(This session was run in March 2018. In terms of campaign time, the session took place immediately after Session 20: The Mad Man of the Woods. For a description of the campaign world and a list of player characters and non-player characters see The World Map.)
The adventurers broke camp after a quick breakfast at Harold’s fire pit. Winding their way for several hours through the path in the King’s Woods, the group made it back to the trashed homestead near the road. They were surprised to see the wedding caravan back at the homestead. A brief moment of alarm gave way to relief as the adventurers were greeted by Belladore and Xrax. Xrax explained they had returned to the homestead to spend the night after one of the wagon’s wheels broke on a rut in the road. They hobbled back to the homestead so that Leandros, the driver, could attempt a repair of the wheel that would get them to Edgewood and to a wainwright who could replace the wheel. The homestead seemed a more comfortable place to bed for the night rather than camping on the roadway.
The repair took most of the day. The caravan did not depart for Edgewood until late in the afternoon. A short distance up the road, the group encountered a bald, heavy-set middle-aged man pulling on the reins of his stubborn donkey. Despite his attempts and curses, the donkey remained unmoved.
“Come on, ya stinkin’ beast. Let’s get to where we’re gettin! Edgewood is but a short distance yet. I’ll get you a whole bunch of carrots when we get there. Move!” the man yelled in a gruff voice. He attempted to kick the donkey’s ass, but he could barely lift his foot a few feet off the ground and the motion tipped him off balance so that he sprawled on his own ass facing the wedding caravan.
The man regained his composure as he slowly lifted himself off the ground. “Uh. Well, greetings fellow travelers! I’m sorry for that shameful display, but my animal seems to want to try me today. M’ name is Mauvrel, Mauvrel Angier. Looks like we’re on the same way to Edgewood. Perhaps we can share our company on the way.”
The adventurers introduced themselves, along with Okkar and Leandro, the wagon driver. But the Makriyannis family stayed put in the back of the wagon except for the patriarch, Alexandros.
Mauvrel revealed that he was traveling to Edgewood to restart his life. He had been a tavern-keeper in a small hamlet south of Cyr along the road to Themis. The adventurers could tell he was carrying a lot of possessions as his donkey was heavily-laden. Looking over the adventurers and their numerous martial weapons, Mauvrel offered to formalize their relationship with a 100 GP payment in exchange for protection over the remaining distance to Edgewood. This offer caught the group by surprise.
Belladore said, “That’s a considerable fortune for a tavern-keeper! And we’re almost to Edgewood.”
Mauvrel blushed, “Well, yes, it’s my life savings. But you can never be too cautious. There are bandits along this road and the day is already late. We’ll need to make camp once more before reaching Edgewood. I’d like to sleep in peace tonight with a stalwart band such as yourselves protecting me.”
Tanin and Kulo seemed suspicious. Mauvrel seemed to be hiding something. They probed further, asking why he was so afraid of bandits. He tried to deflect the question as just normal fear of brigands, but his stumbling over his words gave him away and he finally acquiesced. He revealed that his last group of guards were all slaughtered the night before. When asked what killed his guards he simply replied with a shrug. Kulo muttered to Tanin, “I don’t trust him.”
The group conferred with each other and consulted with Makriyannis. Since everyone was heading in the same direction, there seemed to be little to discuss. The adventurers suggested keeping Mauvrel and the wagon some distance apart just in case whatever attacked his guards the previous night returned.
Shortly after continuing along their way on the road to Edgewood, Kulo swore he saw a face glaring at them from the woods. He relayed what he saw to everyone else and the caravan paused as Kulo and Xrax examined the woods for the phantom. They found signs of tracks of some person but then the tracks just seemed to end all at once. When Kulo and Xrax told of their discovery to the group, everyone turned to Mauvrel for an explanation.
He merely shrugged again and said, “I’m as befuddled as you. Maybe bandits like I said before?”
“How do you explain the tracks disappearing as if the person who made them simply vanished?” asked Kulo.
“Don’t know. But as long as they’re no longer here, I think we should just keep on our way. Edgewood won’t be long.”
The caravan continued down the road. Shortly, they came upon a noose hanging from tree with the name “Alan” carved into the trunk. A slash cut through the name. Everyone looked to Mauvrel for an answer. A look of horror filled his face, but he quickly dropped the expression and shrugged, pretending this was nothing to be alarmed about.
