Swords of Valor

Fifteenth Game Session

There Can Be Only One

The South Highlands of Glenside
 
Preface
 
Day 1: Warrick’s offices, Hanover City. Warrick, prepared with some personal items pilfered by Grom, attempted to divine the location and condition of Baroness. He saw in his mirror a vivid image of her alive and bound in a rocky place when a powerful force confounded his efforts. Something dark and alien tugged at his consciousness but he pulled himself free. Visions of a tall standing stone viewed through another large rough stone ring remain etched into Warrick’s mind.
 
Day 2-3: Hanover City. Armed with this new information, Warrick, Grom, Childris and Nartharian spread out to seek the location of the mysterious ring-shaped stone.

 
Warrick discovered that standing stones were once common in Hanover and elsewhere,  erected by the ancients for reasons
lost in time. In civilized places most have been taken for more useful purposes in walls and roads. In the wilds they remain. They hold little interest for Hanoverian wizards.
 
Grom focused his efforts on Orc and bandit activities near the site of the Baroness’ abduction. A fence claims to have acquired a dozen Glenside cavalry saddles a few weeks ago. Grom spends the rest of the adventure tracking down this lead.
 
Nartharian found that ancient standing were, and possibly still are, used by worshipers of a primitive faith known as “The Circle” as holy sites. The Trinity has no official doctrine regarding these people as long as there is no sorcerous influence. No records of this particular stone exists in church records here, but long ago a missionary named Father Donnegal had a keen interest in them. His chapel and manuscripts are in the remote highlands south of Glenside in a town called Caer Clldyn.
 
Childris
spoke to some of the King’s emissaries and heard of some troop movements near the Glenside Highlands last winter and spring. Rebels had destroyed the town of Clay Mill and its Exeter garrison in a sudden raid. In response, Exeter hired the Drammerstein Cavalry, a crusader troop known for their bravery in the face of sorcerous foes, to quell the rebellion. Captain Duros Matos will likely be recalled to the crusades next spring. Childris agreed to deliver a packet of orders bearing the seals of the King and the Trinity to him.
 
Day 4-18: Hanover City to Glenside. Warrick, Childris and Nartharian left Hanover City bound for Clay Mill in the south of Glenside. Upon reaching the Glenside border the crew was met by an escort of a dozen Exeter troops. They made the rest of the journey through the troubled land dull.
 
Day 19: Barnaby. Barnaby, the last town before Clay Mill yielded little information. The occupying Exeter forces
don’t appreciate questions and the population knows it. There were, however, rumors of magic, powerful and ancient, being used in the destruction of
Clay Mill.
 
Day 20: Clay Mill and the Horsecamp. The town was not only abandoned, but destroyed and overgrown with remarkable speed. Evidence indicates that fire and considerable force were used to topple the palisade and a stone wall nearby. 3 deep ruts carved in the earth lead the crew through a wood, past 2 flower strewn graves to 3 large menhir on a hilltop clearing. Slumped against the largest stone is the corpse of an Exeter officer strangely undisturbed by animals. By the body’s condition and dried blood tracing the spirals carved in the stone Nartharian feels that he may have been sacrificed. He senses no evil though. There was some discussion over burying the man. Several men were watching from a blind on the other side of the clearing.
 
The wary crew hailed the
watchers. They were Drammerstein regulars lead by Lt. Louise Gig (cute crusader chick lightly armored, Longsword and shield). Upon seeing Childris’ sealed letter she invited them into the crusaders’ camp. She offered to lead them to the Captain in Caer Clldyn in the morning.
 
That evening Warrick, Nartharian and Childris spoke to Lt. Gig and the crusaders. They had seen little action since they arrived in Glenside. Clay Mill was already abandoned. There was a brief engagement at Caer Clldyn with few casualties and no fatalities. A few men were lost when they tried to pursue some rebels into the wood beyond the town. Captain Matos and Father LeSioux have set up headquarters in Caer Clldyn and intend to stay there through winter.
 
