Broken Heroes

On the Road Again

Upon finding their post sacked, the Greenthorns marched a few days to the next outpost on the Wall to report.  The sergeant there was shocked, and immediately began to gather forces to investigate, leaving the Greenthorns to their own devices.  Michael managed to befriend the local quartermaster, who outfitted them and drew up papers that would release them of duty once the sergeant signed them.

 Released, the Greenthorns marched south to meet up with Tanner, an old friend of Deven's, to aid in the upcoming war for the throne.  After several weeks of dodging military encampments (not wanting to be pressed into service under York, or stripped of equipment for the war) and mercenary bands, the Greenthorns arrived at Blackstone Hold.

Resupplied and pointed in the direction of the war front, the Greenthorns headed off to reunite with Tanner and Keegan Talbot, Deven's father.

 

Here ends Chapter 1:  Prelude to War

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Into the Wild

Last seen the Greenthorns had been shanghaied into working in labor camps on Lost Isle.  Much like everything else on that island, they soon became lost.  One by one they escaped into the wilderness, unfollowed by their captors.  Agramon slipped off into the night, and was never seen again.  Devon made a brash dive into the sea, and was baffled as his captors allowed him to escape.  Michael managed to barter his freedom on unknown conditions, and was sent with moderate supplies into the island's wilderness.  Malek ran headlong into the forests when the labor camp unexpectedly came under attack by unknown forces.  Ferd Halfgiant continued to break rocks, after all, work is work.

 

One by one the Greenthorns crossed paths in the wilderness, and conspired to break Ferd out of the camp.  Feinting to the east Michael and Malek distracted the guards while Devon came to gather Ferd out of the west.  Reunited, minus Agramon, the Greenthorns set about plotting to get off the island.  After a bizarre encounter with natives of the island, they settled on building a massive canoe, and nearly a month and a half later set forth for the Northlands, planning to then travel by foot through the foothills of the North to arrive back at their post.

 

Early in December the Greenthorns found their outpost razed, smoke still lingering in the sky, bodies picked clean.  No survivors were found, although the bodies of Samuel and Bill Willamson were not found.
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The King is dead. Long liveā€¦ someone?
Wherein the Greenthorns are shanghied

Rumors have swept the countryside for weeks, but the first written word received is a letter to L.C. Tanner from Blackstone Hold, an old friend of Deven Talbot.  It is a writ from the Lord of Derby, a minor family under the house of Lincoln, requesting the service of his man currently conscripted at the Wall.  The letter bears grim news as well.  War has broken out in the south, between Kent and Devon, and Warwick has marshalled forces but has not yet marched.  There has been talk of Lincoln allying with Kent and Essex, and it seems likely Warwick will side with Devon, and if they do Derby will be the first to fall.

Tanner has been ordered to hold his post, he is sworn to the wall and Derby has no law here.  He has deserted to return to Blackstone.  The Greenthorns have been ordered to hunt him down, capture him, and return him to the Wall for execution.  Three men loyal to Tanner have also deserted, presumably with him, and are wanted dead or alive.

 Setting out post haste to catch up with Tanner and his men, the Greenthorns made a daring move- to cut through Lanks knowing their recent activities in Lancastle had resulted in an order for their arrest on charges of espionage.  Daring, but foolish, as five days south of the Wall, they encountered a patrol of twelve men who quickly recognized the brutish size of Ferd Halfgiant, and drew arms to arrest the lot of them.  The battle was savage and costly, as the end approached, four of the six Greenthorns still stood, albeit gravely injured, and only two of the patrol still held their ground.  Shaken and on the verge of surrender, the patrolmen rallied as Malek ran off to pursue one of them men that fled, and Michael Camax charged headlong into them.  Realizing that surrender would not be an option, the two men fought desperately for their lives.  Their desperation won out, as the Greenthorns were just too weary from the battle and having force marched the entire day.

 Tending to their comrades' injuries and keeping the Greenthorns subdued, the patrolmen eventually made their way to Lancastle to collect the bounty offered by W.O. Aaron, and to throw the Greenthorns into a workship bound for the Lost Isle.

