In mid-afternoon, the group arrives at the village of Haymon’s Gate (so named for the triumphal arch in the market square, erected to commemorate an ancient victory over the nomads). As they walk into own it begins to rain, first with slow heavy drops, quickly turning a steady downpour.
The shower is heavy, but passes quickly. Everyone except Mars (who has the geas “Never seek shelter From Storm”) can take cover in the local inn, and enjoy a hot meal of antelope sausage, bread, cheese and barley beer before venturing on their way. There are a couple of other glum souls outside in the rain too, who share Mar’s unfortunate geas. The barkeep passes them their refreshments through a special hatch in the inn’s wall.
Melo Yelo may wish to keep Mars company on his strange vigil in the rain.
Scene 8: The Riddler
In contrast to the main Pavis road, the road to Harpoon is just a deeply rutted dirt track, well-tramped by thousands of feet earlier in the day. As the characters march down the path the wind picks up again, and there huge black clouds form in the north above Pavis. (This is the work of Orlanth priests at the Pairing Stone, whipping up a storm to help the Cradle on its way downriver).
Not long after the turn-off, the the party approach an old man seated on a two-wheeled cart, pulled by a Bison ox. It looks like an uncomfortable ride, because the wheel ruts in Sun County don’t match those of his cart (perceptive characters might recognize him then as a foreigner). A small ginger shadowcat is curled up on the bench next to him, which hisses at Mars (who has the shadowcat paw charm). Bob recognizes the cat as an awakened familiar, similar to himself. The odd man is eating a hard-boiled egg. He pauses in his eating to say to Yelanda:
“Wandering Sun, Jealous Uncle, I have a new Toy here, see it? Test me, twice if you can For a Gold Piece each right answer.”
The old man is an Orlanthi priest, who wishes to engage in the traditional riddling contest. Remind Yelanda that she cannot communicate with him directly: negotiations must be carried out via a third party such as Mars or Melo.[The Orlanthi Riddles with the PCs, and if he wins a round, claims one of the gold rings as prize. It’s highly unlikely that the PCs will hand it over, but you never know. If he’s attacked, he Teleports away.]
Scene 9: Crop Circles
As the road draws closer to the river, Bob notices an unusual pattern in the cornfields. The yellow stalks of grain have been curiously pushed flat into strange circular shapes of varying sizes. There are about a dozen, spread over a wide area. Track reveals footprints leave the road and make their way through the field to one of the circles, where the prints abruptly disappear.
These “crop circles” were caused by a party of Orlanthi, flying on sylphs (air elementals) to rendezvous with the Cradle. Yesterday, they landed here briefly to pick up another comrade. They now wait upriver of Harpoon, ready to board the cradle as it sails past.
Scene 10: Troll Raiders
Yelm begins his fiery descent into the underworld as the characters plod along the last few kilometers to Harpoon, the wind whipping around them. The road winds through a stretch of vineyards. As it grows darker, it begins to rain again, but the characters notice a bright yellow glow on the horizon (the village of Harpoon is well-lit by bonfires, torches and Light spells as the Sun Domers hurriedly prepare for the arrival of the Cradle.)
The characters are about to get overrun by a gang of marauding trolls and trollkin. They were happily stripping the vineyards of the area bare when the Sun Dome army arrived, and they think that the entire Yelmalio cult is now after them! They hid during the day, but now that night has fallen, they are getting away as fast as they can.
Listen: gibbering sounds and rustling vegetation, coming through the vines to the right.
There’s one dark troll, another huge great troll, and three or four dozen wild-eyed trollkin who would all gladly fall upon the player characters to destroy and eat them, but for the fact they’re in a blind panic to get as far away from the Sun Dome army as possible.
The troll band burst out of the bushes and head straight for the player characters, with the trollkin in lead and the great and dark trolls following. Remark that the player characters have never seen the whites of a trollkin’s eyes before, but now they can see about 45 pairs. What the players might interpret as screams of rage are in fact screams of terror.
As they swirl past, around and over the player characters, the trollkin try to wrench away loose items (eg. spears, helmets, packs, etc.). One pack take particular interest in the pack containing the gold rings, whoever’s got it… In addition to their attempts to steal anything not nailed down, the trollkin also try grappling and trying to bowl the PCs over or belting them with their fists.
