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Hârn Campaign (2005 - 2006)

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

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
Run Date: December 10 and 11, 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

Before the adventurers, in the centre of the strange stone city, was a spire some six stories tall. It rose on a slender column topped by a flattened ball. On top of the ball was a long, needle like projection. It was by far the strangest tower Kieran, Merrick, and S'arnat had ever seen.

The base of the spire was surrounded by a wall two stories high. They followed the soldiers to a gate in the wall. "Who goes there?" yelled someone above them.

"Captain's party!" yelled the young man with the scar.

"Password!" demanded the man on the wall.

"Wounded Marsh!" cried the young man.

The gate in the wall opened. The soldiers, and the adventurers from Hârn, marched inside. Although the wall was made of the city's strange stone material, it was clearly fortified in a manner similar to any Hârnic castle: a parapet ran along the top of the wall, and the men on the parapet were protected by battlements. The soldiers made their way to the odd tower, the spire, in the centre of the fortification. The spire had a double-wide door set in it. The door opened before they reached it. Two armed guards who had been exiting the spire hustled out of the way, making room for the fatigued and wounded. Before S'arnat — the last in the procession — entered the spire, she noticed that she, Kieran and Merrick were drawing the attention of the handful of soldiers defending the spire.

The interior of the spire was brightly lit by candles housed in strange glass containers. The first room they came across was small — maybe eight feet square — with a thick wooden door at the far end. Ten feet above them was a door set in ceiling. "Murder hole," said Merrick, indicating the trap door. The next room was a little bit bigger. The furniture and the presence of armed men suggested this was a guard room. The third room was large and round. Beds radiated out from a central post. The central post was stone. Set into it was a wooden staircase that spiraled up into the tower.

The wounded soldiers were carried to beds, where they had their wounds attended to. The captain approached the adventurers with a soldier that could not be more than 15 summers old. Before the captain could speak, Kieran said, "Could we have some food? And water?"

The captain nodded. "Done." The boy-soldier ran off to get them food.

A trio of older soldiers interrupted the captain. The captain stepped away to confer with the men. They couldn't hear what was being said, but one of the soldiers pulled out a map of the city and the captain made stabbing gestures at a number of points on the map.

The adventurers sat on a bed, feeling distinctly out of place. Kieran stretched out. S'arnat moved to an empty bed beside Kieran's. Merrick sat on a chair and tended to his armour.

The boy-soldier came up to them with a jug of water and a curious platter of food. The food was simply meat and bread, but the bread had been sliced and the meat was placed between two pieces of bread. The food was delicious. As the boy began to walk away, S'arnat asked, "What do you call this?"

The boy looked at her questioningly, muttered something that sounded like "Sammich", and wandered away.

"Sammich," said S'arnat, nodding with approval as she took another bite.

While they ate, they discussed their situation. They didn't didn't know where they were, but it was a good bet they were no longer on Kethira. "At least we know why they want this place so badly," said Kieran, as he made a sweeping gesture encompassing the city. "They have a godstone."

They didn't want to be embroiled in this place's conflict. They needed to sort things out back at home. "Is there anything we can do here that will help us in Trobridge?" asked Merrick.

"Maybe we can convince Kurson to go through the godstone," suggested S'arnat. "Maybe someone would hack him to bits!"

Merrick suggested that Kieran could run back and forth with arm loads of this place's weapons and armour. At worst, they could better equip Terlin's men. At best, they could make a tidy profit in the weapons trade. Using the godstone like that went against Kieran's Shek-Pvar oath, though, so he dismissed the idea.

S'arnat got up, stretched, and said she was going to climb up the tower. Merrick stood and donned the armour. He had properly adjusted it so that it was more comfortable. He went to mingle with the other soldiers. Kieran continued to rest on the bed.

S'arnat climbed the spire. The stairs ended in the big ball-shaped structure. She had never been in a building so high. The soldiers glanced at her as she walked about, but they said nothing. She walked up beside the captain. He pointed in a direction just a little bit inland from the ships they had seen anchored in the sea. The land was flat. There were farms and pasture land almost as far as the eye could see. The few forests were off in the distance. Strange buildings with big wooden paddles turning in the wind dotted the landscape.

