The swashbuckler, Thelia, Pillnar, Penelope, and bard’ arrive in the Equine land. They debarked the ship and got pushed around by a large Equine warrior. But soon met up with a young Equine whom they named ‘Junior’. And learn from him a few of the Equine ways
After off-loading supplies, the ship heads out.. it will return in 2 weeks. The herd is heading out for what ‘junior’ calls ‘Earth Berries’. After a brief talk, the party thinks this is the same drink that Jamie noble friend called ‘gotts trinken’. The party travels along with the herd, and is told not to interfere.
The first place they travel to is a tall grassy region. The herd pulls grass and starts weaving the leaves into baskets to hold the berries. The party notices a small powdery substance on the grass (growing like a mold like). They think this may be a kind of yeast for the brew. Devlin makes notes and collects samples of the grass’s and the yeast. The herd moves on to a grove of trees where these ‘earth berries’ grow (so named because the Equines take them and bury them in the earth). Again samples are taken and notes are … um noted. Next up is a short travel to where junior calls the ‘soft ground’ (very much like a peat moss).
On the way there, the herd is ambushed by a pride of “Cats”, that manage to kill a horse, and ‘foal-nap’ one of the warriors daughters. When the party ask ‘junior’ if they’re going after the girl, he says no (life for them means it’s too risky to send in warriors that might get killed or injured for one colt). So the party heads out to rescue the daughter. They defeat the guards, and do rescue her. Elders from the council get together about this matter. If word passed to other herds that a human cared about a member of their heard, it may bring disrespect to them. In order to “save face” the herd will see if one human can pass “Ordeal” (a trial by which Equines become full members of the herd). That evening the warrior father of the foal-napped girl selects the bard to “Ordeal” since he hears a tale of battle (and some Equine words dropped in).
- notes left out of game, but junior may have told the party: Ordeals are chosen by a full member who sees them as fit to join the herd. Each Ordeal consists of three parts, which are unknown to the Ordeal and different from each Warrior that gives it. Besides fasting, and silence (something the Equines believe brings a more spiritual connection.. along with a symbolic willingness to sacrifice for the herd):
the Bards first Ordeal is one of spiritual solitude and willingness to return to the herd. He is left alone in a grove of trees.. and the heard moves out w/out him. he manages to find the human boot tracks of the other party members, and is able to follow these back to the herd.
the Second ordeal is to stand up for himself and willingness to participate in herd culture. Upon coming back to the new herd location, he is met, and engaged in one of the Equines “taunting contest”. He gets his Ordeal master to swing first after a vicious insult, but is unable to land any good punches (even tho later may find that the warrior viewed his attacks as being ‘scrappy’ enough)
- note left out of game : the party may find from junior that is was probably good he didn’t win the fight portion.. as the warrior would have had to defend his position in the herd if he (the warrior) had lost to a human who has called him a cart-puller. There may still have been some other warriors whom challenged him anyway because of this.
the third trial is a simple archery shooting at 3 targets. He seals the deal by hitting a bulls-eye on the farthest target. He tries to hand back the bow (which was ‘juniors’ to start with), but is told by the master to keep it. Later that night he is brought forth to the whole herd as a member of the herd who has passed Ordeal (to the approval of some, dislike of other… but all accept him, and will treat him as herd).
The party also witnesses the herd make the ‘Earth Berry’ brew (and takes detailed notes, including a very rhythmical chant/song they sing while cooking it : the Bard tries to learn it, Devlin tries to copy the words phonetically.) And then the Equines pour the mix into wood canteen type jars, then bury the ‘logs’ in the peat-moss bog. Doing a bit of math on figures they see, the party realizes that the equines will be far unable to come up with expectations from Penelope’s noble friend. The party does secure a 5 year contract with the Equines, but volume will not be enough.
Having secured the contract, collected items they think can be used to make their own (or sell the technology for) making the brew, plus making new friends in a new land.. the party decides to head back to the landing dock (they do expect a ship to come and pick them up).
While leaving (as a good-bye gift perhaps), the young kid-napped foal chases after the group and hands Devlin a strange bow made of some kind of bone. Thank you’s are exchanged, and she runs back to the herd.