Rasennan Summer

6 - Dangerous Ambuscades
The group finds that the other side of the ambush is scarce safer, and Master Whiteknees is at last brought to explain himself.

Ramilante returns the newly-widowed woman and her son to safety, and then rides quickly to Borsari to deliver the news. Opilio is overcome with anger at the tale of the murdered farmer, and sets out to join in on the ambush against the Kallikantos.

Opilio joins the other three as they’re completing their preparations. They set up the captured skull of blinding dust by a goblin corpse, the better for Vesper to destroy it with a necromantic word of unmaking, and turn a ploughshare into a sharpened trap to swing down from the upper potion of the barn. Vesper and Ettorio take watch in the hayloft, and Opilio and Roberto hide themselves in the stone-walled garden.

The first Kallikantos to arrive are a pair of scouts, with a single goblin hunt-servant. One has distinctive bronze vambraces; the other, a ragged ear and a hunting horn. Vesper advises Ettorio to let the Hairy Man blow the horn to call the others when trouble begins. And trouble does begin — one of the Kallikantos falls for the blinding trap, and the other is quickly beset. The two put up a fierce fight, and the ragged-eared Kallikantos does successfully wind his horn before being cut down; the group’s preparation is also rewarded when a wounded Hairy Man scout chases Ettorio and Vesper out of the barn yard, only to be slain by the ploughshare trap.

When the initial three goblinkin are dispatched, the group quickly braces for the rest, placing their flask of alchemist’s fire as another potential trap. Sure enough, a pair of burly Kallikantos come up the hill, with a small group of goblin game-beaters going before them. These are not quite as careless as the first group, and don’t blunder immediately into the fire trap. Worse, once battle is joined it’s revealed that they are only part of the hunting force; a murderous hunter with a bandolier of throwing hatchets comes in on one side to flank them, and a strangler with pale facepaint quickly closes on an already-embattled Ettorio and begins to garrote the luckless Iluni. The fight is particularly desperate, and the Rasennans manage to kill a pair of Kallikantos before two more Hairy Man archers bring up the rear. In the end, though, the four have more to fight for than their enemies do, and only one of the Kallikantos is able to flee into the night — though the Rasennans are in no condition to pursue.

The group rests out the night, then wheels off the bodies to the forest edge nearby and tidies up the farm as best they can. From there, they resolve to draw out Salzar before he can cause any more trouble. The group rides up to Potifol Whiteknees’ villa, Ettorio managing to convince the guards that he (a) has legitimate business with their master, and (b) is exceedingly drunk.

Once their host arrives, the treacherous landowner is quickly made to understand that his already grave situation has become graver still. He explains what he can of the situation: that Dorego’s predecessor discovered the Blackharvest Chapel some years ago and was quickly made into an example, that he has agreed to keep the plague-cult’s secrets, and that he has bargained with the cult via Salzar to drive Borsari from his lands in order that he might claim the land and sell off the timber rights to his Barcamir relatives. The group compels Whiteknees to dismiss his servants, and takes him to Borsari to await an inevitable appearance before Prince Temagli. Then they return to the quiet villa by dusk, light the green lamp in the tower to summon Salzar, and wait.

5 - Counterhunt
A move to intercept the Kallikantos finds butchery at a farmstead.

The group brings Dorego to Borsari Villa well past dark. They explain to Master Borsari the extent of the plot against him, and Dorego confirms what details he can. The looming threat of the Kallikantos presses heavily on all concerned, and Opilio goes to see to the safety of those peasants out in the outlying farmhouses. Vesper asks for the assistance of another blade, and Andelac volunteers, only to be persuaded to remain home to defend his family. Instead, the group persuades Ramilante to accompany them, Vesper being certain to impress upon his wife Sesscia the importance of the task.

Looking over a rough map of the area, the group examines potential chokepoints at which they could ambush the invading Hairy Men. They settle on a bridge near the roadside shrine to Alvoran, and travel cross-country along the forest line to reach the area. Along the way, they note several peasants on Potifol Whiteknees’ land searching for something; most likely, they assume, the missing Dorego. The four move farther into the woods to avoid contact.

As they reach the wall marking the far edge of Whiteknees’ land and follow it down to the road, they discover tracks — apparently of Kallikantos scouts, which have headed to a nearby farmstead. The farm is suspiciously quiet. Ettorio’s reconnaissance reveals that a woman and her child have locked themselves in the house, a man’s corpse is impaled to a barn wall by a pitchfork, and a few animals have been recently slaughtered. Most importantly, three Hairy Men are resting in the barn’s hayloft.

