I was terribly unlucky in my choice of starting location, drawing chip #6, and being stuck in a center seat in the spot no one wanted. This was across from the Heritor Griffin and his Wave Warden, Ashalla. Griffin has developed quite a reputation around the Archipelago for his rock hurling abilities, which have made him the bane of many a Heritor. To my front left was Skorri Drakenberg, and his Beast Warden, Agger. Directly to my left was the Heritor Molly Malone, and her Storm Warden, Niskaru. Diagonally to my my front right was the new player who was using the borrowed warband of Lady Katherine of House Coldvaugn, and her Storm Warden Sigmaull Windshadow,; and directly to my right was the Heritor Gregorious and his Storm Warden, Missy.
|A view of the table at the start of the game.|
Marnilyne, the Vine Warden, sat on a large coil of rope on the deck of the Silver Sword, and leaning back, watched seagulls weaving back and forth far above the rigging of the ship. The young Elf knew enough to know that the gulls meant they must be getting near land. Marny had no idea where exactly they were; her Uncle, Lord Fortrywn, a powerful Elven Heritor, retired general, and wealthy land owner, seldom told her anything about his plans. But, that didn't bother her as there was so much to learn and see on their journeys that she was just happy to be included.
The lilting sound of laughter caught her attention, and she turned her gaze from the sky to the deck to find its source. Coming towards her were two of the Crew-women that served on the Silver Sword; Arbyn and Bry. Both tall and blond, their normally fair Elven skin carrying the slightest golden hue indicating years of exposure to the sunny seas; so typical of the Sea-Elf folk. Marny's hand instinctively went up to her own black hair, and for a moment she wished she was a Sea-Elf, with a life aboard the waves. How boring it seemed being a Northland Elf from the cold forests of the High Kingdom.
The two Crew-women fascinated the young Warden. Arbyn was like a wild storm, filled with limitless energy and strength, her eyes flashed with a joy of life and her laugh was loud and boisterous. Bry on the other hand was like the calm after the storm; still and deliberate, her eyes like the dark sky, full of hidden mysteries; and she spoke with a quite strength that could chill or warm you, depending on her mood. And yet the two seemed the best of friends, like a sunny day and a dark night. And they always seemed to be a part of their landing parties, so she knew her Uncle must hold them and their abilities in some regard.
Marnilyne's musings were cut short by a call of "Land to Port!" from high in the crows nest. The Warden knew that meant it was time to get ready to go ashore.
An hour later, they are all standing on a strip of white sand beach, tall palm trees towering above them just 20 yards away. Marnilyne listened as her Uncle divided them into groups for the inland trek. As usual, he gave his Niece command of one of the groups; consisting of the Archer Songlyne, and the two Crew-women, Meriwyn and Lilisea. The Warden knew her station and breeding made her the correct choice for command, but she fret at having little experience compared to the seasoned sailors and warriors she was with. But, she also knew her kind were a formal race, and the others followed her dutifully; though she often solicited more advice from those under her than was proper.
Lord Fortrywn took his more trusted crew with him; the Hunter, Bindidell; Archer, Tannin; and Crew-woman, Arbyn. Crew-woman Bry, and Crewman Finil were left to follow up and help where needed.
They set off again, and had not gone far into the jungle when Marnilyne saw her Uncle raise his hand to indicate they should halt. He and Bindidell had a brief hushed conversation before the Hunter jogged off a few yards in front of them and knelt down in the tall grass. Marny wondered what was going on. The others with her were noticeably more alert, and scanned the jungle around them. Soon, Bindidell stood, and trotted back to the Heritor. They once again had a hushed conversation, and then Lord Fortrywn turned to the group and said simply, "Weapons". And as Marny watched her Uncle unshouldered his Superior Crossbow. Meriwyn tapped her on the shoulder, and with a soft, "Ma'am" and a nod indicated the Warden should draw her sword too.
|Lord Fortrywn assigns his commands.|
They had barely gone 30 yards passed the dismembered corpse, when again they halted. Now, her Uncle approached, and told her they were going to investigate the area more carefully and instructed the girl to move off too the left, and as usual stay alert and be helpful. "Oh, and be watchful of the eggs! Don't damage any!" he called back to her as he departed.