A little further down the road and the caravan came upon another noose. This time the name carved in the trunk and crossed out was “Charder.” There were eight more: Bert, Colum, Thelmar, Haymeth, Vane, Alwyn, Rove, and Doufa. Each time a look of horror filled Mauvrel’s face and after the third, his attempt to look nonchalant failed.
The group came upon an eleventh noose. This time the name “Mauvrel” was carved into the trunk. The name was not crossed-out! Mauvrel visibly shook at the sight.
Kulo scowled and barked at Mauvrel, “You need to tell us what’s going on!”
Mauvrel paced back and forth for a bit and then kicked a rock along the roadway. “Alright. Alright. I’m being pursued by a witch.” Mauvrel proceeded to explain how in his small hamlet he and several other men had captured a witch named Agatha Keeling believed to be causing the blight that was affecting the crops. They burned her alive. But she didn’t die or at the least, came back and began killing all the men who had taken part in her burning. He was the last one left.
Kulo asked, “So is this what killed your guards last night.”
“Yes,” Mauvrel replied. “If we can just get to Edgewood, I think we’ll be safe.”
Okkar spoke from his spot next to the driver of the wagon, “It’s almost dark now. We need to make camp or decide to push on in the dark to Edgewood.”
Kulo pulled the others aside and said, “What if we just leave him to his fate with this witch? We have no issue with her.”
“But we accepted Mauvrel’s money on the condition of guarding him,” Tanin replied. The rest of the group reluctantly agreed.
The group decided to take their chances in a defended camp rather than being attacked along the road. They essentially made two camps, separated by about 30 feet, one with the wagon and one with Mauvrel. Mauvrel was unhappy to see that he would be guarded only by Xrax, his dog, and Tanin. At both sites, camp fires burned.
Around midnight, tremors felt through the earth woke the sleeping party members and alarmed the guards keeping watch. The fire near Mauvrel, which had burned down to glowing embers, suddenly erupted into a bright fire of green flame. Xrax, Mauvrel, and Tanin shielded their eyes from the sight. Above the fire, an image of Mauvrel appeared, smiling at first. But shortly, a deep gash tore through his neck in the image, blood spurting from his severed artery. Laughter, growing in intensity and malevolence, emanated from the woods around the camps.
All at once, the image, raging campfire, and laughter stopped, leaving the party members in the eerily quiet aftermath of the forest, mere embers from the campfire floating into the night sky.
A woman’s voice near Mauvrel’s camp called out, “Mauvrel, I have come to wreak my vengeance. You are the only one left who still needs to face justice for what you did. Tonight I get my retribution!”
Levitating into the central clearing between the two camps, Agatha Keeling addressed the party members, “Guards, I have no quarrel with you. Forsake your charge and let me have what is mine by right. Walk away and live. Stay and die. The choice is yours.”
Tanin appealed to the voice, “Good lady, I do not doubt your sense of injustice at what this man did to you, but let us bring him to Edgewood. We will turn him over to the local constable who can mete out justice for his vile actions.”
There was a pause as if the voice was considering Tanin’s offer. But then the voice said, “So be it. You have sealed your fate with your choice. Let there by justice.” At that moment, 20 severed hands dropped from the trees and attacked the party!
Despite being separated by some distance some of the hands attacked the wagon party.
The hands clawed at Mauvrel and the party members. Xrax heard Mauvrel scream and saw him holding one of the claws just inches away from his face. Mauvrel was bleeding from a number of wounds. Xrax crushed one of the hands with his maul and then moved to assist Mauvrel. When he got by his side, he found Agatha already there wielding a short sword and ready to skewer Mauvrel. Agatha unleashed a spray of color into Xrax’s face blinding him. She followed up on this by touching his chest and shocking him with a bolt of lightning.
The group near the wagon had returned a number of the hands back to lifelessness especially with the help of Okkar and Velnius using their crossbows to good effect from next to the wagon.
Tanin uttered an incantation and caused a thunderous roar to rip through the hands in front of him. Most convulsed in one last grasp before returning to lifelessness.
In the other camp, Kulo and Pabelle had rendered a couple of hands lifeless while Belladore disengaged from the melee and cast mage hand. She used the magical hand to lift one of the claws into the air and bring it over to the wagon, yelling to Velnius to find something to trap it in.
Velnius ran to Tanin’s cart, prying open a half-filled barrel of ale the adventurers had taken with them on their caravan journey. He yelled to Belladore and pointed to the barrel. Belladore dropped the claw into the barrel with the magical hand and Velnius quickly closed the lid of the barrel. Velnius noticed with some relief the still-bound form of Harold in the cart. Thankfully he hadn’t escaped in the commotion.
