From Vallora’s Diary
We’d gone to Waterdeep after our last mission from Sir Justin had concluded–it seems as if he has increased confidence in our abilities, which is good, but it also means we needed further equipping to handle whatever might be next–and were on our way back to his camp when we suddenly found ourselves off the road and quite lost. We blamed the fog that had surrounded us all morning and I was able to make use of my new Vigilant Sword as a lantern, but our trip back to the road was not as easy as we’d thought.
First we came across the bones of an orc, picked clean and covered in large teeth marks. Then we came across another in the same condition a little ways away. And then what appeared to be a campsite of theirs with several more sets of bones and, um, pieces.
All this time Vlax had been conversing with the nearby rocks, trying to understand what had gone on, but got not much more than we could surmise from the bones, themselves. Just that a large, hairy, four-legged beast had attacked, overpowered, and consumed those whose remains we found, and that it had been perhaps a fortnight ago that this happened.
While searching for any sort of clue as to what had happened, we found a few belongings of the orcs: some coins, larger and oddly marked compared to our own, and a jade cat figurine. Suspecting that the orcs had, in all likelihood, absconded with the meager treasure and had been hunted down for their crime, I took possession of the coins until we could perhaps find who they belonged to. Vlax was quite insistent that he carry the figurine, however, against even his own misgivings on the matter.
Said misgivings were proven worthy, though, once we made it to a river (at this point we’d fairly given up finding the road again) Kira led us to, and decided to make camp before continuing farther. Larem and Kelch caught quite a few fish in the river so we had a splendid supper when all of a sudden there was a rustling in Vlax’s pack! The jade figurine was now a living cat, of the domesticated stripey kind. It let me pet it just fine and seemed hungry, so we gave it one of the leftover fish and, after eating its fill, curled up as if to sleep and became jade again before our eyes.
It was unsettling to say the least.
It was time to retire when Kira noticed something very odd about the night sky–the stars were not right!**
Realizing we had somehow traveled much farther than merely off the road, we kept an uneasy watch that night, glad as a whole that it passed uneventfully.
After breaking camp and traveling some distance along the river we came to road crossing it. The path to the south looked well-trod so we, hoping to find civilization and our bearings, took the road more traveled and soon came to a village.
Our first clue was found by way of notices posted about a reward (500 panthers–which must be the gold coins we found as they did feature a cat’s head) for the head of a beast that has been plaguing the land. A Baron Yurik von Karkov of Valachan (at least we now knew where we were) was offering the reward. Figuring that same beastie was the one who wreaked havoc with the orcs, we figured slaying the monster might be our ticket back home.
Only, once we headed into town and found the local tavern (the Crispy Pickle), we found people not only unwilling to talk to strangers (not all that weird, I suppose), but also unconcerned about the vicious cat that the Baron was so worried about.
We secured a pair of rooms for the night (thank Melora we found those coins!) and went off to search for more information and the local constabulary: the Black Leopards. We finally had to resort to making a spectacle of ourselves like common carnival barkers, only to discover that Vlax’s magic was as wrong as the stars had been the night before. Even Teran’s Phase Step took him in the opposite direction he intended (though, as he boasted later, his alternate phasing ground was at least pleasing to the eye, the scamp). Still, the Leopards had no more interest in our help than the townspeople, so we headed back to our rooms, planning to strike out for the Castle Pantera and the areas the last attacks were reported in the morning.
That was the plan, at least, until we heard a parade going by our windows and decided to follow it back to the town square where a Bridal Lottery was taking place. We had learned that the women who are honored as the Baron’s bride do not live long. A white sickness comes over them, as well as those who are sent to work in the castle fields, and most are not strong enough to survive it. The “lucky” woman was selected, a Maria something or other, who promptly fainted. She was then bustled into a black carriage and hurried off, but not before an old woman approached one of the Black Leopards, pleading for them not to take Maria. Her request was met with a slap, which angered many in our crew.
I admit, I was torn. This land is obviously not our own, we do not know its ways, we do not know what history may be between the guard and the old woman–was it our place to intervene? All such concerns fled, however, as her further entreaty resulted in a crack to the head with the guards sword. We charged as she crumpled to the ground, but our way was barred by the remaining guards. They pushed, we stood our ground. They moved to strike, we struck back and dispatched them all with very little trouble.