"Eggs? she thought, but she didn't have long to consider that word, for there was the course barked command of a Human in the distance, and they all instantly knew they were not alone.
Marnilyne watched as her Uncle along with Bindidell, Tannin the Archer, and Arbyn trotted off to the partial remains of a ruined temple on the right. She called to Songlyne the Archer, Meriwyn and Lilisea, and as instructed headed off to the left. It was only after she had passed by a tall strange flowering bush, that she knew what her Uncle was talking about. There, a dozen yards away, was a large beige oblong object laying in the grass. The Warden knew immediately what it was; a Saurian egg. (She had seen several before in the island markets they had visited over the past months.) But what kind was it; that's what mattered. And then Marnilyne saw a little further on there was a large nest built between some bushes on the ground. How did the egg get out of the nest, she wondered, and her mind flashed back to the body they had passed. Had someone been trying to rob the nest, and something had caught them doing it, she mused to herself. Was it still near?
Back at the ruin, Lord Fortrywn surveyed the situation, and could see another crew approaching from the far side of clearing where the nest, and about a half dozen eggs that had once been in it, now lay strewn about. He wondered if this was the rest of the party who the dead man belonged to. Then he saw a big broad-shouldered Human step into view, and recognized him immediately as the Heritor called Griffin. While the Elf Lord considered his options, Bindidell clambered up the ruin to get a good view of the eggs. She was amazed. Now, a full sized Saurian was a quarry worth hunting! Below her and to the left, Tannin crouched at the edge of the ruin and readied an arrow. Arbyn moved carefully in among the eggs, and noticed scattered bones of various kinds, remnants of past meals the Mother dinosaur had consumed. The Crew-woman could tell from the tatters of clothing that still remained, that not all the meals were animal. Then her eye was caught by a glint of yellow metal, and she saw something golden peaking out of a badly torn and weathered pack lying amid the bones. Turning to locate her Heritor, she signed back to Lord Fortrywn, indicating there was treasure.
|Lord Fortrywn, Bindidell and Tannin take cover in an old ruin, as Arbyn rushes out into the circle of eggs.|
While Marny worked her magic, Songlyne took up a firing position in the brush at the edge of the pond, while the two Crew-women moved to the edge of the water, and peered in. To their surprise, they could see a small chest lying among the aquatic plants on the bottom. Using their initiative, the pair swam out to see if they could retrieve it.
As the pair of Elves swam out into the pond, Marny looked back again, and could see the Heritor Griffin approach her Brambles, and survey it. Thinking better of it, he moved to go around the obstacle. As he cleared it, she saw him bend over pick up a large rock and throw it. Manilyne had a good view of him and his sword, she once again called upon her magical powers, and began the chant of her Warp Weapon spell. Again, thick vines sprung from the ground at the Heritor's feet, but this time they quickly coiled tightly around his weapon. The man cursed, and attempted to pull the blade free. The vines pulled back. His Heritor's strength was no match however, and he quickly wrestled the weapon free. The vines wilted back to the ground, but the damage had been done. As the Human surveyed his blade, he could see a distinct bend in the blade. (I roll the -1 Fight result.)
Songlyne too was watching the Humans approach, and seeing one of Griffin's Crewmen climb up into the Saurian's nest, she let her arrow fly, striking the man in his side. He tumbled down into the nest, but a moment later, stood again, clutching his wounded side with one hand. The Archer and Marny were distracted from the Humans' activities at that point by a call from Meriwyn behind them. In the middle of the pond the Crew-woman was treading water, and momentarily lifted one arm to point further back behind the pond where two approaching figures could be seen.
|Lilisea and Meriwyn swim out into the pond to retrieve a treasure, as Songlyne and Marilyne keep watch. In the distance members of Skorri's crew approach.|
While this duel was going on Arbyn had run up to the destroyed pack, and took a stance to defend it. The Human Heritor was just a short distance away, and she knew at any moment he would notice the treasure lying there amongst the eggs. The Crew-woman was followed up closely by Finil the Crewman, who offered his assistance. "Grab it!" Arbyn called back, and pointed at the spot where the old pack lie. As Finil moved forward a huge rock, the size of a Sindarian Melon came flying by Finil's head, missing him by just inches (Griffin uses his Hurl ability, but misses.) Nevertheless, FInil reached the spot that Arbyn had indicated and freed a small golden dog statue from the shreds of rotting canvas pack still sticking to it. Likewise, Bry also rushed forward to offer assistance to her fellow Crew-woman, and help guard Finil as he retrieved the treasure. It as at this time that Marny's Warp Weapon vines struck, and before Griffin could find another stone to hurl, he found himself struggling with magical plants to free his weapon. As Lord Fortrywn watched the spectacle of the struggling Human Heritor, he heard a gurgling of water from behind, and turned in time to see the Human Warden, Ashalla, complete her Wrath of the Waves spell sending a wall of water rushing at the Elf Lord from a small pond a few yards away. Quickly he dodged the attack, and the water splashed harmlessly against the edge of the ruin.
