So. Rather than deal with the repercussions of killing innocent people, the group decided to make new characters and try once again to forge across the valley. David is playing Evo (the same character as before, only this time human). Aaron is playing a druid (again) named Tsul — this time he has the far away stare of a Native American shaman. Micha is a ranger this time around… and a dwarf named Miritz. We'll see how this combo works out.
The adventure opened with them in Divers finding a poster for work in Haranshire, specifically with Count Huntly (was Parlfry), who in my story is under the control of the Mind Flayers. We cut ahead the two weeks journey to Milbourne in about 10 minutes as I described the various things they already know about, added an orc working for the Carlston family in Lyrchwood, and a gnoll ambush on the road to Milbourne (that was easily routed because of the hunger and low-morale of the gnolls).
They arrived in Milbourne just in time to see two of the three characters being hung by Goremenn (was Gyrsten or whatever), while the local priest (Konrad) gave a final prayer. After the hanging, their belongings were auctioned to the crowd. Since the PCs didn't bid (and I'm a little confused as to why not), Kresimer and the other adventuring party got about 1,000gp worth of great stuff for 31gp.
Shortly after, the Denfast farm went up for auction as well, but the party decided having a place to live was stupid (rolls eyes) and left, allowing a local farmer to get the entire estate for 28gp. Since Kresimer's party had already been paid by lord Carlston to clear out the mire, the farmer was quick to hunt down the mercenaries and remind them of their contract to the valley.
The PCs played cards and dice with Kresimer, who Miritz knew from Divers (a random roll), and enjoyed a relatively quiet evening in the Baron of Mutton. The headed out the next morning, wasting several days with the Kuiper/Aurelia side story about the werebear (I had the ranger and druid deal with the werebear, while the PCs were ambushed by orcs). They returned to Milbourne to inform Goremenn of the missing boy, Max, but that the family was dead.
The PCs finally made it to Thurmaster, passing the mercenaries who were going the other way on a barge. Once in Thurmaster, they realized what a hole that place is and also encountered a very paranoid and disinterested Tauster (having already dealt with two murderers working for Kressen and now hiring out the mercs for odd jobs, he's thoroughly freaked out that a third adventuring party would arrive in Haranshire within a two-week span). The squire Marsten was kind enough to tax the travellers as well, but for a few extra gold give them a guarded escort up to Count Huntly's keep.
The PCs met Larstyn (the heir to the throne), before meeting the Count (with the dwarf waiting in the wings). The PCs showed grace and diplomacy in the Count's presence and were offered work escorting three pilgrims back to a waiting frigate at the end of the Churnett River, a one-week journey back toward Divers. While they didn't ask about payment, they did agree to the job; afterwards they were housed in a large room inside the keep.
In the middle of the night, one of the pilgrims (Issyk), visited the PCs asking for their aid in escorting them instead to the Hardlow Wood. While no details were given, the pilgrim assured the party he could reward them in some non-monetary manner (the PCs not at first understanding that pilgrim usually means ascetic). The PCs came to realize that Count Huntly was giving the pilgrims the "heave-ho" and that so long as the Hardlow Wood escorting did not endanger their ability to complete the other task, they would consider it.
It will be two days, however, before the pilgrims leave and in the meantime, the PCs will get to meet a few of the locals (many of whom I've made up) — including Hannah, the lady in waiting, Rykon one of the more outstanding guards in the keep, Larstyn, heir to the throne who desperately wants to be an adventurer, Bechir, the keep's seneschal and chamberlain, and finally, Kedrith, a surreptitious little advisor/vizier/go-fer who does a lot of the Count's dirty work.
The next session should finally get this campaign out on the open-road.
ASIDE: The mire storyline is presently in the hands of the mercs. I'm going to put a timeline on it, that they'll solve it in 15 days (violently), unless the PCs get involved. I'm removing the really lame Druid from the Eelhold, and I'm adding a few side stories as I go: Hobgoblins and Rockdale Orcs going to war; ogres to the south in the Shreikan Mire attack (eventually); people in Thurmaster forever bringing up the dragon and ogres in the Shreikan Mire; eventually the formorian giant in the Shreikan Mire; bandits taking over Krynen's farm in the Thornwood before killing Aureila; traveling performers coming to Milbourne to make a few coin but arriving at the wrong time; the Eelhold dam threatening to burst again; Count Huntly slowly going mad; another band of adventurers entering Haranshire; Frost giants in the Leland Hills above the Howler's Moor (adding it the far end of the map) and based on a great Fates Warning song; along a few other dangling plot threads when the sandbox of the Haranshire starts to really pick up steam.
Looking forward to it.