One of the crusaders had served as Father LeSioux assistant. The Drammerstein priest had taken up residence in the chapel and spent much of his time in its library. He had become less zealous as
the summer passed. His sermons, once filled with fire and brimstone had become more focused on the highlanders’ ways. The assistant asked for a transfer a month ago and has served at this camp since then.
 
Day 21-25: Clay Mill to Caer Clldyn. The crusaders had begun to improve and fortify a road through the trackless highlands. Each night Lt. Gig lead the crew to a guarded checkpoint or campsite. The road is not fit for horses but a mule train could pass.
 
The last night of the journey the campsite was in an ancient ogre-sized longhouse deep in a hemlock forest. runes. A dead tree carved in the form of a swimming bear marks the entrance. A highland hunter named Aylems Clldyn (tall highlander, strong looking. lightly armored, great axe) is in command of the tiny garrison here. After a meal and more than a few drinks Ayelms said that he has lived here all his life. He knows these woods better than any man. He knows everyone in
his clan. None are rebels. The Pastor of Chapel Donnegal brought the people of Clay Mill to Caer Clldyn once the passes opened as a mercy. He would not let them pay for his actions. The Pastor had restored the Holy Stones at Clay Mill after they were stolen to build a wall, or some such nonsense. The Pastor takes his work very seriously. The Pastor moves freely about the highlands. If he doesn’t want to be found he’ll not be found. He has visited this this summer twice. Ayelms knows more but will not be pushed to tell.
 
The last checkpoint before Caer Clldyn is a ruined tower on a ridge. There is a mixed garrison of Drammerstein cavalrymen and highlanders here. The commander is Col. Craig Lordshammer (aging crusader, tough looking. Chain and med shield, lance and broadsword.) He already knows about the crew, their letter and their interest in the destruction of Clay Mill. He invites them to a meal, somewhat more civilized than the
last few days and warns them about meddling too much around here. The people responsible for the atrocities at Cly Myl are deep in the highlands. If they mean trouble it will come before winter or not at all. The Captain is planning on spending the winter here then declaring victory over the rebellion in the name of Exeter. Too much is at stake here for you to go wandering about the highlands making enemies where there are none. The highlanders are tough and set in their ways. They honor the Trinity but their ancient blood rituals are an affront to God. Father LeSioux will guide them away from their heresy.
 
The crew arrives in Caer Clldyn by afternoon.
 
Day 25-27: Caer Clldyn. The buildings in this small town are impossibly old, dome-shaped stone houses made of stacked slabs of slate and clay to seal the cracks. The roofs are thatch so old and thick that moss has replaces most of what once was barleystraw. Most of the houses
have a fold for sheep and goats with a small wooden barn. Perhaps 50 such homesteads cluster to form the town with another 70 or so spread over the glen.
 
The town itself, apart from the collection of homesteads, features 3 larger buildings, the Kingshouse, the Longhouse and the Chapel Donnegal. These 3 buildings and a large boulder as big as a house (Clldynstone) surround what once was a village green. A mix of tents and new wooden barracks house over 100 Drammerstein Cavalry and several dozen support troops and camp followers.
 
The highland men, tough-looking people who tend to light brown or red hair, wear tunics and thick woolen kilts. They are seldom unarmed, favoring axes, hammers and other weapons that can double as a tool. The few who wear armor seem to work for the mercenaries.
 
The highland women are tall and beautiful. Their hair is long and the younger ones tie it back with heather sprigs to show that they
are not married. Most wear simple woolen dresses with elaborate spirals embroidered in the hems.
 
Everyone here is working at something. Carrying water, driving sheep, building the road,  carrying wood, there is little room for conversation but everyone seems to be content in their labor.
 
Lt  Gig recommended that the crew check in at The Longhouse. The ancient looking stone and thatch building. A fence that acts as a pen for animals to be traded and boundaries for a market defines the Longhouse from the crowded commons. A few stalls offer local goods at fair prices. The red and gold pennant of the Drammerstein Cavalry hangs over the doorway. A tent of lances and a few kite shields are near the open fence gate. There are 6 Elites here. 2 at attention at the longhouse door and 2 patrols of 2.
 