|Finil, Bry, and Arbyn, contest the Central Treasure as Griffin and his Crew move up.|
Arbyn cried out, "No, Bry!" but she wasn't able to rush to her friend's aid, because just then there was a sharp crack behind her, and the sound of a high-pitched trill. Bindidell, from her perch in the ruins, called out, Watch out!", and Arbyn turned in time to see the egg behind her develop several deep cracks and begin rocking back and forth. The Hunter let her arrow fly, hoping to disable or kill the little Saurian before it could get free, but the arrow merely lodged in the shell causing it to crack even further. In seconds the beast was free, and they all could see it was a miniature Monarch. It trilled and staggered about blinking and trying to orient itself. Everyone nearby could see the two rows of shiny white spikes in its mouth that were its teeth. The beast may be small but everyone knew it could be deadly. Lord Fortrywn shot his Superior Crossbow and hit the creature square in its chest. The baby Monarch collapsed, and writhing on the ground it let out a loud and long eerie shriek that seemed to echo through the jungle, before finally going quiet and still. (I roll 19 +5F for my attack.) "That's not good if it's mother is near," Bindidell said softly but urgently from her perch in the ruin to Lord Fortrywn standing below her. But Lord Fortrywn had other worries, as two of Griffin's burly sailors now charged at him.
Finil had recovered his senses by now, and though his head and face hurt like the devils, he used the current distraction of the hatching Monarch to turn and run with the treasure. The going was slow, as given his weakened state, the statue seemed overly heavy to him. Arbyn, relieved the immediate threat of the baby Monarch was gone, now surveyed the other eggs warily. And she did so, she caught sight of a Human Crewman in the nest a short distance away (The one Songlyne had shot earlier.) Seeing he was badly wounded, and clutching a small chest that he must have retrieved from within the tangle of branches and vegetation, the Crew-woman ran for the nest and climbed into relieve the man of his prize.
|The battle at the ruin begins as two of Griffin's hulking crewmen charge Lord Fortrywn. Over on the left, Bry stands toe to toe with Griffin, blocking him from going after Finil and the Central Treasure.|
Seeing Meriwyn was momentarily distracted by the Hunter, Skorri's Pearl Diver ran forward, skirted around her, and dove into the water. His powerful strokes allowed him to overtake Lilisea in just a short time. Frantically the crew-woman swan for the shore, but trying to clutch the chest, and swim made it hard for her. At last Lilisea felt her feet touch the sandy bottom, but as she went to stand a strong hand grabbed her tightly around the ankle and yanked her leg hard. She lost her balance, fell forward, and was pulled under the water. Trying desperately to break free, the Crew-woman kicked her leg, and, clawing the bottom with her free hand, tried to twist around so she wasn't facing the ponds floor. The man released his grip, and quickly moving alongside her punched her hard in the back. The air went out of her, as the Pearl Diver now grabbed her by the back of the head, and shoved it under the water and down to the pond's bottom. It hit hard against a rock on the bottom, with a sharp edge that cut a deep gash in Lilisea's forehead, and knocked her out cold. Feeling his adversary go suddenly limp, the Pearl Diver released her with a shove, grabbed the treasure chest, and turned to deal with the other Crew-woman.
