Session 16: On the Road to Valerius

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(This session was run in September of 2017.  In terms of campaign time, the start of the adventurers’ trip to Valerius began the day after Session 15: The Necropolis of Cyr.  A description of the campaign world and list of characters can be found at The World Map.)

With Master Makriyannis’s daughter finally getting over her cold feet, Okkar Ironeyes collected the Heroes of Edgewood for the wedding caravan to Valerius.  A little over a month had transpired since the adventurers first came together answering a help wanted sign and clearing out some were-rats in Makriyannis’s cellar in Session 1: Help Wanted.  After that first job, the adventurers agreed to serve as guards for the betrothed, Makriyannis’s daugher, Daphne.

The wedding caravan gathered at Makriyannis’s manor.  Kulo, Belladore, Xrax, Velnius with Xerbo, Pabelle, and Okkar would form the guard.  Besides Master Makriyannis, the wagon also held his daughters, Daphne and Kassandra, his wife, Eudora, and the driver, Leandros.  Lykopsis and Seraph would stay back in Cyr and look after the Golden Tankard.  Bao, in his mysterious monk ways, disappeared the very morning that Okkar came round to collect the group.  The party suspected that Bao might turn up somewhere later in their travels.

The wedding caravan wended its way from the merchant-noble quarter through the central market to the eastern gates of the city.  People thronged the central market and eastern gatehouse.  The summer festival season was in full swing, bringing in merchants and travelers from afar, many coming by boat, some from Valerius and Themis, and the occasional travelers from the various hamlets and homesteads lining the roads east and south.

A desperate beggar tugged at Kulo’s leather cuirass, hand outstretched for alms.  Kulo gave the disheveled man a couple of silver pieces.  The man held onto Kulo briefly as he appeared to go into a trance.  He intoned a prophecy: “Danger awaits you outside the gates of Cyr.”  Kulo brushed off the man’s dirty hand from his side and rolled his eyes at the pronouncement.

As the caravan continued to make its way to the city gate, they were forced to move aside as a contingent of guards escorted an orc in chains towards the prison of Cyr.  People from all sides cursed the orc–some going so far as to spit on him or throw rotten vegetables at him.  Tanin asked one of the guards what the orc had done.  The guard barked back at him, “Out of the way!”

Tanin turned his attention to the orc and asked him what he’d done.  The orc said he was an outcast from his tribe.  He was starving so he took food from one of the surrounding farms outside Cyr’s walls.  He didn’t hurt anyone.  There was a brief discussion among the heroes of whether to do anything about the orc being led away.  But Master Makriyannis poked his head out the wagon and asked what was holding up the caravan.  The party members shrugged and carried on towards the gate.

Just before the caravan reached the city gate, a small group of people congregated around an old man with a long beard dressed in ragged clothes.  A red cloak torn to shreds hung around his neck.  He held a banner, fraying at the end, but still readable: Our Sins Have Doomed Us.  His voice carried to the wedding caravan, “. . . and the sky will turn as black as tar, and blood shall rain from the stars above!  The dead shall rise and the demons shall enter this world!”

Tanin and the rest of the adventurers seemed unimpressed by the zealot of doom.  The wedding caravan continued on, passing through the city gate on the road to Valerius.

The first half of the day’s journey was tranquil, passing farmsteads along the outskirts of Cyr.  The heroes settled in to a relaxing trip through the countryside.  They found it a good change of pace from the bustle of the city, which had filled their days of late.

Near mid-day, the tranquility of the uninhabited landscape was pierced by the sounds of battle nearby.  A low hillock blocked their view, but clearly someone or something engaged in battle.  The caravan halted and the heroes advanced upon the hill to see what transpired.  Roughly 100 feet away a small figure fought bravely against a creature at least three times its size.  Emerging from the ground with a deadly pounce, what looked to be a land shark had the advantage on the single halfling warrior defending himself.

Seeing the scene before her, Belladore, with her knowledge of these creature’s taste for halfling flesh, exclaimed, “bulette!”

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The bulette leaped on to the gallant halfling knight smashing him into the ground and knocking him prone.  Xrax charged forward to take the attention away from the halfling.  But before he could get there, the halfling scrambled to his feet and attempted to pierce through the tough natural armor of the bulette’s hide with his short sword.  The attack was in vain.  Thankfully for the halfling, so was the bulette’s attempt to bite the halfling in twain.

