Horse Thieves

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Place: County of Pevensey (in the Duchy of Waterford)
Employer: Edric, Earl of Pevensey
Level: Low
Night: Tuesday
GM: Clare

Players:


Watch Order: Pierre, Ath, Luigi, Imri




The Task

The Earl has send a man-at-arms, Gerald, to hire a guild party to sort out some horse thieving problems he is having. Pay will depend on the number of horse thieves brought to justice and the number of horses recovered.

Gerald told us that horse shipments going over the mountains to Bowcourt had been going missing. Three shipments, composing of 20,25 and 5 horses had been hijacked. The guards had been slept and, by the time they woke up, the horses were gone. The locations were also close to each other. The horses were all branded with the Pevensey brand which we later got a description of. As far as pay was concerned, they were offering 200sp/horse recovered and 1000/bandit brought to justice.

Once Gerald had been directed to the pub, we introduced ourselves. I ended up being the scribe, mainly cause I volunteered. Afterwards Imri went hunting for maps of the area while I went digging in scribe notes. Unfortunately neither of us had much luck. The idea was for me to summon a cloud and we'd fly there but the problem was trying to find our target from several hundred feet up. Imri would have to navigate, otherwise we could end up in someplace like Ranke ... or even the Lunar Empire. Pierre poked around the market and discovered that there were a lot of Pevensey horses in the local market but there was no way of knowing their history

We all ended up at the pub, which was relatively crowded. Fortunately Ath had acquired a table for us. We discussed the plan of getting there, whether it be on horse with the man-at-arms, or by cloud. It was finally decided to take the cloud, otherwise it would take weeks to get there. Gerald had to return with his horse but he agreed to come with us once we figured out how to get a horse on a cloud. Both Imri and I went off to predict the weather and we both agreed that we were in for quite a bit of calm weather.

It took me three attempts to coax a cloud down to the Guild flying area but, by late afternoon, we were up and away. I set up a wind whistle to push the cloud in the direction Imri said to go then took a nap.

2nd Thaw
Well, whoever said that weather forecasting was an exact philosophy hadn't met either of us. I woke up to discover we were flying into a storm front. Already there was driving rain and visibility was down to near whiteout conditions. I was so relieved when it was agreed that we should land even though we were sure we were over forest. Basically visibility was terrible and I had to land by sheer luck. We were literally flying blind. It wasn't until we saw trees poking up through the cloud that we had an idea of our speed and rate of descent.

We dropped straight down. Fortunately the trees were spaced far enough apart for a controlled descent. As we piled off and looked for shelter, it was raining heavily accompanied by a bitterly cold gusty wind, punctuated by lightning and accompanying thunder. We rapidly became soaking wet to the skin and I know I was feeling miserable, especially since I was feeling responsible for our current predicament. Ath wanted to look for a cave while I was worried about flash flooding. Finally, after heading downhill, we managed to find shelter under a fallen tree. Even with that, we still spent a horrible night. Fortunately my first attempt to get a resist cold on me worked.

By morning it was still bad, but it had abated a bit and we decided to head back. So, after a few attempts, we were again on a cloud riding the winds and steering by dead reckoning. Imri had done a fantastic job by having us land by a rather cheery inn about five miles out of Seagate, located off the main roads. This place I would definitely recommend.

We arrived inside the inn, looking like drowned rats the cat had dragged in. Two rooms were obtained, costing 10sp/night each, and we basically spent the rest of the day defrosting. I changed into my Caledonian outfit. During the night, the wind blew wildly as the advancing storm front hit.

  "Second opinions aren't always helpful" - Ath

Next morning the weather was grey and gloomy with drizzling rain. We decided to stay put. Pierre decided to help out the cook while I put my story telling skills to good use. Imri got hold of an old horse blanket and some dry kindling then set about waterproofing our gear.

3rd Thaw
The day dawned fine but, it took me until after lunch to get a cloud. I think it took Pierre's cooking to finally sort it out. Once in the air we headed back towards Pevensey. I managed to conjure up a rather fast wind to propel us and, just before sunset, we landed on plains and set up a camp.

4th Thaw
Sometime after midnight, Ath was on watch when a large brown bear wandered into the camp and attacked. The ruckus woke Pierre up so he proceeded to wake us all up. I scrambled out of my sleeping sack, grabbed my short bow and a bundle of arrows. The bear was hugging Ath by the time Pierre and Imri charged in with burning branches. Meanwhile I was sending a volley of well placed arrows into it. All that arrow practice over the last year was finally paying off.

