Pathfinder 1E "Murder, Lies and Civic Duty."


First Post
Kavos: An elderly, human, Lawful Evil priest of Asmodeous. He's the brains of the operation.

Gandil: A well intentioned madman, Gandil believes he's the hero of our story and hilariously still thinks he's Chaotic Neutral. He's a human and a straight fighter.

Westbank and the Story So Far: Westbank is a small village in a geographically unique location. Bordered on the northwest by a mountain range, west by a massive lake, to the south and east by a powerful river and the north by an impenetrable forest. The Duke's men wanted to seize Westbank's former seat of power, the Blackstone Keep nestled high in the mountains as an unassailable garrison against the growing rebellion and sent Kavos and Gandil to assess the situation and make the transition smoother...

Instead, Kavos and Gandil noticed the out of control bandit population that such an isolated area spawned and decided 'Us Too!' ransacking what few merchants attempted the dangerous journey but were missed by the other bandits. They thought they had a pretty good thing going until one got away, noticing the Wandering Duke's seals on their armor.

Several days later they bushwhacked a bounty hunter carrying their faces on a wanted poster. Realizing that they're now wanted men and likely to be hunted down by both the Duke (for compromising his position) and any rebels in the area (for being a-holes employed by the Duke) they decide to ditch their fancy armor in favor of whatever they can scrounge from stolen loot and take refuge in the only place they know hasn't received word of their crimes (because they themselves killed and robbed everyone that could have brought such information) the unsuspecting village of Westbank.

We open up with our nervous deserters arriving in the small, unlucky village of Westbank; their previous actions being nothing personal, they're now going to beseech their unaware victims for aid. They aren't quite sure how they're going to go about that yet, but they're nothing if not optimistic.

Both Gandil and Kavos are on edge, unsure of how their presence will be greeted after the village has been so long without visitors. They realize that their arrival is nothing short of suspicious, but they're left without a choice in the matter. They whisper amongst themselves to keep their stories straight when suddenly-

"Lords and ladies!" a booming voice calls out behind them and they each feel a grip like iron crush their shoulders. "We haven't had visitors in damned near a year! Damned good to see new faces son, damned good!"

They spin out of the grip and turn around to find themselves face to face with a towering half-orc in dressed leather armor and sporting a two-handed sword nearly as large as himself strapped to his back. A shiny bronze badge of office is pinned to his chest and they realize with a start that he's the town's sheriff.

Kavos and Gandil exchange glances and Gandil quickly asks if there's a place in town they could stay, pantomiming being very sleepy. The big orc nods and mentions that they have an inn for visiting merchants and such, he apologizes that it isn't very fancy but at least it beats sleeping under the stars.

The overfriendly half-orc decides to show them the way and asks how they managed to make it past the bandits without an entourage, he points out that he's lost good men to those bastards.

Kavos smiles and explains that they must have gotten lucky, they didn't see anyone the whole trip. The orc agrees that they must be damned lucky and points out the rustic inn that serves the town's visitors. Gandil excuses himself and runs inside, but Kavos takes this opportunity to gauge the town a bit.

Kavos makes his introductions and the big orc shakes his hand, introducing himself as Sheriff Longarm. Kavos asks if there's anything he can do to help and Longarm laughs, saying that there's plenty of trouble to go around if they're looking for work.

Kavos says that they're always looking for work and then casually steers the conversation to the town's feelings towards the Duke. He discovers that most people in town don't feel strongly about him one way or the other, they resent his lack of involvement in their problems; but have never had enough contact with him to really hate him. Longarm does warn then not to broach the subject with Father Adrian, their local priest of Pelor, because he has a deep and abiding hatred for the Duke and will rant for hours if given the opportunity.

Kavos listens intently and probes a bit deeper, trying to find the people in charge. The town's leadership is apparently made up of Sheriff Longarm, Father Adrian (their sole religious figure apparently) and a retired farmer who's known as Elder Hadran. Kavos finally decides that he's pressed the sheriff enough and excuses himself to rent a room.

The inn is modest, but clean and comfortable. Gandil's already settled into his room as Kavos approaches the innkeeper, a plump little woman with graying brown hair, who introduces herself as Mrs. Boddan. She seems desperate for the business and tells Kavos that a night's lodging is 5cp, she's shocked when he hands her a gold piece in payment. She asks if there's anything else she can do for him and he asks for a tailor's services.

She explains that while the town doesn't have a tailor anymore she does a bit of sewing here and there. She apologizes and says that while she'd love to make Kavos something, all she has is a bit of linen. She says that people used to collect spider-silk from the forest which made wonderful tunics and robes, but nobody's been willing to risk the forest in months.

Kavos's interest is peaked and he says that he'll look into getting some. Her eyes widen a bit and she warns that the woods are a death sentence nowadays. Kavos tells her that he appreciates the worry, but he'll be fine.

After settling into his own room, Kavos goes to Gandil's to bring him up to speed. Kavos tells Gandil to get to work while he visits Father Adrian in hopes of finding an ally against the Duke. Gandil grins darkly and gets out his writing implements.

Kavos heads to the temple of Pelor and finds an older man tending to it. The man's face is clearly marked with vicious scars and he wears the raiments of Pelor's priests; he walks with a gnarled black wood staff although he doesn't seem to actually need the support.

Kavos and Father Adrian exchange pleasantries for a bit before Kavos starts prying about the history of the town and the Duke's influence here. Father Adrian doesn't seem to enjoy this subject, but obliges anyway. He explains that the Order of Pelor has been integral to this town since its founding a century ago, but that he's all that remains now. He explains that when the Duke and his fellow rabble-rousers overthrew the Iron King and divvied his lands 40 years ago that his order was murdered for trying to stay out of their battle. He points out that it's impossible to know whether it was the Duke or the Iron King's men who actually committed the atrocity, but he blames the Duke for instigating it regardless.

Father Adrian also touches on the senseless feud with their sister village Eastbank up-river that has cut off river traffic and most of their commercial fishing for the past 15 years. He explains that the locals are rather mediocre farmers and that ever since Eastbank cut off their trade they've been withering.

While the two of them are talking, Gandil slips into the temple and interrupts. Apologizing to Father Adrian but insisting that he must speak to Kavos. Father Adrian understands and excuses himself, returning to his duties.

Gandil hands Kavos a letter with the Duke's seal on it and Kavos quickly reads over it. The letter implicates Sheriff Longarm in a conspiracy to displace the townspeople in order to house the Duke's soldiers.

Kavos goes over it a time or two and congratulates Gandil on a convincing forgery. Gandil's happy to see his work appreciated and pockets the letter for now. They then head out to find their patsy.

They find Sheriff Longarm sitting on the front porch of his office as the sun goes down, eating his dinner and apparently settling in to stay late. He stands up when he sees he has visitors and Kavos says that they're looking for work if Longarm still needs their assistance.

Longarm snorts and says that he needs more assistance than they'll ever know. He mentions that he's got thefts all along the northern farms that are making their current shortages absolutely unbearable; he's got several disappearances along the river and lake which are rightfully making people uneasy and even reports of grave robbers.

Kavos tsk-tsks sympathetically and offers to assist him in a night patrol if he'd like. He's thankful and says that he was planning an all-nighter anyway, he points out that his deputies would normally help him but they're strictly part-time and they're busy with their crops.

Kavos and Gandil understand completely and suggest investigating the disappearances along the river. Sheriff Longarm agrees but says that so far they've stumped him.

As they walk along the river towards the last disappearance Kavos asks about the crops and if there's any going through a particularly hard time. Longarm laughs and admits that he's not much of a farmer so he couldn't tell them. He says that he was part of a merchant's entourage a few years ago and was lured away with the promises of fast gold and easy living. He shakes his head and says "I can't believe they managed to tell me that with a straight face."

They ask where he's from and he says that he grew up near the capital of Lone Gate; he points out that THAT was easy gold and easier living. They continue making small talk as they follow the river and over the course of a few hours he points out three farms that have reported missing farmhands. He also mentions that they've been losing the occasional chicken or dog for at least as long as he's been around.

Gandil notices that each affected farm is barely a stone's throw from the river itself. Kavos takes a closer look and discovers that each of the places with missing farmhands has a gently sloping bank which makes access to the river easy.

They patrol for a bit, but neither Longarm nor our deceptive protagonists find whatever it is that they're looking for. They exchange a few glances before Kavos asks "Why don't we check out the forest?"

Playing on Longarm's helpful nature the PCs manage to convince him to help them gather some silk for Mrs. Boddan. Longarm thinks its a silly idea because the local spiders have went crazy and there's nobody to actually sell it to, but since their investigation is a bust it seems about as good a use of their night as any.

The forest is a good hour's ride out of town and it's nearly midnight by the time they saddle up Longarm's horses and find their way to the forest itself. The woods are unnerving, spider silk hangs in thick sheets among the treetops making the forest unnaturally dark and still. Since they don't want to spend the night climbing trees, they decide to head into the forest itself for some lower hanging silk.

