Malleus Machinarum

Session Two
The Heroes avoid a group of bandits, arrange a marriage, and conduct a daring rescue mission.

Shortly before the party was to leave the inn in the morning, Guard Captain Roth approached them. He, (a 50+ year-old widower) suggested that he would be a good marriage match for the daughter of the Harn village chief (a 14-year-old girl), and that he would be more willing to defend Harn from the army deserters and any future trouble if he were it's de facto leader.  "Something to think about," Roth said, "I'm sure the chief of the village and the daughter would listen if you were to speak to them."

Leaving Noringard, bound for Harn with a wagon full of food, forward scouts reported a group of about 20 of these deserters in the spot where they had killed eight a few days ago.

After a brief consultation with the party, the decision was made to carry the grain through the marshes to the south and out of sight of these bandits rather than fight or try to carry it through the forest to the north.

Upon return, the party broached the idea of marrying Roth to the girl and her father – and to the party's astonishment they agreed!  The girl, especially, seemed to think she would be trading her youth for the safety of her whole village – a cruel choice to be made – but she felt that she would rather be alive and safe, married to the 50-year-old soldier than dead at the hands of a deserter or bandit.

It was early evening when a bedraggled, tired and injured soldier of Harn's militia stumbled in the front gates, telling of a secret entrance into the [[Deserters' Keep]] that led directly into the prison. The heroes recruited Roth, who saw his opportunity to gain favour in the eyes of his new father-in-law. They set off into the forest and found the tunnel exactly where the militiaman said it would be.

They entered cautiously and carefully, the Oracle lighting a stone and throwing it ahead, when they were nearly nauseated by the stench of rotting meat. They approached the next corner, ready for anything, only to be ambushed from behind by a terrifying caterpillar-like creature with eight facial tentacles covered in a sticky yellow ichor. It paralyzed Roth and took a bite out of his leg, but the other party members leapt forward and struck it down. The barbarian took his killing blow, chopping apart the front and back halves with his greataxe.

The threat dealt with, the party found the secret door where the militiaman described it, opening the way into the dungeon.

There were another militiaman and their leader, the girl's elder brother. There were also four of the forest elves, and one of the deserter band themselves.

They were about to leave, when they heard footsteps creak on the stairs and approach the dungeon door. The spellcasters prepared their spells, and launched them as soon as the door opened…

…paralysing and terrifying a young boy who had been pressed into working for the deserters as a slave.

The boy, the deserter and the two Harnish men in tow, they said farewell to the elves and crept back through the forest to Harn just before breakfast, their bones aching from the long day and night and the fight with the carrion crawler.  The chief's daughter presented them with their reward – a leather pouch heavy with oddly-shaped dwarven coin in both gold and platinum!

They could not know that it would be only two hours before they would be awoken again by the sound of horse hooves, fire, the alarm horn and screams…

Session One
The Heroes Stop a Robbery, Exchange Wool for Food, and Broker a Peace Treaty

Travelling through Northern Thrane, the party saw two rusted iron cages, hanging from a tall tree, and swaying in the wind.  Inside each was a Thranish Deserter, their corpses still wearing the red cloaks that marked them as members of the Thranish army.

While examining the corpses, the party hears shouts and violence further along the road – and stumble upon a merchant husband and wife being assaulted by three Thranish army conscripts – oddly, the insignia of which unit they were assigned to had been torn off of their padded armor.  They had hammered iron spikes through the husband's hands, and were in the process of assaulting the wife.  She saw them, crying out for help.

The party doesn't believe that these are smugglers trading in contraband, and quickly kill the three deserters – but they act too slowly to save the husband, who they discover died of his wounds during the melee.

Escorting the wife to her home in Harn, they discover a village in dire crisis.  A group of bandits has encamped themselves in the nearby woodland fortress, and has been harassing, extracting tolls from, and killing travellers on the road between Harn and nearby Noringard, upon which Harn relies for food.  To make matters worse, the Harnish militia is undermanned, many of their number not having returned from the front of the Last War.  Those that remain set off several weeks ago for the woods, led by Harn's leader's son.

Luthan, the leader of Harn, believes that involving the party will only add to their problems, but Kara, the 14-year-old daughter of Harn's leader, and the party convince him and agree to escort Harn's load of wool to Noringard and return with a wagon full of food for the struggling village.  In exchange, they are promised "gold, and plenty of it!"

On a part of the road between Harn and Noringard that passes through the nearby woods, they discover a grisly scene – what appears to be Harn's whole militia troop, massacred and butchered on the road.  They examine one corpse pinned to a nearby tree with arrows, and it lurches towards them, a zombie.  They quickly dispatch it and examine the local area, discovering a signet ring that is obviously the son's – but none of the corpses that look related to Kara or her father are the correct age.

Further on, the party encounters a roughly-assembled roadblock – and strike very lucky with an ambush, killing eight deserters before any of them land a strike against the party.  Searching the roadblock, they discover some useful supplies and one deserter already dead, apparently from an animal attack.

In Noringard, they are escorted before the 12-year-old Lord Fel, Captain Roth, and Priest Igan.  The Lord agrees to trade their wool for his food – but after a series of whispers between himself and Priest Igan only agrees to send guardsmen to defend Harn or defend the shipment if they somehow deal with an Elven threat.  Apparently, over the past few years, since Lord Fel's father died, the elves have been attacking the woodsmen who cut lumber for Noringard.  The Lord Fel knows of no provocation, and Priest Igan claims that the "Orcs, Elves, and the rest, point-ear bastards are all the same, The Builder himself only knows why they may attack us."

As they proceed north from town, they notice that the stumps of trees cut recently are growing thicker and thicker the closer they get to the lumber yard.

It turns out that there was an old treaty between Lord Fel's great-grandfather and the Elven leader Caelynn.  A treaty that Priest Igan was more than aware of, and who kept its existence secret from the young Lord when his father died.

Upon hearing this, Lord Fel imprisoned Igan in the town gaol, and gave the party what they asked – their grain and an escort for it to Harn.

Before the First Session

About fifty years before present, a great war consumed all of Golarion – nations fought against nations, and near the end of the war the party signed with a mercenary company in Molthune.  The company prepared to invade Thrane, a country known for its' use of undead soldiers made from the corpses of their enemies – according to an oft-cited saying among Thranish commanders, "our enemies fight against The Master Builder in life, but yet may fight for the Master Builder in death."

Before they could proceed over the border, however, Molthune signed the treaty of surrender that ended the Last War, the Flamekeep Compact.  With their country no longer paying their costs, and the end of the war, the mercenary company disbanded immediately.

However, several characters (the PCs) decided that they would rather stay together and go explore Thrane in search of honour (and coin).

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