Dragon Age - The Wandering Blades

Return to Cumberland

The Siren’s Call pulls free of the docks and carries you away from Ferelden, leaving Denerim burning at your back. You have no idea what the fall of Denerim might mean for Ferelden or Thedas on the whole, but for now you are simply happy to be alive.

The people you have rescued and Captain Isabella’s make-shift crew fall into a routine over the next few days, the sailors keeping the ship safe and steering it along its course, and the villagers from Denerim being of what use they can cleaning and cooking. Oranus spends his days about the ship drinking away the supplies of liquor aboard ship.

Those of you who are so inclined help out where you can, but there is palpable tension within the group. Izzar’s sudden disappearance during the heat of battle has left some of the group wounded, Sifred in particular. Aedan spends much of the trip close-by his sister and mother, keeping a watchful eye on them. Despite the tension, the days go on without incident.

After a number of days Aedan receives a message from a weak and sickly seeming Raith, warning him that travel to Kirkwall would be unwise. He tells Aedan that you should make for Cumberland if possible and that he will meet you there at an inn called “The Inkwell”. Raith also informs you that you have been missing for three months. Aedan gathers your group soon after and informs you of what he has learned and you decide to bring the information to Isabella. Reluctantly Isabella agrees to bring you to Cumberland and orders the course change.

It takes another fortnight or so but when you awake one morning to see the city of Cumberland on the horizon you find yourself elated with the prospect of setting foot on solid ground once more. Thorog seems particularly excited and spends the morning standing at the prow of the ship with a happy doggy grin on his face and his tongue flapping in the wind.

Siren’s Call moors at the docks by the afternoon and you step onto a bustling promenade filled with traders, sailors, whores, travelers, refugees and all manner of people. Sifred takes her leave of the group, saying she will catch up with them, and goes to check for any word of her father’s ship, Eavren’s Run. The rest of the party goes about inquiring after homes for their loved ones, or seeking information on the current goings on.

That evening your group meets up at The Inkwell tavern and are greeted by the owner and proprietor, a dwarf named Grimm. He tells you to have a seat, and that Raith should be in in the evening, as he has been for the last few evenings. As the Inkwell begins to fill up, Raith enters with a young woman. He appears to be either wounded or sick: he leans heavily on his staff and holds the girls arm for extra support, and he is not wearing the armour you are accustomed to seeing on him. The girl has dark hair and wears robes of the Circle. Raith introduces her as Bethany.

Raith greets you warmly and begins to fill you in on what has been happening:

After you entered the Eyras family home he presumed you missing or killed. The Starkhaven guards however thought that you had fled the city and now think you murderers. The person or thing that has been tearing out the throats of people attacked Raith in the tower, but he managed to survive. However there is some kind of sickness spreading through Starkhaven and Raith believes that this man who attacked him is the perpetrator. He also fears that the sickness has come to Cumberland.

Finally Raith informs you of the most pressing reason for the meeting: he has found Sifred’s brother Hjeldric. He is being held captive at the Aenor, a mage prison.

Raith says that he has a plan, one that he himself considers a bad idea: You are to go to the Aenor disguised as a delegation from the Circle in Cumberland. Once inside you can find Hjeldric and make your escape.

After thinking this through for a while, you agree. Raith tells you that Grimm will put your families up in the tavern for now, and they can even work there if they wish. He also says he has prepared the armour and robes you will need to complete the ruse, as well as an abridged dossier on rules and practices. Unfortunately, you will have to leave Thorog behind.

You decide to take a few days to rest and prepare. Raith tells you your ship will be waiting in the docks. Its name? Mercy.

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Part 4 - The Bandit Camp

You leave the sight of the attempted bandit ambush even more on edge than you were before. You’re very aware that one of the bandits escaped and may now be fleeing towards his brothers to warn them of your attack. You can’t help but wonder is the element of surprise lost?

You try to clear your head and continue along the path as shown on the map Trewin gave you. It takes less than an hour before you find your way to the logging encampment and to yet another gruesome scene: the loggers who left Logerswold to try to get back to work have been slain to a man, some even being tortured and crucified.

