The Arrival of the Cavalry

(This story takes place after "Let the Looting Commence")

Survey Team 13 had a view of the road into the ruins of Riverbend from the south.  So, the arrival of the mounted cavalry from the Othamar military forces did not come as a surprise to them.  They wore beautiful blue military jackets with gold buttons, and some had gold braids to designate rank or roles within the military.  Their horses were beautifully maintained, and wore light leather barding with blue trim, and gold ornamentation.  The whole scene was only made more epic by the tall helmets the horsemen wore.

At the front of these 30 mounted soldiers rode a uniformed soldier with more gold buttons and braids on his blue coat, than anyone else.  He was also the only one that was not wearing his helmet.  This commander was young and had an ambitious look about him.  There was a harsh fierceness etched into his face, and it was hard to imagine him ever smiling.

Captain Hunter Todd
Captain Hunter Todd

The Survey team waved down the cavalry, and Sympos, Shade, and Timm climbed down the cliff to meet them.  Timm waved as they approached, Shade gave the commander a nod, and Sympos did a lot of awkward staring.

"Based on Brower's descriptions, your the Surveyors.  I'm Captain Todd of the Othamar army.  Where is the enemy?"

"Dead...(long pause)...or not dead.  Only Rukin knowns."  Sympos answered so quickly that Shade and Timm didn't even have a chance.

Timm gave an earnest smile.  "We believe the demoness fled."  He pointed toward the Temple in the distance.  "We faced her in the temple...she had over a dozen human bablies there prepared...well, prepared as a sacrifice perhaps?  Or a meal?  Not sure.  But, we started to scrap, and she just left.  Poof."

Shade was nodding.  "And the waters of the river returned to normal, and all the monsters the demoness had summoned either disappeared or wandered off."  Shade stood up straight and spoke a little louder.  "And that's how we defeated Al-Ana, and kept Othamar safe."

Captain Todd took this all in, and then looked toward the town.  His nose wrinkled.  "Town looks abandoned...anyone survive your big rescue plan, Surveyors?"

Sympos was quick on the answer again.  "Dead.  All dead.  Rukin took them all before we got here.  Quite horribly actually, but it sometimes goes that way.  A few kids survived, but your presence here means you've already met them.  Or at least know of them.  Oh, and two men from the tunnels survived and we told them to run for it."

The Captain pulled on the reigns of his horse, and spun him clockwise, and then rode a little closer to our heroes.  "We met the two on the road.  And I have met the five youths.  But, is that it?  Did this Al-Ana kill all the rest?"

Timm gestured up the cliffside.  "Well, there's the babies.  We were hoping you'd be able to take charge of those.  We're not really set up to care for 14 babies."

Captain Todd simply answered, "After the town's secure."  He then rode back toward his cavalry soldiers and started barking orders.  He wanted the two quickly swept, and then secured.  When the rest of the army arrived, the building to building searches would begin.  Then all the cavalry, including their commander, rode into the streets of the town.

Timm smiled.  "Oh the ladies I could slay if I wore such a uniform."

Sympos was confused.  "What purpose would the uniform serve?"


Several hours later, Captain Todd ordered his men to take care of the babies, and our heroes were released from their responsibilities to the orphans.  Not long after, the marching of troops could be heard from the road.  Soon, an army appeared, one hundred men strong.  The soldiers wore blue uniforms with gold buttons like their mounted brothers in arms, but their uniforms seemed not quite as nice, nor quite as expensive.  Several officers rode horses, and one man on horseback had the most ornate uniform of any of the officers or soldiers.  This was clearly the commander of the entire force.

Major Avis Moore
Major Avis Moore

Captain Todd asked the Survey Team to follow him, and they were introduced to Major Avis Moore.  The Captain briefed his Major, and he had no questions for our heroes.  He simply took it all in, and then turned his horse and started issuing orders.  A command tent was set up, as well as tents for the cavalry and infantry.  Teams of soldiers were sent into the town to search building by building for survivors, and any information that could be gathered about Al-Ana and her motivations.