Gandil draw his masterwork Broadsword and Longarm draws an ornately fashioned falchion, Kavos casts light onto his trusty quarterstaff.

It only takes a few minutes of searching before they find almost 6 ft of webbing being tended to by a spider the size of a dog. They decide to lure it away from its web before they attack and Longarm taps one of the thick strands with his sword to get its attention. When the spider investigates Gandil takes a solid swing at it but misses and Kavos watches the whole ordeal amused. The spider lashes out and bites Gandil, but doesn't manage to make it past his leather armor.

Longarm takes a swing at the spider as well, but the cramped conditions throw him off and it takes him a few seconds to pry his sword out of the webs. Gandil tries again and takes all of the spiders legs off the left side of its body. It hits the ground and Kavos finishes it with a swift strike to the head.

Longarm and the PCs exchange nervous glances and Kavos starts to gather web until Gandil grabs his arm and tells him to listen. A violent rustling sound is growing louder and without any further warning half a dozen spiders the size of cats leap from the treetops in an uncharacteristic display of arachnid comraderie.

Kavos casts Spiritual Weapon and a ghostly blade slices through the first spider effortlessly; Gandil takes out a spider of his own and Longerm kills one before cleaving through a second. More than a dozen more rush from every direction.

Kavos casts Obscuring Mist centered on himself and suddenly it's hard to see your hand in front of your own face. Gandil grins evilly and pushes Longarm directly into the path of the oncoming spiders, the orc falls to his knees amid the rushing swarm and eats almost a dozen AoO's trying to stand. Half of them do nothing, unable to penetrate his armor. Most of the rest only succeed in doing laughable damage to the orc but a few manage to poison him and he takes about 4 points of strength damage.

"What the hell are you doing?" Sheriff Longarm shouts in a rage.

"Oh my gods, are you alright?" Gandil answers. "I can't see anything with this fog!"

They hear Longarm cleave through several more spiders and decide they better make this fast. Kavos has his spiritual weapon strike Longarm for non-lethal damage (they're trying to avoid leaving visible stab wounds) and Gandil uses his broadsword like a baseball bat, coming down on the back of Longarm's head viciously.

Longarm might be naive, but he's not stupid and spins on his heels to deal with these traitors. He cleaves halfway through Gandil's chest and drops the spunky fighter with a single bloody blow (he critted with a power attack and dropped Gandil to -5), Kavos casts Command: Fall onto Longarm and the orc fails his will save.

While Longarm struggles to regain his feet with a swarm of spiders trying to drag him back down Kavos snatches Gandil by the feet and pulls him further into the mist to heal him. By the time a severely wounded Longarm manages to find the huddling pair he's caught in the face with the flat of Gandil's broadsword again. The mist causes Longarm to miss his return blow and Gandil decides to drop his weapon and wrestle with the big orc.

Longarm pretty much manhandles Gandil despite his new strength penalties, beating him half to death barehanded. Kavos attempts to assist his partner but two of the spiders bite through his robe easily and he quickly loses enough strength that his robes are suddenly weighing him down.

Just when it looks like justice might be served however, Gandil manages to bullrush Sheriff Longarm into the larger spider's web and makes his way back to the panicking Kavos. Gandil spends several rounds searching for his dropped weapon before Kavos decides he's had enough of this crap and releases a burst of negative energy that drops several of the smaller spiders and nearly drops Gandil. Before Gandil even has time to ask what the hell that was Kavos unleashes a second burst.

Once again, Kavos manages to find and stabilise his partner before he passes on and they wait out the effects of Obscuring Mist nervously. When everything clears and they can see once more they find Longarm corpse sprawled on the ground and halfway wrapped in spidersilk, several of the smaller spiders laying nearby.

Gandil stuffs his forged letter into Longarm's breast pocket, gathers up all the silk he can without disturbing Longarm's crime scene and throws Kavos over his shoulder, returning to where they tied their horses.

Kavos convinces Gandil that it could be dangerous to return to the village in their current condition and they make camp so that Kavos can regain his spells. Because they're so close to the forest Gandil decides to keep watch in case more spiders appear, so he builds a massive fire to keep animals away and takes a seat near the sleeping Kavos.

Most of his watch is uneventful, but while no spider appears their camp site does draw the attention of several wolves who watch intently from the forest. Gandil makes some noise and swings a torch over his head, but the wolves simply sit and watch him. Every few minutes another wolf joins the growing pack until after about 3 hours there are almost twenty of them.

Gandil still hasn't woken up Kavos, but he's decidedly uneasy about where this is going; but just as unexpectedly as the wolves gathered their ears perk up and they disperse.

The rest of the night passes without incident and the next morning Kavos heals them both up and uses Mend to repair Gandil's armor where Longarm struck him. They make their way back to the town and immediately go to Father Adrian, both of them play the part of traumatized victims of the spider horde and claim that they were separated from Longarm last night and only now found their way clear of the forest.

They're very convincing and Father Adrian heals Kavos of his poison before flagging down a young woman in the street, he asks that she tell Looman that something's happened to the sheriff and to gather the deputies; in the meantime he's going searching himself. Kavos and Gandil offer to show him where they last saw Longarm (being such good samaritans and all) and he accepts their offer graciously.

By the time they arrive at the forest they're prepared to give the performance of a lifetime, but what they find causes them to gasp in surprise: Not only is there no sign of the sheriff, but there's no sign of spiders or their webs around the entrance at all.

Gandil whispers to Kavos that wolves must have gotten the body and after only a cusory glance finds some tracks that confirm his suspicions. Gandil tells the priest about their run-in with wolves last night and that this entire area was filled with spiders yesterday, hesuggests that it might be dangerous out here if the wolves are THIS active. Father Adrian agrees and says that he'll gather the deputies and any woodsmen he can lay hands on before advancing any further; he urges the PCs to come back with him, but they want to investigate this further and say that they'll be fine.

After Father Adrian leaves to get a search party the PCs start freaking out in ernest since not only does this ruin their plans, it makes them look suspicious. Gandil follows the wolf tracks as best he can, but soon notices that there's a second track; a heavy hoof print that seems to be guiding the wolves.

This only confuses them further, but they notice that there's no blood or drag marks on the ground so it stands to reason that whoever's taken him has him on the horse. They continue following the trail and as they do so they notice several wolves watching them curiously from the sidelines, Kavos casts Cause Fear on one and although the effect fails all of the wolves melt into the forest to avoid further attacks.

They pick up the pace and finally burst off of the trail and into a large clearing with a radius of about 50ft. There are two dozen wolves sitting patiently in well-ordered lines, apparently waiting for the PCs to arrive. They glance nervously at each other and make noise and aggressive gestures, but the wolves don't seem to be impressed; if anything they seem...amused.

A cracking sound can be heard beyond the clearing indicating that something massive is approaching. Gandil and Kavos quickly consider fleeing, but doubt that they'll get far. Finally the brush parts and a massive equine figure appears. Pure white save for the numerous scars and boils that pockmark its skin and standing well over a head taller than any horse has a right to, it's a unicorn and it's single twisted horn stretches neary 2ft from its skull menacingly.

"You have received our invitation." the creature says in a deep, hollow voice as it strides forward. Its neck is thicker than any two of the wolves torsos and its heavy hooves trample obstructions in its path effortlessly.

Kavos backs up several steps and Gandil squeaks "Yes...yes we did. That's why we're here all right."

For a moment it simply glares at them as if reconsidering its position.

"We watched you kill the orc and we thought...these could be useful." the unicorn says with a vacant tone.

"Y...y..your spiders killed the sheriff?" Gandil asks nervously.

The creature roars and digs at the ground with one massive hoof. "Not ours! Not our spiders! They him. The usurper. The abomination. The spider shepherd." it growls in disgust.

"He killed us..." the unicorn says, shaking with rage. "He killed us, until we're all that's left."

Seeing the unicorn's emotional display Kavos smirks to himself and realizes that he might be able to take control of this situation. "How can we help?"

Gandil also sees an opportunity and puts a hand in front of Kavos to slide in before him. "What do we get for helping you? We have very powerful enemies coming after us and we need safe haven."

The unicorn glares at them further. "The manflesh wants the orc and we want their disgusting shepherd dead."

Gandil nods "Alright, alright. We give you this thing's head and you give us back the orc's body?"

"Squash the spiders! Squash the ettercap! Do this and we will give you the body. We will let you continue with your lies. But make them scream? Make them scream...and we will stand by your side!" the unicorn says.

"Alright, we'll get right on that. Just one question...what are ettercaps again?" Gandil asks.

The unicorn snorts in disgust. "They walk like men, but they're just bugs. They love their spiders just as we once loved our brothers. Where an ettercap lives, nothing else may."

"Where can we find it?" Kavos asks.

"It lives in our holiest grove. He defiles it with his evey wretched breath. Our grove can be found to the east, just follow the webs." the unicorn replies.

"But why us?" Gandil asks. "You seem pretty capable."

"We have something that you need and we have lost enough beasts to the spiders. We will lose no more...not when we have manflesh to die for us." the unicorn states plainly.

