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Hârn Campaign (2005 - 2006)

Pepper and Spice – Part 1: Salted Wounds, Session 3

Note: Hârn specific terms are underlined. Place your cursor over the word and the definition of the word will appear.

Scenario Author: Edwyn Kumar and N. Robin Crossby
Scenario Publisher Columbia Games, Inc.
Write-up Author: Allan Goodall
Run Date: April 17, 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)

Spoiler Warning: This scenario is taken from the Columbia Games HârnMaster supplement Trobridge Inn. If you are a Hârn player you may wish to ask your Game Master if they intend to run this scenario before reading this write-up, as pertinent scenario information will be revealed.

10th of Nuzyael, 720 TR, 5th Watch

Trobridge Inn, on the Salt Route

Merrick climbed the stairs to Trobridge Inn's second floor. When he came to the room of Sir Rayneld, a knight of Kaldor, he politely knocked on the door. Sir Rayneld's servant answered. Merrick told the servant he wished to speak with the knight. The servant nodded and then closed the door. A few moments later, the door opened and Sir Rayneld ushered the mercenary into his room.

Merrick informed Sir Rayneld that a merchant had arrived in Trobridge with a story of unrest between the Tulwyn and the Chelni. He retold Nafraniel's story as best he could.

Sir Rayneld listened patiently, then thanked Merrick for the information. He would send word to his lord about the unrest with the next caravan to leave Trobridge. He thanked Merrick once more, and ushered him out of his room.

Merrick found the knight's relative lack of concern puzzling. He went back downstairs to join the others. He told Kieran and S'arnat what happened. They all agreed that the knight's attitude was strange.

11th of Nuzyael, 720 TR, 2nd Watch

Trobridge Inn

After waking up and refreshing himself, Merrick put on his clothes and armor, had a quick breakfast, and then headed out of the barracks and into the cold morning air. Given his abilities and reputation, Merrick was allowed a greater amount of freedom than most of Terlin's guards. While he must take his turn on guard duty, he was allowed to conduct his own patrols. He crossed the western bridge over the moat around Trobridge Inn. Suddenly he heard a scream, then another. This was followed by a short chorus of shouting. Merrick rushed into the street running down to the river.

The road was filled with townsfolk. Some looked frightened, all of them looked concerned. Most of them were staring at the doors to their homes or businesses. Merrick muscled through the crowd. He saw that almost all the doors on the street had been smeared with blood. The amount of blood varied, but all of the doors on the street were marked with a crimson streak. People from other streets showed up. The streaks could be found throughout the town.

"It's an omen, I tell ya!" cried one villager. "It's a prank!" yelled another. Several people wailed in horror, while others just talked among themselves.

Merrick turned around and headed back to the inn. Terlin was in the common room, cleaning up. Kieran sat in the common rooming, eating breakfast. Merrick told Terlin and Kieran what he saw. S'arnat was descending the stairs when Merrick came in. She overheard Merrick's description of the bloody doors.

Sir Rayneld and Sir Friedlam Dramel came downstairs a few moments later. They asked Merrick what he saw. He repeated his report. Terlin spoke up. "It's Kurson's doing!" he said. Sir Rayneld agreed that it could be Kurson's doing. Merrick suggested that it could be the precursor to some sort of Thardic aggression.

Kieran announced that he would investigate the incidents. As he got up, Terlin motioned S'arnat closer. Terlin told S'arnat to go with Kieran and act as his scribe. Kieran and S'arnat left the inn. Merrick followed a moment later.

Most of the townfolk were already washing the blood off their doors. Kieran walked down the street until he found a door that still had blood on it. He put his staff up against the door, and mumbled to himself. As he did this, a crowd formed around him. Kieran stopped mumbling. He turned to S'arnat. "It's trickery, not a spell." A murmur rippled through the crowd.

Kieran turned to the crowd. He asked whose house this was. A man stepped forward and said it was his. His name was Buckhammon. Kieran asked Buckhammon if he heard anything during the night. Buckhammon said he heard nothing, but that was not surprising as he was a deep sleeper.

