After the death of Ginger, Quidd’s stolen horse, the party made camp for the night just off the road, against the shelter of a rock overhang. Marten watched first, and took note of some distant, beguiling music- seemingly that of a fiddle. Sasha took next watch, and stumbled upon a bunch of Rabbit skulls near the edge of camp- with no other bones. She amused herself by settling them up along the stone ridge, to startle the party when they woke. Aelita, next up, fumbled a will save and was put into magical sleep- none of the rest of the party were awoken. When they DID arise, after daybreak, they found the camp in a state of minor disarray- undergarments strewn about, and things missing from their packs, but replaced with other, vaguely similar things. Aelita was snoozing quietly in the middle of camp, in a freshly-sprouted ring of mushrooms. Additionally, there were now almost twice as many rabbit skulls- the new ones were freshly cleaned of flesh.
There was some minor panic and tension as they considered the possibility that they might be in some faerie realm- Marten was tasting a fine, fruity wine which he’d acquired in unwitting exchange for his pipe and tobacco, and had the bottle smacked from his hand by Quidd, who insisted it was probably made of mud or some other faerie foodstuff. They soon settled down, and determined that they were, in fact, in the real world- thus reassured, the party went on their way, all the way up the road to Berem. Just outside of town, they encountered Canton Green, the farmer from whom Quidd had stolen Ginger, and were met with accusing fingers and questions. Quidd handed him a gold armband- found in his pack that morning- as payment. This was not, clearly, sufficient to satisfy Canton- he wanted his horse back, more than some trinket, no matter its worth- what was he supposed to do, after all, about his fields? Quidd intimidated him into silence, and he numbly accepted the payment.
Over the next week or so, the party members went about their respective business- Aelita received a letter from Neil, concerning the supposed doings of the Bloodless Brotherhood, Quidd settled back in with his overjoyed parents and slept more than he had in months. Richard tried to get him up early to come out for consecutive days, but Quidd gave him a date on which he’d come. Marten tended bar. Mai Dunsor had returned the day before by horseback, and word had spread of their doings at the wedding, but nothing has come of it- yet.
Richard returned, for the first time in a month, to the Glen, only to find that his cave had been cleared out- his skull collection and pile of blankets and furs were gone, as well as the fine painting he plundered from the wreck of the Ship they investigated some months prior. All this had, of course, been moved to the Mill, but he didn’t go there to look- he didn’t want to talk to Mai. Instead, he stole a few blankets from various clotheslines around town, and resituated himself.
Sasha spent time at her newly established bushcraft camp and tree-stand, keeping self-imposed watch on the smoke rising from a keep on the other side of the mountains. According to Darryl, it was recently occupied- probably bandits, but it wouldn’t be a problem so long as they kept to themselves and didn’t hurt anybody. Near the end of the week, however, she saw a greater deal of smoke than at any time before, after which there was almost no smoke at all. She concluded that the bandits must have moved out to raid, and thought it would be a prime opportunity to go and check out their keep.
The next morning, Quidd dashed down to Richard’s, as Sasha was going to get Marten. They all came to the glen, and this time it was Sasha who said “Guys, I know what we’re going to do today!”
“Hey!” Interjected Quidd, “That’s MY Line!”
She told them about the bandit-filled keep, and how it was empty, and roughly a day’s hike away if they hurried. They party gathered their supplies, and went to fetch Aelita, but found her absent the shrine. They asked after her around town, but couldn’t find her, so they left without her. (In Gordo’s Absence, as he couldn’t make the session)
Aelita, of course, had awoken early to gather the party on the subject of the worries in Niel’s letter- according to information he’d heard, the Bloodless Brotherhood were searching for something that lay in a ruin near Berem- just on the other side of the mountains. She found them absent, as well, since they were on their way to get her, and, miffed that they’d excluded her, she set out on her own into the wilderness.
Though the hike was largely uneventful for the party, it took almost the entire day, and was a grueling march. As the sun dipped toward the horizon and night began to fall, they came into sight of an ancient stone keep, set into the side of the mountain opposite theirs- they still would have a valley to traverse. If the party made straight for the keep, it would be full dark by the time they arrived. They elected to creep close to it, but wait until late at night to try and get inside, since they couldn’t be sure how many would be inside. They wonder along the way, half-jokingly, if these bandits are part of that “Bloodless Brotherhood”, if things should get serious. Sasha doesn’t laugh.