"I thought that unicorns were the good guys." Gandil says, a note of genuine shock in his voice.

"The good die young," the unicorn says with a snort and a shake of its massive head, "We're what's left." and with that, it turns and pushes its way back into the brush along with its wolf entourage.

Kavos nudges Gandil "We need to go back to town and resupply, that half-orc gave us a hard enough time on his own."

Gandil snorts "I say we ditch the crazy animals and don't come back. I don't think that unicorn plans on letting us leave alive regardless of what we do."

Kavos shakes his head. "We need allies and we need Longarm's body, we've got to see this through."

Gandil sighs and nods his head in agreement "Alright, I guess so..." he starts and then perks up. "Hey, what if we get on the ettercap's good side? I'd imagine that wolves are easier to kill then bug people."

Kavos grins. "You know, that HAD crossed my mind."

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First Post
After their meeting with the unicorn, Kavos and Gandil hightail it back to town to prepare for their coming confrontation with the ettercap. They drop off their gathered silk with Mrs. Boddan and grab a quick bite to eat before they seek out Father Adrian.

Father Adrian has gathered up Sheriff Longarm's deputies in front of the temple of Pelor and the three men are squeezing into their scalemail and strapping longswords to their sides as Father Adrian explains that they have to gather a search party and scour the forest for the missing sheriff. The deputies seem lost without Longarm's guidance but Father Adrian assures them that Elder Hadran is gathering the farmers even as they speak.

Kavos tells Father Adrian that they lost the tracks and had to come back and Adrian sighs in disappointment. Gandil draws Adrian away from the fumbling deputies and asks what he knows about creatures in the forest, specifically about things large enough to take the sheriff.

Father Adrian says that the town has been plagued by creatures from the forest for years, Kobolds; Dryads; Unicorns... all manner of strange creatures have been reported over the years but ever since the druids disappeared they lost contact with the forest. Father Adrian mentions that the forest has been becoming steadily more dangerous for years and at this point he can only think of a single man that could still be said to be intimately familiar with the forest.

Gandil presses for more information about the man and discovers that his name is Jonathan Lark and he's a ranger from the tiny village of Briar's Pass nestled deep in the forest itself, he comes by every month or so to trade meat and furs for whatever he can carry home. As hard as Westbank has fallen recently, Briar's Pass has been devastated. It's whispered that they have been under siege by nature itself.

Gandil naturally wants to seek out this ranger to make their lives easier, but Kavos doesn't want to spend a day traipsing about in a spider and wolf infested wood just to find a man that'll charge them to go traipsing about a spider and wolf infested wood for them. Kavos convinces Father Adrian to send one of the deputies to Briar's Pass to ask for the ranger's aid and Horace (a short, thickly built man in his mid 30's with a flat face and several prominent missing teeth) volunteers without a second thought.

Since they already know where Sheriff Longarm is going to be, their only goal at this point is to keep the search party far away from their dealings with the unicorn until they can set the body up convincingly. To this end, Gandil spins a story about losing the sheriff's trail far further north in the forest than they ever went.

They gather up the farmer posse that Elder Hadran assembled in the street and begin to lay out their plan. Most of the farmer's aren't too keen on the idea of storming the forest and several mutter that the fool orc brought it on himself. Several others ask what they're paying Sheriff Longarm for if they've got to go save him.

Kavos attempts to appeal to the farmers' civic spirit, but they lose almost half the group to apathy and fear before Father Adrian steps in with tears in his eyes and shouts that "Curtis Longarm would gladly lay down his life for ANY one of you! You won't even spend an afternoon to make sure that he's still alive?"

The remaining citizens are shamed into staying and shout taunts at the backs of their neighbors, calling them cowards and saying that the sheriff wouldn't abandon them. When it's all said and done the deputies are left with about 10 men with more courage or pride than common sense.

The deputies divvy up the farmers into several groups and draw a rough grid in the dirt to give everyone an idea of where they'll be searching. A tall, gaunt young man with thick red stubble and sharp features, who the locals call Looman, suggests focusing their search on the southern portion of the forest; reasoning that scavengers wouldn't have dragged a corpse as far as Gandil claims they did and the fact that Gandil tracked them so far north without finding Longarm's body might mean that the sheriff is alive and wounded somewhere along the trail.

Gandil starts to argue but Kavos congratulates the young man on such an insightful theory and suggests that Gandil and himself will focus their attention there. Looman suggests arming the farmers with any blade they can get their hands on and clearing the brush to be safe, but Kavos assures him that they'll make do without any farmers. Kavos smiles and explains "We don't want to stretch the search party too thin."

The final deputy, an older; balding gentleman by the name of Devon agrees that it makes sense not to stretch their resources any further than necessary and the matter is settled. As preparations are finalized, Father Adrian calls for everyone to wait and rushes into the temple; returning shortly with a wooden box which he places on the ground and opens.

Inside are a variety of potions and Adrian hands several Cure Moderate Wounds and Delay Poison potions to each group; he hands out almost the entire supply and refuses Kavos's offer of compensation, saying that Curtis Longarm is a dear friend of the town and himself and he only wants to see the sheriff returned; alive for healing or dead for burial.

Gandil takes this opportunity while everyone's gathered here to leap onto a barrel and loudly exclaim that "You have no need to worry citizens of Westbank, until we find your sheriff you're all under MY protection!"

The crowd cheers and Gandil leaps down amid them, drawing daggers from hidden nooks and crannies within his armor and handing them out to the lightest armed. I called shenanigans at this point but checked my copy of his character sheet and yep, he'd listed half a dozen daggers hidden on his person for some reason.

The under-armed denizens of Westbank beam with gratitude and Gandil drives them out of town and on a wild goose chase, shouting words of encouragement and slogans that should appear in sports drink commercials the whole time.

It's evening by the time Kavos and Gandil make their way to the forest and Kavos casts light to keep them on track. They head east, where the webs get thicker until Gandil calls a stop and points out about 8 of the cat-sized spiders inexplicably traveling as a pack. He suggests that Kavos try to communicate with them and find out where the ettercap is.

Kavos just stares at Gandil for a moment before deciding that he just doesn't have the time to explain what's wrong with that plan, he settles on snapping his fingers and saying "Wouldn't you know it, I don't speak the language." Gandil suggests casting a spell to learn their language, but the exasperated priest just says that he can't because Asmodeous hates multi-lingual people.

Gandil's backup plan involves stabbing the spiders to death with his bastard sword but Kavos doesn't want to risk a confontation with the spiders if he can help it, so he enacts Plan C. He summons a dog and has it entangle itself in their webbing. While the spiders swarm over the helpless creature Kavos and Gandil sneak past as quickly as they can.

They discover a large, dog-sized spider and a pair of the smaller cat-sized ones spinning a new set of webs further up the trail. Kavos casts Cause Fear on the largest one and it instinctively flees, unsure of why the aging cleric terrifies it so. Gandil calls out for the other two spiders to surrender and take him to their leader.

I can't tell if he's joking, so I let him roll a Diplomacy check as a standard action, he rolls pretty well and gets a total of 21. His opponents roll to resist and as it turns out, they're still spiders so they respond by trying to eat his face.

Gandil's bastard sword flashes quickly and the first spider dies attempting to reach Kavos. The second spider attempts to bite Gandil but fails to penetrate his armor and is sliced cleanly in half.

They press further into the forest and nearly walk into the communal web of what looks like dozens of spiders, nearly everything is saturated with webbing. Gandil points out that there were other paths back where they came, but Kavos doesn't want to backtrack when it looks like they're getting so close. Gandil suggests impersonating an ettercap and demanding safe passage that way.

Kavos decides he doesn't want to trust his life to any plan that Gandil devises and instead tells Gandil that he's got a plan that will minimize their injuries and clear out the spiders in one fell swoop.

Gandil is really into this plan, despite the fact that Kavos answers his repeated questions as to how this is going to work with "Don't worry about it, I know what I have to do; just trust me." He doesn't even seem that concerned when Kavos reveals his part in it.

Essentially Kavos instructs Gandil to walk into the middle of the webs and make a lot of noise and movement. Which Gandil did. Which resulted in Gandil being swarmed and bitten by roughly 30 spiders of every shape, size and color that either of them had ever seen before. Once Kavos was satisfied that Gandil was being bittne by ALL the spiders he channels negative energy over the area; wiping out the smaller ones instantly and severely wounding everything else; Gandil included.

Gandil tries to dive out of the kill-zone, only to discover that he's become entangled in the webbing so instead his flails helplessly at his bonds while several nightmares worth of spiders continue pumping poison directly into his system. Naturally Kavos launches another area attack. killing more spiders and causing Gandil to loudly question why they're friends.

Kavos shouts that Gandil should drink some of the potions that Adrian gave them and discovers that Gandil has actually already given them away to farmers as a sign of goodwill/bravado. Kavos asks Gandil why in the nine hells he'd do something like that and Gandil shouts back (no longer enjoying this plan) that he didn't think Kavos was going to use him as bait.