In the evening, as the light began to fail.  Fires were already roaring, and food being cooked for the small army.  Our heroes were invited to dine with the Major, and the other officers.  Captain Todd had seemingly warmed up to the survey team, and sat with them and talked with them throughout the meal.  The Major said very little that was not an order.  He mostly watched.  Watched his men.  Watched the area around him.  Watched the army cooks bringing the food.

After the meal, the Major stood.  Everything fell silent at the officer's table.  "According to my trackers, Al-Ana cultists fled from Riverbend at the same time Al-Ana fled.  Some traveled North...some East...some North-West.  It is my intention that we hunt down every one of them, find out what they know, and then slaughter them mercilessly.  I will be sending troops to perform this task, but Captain Todd has informed me that the Survey Team would like to assist in hunting down the cultists.  Is this true?"

Timm glanced up and down the table at his fellow surveyors, then answered.  "It is true.  Every last one should die."

The Major nodded, breaking the perfect line of his stiff practiced posture.  "Good.  I'm sending one of my trackers with you.  She's excellent at the job, and you'll show her the same respect you would show any officer of our military."  The Major sat, and the army cooks brought a sweet honey desert for each officer and our heroes.


In the morning, the army was packing up their tents at the earliest signs of dawn.  Captain Todd walked into the surveyors' camp with an armored human female at his side.  "Gentleman, this is one of the Major's trackers.  Eva Masson.  I'll leave you to it."  The Captain left, leaving Eva standing before the group. 

Eva looked around at their little camp.  It had not been struck, and they were not packed up.  "Boy...boys.  We have cultists to hunt, and they have quite a headstart on us.  Let's get this camp packed up!"

Eva Masson
Eva Masson - Tracker

When Eva had raised her voice to them, Timm caught a glimpse of Sympos' face.  He had this startled look that forced Timm to hold back laughter.  Timm started tearing down his small tent. "You heard the Tracker.  We need to get packed up...and on the road...."


    • Mark Stinson


      A Quick Meeting.

      On the road back with their prisoners a handful of yards ahead of them, Timm and Shade had a little time to chat, out of the range of their prying ears.

      “I’m thinking, we should repopulate the towns wealth. Put back half of what we took…lock a bunch of the trunks and chests. Captain Todd and his crews will be much less suspicious if the town has ‘less wealth than expected’ rather than ‘no wealth’. Timm postulated out loud in Elven with only Shade to hear. 

      A slow smile spread across Shades face, “I already took care of it, mostly by weight. They got a lot of copper and silver, a little gold, occasionally a platinum or small gem. A third of the chests are still locked, a few are open, others are outright broken. Our take is the lighter and more valuable items…and they’re on the boat…it’s why it doesn’t sit as low as you’d think for what we’re carrying.”

      “Good job.” Was Timm’s only response.

      The Second Assault

      The Inn had a small courtyard with a wall roughly eight feet in height. One obvious entrance at the front was closed. Iron gates with a locking brace behind them prevented entry by all but small creatures. Aed had scouted a door in the back as well as a double door entrance to what was most likely a root cellar of some type.

      They knew from their intel that at least four cultists were inside and that anyone else there was a coconspirator or worse…there were no innocents in the building. The building itself was built of stone with a tile roof. Reasonably old, but well built and maintained. The wall encompassing the courtyard was newer and not quite as well made, but still very good.

      Who’s in Charge?

      “Shade, you Aed and Gabe, go through the back door. Be as quiet as possible for as long as you can. Sympos, you, myself & Eva will go through the front door. I’ll go first, then you and Eva follow. Worst case; either breach goes south, we all retreat…and burn it down. Best case; Take at least two alive…with at least one a leader…play them against each other and get some good intel.” Timm instructed the team.

      Only Eva looked like she had something to say, but Timm didn’t give her the time.

      “Eva do you have any input on this?” Timm asked as she was just starting to speak.

