Peribold And Hornsby

Session 5
First Contact

In the middle of the night, Hornsby is awoken by an utterly alien sensation that he nonetheless immediately recognizes as telepathic communication. It is Galt. The communication seems to be one-way and brief; Hornsby is simply told that there is a woman at the Wood-and-sea mage guild who he should confide in. The directive is apparently open-ended, but presumably related to the student attacks.

After breakfast, Peribold and Hornsby realize they will need some assistance to find their way to the mage’s guild. Uncle Jaffrey, trying for all the world to conceal his utter delight at being of assistance, makes a show of seeming put out by the interruption to his intent meditation on a globe in his dusty study. Moments later he is guiding them through town, taking what appears to be a less than direct route. On the way, they are treated to an abridged history of his time as a police captain.

The Wood-and-sea mage’s guild appears to be a small estate converted to multiple purposes: place of business, intellectual salon, research facility, meeting hall and more. The second floor opens out onto an expansive balcony frequently populated at mid-day with two or more takers of tea, weather permitting. This is just such a day, and a man and a woman are maintaining a polite discourse when Uncle Jaffrey arrives with wards in tow. The woman turns out to be Esther, and tells Peribold and Hornsby to meet her in the first floor entry room. Jaffrey takes his leave after instructing them on how to get from the guild to town hall. Esther, the guildwarden for Wood-and-sea, is friendly, helpful and officious. After leading the two scholars into a magically-protected study, she reveals that she, too, was telepathically contacted by Galt during the night. A pooling of information follows. Esther expresses sorrow at the death of Darcy Gilt-hearth, as she was the one who urged him to undertake magical studies. His focus was meta-magic, a field usually left as the last topic of study for arch-mages, and extremely ineffective in the hands of a novice. Esther recommends that they make use of the guild’s library, and is caught by the detail of the wolf. Its unusual markings suggest that it is no ordinary animal, and merits attention; it might in actuality be an emissary of the Wolfmatron, a forest god known to hold court deep within the Green Tide. If this is the case, then at a minimum it possesses fierce strength, magical abilities and intelligence on par with or surpassing a human, opening up the intriguing avenue that it is not a mage’s familiar and is operating alone. Esther, Peribold and Hornsby agree to work in concert and share information when opportunities present themselves. After receiving directions to the Gilt-hearth estate, the traveling mages take their leave, promising to return soon.

The estate is sprawling, opulent and nautically-themed. Topiary whales, dolphins and mermaids line the stone avenue leading up to the manor. The entryway features a compass rose statue beneath a winding staircase with a lacquered rope banister leading to a large mezzanine. Everything is appointed in rich wood and brass. Paintings of ships and captains abound. On the second floor, the wandering scholars are met by Ronald Gilt-hearth, a shipping magnate native to Wood-on-sea. Before either gets a chance to speak, Ronald has intuited the purpose of the visit. He guides them quickly into his nearby study, but not before Darcy’s sister, Belinda (a fetching and heart-achingly fragile creature) sees them and faints to the floor. Ronald begs their pardon and sees to his family for several minutes, leaving them alone to explore his study. The most impressive detail is the view that Ronald’s study window affords of the Wood-on-sea docks, probably the very docks that his shipping company owns.

Ronald returns and takes the official news as best he can. His questioning leads him to learn that Peribold and Hornsby were responsible for the death of the goblins that killed his son, and furthermore that they also took care of retrieving the body and delivering it to the Golden Order Magical Society. This makes a big impression on Ronald. “You’ve done a thing for me that I can’t quantify,” he says. “And I’m a businessman. Quantifying is what I do.” He makes clear to Peribold and Hornsby that it would bring him great peace to help them in any way he can, and that he is a man of extensive means. They are given free passage across Lake Tannerpens whenever they need it. For their part, the magical pair are subdued in tone and deferential. They leave shortly after arriving, a sense of closure achieved.