Kavos naturally hits him with a third and final burst of negative energy, dropping the remaining spiders and throwing Gandil into the negatives. After making sure none of the spiders are still moving, Kavos uses up almost all of his healing spells putting Gandil back together. Gandil is horrified to discover that Kavos didn't prepare anything to heal his poison and that he's barely stronger than the frail cleric in his current state.

Kavos is now violently opposed to the idea of backtracking, reasoning that things will only get worse with the addition of time and they press onwards despite their sorry state.

They run face first into several more groups of spiders before finally pushing through the webs and into a large clearing. They see an ogre sized creature that appears part man and part spider sitting on the ground cross legged and playing with the cat sized spiders like pets. Four of the dog sized spiders nuzzle close to it contentedly while two spiders nearly the size of horses perch in the trees menacingly, standing guard over their disturbing master.

The ettercap stops playing with its pets as the pair enter and as it turns around to face them each of its spiders bristle protectively.

Kavos holds up his hands and shouts "I come in peace, we only wish to speak with you."

The creature chitters angrily, "What you want?"

"We share a mutual enemy," Gandil says theatrically "The dastardly unicorn has something of ours and is blackmailing us into killing you and your spiders!"

The ettercap hisses and springs to its feet, its spiders likewise becoming agitated.

Kavos waves his outstretched hands and makes calming noises. "No, no, no. We aren't, don't worry. I respect your kind and would prefer if we worked together rather than fight aimlessly."

The ettercap's brow furrows and it chitters "Stupid nosy horse. Always bother me...always want me gone."

"The unicorn isn't all you have to worry about," Kavos says as he steps forwards, "There are people coming, men who want to destroy your home."

The ettercap makes a sound disturbingly close to smacking its lips and says "Me like men, let men come."

"No," Kavos says firmly "There are too many coming for you alone to handle."

"Me not alone!" the ettercap says, legitimately confused as it strokes its pets again.

"Yes and with your cunning, my friend's might and my magic; we can protect your home, keep your spiders fed and destroy all of our enemies." Kavos say soothingly.

"What you want me do?" the ettercap asks suspiciously.

Kavos smiles "Only what you've been doing: Protect your home. Together, let's kill the unicorn!"

The ettercap seems shocked and a little terrified at this suggestion "Nonononono, horse too big, too mean! He squish! He squish!" The spiders seem further agitated by their master's fear.

"We know where he is!" Kavos shouts to be heard over the raving monster, "We can ambush him, take him off guard and you won't have to worry about him ever again. In fact, me and my friend will handle him; you just take care of the wolves."

The ettercap makes that same smacking sound again. "Horse meat is good meat. Wolf meat is good meat too..."

"And you can have all of it, just help us kill that unicorn." Gandil adds.

The ettercap nods, "Spider need time. We make big web, horse not squish in web."

Gandil raises an eyebrow "I don' mean you want to trap him?"

The ettercap nods.

"Good idea..." Kavos says with a nod.

The ettercap points to the trees above. "We make big web. Stupid horse don't see spider, spider catches horse."

Kavos grins. "My name is Horace and this is my friend Longarm, what is your name friend?"

The ettercap tilts its head and says "Bassa."

"So we have a deal then, Bassa?" Kavos asks.

The ettercap nods. "You bring horse here?"

The pair nod devilishly. This situation might just resolve itself.

They agree to give the spiders a night to build their trap and decide to head back to town to rest. On the way out however, Kavos notices a long black wand in a refuse pile and asks Bassa if he can have it. Bassa doesn't care so he leaves the grove with a shiny new wand of Magic Missile.

When they arrive back at Westbank they're surprised to find that Looman and his men have already limped back home, having been attacked by both spiders and wolves during their search. Luckily, everyone still seems to be in one piece.

Kavos generously uses the remainder of his healing on Looman and the party and is thanked profusely by them. He claims that it's his duty as a follower of....Pelor? Yeah, Pelor sounds right. He and Gandil then retire to their rooms for the night, assuring the townspeople that they intend to continue the search at first light.

They wake up early and run through their morning routines quickly so that they can make good on their promise and get their business concluded before the townspeople get nosy. They ride out at a full gallop and discover that the spiders of the forest let them pass unmolested.

They check out the ettercap's grove before they do anything else and find it mostly deserted, looking around they discover a thick web up above, brimming with spiders. They grin, realizing that the trap is set.

They then backtrack to the unicorn's grove which is also empty, although they get the strong feeling of being watched. For close to an hour all is deathly silent before the unicorn appears, flanked by three wolves.

"We do not see the ettercap," the unicorn growls. "Where is its head?"

Kavos straightens, "I will not desecrate my hands with that filth. We've gotten rid of the majority of the spiders, your clearing is safe to return to. Where is our sheriff's body?"

The unicorn smirks. "We will not desecrate ourselves with the orc-flesh," it mimics, before getting deadly serious. "Your orc for its head. That was the deal man-flesh. THAT was the deal."

Kavos bristles slightly, "The ettercap is dead, do we really have to drag his body here? Can't I just show it to you?"

"Once we gloat over the ettercap's corpse, you may have your orc." the unicorn says flatly. "Go fetch it."

"I will not be treated as a beast of burden!" Kavos shouts.

"Then what manner of beast should we treat you as man-flesh?" the unicorn asks, narrowing its eyes.

"None." Kavos growls, tightening his grip on his staff.

Gandil sees that this is escalating quickly and suggests the unicorn sending wolves to fetch Longarm's corpse while they show the unicorn the dead ettercap. The unicorn stares at him for a moment and then nods, saying that he will have his wolves drag the orc's body to the edge of the forest, once he sees the ettercap he will tell them which edge.

Kavos and Gandil look at each other and then Kavos says "You're a creature of good. You know what I've done... How do I know I will not end up with the same fate as the ettercap? Your behavior is too suspicious for my liking."

The unicorn's eyes twinkle at the mention of it being a creature of good. "As you say, We are a creature of good...what reason should one such as you even have to doubt our word?"

"I've heard that unicorn's are good judges of character," Gandil says, trying to get on the thing's good side. "Even if you don't trust Kavos, you can see that my heart is"

"There is blood on both of your hands man-flesh." the unicorn says, "but there is so much blood in this tends to get on everything."

"Come with us unicorn," Kavos says. "Come with us and see the ettercap's corpse with your own eyes. You are a powerful creature, surely you aren't afraid of an old man."

"Lead on." says the brutish unicorn. "But be warned, we are the last for a reason. Attempt to deal with us as you did the orc and we will feed your remains to the forest."

As they walk, Gandil probes the unicorn as to why it and the ettercap can't live in peace. The unicorn seems irritated by his questions, but it seems irritated with everything.

The unicorn explains that the ettercap and its spiders consume everything they find and that no ecosystem can support their behavior for long.

"How old are you, unicorn?" Gandil asks, genuinely curious.

The unicorn shudders. "Too old," it says remorsefully. "Too old to sire...too old to bring us back."

They reach the grove and the unicorn glances around suspiciously. "Where is the aberration?" it growls menacingly.

"Further down this way." Kavos says, striding into the grove and heading to the trees on the far side.

The unicorn and its wolven entourage continue a little further before they hear "Stupid horse! Stupid horse!" as the ettercap chitters joyously from the trees. A thick web drops and encases the unicorn and all three wolves. The unicorn roars in rage.

"You brought this on yourself unicorn!" Gandil says smugly, drawing his sword. "We knew you planned to betray us all along! The ettercap told us everything!"

Kavos is about as confused by Gandil's ranting as the unicorn is, but he too readies his staff.

The ettercap dances around laughing joyously. "Horse meat! Wolf meat!" it chitters before turning around, drooling expectantly as it faces the party, "Man meat!"

"Wait, what?" Kavos sputters before both he and Kavos are entangled in a web of their own.

"Why Bassa?" Gandil shouts mournfully, "I believed in you! What about all those stories of the unicorn's treachery, was it all a lie?" the semi-delusional warrior wails, turning back to the unicorn. "We're sorry unicorn, he tricked us! We never should have doubted your gentle good graces!"

Gandil rolls a bluff check with a meager +2 bonus to see how convincing he is and rolls a natural 20. The unicorn rolls his sense motive with a respectable +14 and....rolls a 1. They pull the wool over his eyes by the skin of their teeth and I inform the PCs that rather than devious, he only thinks they're idiots. Gandil declares this a thorough success.

Swarms of cat-sized spiders, almost a dozen dog-sized spiders and a pair of the horse sized spiders leap from the trees and mob their victims. One of the large spiders bites Gandil, wounding him noticeably and pumping its strength draining venom into his veins. Another of the large spiders leaps onto the unicorn and does the same, the smaller spiders attack everyone equally and everyone takes a few minor cuts and scrapes; Kavos is noticeably weakened by the assault and Gandil feels his strength waning as well.

"Unicorn!" Gandil shouts. "The only way that we have a chance is if we all work together! I believe in you unicorn!"