She squinted to see what the captain was pointing at. She looked along the ground but saw nothing. Then she looked into the sky. Dozens of round objects hung in the sky. Behind the objects was a dark storm cloud that seemed to be forming from within the ground itself.

"Those are airships," explained the captain. "They will be here soon. We haven't much time." He ordered most of his men out of the spire. It was time to set fire to the town.

S'arnat climbed down the stairs and told the others what was happening. The soldiers in the spire were grabbing their gear. A half a dozen soldiers grabbed torches and ran out of the tower.

Kieran suggested that they give the captain and his men sanctuary, if they will take it. The others agreed. They started to climb the spire to talk to the captain, but he met them a dozen steps from the bottom.

After the captain had finished rattling off a stream of orders, Kieran said, "Captain, what do you intend to do with your men?"

The captain stared at Kieran, still not quite trusting the mage. "After we put the city to the torch, I hope to break out to a coastal town east of here. If we are quick, and their numbers are small, we may be able to make it to the town. Then, if luck is still with us, we can catch a boat to Bulloc. Failing that, and assuming we are not killed or captured, we would have to cross the Valley of Vanes and travel to Grongberg on foot." He shrugged. "That would entail sneaking through their army. Neither plan is very appealing."

"I have an alternative," said Kieran. Kieran said that he and his men were welcome to cross through the godstone with them. They could rest on the other side of the godstone for a time. Then, when they were ready to return, he could bring them back to this city or another godstone in this world.

The captain stroked his beard. "Some of my men will not want to do that." He shrugged again. "They will not want to be captured by Teremerian swine, either."

Merrick said, "We are offering you a place to rest, so that you may come back strong and your arm may swing true!"

Kieran added, "Well, so you can come back..."

The captain looked at Kieran and nodded. "I will consider this."

A soldier ran up to the captain. "We are in place, sir!"

"Then give the word to light the fuses."

Merrick asked, "How will you burn all this stone?"

"We will burn the wood inside the stone. The heat and pressure should crumble the buildings."

"And what is this 'fuse' that you speak of?"

The captain started to explain, then paused. "It is easier if I just show you." The captain left the spire, followed by the adventurers. He walked through the fortified gate and turned up the adjoining street. A few yards away was a large building. The front door had been removed. The captain marched inside. The building glowed from within

In the middle of the building was a huge room. Packed into the room were 30 or 40 glass globes. The globes emitted a reddish-orange light.

"What are these?" asked Merrick.

"Vessels. Glass containment vessels." He lifted one up. It looked like there was a flame inside, but the globe was obviously not hot to the touch. The adventurers squinted. The flame danced around."

"It's a fire elemental," said Kieran. The captain nodded.

On closer inspection the globe was actually a very wide, round-bottomed vase. It had a short pour spout with a ceramic cork stuck in it.

Merrick asked, "How many men do you command?"

"Twenty-five."

"And you have these elementals stationed around town?"

"Not all over town. The outlying buildings are wooden, so we don't have to station them there. Old Town and the old fortress are made of stone. We have air and fire elementals throughout Old Town." The adventurers looked around and saw what looked to be empty globes, or at least they looked empty until you stared at one long enough to see a blue wisp of movement. Those must be the ones containing air elementals.

Merrick explained the situation back in Trobridge to the captain, which helped explain why they traveled through the godstone. He wanted it clear that things were not all peaceful back on Hârn. On the other hand, the captain's men were better armed and their numbers would double the size of Terlin's force. The captain's men would help rid their small portion of Kethira of a menace while offering them a way to get to Grongberg. They would be free to stay as long as they wished. Kieran repeated his offer of sending them back to this town after the fire was out and the Teremerians had left, or he could send them to some other place.

The captain said that the island was called Holot, and that he and his men were Holotians from the city state of Grongberg, a member of the Holotian League. "I do not cherish the idea of slipping through their lines. It is unlikely that any of us would make it." He thought for a moment and then asked, "So you say you can bring us back? And not necessarily to here, but somewhere else in the chain?"

