Order of the Spear

A Serious Undermining
...or Just Probing the Defenses?

Voices carried through the trees to Denn’s alert ears as he scouted ahead of the exhausted team. Adrenaline fumes carried the young Sgt., the sense of duty ran strong within this group. Trudging along the King’s Road toward Pitchfork, these few had seen more than their share of combat and sleepless nights in the past handful of days. Thoughts of the innocent women in their charge pushed him forward to discover the source of the noise.

He parted the foliage carefully and spied upon the conclusion of an apparent duel between a young noble in the livery of Viscounty Norwell and that of the team’s commander, Sir Brendan. Visc gavyn norwell The knight lay still on the cobbled road and the noble stood above him with a bloodied sword. The noble retinue stood in a half circle around a beautiful young woman on a horse. A noose around her neck. Viscountess corvina

Denn had seen enough to report back – and it wasn’t good news. The team came up the road as quickly as possible, Osweald on the left flank and Tannis on the right off in the trees. All they saw was the backs of the party riding off in a cloud of dust and the woman swinging from a tree.

She was soon cut down and after a few moments explained the events that had led to her being hanged. While at the lodge, Brendan had made a pass at her and was politely refused. The Viscount interpreted the events differently and accused her of adultery. He subsequently had Brendan’s men killed and arrested the knight to put him on trial in his own court. Upon arrival to Pitchfork, his men convinced him that he should duel the knight and save the trouble of a trial. Linfors quickly forgot all thoughts of Holly waiting patiently for him back in Ralspur when faced with this woman’s beauty.

The long walk to Hanlowell was eased by a merchant with one empty wagon who politely offered to carry them to the capital city. Tannis rightly guessed the offer was not only polite, but wise, in that Mallory the Merchant would have the Watch to help protect his journey. Count Symon was given the pertinent details and the team was introduced to the commanding officer of the Order of the Trident where their commissions were unfortunately being transferred. The team rested and accepted their orders to move to the town of Manzallore where they were put in charge of squads of their own. Denn quickly named his team, Sparrow’s Arrows, but the others were still pondering when after two short weeks a scout arrived to the command tent upon a foaming horse. Cohen, recognizing that the animal was almost blown, began to soothe it and healed the damage to its lungs before the beast could perish from exhaustion.

Nobel salamander

Runners ran from the tent carrying orders and the drums began to pound out a formation rhythm. The Trident marched a double-time north to the Wall where a tunnel was discovered which had apparently been melted through the rock underneath. Monsters were milling about on this side of the Wall. (Later, the team was to learn those tough lizards were called Flametongues. They are a favored pet of Salamanders used as pawns in battle.)

The team was given the responsibility of defending the right flank of the Trident and the melee ensued. Navigating the old ruins, the heroes led their squads forward to dispatch their hostiles, which included a very large Salamander, early thereby allowing the heroes to roll the enemy’s left flank and secure a decisive victory for the Trident.

Each member of the team was recognized for valor and bravery upon the field and the Captain awarded the heroes the Iron Trident – the highest honor in the Order. He told them over a dinner held in their honor, in full dress uniform, that he’d love to keep them, but that their skills were now demanded elsewhere. The team was told to expect orders to marry up with the Order of the Sword further east.

The Return Road
...or no rest for the weary!

Arrows flew from the windows of the store. Slowly, the team whittled the beasts down. Linfors discovered that striking a flying rodent with his runestone was just as effective as an arrow. Eventually, the wolves lay dead in the small square and the rats slowly dissipated and vanished.

While reverently moving the corpses of townsfolk and pronouncing their last rites, Cohen was hailed by a man wearing a cloak of the Watch. He and Denn were suspicious and sent Charlie after the others. Linfors interrogated the young man and determined that he was who he said and that he was from a town not far from Wyglen, Linfors’ home.

Rituals completed and store secured, the survivors and the Watch set off down the King’s Road to rendezvous with the knight at Pitchfork. The march was difficult and slow. They were forced to rest about midnight and formed a ring with their runestones to ward off the fae and protect the women.

