Monday, 19th March, 2012, 07:59 PM #31
Is it a bird?, is it a plane ... Nooo it's a DRAGON .. Well a wyvern really :)
The party explores the house Karin died in and found nothing out of the ordinary; they examine her room and the window locks from the inside and is undamaged. The wall outside is unmarked so nothing tried climbing it; so no evidence to support the Beast ever caused this death.
Exiting the house they think over what they can do next and decide to follow the trail of the wraith; or at least the direction it came from to see if they can find some kind of lair. They climb the hill and in the distance through the gloom they spy a dark figure on the brow of the hill wearing a long black flapping cloak holding a wicked looking scythe. They draw weapons and advance slowly and cautiously; as they are low on spells. Grembor fires off an arrow at the creature and it seems to go straight through it and this makes them more nervous considering what they have been facing. Approaching closer they discover it is just a scarecrow which not only scares crows but makes adventurers nervous too.
They swiftly examine it and then proceed past the effigy; they walk onwards and suddenly there is a squeal with a kind of a squelching ending as Kat falls through an otherwise hidden entrance and ended up landing on something that is more giving than a simple earthen floor. Luckily itís dark in here however the smell is horrible as if she fell into a cesspit. The rest of the party turn in surprise at Katís yelp weapons drawn as they notice Kat is no-where to be seen. Kat pulls out a sunrod and cracking it spreads bright light through the small earthen cavern. She discovers she has landed on the rotting remains of the four missing children; and the smell is something she never wants to smell again. advancing upon the hole she disappeared through they find her at the bottom in a pool of light laying upon the rotting remains of the 4 missing children.
They drop a rope and Kat manages to crawl out; Sayuri cleans her off with a quick spell much to the relief of the rest of the party as they were gagging from the pungent aroma. Kat however was not really bothered about the stink. They found nothing else in the hole other than the bodies and came to the obvious conclusion that these are the remains of the four children that had not been found since they died 7 months ago.
They head down into the hamlet again and take a slow walk around the outskirts of the village; the only thing they notice is a corpse of willow treeís that look to have been somewhat burnt. Upon investigation they find a partially burned book on Taldean poetry; why itís here they donít know.
They head back to the horses sure there is nothing more to find. Grembor is obviously not paying attention as he hears a sharp metallic snapping sound and terrible agony shoots up his leg as a previously hidden bear trap grabs his leg in a vicelike grip. With a scream he stands there while Sayuri and Kat both cringe in sympathy as they both recall their stint trapped within these hellish devices. Kat having learnt her lessons had investigated these devices and quickly had Grembors ankle free; binding it up with some bandages so they could continue on their way.
They make it back to their horses and start the hour or so long ride back to Lepidstadt in the early hours of the morning. Itís roughly 4 or 5 am. And the sunlight is getting close to breaking the horizon so the light is getting better; the party are happily riding along the trail chatting to each other as they spy a large winged creature heading their way.
As it gets closer they identify it as a type of dragon so in a panic they dismount; grabbing what they need from the horses and slapping them to make them run as they head in the other direction into a stand of treeís. Sayuri pulls out her rope and with a quick spell tosses it up a few feet and swiftly climbs up into the extra dimensional space to hide from the nasty Dragon; the rest of the party follows suit and they pull up the rope afterwards.
They identify the rapidly closing creature as a wyvern which is a weak cousin of a Dragon; without the breath weapon but holding a seriously strong poison sting in its tail. Thankfully they are also not as clever as a Dragon so it lands and sniffs about the area looking for the prey it thought it saw there; it can smell them but the tasty two legged have disappeared into thin air. After a while it takes off after the horses which it prefers the taste of anyway but they have less chance of interesting treasure.
They stay within the space for a while before the creature comes back again sniffing around the area as if tracking the group; they notice the wyvernís snout is covered in fresh red blood; they are supposing from the freshly killed mounts they were riding. They each feel a moment of sympathy for the dearly departed mounts which supported and carried them from Ravengro. The Wyvern disappears from view and they wait for a half hour to make sure the creature has gone; they cautiously exit the space expecting the creature to be waiting for them but it looks to have long gone. They quickly exit and start the long walk back to Lepidstadt.
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Final day of the trial
Roughly 2 hours later just as it turns 8am the party limp into the city past the guards who look at them curiously as they walk past. They head first to the abode of Karl who is the last remaining witness to the events that took the life of Doctor Brada and Karlís sight at the Sanctuary fire. They knock on his door and Grembor opens discussion by insulting him and asking him if he has seen anything interesting recently. Kat quickly steps in and with a heroic effort of diplomacy talks Karl into letting them in to talk; Karl gestures them in and prepared bread, cheese, fruit and wine to breakfast upon while they talk. Grembor however is not offered any food or drink while Kat, Sayuri and Pringle eat well while talking to Karl about the day he lost his sight. Karl describes the last image he saw before the fire took his sightóa shambling beast escaping the burning hospital while he tried to save his beloved master. He believes that creature was none other than the Beast of Lepidstadt. Karlís description of the Beast is actually that of the Shambling Man, but his description is vague enough to fit the Beast as well. They ask if the doctor had any dealing with Vorkstag and Grine and he told them they were occasional visitors to the Sanctuary but he had no idea what their business with the doctor was. They finish off their breakfast and thanking Karl head out to debrief Gustav on the eveningís events.