Warily you move into the camp and seek out any survivors or clues as to where the bandits fled to. You move through the camp and it is clear that the bandits fell on the loggers swiftly from all sides. All the bodies of those are loggers and the tracks leading away from the camp head off in numerous directions. You search for over two hours, Sifred following tracks into the woods and being forced to be double back again and again. Seemingly you have lost the bandits trail, and from scouting the area you see no sign of the stream your captor mentioned.

As it seems that you are at a dead end Sifred spies a white shape move down one of the trails. She warily moves towards it to get a closer look: a white Mabari stands at the end of the trail. It barks and darts into the woods. You scramble to follow it, all the while wondering just why Bann Trumhall’s mabari is out in the woods with you.

The mabari leads you along a winding a trail for more than half an hour before the dog disappears. Stopping to catch your breath you hear the rushing of water. Following the sound you come across a stream, presumably the one mentioned by the bandit you caught. You follow the stream, your feet splashing through the water despite your best efforts. After more than an hour you finally see it: a plume of smoke rising above the trees. You exit the stream and slip through the trees.

You’ve found it. The bandit camp lies ahead of you, hidden in a hollow and surrounded by tall trees. Izzar and Tobbin move quietly through the woods and scout out the camp. They return within half an hour and inform you of their findings and the numbers in the camp. You begin to devise a plan:

Tobbin and Sifred will sneak up on the sentries watching from the trees and take their position to hail arrows down on the camp below. While they position themselves there Izzar will sneak around to the far side of the camp, setting fire to the stables and freeing the horses, then trying to sneak into the Gore-Hands tent and finish him quietly. With Izzar in place Ser Garlyn and Sithig will stride into the open, across from the camp and challenge the bandits hoping to distract them. Your plan is in place. It is a good solid plan. You need now only wait for the cover of night.

With still two hours until sunset the sound of hooves draws your attention: A rider gallops into camp. Are you compromised? Do the bandits know you’re lying in wait?

No. That is not it at all.

The rider gallops into the camp calling out to his brothers and chuckling vindictively. Strung to the back of his horse is Dealia. She is flung to the ground and the bandits encircle her chuckling and jostling each other. This can only end one way.

Tobbin’s eyes go wide and he near charges in to the camp. The rest of you manage to comvinve him not to, but none of you can bring yourselves to wait and let this happen. Ahead of your planned time you all move into position and get ready to strike. You’re outnumbered 3 to 1 but there is no other choice.

You strike.

Sifred and Tobbin take out their targets in the trees. Not as stealthily as you would’ve preferred but it’s done. In a rage Tobbin throws his assailant down into the camp. Izzar quickly sets the stables aflame, looses the horses and slips away. Seeing this Garlyn and Sithig leap to the fore and try to challenge the men.

The camp erupts into chaos. Your plan has worked for the most part and the bandits are confused and scattered. You quickly thin their numbers but the Gore-Hand (complete with a wicked looking gauntlet with a huge spike) manages to rally his men. Izzar falls by to the Gore-Hands vicious assault, bleeding out. Sithig too is nearly felled. Garlyn would have been slain had it not been for a wild-eyed Dealia flinging herself at the man and frantically screaming as she stabbed the man over and over in the face.

The battle is crazed and bloody and things look bad. In the space of only a few seconds however, you turn the tide. Izzar is back in the fray, Garlyntoo is up. Sithig and Tobbin dispatch some of the remaining bandits but it is Sifred who finishes the Gore-Hand.

With a hacking gurgle the bandit leader slumps to the ground.

You stand in the aftermath of the battle trying to piece together what has just happened. You’ve done it. You’ve freed Logerswold of their plight and felled a menace to Ferelden. Now you can take your spoils.

You find a number of trinkets and treasures within the camp. Izzar however finds the most interesting piece of loot: Hidden in a trunk in Gore-Hand’s tent is a ledger detailing attacks, loot taken and most shocking of all letters from Bann Trumhall issuing orders to the Gore-Hand who to attack and how to destabilise Logerswold.

