So the party takes the halflings (now nicknamed Grunka and Lunka) with them, as well as any valuable loot and heads on to Sir Liam's manor. They discover the manor is a large wooden estate on top of an artificial hill, surrounded by a large number of thatch huts for the peasants. After quickly discovering the surrounding village is full of grovelling filth merchants (as they described the destitute farmers and shepherds). So they walked past two dimwitted and poorly armed guards under the orders that the "princess" was obviously expected.
They met with the Knight (Sir Liam) who turned out to be a dandy wannabe Frenchman with blue velvet suit, high heels and wigs. Despondent over being stuck in this backwater burg with money and nothing to spend it on. "Princess" Anastasia (being french) was an instant hit and she claimed the right of hospitality for a healing break. Giuseppe (who's player was absent this week) used the time to heal while Silas the Gypsy and Angus the Dwarf returned to the swamp to gather some of the larger furniture, the troll/earth elementals stone hands, and explore a little more. During the course of the week they found a goblin egg (fresh) and surmised the goblins from the forest were quickly moving into the swamp now that the "troll" was dead.
Anastasia accumulated a "favour" by donating the luxury item that was the candy from the troll hoard (itself from a candy village supposedly in the north woods) and tried in vain to explore the manor for secret passages. She knew they were there but could not find them. Deciding against staying longer (and having won his support as they wished) they packed up and headed to see the local "king", Michael Connolly IV.
They found the king's castle was an old Roman keep of simple design, overgrown with ivy and surrounded by a small town and a wooden palisade. The town was smaller than Corroc (the main town in the region) but much nicer with cobblestone roads and many wood and stone cottages. The two boasted a weapon-smith, armourer and blacksmith, so Silas the Gypsy put in an order for Studded leather armour and some small weapon purchases, while Angus the dwarf wanted a sledgehammer made from the two stone troll fists. I found that idea awesome. This would take a few weeks to make, so Anastasia took the local king up on the right of hospitality, claiming to be looking for a prospective husband. As the king and several of the local knights were single, this was seen as a welcome omen, especially given the news of a recent treasure stockpile from the local bog, and now news of a troll slaying.
Investigating the castle they discovered one of the walls was shoddily repaired with cobblestones and gypsum, and the king seemed very interested to know if Angus had any traditional dwarven skills, taking the hint of why Ivy was allowed to hide the walls, Angus indicated he was in fact a "master mason" and endeared himself. Silas spoke with the kennel master and borrowed some studded leather barding for his dog while Anastasia explored the castle and discovered a local knight errant was lain up from a battle. Prying further they discovered why, and why no game was provided at dinner. The royal preserve had been infested by a dangerous monster, a green and black tiger known now as the "Keltic Tiger". The Errant Sir Frodrick had rode out with mail, lance, squire and a full set of hounds and returned barely alive on an injured horse. The intrigued them, but the full moon was nearing and they wished to search for the cult in the south wood.
So south they went, Angus picking up the leather armour he ordered, and they used the powerful tracking talents of Silas to locate the cults shrine, a charred grove in the woods, a giant blackened dead tree overlooking a smooth stone slab in a field of ash. Investigating before nightfall they decided it was a shrine to Baphomet the corrupter, and very old. Silas hid in the tree with his sling, sabre and some knives. Angus, Anastasia (borrowing Giuseppe's rapier) and Silas dog hid in the treeline. They waited as robed cultists stood chanting (4) and 2 naked dancers in leather masks created a bonfire at the base of the slab. From the north came a knight in black mail and full helm, leading a horse, a red robed priest and 2 dagger wielding strongmen carrying a palanquin chair, seated on it being a large black furred goat-man. This is when tragedy struck and the knight spotted Angus and charged, followed by the Goat-man (the whispered "Black Goat of the Woods"..queue groans). Angus (level 2) went toe to toe with the Black Knight (level 5) and the black goat, while Silas dropped a cultist and Anastasia and the dog continued to hide.
Angus scored a good hit, but also suffered a hefty blow (despite having the range advantage), so the next round Silas sicked the dog on the black goat, while Anastasia used wit and a thrown dagger to take out the priest and silas continued to rain death as the cultists began climbing the tree). The dog rolled a great attack, and decided to attempt an overbear (Accruing risky penalties), the black goat fumbled the defense and was tackled, now stuck in a grapple with a dog savagely lashing into its throat. Angus fumbled and lodged his troll-hammer into a tree, taking more damage, and then had to draw his backup weapon... his original iron sledgehammer (we laughed when he said he was carrying both). This continue for a few rounds, with Anastasia stuck in a sword fight with two knife wielding cultists, the dog managed to rip the Black Goat to bits (with Silas contributing his luck points to keep it alive) while Silas swung through the branches slaying the cultists as they managed to climb up in a trickle.
Angus was in bad shaped, he burned all of his fate points for more luck, and still kept taking critical after critical, on the verge of death he decided he'd try to move to the high ground, all he needed to do was win initiative, his d12 against the knights d8. He failed and the knight stabbed in him the back, and it looked like curtains. Anastasia pointed out that she was technically his employer, and he was a lower level (2 to her 3) so she could use her luck points on him, so she burned through all 10 and left him 1 body point above death. He then took the high ground and swing with a -5 universal penalty, and on his first good roll he got a natural 20, then came damage, a 1. Putting aside his giant scowl he remembered he was a specialist, and thus re-rolled damage for an 8, plus his high strength he managed to do enough damage to down the knight. Anastasia however was nearly pummeled to death (only having 5 body points) and used up all 3 of her fate points on more luck points fighting these mooks, managing to drop one. After missing with his thrown hammer, Angus tried plan b. His last item, a starting item of his choice, a spork.
The thrown spork killed the strongman who was busy wailing on the princess with a critical hit.
They tended to the wooden, stabilized the priest and as many cultists as possible for (show)trial and captured the knight's horse, before deciding to sleep while Silas guarded. Silas then decided to dig around the base of the altar for buried treasure. The party awoke to find Silas missing, and discovered quicksand around the altar that seemed almost sentient as it writhed and moved.
Beaten and near dead, and now missing a key party member (with the mage back in town) they debate what to do.
Warrior of the Steppes
5 hours ago