Jonesomon (Specialist 5)
Ranza (Changeling 4)
Gnarl (Wood Gnome 5)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 6)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 6)
Thrax (Fighter 5)
Vegarious (Changeling 3)
[Slugs MacKenzie (Hedgefey 1)]
The party started their time in Upland by making inquires into what had happened in the last year and a half of 'mortal' time. Apart from a cacophony of local issues of little interest to them, the biggest news was of war. In their absence, Nimon the Gloaming Lord had raised larger forces and started to spread fire and terror throughout the Forest, especially in those areas controlled by the Earl of Brackenrae. The Earl was forced to respond, and called for help from his liege-lord, the High King of the Rock at Carnock. He also hired mercenaries from far and wide, and through the pervious spring, summer and fall war raged under bough and bower. By the time the leaves fell, the Gloaming Lord's army had been decimated and scattered. Nimon himself disappeared, whether to Faerie or just to hiding in the Forest none could tell. But many areas of the Forest were ravaged, settlements burned, and bands of now out of work men-at-arms had turned to brigandage.
Now up to date on the news, the party restocked supplies (including a new donkey Thrax dubbed 'Bagfeed') and a raft, with plans to head south the Brackenrae and check in on their home and hirelings. Hobbs also went looking for a squire, and hired the slimy slug hedgefey Slugs MacKenzie. They left Upland and drifted south on the Western Finger through the day, reaching the outlet to the River of Sorrows as the late afternoon sun cast long shadows over the lake. Thrax, on watch, noted a trio of silhouetted, winged figures on a rock mastiff to their west. Two leaped into the air and flew towards the raft. Thrax roused everyone to potential action just as the two creatures flew overhead. They looked like a hybrid of a stag and a bird of prey, and as their shadows passed over the raft, most of the party was immediately paralyzed. Only Gnarl, Vegarious and Slugs were left free to fight off the two creatures when they turned around and flew back to the raft. One of the creatures landed atop Thrax and started to gore into his chest with it's antlers, while the other tried to lift off with Hobbs in it's claws. Slugs used a slime rope to keep Hobbs on deck, while Gnarl and Vegarious turned their attention to the one attacking Thrax. This one they slew, which caused the second to release Hobbs and fly off into the setting sun.
The paralysis passed as they continued to the south, and after an uneventful night and part of the next day, the party arrived in Wickerwood. The town was still only partly rebuilt from its' razing at the hands of the Gloaming Lord; but the Keep was a bustle of activity as stonemasons and other tradesmen worked to rebuild the structure. They were met at the dock by a handful of men-at-arms, who announced they served the new Thayn Woland, a mighty warrior lately in the service of the Earl of Brakenrae. They also demanded a landing fee, tolls to pay for reconstruction. The party anted up without fuss, and landed to seek out Sister Taritha at the shrine of St. Myrrha who confirmed the news. They stayed a few days in town, also seeking out Thorguld Red-nose to obtain some healing poultices before boarding the raft again to continue the journey to Brackenrae.
Brackenrae showed signs of fighting, with areas outside town burned and crowded tent cities holding refugees and out of work men-at-arms. The town was likewise busy, but first stop for the party was their house. Which they quickly found out was no longer theirs; they had missed a year of rent and their landlord had kicked them out. Wondering where their stuff had gone, they tracked down Brutus Killpenny, their erstwhile landlord, to demand their belonging, The short bald man protested that he had sold their things to cover lost rent and pay for cleanup (their two hired men-at-arms who were watching the place weren't very good to the property.) The party accepted there was some validity to that, but Thrax was insistent on getting back the mirror in which his sister was trapped(?) That led them to the purchaser, the Wulgard, Bishop of Brakenrae at the Church of St. Viglis of the Shield. After a few rounds of embarrassed denial, threatened violence, and 'active' negotiation, Thrax got his mirror back. But the party was now once more unwelcome in town as rumor's of them roughing up the Bishop started to circulate. That probably also explained some of the frostier than usual response from Jaskin the Alchemist when they stopped by to purchase a potion of growth [2000sp].
But before leaving town, there was one more unusual incident involving Jonesomon. As he sat in a tavern that evening, two shady types approached him. The two asked what he was doing in town, when he should be laying low and waiting for a signal from them that a rich merchant had left town. A little back and forth untangled the skein. It seemed Jonesomon's time-twin (Gnarl's had died in the fighting) had turned to brigandage, and now lead a group of ex-mercenaries raiding rafts and road traffic to the west of town. These two would pass word when an especially juicy target left Brackenrae, which the rest of the band would ambush. Intrigued by this, the party decided to ambush the ambushers. The 'real' Jonesomon ordered his pair of henchmen to escort him and the rest of the party ('new recruits') back to the brigand base. The two scouts didn't make it though, as they were shived once they'd led the party within easy striking range of the camp. Following the directions they'd learned, the party struck off the road and into the deep woods, until a rock face with a barley discernable cave entrance appeared ahead. While the rest of the party waited, Hobbs and an invisible Ranza slipped ahead to look. Unfortunately, the hedgefey ran right into one of the brigands taking a nature break in the bushes. He raised a hue and cry, and a skirmish line of men was soon moving towards the party. Gnarl turned them back with a spikegrowth, and the party turned to planning their assault now that their target was alert.
4 of neo-Jonesomon's Brigands