After the Heroquest to restore Darnbar Chaosknower to life, Marcilla the White Healer suggested to Xaraya, Grom and Skye that they come with her and Darnbar to Horn Gate to see if the Sisterhood could attempt to cure Darnbar of the Unlife Sickness. The Duke’s wife, Varna, was unwell, and Lady Jezra asked to accompany the group to see if she could purchase some herbs that she believed would cure her mother.
The journey to Horn Gate was interrupted by another encounter with the Morokanth, in this case Visishwaw Windclaw, a follower of Storm Bull and his gang. After an initial period of feeling each other out, Grom earned the Morokanth’s respect and Visishwaw offered Grom some Kvass, which Grom had to turn down owing to his geas. Visishwaw found it odd that a god would require a worshipper not to drink, and took this as a sign of Humakt’s weakness compared with the Bull. They spent the night camped on the plains, sharing the watch duties with the Morokanth.
The party found Horn Gate still controlled by the Sables. Xaraya bristled at this, but Marcilla asked her not to cause trouble. They delivered Darnbar to the Hospital and Jezra purchased her herbs. Not wishing to stay where the Sables ruled, the party set off back for Raus Fort via Weis Cut, aiming to overnight at Weis Village.
Arriving at Weis, they discovered the old Headman had died and been replaced by the arrogant young “Mayor,” Tarkan, who proceeded to attempt to flirt with Lady Jezra, ignoring the PCs. Jezra rebuffed him bluntly and demanded a hut to herself. Tarkan offered the hut of the old headman and set his “best men” to guard it.
The PCs were awakened by a might ruckus in the middle of the night. They heard Lady Jezra scream, but by the time they had gathered their weapons they found Jezra’s guards dead and the lady screaming for help from a distance on the back of a mighty riding beast of some sort, with others flanking her.
Xaraya loosed an arrow and hit one of the beasts in the leg. It slowed and the party was able to catch up. Its rider was an ugly sort, looking like a three way cross between a man, a troll and a pig. He put up a fight, but was slain by Xaraya’s arrow. The beast, a giant hog of some sort with enormous tusks, kept attempting to charge, but was brought down by Grom.
By this time, the rest of the beasts were out of sight and Xaraya lost the trail when they crossed the Weis river. The party knew they had no choice but to report the loss of his daughter to the Duke. Tarkan came with them. Daine informed the party that the beasts were Tuskers and their riders Aramites, or Tusk Riders, holed up in an ancient stone tower to the southwest, and they had already received a ransom note from them. The Duke was thunderous in his anger and ordered the players to kill these Tusk Riders who were defying his authority. Daine told the PCs after the Duke had left that they had better bring back Lady Jezra as well, although the Duke would not admit that this was more important to him. He suggested the party take Tarkan along, as his skills in hiding, sneaking and climbing would probably come in handy.
On the way to the tower, the party surprised a patrolling Tusk Rider and his beast. The rider was young and inexperienced and put up much less of a fight than his mount. The party made it to the tower without further incident, only to find it impregnable. An attempt at a frontal approach was answered by arrows fired from window slits. Tarkan suggested going round the back and climbing the tower, which proved to be much more weathered and craggy than it looked. It was very old indeed.
Tarkan and Xaraya made it to the top. While they were pulling up Skye and Grom, they discovered that what they thought were two statues were actually two gargoyles, one of which ripped off Tarkan’s right arm. A hard fight ensued, which the party won without further loss. Xaraya treated Tarkan’s wound so he would not die, but the man simply sat and cried, holding his severed arm. A quick search of the roof revealed a secret niche, where they found a valuable-looking necklace.
The party found the way down and made their way into the filthy tower. They quickly found, surprised and dealt with a pair of Tusk Riders who had fired arrows at them earlier, the searched what appeared to be the main floor of the tower, discovering a disgusting altar as well as the quarters for half a dozen riders. They could not find the remaining two riders, nor Lady Jezra.
The party decided to go down another floor. The worked out that the next floor was the ground floor and, judging by the smell and the noise, the stable. Attempting to proceed stealthily, Skye triggered a trap and fell about thirty feet, fully armored, into a deep pool of water. Heroically, Grom immediately jumped in to rescue the Vingan. It appeared he had forgotten two things – first that Skye, blessed by the nymph Kinope, was an excellent swimmer and second, that he was not and also more heavily armored than Skye! Skye ended up saving her would-be rescuer, dragging him eventually to the shore. Xaraya followed and was able to make it to the shore as well.
As the PCs stood there dripping in the wet and darkness, they heard some shuffling and creaking from around them. A skeleton lunged at them out of the darkness. Grom was delighted at a chance to destroy undead and drew his sword. The skeleton proved to be no match, going down at one blow from Grom’s sword. Grom followed the noise and dispatched six skeletons in all. Eventually the PCs found a source of light and to reveal a natural cavern surrounding the pool, with six graves from which the skeletons had emerged. A search uncovered some burial goods, including some silver and copper and an iron spear head.
It also transpired that there were steps leading up from the cavern. Despite his prowess against the skeletons, Grom was still suffering from nearly drowning, so Xaraya took point. The steps led to a sliding trap door, which Xaraya inched open. Peeking upwards, she found herself looking up at the legs of a Tusk Rider who appeared to be wearing only a bloody apron. He was taking something from a stone structure above the trapdoor. A few yards away, Xaraya could see Lady Jezra chained against the wall, her clothing in some disarray, but screaming blue murder at her captors, using words Xaraya had never heard before. An armored Tusk Rider stood grimacing at her.
Xaraya reached for her only stabbing weapon, an arrow, and jabbed it upwards between the legs of the Tusk Rider in the apron, dealing him a fearsome wound to the abdomen. He staggered backwards, allowing Xaraya to move the trap door further aside and climb out. The other Rider drew a wicked looking sword and cast a spell. Grom was able to make it out of the stairs before both riders attacked. Xaraya was able to take the torturer down with her battleaxe but Grom had a stiffer time with the Riders’ leader, who appeared magically protected. Eventually Skye was able to make it up the stairs too and joined the fight. With some appropriate use of magic and a few lucky blows, not to mention vocal encouragement from Lady Jezra, the Rider fell. The key to Jezra’s chains were quickly located and the Duke’s daughter released. After a few choice words about how long it had taken for the PCs to rescue her and a swift kick or two at her late tormenters, Lady Jezra demanded to be returned to Ronegarth NOW.
The party made their way up from the torture chamber to the stable, which was filled with four cantankerous Tuskers. The party decided simply to open the door and shoo the Tuskers out, there being no farmland for them to ruin in the vicinity. They then retrieved Tarkan from the roof, still sobbing, especially about what Jezra would think of him now. Jezra indeed looked disgusted at Tarkan’s new state, and remained aloof from everyone on the way back to Ronegarth.