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Hârn Campaign (2005 - 2006)

Pepper and Spice – Part 3: Far From Home, Session 2

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

Scenario Author: Allan Goodall
Write-up Author: Allan Goodall, assisted by Alana Goodall
Run Date: October 2, 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)

Sometime on the 12th of Nuzyael, 720 TR

A City on the Other Side of the Trobridge Godstone

The boat the adventurers "borrowed" bumped against the seawall. Merrick quickly tied off the boat. They could still hear the sound of fighting not far from them. Merrick, Kieran and S'arnat jumped onto a stone wharf and cautiously crept up to the ruined outer gates. Merrick, the veteran, determined that the combat was close by.

The right hand gate had been torn from its massive hinges. It lay on the ground in splinters. The left hand gate was intact. It moved slightly in the strong sea breeze. They carefully picked their way over the log-sized splinters. S'arnat stumbled and dislodged some loose rubble. The sound echoed around them. She was certain that everyone in the immediate vicinity knew they were there.

The inner gates were in better condition. They still — more or less — hung from their massive hinges. Someone had wedged stones under the gates on the opposite side to hold them in place, but there was a hole in the centre. Merrick supposed that a battering ram had found a weak spot. There was, however, no sign of the ram. Merrick found that peculiar. The adventurers slipped through the hole and into the city proper.

A long cobblestone road reached toward the middle of the city. Stone roads were an extravagance unheard of in Hârnic cities. A flat-faced three-story building stood immediately in front of them. The road split and circled this building, with other roads radiating off from the circle. The building's only windows were narrow slits on the second and third stories. There was no door on the side of the building facing the city gates. It was, no doubt, a part of the city's defenses. It looked to S'arnat that this part of the city had been planned. The city's founders expected armed conflict.

No one appeared to notice their approach, or if they did they had more pressing matters at hand. From one of the street radiating out from the circle — the closest street to their left — came the unmistakable din of combat: metal striking metal and the grunts, yells, and screams of men in a blood rage. As they crept in that direction Merrick and Kieran saw an arrow fly out of an alleyway. The party halted. Merrick slipped toward the alley and peeked around the corner.

Merrick saw two factions fighting. One faction wore the same ceramic armour he had found on the parapet, armour that he now wore. The other faction wore armour made of metal; their breastplates and helmets were metal, their wooden kite shields were rimmed with metal. This metal faction had wide swords with curved blades similar to Lythian falchions, but the metal lookeed thinner.

Closest to Merrick was a single man in ceramic armour facing four men in metal armour. Behind this cluster of combatants was a line of six men in metal armour with their backs to them. This line faced four men in ceramic armour formed into a shield wall supported from behind by two spearmen. A man in ceramic armour and holding a shortbow stood on a crate. The two small battle lines were evenly matched, but the single man was in a desperate situation. Three men in ceramic and two in metal — both bristling with arrows — lay on the ground. Blood pooled beneath the five motionless men.

Merrick sized up the situation and sneaked back to tell Kieran and S'arnat what was happening. Merrick was all for jumping in and helping the ceramic-wearing underdogs. The ceramic-armed men seemed to be the defenders of the city. Merrick had decided that the defender was the morally superior position in this case. Kieran, on the other hand, stated that he would rather not get involved in a battle, particularly since he and S'arnat were not armoured.

Merrick understood Kieran's reluctance to join the fight. He shrugged, and rushed back to the alley. He peered around the corner. The battle lines sparred with each other. The bowman held the bow pointing downward, but with an arrow knocked, as he looked for a target. The man in ceramic closest to Merrick — the man who had been outnumbered four to one — was now fighting only three assailants. One of his enemies knelt with his face in his hands, blood seeping from between his fingers.

The ex-gladiator crept around the corner and behind the closest man in metal. He raised the strange ceramic club/axe Kieran had found and brought it down as hard as he could. It hit the man's backplate, denting it and penetrating it slightly. Now that he was close enough to get a good look, Merrick saw that only the man's breastplate and backplate were metal. His leggings and arm protection were leather. The man didn't wear a helmet. Merrick readied the club as his opponent turned around.

The man Merrick struck wore a beard without a moustache. His eyes were wide, the irises a brilliant shade of blue. He swung his sword at Merrick's chest. Merrick dodged the blow and swung his club at the man's calf. The club hit his opponent's leather armour blade first. As the man cried out, Merric swung low with the blunt side of his weapon. The man in metal blocked the club with his sword, throwing Merrick out of position. The metal-clad warrior brought his sword down on Merrick's shoulder. Merrick let out a grunt, but held on to his shield.