The characters have a couple of rounds (before the dark troll and his great troll buddy come up) to avoid a very nasty melee. The trolls are in a panic, so any overt offensive action from the players is enough to frighten them:
- If a character attempts to hit or cast a spell at a trollkin, have it (and a couple of trollkin around it) run away screaming in terror. Note that because of the failing light, all attacks made by the player characters are at -25%.
- Even shouting loudly or making threatening gestures at a trollkin has the same effect as above.
Such action will not be enough to scare the dark troll leader and his dark troll bodyguard though, and they approach, the dark troll unfurls a whip and starts barking orders at the trollkin, cracking the whip above their heads.
The dark troll successfully casts a Blinding spell at Yelanda, making her temporarily blind.
The way out of this for the player characters is for either Yelanda or Mars to cast their Sunbright spells. This spell creates a 50 meter radius circle or light, enough to make all the trolls and trollkin drop everything and flee immediately. Casting the spirit magic Light spell is not nearly good enough, though the trolls will keep away from its source, instead concentrating on the other characters.
GM Note: No stats are provided for the troll party. Just pretend to roll dice and be descriptive! If a PC hits a trollkin, it tries to run away. If the players make a complete balls-up of this encounter, help is not far away: when things are looking at their diciest have a Yelmalio Templar scouting party dash in to save them. One of the Templars casts his Sunbright spell. On the way back to Harpoon make sure the Templars give Yelanda a rough time for letting her party walk straight into a troll ambush!
Note that regardless of what action the other player characters may take, Mars is bound by his geas to never flee or surrender from darkness creatures, and trolls are darkness creatures.
Scene 11: The Lunar Wyvern Rider
Just as the PCs trudge the last kilometer down the muddy track to Harpoon, Bob (and any other character using Scan) notices a dark shape in the sky, briefly silhouetted against the Red Moon. It is heading towards the glow of the Sun Dome encampment ahead. If Bob flies to investigate, or a character uses Farsee and Scan, they spot a man riding a dragon-like creature with huge wings. This is an Imperial wyvern-rider, bearing a message for Lord Invictus (that the Cradle has been taken at Pavis, so the Sun Dome force may be stood down).
After delivering his message, the rider then wings it to the Sun Dome Temple, to invite the Count up to Pavis to witness the looting of the Cradle.
The wyvern is out of bow shot, but Bob may fly up to investigate. If he gets too close, the wyvern might try to bite him, or lash out with its barbed tail.
Scene 12: Harpoon & The Sun Dome Camp
All is abuzz when the PCs finally march into the village of Harpoon. The nondescript settlement is now dwarfed by the large, neatly-arranged camp the Sun Domers have pitched beside it, lit up by bonfires, torches and magical illumination (eg. Lightwall spells hanging in the air above the camp). Despite the blustery wind and intermittent rain, Templars, militiamen and peasants rush about everywhere, marching, drilling, and generally making themselves busy. There are hundreds of oxen penned in a temporary enclosure, placidly chewing their cud while they wonder what all the excitement is all about (does Melo Yelo view these oxen as a huge self-serve meat-market?).
Up on the cliffs across the river, the PCs can see the great spear casting machine from which the village of Harpoon got its name; in the firelight a team works feverishly to prepare it.
At the center of all the activity, Lord Invictus, resplendent in his golden armour, directs the action, and it is to him the PCs must report. As they approach him, they see the wyvern land, its rider give Invictus a message, and then fly off again, heading in the direction of the Sun Dome Temple.
Invictus is too busy to give Yelanda the full-serve he thinks she deserves, but can’t resist a few barbs, carrying out the conversation along the lines of:
“Ah, Yelanda, I see you’ve recovered from your injuries. I was wondering which errand-“boy” (winks to the lads) the Count would send along with the rings. I fear you may have wasted your time though dearie, we may not need them after all, after this message I’ve just received.” (Looking at Melo Yelo with amusement) “Oh, and I see you’ve bought along another pet.”
Invictus’s allied spirit Tercel, sitting on his arm, may take this opportunity to hurl a few jibes at Bob.
A pair of burly Templars take the pack with the rings in it away, and can be seen heading towards the spear-casting machine on the cliff.
If the characters report the strange circles, Invictus dispatches a group of Templars to investigate the curious phenomenon.
Invictus is not prepared to discuss the nature of the expedition, but promises the PCs a full briefing when the troops are rallied in the morning. In the meantime he suggests they get some rest, and directs them towards the mess area for a late dinner.
