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> Chronicles > Book 4 – Part 4

Book 4 – Part 4 – Over Dark and Misty Ground

  • Contents (1)
    • Chapter 10: Shatten Escarpment
    • Chapter 11: Groes Bryniau

See also: Adventure Log > Session 18, 2016-07-29


Chapter 10: Shatten Escarpment

Upon leaving Juyntia, a rocky path trailed up a series of ridges jumbled with massive sandstone boulders, crumbling cliff faces, and thick underbrush. Giant firs, heavy with a scent of pine and dark with green needles, shadowed the trail while a dusky sky boiled with fierce intent. There were few trails through the Shatten Escarpment. Those that existed were rocky, steep and occasionally difficult to navigate. They estimated that the narrow trails acted as funnels for those traveling in and out of Groes Bryniau, thus, the chances for encountering something or someone was relatively high.

Cathmawr

Their first encounter was almost a deadly one. Magna Morko was scouting far ahead when a massive saber-toothed feline preyed upon him. It was a Cathmawr, with a mottled black and gray hide, hidden in some brush near the trail. Who know how long it must have lay in waiting for a victim. When Magna came close enough, the feline charged at him like lightning. It struck fast and ferociously, clawing and biting mercilessly in its hunger, while Magna dropped his bow and pulled out his sword. Though battered, Magna managed a swipe with his blade, but the beast evaded the strike.

Almost 50 yards away, Magna’s friends witnessed the unexpected attack and immediately ran full speed to assist him. Glenlivet Lesgoth was first to arrive, with Lee Alfsaw was right behind him. Aiden the Krict and Dodge Viper scrambled across some ledges and circled around the melee to flank the creature. Yriadel Yngvarsdottir rushed to the side of Magna. Kyran Grimsson fired a pair of magic missiles from his hand – even from this great distance they hit their target unerringly, zooming past Glenlivet and Lee and striking the pelt of the Cathmawr. But alas, they seemed to have arrived too late, for with another bit from its great sabre-shaped teeth, it bit deep into Magna’s abdomen and he fell unconscious from the shock. But there arrival did provide rescue – instead of eating Magna right there, or dragging his carcass away, the gigantic feline had to face more adversaries. Glenlivet was the closest, so it turned its attention on him, grazing him with its claws.

As Glenlivet slashed at the Cathmawr with Dragonbane, Lee, Aiden and Dodge all joined the fray from opposite flanks, while Yriadel bravely pulled Magna’s body from the scene. “Freyja Kurere Såret To, ” she chanted as she pressed her gentle hands upon Magna’s bloody abdomen. Instantly, the wound began to close up as the healing powers of Freyja poured through the body of Yriadel and into Magna.

The Cathmawr, now surrounded by four armed opponents, decided to flee. It escaped the immediate danger, but Aiden and Dodge ran after hit. Aiden wanted its pelt as a trophy! He threw his spear and struck a solid blow, but the creature ran on. So dodge knocked an arrow and launched it from his mighty bow. His aim was true and the creature fell dead.

Magna had come near death, and it took much use of Yriadel’s goddess-granted powers to keep him alive and restore his health. He would certainly be more careful in the future, and perhaps not scout so far ahead from the main group for a while.

While Yriadel tended to Magna, who was in much need of some rest, Aiden made good use of the down time and skinned the Cathmawr. What he was planning to do with the pelt, no one knew, and no one asked.

Gogfran Gawr

Later that day they were approached straight on by a hunched Cewri {KAY-oo-ree}, a type of giant inhabiting the Kambrian Kingdoms. This Cewri exuded power and a crude, stupid anger. His filthy fur clothing bespoke a brutish and backwoods lifestyle. He carried a greatclub and several bags. He wore a thick bearskin cape and a tattered, yellow, wool skirt. He was about ten feet tall and weighed at least a half ton. As he came closer, Magna noticed disdainfully that the Cewri smelled like manure.

Magna stopped in his tracks to let his friends catch up to him. They gathered together – not sure what to expect, but preparing for the worst – and the smell of the giant almost overwhelmed them as the range decreased.