A distant howl attracted their attention and caused the women to fret. The unnatural noise grew in volume until it was almost unbearable and then ceased suddenly. Which was when the enormous reptilian head floated around the last bend in the road. Ghostlike vapors drifted upward to a quickly solidifying body. Mist dragon

When it spied the group, it formed arms with long, terrible claws and came directly at them. It took all of Osweald’s training to not break the ring of stones protecting the small band from the fearful sight of the magical beast, but he resisted the urge to charge.
The breath of the newly formed dragon enveloped the circle of runestones and was repulsed initially. But the vaporous fire was more than the protection could handle and the stones burst. The flames came rushing toward them. Their shield gone, the team burst out of formation figuring if they were to die this night they would go down fighting. Cohen called upon Allyxann for healing and kept the team alive in the face of the mistdragon. Feats of heroism abound as the men of the Watch threw everything they had into the fight, but the damage of the monster would eventually expend all their efforts at healing.

Recognizing the doom of the team, Linfors began to draw upon the fae in ever increasing amounts. Risking himself and his comrades, he pulled in so much of the magical mist that he began to rise off the ground and his eyes glowed with a bluish hue. He dropped his sword and slammed both hands onto the dragons head. The beast shook for a moment as power transferred and the fiery explosion that followed was massive. Tannis and Denn managed to throw themselves free of the blast, but the others suffered the flames. Linfors fell back to the earth momentarily incoherent and covered from head to toe in wispy blue vein-like webbing. Within a thirty foot perimeter surrounding the battle site, the very trees were uprooted, splintered, and pushed back away from the center.

The webbing soon faded from his skin until all that remained was the first spot that curled up his wrist and forearm. He came to a few moments later and seemed fine. The team, their prisoner, and the women had all survived the ordeal. The remainder of the night passed uneventfully and they began down the King’s road once again.

Not long after, a lone figure stood in the road up ahead.
Femaleadept3 She offered the squad an exchange – their prisoner for a mother and her child. Tannis grew tired of the negotiations and stuck her with an arrow from the back of their column, thereby initiating combat. She promptly disappeared without a trace. Arrows began firing from the right of the road and fighting erupted in the rear of the column as well. Once again the team distinguished themselves in combat and all were felled but the woman who had reappeared briefly, but had vanished once again. The mother and her child were saved with a well-timed healing potion.

The team packed up once again and with the new victims in tow continued on their way to the rendezvous point. Just past midday the 4th squad and their fellow Watch member, Tannis, from the 7th Wall squad, were only a few hundred feet down the road from Pitchfork when voices could be heard in the distance…

Planning for all contingencies

LegoknightsThe Watch gathers bows and arrows in preparation to make a stand from within the unexpectedly well built General Store. As the 4th Squad takes up positions to fire from the windows of fortified shop, the veterans begin working through a plan to escape from the building and return to Pitchfork.
The discussion brings up some issues to be worked out: the few remaining survivors, the prisoners, their apparent lack of horses, large flying rats, wolves, enemy combatants, as well as meeting the rendezvous deadline in a day and a half. At a swift, steady walk it is possible to make that distance within the time frame, but not likely with the women in such condition. No doubt it will be a challenge to cross the distance while protecting the women and watching the prisoners too.
What is the result of the Watch’s discussion?

In the Light of the Day
or when things went bump in the night

The morning meal, checking the manacles, tending wounds, inventorying equipment, and opening the door upon a world owned by the Fae. The carnage that was left in the streets after the long battle has attracted some attention.

The sight of a badly mauled horse’s head lying on the ground still tethered to the hitching post coupled with the smell of death are the first to assail the senses. The insects are bad enough, but the wolves are another story. Still hungry from a long winter, they have come in plenty for such a bounteous feast.

In addition to the natural and expected, there are a number of ravenous looking winged rodents the size of large dogs feasting upon the remains. Each appears to be taking turns when enough wolves or rats arrive to imbalance the numbers.

Morning and Mourning
What's next?

The rays of the morning sun come through the high windows of the general store early the next morning. The brief rest feels starkly insufficient to tired, battered bodies. Armor makes for lousy bedsheets and weapons a hard pillow. The Fae did its best to prevent sleep. It provided a long series of howls, screams, moans, noises and knockings as serenades to the young heroes.

Charlie and Reon bring steaming bowls of oats and thick, spiced bacon. She offers her place for as long as the Watch needs. She is sad, but attempting to make the best of things.

The squad’s healer slept soundly through the night and stirs with the smell of breakfast.