Izzar for now keeps this to himself. He has a hefty decision to make and the future of the Ruswold Valley depends on it…

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Part 3 - Into The Forest

You stand bleary-eyed within the decimation left by Ralath’s final act: blood and gore surround you, and the wagons themselves are stained red.

As Sifred, Izzarand Tobbin stand trying to order their thoughts Ser Garlyn finally catches up. The grizzly scene does nothing for his already sick stomach but with nothing left to vomit up he drops to his knees dry heaving and unable to speak.

After a few long moments you all manage to compose yourselves and begin to investigate the scene: You find much of the supplies within the wagons still present. However it seems the bandits meant to send a message and there is a very obvious stench of urine coming from the remaining supplies. Among the wreckage of the wagons you also find the body of one of the men who had asked you to accompany them to see Bann Krole. You are left to wonder had you done so could you have prevented this tragedy.

Tobbin heads up to check and see if he can find any sign of where the bandits may have fled to but instead is lead (by the sound of laboured wheezing and groaning) to a survivor. A very large man, seemingly an Avvarian Hillsemen, is bound and half-crucified against a tree. Another message the bandits meant to send but this one was left unfinished.

You free the man and though his wounds are numerous he appears as if he will live. He introduces himself as Sithig Ar Muire O Redhold. Having done all you can at the sight of the attack you return to Logerswold to gather yourselves and rest up before you head into the heart of the Brecilian to begin your hunt in ernest.

The next morning you wake at sun-up and the propriator of the inn has prepared supplies for you. As you get ready to head out Tobbin is approached by Dealia. The girl pleads with him to let her come with you but Tobbin insists she stay explaining that she would be in grave danger and he would feel responsible for her. Grundgingly the girl agrees and you set out.

You travel for hours through the Brecilian, following the map that Trewin provided and snaking your way along winding trails. The canopy above is thick and it is obvious to you how easy it must be for the bandits to remain hidden in such an imposing landscape. You feel eyes on you as you trek through the forest but your watcher, if there is one, always seems to be just outside your range of vision.

You come to an opening in the path: A ravine stretches below you to your right more than twenty feet, and an almost sheer rock face extending up just over ten feet to your left. The tension builds as you feel more eyes on you. Just as it is too late Izzar spots an ambush above at the edge of the treeline. As you turn to defend yourself from the half-dozen bowmen another four bandits charge at you from around the corner, blocking any escape. Battle ensues but you have learned quickly from your last encounter with these men and you split the party to attack each front: Ser Garlyn, Sifredand Tobbin scale the rock face as quickly as possible to attack the archers while Izzar and Sithig attack the bandit skirmishers.

Battle is frantic with people being knocked off the road down to the ravine below and knocked from the archers position back down to the road. You fight hard and for the most part are smart in your tactics and it pays off. Even out-numbered two to one you manage to defeat the bandits. The remaining three try to flee but one is caught in the back by Ser Garlyn’s axe. Another is caught by Sithig and has his face smashed into the rock wall for good measure. Unfortunately the last bandit flees, despite your best efforts.

It is now time for answer. Unfortunately Sithig‘s extreme negotiating tactics of breaking the bandits leg fails. In frustration Sithig ends the man’s life and you are none the wiser. Miraculously the remaining bandit (with the axe in his back) is still alive. Thanks to some more civilised negotiating from Izzar and Sifred you glean some information from the man: “Follow the stream”. With the information you need, the man is of no more use to you and Izzar opens his throat.

Now you need only find the logger’s camp and you will be one step closer to finding your prey.

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Part 2 - The Village of Logerswold

You depart Bann Trumhall’s camp and head out for Logerswold to seek clues as to the whereabouts of Waldric Gore-Hand and his bandits.

Along the road you are met by two men, decalring themselves heralds of Bann Krole. They inform you that Bann Krole seeks an audience with you and offer to lead you to his manor. You respectfully decline but they insist. You then decline with weapons drawn and the men take the hint.

After this it takes you less than an hour to reach the village of Logerswold. Your mage Ralath seeks out the local chantry to declare his presence in Logerswold while the rest of you head for the local inn: The Sign of the Spreading Tree. Here you meet the bar owner Liwis who appears delighted to see you and thrilled with the prospect of you clearing the region of the bandit plight. He speaks to you briefly before going about his work. Whilst this is going on Tobbin finds some company with the waitress Dealia and she spends her lunch hour locked away with him.

