Date: Wed, 19th June 2013
We had a big decision to make. Were we to attack on Freezeday, or were were we to wait a day or two longer, and avoid any chance of there being any dark boatmen present? It was just two days ahead, and a day or so's journey back to the village. This was a time for discussion and a little bickering.
During our preparations, we heard many stories from the river folk about their dealings with the ogres, and with the shadowy boatman. It was neither uplifting or encouraging. It set us somewhat on edge. It didn't affect our plans, though - and the river folk were keen to help us with this. They had plenty of ideas about both stealthy attack and open assault. Actually, thinking back, the open assault ideas came mostly from Jade and myself. We'd been offered some small skiffs to help us sneak up close. These are much smaller than the main boats that the river folk use, and they had devised a plan to drop us pretty close to the dwellings without being noticed. We took them up on that offer. We fitted out one of the skiffs with the arbalests from the tower as a defensive measure. We'd hoped to sail one of the skiffs into the front of the village and use these offensively, but we couldn't plan a way to do it without exposing the river folk boatmen to excessive danger - so we plumped in the end for using them to defend the landing place if we had to make a speedy exit while being chased.
After much discussion, we decided that a sneak attack on Freezeday was the best approach. The information we had from the river folk was that the shadowy boatman had never actually been seen in the village - and if we were there on the day he's rumoured to patrol the waters, then we'll be clear of him at the very least. We tool up and head out.
True to their word, the river folk deliver us to the drop off point in absolute silence. We're pretty sure we've not been seen as we disembark. Hank had already volunteered to be our scout, and that we'd move up behind him in rank as he checked the security of each area.
He headed off into the swampland. His initial scout saw him survey the area closest to our landing place; he even climbed a tree to get a better view of the lands ahead. We had to wait until he returned, though to find out how it had gone. Once he'd passed the first few trees, he was completely invisible to us.
He'd found a small clearing, unusually quiet. In the middle of it was some kind of well or puddle of water, and he skirted around it quietly. At the far end of the clearing, leaning against a tree, he spotted a villager, some kind of watchman. He wasn't too good at that job, though, as he'd been discovered leaning against a tree sound asleep. In silence, Hank snook up on him and silently finished him off. We had no way to know if he was ogre or human, but this was not the time to be taking chances.
As he closed in on his prey, Hank found runes marked around the clearing. These are runes of chaos, disorder and death. Some kind of chaos cult markings, but we couldn't really identify them. The pit or water in the clearing centre was giving off a foul smell, but it was hard to pinpoint what that was against the backdrop of the smelly swampland.
Hank returned to us and we moved up to the clearing while he went off to look closer at the village. He sees people there going about their normal business, and returns to bring us up closer. We get to about 20 metres away and hunker down in the woodland, and he tells us what he's seen - reporting at least five potential targets. We prepare for our assault, and move up a little more, trying to be as quiet as we can.
I'm covering the front of the group, and I spot one of the villagers. He's looking back down the path as I point him out to the others. He gives off a call, clearly calling back to the guard who didn't survive his last assignment, and as he does so Andra tries to silence him with her sleep spell.
The area around the village, however, is warded. The use of magic in this way just sets off an alarm, and it prevents the spell from having its effect. The alarm is raised and the enemy are now aware of our presence. We prepare to engage in combat - I and the others prepare our defensive magic, ready for the first blows.