This was the first time taking the party to someplace other than Orihalcus. Orihalcus was desinged to be a small pond - safe, easy, comfortable - but invariably limited for what the party can do/get/experience. Ponyboro was much larger geographically although only about twice as many people actually lived there. And it was wealthier - and with more of the tradtional medieval/fantasy town elements that the part would be able to meet with and interact with.
I think they did a good job and it was nice to see them in a place a bit outside their comfort zone.
Write up follows:
We left Orihalcus with our charge of 4 sturdy draft horses, one caravan wagon, 2 sealed sacks of mail, and 21 100-lb crates of raw copper in both bar and slug form to be brought to Ponyboro where it would be turned over to Lord Artis Daernhorse's Reeve and eventually transported to Cymbarton; the barony and county Capital.
The weather started off warm and pleasant but as the hours pressed on, the clouds thickened and turned steely gray – with an eventual deluge occurring shortly after the mid-day rest and lunch of hardtack, watery kvass, and cold unsteeped gruel. The downpour weighed heavily on the horses whose pace slowed further and further until they eventually stopped moving; cold and miserable in the rain.
Detheron's skill at animal handling came into play as he was able to coax the team into moving again – and we kept up a questionable pace until 3:30 on Firemonth the 29th. At that time, we broke out the feed and water for the horses and gave a break of 45 minutes or so in the rain until we felt it was enough time and we should press on. As it is the summer months still, sunset is around 7:30 so we had the better part of 3 hours to go.
A while later, Karis' suspicions of the state of the roads after all this rain came to pass as we came upon a section of the road that had been covered in a swath of mud run off from the mountain itself. At its height it was 4 odd feet tall, and covered the majority of the roadbed for more than 30 feet. The decision to drive the wagon over it was passed, as well as taking the wagon OFF the road and along the slope as too risky. It was time to dig.
Kegana Attwalt had given us 2 shovels, and Detheron had one of his own. Deth took care of the horses(after lighting his pipe and relaxing with some tobacco), Zoltan made himself "scarce" by climbing a spire to play lookout, and that left Karis, Gwyn, and Puck to dig. And dig they did. Most of the mud was carved off and shoved to the right, but Puck's digging skills were nothing to write home about as he speared the dwarf in the ankle at least twice, smacked his with the shaft once, and unknowingly slopped mud on the cavalier two times. But at last the deed was done, and with consummate skill, Detheron led the team past the much improved area of the road and to the other side.
It was about 7ish at night now and the fading sun (and now stopped rain) made the decision for the party to hole up for the night. Detheron went out to forage for kindling, Zoltan went down the road ahead for a half hour to see if we were able to find the "rest area" that other caravan's might have taken, and Karis rubbed down his steed and the other horses while Puck and Gwyn set up a camp of some sort with the two tarps we were given and some iron rods to stake them down.
We had a cold dinner of unsteeped gruel and biscuits again while we holed up around the fire. Zoltan cracked the seal on one of the mail bags after rigging up a hammock under the wagon on the two axles and began to read some of the personal correspondence the group was transporting. Puck joined in and the night passed with Karis taking first watch. Zoltan replaced the mail and sang a charm of mending – recrafting the clay seal. Oooo – nice idea mister bard/thief!!
Karis woke Gwyn after a while who after hearing wolfsong getting closer, set up a perimeter of smaller fires around the camp to keep the nightly predators at bay. Then Gwyn woke Puck who told him to wake Zoltan instead, who DID get up and kept watch until sunrise.
The group, feeling better (if a little sore), woke around 6:30, prayed, ate, reharnessed the team, readied themselves, and set off on their way to Ponyboro. The day was much nicer with no real rain, temps just about 80, as they left the dusty mountains and came down the lowlands. They passed the odd person and cottage along the way, and had a brief encounter with a shepherd and a 50 count of sheep and two collies driving his team back towards Ponyboro. Had no idea what sheep cost, but said he gets paid one disk per day, per head for his time – and usually takes them out for 2-3 days to forage. The dogs and the horses got into each other and the wagon began rocking but Detheron called upon Frey to calm the animals and everyone settled down.
Frey has a sizeable following at Ponyboro (as well as Thor, god of thunder, and Hel, goddess of death), and Detheron was assumed to be a traveling cleric of the Morninglord. Was told to seek out Matriarch Cassandra Silverbough when he gets to town. Group thanked the friendly shepherd (named Snaerek) and they continued on arriving at Ponyboro just after 5 PM. The arrival description read:
The land rises and falls gently as you've been traveling, the wide road growing more and more crowded as you travel south east. To the left and right you have seen more evidence of grazing fields and ordered copses of trees. Woodcutter cottages and hunting lodges dot the land as your steady horses plod onward.
