Sunday, March 31, 2013

Season 6: Death by Bunga Bunga or Here Kitty Kitty


When we left off, our group of heroes found themselves surrounded by a tribe of warriors.  Everyone reaches for their weapons.  “Calm down. They are jungle tribes, sworn allies of my people.” Kiran says. Then he addresses their massive, scarred leader in a strange musical language. The man clearly doesn't understand, and replies in broken Kyrosian: “You are my prisoners. Drop your weapons and surrender.”
Shangor, Katrina and Hawk wanted to fight despite the five to one odds.  Katrina was chomping at the bit to put an arrow into the belly of the warrior’s leader. Hawk challenged the leader to one on one combat but he declined.  Sylph wanted to try to persuade the chief but her powers were countered by someone yet unseen and she was captured.  Kiran tries to plead his case but he also seized.  With both Kiran and Sylph captured, the rest of the party decides to surrender.  The warriors remove their weapons, bind them and lead to their village.



This looks like the setup for an old joke


Surrounded!





Nowhere to  run

Upon arriving at their village, the warriors to take the party before their chieftain Fatbelly, who always seems to be eating.  “Strangers, why have you desecrated the holy temple of the Claw’s Clan?” he asks, while chewing loudly. “We haven’t desecrated anything.” Kiran thunders disdainfully. “I am Kiran, King of the Haakora and your lord by law. I used the Beacon, which you left in a deplorable state of decay, to warn my people. Now free us and bow to me, and I might forget your offense!” As he says these words, Kiran almost transfigures, his tattoos now gone, and his voice has a power that is clearly inhuman. The jungle warriors cower in terror, and Fatbelly stops chewing and drops his food.  Then a croaking voice rises from the crowd.

“When the old gods forget their children, new gods come to protect them! Fatbelly, kill them and send their heads to Azagara. The lords of the city will be grateful to us! So I, Shagga the Elder, say!”  The crowd parts and old crone limps forward with a gnarled staff that supports her. She looks at Kiran defiantly, before continuing. “Your race abandoned us even before the birth of my grandmother. You can try to impress us, but I feel you are powerless. Where are your wings, mighty lord? Now you must crawl on the ground like all of us mortals and tremble in front of the new gods.” She laughs evilly.

Kiran calmly answers: “I fear no god, old witch.”  “Is that so?” the woman grins. “People of the jungle, have you heard? They challenged our new gods! Now we’ll see if they have the courage to face them Four warriors  each stick a spear in the ground and the villagers quickly clear the space marked by the four spears. Only the heroes, still bound, and Shagga remain in the open space. Then, someone starts playing a drum.  The old witch shakes her body in strange, frenetic movements, more similar to an inner torture than to a dance. She whines and whimpers like a beast in pain. Kiran too starts chanting in his melodious low voice, pitting his magic against the witch’s. In the meantime, the foliage along the border of the forest moves and an enormous tiger jumps out into the clearing!  “The god! The god!” whisper the villagers. The beast approaches, warily at first and then more boldly.  Its golden eyes focused on the bound group of people.  


The new god arrives!


With sinuous steps, the mighty beast closes in and lets loose with a roar that shakes Hawk.  Shangor breaks free of his bonds but Shagga hits him with a blast of magic that stuns him.  Sul’khaz, despite being bound, summons three wolves.  The large wolf attacks the tiger, the smaller two attack Shagga who continues her obscene dance.  The great tiger strikes Shangor, leaving claw marks across his chest.  After recovering from the claws and the blast of magical power from Shagga, Shangor cried out “This wasn’t the pussy that I was hoping for tonight!”  Hawk manages to recover and free herself.  She grabs one of the spears from the ground and strikes the might cat.  The spear should have cut the flesh of the beast but it failed to even scratch it.  Hawk quickly realizes that they must defeat Shagga to defeat the tiger but Hawk’s code of honor prevents her from attacking an old woman.  Eventually, everyone manages to free themselves except for Kiran who continues to attempt to counter Shagga’s magic.  While Shangor and Hawk grappled with the Tiger, everyone ganged up on Shagga, eventually taking her down but it took some time.  With Shagga dead, the now completely mortal tiger bounded into the jungle, although it did leave some fur behind in the hands of Hawk. 

This wasn't the pussy I was hoping for tonight!