After the events of the previous night, the atmosphere on this final day is frenzied, with the locals determined to see the Beast burn. They head into the courthouse and meet up with Gustav who is worried as he has not heard from the party since yesterday. They sit down and go over the case and they realise that in the unlikely event they win they will need a way to get the beast out of the city without the mob ripping him apart. Sayuri comes up with the idea of using the Crooked Kin to get the Beast out of the city and with the agreement of the party sets out to find them and get them to assist. The clerks arrive early, with other members of the court arriving as the time approaches 10:00 a.m.
10:00 a.m.: The final day of the Trial of the Beast begins. Chief Justice Khard reminds the crowd of the penalties of violence, and tells them that he will clear the entire court if they do not behave. He also warns them that mobs do not rule Lepidstadt, and that should anyone threaten violence to any of the defence, he will have the person whipped out of town or hanged. He then requests the prosecution to describe the alleged events at Sanctuary and reminds them that the defence may still present evidence for the killings in Hergstag as agreed.
10:30 a.m.: Witnesses for the Prosecution. The prosecution details the arson attack on the hospital of Sanctuary on Karb Isle 4 months ago. Otto alleges that the Beast set fire to the building, murdering Doctor Brada and his patients in the process, and states that only Bradaís loyal assistant Karl survived. Otto calls Karl to the stand to give his evidence.
12:30 p.m.: Witnesses for the Defense. Gustav calls the party to present any evidence they found at Sanctuary and Hergstag. Kat steps forward to present the case as they do not trust Grembor to say anything without shooting the whole proceedings in the foot. Kat opens with the Sanctuary evidence; Establishing that Brada knew Vorkstag and Grine, both through his papers or the bleach vial; getting Karl to admit that Vorkstag and Grine were occasional visitors to Sanctuary; Describing the Shambling Man skin from Vorkstagís Cabinet of Skins and Faces to Karl who agrees that this is likely the creature he saw on the day he lost his sight. They then presented the evidence they located in Hergstag. Pointing out that Karinís bedroom window was not forced; observing that the wall outside Karinís bedroom is almost impossible to climb; and that the Beast could not have broken into the room without it being seen or leaving some sort of evidence and recovering the bodies of the four children from Brother Swarmís lair. They bring up the book of poetry they found and the beast informs them that it was his and he had lost it.
2:30 p.m.: Closing Statements. The prosecution asserts that the Beast is guilty of the murders in Morast, Hergstag, and Sanctuary. Otto claims that the Beast is a danger to society, and is a monster that should be destroyed. He recommends punishment in accordance with traditional lawóexecution by burning in the Punishing Man.
Gustav asserts that the prosecutionís evidence is not enough to prove the Beast guilty of any of the crimes in Morast, Hergstag, or Sanctuary. He recommends the Beast be freed immediately to screams of outrage from the gallery.
3:00 p.m.: Close of the Trial. When both prosecution and defence have made their closing statements, Chief Justice Khard announces that the trial is over, and he and the other justices depart to deliberate.
An hour after the justiceís leave to deliberate, they return looking grim. The Herald calls for order, and the crowd immediately hushes. Chief Justice Khard stands and announces the verdict. ďWe have heard the evidence presented before us, and thank Pharasma that we did so; for without this trial there would have been a most terrible miscarriage of justice. There are many cruelties in the world, but to lie and blame another for oneís crimes is the most terrible of sins. We have asked ourselves a questionówho is the monster here? Is it this creature before us, with its broken body and terrible form, or is it we, the people of Lepidstadt, with our bigotry and lies? The Beast is innocent!Ē The Crown screams its anger at the verdict and a flurry of small projectiles shower the courtroom; some hard and thrown with force; the guards draw truncheons to hold the raging mob back some more enthusiastically than others. The news spreads outside and those waiting outside join in the screams of anger and frustration that can be heard within the courtroom as a rage filled roar. Within minutes chanting can be heard from outside the courthouse ďBurn the Beast! Burn the Beast!Ē The Beast as its being led out looks to the party with what they can only assume is a smile thanking them; calling them ďbestest friends in the world.Ē He goes on to say (and this is the longest speech they have heard the Beast say) ďFather does not usually like visitors but give it a few days and come visit in CaromarcĒ The Party look at one another and nod to the beast before retiring to Gustavís chambers to discuss their options.
Run Grembor Run ... Or Grembor has an accident ... :)
Itís obvious they are going to need some sort of diversion to extract the Beast without the Mob trying to tear it to shreds. Grembor is happy to cause some chaos and confusion and asks if he can have a little fun while making a nice big distraction? The rest of the group cautiously agree knowing Grembor is not the most reliable of people when confronted by a diplomatic opportunity. If there are any Halflings involved you know itís going to digress into murder or at least some verbal assault and maybe even assault with strange fruit; but they allow Grembor this chance to make good and let him out to mingle with the mob. Kat after thinking about it for a few seconds gets a sudden feeling of unease and decides that it would be a good idea to keep an eye on Grembor as she has known the Chaotic Half Elf for a while now and knows what sort of mess he can get himself into.