Last night he wasn’t doing so well, anxious and worried, but today he appears somehow sturdier. His armor and equipment is straight and he seems determined to be helpful rather than a burden. Perhaps a little older, the youthful look of the boy they’d found under the houses of Manzallore fades with each battle, each death, each civilian grieving. Slowly the boyish look is being replaced with one more resolute and hardened.

Over the morning meal, Charlie mentions the dirk taken from the leader, “I’ve seen that knife before, I think. Looks familiar, doesn’t it?”

The Vale of Veritas
The truth shall set you free

Once encamped at Pitchfork, where the road divided, Sir Brendan informed the 4th squad they’d be going East to investigate attacks on 2 small hamlets, while the knight would ride North to a fancy hunting lodge to inquire there.

The Squad wasn’t sad to see Sir Brendan, his captain, and his two squires go. The departure left the original three members, their new recruit, Denn, and Charlie to cook and clean up after only themselves now.

Without much traffic on the roads yet, the travel was easy. At midday, the squad stopped for lunch.

While munching and answering Charlie’s questions about the Watch, an unexplained force pulled Linfors to the ground. The others were pulled in varying degrees. Denn figured out first that if he unbuckled his sword, he could then move about. The metal in their equipment was being pulled magnetically somehow. After about ten minutes or so the strange force relented. Cohen searched his travel version of the tome he’d discovered previously for clues. What he discovered was that strange signs and portents indicate the coming of the celebration of the Underworld. A time when the power that holds fast the gates to Woldenock is absent and the dead are free to walk the land for a time. Notating quickly the events in his book, Cohen and the others remounted to continue to the Vale of Veritas.

The hamlet seemed abandoned and somewhat eerie when the squad rode entered. Young children played in the open center. Three men sat miserably in a set of hastily constructed stocks beside an auctioneer’s platform. The general store held the hamlet’s Princep (meaning first among equals), a shorter, heavyset middle-aged, well-spoken man named Andoran. He happily supplied the information the Watch members needed, until they asked for his opinion. He and his wife became nervous and were reluctant to divulge their suspicions for fear of incurring the ire of the Watch and the nobility.

Andoran’s theory centered around a famous bootmaker’s trademark. Such bootprints were left at one of the burned-out homes outside of town. These particular boots were expensive and therefore uncommon, almost exclusively sold to the noble and wealthy. The team then understood his trepidation and Linfors assured him that he was not committing treason by sharing his suspicions by sharing an anecdotal saying from his father, with which he is known to season all conversations.

Interviewing the men in the stocks provided little. However, searching them offered much more. Denn discovered that although their boots were unremarkable in make, the tops and shafts were chafed in the distinctive wear of chainmail. Osweald pulled paper and charcoal sketchings from one. At first the man appeared to be a nature-lover, what with the sketched trees and foliage. But, after a moment it became apparent that a house was present in each. It turned out to be the same house in each of the renderings – all from different points of view.

The team interviewed the blacksmith and gleaned more evidence against the three in the stocks. An altercation had apparently ensued after the smith inquired about some unusual additions to some tack. The squad deducted that the tack was for hanging barding on a horse. This was hardly the equipment of common trappers.

Tracking the bootprints of the men was difficult, but not beyond the abilities of the two rangers. The men had apparently taken precautions to hide their course to town. At the end of the tracks were the horses and equipment hidden behind a stand of trees and brush. The tack was all laid out according Watch protocol and training.
The rangers noticed a glint of sunlight reflected, most likely, from a spyglass off the east and up the side of a large ridgeline. Moments later, splashes of firelight could be seen through the sparse canopy in the direction of town. The four wondered over the possibility of catching up to the watcher with the last of the daylight waning in the western sky. When the scream pierced the evening stillness, the decision had been made for them. They would return to town posthaste.

The grisly scene opened before them as they burst onto the town. In the center of Veritas was an armored man standing upon the auction block cutting Andoran’s throat and pronouncing judgment upon the town. The squad went into action taking down these interlopers one by one. The team methodically worked through the opponents’ superior numbers. The fighting was brutal and difficult, but the Watch fought on. Though the team was sorely pressed, there was still hope. That changed when Cohen collapsed on the block while fighting the leader and, surprisingly enough, another cleric, the squad really began to worry. Soon it boiled down to only the leader and his armored dog remaining. When he realized he would not survive, he sent his dog out of the fight. The Watch took him down.

