Three weeks had passed since the induction of a whole new band of recruits to help flesh out the depleted guild. The leaders at The Guild had their reservations about this lot, more so than the others that came before them. Experts retrained into fit adventurers was not such a simple or easy task. Traveller went from courier to Witch of the elements with her new familiar the lively fox named Willow, Nicholas evolved from herbalist to alchemist but a mishap in the lab left him in recovery and missing a finger. That was just one sign that they might have made a mistake with this lot. Egglantine left her herbalist roots to take up the trying mantle of paladin carrying her book of documented failures, while Sophie took less of a shift from Courtesan to comedian Bard. Her judgmental little sister, Valla, learned to speak with their ancestors and share her sisters transgressions in the role of a shaman, and Kass the engineer with questionable morals honed skills as a rogue while posing as a nobleman. The final training took Bergman from slave miner to investigator and the ever-moody Theri focused her roiling emotions into the role of a bloodrager.
They were all called together to test their mettle and shape up for their first mission. Apu a local merchant and former hireling to Dr. Reznik, used his connections with The Guild to garner a reduced price on a mission. The connections plus a general desire to see these new bloods tested led to the acceptance of a minimal fee of 100gp to escort him beyond the city walls, beyond the Cairnlands and into the open lands in search of a Varisian caravan in hopes of trading his goods before they reached a proper settlement. Apu had already done his research in locating them with scouts but the scouts returned before reaching them with news of cat creatures lurking in the tall grass. They feared for their lives and that information led to him hiring this band as protectors. The former experts compared skills and new training to form a band worthy of the task. Traveller, Egglantine, Kass and Theri were selected to make the journey and earn the gold. When they learned what the task and minimal compensation was, Traveller set the tone with the phrase “You get what you pay for”.
Apu had his wagon pulled by an axebeak and two pack mules loaded down with goods for trading. They made an immediate departure and noticed the lurking shadows moving about the ruins in the Cairnlands but chose to wisely avoid any conflict there. Once in the wilds, Theri, though often distracted, found it easy to lead them in the direction they suspected the Varisian caravan to be located. A day’s ride through the wilds had them tromping through waist-high grasses when they were waylaid by a band of strange gray humanoids. Only Kass spotted them before their attack was launched and only he was not targeted. Apu took an arrow to the chest and began berating his guards for their failures. Egglantine dodged the arrow that flew her way but both Traveller and Theri were not so lucky. Traveller moved to hide, heal herself and Apu, then pelt the enemy with her sling. Theri flew into a mad rage and cut the nearest creature in half with one swing of her heavy blade. The aging shepherdess was even more deadly with her new weapon and training. Kass added a few crossbow bolts to the fight while Egglantine slew the next enemy and then moved to help him. Theri added another dead body to be stripped. The first threat was gone and they had survived to continue the mission.
As dusk set in, the wisps of fire smoke showed in the distance so they continued on to find a remote farming family closing up for the night. The man, woman and child stowed their goats and chickens. They were unprepared for the arrival of the adventurers. After calming them and assuring them that Theri was harmless, Kass spotted watchers in the tall grass. He fired an arrow and called to draw them out. Three catfolk plus their hunting cheetah revealed themselves. Felix the archer and scouting leader, Purrnima the magically gifted whip wielder, and Dirrasha monk and daughter of the former chieftain all introduced themselves. It turned out that the catfolk were here to protect not hurt. They had been tracking the leader of the gray skinned army (hobgoblins), Shandalla the Frost Giant Queen. They told a story of the giant coming down from the mountains and attacking their pride in the night. She slaughtered a handful of their people before scattering them to the winds, but she had also taken Dirrasha’s little sister Thannis prisoner. They spoke of others from the area, farmers and even a couple of survivors from a large foreign caravan (the Varisians) she destroyed being held prisoner. The catfolk were following her forces and picking off as many of the hobgoblin raiders as they could while planning a time to strike and rescue their pride member. The adventurers stayed at the farmhouse as guests of the farmer. In the night more hobgoblins raided, breaching both house and barn. Traveller sounded the alarm since she was on watch, though her alarm came in the form of her pounding on the locked front door of the house while screaming for help. She dropped one to sleep while waiting for the others to let her in. Kass and Egglantine worked together to subdue the enemies that entered the home, while Theri fought off one in the barn after being awakened with a short-sword to the ribs. Traveller, Apu and Theri were injured as was the farmer but they managed to fend them off with the surprise aid of Felix the archer who arrived in the nick of time to stop the creatures from running off with Apu’s goods. The catfolk fighter was also instrumental in tracking down and recovering the missing axebeak. Traveller spent most of her time healing and tending to the many injured, including waking Felix after he was knocked unconscious.