By now, Skorri's Hunter, and a Crocodile his Warden Controlled had approached Meriwyn on the far bank. Seeing the Pearl Diver finish with Lilisea, the Hunter timed his attack along with the Crocodile to hit just as the Pearl Diver came up behind her. Meriwyn was trapped now, and as she prepared to defend herself from the Hunter and his pet, the Pearl Diver swam silently up behind her. The Hunter feinted at the Crew-woman as the Pearl Diver lunged from the water, and cracked her across the back of the head with the hilt of his sword. Meriwyn collapse like a child's doll into the bushes along the pond's bank.
|In the pond Skorri's Pearl Diver reaches Lilisea just as she nears the shore; as Meriwyn prepares to face off against Skorri's Hunter on the far bank.|
From his position at the corner of the ruin, Tannin could see one of Skorri's Crew trying to quietly work her away around to the back of the ruin. He jogged a few steps forward, past Lord Fortrywn and his two adversaries to shoot at her, but she ducked behind the far end of the ruin just as his arrow flew by.
While Tannin, tracked the enemy Crew-woman, Bindidell maintained her post up on the ruin, trying to find a way to help Lord Fortrywn. It wasn't until the last moment that she sensed the movement behind her and turned to see a Tree Spider crawling up the back side of the ruin. (Treasure Generated Beast Encounter). She wasn't in the best position to quickly turn and fight, and as she tried to reposition herself the Spider leapt forward and, luckily, sank its fangs into the heel of her boot. (Spider hits, no damage) Quickly, the Spider released its bite, and as the Hunter tired awkwardly to draw her sword, her elbow hitting the pillar next to her, the Spider leapt again. This time however, its aim was better, and it sank its fangs into her calf. Almost instantly, the Elf woman felt the fiery pain radiate in her leg, and as the venom seeped in, her muscles began to weaken and her stomach tossed. Involuntarily, her hand relaxed its grip on her sword, and the blade banged down the wall of the ruin to the ground below, almost hitting the Spider by accident. Blackness overtook the Hunter, and her whole body slowly rolled forward, and off the ruin. The Spider, jumped clear, and skittered up the ruin behind her as Bindidell fell limply to the grass beneath the ruin.
Meanwhile, Lord Fortrywn hoped to Evade past his two attackers, planning to get behind one of them. Calling on his inherited abilities once more, the Heritor attempted to leap up and use the wall behind him as a springboard, but the wound must have weakened him worse than he thought, as he was not able to gain the momentum needed; and his attempt to Evade failed. His foot hit the wall but he was unable to propel himself upwards. His blood burned now like molten iron under his skin. (Fail my Evade attempt, another -3 HP) The enemy Crewmen were at first startled by the Elf Lord's upward movement, but quickly regained their wits, and as the Heritor landed clumsily, they struck once more. Lord Fortrywn was quick enough to deflect one of their blades but the other one sliced across his shoulder, leaving a deep gash. (Another -5 HP; Lord Fortrywn now reduced to 4 HP).
From her position in the nest with the enemy crewman, a short distance away, Arbyn heard the soft cry, and turned in time to see her friend sink to the ground. 'No!" she cried out. But the Crew-woman was not alone. and suddenly a stick cracked as the man in the nest moved towards her, drawing her attention back to the immediate situation. Arbyn turned back a second too late, and had no time to deflect the man's attack. She tried to dodge, but the blade caught her in the thigh, going deep into the muscle. Her leg collapsed, and she tumbled backwards tripped over the edge of the nest and fell out, hitting the ground head first. She lay there unmoving.
Over by the ruin, Lord Fortrywn still faced his two attackers, and they were feeling very confident they had their quarry in the bag. The Elf Heritor eyed them warily, and could see their lips curled in smug smiles. The Heritor knew they thought he was done for; he knew they were wrong. A tiger is never more dangerous than when wounded in a trap. But Lord Fortrywn realized he was seriously wounded and he would have to use all his wits to survive this.
First the big man on the Heritor's right came at him, trying to catch him on his weakened side. In his confidence the Human made no attempt to feign any movement, and came straight in. A fatal mistake with an experienced warrior like the Elf Lord was. The Heritor blocked the man's thrust, and with a turn of his wrist he freed his blade. Then, using what strength he could muster, despite the raging fire in his body, he struck; bringing his blade quickly up and then slicing down hard. He caught the man at the top of his right shoulder , and cut deeply all the way down to his left hip. A wide wound opened in the man's bare chest, and he stumbled backwards and then collapsed into an unceremonious pile. (I roll 19 + 5F = 24)
The other man was momentarily shocked, but then his expression turned to anger. Fiercely, he lunged at the Heritor to have his revenge, no subtlety in his attack at all. And, even though the pain in his veins was unbearable now, the attack was so projected, that Lord Fortrywn again easily blocked it despite his weakened state. A quick counter maneuver, and the Elf Lord had brought his blade back to position, and before the man could regain his defense, the Heritor struck again with a direct thrust, piercing the man's breast bone, and putting a hole upward clear through his neck. (I hit with a 20 + 5F = 25!)