The Shek-Pvar continued to question the crowd. A number of people admitted that they were missing animals, mostly birds.

A middle-aged woman ran screaming down the street. The entire crowd turned and stared at the woman. She let out a high-pitched warble as she ran past the crowd, and into her house. The crowd stared at the woman's door until two other women ran up to them. The appearance of these women broke the spell transfixing the crowd. "There's something in the well!" cried one woman, "There's something in the well!"

The crowd, led by Merrick, Kieran, and S'arnat, marched down the street to the public well. Another woman stood beside the well. She was shaking ever so slightly, though it was unclear if she was cold or afraid. Her hands were bloody. She pointed at the bucket, lying on its side. "Look in the bucket," she said to no one in particular. Merrick picked up the bucket and dumped out its contents. Bloody water and bits of flesh spilled from the bucket. Merrick thought the bits looked like gizzards. He dumped the bucket back in the well, scooped some water, and pulled it up. There was more animal bits in the bucket, and some more blood.

"An ill omen!" yelled one of the townsfolk. "I told ya, it's an ill omen!"

Towering over the crowd, Merrick saw a squad of Kurson's men marching toward them. The lead soldier was Roban, one of Kurson's trusted retainers. Merrick heard that the man had seen combat (which put him in the minority among Kurson's men), but he knew little else about him.

When they reached the well, Roban ordered the crowd to disperse. "Break it up. Go home."

"Why should these people go home?" asked Merrick, leaning against the well.

"Merrick! I might have known you'd be the cause of this disturbance! Move along!"

"As soon as you produce papers saying it's illegal to stand by the well, we'll move on." replied Merrick.

In spite of Merrick's statement, the crowd started to disperse, though it was unclear whether it was on Roban's order or simply to get out from between Merrick and Kurson's men.

Roban looked at the content of the overturned bucket, then turned to leave. Kieran called after him, "Did it look familiar?"

Roban turned to Kieran. "What are you talking about?"

Merrick joined in, insinuating that Kurson had something to do with the guts and blood in the well. Roban countered that he didn't know what Merrick and the mage were talking about. Merrick and Roban quibbled back and forth, arguing about who had the higher moral authority in Trobridge, Kurson or Terlin. During the argument Roban stated he was a devout Peonian.

"Then I'll see you at the temple," said Kieran.

"Perhaps," replied Roban. The soldier glanced down the street. He added, "Terlin's marks won't intimidate us, or the people of this town."

Kieran and Merrick protested that Terlin had nothing to do with the marks, that it was Kurson's doing. Roban stated that there was no reason for Kurson to do anything of the sort. "Why would he want to stir up trouble, when he will soon be lord of Trobridge?"

"Who will make him 'lord'?" asked S'arnat.

"Just wait and see!"

Merrick stroked his chin. Roban protested Kurson's innocence. Merrick told the soldier that he believed him.

"I believe you, too, when you say Terlin didn't have anything to do with it," replied Roban. "Whatever our beliefs are worth." Roban formed up his troops, and marched them back toward the river.

Kieran and S'arnat returned to the inn, leaving Merrick behind. Merrick watched Kurson's men march down the road. Once he was sure they wouldn't be back any time soon, he turned around and headed back to the inn. He went directly to Terlin and reported the incident at the well. Terlin thanked him and sent him back out on patrol.

11th of Nuzyael, 720 TR, 3rd Watch

Town of Trobridge

Merrick stepped out into the street as a dozen of Kurson's men marched up the river road. This was a different patrol from the one he saw earlier. They headed past the inn, making for the eastern edge of town. Merrick followed them at a discreet distance.

The patrol stopped once it was about 500 yards east of the inn. The leader of the patrol gave orders to four of the men. The four stood by as the leader and the other mercenaries marched off.

Merrick walked up to the four men. As soon as they saw him they tensed and formed a line. Merrick greeted them with a wave and a smile. They did not return the gesture. The gladiator moved to the other side of the road, opposite the four guards. He asked them what they were up to. One of the guards began to answer, but he was hushed by the senior guard, a man barely in his twenties. The leader, whom Merrick didn't recognize, told the gladiator to leave. Merrick smiled and said he planned to stay unless they could produce a paper saying that he couldn't. The guards shuffled their feet, but didn't try to drive off the gladiator.

