Week 38 - Loose Ends

The group were stuck in Varnhold for a while. Robert had agreed to bury all the bodies they had recovered from Vordakai’s tomb, and there were about as many bodies as there were able body survivors. And most of the survivors were in a state of shock. It was decided that they should dig individual graves for people - and it would take about as long to dig a mass grave - or at least it would if they wanted to do it with a suitable of respect. So the soldiers and troopers dug the graves, with some help with recovered locals, and Robert lead a simple ceremony based on the faith of Iomedae.

It was towards the end of those burials that they noticed a delegation from the Nomen Centaurs lead by Aecora Silverfire herself. Her daughter, Xananthe, the centaur they had rescued was there as well - although she was dressed much more like her mother, than the wild-child that she had looked earlier.

Dubious at first, Rudy and Suka Varn approached the delegation while Robert stayed calmly with the villagers. There were enough centaurs there that they could have overwhelmed the villagers alone. However, there was nothing to fear – for the centaurs had come bearing gifts. First there was a Lyre - gold and inlaid with gem stones that was a gift from the Noman tribe to the people of Newhaven – and Rudy’s eyes lit up as he recognised that it was a Lyre of Building. The next gift was more symbolic - Arm Guards that designated the wearers ad ‘members’ of the Nomen tribe let then roam the lands of the Nomen as they chose. Later analysis showed that they had magic defensive properties as well. There was a set for each members of the party and an extra set for Suka Varn – after all as Aecora Silverfire said - they need to develop a trust between them.

The third gift was practical, and perhaps with a double agenda. Aecora left her daughter, Xamathe, and a file of centaur warriors there to help patrol the roads and fields on the east side of the Tors as a symbol of the new relationship between the Nomen and the two-legs of Varnhold. Aecora pointed out it was Xamathe’s first command, her first step on the road to becoming a War-Priestess of her people – and the party guessed there as an element of ‘keep her out of trouble but let her have a look outside’ in Aecora’s thinking. Suka Varn also suspected there was an element of ‘keep an eye on the neighbours’ as well.

Still soon it was time to leave - and in the spirit of being good neighbours (and setting the scene for when the two regions merge) the party garrisoned the tower in the mountain pass. Ensign Breen was given temporary command of tower, and assigned the auxiliaries (as well as his own men) so that there was a small garrison of about ten people. There are just enough men to maintain a watch, to make the occasional patrol and defend the tower if they needed to.

The trip home was fairly uneventful. They saw the Roc from Talon Point, and it is massive! It flew down and picked up a wild elk in a single talon, flew into the air and dropped the elk to its death on the rocks below. It was little more than a couple of mouthfuls for the bird. It was an impressive sight, but a clear danger to any travellers along this route.

Eventually they got to Gurdinford, where they looked at the new barracks and stayed overnight in ‘The Common Room’. The Common Room provides communal catering and living space for the residents, but also doubles up as an ale house for the garrison and any visitors.

The barracks here serves the road patrol, so there is only about a dozen troopers in residence at the time. Rudy decided it would be a good time to try out the Lyre - so he spent an hour or so strumming away as he walked around the settlement. As he played the huts and lean-tos merged with the materials from the light palisade and flowed magically to form much more solid buildings. Then as he continues to play, the area from the palisade turned into a small bank and ditch, giving the same sort of protection as before. Each of the new buildings had a small statuette of a person over the door and Rudy insisted that these were made in the likeness of the various party members. There were a couple of features that implied that, but they could really have been anybody.

Then it was celebration time - the local hooch was brought out and various pieces of small game were set to roast as an extra for dinner. And a full scale party, celebrating Rudy’s skill and generosity, followed! Gurdinford – “The Gateway to the South” - is reborn

Then they travelled on to Horcroft where, to their surprise, the guards were expecting them. Charles had arranged for a system where a fast rider could be sent from one barracks to another and messages passed that way. So they had to inspect the new gate towers, with their offices, lock ups and cadet barracks, before they made it back to Fort Stag. Charles had a light meal ready for them, and progress reports from the various building projects that were going on around the nation. Everything appears to have been running smoothly in their absence - which is always worrying.

So down to business. The first thing they did was to review what they had done over the last few weeks and than to take stock of the treasure (and loot) they had acquired. Some items were directly allocated to party members, others were given as gifts to those who had accompanied them Helga did particularly well as she finished up with a magical cloak - while Charles was given a spell book and all the stone tablets and damaged books from the Crypt. They make a great start to a library collection, if nothing else.

Then it was tidying up loose ends – news of the merchant’s death to deliver, spider silks for the weaver, manticore quills for the poet and access to all the Cyclops material for the sage.

Then a trip to the Sculptor, to see the statue of a barbarian that Rudy had commissioned - only to find that the sculptor had misinterpreted Rudy’s instructions and had created a statue of Rudy as a barbarian overlord. There was a lot of discussion and even Rudy was (at least slightly) embarrassed by statue. The sculptor was instructed to make new statue and the party would send along a Half-Orc as the primary model ….

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