      “What about the gate?”

      “We’ll open it while they’re sneaking around back.” Timm responded.


      What followed over the next twenty minutes could only be described as comedy of the absurdity. From clanking pan noises made by the team ‘sneaking’ around back, to Timm porting through the gate while Sympos had Eva distracted and then opening it from the inside…while not noticing the person behind him. Eva shooting the person behind Timm, only to realize it was her cousin who she hadn’t seen in years, but still. The commission in front drew more attention than the one in back. The battle in the courtyard escalated, the front door became a chokepoint, Shade and Aed came in like devils of the night from behind the defenders and obliterated them. We ended up with two, who were unconscious but saveable. The rest were piled in back and decomposed back into the soil by Sympos while Timm was distracting Eva.

      The Road to Riverbend.

      It took two and a half days for them to get back to Riverbend. Their four captives didn’t want to walk fast, but Shade seemed to take some enjoyment in ‘hurrying’ them up. On the way back, Eva made no mention of Survey Team 13s methods, no complaints, no real feedback.

      As the made it back to the main camp and headed towards Captain Todd’s command tent to report in, Timm let Eva know that she was welcome to work with them any time she was free.

      “I’m not sure I feel the same way sailor”, was all she said in response…but she said it with a wink.

      Back on the Boat

      “I don’t know…she might have seen us and our abilities, but maybe not…I don’t think she saw me port through the gate. I don’t think she noticed the lack of bodies. I just don’t know, but I think we did pretty well.” Timm stated after they were all finally back together with no one else around on the long boat, T’buron du Rivera.

      “Now we just have to get back to Garmond.” Aed stated.

      “We’ll travel during the day, and dock or anchor at night and rest with a watch. Do what I say and the sailing part will be fine.” Timm stated a bit arrogantly.

      “She knows we can do things, but not how. She’ll be more curious. It will bring more questions. It was good to invite her.” Sympos stated in his slow drawl.

      “She’s good, and hot, we can’t let her in on everything, but we can use her to our benefit if we’re careful.” Shade finally chimed in while Sympos gave him a dirty look.

      “Alright, before anyone gets offended, let’s call it a night. We’re setting off down river at dawn. Be up and ready by then. Everyone who sailed with the Carnival be ready a little early, I’ll be especially leaning on you to help with the ship…everyone will have to pitch in. We can talk about hiring a crew if we make it to the first port down river…now g’nite.” And Timm was off to bed in a hammock on deck.


      <I haven’t seen anything from anyone else about it, so I went ahead with the story arc. Please chime in if you think your PC would say or do something within any of this…or I should change how I used any of them…Mark, I’m sticking with the Carnival people know a little about sailing and had to pitch in helping from time to time…and that Timm will be burning a lot of luck points 😊 )

      • Mark Stinson

        I agree!  I think Sympos would know the difference between a dead human body and a barrel of rancid wine.  Without a roll.  I'm assuming Sympos would not actually give a shit one way or another.  LOL.  But, I'll leave that up to Jay.  :-)


        • Chris Snevets

          I think there should be a chance that Sympos detects something more was in the barrel. I'll leave that to the evil DM. 😀

          • Chris Snevets

            "Captain Todd, we have an AWOL situation. It's Johns. He was the first scout on the scene and he never reported in to his platoon sergeant. It's possible he went looking for the enemy by himself. It wouldn't be the first time."

            Captain Todd replied, "It's possible he's MIA. Put a search party together and find him. Start in the tunnels the survivors mentioned. 

            "Yes sir!"

            They wouldn't find a body, because Shade had packed the drained body in a full whiskey barrel aboard the boat. 

            Shade was moving the barrel closer to the side of the boat when Sympos startled him. Sympos asked, "Do you need a hand with that? It smells of death."

            Shade panicked and said, "It's a bad barrel. Gone rancid."

            Sympos replies with a simple solution, "I can speed the decomposition of decay."