"Yes," answered Kieran. "I think I can take you anywhere on this world from our godstone. I know I can take you anywhere on this world from this godstone, but it will take longer than we have at the moment. I can always bring you back here and then send you anywhere you wish." He paused for a moment. "There is one danger..."

The captain scowled. "Every time you speak you add conditions!"

"If your men are not mindful, they can lose their possessions and armour as they go through the godstone."

"Warriors without armour? Without possessions?"

"If they are not mindful," repeated Kieran. He carefully did not explain what he meant by "mindful".

"Well, we will be mindful." The captain turned to his men. "Right! Set the fuse!"

One of the captain's men walked up to a flask containing a fire elemental. In his left hand was a mallet and a piece of hardwood. The soldier grasped the spout of the flask with his right hand. He put the wood against the ceramic stopper and held both the wood and the flask's spout in his right hand. He drew back the mallet.

"Careful..." warned the captain.

The soldier swung onto the wood with the mallet. With one stroke, the lips of the ceramic cork snapped off and the cork was driven into the bottle. Stuck in the neck of the flask was the piece of hardwood. The elemental danced about. It licked at the wood. The wood began to smolder.

"You do things like this," said Merrick to Kieran.

"I'm Fyvrian!" Kieran exclaimed. "I put things back together instead of taking them apart."

The wood ignited within the flask. "Run!" ordered the captain. The soldiers ran out of the building, followed by the adventurers and the captain. They ran back to the spire. The other soldiers were already there, having set their own fuses.

The captain turned to Kieran. "If you wish to get to the godstone before the elementals are released, we must leave now." With that he led his soldiers away from the spire. Those too wounded to walk themselves were carried by their comrades. Merrick, Kieran and S'arnat followed.

After marching for five minutes through winding, narrow lanes they arrived at the city wall. A short trot along the wall took them to the alley leading to the godstone building.

The soldiers crowded into the room with the godstone. They started to chatter nervously to one another. There was some concern, though none of the fear that would have gripped many a Hârnian.

The captain said, "These people are from beyond the godstone. They tell us that traveling through the godstone is safe, and that they can return us to Grongberg. We have a choice of going through the stone, or escaping to Bulloc or sneaking through the enemy's army. I feel traveling through the stone is our safest option. It offers us the best chance of returning home. It offers us the best chance of returning to the Army of the League."

"For the League!" yelled one of the captain's lieutenants.

The soldiers all repeated, "For the League!" but without the same fervor as the lieutenant.

Kieran saw a wounded man who was trembling quite badly. He walked over to the man and crouched beside him. Kieran laid a hand on the man and cast Balm of Griesan. The spell formed perfectly, and within moments the man was feeling much better. Kieran couldn't tell if the wounds were closing up because the bandages were in the way, but the man did stop trembling.

"That is all I can do for you at the moment," said Kieran as he stood. The man nodded in appreciation.

Kieran addressed the soldiers. "When you go through the stone, be mindful of your equipment! Do not let it slip from your grasp!" Kieran failed to tell the soldiers that whether or not they would lose their equipment had nothing to do with how tightly they held on to it.

The captain repeated the order. "Remember, be mindful of your equipment!"

"S'arnat, do me a favor," said Merrick.

"Yes?"

"Put this on!" He pulled off the armour breastplate and slipped it over S'arnat's shoulders. She grasped it with her left hand to prevent it slipping off. "Hold this sword!" He handed her the Teremerian falchion. Merrick was back in his underwear and boots.

They heard a crackling sound and a muffled whoosh. Merrick grabbed Kieran by the shoulders and maneuvered him in front of the godstone. "If you will be quick, open the way!"

Kieran looked over his shoulder. "S'arnat! Merrick! To me!" He walked into the godstone. He took several steps forward, which should have taken him to the back of the godstone, but it did not. He was in a long corridor. He continued walking, just as he had when they came to this strange land.