“Wotcha, mate!” the giant shouted in greeting.

“Hello to you,” replied Magna in a friendly tone.

“Oo ay yous?”

“I am Magna Morko.”

“Me name is Gogfran Gawr uv Aber Ysgyr,” {GOG-fran gaur uv AHB-ur EES-geer}. “Whuz ay yous from?” Though the giant spoke in Westrian, he had a tilted Kambrian accent that was difficult to understand. Luckily, he spoke slow enough that Magna could follow along.

“We are from Willowdale,” answered Magna.

“Are yous a dosser frum Scouser?”

“Uhh, no, I am not,” answered Magna, though he was not quite sure what the question meant.

“Avyer seun any wogs?”

“I don’t know. What is a wog?” replied Magna.

“Ye nah, blackamewrs?”

“Ah yes, we did,” Magna answered, thinking of the Swart Cosairs they had encountered on the trail through Ericon. “But that was several days ago, long before we entered this land.”

“Oh, tew bad. Ay likes ter smash wogs. Wa’ avyer got thuz?” he asked, pointing his bulky finger at Aiden and the Cathmawr pelt he carried.

“This is my Cathmawr pelt. It attacked us back on the trail and we killed it,” Aiden answered boldly.

“Ay like! Give it! Give it ter me!” Gogfran demanded.

“I can’t give it to you.”

“Dun beya guff. Give it ter me!” Gogfran insisted.

“What do you have to trade?” Aiden suggested.

That stumped the brutish Cewri. He dropped his bags and poked at them, only opening one and peering in before giving up, apparently not wanting to part with any of his current possessions. “Bollocks!” he complained. “Dun beya guff. Give it ter me!”

“No. I will not give it to you unless you have something to trade.”

“Bollocks!” he repeated. He snatched his bags and grumbled, “take a penn’orth, ler me gets on wi’ me blewdy jobe.” Then he stomped away in frustration. “Mingin lowlanders,” he mumbled under his breath as he lumbered down the path, “me brudders Mwnyg and Crwcast iz nearby, de wul get dat pelt.”

~ ~ ~

That evening, Magna found some tracks in the snow and mud that were clearly made by a giant. The tracks crossed against their current trail and Magna surmised they were probably not made by the giant they had encountered before. Though it would be easy to track the giant, they decided to resist the temptation and continued on their way toward Dolnogg.

Pretton Patrol

The next day, while marching along the trail, Lee sensed motion off to his right. He turned to look but it was gone. Wary of another ambush, he warned his fellows. Glenlivet drew Dragonbane and together he and Aiden started in the direction to where Lee indicated. Kyran readied an arrow on his bow.

Suddenly two archers bolted from their cover and sprinted away, shouting “Run, it’s the white dragon!” Aiden chased after one of the fleeing archers. He supposed these might be attached to the March Outlaws, and he wanted to detain one for questioning.

Several other Prettons emerged from cover: archers and spearmen. Though their attempt at an ambush had failed, they at least planned to unleash hell upon their intended victims. A druid revealed himself from behind a tree, surrounded by spearmen, and he cast a magic spell. As a result, the ground around Yriadel and her friends erupted with a sudden growth of tall weeds. Some vines wrapped around her legs and she became entangled in the growth. The others were lucky enough to avoid the entanglement, though they were now hindered in their ability to move out of the weeds. Some of the Pretton archers released their arrows upon their pinned down foes. One glanced off of Glenlivet’s armor, but the others missed their targets.

As Aiden ran off on his own, Glenlivet went towards the druid, Dragonbane in hand. Kyran and Lee aimed their bows at the druid. Though Kyran’s arrow narrowly missed his mark, Lee’s arrow bloodied the druid’s arm.

Then, like opportunistic cowards, the druid and all his warriors turned to flee.

“Kavvála Pétra Klísi” chanted Kyran, directing his sorcerous powers upon the escaping druid and his entourage. A rain of dirt and gravel fell from the sky and pounded the druid and his four spearmen, plus a nearby archer as well. Though they were staggered, the Prettons scrambled over the debris and fled into the deep cover. Kyran and his friends were scattered, and some were still entangled, so they chose to stay together and let the attackers escape.