None of the Templars there know why they were called out and made to march to Harpoon in the middle of the night, but repeat the rumours and anti-Lunar prejudices from the earlier sections.
As they are eating their supper, the rumour passes through the camp that the whole exercise is obviously just some sort of drill; most of the magical lighting around the camp has been extinguished and Invictus relaxes standing orders. Most Templars have been allowed to get some rest, and are finding somewhere warm and dry to bunk down for the night. “With a bit of luck”, some Templars say, “we’ll back at barracks by dusk tomorrow.” (Because of the message he received from the wyvern-rider, Invictus considers it unnecessary to maintain his army in a state of alert).
The characters must find somewhere in the camp to doss down for the night. There is a severe shortage of tents for the officers. Yelanda might be risking temptation if she lets Melo Yelo bunk down too close to the oxen pens (or if she lets Sarshas share a tent with herself…)
Scene 13: Another Wyvern Rider
In the early hours of the morning, a random character is awakened by a flapping sound, as another Imperial Wyvern Rider flies in and lands close by the PCs. The Lunar rider dismounts and asks Yelanda to be taken to Lord Invictus immediately. He asks another of the PCs (Sarshas, if he’s handy) to mind “Precious”, his wyvern, while he’s gone, and hands him the reins.
“Precious” is a fearsome-looking beast, and quite frisky. Although it snaps its jaws and flicks its barbed tail about, its firm cavalry training helps restrain its temper. It won’t attack anyone unless severely provoked, and even then probably won’t use its tail sting. Anyone foolish enough to try riding “Precious” has their Ride Wyvern chance (eg. 05% + manipulation bonus) to hang on, as the wyvern attempts to throw him as if flies into the air.
The wyvern has been on the wing half the night, and is famished. Wyverns like eating meat, especially small birds like Bob….
Play around with the wyvern in this scene as long as you like. Eventually, the rider returns, mounts “Precious” and flies off, heading south.
Invictus is resting in his tent, but recieves the messenger prompty. As soon as he reads the message he orders Yelanda to find a bugler and sound the alarm.
|“Precious” the Wyvern
Wyverns are about the size of a large horse, and have two legs, two wings, no forelimbs and a long tail equipped with a venomous sting. This one is decked out in Lunar livery, and is trained for riding.
DEX 13 Move: 2/8 flying
Hit Points: 25
Magic Points: 12
DEX sr 3 + SIZ sr 0 = 3 17-20 Head 19-20 7/9
15-16 L.Wing 17-18 7/7
13-14 R.Wing 15-16 7/7
12 Tail 14 7/9
09-11 Chest 08-13 7/11
07-08 Abdm 05-07 7/9
04-06 L. Leg 03-04 7/9
01-03 R. Leg 01-02 7/9Bite SR-5 (1d10+3d6) A-50%
Sting SR-9 (1d6+3d6+POT 19 poison) A-70%
*Note the wyvern both bites and stings in the same round, against one or two opponents. The attacks take place 3 strike ranks apart.
Scene 14: Lord Invictus Rouses the Troops!
Moments after the wyvern rider disappears into the darkness, bugles ring out calling the reveille and magical lighting once again illuminates the camp. Hundreds of Templars rush to arms, and assemble before their leader, the Light Captain Invictus. In his gold ceremonial armour, Invictus looks dazzling, brilliant, handsome, golden (a combination of Glamour and Lantern spells).
At last, the PCs find out what’s going on, as Invictus’s voice booms out across the field:
“Templars, Warriors of the Son, know now why our beloved Count sent us in force here to Harpoon. Late last night a Lunar dispatch rider [Sarshas] delivered a message to the Sun Dome from our Lunar allies at Pavis. It was reported to us that a Giant Cradle, the first to come floating downriver in over seven centuries, was reported upriver of Pavis. The Lunar Governor Sor Eel requested that we aid them in stopping this Cradle, boarding it, and plundering it of treasures beyond the ken of mortal understanding. Hence our rapid deployment to Harpoon.
“The Lunars hurriedly planned a boarding action of their own at Pavis, and shortly after dusk an Imperial Wyvern Rider landed here with the jubilant message that the Lunar forces had succeeded in halting the Cradle and were preparing looting parties to board and strip it of its prizes.