S'arnat staggered forward under the burden of Merrick's armour. The temperature in the building was rising, and a wind was howling outside. The elementals were loose. She stepped into the godstone and began walking down the long, impossible corridor.

Merrick entered next, followed by a procession of soldiers.

12th of Nuzyael, 720 TR, 6th Watch

Caverns Beneath Trobridge Tower

Kieran exited the godstone. He was back in the room with the godstone in the caverns under the Trobridge tower. He stepped to the side and pulled a short torch and tinder box from his sack. He lit the torch as S'arnat and Merrick walked out of the godstone. S'arnat was carrying Merrick's Holotian armour. Merrick was fully clothed in his Hârnic gear. He even carried the wooden box they had found, though he didn't remember the point when he was suddenly carrying it again.

The Holotian soldiers walked out of the godstone with a degree of trepidation. The first soldier was fully clad in armour. The second was not; he was dressed only in his undergarments. He stopped suddenly and looked down at himself as the third soldier bumped into him from behind. The third soldier was armed and armoured. In total, 15 of the 26 soldiers — including the captain and the fifteen year old — had all of their gear. The others wore nothing but undergarments and boots.

Merrick looked at Kieran and said, "Shek-Pvar, explain this!"

Kieran ignored him and instead turned to the captain. "It appears that some of your men did not heed my warning!"

The captain noticed that Merrick was dressed completely different and carrying a box. "What sorcery is this?"

"It is the magic of the Earthmasters," replied Kieran. "It is beyond the ken even of the Shek-Pvar."

Most of the armed troops said nothing, as they gazed about the godstone chamber. The others grumbled. "Where did my armour go?" cried one. "Where is my club?" asked another.

"You let it slip from your grasp!" answered Kieran.

"How did I let my armour slip from my grasp?" snarled a lieutenant.

"The same thing happened to me on my way to your world," called Merrick. "That is why we told you to be mindful of your belongings. We were not aware that it would strip them from you."

"He has recovered his upon returning to this world," noted Kieran.

"When you pass through to your own world, your stuff will be there, on you," added Merrick. "Those of you without armour will be equipped. Now come along!"

Merrick grabbed his gear from S'arnat and walked out of the godstone chamber. Kieran and S'arnat went with him. The soldiers had no choice but to follow.

They retraced their original path, out of the chamber, along the narrow cavern and back to the pit beneath the rubble fall. Merrick climbed the rope first, then Kieran. They tied off the box and Merrick's ceramic armour, and hauled that up. Merrick threw down the rope. S'arnat climbed up. One at a time the Holotians climbed, beginning with a half a dozen armoured men, then the wounded, and then the rest of the able-bodied men. As always, the captain was the last in line, acting as a rear guard.

They proceeded along the cavern. The men without armour were feeling chilled. This was not the warm climate that they were used to. They walked past the magically hidden door, and through the pools of standing water.

When they came to the last pool of water and the large chamber with crates, Kieran called out in a loud stage voice, "They must have seen our light and are hiding. Merrick, go forward and warn them of our approach!"

Merrick stared at Kieran, and then tromped through the water and along the narrow passage leading to the ladder.

"You did not warn me it would be this cool," said the captain.

"I'm sorry," said Kieran. "It is Spring, here."

"Spring?"

"Yes. The time when the frozen water starts to thaw."

The captain looked puzzled. "Frozen water? Water only freezes on mountains. Are you on a mountain?"

"No, we are not on a mountain."

"It is almost planting time," added S'arnat, helpfully.

"Ah, planting time! The time after the rainy season," said the captain. S'arnat simply smiled back.

Merrick climbed the ladder into Trobridge Tower. The door in the ceiling of the cavern was closed. He pushed it open. Two spears greeted him, but they were quickly pushed away! "Merrick," chanted the two men, in unison. "What took you so long?" asked one of the men.

"How long have we been gone?"

The guard looked at him, puzzled. "Several hours."

"Get Sir Friedlam," ordered Merrick. He shouted down the shaft that it was clear to come up. He turned back to the men in the tower as Kieran splashed through the water and climbed up the ladder himself.