The tiger throws Shangor through the air after his first attempt to grapple the beast fails

The tiger moves to protect Shagga
The people of the Claw Clan are astonished.  Fatbelly kneels before our band of adventurers and the rest of his people follow his example.  “We ask for your pardon, Winged Lord. Forgive us!” Kiran stares intensely at them and, for a moment, he seems exactly like the king that he has claimed to be.  Kiran extends his forgiveness and party’s weapons are returned to them and now they are treated as honored guests.  The tribe offers them food, wine and women.  Katrina is content just have a full set of arrows again but Shangor indulges himself in all the tribe has to offer.

After a few days of enjoying the generous hospitality of the Claw Clan, Kiran grows restless and wants to be back on the road to Haak.  The Claw Clan provides the party with generous provisions:  dried meat, pies made of fruit and a couple of cassava, carved pumpkins full of strong banana liquor, plus several mantles made of thick pelts. “You’ll need them. It is very cold in the mountains.” Fatbelly says, scratching his massive stomach.  The tribe points the group to the Path of Burden, which their name for the Path of Light.  Fatbelly explains that no one from the tribe has ventured along the path in generations.  It isn’t long before the heroes realize that the Claw Clan did not name it the Path of Burden for nothing.  The trail into the mountains will be difficult and dangerous.

About midday, the party is walking along a particularly narrow path on the edge of a crevasse when they notice a number of large birds circling overhead.  Katrina immediately gets out her bow.  “They are Ka Nam.” Kiran says “My people train them for hunting and war. They are excellent scouts and guardians too. In the past they were our closest friends, but today, well, we shall see.” As if in response to these words, the hawks start shrieking loudly:  The screeching does not sound friendly at all. Then, as a single creature, they swoop down upon the party.  “I’ll try to calm them down! But be ready!” Kiran shouts, his voice almost lost amidst the birds’ cries.

This is where we left off.  The fight with the Ka Nam will be were the next session starts.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Session 5: The Second battle of Azagara and Following the Path of Light



When we left off, our heroes found themselves ambushed by Druun the Gorgon and his Valk riders.  Hawk, still holding the weak form of Kiran of the Haakora tells Shangor, who is carrying the wounded Sylph, to take Kumal the Smiling and she will take of Druun the Gorgon.   However, before the Valk can unleash their deadly barrage of arrows, the scene is interrupted by a Kyrosian officer.

The officer rushes into the square, followed by many other soldiers, some of them half naked or drunk, as if abruptly interrupted halfway through the pillaging. “Alarm! Alarm!” he shouts: “All men to the walls! You, dogs, follow me!” The officer is so worried he doesn’t even notice that the party and the Valk are in the middle of a standoff.
“What’s happening?” The Gorgon asks the officer. “An army was sighted an hour ago, coming from east. They are Sulapulians, come to help Azagara! We must rally at the gates immediately, or we’ll be crushed!” Fear floats across the Valk’s face. He and his men left their horses by the city gates, as you cannot sack a city while being in your saddle, and the idea of fighting on foot is frightening to a Valk. Druun orders his men to put down their weapons. “We’ll continue later,” he promises with an evil grin. Hawk readily agrees to that.  Then the Valk run toward the gates with the other soldiers. “Come on!” the he officer shouts at the party. “We need you too!”

Kiran tells Hawk that this would be the perfect time to leave the city and to make for the jungle.  Despite this, Hawk and Shangor both feel a responsibility to join the other soldiers of their army in the defense of the city out of loyalty to General Tunamos.  It is quickly decided that Sylph, Kiran and Jura will stay in an abandoned building while Hawk, Shangor, Katrina and Sul’khaz will go out and fight the Sulapulians. 

The army that forms ranks outside Azagara is a feeble one compared to the army that took the city this morning:  Only four hundred and fifty warriors take the field against a force of twenty five hundred.  Tunamos puts on a brave face as the clash begins. 

