The Supply Party
As our adventuring company turned a bend in the meandering river of mud that the folk of the provinces call a road, we heard shouting and cries of fear. Quickly slogging forward, a hellish sight awaited us: There, not fifty yards ahead, several men in royal livery faced a group of misshapen horrors unlike anything that we had ever seen. They were similar to trolls in build, but tufts of grotesque tendrils sprouted from their bodies at random and their hideous faces had no mouths: Instead, a long, flexible tendril dangled obscenely from beneath empty eye sockets. Several of the hideous beasts had already claimed victims, and their disgusting probosci slurped blasphemously as they dipped into their victims’ shattered skulls. The things were aware of our intrusion, somehow detecting our presence with some sense alien to our experience, so we steeled ourselves to offer battle.
While traveling to join the King on his progress through the Border Marches near Magesmoor(or perhaps simply following the same road), the player characters encounter a band of palace officials, sorely beset by horrifyingly-mutated trolls. These trolls are not the mundane monsters that the adventurers have encountered in the past: Their jaw structures have been replaced with sucking structures reminiscent of a houseflys and they vomit forth acid, sucking up the resulting digested fluids.
Hopefully, the heroes will rescue the beleaguered group of servants and palace officials from the hideous mutants. If they do, the grateful men will ask that they escort them to the King, explaining that hideous creatures of that sort have been seen by others, as well. Terrors like these are growing increasingly common around the land.
The King, thankful to see his men returned safely, will reward the party, but his seneschal would ask that they assist further, if they can. Another group of servants has not returned, and the seneschal fears that the multiple attacks may have been insigated by rebels. The perennial curse of the Border Marches, the borderers’ last rebellion left dozens of villages in ruins and the region’s rich farmland untilled. Years of peace have given the Marches a chance to recover, but they have never been overly loyal to the land’s distant rulers, and resent the taxes levied to keep the region’s many fortresses well-supplied.
The senechal askes that the player characters escort a group of palace officials as get supplies needed for the King’s household to continue their travels. Their supplier is not far, and the luxuries that he provides allow the King to meet ancient ceremonial obligations to his vassals. By an agreement as old as his house, he is obliged to provide the borderer Count of Magesmoor with a golden vessel filled with cinnamon annually or release the man from fealty. As trivial as such an agreement might seem, it is symbolic of the honor of the King’s house.
Godecooke, No Longer
Sadly, the merchant, Rohemund Godecooke, is discovered dead, drowned in a pot of his own cooking. Those investigating the scene may be able to piece together what happened: The busy man spilled some oil on the floor as he was cooking and fell, striking his head on a boiling cauldron’s edge. The unconscious man’s head falling into the filled pot, he died: Apparently, the victim of a tragic accident. One incongruous detail intrudes, however. Those examining the kitchen closely will note oily tracks in the kitchen: The tracks of massive, inhuman feet.
Those looking further may search among the provisioner’s private papers and accounts. Examination of his disorderly nest of papers and ledgers will soon conclude that the unfortunate man was struggling frantically to meet the Crown’s demands, but was burdened by extortionate demands from a man he called "Greybough". This man, apparently some sort of rebel or brigand, had demanded the cook pay "protection" or have his trade destroyed. The criminal’s demands were actually fairly modest, as such things go, with one exception: Godecooke was known for the fine almonds and high quality cacao that he imported, and the brigands demanded all of his supply.
The other people in the tiny hamlet claim that they "didn’t see anything". Intimidation of the cowed villagers
Becoming aware of the PCs investigation, the villainous rebels send an assassin to intimidate them, or kill them if that fails. The killer, if caught, carries no identifying papers or other obvious identifying materials, but he has been
Two Great Tastes…
Godecooke had been forced to supply a great deal of his product to a band of rebels who are raising an army of trolls. It turns out that almonds and chocolate, taken together, have a strange effect on the metabolism of these creatures, horribly mutating them in a variety of odd ways and increasing their cunning and strength.
Clues on the remains of the assassin lead to a powerful merchant that is backing the rebels. When the PCs confront this merchant, it becomes clear that he hopes to overthrow the monarchy and institute a utopian realm where men and trolls will live together in peace. Of course, he will be in charge. His idealistic followers mount a desperate defense while he sneaks off to cause trouble another day.
Several decades ago, the westernmost lands of the kingdom rose against the Crown, exploding into rebellion over the harsh
The PCs could be asked to hunt down some of the rebels
that escaped the King’s justice.