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Reaping (July) 20th
The members of Thorn were able to truly relax for the first time in many many tense days. There was still plenty of work to be done to set up camp and watches were to be set for that night, but being somewhere near the middle of a friendly army was comforting. That evening Thorn discussed plans for the future. Their immediate goal was to find Phalan at Sagamon or Tilith. Next they needed to take care of Roland's family. During the preceding days Roland and Kantlon had discussed leaving Gealand permanently. Their family had lived in Gealand for generations, but after the devastating slave raids that took their father and brothers and the latest round of invasion, Kantlon was more than ready to try and establish the family in another area. Roland had then told his brother about Thorn's first mission after becoming initiates in the Legion.
The Black Legion had been contracted by Duke Eldrick of Medrius to assist one of his newly appointed thanes with bandits and kidnappers that had been plaguing the area. Lord Gordrenn had been made lord over the lands of a village called Melbourne and in addition to the bandits he also had his hands full with a dispute with a nearby rival lord. At the end of the mission a grateful Lord Gordrenn had told them pointedly tht if they should ever need his assistance they were welcome to seek him out. Between Lord Gordrenn's gratitude and the fact that some of the lands around Melbourne were now laying fallow from the depredations of the bandits, Roland thought he might find a new home for his family.
The other members of Thorn were also eager to return to Medrius. After long months fighting and traveling the whole party was ready for additional training with the skill masters at Legion headquarters. Elonan in particular had been driving the others crazy with constant talk about his theories and calculations of magic fireballs and nearly equally constant promises not to toss one into a confined area with the party.
So that night, over an expensive keg of beer Roland had acquired, the group decided they would check in with Phalan first to speak with him about the status of their current contract with the delegation. Then circumstances permitting, they wanted to travel on to Medrius for training. While training, Roland would send a message to Lord Gordrenn outlining his request.
Reaping (July) 21th
Early the next morning, Roland, Elonan and Noctem approach one of the guards stationed near the Gealander's camp. After a brief exchange they find that they are still confined to camp.
"I expect the Cap'n will be along shortly."
Soon enough a scarred veteran in scale mail with a scribe in tow arrives. After establishing the identity of the group before him and getting some of the party's story, the captain says that he will go to speak with his superior and return. Before he leaves he orders the nearby guard to be sure the refugees have adequate supplies. About an hour later the captain returns and the members of Thorn are asked to attend Lord Gravan.
Lord Gravan is the nephew of Duke Maarken of Northold and is in charge of the soldiers sent by the Duke. Thorn, along with Kantlon representing the refugees from Gealand and Laerna speaking for the Angharad fighters are shown to Lord Gravan's command pavilion. The font half of the pavilion was open and the party peered around curiously as they waited to be seen. Except for the black and blue Direwolf battle standards and a large Corsani rug the set up was as spartan and functional as the Northern border lords were reputed to be. To either side of the opening were two hulking guards wearing plate and halberds with the snarling wolf helm of the Maarkens. Inside the pavilion at a table covered with papers and maps stood Lord Gravan. Danrae to the bone, he had sharp blue eyes, dark hair and a neatly trimmed beard salt and peppered by gray. He wore a blue tabard over his dark mail and his hand rested easily on the hilt of his broadsword. The only sign of his rank and wealth were the sapphire eyes sewn into the Direwolf on the tabard. He was flanked by two retainers and a scribe priest or mage. One of the huge wolves the family crest was modeled after lay curled up under the table seemingly asleep. It opened one eye lazily for a moment before absently licking its paw and once again closing its eyes. At the front of the table was a green rider messenger standing at attention. Lord Gravan finished dictating a message and sealed it with wax, pressing into it the large signet ring he wore before handing it to the waiting messenger. Roland whispered to the others that the ring indicated that Lord Gravan had the full authority of the Duke, one of the most powerful battle lords in Eradain. After the messenger departed Lord Gravan ordered his noon meal to be brought and then waved the captain forward.
"Just what have you brought before me in time for my noon meal captain?"
"These are the mercenaries from that village near Greensward sire. May I present Roland, Knight of the Horn and his companion mercenaries of the Black Legion, Kantlon of Gealand and Laerna of the Caerlain clan."
Lord Gravan nodded to each in turn, then sat down and reached for an uncorked bottle of wine as his retainers cleared away the table. After a moment considering the motley group before him, Lord Gravan spoke.
"Well, why don't you tell me your story while we share a meal."