The unicorn kicks out once and the massive, intimidating spider that was Bassa's ace in the hole takes almost twice its hp in damage and explodes in a shower of gore. Kavos and Gandil suddenly realized that they nearly backed the wrong horse.

"Bassa, you fool!" Kavos shouts, unleashing a burst of negative energy that drops all of the cat-sized spiders in the area at once. The rest are in various stages of injury.

Gandil tries to charge the backstabbing ettercap in a fury, but can't break free of his webs. If anything he feels like he's stuck even worse.

The ettercap is suddenly terrified, having lost so many spiders so fast. It eyes the massive unicorn on one side and the PCs on the other and decides that this is too rich a meal for its blood. It begins frantically clambering up the web. The last horse-sized spider sinks its fangs into Gandil and he feels his strength wane drastically.

The unicorn bucks once and the strands of webs attached to it burst effortlessly, it charges towards Bassa but finds that the ettercap is beyond its reach. One of the wolves frees itself as well and launches into one of the smaller spiders viciously.

Kavos uses Command: Fall on the ettercap, but the creature resists the attempt now more terrified than ever. The ettercap disappears into the foliage above, the unicorn roaring in rage. Kavos shouts "Bassa, you lying wretched creature!"

The unicorn glares at the PCs battling with the swarm of spiders for their very lives. "We should leave you for the spiders you love so much." it growls, making no effort to assist them. The freed wolf approaches Kavos with a low growl as if angered by his (supposedly accidental) betrayal.

Kavos quickly scans the tree tops, sensing their impending doom if he doesn't do something fast. Seeing the barest rustle among the leaves he casts Hold Person and hopes for the best. (Pretty sure ettercaps aren't affected by Hold Person, but I wanted to see what buying another round or two would do for them so I let it slide. Maybe he had a little elf in the wood pile way back when.)

Gandil gives a mighty roar and flexes his bulging muscles...however the webs are unimpressed and he trips, entangling himself further.

Half a dozen cat-sized spiders flood out of the bushes and onto the web, the large spider hisses angrily. The unicorn smirks and raises a hoof as if to help. "What will you give us man-flesh? What will you offer in exchange for mercy?"

"The ettercap!" Kavos shouts, pointing into the trees. "Please!" the elderly cleric begs.

The large spider bites into Kavos painfully, driving him to his knees.

"I have him held unicorn! Save us and vengeance will be yours!" Kavos entreats. Several more of the smaller spiders bite Kavos, wounding him further and poisoning him so badly he can barely hold his head up. The unicorn continues glaring, weighing their lives vs his blood lust.

Kavos casts spiritual weapon and sends it above him to strike at the ettercap while it's held immobile. A spider takes an attack of opportunity and Kavos is left with a single point of strength. Gandil lashes out with his sword and slays one of the spiders menacing Kavos.

The unicorn touches Kavos with his horn and the elderly priest feels the poison cleansed from his system. The damage is already done, but it doesn't progress. "Kill the ettercap man-flesh and you may leave this grove alive."

"With the orc?" Kavos asks desperately.

"A a deal." the unicorn concedes.

Kavos casts Summon Monster, chanting to his dark master while Gandil takes out some of the spiders menacing him.

The unicorn is too busy watching the ordeal in the trees, its breath held in anticipation. Gandil shouts "Free me from these webs unicorn and I can aid in capturing the ettercap. I have a wondrous item which allows you to strike a target from a range greater than any mere blade would allow. It's called a shortbow. Surely you've heard of such a device unicorn!"

Kavos finishes summoning a flock of eagles directly next to the treachorous Bassa, he goes all out casting Magic Missile from his wand, screaming for his eagles to kill and directing his spiritual weapon to strike the ettercap as well. Bassa takes a considerable amount of damage, but he's still breathing and Kavos has only a single round more to do his thing.

The unicorn rushes beneath the trees, ignoring Gandil's pleas for assistance and stares up at the dangling ettercap like a kid waiting up on Christmas eve to murder Santa Claus.

"Dammit unicorn!" Gandil shouts pushing against the webs with everything he has and finally bursting them with a tremendous display of strength. Gandil runs up behind the unicorn, staring at the dangling ettercap as well.

Kavos realizes that he isn't going to kill the ettercap this way and directs a final nova attack (eagles, magic missile and spiritual weapon) to attack the trees supporting Bassa. He just barely deals enough damage for the limb to snap and the ettercap to be dropped onto the forest floor below.

Bassa strikes the ground hard and groans, attempting to stand up. The unicorn comes down with its considerable mass and squashes the squealing creature like a bug, its milky blood flowing freely from its wounds. The unicorn comes down a second time and it ceases squealing.

Gandil stares at the creature's corpse and kicks it once himself for good measure, the unicorn rolls around in the gore, rutting like a beast and generally turning the corpse into a fine paste. Gandil lands kicks of his own where he can as a sign of friendship.

Kavos collapses unconscious, finally realizing the extent of his wounds.

"Despite your treachery, our will is done. The ettercap will poison our forest no more." the unicorn states, once it's had its fill of carnage. "Our wolves will bring the orc to the grove."

A pack of wolves rushes into the clearing, chasing off what's left of the now docile spiders and dragging Longarm's corpse. One of the wolves is dragging the orc's massive falchion as well.

"The orc's blade was enchanted, we can smell the magic in the steel." the unicorn says. "The trophy of your kill will be your reward for bringing the murder of our brothers to justice."

Gandil smiles, "Thanks. You know unicorn, we make a pretty good team. You should aid us in the battle against the Wandering Duke, you must see that they are going to trample through this forest."

"We will think on it." the unicorn says genuinely. "The forest is not as mighty as it once was and us....we are too old to care. But a favor for a favor? Yes. Yes, that we can do. When we have need again, we will send for you. In return, we will answer your call when you need us most."

Gandil gathers up Kavos as the unicorn and its entourage disappears into the forest and the cleric tells him that he must wrap Longarm in the webbing before they go, Gandil grins and does as he's bid.

Kavos asks Gandil to carry him, however Gandil assures him that he'll be back once he gets their horses. Kavos points out that they're a good ways away and he's all but defenseless at the moment, but Gandil still doesn't want to actually carry him; citing it being bad for his back. Gandil suggests that Kavos should summon a horse or something and ride that sucker out of here.

The argument goes on for longer that it really should, but eventually Kavos convinces Gandil to piggy back him to the edge of the forest before he's crushed under the weight of his own skeletal system. He simply suggests that it'll look really badass.

They arrive in town and Gandil sweeps Kavos off his horse so that he can march into the town square dramatically. The townspeople are aghast at the shape that they're in and the deputies have already gathered there along with the requested ranger. Deputy Looman shouts that he told them they needed to stick together, but he's silenced by the rest.

Kavos tells a harrowing story of stumbling upon their lair and doing battle with the mighty ettercap, he plays up Gandil's bravery and claims that after Gandil singlehandedly slew a score of monstrous spiders he struck the ettercap down with a single blow of his sword. Kavos sighs and says that because of his own weakness Gandil was unable to search the clearing after the battle and so they returned to Westbank.

The entire search party, all of the assembled farmers, the three deputies and the ranger set out at once to search that clearing. Father Adrian leads the two of them into his temple where he tends to Kavos's wounds offering prayers to the sun god and thanks to the hapless heroes.

Kavos asks where Elder Hadran is and Adrian explains that the elder is calming the fears of the people. With the sheriff missing their imaginations are running wild. Kavos suggests that Adrian have Elder Hadran call a town meeting so that they can put some of their fears to rest. Father Adrian agrees that it's a good idea and within a few hours almost every citizen of Westbank is assembled in front of the temple of Pelor.

Once Elder Hadran (a man who looks to be in his 70's with a full grey beard and bright blue eyes) calms down the crowd, Kavos dramatically drags himself before them. Gandil makes a show of offering a strong, supporting arm. They repeat their false tale of bravery and heroism for the assembled crowd.

Gandil shouts that the people of Westbank no longer have any cause to fear, because they've slain the beast responsible for their troubles in the forest and if any other beast should rear its head, he'll slay that one too!

Every gasps and murmurs among themselves as the story progresses and all in all there's considerable uproar. As the excitement grows the crowd gets louder until the ranger and deputies return, bearing a body wrapped in a simple cloak. The crowd goes deathly silent.

The ranger is a tall, dark haired man in a green, muddy cloak with a large bow slung over his shoulder. He holds up a hand for silence as the visibly grieving deputies lower their former boss to the ground.

"We found Longarm," the man referred to as Jonathan Lark calls out, motioning to the body. "It looks like he found his way into a nest of spiders." the ranger says bluntly. Several people break down into tears, everybody seems shocked.

"Where are his next of kin?" Gandil demands. "They have to be informed!"

"He's not a local..." Father Adrian says with a pained sigh. "His family is more than 80 miles away."

Kavos winces theatrically and says that he and Gandil would gladly journey to tell them. Gandil demands that Elder Hadran take the body somewhere private because it's upsetting the villagers.