As midnight passes and clouds obscure the moon in the heart of the witching hour, the party of four creeps close to the outer wall of the keep, past the dark maw of the front gate and to the edge of a square turret corner. Sasha and Marten, the most capable climbers, scale the stone wall and hop onto the battlement- they spot a lone sentinel on an adjoining wall, who is approaching, but doesn’t seem to have noticed them.
Quidd and Richard wait anxiously below as Sasha and Marten ambush and subdue this guard, emerging suddenly from beind the crenelation as he rounds the corner for Sasha to put him in a sleeper hold and Marten to club him- hard- on the head with his staff. They then lower a rope for their friends, who join them on the ramparts. Inspecting this guard, they are surprised to find that he is a member of the Bloodless Brotherhood- the crossed shield is emblazoned right on his armor. Sasha takes his bow and arrows, and ties him up. As the party all move forward, Quidd lingers behind long enough to cut the man’s throat, unbeknownst to the party- his first cold-blooded Murder.
Moving along the wall, the party can see fresh bodies piled in the courtyard, but also two large tents, apparently in use, and the remnants of a small fire. It seems clear that the Brotherhood aren’t the bandits- but they are the ones who have killed them. There aren’t many bandit bodies for a keep this size, but then, there aren’t many tents, either. Marten thinks he can see movement on the other side of the keep, but isn’t quite sure. The front courtyard is quite large, and a secondary wall and gate-arch separates it from a second courtyard, almost the same size. They creep quietly along the wall, and make their way down the stairs leading down into the courtyard- their stealth is ruined, however, as Richard reaches the last step, and a blaring alarm bell rings out into the night from no visible source. There is commotion from within the tents as the brotherhood thrash awake- Richard charges straight into the nearest in Wolfen form, savaging one of the pajama-clad men within as he attempts to bring a flail to bear. Quidd moves to back him up, Sasha ascends back to the ramparts, and battle is joined.
The Brotherhood are disorganised, rising from sleep unarmoured, and the party begins to make quick work of them before a sentry across the courtyard rises suddenly, having apparently fallen asleep on watch, and puts an arrow into Quidd. In a moment of sudden and uncanny clarity, Sasha tests the wind, raises her pilfered bow and delivers an astounding inverse-robin hood, her arrow splitting the next one he had raised before going through his eye and killing him.
A spellcaster emerged on the ramparts, as well, casting a Briarweb over the battlefield- Richard is completely unhindered, and while it keeps the party pinned down if they want to avoid takingdamage from the tearing thorns, it ends up doing far more damage to the members of the brotherhood as they try to flee combat before the wrath of this vine-clad, stony Wolfen monstrosity. Another sentry at the far end of the keep trades shots with Sasha, but neither hits anything from that distance in the dark of the night. She does, however, make a phenomenal perception check (Jameson was coming up all 20’s this session), locating the spellcaster and hearing voices from within an open doorway which plunges back into the mountain at the rear of the keep.
“We’re under attack? By whom? Nobody knows we’re here!”
“Could it be the Bandits?”
“They shouldn’t be back for a week!”
“Well, whoever they are, we’ll have to press on tonight! We haven’t found it, yet!”
This is followed by the sound of great stone doors slamming shut.
A dagger-wielding Brotherhood Member flees combat through the archway into the second courtyard, disappearing from sight, and Sasha shoots at him as he does, before making after him. The Brotherhood Druid summons a pair of wolves to slow Sasha down, but she rolls free of their jaws a second later and traverses the battlements with startling speed. The Druid obscured the ramparts in mist to cover their escape, scrambling down a collapsed wall and to their tent, to retrieve the lone potion of Fly and make good their escape. Richard emerges into the secondary courtyard to chase the dagger-wielder, but he’s nowhere to be seen. As Richard prowls, he emerges from behind a crumbling wall and makes a sneak attack against Richard, to which Richard responds with a vicious bite. He flees again, but has nowhere to go, and Richard stalks him slowly up against the stone doors before killing and partially eating him.
Sasha knocks out the Spiked-chain wielder, who had tried to flee, and ties him up for questioning.
In the end, only the Druid and the far Sentry escape from the party’s onslaught, the latter having climbed out of the keep and fled on foot into the wilderness. The party waits until the Druid’s Briarweb expires, then makes a sweep of the keep and the wreckage of the Brotherhood’s camp. Six of the Eight Brotherhood members are taken care of, all told. Two have escaped to tell the tale.
Quidd spends the whole time staring at the great stone doors through which the last of the present Brotherhood apparently disappeared, and says nothing.