Our Greenthorns woke to find themselves bound in small cages in the hold of a boat docked on the Lost Isle.  One by one they were lead out into the fresh air and set to work, separated from the rest of their squad.

Deven Talbot was set to the back breaking labor of carrying crates from the ship to the shore, and after several hours leaped into the sea in a desperate attempt to escape.  Oddly, none of the guards thought it worth their time to pursue him.

Agramon was given the task of chopping lumber, his work crew heavily guarded by bowmen.  After two days he found an opening to slip unnoticed into the woods.  There was no search party mounted.

Ferd Halfgiant was handed a sledge, and put to work breaking rocks for gravel, and went to work perfectly content in his lot.

Michael Camax was given the unpleasant task of building a new dock, driving pylons into the sand beneath the waves.  He has tried to negotiate with his captors, with little to no success.

Lastly, Malek has been ordered to assist in the building crew, raising wooden structures just inland of the beach.

 

None of the Greenthorns have seen one another since taken out of the boat that brought them there.

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Vacation!
Wherein Greenthorns muddle things up.

Officially given a month's leave, and unofficially handed a bundle of orders, the Greenthorns set out to investigate the bandit problem they encountered in May near Lancastle.  Upon arrival they set up a small camp just north of the city, and headed in to attend to the task of gathering information on the villainous bandit leader Rob.  After hours of pub crawling, Deven Talbot and Agramon managed to catch a lead on someone who might be in the know.  A few hours later, they managed to track down one of his regular watering holes, and arranged a meeting for the next day.  That bit of work done, Agramon wandered down to the shipyards to attend to the task Argus had assigned him, and managed to get himself employed for the next day loading ships- the perfect chance for reconnaissance.  Regardless, the meet with the man in the know- a shifty fellow with one vividly green eye, the other patched over- went rather well, and he agreed to arrange a meet with Rob under the presumption that the Greenthorns were interested in joining forces with Rob.  The meet with Rob the following day, however, did not go as well.  Rob, clever bandit leader as he is, realized he was being lied to and called off further contact with the lance, and vanished into the woods.  'Jacob' (an obvious pseudonym of the one eyed man) lead the party back to where their arms and armor had been stashed, and similarly vanished into the woods, but not before startling the party with knowledge of Michael's surname, which had never been mentioned.

On returning to camp, the Greenthorns were received by armed soldiers, who requested their cooperation in an ongoing investigation of bandit activities being conducted by W.O. Aaron, a shifty figure who oversaw the arms sale back in May.  Clearly hoping to have the lance arrested on trumped up charges, Camax managed to lie and bluff their way out of the situation, and instead got the Greenthorns invited to board at the barracks.

That night Agramon snuck aboard the flagship of the navy ported in Lancastle, ascertained their mission, stole their charts, and returned uncaptured.

The following morning, before any alarm concerning the charts was raised, the Greenthorns headed back to the Wall post haste to report to Samuel.  According to their report the bandit Rob is conspiring with the corrupt army stationed at Lancastle, but is unaffiliated with any Northern forces.  Despite deviating from Rob's usual M.O., the bandits are no longer of Samuel's concern.

 As for the Lanks navy (never of any concern to the Wall, only to Argus), it was determined that they were destined for Lost Isle, a place shrouded in mystery roughly 100 miles off the coast of Lanks (see map)

 Finally, the Greenthorns have been joined by a new recruit, named Haam, a typically secretive fellow with a shadowy past and a hidden double bladed sword.
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Tall Tails
Aftermath of Samuel's Strikeforce against the Northron Camp

The rumors start the instant the gates are opened for the strike force.  Ambushed, victorious, defeated, ancient treasures, sold his soul, beacon of hope….  The rumors settle down for a bit as prisoners are taken in to the dungeon, the injured are taken to the infirmary and the weary men clean up before sitting down for the first proper meal in over a month.  Before the sun sets the rumors are back in full force, but now with a shred of truth.

Northrons are consorting with giants and hell spawn.  Giants are real, just look at Ferd Halfgiant!  They're twice his size!  Hellhounds, dire wolves, ensorceled wolves- it doesn't matter, they're the size of ponies.  Their leader was a demon, their leader was a lizardman, he was a lizardman from hell, no he was a man who sold his soul for evil armor, no he found the armor and it drove him mad, it wasn't the armor, it was the sword, it was quenched in the blood of a god, of a demon, of the smith's own wife.