Father Adrian obliges and removes the body himself, showing surprising strength for a man of his age and stature. Elder Hadran dismisses the meeting, urging everyone to go home. They murmur fearfully as they go.

Elder Hadran sighs and asks that the PCs join him in his home.

They oblige and after shaking Jonathan's hand and thanking him for his service they meet the Elder in his home. Hadran invites them in and bars the door as they enter. He invites them into his sitting room and motions to a pair of comfortable chairs, taking his place in his own well worn seat. The PCs do as they're bid.

"Don't think me cold gentlemen..." Elder Hadran says with a pained sigh., "But we have a problem in this town and I hope that you might be the solution."

Kavos raises his brow curiously. "How can we assist?"

"The people are terrified, our protector has been slain by beasts and our troubles seem to multiply by the day. We need a sheriff to maintain order and set people's minds to rest..." Elder Hadran says, trailing off hopefully.

"Who do you have in mind?" Gandil asks innocently.

"W-would one of you be interested in the job?" Elder Hadran asks, "We don't have much to offer you, except accommodations and a modest wage. Once trade starts back up though, we'll have more to offer."

Kavos and Gandil glance at each other.

"Five gold per week, plus a house, food and whatever you can find in the sheriff's office." Elder Hadran offers desperately.

"What you really need..." suggests Gandil "Is strong leadership in this town. Wouldn't you agree? A sheriff can only do so much after all."

Both Kavos and Elder Hadran look at him questioningly.

"Your people don't seem to have anything in the way of organized leadership, if you want things to change then you're going to have to take charge of this situation. You need a mayor, and I nominate Kavos." Gandil says.

"No, please..." Kavos responds, shaking his head and waving his hands. "You're getting ahead of yourself Gandil. I'm sure that Elder Hadran would make a fine mayor."

Elder Hadran seems to consider the idea. "Truth be known, we've never had a real mayor before. Folks mostly do what they will and I just do what I can to make sure nobody goes too hungry..."

Gandil smiles and leans forward in his chair, "Don't you think that this town needs strong direction? Why don't we ask everyone else? Why don't we hold an election? A mayor could really coordinate our defenses, I know that you've had more than your share of loss this year."

Elder Hadran nods, "A mayor may do this village some good... If you're serious about taking on that sort of responsibility then I'll spread the word. Although we only really have a few dozen homesteads and about 30 people about town. Not many citizens to draw on."

Kavos and Gandil look at each other with smiles plastered on their faces.

"Spread the word." Kavos says, "If you'll have me, I'll lead this town to greatness."

Elder Hadran looks pleased and holds out his hand to Gandil, Longarm's bronze star shining from his palm. "How about you young man? Will you be our new sheriff?"

Gandil stares at the star and feels a rush of genuine emotion knowing that these people were depending on him to save them. He takes the star wordlessly and pins it to the front of his armor, a single manly tear falling down his cheek. "I'll do it." he finally says. "I'll make Longarm proud."


First Post
It's been two days since the death of the ettercap and recovery of Longarm's body and the entire town is alive with gossip over their new sheriff. Gandil reminds them that gossip is ugly business and should be avoided, but that just means they're just more careful about doing it in front of him.

Both Gandil and Kavos have been given townhouses in exchange for their service. Gandil's house is, fittingly enough, Longarm's old home and while it's comfortable enough; Longarm didn't have much in the way of possessions so it's rather spartan. Longarm's enchanted Falchion hangs over the fireplace rather than across Gandil's back, openly he says it's to honor the fallen sheriff; but it seems more like a trophy.

Kavos's home once belonged to the town's largest merchant, but the man disappeared nearly a year ago on an emergency supply run and hasn't been heard from since. Kavos asks around about the man and realizes he recognizes the description as being one of their victims. The merchant's home is more comfortably furnished.

Gandil has decided to keep Longarm's deputies on as part-time help and they're amiable enough to the idea of working under a new boss, especially since none of them want the job; having seen what happened to Longarm. Complaints have been flooding in ever since Gandil was officially sworn in, almost two dozen in the last day alone, everybody wanting to make sure that Longarm's investigations didn't die with him. Disappearances along the riverbanks, massive thefts near the forest (everything from tools and food to barn doors) and of course everyone wants something done about the bandits scaring trade off.

Kavos has spent the last two days ingratiating himself to the farmers; using Purify Food to help extend the life span of their past harvest and Create Water to make sure their current crops grow strong. He keeps up a mask of humility and quickly finds himself a popular man about town.

Gandil keeps doing the math and wondering why he's not seen any sign of the Duke's men yet, Kavos insists that this is a good sign since it gives them time to secure their power here. In fact he suggests they visit their upriver sister village of Eastbank to help diffuse whatever feud the two villages have going. Gandil agrees, figuring that a good chunk of Westbank's troubles would disappear if they could open up a little river traffic.

Before they go, they stop in at the temple of Pelor to let Father Adrian know where they're going. They find the aging priest downstairs with his head in his hands, the naked form of Sheriff Longarm lies peacefully in front of him; a familiar piece of paper upon its chest. Gandil approaches Father Adrian and asks what's wrong.

"It would appear," Father Adrian says with a deep sigh, "That Curtis received some...unsettling news before his death."

Gandil feigns surprise. "Oh no Father Adrian, what was the news?"

"The duke's men are intenting to turn our village into one of their outposts...and Longarm was being paid to set it up." Father Adrian says, a look of absolute despair on his face. His eyes harden and he shakes his head. "No, no they won't. I'll see to that."

Gandil asks to see the letter and Adrian hands it to him. Gandil fakes reading it and asks Adrian what he has in mind. Father Adrian replies that he's never preached open treason, nor will he, but he will be dead and buried before Westbank bends its knee to that man.

Gandil quickly suggests holding a town meeting to tell Westbank about their former sheriff's betrayal. He asks Father Adrian if there are any other towns in the area that can be allied with. Father Adrian mentions Briar's Pass in the forest, though they're worse off than themselves, and Eastbank upriver, though they've had bad blood for years.

"Over what?" Kavos asks.

Father Adrian shakes his head. "Who knows? People get into fights, which lead to feuds, which lead to petty spite. They closed off the river traffic with ridiculous tariffs and have been lording it over us ever since."

Gandil proclaims that they will unite the towns and drive off the Duke no matter what the cost. He suggests holding the elections at the town meeting tonight.

Kavos is less than eager, saying that he'd already promised to check the riverbank patrols tonight and wants to get to the bottom of whatever's happening along the water. Gandil draws him to the side and asks what's wrong with him, that the sheriff's betrayal and impending doom and such is JUST the boost Kavos needs to take the election.

Kavos reminds him that they have obligations that have to go before politicking for votes, finding out what's eating their constituents is a good place to start. Gandil barely manages to keep his voice down to a reasonable level as he points out that he's consistently put his neck out to put Kavos in a position to run this town and that if they lose the election that they themselves suggested that they're not getting another chance.

Kavos grudgingly agrees to go to the town hall.

It's just before sunset when the last of the important residents of Westbank file into the modest town hall for the meeting. The PCs allow Father Adrian to break the news of Longarm's treachery. Nobody knows what to think.

Gandil leaps up onto a chair and delivers a short, rousing speech about how him and his partner are here to change things and protect this town from all comers. That Pelor himself guided them to their new home and that they won't allow any harm to come to it. He ends by striking his most patriotic pose and shouting "Remember, a vote for Kavos is a vote for freedom and the Westbank way!"

Father Adrian agrees and voices his support for Kavos, most of the farmers seem to agree as well. Several however are very vocal in their disagreement, they say that if the military showed up then their problems would sort themselves out.

Gandil singles out the ringleader "And what makes you think they want you[/]?" he shouts. "Elves will work for less than half of what you do and be happy for the experience. Do you want to compete with elves for your jobs in your town?"

This rant is completely out of the blue, both for me and the farmer so we're collectively shut up. I do however make a note that should they ever go to elven lands I'm having the elves speak spanish.

Gandil continues with this line of paranoid thinking and several more of the townspeople think that maybe military involvement isn't such a bad thing. Gandil makes a big speech about how the town is meant to be so much more than a simple outpost, that the people here are supposed to live their lives with complete freedom away from the Duke's influence. He then calls everyone calling for military involvement a bunch of wusses who don't deserve their land.

A few more people think that maybe the Duke wouldn't be so bad. A fat, older man stands up and introduces himself as Yard; he's one of the more vocal farmers in favor of military involvement and says that he's tossing his hat in the ring for mayor; he tells the people that he hopes reason will prevail here.

Kavos walks over to Gandil and puts a hand on his shoulder. "Gandil," the elderly cleric says softly. "Shut up."

Gandil turns a little red in the face but sits down and tries not to look so angry.

Kavos says that he's worked for the Duke before and that he's seen what the Duke's men do when they move into a town. He stresses that they don't allow you to live your lives as you see fit, you become their property; doing what they want, when they want and any dissension is punished severely. He stresses that once the Duke's men are here, they're here for good.

