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Hârn Campaign (2005 - 2006)

Pepper and Spice – Part 1: Salted Wounds, Session 1

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Scenario Author: Edwyn Kumar and N. Robin Crossby
Scenario Publisher Columbia Games, Inc.
Write-up Author: Allan Goodall
Run Date: February 20, 2005
Game System: HârnMaster III
Game Master: Allan Goodall
Characters: Kieran of Boru, a Fyvrian Shek-Pvar Satia-Mavari (Jason Gallagher); Merrick of Larani, an ex-gladiator and mercenary (Jimmy Pope); S'arnat of Pherisa, an artist/cartographer (Alana Goodall)

6th of Nuzyael, 720 TR, 4th Watch

The Salt Route in Western Kaldor

Kieran of Boru, a 21 year-old Satia-Mavari mage of the convocation of Fyvria, sat on a hill overlooking the Salt Route. The day was cold and overcast, but at least it wasn't snowing. Kieran stood and stamped the chill out of his bones. He had been watching a caravan approach from Kaldor, heading west. Now that the caravan was near, he picked up his things — including the staff that he used as a focus for his magic — and jogged down the hill to join the caravan. After paying the merchant who organized the caravan for the privilege of joining, he fell in at back.

He found himself beside a young woman who said her name was S'arnat of Pherisa. S'arnat was an artist and cartographer. She was heading to Trobridge to see a distant uncle, Herl of Pherisa, about a job. She asked Kieran why he was traveling. Kieran was close-lipped, saying only that he was on a journey with no specific destination. Realizing that, for whatever reason, Kieran wanted to keep to himself, their conversation ground to a halt. Nevertheless, by virtue of being members of the caravan they walked together until the caravan rested for the evening.

7th of Nuzyael, 720 TR, 3rd Watch

The Salt Route

The day was overcast and cold, which wasn't unusual for Hârn in early spring. Snow flurries swirled around them, which wasn't unusual either. S'arnat was one of the first to notice, through the flurries, that they were being watched. Up on a hill a couple of hundred yards to their right were three men on horseback. In spite of the cold, their cloaks were not wrapped tight around them. The tack for their horses was as simple as their rough tunics, and they carried spears and held shields. Their long hair and beards gave them a wild appearance.

"Barbarians!" hissed someone near S'arnat. "Chelni," whispered someone else. The caravan's procession instinctively clustered closer together. Half a dozen of the lead merchant's armed guard shifted to the right side of the caravan, interposing themselves between the travelers and the barbarians.

The men on the hill watched until the caravan was almost out of sight. As he topped a small ridge, Kieran turned and saw the horsemen pull their horses around and slowly disappear into the swirling snow.

The caravan was uneasy for the rest of the day. That night, at the rest stop, the merchant asked for volunteers to keep his men company during the evening watches. In any event, the evening passed quietly, the only lasting effect from sighting the barbarians was that the travelers were a little bit quicker to break camp the next morning than usual.

8th of Nuzyael, 720 TR, 4th Watch

The Salt Route

Early in the 4th watch, the point guard trotted back to the caravan. He announced that another caravan was heading their way. The caravan shoved over to the left to give the approaching caravan some room on the path. During high season caravans didn't stop every time they passed one going the other way; it would take them forever to get where they were going if they did that. However, this was very early in the caravan season and few travelers were on the Salt Route. Besides, it was about time for a scheduled stop. The caravan pulled over for a brief respite. So, too, did the caravan heading east.

The eastbound caravan had pulled out of Trobridge early that morning. This lifted S'arnat's and Kieran's spirits for they were now less than a day from Trobridge. The weather had warmed up a little, too, which also helped their mood.

Kieran found himself talking to a carpenter's apprentice heading to Kaldor with his master. The apprentice told Kieran of a knight of Kaldor staying at the Trobridge Inn. The knight's name was Sir Rayneld. He was at Trobridge for some sort of business, and had been there for several days. While there, his squire took ill. The squire was in a bad way. The boy was not getting better, and it looked like he wouldn't last the week.

