There was a lot of chatting and speaking around the table, world building, not necessarily progress to a goal. The group just finished putting together their last hirelings - which brings our total party to like 16 people and 5 animal companions. Very much an old school sort of gathering! 6 PC's (druid, ranger, fighter/wizard, thief, cleric, fighter), 5 henchmen (valet, thug, lock picker, 2 warriors), 5 hirelings (2 shieldbearers, 2 porters, linkboy), plus 4 war dogs and a big assed raven.
We are now at the "end" of the known section of the party's map - 7 days hard travel from Shakun. From here, all paths lead back north and east so they are going to book a barge to take them upriver and head west towards someplace called Castle Sterling in the Helmian Lands.
However, to everyone around here - that area is merely known as Darkenwoods. And no one really goes there.
Write up follows:
The morning of the 21st had us ready to go. Vestanus signed on again as our porter and Liscinia was once more happy to join us as Shieldbearer. We went to the gem and jewelsmith first here before leaving (and Liscinia’s father) and offered to purchase all the cracked and fucked up crystals and stones he had in order to fuel a continual light spell. He sold it to us, saw up perform the miracle, and was intrigued to do this again in the future. We assured him we would be back through Heatherfield on the way home eventually and would gladly make a deal then.
As we left Heatherfield behind the land rose and fell around us, eventually a ridge of stone was on our right, echoing the map that we had recovered some time ago that might show the location of Roderick’s Skull. At the area on the map that we hoped was correct, Tranis and a few others peeled away and hoofed it up and overland to see if they could scout out the location (or possible location) of the cave that supposedly once held the goblin ambushers as well as Roderick’s skull.
They felt they had sussed it out, dared not to enter it now, and instead left a small pyramid of stones near the entrance that would do two things – identify it to us again in the future that this was the cavern of choice, and two, if it was disturbed in the future, then the cavern was an active cave and we should be careful because of it.
They ran back and the party continued on their way to the next stop – Marbledale. Situated at the foothills of the Silent Hills, this mining town was set up more like a walled keep with a firm hand on curfews, weapons allowed within, and fees to do so. We debated it with the guards and decided to camp outside the city/town walls in a makeshift camp area. A gypsy caravan family named Dagareth was heading northward and shared their fire and food with us. There was some conversation and somehow the subject came up to injuries and diseases – and one of the younger men and sons of Patriarch Dagareth was suffering from some VD. We made some deals to buy some blankets from the gypsies and went on to even offer healing. Call in Steiner and his magic hands, healing and massages, and eventually a “happy ending” that did have the cleric mutter “If he jizzes on my face, I get another blanket.” Truer words were never spoken.
We left the next morning and continued on our way south, arriving at long last at Brewersbridge on Deathmonth the 22nd at 4:30 in the afternoon. Brewersbridge was built on the shores of the Black Water River, a mighty waterway that was over a quarter mile wide, 80+ feet deep at its center, and capable of supporting the almost 7,000 people that live here. Sections of the town had been added on over time, and the relative age and remains of walls had the city sort of divided up in quadrants and sections. We progressed a bit further south nearer the river and the wharf area where we settled on staying at the Crossroads Inn and Alehouse.
The proprietor, Darrens Ekspoh, was willing to chat with us, fill us in on the difficulty in going upriver towards Darkenwoods (what everyone else calls the Helmian Lands), and even send some possible applicants looking for work our way.
So we ate, drank the local brews (all tasty!), and interviewed a number of people for another Shieldbearer, Porter, and also a linkboy. There were some good, and a few odd, in the group, but we picked: Nyssa Westfield, an early 20’s human warrior who follows Gaia and would serve as our second shieldbearer (plus we were forewarned about how she dealt with misogyny and attempted rape in her last group during night watch), Corane Halfblood, a 30something plus homely half elf who has some carpentry skill and whittles often on his downtime (gifted us with supine statue of Aphrodite), and finally Dugan Fartooth, a 15 year old half-orc who towered over most of the party at 6 and a half feet tall and already pushing past 250. Many things lead us towards him (like he doesn’t want to set babies on fire and hold them aloft if need be) but his mother is from the Helmian Lands and we hoped to talk to her in the morning to get a feel for what we were coming into.