Hardly slackening the pace on their day, they head off for the Spitted Pig, the inn where Harkness debauches away his bounty earnings. He is several sheets to the wind when they arrive, but in a practiced manner. They are greeted warmly and entreated to drink, but manage to stay focused on the task at hand: namely, the collection of their bounties. Once reminded, Harkness is eager enough. The three walk over from the Pig to city hall to collect, but just before they can do so a messenger informs the desk clerk that all goblinoid bounties have been doubled by order of the city council, and paid for from the personal coffers of the Gilt-hearth estate. Flush with reward money, they return to the Pig and discuss future plans. Harkness plans to head back out into the Copse and track down the ogre he’s been searching for. Peribold and Hornsby are invited to come, and agree to do so on the following morning.

With that, they take their leave of the bounty hunter to prepare. The first stop is the mage guild, where they are greeted by Esther. She informs them that she’s been doing some research and is more convinced than ever that the wolf they described is from the Green Tide. They go into the study and research ogres for several hours, but their poor study skills cause them to turn up only the most basic information. Still, some of it is useful: Ogres are huge and ferocious carnivores, nearly intelligent as humans. They can be fairly quick and quiet despite their size. Solitary creatures, they attack and eat goblins and hobgoblins in addition to other forest animals. They leave the carcasses of their meals wherever they are done with them, but bury their scat.

Having finished their studies, they pair get up to leave when a blood-curdling scream draws them out to the avenue in front of the guild. There, they see the red-muzzled wolf accompanied by several large, grey wolves. The red-muzzled wolf is standing over the mauled corpse of a guild wizard, while another wizard stands nearby in a state of complete shock. The red-muzzled wolf turns its attention to Peribold and Hornsby and begins speaking, to the shock of all present. It tells them that it has been aware of their presence and purpose for some time, and makes it clear that any further investigation into its affairs will be rewarded with death. It then departs, its retreat protected by a phalanx of grey wolves. No one makes any attempt to engage. Afterwards, an emergency guild meeting is called. This provides the two scholars an opportunity to see the amassed members of the Wood-and-sea guild, which number roughly twenty. Among them is Marcellus, the mage who tutors Hornsby’s uncle and other widower friends. He is an extremely intense person, but cordial in their meeting. He says he looks forward to seeing them at their uncle’s sessions, and hopes to see what they are capable of.

The meeting commences, and Esther shares news of the attack with the assembled members. The red-muzzled wolf’s ability to speak and reason confirms its nature as an emissary of the Wolfmatron. Whether it operates under her auspices or those of another master is uncertain. In fact, Esther strongly recommends that it be considered the creature’s master is itself. They must all be on guard and work in concert, sharing information and strength. Another interesting detail is that there were two guild members present, and only one was attacked. This reason is unknown, but a possibility is that one of them, the deceased, was a graduate of the Golden Order Magical Society. The other was not . . . It is also noted that the assembly remembers another time, many years ago, when mages were openly attacked in Wood-and-sea. At that time, the culprit was a powerful yet wicked mage known as Leopold the Dabbler. However, he was hunted down and killed.

Exhausted, Peribold and Hornsby return to their uncle’s house and go to bed. These troubling events will have to wait until after their trek into the woods.

The next morning they find Harkness at the Pig, already inebriated, his belongings carefully packed in a bag by his stool. The trio immediately head off due East along the Portmouth river, in search of the Ogre.

Session 4
The Ambush

We rejoin our adventurers, Peribold and Hornsby, at a moment of great peril—a sudden attack by two goblin warriors, a goblin shaman and a large hobgoblin warrior wielding an axe and a crude shield. The vicious creatures take the initiative. The goblin shaman charges onto the road and evokes a gout of goblinfire that strikes Hornsby squarely and threatens to end the fight as quickly as it started. The two goblin warriors rush out to overwhelm Hornsby. The hobgoblin, slower, makes his way toward the fray but does not yet display an obvious preference of victim.