S'arnat poked her head around the corner. She saw a man in metal on the far left of the battle line fall out nursing a deep gash on his arm. A man wearing metal on their right side collapsed in a shower of arterial blood from his neck. The bowman on the crate let loose with an arrow. It hit one of the two metal-clad men attacking the man Merrick was trying to aid.

Merrick feinted low and to the left, then swung his club up between his enemy's legs. The man cried out, stepped back, and then swung his sword wildly at Merrick. Merrick ducked and swung his own weapon just as wildly. It hit the man in the chest, denting the armour. Merrick backed away for a second swing. An arrow shot passed him. It was aimed at his opponent, but the shot had come close to hitting Merrick instead.

Kieran stood beside S'arnat, watching the fight. The metal men on either end of the battle line now had two opponents to face. Shouts and curses intermingled with the cries of the wounded and dying. A man in ceramic in the middle of the line took a nasty wound to the thigh. A warrior in metal cried out as a club struck him in the arm.

Merrick's opponent swung at the ex-gladiator's head. Merrick brought up his shield and blocked the blow. Merrick swung at the other man's head, but his attack was blocked by his opponent's shield. The warrior jabbed at Merrick with the point of his sword. Merrick feinted right, twisted to the left, and swung his club. It caught the man in his sword hand with a sickening crunch. The man grunted, and dropped his sword.

"By Larani's grace, surrender!" cried Merrick. The man ignored him and reached for his sword with his damaged hand. Left with no choice, Merrick brought his club down on the man's head. His opponent dropped, still breathing but unconscious.

Merrick jumped over a metal-clad corpse. The man whom he intended to aid was now facing but a single opponent, having dispatched two others. Merrick attacked that opponent, but missed. Nevertheless, the man in the ceramic armour gave Merrick an appreciative nod. The Laranian swung the club again, but missed again. The defending warrior turned to Merrick — ignoring the man in ceramic armour — and swung at the Laranian. The sword sliced across the bottom of Merrick's ceramic breastplate, bounced off the edge, and clipped Merrick in the belly. Merrick backed away from the fight, pausing to catch his breath.

S'arnat slid along the alley's left-hand wall. She wanted to be in a position to help Merrick if he needed it, but she didn't want to draw any undue attention. She pulled out her knife. Swords and clubs clashed along the battle line, the noise of battle mixing with the moans of the injured and dying. To her surprise, she understood the yells and curses. It sounded Hârnic to her, though with a strange accent.

Sunlight glinted off a sword lying on the ground near a metal-clad corpse. Merrick threw his club away and picked up the sword. It was lighter than he was used to, but it was exquisitely balanced and he was far more familiar with swords than clubs. He rejoined the warrior he was aiding. When the metal-clad enemy thrust at Merrick's ally, Merrick swung the sword down at his enemy's leg. The sword caught the leather armour at the back of the knee. The sharp blade easily penetrated the leather, muscle, and tendon, ending only when it struck bone. The man let out a scream and fell to stone floor of the alley. Merrick saw the man's eyes roll into the back of his head. The man blacked out as blood spilled from the wound.

The man Merrick had helped, and possibly saved, grinned at the ex-gladiator. He swatted Merrick on the back with the blunt edge of his club. "Thank you, friend!" growled the man, one grizzled veteran complimenting another.

Merrick nodded in reply. He was surprised to hear the other man speaking Hârnic. He turned to look for more opponents, but there weren't any. All but one of the metal-wearing men on the battle line were dead or lying wounded, and the lone hold-out was surrounded by four men in ceramic. With no one to attack, Merrick asked his new friend, "What is going on here?"

"We caught this scout party after we brought down their airship."

S'arnat slipped closer to the carnage. She saw Merrick's club and picked it up. She moved up to Merrick in time to hear the man's strange response.

Merrick had no idea what an "airship" was. He let it slide for a moment. "Where am I?" he asked.

The man raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean, where are you? You're in Stavendal."

Merrick had never heard of a place called 'Stavendal'. It sounded vaguely Ivinian. Could he be in Ivinia?

None of the men in ceramic asked the metal-clad warrior to surrender, and the man in metal didn't seem inclined to ask for quarter. He dodged or parried the attacks of three of his opponents. Unfortunately for him, there were four attackers. The last of the four thrust a ceramic-tipped spear into the man's lower back, just below his metal breastplate. It seemed to jam inside the man as he growled and then collapsed to his knees, wrenching the spear out of its owners hands. Blood bubbled out of the man's mouth and his breathing became ragged. The man fell over. Soon his breathing ceased entirely.