In the first phase of the battle, the remaining Valk cavalry fire a few volleys of arrows at the Sulapulian heavy cavalry before being crushed by the enemy counter attack.  What is left of the Valk forces ride off into the jungle.  Despite this, the mercenary army’s center holds presses forward.   This proves to be the Tunamos’ undoing.   Without the Valk to guard their flanks, the mercenary army is quickly surrounded.  Sul’khaz is stuck down by a blow to the head and Katrina takes his unconscious form back to the city.  Shangor and Hawk fight valiantly beside General Tunamos until he surrounded by the Elephant Tusks, the heavy infantry of the Sulapulians, dragged from his horse and slain.   With the death of Tunamos, both Hawk and Shangor feel that their obligations have been fulfilled and realizing that either death or capture will be their fate if they remain on the battlefield, they both escape to the temporary safety of the city.   Katrina had made an effort to return to the battle but (wisely) decided to remain in the city as she could plainly see that Tunamos’s army was doomed from the vantage point of the city walls. 

With the fall of the mercenary army, the Sulapulian army moved into Azagara to slaughter the remaining mercenaries that had been too drunk or too caught up in pillaging to answer the call to battle.  Before the walls could be breached, the heroes managed to escape the city with a cart to carry their wounded. 

Once in the jungle, the party realizes that they will not be able to keep either the cart or their horses.  They do manage to find a place to camp by a riverside as Kiran washes away that last of the silver markings that had held him powerless for centuries.  Of course, Kiran does not know the true passage of time between his imprisonment and his release.  He believes that it has only been fifty years whereas the heroes believe (correctly) that it has been much longer than that.  For the most part, the heroes try to humor him.  Kiran tells story of his people around the camp fire as Sylph and Sul’khaz rest and recover enough to continue the hike in the morning.

On their second day in the jungle, the party discovers a milestone which Kiran identifies as a marker along the Path of Light that will lead them to his city and his people.  Despite the obvious fact that it has been years since anyone has followed the path, Kiran continues to believe that it has only been fifty years since his capture.  

Along the path, Hawk spots a blood trial.  While the rest of the party continues along the Path of Light, she investigates and finds a wounded Kyrosian soldier who identifies himself as Rakhim.  He is a survivor from the battle but his leg wound has become infected.  Hawk gives the man some water and checks his wound only to find that it is mortal.  From looking at Hawk’s reaction, the solider realizes that his fate has been sealed.  Rakhim asks Hawk for the mercy of quick death, rather than the long and painful that he will face with the infected wound.  Hawk solemnly agrees and returns to the party. 

Further in the jungle, the party narrow avoids quicksand and Katrina is bitten by a deadly snake.  Fortunately, Sul’khaz manages to suck out the poison.  The party also finds a human skull in brush.  The skull shows signs of teeth marks, which Kiran identifies as the sign that the person was killed by one of the man eating apes that live in the area.  Immediately after this, a hulking gray form swings out of the jungle and snatches Jura.  Shangor and Hawk immediately race after the ape, even taking to swinging on vines to keep up with beast.  Katrina takes off on foot while Sul’khaz, Sylph and Kiran remain on the trail. 

Hawk and Shangor eventually catch up the ape who settles in a small clearing, casting Jura aside like a toy doll.   As they move to engage the ape, two more apes drop in to the clearing in engage in battle with heroes.  Not only must they fight the apes, but they must also contend with the various items that the less brave apes are throwing at them.   Katrina arrives soon after and is quickly reminded that she is much more effective with a bow than a sword but she only has two arrows left after the battle.  





Kiran is not one to sit idly by and heads off into the jungle.  Sylph tries to persuade him to stay put but he resists, leaving Sylph and Sul’khaz little choice but to follow.  By the time they arrive, Jura has been recovered and the apes that moved into the open have been slain but it sounds like the entire cannibal ape nation is about the fall upon them.  Everyone runs. 
The party runs until they cross a river that the apes seem afraid to cross.  

After reaching a place where the group can catch their breath in relative safety from the apes, Kiran comments that his people had nearly wiped out the apes and he is surprised that they had replenished their numbers so quickly.  Sul’khaz makes a comment that it is too bad that Kiran and his people did such a half assed job.  Thankfully, Kiran does not hear that.  Sul’khaz also points out that this is further evidence that Kiran’s people are likely long gone.  Despite that, Kiran tells everyone that this part of the jungle is familiar to him and that they are near an outpost of his city.  An hour before dusk, Kiran is proved right as the party does find the outpost.

A ziggurat is found half engulfed by trees, further evidence of the decline of Kiran’s people.  At the top of the ziggurat, they party finds a brazier.  Kiran points to a cloud covered mountain and identifies it as the city of Haak.  However, nothing can be seen through the clouds.  Kiran opens a hidden compartment and pulls out blocks of fuel which he places in the brazier.  He tells the heroes that once night falls, he will burn the blocks which will light a beacon that let his people that he is here and that the city will answer. 