Ath managed to get his dagger out in order to drive the bear off. Pierre conjured up a burning wall of fire which also helped. Finally we succeeded and the bear limped off. We decided not to pursue.

After dawn, I managed to get a cloud and we flew on. Unfortunately, when I was trying to get a windwhistle up, I managed to backfire and forgot how to cast spells. That meant we were at the mercy of the winds and we were stuck on the cloud until the spell ran out.

  "I can just see it now - Aurora's magical mystery tour" - Aurora.

Late afternoon, we could see grass below us and we finally came down late at night, somewhere in the Sea of Grass, well south of where we wanted to be. The night passed without incident.

5th Thaw
Mid morning, and I had my spells back. Another cloud was summoned and we drove our way back northward, against the wind. The windwhistle was barely pushing us along Finally I got fed up with it, counterspelled it, and created a much stronger one. I could now relax a bit. We landed again just after dusk, somewhere in Pevensey. Again the night was uneventful.

6th Thaw
Today, we walked across the plains. Ath and I flew ahead to scout and we found the road, ten miles south. It ran by a river so, when we got there, at lunchtime, it was decided to go fishing. Ath used a Web of Darkness to catch the fish and Imri used a Mage Current to bring the fish to shore.

After a fish meal, we walked down the road and reached an inn by dusk. One room was provided for us all at 10sp each for the night. I went for the early night option.

7th Thaw
On the road again, reaching Horsham by lunchtime. A river ran from here to Pevenston so Imri went to negotiate passage. It was a 45 mile trip by barge. and would take two days. I was still a bit nervous but .. at least this wasn't the open ocean. The trip cost us 100sp.

8th Thaw
We stayed the night in Wellney and reached Pevenston by mid afternoon. Upon arrival we were taken up to the Castle. After freshening up we met Earl Edric in his audience chamber. He appraised us of the basic situation, most of which Gerald had already covered. We were then assigned a suite of rooms and discovered that there were four guards we could interview.

They were done one at a time and we kept them separate before and after. The first guard, Dior, told us that he had woken up after dawn when he was supposed to be on watch at 4am.. He hadn't seen on watch at the time, Asa was. Unfortunately Asa wasn't available for questioning. They had attempted to track the missing horses and had started towards the mountains but the tracks rapidly disappeared. Ath determined that the last spell to impact on Dior was Enchanted Sleep.

Gerbot was not in the same group as Dior and he had been the one on watch. He had suddenly fallen asleep and hadn't heard anything unusual just previous to that. The ground at their location was very hard and the area is open. as they had camped above the treeline. Everyone woke up at the same time and, as far as he knew, no one lived up there.

We got similar stories from the remaining two guards and Ath was able to determine that E&E sleep was involved.

9th Thaw
We obtained a map in the morning and discovered that the last village on the route before the mountains was Peneryn

Luigi believed that we should seek an audience with the local E&E for advice, especially since none of us knew much on the subject. So a message was sent and a while later, we were granted an audience with the court E&E. When we were conducted to the audience chamber, we met up with a middle aged woman named Izabeau. From what she told us, it seemed we were dealing with a rank 7 sleep effect, which meant that it would be possible to wake up affected comrades. We also asked about the possibility of obtaining counterspells but it would take too long to learn them.

We then obtained, with the assistance of the seneschal, Leofwol, some horses from the Earl's stables and set off to investigate the crime scene. Our plan was to pose as prospective horse traders checking out the route. We would then bring some horses through and see what happens.

  "If we're really lucky, we might be attacked" - Ath

We rode for the rest of the day finally ending up at Burgess Hill and stayed the night at the Sign of the Oak Tree inn. The night passed uneventfully although Ath was looking bored.

10th Thaw
Lunch time saw us at the Sign of the Watershield inn at Petersfield where we stopped for lunch. That evening we reached Feinhurst, located by a river. Unlike the other places we had been through, it was walled. We stayed at the Old Oak Tree inn where we spread our story about being horse traders. I was told that horses were kept in a large field just outside town. We also noticed that the locals were giving us odd looks and they didn't seem to like us much. We later found out they were xenephobic. They had also heard of the horse thefts and were confident that the Earl was going to do something about it.

11th Thaw
We travelled on, alongside the river until we reached the final stop before the pass, Peneryn. This was a small, fortified, village and, again, we were getting some rather odd looks. I suspect they weren't used to elves. However, I had a friendly chat with the local guard and he had heard of the thefts as well but was confident that the Earl was going to do something about it. He knew the route up, telling us it was rather steep up to the top. Finally he referred us to the Wolfshead Inn telling us to tell John that Peter sent us.