Kieran had been heading west on a journey of discovery. He had no set destination, and was bordering on destitution. As a Fyvrian mage, he believed he could help the squire and Sir Rayneld. He would look in on the knight when he arrived the next day.

After a half an hour the merchants bid farewell to their opposing number, and the caravans lumbered on their way. Two hours later, the westbound caravan made camp for the night.

9th of Nuzyael, 720 TR, 5th Watch

The Salt Route, East of Trobridge

The 9th of Nuzyael had been the best, yet, for walking. The day warmed up steadily, and there were few clouds in the sky. The caravan had been blessed with good weather on its trip.

The travelers reached Trobridge in the early portion of the 5th watch. The Salt Route travels through a portion of the town to a ford across the Farin River. The bridge from which Trobridge got its name was wrecked in 717 TR. Tolls across the ford are supposed to pay for a new bridge. As S'arnat and Kieran walked into town, they saw before them houses along the road leading to the river. On the left was a stockade with a moat around it. A fellow traveler said that the fortified stockade was Trobridge Inn.

While some travelers chose to camp on the common outside of the town, S'arnat and Kieran both headed for the bridge across Trobridge Inn's moat. A pair of armed guards looked them over as they entered. The gate opened into a large courtyard. The south gate opened onto the back of a two story building they took to be the inn.

Cooking smells and warm air wafted outward as they opened the door. They walked up to the innkeeper. Kieran ordered a mug of ale. S'arnat decided to stay there for the evening and asked for a room. She couldn't afford a private room, so she was set up with a room with another woman. She then asked about the whereabouts of her uncle, the miller of Trobridge. The innkeeper told her that Herl lived at his mill a short distance to the west, along Bear Stream. She decided she would go to see him the next day.

After drinking his ale, Kieran walked to the innkeeper and asked to see Sir Rayneld. The innkeeper looked at Kieran, incredulously. "Tell him I came to help his squire." The innkeeper was still suspicious, but he went upstairs to see the knight while his wife tended to the inn's patrons.

A few minutes later, the innkeeper returned with Sir Rayneld Ynel. The knight looked at Kieran with equal parts suspicion and hope. Kieran pulled the knight out of easy hearing range of the inn's inhabitants. He whispered that he was a Shek-Pvar, and that he might be able to save the squire.

Sir Rayneld was afraid to get his hopes up, but he couldn't hide his excitement at the prospect of someone saving his squire's life. He led Kieran upstairs, explaining on the way that he would be grateful for anything that could be done. The squire was like a son to him.

Unnoticed by Kieran or the innkeeper, S'arnat moved closer to the stairway. She tried to hear what was said between the mage and the knight, but she didn't catch all of it before they headed up the stairs.

Kieran was ushered into a private room. A boy of about 14 lay in bed. He was wracked with fever, and his breathing was labored. Kieran took off his cloak and knelt by the boy. Grasping his staff, he began uttering the incantation for the Eye of Perfection, a spell that can diagnose someone's health. The spell took about half a minute to cast, but before the spell could properly form Kieran realized there was something wrong with it. He aborted the spell, his forehead dripping with sweat.

He rested for a few minutes, spending the time inspecting the boy for symptoms. Then, Kieran tried the spell again. He detected a problem with the spell's Form, and he aborted it. He rested some more and tried again. Once again, he had to abort the form.

Sir Rayneld looked on with growing concern. Kieran stood up and turned to the knight. He stated that he was tired from the journey, and hungry. He would need to eat before he could continue. He asked that a meal be prepared for him. The knight's suspicion grew, but his concern for the squire was such that he ordered the innkeeper to prepare a meal. Kieran went downstairs. The innkeeper placed a bowl of stew before him, and Kieran ate it as he rested.

After finishing the meal and resting for a time, Kieran went back upstairs. He once again knelt beside the boy and cast the spell. Though the Form was not flawless, Kieran decided he could work with it. He allowed the Principle to flow into the Form. The spell was cast, and the knowledge of what was wrong with the squire flowed into Kieran.