One of the men still standing helped a wounded comrade. Two of the others pulled out ceramic stilettos. They went from one wounded metal-wearing man to another, plunging a stiletto into each helpless casualty.

Kieran walked up to Merrick. He whispered into the fighter's ear, "Say nothing about me being a healer until I let you know." Merrick nodded.

Merrick turned back to the man he was aiding. "I am Merrick. I come here from Kaldor."

S'arnat introduced herself. "I am S'arnat. I come from Tashal in Kaldor."

Two of the ceramic-clad fighters joined them. One of them was a man of little more than twenty years with a scar on his right cheek. He said, "Kaldor. Where's that?"

"What gods do you have here?" asked Merrick.

All three men squinted at Merrick. "Gods? There is only one god."

"Good," said Merrick, quickly. "Right answer."

The third man, who appeared to be only a little bit younger than Merrick, was fixated on "Kaldor". "'Kaldor'. I don't know of a 'Kaldor'. Is that east or west in the chain?"

The three adventurers looked at each other. They had no idea what the others were talking about. "We are fighting a great evil," said Merrick, who suddenly found himself out of his depth.

"And we found ourselves here," added Kieran.

"You are wearing Holotian armour," said the man Merrick rescued. The man took off his helmet. He was easily the oldest of the band of soldiers, and was maybe five years Merrick's senior.

"When I saw you were in need," replied Merrick, "I... borrowed it, then came to your aid."

"Borrowed it?"

"You can have it back now," said Kieran.

"This is not your armour?" asked the man.

"No," said Merrick.

"Where are you from?" he repeated.

"Kaldor."

"No, no," said the man. "Answer me. Where are you from? Where in the chain are you from?" He and the other soldiers were getting restless. Merrick could see hands slowly slipping toward sheathed weapons.

S'arnat spoke up. "What chain are you speaking of?"

Kieran said, "They are talking about an island chain."

"We are not from your land," explained Merrick.

"How did you get here, then?" asked the youngest of the three men, the man with the scar. The rest of the soldiers must have caught some of the conversation as three more of them gathered around, including the man with the bow.

"We were swept into a large stone," said Kieran. "We found ourselves here."

"Large stone?" said the oldest of the men, in hushed tones. The other soldiers stared at the adventurers. A couple took an involuntary step back.

"Yes, it was in the city," added Merrick.

"We know of that stone... you came through there?"

"We were pulled through," lied Kieran, in an effort to make their appearance in the city seem accidental. "A few hours ago, we were in combat with demons. Vlasta."

When he saw the shocked look on the man's face, Merrick said, "In the place we are from."

"Vlasta," said the older man. "I have never heard of such things. You are from Kaldor. You came through the stone." He thought about that for a moment. "No one has come through the stone in... centuries."

"Is it a good thing when people come through the stone?" asked Merrick, innocently.

"What year is it?" asked S'arnat.

"Year? It is 1519."

The year meant nothing to S'arnat. Back in Hârn it was the year 720 TR. She pulled out the map of the town that she had been making. She showed the oldest soldier the map. He recognized the port and the city gates. She wrote "The City" on the edge of the map in Lakise. The man could not read what she wrote; the script was foreign to him. S'arnat surmised that they could understand the spoken language here, but the written language does not translate. When she mentioned this to Kieran, the Shek-Pvar suggested that they may have been altered by the godstone. Shek-Pvar researchers spoke of such a thing.

"Can you write?" S'arnat asked the oldest soldier, who seemed to be the leader of the band.

"Of course I can write."

She offered him her quill and some ink. "What should I write?" he asked.

"The name of this place," said S'arnat.

He wrote something on the map. It was in a script that she had never seen before. The script did not flow like Lakise. The letters, or words, were composed of angled lines and dots.

The leader noticed S'arnat's unfamiliarity with the script. "We're not from here, originally," he said. "After the army left, we were posted here to watch the city. If they made a move, we were to put the city to the torch." He motioned to the dead bodies in metal armour. "It looks like it's just a matter of time, now."

"Who are these men?" asked S'arnat, as she glanced at the nearest corpse.

"These scum are Teremerians."

"From a different location in the chain?" asked Kieran.

"Yes. They are..."

The youngest of the three soldiers put his hand on the older man's shoulder. "Captain, is it wise to continue? They may be spies. They say they come from the stone. What proof have we?"

"I can take you there," said Kieran.

"We know where the stone is!" growled the younger soldier.

"He has a point," said the captain. "We know where the stone is. Do you have any proof that you came from it? For all we know, you are from Teremere."

"Is there anything you can recall, from the stories you were told, of the people who came through the stone?" asked Merrick.