Sensing how dire their situation has become, both mages cast powerful Armor spells to buy them time. They even go so far as to tap the energy reserves in their rings. The battle is engaged when a shout from down the road heralds the sprinting approach of a dusty, flint-jawed warrior. The hobgoblin lets out a roar of challenge and runs to meet the interloper, who in turn draws an exquisite, though battle-worn greatsword from his back. Seconds later they clash. The hobgoblin’s axe is true, but at the last moment its arc is interrupted as the shield on the warrior’s back leaps to life and intercedes. Dancing around the warrior and protecting him from the axe, the shield moves with a magical life. To complement this magical defense, an aura of blames bursts up around the blade of the greatsword. With a seasoned calm, the strange warrior dispatches the shrieking hobgoblin in a few quick strokes.

Meanwhile, Peribold and Hornsby battle fiercely with the goblins. The shaman strikes Peribold with two solid blasts , leaving him dazed and near collapse. However, the shaman is similarly weakened by the magical exertion and can summon no more flame. The battle quickly becomes a route as Hornsby fells one of the goblin warriors and Peribold defeats the shaman. The last goblin sprints for the woods, but Hornsby dispatches him with a bolt of lightning set square in his fleeing back.

Introductions are made. The warrior shares that his name is Harkness Beringer. He lives by hunting down goblinkind and trading in their toes for a small bounty, as his father did before him. His heirloom weapons are known as Roughshod the greatsword and Pellmell the dancing shield, and he speaks of them with obvious fondness. A quick deal is reached by which the goblin bounty can be split, to which Peribold and Hornsby, previously unaware that a bounty even existed, quickly agree to. The trio decide to travel the rest of the way back to Wood-and-sea together. On the way, Harkness shares that his current task is the hunting of an ogre warrior, a massive beast whose bounty would allow him to live comfortably for some time. However, unlike his father he is terrible at tracking and has lost the scent several times.

Finally, after much danger and distraction, the city stands before them. With Harkness’ help, they talk their way past the city watchmen with ease. Before departing, he tells them how to collect on the bounties, and suggests that, when their duties are addressed they might visit him at the tavern he calls his home. They promise to do so. All that remains is to make their way to the home of Hornsby’s Uncle Jaffrey.

Uncle Jaffrey’s manservant greets the scholars at the door and leads them into the living room with great excitement. Moments later, Jaffrey comes charging into the room and hugs Hornsby and Peribold with obvious delight. There is a rush of excitement and discussion, during which Hornsby carefully avoids mentioning their business at the Gilt-hearth estate, but which also reveals that Jaffrey and some fellow retirees have been attending sessions with a magical tutor. This has produced nothing more impressive than simple Light spells and the like, but Jaffrey humbly invites the graduates to attend a session and meet his tutor Marcellus. They agree and happily retire for the night, feeling a degree of safety almost unremembered.

Session 3
Into The Woods Redux

The next morning, rested up from a night in real beds, Peribold and Hornsby set out to deliver their grave message. Their classmate, Darcy Gilt-hearth, an aristocratic but ultimately pleasant young chap, was ambushed and murdered by goblins as part of what appears to be a larger operation to strike a blow against the Golder Order Magical Society. His parents, Eloise and Ronald, are fairly well-to-do and make their courtly home in Wood-and-sea, a cultured coastal city where, coincidentally, Hornsby’s uncle Jaffrey McSorrel also resides. To get there, they have to make their way through The Blue Copse, the very wood that lends Wood-and-sea half its name. The Blue Copse has proved surprisingly dangerous so far, despite its proximity to more than one population center. After a full day of uneventful travel, and passing the ambushed carriage to find it in much the state they remembered, they bed down.

That night, Hornsby wakes up from his notoriously light sleep to the strange silhouette of a small creature making its way down a tree toward the camp. Hornsby quickly arms himself and awakens Peribold from his comparatively deep slumber. The pair have hardly a moment to assess the situation before they are attacked by two very large spiders who but a moment ago were mere feet from their sleeping heads. The creature in the tree reveals itself to be a third spider, and the battle is quickly joined. Immediately, Hornsby is bitten on the leg by one of the spiders and injected with its venom. The sensation of the toxin coursing through his leg brings a sense of urgency to the battle and he is understandably focused on his immediate safety—thus, a wall of wind springs up around him and causes two of the spiders to be flung away and dazed. Unfortunately it also extinguishes the campfire, putting Peribold and Hornsby at a disadvantage. Peribold casts a weak Armor spell, but even this seems enough to protect against the spiders’ bite. He and the remaining spider face off, neither seemingly able to squarely wound the other.