After food was brought, Elonan launched into the party's tale, beginning with the commission to escort the delegation and the news of the invasion brought by the Green Riders. Inter-spaced with comments from the others, he culminated with the flight from Gealand and presented the documents satchel recovered from the Haradan officer. None of the members of Thorn could read the Haradan tongue, so they did not know if the information would be of value to the Eradain forces. Lord Gravan nodded to his scribe who took the documents and left for an enclosed section of the pavilion. Lord Gravan was immensely pleased and told the group they could procure any supplies they might need from his quartermaster.
He added with a wry grin. After replenishing food rations for themselves and their mounts and refilling quivers the group made their goodbyes to the rest of the Angharad fighters and people from Gealand. They still had a half a day of travel available and wanted to make the most of it.
Reaping (July) 22th
Making good time on the road Thorn and Roland's family made it to Galt early the next afternoon. Galt was packed to the brim with soldiers, mercenaries, camp followers and tradesmen who had come to sell their trinkets to the soldiers. The party camped in a small tent city that had popped up with the influx of the people into the town. A room in one of the inns was out of the question, but Thorn took advantage of the more civilized settings for a round of hot baths, and food and drink from one of the taverns they could squeeze into. The next morning, feeling refreshed they pressed on to Sagamon. The following evening they arrived, with enough daylight left to set up another camp on the outskirts of the town. Noctem spent a long night in vigil at the burned out remains of Lord Benegris' mansion. The next morning Roland went to the local temple to Odin, in search of news about Phalan. As he expected the temple was being used by his battle cleric brothers as a headquarters. Quickly he found out that Phalan was indeed here in Sagamon, but was out dealing with a supply issue. Phalan had left word to look out for the Legionnaires and a squire took word to him that Roland and the others had arrived. After he returned, Phalan and Roland went to join the rest of Thorn at their camp, catching up on news as they went. After getting the whole story of what had occurred since they parted ways at the slave raider fort, Phalan heard out the groups other goals and concerns over their contract.
"That's easy enough, you were contracted to help escort the delegation through the lands of southern Eradain. The members of the delegation are going to be staying in Tilith, probably until the conflict with Haradan is concluded. Its somewhat of a political coup of the King to arrive so quickly and Nibradas and Nimribeth are likely to be wringing as much support as they can for the King at the council in Tilith. They wont need any protection behind Tiliths' walls and the Knights of the Horn there to guard them. So for the time being you are free to take care of your training and get your family to Melbourne. I will need you to check in at Tilith at the end of Goodmonth. I will leave instructions for you at the Motherhouse."
And so temporarily released from the obligations of their contract , Thorn was free to leave for Medrius. Backtracking the path they had originally taken to Sagamon with Phalan past the Order of Sif, the party arrived in Tilith just before the curfew and the gates being closed for the night. Thorvas the inn-keeper of the Inn of the Raven was glad that their mission was successful. After he had the group settled in for the night he caught them up on all the local gossip and he had a sealed message for Elonan. It turned out to be the long awaited response from the Black Legion mage Tamman.
I'd heard that the apprentice of Menua had joined the Legion. Perhaps if you become a journeyman we will work together sometime. I do indeed have a copy of the Book of Dimma from the Temple of Lore in Medrius. As I am currently using the tome for my own researches, I would like to purchase it with the funds left on deposit at the Temple. I'm sure that for a novice the gold will go a long way toward paying for other researches or skill training. If you should require the tome, I shall be returning to Medrius sometime after winter approaches. Before then, you would have to travel here to me or send a courier to pick it up. In either case I will of course require the verifying documents from the Temple and the deposit funds. I will be in the area of Feylin and out in the field most of the time until I return to Medrius. I can be reached at the Three Oaks Inn or have messages left for me there.
Until we meet, luck on your journeys.
Thorn left Tilith the next day, traveled two days to Buckhorn, and arrived at Medrius on the evening of the third day of travel. Roland found lodgings for his family at an Inn in Medrius and the members of Thorn went to the barracks at the Black Legion keep. The next day the party contacted the various captains who would schedule their training and paid the dues necessary for the personal and intense training the skill masters would give them. Roland prepared a message to Lord Gordrenn and had it sent to Melbourne via a Black Legion courier. Now they all settled into their individual training routines, and awaited to receive word back from Lord Gordrenn.
Excerpts from the Journal of Elonan
Goodmonth (August 13th)
Finally we will get some deserved rest, well perhaps not rest, but it will be a welcome change not be on the road for at least a little while. I believe that all of the other members of Thorn have settled into their training regimes, as I have. Though the training is indeed difficult, it is most welcome, though it will cost the majority of my gold.....