Grembor mixes into the crown of angry townsfolk surrounding the large wooden punishing man; the townsfolk have been oiling it and throwing more wood and garbage onto the pile for days now. Considering his options and assessing the mood of the crown Grmbor dismisses the ides of just throwing a couple of vials of alchemistís fire onto the thing as the mob would likely tear him to pieces. Instead he has the cunning idea of placing a couple of vials in the fire; retreating a good distance and then shooting those to cause it to explode with fire causing the punishing man to ignite and causing a very large distraction. This sounds like a solid plan to Grembor who never really thinks anything through to itís conclusion; for instance shooting such a small target when itís surrounded by innocent and misinformed townsfolk with his record at missing would be Ö interesting. Anyway as already stated thinking ahead is not Grembors way so being a creature of pure instinct he palms a vial of alchemist fire and gently slips it into the pile of wood before retreating to a safe distance. Well this is what he intended to do anyway; what really happened was he slips the alchemists fire into his palm and it slips through his fingers, in trying to recover it he knocks it into the air; as it falls he makes one final grab at it and knocks it spinning towards the large oil soaked pile of wood. He lunges after the vial but it strikes the hard oil soaked wood just as his fingers reach it and explodes in a torrent of heat, pain and light. Grembor never had much use for his eyebrows anyway Ö. The oil soaked wood practically explodes outwards searing several people who are massed around the effigy; Grembors arm is alight as he waves it around in panic running through the crowd; the people around Grembor when the incident with the vial was done point accusingly at Grembor shouting ďhe did it.! He is the one who defended the Beast and lit the punishing man Ö KILL HIM!!!Ē The roar of the crown increases as a few hundred pairs of eyes focus upon Grembor. Grembor gulps in fear as he is trying to put out the fire on his arm; waving it around as he tries to escape; the fire on his arm the only thing keeping the club wielding townsfolk at bay. Through luck or misfortune the fire splutters and dies and the mass moves in for the kill; each club wielding townie strikes but again the luck seems to have turned and none of them manage to score a hit. Kat on the steps of the courthouse seeís the plight Grembor is in and casts the only spell she has remaining and a gust of wind flies out distracting the crowd a little and causing the punishing man to flare anew distracting the crowd some. Grembor manages a heroic acrobatics performance and wriggles through the angry club wielding townies; breaking out of the crowd and heads towards the closest street at top speed hoping to find somewhere to hide.
Meanwhile; using the very effective distraction they load the beast into the caravan that has moved behind the courthouse; walking out with the Beast and the giant man from the show Sayuri and Pringle look like children from a distance. They get into the caravan and roll slowly to the gates leading north out of the city. Kat seeing Grembor escape into the city knows he wonít have any problems evading pursuit and heads back into the courthouse to make sure everyone got away. Kat finds everything is good so she heads back to the Sailors rest to have a meal and a welcome drink. Sayuri and Pringle ride with the beast to the walls of the city then they hop off waving as the Kin take the Beast northwards through the gates of the city. They then head back to the Scholars rest and meet up with Kat who has just had some food delivered; they order some and sit chatting with Kat.
Grembor runs for his life and finally spots a nice fence he can hop over and heads into the maze of the houses back yards. Ducking down he finds a likely spot and stays there till someone from an upper window shouts at him to ďbugger off out my yardĒ which draws the attention of the mob again as they zero in on the location. Grembor is off running again; heading mainly east and south; after several close misses and disgruntled mob members spotting him and giving chance with a shout which draws in the rest and the loosing them. Grembor finds himself in a better part of town; there is a nice looking park with treeís and bushes to hide in. Scouting the area he is sure it is safe and promptly sprints in a strange crouchlike pose across the road and dives into the nearest bit of foliage. Using this method he manages to skirt the remaining mobsters and circles the park eventually after several more minutes of slow creeping close to the south side of the park. The last road to cross looks pretty wide and it has several people looking for him with torches in hand and pitchforks or clubs in the other. Grembor waits for the right moment; scanning the road each way making sure no-one is looking and then sprints across the road and dives into the closest bush. There is a squeal from the other side of the bush and an old washer woman pokes at him with her stirring spoon and squeals ďAye whatís you doin in my bush?!!!Ē There is a cinematic pause as everyone in the area absorbs this statement then the mob turns and starts running towards the old womanís bush to investigate. Grembor groans and sets off running again; leaping fences and pools; the odd random child who gets in the way and doddering old man with his walking stick. After roughly an hour of this he manages to loose his pursuers and sidles into the Scholars rest where the rest of the party are sitting having a meal and a drink; Kat and Pringle each hand Sayuri 10 gold as she won the wager on the time it would take him to find his way back. Grembor with hardly a word heads up to his room and has a quick wash; packs all of his effects into his travelling bag and then sits with his sword on hand and bow in his tight grasp in preparation of the mob finding him. His nerves have been frayed enough for one day.
The party downstairs are laughing as Kat retells the tale of Grembor lighting the punishing man; thankfully itís quiet enough that only the party hears it and those on the other tables assume it is just from what they saw not a parody of the other member of the party otherwise they could have started off the mob in the tavern. They head to bed early while Grembor slips into a fitful sleep with dreams of being chased by flaming demons with pitchforks.
Pssst I'm in disguise ...
The next morning after a well deserved lie in the party meet downstairs for breakfast; that is all except Grembor. They are consuming the burnt bacon and underdone eggs they have been served with a weak beer when a distinguished looking gentleman with a large dark moustache sits down at their table unannounced and starts digging into their breakfast. Itís only as hands start creeping to daggers and other implements of painful diplomacy does the newcomer seem to realise his dilemma; ďPssst it is I, GremborĒ he hisses through his new fake moustache. ďIím in disguiseĒ he says then goes on to tell of the mob chasing him through the streets last night but fails to update them on the fitful nightís sleep he had. They finish off breakfast and stroll out into the late morningís sunshine.
DMNote: Really good disguise roll by Grembor makes for a very convincing disguise.