Father Adrian sides with Kavos and a shouting match breaks out between the two factions, Elder Hadran moves to calm everyone down; suggesting that the meeting convene until the following night. The crowd gets even more raucous and Kavos finally shuts everyone up by casting Silence onto the whole crowd, just barely missing himself.

Everything goes deathly silent and Kavos says in a loud, firm voice "We don't need this bickering! We need a solution." Everyone glances at each other, no longer trying to shout and Kavos dismisses the spell, urging everyone to use their heads and not give into panic.

Elder Hadran calls for the vote and it's a 70/30 split in favor of Kavos and freedom. The losing party storms out, shouting curses and insults at the opposition.

Kavos calls for order and says that his first act as Mayor will be to re-open trade with the outside world no matter what the cost. Gandil takes a horse and sets out for Briar's Pass since it's the closest settlement. Meanwhile, Kavos invites the remaining farmers to lodge complaints to him directly; the dominant worries are about the thefts on the northern farms which stress their already thin resources and the disappearances along the river; Kavos assures them that he will personally see to the capture and destruction of whatever's responsible for the disappearances.

Gandil arrives in Briar's Pass around midnight. It's a small, mostly abandoned settlement nestled deep within the forest. A thin coating of web still covers many of the buildings and at this hour th eonly man walking about is the ranger, Jonathan Lark, who found Longarm's body several days ago.

Gandil hails the ranger and the man approaches with a friendly nod, a simple wooden pipe hanging from his lips. "Don't get many visitors out this way." he says bluntly. "You boys need something else?"

"Westbank is in trouble." Gandil says matter of factly.

Lark takes a drag off his pipe "Well that sounds like Westbank's problem sheriff, I'm sure you folks can handle it."

Gandil shakes his head. "We need Briar's Pass to stand with us. The Duke is coming to take over this entire area!" he says excitedly, showing the forged letter he took from Father Adrian.

The ranger glances at it and motions for Gandil to follow him over to what appears to be the local inn. He takes a seat on the front porch and puffs his pipe while he reads over the letter. "Well that's an entirely other kettle of fish." he says, chewing on his pipe absently.

"Help me get the support of this town so we can keep them free from the Duke's treachery!" Gandil insists. Quickly adding "But let's not involve the rebels, I hear they've been killing people we probably shouldn't trust them."

Lark nods and says "Sure, I'll bring it up. But this ain't much of a town anymore, only a little over two dozen of us left that the spiders or starvation didn't get.

Gandil raises his eyebrow and suggests that the people of Briar's Pass join them in Westbank. Lark nods again, saying that that's not a bad idea; though he does wonder if Westbank can fit all of his people. Gandil assures him that they'll find a way and invites the ranger to ride with him to Eastbank to spread the news.

Lark accepts and the pair ride through the night and across a bridge to the thriving waterfront community of Eastbank.

It's morning by the time they arrive and Gandil is a little shocked by the difference between Westbank and here. Here the buildings appear brand new and everything is bustling, the troubles on the road don't seem to affect this place at all since most of its business comes by river anyway.

Gandil asks Lark who he should talk to about settling their disputes and the ranger explains that Eastbank has always been ran by the merchants and as such Bryce Haverston, local leader of the mercantile guilde, is the man, or rather dwarf, to speak to. Gandil agrees, but decides to test the waters first to see how the town feels about the Duke.

He spends an hour or two chatting people up and finds that the general consensus is that the Duke's policies are pretty good for business, unlike the people of Westbank or Briar's Pass these people are actively rooting for the Duke.

A little disheartened, Gandil and the ranger seek out the merchant leader. Bryce is a busy dwarf and the guard at his office says as much, although with a sly grin the guard does suggest that for 20 gold he might be persuaded to go on his break.

Gandil grabs the man by his collar and drags his face down to the bronze star on his chest "I am Gandil, Sheriff of Westbank and I DO NOT pay for a man's ear!" he says with all the authority he can muster. The guard suddenly realizes that his scams may be exposed and steps aside with a slight grin.

"O-o-of course. I'm sure he's expecting you." the guard says meekly.

Inside they find a middle aged dwarf sitting at an ornate desk piled high with paperwork. Mr Haverston has an intricately braided grey beard which reaches his navel and thick glasses which would almost look comical if not for the perpetual scowl etched into his face. Dwarves have a well earned reputation as shrewd businessmen and underhanded negotiators.

"Your guard attempted to extort me for a moment of your time. Is this how you treat outsiders, dwarf?" Gandil asks brazenly, puffing out his chest.

"Really?" the dwarf asks simply, glancing over his glasses at his visitors. He sighs and casually opens his drawer, drawing out a small bell which makes a sing-song chime when struck. A well dressed young man rushes into the room and stands at attention, a delicate looking sword hanging at his waist.

"Have the outside guard beaten and sodomized, then take him upstream and throw him in the drink." Bryce says, returning to his paperwork. "If he returns, cut off his feet and do it again."

Gandil stands in shocked silence as the young man hurries off and the sounds of screaming can be heard beyond the door.

"Isn't that a little extreme for a little extortion?" Gandil finally chokes out

"Extortion?" Bryce asks. "Oh, no stranger, you've misjudged me. He wasn't punished because of his little scheme, however inappropriate. He was punished because I paid him for a simple job and he chose to ignore his responsibilities. That's the same as stealing directly from my coffers."

"Now," Bryce continues, looking up at the humans in his office. "What do you want? Since you're here and you've alerted me to my security's failings, I'll listen to what you have to say." the dwarf says, removing his thick glasses and rubbing his temples.

"I am the newly appointed sheriff of Westbank and I have come to alert you to some of my findings which have come up during the investigation into the death of my predecessor." Gandil starts.

"Whatever you've found, you're out of your jurisdiction. If one of my men had something to do with it, we'll deal with it internally." the dwarf says with a bored sigh.

"Nothing like that." Gandil assures him. "I have reason to believe that the Duke is coming to occupy the towns in this area. Yours being the most valuable, I'd imagine." To drive the point home, Gandil tosses the incriminating letter over to Bryce.

Bryce barely glances at it before shaking his head and tossing it aside. "A simple forgery."

Gandil's stomach tightens. "What?! You mean someone framed Westbank's former sheriff? Lark, have a looksee."

"Someone in Westbank is playing a prank, I'd imagine." the dwarf says annoyedly. "But then Westbank has always had a discipline problem." Bryce adds with a satisfied smirk.

The ranger retrieves the letter and glances over it again, but having never seen the Duke's writing before he has no way of confirming or denying Bryce's claim. Regardless, he doesn't seem so convinced that it's a forgery.

"How dare you tell me that this is a forgery?" Gandil growls. "Don't you know that NO eyes are sharper than mine! To insult this letter is to insult my very being dwarf! Your town is going to be taken from you and your business divided up among other, more agreeable merchants. Most likely elves."

The dwarf's mouth sets angrily, but it does cross his mind that he may have judged the letter too hastily. Especially considering the enormity of its contents. "Give me the letter and I'll have my man look at it." Bryce concedes, extending his hand. "He's more intimately familiar with forgeries of this kind."

Gandil thinks quickly and shreds the letter in front of him. "If you can't trust what you see with your own eyes then no amount of convincing will help. If you aren't willing to save this town, then you're going to lose it." Gandil shouts, turning to leave and glancing back dramatically to mutter "You aren't the leader I heard you were."

The dwarf rings his bell again and the same well dressed young man rushes in once more, apparently have reentered from a back entrance. Bryce looks at him and says "Put the guards on alert, if you see anyone suspicious poking around then skip the sodomy and move straight to the feet."

The young man bows. "At once sir!" and rushes off.

"I appreciate the warning." Bryce says to Gandil and the ranger, slipping his glasses back on. "Though if I find that you're lying to me then I will test the veracity of your claim concerning your eyes. Surgically."

As Gandil and the ranger exit the building they're caught by Bryce's right hand man who hands them a bag containing 100 gold coins in payment for exposing a potential security breach. Gandil in turn gives the coins to Lark and tells him to get what he can for the citizens of Briar's Pass; the ranger is impressed with Gandil's generosity and they part ways.

Meanwhile, as Gandil is using his charm to trick the locals into hating the Duke, Kavos has been working on keeping Westbank in one piece. Kavos discovers that during the last year an untold amount of livestock has disappeared along the river bank as well as several farmhands, all within a stone's throw of the river or lake.

Kavos heads to the last farm hit, owned by a man named Jessup who's eldest son disappeared just last month while trying to calm down the cows. Jessup appears old and broken, almost like a phsyical weight is on him. He looks like an old man despite the fact that he's not yet 40.

Kavos asks what time his son disappeared and finds that it was some time after midnight. Jessup's eyes well up with tears as he explains that the cows were riled up by something and his boy went out with a few hands to calm them down, but never came back. Kavos places a hand on his shoulder to comfort him and says that as the new mayor Jessup's son is his top priority.

