Sex and the Town

Tiagra and Crannock leave the town on some unspecified business, leaving Vestorius and Pidmerion to think about what they should do next. They decide to become more familiar with the town and its workings. They discover that the town is headed by a mayor named Naldim who keeps the peace between the various nobles and factions of merchants. He is assisted by a secretary, Tulem, who is more hands on in his dealings with the townspeople. The town has two temples one dedicated to the God of death Pendar and another to Belvorren the God of good times. The two nobles discover that the temples and other related cults are not necessarily evil but rather associations of people who act together not unlike guilds and in fact many of the guilds are associated with various divinities. These associations will often develop magic and skills specific to their milieus for their advancement.

The two young noblemen visit a number of the taverns looking for employment or excitement. While having a meal in one of the better establishments they come across a group of women talking about Lyman and his wife’s troubles. They buy a bottle of wine and join the ladies. It transpires that one of the young women is the midwife to Lyman. She is Shyren, a particularly attractive woman, who after a few drinks tells the young noblemen about the terrible creature borne by Idani. The evening draws to a close and the young noble men are invited back to Shyren’s home and are accompanied by Shynken her cousin who is a housekeeper in a large house up town. The night passes With Pidmerion and Shynken becoming amorous while Vestorius practices his serenading skills [without much success]. The young noblemen and the two ladies spend some time together and a deeper friendship develops. However, Shyren is reluctant to divulge any more information about Lyman’s troubles, stating that her livelihood is predicated on discretion.

While out looking for employment, their funds are dwindling, Vestorius hears a conversation about the monastery of Ad-Athiss. It appears that this monastery was the home of a group of monks who specialised in healing arts, providing potions, salves and curatives. However, their main source of income was the distillation of an apple liquor much prized by nobles in the area. Unfortunately, supplies of this liquor have become scarce after the monks appear to have gone into retreat about twelve months ago. Some say this is a cynical move designed to inflate the price the brothers can charge for the liquor, others think that there is something more sinister behind their retreat. As the monastery is only a week or so away from the town, the two companions decide on an expedition to see if they can discover the truth and perhaps procure some liquor and turn a profit.

The nobles set about equipping themselves for an extended stay in the forested hills and mountains. As it is summer they only need light camping equipment but supply themselves with provisions in case their hunting skills are no adequate. Additionally, they purchase two pack horses to haul their new equipage and potentially bring liquor down the mountain. That night they tell their friends of their plans and have a farewell supper. The following day they set out from the town of Sendat. It is late summer and the travelling is easy as they view the town from above. At night they camp and take turns watching through the evening. The next day they start to encounter steeper terrain and they cover less distance, however, it feels good to be moving with a purpose. The third day and the two companions are losing their bearings as the forest becomes denser and the mountains steeper. After two more days travel the two companions have lost confidence in their orienteering skills and not sure where they are in relation to the monastery but by keeping close to the lake they feel comforted to some extent.

It is during the night that they are attacked, suddenly and viciously by a raiding party of trollkin. Four dishevelled and poorly armed creatures rush out of the undergrowth and fall on the small camp. Pidmerion is a awake and rouses Vestorius. The trollkin attack and with the element of surprise inflict wounds on Vestorius who desperately tries to fend off the blades and clubs while trying to get the sleep from his eyes. However, after the initial surprise, the two young noblemen’s better training and equipment turns the tide and they cut the assailants down without too much further trouble. An observer would have seen the two rapiers moving in tandem with increasing surety. After the fight they look to attend to Vestorius’ wound which while serious is not life threatening and is treatable. Vestorius binds the wound and realises the importance of his healing skill and determines to become more proficient in the healing arts. The two nobles wonder how far off their expected path they have travelled and what else might be in the forested hills waiting for them.

They do not have to wait long to find out. The following night they are roused by loud crashing noises in the forest. The companions ready themselves not wishing to be caught by surprise again. They see trees moving and a huge dark shape moving slowly but surely towards them. When the shape appears from cover it is a huge Troll perhaps fifteen feet tall brandishing a branch and wailing its battle cry. The two men look at each other momentarily and run, realising that one swipe from the branch would destroy them. They separate causing the troll to hesitate for a moment as it decides which to chase down. This gives the youths the opportunity to unlimber their bows and to seek cover. The troll is relentless in its pursuit but slow witted and clumsy. It swings its immense club smashing trees and making a keening sound. The nobles employ the tactic of shoot and run, peppering the beast with arrows but to their disappointment the troll has a tough hide that acts as armour diminishing the effect of their arrows. To their dismay they notice that the wounds they do inflict are healing at an unnatural rate. They redouble their efforts and the troll takes on the appearance of a pin cushion all the time trying in vain to crush one of the young men and screaming in pain. Eventually, the arrows take their toll and the troll falls and two leap in to dismember the beast in case it should regenerate. Vestorius eviscerates the creature to gain some understanding of its anatomy and to defile the creature in case it has companions. Rather bizarrely he takes its genitalia as a trophy thinking that it might be saleable to some morbid person.

The two nobles move their camp down the hillsides towards the lake thinking that they need to get their bearings and to find the monastery as soon as possible.