Come morning a heated debate rose amongst the group. Apu, learning that the Varisian caravan was destroyed, decided that his mission was over and ordered his escorts to guide him back to town immediately before more hobgoblins returned. Egglantine was outraged and insisted on rescuing the prisoners taken by the giant’s forces. Apu called her an oathbreaker and promised to report them all to The Guild for breaching their contract, but they ignored him and left him with the farmers to join the catfolk in a raiding rescue mission.
The catfolk had gathered copious amounts of information on the giant’s forces and their habits. Using that information, they planned to hit the camp at dark when the giant left on her nightly hunt taking a considerable amount of her forces with her. They watched and waited and true to the information gathered the giant left and the camp was much quieter. There was a moment of debate over the best plan of action with some wanting to create a distraction, others wanting to split into two groups to hit the camp from two fronts and others wanting to stick together and slowly sweep in picking off the outlying guards as they went. Egglantine refused the idea of splitting up and they decided to use the sweeping plan as a group. Theri and Felix took up positions on over-watch with ranged weapons while Traveller and Purrnima used their magic skills. Egglantine and Dirrasha kept guard over the magic users. Purrnima kept them connected via her message spells. Purrnima would dampen their senses then Traveller put them to sleep and Kass slipped up to slit the sleeping guards throats. It worked well on the first two and they made their way to the main tent. Inside Kass found Thannis the cat prisoner chained to the giant’s throne and an orc nursemaid telling stories to a horde of hobgoblin and orc children. He warned the others and slipped inside to set about freeing Thannis. He unlocked her chains and her sister, Dirrasha carried her clear to safety. During that time, Traveller, Purrnima and Felix slipped inside to deal with the orc and the brood. Egglantine told them they would not be killing any children. Though she resisted the sleep hex from Traveller, Purrnima managed to put the majority of the children to sleep and the hex worked on the final child still standing. The orc nursemaid seemed confused by her suddenly sleeping children and even heard noises when Felix and Traveller exited the tent, but the children were her priority. The one Traveller put to sleep woke up just in time to draw her back from further search after she called out to the dead body she thought was a sleeping guard. With the first captive free, the party felt a sense of vigor and pushed on to the magic tent where they knew the other prisoners to be. They were warned of a magic-using hobgoblin inside. They needed a distraction to lure the guards away so Purrnima again called on her magic, creating glowing balls of torchlight that drifted through the tall grass just outside of the camp. It was spotted by several guards who went to investigate and called the others. While Purrnima led them away with the light, Traveller detected magic in the tent – most likely the spell-caster. Kass and Felix entered finding the remaining human prisoners and the hobgoblin witch. Traveller’s slumber hex dropped the witch and Kass slit her throat while dodging her viper familiar’s bite. Traveller then put the snake to sleep and it was dispatched as well. Egglantine cut the prisoners free and led them to the safety of the tall grass. The hobgoblins raced to the tents to get their orc and bugbear captains plus the witch but the party was already slipping away. The witch’s body was dragged out as well and looted and the party plus their rescued captives fled into the night victorious!
They returned with Apu to the city where he filed an official complaint with The Guild and did not pay them. The Varisians that survived the giant’s attack were in town and offering a reward for their kinsmen so the group earned 300gp from them which they shared with the catfolk who escorted them back. An invitation to join The Guild was extended to the catfolk that aided them and was accepted. The addition of three capable catfolk, explanation of what happened, news of the Giant Queen Shandalla stalking about the wilds and the praise of the Varisians outweighed the complaints from one angry merchant. To save face, as punishment for their transgressions against Apu, those responsible were required to sign a writ of service without any complications free of charge to the man at a future date.
Egglantine, Traveller, Theri and Kass each earned 1,124xp
Apu earned 662xp
Felix, Purnima and Dirrasha each earned 462xp