In the meantime, a short distance away from the main theater of battle, Aiden had been chasing down the fleeing archer. First he attempted to hamper the coward’s escape with a Scorpion Style strike, but he missed in the haste. Then Aiden tripped the running archer. As the Pretton hit the ground, Aiden landed on him and maneuvered him into a head lock. He applied crushing pressure on his victim’s neck and the ragged archer lost consciousness. Aiden hoisted the prisoner over his shoulder and marched triumphantly back to the group.

As the prisoner regained consciousness, Lee took out Gartan and displayed it to the prisoner with a grim look upon his face. “You see this? I call this Painless. The reason why it’s Painless, is because as I begin to skin you alive, I won’t feel any pain. So my suggestion is: you better tell us what I need to know… or Painless here… will begin to have a good time… with your flesh.”

The hapless Pretton actually pissed his pants.

“Who are you working for?” Lee began.

“I work for Padrig {PAH-dreek}, our druid,” responded the prisoner in a squeaky, fear-filled voice.

“I’m not sure I believe you.”

“Honest! Honest! We’re just homeless outlaws. And… and the druid leads us, and we… we attack people here and there… and we steal their goods.”

“Why do you call him the white dragon?” Lee asked, motioning towards Glenlivet.

“Uh… I heard it from another group: he is the White dragon of Angaria.”

“What other group?”

“Some other… uh… outlaws in the area… that apparently got beat up by him… recently.”

Lee thought to himself: I wander if he is referring to the group that ambushed us a few nights ago? They almost killed me that night! Glenlivet slew several of them before the rest of our group were even out of their tents. Perhaps some of them escaped. But just in case, I better see if he knows anything about the groups we are pursuing. “I’m going to say a few names, and I want you to tell me everything you know about them: Ubert.”

“I… I’m sorry. I’ve never heard of Ubert.”

“Klaus.”

“No…”

“Tindle.”

“No…”

“Dickhead,” Magna blurted out unhelpfully.

Lee stepped back and studied the prisoner’s face, trying to sense his motives, but he gained no additional confidence on whether or not the Pretton was telling the truth.

“Ask him who the druid is,” suggested Glenlivet.

“What was that druid’s name?” Lee asked his companions.

“Padrig,” Kyran and Aiden both reminded him.

Lee returned his attention upon the prisoner. “Who does Padrig work for?”

“Nobody. He just leads us.”

“Where is your base?”

“Just over the hills. We don’t really have a base. We just… wander… wander… wander around and we set up camp.”

“Is that by grandma’s house?” Kyran asked annoyingly.

“How many men, total, do you have?” continued Lee seriously.

“Um… there was… uh… sixteen of us… serving the druid.”

Lee grabbed him and put Gartan up to his neck. “Are you sure about that number?”

“Yes!” he answered, clearly frightened for his life.

Dodge stepped up threateningly to Lee’s side. “Where is this other group that told you about the White Dragon? Where are they?”

“Um, I think they were wanderers too. They were only a couple stragglers that were survivors of another battle.”

Glenlivet piped up. “Was there a woman with them?”

“No,” the prisoner answered.

Kyran offered an opinion. “They are just a bunch of random outlaws. We need to stop wasting time with him.”

“Well it’s been good talking to you,” Magna sang out cheerfully.

But Lee was not quite finished. “Well, what shall we do with this one?”

“Send him on his way. Who cares?” suggested Aiden.

The prisoner certainly agreed with that idea, and he pleaded for his life. “Just let me go. I swear we will leave you alone. We will never attack you again. We’ve learned our lesson.”

“And the legend of the White Dragon continues,” Aiden chuckled quietly to Glenlivet.

Lee extended an ultimatum to his prisoner. “If we are ambushed again, and you are there, Painless will make sure… that you feel a whole lot of pain.”

“I understand. I believe you. I believe you. Please don’t hurt me.”

Lee knicked a little scratch in the frightened man’s neck, so he could feel the cold sharpness of the blade of Gartan. Then he let him go and kicked him in the rear as he took off running.

