Everybody present (we quickly filled in Alex with some of the details of last week).
The group discusses a bit the plan, Therai is very interested in “sabotaging” Ianto’s plan for a successful caravan and then maybe “including” Iuraks in an effort to go to the monastery ruin, the debate is how much Iuraks is interested in the family business and how much is willing to go ahead on his own.
At dawn, the group is ready to travel back to the fort, everybody is preparing to go, this time with mounts! The entire caravan consists in the group, L’tok and 5 more guards (all on Crudlu) and a couple of Erdlu transporting the supplies required. The idea is to get to the fort before dusk moving quickly.
Just when everybody is getting ready, Hardok is approached by some guy that he recognizes as one of the bum he bumped during the scuff of the previous day, the guy present himself as “Zip” and thanks Hardok for not killing him, and offers to buy him a drink the next time.
Done with that, the caravan departs and quickly leaves the premises. Nothing much happens during the trip, and everybody arrives safely at midday. The day passes uneventfully too, except for Irann that is not extremely happy about riding.
It seems apparent that the fort is being repaired from the damages provoked by the Dragon.
Once in, the animals are unpacked and then some workers begins to prepare the equipment to be loaded again the next day for the real caravan. The group is told that L’Tok will brief them on the caravan in the evening.
While they wait, the group takes the time to have a quick look at the cargo. It seems the caravan is transporting basically 2 type of goods: cloths (and fabric) and an assortment of metal tools, not top-of-the-line tools, but still valuables.
During the briefing the group is informed that the target is the Jade Tiger village, that is an Halfling settlements in the Forest Ridge.
The Forest Ridge is a place unlike any other on Athas, it is a wild, verdant land of dense jungle, choked with vines, bracken, brambles and countless species of animals and plants. Competition in the jungle is fierce, and the denizens have to adapt or be devoured.
The village is situated about 10 days from the fort, way outside the so called “Weather zone” of Tyr, a “bubble” that protect the city and its surroundings from the worse of the harsh weather. Outside that bubble, if you can’t find a safe place where to rest, sleeping won’t really let you regain powers or heal you anymore.
The first stage of the trip is to get to Outpost 10. A settlement that was originally owned by House Wavir and has been abandoned some years before. Ianto has ‘bought’ the rights from Wavir of using such place, so the first order is to get there and check its status. The caravan is also carrying some supply that have to be used to stock the outpost. Outpost 10 should be on the edge or just outside the ‘Weather zone’.
The group is to travel ahead of the main core of the caravan, checking the path and leaving markers for the caravan to follows, warning of problems or perils. Once reached the outpost, they will wait for the caravan and then leave for the village.
The outpost is about 4 and an half day travel from the fort, if they can get the shortest route and not to loose too much time in the trip.
The whole trip is defined as “reasonable risk, reasonable rewards”.
Therai, is a bit worried about the behavior of the Halfling, mostly based on the common knowledge that the halflings are mostly savage barbarians dedicated to the practice of eating all foreigners. Strabo however dismiss such stories claiming that “yes, some halflings are dangerous, but you can say the same of a lot of non-halflings too, you may be surprised”.
There are indeed lot of Halfling villages that keeps semi-regular trading connections with Tyr and other cities, exchanging the local products, mostly art, jewelry and products that cannot be found in the desert area, with tools, cloth and similar goods. Jade Tiger is known for his jewelry made in jade (of course). Also used for weaponry. It has been, however, quite some time since the last regular trip to the village, so Ianto is trying to re-start the whole trade, it seems.
The caravan is composed by about 8 Erdlu and a number of support personnel, L’Tok is in charge. Everybody mounts a Crodlu. Considering everything, the value of the caravan could be in the thousands of coins.
While the group wait for the Briefing, Irann and Cor goes to relay the message that Delvin gave them for Iuraks. Iuraks seems a bit worried about it but it doesn’t comment. He has some insight in the writing on the medallion and go on talking about the remenance of the Deep Speech, that is the language used by the Gith. They are a race of savage warriors inabhiting the region in the south, they speak a version of it that is recognizable by the guttural sound. It is very different from elvish. He also inform them that “if you are UNlucky you could encounter them”.
After a resting night, everybody is ready to go. After some protests even Irann mount the Crudlu and the group begin to move, leaving the fort that is still undergoing reconstruction and quickly leaving the rest of the caravan behind and moving towards the mountains.
Nothing to worry about in the beginning. The terrains become a bit more hilly and raw. At one point while riding, Hardok notices a strange mound surrounded by some “holes” in the ground around some mound. And somebody notices that the “mound” is actually a Baazrag and a “breeder”, and the holes are where the hatchlings hide. The strategy of the animal is to hide under the dirt and spring out whenever somebody pass too close.
The group decide to put down a signpost to warn the caravan about the beast and simply move around.
After a while, the group passes nearby the location of the Thiefling Shrine, Therai recognizes the place but decided not to stop.
While traveling along a gorge, Hardok spots a strand of Crystal Web, immediately he alerts the others and the group quickly decide to avoid the danger zone moving around. Again, the group marks the gorge as ‘unsafe’ location.