The inside of the Longhouse is part barracks, part inn, part court-room. Captain Matos carries out all town and troop
business here. There’s plenty of activity.
 
Captain Duros Matos, (Squat 40ish crusader, missing left arm. Breastplate, lg shield, Bastard Sword) Captain of the remains of a once mighty crusader regiment, he had been reduced to quelling a minor uprising in this secluded corner of Glenside. His left arm little more than a stump usually bears a shield with his crusader emblem: a red field with a gold and white cross. His massive right arm wields a bastard sword. The letter Childris bears has no problem getting audience. He receives the letter with veiled excitement. He seems pleased but shares no details. The Captain invites the crew to a feast this evening where they discuss matters in the Highlands.
 
• Capt. Matos is a busy man. There are numerous interruptions by minor officers. Usually minor town management issues. He seems to care.
• He wants no trouble from the natives. They really don’t care who runs Glenside
as long as the highlands are left alone.
• Some heretic priest is the cause of all the trouble. The natives look up to him so the catching him would make a rebellion, not end one.
• He has powers that look like sorcery but Father LeSioux says they’re from God. I’ve never seen the likes of them before and I’ve seen a lot. Neither has Father LeSioux.
• The Clay Mill rebels have dispersed to more remote glens. Too much trouble to chase.
• The forest at the far end of the glen has not been secured. There is no intention to do so. This seems to be a sore subject.
• That’s the way the elders and rebels fled. Some are still there but they’ve caused no trouble.
• The plan is to sit out the winter here. In the spring declare victory over the rebels and hand the glen over to Exeter.
 
Warrick and Nartharian spent some time introducing themselves to Father LeSioux at Chapel Donnegal. An
old-style stone church that would be ancient by Hanover standards looks to be one of the newer buildings in Caer Clldyn. It is well kept and well used. A modest graveyard in the rear has a number of plain stone markers carved with spirals. The door is always open.
 
Inside is a warm, inviting chapel. Enough pews for most of the town are set into the dressed stone floor. The altar is unremarkable except for its age and the spirals etched deep into all it’s surfaces. Pine sprigs and heather lay on it as offerings. A few natives are in silent prayer in the pews. Father LeSioux. (gaunt 40ish crusader priest, unarmed for now) Capt. Matos’ right hand and the Drammerstein spiritual advisor.
 
• He is careworn and preoccupied by something. It looks like he has not slept well lately.
• The troops are in good order and attend his services regularly. So do the natives, but they lack the same zeal they had some months ago.
• The church library is unique. Brother Donnegal, the founder, had some astounding insights into the Trinity and God’s purposes. Some would call it heresy.
• The natives occasionally go into the wood at odd times. The last gathering was quite large on Midsummers’ eve at midnight. The next day the natives attended service all day. It was quite refreshing.
• We confronted the Pastor the day we took Caer Clldyn.
• Pastor has great power. Mistakenly I advised the Captain to take him to Exeter in chains but when we tried to capture him he assumed the form of a celestial angel and warned us against harming this town. No sorcerer could do such a thing.
• The native rituals are centered around strong emotion. Without true feeling true faith is impossible. This intrigues Father LeSioux.
• He’s leaving something out. Something that causes him a great deal of stress.
 
Over the next few days Warrick
spent most of his time studying Father Donnegal’s manuscripts, specifically regarding ancient stone monuments. His earlier works describe the Highlanders’ odd notion that everything can be described as a mass of interwoven threads that form a pattern, or Skein. Threads from outsider realms are part of the skein of this world. Where they cross, influence from those other realms contaminates our world resulting in sorcerers, tainted beasts and other abominations. The ancient stones mark such places and reinforce our world against these influences. Donnegal reconciles this model with the Trinity writing about God being the creator of the Skein of our world. The efforts of the Circle to prevent outsider influence are well aligned with Trinity doctrine.
 