Velnius and Kulo hit the bulette with ranged attacks.  Tanin moved forward and spoke a healing word for the halfling.  As the heroes continued to inflict more wounds on the bulette, Belladore noticed what looked like a fin emerge from the earth and travel in their direction!  Within a brief few moments, the earth erupted with a second bulette entering the fray!

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The battle between the heroes and the bulettes raged fiercely.  Shortly after slaying one of the two that emerged, the battle became more dire again.  Significantly larger and more ferocious than the previous two, an ancient looking bulette, the scales of its hide deeply darkened due to age, erupted from the surface of the ground.

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While the odds seemed to shift away from the adventurers, they redoubled their efforts and due to their resourcefulness slayed the final ancient bulette.  More surprising, the heroes managed to save the halfling warrior.  He was seriously injured, but alive.  Surely he would have perished had not the heroes intervened.

Belladore, always curious about her fellow halfings, inquired about the warrior’s audacious, if not absurd quest.  He introduced himself as Sir Roscoe.  He explained that these bulettes regularly hunted members of his village to the east of here.  He tried to muster a hunting party to rouse the bulettes, but they all believed he was daft in suggesting such a plan.  So, fed up with his fellow villagers lack of courage, he took to flushing out the bulettes himself.  He knew where there typical hunting grounds were–they never attacked the village directly because it was settled on ancient bedrock too dense for the bulettes to burrow through.  He thanked the adventurers for their help in slaying the beasts, which elicited a chuckle out of more than one of the party members.  He also welcomed them to his village, Nestled Valley, and gave the general directions for how to find it, since it was all but invisible to those who don’t know its location.

The wedding caravan continued on its way to Valerius after the diversion with Sir Roscoe and the marauding bulettes.  In the late afternoon, the wedding caravan came upon a copse of trees next to the road and a stream branching from the Hyperborean River.  Something seemed wrong to Kulo.  He felt like someone or something was watching the group.

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Xrax and Tanin moved forward cautiously, the hairs on the backs of their necks standing up as they suspected an ambush was about to occur.  Kulo noticed movement in the large tree to their right and unleashed an arrow right where the branches stirred slightly.  The “thwap” of the arrow as it hit the leaves of the tree suggested the shot hit home.  Just moments later, a dead kobold fell to the ground.  Materializing from the trees and bushes to their right a swarm of kobolds joined the fray!

Xrax and Tanin immediately engaged the kobolds in melee, while Kulo and Velnius provided support with ranged missile weapons.  Pabelle and Belladore stayed with Okkar near the wagon to keep the wedding caravan safe as well as ready spells to assist in the battle.

Xrax and Tanin soon realized that these kobolds seemed a lot tougher than lore led them to believe.  Five surrounded Tanin while Xrax held off three more.  Additional missile fire rained down from the tree that had held the kobold killed at the outset by Kulo.  Velnius and Kulo focused their efforts on taking out the snipers in the tree.

But the battle soon became more intense.  Behind a boulder to their left, across from the tributary of the Hyperborean River, eight winged kobolds took flight and joined the combat.  They appeared to be targeting Tanin, dropping rocks on him before descending and surrounding him.  Likewise, the snipers in the tree appeared to be focusing their shots on Tanin.

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As the battle raged and several kobolds had been slain, a new menace appeared on the party’s right.  From a slight hill, four new kobolds emerged.  Given the robes and quarterstaff held by one, the party surmised this kobold had magic-casting abilities.  The other three kobolds that appeared with him also looked different.  They wore harnesses around their waists that connected over their shoulders and held a number of small clay pots, the perfect size for a kobold to hurl at an enemy.  But if that wasn’t enough, a giant red serpent appeared around some brush and engaged Xrax.

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The fight intensified.  Xrax seemed to have no difficulty handling the kobolds he was engaged with, but Tanin being completely surrounded and continuing to take missile fire was suffering.  The kobold sorcerer appeared around some brush and targeted Xrax with Magic Missile.  One of the kobolds bearing the small clay pots along a bandolier, chucked one at Xrax.  The pot burst on his chest plate.  Xrax felt the burning sensation of acid dripping onto his skin through the chinks in his armor.  Worse, some of the acid got in his eyes and he found himself temporarily blinded as his eyes teared up trying to flush the acid.  The large serpent bit at Xrax, but his plate mail held off the giant snake for now.

