Monday, March 14, 2016

Eyes Upon Amaras : Mouse Guard : Dungeons and Dragons 5th ed

Eyes Upon Amaras
Mouse Guard
Using Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition

A one-shot 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons game for the Gamers & GMs Philippines mini-convention.

Adal, a Tenderpaw Rogue from Barkstone.
Played by Maki.

Kole, a Ranger  from Sprucetown.
Played by Jann.

Finn, a Tenderpaw Fighter from Lockhaven.
Played by Paolo.

Cale, a Tenderpaw Fighter from Glasslake.
Played by Chester.

Euwan, an Oldfur Fighter from Ivydale.
Played by Karl.

Leorand, a Tenderpaw Rogue from Copperwood.
Played by James.

1154, Winter
The story begins with the mice being given a mission by the Matriarch.  Euwan meets with Gweldoyn, the Matriach, as they discuss the importance of the mission that needs to be accomplished.  She explains how she doesn't really have a choice given the insurgency that has been happening in Lockhaven.  She stresses the need for Amaras, an old friend of hers,  to be brought safely to a specific destination.  Euwan knows Amaras to be an oldfur who had long stopped being part of the Guard after speaking against the Matriarch publicly.  While Euwan has handled other duties before, such as maintaining the scent lines and escorting farmers, he is surprised to hear the Matriarch seems adamant that the oldfur's safety is that paramount of importance.   Amaras used to speak a lot about how peace with the weasels can be found through conversation.  A knock on the door announces the arrival of a white mouse named Meryl, a Bard whom Euwan had trained with in the past.  She, like Euwan himself, had once been trained by Amaras.  Euwan learns to his surprise that Meryl herself is taking part in the mission, despite no longer being one of the Guard.  "It seems like you already made my decision for me," Euwan groans.  "Of course not," Gwendolyn replies, "Although it seems like Meryl is already going."  Meryl teases Euwan that she will keep him safe.  When Euwan tries to counter that the mission might need more than just two of them, Gwendolyn merely smiles.  She had anticipated this response.

In the Wildneress, Minutes Later
The mice move through the snow, on their journey from Lockhaven to Pebblebrook.  Finn travels at the front of the line, his eagerness clearly evident.  Leorand and Kole are at the rear, both trying to be the one watching the back.  Adal is nearby, quietly travelling ahead of the two.  Cale follows after Finn, with Meryl and Euwan at the middle of the line.   Amaras walks between the two fighters, as the third person in the line, keeping pace with them despite his peg leg and his missing eye.   His left arm is barren, while his right hand hold the sturdy staff to use as a walking cane.  The group moves in single file, traveling nicely despite the cold.  The snow is deep, but the fall is still light.

Amaras snorts, realizing Euwan would be the one assigned to bring him to Pebblebrook.  As he berates Euwan as the one student who disappointed him, Adal slows her pace further, not wanting to be within the oldfur's judgmental eyes.   He asks Euwan about the "whitefur he was so in love with" and Euwan glances at the rear of the line to check on Meryl, while asking who is guarding the rear.  Kale raises his hand in response.  Leorand moves up ahead, closer to the oldfur, curious to hear more of what he has to say.  Amaras tells them of the stories of how Euwan had once fought against a chicken - a living tower of talons and claws - fought it to pluck one white feather before running off to a tomato patch to hide.  Leorand asks if Euwan had run to hide inside a tomato.  He did; Euwan hid in a tomato, got stuck and was red for a week.  The stories amuse the young tenderpaw, but amuse Meryl a bit more than she would admit.  Meryl tries to converse with Adal, sharing how she found it a bit too violent for her tastes.  "When you worry about others too much, you lose sight of what you should focus on."  Finn, hearing her statement, calls out from the front, "And who might that have been, Meryl?"  The white mouse blushes.  Adal admits she just wants to contribute to the community.

The line travels swiftly, covering a fourth of the journey within the first day.     Amaras soon starts complaining about the route not being a "quick path" as Euwan had promised.   Their journey soon leads them towards a large clearing.  Finn can hear the sound of wood, metal, and water in the distance.  He mentions it to the others and Meryl wonders aloud about how a water mill could be functioning given its winter.  Adal wonders if its a hot spring.  Leorand wonders about the sound, thinking of the books he had stolen from his home, and remembers reading about a brook ahead with a mill.  There should be some kind of old machine there owned by an Old Man Leland, who creates oil for lamps.  Meryl confirms she has heard of that as well, given such oil burns longer at night. Cale agrees it would be good to divert there, as the oil would prove to be useful come nightfall.  Amaras teases Euwan again about how it sounds like others have risen to become leaders.  Euwan tells Kole to take lead, being a Ranger, with Finn opting to go with him.   Euwan takes guard of the rear.  When Kole suggests Euwan use some bushes to hide their tracks as they walk, Amaras once more breaks in to laughter that maybe the Tenderpaws are more capable as leaders than his former student.  When Euwan nearly begins an argument with Kole, Meryl steps in to remind Euwan that Kole is just showing that he has learned a lot from him.  "Just... do your job," Euwan tells Kole, frustrated but dropping the argument.

