Happenings at Hookhill
|Status||Explored October 890 TA|
It is First of October, 890 of the Third Age. The air is crisp, and the sky is a deep cerulean blue. Although the snows that blanket the forest this far north will come soon enough, the trees are ablaze with autumn colors encircling copses of dark green pines. You are returning with your companions from Rivershaw Castle, after successfully meeting with your father’s commanders – the first such meeting that has been entrusted to the eighth child of the Lord March.
Your companions are deep into storytelling as your horses plod along the well-worn path leading to the Black Owl Garrison. Normally wary, the news of the crushing defeat of the orcs in August at the Battle of Middlewich Fields, a scant 180 miles to the south, has given you confidence that the path is safe. By all accounts, the orc army was decimated and the survivors pressed into the chain gangs now assisting King Vincent Fleetwood in rebuilding the besieged capital city of Teufeldorf.
Bravely you boast that the Orcs of the Evil Eye are probably holed up in the Shadowyarn Mountains licking their wounds. The body of Ronak Axethrower, a black orc of the nastiest disposition and the Evil Eye warboss wasn’t found among the dead at Middlewich although he was seen surrounded by his goblin shaman fighting from a hillock that was subsequently destroyed by a gnomish firestorm. Ah, the gnomes. Who would have figured the wee ones from the bogs to be the heroes of the battle?
The only downside to your report to your father is the loss of many Wirksworth knights in the fighting. Your father will be angry that the king has decided to delay the remaining knights’ return home in order to provide security for the capital. However, the king’s argument is sound. Without fields to harvest, your small forest castle can handle itself better than most. With the orcs scattered, the only threat is from the Horned Society – who have been quiet of late.
Your banter grows quiet as you pass from the sunny plains into the darkness of the forest. Sounds are muted and the earthy smell of the forest floor provides a stark contrast to the windswept grasslands. With only four hours until sunset, you feel confident that you can reach the Tanglebough Traders in time for a hearty bowl of stew, a pint of Bough Bitters, and a pipe. With luck, your favorite server will be on shift tonight – for your successful mission for the Lord March will be sure to impress. Lost in your fantasy, you ride on – a smile on your face….
Deep in the dark woods of The Bloodlent, a man is slowly going crazy. Once a druid of renown, he now calls himself Bentbrood. And, what Bentbrood desires most is control over men and orcs – as their destruction, made even worse during the recent Orcish Rebellion – has finally driven him insane.
During a great storm, Bentbrood attempted to lay down a curse on all the races of the Realm - to cancel the souls of the living with the souls of the dead – emptying the Realm of all the sentient races. The dead on the nearby battlefields would prove fuel enough for the mad druid.
Knowing that their forestral had gone mad, the ents of the Bloodlent interceded during the final ceremony under a foul storm called forth by the druid. Just as Bentbrood raised his hands, the ents rushed him – taking the brunt of the curse. A final flash of rare purple lightning sealed the pact as the limb of the ent leader was splintered into Bentbrood’s staff and his eye was petrified into the glowing purple gem that controls his people. While mankind was saved, the ents were turned into the slaves of Bentbrood.
Fed by his new-found ability to control his subjects and undaunted in his desire to destroy humankind, Bentbrood decided he needed to go to the humans, summoning the storm at their castle, using the bodies of their dead to power its malevolent force.
Bentbrood has formed a pact with Walford Woebringer, the Guildmaster of Horned Society. His control over the storms has increased. Using the body of Ronak, he has created the ability to cause rage. Myrrha will give him the power of transformation, if he can take her remains from her tower. Golgothol, the spider queen, will provide poison. The Lord March will provide command.
Right now, the storms come up suddenly but last for only a few hours. The rain that is produced right now stuns or creates an overwhelming feeling of rage. As new powers are gained, the storms will become worse. Bentbrood will soon run out of victims in Hookhill and start using the Cairns to power his storms.
The storms always approach from the NW – the direction of Hookhill. The weather is perpetually overcast over the Misty Woods, although the general plains are not affected – nor is The Bloodlent.
It is expected that the final battle will pit the party against Bentbrood, although it will be a hard battle with Woebringer in their midst. The execution of the Lord March provides the clock and eliminates the possibility of getting outside help in time.
- One - During the first adventure, the party will be treated to the aftermath of the first storm. This is a storm of rage that plunged through the forest. It leaves everyone at the Tanglebough Traders in a rage – attacking the party for the first four hours of the night.
- Two – Black Owl Garrison. There the party will discover that the Lord March has been captured and will be executed shortly. They also will discover his notes. If they can rid the area of orcs, the castle can be used as a point of refuge.