Meanwhile, Xrax and his dog companion were fending off claws and dealing with Agatha. Xrax’s plate mail armor kept him well protected against the slashing attacks of the claws, but only increased the likelihood that Agatha’s lightening touch would shock him thoroughly. Tanin slashed the last claw near him nearly in half and moved up to assist Xrax.
At the other camp, Kulo and Pabelle continued to render lifeless the claws they were fighting, while Belladore grabbed another claw with mage hand depositing it in the same barrel as before. Velnius slapped the lid back down on the barrel after her heard the plunk sound of the hand hitting and sinking in the ale.
The battle continued another round, but with most of the claws vanquished or captured, the party members could focus more of their attacks on Agatha. As the blows mounted, Agatha made a final attempt to tear out the throat of Mauvrel, who simply cowered before her in fear. A mighty strike by Xrax’s maul brought Agatha to her knees. She began to emit a despondent wail from her throat as she crawled slowly towards Mauvrel. Her speed increased supernaturally and she leaped towards Mauvrel. He cried out in shock. But Agatha’s body crumbled into dust mid-flight, showering Mauvrel in her remains. Her cloak floated gently to the ground. Mauvrel coughed out the choking ashes of her body, Agatha’s parting punishment for Mauvrel’s foul deed a year ago.
Mauvrel appeared relieved that his pursuer had been destroyed. Tanin grabbed the cuff of Mauvrel’s tunic pulling him up to his face. “We’re still turning you over to the captain of the guard in Edgewood!”
“But, but you said you would protect me! That was the deal! I paid you!” Mauvrel blubbered in reply.
“And we’re keeping our end of the bargain. We said we’d bring you safely to Edgewood and so we shall. But our agreement ends there and once in Edgewood we can do as we please. And you’re going to answer for your crime.”
Mauvrel looked briefly like he was contemplating escape, but realized his chances were unlikely. He hung his head and clambered back in his tent to get some rest before morning broke.
Belladore inspected the cloak of Agatha’s. Over the remaining hours of the night, she learned of its magical properties. “Ah,” Belladore thought, “this is how she flew. A Cloak of the Bat.”
Morning arrived clear and filled with promise. The caravan members were all in good spirits and looked forward to arriving in Edgewood in a few hours.
The trip was pleasant, filled with the sounds of birds singing in the trees. In Edgewood, the caravan found accommodations for the wedding party at the inn, then brought Mauvrel and Harold to the captain of the Valeriun garrison.
Along with the severed head of the troll, they felt they had good evidence to collect their reward for the monster marauding along the road to Valerius.
The captain of the garrison jumped out of his seat when he saw Harold being led in by the party members. “Lord Kazimir”, he exclaimed! He immediately took him from the possession of the party, removing his bonds. A look of surprise mixed with incredulity showed on the faces of the party members. The captain ordered two guards to lead Lord Kazimir/Harold from the room. At the door Lord Kazimir/Harold gave the party a sly grin.
Tanin exploded in rage. “He conspired with trolls that were plundering homesteads along the road!” The captain raised his hand ordering Tanin to be quiet. “There has been suspicion for a long time that Lord Kazimir . . . has been up to no good on his regular summer retreats in the woods. But he is part of the royal family. My hands are tied in this matter. Your actions would normally result in being locked up in the dungeon, but since you have a reputation in this town as heroes, I won’t do that. I’m sure I’d face a mob of the citizenry petitioning your release. That’s something this town doesn’t need right now.”
The captain reached within his desk, “Here is your reward for the trolls. You have my sincere gratitude for putting an end to them.” He handed Tanin a sack filled with gold coins.
Tanin spoke up. “We think there may be at least one more troll. We didn’t find their lair.”
The captain sat quietly in thought for a moment. “Find the lair and kill any remaining trolls. Bring me evidence. I will send word to the court of Valerius of your help to the people of Edgewood, vassals of the crown. I’ll explain you didn’t know who Lord Kazimir was as he was masquerading as some crazed hermit in the woods.”
The party agreed but still felt angry that Lord Kazimir/Harold escaped their capture. They turned over Mauvrel to the captain, prodding him to explain what he had done in his village. The captain said he would need to think over what punishment, if any, he deserved. In the meantime, he could think over his actions in a cell. His donkey would be kept at the garrison.
The adventurers spent the day purchasing provisions and resting before heading back in the direction of Harold’s cabin to search for the troll lair.