Donnegal’s later works, which include a number of sketches of sacred sites, are written in a cryptic runic language favored by the Circle initiates. Deciphering the texts required
Warrick to expend most of his magic. He discovered a sketch that matched his memory of the stone from his visions. It is called the Skein of Madness and it marks the intersection of Fey and Chaos. According to Donnegal’s research the site is somewhere in Hanover along a line that passes through this glen. That narrows it down, but an expert in Circle dogma and ancient stones would be a big help..
 

While Warrick was busy with his books, Childris and Nartharian visited The Kingshouse, an old, expansive, barn-like structure. 2 huge barn doors are barred from the inside and a smaller arched office door between them are the only chinks in the massive stone walls. A pair of highland warriors guarding the only unbarred entrance will fetch Owyn (elderly highlander with a limp, frail looking. He has an Easy charm about him. He’s definitely been drinking) if asked.
 
• He tends the Kingshouse, a common store kept by order
of a treaty that goes back to the origins of Hanover.
• Caer Clldyn sends 20 hogsheads of whiskey to the King as taxes every 5 years. It’s due this fall.
• He used to deliver them himself but he doesn’t think he’ll be able to make it this time.
• The Captain has offered to take it for him but he’s not sure it’ll make it through Glenside. Exeter’s troops tried to stop him 5 years ago.
• He is the only Elder of Caer Clldyn who didn’t flee into the other glens. His work is here.
• He has several small items (broach, pin, charm) that indicate he is a follower of the Circle.
• He knows the Pastor and will not speak any more about the subject if pressed.
 
Owyn is quite a character. Once Childris agreed to drink with him he talked a lot.
• Pastor Wryde is a friend of mine. I woo’na speak of him to strangers.
• The Pastor gave sermons, married couples, christened
babies, blessed the crops and animals…
• … Tended the stones, held wild mass for the bears in the grove, howled hymns in the hills with wolves…
• You seem to be good blokes. The Pastor took the people to Cly Myl and the other elders to Caer Slough or Caer Brannagh. He gives the Beaded Brooch and says to show this to Ayelms or any of the Elders and they’ll help find the Pastor. But he won’t be found if he doesn’t want to be.
 
Day 28: Caer Clldyn to Woodcamp. The crew set out for the last camp in the hemlock wood to see Aylmes. Upon seeing Owyn’s beaded brooch he agreed to show them the hidden path leading to Glen Slough and Glen Brannagh.
 
Day 29-31: Woodcamp to Glen Slough. An ancient highland path that winds its unlikely course through nearly impassable terrain. Waystones marked with Druidic runes make those who can read them know the encounters ahead.
 
The first night was spent in
a well tended campsite. Firewood had been gathered and stored, a stone pit was clean and ready and several beds of dried moss lay under a lean-to. Odd movements of animal and strange sounds the darkness troubled the watch but proved to be no danger. Sever hours before dawn a man appeared suddenly in camp. Lwell Clldyn (short 25ish highland man in ritual paint, MW staff. A bear lurks in the darkness beyond) calmly steps into the campsite. Nartharian, on watch, is creeped out. The stranger seems a little edgy.
• Ye ere new to the greenwood. Welcome to my camp. I am Lwell of Caer Clldyn.
• The beasts of the wood are restless. They’ve seen too many lowlanders. They seek solace.
• Caer Slough up ahead has seen dark times. A sorcerer and his perverse creations were defeated some years ago at a great cost. They are rebuilding more than their numbers. They have to rebuild their trust. Take great care.
• The Pastor is not there
but he visits often.
• The moors there are very dangerous. Tainted beasts and men are drawn to them.
• A menhir stood there long ago.
 
The road passes through a pair of tall standing stones, unworked and ancient. Dense hemlocks abruptly give way to a cold, grey stone landscape strewn with huge boulders entirely devoid of life. The only way is up. Most of the day is spent trudging through an unforgiving land, a cold mist further dampens spirits. The next 2 nights were spent on a broad, rocky ridge. Hard travel and little opportunity for rest make the path even more dangerous. Midway through the trek a side path winds around a steep stone spire. A pool bearing a cryptic poem provides a miraculous weed with healing powers.
 