Ettorio, Vesper and Ramilante move into ambush position as Roberto draws their fire. The ambush is initially successful, with a particularly remarkable blow landed when Ettorio leaps from the barn roof behind one of the Kallikantos. However, a pair of concealed goblin lackeys join in the fight (one of whom is remarkably nimble), and the Hairy Men put up a strong struggle. The Rasennans’ power proves stronger, though, and the last Kallikantos can flee only so far before he’s brought down by sling and crossbow fire augmented by Bascho alchemy.

With the raiding goblinkin slain, the group resolves to ambush the main Kallikantos party at the farmstead. Ettorio is able to calm the recently widowed woman, and Ramilante offers to take her and her child to a safer farmstead before dark. With several hours of daylight still left to them, the remaining three hoist the bodies of the fallen back into the hayloft, and begin to make plans.

4 - Poison at the Roots
A disturbing disappearance leads the group into the woods, where they discover even more foulness than expected.

Roberto rejoins Ettorio, Vesper and Opilio over a late breakfast, where they relate to him all their findings. Before they leave, a young peasant — one who was dispatched to the windmill with the job of burying the Scarhawks’ bodies — reports to Andelac Borsari that said bodies were all missing when they arrived. The group immediately grows suspicious, and goes to track the missing corpses. A trail leads into the woods.

Opilio is able to follow the trail, which is no small feat. Some glamour lies over the wood, tangling most of the others’ sense of direction. Further signs that the wood is in disarray come when several animated chunks of vine, wood and detritus attack the group. These entities are dispatched after a quick skirmish.

The next cause for consideration comes when the group discovers a small “V” shape of white stones laid across the trail. When they pause to examine the stones, they hear laughter from an unseen source. Soon several invisible beings (fata of some sort) begin to question them in circular fashion. From the fata, the four are able to learn that the dead passed by on their way “to church,” and that someone named Quercinnarra (likely a dryad) has been poisoned and is going mad. They manipulate the invisible fata to guide them to Quercinnarra, using reverse logic to satisfy the perverse creatures’ reluctance or inability to give honest advice.

Quercinnarra is indeed a dryad, both ill and on the verge of madness. Through careful analysis and courtesy, they are able to clear her mind somewhat and learn more about the situation. Opilio in particular swears righteous vengeance against the forces of corruption, and asks an oak-sprig token to carry into battle. The dryad tells them that the forces of the poisoned orchard are moving against her, and points the direction to where the stream has been polluted.

The four find a scarecrow there, set above disturbances in the earth. It is, of course, a particularly spiteful trap: the scarecrow is an animated construct, several reanimated rotting corpses lie under the earth, and the scarecrow’s shirt is full of pale, emaciated stirges. The conflict is vicious, but in the end the Phouthites’ tools are destroyed and the four are able to excavate and burn the ritually enhanced plague-corpses that were poisoning the stream.

They return to following the trail of the stolen dead, and cross over into the woods on Potifol Whiteknees’ land. At the top of a hill, they discover a small depression filled with a blighted orchard that surrounds a small stone temple. Ettorio goes to scout, but is not quite as stealthy as he would like, and draws the attention of a particularly ambulatory fruit tree-turned-guardian. After he retreats (and the tree returns to its post), the group deliberates on their next move, and finally decides to go attempt to find Dorego.

Their timing is excellent, finding Dorego just as he leaves the Falcon and Goose after dark. Ambushing him, they learn that he is aware of much of the plot but not of the existence of the Phouthite temple; he’s been only two years in Potifol’s service, and doesn’t know all his master’s secrets. He reveals that they set a green lamp in a window facing the woods when they wish to meet with Salzar, and surrenders a message that he had gone to pick up. The four take him into custody, and decide to lay all their findings before Andelac Borsari to see what he may wish done next.

3 - Crevant's Rebellion
The Scarhawks' bad decisions come home to roost, and another hand behind the curtain is revealed.

Amid the chaos at the Borsari villa, resolutions form quickly. Roberto stays behind to tend to the wounded, while Ettorio, Opilio and Vesper plan to track down the escaped Crevant and rescue Ivella. The Scarhawks are not difficult to track over the western fields, and the group gains extra confirmation they’re on the right track when they encounter the local errant Taltikkan monk Bandegan, a half-conscious Scarhawk in his grip and a young lady trailing after him. Bandegan confirms that the Scarhawks rode past, and that he knocked one out of the saddle. He agrees to come along with the group on their errand.