"We know very little about the stone. It hasn't been used in centuries, and then only sporadically. Before that, our stories tell of its use by the Earthmasters, but that was many, many centuries ago. Before the great flood."

"Earthmasters are known to us," said Kieran. "There are stories where we are from."

"Yet still you haven't proven to me that you are from that stone," said the captain. "This could all be a ruse."

The adventurers cast about for things that would prove where they were from. They pulled out a silver penny and S'arnat's maps. The soldiers all agreed that if it was a ruse it was very well crafted, but nothing they displayed proved that they were from somewhere else.

Kieran asked if the priests in this place performed miracles. The captain said that they did. Kieran asked if priests were separate from wizards, or if they were in conflict with them. The captain said that they were separate and sometimes they were in conflict. At least on that point this place had something in common with Hârn.

"Wizards aren't forbidden here?" asked Kieran.

"Of course not," said the captain.

Maybe there was a way to prove that they were from somewhere else. Perhaps a display of some magic would help, particularly if it was different from what they usually saw. "I am a healer," began Kieran.

The men looked at him, their eyes wide. A couple stepped back. They looked at each other in something akin to shock. Before Kieran could say anything else, the younger lieutenant said, "Prove it!"

Kieran stated that his friend was wounded. Merrick stripped off his armour and took off his shirt, showing the soldiers his belly and shoulder wounds. Kieran moved in front of Merrick. He began to cast Balm of Griesan. He produced the spell's Form. He let the Principle flow into the Form. The spell started to run away from him, and he prepared to abort it, but as he began wrestling with the Form it took shape with ease and the Principle entered the Form. The spell flowed over Merrick's belly. When it was done, Kieran was less fatigued than usual.

It was easier to cast magic in this world.

The men stared at Merrick's stomach. The wound closed. It was obvious to all that the wound was healing itself. They could see that the spell had worked.

Merrick suggested that Kieran treat his shoulder wound. Merrick took some water from a soldier and cleansed the wound, but in the process managed to start it bleeding. Kieran quickly cast Balm of Griesan again. The form started to break away from him, so Kieran aborted the spell. Usually Kieran would rest before attempting the spell again. Due to this place's greater affinity for magic, he decided to try without resting. This time the Form was perfect. The spell gushed into Merrick's damaged shoulder. The wound closed immediately, but the wound didn't look like it would heal any more than that, at least not for now. That didn't really matter, as the closing of the wound was an excellent demonstration on its own.

The soldiers began muttering to one another. They were obviously surprised at Kieran's abilities. That seemed odd, given that this world had wizards.

As the soldiers watched, Kieran had Merrick lie down on the ground. Kieran crouched beside him, leaning on his staff and touching the ex-gladiator. He rested as he prepared to cast Nurture of Isla on Merrick.

"What's happening?" asked the captain.

"Shhhh!" said S'arnat, holding an index finger up to her lips.

"We don't have much time," said the captain. "We must be moving. If you are doing something, then do it."

The captain wasn't giving Kieran time to rest. He shrugged and cast the spell, anyway. The spell formed with little difficulty. The Principle flowed into Merrick. Merrick dropped into a deep sleep.

"For several minutes," explained Kieran, "he will sleep and heal. If we have to move I ask that someone move him. He will feel better upon awakening."

"Very well." The captain motioned for two of his men to carry Merrick. The men handed their shields to other men. Those who were uninjured or lightly injured aided their wounded comrades. "We need to get back to the spire."

"Have I proven that I'm a healer?"

"Yes! Yes! You are a healer," said the captain.

"It's... amazing," said the younger lieutenant.

"We no longer have any healers," said the older lieutenant.

"Anywhere?" asked Kieran.

"We have physicians," said the captain. "But we no longer have anyone who understands the magic of healing."

"Then perhaps that lends credence to our story?"

"Yes, it does," answered the captain.

The captain ordered two of his men to enter a building and to torch the "airship" on the roof. Another man came up to him. He made a fist with his right hand and brought it up to his left breast in salute. He reported that they had dispatched the "Teremerians".

The captain called to his men, "To the spire!" He faced Kieran. "Can you heal my men?"

The Shek-Pvar nodded. "Given time."

"Then come with us."

The band of soldiers formed into a loose column. By the time they were ready to leave the alley, flames were licking at the top of the nearest building. The two men sent to deal with the "airship" returned. By this time Merrick had recovered from his magically induced sleep. He was a little bit groggy, but he felt much better. He donned his shirt and carried his armour.

The adventurers formed up behind the soldiers. The soldiers marched out of the alley and into a wide street. Kiearn, Merrick and S'arnat followed. The street led to a tall spire — some six stories tall — at the heart of the city.