Before nightfall, Katrina does some exploring of the surrounding area.  She discovers several poles surrounding the ziggurat.  These poles are topped with human skulls that are decorated with feathers.  She shows this to Kiran who identifies them as markers that are supposed to keep strangers away under threat of a terrible curse.  That does little to lighten the mood.

As the night falls, Kiran burns the blocks of fuel in the brazier.  As the fire burns, he speaks a spell in his native tongue that causes the fire to turn into a massive pillar of blue light that stretches into the sky.  Sul’khaz points out that not only will this alert the city of Haak, but it will alert anyone else out there too.  Kiran waits for hours and finally, just before dawn, a blue light briefly shines from the far mountain top.  However, the joy is short lived as Sul’khaz is proved to be right.  The light of dawn reveals that the ziggurat is surrounded by an army of jungle warriors armed with spears and axes.  The intentions do not appear to be friendly…..
Until next time.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Session 4: The Battle of Azagara

At daybreak, after a long, tiresome night of forced march, Tunamos’ reach the outskirts of Azagara. It is a city of average size, built on a plain bordered by the jungle. A light morning fog covers the top of its low fortifications, built to protect the population rather from the beasts of the jungle than from a real army. The army of Azagara is deployed in battle formation just outside the walls, in a long line. It is a very bold, or very desperate, way to fight. Prince Themr√†’s banner flies right on the front line. When the sun is high, the trumpets sound and the battle starts…


n the opening faze of the battle, Katrina does not so well and is wounded.  Hawk, Shangor, and Sul’khaz all fight well but end up slightly battered and bruised.  However, it is Sylph that is bathed in glory.  Dozens fall before her dagger and her beauty inspires the soldiers following her to fight like demons.  The men of the army have begun to see her as warrior goddess sent by the heavens to lead them to victory!  (Sylph’s player rolled EXTREMELY well on the Characters in Mass Battles table.)

The second phase of the battles finds our heroes watching the flank of the army.  Out of the jungle comes an ambush by jungle warriors; allies of the city of Azagara.  Javelins rain down on the party and Katrina answers with her bow downing one of the enemies.  Hawk lets loose with her sling but misses and Sul’khaz summons his wolves to attack the advancing warriors.  After the opening salvo of javelins, the jungle warriors give a war cry and attack.  Hawk moves into the Jungle to meet them head on.  Sylph sends the boy Jura to get help and then summons her powers to distract the attacking warriors but in doing so, she also distracts Shangor and Sul’khaz as well.  Sylph moves away from the melee to safety and the fight continues.  In the end, one of the enemy warriors survives to flee back into the jungle but not before considerable damage has been done to General Tunamos’ army elsewhere on the battlefield.

                                          Rumble in Jungle:  Warriors attack the army's flank







In the final phase of the battle, Katrina and Shangor fight well but it is Sylph, Hawk and Sul’khaz fight with distinction.  Everyone gets battered and bruised but are otherwise unscathed except for Sylph who suffers a wound as the army of Azagara collapses before the superior forces of Tunamos’ army.   Prince Themr√† leads a desperate final charge with his squad of elite warriors in their war chariots.  Although the charge fails, the Prince and his men sell their lives dearly before they are all dragged from their chariots and slain.  Hawk sees the Princes’ courage and recognizes him and his warriors as worthy foes.  Prince Themra’s head is mounted on spear and it is presented in full view of his city and his troop, breaking what little was left of their spirit.    The battle is over and the sack of Azagara has begins.

As most of the mercenaries now launch into an orgy of looting and pillaging, the party moves into the city, seeking the House of the Red Door and the treasure that it contains.  Hawk also calls forth for the coward Kumal the Smiling to come out and face her.  He does not answer her call.  The heroes are appalled by much of the pillaging but they press on.  

A woman runs past them and screams fire!  The next thing the party knows they are confronted by a wall of smoke and the stampede of humanity as looter and citizen alike try to avoid the flames.  Eventually the party makes its way through the crowed and smoke filled streets.  Once they emerge from the smoke, they find themselves on a long street lined with banana trees.  A figure is spotted hiding among the trees.  A man wearing a collar steps out from behind one of the trees and begs our heroes for mercy.

