Roadside camp, The Worgwood
So far this trip is not going at all according to plan. The Thunder Squall cost us by a day and half of travel, putting us well behind schedule and leaving Paws After The Fireflies with a difficult decision to make. Originally, we were to make camp that first day just outside of the Worgwood. The road from Fairhaven only passes through the northern edge of the forest, but it is still a two day passage through an untamed wildland. Had we camped as intended, we’d have been able to reach the walled hostel at the crossing’s midpoint with a long day’s march. Then, after spending only one night within the relative safety of the hostel, we would have just one more long day’s travel ahead to put the Worgwood behind us. Our delay, however, meant we would reach the edge of the forest just before noon. Already running a day and a half behind schedule, I suspected what Paws After The Fireflies would choose.
I did not expect, however, to be asked to join the caravan guard and to stand in on first watch for the remainder of the trip! Paws After The Fireflies was only able to hire one new guard to replace the three we lost, unfortunately. Add the additional risk of spending two unprotected nights in the Worgwood and this is turning out to be a very dangerous trip indeed. Ah well, on the upside, I am being paid four gold hydras a day; double the standard guard rate; so my stay in Stonehome is sure to be much more comfortable!
The first half of the day was a cheerful, bright summer’s morning ride. Seraphine seemed fully recovered from her injuries and looked rather smashing in the gem-studded eyepatch I purchased for her this morning. It took a few minutes to have the straps lengthened and adjusted to fit, but the leather worker that sold it to me seemed to welcome the challenge. The shiny gems are essentially worthless, but they do sparkle beautifully when Seraphine tossed her head.
Her body may be whole, but losing half of her vision was going to take some adjusting to. I walked beside her for most of the day, gently leading her and murmuring reassuringly from her blind side. Unfortunately, the constant braying of Paws After The Fireflies’ infernal donkeys seemed to only make Seraphine more anxious. The four obnoxious beasts were apparently all that was available in Trade Town to replace the ox that we lost. They were more than strong enough to do the job, but even Wimmet was having trouble getting them to cooperate. The insufferable asses did finally quiet as we entered the ominous gloom of the Worgwood, though.
The canopy of the ancient forest is so thick that just a few steps carry you from a radiant sunlit afternoon into the shadowy gloom of dusk. Occasional slanting bars of sunlight do manage to penetrate the thinner canopy above the cobblestone road. Beyond the twenty yard clear cut to either side of the roadway, however, everything completely disappears into the shadows and brambles between the massive, moss-covered boles. And I swear you can almost watch the tendrils of vines and bushes snaking back out from the forest, intent on reclaiming the lost territory. In fact, forestry crews stationed with the guards at the hostel have to battle daily to keep the undergrowth in check. One of these workers that I met on a previous passage swore that the Worgwood was actually sentient, saw us as invaders, and was actively waging war against us.
From my own experience, I have to say I agree with her. I have never left the road (or camped anywhere besides the guarded hostel – before tonight), but even from the middle of the roadway you can feel the forest watching you. And no one who has traversed it more than once can deny that it has… moods… I know, it sounds ludicrous, but believe me it is true! On one trip through a stretch of forest can feel almost welcoming; teeming with the sounds of life and dapples of sunlight brightening the perpetual gloom. Yet, on another crossing of that same area, the trees may be dark and brooding with their twisted branches drawn close to shut out the sun completely. A damp mist clings to the forest floor on such days and glittering eyes seem to peer at you from every shadow.
And we can’t forget the Worgs these woods are named for! Twice as big as a wolf, but with a monstrously sinister intelligence, the Worg Stalkers delight in tormenting and terrorizing thier prey before going for the kill. Unlike the unruly beasts raised as mounts by some Gonlinoid tribes, the Worgs of this wood work together in organized packs. They do not always patrol this far north, but it is not uncommon for caravans to be harassed by them. Usually they simply demand a “toll” for passing through their territory, but stray people and livestock sometimes go missing as well. Fortunately, we saw neither hide nor hair of them today. (I’m terribly sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun)
Tonight we are camped in the center of the road about halfway between the edge of the wood and the safety of the hostel. Paws After The Fireflies pushed us until nearly dark before we finally stopped. The caravan crew is well practiced, though, and they had the tents erected around a blazing central cookfire in almost no time. When the other guards and I had finished lighting perimeter fires Wimmet was already serving reheated pottage from breakfast with warmed strips of salt beef. Gods Above, I hate eating on the road. Thankfully, Paws After The Fireflies shared some of their wine with us all for pushing so hard today.
Everyone else is fed and tucked into their blankets now, and I am sitting up writing to you on first watch. Don’t worry, my dear reader, I am still paying attention to my guard duties. I’m writing this entry in fits and starts between perimeter walks and investigating odd bumps in the night. It’s a bit frustrating, though, constantly having to break my chain of thought. Well, at least…
Wait – what in the Nine Hells was that?
* * *
Haha, I’ve gotten myself so worked up, I’m jumping at shadows! I swear I saw something just at the edge of the firelight just then. And let me tell you, after regaling you with the dangers of the Worgwood, my imagination and my heart were both racing. I nearly shouted an alarm immediately, but instead I picked up my crossbow and crept forward to investigate. And I am very glad that I did. I nearly just woke the whole camp to fight off what I am fairly certain was just a pair of racoons!
Ah, now what was I writing? Oh yes… about how hard it is to write a coherent thought with the constant interruptions. How ironic.
At least my watch is almost over. Good night dear reader. It was a long march today and tomorrow’s will be just as long. Tomorrow night we’ll be camped in the middle of the road again, but we should see the open sky again by midmorning the next day. As long as things go according to plan… which hasn’t exactly been the case so far…
Watch for new journal entries from Revelry on the first and third Thursdays of each month!
If you missed any of the previous journal entries, you can find them all here.
In these postscript sections I will loosely discuss how the random events generated by The Adventurer’s oracle decks that inspired the journal entry you just read. If a solo play journaling rpg sounds like fun to you, pick up a copy of The Adventurer and start writing!
The second travel event card that I drew for Revelry’s journey as far as Stonehome was a wild animal. And what better place to stage that encounter than The Worgwood! Today’s post primarily transitioned the caravan from Trade Town into The Worgwood and introduced a bit about the new location. Many dangers could await as the caravan passes through the ancient forest. Don’t miss the next post as Revelry, Paws After The Fireflies, and their entourage come face to… face?… with some of The Worgwood’s inhabitants!
We’d love to hear your thoughts and questions so please leave them in the comments. Some answers may have to wait until the appropriate journal entry to be revealed, but we will be as responsive as I can! 🙂