Griffin, having freed his blade from Bry's body, wasted no time and charged forward at Tannin, who now stood between the Human Heritor and Lord Fortrwyn. Hardly slowing down, the Human shoved his blade with crude strength at the Elf Archer. Try as he did to defend with just his dagger, Tannin was no match, and the Heritor's thrust hit his side leaving a deep gash. Tannin fell to the ground, and Griffin charged on, leaving him for dead.
|The battle at the ruin continues. Lord Fortrywn has dispatched the two Crewmen, and the Mountain Goat; but now Griffin and his Crew-woman approach. Around back of the ruin, the Tree Spider tangles with Bindidell.|
Griffin's Warden had summoned a Mountain Goat earlier, at it now charged at Lord Fortrywn as well, hopping numbly over the bodies of the dead Human crewmen, and leapt at the Elf Lord. The Heritor was taken by surprise, at the sudden appearance of the animal, at it butted him in squarely in the chest with its big horns. Leaving two dents, it bounced off, and Lord Fortrywn was pushed up agains the wall of the ruin. (Goat hits, does no damage)
(At this point, the start of Turn 5, I roll a 19 and trigger the appearance of a Monarch. Rolling randomly, it enters between Skorri's and Griffin's start zones.
There was a sudden terrifying roar that echoed overt the tree tops, and everyone froze momentarily. In the far distance, near where Griffin's crew had first appeared, a large head could be seen approaching from above the tree tops. It was a Monarch! Lord Fortrywn flashed back to the island where they had attempted to free the Drichean prisoner. The Crew that were there that day had all seen Gregorious's Archer become a meal for one of these beasts, and it left an indelible memory. (See: The Drichean Cages)
But the Elf Lord had little time to fret about the colossal creature approaching, as he could see Griffin was now coming straight at him. He was startled just a moment, as a Human Crew-woman also appeared around the corner of the ruin and charged him as well (the one Tannin had shot at earlier, and missed.) Above him, he could hear a scratching on the stonework, and looking up, he could see the legs of the Tree Spider coming up over the ruined wall behind him. (The one that had bitten Bindidell)
Griffin came at Lord Fortrywn, holding his sword high, and pointed at the Elf's chest. "I'll send thee to your grave, Demon!" he yelled, as he reached the Elf Lord. The Crew-woman on his flank smiled cruelly and likewise, readied her long cerated blade. Lord Fortrywn was near the end now, his body ached, his blood was so hot his skin was turning bright red, and he knew he had lost a lot of blood from his wounds. Still, the Humans lacked any finesse in their attacks, and sidestepping he blocked the Crew-woman's blade, forcing it downward, then freeing his own steel, brought it back up in time to slice across Griffin's onrushing sword, and having knocked it away, swung his own weapon down, hitting the Human on his left shoulder and slicing down half his chest. (I hit with a roll of 18 + 5F = 23) Griffin reeled backwards shocked, putting his hand to his chest he looked at his own blood almost in disbelief.
With the Human Heritor pushed back, Lord Fortrywn knew he had to act fast. Mustering his remaining strength to Evade (-1 HP, = current total 3HP), the Elf Lord leaped up and bracing one foot on the wall behind him, leapt upwards and over the Crew-woman, landing less gracefully than he would have liked behind her. Before she could turn, he had his blade in position and sliced at her back as she moved, catching her in the arm and cutting a deep wound across her upper arm. Bringing his shield up, the Elf Lord swung it round, catching the Human woman on the side and sending her staggering backwards against the wall of the ruin, where the spindly legs of the the Tree Spider reached forward and clutched at her head.
|Trapped! Lord Fortrywn faces Griffin, his Crew-woman, and the Tree Spider all at once. Behind the ruin, Bindidell has fallen.|
Meanwhile, the enemy Crew-woman by the ruin, felt the grasping legs on her head, and cursing, turned around and hacked at the Spider, killing it instantly. She then spun around and launched herself at the Elf Lord again. Lord Fortrywn was prepared, and feeling a little better after his Niece's spell, met the woman's attack with a dodge and a feint and then brought his own sword up catching the Crew-woman under her left ribcage, and sliced a deep gash up her side. The woman staggered back and fell to the ground, where she lay unmoving. (I win with a 17 + 5F = 22.)