He identifies himself as Zumar, a slave who only wishes to be free.  In return for breaking his slave collar and, after he thinks about it, some coin, he tells the party of the general location of the House of the Red Door.  Sylph easily persuades him to give them the location.  Zumar tells them that it is the Old Quarter of the city, which lies to east.  The heroes break his slave collar, give him ten moons (coins) and then leave Zumar to his fate and head eastward.

Not long after arriving in the Old Quarter, the party encounters a group of soldiers wearing precious silks taken from a looted house.  In the shadows of an alley they also spot a well dressed large man attempting to sneak away with a small box.  When confronted, he begs for mercy.  “Please! Please, mighty warriors! Spare my humble life! I am just a poor trader trying to save myself!”  He offers the heroes the coffer if they will let him go.  However, Sul’khaz spots something in the merchants mouth and he immediately makes him cough up a ring, easily worth hundreds of Moons.  The merchant begins to curse them before Sul’khaz slaps him around.  Using her powers of persuasion, Sylph easily gets the man to calm down and tell them where they can find the House of the Red Door.  After being assured that the ring will be returned to him, the merchant tells the party that the House of the Red Door is at the end of Alley of the Shady Pagodas, the third road to the left.  Reluctantly, Sul’khaz returns the ring and the party takes the third road to the left, leaving the merchant to flee the city.  Sure enough at the end of Alley of the Shady Pagoda, there is squat, mysterious building with a Red Door in the middle of garden.  So far, the looting and the pillaging have not reached this party of the city.

The door is knocked up on without anyone answering.  After the door is found to be unlocked, Shangor kicks the door in and steps into the build.  The room is dark; with several pillars about with small altar in the center of the room and a door on the far side of the building.  Shangor immediately walks directly to the altar, with Sul’khaz (who can see in the dark) and Sylph right behind him.  Out of the shadows, two large, muscular men armed with daggers and garrotes attack. Sylph cries out a warning but one of the stranglers is able to slip his garrote around the neck of Shangor.  The strangler immediately proceeds to strangle him.  Sul’khaz is attacked with a dagger.

                                                       
Daggers in the House of the Red Door


Sul’khaz and the strangler with a dagger flail at each other rather ineffectively but Shangor finds himself fighting for his life.  Shangor eventually manages to free himself and both stranglers are dispatched but not before one buries his dagger to hilt in Sylph’s midsection, nearly killing her.  (Sylph immediately had to make a vigor roll or die.  Fortunately she survived without suffering permanent damage but she will be operating at lower vigor roll until she can heal.)  Upon examining the stranglers’ bodies, both are found to be unusually muscular, with yellow in the whites of their eyes and a red mark upon their foreheads.  It is then remembered that Jura’s grandfather had a similar mark on his forehead as well.

Behind the closed door, Shangor finds the sleeping quarters for the stranglers as well as well stocked wine rack.  Shangor tried the wine and found that it was kind of syrupy and sweet.   Sylph also noticed that there were slide marks by the altar, indicating that the altar could be slide across the floor.  Under the altar there were stairs descending beneath the house.  Sul’khaz immediately makes his way down with the rest of the group following after him.

The stairs end in a circular, vaulted room.  In the center of the room is bald man, sitting cross-legged in the lotus position, as if sleeping or in deep meditation. The statue is covered in dirt but, under the light of the torches, it shimmers with the unmistakable sparkle of silver!  The floor is covered with dirt and, much to the surprise of the party, large feathers, feathers that would have come from something the size of giant eagle.  Sylph moves towards the statue and narrowly avoids being stabbed in the foot as a hidden blade shoots out the floor.  The room has been trapped! 

Unafraid, Shangor makes his way to the statue.  As he gets closer and closer, the traps get worse and worse.  First a dart strikes him, which he easily shakes off.  Then he struck by several triangular blades that shoot out from the wall and is tore up pretty badly.  Despite that, Shangor makes it to the statue with the rest of the group following in his footsteps. 

Upon further examination, it is discovered that the status is not made of silver.  Rather, it is covered with silver runes that radiate faint magic.  Suddenly, the eyes of the statue fly open and the statue speaks:  “Please….free me.” 