- Three and Four – The Crypt and Myrrha’s Tower – to get the Gate of Souls and stop Myrrha from being captured. The first encounter with the spiders might happen here.
- Five – The Cairns – to stop the storms.
- Six – Hookhill – to take out Bentbrood and break his hold over Woebringer.
Roll to have one character be the eighth child of the Lord March. The party has up to 750 gold to spend on adventuring equipment. Each character also has:
- Light Riding Horse (Oblivion, Ginger, Gypsy, Midnight, and Quicksilver) – Oblivion and Gypsy are brother/sister and tend to wander off.
- Riding Saddle
- Oats (1 day)
- Bit and bridle
Rules Changes: Training 1 day per level, Take 20, Concentration check for spells and any action that would provoke an AOO, Use magic device, Religion, Save throw 1 affects items
Each hex is 60 miles across. 60 miles to go. 4 mph in the forest.
Adventure One. Tanglebough Traders, October 1, 890 TA
As you enter the woods…
The party can notice (if extremely careful), the denizens of the forest seem “enraged”.
After about an hour, assuming the party keeps to the road, they are attacked by a giant owl. This is very unusual because owls keep away from humans at all costs. And, it fights to the death. The owl is wet, of course. It will do a move silently attack on anyone NOT carrying a torch or lantern.
The Tanglebough Traders
The Tanglebough Traders is an old stone building nestled amongst the dark trees of the Misty Woods. Originally, the town hall for adventurous merchant woodsmen who discovered and harvested rare copperwood trees, the original structure fell into disrepair thirty years ago. With the arrival of the Lord March and the building of the Black Owl Garrison, the old hall has been revived under the watchful eye of the Brightbrew family and christened, Tanglebough Traders.
William Brightbrew, the proprietor, is a middle-aged man of good cheer, honest reputation, and shrewd business acumen. Along with his wife, Rose, and their children, the Brightbrews provide rooms, hearty food, and excellent Bough Bitters.
William Brightbrew, barkeep of the Tanglebough Traders. A large robust middle-aged man with a red face and a hearty laugh. He has sandy hair and brown eyes. His face is weathered and brown, and it is clear that he spends a fair amount of time outside. He is generally dressed with a barman’s apron.
Rose Brightbrew, wife and master gardener. Rose is a middle-aged woman, short but with a demanding personality. She has bright blue eyes and brown hair. She is generally dressed in simple working clothes, although she prefers her garden to the pub. She is well-respected and loved by her family. Her father was killed by orcs, which leads her to have a strong aversion to the Evil Eye.
Martin Payne, retired fighter, formerly a knight in the Lord March’s army. Martin is fiercely proud of the Lord March, and he is quick to anger if challenged. Currently, he is staying with the Brightbrews as a handyman. He also sends spy reports to the Lord March of any “interesting characters”. He also carries a +2 long sword of goblin slaying.
Giles Brightbrew, elder son and hunter. With his father’s hair and eyes, Giles Brightbrew is thin and wiry, in his early twenties. Giles tends be nervous around people, preferring to spend his days in the woods hunting. He is an expert at keeping away from the giant spiders which are roaming ever closer to the homestead. Giles is gone when the first rainstorm hits.
Simon Brightbrew, younger son and brewer. Simon is fiercely intelligent and loves the “alchemical” possibilities of brewing.
Sarah Bell, Brightbrew's adopted daughter and barmaid at the Tanglebough Traders. She is beautiful, with blonde hair and blue eyes. She is fair complected. Sarah is a slight girl but able to handle herself around the bar. When her father, Edmond, was killed in a clash with orcs, Sarah came to live with the Brightbrews. Her mother died in childbirth. Giles has a not-so-secret crush on Sarah.
Alice Brightbrew, youngest daughter of William and Rose Brightbrew of the Tanglebough Traders. Alice is missing when the party arrives. Alice has brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen, by anybody, playing in the cellar just before the storm hit.
Children and Wives of the Lord March
- Harold (leading the knights of Wirkswirth in service to King Vincent Fleetwood)
- Connor (killed in battle)
- Tolbert (serving as a cleric in Teufeldorf)
- Lightfoot (on a secret scouting mission for the Lord March)
- Audrey (at Rivershaw Castle – a knight in training)
- Rae and Milo (twins, also at Rivershaw Castle studying to become diplomats)
- Octavious (Michael – serving with the Lord March at the Black Owl Garrison)
- Jillian – first wife (dead) – poisoned at a feast in the Middledale
- Bridget – current wife – at Rivershaw Castle with Audrey, Rae and Milo
William has adorned the walls of the inn with his father’s old adventuring gear and the bizarre collection of junk he picked up along the way. As well as a number of goblin and orc swords and shields, which are hung around the walls according to their tribe. There are also a number of horns - each is set on a wooden mount and hung from the wall and include a fantastic example of a large blue dragon's horn, which is almost three feet in length (and takes pride of place), two minotaur horns (both from the same unfortunate creature), two gargoyle horns (hung together, since they are from the same creature), a rhinoceros' horn and a single horn from an imp. Each of these were victims of William’s father.