Sir Friedlam descended the stone stairs to meet the adventurers. "Well?" asked the knight, frowning. "What did you find that took you so long?"

"We found a godstone," replied Merrick. This wiped the frown from Friedlam's face.

Kieran pulled himself from the hole. "Has Kurson responded?"

"Of course he responded, damn him to Morgath!" growled Sir Friedlam, the anger returning. "We even lost a man waiting for you!"

"Well," replied Kieran, "we brought twenty-five. Not all of them are armed."

"But most of them do have arms and armour," added Merrick. "Strange, but effective."

"What kind of fighting men are they?" asked the knight. "And will they fight for us?"

Kieran and Merrick explained that they came across a band of warriors in a strange land, helped them fight their enemies, and further aided them to escape the burning city. "They would rather fight tens of Kurson's men," said Kieran, "than fight hundreds of Tere... Tere... Tereminions? Is that what they're called?"

"Uh, Teremerians," corrected Merrick.

S'arnat joined them in the tower while the Holotians remained in the cavern. The adventurers and Sir Friedlam were adamant that they didn't want to hand the tower over to Kurson, not with a godstone beneath it. They were equally adamant that they weren't going to hand it over to the Ilvirans, either. Merrick suggested collapsing the tower, but Kieran pointed out that Kurson would simply dig through the rubble. The debate continued, with Merrick's pragmatism conflicting with Kieran's intellectualism.

S'arnat suggested that they bring up the wounded men so that Kieran could heal them while they decided what to do. Kieran agreed. The wounded Holotians were pulled into the tower. They shivered in the cold, until they were taken to the fireplace in the tower's second floor. The adventurers joined them. Lying on the floor was a dead mercenary, the arrow still sticking out of his throat.

Someone from outside called out, "Men in the tower!"

"What?" yelled back Merrick.

"We will allow you to leave the tower unharmed," yelled the man. "But you must leave immediately!"

Merrick recognized the voice. "It's Kurson."

"Kurson?" cried Kieran. "Where is he? See if you can pick him off. Have him stand forth!"

"We will get back to you, as you got back to the emmissaries of Kaldor," shouted Merrick, commenting on the fact that Kurson had yet to meet with Sir Rayneld and Sir Friedlam. He added, "You don't listen to the people, so why should the people in the tower listen to you?"

"You have until the break of day to come out," replied Kurson. "If you do, we promise you safe passage!"

"We are to trust you, Kurson? The man who promised to build a bridge with the tolls he's collected over the years!"

"I am... of course I am building the bridge!" cried Kurson. "There's no point starting to build it until you have all the funds... Why am I explaining this?!? You have until daybreak! Then you'll suffer the consequences of your actions!"

"Stand forth and say it again!" called Kieran.

"You have until daybreak!"

"You hide in the shadows like a coward!" taunted Merrick.

"You have until daybreak!" repeated Kurson. They heard his footsteps trudge off across the frozen ground.

S'arnat decided that someone had to tell Terlin and Sir Rayneld what was happening, and it might as well be her. The others wished her good luck. She walked down stairs. The lower floor was dark, so no light gave away the fact that she opened the door a crack. She quickly slipped out the door and crouched behind a bush just outside the tower. She stayed there for a couple of minutes before stepping carefully along the frozen earth to a dirt path.

The scribe made it across the street to a farm house. Suddenly there was a crack as she stepped on a twig. She pressed herself to the wall of the farm house. The window shutters flew open and a head peaked out. It was one of Kurson's men.

He dropped back inside. "Nothin' there. Pro'ly a rabbit."

She waited a couple of minutes before crawling under the window and along the wall. Once clear of the house, she ran for the woods. It wasn't long before she found herself at the edge of Caravan Common. She ran across the Common and up to Trobridge Inn.

"Who goes there?" cried the guard.

"S'arnat! Niece of the miller. I have a room at the inn, and business with Terlin — get the fuck out of my way!" The doors opened and she ran into the inn.