The group head out to Judge Daramidís house and are let in as the Judge is having some tea in her sitting room. She smiles at the assembled group and thanks them for bringing the evidence to light; she hands each of them a pouch containing 100pp. She asks the group to head to Schloss Caromarc in search of the Beast and its creator. She is interested in the Beastís history, and thinks the Beast might still be dangerous. If the party can find its creator, perhaps they can learn how to control the Beast, or convince its creator to keep a tighter rein on the creature. But Daramid has also heard rumours that the townsfolk are planning to track down the Beast and overturn the courtís verdict on their own. If the group want to protect the creature, they should hurry. They look at each other and thank the Judge; they then leave as they have many items to sell to see if they can re-coup some funds. They also have several items they have neglected to identify.
Walking out into the street the wind seems to have picked up and they all look towards Grembor in alarm but the glue used to attach the moustache seems to hold nicely. They have a quick conversation on a street corner then head to the university to see if the professor of antiquities there would be interested in any of the items they have found.
Gaining admittance is easy enough and Dr. Montagnie Crowl the professor of Antiquities remembers them well and invites them in after he has finished his current lecture on the building abilities of some ancient tribe of orcs in some far off place. They show him the pieces they have and he expresses interest in a mask they found at Vorstag and Grineís they discuss prices and walk away with more gold in their pockets. The good Doctor also advises them that Professor Scrubbins down the hall sometimes sells wizard spells and most likely will be able to identify their items for a price.
Prof Scrubbins is a dirty dishevelled old man in a stain streaked lab coat; a grey food speckled beard and dirty fingernails; one of which is currently exploring the cavity they assume is his nose behind the bushy beard. He grins exposing red-brown stained teeth a common side effect of chewing certain roots which are used to calm the mind in certain societies. A small dribble of drool trickles from his mouth at the sight of two pretty half elven ladies walking into his office. Removing his finger from his nose he wipes it on his coat and proffers the hand to Sayuri who declines the invitation. Grembor steps up and the party inwardly cringe but figure he knows they need his service and besides he is not a Halfling. Grinning Grembor asks if he can sell them any identify scrolls or if he can identify some items for them; the professor looks the party over and makes his offer which they except. They depart feeling much dirtier but they know what they have and they also have a couple of scrolls for Pringle to copy into his spellbook once he collects the required inks and crushed gemstones.
After the episode with the dirty professor they head into the clean air and find themselves a shop in which to sell their ill got gains. They soon find a small dusty shop that caters for buying the offerings from adventures for a marked discount where they can haggle successfully for a better deal. They offload some of the more weighty items and less needed ones too; they then ask the Ďreputableí shopkeeper where they can find some good horses and they are directed to his Ďcousiní who is ďa fine upstanding gentleman of impeccable demeanourĒ They depart doubting the shifty individual has any relations who could be anything higher in morals than your average sewer rat. Regardless this cousin must be some weird offshoot of the family as he seems to be above board and they gain some good horses; saddles and packing gear for the many alchemical items they found. They depart happy they have made a good bargain as Grembor and Kat both are knowledgeable about animals.
One wolf breaches the hill and starts the gentle trip downwards; four riders and one wolf breach the hill and start the gentle trip downwards; five horses, four riders and a wolf breach the hill and start the gentle trip downwards; this could go on forever.
We re-join the merry band as it leaves the city of Lepidstadt; one wanted by the townsfolk most likely to be burnt or hanged; this one at the front of the pack who keeps looking back nervously over his shoulder. He is whippet lean, clad in a mix of leather and light chain with a stiff leather bracer on his left forearm. A gracefully curved longbow is tucked into his saddle within easy reach along with a quiver of finely fletched arrows. A rakish mustache graces his top lip and a sword is strapped to his back while riding; the leather strap could be released in one flick of his thumb to slide the sword and sheath to his wait for swift access. His eyes roam the countryside before them before scanning the road behind; he seems nervous and flinches minutely as a flock of crows burst from a nearby thicket beating their pinions as they lift into the air. His hand moves back from his bow to the reigns and he expertly heels his horse onwards.
Following on behind him is a slight human male; sitting his horse awkwardly and swaying in the saddle as if drunk. The human is young and wearing a plain homespun tunic and light leather pants, his shoes are more in line with walking city streets to roaming the wilderness and his outfit is finished off with a broad belt holding many pouches and a heavy cloak. His Saddlebags look to be filled with mainly large square bookish items and an astute observer would notice his ink stained fingers and slight squint from his affection for reading at night. He has a long hickory staff tucked into his saddle; a dagger hilt shines occasionally from his hip and a light crossbow is slung behind the saddle. He is leading another horse which looks to have the enviable task of carrying some heavy boxes. The horse keeps shooting less than impressed looks at the back of the rider leading it. Apparently it was more than happy remaining in its stall eating hay than being led around the countryside by some human.
Behind the somewhat annoyed horse which we shall call Dave is another horse; this one looks happier than its predecessor. This could be because itís only carrying a small half elven woman; she is wearing leather riding breeches and a flowing top thatís tight in all the right places. Her long hair is tied up in a topknot and itís flowing out behind her in the soft breeze like a dark pennant; soft comfortable boots adorn her feet and soft leather gloves cover her hands as they grip the reigns. She is not wearing any obvious armor and the only weapons she has are a couple of small sickle type things at her waist and a bow on her back. Her cloak is thrown backward over her shoulder and her arms from what you can see though the thin material are hard and strongly defined, as are the legs which are gripping the horse tightly. This is obviously not an accomplished rider either but more talented then the human; this horse is carrying only a light load as the woman canít weigh more then 100lb even with what she is carrying. Her large pretty mis-matched eyes roam the area around her with a calm easy gaze which seems to take in everything; flickering with every movement; she is undeniably a very beautiful individual although it does have a certain coldness to it which is disturbing. Shadows seem to flicker around her occasionally when you look upon her and her mis-matched eyes sometimes seem to glow with an inner red light.