The boy was suffering from wet lung, and was slowly succumbing to the infection. Kieran walked over to Sir Rayneld and told him what he discovered. The knight seemed only slightly more impressed with Kieran. The mage continued, explaining that he might be able to save the boy, though not without some risk. He would need a live animal, a lamb perhaps, in which to transfer the boy's illness. If successful, the boy would recovery completely. Sir Rayneld was concerned about the risk, but he didn't see he had any choice but to trust the mage. He ordered one of his attendants to fetch a lamb.

Kieran knelt by the boy once more. He successfully cast Hand of Iliam, a spell that would prevent the boy's condition from worsening. This would buy time in case he had to continue the next day. He also hoped that this would give the boy some level of protection from a misfire.

The attendant brought in a lamb. Kieran had them tie it up close to the bed. He placed one hand on the lamb and touched his staff to the squire. He began casting Balm of Herl. If successful, the spell would transfer the disease from the boy to the lamb. The first time he tried, the Form was improperly created, and he had to abort the spell. He rested for a few minutes.

S'arnat had slipped to the bottom of the stairs and heard what was happening. She purchased an ale and went upstairs with it. She knocked on the door of the room. When a servant opened it, she said that the drink was for the Shek-Pvar. Kieran saw who gave him the drink and thanked her. Before she left, she took a good look inside to see what was happening.

Kieran tried to cast the spell again. The same thing happened this second time. Again, Kieran rested. The knight grew impatient.

Kieran tried a third time. The Form was perfect, and he let the Principle flow into it. The boy's skin flushed. The boy heaved, and the lamb bleated. All was still. The boy coughed once, twice, then in a series of wracking coughs hit him as he cleared his lungs. He sat up. He was no longer sweating. In a few minutes the boy was complaining he was hungry. The lamb, however, seemed to be feeling ill, and lay down.

Sir Rayneld's skepticism melted immediately. He walked over to Kieran and took the Shek-Pvar's hand. "How can I repay you?" he asked.

"Whatever you feel is appropriate," said Kieran.

The knight called for a purse of silver pennies he had set aside. He told Kieran that he had gone to the apothecary down by the stream and asked if he had a remedy. The apothecary said that he could put together a broth with some very rare herbs that he had in stock that might, might, cure the squire. He wanted 120 pennies (120d) to create the broth and he offered no guarantees that it would work.

The attendant handed Sir Rayneld the bag. He opened the bag, looked inside, and then handed the bag to Kieran. "I would like you to have this. I am in your debt, sir." The knight would also pay for the lamb, which Kieran suggested should be slaughtered and burned.

Kieran humbly accepted the purse. The purse contained 120 silver pennies.

The mage took his leave, walked downstairs, and paid the innkeeper for his ale and dinner. He also paid for a room, now that he could afford one. About an hour later Kieran and S'arnat went to their respective rooms for the night.

10th of Nuzyael, 720 TR, 2nd Watch

Town of Trobridge

S'arnat walked to her uncle's mill near the stream late in the 2nd watch. The day was overcast and it looked like it would rain later, but it was also fairly warm. S'arnat arrived at the mill to discover that it was surrounded by a wall, and there was an armed guard at the entrance. The guard stopped her and asked what her business was with the miller. He looked to be in his late 30s, but he was in very good shape.

She explained that she was the miller's niece (once or twice removed). The guard must have decided she wasn't much of a threat, for he escorted her to the miller without further questions. As she walked beside him she wondered why on Kethira a miller needed an armed guard.

Her meeting with her uncle wasn't exactly warm. S'arnat was never a favorite in the family, and she had never met her uncle before. Herl spent little time before asking her what she wanted. S'arnat was equally blunt, saying that she was looking for a job and needed a place to stay.

"What kind of skills do you have?" asked the Miller.

"I'm a cartographer and a scribe. I can dance, too."

"Do you have any practical skills?"

Although somewhat miffed at the question, she admitted that she didn't have many skills that a miller would find useful. In the end, the miller gave her two options. She could clean up around the mill, for which the miller could afford to give her room and board and not much else, or she could see about working in the tavern doing much the same thing (but for potentially more money). He told her that she could stay with them in either case, though she'd have to pay for her own food.

