Treasure of Traveler's Hill [Torchbearer] - Narration

edited October 2013 in In-Game
It's a spring day in the Westlands - gray rags of cloud sweep across the sky, spitting down brief bursts of rain and sleet, interspersed with warming shafts of watery sunlight. Skogenby is this morning's memory - goodbyes, caudled ale, a last breakfast sitting on a bench by a hearth in the Cloven Stump's common room. You forded the White Horse River just north of Skogenby and traipsed up the Old Skogenby Road into woodcutter country. After the ford, the road was no longer graveled or dragged - after an hour of walking, the road's two ruts merged into one. Now, after your midday break, the road is reduced to a brambly game trail leading uncertainly northwest. You haven't seen a person since the mid-morning, a charcoal-burner and his apprentice gawking at the three of you from atop their stack of timber-baulks. You have a map - sort of - consisting of a blot representing Skogenby, a line scrawled to indicate the road, a couple Xs for landmarks, and a circle where Traveler's Hill is supposed to be. Gavan the smith's apprentice produced this document for you, based on what he'd overheard from Osbjörn Smith talking to the crazy old peasant who brought in the ship-fitting.

The alders and osiers around nod in the breeze, green swelling at the tips of their branches. Somewhere nearby a wood-thrush essays a tentative whistle. The sun's slipping down the western sky - you've five, maybe six hours until dark and your "road" has more or less disappeared.

What do you do?
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  • [Helevand- Warrior]

    It took Helevand an extra moment to cross the ford, he'd never crossed this far in all his scavenging. He eyes Hrolfr, hoping he didn't notice the trepidation. Still a bit star struck that a dwarf who has delved the depths of Dvrgard would take him, a mere scavenger, on to help seek out treasures. Of course his brother had said, "Absolutely not! We are a family of weavers, not foolish, gold-eyed dreamers." But it was not much of a challenge to sneak out of the home of one suffering Blight. They sleep so sound despite the horror delivered from nightmares. Helevand skulked along and was gone before daybreak. And just like that he's in the hills on a real adventure.

    The new leaves on the trees belie the danger here. Yes, ages ago when the young heroes marched the world and kept us safe. But that was a different time. The fate of this road, now a brambly trail, tell him that much. It almost seems to indicate that he does not belong here, that none of them do.

    He points to one the X's on the map.
    "Maybe we locate one of these first?"

    What is the landmark closest to the road?
  • edited October 2013
    Right. We're standing around this useless damn map. That boy Gavin, he could've mentioned there weren't a path, couldn't he? Passable smith, that boy (well, a passable blacksmith, when taking his age into consideration), but no practical sense. I look up and around, surveying, but there's nothing but brambles and woods, and I can't make anything of it save the last trace of our trail. I sigh, or possibly just grunt, mustaches twitching in irritation.

    "... Fair enough. Erm."

    Looking around, and my eyes light on likely tree, old and tall.

    "Right. Here son, get yerself up that tree and see what ye can see. I think we've already passed this mark, here - not that ye could see it through these blasted woods. But ye might be able to make one o' the others, or even - gods be merciful - see the hill from here. It weren't supposed to be too long a trek."
  • Given that this is a map made by a mostly-illiterate blacksmith's apprentice, based on eavesdropping and a dim recollection of a trip north of Skogenby to fit a tyre to a broken waggon wheel, it's not all that bad, I guess. One landmark is a worked-out tin mine, the Tumblestone Creek mine. Some of Skogenby's poorest have taken to spending summers there in recent years, trying to scavenge something worthwhile from the tailings - Hr
  • "Jess' follow the trail! 'ts prolly what others done to find it in first place."
  • edited October 2013
    I give you a deeply suspicious, gimlet-eyed squint, Robin. Like I think you might be trying to put one over on me. I shift and stamp my feet, resettling the great coil of rope wrapped about my shoulder.

    "Just - what trail? There is no trail! The thrice-damn'd trail started running out a league and half ago, and now as I see it there's nothing but maybes and might-bes, and all we've got to mark our way is a petrified giant's heart. Somewhere. Hrm. A common basaltic chalk bed intrusion, I'll wager."

    "... But please, as you like, carry on. I doubt ye'll find any kind o' trail, but if ye come 'cross any sign of Old Wat's passing, it might help our weaver's son here make our bearings."
  • Robin goggles at the dwarf as he raises his hand and points north by north west. "'ts plain as day the goats follow this trail between the big trees here and yonder over that stone in the roots there. I ken not the salted giant's heart, but a body walking here would walk that-a-way." And so I'll look around for signs to verify what I'm saying, coordinating with whatever Helevand spies from aloft.
  • edited October 2013
    I grumble, peering this way and that, then start nosing about. Take a helping die, Helevand. If Old Wat came this way, he was coming weighed down by a bit of a sea-vessel, or with a mule or somesuch so it makes no difference. He'll have left traces, prints in mud and in the dry earth against the boles of trees. Look to the earth, I say. The earth never lies.