Late in the third day the trail splits. One path winds further along the ridge while another plunges precariously down into a canyon. The crew took the downward path
 
Day 31-35: Glen
Slough. The trail makes a sharp bend around a rock spire halfway down the gorge. A violent river thunders a thousand feet below in the mist. A green glen appears just ahead, it’s stream joining the river after a majestic falls. The Path enters the glen at the top of this falls.  
 
A ruined tower crowns a bald hill on the far end of the glen. Another, somewhat closer bald hill hosts a number of tall monoliths. Unlike Caer Clddyn this glen does not have scattered farms. The inhabitants of Caer Slough live within a cyclopean walled town between the hills.
 
Nearer to the trail a small group of tents and hastily built wooden homesteads looks way more inviting. A stream of sheep and goats floods the trail entering from a side path from behind. A boy of perhaps 12 gives a sharp whistle. Several large dogs guide the animals away toward the makeshift town. Rud the Shepherd Boy eyes the crew suspiciously.
 
• This is Caer
Slough. They’re not friendly in the walled town. They never come out. Best not to go there.
• Are you from Glenside? Exeter? Are you a crusader?
• We’re from Clay Mill, or at least we were. The Pastor lead us here after we had to kill the Exeter soldiers.
• The Pastor was here a few weeks ago. He did something with the townsmen up at the stone hill. He brought me these goats. He’s probably past the town ‘cause he didn’t leave the way you came.
• I know the hills around here. I drive my flock past that town all the time. I can take you whenever you want…
 
The next few days were spent with the beleaguered refugees of Clay Mill helping them to lay foundations for shelters that will be useful when winter comes. Warrick paced out the structures and helped to excavate. Childris organized and directed work crews. Nartharian tended to the sick and wounded. These efforts will reap great rewards for
these people in the months and years to come.
 
The refugees recounted the tale that lead to their plight.
 
• Pastor Wryde Cllydn came to Cly Myl from the highlands to persuade the garrison to restore the 3 stones and atone for the destruction of the grove.
• Captain Harnic Graves of Exeter scoffed and ordered Wryde’s arrest.
• Wryde warned the Captain that there would be 3 curses over 3 nights, each would require blood to erase. On the fourth night the sacred stones would restore themselves. The price in blood will be paid in full by Exeter at midnight that night. He went peacefully to his cell
• The cell was empty within the hour with no trace of that Wryde was ever there.
• The first night an owl as black as night with stars for eyes screeched over the fields. The crops withered.
• That day the Elders of Cly Myl asked Captain Graves to restore the stones. He sent them away.
• The
second night a fox as red as blood with burning embers for eyes walked calmly through the pastures. The sheep and kind panicked and fled.  
• That day the Mayor of Cly Myl asked Captain Graves again to restore the stones. He sent him away.
• The third night a gentle breeze blew through the town waking the children. They quietly followed the breeze disappearing into the hills. The 3 adults who followed were rebuffed when the wind rose and carried them back to town.
• That day the people of Cly Myl asked Captain Graves to restore the stones. He sent them away imprisoning the elders and beating the mayor as a warning to them. The people were on the verge of revolt.
• The fourth night the garrison was tense. Shortly before midnight the villagers went to the place the sacred stones once stood and prayed for their children, crops and animals. This enraged Captain Graves who took 10 strong men to break up the rabble.
• As
the Captain approached the villagers he heard a cry from the garrison. The 3 sacred stones stones had pulled themselves loose from the walls and were moving toward their rightful place borne by the earth itself. The palisade burst into living flame silhouetting the erie scene in dancing light.
• The Captain stood shaken for a moment then ordered his men to kill the praying villagers. The earth rose to to meet the oncoming men who froze with fear at the sight. Captain Graves took the lead. The pillar of earth let him pass but rose again to stop his men. By then the sacred stones had come to rest in their familiar circle.
• The Captain, enraged by the villagers’ defiance, struck one of them spraying a stone with her life’s blood. The fields thrived again.
• He lashed out at another. As the dying villager slumped over a stone the animals returned.
• The pillar of earth turned from Graves’ men and rushed the Captain
pinning him to the third stone. The villagers turned on him with their bare hands. Graves’ men fled into the night as their captain fell, his blood sanctifying the last stone. The children returned.
• The living earth and fire subsided. The frenzied villagers fell silent in the midnight calm. They felt all at once awe for what they had seen, remorse for what they had done, sorrow for what they had lost, joy for it now being found, hope for the life returning to their fields, terror at the reprisals Exeter would surely exact, and a deep sense that all is now as it should be.
• In the midst of this storm of emotion Wryde Cllydn appeared. No witness outside the village heard his words that night but what was said convinced them all, to a man, to leave Cly Myl for the harsh highlands beyond that very night  
 