After sometimes the group decide to start looking for a place to set up camp, since the sun is approaching the horizon. Since the following caravan won’t use the same campsite it doesn’t really matter where the group stops.
After a night rest, everybody remount and keep moving. After a while, the group find his path blocked by a landslide, a good chunk of the mountain has slid down taking part of the path with it. The group assess the situation and decide to try to clear up a bit the way, and then try to move through the rubble leading the crudlu on foot. After shoveling for about one hour the group try to walk through but Irann and Hardok slips along the slope. So Hardok grabs the shovel and clean up a bit more. In the end, the whole group can clear the obstruction with some bruise.
Afer some more traveling, it appears clear to the group that the sky is a lot more clear in the direction they are coming from than the direction they are heading. Clear indication that they are approaching the limit of the ‘weather zone’ surrounding Tyr. Also, in the haze, an extremely tall and steep mountain far in the distance, towering above the others, everybody realize that what they are seeing is mount Naran. Somebody says that in clean day you can see it from Tyr. Naran is the home place and domain of the Gith and common lore is that when you can see Naran, you are basically in Gith territory.
The Gith are barbaric humanoid that lives in the wild, they consider basically everything that is edible as prey, not really fun to be around with. Lore says that they came from some other place on a flying ship and Mount Naran is that ship. There are apparently no regular settlings of Gith. They are known to be gifted Psionist, so be aware that you can be also attacked with psionic attacks.
So the group proceed further, and after a while everybody begins to hear noises of thunders, small thunders and apparently closer to the ground. And Hardok recognizes the noise as caused by Thunder Rams, those animals usually wander around in small herds, they don’t have many natural enemies and are more or less neutral, a lot curious though, however they tend to “check things” by “zapping” them with small lightning bolts created between their horns, and the lightning bolts causes the thunderclaps.
The group discusses a bit the problem that could be cause by the herd if the caravan encounters them, however Hardok insists that these animals are his “totem” and should not be armed. He suggests that he will try to “attract” them away from the path while the rest of the group circle around and then wait for him.
Hardok decide to get closer with the mount and then leaves it behind approaching the herd on foot, the herd is a very small one only composed by 3 or 4 animals, they moves around easily in the rocky terrains and keeps track of each other by the small thunderclaps, unfortunately, they seems very curious.
Hardok attempt to attract the attention of the creatures away by tossing some bread or other edible at a certain distance, unfortunately the ram seems more curious about Hardok than ever and he gets a zap for that. To mitigate further problems Hardok decide to assume the Form of Mountain Thunder gaining the protection that this gives.
After some messing around, he manages to move the herd a bit further from the path, so he moves back, recover the mount (that also got zapped and decide to move a bit further) and re-join the group that was getting worried. So the whole “operation” is successful and only loss is a couple of healing surges.
In the mean time, the rest of the group have progressed further along the path, and came across a field with small boulders, like somebody placed them, with some burnt and scorch marks on them and then everybody realizes that those are actually plants, some kind of ‘cactus’ plants. When Varnag and Therai approaches, they notices that cracks appears on the surface, like they are preparing to burst open. They are known as “rock cactus”. They are carnivorous plants, they sense the vibration of the terrain and shot tendrils in the direction of the approaching animals and attempts to drink the fluid of the victims. It seems however that the Thunder Rams find the cactus very tasty.
The group decides to simply marks the field and circle around.
After some more hours of traveling, the group decides that is the moment of stopping or looking for a place where to rest. It is clear that the group has reached the border of the Weather Zone. After a quick look around, the group found a nice spot for camping. During the night however, a nasty cold wind begins to hollow waking up everybody, so the night is not really comfortable. At dawn everybody is ready to move, and it seems that, if they can make some real progress during the day, they’ll manage to be at the outpost the next day.
Along the way the group meets something like a small valley that looks nice and shady, but it also looks filled up with bushes with lot of thorns. Therai isn’t happy about going into the valley, so the whole group decide to avoid the valley and move around it (after leaving another sign).
The group continues along, suffering from the increased heath, and reaches a vantage point from which they can see the next hill, and the can also see a group of humanoids traveling roughly across the path towards north, the group has the suspicion that the Gith are coming from the outpost location. They wait for the group disappear and then they decide to continue in direction of the outpost. After a while the group realize that they can either keep moving and try to reach the outpost or camp out in the wild and then reach the outpost at daytime.
After a while, Irann and Cor actually spot the fort! And it seems there is light in it… something like a fire.
The fort is a tower structure with two “wings” and a palisade closing the whole structure. However, years of abandon have caused the palisade to collapse and part of the roofs to be damaged. The tower and the wings are still standing thought.
There is definitively light inside and closing in the group can ear some guttural sound coming from the inside… Gith are in. At least 3 of them and it doesn’t seems they are expecting anybody, they didn’t even posted guards outside.
After a bit of discussion the group decide to go in and attack. The plan is to circle around entering from the back of the building, rush the tower and surprise them.