Week 21 - A Mixed Bag

Back to Horcroft to find a merchant barge (from somewhere down river) arrived in town, that is heading further upstream to deal directly with the Kobold’s at Sootcale. It is also the only barge around that is big enough to carry both the water clock and the large alabaster statue back from the ancient keep. However, the captain insists on going up to Sootscale first - so Rudy, Hebrin and Larran decide to go with them.

However, they find that Grigori is still in town and speaking out against them in the inn again. Another public debate follows and Grigori puts some telling points that Rudy finds hard to refute, and at one point Grigori seems to have swayed the crowd. However, Rudy seemed to get his second wind and started speaking of trade both by road and water, and played on the completion of the road up to Leveton, and the possibility of trade beyond - and finally Grigori ran out of arguments , and went back to his room. And hopefully back to wherever he originally came from.

Then it was up river on the barge to Sootscale. Both the quay and the Ale House had been completed - and while the quay looked very functional, the Ale House has a very different feel. The Kobolds covered the building, on three sides and the roof, with soil - so that from the outside it looks like a small hill - except with a wooden wall and door at one end. There are no windows, so it is dark inside and there is a strange mixture of furniture, suitable for small sized kobolds and medium sized humanoids. Seeing as they arrived at dusk it was full of Kobolds who were drinking ale, listening to a musician and playing a gambling game called ‘knuckles’. And everything cost ‘A silver’ – a mug of ale, a bowl of stew, a skewer of grilled fish, a place to sleep (on the bare floor) - each cost one silver piece!

They visited for a bit, spoke to Sootscale and Mikmek, played some dice (and lost a few coins) and eavesdropped on the trade between the merchant and the Kobolds. They found that the Kobolds were trading silver ore for ale and food – but were more less happy to find they were buying arms from Jovvox as well. OK, it was only daggers (and everyone knows the points break off of Jovvox daggers when they are used) but that isn’t the point.

Then back to the Old Keep with a clean up crew to collect the large treasures. Back in Horcroft they offer the water clock to Lily Teskertin, one of the newer residents in their town, who has announced her interest in Elven artefacts. Indeed Lily arranged a trade with the group - her father’s (now deceased) old cloak in return for the clock. She knew the cloak was magical, and the clock would make a marvellous centre piece in her new house. However, that wasn’t the end of it. She managed to get herself an invite to dinner, and encouraged Rudy to teach her how to dance. Then she let him show her his collections and invited him back to her place so he could teach her Elven. But it all became a bit too much for Rudy and he made excuses – and couldn’t wait to get out and explore a bit more wilderness.

So it was back to the keep in the forest, and leaving the boat crew there as a temporary garrison, they used it as a base to explore the surrounding area. More forest, some boggy forest and, eventually, a huge mound of deadfall timber. It was massive - as tall as a house and four or five times as big. So big that whole trees were caught up in it and Rudy even considered ‘mining’ it for building materials – although that would probably prove an expensive way to do things.

But they stumbled across tracks leading into a concealed space inside - and in there they found a terrible monster. Reptilian, covered in spikes and the size of a horse. It was quick too, attacking with a bite and two claws as well as the spikes on its head and tail. Larran was the first to close and was tried to deal with the Hodag alone while the others prepared spells and defences – he took a lot of damage in that first round, but held it up long enough for the party to prepare themselves. After that it was a fairly straightforward battle and the beast was destroyed. They discovered that it had been preying on all sorts of creatures down there – and recovered a suit of magical armour and a magical spear from the detritus.

But then it was back to the Old keep to settle down and consider what to do next. There was some thought of taking possession of the keep as a Marker of Intent – notice that this will be the Southern Boundary of Newhaven. But they are still giving that some consideration, and trying to work out how they might make it work.

OOC – with all that swanning around up and down rivers and exploring - another two weeks have passed. The characters all have enough XP to advance to sixth level.

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