The privates take the rumors in stride, to them it is a game of who can weave the most believable tale without actually having been there.  To the militiamen it is a horrifying lession of what lies north of the Wall, and why they must serve to keep whatever it is out.  The officers would stop the rumors, but they know it would do no good, and only give them more credence.  Rarely do they participate.  It is Bill Williamson, though, that tells the story of how his Greenthorns, his fresh recruits just three months back, begged Samuel to allow them to hunt down the Northron leader until he gave them orders to on the condition that they would just shut up.  How his Greenthorns (named such because they were so fresh when he got them) tracked that man down and brought him to justice, of how valiantly they fought through the entire battle, but still weren't done fighting yet.  And Deven?  He's not done fighting yet either, as soon as he gets out of the infirmary, I'll show you the mark of a true Man of the Wall.

Its another month and a half later that the first of you pays for their own drink.

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We few, we lucky few.
Wherein Samuel leads his men to war.

No sooner than the Greenthorns arrived back at the outpost with a wagon of high quality arms, they were sent to march with the strike force gathered to break the camp of Northmen, somewhere three or four weeks march north of the Wall, that had ambushed Frost's men.  Bands of scouts had been sent in advance, and would rondvoux with the strikeforce to lead them to the enemy camp.  Sure enough, after two weeks of marching Agramon greeted the force to give them detailed directions to the camp, as well as a good measure of their numbers and strength.  Given new orders, Agramon could not stay with the force, and left later that same day on some unknown task.

Sure enough, however, within the week the force located the Northron camp, and began battle preparation.  A horrible battle ensued, as the Northrons had been joined by a band of mountain folk, huge brutes standing nearly nine feet tall, built like boulders and wielding tree trunks as clubs.  Their leader, however, was the most fearsome.  A horrifying crossbreed of a dragonman and a demon straight from the pits of hell: billowing wings sprouting from his back, horns spiraling out of his head, fearsome gnashing teeth, spikes and blades grafted on to its arms, legs and chest, and a nightmarish blade that oozed blood as soon as it was drawn.

Despite the beast from hell and the four giants, Samuel and his men were triumphant.  As the end of the battle drew near, the draconic demon fled the battle, knowing it could not face two dozen men alone.  Samuel accepted the Northron's surrender, and began the task of tending the wounded, and burning the dead.  Not satisfied letting their leader escape, the Greenthorns begged permission to track down the beast, and bring him back, alive or dead.  Grudgingly, Samuel gave them permission, but warned that he would be marching back at dawn the next day, and he would not wait.

Without a moment's hesitation, the Greenthorns began to track the leader as it fled through the woods.  For half a day they doggedly tracked the hellspawn, before, just as the sun set, they came upon him.  Malek let loose a flight of arrows, only to watch them glance harmlessly off the creature's armored hide as Devon and Ferd charged headlong at the horror.  Michael, barking orders to flank and strike at the joints, joined the fray, his blows hardly scratching the abomination.  Snarling viciously the demon lashed out with its sickeningly blood drenched blade, and carved Devon's chest nearly in two, dropping him to the ground.  Ferd Halfgiant, enraged by the sight of his fallen friend, rained down blow after blow with his axe, until finally the hellspawn staggered, revealing a weak point in its plated, metallic hide, as Malek took aim and fired.  As the arrow flew, the beast lurched for Michael, intent on killing him before he was banished once again to hell- but the blade never struck home.  Struck dead by Malek's arrow, the demon fell, bright red blood oozing from its many wounds.  Only as Malek set to drive a last arrow through their foe's unguarded neck did the realization come that this was no hellspawned lizardman, but a man.  An ordinary man fitted with a most savage and nightmarishly ornate suit of plate armor.

Victory did not come cheaply.  Back at what had been the Northron camp, nine men lay dead, fifteen others gravely wounded.  Among the dead were two militiamen, six privates, and Corporal Raymond- a man who had served over fifteen years on the Wall.  The Greenthorns had their casualties as well.  Devon clung to life by the barest of threads, his chest cut open down to the bone from left clavicle to sternum, and bleeding from several other wounds.  It would not be until well after the weary and wounded force arrived home at the outpost that he would regain consciousness, and the scar on his chest will haunt him for life as a reminder of the price he paid to wield the great sword Bloodquench.

