To Clerseau with Haste

Mistress of Time, Episode 7

*Note: This story is from a WHAT (Warrior Heroes Adventures in Talomir) campaign. The party has just completed a Guard a Traveler Job and wish to return home. Traveling home means playing a Wandering Encounter. The Guard a Traveler Job required two Wandering Encounters to travel from Clerseau to Orlogne, so it will take two Wandering Encounters to return. Wandering Encounters in WHAT are not tied to distance or time. The distance could be just a few miles or hundreds of miles, and the time could be from a few hours to weeks.

Also, the Wandering Encounter ends with the option of finding a dungeon. I don’t always use this option, but there are times when it really makes sense in advancing a story.

“There’s something still bothersome about this whole affair.” said Zhu Paand placing an empty mug on the table.”

“We got paid, why should it matter?” asked Fizzrelda. She drained the last of the ale from her mug, slammed it on the table, and gave a hearty belch.

“I mean if the chest was a ruse, bait to attract brigands, what if the whole trip was staged? What if there isn’t an alchemist here who has a new method of distilling liquids?” Zhu asked in response.

“We’re still sober, we could go find out.” said Fizzrelda with a slight slur.

The lone alchemist of Orlogne, Brelbas Nirle, listened to Zhu Paand’s tale while keeping a close eye on her goblin companion and his wife’s fine China. “No, it couldn’t have been me who sent a letter to the apothecary in Clerseau. I still use the tried-and-true process of boiling a liquid and collecting condensation in tubes. I wonder if he meant Brother Matthias?”

“Brother Matthias?” asked Zhu.

“Yes, Brother Matthias, he’s a monk at Saint Martins who dabbles in alchemy.” he replied.

“Where is St. Martins?” Zhu asked.

“Saint Martins is a small monastery next to the Brethren’s fortress, eight or ten miles from here on the road to Acromerinth.” he answered.

Zhu Paand’s eyes grew wide in apprehension, “The Brethren? That bastard.” She thanked Brelbas Nirle and left with Fizzrelda as quick as she could.

“What’s wrong, mistress?” asked Fizzrelda.

“Goddur,” she huffed, “he’s gone to the Brethren. That was his plan all along, the chest was a ruse in more ways than one.”

“Why the Brethren?” Fizzrelda asked.

“Witch hunters.” The reply was short and sharp. “We need to find the others and leave this place immediately!”

After ringing the bell for a third time, the door of the monastery opened revealing an elderly monk. Before he could speak, Boris Goddur snapped, “I need to see the Abbot.”

“The Abbot is at prayer; you are welcome to wait until he can see you. I’m Brother Nigel, by the way; welcome to Saint Martin’s” said the monk.

“It’s most urgent I speak with him as soon as possible.” demanded Boris Goddur.

“Everyone’s business with the Abbot is urgent these days, what makes yours more urgent than any other?” asked Brother Nigel.

“At this very moment, there is a witch of the Black Moon in Orlogne.” answered Boris Goddur.

Zhu Paand faced a dilemma, they could travel faster on the road and they could be found easier if they stayed on the road. Her solution was to have Joonda and Umsa follow a quarter of a mile behind her. If they saw anyone in pursuit, Joonda was to fire one of her pistols in warning. She hoped that would give her and the others time to get off of the road and into hiding. They kept a quick pace, trotting when they could.

“Are you sure she is a witch, brother Goddur?” asked the Abbot.

“Yes, did you have opportunity to prick her?” added Brother Cedric.

Boris Goddur was frustrated, this was the third time he had to tell his account of events. “Prick her? By the gods, man, I saw the woman kill two trolls in an instant with lightning from her finger tips. I watched flames form in her hand as she hurled balls of fire burning men to death. Why on earth would I need to prick her with a blade?”

“To see if she bleeds, witches don’t bleed when pricked.” answered Brother Cedric.

“Patience, brother Goddur, we must hear the facts.” said the Abbot.

“Abbot Perrius, I trust this man as telling the truth and as such, there is a witch freely roaming the streets of Orlogne, not more than ten miles from where we sit.” said Brother Reynard.

“What do you propose, Brother Reynard?” asked the Abbot.

“I propose we simply go to Orlogne, arrest this woman and put her to the test.” answered Brother Reynard.

“The test? You mean torture until she’s confessed, brother Witchfinder?” asked Brother Toumas. “Brother Abbot, I must object. To ransack Orlogne tonight to find a possible witch will not endear us to the people here.”

“Agreed, to a point, Brother Toumas.” said the Abbot. “Brother Reynard, you will wait till morning and then with brother Goddur’s assistance, identify and arrest this woman with as little disruption to the people of Orlogne as possible. Once she is apprehended, you will bring her here for questioning.”

On the morning of the second day. Zhu sent Gredra and Meagle ahead to scout while the rest broke camp. Just as they were ready to make their way back to the road, Meagle came back at a run.

“Mistress, come quick.” said Meagle. “Gredra has found something strange.”

Without explanation, Meagle turned and started running back down the road, Zhu and the others followed. When they reached a bend in the road, they saw Gredra crouching at the road’s edge where it curved. Gredra motioned for everyone to stop and get down. Zhu and Fizzrelda crept to Gredra’s side.

“What is it?” Zhu asked in a hushed voice.

“An ambush, mistress.” said Gredra, “look at the side of the hill ahead.”

The road curved and then straightened to pass between a small hill and another hill. At the foot of the other hill, Zhu could see bodies from the road’s edge up to almost the crest of the hill. On top of the hill stood a pack horse.