Not that our efforts were appreciated. I went to catch up with the old woman who, by this time, had picked herself up and was hurrying off. We wanted to help, she refused us. We offered to retrieve Maria, she again refused and continued to depart.
When we returned to the tavern, frustrated and confused, our belongings were sitting outside and the door was barred to us. We loaded our horses and rode hell-for-leather towards the castle.
About halfway to the castle Vlax called for us to halt–his pack was moving again. Only this time, instead of the cat we found last night, the translucent figure of a man hovered before us. He introduced himself as Felkovic, Wizard of Havelnik, and told us his tale. Some time ago the Baron took Felkovic’s wife, Nadia, as his bride. The wizard was, of course, not happy about this and set out to get his revenge, using a large cat as his weapon of choice. Just before he was able to employ it, the Baron killed Felkovic, cursing him into the jade figurine himself. Each night since the cat has come to life an needed to feed.
Needless to say we were a little concerned for our own safety, and confused as the cat had appeared normal size the previous night. Apparently the cat grows in size each night, but has deemed us worthy to take up the wizard’s cause and save the people from the Baron’s rule. As long as we feed him we’ll be safe. The cat–a smiladon–can be called upon once a day to fight for or with us. That may come in handy sooner rather than later.
The wizard disappeared and Vlax received a vision of how best (?) to approach the castle. It was 5 miles down our current road and then another 5 miles down a side road. We road as far as the turn and made camp a little way off the path. The cat awoke, much larger this time, and eyed one of the rabbits Kelch was preparing. He gave it willingly, but the cat nudged it towards the fire. Apparently Smiley prefers his food cooked. Not just cooked, but well-done, as he nudged it to the fire a second time. After that the rabbit was deemed worthy of his palate, he ate his fill, and returned to his jade form.
We’ll have to hunt larger game tomorrow night to feed him. Unless he has reason to feed in battle, that is.
Time for me to take the first watch,
She sure waxes on, doesn’t she 😉
We got a lot done in that last session, even with “starting” late due to some extended shopping at the market. We all leveled up after Holk House and realized we–especially Teran–needed some improved armor and maybe a protection amulet or two, since the baddies have been getting even tougher. I scored some +2 armor and a +1 sword and an amulet, thanks to some platinum we’d found in an earlier mission.
*Moscha is the name of my monkey companion
**Right about the time Kira perceived the stars were wrong, the DM suddenly announced he was awfully hot and took off the long-sleeve shirt he was wearing to reveal a Ravenloft t-shirt. At which time we all realized it wasn’t FOG we were walking through that “morning” but mist, and that we hadn’t just gone off the road, but we’d gone through a portal.
And that we were probably screwed.
But, you know, that’s a good part of every session, so nothing new there!
What We Fed Our Raiding Party
I was trying out recipes from a cookbook I’ll be reviewing soon so prepared some zucchini fritters, oatmeal shortbread squares, and, for supper, Southwest Turkey Stew with Cornmeal Dumplings. P & M brought a large fruit salad and C contributed cookies, doughnuts, and other carby goodness. Overall, I think it was a nice balance.
So… Now that we’ve gotten caught up with the game recaps (I do hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them), I have a few new “features” we’re going to be rotating through between Diary posts.
In order to *ahem* encourage folks to actually use their copies of What to Feed Your Raiding Party, each month I’ll be picking one recipe from the book an offer it as a Challenge to all our Little Raiders out there. The challenge will be active until the next one is announced (usually the 3rd Thursday of the month) and your reward for the completing the selected challenge recipe will be additional XP! How much will depend on the level of recipe I select, but it’ll be at least an extra 100. Of course, in order to earn those points you’ll have to prove that you completed the challenge. The standard rules apply: Pictures or it didn’t happen! And, of course, you’ll need to register for an account here in our community to make it possible for me to apply your points.
The first recipe challenge will be announced next week.
Another “new” feature is actually an old one resurrected: the Food and Game Pairings. We’ll be starting this one back up at the beginning of April (I’ve got other things to cover until then).
And speaking of April, I’ve scheduled my first convention period for the year (finally, right?): ALTCon, right here in Tallahassee on April 13. A new, single-day con and I’m one of the guests! We’ll have the books, of course, and I’ll also be doing a panel on self-publishing. Not sure if I’ll have the allergy-free supplement done in time for then, but I’ll definitely try for it!
Okay, I think that’s enough of my prattling on for this week. Until next time, eat something tasty!