The last of the four is riding along in an easy manner; as accomplished a horseman/woman as the leader. Another half elf and another female; again dressed in functional leathers which seem well worn and practically a second skin; she seems less than bothered about the state of her hair or the slight smudge of dirt on her cheek. Her cloak is well worn and made of some sort of treated leather which would shed the rain like a ducks back; itís currently thrown over her shoulder leaving her long light hair flowing in the wind unbound by any restraint. She is carrying crossed swords on her back with an assortment of other weapons arrayed around her saddle and form. A handy bow is also slid in behind her leg available for easy access; the arrows close to hand. Her eyes scan the surroundings calmly; not even jumping as the crows lift off which startles the leader; the sounds of nature leave no surprises for this one. Her eyes touch upon the farmsteads and plowed fields and a look of scorn shows on her face; as she heels her horse to pull up alongside her friend before her. The wolf following along behind is a lean affair; its fur glossy and healthy; its eyes sharp and intelligent while its teeth are no doubt sharp. With a gesture the wolf bounds off ahead to scout out the road, a grey ghost that fades in and out of the dappled shadows alongside the road; keen senses scanning for possible enemies.
After a few miles after reaching the brow of another hill; the leader reigns in his horse and reaching up rips off his fake mustache and pockets it. His eyes fixated on the trail behind them; finally after several minutes of observation he sighs with thoughts of a red headed woman and turns his horse away from the city and towards the trail northwards. To a place called Schloss Caromac; apparently the birthplace of a friendly flesh golem they recently rescued from the grips of a city bent on burning the beast to death for crimes it did not commit. There are questions to be answered and asses to kick if those answers are not forthcoming.
Ustalav ... not a place for a picnic ...
Traveling through the day; they donít actually get started until mid morning as Kat just had to pick up that last bit of something she canít do without. Following the trail they head mostly north; the river an ever chattering companion to their journey; itís a nice sunny day; a slight chill in the air and a light wind coming from the west. Through the day they chat amicably about the hectic last few days and enjoying the lack of urgency in their current travel. Itís a pleasant change to the pace even though they are still under a time constraint itís a much more forgiving constraint than they have become accustomed to. There is laughter and joking as they ride along; even Pringle seems to be sitting his horse better though no-one envies him the discomfort he will be experiencing once they stop.
Lunch is a basic affair; stopping for an hour or so to stretch legs and work out the kinks in their tortured muscles; more for Pringle than anyone else. They soon mount up again and head along the river; they travel on for another couple of hours before they meet anything that does not run from the party. Rounding a bend in the river the come practically face to face with a pair of large bear-like creatures with long vicious claws and owl like beaks; Sayuri remembers a fairly interesting book she read a while ago reporting one of the theories on the creation of the owlbear and until now she had never seen one and would be happy if they never again saw one. This pair look well fed and in the peak of fitness as they notice the party as they are themselves seen; they turn and on all fours move surprisingly quickly towards the mounted party. One heads for Grembor and Pringle while the other moves towards the back of the party and decides Sayuri looks good enough to eat; Grembor dodges a ferocious swing of a set of claws that could if it connected take his head and a substantial part of the rest of him with it. Kat whips out her bow and fires off a shot at one of them while Sayuri does likewise with her crossbow. Neither cause enough damage to do anything more then annoy the large already unimpressed Owlbear; Sayuri jumps off her horse and is met half way down by a set of large wickedly curved claws which leave trails of blood on her shoulder. Her horse whickers and backs away rearing and lashing out with itís hooves which narrowly miss Sayuriís head; Pringle shoots off his crossbow and the bolt goes very wide of the mark. With a shrug he starts reloading while Grembor strikes out with his sword scoring a minor hit on the creature; who is less than impressed and tries a bone crushing bear hug on him which thankfully misses.
Sayuri however is not so lucky and a powerful claw again scores her back as she twists to try avoiding it while the beak rips a chunk out of her other shoulder. She is backed up to the river already so she unleashes a deadly flurry of kicks and punches towards the beast with most of them striking true; the beast steps a pace back in surprise as itís small meal fights back like a panther backed into a corner. Shaking its head to clear the ringing it is an easy target for Kat who unleashes a pair of arrows from her bow from only a few feet distant. Both arrows strike true which drop the creature to its knees with blood fountaining from itís mouth which makes Sayuri already covered in her own blood look like she had been bathing in the stuff. Sayuri is badly damaged with blood dripping down her arms and back from three very nasty hits as she checks her pouch again in the vain hope of finding a healing potion she somehow missed previously.
Kat sends her wolf circling round the remaining Owlbear to assist Grembor; trying to bite the rough feathery hide of the beast fails to impress the creature but the distraction is enough for Grembor to slide his sword through the creature impaling itís heart as his sword is buried to itís hilt in itís chest. With a low growling gurgle it expires and slumps to the ground twitching as its brain tries to refute the evidence its body is trying to present about its lack of life. The body wins and the creature lies still as blood spreads slowly around it.
They patch up their various wounds and carry on more carefully than before; the attack with the Owlbears reminding them that this is not a stroll in the park but a serious walkabout in dangerous territory. This is still Ustalav and the threat of a painful lingering undeath is never far away.
Trolls + Fire = nasty death. Or Sayuri looses another horse.