And then you see it, Ponyboro itself. Like the spokes of a wheel, wide avenues doused with ash and elm meet in the center of a huge demesne of tilled and cultivated lands. Keeps and manor houses of stone sit proudly on the rises of land around the central portion of the city, each manor itself also surrounded by scores of thatched and simple peasant homes.
The heart of the city has eight main thoroughfares meeting as one in the great central clearing; shoppes, homes, and halls numbering most likely over one hundred lining the ordered lanes. The sound of horses, the clang of the smith, the squeal of the millhouse, and the voices of the people of Ponyboro all meld together to greet your ears as well as your eyes. Most of the land for miles seems to be given to fields and crops, although there is the low line of green on the far side of town that tells you that thick woods are still within the local heart of the city.
A muddy brown lake is nestled between the two closest rises of land to the south of where you are entering, the stone and wooden building sitting on one side of it sporting a water wheel decrying it as the gristmill. Thin tendrils of irrigation channels reach out from the lake into the nearby fields.
One of the first buildings was shingled as "Orihalcan/ Ponyboro/ Cymbarton Stablery" where two tabarded guards in chain and spears came to recognize our arrival. We were given directions to Lord Daernhorse's Demesne, an escort of two stablehands, and a brief review of the rules and laws of the city (weapons remain sheathed, duels are acceptable if cleared by Magistrate Cottson, 1st offense is a peace tie, 2nd is a fine, 3rd is a larger fine, 4th is a big fine, stocks, and escort from the city) and then we were lead to our destination.
We passed wheelwrights, coopers, smithies, the large temple to Thor, many homes and smaller businesses, the tremendous center part of town (a park of thin ash trees and grasses roughly 600 yards in diameter), and then we took the spoke north toward the tremendous Daernhorse Demesne and manor home.
There was another large stablery here and a human male named Conner came out, taking over for the two stablehands who acted as runners to go to the Daernhorse manor and get Lord Artis. We spoke with Conner for a bit about our trip and Smokey and other things until Lord Artis arrived with his son Fjorn. Lord Artis was kindly and heavyset, announcing himself to be 57, with almost whitish grey hair and a porkchop beard – looking more like someone's grandfather. His son was about half his age and not nearly as thick or commanding, but definitely looked like his father. Fjorn's wife Isabel Silverbough was still inside at supper waiting for Lord Artis and her husband to come back.
Karis opted to stay behind and sign over the cargo to Lord Artis' Reeve, a squirrelly man named Edwil, while the rest of the party was invited inside to join the Ponyboro Lord at dinner with his family, staff, and people (a high honor).
The cavalier stayed out with Edwil who made a big show of saying the boxes weights appeared "heavy" and he wanted to pop a seal and check the interior. Karis agreed, watching the Reeve carefully. When Edwil said that it might be possible that every box was "heavy" and it would be unnoticed if there was a little taken from each – splitting the "proceeds" 50/50 – he was rebuffed and Karis said – let's call Lord Artis and have him know this. Edwil let the matter die and signed off on every box as is and accepted the weights as delivered – having him and Karis sign each one and take a copy of the BOL (bill of lading) for return to Kegana.
We all sat at the table of Lord Artis and learned about the Ponyboro lord and the city.
*Lord Artis lost his wife and youngest son over a decade ago to scarlet fever.
*There are 5 families that make up the council of Lords in Ponyboro: Daernhorse, Silverbough, Gunnarson, Wolverton, and Cooperson.
*The Daernhorse and Gunnarson family supplies most of the horses.
*The Wolverton and Silverbough family supply most of the timber.
*The Coopersons supply the sheep and wool.
*The Silverbough supply the cattle and leather and herbs/spices.
*The Silverbough was an elven house once upon a time, but now has many half and ¼ elves in the family line.
*Every family supplies crops. The Daernhorse Demesne has roughly 60-odd 6-acre plots of farm-land – resulting in 360 acres of crop lands.
*The breakdown on richest house to poorest house runs: Daernhorse, Gunnarson, Silverbough, Cooperson, and then Wolverton. Although the Wolverton Demesne is by no means "poor".
Lord Artis referred to Sir Slaine often as "young Sir Walter" and considered the Orihalcan nobleman to be lucky to have an adventuring group at his disposal as well as such honorable and trustworthy people.
