1000, Mol, 16 Octos, 3E998
The massive caravan of the rescued and the captured from the Slavers’ Stockade departed Fort Garsley and turned south following the road towards Highport until they descended out of the Drakansgreb Mountains. Once they had reached the foothills, Greves, Karraway and Alton Beeblebrox turned the caravan east taking them off-road following Carlstar Wiorfether’s compass towards Valenar. All day they travelled, walking through the rocky wasteland of Morytania, hyper-aware of things lurking in the ever-present mist obscuring their vision. The going was slow, with the wagons often getting caught on rocky outcroppings and narrow crevices. It was getting dark before the oppressive mists finally started to dissipate, before the earth started growing vegetation again, and the stars began twinkling across an azure sky. The constant sense of danger lifted from the throng, marching ever eastward in their ill-fitting armor, and an almost giddy sense of relief took the caravan. Greves marched them another hour deeper into Valenar, and then stopped the exhausted band of travelers to camp for the night.
0800, Zol, 17 Octos, 3E998
The three Heroes roused the company, broke camp and headed southward across the Valenarian plains toward the coast and Port Hedland. Through most of the day they travelled across the grasslands with no road or trail to lead them. They ate lunch as they travelled, and around mid-afternoon the security detail spotted a lone horseman, armed and lightly armored, silhouetted against the bright, blue sky atop the rolling undulations of the plain, watching but not approaching. Beeblebrox rode out to meet him, and as he closed he saw the horseman putting a spyglass away, and noticed he was also wearing an emerald hauberk with a white horse emblazoned across it… the colors and emblem of the Valenarian military. As Beeblebrox approached, another light cavalryman rode out of the hollow behind the first, hidden by the low point beyond the rolling hill.
The second cavalry scout circled Beeblebrox at a distance with a bow trained on him, and the first took his spear off his stirrup’ed toe in wariness. He commanded Beeblebrox to halt, which he complied, and then a short interrogation occurred as to why the scout was seeing an armed and armored infantry battalion invading Valenar from Morytania. Beeblebrox recounted their story quickly, but effectively, and the two scouts held a quick conference between each other before the second one took off southward at a full gallop. The first scout told Beeblebrox to continue the caravan southward, and in a few hours travel they would come to the town of Weslyn, where a large garrison force would meet them. Beebelbrox thanked him for his time and advice, and then returned to the caravan and relayed the information to the rest of the team. They continued south as instructed for nearly four more hours, with the cavalry scout shadowing them to their east just barely within their range of sight.
1700, Zol, 17 Octos, 3E998
The trio Heroes 4 Hire, with the caravan in tow, heard hoof-beats approaching, and a lot of them. As they crested the last rolling hill and saw Weslyn in the distance, a battalion of mixed cavalry easily 150 strong approached them from the south. A line of 60 cavalrymen mounted on heavy warhorses, with lances at the vertical ‘rest’ position, interposed themselves between the caravan and the town. Another 90 light cavalrymen, on studded-leather-barded horses bred for speed, rode to loosely surround the caravan. The Heroes and the rest of the security detail kept their weapons sheathed and took no actions. A heavy cavalryman rode out from the line, the commander by his body language and the look of his armor, and approached Greves with his plate-barded warhorse.
The commander invaded Greves personal space, putting his warhorse’s breastplate physically against Greve’s horse’s shoulder, a move obviously intended to intimidate and dominate both man and steed. He sat ram-rod straight in the saddle, seeming ten-feet tall and made of shining steel.
“Explain to me why I see a battalion of infantry from Morytania in Valenar,” he demanded. Greves remained calm and politely explained the mission and the situation. The commander seemed skeptical and said nothing, but instead spurred his warhorse into a slow, pass-and-review walk, along the edge of the throng, so close many had to step back to avoid being stepped on by the massive horse. The commander shifted in the saddle enough to lean, broad-chested, over the left side of his mount and examine each and every face in the crowd, making hard eye contact with every single person. The rescued slaves mostly diverted their gaze, but the Heroes and the security detail each gave a courteous and respectful nod as they returned his stare. He made his counter-clockwise loop of the group, and returned to his previous position with Greves, still imposing but far less aggressive in his stance. His face was more relaxed and his eyebrow was raised.
“I see maybe a dozen who know what they are doing with blade and bow. The rest… well, I see no soldiers here.” He walked his mount past Greves’ horse, turned it around and rejoined him, along side and co-facing. “I am Captain Jindam, commander of the 4 th Regiment. We’ll escort you to Weslyn, where we are currently garrisoned. Once there, I am going to ask that your ‘battalion’ disarm. You may bivouac on the edge of town. You will be allowed free access to the township; however, I am afraid that you will not be allowed to leave until I have confirmed your rather exciting tale. Now… do you have any wounded?”
Greves agreed to his terms and pre-thanked him for the hospitality and assistance, and with that the Weslyn garrison of the Valenarian 4 th Regiment escorted the caravan the remaining distance into Weslyn proper, to be housed, treated and fed properly once relieved of their blood-soaked and reeking arms and armor. Captain Jindam sent an immediate dispatch to confirm Greves’ story, and made good his promises of fair treatment. Over the next three days, the party partook of the fruits of the township of Weslyn, staying well within the boundaries defined for them, and found Captain Jindam and the 4th Regiment garrison to be kind and friendly… once they were sure they weren’t going to have to fight you.