            Shade grins ear to ear, "That would be perfect!"

            Sympos says a prayer to Rukin and the contents turn to inert compost.

            "Let's throw it over and lighten the load." Shade can't stop smiling. If only he could tell Sympos the truth.


            • Chris Snevets

              Mark Simon, That's great! I want people to write him in.

              • Mark Stinson

                That's a sweet story.  :-)


                • Marcus Auerilius

                  The Prior Night

                  She was hungry. He could feel it. Soon if she wasn’t satiated, he would be compelled to feed her. The night before Eva had joined them, Timm, Sympos, Shade and Aed gathered around the campfire to discuss the upcoming cultist hunt.  

                  Of course, we’ll forgive these cultists of any valuables they have, Shade stated and Aed agreed with, with a nod.

                  Yes, of course, but we’ll need to be careful. We’re going to have a chaperone on this mission. We can assume he’ll be helpful, but also there to keep an eye on us. Whoever it is, they’ll definitely be giving someone a report about us…let’s stay in control of what the army sees and knows about us. Timm responded.

                  Sympos muttered something about Rukin and waddled off towards the old graveyard downriver from town about a quarter mile.

                  We’ll split the group when we need some ‘privacy’ with a cultist or place. Shade said with a smile and then continued; the group our chaperone goes with provides a distraction. The other does the dirty work.

                  Looks like we have a plan. Timm said as he rose to go to bed. If you see Gabe, fill him in on the plan so he doesn’t screw it up. See you in the morning.

                  The Chaperone

                  Eva had proved to be an excellent scout. She had picked up the trail of the cultists who had fled to the northeast almost immediately and had led them on a route that seemed twice the pace the cultists were keeping. They would surely catch up with them in two days if not sooner.

                  The complication to their pursuit had been a boon to their plan. By all estimates they were only an hour behind the cultists, but they had split into two groups at a fork in the road. Two smaller roads intersected the one they had been following for a couple days. The sign at the crossroads was worn but still legible. It appeared that four cultists had headed towards a roadhouse and inn around a half a mile to the east. The other group headed towards the west. The sign at the crossroads indicated there was a mine a few miles in that direction.

                  Gabe and Aed both wanted to go to the roadhouse, most likely to raid it for spices, recipes and cooking equipment. Eva wanted to go there as well but didn’t share her reasons.  Sympos stated he would go with them to the roadhouse as the plan was hatched. Timm suspected he knew why.

                  Shade, care to go spelunking? Timm asked.

                  Eva chimed in before Shade had a chance to respond, just do recon. Let’s meet back here and report what we’ve found. Be back before dusk.

                  Timm nodded in acknowledgement while Shade let a brief smirk cross his face before also nodding.


                  The West Path

                  The ruts in the ground had been regularly filled with gravel over and over until the road seemed like two thin paths of packed stone, split by tall weeds. No carts had come through recently, but the weeds appeared recently trampled. Shade moved through the forest around ten yards from the road and parallel to Timms path as they moved forward. They didn’t have a long journey and so took their time watching for alarms and traps.

                  Only a few hundred yards to the west, the elevation started to change as the mountains in the distance were approached. As they progressed uphill, the grass and weeds faded, and path became stone…and you could still see grooves where carts had passed…the mine had evidently been here for a long time.

                  The Mining Camp

                  About an hour had passed when they arrived at the mine. The camp around the entrance had seen better days. Most of the tents were remnants of wooden poles and torn canvas. The entrance to the mine looked like it had seen a partial collapse from lack of maintenance. One short stocky humanoid was just inside in the entrance, hidden by the shadows and darkness, but not to Timm.

                  Timm motioned to Shade that there was one person in the cave while pulling his hand across his throat. Shade knew what that meant and started moving in that direction. Voices came from what looked like a large mining shed, helping cover any sound Shade might make. It was the only structure in the camp that looked to be in decent shape. It wasn’t long before Shade joined Timm a few yards from the entrance to the mining shed.

