Where is my Cow?


30 miles south of Heldorn, Cormar, June 18th, 1083

Their wounds healed - by themselves, as the company's healer Cormac had left them til last as usual - the half-Khyle came off watch and settled to sleep. After some experimentation, Jaddoc had a handful of wolf teeth retrieved from the corpses, and Valki had hacked some of a pelt off another, though it was more a bloody mess than a saleable fur. She'd also hacked off a couple of haunches and stuck them on to slow-roast, as meat would be a welcome change from rations.

30 miles south of Heldorn, Cormar, June 19th, 1083

The next morning was cloudy and cool, and Valki lost no time in feeding up their fire and dishing up the wolf steaks. As they tucked in, her friends made muffled noises of approval; her field cooking was first-rate. Far better than Inglan's, whose attempts to do the same had resulted in a carbonized mass. He redeemed himself with his tea, however.

The daylight allowed them to examine the wolf corpses a little more closely. The behaviour of said wolves had been anything but normal; gathering in a pack to attack armed humans with fires, persisting in the attack after taking casualties. Inglan checked them for signs of hallucinogenic herbs, and Jaddoc concentrated her magical senses on them for a moment. Nothing was discovered, however.


As they were finishing their meal, Eadric caught sight of a disturbance at the edge of the camp and pointed it out to the others. A man, dressed like a local farmer, had approached the picquets and was talking deferentially to them. After a few moments, they brought him into the camp and Bloodwind and Ingolf came over to see what he wanted. As this was the second most interesting thing to happen in several days' march, most of the company not assigned to guard duty drifted closer as well to listen in, and those who were stretched their hearing to try and listen, though without leaving their posts. Bloodwind's Company knew better than that.

The visitor named himself as Anson, from Blue Glass a couple of miles away. One of the village's hunters had noticed the patrol passing and the village had sent Anson to ask for help with the village's problems. Bloodwind settled more comfortably. This sort of thing was part of their remit, but experience had taught him that the Ansons of the world were prone to take a while to come to the point. "What's the problem?" he asked gently. "Well," said Anson hesitantly, "I've lost my cow..."


A few chuckles rippled through the circle of warriors, and Bloodwind glanced across, a signal for quiet. Perhaps aware that this didn't sound all that serious, Anson continued. "We've lost six cows in three months," he said mournfully. The chuckles died away. For a village of Blue Glass's size, this was a disaster.

He went on to explain that in each case, the cows appeared simply to have walked away from where they were supposed to be, in a dead straight line. No sign of them being attacked or killed, or fleeing something; no footprints or signs of someone taking them. "The tracks all led to the valley." He paused at this point and traces of fear appeared on his homely face. Ingolf, Rurik's second, rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Did you find them in this valley?" he asked.


Anson shook his head, the fear now patent. "We don't go into the valley. People who go in there don't come back. There are bad things in the valley." Ingolf and Bloodwind glanced at each other.

"Very well," said Bloodwind good-naturedly. "I'll send some of my men to go and take a look. Halldor? You're leader, pick a half-dozen or so and see if you can find out what's happened to the cows."

Jaddoc stuck her hand up. "I'll go," he said, "It sounds interesting." Eadric, Inglan and Valki also volunteered, encouraged by Halldor's command as the big swordsman had always been friendly towards the half-breeds. Nobody else seemed to want to volunteer so Halldor pointed swiftly to Athala and the brothers Kapyr and Karspad. Shrugging acceptance, the three went away to pack their kit.


Kapyr and Karspad were merely fellow soldiers, without much apparent interest in their comrades' racial mix. Kapyr spent most of his time extracting his headstrong younger brother from regular scrapes. Athala was a different matter.

Stunningly beautiful, the company’s second woman warrior was equipped with a gigantic greatsword, with which she was adequately competent. Sensible comrades left her plenty of room to swing it. Assaulted in her early teens by a Khylar pirate, she hated any Khyle or part-Khyle and had already killed three helpless half-breeds captured when the company dealt with bandits. Needless to say, she viewed the four half-breed soldiers with great distaste.

As the others gathered their equipment, Bloodwind paused beside Inglan. "I'm glad you four offered to go," he said quietly. "I would have sent you in any case. Do you no harm to do some independent stuff under Halldor, and if there is anything uncanny about this, maybe you might have a better insight into it."


Half an hour later, the expedition marched from the campsite. Anson had suggested heading south-west to cut the tracks left by the cows, then turning to follow those to the edge of the mysterious valley. Under no conditions was he prepared to go into the valley himself. To while away some travel time, Jaddoc asked Anson if he could describe the lost cows. This turned out to have been a dreadful mistake. While likely ignorant of the smallest knowledge of anything ten miles away from his village, Anson was an incredible expert on the cows of his village - and especially on Flossie, his own beloved and missing bovine. By the time the expedition reached the edge of the valley in question a couple of hours later, Jaddoc Frayne could probably have identified Flossie blindfold at the bottom of a coal mine...

The valley itself looked fairly harmless. About a mile long, set between gently sloping sides and closed at the north end by crags, it had been carved by the river which glittered at its' centre. Some woodlands were to the group's left as they looked down from the eastern slopes; to their right, upstream, a grey smudge looked rather like a settlement of some kind. There seemed to be a stone bridge across the river adjacent to it.

Karspad had Farsee and cast it to take a closer look. He reported that the smudge was indeed a scatter of buildings, all ruined or partially so, all of seamless Khylar construction, as was the bridge. There was a tower, tumbled to two floors from rather higher, a barn, a stable, and a midden-heap. Other buildings were mere heaps of rubble, except for one of the two gatehouses which was around half present. Originally controlling entry to an inner ward, the gatehouse stood pretty much alone; the wall had crumbled to occasional traces. Finally, the bridge appeared to have collapsed in the middle, leaving a gap where it crossed the river.

Wishing them luck, Anson scuttled off back down the slight ridge leading to the valley and was gone.


The tracks led the expedition straight across the valley to the bridge, which was indeed an ancient Khylar structure, with a 15' break in the span. The soldiers considered this for some time. Even with their equipment left behind, it was a challenging leap, and nobody felt inclined to try it. Eventually, Eadric and Valki shed all but the most basic of clothing and nervously made the swim, tethered to ropes in case they got into difficulties and covered by those of the others skilled with missile weapons. Once across, they rigged taut ropes at foot and chest height, and the rest of the party made the crossing.

DM Note: A short session preceded by a Cheeky Nando's.

Only when that was done did someone notice the unobtrusive stack of boards leaning on the stone parapet of the bridge on the ruins's side. Laid across the gap, they made the crossing easy - or would have done. Valki grinned at Halldor. "Should we put them over in case we have to leave in a hurry?" she asked. Halldor muttered to himself before waving assent and going to check the area beyond the bridge.

As the boards were being laid, Athala stopped and knelt down. There, in the mud on the bridge itself, was a nice clear cow's hoof-print, facing towards the ruins. They were on the right track.

From the bridge, the ruins were easily seen. Trails of smoke ascended from the tower and the half-gatehouse, and the midden-heap had a rather homely in-use appearance.

Session Date: 16th September 2017