After a brief gathering in Alton’s quarters, the party rests for the evening and gathers for breakfast with the leaders of the Riverton underground. In attendance are Peruppi Dentkettle-Stoutfoot, the halfling folk hero Harfur Stoutfoot, druid Jacob Dain, and the head of a local shipping cartel Shara Tev. They discuss how Peruppi’s original mission for Mengst in the South has failed – they are certain that Lieutenant William Melvar has been taken through the Waygate to Tablenhelm and is lost. There is some talk of how the Underground plans to abandon their position in Riverton in the spring when they can make it across the mountains because, according to Peruppi, there is simply no one left to save in the south. The party volunteers information about the cave system they used to enter the south as an alternative to waiting for the spring thaws.
They also discuss the party’s plan for Penshin in depth and request material support for the endeavor. In addition to supplies and the location of the Underground’s abandoned safehouse in Penshin, Harfur provides the party with a carriage and team to help smooth their journey across the Southlands.
The party is woken from their slumber very early the next morning to cries of alarm – the Ringwielder Aril Flambeau has arrived with little warning in the night with a company of Peacekeepers and several companies of soldiers to retake control of the purloined city. Peruppi and Harfur stay behind to buy time while the party, along with Jacob Dain and several dozen refugees who had been hiding in the city, make their escape through the sewers and caves. The party observes Peruppi standing fast against the Ringwielder in the courtyard of the mayoral palace (cutscene text below).
After parting ways with Jacob and the refugees, the party is ambushed by a platoon of Peacekeepers and a pitched battle ensues in which Moriel is seriously wounded by an arrow. After the battle, the party finds where their carriage and team has been waiting for them…and realize the none of them particularly know how to drive….
Escape From Riverton
At one point, you pass through a hall with open-air crenelations that give you a glimpse of the courtyard of the mayoral palace. The rain is pouring down.
There are easily over a hundred armored Peacekeepers, and even more army regulars arrayed in an arc around the huge wooden doors of the palace, Aril Flambau’s red and black displayed prominently on soaked banners and tabards. Standing out in front of the troops in the center of the courtyard are two Stranglers, both appearing to be incredibly old and twisted in their robes, and between them, a step in front, a woman. She is dressed only in britches and a long-sleeved buttoned tunic, both of black silk and pasted to her petite figure by the rain. She is floating, her bare feet are hanging idly some inches over a puddle. Her skin is porcelain-white, and her hair is a vivid, shocking red – it appears to be the only thing in the whole courtyard that is dry, and it is blowing in a wind that touches nothing else. Strange green and violet flames dance from her hands, which are held palms-up, slightly extended from her sides. The Ring of Fire on her left hand sparkles in the flame.
Facing her from the steps of the palace, stands Peruppi. She is standing on the bottom step, her diminutive form armored in her shining steel plate mail. There is a white glow emanating from her, so bright that it is casting long shadows behind the gathered troops. Her shield, emblazoned with the sword of Aluviel, and her mithril war hammer are both bathed in white and azure flames.
“Lay down your arms,” says the Ringwielder in a soft, sweet voice that still somehow fills the entire courtyard.
Peruppi’s eyes flicker up to you, no doubt noting your eminent escape, smiles slightly, and wipes a strand of wet hair from her face. She half-steps, half-hops down off the last step, landing in a puddle with a splash. She giggles slightly, and sighs deeply, a happy, serene grin on her face.
“Come and get ’em, bitch.”
The others must think I’m completely crazy. I continually sulk like a spoiled child, yet, of all my comrades I am most in touch with the real reason for our mission. My books have been my only real companion on this trip. I have shunned the others, judged them, mistrusted them. Even my talks with the elf have been selfish and dishonest, though I would make it appear otherwise.
Vladimir asked me the other night about the gods. I must have disappointed him badly. I could see it in his eyes. He was looking to me for answers to his own troubles, whatever they may be, and I let my own doubts get the better of me. I could have given him comfort, but, instead, only increased his own private grief. There is no excuse for such a failure.
I am, after all, an ambassador of Aluviel, the One Who is With Us. Clearly, I have not represented Her in the manner She would expect. Yet, I will now turn myself to that task, turning toward the outward Light and leaving the inward Dark behind. Despite the hardships that surely await (and the ones we have already passed through), I now consciously dedicate myself to Her will. I gratefully embrace the anxiety of incertitude and, yet, find all the certainty in the fact that She has a plan and will never lead me astray.
Up until this point, the others have only seen my passion in battle, quietly pent up until the time to act is upon me. It is with confidence that I vow that my sword will strike down Her enemies with renewed fury.
I will walk with honor, faith and purpose from this point forward, Aluviel willing.