* * *

While S'arnat was making her way to the inn, Kieran tried to heal the soldier with the worst wounds. He cast Balm of Griesan, but the form was flawed. He looked at the soldier. He shrugged. He cast the spell again without resting. This time it worked perfectly, and he closed the man's wound.

Kieran moved to the next man. He cast Balm of Griesan three times, but with each time he became more fatigued. The spell would not form properly. After the third attempt he said, "No, let me rest..." He slumped down on the floor.

After resting for a while Kieran tried again. He was able to aid the healing of one man after two attempts. With another man, the Form of the spell was absolutely perfect. The man was completely healed. The Holotians were very thankful, grinning ear to ear after the Shek-Pvar cast his spells. Kieran tried to heal another soldier, but after casting Balm of Griesan three times, the Form would just not cooperate. Kieran declared that he would try again after he slept.

* * *

The guards woke up Sir Rayneld and Terlin. They gathered in the common room. S'arnat huddled beside the fire, warming herself. She was home, but part of her missed the warmth of the strange city.

"What news do you bring?" asked Sir Rayneld, quietly.

"Kurson is threatening us, and telling us that by daylight we have to come out and surrender the tower to him. But there's a godstone down underneath it, and we can't give it to the priests, and we can't let Kurson have it, and we need he'p, he'p, he'p!"

Terlin and the knight looked at each other, then to S'arnat. "A godstone?" said Terlin.

She nodded. "We went into it. See, we went down, and then we found it... we went to another city... We brought some soldiers back with us. They have funny armour. And they will help us! But just for a little while... they will help you! But just for a little while. Can you care for them, give them some place to stay?"

After Terlin and Sir Rayneld asked her more questions to clear up some of the details, Terlin agreed to prepare some of his men for action at first light. S'arnat nodded. That would do, perfectly.

The scribe was hungry. She picked up some smoked meat from a pot outside the door, where they stored it in the winter months. She took the remains of a loaf of bread and sliced off two pieces. Terlin was fascinated, so she showed him the magic of "sammich".

* * *

Merrick went into the caverns to confer with the captain. The men were welcome to join the others in the tower. There was a fire in the second floor, though the building was open to the elements. The captain gave his men the choice of staying in the tower or in the caverns. They decided to stay in the caverns. They were huddled together and the temperature wasn't too uncomfortable. Some of the men grumbled, but the captain kept dissension to a minimum. After all, it was likely that some of them would have been dead by now if they had stayed in the city. Merrick went back up to the tower and stayed the night with Sir Friedlam and Terlin's men.

The man on watch woke Kieran at the beginning of the 1st watch. Kieran stretched and walked over to the wounded man he tried to heal earlier. He tried four times to successfully cast a healing spell, but all failed. Kieran gave up and went back to sleep, telling the watchman to make sure he was awakened shortly before dawn.

13th of Nuzyael, 720 TR, 2nd Watch

Trobridge Tower

Sir Friedlam woke Merrick at the beginning of the second watch. Merrick woke the Holotians. The soldiers, all professionals, were quiet as they adjusted their armour and sharpened their weapons. Merrick chose to show solidarity with the Holotians. He put on the ceramic armour and hefted the Teremerian sword. He kept his own helmet, though. He and the captain decided that only fit Holotians with armour would take part in the battle. Those wounded men who had not lost their armour took it off and handed it to men who lost their gear in the godstone.

* * *

S'arnat woke up about the same time as the men in the tower. She bundled food in several sacks and recruited a couple of mercenaries to carry them. Terlin talked to his men, telling him that this would be the battle with Kurson that they knew would one day come. They were to give quarter if Kurson's thugs asked for it, but they were not to expect the same from Kurson. Kurson was to be captured alive if possible. Though he preferred the death of Kurson's thugs, he would settle for them running for the barbarian-filled hills. After the talk, the mercenaries and S'arnat marched out of the inn. Once across the moat, S'arnat took three soldiers and headed to the farm house to subdue Kurson's men hidden there. The rest of the mercenaries marched directly for the river.

The sky had shifted from black to grey when Terlin's men left the inn. At the same time, one of the mercenaries in the tower woke Kieran. The battle for Trobridge was about to begin.