Another player joined, so we now have three: Grom the Humakti, Xaraya Greatbow (and is that surname accurate) and now the beautiful redhead Skye. On we go...
There remained one more contest – the Chest-Pounding. This contest was for men only, so the women jeered from the sidelines (Xaraya: “You call that a chest?”), among them a young Vingan warrior from Pavis, Skye. Grom, as champion of the wrestling contest, felt he had to enter and handily defeated Gradulus the Lunar Apostate, but drew his old enemy Kwik-Kik in the next round. Kwik-Kik used his martial arts to avenge his broken leg and defeated Grom. Eventually “Big Daddy” Fathacnut defeated Taizon the Agimori in the final, and was awarded a magnificent Chainmail Hauberk, which he gifted to his son Rathacnut.
That night, Xaraya and Grom found themselves at Griswald’s table once more, and they were once again joined by Salvidienus. This time, the Vingan contigent joined them, including Britgar Spearhaft, Ethburga (a large woman who drank like a fish), Alyrra Ingilli and Enfrewa Hendriki, a sacred Red Woman of the cult: beautiful, sensible, charming and utterly unattainable. They teased the sage, with games like Britgar sitting on his lap and caressing his beard, before Ethburga took over. The sage made his excuses and left.
Griswald then approach Grom and Xaraya, saying he had a task he had agreed to do for his old friend, the Constable of Bullford, and wondered if they would join him. Xaraya asked what the task entailed, and he said it was a task to harvest the fruit of a Money Tree. Ordinarily, the people of Bullford would send a large party of men to do this, but because it was the beginning of Sea Season, they needed all their men to plant their crops. Xaraya found the idea of a Money Tree preposterous, but agreed to listen to Griswald’s friend’s offer.
The wedding came and went, with many cattle slaughtered and much BEER consumed. Amazingly, no-one tried to disrupt the wedding or kidnap the bride and Caerthan and his wife rode off for their yurt. After the wedding, Griswald introduced the players to Henere Hamilcar, Constable of Bullford, who explained about the Fiscus, or Money Tree, how such a thing existed and how sacred the task was. Griswald explained how, twenty years ago, he had been part of the group that went to harvest the tree, and so knew the way. This would be his last adventure before settling down to raise young warriors. Grom and Xaraya agreed, as did Skye, who had been recommended by Enfrewa. Salvidienus was also coming along, to value the haul. Henere said that the Wise Woman of Bullford, chief priestess of Esra in Bullford, would teach each volunteer a point of Spirit Magic. They would set out the next morning.
Sea Season, Disorder Week
An uneventful trek into increasingly wild lands saw no events of note. At night, Skye was keeping watch when she heard something large coming through the undergrowth towards the campsite. She woke the Sage and told him it was his watch! He, however, also heard the creature and woke Griswald, who said it was just a bear and they could frighten it off. They did so, and resumed their night’s sleep with their food sources unsnaffled.
As they were making their way along the banks of the Zola Fel, the party found its way blocked by a small, disheveled figure, the duck bandit Yozarian. Several of the party noted the bandit appeared to be backed up by armed crossbowmen to his rear. He demanded 10L each, then, as the party sized up their options, increased the demand to 12L each. Xaraya informed him that his men were being targeted by their own allies, at which point Yozarian told her he knew she was lying. Grom was certain they were about to come under attack, but Xaraya realized the duck’s back-up was actually a series of dummies, one with a pumpkin for a head. Yozarian, figuring the game was up, dropped his crossbow and jumped into a pool, where he swam quickly to the bottom. Skye divested her armor and jumped in with a shortsword to follow him, but was unable to get deep enough before her breath ran out, although she noticed that the duck appeared to be using a couple of barrels tied down as air pockets. Grom looked around for a large boulder and, along with Xaraya, was able to roll it, with difficulty, towards the pond. The boulder attack drove Yozarian to the surface, where he offered ransom. Xaraya, however, told him merely to make himself scarce and find something else to do for a living. He left with a quack and waddle and a quack and, after an arrow for Xaraya hit a tree near him, a flurry of eiderdown. Griswald raised an eyebrow and smiled.
That night, Griswald was keeping watch when he heard three large creatures heading towards the camp through the bush. He swiftly woke the others and they formed a defensive circle. Three large rock lizards burst out of the treeline and started towards the party. Skye and Salvidienus both hit one lizard with disrupt spells, before Xaraya’s bow struck true and severely injured the lizard Grom and his cat were closing on. Meanwhile, Griswald hurled a spear and impaled. Grom’s cat clawed its lizard before Xaraya felled the beats with another good shot. The other beasts had closed, so Skye drew her sword as Salvidienus hit with another Disrupt. Xaraya meanwhile adjusted her position and let off another shot, which again bit deep. Griswald landed a heavy blow on his lizard which Grom charged back to engage it. Skye finished her lizard off. The group converged on the remaining lizard, which Grom took down with a heavy blow to the head.
The trail led through increasingly thick forest and the party found its way blocked by a large, orb-shaped web, above which dangled a deer trapped in a cocoon of silk. Xaraya tried to find a way around, but Grom noticed the forest was covered in thick gobbets of web. Griswald said that the way lay beyond the web, so took out his knife to begin to cut through the web. Salvidienus joined him, as did Xaraya with her axe. Their hacking brought down the denizen of the web, a Giant Spider, which rappelled down a strand and attacked Griswald, but missed. He hefted his spear and shield while Skye and Salvidienus fired off Disruption spells. Grom, Xaraya and the cat hacked away at the monster, all connecting. The spider bit Xaraya’s shield twice before its wounds and rapidly dwindling number of legs forced it to retreat back up its strand. Skye missed with a shot from her self bow before Xaraya, dropping her shield and axe connected with a shot from her bow. Grom kicked the beast in the head and noticed its poison sacs, which Xaraya was able to cut out cleanly.
Next up, the players have to get to the top of the mountain, and get the leaves of The Money Tree.