, the the town had been flooded with royal troops ever since. An announcement was planned for the town square tomorrow.

So the next day, off to the square everyone headed, finding a crowd already gathered. Standing on a platform at one end of the square was a man in a gaudy outfit of blue, silver and purple. He announced himself as Sir Percival of Ashlan, Kingdom Herald of Arms. Next to him stood a women in blue, the commander of the King’s Blue Company who occupied the town. Sir Percival announced that given the March Barons deception in using the king’s gold to capture himself an independent realm, his Royal Majesty, King Berthold II, King of Kellowai, Duke of Mirvor, etc etc etc, hereby invoked the right of ‘Imperium Soldatus Terminus’. An ancient privilege of the Imperial throne (of which the King was a partial inherent as King of Kellowai), the right allowed the king to take over administration of the border marches if the march lord could or would not perform his duty. Since the king had paid to defend Westmist, the March Barony of Westmist would be administered directly by the crown until the debt incurred by that defense had been paid (100,000gp). All revenues would go directly to the crown, and all special rights and privileges granted under the March Baron were revoked for the duration.  For starters, a Kings Head tax was collected by the royal troops from everyone in the square.

With slightly lighter purses then, the party headed to see Afflain. They cashed in their treasure, except for the armor which the Pashnadi merchant refused to take (“You want to get me killed trying to fence that armor! Those Knights of the Golden Rays are crazy!”). He also filled them in with more detail on the scheme to intercept Gilmeshi the merchant on his return from delivering slaves to Zoloren. From whom Afflain had not yet heard, in response to the party’s offer to sell the anti-aging statue from Stonehell.  

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