Stoneheart Valley

Desperately Seeking Chicken
Session the First

My name is Solstice. Well, that’s what I go by, anyway.

I write like I talk, which ain’t too good, but Bort’s been telling me he’s gonna copy this here journal and put some fancy words in and make it make sense. So, if this here narrative don’t make sense – well, that’s him’s doing most like.

There’s a song that warns about pulling on a thread – it undoes the whole weave. Which means that the whole cloth can come undone, and then folks freeze that winter.

Least wise you’d a sung that if you was from Potter’s Pitch, where I hail from.

Anyways, we didn’t so much as pull on a thread as we pulled on a chicken. Well, the absence of a chicken, really.

Some time ago, having little or no money in my pockets, I was traveling toward Bard’s Gate. I was counting on good fortune there or on the journey to show me an honest way to earn a few copper or even a silver or two.

I had some companions along, of course, and we were about a fortnight out of Reme when we came by this village.

Later we heard it was a town called Lessef, which was awful generous. Calling it a town that is. It looked like a dreary picked-over corpse of a camp. I was surprised to hear it had a name, truth be told.

Tired shacks, sagging roofs, and skeletal frames of what might have been cottages or smithies seemed to plead for the mercy of a spark.

There were some hardy souls still about, though. There was smoke from a few chimneys, and a tiny chapel with trimmed hedges hunched on top of the hill overlooking the town and nearby forest.

There were some voices, and someone shouting about “a fox had got my chickens.”

Well, I hadn’t seen fox tracks in a few days, and there wasn’t like to much game of any kind desperate enough to be coming around this sore spot in the road, so my curiosity got piqued.

We came up behind an old feller in brown breeches and a shirt that looked more like a grain bag with more dirt than his garden yelling to himself more than anyone else about chickens.

He was yelling about this fox, and I only saw prints of the beast that walks upon two legs, and I ain’t talking about crows. There weren’t no blood or feathers spread around neither.

This feller tells us that if we catched that fox for him, he’d give us a bushel of potatoes. Now, I wasn’t quite that desperate. I’d been hunting pretty good along out journey, but old Bort gets himself all excited.

He’s jabbering on about spuds like they was a sow from the king’s own larder cooked and dressed by the king’s own man. Bort’s more used to watery gruel twice a day up in that library castle near Winterberg that he’s from. Snarf was drooling, as usual, and Sneaky was somewhere “around.”

Before we get on the trail of the fox, we go up to the chapel to acquaint ourselves with the lay of the land a bit. It’s a temple to Freya.

Sure enough, except for them kids living with the priest up there everyone and every thing in this whole town looked like it had been stomped on by time. Even the goat tied up outside looked worn out.

I’m tuckered as I think about it.

Almary tells us about buildings in town being scavenged for firewood, and warns us against Scabby, the dishonorable owner of the pub.

The priest was friendly and offered us a healing potion. It came in handy later when the four of us ambushed two men. They passed our hiding place in the forest and came back a little while later with a squawking sack.

One was killed in the ambush. Bort was mortally wounded, but the potion brought him back from the brink. The other we took back to the priest.

Early the questioned next morning, we questioned our thief. He was part of a gang of men that was doing some mining, hidden behind the hill opposite Lessef.

We went to talk to them later in the day.

Their camp was empty of life, but there was a lot of mining equipment, and a wagon and bedrolls. However, that was all we saw on a quick look before it was our turn to be ambushed.

It was a hard fight. I and Sneaky took cover by the wagon while Bort and Snarf charged the archers. I won’t make a big deal of it, but I took a near-fatal wound to my shoulder. A hair better placed and it would have struck my heart.

We had another prisoner, unconscious, so we looked around a bit.

They had removed four giant slabs of stone that had sealed a cavern of some sort. We poked our heads in, but lacked the courage to explore further. I don’t think it was a mine, though.

In hopes the priest or our attacker might give us more knowledge, we packed up their wagon and gear and went around and up the hill to the church.

My recollection of the next part is a bit hazy, as a hands-length of arrow stuck out my shoulder.

The chicken-thieving group had been hired to dig under the town. I thought I heard talk of a necromancer wanting to get into the cavern. The stone slabs indicated to me that it was supposed to stay shut.

We also found that the stone the church was built on contained a message. Read it we did, but it was a riddle about a battle, a wand-thing, and evil sealed away.

We turned the thieves and would be killers to Lessef for justice.

Bort and the other fellers went up to Fairhill while I’m recovering. There’s another temple to Freya there. They are gonna see what they can learn about the writing on the floor, the man who hired the group, and the history of the area.

My drawing arm is stiff, but it’s getting better. I reckon I’ll be right as rain by the time they get back.

I don’t really want to go crawling down in some rat hole. I’m for sun and the caress of a light breeze. Trouble is, I got too much pride to have it known I was a coward to some hole in the ground, so I reckon I’ll be going down there.

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