As the group moves, with Amaras conversing with Kole and Cale, Euwan and Meryl talk about how he should let go of his own grudges against Amaras.  Adal's sharp senses, however, pick up a sound in the wilderness.   She walks up to the others to whisper that she senses trouble ahead.  Euwan draws his steel.  The others begin to draw their weapons as well, though not certain where the trouble is.  Euwan gestures for all to circle Amaras and he calls out to Leonard if he sees anything.  Adal sees a golden eye staring back at her.  The other eye, however, is blood-shot and red.  A burst of white from the treetops, and it takes to the sky!

"We're too open!  To the tree line!" Cale calls out and runs for the treeline.  The others break into a run as well, save for Adal and Leonard, who both draw their ranged weapons and try to track the enemy.  When Euwan grabs Amaras to run, he finds the oldfur's walking staff on the ground and his hand trembling.  Euwan and Kale grab the oldfur to bring him to the treeline.  "My cane!  My cane!"  Kale hurries back to grab it.   The others reach the treeline and bring out their bows.  "Guys, the water mill is just nearby," Finn yells at them, realizing its barely a 100 yards from their position.

An owl!   The predator emerges from the white snow-filled sky.    Amaras is terrified by their appearance, to the point that he is struggling to breathe.  Cale sheathes his weapon, keeping one hand holding his shield and the other supporting the oldfur.  Kole launches an arrow at the owl and hits it!   Euwan tells everyone to keep running, realizing the owls have the advantage.  He tells them to watch the skies as they try to bring Amaras to shelter.  Euwan lifts Amaras with Cale's help and the two bring the oldfur to the treeline.  Adal and Leonard, with their ranged weapons, ready to strike at the owls.  Adal notices however there are more than one owl in the sky.  She calls out a warning to all that there's more than one and all feel the terror rush through their fur.  Some are stunned by the fear that overwhelms them.  Leonard slides Amaras' walking staff into his quiver to carry it with him.  Finn launches another arrow and it tears into the wounded owl's wing.  As Cale tries to lift Amaras once more, something lands behind them - and the impact forces Cale, Euwan and Amaras to the snow.

Adal realizes no one has kept track of where Meryl had gone!  But seeing the threat before them, Adal launches an attack at the landed owl, taking advantage of the fact it seems distracted as it stares at the tenderpaw that launched an arrow into it's shoulder.  Kole is confused why these things are attacking in groups given they are usually solitary!  Adal's arrow hits squarely and the owl drops to the ground.  Another owl dives down to snatch at something, but pulls back at the last second.  As it flutters just beyond reach, it stares down at Amaras.  Amaras begins hooting at it, over and over, and suddenly the owl flies away!

The mice continue the battle against the owls, with Euwan readying his longsword for any owls that get to close.  He calls out repeatedly, hoping for Meryl to answer.  Adal leaps atop the downed owl and uses the higher vantage point to try and find her as well.   Adal finds Meryl hiding at the far opposite side of the clearing, hiding by the other treeline!   Their surge of aggression forces "one-eye" to begin to withdraw, and the other owls withdraw as well. The mice hear something crash into the woods further ahead as they vanish.  Finn runs for Meryl.  While the others regroup by the downed owl, Kole rushes into the forest to look for the owl that fell.  Kale and Euwan check on Amaras and find the oldfur to be unharmed, but clearly distressed.  Adal scans the surroundings and thankfully declares the area to be safe.

"I guess some old sins will always find their way back to you," Amaras mutters to himself as the others help him back to his feet.  When inquired, Amaras admits he can speak owl and he told one-eye that he "remembers."  The group clearly learns "one-eye" does recognize him, and when Leonard inspects the walking staff, he discovers it is more than just a cane.  It has a catch which allows a part to detach.    Euwan groans how this was supposed to be a simple escort assignment.  Finn gets to Meryl and discovers she hid because she was terrified - courage was a large part of what she lacked and in many ways was the reason she left the Mouseguard.   Finn decides to keep to himself the fact she looked up and first thought it was Euwan to came to look for her, or assumed that Euwan sent him to look for her.    They rejoin the others.  They hear a click sound and turn to see Leonard having clicked open the walking staff.  A hollow is revealed with a rolled up parchment resting inside.  Amaras tries to retrieve it, but Leonard returns only the staff and opens it.   All look with curiosity at what seems to be an old map of the territories, with strange blue scribbled lines added to it connecting certain settlements and cities to each other.   "Tunnels," Leonard muses aloud despite Amaras demanding it be handed back.  Euwan, however, asks the oldfur to explain what they are.