“So it looks like these guys are just… what they look like: random outlaws,” Lee summarized to his companions. “Well guys, do we want to keep moving on?”

“Yes,” they all agreed.

“Screw them bastards,” punctuated Dodge.

“We’re wasting time. They wasted our time,” added Kyran.

So the group gathered their gear and continued onwards to their goal – Dolnogg.

Pennbeidd

Magna spotted three huge boars, each the size of a horse, their backs rising in a steep slope. Their tiny red eyes were crusted with filth and their bristly flanks crawled with flies. The beasts were foraging for food not far from the trail.

Magna gave the signal to stop, then returned to the group and described what he saw. He knew these to be called Yskithyrwynn Pennbeidd {ees-GITH-ur-win PENN-beyd} by the local Prettons, which means “white-tusk boar-chief”, and that they were certainly more dangerous than the wild boars found in Willowdale. As winter had arrived, Magna presumed these Pennbeidd would be more aggressive than normal due to their hunger. “We should skirt this area if possible,” he advised.

The weary travelers had no cause to battle such creatures, so they quietly made a wide circle around them, eventually returning to the trail and continuing onward to Dolnogg.

Chapter 11: Groes Bryniau

As the trail gained in elevation, a silky snow fell softly atop the trees and a frigid air chilled their bones. The sun was setting, the cliffs diminished, and the ridge line was crossed. Beneath a crimson sun, lingering low in the sky, they caught their first glimpse of the dreaded Groes Bryniau {GRO-es BRIN-yau} – a large glade extending in every direction filled with a vast expanse of lush green grasses and steamy sodden earth. Tiny clumps of stunted firs were clustered on top of small mounds, while the white husks of long dead trees dotted the plain for as far as the eye could see.

After a few hours humping through the uplands of Groes Bryniau, they begin to get a feel for its terrain. It was a morass full of steamy swampy grasslands, hot springs, geysers, warm creeks and pools, thick evergreen copses, and tangled underbrush. Travel was arduous and time consuming. The trails were difficult to follow through the grassy areas and only made possible by wood markers sticking several feet out of the ground about every 100 yards. Many of these had rotted and fallen down, but generally, with a lengthy search, another could be located. With each day, following the trail became more difficult.

Nearly every day there was 1–3 inches of snowfall. The snow melted quickly in the areas around hot pools and geysers, but slowly accumulated in the remainder of Groes Bryniau.

The first night they camped on a mound with a ring of firs that offered some cover. They debated whether or not to create a fire and decided to risk it so they could cook a hot meal and enjoy the heat of the fire.

During the next few days, they spotted an elk herd, a sheep flock and more Pennbeidd, but these encounters went without major incident.

Two Cewri

One cold day the group saw two hunched Cewri heading straight down the path towards them. The two resembled the one they encountered just a couple days earlier. The giants had clearly spotted them, so there was no chance of avoiding an encounter. Like the previous giant, these two were about ten feet tall and presented a filthy and brutish appearance. The larger of the two wore baggy yellow pants and a thick sheepskin vest. He carried a large axe and a sack. The other was short and burly, wore a black wool cape, vest and red breeches, and had a bag tucked into his belt. He hefted a massive halberd and carried a short sword at his side.

The two drew closer, and with dumb looks on their faces they extended a greeting. “Wotcha, mate!”

“Ola,” answered Glenlivet.

“Ola?” questioned the larger giant, then asked in a booming voice “Oo ay yous?”

“Oh, just weary travelers,” answered Magna.

“Why ay yous here?,” requested the giant.

“We are just heading down this trail, to find out where it goes,” answered Magna.

“Aww,” sympathized the giant.

“We are looking for some friends of ours,” Magna continued.

“Frenz?” repeated the giant, tilting his head with curiosity.

“We might have passed one of your friends a while back. A big guy just like you. Wore a thick bearskin cape,” explained Magna.

“Uh, dat wud be us brudder.”

“What was his name, Glen?”

“Gogfran, or something?” suggested Glenlivet.

“Gogfran,” agreed the Cewri, nodding his head.