Sensing that the spiders will disregard him and focus their attack on Peribold, Hornsby disperses the wall of wind and flanks the spider facing his friend. The darkness proving to be a serious liability, Peribold uses his fire magic to re-kindle the campsite. The other two spiders quickly swarm Hornsby and score a second bite. The poison has not yet affected him but he knows his life will hang in the balance soon enough. The light now restored, the schoolmates slowly but surely turn the tide of battle, scoring hit after hit until the spiders flee or are vanquished.

The duo quickly turn their attention to Hornsby’s wounds, but fail to have any luck at providing any immediate aid or drawing the poison out. Peribold runs off into the woods in search of anti-venom herbs, a fool’s errand made even more ineffectual by his agitated state. That leaves Hornsby to struggle against the toxin without any assistance or sense of what he faces. Over the course of an hour, the poison racks his body and he comes closer to unconsciousness. His leg is swollen and fiery to the touch. After some time, the fever breaks and he feels his body begin to recover. Peribold, embarrassed but glad that his friend seems to be doing better, uses his healing magic to greatly accelerate the recovery process.

The next day they continue their trek to Wood-and-sea, tired from lack of sleep and sore in the limbs (one, especially). A short while after setting out, they hear feminine cries of distress emanating from the thick woods South of their road. Without any hesitation, they head in the direction of the sound and quickly spot a very young girl gripping her leg in apparent pain and calling for help. Striding towards her, they are almost-but not quite-too distracted to notice the deep covered pit in front of her, clearly meant to swallow them up. Her plan foiled, the girl quickly leaps to her feet and sprints off into the woods on her two perfectly able, but bony legs.

Incensed at the callousness of youth but ever-mindful, Hornsby takes in his surroundings and realizes that a young boy, not more than a few years older than the girl, is standing high up in a nearby tree and pleasantly smoking on a pipe. A delightful parlay ensues, pitting Hornsby’s desire for the boy to come down the tree and face a reckoning with the boy’s desire to pass the whole episode off as youthful pranksterism with, in the present case, no obvious victim. Peribold suggests that Hornsby use Earth magics to fill the pit (an idea he congratulates himself on), but is ignored. Finding no purchase with the slippery logic of the charming vandal’s mind, Hornsby shifts his attention to details of the nearby gypsy camp in which he lives. The boy agrees to guide the duo back to the camp, where it is suggested they might find more information, as well as the opportunity to peruse the local wares.

Back at the camp, and feeling slightly out-of-place, Peribold and Hornsby are presented to the camp elder. He is helpful and patronly. Among other things, the traveling scholars learn that: 1) The goblins do not attack the gypsies, even though they inhabit the same woods, 2) the gypsies have little luck entering or doing business with the nearby towns and cities, and 3) lately a massive, greyish-blue wolf with a red muzzle has been spotted looking down from the rise above the camp. Understandably intrigued by this last detail, they secure permission from the camp elder to spend the night in the hopes of observing a visitation; they are not disappointed.

That night, both Peribold and Hornsby awaken inexplicably and come out into the night air with a sense of dread and heightened awareness. There, they come across the camp elder. All three look to the rise. There, standing perfectly still and looking down on them, is the wolf with the red muzzle. A moment later, it steps back and out of sight. They contemplate chasing it, but the degree of its head start and the possibility of an ambush convince them to leave well enough alone.

The next day, they leave the camp and return to the road, again setting out for Wood-and-sea. Half a day’s travel from finally arriving at their destination, a rustling in the tree line to their right alerts them to an ambush. A dread wells up in their stomachs as they see two goblins, a shaman behind them and a man-sized goblin-like creature leading the charge with his vicious hand-axe. “Oh no,” says Peribold. “A hobgoblin.”