They learn of the former weasel tunnels that criss cross beneath the warrens.  They learn of the map's existence which stands as proof that the MouseGuard may have taken the communities from the weasels. And they learn that this may be why the map is being brought the huge distance.  The Matriarch desires to have the map verified.

In the woods, Kale finds himself audience to the owls who have been waiting for him to arrive.  The owls warn him that there is nothing but danger in their path, and attempts to bargain with them.  "Give us the old one, and we will let the rest of you live."  Kale returns to the others, uncertain what to report.

The group arrives at the Mill to find it empty.  There is no sign of Leland, and there is no sign left of the precious oil.  The group meets by the fire place, to determine the course of action they are to take.  The option soon comes to them: the tunnels. Though likely dangerous, the group decides it would be safer and less treacherous to navigate the darkness as it would allow them to avoid the owls.  At first the journey seems to have been the best choice, as the group travels in the near complete darkness of the warmer tunnels.  They move quickly, and soon encounter what they assumed were weasel guards only to learn are statues.  They make camp in the darkness, hoping to recover from the exhaustion of their long journey.

But soon, they learn the darkness is not without its own share of dangers.  Hoping to feed on their warm blood, striges swarm in hoping to sate their thirst.  The predators swirl at them, seeking to sup on their very strength.  The group hurries to leave, using their torches to force the things away, as the move deeper into the tunnels in search for a way out.  They find old rafts and broken debris which they rapidly fashion into serviceable rafts to escape.   Kole leads one raft, with Adal, Meryl and Finn riding with him.  Cale steers the other raft, with Amaras, Leorand and Euwan onboard.

The waters carry them away, with a gelatinous cube seeking to sate itself on any of them who happen to be in the cold depths.  The surging waters soon warn them of a greater coming danger - cliffs - which signal them that it is time to leap for shore.  A legendary leap coupled with acts of teamwork successfully spares them all from a gristly end.

And once off, a terrible encounter with a hungry armored reptile forces them to consider searching for a means to get back to the surface.  They find a crack in the walls leading back into the snow, but the concern of the owls still being on their trail forces them to find alternate routes once more.

A final tunnel leads them to an unexpected chamber, one massive structure of stone and bone.  The great chamber is filled with hundreds of bones and remains.  And the sounds of taunting whispers fills the air.  "This is a chamber rules by the bats," a voice murmurs in the darkness, "And you are not welcome among us, little ones."

The group has found themselves trapped in a bat lair.  Though it is hard to know for certain, what may be dozens or hundreds of the bats watch from the ceiling as the group slithers in the shadows and search for a way out.  Adal separates from the others, her keen senses leading her to a sealed doorway which may prove to be a way out.   Euwan and the others address the bats, attempting to parley with them and find some level of accord.  Adal however determines that the passageway is the best way out and opts to bring Amaras with him.  "Best that one fulfills the mission," Euwan tells the others, "While the rest of us ensure its completion."

And as the bats challenge Euwan and the rest, the Mouseguard remind them that it is only together can they find survival - with the mice needing the bats to leave, and the bats facing the owls to no longer be trapped and forced to feed merely on stragglers that fall into their trap.

And so it is that the tale ends.
Adal arrives at Pebblebrook, with the old man Amaras, and the mission brought to completion.  The old man tells them of the map and the Matriarch is informed that the rumors of the tunnels being once owned by the weasels to be nothing but merely rumors.  The tale ends with Adal wondering how fared her friends, but understanding that some tales are never told.

It is on a late morning when Adal hears the ever familiar cry of the Red-Eye.  She watches as the Guard prepare to fight, but is surprised to see the oldfur Amaras telling them to lower their weapons.  Amaras tells Adal that enough time has passed, and that old debts must be paid.  He tells her that she now represents the future of the Guard, thanks her for saving his life, but now admits it is time for him to end the long feud.  She finds Amaras walking out into the snow.  She watches as the oldfur stands and readily accepts his fate.   Red-Eye appears in the sky, flying closer with each beat of its wing.

But then, behind it, she sees a band of mice flying in the sky upon wounded bats.  She realizes that her old friends have somehow defied the odds and found their way home.  And their triumphant return is one which legends will someday speak of and songs shall someday sing.   But for today, she is content knowing she is witnessing the end of one story, and the birth of a legend.

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