Having found a ship in the underground dock, but, of course, no crew, the party decided to sail it themselves. They didn’t have much choice.

This was a heavily role-played segment, as Nel had advised us earlier he would be late for the session, and we started without him. I also suspect it lasted longer than it would have if Nel had been there at the start.

So he was the blue fuzz “designated driver”, handling the wheel. Kira, Grace, and Kit did what they could with the sails, while Stony, as usual, existed in misery from his seasickness.

Aside from rain, the journey was happily uneventful, though we did run out of supplies after a few days (not that Stony noticed ;). Good thing we sighted land soon after, and Nel joined us in person.

Not being real sailors, we sort of ran the boat into the dock, causing some minor damage and irritating a fisherman by driving away his intended catch.

Stony ran off the ship and got himself firmly on LAND! While he enjoyed the sensation of seasickness fading away, Grace calmed down the fisherman with a donation of five gold. Questioning the man, the group learned they were in a place called Timberton.

That struck a chord, because that’s where Matreus had been headed. Fires of revenge began to flicker, but quickly died when we learned that others were after him, too, and Mat had jumped overboard, started swimming, and disappeared before his ship docked.

No doubt, he turned invisible to help his getaway. Disappointed, but still determined to find him, we decided first to unload all the stuff we were carrying and resupply.

After the buying, selling and gold distribution were taken care of, we headed into the Laughing Dragon for some rest and refreshment. Here we came across Colfax, the typical wheedling barfly type. In a moment of weakness, Nel bought him a drink.

Colfax considered that a signal to help himself. He took a surreptitious swallow from the drinks placed out for the party while the bartender was getting the food. Then he helped himself to some of the food.

That did not go unnoticed by us. Stony growled a couple of warnings, and Nel stood up and gave him some more. Colfax got the message and backed off, and the party returned to discussing how to pick up Mat’s trail.

A short time later, Aron Kevrik, the local sheriff, strolled into the tavern, looking for some volunteers (what else?). We asked him about Mat, but he couldn’t tell us much. Kit was a little too loud in her graphic descriptions of what she’d like to do to the absconding mage, and received a stern warning from Aron.

Then he got down to his problem. A merchant caravan from Longshadow was somewhat overdue. Stony didn’t like that name, Longshadow; it revived memories of those monsters back at Kinnisfrae.

However, the sheriff offered 500 gold (total) if we’d check out the place, and another 500 if there was fighting involved. Right after we agreed, Colfax stumbled over and wanted to join in.

Of course, no one wanted him along, and we all voiced strenuous opposition and insults. For some reason, though, Aron seemed to consider it. But he gave Colfax a test: the drunk had to shoot a crossbow and hit a target from thirty paces out.

We watched as he fumbled with the weapon, finally getting a bolt loaded. Even with cheating by moving in close, though, he was unable to hit the target. I admit to being worried here. After all, yesterday was April 1st, and he might suddenly have sobered up and hit the bull’s-eye. Good thing that didn’t happen!

Meanwhile, Kit, who had taken in more ale than was good for her (being totally unacquainted with the brew), dashed outside and made a mess of all the good food and drink she’d just had. Stony was delighted; it paid Kit back for all the teasing she’d done when Stony was seasick. Heh.

So we spent the night in comfort for a change, and suitably bathed, rested, and refreshed, started off for Longshadow the next morning. The first thing we came across was a maddened dire boar, who took a hefty piece out of Stony (so much for that new tower shield) and Nel. A short but fierce fight followed and the boar was vanquished.

Continuing along the road, we ran into a giant skeleton. It wasn’t hard to put down, but then seemed to explode into a bunch of smaller (regular sized) ones. Fortunately, Kira was able to turn some of them, and they were rather weak, so the fight wasn’t too tough. But we were all a little shaken by this thing, whatever it was.

Beyond that encounter we found the remains of the caravan: broken wagon, a couple of weapons…but no bodies. That was not a good sign. Even scavengers wouldn’t be quite that thorough.

So we went on into the town of Longshadow. No one was to be seen. Stony spotted something in a field, and went to see what it was. No sooner had he touched the pack than he was attacked by a bunch of shadow rats.

Fortunately, the rest of the party arrived to help him, and these rats were not like the ones back at Kinnisfrae, being a weaker variety. The fight was lengthy but not really difficult (I want dice that roll only 20’s!).

Kit had discovered a cave, but we decided to investigate the buildings first. We walked into the tavern and came under attack by things called “Bood Shadows”. They were nasty.

Without warning, everything went dark. One of them had cast a darkness spell. I could see the party members by holding down the tab key, but no enemies at all. That was frustrating!

There was no way to target anything. I was running the cursor over the screen, and moving around but to no avail. I could see a couple of party members were swinging away, but others were in the same fix Stony was.

Finally, the spell ended and we could all enter the combat. It was still a long and hard fight, as the creatures had 50% concealment. In the end, though, we prevailed.

Nel had been weakened by their touch – probably a strength loss – but Kira was able to restore him. After a short respite, we began poking around the place. Kit found a locked door but was unable to open it.

We went upstairs to some deserted rooms. Aside from camping supplies, nothing and no one was to be found, so we returned to the ground floor and then headed down to the cellar.

Here we came across what appeared to be a little girl. She said that the “bad men” had taken all the people away, and would come for us, too. She was right, because suddenly a couple of “Bad Men” did appear. After a quick fight, the girl seemed to be gone, but then she was there again.

She said there was no way to stop them, laughed, and vanished. By this time, we were all sure that hadn’t been any real little girl. Some more “Bad Men” showed up, to be dispatched while the “girl’s” laughter echoed around the cellar.

So it looks like there’s big trouble in Longshadow, and big trouble for the party, in more ways than one. In post-game chat, Nel told us he would have to miss a couple of sessions after Easter (that’s next Sunday and no game that day). That was a shock.

Then it got worse, as later Nel posted on the game board that his schedule through the spring into the summer was going to be very erratic, and likely the best thing would be for him to leave the group.

That’s bad in several ways. Given what we’re coming up against (and it’s only going to get worse), losing a fighter now would put us in a hole. And, of course, I hate to see a good player leave.

So everything is very much up in the air right now. There is time before next session to work something out, but it’s not going to be easy :(