After a week off we finally have Ilsa the matronly herder/healer in the game. Through e-mail we’d decided it would be cool if Ilsa was one of the 3 captured dwarves, so we start our story there!
Ilsa is in a small, cramped room with two other dwarves — scouts/foragers she’d been out with when they were ambushed by a party of these not-Elves.
A tall, thin man enters the room all decked out in a forest motif. He’s accompanied by a dwarf, but none of the three prisoners recognize him. The tall man addresses the dwarf, “So, what do we do with them?” He speaks in a kind of archaic dwarven, but it’s understandable. The dwarf points to the two male dwarves then at Ilsa, “take them first.” The dwarf calls the man Tareek and they leave.
There are a couple other men with spears that make a move to separate the trio. Ilsa isn’t willing to let anyone be separated so she leads a charge and the three of them are able to overpower the men and take their spears (successful vs Power test). They take a moment to regroup before heading out to try and escape.
They find their way to a sort of central area. They’re in a thinner part of the forest and there are shelters scattered around. They are instantly confronted by Tareek, the man from before. Ilsa isn’t ready to give up possible freedom so she leads the scouts in an attempt to overcome Tareek. They get close enough to nearly touch him when suddenly a powerful wind blows up around Tareek and blows them back (failed vs Power test aided by Tareek’s bound spirit).
The dwarves are gathered back up and put into a smaller, more cramped space. Almost like isolation, but with three of them. The dwarf from before pokes his head in after they’ve had a chance to recover. “I tried to give you a shot. Separate out the woman. They were ready to send you back.”
“All of us or none of us. What’s your name, dwarf?”
“Urgo” (Yes, the same Urgo from the beginning of the campaign)
Ilsa spits in his face (she recognizes the name of the coward dwarf) and reaches out to punch him, but Urgo reacts faster and stabs her hand (failed Agility test). Urgo draws blood and Ilsa faints at the site of it (she has an Instinct about not liking the sight of blood).
In the Forest
In the forest Flint, Kardin, Fergus and their escort are slowly making their way as the forest gets denser and denser. Kardin is enjoying the heft of his new shield. They’re doing their best to follow the directions Argus gave when suddenly they spring a trap (failed Orienteering test). Kardin just barely manages to jump out of the way (successful Agility test). However when the trap goes off it spooks some large birds and Kardin runs off screaming (Kardin has an instinct about being afraid of birds).
Running through the forest, Kardin is ambushed by two men who are able to easily over-power him (failed vs Power test).
Meanwhile, back near the net trap, 3 men are bearing down on on the remaining Dwarves. Flint and company immediately retreat far enough and Flint is able to graze one of the men with a crossbow bolt. The men managed to close the distance again and try unsuccessfully to throw a spear from a distance. Finally after making a stand and trying to hold their ground Flint manages to seriously wound one of the men and they all retreat (Range & Cover, with the objective of wounding a man enough for them to lose heart and retreat).
Flint leads the rest after Kardin and are able to catch up to the men before they get back to camp (successful Speed test) before they get Kardin back to camp. Instead, the dwarvesbound up the men and drag them off to their camp, intending to trade hostages.
The dwarves are easily able to find the human camp with the help of their hostages. They take them right to the center of what seems to be the main clearing of the camp. A man comes out (Tareek) and greets them.
“I assume you’ve come for something?”
“Aye, you have something of ours and we have something of yours.”
This is pretty common in the human tribes, apparently. The hostage exchange goes off perfectly. Both sides start talking and things are amicable. There was a bit of a rocky start, but neither side is out to start something that could lead to bad blood for generations.
It quickly comes out that Urgo has been here. It’s immediately obvious to the humans that there’s bad blood there. Apparently Urgo had told them he was a dwarven chief and great warrior. Flint and Kardin burst out laughing at this and tell the truth of who and what Urgo is: a murderer and a coward. Unfortunately Urgo isn’t currently in the camp, he’s gone out to kill a spider. They butt heads with spiders sometimes so they have to thin out their numbers sometimes.
Tareek invites the dwarves to stay for a feast and they all enthusiastically agree. There’s some dinner conversation and it turns out Tareek really doesn’t know much about the history of the area. There seems to be some connection with what Kardin had found in the ziggurat ruins, but Tareek knows nothing of their apparent past affiliation with dwarves.
Eventually the conversation turns to Argus, the human back in the ruins. Tareek says he wants him back. That Argus is to be “given to the forest.” The meaning of the statement is lost on no one. Tareek goes into how some people, like him, are able to talk to the elements of the forest. But some few, like Argus, are able to speak with something deeper and darker. When those few are discovered, they are given to the forest to appease her.
Realization comes to Flint & Kardin as they realize that they left Argus, a seemingly helpless human, back at the hold. But now it turns out he might be much more powerful. They quickly agree to turn him over, but only if Tareek and his tribe hold Urgo so that they can take him back. Ilsa seems reluctant, but she holds her peace for now.
The feast and festivities wind down and the dwarves are given a space to stay together. Ilsa speaks up and hopes to convince the scouts and host dwarves that turning over Argus is a bad move so she can have some support in convincing Grahm of the same thing. Ilsa and Flint argue, but Flint quickly talks her down (1 volley DoW — Ilsa had no real dueling skill and Flint demolished her with his B5 Coarse Persuasion and a number of re-rolled 6’s).
Flames on the Horizon
The next morning the dwarves set out to the ziggurat. Tareek needs Argus back by the new moon, which gives the dwarves barely enough time to get there and back in time.
As they make their way through the forest and get nearer the ruins they start to get a feeling of dread. When they reach the edge of the clearing of the hold, it’s chaos. Smoke and flames and dwarves running everywhere.
Ended on a cliffhanger! Next session we’ll be rescuing dwarves and capturing the rogue spirit-binder, Argus.
We’d decided way back in the campaign burning phase of the game that humans would have spirit-binding instead of sorcery for the tribal sort of flavor. Things should get interesting now that we’re encountering this more.