Lord Artis offered the party a home on his Demesne for the party to use while they waited for the trade caravan from Cymbarton to arrive (most likely 3 days) – in addition he dispensed two people from his employ: Flora, an 18-year old red haired cute and buxom scullery wench with a skill at cooking and cleaning as well as entire knowledge of the city and what shops and crafters are around town and Inokis, called Inks, a 19-year old page/scribe who is in Lord Artis' employ and has spent two odd years working and cataloging in the Hall of Records.
The meal was engaging, filling, and entertaining. There was a bet that Smokey couldn't sit at "Lord Artis' table in coat, tails, and ties and eat with a fork and knife" and if he did – Lord Artis would pay 200 crowns for the entertainment. If he couldn't, Smokey would be entered in the tournament in 17 odd days and most likely set against the local favorite – some giant elk the Gunnarson's enter every year.
Then dwarven spirits came out and after it was set ablaze, Gwyn drank it down (earning 5 crowns for it!). Lord Artis tried it next, sputtering and coughing and wheezing and snotting and crying. And Zoltan joined in, coughing and sneezing and messed up as well.
At around 9 PM, party was let out and went to their lent home where Flora had a soup going and the beds were all made up and Inks was sitting there eating his soup as well. Everyone eventually went to bed after some talking where Karis filled group in on Edwil being a snake and don't trust him. Lord Artis was decided to be an upstanding man (as Zoltan said – he's an idea man!) and not a problem. Don't know about other noble houses – obviously distrustful of the Wolvertons.
Puck used his "charm person" spell on Inks during the night and would see how it affected him the next day.
Group slept well and awoke the next day to sausage, bacon, eggs, bread, vegetables, and butters and jams. The party ate with gusto and Inks came out complaining about disturbing dreams but was happy to see Puck and was helpful to the mage. There was some talk about places to go and things to see.
Flora was asked to go to the blacksmith and try to have a fork and knife made up that the bear could use and then she was asked where to find the sheriff's office, the temple of Frey, Ikthandar's Leathershop, The Twisted Forelock Tavern, and Eight –Acres Black Tavern. It was raining today, Workmonth the 1st, so she left to visit Warren the Smith sooner rather than later.
Inks was asked privately by Puck about mages ad the scribe admitted there were no registered mages in town that he knows of – as none of them would chance it. So he was asked to go to the hall of records and bring back any news about odd occurrences in the last year or so. He admitted he would do nothing to harm Lord Daernhorse or Ponyboro.
Then he was asked by the rest of the group to use his skills to find: information on a person named Pherrid (cross reference of Wolverton Estate), Vanir (cross reference of Lycos Suns), Poisonry recipes NOT attributed to Master Cruros, Home location of a teamster named Thadar (cross reference wife and two children named Gregor and Hani), and the name Djohrgahd (no cross reference). Inks left – his work cut out for him.
Then the party scattered.
Karis went to visit Sheriff Yolanda Skeeros and spent time with her, invited to ride on patrol (takes about 4-6 hours) with her 2nd named Guthorm and her. He was happy to do so.
Puck went to the town circle and wandered around staying under the trees to stay dryish before going to the 8-Acres Black.
Zoltan went to Ikthandar's Hide's and Leathers near Cheshire Lake and the Silverbough Demesne where he spoke with the leatherworker who gave him info to go and visit Eydis at the Twisted Forelock and "announce" himself. He was quiet about his time as a cartographer in Principia and would think about sharing some of his remaining maps with Zoltan if he could think of something he could get in return later. He was then going to make his way to the Twisted Forelock.
Gwyn went to the 8-acres and drank their ale (not impressed) and was relaxing for a while until Puck came in. They didn't admit they knew each other and Puck got some ale and thought about a wine, buying a flask here and a glass of it, before going back out to the Town Circle. The dwarf was going to stay around the bar for a while and decide where he was going to go next to gather more information.
Detheron went to the temple of Frey and went in, talking to Blaug, a local priest, about Matriarch Cassandra who was not in, as she was out working a field. He would send a missive to her and let her know where Detheron was staying so the druid could speak with her later. He then lowered his head and prayed for a while.
And that's about where we ended it. It's about 11 AM on Workmonth the 1st. We arrived in town on Firemonth the 30th and were told the Cymbarton trade caravan would be here in about 3 days – that means arrived somewhere around the 3rd of Workmonth. Leaving us about two and a half days to do what we need here.
Ponyboro is nothing like Orihalcus as we've seen – much larger in area, as well as more plentiful in people, riches, and crafters. There seems to be no official guild halls here, and magery is in suspect. But the place is nice enough and the group is spreading out taking care of their needs and wants while here