Rounding a corner in the trail they come upon their goal; the fens give way to a deep, rocky gorge at the northern edge of the swamp, where a peculiar building, or rather group of buildings, clings to steep cliff edges above half a dozen plummeting waterfalls. Beyond a fortified gatehouse, a stone bridge arches gracefully over the raging torrents below. Perched precariously beyond this is a fine, fortified manse and a ruined building that appears to have partially collapsed into the river below. A slender rope bridge, replacing the fallen remnants of a stone bridge, links to a strange tower pierced with beautiful stained glass windows depicting bizarre beasts.
A further building teeters to the north of this, but how it is reached is impossible to see from here. Far above, a great tower rises from an isle of stone to the sky, ending in a great steeple topped with a huge lightning conductor. They have reached Schloss Caromarc.
Sayuri and Kat ride out ahead (The players for Pringle and Grembor are absent) and find two strange looking hounds standing guard before the gatehouse. The gatehouse has four towers one at each corner; upon two of these towers stand large humanoids one of which is looking out over the pathway while the other seems to be staring at the castle behind the keep. They move down to get a better look at the hounds and the large figures but the hounds seem to catch their scent on the wind and perk up; with a low whine they scour the pathways around the keep and spot Kat and Sayuri still astride their horses in the shadow of a large boulder. With a grumbling growl they both start forward to intercept the pair; Sayuri studies the pair of strange looking hounds and recognizes them as a strange breed of hound which has been fed too much troll meat and taken on many of the characteristics of a troll. These are commonly called Trollhounds and they share their resistances and abilities; However the horses donít know this they just see and smell something they donít like and prance about until the hounds close; one snaps Sayuriís horses leg while the other tears out itís throat.
Sayuri slips from the saddle landing on her feet and looking sorrowfully at her poor horse. One of the large humanoids on the keepís towers brings up a large crossbow and fires off a bolt in their direction while the other tower is manned by another large figure hefting a nice rock. Kat dismounts and sends her horse back down the trail to be picked up by Grembor and Pringle; whipping out her swords she closes on the hounds and slices her swords across itís shoulder and back; the wounds donít seems to bleed much. Sayuri steps back and starts summoning an elemental; her knowledge of such things is a bit sketchy but she thinks fire will hurt them as she suspects they are the same as Trolls. The Trollhounds go to hit Kat but only the one strikes true as it trips Kat to the floor; Kat cursing transforms her form into that of a wildcat and lashes out at the hound from the floor while her Wolf circles them and goes to hit the hound from the rear. Sayuri finishes off her summoning and a fire elemental appears through a rent in the air; through which you can feel the roaring flames of its native plane; it strikes out at the hound while Sayuri claims some vials of alchemistís fire from the pack horse. Kat is getting badly mauled by the hound as she is still prone and not willing to incur extra attacks by getting up; she responds from the ground and her claws and bite score some good hits; however itís the fire elemental that really makes it sit up and scream as itís fiery touch sets itís skin burning causing it to start rolling around on the ground in an attempt to put out the killing fire.
Sayuri throws one of her vials at the hound but it goes wide striking the ground to the right of the critter and causing a small explosion of flame which ignites the local fauna. A large crossbow bolt screams past Kats head setting her sensitive feline ears back as it strikes the rocks near her throwing up a shower of sparks; the large humanoid in the tower starts cranking on the winch to reload his crossbow again. The large humanoid in the other tower is still hefting his rocks but they are out of decent range for him so he waits patiently. The Trollhound expires in an eye watering stink of burning flesh so Kat resumes her feet and her normal form; Sayuri continues to lob vials of fire but is expertly setting the surrounding environment afire and nowhere near hitting anything else. The remaining hound attacks Kat but is thwarted by her tough armor as she conjures a curved blade comprised of pure flame to her hand and strikes the poor unfortunate hound which whimpers as itís hit; the fire elemental also strikes causing another whimper followed by a swift squeal as it catches fire and continues to burn. Sayuri continues to miss with her flasks of fire while two figures appear in the gate as it opens revealing a pair of giant figures running out to try to drive off the impudent adventures. Kat finishes off the hound as it squirms on the ground in a vain attempt to extinguish the fire while Sayuri starts summoning another little fiery helper to assist; the pair of trolls manage to make it to the pair of stalwart adventures but have to maneuver round the fire elemental which they nervously avoid and donít wish to attack plus the several areaís of burning shrubbery caused by Sayuriís Ďtacticallyí missed alchemistís fire attempts.
The first troll manages a single attack on Kat before itís cut down by a combination of Katís burning blade; two fire elementals and more thrown fire from Sayuri which didnít actually hit itís target but inadvertently hit one of the trolls by missing itís intended troll and hitting itís compatriot. Sayuri considers that a win and howls in victory as it collapses in a burning pile; itís more intelligent brother strikes Sayuri a couple of times causing her to stagger back while Kat strikes it a few times with his sword of fire; the troll makes a couple of half arsed attempts at hitting Kat and then runs off burning into the countryside living to fight another day and learning a valuable lesson regarding idiots who play with fire.