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Kulo and Velnius ended the sniper fire from the trees, watching two kobolds fall to their death after their crossbow bolts found their mark.  Okkar, his defense of the wagon unwavering, targeted one of the winged kobolds with his crossbow.  The bolt hit the flying kobold in the neck, dropping it into the river to be swept downstream.  Belladore muttered some incantations, gesturing to the kobolds with the clay pots held on bandoliers across their chests, rose petals dropping from her hand as she spoke the spell.  The rose petals disappeared as the weave of magic coursed across the brush.  All three of the kobolds fell soundly asleep.  Meanwhile, Tanin slayed a kobold surrounding him as did Xrax, blinking the final remnants of the acid from his eyes.

More of the winged kobolds dropped rocks on Tanin.  And two of the kobolds that surrounded him added to his wounds with dagger strikes.  Xrax’s plate mail held of the kobolds that surrounded him, but three more magic missiles erupted from the kobold sorcerer’s hand to embed in Xrax’s chest!  The giant serpent struck also, this time tearing a rent into Xrax’s rerebrace and couter, the large teeth gouging along Xrax’s upper arm, elbow, and forearm.

Kulo launched a missile at the sorcerer, his bolt hitting the kobold square in the chest.  Velnius took down one of the winged kobolds with his crossbow.  Belladore cast faerie fire on the sorcerer, the serpent, and one of the kobold’s fighting Xrax.  Pabelle moved up and threw an axe at the giant serpent, the axeblade lodging firmly in the neck of the beast.  Okkar, again took out one of the winged kobolds getting dangerously close to the wagon.

The sorcerer launched magic missile once more into Xrax, who otherwise was well defended against the kobolds, their weak attacks glancing off his plate mail armor.  Tanin felt the bite of a couple of blades and the bruise of another rock dropping on his shoulder, forcing him to forgo attacking in favor of healing himself to stay in the fight.  Kulo’s crossbow bolt ended the threat of the sorcerer–a significant turning point in the battle.  Velnius sunk a bolt into the eye of the giant serpent, its body spasming into death throes.  Xrax’s maul bashed in the heads of two of the kobolds who were engaged in melee combat with him.  Okkar and Pabelle killed two more winged kobolds who were moving closer to the wagon.

The tide had turned.  In just a matter of moments the rest of the kobolds were slayed, including the remaining winged kobolds who tried to escape back across the river, crossbow bolts bringing them crashing to the ground.  One kobold was left alive for questioning.

Tanin, in particular, was interested in the interrogation since the kobolds seemed to be targeting him.  Speaking in Themish, Tanin asked why they attacked the caravan.  The kobold told him that his master sent them on this mission.  They were to target Tanin because he possessed an artifact his master wanted.  Tanin expressed alarm at someone seemingly knowing that he held the magical vertebrae.  Tanin asked the kobold who his master was.  The kobold simply called him the master.  But he did reveal that the master was some type of spell-caster.  Tanin pressed the kobold for information about where his master was located.  The kobold, intimidated by Tanin’s anger, described the general direction of the master’s stronghold–underneath ruins in the King’s Wood near the Great Wyrm Mountains.  Tanin thanked the kobold for his compliance and then cut off his head with his scimitar, The Blade of Dark Deeds!


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City Encounters (beggar, orc in chains, and prophet of doom): Random Urban Encounters by Assassin Games

Add greater challenge to your kobold encounters with Ten Clever Kobolds by Jeff Ibach.

Forest Battle Mat: Paizo’s Pathfinder Basic Terrain Multi-Pack Flip-Mat

Wagon: Fat Dragon Games Halfling Dwellings Set

Donkey Cart: Mayhem in Paper/One Monk Grave Robbers

Large Tree and Bushes: Fat Dragon Games Woodland Adventures Set

Boulders: Fat Dragon Games Highland Adventures Set

River Tiles: Fat Dragon Games E-Z Tiles: Rivers & Streams

Road Tiles: Dave Graffam Medieval Ground Tiles

Horses Paper Miniatures: Horses by Xtea

Bulettes Paper Miniatures: Printable Heroes

Sir Roscoe the Halfling Paper Miniature by Jeff George: 2nd Place Single Figure Designer Category for 2017 Papercuts

Dark Red Kobold Paper Miniatures: Mayhem in Paper/One Monk Kobold Warband

Kobold Spearmen and Winged Kobold Miniatures: Paper Forge Paper Miniatures

Giant Serpent (Dragon Snake) Paper Miniature: Mayhem in Paper/One Monk Dungeon Monsters

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