“Decent fellow,” Magna complimented obsequiously, trying to secure favor. “He was going that way, and he kept going, after a brief conversation.”

“That was a couple days ago,” added Kyran.

“He announced he was looking for blackamoors, ‘stinky’ blackamoors. He hadn’t seen any, but that was where he was heading.”

“Uh. Wogs,” replied the giant, twisting his face in disgust.

“Have you seen any of them?” asked Magna.

“Nah, nah wogs. Good, nah wogs.”

“Yes, we do not like them either,” Magna agreed.

Aiden edged in with a question. “Anything exciting down the road from where you are coming?”

“Nah,” answered the giant politely, then added “Pennbeigs, Cathmawrs…”

Magna decided to offer some friendly advise. “Watch out down the road. There was a druid and some outlaws.” He turned to his compaions. “How far back was that? Just up over the ridge?”

“About a day ago,” answered Kyran.

“A day’s walk for us, maybe less for you guys, so watch out. They were hidden off the trail, waiting for an ambush.”

“Careful, that druid was a spell-caster,” said Dodge.

“We dun giv a care,” the giant replied coolly.

“They’re probably not scared of them,” suggested Dodge to Glenlivet, but intentionally loud enough for the giants to hear his compliment.

“Dey dun bodder us,” added the giant.

“I can imagine that,” commented Glenlivet.

“They weren’t very smart,” stated Magna, capping the subject.

Lee used the pause in the conversation to create a little mischief. “Hey, why don’t you show them your cathmawr pelt?” he blurted out to Aiden.

“Whu? Wa’ avyer got?” the giant asked, almost jumping with interest.

“We have nothing,” said Glenlivet.

“Yew dosser! Wa’ avyer got?” the giant repeated, getting a little agitated.

“He was just joking,” Aiden insisted.

“He’s just a shit disturber,” added Kyran.

“Bollocks! We dun like shit. On wit you den. On wit you.” Frustrated, the two giants tromped away and on down the trail.

“Aye. Have a good day, mate,” said Magna to their departing backs.

“So, you didn’t want to show them your little cat skin, huh?” teased Lee.

Aiden just shook his head in mock dismay.

“Next time you pull that shit, Painless is going to be hurting,” Glenlivet advised Lee, picturing violent repercussions from Aiden.

“What’s that white boy?” Lee smirked at Glenlivet.

“White Dragon, to you,” Glenlivet countered.

“No, white boy.”

“Ladies! Quit your bickering and let’s move on!” shouted Kyran. With grins on their faces from the friendly bantering they picked up their gear and continued down the trail.

Ork Patrol

During one of the cold nights, while Magna and Lee were on watch duty, they heard a group tramping towards their camp along a nearby trail. The approaching group had no torches. In the dark, Lee could not tell exactly who or what was approaching, though it sounded like a dozen or so pairs of booted feet. Magna, who had excellent night vision, and whose back was to the campfire, could see what they were: it was a band of orks!

While Lee roused everyone, Magna described what he saw. “Ten orks, dressed in leather armor and carrying shields. All are brandishing falchions and javelins. One is mounted on a vicious looking Pennbeidd.” The sleepers rose from their bedrolls and stood ready. Glenlivet, eager for battle, moved up beside Magna.

The orks stopped several paces away. Though menacing, they did not appear to be preparing an attack. One stepped forward, presumably their leader. He raised his hand and waved as if to signal he wanted to parley, though he had his weapon in hand.

“Uh, parley?” the ork leader grunted with a crude orkish accent. “Westrian?”

“Yes, Westrian,” acknowledged Magna.

The ork leader seemed to be looking past Magna, as if surveying everyone in the party, and he looked pretty disgusted with the two that were right in front: the half-elves.

“Leader!” the ork requested forcefully.

Lee stepped forward, preparing to serve as the group’s spokesman. Deciding to put on a good show for the orks, he looked back at Magna and Glenlivet. “You two, get to the back and be quiet,” he ordered.

“Aye, aye, captain,” answered Glenlivet. He and Magna moved back as ordered.

“Greetings. Hail.” Lee offered.