Action Report: Southlands Mission: Entry 2
After the meeting we all went to sleep, in beds no less. I didn’t sleep much, what with the growing feeling that something was horribly wrong. Suspicion began to creep into every plan I came up with. I kept wondering if Gronk and Vlad were capable of killing the halfling woman if she tried to double cross us. I feel guilty for those feelings, looking back on it now.. I think being in the south is making me paranoid.
The next day we ate, and my suspicions began to wane, Peruppi had let us know that they were abandoning the south. We shared the location of the path through the mountains, so they didn’t have to wait through the winter to get back home, she informed us that her mission to save William Melvar had failed, and that he had been taken through the waygate. We then discussed our material needs for our mission and they gathered for us what they could spare and told us of a safehouse in (redacted target city).
The next morning we were woken by alarms, it seems that the enemy now knew of our operation in Riverton. Whether this was our doing, or just the inevitability of time I may never know. Our escape was quick, we were pointed in the right direction and set off on our escape. On the way to our escape vehicle, we were set upon by a hidden contingent of peacekeepers, and had Banagher not warned us, we would have blundered right into the middle of them.
The fight was difficult, and Moriel has been injured.. and what’s worse, we arrived at the wagons without realizing one very important fact.. nobody knows how to use the damned thing.
Later in the evening, they all gathered in the room of one of the humans. One of the other humans obviously came straight from his bath, wearing nothing but a towel. Several of the others commented on it, but since noone told him to go get dressed, this had to be, if not acceptable, then at least a tolerated behaviour among humans.
Poppy, for some reason, was covered in feathers. But none of the others said anything, so she kept her quiet. There would be time enough to ask her about it later, when they were alone.
The meeting was fairly brief, but completely wasted. One of the humans kept saying they had to be on their guards, and that something seemed wrong somehow. What did they expect? They were in the middle of occupied territory, of course something was amiss.
As they finished, Moriel headed after Poppy to ask about the feathers. Poppy did not return to her room, however, but started asking around if she could get another mattress. Well, that answered that. The halfling seemed to have little luck in her late evening quest for a new mattress, though, so Moriel offered to share her room. Though a soft, clean bed was really tempting, it was not as if she really needed it. Instead, she settled on the floor, against the wall, while Poppy took the bed.
The next morning’s breakfast was a feast. Large, yes, but best of all, there was fresh fruit. Peruppi was there, the halfing in full plate. There were others there as well, among them the halfing hero Harfur Stoutfoot. The other two she had never heard about, but being here, she assumed that they were trusted. Listening to the others, she really hoped they were, since it seemed they were telling the Riverton-people everything, their plans, what had happened in the north, every little detail that seemed irrelevant, or even dangerous, to tell these people.
Granted, the tunnels to the north _were_ relevant, but that was about it. Moriel wanted to mention that Annabelle and her halfings got to Hillcrest safely, but the others were chattering, and before she knew it, the breakfast was over. She made a mental note of mentioning it before they left; since they obviously knew Annabelle, she did not see any harm in letting them know she was alive and well, especially not in the light of all the other information they had shared.
At least the Riverton-people are willing to help them with equipment, among others, a wagon and a team, of horses, ponies, oxes, that never became entirely clear. Not that it mattered, she had no idea how to drive a wagon, and besides, she and Poppy, at least, would have to stay inside the wagon anyway.
Finding clothes and equipment seemed to take most of the day. Poppy joined her in her room again that night, even though someone had by now replaced her mattress. Moriel did not mind, Poppy’s company was always welcome.
The next morning, they were woken by Peruppi banging on the door. There was a sense of urgency to the banging, so Moriel got her bow and sword, and opened the door. Peruppi was walking down the hallway, banging on every door. When she heard the reason, she quickly grabbed the rest of her gear, noticing Poppy doing the same thing.
As they worked their way out of the city, leaving Peruppi and Harfur behind to distract the enemies, she could not help but wonder how the enemy seemed to always be a step ahead of them. When they had met the first Avenger, someone had known they would be coming that way. Granted, a lot of people knew that, but that was only the beginning.
Someone had killed the gnome. It seemed as if he had been the target, at least, and if he was, she doubted it was just a coincidence that he was killed shortly after he talked to them.
Then there was Lucas. He had known that they would take the route through the mountains. Maybe that too was a coincidence. Maybe that was the only known way through the mountains rather than over them. Or someone had told the enemies that they were travelling that way.
And finally, here. It could of course be a coincidence that the enemy showed up just two days after Moriel and the others had arrived, but Moriel did not much believe in coincidences anymore. Someone was feeding the enemy with information, it seemed, and if that was the case, the logical conclusion was that it was someone in the team.