Opilio tracks the Scarhawks to an old windmill, built in an ancient Dysian tower, that stands by the gorge that marks the boundary between Borsari’s land and that of his neighbor Potifol Whiteknees. Ettorio scouts ahead, learns where most of the Scarhawks outside are stationed, and the group agrees to climb the gorge to minimize their chances of being detected. Opilio is able to carry the not-quite-an-athlete Vesper on his back as easily as if she were a lightly-stocked backpack.

Ettorio plans to cut loose the horses and cause a distraction, but a keen-eyed Scarhawk archer spots him and creases his ribs with an arrow. The resulting fight goes poorly for the Scarhawks outside the building; the group fights hard, and the agitated horses are a lethal obstacle that only Ettorio manages to navigate safely. One Scarhawk surrenders, two flee, and the remaining seven are cut down.

The group barely has time to catch their breath before Crevant appears. His half-orcish, likely Ossenlander second-in-command Klygur has Ivella tightly in hand, and Crevant attempts to dominate the characters into surrender. However, the negotiation quickly spirals out of his control. The three begin to convince him that his only possible chance of survival is to relinquish Ivella and surrender without further fighting, a prospect Crevant seems on the brink of accepting before Klygur shouts “What are you doing?” at him, and sours things.

At that point, Ettorio begins to spin fantastical lie after fantastical lie, beginning with “You’ve got the wrong girl; that’s a servant look-alike” and moving on to insinuating that Crevant has been paid to double-cross his men. The lies confuse absolutely everyone with the (possible) exception of Ettorio, and when Klygur shoves Ivella aside to take a swing at the “traitorous” Crevant, the heroes make their move. Crevant and Klygur are badly wounded before they even get a chance to defend themselves, which makes the fight rather one-sided. Ettorio steals a kiss from Ivella mid-fight, Opilio smashes Klygur into oblivion, and Vesper brings down Crevant with her banshee’s vestige. Another Scarhawk is taken captive, three more flee (one smashing his way through the old wooden planks of the shed rather than be cut down), and Vesper catches Crevant’s pet red-banded tyrant eagle in a cloak, showing the animal more compassion than it showed her.

When the fight is over, the group checks the rest of the old tower windmill. They find the Scarhawks’ traveling gear and pay chest. More interestingly, the basement contains a statue of a kneeling robed skeleton cradling an emaciated, possibly mummified child. This statue is known to local children as the “Sad Mother,” and they recognize it as an old, old memorial to those who’d died of plague.

On impulse, the group searches the basement more carefully, and finds a concealed plague-tomb. However, someone else has clearly been there more recently: a pair of tarnished silver and turquoise rings have been left in the palms of the insect-winged angel statue overseeing the tomb, all the niches for plague corpses have been emptied, and three bones have been left on the floor in the pattern of a plague-pit marker: the unholy symbol of Phouth.

Ettorio and Opilio return Ivella, and Vesper and Bandegan deliver the captives to the constable. The four convene to interrogate Crevant, and discover that he’s been in the pay of Potifol Whiteknees. Further information-gathering from the overly cooperative Spotted Cat (who finally gives his name as Carpa) and the Falcon and Goose’s proprietress helps confirm that the person “Cabrio” was actually the gamekeeper for Whiteknees, and seems to have been coordinating between the Scarhawks, the Spotted Cats, and the mysterious black-and-white-haired man “Salzar.”

Andelac Borsari, once given a chance to express his thanks, gives each of the group a purse full of a hundred gold regnants. He also encourages Ettorio to take Crevant’s masterwork Ferraregante cinquedea, and Opilio to take his equally finely crafted breastplate, as fair spoils. Vesper, with slight ethereal nudging, begins to wear Secordis Ossomont’s pin as her own; she also makes plans to have Galignante’s cat’s skin made into a cloak. Exhausted after a very long day, the group finally retires, with plans to lay a trap for Whiteknees’ gamekeeper on the morrow.

2 - Cats and Hawks
A bloody fight ends in victory, but treachery rides on triumph's heels.

The group spots the coach that carried Master Ossomont’s coffin uphill, at the lip of the quarry. They approach quietly, but are spotted by Galignante’s pet hunting-cat, and a fierce and bloody fight breaks out. Galignante and most of his men are brought down, save two prisoners.