The night passed without incident ... and Ath was still looking bored.

12th Thaw
After breakfast, we headed off up into the mountain range. That evening we finally reached a flat plateau where we set up camp. Just in case anyone was watching, Luigi, Ath and I ducked into a tent. Inside I cast Flying on Luigi and myself while Ath followed up with Witchsights and Walking Unseens. Once spelled up, we took off. I spiralled out looking for clues while Luigi decided to go for height. I soon found the path heading out that the guards had reported that had disappeared after a while, but I flew on a bit and spotted it again, discovering that it looped around and joined the main road a bit further on. I did land on the path to search for clues but didn't find anything.

The sun had set by the time I got back so I decided on another flight just after sunrise. Luigi landed a bit after I did but had nothing new to report.

13th Thaw
Just as the first rays of the sun broke the horizon, I was purifying by the east side of our tent. I always try to do so as the sun rises. Pierre was on watch, having swapped with Imri, while the others continued resting. Just then, a small pebble bounced off Pierre from an unseen source. He immediately went looking for the source, projecting his image for protection. However, he was still targeted. The resulting ruckus disturbed my concentration.

  "That's not right. Don't these people know they can't see me?" - Pierre.

Just then a woman's voice spoke up. "Don't worry. We're friendly". She then became visible, revealing a human in her early twenties. She then introduced herself as Mirium, Izabeau's apprentice and invited us to come with her to Izabeau's tower, located ten miles to the north. There was a second apprentice there, a dwarf called Donald.

I did a quick flight around the area but didn't see any more clues. I was also very suspicious. Three E&E's, with a tower relatively close to a crime scene where E&E activity had been used to commit the crime, certainly put all three of them right on top of my suspect list.

It took most of the day to traverse the distance to the tower, especially since we had to lead the horses over the rugged terrain. When we saw it, it was revealed to be a four story round town located in the north of a cultivated valley. The tower was surrounded by a rather comprehensive herb garden. The ground floor was the kitchen and living area, above that was laboratory, then the apprentices quarters and finally Izabeau's quarters. The top of the tower was flat and surrounded by crenollations.

Izabeau was still in Pevensey but we did meet Donald. Mirium them told us that they were in serious trouble and wanted our help to get out of it. She admitted that they were responsible for the magic on the guards but had been coerced into it by a team of bandits who had stolen an item that they had been 'playing' with. They were scared of telling anyone, especially Izabeau. as they were playing with an unknown magical item without permission while she was away. The item in question was a six foot long staff with a crystal on it and they had thought it was a communication device. They had been on separate hills when the bandits had struck, overpowering Donald and stealing the device. They said they would return it but, only if they assisted in their horse stealing scheme. So far, they had not returned it and the apprentices' attempts to locate it had been unsuccessful. One of it's properties was either a scryshield or it was a lot further away than the bandit's camp.

There were eight bandits that they knew about, six young ones, and two older ones, presumably the leaders, and they were all male humans. They were well armed with swords and bows and were proficient in both. Armour was hard leather. Their camp was in a nearby valley, about thirty miles away.

Izabeau had communicated with the apprentices, via a Whispering Wind, to tell the apprentices that investigators were on the way. So they seized on the opportunity to get us to help them and, hopefully, cover up their involvement in the crime. We believed it would be in their better interests to confess all but agreed to help them get the item back and bring the bandits to justice.

  "I'm not sure that the future is something we want to know" - Aurora
  "And you did so well in predicting the weather" - Ath

They had three crystals of vision which we used to scry the bandit's camp. Each crystal could be used once a day for 20 to 25 minutes each. We could see six of the bandits and had to assume the other two were off getting supplies. Before a raid they would put up a pattern of rocks on a nearby hill to tell the E&Es that they were about to raid.

21st Thaw
Over the next eight days we concocted and tested plans of sneaking in and slipping a mickey of sleeping potion into the bandits food or drink as well as watching the camp in an attempt to gain more information. They still had some of the horses there, roughly 25. I practiced target shooting while flying in case we had to attack and also did some aerial surveys of the camp while invisible. I was looking for a spot I could use as a sniping position but there wasn't one. Imri was thinking of sneaking closer to the camp using the nearby stream as cover while waterbreathing. The potion itself was going to be delivered via golem. Imri also taught us all the best ways of restraining prisoners.

Finally, we were ready to go in.