Sayuri sends her elementals into the gatehouse to kill anything they find while Sayuri heads back to the pack horse to retrieve more vials of alchemistís fire. Kat unlimbers her bow and fires some arrows towards the trolls manning the towers; this elicits the response from the towers of Crossbow bolts from one and thrown rocks from the other. Thankfully they miss their target and Sayuri sprints inside soon followed by Kat; they discover three small bodies of goblins inside smoldering gently as the fire elementals prance around. Sayuri directs the elementals up the towers to assault the trolls who have nothing but their claws and really donít wish to try clawing the living fire as it will burn their tender hands. One after trying throwing his rocks at his elemental jumps from the gatehouse into the river to extinguish the flames and letting the cooling water carry it downriver. The other less fortunate leader of the trolls manages to utilize itís heavy crossbow as a weapon and beat down an elemental only to have another take itís place; with a growl of frustration it leaps from the battlements down before the gate and is set upon again by yet another fire elemental and Kat who strikes out with her sword of fire. Kat is knocked back by a mighty blow from the troll but the veritable swarm of elementals drive the troll to the ground and the platters are served as this meat is very well done.
Party gets a smack down ...
Sayuri helps Kat back to her feet and they make sure the troll is dead as Kat drives her flame blade through the trolls neck; scanning around they search the gatehouse finding an amulet of the whispering way; an old staff being used as a spit and a torn tunic which is mixed in with the barricade against the far door. They toss the tunic into a corner and tear down the barricade; opening the door they find a narrow arched bridge leading to the fortified manor; however sitting on the apex of this bridge is a creature they have met previously. A flesh Golem hound; the last one they unceremoniously killed from a ledge while it could not get out; it was like shooting fish in a barrel; this one may be a little more interesting.
Kat steps onto the bridge; to the left, two hundred feet below, a huge waterfall plummets into the depths. The hound couches down and starts growling; Kat steps back and the hound returns to its previous attentive posture. Again Kat steps forward hands raised in a submissive way and the hound crouches down growling; again Kat steps back. Considering their options they decide the only way to get past the creature is to deliver it a smack down; Kat takes out her sword and coats it in the adamantine blanch they found in Vorstag and Grineís; this dulls the shine making her sword appear darker and strangely sharper.
Stepping forward she awaits the response from the flesh golem and predictably it leaps forward its jaws snapping at Kats chest and face; Kat swings her sword meeting the hound in mid air and opens a long gash in itís side and shoulder causing the hound to yelp in pain as the adamantine blade severs muscles, tendons and bone. The hound lands; itís muzzle bloody from ripping a chunk of flesh from Katís shoulder; blood dripping from wound and muzzle to the stone bridge in small rivulets; dropping from the bridge into the fast flowing water; mixing with the water and following itís suicidal leap from the waterfall to the river below. Kat staggers back gripping her shoulder as the blood drips down her arm and joining with its droplet friends on the floor. Sayuri runs past the hound leaping high in an effort to avoid itís large vice like jaws; however it snaps at Sayuri in passing tearing a few holes in her leg and making her stumble. Sayuri makes it to the far doors; the arched bridge ends at a small cobbled terrace with a curious looking iron door depicting a scowling sun being devoured by ravenous clouds. The hound looks at Kat before it and then round at Sayuri behind it; turning it bounds after Sayuri allowing Kat a free hit as its directive of preventing access to the doors overrides the threat from Kat and makes Sayuri a more important target. Katís sword strikes true tearing a long gash in itís flank but it is not enough to discourage the beast as it barrels into Sayuri nearly knocking her from her feet as itís jaws close on the meaty part of her thigh. Its mouth closes with a shrill scream from Sayuri as her leg suddenly turns read from the large gaping wound in her thigh as the hound rips a mouthful of flesh from it.
Kat runs in swinging her swords and connects causing minor damage; Sayuri retreats away from the doors along the rocky outcrop which the manor stands upon hoping the hound will not follow. Thankfully it does not but instead turns itís attentions on Kat; itís mouth already dripping red from both Sayuriís and Katís blood it lunges in and itís teeth snap together taking a chunk of flesh from Katís side and almost knocking her off the bridge. Kat staggering back twirls her swords and makes a weak attempt to skewer the offending hound but it twists out of the way and only takes some minor damage on its leg; Sayuri standing off to one side casts her most powerful spell; a crackling intense charge of electricity forms in her hands and she directs it towards the hound. The blinding blast hammers into the hound and to their shock they see the wounds they have caused the hound quickly mend themselves. The hound shakes itself off and you can almost imagine itís grinning in amusement as it looks towards Sayuri with a knowing look at the amazement on her face. (Who would have thought lightning would harm a flesh golem ... Ever seen Frankenstein?)
Turning back towards Kat the hound lunges forward gracefully snapping its jaws on Kats forearm; Kat in a moment of panic manages to twist her arm free before the teeth close fully. She keeps her arm intact but looses a large amount of skin to its razor sharp teeth; the blood wreathing her arm from her shoulder wound most likely assisting in her retrieval and retention of her arm. Sayuri starts summoning some assistance; Grembor and Pringle arrive on the scene not summoned by Sayuri. The hound eyes the new arrivals with caution but is not distracted from Kat as it teeth find flesh and rips her stomach open; Kat staggers back trailing entrails and slumps to the floor unconscious and a rapidly spreading pool of blood starts dripping off the bridge to the waters below making the already slick bridge more then treacherous.