Vesper discovers that her mentor’s coffin has been opened, but his body has not been disturbed. Ettorio questions one of the prisoners, who is quite cooperative. It’s revealed that the one who made the killing shot with the poisoned bolt was one Vinco, now dead. They also receive a description of the person who contracted the assassination and provided the wyvern poison: a man with shaggy, half-black and half-white hair and a long facial scar who smelled something like rotten fruit. This person apparently had a Calveran accent. They also provide the name of Cabrio (a suspected alias), the person who drew them to Calvera.

On the road back down the mountain, they run into a detachment of Scarhawks, led by the alchemist Balagond, Crevant’s quartermaster. Balagond mentions something about the tragic death of the bandit-hunters, and the Scarhawks attack. They are defeated all the same, and a few of Balagond’s flasks find their way into the group’s hands.

The group rests at the Coiling Snapdragon, and returns to Abesci the next day. They drop off their prisoners with the local constable, but Opilio spots a Scarhawk riding off after he sees the party.

Arriving at the villa, they discover several casualties, as the Scarhawks have apparently turned on their host. A maid informs them that Crevant has ridden off with Ivella Borsari.

1 - Dinner at the Borsari's
A dinner is held to welcome distinguished guests, but bad news compels the guests to take certain matters into their own hands.

A fine dinner is set at the Borsari manor to welcome a pair of visiting Sespech necromancers; all the PCs are invited. Unfortunately, only one of the expected Sespechs arrives, bringing news of her master’s death on the road at the hands of bandits. Secordis Ossomont was slain by poison, and his apprentice Vesper was delayed by setting his affairs in order. The bandit Galignante and his Spotted Cats are the culprits blamed — a local band that’s been causing great trouble for some time.

Unfortunately, more bad news comes when a messenger reports that Galignante has struck again. This time, the Spotted Cats have intercepted and stolen the coach headed for Maviolo that bore Ossomont’s body.

This does cast an unsurprising pall over the dinner. Soon Andelac Borsari is shouting angrily at Captain Crevant, while Crevant coolly defends his men by citing how impossible the Spotted Cats are to track. While these distractions uncoil, Ettorio, Roberto and Opilio speak quietly with Vesper and Ramilante about their concerns. If the Scarhawks can’t be trusted to do their jobs, then perhaps someone else should help track them down and retrieve Master Ossomonte’s body. The PCs need little more motivation to do so. So it’s off to the stables to acquire some horses, and when there aren’t quite enough to go around, a little pressure on the stablehand encourages him to look the other way when Captain Crevant’s is one of the steeds borrowed.

The players ride to the way-inn of the Coiling Snapdragon, there to interrogate some of those involved with the hijacked coach. They learn a few details from the driver, and Opilio notices a suspicious man trying to sneak out of a second-floor window. The fellow gives his name as “Cavo,” and proves to be a terrible liar, insisting that he has perfectly ordinary reasons for sneaking out of a harlot’s window instead of walking out like a normal customer. Opilio marks the sole of his boot in the pretense of helping him get the boot on, and lets him go. He tells the others of his discovery, and they move up to interrogate the hosting slattern. Unfortunately for her, Vesper is in a killing mood, Opilio is very disapproving, and both suspect her of feeding information to the bandits. Only when Ettorio arrives does she show some sign of hope.

“Ettorio?” she asks, grateful to see a familiar face amid all the panic.

“I… I’m sure your name is very lovely,” the Iluni responds eloquently.

Between Ettorio’s sympathetic stance, Opilio’s stern disapproval, and Vesper’s barely restrained anger, the (unfortunately never named) doxy tells all she knows. She hasn’t been in league with the bandits in any fashion other than the typical business transaction, and isn’t sure how they knew of the Sespechs’ travel plans.

Tracking “Cavo” is not a difficult task for Opilio. They find that he’s traveling up a disused road to an abandoned quarry and logging camp. Some time ago, the camp was stricken with sickness, attributed by local legend to the fae. The local gentry forbade any return to the site, fearing that it would stir up another outbreak, and gradually the place was forgotten.

As they head up the trail, they spot what seems to be a lookout’s blind on the edge of the woods. Ettorio slips ahead and dispatches the sentries with disconcerting ease. The group is then free to travel up the forest road to the abandoned camp, and they find no other sentries posted before they reach the settlement.

Several of the bandits have set up their bedrolls in a split-level sawmill, designed to cut both wood and stone. The group ambushes the bandits there, and the fight is a challenging one that spreads around the still-functional sawblades and splits off some of the heroes from one another. The bandits are defeated, however, and one almost makes it to the quarry before being brought down by dogged pursuit.


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