    Goats. Evil-eyed beasts. What kind of fool would follow a goat?
  • [Helevand]

    He listens to them bicker as he removes his backpack and sets down his polearm.

    Just like when he was a youth, he leaps up the tree, grabs ahold of a high branch and works his way to its heights, with hopes of spying the landmarks.
  • Pathfinder ob3
    #DiceRoller( 7d6 )
  • edited October 2013
    Helevand, you work your way up the regular ladder of a hoary old fir until you reach a height where the spring breeze whispers through the short, stiff needles - affording you a superb view of the landscape. You're seriously maybe ten manheights up. It all looks like brush and brambles to you, until your eye lights on a single black mark on the landscape - a vertical jot, clear against the burgeoning green, like an ink-mark on a robe. It's a dully-glinting stone that at this distance must be ten feet tall or larger! So if that's Breacheg's Heart, then the road must be there -- and the patterns of growth and wear sort of click into place, your eye tracing the remnants of the old roadbed, and even spying the fresh smears of red clay where recent feet have scrabbled through a ravine.

    And there, at the edge of vision -- is that silvery scrawl the Willowbend River? Is that - is that a tendril of smoke, tugged by the wind? Could that odd bald lump be Traveler's Hill? It must be! Can't be more than a league and a half, two leagues at the most.

    On the climb down, the map you took up with you for reference slips from your grasp - the playful breeze sweeps it up and carries it off into the treetops.
  • Thanks to Helevand's map/terrain comparison skills, you're properly oriented and you make Traveler's Hill with a couple hours of light to spare. You find yourselves on a knoll above a squalid little agricultural hamlet, or at least the remnants of one: there are, or were, six little farmsteads lining the weedy remnants of the road. Now there are two standing, one that's just walls and a couple snapped-off purlins where the roof fell in, and three burned-out husks, the fire-gnawed corner posts fanging at the leaden evening sky. The fires don't look recent - last season, maybe. Bandits? Monsters? Hard to say out here in the sticks.

    Of the two standing barn/cottage complexes, the one farthest up on the east side of the road has a steady thread of smoke coming from the smoke-hole in the eaves. The westerly survivor looks pretty vacant - the door's gone or hanging open inside, the thatch hanging in tufts, the wattle walls cracked and the whitewash peeling in scabrous chunks. Not that the easterly one looks a whole lot better! None of these farmsteads have been maintained worth dog squat - even the seemingly-occupied one. The hedgerows are weedy and ragged, the gardens overgrown with thistles and dock. But you do hear the signs of rural life - a lowing, sad-sounding ox, a bluster of chicken-squawking, a pack of dogs somewhere out in the fields, barking their fool heads off. You can smell charcoal-smoke, kitchen midden, shit, and a wet green smell from the Willowbend.

    And - of course - there's the Hill. At the east end of the occupied farmstead, out where the hedgerows that define the property bounds sort of fuzz out into random unkempt meadow-turning-forest, there's this hill, a hundred feet high if it's an inch, maybe three times that in length. The flat coppery evening sun pierces the clouds to gild the hilltop, where ditches and runnels mar the south face of the hill - the coppices at the top half torn out, a jumble of stumps at the bottom. Seeing it here on the bottom-lands, it's perfectly clear that it's no natural hill.

    So what's going on?
  • edited October 2013
    My mustaches are twitching as I take a sniff of this hovel of a settlement, but still and yet - we ought to head down and ask some questions before diving into some burial mound. Hrm. And spend this last light making shelter, or at least a decently secure campsite. Always make yer firepit before going delving, that's what I say. Ye never know what condition ye'll be in on return, if ye return at all.