So .. this is how Plan A finally went down. Luigi decided to sneak in personally and put the sleeping potion into the bandit's stew. I was up in the air, invisible and watching. There were two bandits on guard near the stew pot over the fire and a few more being casual nearby. Luigi was invisible and reasonably sneaky but one of the bandits, who I immediately tagged as 'Rabbit' because of his exceptional hearing and speed, must have detected something as he immediately moved to investigate. Two of the others followed and soon they were closing on Luigi. He attempted to evade them but they managed to strike him with their swords, rendering him visible. I flew off to tell the others who were waiting on the sidelines.

Ath went out to create a diversion while I had to wait for the winds to pick me up again. It's times like this when I really wish I had an instant flight spell ... maybe even something like what Skye has got. By the time I got airborne again, Ath had been shot by a lucky shot and had been rendered unconscious. He was still invisible but three of the bandits were converging on his position. Meanwhile, a rather battered Luigi had managed to summon the winds and was now aloft.

I really did not want to leave Ath behind, or even allow him to be captured, so I came up with an idea which could get me nominated to Bravest Adventurer ... or Stupidest. Basically I would swoop down, pick him up and lift him to a spot where I could have enough time to get him a healing potion, and get him away. Even a hundred or so elven yards would do, and I only really needed to get him above grass height.

My first attempt missed, and I had to swing around for another pass. It's times like this I wish I could hover. As the three bandits converged on Ath, I tried again, and thatwas when things went horribly wrong. I missed Ath yet again and managed to crash into one of the bandits, knocking him over and causing me to become visible. I then spun out of control and impacted with the ground ... really really hard. I later found out I had shattered my hip. Whatever had happened, I was in searing and agonising pain until I mercifully passed out. At least one good thing came out of it, my 'diversion' gave Ath enough time to regain consciousness and get away.

Plan B was formulated and .. well .. it must have worked otherwise I wouldn't be writing these words. This time, Imri and Pierre snuck underwater down the nearby stream while Luigi had four stone golems prepared. They turned out to be slightly 'armless' for reasons that will be detailed later but ... lets just say Luigi should have used harder rocks. Ath and the two E&Es were setting up for spellcasting. This time there were two on guard near the campfire and three more at the camp's outskirts.

The two guards fell asleep. At the same time, Luigi sent the golems in. Ath put up a Web which cut off the guards from the tents. It also hit one of the outriding guards. The other two headed towards the approaching golems, which were rather audible. The ruckus had other bandits popping out of tents, except for one. While they were going for the golems and waking up their sleeping comrades, which involved passing through the Web of Darkness, Imri and Pierre snuck up and started checking tents looking for me.

Three of the golems attacked the outlying guards while the fourth headed for the campfire to engage the guards there. The first three tried to close and grapple but they were repulsed with one golem losing an arm. The leader managed to wake up the other two guards but the fourth golem closed on him ... and also had an arm lopped off. Finally the last bandit came out a tent, looking a bit dishevelled and, according to Pierre, he had an argument with one of the leaders claiming that what he was doing was more important than defending the camp. He finally went back in to get his weapons.

Ath dropped the web and started firing Bolts of Starfire. Meanwhile another couple of bandits had fallen asleep again. So far, all Pierre and Imri had found were empty tents and they were both converging on the last one, the one the dishevelled bandit had come out of. The web had been brushing the back of that tent but, now it was gone, Imri was able to get behind it and start pulling out tent pegs before slitting the canvas. Bandits were still smacking golems but except for one of the outlying guards who had fallen. Also, another golem had lost an arm. Bandits were also being bolted and slept.

By the time Imri had found me in the tent, unconscious and tied up, the battle was over. Only one had actually died and the rest were subdued and tied up very securely. Some loot was found but there was no sign of the missing staff. It was either been taken somewhere else, or broken.

Speaking of broken, Ath had a special potion that healed most of the damage I had taken except for the specific injury. Hence there wasn't much I could do, not even spellcast properly. I was going to have to be carried. So it was going to be a long trip back to the capital with our captives and the horses.

Eight amulets of two types were also found, 4 luck and 4 elderflowers. The hard leather armour looked rather nice but no magic was detected on it. The bandits were lashed to a horse each but Imri and Luigi strung a hammock between two horses side by side for me to lie in. They did a very good job too as I had a rather smooth ride.

  Aurora - "maybe I'll learn healer when I get back"
  Pierre - "Ranger would be good too"
  Aurora - *SIGH*

The staff was nowhere to be found but a cache of coin and gems worth 15,000sp was discovered. That led me to believe that they had sold the staff cause I did not think they could get that much by just selling horses. We also collected quite a lot of the camp gear and then, with our entourage of horses and bandits, started heading for Pevensey. The two E&E's came with us as well and, with their help, and herbalist potions to ease the pain, I slept most of the way.