“I saw the horse before the bodies. Notice all of the bodies have been stripped and looted, but the horse’s pack saddle is still loaded with gear.” said Gredra.

“Aye, and the horse is staked to the ground,” added Fizzrelda, “a sure invitation to a slaughter.”

“So, whoever did this is waiting on top of the hill?” asked Zhu.

“Probably not the whole band.” said Gredra. “There’s only enough cover on the top for a look out – those bushes to the left. I imagine the rest of the band is on the reverse slope.”

Fizzrelda asked, “Can we go around, you know, by-pass them altogether?”

“The terrain to our left is very rugged, that’s why they built the road to curve here. The ground to the right of the hill is open and they would see us for sure. We’d have to back track several miles to be able to go around, we’d lose half a day.” said Gredra.

“If the Brethren are behind us, we can’t afford the delay.” said Zhu.

Fizzrelda said, “We can try a bluff. Umsa, Joonda, and I will go forward like curious goblins and poke around among the dead as if looking for loot and work our way up. I’m thinking whoever it is won’t pay much attention to goblins until we come too close to them. When we reach the top of the hill, we’ll take out their look out while the rest of you come as fast as you can.”

“That’s a risky plan.” said Zhu Paand.

“It could work, though.” said Gredra.

“It doesn’t sound very smart, though.” said Zhu.

“That’s why it will work.” said Fizzrelda. “No one expects goblins to be smart.”

Zhu Paand could feel her body tighten with tension as she watched Fizzrelda, Umsa and Joonda walk to the first corpse as if they didn’t have a care in the world. She began holding her breath when they turned over the second corpse and went through the dead man’s pockets. Some of the bodies were stripped naked. After a while, Umsa and Joonda reached the top of the hill and began to argue over the horse. Zhu was so focused on the argument between Umsa and Joonda that she lost sight of Fizzrelda – so did the guard. Fizzrelda pounced, there was a scream.

“Go!” shouted Gredra. They ran across the road and rushed up the hill reaching the top just as Joonda fired a pistol grazing a hobgoblin causing him to duck back into the woods. Fizzrelda was engaged with a hobgoblin archer while three more hobgoblins were charging toward Umsa.

The archer who had been surprised by Fizzrelda struggled against her ferocity, but quickly fell. Most of the hobgoblins were armed with spears giving them an advantage in reach. Umsa went down after a spear thrust passed her shield. Gredra was able to close with her opponent. Not able to use his spear, the hobgoblin began punching and shoving with his shield. The shield’s rim caught Gredra’s chin knocking her unconscious. Their leader sought out Zhu, but as he closed, Meagle stepped in front of her mistress. He knocked her down, but before he could strike a killing blow, Zhu Paand killed him, instead.

The hobgoblin who had knocked Gredra unconscious turned just in time to parry Fizzrelda’s blade. Again, he had let a goblin in too close, this time he paid for his mistake with his life. The one who had speared Umsa now charged Joonda, who rushed a shot and missed. The hobgoblin grinned thinking he had an easy kill stepped toward Joonda and then crumpled to the ground with one of Zhu Paand’s daggers in his back.

Zhu pulled her dagger out of the hobgoblin’s back wiping the blade on the dead creature’s tunic. She heard a crashing sound behind her, she whipped around. The grazed hobgoblin, the one shot by Joonda, erupted from the brush and fled.

“Joonda, look after Umsa and Gredra. Fizzrelda, Meagle, with me.” she ordered.

They chased after the hobgoblin until they came to an ancient ruined tower. There, the hobgoblin seemed to vanish. They split up to search the ruins hoping to flush the hobgoblin out into the open. Almost a half hour had passed when Meagle cried, “Over here!”

Meagle was standing next to a hole in the ground. Zhu peered into the darkness and saw what looked like steps.

“Is it a tomb?” asked Meagle.

Looking at the ruins about her, Zhu said, “It’s probably the tower’s dungeon.”

Fizzrelda leaned over the opening, peered as far as she could see in the darkness, and gave it a good sniff. “Looks like a dungeon, but it certainly smells like something crawled in there and died.” she said.

Meanwhile, “Well, brother Goddur, it seems your witch is not in Orlogne. She was here, I grant you that.” said Brother Reynard.

“She is most likely on her way to Clerseau with her band of goblins. If we leave now, we can overtake them on the road.” said Boris Goddur.

“Patience, brother Goddur, I’ll send for my equipment, we will set out for Clerseau when it arrives.”

“Equipment? What kind of equipment?” asked Boris Goddur.

“Why, the equipment necessary to obtain a confession from a witch. It’s very important to obtain the right kind of confession.” said Brother Reynard. “But, don’t worry, brother Goddur, your witch will burn, just have patience.”

Wandering Encounters end with the discovery of a dungeon entrance, entering is optional. Will just the three of them enter? Of course not, but wait, according to the rule book, goblins aren’t very smart, and Zhu Paand knows better, doesn’t she?

Please let me know what you think of this episode of Mistress of Time and the the campaign in general in the comments. Your comments are valued, and I read every one of them. Until next time stay safe and don’t let the witch hunters find you!

Previous Episodes

Episode 1Zhu Paand and FizzreldaEpisode 4Suspicious Job Offer
Episode 2The Road to ClerseauEpisode 5Starting for Orlogne
Episode 3The Blue GoblinEpisode 6A Box of Rocks

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Mistres of Time, Episode 7

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