As the walked through town, a boy flagged them down telling them the merchant, Nikola, had acquired an unusual item recently and thought the “Heroes of Edgewood” might possibly be interested. The party followed the boy to the shop, Nikola’s Goods and Sundries. Nikola greeted the party with a wide grin under his bushy mustache. Scattered amongst the general goods were weapons of standard quality, some traded from afar but most made in town by the blacksmith. Nikola led the party to the back of the room where he showed them a buckler of unusual construction. Nikola mentioned that a stranger had recently traded the buckler and knew nothing of the origin of the shield, having bought it from a mercenary.
As Tanin inspected the shield he noticed that the leather backing on the buckler had pulled loose. Hidden within the shield was a strange round book with a leather cover that contained just two pages. The first page was blank. The second page had a cryptic message: “Release Shirrba the Wishgiver.”
Nikola, surprised by the unusual find, quickly regained his composure and started haggling with Tanin over the price, saying the unusual book greatly added to the value they had discussed of just the buckler. Tanin bargained with Nikola, but eventually bought both the buckler and the book.
The next day Belladore, Kulo, Pabelle, Xrax, and Tanin departed Edgewood to end the troll menace. Velnius remained in the town getting repairs made to Xerbo’s barding. Kulo filled in for Velnius’s generally superior tracking abilities, following the trail from Harold’s cabin to a cave opening.
A couple of stone statues sat incongruously around the entrance.
Belladore, wise to many magnificent beasts in the world as a traveling bard, uttered to no one in particular, “basilisks, maybe?”
The party crept forward trying to be as stealthy as possible. The statues looked like an adventuring party caught very much in the midst of what the current adventurers were doing.
Belladore crept silently into the cave. With the meager light spilling in from the entrance she could see that the cave split into two caverns. Tanin moved in next to her. With his dark vision he could see creatures in the nearest cavern. They appeared to be basilisks of lore.
Belladore sneaked down the other opening. Light spilled out of this cavern from a cookfire. A very large female Troll was stirring a cookpot.
Kulo, Xrax, and Pabelle entered the cavern silently. They quickly whispered their strategy. Pabelle would summon wolves to attack the basilisks while the rest of the party focused their attacks on the troll matriarch.
In the next moment, the adventurers sprung their attack!
Pabelle’s wolves kept the basilisks at bay while Kulo, Xrax, Tanin, and Belladore launched multiple attacks against the female troll. In a moment of desperation, Tanin decided to try the strange round book they had obtained from the merchant in Edgewood. Reading the inscription, “Release Shirrba, the Wishgiver!” Tanin held his scimitar aloft in a most dramatic fashion. Appearing about 10 feet from him was no wish giver but a medusa! She had apparently been trapped in the book!
Xrax held his ground, taking attacks from both the newly released and angry medusa as well as the mother troll. Kulo, Tanin, and Belladore launched ranged and spell attacks from the cavern opening. The battle wound round after round, but the adventurers emerged victorious, vanquishing the troll, her pet basilisks, and the medusa. Surprisingly, none of the adventurers were turned to stone.
Kulo, Belladore, and Xrax gave Tanin a hard look as they all caught their breath after the battle. “What?” Tanin asked at the incredulous looks of his companions. “We now know how the book works. We can trap a creature inside it and release it if we read the inscription. I bet that will come in handy.” His companions merely shook their heads in disbelief.
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Mauvrel and Agatha component of the adventure based on The Hangman’s Due by Ben Forde
The Tome of Entrapment comes from a module of twelve short Fantastic Encounters by Goodman Games.
Forest Battle Mat: Paizo’s Pathfinder Basic Terrain Multi-Pack Flip-Mat
Large Tree and Bushes: Woodland Adventures by Fat Dragon Games
Campfire and Logs: E-Z TERRAIN: Overland Adventures by Fat Dragon Games
Large Rocks: Highland Adventures by Fat Dragon Games
Small Deciduous Trees: From Beasts & Barbarians Set Two: Nandals and Cultists by Okumarts Games
Horses Paper Miniatures: Horses by Xtea
Caverns Tiles: COPPER DRAGON: Caverns 1 by Fat Dragon Games
Mother Troll Paper Miniatures: Roads of Apocalypse (3rd ed.) – Legendary set 2: Trolls family modkit by Distrigillator
Basilisk and Crawling Claws/Hands of Glory Paper Miniatures: Printable Heroes
Agatha Keeling/Medusa Paper Miniature: Horror Gore and Survival Set by Permes
Original Art of The Medusa: Jody Monochrome