With Tobbin occupied the rest of your group goes to meet with the head of the logging industy in Logerswold, Trewin. By all accounts the man is a kind and caring man with a sharp mind for business affairs. With the inability of his men to work he has opened his premises to those from the surrounding countryside who would seek refuge within the bounderies of Logerswold’s meager walls. As well as this he also pleaded with his men not to return to their work, but they headed out to the forest of their own accord. He asks you to find out what you can and offers a hand sketched map detailing the typical trails and routes his men use to get to and from the logging encampement.

Having found out much within Logerswold you head back to th inn where you can all regroup (Tobbin with a broad smirk on his face). As you discuss your plans, the door bursts open and the stablehand Ridyk bellows that the wagons are under attack.

You run from the inn and head back to the crossroads as quick as possibleSer Garlyn duRoi falls behind, seemingly having come down with food poisioning from the stew at Camp Trumhall. As Ser Garlyn lags behind, Sifred sprints ahead and is the first on the scene.

You find the two caravans peppered with arrows and with the last surviving horse screaming in pain. Sifred puts the horse out of it’s misery, but just as the rest of you catch up a hail of arrows descends upon you. A frantic battle ensues with no less than eight bandits assaulting you from the treeline. You do your best to take cover behind the toppled wagons but things look grim. Ralath falls once only to be aided by Izzar, before you all gather for a charge at the left flank. As everyone save Ralath charges the bandits on one flank, the mage is left on his own. Unholy accuracy from the bandits see Ralath fall again, this time with no aid in sight. A single bandit strides forward to the lone mage, a wicked grin on his face. Breathing heavily and struglling to move, Ralath does the only thing he can: he casts one last spell on himself. At his death, his own body explodes from the inside in a wave of magical energy coating the surrounding area in sickly red, sending the caravans careening away and slaying the bandit that meant to have Ralath’s head.

The rest of you, Tobbin, Sifred and Izzar return to the horrifying sight of your ally’s innards scattered across twenty feet of land with entrails hanging from the trees.

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Part 1 - Charged With the Task

You’ve been traveling together across open Fereldan countryside for some days. You’ve heard news that the bann who protects the Ruswold Valley needs keen eyes and strong swords to deal with some threat that has emerged from Brecilian Forest of late. You’ve just entered the Ruswold proper, but it seems clear that you will not arrive in the local village tonight no matter how hard you press on, so you’ve stopped to make camp on a hillock next to the main road.

You set out your camp and are ready to turn in when you are greeted with 3 guests to your camp. Things escalate and as a matter of honour one of the men challenges Tobbin to a duel. The returning Izzar with the fresh corpse of a tiny rabbit still in his hands returns the challenge to the man.

A wild and crazed swing from Tobbin ends the duel at it’s first hit. Izzar is not as lucky in his duel: the two face off briefly but Izzar is nicked painfully on the side of the thigh and the duel is over. An apology is given and the three men set off on their way.

The next day you encounter 5 heavily armed mounted warriors on the road to Logerswold. After declaring yourself ‘missionaries’ the commander of the group, not being a fool, deduces your purpose: You’re here to aid the Bann in his battle with the bandits. With this cleared up the man, introducing himself as Ulrich, leads you to Bann Trumhall’s camp.

There you meet Bann Trumhall and his companion: A smokey white Mabari by the name of Blacktail. After introductions and drinks are offered Trumhall tells you of the troubles in the area: The nefarious bandit Waldric Gore-Hand is the leader of the bandits that plague the Ruswold. Trumhall is stretched to his limit and cannot afford to send his men out into the woods. This is where you come in. Trumhall cannot offer much in the way of payment, but you are welcome to the loot you find on the bandits and within their camp. With a little bargaining you are promised Bann Trumhall will “do what he can” to procure riding horses for your party.

With the deal made you set off for Logerswold to seek information and supplies before beginning your hunt.

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