Session 2
A Plot Becomes Apparent

Peribold and Hornsby, following the goblins’ indiscreet path through the woods, cross a small creek and then find their trail ascending sharply upwards. Moving slowly due to the rocky, uneven landscape, they travel for about half an hours’ time before something makes them drop to a crouch. There it is: some ways further up the mountain, a small cave guarded by at least two more goblins.

Choosing discretion over the direct approach, the duo circle around and make towards the cave entrance along the mountain-side. Once within attacking distance, the two make themselves known as they steps out from the shadows and begin gathering arcane energies for an assault. The goblins almost immediately run at the young pair, displaying a frightening, animal speed. Perhaps alarmed by the rapid approach, both disciples miss their targets. Hornsby brings up his already-famous wall of wind, while Peribold prepares for melee—he has no intent of frittering away his magics on his Armor spell this time!

Almost immediately he regrets it, as he is deeply wounded by one of the goblins. Things go from bad to worse quickly, as he takes another wound. He is in bad shape and facing off against two of the goblins, who he can’t seem to land a hit on. The third goblin is preparing a sling stone to try against Hornsby’s wall of wind.

Hornsby, seeing the dire situation his companion is in, directs a jet of air toward one of the standing goblins, and knocks it down. This leaves Peribold with a fighting chance as only one goblin is standing near him. Peribold jumps at the oportunity, striking a surprisingly vicious blow to the goblin’s weapon arm, crippling it and stunning the goblin. By now, the goblin that was facing Hornsby has gotten up and decided to try throwing a sling stone against his foe hidden behind the vortex. This proves to be a futile attack as the swirling winds buffet the stone away.

Peribold easily dispatches the stunned foe, and squares off against the other goblin who is, once again, on the ground and seemingly blind after throwing himself into the wall of wind in a desparate attempt to attack Hornsby.

Hornsby, now seeing his friend is doing well, launches a bolt of lightning against the goblin with the sling in the hopes of destroying the foul creature in one strike. Unfortunately, the goblin is not killed by the bolt, only stunned. With both remaining goblins unable to defend themselves effectively, Peribold and Hornsby dispatch the remaining foes.

Looking off toward the cave entrance, the companions see at least two more goblins watching them from a safe distance. A moment later, they are gone into the belly of the mountain. It’s clear that they want the next skirmish to happen on their terms. Cleverly, Hornsby casts a spell to move the earth and seal off the entrance, save a couple feet. This strategy, intended to give them time to rest (but not suffocate any allies inside the cave) pays unexpected dividends—one of the goblins attempts to scramble through the small hole. It is defenseless in this position and quickly dispatched. No more goblins are so daring. Feeling good about this turn of luck, the two rest a short while before re-opening the cave mouth. Peribold uses his healing magics to great effect in the short time they can spare.

There is a smell of filth and death when they enter the cave. Sensing another dire situation, both cast protective armor spells. Hornsby takes the lead through the short passageway. Before too long, the passageway opens up into a larger cavern, where there is a goblin with a sword and a smaller, odd looking-goblin holding a staff and wearing some kind of ceremonial shroud.

The goblin with the sword charges, swinging his weapon at Hornsby. A little too overeager for violence, the goblin swings wildly and misses. His companion, however, remains in the corner of the room, pointing his staff at Hornsby and letting loose a searing ball of flame. Instinct saves Hornsby as he reflexively brings up his shield to block the blast.

Once past the initial surprise of a goblin shaman, Peribold and Hornsby take to the threat they can immediately deal with, the goblin blocking their way to the fire shaman. They quickly move to flanking position and strike the goblin with their weapons, knocking it senseless. Furious, the shaman lets loose another jet of flame, but it goes wide. Peribold tells Hornsby to finish the helpless goblin as he charges the shaman, ever ready to close with those who would harm his companion.

Perhaps it is Peribold’s familiarity with fire magic that allows him to dodge the ensuing magical flames. But after short order, he is standing, and the shaman is not. They can only guess at how close they came to perishing.