Some time was left over to explore the rest of Glen Slough.
 
Caer Slough. The town of Caer Slough is hidden
behind massive stone walls the likes of which could not have been made by man. They are as ancient as they are impenetrable. No openings, nor gates, nor signs of any passage in or out can be found. It’s an enigma.
 
Childris climbed to the top of the wall to see a bleak stone-walled town inhabited entirely by shuffling, grey-robed figures. The scent of death is in the air. Upon joining him, Nartharian immediately identifies them as having Leprosy. It’s a Sorcerous affliction. Better not go in there.
 
The Circle of Caer Slough. A steep, bald hill near the town walls holds a wide circle of huge, jagged stone monoliths. They border a ring of partially elevated stone. The construction is new in comparison to the massive town walls.
 
Two upright monoliths some distance from the circle flank an imposing iron hatch in the earth. Don’t even think of trying to open it. Beneath is likely a tunnel to Caer Slough.
 
The Ruins of Claud Cargoth. A tower atop a nearby hill is split in two by a mighty oak tree. A sense of lingering evil hangs all around. The tree, however, seems to lighten the tension. One day the tower will be rubble in a majestic wood. On closer inspection there is no sign of who once lived here. Warrick and Childris examined the ruin.
• The damage is maybe 10 years old.
• There was quite a bit of fire here. That tree is really, really big. Too big.
• Probably lightning. There was quite a battle out here judging by the arrowheads and large stones littering the ground. The plants here are phenomenally healthy. An unused trail leads to a misty moor beyond.
• Lightning, fire, big chunks were dragged out of the tower, clearly magic. The tree’s roots have split an enormous iron cauldron embossed with mystic runes. Nartharian sensed a fading taint of evil from the shards of the cauldron.
 
With their
work done and a new home for the refugees from Clay Mill well under way the crew went on along the path to Glen Brannagh.
 
Day 32-34 Glen Slough to Glen Brannagh. Up and out of Glen Slough the trail weaves between two tall peaks and onto a flat, lichen-covered plateau. Little more than a string of markers through a broken land this path looks more fit for goats than man. A multicolored carpet of lichen blankets the grey boulders as far as the eye can see. the path is difficult to follow and no good campsite can be found. As night falls a chill covers the land. The crew beds down near a boulder for shelter. Something dark and silent stalks in the night.
 
By midday the trail narrows and twists downward through tall, grey stone cliffs. Much of this part of the path is carved through the rock by ancient tools. The high walls are painted with primitive pictures of flying birds and bird-like men. Slippery, well worn stairs aid the deep
descent to the ledge floor. The narrow path’s walls become more shallow and enormous majestic eagles soar far overhead. Staying within the trench-like trail will keep the eagles from snatching you from the bonds of the earth.
 
The trench ends abruptly at the edge of the broad ledge revealing a green glen with tall stone spires and a wide loch in the distance. The trail turns to steep stairs that cling to the wall of a 1000’ cliff. Wind buffets the crew making the way dangerous under the best of conditions. They rope off and begin the harrowing descent.
 