Pringle looks on in shock as he seeís Kat brought down; Grembor runs in and scoops up Kats sword and narrowly avoiding slipping on the blood and plummeting to his death over the waterfall; he scores a shallow hit on the hound; the hound strikes out at Grembor scoring a nasty hit on his leg which again almost sends him falling to a watery death. Sayuri finishes her summoning and a fire elemental appears next to the hound; attacking with its fiery fists it misses but provides some distraction; Pringle steps forward recovering from his shock and drawing out a wand fires a ball of force at the creature. The spell to Pringles surprise seems to bounce off the golem; Pringle learns something about golems and their very annoying magical resistances. Grembor tries striking the golem but fails to significantly harm the creature as his sword bounces off its tough hide. The hound frustrated by the randomly appearing flaming things snaps out at Grembor and catches him with a nasty bite to his chest; with a fountain of blood he falls to the floor beside Kat. Sayuri finishes summoning another fire elemental which appears next to the hound; both fire elementals try striking it but both miss. The hound strikes out at the elemental and as soon as it appears its light is extinguished by the snapping jaws of the flesh golem. However the fire seems to have a detrimental effect on the hound as it seems to slow down and become more lethargic; Sayuri runs in succeeding in an amazing leaping dance which avoids the teeth of the hound and manages to pass right by the creature while scooping up Kat making it to the safe side of the bridge. Pringle drags Grembor from the fray also and they stand at the safe side while the hound finishes off the other fire elemental and then lopes to the centre of the span and sits down watching them intently; its job done.
Healing .. why do we need healing?
Pringle looks at Sayuri who looks back at Pringle; they have two unconscious friends who both look like they have been the dogís dinner. Dragging them back into the gatehouse they make them as comfortable as possible and stoke up the fire; binding the wounds as best they can and wait.
Eventually Grembor awakens and a bowl of stew bubbling over the fire is brought to him as he sits up and winces; looking around the room he is surprised to see Kat still laying with blood soaked bandages covering her wounds.
Looking at the two standing over him he realizes that neither of them knows anything but the basics of first aid nor can either of them use the wands of healing they acquired and they are both lucky to be alive. Pulling out a wand from Katís pack he manages to close off some of his more serious wounds; heading to Kat it takes several applications of the wands energies before she starts rousing from the deep near death experience that had claimed her. They each grab a wand and apply some of the same energies to Sayuri while healing themselves.
All the casters are seriously low on spells so they set up a rotating watch and sleep for several hours. The night passes uneventfully and they wake bright and fresh; but still sore.
Hound gets a smackdown ...
The following morning they rub the grit from their eyes; pack up their gear and do a quick scout of the surroundings. They are in a small gatehouse with a crenellated tower at each corner; from the two closest towers they can see the flesh golem hound sitting where they left it patiently waiting for them to try making the crossing again.
Kat ever the patient hunter thinks sod it I have been bitten enough already; piles up some furniture before the doors and heads to the tower with the Troll captains crossbow. With a great effort she winches back the crossbow and fits a bolt; sighting down the large bow she releases and the bolt strikes the hound squarely in the face.
The hound barely moves for several seconds except to slowly turn its gaze upon the tower and its lone occupant standing very nervously holding a large sized crossbow. Kat starts frantically winching back the crossbow again as the hound gets to its feet; its eyes still focused on Kat and starts running towards the gates of the gatehouse. There is a loud ringing bang as the heavy hound strikes the gate; the reverberations rattling the teeth of everyone concerned.
Sayuri runs up the tower and starts summoning another fire elemental while Pringle and Grembor after checking the barricade is holding ascends the other tower; Grembor shooting arrows which bounce off and Pringle casting small balls of acid at the hound which leave tiny burnt patches. The Flesh Golem again shoulder barges the reinforced and barricaded doors which again shake and dust falls from the ceiling; the doors hold this time but they give a little. Sayuri finishes her summoning and a denizen of the plane of fire arrives to help out; the elemental strikes out and scores a hit on the hound which then seems to slow it down again; she starts another summoning; Pringle is at a loss as to what to do this round so he observes the proceedings making sly remarks whenever someone misses; Grembor takes out some vials of alchemistís fire and starts lobbing them down at the hound to little effect; Kat is still winding up the crossbow.
The Hound leaps for the doorway again and there is the sound of cracking timbers as the doorway partially gives; Kat ready now ties off her rope to a bolt and taking careful aim fires the heavy bolt into the far doors over the bridge; Looping some leather over the rope she slides down the rope and alights gracefully on the bridge before the doors. Another Fire Elemental steps through a rent in space and starts trying to strike down the hound with its fiery fists; joining the other elemental in its attempt to set the poor hound alight. Pringle shoots another small blob of acid down at the hound causing minor damage while Grembor picks up the large crossbow and starts reloading it with some effort.
The Flesh Golem looks round and eyes up Kat close to the focus of itís protection; turns and eliciting a couple of attacks from the fire elementals as it passes lopes over the bridge towards Kat. Fortunately for Kat the hound has been slowed by the fire elementals attacks and it only makes it halfway across the bridge; Kat in a panic casts a quick spell and leaps for the wall scaling it like a spider. She remembers only too well the feel of that creatures jaws on her tender flesh and she does not wish to experience it again anytime soon.
Sayuriís elementals follow the hound and try beating it with their fists while she watches from the relative safety of the tower. Pringle also looks on in amusement to see Kat scale the wall to escape the wrath of the hound; Grembor rests the crossbow on the crenulated wall and places one of the few remaining bolts into the groove. Sighting down the bolt he hopes to knock the hound from the bridge and letís loose; the bolt flies straight and true sinking into the side of the hound with a grunt. The hound looks balefully at Kat halfway up the wall turning and snapping at one of the Fire Elementals causing it to flicker in agitation but not quite causing it enough damage to send it back to the plane of fire.
The two Elementals strike in unison and with a final almost disappointing slap around the face the Golem Hound drops to the floor and moves no more. There is much in the way of celebration and joyful noises that the nasty hound has met its end; they regroup on the bridge before the large impressive doors and think on what to do next.
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