26th Thaw
Finally reached Pevensey at lunchtime. Pierre, who still had muscle spasms for an earlier backfire, and myself were bundled off to the healers. Mirium had also managed to backfire herself with amnesia so she was being looked after too. The rest were being debriefed by the Baron and Izabeau. She was not happy about the loss of the staff but offered to pay us to get it back. Apparently a wyvern had it, having swiped it from a lone bandit who was waving it about.

28th Thaw
The healings took two days although Mirium was still suffering from memory loss which should wear off in time. I turned up with a walking stick. I didn't really need it but was still feeling a bit stiff owing to an enforced lack of exercise over the last few days. Once we were ready, I summoned a cloud, and we, along with Donald, headed back to Izabeau's tower.

2nd Seedtime
The plan we came up with was now ready for execution. Over the last few days, Imri had been working on creating a model boat, specifically a coracle. Once it was ready, she cast a ship strength on it to make it magical and added Ath's magical nails. If the wyvern was attracted to magic, this would be good bait.

We were all powered up with fly spells, invisibilities and witchsights before heading out to where the bandits had been camping. It was reasonable that this was in the wyvern's territory. Once there, I attempted to summon a wyvern with the 'bait' highly visible nearby. Hopefully, once it saw that, it would go for it and forget about me, especially since I had divested myself of any magic I could.

So, I did the summoning spell. Nothing happened for a while then the wyvern was seen approaching from the north. I was invisible as it landed and sniffed around, looking for the source of the summoning. I stayed very still, not wanting to attract attention. Then, it saw the 'magical item'. It pounced on it, picked it up and flew off heading north. We flew off after it.

A short while later it went into a cave in a hillside. The others landed at a suitable observation point on a nearby hill but I did an aerial survey of the area. I spotted two more cave mouths nearby, but only the one that the wyvern went in had a pile of discarded bones nearby.

We continued to watch for the rest of the day but there were no further wyvern sightings.

3rd Seedtime
Early in the morning, we watched as the wyvern flew out. Ath though he saw something on it. So, we watched carefully as the wyvern came back, carrying a goat. Sure enough, Pierre was able to see that there were various objects on it, presumably magical. So a plan was hatched to raid the wyvern's cave for loot, and the staff. I was going to lure it out with a summoning while the others went in and did a quick raid.

Imri also made Waters of Healing for everyone to help us in case the wyvern stung us

  "Any of you die of poison, I'll smack you when you get resurrected" - Imri

However, more discussions led us to a new plan which went into execution the following morning.

4th Seedtime
Predawn, I attempted to purify but failed. I think cast flying spells all around, then, after flying to a nearby peak, summoned an air elemental.

We got back as the wyvern took off for it's morning hunt. Luigi was creating as many stone golems as he could with the raw materials at hand. He ended up with two.

We were all hiding when the wyvern returned. I had the elemental pounce on it while the stone golems closed and held it down while the air elemental pounded on it. After a while, I was feeling rather sorry for the poor wyvern. After a while, the wyvern and golems went over the cliff and thudded onto the ground below. The air elemental followed it down.

The wyvern didn't last much longer after that and the golems weren't looking too good either. One was completely legless. Once we were sure it had stopped twitching we searched for loot. I had the air elemental support me in mid air and slowly carry me down the cliff face in case something fell off the wyvern on the way down. Sure enough we spotted a amulet halfway down.

Luigi and Ath had already reached the bottom and discovered three more amulets. Meanwhile Imri and Pierre carefully entered the cave. Fortunately they didn't find another wyvern ... or any eggs. They did find the model ship, and the missing staff. Some searching also turned up a wand and two rings.

Once we got back together again we assessed what we had. Ath tried to detect the staff's aura. He discovered that it's aura was fuzzy and occluded. The wand had an aura of enhancement while one of the rings had investment and the second had no aura. The amulets were all wiccan in origin.

The rest of us searched the cave but found nothing else. I did a really meticulous search, checking every crack, nook, and cranny, even searching through the muck. I must have looked a mess when I finally came out. Imri didn't need much convincing that there was nothing else to find.

After dismissing the elemental, I summoned a cloud and we flew back to the cloud. Unfortunately this time, the wind that I summoned to push us along was very strong and I nearly got blown off the cloud. As a result, we got back to the tower in record time.

Basically .. that was that ... we got paid, including rewards from Izabeau in the form of investments, then headed back to the Guild by cloud, arriving just before sunset. Fortunately we didn't get lost but I decided to learn navigation and rangering ..... just in case.