After some time on the cliff Warrick loses grip and tumbles down the ledge. Nartharian braces to hold the rope but the loose stone crumbles beneath his feet. Childris gripped the rope with both hands to prevent both of his companions from falling to their doom. He lost footing and all three slipped over the steep cliffside falling toward the jagged rocks below. Warrick
gathered his wits as the 3 fall. As he was timing a Featherfall spell a sharp wave of pain struck like daggers digging into his back. The wind rushed and the world reeled below. He realized that he was no longer falling, but flying toward a grassy meadow below. After a bumpy landing all 3 lay sprawled before enormous Highland Eagles. The fearsome raptors withdraw to a safe distance and assess the crew. Once assured that they were safe and well the eagles flew off with a triumphant shriek.
 
Days 34-40 Glen Brannagh. This broad glen is largely untouched wilderness. Shepherds’ trails wind along the grassy slopes and gather at a tiny village. Beyond the village a wide loch fills the lower reaches of the glen.
 
Caer Brannagh. A dozen or so stone structures so tightly packed that they form a single hodge-podge building lay poised between the steep hills and the dark loch. Several coracles are on the shore while several more are out
on the loch, their pilots casting nets. Racks of fish are drying over slow fires while children play on the rocky strand.
 
4 tough-looking Highland Warriors lead by Carse Brannagh (35ish looking Highland Hunter with wild red hair and a distracted look about him) met the intruders 200’ out.
• Lay your sword aside and be welcome. This is Caer Brannagh.
• We have seen no lowlanders here in a lifetime and ten. The hunters from Caer Clldyn bring news but nothing “interesting”. What have you to trade?
• (inside the great hall) Fine whiskey, spiced fish, carved horn figurines, jewelry and cloth embroidered with silver and gold are available for trade. Any metal item (especially weapons and tools) can buy twice it’s book value in these goods.
• The Pastor is not here (suspicion). Carse brings out a vibrant green gemstone and begins to haggle. After considerable haggling Childris offered Owyn’s beaded brooch
and some small weapons and tools for the stone…
Carse and Ayn’s Home. Carse offers to take you to someone you might want to talk to. Warrick and Nartharian sense that he’s worried that he’s not doing the right thing. The narrow, winding halls of the hamlet are somewhat confounding. A dome-shaped door opens to a modest round room. Furs and trophies line the walls and a warm fire lights the room. Ayn Clddyn (a worried looking highland woman 35ish. A brand of a cross with 3 interlocking rings is on her forehead. She is VERY pregnant) lay on a bed of furs.  
• “Gentlemen, this is my wife, Ayn. Honey, they’ve come to see the Pastor”
• She’s trying to hide that she’s scared and maybe angry at Carse too
• What do you want from my brother? (better tell the truth)
• He will come soon to deliver my son. Perhaps a week. Perhaps less.
• His labor has been to cleanse Glen Slough of the sorcerer
Cargoth’s influence. He spends much of his time in Ardy Moor just beyond Cargoth’s tower raising the Menhir there from the marsh.
• About that Brand…
• It is a mark of shame for my family.
• Our parents, curse their name, profaned the stones and poisoned their own blood with sorcerous infusion. They paid for their deeds by their death. We pay by staying alive. (she cries)
• My baby brother was an abomination. He was killed along with my parents. My younger sister withered like a seedling in October after receiving the brand. Wryde thrived. He grew into his brand to become the Pastor of Chapel Donnegal. I could not stay in a home with such memories. Carse took me away from my painful past and now he brings it back. (awkward. Time to go)
• She is hiding something. She really isn’t looking forward to seeing her brother.
 
The crew decides to wait, not wishing to take on the climb that nearly
killed them before.  Caer Brannagh is a beautiful place. Life is simple and the people friendly.
 
Day 41 Caer Brannagh. Ayn goes into labor. The women hurry to her while the men bolster Carse’s spirits. The hours pass and there’s still no sign of the Pastor. There is a flurry of activity then a hearty cry from behind the closed door. The men drink and slap Carse’s back. A minute later the door opens and the room goes silent. A figure in a grey-green robe strides out. “Should I be on my guard on a night such as this?”…

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