This room is under construction. A number of gaming tables can be found here, many are partially built and some are rebuilt aged tables. The furniture is in good repair. Six large murals of knights adorn the wall, although they are crudely drawn. A bar near the fireplace is built but not stocked. Private Gambling Room This room is paneled in red oak, mellowed by the gentle effects of time. A single table sits in the center of the room. Six oak chairs, elaborately carved, sit around it.
To the north, a small room has pegs for cloaks and a rack for weapons. A sidebar is loaded with leaded bottles and goblets – all empty. A silver serving platter sits nearby.
This large room has a stone floor, covered with a layer of sawdust. Barrels, boxes and crates are carefully stacked. Dried meat, cheese and grain are in abundance, as it is clear that the Inn is being stocked for winter.
The rooms at the Inn are each nicely furnished with straw or crude feather beds, nightstands and chairs. Each room has a pitcher and basin, and the towels are fresh. In each room, an object has been placed as decoration – this gives the rooms their names.
This room is furnished in well-built, albeit simple furniture. A bed, dresser and small writing desk are here.
In the corner of the room, hidden in a secret compartment is 400 gold and a chest with a strange copper design on it.
To open the chest, connect the dots in a loop – tracing the path with your finger. Each line must be a different length, and while the line may cross itself, it can never retrace its steps or pass through a point twice.
The Brightbrews Return
You see shambling out of the woods Martin Payne (with a glowing longsword), Rose, Simon and Sarah. They come at different times but attack anyone near the Inn. Rose is covered in blood, and all of them have signs of a struggle.
Traces of blood can be found on all the Brightbrews. The family was outside when the rain started – except for little Alice who was playing near the cellar. They all went crazy and eventually Alice came out to see what was happening, and they attacked her – she escaped into the forest and was hunted down and killed. None of them can remember anything after the rain started.
Giles is off hunting and will return the next morning with a terrible hangover.
High in the trees outside of the Tanglebough Traders, are hidden two goblins, Forfot and Noddy. They are watching the Inn, releasing pigeons every once and awhile with notes about their observations. They have six homing pigeons to send to the main orc camp. They will shoot arrows or magic missiles at anyone who tries to get up their tree.
In the days following the slaying of Bentbrood, the party makes it way back to Rivershaw Castle. News of the mad druid’s defeat brings on a week of feasting and celebration with many exclamations and proclamations for November 14 to become an official night of drunken revelry – known as Octavious Eve. Even the Lord March makes an appearance to congratulate his son and companions on a mission well done.
A moment of silence is offered for Snivelbum Knotbrew the Black Dragon Damager. Cries for a Snivelbum Day, however, are drowned out by the chorus of young women screaming “Octavious” at every mention of the eighth son’s name.
Ulrich dances at the resurrection of the dead undead Farnsworth - and the sight of a little hobbit dancing with a huge bear bring the festivities to clamorous uproar. Mikus requests just one wish from his hosts – a long-deserved bath… in beer. Gloriously frothy, it is said that Mikus drank his way out of the tub before collapsing for a well-earned rest. Only Ghul seemed subdued – sitting idly in a darkened corner of the feasting hall twirling a small golden hoop earring, remembering a promise not yet fulfilled.
After the parties have ended and the strain of the long journey is over, the Lord March calls the party together.
A decision has been made in Teufeldorf to retake the Black Owl garrison. Martin Payne, pulled from retirement, is to head the effort along with his two new lieutenants – Alwyn and Chauncey. However, the Black Owl garrison is not the most pressing matter for Octavious’ father.
Borik “The Nightblade” has taken control of the Horned Society cabal. It is rumored that they are putting together an expedition to the Bloodlent seeking the source of Bentbrood’s corruption. Also rumored is the summoning of a horned demon to aid Nightblade’s cause. Already several druids friendly to the cause of the Reaches have gone into the Bloodlent and failed to return.
“Octavious, my son, I must return to Teufeldorf. But, it is my desire that you and your companions will undertake another small expedition for the crown. Go to the Bloodlent and rid the place of the taint of madness that seems to have it in hold. Be careful, for your destiny as a great commander is just beginning. For your aid, I can offer each of you a small boon – if it is within my power to grant it. Rest while you can, for the road ahead is a dangerous place indeed.”