“Nuqneh,” the ork greeted in response.

“We are mercenaries, looking for work,” Lee bluffed. “Unfortunately, the elf scum we had to bring with us, but they are good fighters. Fortunately, they work pretty cheap.”

“I care not. I looking for other men.”

“Who are you looking for?”

“Ah… Prettons… Pretton outlaws,” answered the ork as he sheathed his falchion.

“Oh. We encountered them and had to dispatch them and they scattered. That was a couple days ago. To be honest with you, they were not even worth the fight. Just a bunch of scum.”

“Mm. Good. I agree. They easy to kill, but they are many.”

“Yes. That I agree.”

“We run as many away as we can. This our land now.”

“Well that’s one of the reasons why we are here. We’ve heard that opportunities for fortune are good here. And to be honest with you, anything we can do to enrich ourselves is all good for us. So any way we could hire out, and help out, we would be glad to do that.”

“I no hire.”

“Ok. Who is?”

“Ghor, our chief.”

“So Ghor is the one hiring?”

“Ghor, Joh of Tuq Ash’lur in Daheghah Mol,” answered the ork definitively.

Suddenly Lee remembered hearing that name before, and had to suppress a shudder. He had heard it within that all too realistic nightmare about the impalement of an innocent young girl as she was “sacrificed in torturous death to the great god Gruumsh”. The Tuq Ash’lur, which means “Tribe One-eye”, was the ork tribe that had moved into this region, and Daheghah Mol was the name of their main stronghold.

“Are we heading in the right direction?”

“Ah, you on way to Dolnogg.”

Lee was trying to think what to ask next, but was distracted by undisciplined whispering and “shushing” from his camp. “Quiet back there!” he shouted at his crew.

“If you want, I skin those elves for you,” volunteered the ork with a sneer.

“Don’t bother.”

“Uch. I hate touch moh elves.”

“Yep, I do too, personally. I don’t like their smell either.”

“How you stand it? Ah, can we eat horse?”

“No. We need him. But you are free to partake of any of our rations, if you’d like.”

“Par. Human rations. Par.”

“Alright, so Ghor is looking for help…”

“He will hire some humans, if you good warriors.”

“Can you point us in the right direction?”

“Point you? That way,” the ork said, jabbing his meaty thumb in the direction he had come. “To Dolnogg, then on to Daheghah Mol,” he added.

“Much appreciated. Hail.”

“Qapla’,” the ork replied respectfully. Apparently convinced by Lee that they were not part of the Pretton threat, he ordered his troops to move out. “Ngiv yit,” he barked, and they began to move, though with reluctant looks on their faces. His troops appeared to have been in a mood for bloodshed, and elf-slaughter, but were now ordered by their warchief to pass by. They moved on without incident.

“Happy hunting,” waved Lee as they shuffled by.

Lynx

The next morning, while navigating through some cold, rocky terrain, Magna caught a brief glimpse of a lynx. The lynx calmly ignored Magna then swiftly sauntered off into cover. Wait, was there a tiny creature riding on its back? It happened so fast, Magna wandered if he imagined the site. He jogged over to the location and confirmed that he saw some tracks, but he could not tell where they disappeared to, nor did he have time to pursue the issue.

Peerie Fae (Tylwyth Teg)

Later that morning, while taking a brief rest, the group heard a feint buzzing sound, reminiscent of a hummingbird. Aiden thought he heard a tiny, high-pitched giggle, like that of a small girl. Then Magna saw something small flying about, perhaps a bird or a large insect. The creature disappeared into a small grove of firs and junipers not far off the trail, and the adventurous group decided to investigate.

There within the grove they were amazed to see a tiny humanoid girl, about 8 inches tall. She was fairy of some type – a “Peerie Fae”, as the locals might say. She was lounging casually on a leaf, as if she had not noticed their presence, but they had a feint suspician she was actually watching them. In fact, she seemed to be waiting. Then after there was no doubt she had been spotted, she gracefully touched the tip of her toe on another leaf and it became covered in frost. She peered in their direction, revealing mischievous eyes and a teasing grin, as if to say, see what I can do?