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Here's the money, chink.
Wherein Greenthorns escort war supplies.

The Greenthorns, along with five militiamen, have been sent to Lancastle to purchase over 100 pounds of gold coins worth of weaponry. Lancastle, the capital of Lanks, is a major port city, bustling with trade, and now, also an army.  The trade went smoothly, a sergeant signing papers, overseeing the transaction and seeing them off.  For three days travel went smoothly back north to the Wall, but on the fourth, the group was ambushed by a superior group of Northmen, and quickly dispatched.  If not for the wandering Thomas, who had traveled with them for a few days on the way south, the Greenthorns surely would have all died.  The militiamen with them were not so lucky, most had died in the first volley of arrows from the ambushers.

Given a few hours to bind their wounds, the Greenthorns set off to track down their cart of weapons to reacquisition it.  Headed south again, the party marched for two days until they realized, thanks to Thomas, that they had been led astray, and were following a false trail.  Shown the true trail head, the Greenthorns tracked down the Northmen, ambushed them in the night, and began the task of returning back to the Wall once again with the arms.  While some had their suspicions that they had not been ambushed by Northmen, but by some other force, no one could substantiate these claims, and Samuel insisted they put them out of their heads.
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Frigid Bitch
Wherein Greenthorns search for the Icelance

The recently formed Greenthorn Lance, headed by L.C. Camax, has been given their first orders:  Locate and escort home the overdue ranger patrol Icelance, commanded by L.C. Frost.  Icelance was assigned to monthly patrols, ordered to leave on the new moon, and return as that moon closes.  They were two weeks overdue, and while not unheard of, it is always bad.

 Overlaiden with food, the Greenthorns headed out into the harsh Northlands for the first time, uneasy at rumors of horse-sized, man-eating wolves.  After nearly a week of lumbering across the wilds, Frost's wolfhound found them, and lead them back to where the Icelance had been ambushed and slain.  While inspecting the bodies they realized too late that they had walked into an ambush themselves, as Northmen rained arrows from a crag above, and rushed their flanks.  Savage melee resulted, but in the end Greenthorn stood victorious.  After tending to their wounded, they had only limited success interrogating the one surviving ambusher, but did manage to gather that there was a camp two weeks march further north.  After locating the remainder of the slain lance and putting them to rest- as well as piking the ambushers as a warning to others, the Greenthorns marched south, their mission complete.

 

 

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Dingo ate my Baby!
Wherein Greenthorns investigate Wolves.

Sergeant Samuel has asked a favor of our Greenthorns  A farming contact of his in the south has been having some issues with wolves, and has repeatedly asked for assistance.  Due to scarce resources, Sam delayed sending help until finally Jethrow (the farmer) sent word that the wolves have developed a taste for man-flesh and taken off his son.  Upon hearing this news, he gathered Michael, Furd and Malek and requested that they go investigate and deal with the problem.

 Sure enough, Jethrow's farm has been under attack by wolves, and his son is indeed missing.  After a harrowing search, the party located the wolf lair and came to the conclusion that the wolves had not been responsible for Tad's disappearance.  Brief questioning of the boy's father revealed that he may have eloped with a local village girl named Dora- who has coincidentally gone quite mad with horror and grief in the last two weeks.  Interrogation of two of young Tad's playmates confirmed that he may have had plans to elope, and had abandoned his mischievous habits.  The party 'arrested' the two youths (aged 15 and 10) for the 'murder' of Tad, and carried them off with plans to press them into service back at their outpost on the Wall.  During a debate as to the morality of such an action, the boys escaped into the night and were not seen again.

During debriefing by Samuel, the party mentioned the seeming uninvolvement of the wolves in the boy's disappearance, and the odd nature of Tad's tracks abruptly vanishing, while Dora's trail indicated flight back to her home.  Sam clearly found this unsettling, but was happy to hear that the wolves would no longer be harassing his precious cheese supply, even if it might be a while before any could be sent North.

 

 

 

 

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