                  He was their alarm; they won’t be expecting us now. Shade whispered with a murderous grin.

                  We’ll need a few to interrogate. Preferably the leaders. Stay here and take care of them as they flee the shack…knock’em out if they look important, otherwise you know what to do. I’m going to pop in there and have a little chat. Timm whispered back mirroring the murderous grin.

                  Forced Entry

                  Without even a “poof” Timm was gone. Shade flattened himself to the left and outside of the door to the shack. If the door opened, he would be hidden behind it. The immediate noise and commotion coming from the mining shack let him know where Timm was.

                  His new boon was quite an advantage, but not one he had used often as of yet. Porting into the room had been easy and only a dozen feet, but he had appeared where someone had been standing. The process of their bodies separating and pulling apart into distinctive selves had been excruciating. Timm had survived, the cultist had not. The others in the room, five in front of him and maybe a couple behind, were staring in shock.

                  You were always going to regret the master you chose…now you are going to regret mine. Timm loudly whispered as his hand rose like he was pulling something up. Liquid started spilling out from under Timm’s shoes forming a puddle a couple feet in diameter and large black tentacle rose from it swaying around the small space and coiling to strike. In a quick fluid motion, the tentacle lashed out, not at the cultists, but at the lantern on the wall…the only light source in the shack.

                  Ducking low and still fully able to see, Timm touched his arcane focus, the large, seemingly moving tentacle tattoo on his chest and torso and opened his mind to his master. Much like the Al-Ana demon had done with roots, black tentacles shot out from Timm in all directions striking all of the cultists he had seen and the three behind him, that he had not.

                  Seconds later, five were on the floor, three unconscious, and two more were grievously injured. Two looked hurt but were standing and seemed to be headed toward the door. One looked perplexed more than hurt. The tentacle that had risen from the puddle moved across the room and struck the uninjured cultist's right leg, the frost that formed on his boot, let Timm know he would not be fleeing quickly. The confusion was causing chaos and as Timm had suspected, none of them could see in the darkness.

                  A few seconds later, two had made it to the door and the first of them stepped outside. Timm focused on the one that didn’t seem injured and opened a channel to its mind, allowing the cultist to see Timm’s master…to know what the fathomless is…that there are things older than gods…the same magic he had cast on the demon back at the Temple to Kempin.

                  That seemed to have a noticeable effect on the otherwise healthy cultist; now noticeably hurt and fleeing with the other two.

                  The last one is the only one we need. Timm shouted from inside the shack as the three remaining cultists tried to flee. From the sounds of it, Shade made short work of restraining them but let them live, for now.

                  Timm stayed in the room for a minute taking stock of the surroundings and watching while the tentacle wrapped itself around the still-breathing bodies and pulled them into the puddle from which it originated. Hopefully, that would satiate her for a while.

                  Reporting back

                  You see, I hamstringed the important one but just bruised the other two. The two will carry the third on the stretcher that they’re all chained to…let them try to get away. Shade had done a number on the three, but it made sense when he explained it.

                  Eva didn’t look pleased when they showed up with prisoners but got over it by the time the interrogation was done. They hadn’t been able to find out much at the roadhouse other than there were at least four cultists and maybe there were hostages or prisoners, or collaborators there. The interrogation had told them what they needed to know. There was an important priestess at the roadhouse…and she didn’t take hostages, anyone there would be complicit. The other group had four, but they were supposed to meet someone. None of the captives from the mine had known more than that.

                  <Chris, let me know if you don’t want me to use Shade or if you have parts in the story that you’d like to fill in or changes to how Shade acts. I can modify it pretty easily. Also tried to set up some fun for the party going after the other cultists in the roadhouse, but thought I’d let someone else write that…this one turned out longer than I expected. -MS>





                  • Mark Stinson

                    Okay.  You guys take this wherever you want.  Where do you and the tracker go (if you take her with you)?  Where do you find the cultists...what happens when you find them?  Go for it!