“How smug and self-satisfied our Moon-worshipping allies and their bald-pated governor must have felt then, perched on the edge of their greatest success! But before they could remove their spoils, a huge storm (which fitfully blows itself out around our feet now as I speak) caused the river to rise and lifted the Cradle back into the River. Another Wyvern Rider delivered this news moments ago, along with a desperate plea from Sor Eel for us to succeed where his hoplites had failed.
“Tomorrow, the Giant Cradle will come downriver to Harpoon. It shall not pass! We shall launch three great arrows from our spear-throwing machine, and drag it to the shore with our oxen. We shall then board the Cradle and take as rightful plunder the choicest loot aboard; the Lunars may have our scraps as their spoils!
“Sleep well then, Sun Domers, for tomorrow we make history!”
The Light Captain’s speech is greeted by a rousing cheer, and the Templars labour through the night to make ready their assault!
Scene 15: Last Orders
As Yelm arises the Sun Dome Templars begin assembling along the river bank, to await the Cradle’s arrival. It appears that the river has risen somewhat during the night. Archers form lines behind heavier-armed Templars at the rivers edge, who balance scaling ladders on small boats and rafts. The Sun Dome army is a glorious sight, and its leaders are resplendent in their uniforms of dazzling gold. About mid-morning the Count himself arrives, and his golden entourage sets itself up on the bluff beside the spear-throwing machine to watch the proceedings.
Shortly after the Count’s arrival, a pair of wyvern fly in from Pavis. Sarshas notices that one of the riders is none other than Bor Eel, brother of the governor and his most trusted lieutenant, obviously hastily flown in here to safeguard Lunar interests during the Sun Dome pillage of the Cradle.
Crowds of civilians (those who didn’t flee earlier that is) cluster in the distance, anxious to watch this marvellous battle.
The oxen have been yoked into three great teams, each linked to a coil of bronze chain. Attached to the chains are three huge harpoons, each 25 meters long and tipped with a razor-sharp obsidian point inscribed with runes and symbols. Around the shaft of each arrow, the characters notice the gold rings they brought from the Sun Dome, which seem to sparkle with magical energy in the sunlight.
Lord Invictus calls Yelanda and her band before him for their orders; the task he has in store for them is one of the most dangerous he can give.
To Yelanda: “You still wish to prove your worth to the Sun Dome cult I assume? I have for you then a most dangerous task, one at which even a doughty Templar might balk, let alone a mere woman such as yourself. Know that if you succeed, my resistance to your attaining rune lord status will cease.
“Once our great missiles have been shot, I wish for you to lead a small assault team up one of the chains and along the spear shaft. Your job is to prevent the defenders of the Cradle from chopping through the spear before we can pull the Cradle into shore. I already have volunteers to carry this out with the first and second harpoons; I ask you to volunteer to lead the third? What say you?”
It is assumed that Yelanda jumps at the chance to prove herself in front of Invictus, the Count and the whole Sun Dome cult hierarchy. If she refuses this mission, Lord Invictus sends her in disgrace to the Count, where she can serve the dignitaries iced drinks during the battle.
“Now I need two volunteers to accompany Yelanda” (Turns to Melo Yelo) “You, baboon, I know that for some time you have yearned to join the Sun Dome cult. You are just the sort of nimble creature this task needs, and if you acquit yourself well, I shall have a word in the priests’ ears about your candidature. Well, will you join us?” Invictus gives Melo a firm salute.
Now, this is precisely the lucky break Melo’s been looking for, and he should salute back vigorously. Leaping on Invictus and hugging him enthusiastically would definitely be frowned upon.
To Sarshas: “And you, Lunar, you remain under our command. Join Yelanda, and help us succeed where your governor’s legions failed.”
Bor Eel then comes down for a little pep-talk. He praises this “spirit of cooperation between the Lunar government and our Sun Dome allies”, and, patting Sarshas on the back, says that he hopes he will be “a shining example of Lunar military prowess”. He then embraces Sarshas and kisses him on both cheeks, and whispers in his ear, “Make sure you show up these illiterate dirt farmers by being first onto the Cradle’s deck. Accomplish this and I can see doors opening for you all the way to the top”. While this is going on he slips Sarshas a silver medallion. It is a Truesword matrix (when cast on a scimitar, it doubles rolled weapon damage).
“Good Luck”, says Bor Eel, and gives the Lunar salute.
To Mars: “Loyal militiaman, we do not expect you to do a Templar’s work, for that is not your place or station. But you can use your gift of the bow as fire support for your comrades.”
Page Last updated: 2023-05-07 13:57:57