The Haranshire Campaign : Part 9.5.

Since Weston was unable to make session 9, we ran a few moments of Stauff’s 3-day holiday from the party at Orccon, in between sessions of light-brite.

Stauff returned to Milbourne to find the town in disarray. The townsfolk had moved the gypsy camp north of the town, more patrols walked the streets, and in general the tension was up. The dead gnoll in the cage of the center of town was really starting to stink as well.

With nothing to do, he worked Strom’s stables and spoke more with his friend about the pressures of responsibility. Imagine a 14-year old believing his has to save the world, and not in a cheesy Hollywood ending kind of way. Strom once against tried to reach out to his young friend, reminding him to rest, relax, and not worry about saving the world everyday. Stauff decided to take a short break and rested, but by 2pm he was up and helping in the stables.

Around 3pm, Stauff watched as Aidan and his entourage entered the town. The young noble checked his horse into the stables, and walked with his escort to the Carman estate. Two men stood outside to guard, the other two went in with Aidan.

During dinner with Strom, Stauff recalled the words of Lady Carman and the value of a dead Baron and nephew. He asked Strom what he thought of that idea. Strom about spit up his soup as he told Stauff that regicide was the worst crime one could committ. If he was caught, and he WOULD be caught, he would be killed and his family would be killed. Stauff continued asking pedantic questions about the value of a dead noble and Strom continued to deflect his thinking. “I cannot condone this.” Strom left the room and Stauff went into the village to wait for Vasya and Nadia.

While waiting, he walked to the gypsy camp and found young Helga — the daughter of Mikael, the gypsy leader — and danced with her. He spoke to her, laughing, etc. showing a side of himself we’d not seen before and even Helga was confused by this. After a while, Stauff asked her if she would look after his family if something happened to him. She was confused by this, of course, having only spent an hour with the young boy. Stauff professed that if he should survive this ordeal with his friends, that he would marry her. Helga, being only a year older didn’t know what to say. She fumbled for a bit and told Stauff that she needed to speak with her parents first.

Stauff walked to the Inn and met with Vasya and Nadia who had returned with several more (albeit smaller goblin heads) and were now drinking up. Vasya and Stauff spoke briefly about going to the orc caves the next day, before Nadia (noticing how physically fit Stauff was) pulled him by the wrist back to her room. [Sidenote: It was established earlier in the campaign that Nadia was looking for someone to take care of her needs.] Vasya raised his wine goblet to Stauff, as the young man was whisked away. Inside their room, Nadia — ever the pragmatist — began to wash up in front of Stauff before disrobing completely. The naive, innocent boy, not knowing what to do, looked away, stammered, and fled back to Strom’s confessing, “I’m not sure I… No. No.”

The next morning, Stauff gathered up the dogs, escorted the pair across the river and down along the banks to Hog Brook before settling across from the orc caves. Vasya instructed Stauff to wait here as the two went into the caves. They were gone for many hours before emerging (in haste) with three orc heads. They gathered Stauff up quickly and ran to the river. “The sun is setting, boy. They will be upon us in no time. Lose the dogs and we’ll swim across the Churnett.” Stauff refused, of course, and ran along the riverbank as fast as he could as the orc war party gave chase. After about an hour of running, it was clear that around a dozen orcs were 100 yards behind. And they were fast. He would never be able to outpace them without crossing the river.

But he refused to let the dogs go, until the orcs were right upon him.

The next few hours were a blur. A beating, followed by being force fed the fish poison, followed by unimaginable dreams. Stauff woke alone, further down stream from where he was caught. The dogs had long fled. His body was sore, his mouth tasted of dead fish, and his brain was filled with inexplicable thoughts. Twilight? Death gods? Undersea moons and suns? Or was the a sea without a sun? Stauff stumbled back to the village. It was morning, Strom stood there disappointed once again in Stauff, the one becoming more and more, “the boy who cried wolf.” Stauff’s belongings were long gone. There was nothing to store. He merely cleaned up, walked back to the tavern, grabbed Nadia by the wrist and whisked her to her room.

And that’s where we ended things.

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