Session #134 – Hornets in the Orchard, Rats in the Pantry

It was nearly the end of the month of Octopus, and they had spent eight days resting before heading back to the Tosasth Valley. Aderian paid a visit to Tameron Duhaney, weaponsmith. He wore tattoos on much of his skin, and his hand often went to a necklace of iron beads. Aderian commissioned the construction of a trident with an octopus motif in honor of Saint Orlan, patron of the town. As an indication of the high craftsmanship expected, the former pirate handed over a gem worth 600 gp to be incorporated into the weapon. Tameron told him to return in a few weeks.

Several items of interest were noted during the week at home. One was the sudden fashion of wearing green scarves among the townspeople. About this, Jerker inquired of folk in the tavern. He learned from one drinker that the scarves were supposed of elven make but unlikely to be such. They were deemed a cheap scam imported along with refugees from Slateholm. Jerker couldn’t help wonder the connection between the scarves and the recent arrival of the mysterious protectors of St. Orlan. He longed to disregard the edict to stay out of the swamps, but none of this companions shared this enthusiasm.

As word traveled about the pacification of the Tosasth Valley, some people from the east were passing through St. Orlan and into the wilderness to win treasures like those heroic figures lead by Tienarth. Many who returned shared exciting tales. Some reported finding geyers and fields of sandstone, the exact location of which was lost due to a run-in with orcs. More fanciful reports described a magical door in a massive tree trunk, a cabin emitting greenish light, and an ancient estate where ghosts were spotted. About this last item, an old-timer recalled stories about the Eliari, a race of merchants who once lived in the wider area but mysteriously vanished.

Searching for the Lost Estate

Tienarth convinced the group to search for this lost estate, expected great treasure if the guardian was a ghost. He reasoned the ghost was little more than a wraith or spectre. And these horrors were faced and defeated many times in Tosasth. Ollie and Aderian traded belt and gauntlets, and Jerker hired a man-at-arms named Garph. On the 23rd, they all began walking up the road to the ruined tower. After an uneventful night, they all began walking down the road to the river camp outside of Tosasth — all except Tienarth. The old elf transformed himself into a hawk and soared over the landscape, looking for prominent landmarks.

As the rest of them arrived at the river camp, Tienarth returned to report he’d found what must be the estate mentioned in stories (hex 1301). He also explored other nearby terrain, finding little more than vegetation. As the estate was another day’s journey, they prepared to camp overnight once again. In the early hours of morning, Ferris, on watch, spied goblins approaching. They fled when confronted.

On the 24th, they made their way north, past Tosasth, then up into hills around Doukreg. The last few miles were strenuous climbs down and then up again into high mountains. They arrived as night was falling. Meanwhile, Tienarth had spent another day surveying the area. He found a ruined village, not much more than a few foundations (hex 0801), though an amphitheater of hard stone remained intact. He rejoined the party and shared what he could see from cruising over the walls of the estate.

Exploring the Estate Grounds

A wall encircled a square plot approximately 150′ per side. The only visible entrance was through a gate in the south wall. Outside the walls, a path ran the length of the eastern wall, ending in a patch of gravel at the edge of a small river. The walls were made of smooth blocks of granite. Every 25′ a thick column added further fortification to the wall, which was 15′ tall. They showed no signs of age, standing as sturdy as the day they were built.

Beyond the gate was a small estate containing three small buildings, a 10′ wide road circling a fenced area and a two-story house. To the east of the house were a well and a collection of garden beds. To the west of the house the remains of an orchard stood.

They camped outside of the estate overnight, preferring exploration during the daylight hours. The first task was to open the gates which were bound by a chain and a heavy padlock. Despite the crust of corrosion on the lock, Ferris was able to spring it open and push the creaking gate open.

Near the gate was a carriage house, inside of which was a ruined carriage, tilted at a disturbed angle due to the wheels on one side falling off. Shingles from the roof of the carriage house had fallen to the ground where they shattered. Consequently, years of rain had dripped into the building. Next, they walked to the southeast corner of the compound to examine a hut. Inside were a few garden tools. Ollie grabbed a shovel.

Walking north, they looked closer at the garden which looked to be a converted into a graveyard. The raised beds used repurposed slabs as headstones. A trace of old paint suggested names, but they were unreadable after years of weathering. A short discussion about digging up the graves ensued, in which Aderian momentarily forgot the many times they had dug up graves for gain. Regardless, they agreed to leave the graves as they were. They noted a faint stench rising from the well, but did not otherwise interact with it. Next, they headed for the orchard.

Only the largest limbs of long-dead fruit trees remained, standing pathetically over piles of debris. Ollie produced his newly-acquired shovel and began disturbing the piles of debris. Instantly, a cloud of hornets emerged from a nest. Fortunately, Tienarth had a sleep spell ready. Hundreds of insects fell from the air at once.

Entering the House

Returning to the east side of the house, Ollie climbed the stairs to the porch and burst into the kitchen. A miserable cook was preparing loaves of bread to place in a wood-fired stove. He yelped at the sight of scowling dwarf, then yelled for help. Ollie smacked him with his ogre-powered fist, silencing him. If his cries were heard, they were not immediately answered.

An open doorway out of the kitchen led to a service pantry. On top of a sideboard were pewter mugs. Inside it were bottles. Beyond the service pantry was a dining room. The long table was collapsed in the center. A door on the north door was locked and easily kicked in. Beyond the splintered door was a library filled with hundreds of books.

Returning to the kitchen, another door was found to be a food pantry. Rats scattered as the door swung open. Jerker poked around the food and noted a hole chewed into a bag of flour. They left this room as it was and walked down the hallway to the south end of the house. Ollie spent a moment looking at a door in the hallway with four board nailed over the door. A skull and crossbones were painted over the top of them.

Aderian rushed into a room where an orc knelt at a fireplace burning books. His hand clutched one more book. Aderian stepped up and cut the orc down with a sword blow. Tienarth snatched up the book, Vampirism: Causes and Treatment.

Presently, they stepped into the nearby room where four orcs stopped an argument to demand who the intruders were. The response with immediate violence. One of the orcs landed a blow of his scimitar on Jerker, but within seconds the orcs were dead.

Before heading upstairs, Aderian pulled open the door to a small closet, 5’ square, filled with sacks of old clothes. A concealed door on the west wall contained a leather sack holding 1,600 gp, a packet of letters and a book, A Bestiary of the Undead.

End Notes

  • Treasure
    • Shovel
    • Sack of 1,600 gp
    • Vampirism: Causes and Treatment
    • A Bestiary of the Undead
  • Combat 675 xp
    • Swarm of Hornets 525 xp
    • Human cook 25 xp
    • 5 Orcs 125 xp
  • Characters
    • Aderian (fight, strength, lead) 95 xp
    • Ferris (thief skills) 93 xp
    • Ferris’ Dogs
    • Jerker (fight) 93 xp
    • Garph
    • Nate
    • Ollie (fight, lead) 86 xp
    • Tienarth (wilderness, acquire knowledge, avoids combat, intelligence) 87 xp

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