Cohen’s wounds were tended and it was determined he would survive. The rest of the town was not so lucky. The men were dead in the streets. The women had either been raped or murdered or both. The blacksmith’s shop was burned to the ground. Charlie and Reon stumbled from the backroom of the General Store after the fighting was over. The young Watch initiate was no longer as eager as he had been.

The following was collected in the wee hours of the morning:
4 suits of chainmail
3 spears
5 shields
1 suit of leather armor
1 short sword
1 MW set of lockpicks
1 double-sided waraxe
1 breastplate
1 set of leather and plate combination armor
1 longsword
6 potions of healing
1 mace
1 holy symbol
1 fancy breastplate
1 MW broadsword
1 MW dirk with etched scrollwork
1 keyring with 2 keys (1 small key, 1 large)
2 sets of manacles
21 Drabs
18 Bits
59 Commons
2 Nobles
1 Lucky (the likeness of whomever graced this coin has long since worn to unrecognizable)

Trading Dust for Mud
The 4th Squad rides again...

The winter was extreme even by old timers’ reckoning. Everyone battened down the hatches and waited out the cold brutality. There were reports of yetis and all types of wolves, but no one appears to have gone missing around Hanlowell. And, although highly unusual yet harmless, there were four days in a row at midwinter when the sun remained in the sky illuminating what should have been night.

Unfortunately, word arrives at the first thaw that the northern town of Ralspur was attacked, but did survive some Yeti attacks. Other news from the capital is that the sages are convinced of the coming of Mortelum, a celebration of Woldenock (the Underworld).

Late in the fall of last year, due to the failing health of King Gundrick, Prince Nyrrgall ordered conscripted troops sent to shore up the gate between the town of LeFleur and the abandoned city of the dead. The news that came to Hanlowell was that Nyrrgall himself had diplomatically calmed the hostile situation and now the kingdom would begin trade relations with its new ally Queen Ma’thera and her consort Onne, the city of the dead has seemingly quieted.

Since the transfer of the 4th Squad to Hanlowell, life has been pretty easy. Oh sure, there was the clean up of the Market District and the occasional hunting trip, but the team had mostly been comfortably bored. Lord Symon took very good care of his personal bodyguards he’d named the Fist, but when the news of frequent border wars came, it also required more experienced soldiers. The 4th Squad had been called up again. Their new orders were to marry up with the Order of the Trident at a wall-town Northeast of Hanlowell called Manzallore.

However, Symon succeeded in a short postponement of those orders in light of a ‘special mission’ to accompany Sir Brendan. The members of the squad, plus or minus a few, and Charlie the orphan turned Watch-in-training and mascot to the heroes, await the knight in the courtyard of the county seat.

When Sir Brendan finally arrives in his finest armor and a new yellow cape he mounts up in a foppish version of a knightly flourish, cape swirling and armor rattling, a stern and determined countenance. And the procession rumbles out of the courtyard and down the cobbled slope to the base of the hill and the cobbles give way to dirt road – which after winter is, you guessed it, mud.

Once beyond the crowds and ceremony, the knight turns to 4th squad and offers a brief synopsis of the mission…

“This mission is an effort to gather intel about the rise in both frequency and intensity of border skirmishes northeast of Hanlowell. Several barons, Nraddoc and Uuht, under the count claim a grievance against two neighboring baronies, Brune and Florryn, and a viscounty, Weltiers, who they claim are raiding into their towns and farms.”


He adjusts his fancy new armor and swats at a fly, giving the squad a chance to consider their orders. Then he appears to be lost in thought saying nothing further.

The column travels the King’s Road for most of the day, stopping at midday for a meal then resuming at a leisurely pace. Shortly after lunch the sparse trees become more frequent and a thin forest replaces the flat open slow rise and fall of the plains of Hanlowell. Late afternoon the convoy arrives at a wide spot and fork in the road. The road sign points left to Kingshaven and right to Norwell.

At the evening meal, Sir Brendan informs you that he and his retinue will take the Kingshaven road northeast to gather information from that area while the 4th squad will continue east to Viscounty Norwell. You will have 4 days to recon and meet up for the return to Hanlowell.

Maybe this city isn't worth the effort...