After the shock has worn off (Actually, none of the players were shocked.  The characters were but not the players.  All of the players saw that coming even if the characters did not.), the “statue” continued to speak. “The evil dwellers of this cursed city captured me and are keeping me hostage to prevent my people, the Haakora, from waging war against them. I am Kiran of the Haakora, and I am the king of my people. Bring me to my city, Haak, in the mountains above the jungle, and I promise you’ll be rich!” 
Shangor broke the chain and Kiran was free, and in a very weakened state.  Hawk and Sylph examined Kiran and finds two scars on his back, indicating that in the past, Kiran had wings and that the feathers came from him. 

I honestly do not think that the party’s main motivation in freeing Kiran was his promise of wealth.  Hawk has also been driven to help those that need it (she is Heroic after all).  I think that the party had a sense that freeing him was simply the right thing to do.  Whatever their reasons, Kiran was free and the party was determined to help him although they were uncertain how long he had been a prisoner.  They did know that none of them had ever heard of the Haakora or the city of Haak, although the merchant that gave them directions to the House of the Red Door at one point invoked the “Winged Gods” when he cursed them.  Perhaps that was a clue….

The party decided that they would try to find a safe place to keep both Kiran and Jura and then leave the city to find Haak.  Leaving the House of the Red Door behind them, the group made their way into the streets, with Kiran leaning on Hawk.   It was then when the party was surprised by Druun the Gorgon and his Valk riders.  There around twenty of them, all of them armed with their deadly composite bows and they have drop on the heroes.

Druun address the heroes.  So, you told the truth, Kumal. They did find something valuable in that house.”   Alongside Druun is Kumal the Smiling, his eyes starting with cold hatred.  “And now, Dirty Feet,” Druun continues, “hand me what you have found and maybe I’ll grant you the Death of the Lamb.” 

That is where we left off.  How will the party escape?  Will Kumal the Smiling finally face Hawk?  We will find out next time.  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Session Three: Why are we bringing the whore?


(Spoiler Alert!  Do not read if you plan on playing Citadel of the Winged Gods.)  Session three finds our group of adventurers as mercenary scouts in the Army of General Tunamos who has been sent by Ganymedes the mad Despot of Kryros to destroy the rebellious city of Azagara in the southern province of Ghandar.  The princes of Azagara and Sulapul, two of the most powerful strongholds in Ghandar, are leading the rebellion. With the majority of the two princes’ forces besieging the city of Kenaton, Tunamos’ army has been secretly marching south to catch the lightly defended city of Azagara unawares.  Ganymedes’ generals believe that crushing the city of Azagara will bring an end to the rebellion.
                                                                            
                                                               
Our Heroes!