1600, Far, 20 Octos, 3E998
Each afternoon, the three Heroes approached Captain Jindam regarding whether word had been received and if they’d be allowed to continue their journey. On the afternoon of the third day, a courier returned with a communique for the Captain, and he informed the party that Lord Neistor had confirmed their story and they may leave. Reading further, however, he halted them for a moment and inquired if they had a blonde-haired half-elf boy amongst their refugees. The team said yes, and brought the boy to the Captain. Captain Jindam politely asked the boy a series of vague questions, inquiring as to the boy’s name (Cody), the whereabouts of his mother (killed during the raid that captured him), and what his father’s given and middle names were (Gyles Arres). Afterward, the Captain had two of his men take Cody away to an unknown fate.
The team asked what Cody’s significance was, and Captain Jindam replied that he was an extended relative of the royal family. The Captain offered to send two of his wagons filled with the large bivouac tents on loan with the party for the remainder of their trip to Port Hedland, and with that the caravan made preparations to depart in the morning.
0800, Sar, 21 Octos, 3E998
The caravan rolled out early the next morning, following the road south for four days to Port Hedland. The trip was easy going, with plenty of villages and hamlets to visit along the way, and as they travelled south they met additional garrisons from the 4 th Regiment arrayed along the western ‘frontier’ with Morytania. The entire massive troupe rolled into Port Hedland on Wir, the 25 th of Octos, early in the evening. The galleon Lord Neistor had promised, however, had yet to arrive.
0700, Zor, 26 Octos, 3E998
A bright, sunny morning greeted the Heroes and their charges as they woke from their campsite at the edge of town. As they went around their morning routine, a familiar lad of a mere 14 years old approached them… Caleb, Captain Larouche’s cabin boy from The Sea Wyvern. He informed them that The Sea Wyvern had been in port at Darkshelf loading a shipment of stone when Lord Neistor’s emergency request was made and contracted. The Wyvern took a day to unload the stone before they set sail for Port Hedland. Captain Larouche and the crew awaited at the docks.
The party spread the word, and the entire caravan prepared to depart. The two soldiers with the tents and wagons from 4 th Regiment bid them all farewell and returned to Weslyn. The Heroes moved the caravan to the docks and assisted the crew with loading The Sea Wyvern with personnel and supplies. It went quickly, and The Wyvern was stuffed to the brim with people. The ship set sail mid-afternoon for Darkshelf.
0500, Zor, 5 Nove, 3E998
The six-and-a-half day sail to Darkshelf went by boringly and uneventfully, arriving in the wee hours of the 5 th of Nove. The team unloaded The Sea Wyvern of its passengers and turned them over to the custody of Lord Neistor and his men, for deposition and return to their families, both in Valenar and other nations. They also handed over their three prisoners and all the documents they had recovered. Once the rescued and captured had been secured and the intelligence turned over, the trio Heroes fetched their wagon and draft horse and loaded it onto the ship for the return trip. They told Neistor of the details of their success, that the other half of their company was waiting for them back at Fort Garsely with a mountain of loot, and that they would return in a month’s time. The Sea Wyvern departed that mid-afternoon for the return trip to Port Hedland.
2200, Wir, 11 Nove, 3E998
Greves, Karraway and Beeblebrox arrived back in Port Hedland just after dinner. The next morning, they unloaded their horse and wagon and retrieved the other draft animals and wagons from the livery stables from which they were stored. They sold the two small carts, purchased additional large wagons, and then canvased the city for hirelings to follow them to Fort Garsley and assist in the recovery effort. Finding hired help willing to go to Morytania proved exceptionally problematic; however, offering a daily wage fifty times the norm found them seven hirelings willing to do the manual labor inside the forsaken lands. The next morning, the seven wagon train headed north to reverse route back to Fort Garsley via the western side of Valenar.
2000, Mol, 16 Nove, 3E998
The empty wagon train travelled quickly, returning to Fort Garsely in the early evening… reuniting the two halves of the Heroes 4 Hire one month after they split up to get the rescued slaves out of Morytania. The wagons were brought inside the stockade walls and staged in the inner courtyard, where they found Lt. Diplo Norixius, Illyia Baham and Dajjal had conveniently deposited all of the loot just inside the main entrance of the keep, to aid in the ease of loading. The entire entourage slept for the night, and then spent the entire day loading loot and supplies for the return trip. Surprisingly, they were able to fit everything, even with a little room to spare, and in the early hours of Wir, the 18 th of Nove, the heavy laden wagon train headed out, leaving Fort Garsely a barren ghost town of decaying goblinoids and villains.
0600, Mol, 23 Nove, 3E998
The wagon train, full of treasure and supplies, made it back to The Sea Wyvern docked in Port Hedland early in the morning after five-and-a-half days’ travel. It took the crew, hirelings and Heroes the rest of the day to transload the cargo from the wagons onto The Wyvern, but when it was complete the Heroes paid their hirelings their wages and bid them farewell. The Sea Wyvern departed from Port Hedland with its cargo and its passengers, and the Heroes 4 Hire collapsed into their bunks, exhausted from the days’ travels and labors, from the extended campaign of combat and violence, to sleep their way through the seven day voyage back to Darkshelf and Lord Neistor.
0700, Zol, 3 Decia, 3E998
What new information will Lord Neistor have waiting regarding the Slave Lords? What will the Heroes 4 Hire do with their newest spoils and experience? And what became of the blonde, half-elven boy, Cody?
Tune in next week, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!”