Not long after, Kieran and S'arnat appeared down the road. The guards grew more attentive, but didn't try to stop the mage or the scribe. Kieran and S'arnat walked up to Merrick, and the three moved off the road. They talked among themselves in hushed tones. The positioning of Kurson's men was no accident. Kieran believed they were planning to charge a toll on all traffic entering the town, even those coming in from the east. Kieran and S'arnat agreed to inform Terlin of this latest development. Merrick decided to stay and watch the guards.

Merrick patiently watched Kurson's men until S'arnat and Kieran returned. Just then, a caravan approached Trobridge from the east. Kieran informed Merrick that it was Terlin's opinion that Kurson wouldn't likely try to charge a toll simply to enter the town. The "lord of the thugs" must be up to something else.

As the caravan came came closer the lead guard stepped into the road and ordered it to stop. The guard questioned the caravan's merchants as to their intent. The merchant said he had goods for the miller and the apothecary. The guards searched the caravan with reasonable thoroughness. After the squad's leader was satisfied, he let the caravan go on its way.

The adventurers pulled away from the guards and conversed among themselves. It was their opinion that Kurson was going to stop shipments heading to the inn. It was time, once more, to report to Terlin. Merrick made veiled threats to the guards about what happened to those who tried to impose travel restrictions. Then he left for the inn. Kieran decided to walk down to the temple of Peoni. S'arnat — having little else to do that day and still under Terlin's orders to act as Kieran's scribe — followed the mage.

As they approached the river they saw that Kurson had increased the number of toll collectors. Instead of three collectors on one side of the river, as had been the norm the day before, there were now four collectors on both sides of the river.

The sound of a religious service eminated from the temple. Kieran stepped inside, but S'arnat decided to wait outside. In the meantime, Merrick had reported back to Terlin. He headed down to the temple. When he saw S'arnat standing outside, he joined her and kept her company until the service was over. The town's Peonians filed out. Judging by their number, the service was very well attended. Kieran joined S'arnat and Merrick. S'arnat and Kieran headed back to the inn, while Merrick went back to patrolling the town.

The rest of the day passed without incident.

12th of Nuzyael, 720 TR, 1st Watch

Trobridge Inn

S'arnat was awakened from a shallow sleep by a distant scream. She sat up in bed. There was another scream. She quickly dressed and crept out into the cold.

Merrick rushed out of the barracks, across the inn's compound, and through the common room. He heard the screaming, too. A noise from the barracks suggested that he wasn't the only guard to hear the screams.

The gladiator joined up with the scribe. As they hurried to the main gate, they heard a noise behind them. It was Kieran, slipping out of the inn. The last scream pierced even his bad hearing. Candlelight shone from two upper rooms in the inn. Other inn inhabitants were waking up.

S'arnat, Merrick, and Kieran crossed the inn's moat. They stood in the road and listened. There was a shout off in the distance. They turned as a group to face in the direction of the shout.

Something small scurried past S'arnat. She turned her head just as a creature leaped at her face. She jumped out of the way, and the creature crashed to the ground.

It was about a foot and half tall. It looked like some insane cross between a lizard and a bird. She remembered hearing of these things when she was a child. They were vlasta, also called the "eater of eyes"! They were somehow connected with the god Ilvir.

Merrick pulled out his sword and swung it at the creature. The little monster dodged out of the way and jumped at him. It struck him in the chest with its claws. The vlasta sprang at Merrick's face. Merrick dodged and swung his sword at the same time. The vlasta missed him, while Merrick managed to give it a glancing blow to the head.

Kieran swung his staff at the vlasta, but he missed. S'arnat thrust her dagger at the creature. She struck the thing's skull. It gave out a little grunting noise, and then fell to the ground, dead. Seeing the dead creature, Kieran said, "Maybe I should buy a dagger..."

The trio heard more screams off in the distance.