About a day out of Azagara, General Tunamos summons the party to his tent for a meeting.  It is there that the general informs our heroes that they will go on a scouting mission in which they are to prevent anyone from warning the city of Azagara of their arrival.  This is much to the chagrin of Druun the Gorgon, the commander of the Valk cavalry who insists that he and his men alone can handle that.  Tunamos points out that Drunn and his men have been more interested in killing, looting and raping than in actual scouting and insists that he will send the player characters as well.  Fuming, Druun simply says “As you wish” and departs.  It is at this point that Katrina asks “Why are we bringing the whore?” in reference to Sylph.  This set the tone for the relationship between Katrina and Sylph for the rest of the evening. Hell, it probably will set the tone for the entire adventure.  I came up with the reason that the officer that Sylph has become “friendly” with was facing disciplinary actions and, as a result, Sylph was been sent out on the scouting mission as part of the officer’s punishment.  Provided with horses, the party takes off on their scouting mission.
Around midday, the party hears the sounds of sheep.  While Sylph and Katrina were exchanging insults, Shangor decides to sneak to the top of hill to see where the flock of sheep is.  He spies the flock of sheep and two shepherds hastily trying to drive their sheep in the opposite direction of the oncoming army.   Hawk decides to do some tracking while Sylph and Shangor circle ahead of the shepherds to layout some kind of trap while Katrina and Sul’khaz trail behind.  It isn’t too long before Hawk finds horse tracks leading way from the army and directly towards the flock.  She immediately gives takes off to try to catch the horseman.
In the meantime, Sylph and Shangor have managed to get ahead of the shepherds and set a “trap”.  Shangor hides in the brush while Sylph plays the damsel in distress card to the hilt.  The shepherds immediately fall for it and rush to her aid.
After providing her with food and water, the shepherds tell Sylph that she must come with them to their village for there is an army coming and it would safest for her there.  They also tell her that a third shepherd had ridden off on their only horse to warn the village and the city of Azagara.  Right about this time, Hawk arrives on the scene.  The shepherds immediately draw their meager weapons to defend Sylph but Hawk just rides by, determined to catch the rider that is obviously trying to warn the locals about the oncoming army.  Having overheard that the shepherds were well aware of the army and that they had dispatched a rider to warn the city, Shangor slips off and rides after hawk, leaving Sylph to the shepherds.
It is now time for Katrina and Sul’khaz to arrive on the scene.  Sul’khaz summons his wolves to appear.  His plan is trick the shepherds that the wolves are there to attack the sheep and he will save them from them.  With the wolves running towards the shepherds and the flock, Sul’khaz rides up and attempts to leap on the first wolf.  He fails miserably and spectacularly and turfs in front of the wolves, the shepherds, the sheep and the gods themselves.  After dusting himself off, he appears to ward off the wolves that then retreat.  It become clear that the shepherds aren’t buying this so Katrina takes matters into her own hands.  She shoots one of the shepherds with just enough damage to shake him.
Despite the protests of Sylph (the shepherds had been kind to her), Katrina shoots the second shepherd as he runs off.  It was good thing it was a called shot to the leg because Katrina’s player rolled a raise on her damage.  Otherwise, the shepherd will only be crippled for life instead of dead.  I think we need to switch disadvantages on Katrina and replace her Vow to avenger her family with coldhearted.  She had no problem shooting down innocent bystanders.  It was good roleplaying as well and the agreements between Katrina and Sylph only escalated after the incident.  Sylph, Katrina and Sul’khaz decide to restrain the shepherds and bring them with them to the village.
Speaking of the village, Hawk has followed the tracks to the village and discovered that it had been attacked by a group of six Valk raiders, Druun the Gorgon’s men.  Tunamos had given orders that there would be no looting.  Shangor arrives right behind her and they both descend to the village with plans to order the Valk to cease and desist.
Upon arriving in the village, Shangor and Hawk find five regular Valk raiders being led by Kumal the Smiling, Druun’s second in command.  Hawk demands that they stop immediately.  Kumal calls them both “Dirty Feet” and he and his men let loose with a barrage of arrows.  Shangor and Hawk charge in.
Hawk and Shangor charge the Valk

Oops!  A Valk is killed by "friendly fire"

Kumal decides to split

The fight was short and vicious.  This encounter is supposed to take place with the entire party but that didn’t work out that way.  As it is, Hawk and Shangor are pretty badass and they managed to defeat the Valk, although one Valk was killed by “friendly fire.”  He was fighting Shangor and two of his buddies fired into the melee.  They both missed Shangor and hit the Valk.  He didn’t survive.   With Hawk calling him a coward, Kumal rode off although Hawk did manage to score a hit on his pony but it was not enough to bring the animal down.   The only reason that Hawk did not pursue was because there were wounded and dying that needed to be attended to.
Among the wounded was an old man that had obviously been tortured, probably by Kumal.  He was clearly dying but he in exchange of the promise that they would take care of his grandson Jura, he tells Hawk and Shangor that a man’s weight in silver can be found in the House of the Red Door the city of Azagara. With that, he dies and Hawk honor’s her promise to take the boy in.
An hour or so later, Katrina, Sylph and Sul’khaz arrive in the village with the shepherds in tow.  The shepherds are re-united with their families and the party discusses their next move.  The third shepherd was never caught so the party decided that it was a safe bet that he had made it to Azagara and that the city had been warned.  It was decided that the group would return to General Tunamos and give him a full report, including the fact that the city had been likely been warned and the attack on the village by the Valk raiders.  Hawk was certain that they rode back into the army camp with the five Valk ponies in plain view of everyone.
General Tunamos received the information stoically.  As it turns out, the other scouting parties had suffered similar bad luck and it was abundantly clear that the city had been notified of their arrival.  The General also took the report of the attack on the village by the Valk riders.  Although disgusted, he told the party that he would forgo any charges for the moment as he still needed Druun and his men for the upcoming battle.  He also insisted that Hawk refrain from pursuing any personal vendetta against Kumal until after the campaign was complete.  He would insist the same from Druun as well.  The General then told the party to prepare themselves for tomorrow as he would need them when they attacked the city.
Next time, the Battle of Azagara!