    If there be no objections, I go stumping down the knoll, with a sharp eye out for man or dog.
  • Oh, I definitely agree to this plan. It sounds like it involves dinner!
  • "Perhaps we set up camp in one of those ramshackle houses? With a little work they could make for a good base of operations?"
  • Right. But first scout out the locals.
  • Well, as I say, I go stumping down the knoll with a sharp eye, and if I see no man I go calling out once near that inhabited cottage.
  • The three of you head down the hill, tramping through the bent-over stalks of winter-killed thistles and whippy little saplings swelling with leaves. The ghost of the road is somewhat more evident here, one man's use enough to at least wear a path up the hill. Far-off barking continues, ending in a ragged chorus of yelps - seriously far-off, like a quarter-mile somewhere over the shaggy fields. A flurry of crows leaps up from one of the ruined farmsteads, like flinders taking flight - their harsh jeering brings some motion from the occupied cottage. The door twitches open, revealing a glimpse of weathered face and grizzled beard, and just as quickly bumps shut. As you approach, Hr
  • Robin sniffs the wind for telltales of what this grizzled hermit eats but decides to let other talk first.
  • Helevand balks a bit. For someone to live beyond then walls of the city and grow to be that old suggests a hearty and powerful person. He speaks of his dogs which makes Helevand jumpy with fear. What sort of dogs does this man have? They must be mighty hounds.
  • Robin, your nose (as keenly attuned to culinary matters as your fingers are to the subtleties of the tumbler-lock) detects - over the odors of trash- midden, chicken-shit, sour goat, cowflop, and nightsoil - barley porridge, onions, whiskey, and venison upon the fire. The air is in fact fragrant with the smoke of deer-meat cracklings! A nice fat spring buck no doubt, fed upon fresh buds and new grass.

    Helevand, you've heard the dogs giving voice in the fields and hedges. They do sound like brutes - none of the belling of a coney-hunter, but big deep hoarse barks. Mastiffs or wolf-hounds I shouldn't doubt. And this fellow looks formidable, crazy, or both.
  • Nose to the air "Mmmm...venison -- the liver of deer fried with onions; you ken there's nothing finer! I bet I could curlytoes if ya let me loose in your kitchen..." I take a stagger forward, almost as if I'm being drawn toward the cooking fat against my will. "Have the chives popped hereabouts?"
  • "Gi' him some space, Robin. A man's kitchen is his holy own."

    I stand relaxed and steady, the earth firm beneath my feet and my crossbow easy in my gauntlets. I look up a little, into the man's eyes, peering squint-eyed back at his glare.

    "We're only travelers, Man. I am Hro
  • The mention of wine clearly catches the man's interest, and you can see his face seesawing between resentment and greed. "Wat Ryland's-son am I, dwarf, though Ryland be long in the ground. Wine's a fine thing, aye, I'll join ye fer a sip er two. Mind ya, I'm land-lord of this manor, an' the king's law sez I've leave to set fees fer use." He looks the three of you over in a more appraising fashion now, noting Hr
  • I give a knowing look to my companions that includes an exaggerated wink.
  • Perhaps his attitudes will change once applied with wine. Helevand vows not to imbibe so he can hear all this gruff oldster has to say of the area without clouding his mind with the benefits of wine.
  • edited October 2013
    I see ye, Robin, and aye, the man's clearly full o' shit. But hells, greed is healthy - a dwarf understands greed.

    "Ah, that Wat, are ye? Osbjörn Smith was talking about yerself, the other day. Said he rooked ye fair in purchasing a bit o' ... o' bronze or some such. Goes to what they say, eh? Ye cannae trust a Scylding."

    I shake my head in sympathy.

    "Ye come to me and my lady Wealhþeow next time ye make yer way to Skogenby. As a wise man, ye know ye can trust a dwarf in matters of craft or appraisal. Ah, but now ye ask the business of myself and these lads. Well. As it happens, we heard tales of bandits and wolves here north o' the king's tax, and we thought we might root around a little, and see if we could earn a piece o' the duke's bounties."
  • edited October 2013
    The old peasant has this moment of utter astonishment - This dwarf has heard of me? - followed by a flash of rage and shame - This dwarf has heard that I'm a SUCKER?! - but for whatever credit the act deserves, he swallows his pride. "Ahem, well. Ye speak fairly. Set yerselves to where ye will, and I'll be along afore sun-gone, fer a cup an' a jaw-wag - bringin' that buck's liver ye spake of, Master Smallfolk, with a spring onion-top er three." He grounds the shillelagh and gives a head-jerk that could be charitably interpreted as a nod.
  • edited October 2013
    "Aye, and we thank ye for yer generosity, master Wat. Don't we, lads?"

    I offer a gruff nod of that sort as is close as a dwarf gets to bowing, and - after a moment - turn and stump off, aiming to give the structures a look over. While we be in no desperate circumstance, I want to settle our camp before we go nosing about the hill and countryside. Always have a ready camp to fall back to, that's what I say.

    To you others, Robin and Helevand: "Let's three have a look-see, eh? What looks likely to ye?"

    There be that westerly hovel what still has summat of a roof, so we'll take a look and see how like the place is to collapse down on us. If I make it as unstable, I'm full willing to settle us into the collapsed building over there, and craft a bit of my own roof. Hells, I'd trust it the better, if 'twere the work o' me own hands.

    Of course I share these thoughts with you lads, in long and rambling discourse.
  • I'm keeping up with Hr
  • Maybe Helevand can scavenge up some decent looking planks of wood. (Helping die?)
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