The cave is quiet, save the crackle of a small dung fire in the corner. The two survey the room, and their hearts drop as they see what was once a classmate of theirs laying in a heap not too far from the fire. They notice that his magical class ring, the one given to all new graduates, is missing, and moreover, so is the finger that held the ring! Hornsby inspects the wound and mentions that it looks like it was ripped or bitten off. They quickly confirm that neither the ring nor the finger are anywhere to be found, but they do find a rough leather pouch of 300 gold pieces that appears to have been carried in someone or something’s teeth. They find that the goblin shaman’s staff is a potent source of magic, but is the source of much of the stench in the cavern. They also find paw prints that suggest a large dog or wolf. Concern takes the two and they decide they need to leave the cave quickly and discreetly.

Bearing their fallen comrade down the mountain is the right thing to do, but proves to be back-breaking and difficult. They move slowly and carefully through the rocky terrain toward the road and the destroyed carriage. Morning comes and the two are exhausted. They quickly decide to bring the body back to their school, as it is closer than Hornsby’s uncle’s house. A litter is created out of scrap lumber salvaged from the ambushed carriage, and they head back.

Upon reaching the college, they cause an immediate stir among the headmasters present, who quickly spirit away the young boy’s body. A surprised Galt approaches and they relate the story of the goblin attack. His mood darkens and he thanks the boys for doing the right thing, instructing them to return to their rooms at the Society and wait for him. Not much time passes and Galt enters the novice’s quarters.

He looks troubled as he tells Peribold and Hornsby that there is a new, surprising danger to the school. Apparently someone is paying goblins to attack and kill graduates passing through the woods. None know who could be doing this, but this is the second graduate to have been killed since leaving the college. It appears that the class rings provide proof of the deed to the buyer, and the gold is delivered in a pouch. The tooth marks on the pouch suggest that it was delivered by a large wolf. This raises the frightening possibility that another mage is hiring the goblins, and his wolf familiar is handling the delivery. However, it doesn’t explain what goblins would need with gold—they typically scavenge their food, have no economy of their own and are despised by all of the races intelligent enough to possess their own merchants. The goblin shaman’s staff is a thing of evil and will be careful destroyed. Galt states the instructors will be having a meeting about this disturbing situation and deciding how to best deal with the threat (as well as try to guess who might have cause to harm them), and asks Peribold and Hornsby to deliver a note to the parents of the fallen student relating the sadness the college has over losing one of its own.

Of course the two accept and agree to deliver the note. They leave the next morning…..

Session 1
The Story Begins

Peribold and Hornsby, recent graduates of the Golden Order Magical Society, head out along a path through the woods which will ultimately take them back to Hornsby’s uncle’s house in the city of Cobblecleave. This is a natural decision as his uncle is Hornsby’s geographically closest relative. Peribold tags along as he does on most of his friend’s adventures (not to mention his family is much farther away). Just before nightfall, they come across an ambushed carriage. On closer examination, they find it is still being picked over by two goblin warriors, eyes glowing red in the amber twilight. Utilizing their rumored (and now known to be abundant) speed, the two goblins spring at the young mages, hissing and drawing crude iron short swords. Peribold, panicking, casts a powerful Armor spell on himself, giving his body the equivalent protection of a full suit of platemail but depleting most of his energy reserves. Hornsby, always the calmer of the two, surrounds himself with a magical wall of wind. This turns out to be the perfect action, and carried out in the nick of time, for the two goblins were about to display that other famous trait of their kind: a penchant for singling out and swarming individual opponents. As Peribold draws his longsword, he watches as the two goblins leap at and are buffeted away by the wall of wind. They fall to the ground several feet from Hornsby, stunned and blinded. Peribold wades in with his sword, making short work of one of the goblins. Another begins to run and is struck down by a magical bolt from Hornsby.

Regaining their composure, the two inspect the carriage and determine that a goblin ambush has taken place. A rough path off the road seems to have been created by the dragging of a human-sized body into the woods. Whether the body is of a captive or a corpse remains to be seen, but Peribold and Hornsby are determined to follow the trail where it leads.

First, though, Peribold requires a brief rest to regain some of the mana he expended so carelessly. His skill in recovery allows him to make the most of the fifteen minutes the duo set aside for rest and then they quickly strike out into the woods.


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