As they turned back to look at the city again, they saw the attacking forces. Two Stranglers, and a red-haired woman who seemed to levitate a few inches off the ground. She was dressed in nothing but a tunic and short trousers. And there was absolutely no doubt in Moriel’s mind that she was the real power here. Her hands flared with green and violet fire, and a ring on her left hand told Moriel that this was far more than a regular commander.
Against them stood one small, lonely figure. Peruppi, looking like something out of a legend. Her armour was shining, her shield and her warhammer seemed to be ablaze in white fire, and the halfing herself was glowing with a brilliant white light, as if the moon had decided to outshine the sun. Bright enough to cast long, strange shadows, making it appear as if she was a star surrounded by long greedy shadows stretching towards her.
Peruppi glanced once in their direction, then skipped down the stairs to meet the force gathered before her. And the moment of unreality ended. There was no way Peruppi could survive that encounter, the forces facing her were too large. All that would remain was the memory. And that alone was a good reason to survive, for even if Peruppi was no elf, this should be remembered, and where better to keep this memory than in the archives of her own people. Even dying, her people would still be around for centuries, and the other races had short memories. She did not much like the thought of the memory of this picture of Peruppi, burned into her mind, being lost, forgotten.
But to be able to do that, she would have to survive. She had to admit that, with the way things were looking right now, that was becoming increasingly unlikely. If someone really _were_ feeding information to the enemy, their chances were slim indeed. Not that she had any plans of giving up, but neither did she have any illusions that they would all survive and return as heroes.
At least they had sufficient rations with them now, or so she hoped. There would be little room for hunting or foraging now, she suspected, and most likely, she would see little but the inside of that wagon for the next several days. Chances were she and Poppy at least, were going to be very tired of those walls.
And then the ambush hit them.
The Peacekeepers seemed to pop out of nowhere. There seemed to be at least ten, several of them archers. Well, at least she would not have to worry about hitting the team, she thought sourly, as she nocked an arrow and picked her first target.
An arrow slammed into her arm. She knew without looking that it was a bad hit, but she was still alive, conscious, and she could still use her arm, so she tried to ignore it.
As she reached for another arrow, she realised it was her last. It should not have been allowed to happen; oh, she would have run out of arrows anyway, but it should not have come as a surprise on her. Most likely, noone had noticed anything. They rarely paid attention to her at all, and they had absolutely no reason to start now. And even should any of them have glanced in her direction at the right time, Moriel doubted they would be any wiser.
She dropped her now useless bow and drew her sword, going after the one that was fighting Banagher. Only then did she realise she could just as well have pulled more arrows from her pack without losing too much time. Too late to think about now, though, and it was not as if she had never used a sword before.
Only after the fight was over, did she realise how much her arm hurt. She looked for a place to sit down. At least she would not embarrass herself further by collapsing. As she sat there, pointedly avoiding to look at her arm, she started going over in her mind how to tell this story when she finally returned home.
Upon a soft feather bed a Halfling slumbers. The fresh sheets and soft linens create a fluffy cocoon around her tiny body, with only her head peaking from the top, and her golden tresses spiraling around the pillow, creating an angelic facade. Her delicate mouth is curled into a delighted grin, and she is still, at peace and seemingly happy. One such as this, so sweet, so innocent must dream of the heavens. Shall we take a peak?
A cloud of petunia pink swings too and fro, no grace, no rhythm, the movements are sporadic and random. From a distance it resembles a church bell caught in a storm gale, except its pink, so very pink. A closer look at the bell-like mass reveals the back of a halfling, inside an elaborate, yet gaudy gown. An oversized, frilly, laced bonnet sits atop the halflingsâ€™ head and a humming is heard. The pink leather shoes, built to be silent, make much noise with the skip, stomp, jump pattern the halfing seems to be fond of. The surrounding wildlife is petrified into silence, watching in awe from a distance the pink flurry of movement and sound, and waiting for its demise. How could the Halfling be so careless in such dangerous times?
About 100 ft ahead thereâ€™s a large puddle, blocking the path. The Halflings frenzy intensifies and it seems to be picking up speed towards the puddle. A soft giggling is heard, which evolves into a light hearted, almost maniacal cackle as the Halfling closes in the on the puddle. With all its momentum the halfling leaps and lands directly in the center of the puddle. Brown water splashes everywhere, and the dress takes on a copperish-pink color. A happier halfling could not be found.
A screech arises from a nearby bush, a feral, golden headed form springs from the greenery and catapults onto the back of the halfling! You hear â€œThat was my dress!â€ echoing through the air.
Poppy finds herself in the middle of the puddle with a soggy gown in her hands. She looks around and then up. A translucent form, the one that had ruined the dress, was floating towards the heavens.
Poppyâ€™s eyes brim with tears, and for once in the Halflings short, dreadful life, she looks regretful.
Through a choked off sob, you think you hear the words â€œPeruppi, itâ€™s okay, come back and get the dress.â€