Seeing his chance, the Elf Lord turned to make his escape, but Griffin wasn't done with him yet. "Come back, Devil!" the Human Heritor yelled, and his eyes wildly searched the ground around his feet. Finding a rock the size of a small keg, the Human Heritor scooped it up and quickly hurled it at the Elf Heritor. Lord Fortrywn turned in time to see the projectile coming at him, and instinctively held up his shield to protect himself. The rock hit it hard, knocking the Elf Lord back, and bounced upwards off the shield. As Lord Fortrywn toppled backwards the large rock came back down, and landed hard directly upon his left boot, crushing the foot inside. His leg now trapped, The Elf Lord's body torqued as he fell, and his head came down hard on the ground. The wind was knocked out of the Heritor, and as his head spun and the pain became unbearable, the Elf Lord blacked out.
|The Mother Monarch appears! The base of the ruin where Lord Fortrywn was fighting (along with a lot of casualties!) can just be seen near the top left of the photo.|
Quickly the Warden cast Brambles to deter Griffin or any of his crew from pursuing, and Songlyne took a shot at the Human Heritor, but it went wide. Then the trio turned and made their way back to the safety of the shoreline for the long wait to see what other survivors would make their way back to the boats.
Luckily, the rest of the crew would recover from their injuries as well. Nothing the ship's doctor couldn't patch up or a little rest wouldn't heal. Marnilyne sat in her Uncle's cabin office, and stared at the gold statue of a dog they had recovered. She didn't know about such things but it didn't look like much to her (I only roll 2 on the treasure Table, plus 2 for it being the central treasure = 4: 50GC) She hoped it would be worth more than it appeared.
Later, the Warden made her way down to the ship's surgery to check on her Uncle. Lord Fortrywn was sleeping, but the doctor reported he would make a full recovery, except...
"Except, what?" Marnilyne asked, a bit worried.
The doctor sighed, and said hesitantly, "Well, the rock that landed on his foot badly damaged his toes...we, ah, had to remove one."
The Warden stood there a moment stunned. She had expected to hear some dire news, not simply "a toe". She couldn't help but shake her head at the irony, and thanked the doctor for his attention. Just like her own injury, she mused; a matched set. What were the odds of them both loosing toes? (See: The Island of Floating Hulks) If things weren't so somber, she might laugh at the predicament. Climbing back up to the main deck, she too stood quietly and stared at the stars. The young Elf could just catch Arbyn's soft song on the warm ocean breeze from the front of the ship. She didn't know all the words, but could tell it was a sad song, and without realizing it she found herself softly humming along.
Another exciting game! I thought for sure Lord Fortrywn was done for when his HP went down so low and he was still surrounded by enemies. And, he failed two Heritor Ability rolls back to back, which burned 6 HP! When it came time for him to roll for the second Evade, immediately after having failed twice, I really had to think about the decision. He was down to 4 HP then, and another failure would have brought him to 1 HP. But, I thought the odds of me failing 3 in a row were pretty slim, so risked it; and it paid off. In the end, he ended up taking out 5 Crewmen and Beasts: The Baby Monarch, the two Crewmen, the Goat, and the Crew-woman! Not bad, and gave me 25 extra Experience points. Still, I wish he had made it off the table alive; what a tale that would hav been!
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) , the Monarch didn't appear until almost the end. It did have the bad effect of forcing both Griffin's surviving crew, and some of Skorri's to head in my direction to escape the table rather than their own Monarch-infested baseline. But it was too late in the game, and Griffin's crew too battered, for it to have any real effect; but it did worry me a little.
So, at this point there are only two more games to go. We will be deciding shortly which direction to take for next year. One of the possibilities will be to continue on with our current crews. So it will be interesting to see if Lord Fortrywn chooses to stay and continue to seek the Crystal Pool, or give up and head back home.