“Very impressive! Who are you?” asked Kyran.

Suddenly the peerie fae was joined by another, who hovered with a frightened look on her little face. The first sat up, pretending innocently she had just noticed the group.

“Don’t be afraid,” Glenlivet said, trying to calm the two tiny creatures.

“We are not here to harm you,” said Dodge in a friendly voice.

The newcomer turned to the first and appeared to be conversing with her. She used a musical language with elements that resembled the singing of birds. Perhaps the second was scolding the first for revealing her presence or maybe for her boldness in displaying her magical talents. It reminded them of a mother wren angrily chirping at a cat who approaches too close to her nest – certainly a scolding of some type.

Glenlivet remembered the time near Sunken Citadel, when a goldfinch hovered near Yriadel and seemed to communicate with her. Thinking she might have some insight here, he addressed her. “Can you talk to them? Can you tell what they are saying?”

“I am sorry. I can not tell what they are saying either,” she answered, clearly disappointed.

“Magna?” asked Lee. Magna shook his head no. They were all at a loss.

The lovely creatures were very tiny females, beautiful to behold. Their bodies were luminous, and the color and intensity changed as they flittered about. They had pointed ears, skin as pale as the moon, large eyes, and silvery, gossamer wings.

They have pointed ears, Glenlivet thought to himself, so they must be fairies.

Kyran could no longer contain his curiosity. “Who are you and why have you revealed yourselves to us?”

Upon being addressed by Kyran, both of the peerie fae became silent. They ceased their flight patterns and just hovered. They seemed wary of Kyran, though not afraid of the whole group in general. Their eyes were wide and their little faces timid. With the interruption of their chatter, the group now noticed buzzing sounds above them. They looked up and saw several tiny floating lights in the branches of the trees, each about the size of a bumble bee – perhaps more flying creatures.

Unconcerned with this new spectacle, Glenlivet proceeded with the pursuit of conversation. “Can you tell us who you are?”

Shyly, the second peerie fae drifted forward and spoke in a very high pitched tone that almost sounded like singing. “We are the Tylwyth Teg {TIL-ew-ith TEG}, protectors of this shrine.”

“What shrine would that be?” Glenlivet continued.

“That I am not privileged to reveal,” she answered. “My name is Lhiannyn {lee-ANN-en}. This is my sister, Creirwy {KRAY-ru-ee}.”

“My name is Glen.”

“It is a pleasure to meet you, Glen,” she answered with a bow.

“A pleasure to meet you, too. Where would this temple be?”

“It is not a temple,” she giggled. “You are within the shrine right now. You are welcome to shelter here, if you remain peaceful.”

“We are peaceful people,” Glenlivet assured her.

Kyran concluded that these fey creatures may have sensed his demonly heritage somehow and disliked him because of it. So he leaned to Yriadel and whispered, “ask them if they have seen the men that we seek. And the girl.”

Delighted to have a role in this scene, Yriadel gracefully addressed the peerie fae. “We have travelled this way looking for a large group of outlaws with mixed races: Orks, Angarians, Prettons and Swarts. They have kidnapped a young girl whom we are trying to rescue.” This announcement seemed to excite the two little creatures. They flittered about, tweeting and conversing to each other. Then they stopped, hovered, and seemed to confer more seriously.

Lhiannyn zoomed down closer to Yriadel and spoke directly to her. “I know of what you speak. Very bad men, very bad mean nasty orks. In fact, one of our other sisters, Penarddyn {pen-ARTH-en}, has been captured by those mean, nasty smelly evil mean orks, and they took her away to Dolnogg. If you are heading in that direction – and you seem like such nice people – and you could sneak into that evil dark place and rescue our sister, we would be ever so grateful.”

“How far is Dolnogg?” Glenlivet asked.

“It is just a day’s walk from here, for big humans and elves like you.”

Feeling noble, Magna volunteered the group’s services. “We would surely like to free your sister, if we find her.”

“That would be so wonderful. We miss our sister so much.”

“How did she get captured?” asked Glenlivet.

“The mean nasty orks captured her.”

“If she is so small, how did they capture her?” Glenlivet continued, a little perplexed.