It seemed like a government building of some sort, and older than the ruins around it. Linfors’ search for a trapdoor of some sort led to the concealed portal, which Cohen determined to be limned in magic. The subterranean room beneath was almost bare, aside from a few tables & shelves, holding a small collection of what looked liked scalpels and other medical, or torture, implements. While the rest of the squad looked for anything of interest in the entry chamber, Linfors explored the secondary hall, which turned out to be a cell block, of six small cells, each holding at least one occupant – several obviously undead, and one, while not, clearly abnormal – how often does one find a perfectly healthy-looking young man, covered in dust, in antiquated clothes, standing cross-armed in a prison cell under the ruin of a building in a city inhabited by wights and left abandoned by man for centuries? Right. Not often.


Cohen’s reaction to the man made it clear that he was evil and powerful, and well above 4th Squad’s pay grade – best to leave him in his cell. Wishing to stick it to the undead, man, however, Cohen called upon the Uberfather to consecrate the area, and in so doing not only roused the jailed undead – to little effect, since their bars held – but suddenly brought into view a roomful of spirits, turned corporeal, and clearly unhappy about being blasted with the breath of the Uberfather.

The fight that ensued was hardly epic in nature, as the skills and teamwork ability of 4th Squad is beyond reproach, known across the land, and pretty much on the next level already. The spirits – two rooms full! – fought back, but were swiftly dispatched.

The team climbed out of the basement, closed the door, and covered it in dirt and debris. It was best to leave it alone, then agreed.

Back at the Netherwylde depot, the team found near disarray, as the company of regular troops and Watch augmentees were, pretty much, wandering around stupidly. After a dressing-down and detailed reworking of the duty roster and rotation, 4th Squad go to sleep, only to be woken up hours later by the sounds of a fight, below in the tunnels. Rushing to the scene, they found two soldiers fighting, and one stumbling around stupidly. The corporals on duty? Phoning it in. The few sergeants? Nowhere to be found. One of the combatants? Not one of the soldiers or Watch members. After a swift interrogation, the truth was uncovered: they’d been infiltrated from the other side of the gate, from Flar. The queen, it would seem, had changed her mind, or had only orchestrated a ruse to trick them as to her real intentions and timeline. At least several enemies had made it through the gate – now blocked with rope, boxes, and enriched wheat flour – while the morons in uniforms sat, blindly, ignoring their duties.

What now?

Planning our next move

Over a meal, Linfors starts the conversation, again, about what to do next.

“It seems that our troops will be encamped in this city for some period of time, and that a permanent presence here is needed. Our new dwarven allies are also going to be around here for a bit, too.


“I think we ought to clear this city. We have two locations here that need either guarding or are worth guarding – the entrance to the Darklands, and the Netherwylde gate. And who knows what else of value is around here? Sure, it’s a tumbledown ruin in most places, but it has streets, foundations, and other things on which a proper city could be built. I think it has potential.

“Cohen’s correct that the undead here will likely be a big challenge for us; maybe too big. But do we know how many there are? Do we know their source of power? Do they have any weaknesses we can exploit? Every force has its strengths and weaknesses. If we approach this like we would dealing with any other enemy, I think we’ll keep our heads clear. Being dead gives them some advantages, it seems. And I’m sure it also presents problems for them, too. Let’s not let that…feature…of them cloud our judgment.

“Anyway, we’re here, now, and there is a clear case for securing this place.”

DM: have there been undead or other attacks on the Aynemeren forces while we’ve all been here, whether we were present in the city or not? How about the dwarves? How does Firestone feel about the Darklands, and undead? Have there been sightings? We need info on this place and those creeps.

Onward and Upward...

It seems that the new allies, Count Symon and Yarl Mandrake, make Queen Astrynna change her mind. After a few probes of the forces on the other side of the portal, she attempts to parley. When this fails, she apparently opts for a change in order of list of kingdoms to subjugate.

Yarl Mandrake of Firestone returns home with the promise of alliance, the 4th squad are again heroes, and the return home to Hanlowell is slowed only by a pitstop in Ralspur for more celebrating. Count Symon promotes the squad into the regular army, yet still retains their services for his personal guard- as is his right. It won’t be long until the rest of the army takes notice and calls them into service. But what trouble can our heroic quartet get into before such a time?


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