She decided that working at the tavern was probably more interesting, and more prosperous, than working at the mill. She decided she would stay with them, though. She thanked her uncle and made to leave. It was then that the uncle realized she had walked from the inn to the mill by herself. He seemed horrified.

"Wait until the guard changes in a short while," he said. "Then Merrick here will escort you. It's not safe with 'Lord Bandit's' men about."

Within twenty minutes a new guard was there and Merrick was no longer on duty. As they set out for the inn, they introduced each other. Merrick had been a gladiator, now he was a sword-for-hire. S'arnat asked him why the mill needed an armed guard, and why it wasn't safe to walk the streets alone.

Merrick explained that there were two factions in the town. The first was Kurson of Ondalis. He owned a manor down by the river. His father was the local tough, before Kurson's mother murdered him. Now Kurson runs a protection racket, much like his father did, with the use of hired thugs. Anyone not paying up may have an "accident". His hired thugs prowl the street, preying on anyone who is too weak to defend themselves. There have been beatings and rapes, as well as the rumor of the occasional murder.

The bridge collapsed during heavy rains in 717. Kurson collects a toll at the ford to pay for a new bridge. It's been almost three years and there's no sign of new bridge construction. Folks in Trobridge believe Kurson is lining his pockets.

The other faction consists of the guilded tradesman in Trobridge. Head of the local Mangai is Terlin of Wessenden. Terlin owns Trobridge Inn. He's wealthy enough that he can afford his own mercenaries, which he uses to protect the inn and the other guilded professionals, namely the miller and the apothecary.

These two factions are at odds with each other. Kurson would love nothing more than to force out Turlin and take over the inn. Turlin won't let Kurson push him out. Although there have been no serious altercations, Kurson's thugs and Turlin's mercenaries have come to blows a few times. The only reason anyone tolerates the current situation is because Trobridge is a major stopping point along the Salt Route, and is about half way between Kaldor and the Thardic Republic. This makes the town quite prosperous. The townsfolk pay a nominal rent to Terlin and protection money to Kurson, adding to each man's war chest.

S'arnat mentioned that a knight of Kaldor was staying at the inn. Merrick nodded. Kurson believes that the best way to take over the town is to gain a knighthood and become the legal ruler of Trobridge. To this end it is believed he sent requests to both Tharda and Kaldor. The first group to arrive was a representative from Tharda, who happened to be a priestess of Halea. She has met with Kurson every day for the last week, or so the rumors go. Meanwhile Sir Rayneld, Kaldor's representative, has been spurned. If Tharda were to grant Kurson his knighthood it could have far-reaching implications, because Trobridge is on the east side of the Farin, which is the traditional border between the two kingdoms. Technically, Trobridge is in Kaldoran territory.

By the time Merrick explained this to S'arnat, they were in the town of Trobridge, proper.

* * *

S'arnat wasn't the only one with an errand to run that morning. Kieran decided to pay his respects to the local chapel of Peoni. Kieran was a devout Peonian. This was his first chance to attend church since he left Melderyn. The chapel was down by the river. When he got there, he tried the door only to find that it was locked. It was rare for a Peonian church to be locked. Kieran banged on the doors.

A board moved in the door and someone peered out. The board slapped back into place and the door was unlocked. Answering the door was a man in the robes of a Peonian priest. He introduced himself as Reslava Darwyn Aphas. He invited Kieran inside, explaining that he locked the door because there were many thugs prowling the streets.

Kieran first gave the priest 12d as a tithe. This generosity was appreciated as much as it was unexpected. Kieran asked the priest if he could spend some time praying. The priest seemed eager to have a new member of his flock, particularly so early in the caravan season, and left Kieran to himself. After worshipping for about an hour, Kieran thanked the priest and let himself out.

Once outside, Kieran heard a disturbance down by the river. Someone was shouting, angrily. He walked to the sound of the shouting in order to investigate.