“They used a net! We hate nets!”

“I will promise you: if we can retrieve your sister and bring her back here, we will,” insisted Glenlivet, gripping the hilt of Dragonbane as if swearing an oath.

“Oh, thank you so much!” Lhiannyn replied sweetly. “If you do, we can reward you with pleasures or treasures or magical treats!” Then she started flying about in dazzling circles, issuing happy giggles. Creirwy joined her, and they seemed to lose interest in the group as they flew about playfully. Eventually they disappeared among the high reaches of the trees, and the group returned to the trail.

Wolf Pack

Magna led the group of seven on up the trail. They felt confident they were catching up to the outlaws as they got closer to Dolnogg. But hungry eyes were waiting just ahead. A pack of wolves were waiting in ambush. Magna, Lee and Dodge shot arrows and wounded a few, which would normally frighten off a pack, but these would not be deterred and they attacked aggressively. The battle was bloody, but the group prevailed. They received multiple bite and claw wounds, though there were none that caused Yriadel any great concern. Glenlivet and Dodge each gloated over wolf corpses that they had cut so powerfully that each lay dead from one stroke. Glenlivet had beheaded one using Dragonbane. Dodge had practically cut another wolf in twain with his battleaxe.

Dolnogg

As the day darkened, the trail opened onto a glade, in the center of which hunkered a low earthen embankment containing a wooden palisade and a round tower. From within the palisade, wisps of smoke trailed off into the sky and the raucous noise of many Tuq Ash’lur Orks broke the still air of Groes Bryniau. This was Dolnogg.

They stealthily took position at higher ground, behind some boulders and brush, where they could observe the fortress from a distance. The earthen embankment, shaped like a keyhole, was 8 feet high and the palisade walls were 5 feet high. The rectangular section of the embankment was about 160 feet long and 50 feet wide, while the circular portion was about 100 feet in diameter. Located within the circular portion teetered a round tower about 30 feet in diameter and 40 feet high. The stone tower was crumbling from disrepair. About a quarter of it had collapsed and the stones were piled around its base. A makeshift wooden platform stretched across the tower’s top and a single Tuq Ash’lur Ork, hefting a longbow, stared lazily over the tree tops. A rickety, wooden palisade surrounded the tower along the edge of the embankment. Several sections of the palisade had small footings on the inside from which half a dozen ork guards were posted who could easily launch ranged attacks. At the base of the keyhole was the entrance, above which at least two orks stood guard at all times.

After additional surveillance, they deduced that in addition to the orks on guard duty, at least another 10 or so were busily working at clearing away debris and cutting wood. Warlord Grahmr and his March Outlaws were present. There were at least 10 outlaws, mostly Angarians and Prettons, though two Kricts were seen taking care of three horses in a makeshift lean-to. Some of Ubert’s Reavers were also present, notably Klaus, Tindle, and a couple of Swart Corsairs. An odd looking man was seen occasionally lingering by the well, but he was never allowed to stay, as anyone who passed by shouted at the putrid old man or kicked him away.

They were still wounded and weary from the day’s travel and the battle with the wolves, plus they knew the orks would have superior vision if they attacked at night, so the group decided to rest and attackat first light. During the night, numerous ork guards walked the perimeter of the fortress. They even spotted Tindle and one of Warlord Grahmr’s Angarians constantly on watch. Inside the tower, a small fire was kept burning.

In the morning, the March Outlaws and Ubert’s Reavers packed up their belongings and left Dolnogg. Heading east from the direction they had come. There was no sign of Lady Leka. They wanted to assume she was still within the tower, held prisoner by the orks.

At one point, they saw a human that looked completely out of place, either amongst the orks or the humans that had just departed. It was a young man clothed in fine and colorful silks. He was seen leaving from the tower, drawing water from the well, then carrying the water back to the shelter of the tower.

To be continued…


Footnotes:
1. Adapted from: Davis Chenault, Under Dark and Misty Ground: Dzeebagd, (Little Rock: Troll Lord Games, 2007).


B04P04

By-Tor Brigade Legacy VykingValor