Roland has received word from Lord Gordrenn, his family will gladly be accepted into the community. They will be given one of the farms that was destroyed by the bandits that plagued the area. Roland will pay for his family to take the barges up-stream to their new home, the only condition Lord Gordrenn gave was that Kantlon take two orphan boys into his home. Roland made sure Kantlon had enough gold to see them through the winter and said his last goodbyes till he could go visit them again.
Our training is now complete and there are a few more days before we must again leave for Tilith to rejoin Phalan and the Delegation that we have been ordered to protect. Before we go though I must go in search of some other magicks to add to my repertoire of new found knowledge, I don't know what I shall be able to afford, or even find, but one should have more than a fireball at his disposal.....
Goodmonth (August) 14th
I have purchased a scroll of dispel magic from the Black Legion Savants Library and successfully added it into my spell book, this should come in handy I think. We have decided to leave early on our trip back to Tilith, a leisurely journey rather than the usual hard ride. Something that the horses will definitely appreciate, especially Roland's poor beast. Perhaps this ride will give me time to speak with Noctem. She seems reluctant to utilize her special skills, a knife in the back may not be considered honorable by some, but it is undeniably effective....
I have allowed one of the others to lead the group back to Tilith, this will give me some extra time to study the rubbing of the curious stones I found in the secluded valley we used on our flight from Gealand. What could those stones be, the better question would be whom put them there. Answer that and I would likely gain some insight to the strange sigil's carved upon them. The same characters are present upon the ring given to me by Menua, though different that the ones that I found in the Annals of the Four Masters. Frustrating as it is I must find out what these sigil's mean, this will likely take time though. I have some of the pieces of the puzzle, but I have not the slightest clue of what the picture is supposed to be....
Goodmonth (August) 18th
We have arrived in Tilith once again, in plenty of time to meet with Phalan. Adara wishes to travel to the Temple of Sif a days ride from here, and we do have the time. Rhiannon and Noctem set off with Adara this morning, to the Temple of Sif, I believe that it would be prudent for Roland and I to assess this city, and let know of Phalan that we are in the area. Before we report back for duty at the appointed time, I shall speak with Roland again, have him pose as the front man for our squad. The other heavily armed and armored knights respond much better to him than they would to I or any of the others, despite his lack of tact....
Here ends comments from the Journal of Elonan
Goodmonth (August) 24th
Thorn reports to the Motherhouse of the Knights of the Horn, and is shown to Nithur. Important officer that he is with the Knights, he is quite busy and Thorn waits 30 to 40 minutes before a squire shows them into Nithur's office. He does not rise, and he tosses a thick letter with a broken seal onto the desk in front of Roland.
"Here are your new orders from Phalan."
With a slight sneer that just borders crossing the line he adds,
"Normally we would send a contingent of Knights to Hommlet to deal with this and properly herald the arrival of the delegation, but all the noble Knights that can be spared are in battle at the keep. I'll leave you to read the details. If you are confused by anything feel free to stop by my office and I can explain it to you."
Quickly leaving before anyone loses their cool the party returns to the Inn of the Raven for some fresh biscuits and gravy prepared by Thorvas before looking over the letter. The outside page with the broken seal was addressed to Nithur, and contained only the following.
Nithur, new orders for Roland and the Legion mercenaries. After the report in, order the paymaster to give them their next months wages, per the term of their contract.
Folded within is a letter addressed to Roland.
The delegation has decided to resume their progress through the south. They have plans to visit Hommlet and perhaps the Sun Temple of Lugh. Depending on the amount of time spent at each location they have plans to visit Feylin, Sea Keep, and Orlane. They may have to cut off part of their planned stops depending on the weather and the roads.
I have received word from Duke Tor that the Earl of Hommlet has experienced several night attacks upon travelers on the road to and from Roth and at least one assault in the village itself by marauding troglodytes, The Earl has had problems in the past with these creatures and defeated them. However according to my report her armsman were unable to track them to their lair. Most of the Earl's armsmen are away fighting and she has requested aid from the Duke to deal with this problem.
Please travel to Hommlet and meet with the Earl. Perhaps Elonan would be the best speaker for you, being from Orlane. Explain that you have been sent to aid her with the troglodytes and later you will be acting guard/escort for the delegation when they are to arrive in Hommlet. I do not know for sure who will be the official escort in my place, but a message will be sent to Hommlet for you and the Earl at least 3 days before the delegation arrives. If myself or Nithur are not with the delegation, Justicar Abaran will be in charge of security and you should defer to his requests.