Jessup breaks down in tears and Kavos asks if there's anything he can do for him. Jessup just says that if he gets his boy back he'll have everything he needs. Kavos excuses himself, to leave the man alone with his grief; however drops a purse with 25 gold coins by the door to help out the grieving family in the meantime.

Leaving the house Kavos notices that the property slopes gently down into the river, making a perfect entry/exit point. Kavos kneels down in the mud and searches, though for what he doesn't know. After almost an hour, and a ruined robe later, he thinks he's found it though; a large fish-like scale too high up the bank to have simply washed up. It's old and seems to be decomposing, but at least he knows that they aren't imagining things now.

Kavos sighs as he looks out over the water and summons a dolphin to take a glance down below. It doesn't take but a second before the dolphin appears extremely agitated by something upriver and Kavos orders it to bring it down. The dolphin takes off like a loosed arrow through the water as Kavos scrambles back up the bank to pursue much slower on foot.

The dolphin engages something in combat, but Kavos doesn't know what; only that there's violent splashing up ahead. Almost as soon Kavos arrives, he realizes that the dolphin is no longer making noise and the water appears stained with blood. Kavos sees a glimpse of movement heading downstream towards the lake and sprints after it, though is utterly outpaced by them.

Kavos finally makes it to the lake and surmises that it's where the creatures live, gritting his teeth, gripping his holy symbol tightly and wishing he had time to think of a better plan, Kavos leaps into the lake and flounders about; feigning weakness and inviting the creatures to come for him. Apparently the surprise dolphin attack freaked them out however, so there's no sign of them.

Kavos swims back to shore and catches his breath, realizing he has absolutely no idea what they are; having only barely saw their wake. The lake is massive and he has no idea how they're going to battle whatever calls this its home.

He heads back home in his soggy clothes, taking note of every farm along the way. He counts eight that are as close to the bank as Jessup's and while you can see each farm from its neighbor's, there's no way to survey them all at once.

Kavos sighs. He knew they should have been focused on this.

Back in Westbank Kavos and Gandil meet up swap what they've learned about the surrounding area, Kavos describes his encounter by the river and Gandil mentions his visits with Briar's Pass and Eastbank. They send for the ranger once more and once he arrives Gandil makes a formal introduction.

Kavos shows Lark the rusty scale and asks if he knows what would leave such a thing.. The ranger mulls it over but admits that he's never seen it before, the water isn't his specialty. He mentions stories of catfish larger than boats and fish that can walk on land for as long as he can remember, but he's never seen either firsthand. He's quite intrigued.

Kavos offers to show the ranger where he picked up the scale, but Lark asks him to just tell him so that he can do his thing without someone standing over him. Kavos agrees and gives him directions to Jessup's property before rounding up Gandil's deputies and organizing an all night watch at the end of the river to find out exactly what they're dealing with.

When Kavos turns to give Gandil his marching orders he discovers that the impulsive warrior has already left town once again, leaving no mention of where he's going. Kavos sighs and decides to set up camp along the river to help the deputies himself.

Gandil finds himself in the unicorn's grove, though it seems to be abandoned. He shouts for the unicorn several times but doesn't receive any answer. Thinking on his feet, he gathers up some leaves and brush and quickly sets them on fire. He manages to keep the blaze under control and within fifteen minutes the unicorn emerges from the brush accompanied by a pair of wolves and an old black bear.

"Why do you seek us manflesh?" the unicorn asks wearily. "We have no need of you at this moment."

"No, but I have need of you unicorn!" Gandil shouts excitedly. "I have come to ask if you know of a fish monster in the lake of Westbank? It is terrorizing our people, and as their hero, I won't stand for it!"

"You speak of the locathah and their pets?" the unicorn asks. "Weak and stupid, ruled by their bellies, much as the ettercap. They have lived there far longer than your breed. They are no threat."

"No threat? Unicorn, they are eating our people." Gandil says irritably.

"Oh, well yes." the unicorn says "We mean they are no threat to us."

"Unicorn, I'd like your advice on how to remove these creatures before they devour the town." Gandil says. "Perhaps to unicorns and bears these things are no threat, but to manflesh like myself they are quite troublesome."

The unicorn seems confused. "The same way to remove any threat, manflesh." the unicorn states plainly. "You find their home and..." the unicorn paws at the ground violently, tearing up the forest floor. "Stomp them out."

The unicorn puffs loudly. "Break the males, kill the females and crush the eggs to make sure there are no more." it offers, as close to helpful as it's ever gotten. "However..." the unicorn says as an afterthought, "The locathah are weak and subservient. Crush only the strong and the rest will bend knee to save the lives of their brood."

Gandil nods, that makes sense. "But how do we get down there unicorn? We don't breathe water."

The unicorn shakes its head, "The water is beyond our domain. Surely there is magic that can aid you in such a simple task."

Gandil ponders but can't think of any. "Do you know of any such magic in this area, unicorn?"

"The town within out forest has a mage, the stench of his magic reaches us no matter how far we roam into these woods." the unicorn says with contempt.

"I'll remove this mage!" Gandil enthusiastically volunteers. "Would that please you unicorn?"

The unicorn's eyes glint evilly. "Yes...remove the stench and our transaction is fair."

Gandil nods, "In exchange for this service I want your cooperation, I want full command of your animals from this moment on!"

The unicorn glares at the 'little' human for a moment. "Remove the mage, and we will answer your summons the next time you call rather than leaving you to the whims of the forest."

"Good enough!" Gandil responds with a wave of his hand, whistling as he saunters out of the forest.

Rather than head back home to Westbank, Gandil decides to make the trek to Eastbank once more and speak with Bryce. He's riding along comfortably when out of nowhere a hail of arrows strike his horse, slaying it outright and depositing him on the ground with a painful thud.

He glances around and sees eight bandits emerge from the bushes along the road, 4 of them have their bows cocked while the rest are sporting longswords. All of them are smiling viciously.

"Put down y'er weapons and give us y'er valuables." the closest one growls, he's a large man covered in tattoos and scars. Gandil takes him for the leader.

Puffing up his chest and resting his hand on his bastard sword, Gandil calls out "You dare try to rob the Sheriff of Westbank? He who has slain the mighty ettercap? He who has tamed the wild unicorn? Lower your swords cowards, or you best be ready to kill me and anyone who comes to investigate my death." he growls menacingly.

Half of the bandits look nervous and like they might flee, one's sword shakes so bad he lowers and Gandil is feeling pretty confident until one of the archers says "Wait a tic. He's the new sheriff? He's seen our faces, we gotta kill him now!"

The bandits mutter their agreements and the tension seems to leave them.

Gandil's mouth slowly gapes open and he gives a hearty "Shhhiiiiiii-" but is cut off by several arrows appearing in his chest as three of the four swordsmen charge him. He parries their blows and with a mighty roar strikes the leader so hard that the man falls into two bloody piles at his feet. Spinning his blade around he drives it directly through the heart of a second swordsman who dies with a wordless scream on his lips.

The archers open fire once again and Gandil suddenly realizes he's getting woozy from blood loss. The last swordsman with the fortitude (or appendages) to fight drops his sword and tackles Gandil, pinning the warrior's weapon to his body.

Gandil struggles but the smaller man just barely manages to keep him occupied as the archers drop their bows, draw their daggers and charge into the fray. They alternate between holding him down and sticking him like a pig and we fade to black as the nerveless swordsman off to the side says "Hey...he's the sheriff. Maybe he's worth something!"

It's been more than a day since Kavos has seen Gandil and he's starting to get irritated when a boy flags him down holding a letter. The kid explains that some guy from the forest gave him a copper piece to deliver this to the mayor.

Kavos nods, tossing the kid an additional silver for his trouble and opening the letter. It takes him several tries to read all the way through because the writing is, quite frankly, atrocious but the gist seems to be that if he ever wants to see his sheriff again; he'll bring 500 gold to the edge of the woods at midnight.

Kavos rolls his eyes at his partner allowing himself to be captured by such a low class thug, but nevertheless returns home to fetch the gold and freshen up. After all, the mayor can't look like he's been sleeping in the mud all night can he? He fetches the spider silk robe from Mrs. Boddan at the inn and is amazed at how light and resilient the garment is, not to mention fashionable. He then eats a simple meal and naps for a few hours until the moon rises high in the sky.

Figuring that this is his queue, he gathers up the pouch of gold and heads to the forest as instructed. He sees six of them standing there, forming an intimidating half circle with their newly elected leader (the loud mouthed archer from before) in the center.

The leader is no longer carrying his bow, but is carrying the former leader's longsword and a black leather bag strapped to his hip. He holds up a hand to Kavos and calls out "That's far enough. Let's see our gold."

Kavos sneers. "Do you take me for a fool? How do I know he isn't dead already?"

"You don't!" the leader snaps. "Now throw me the gold and we'll back away. Then you're welcome to your little boyfriend."

Kavos smirks. "I've got a better idea." he says, uttering a prayer and summoning a Lemure into their midst.

"Y-you'll never find him if you don't give us the gold!" the man shouts, obviously terrified.

"You'll tell me where he is." Kavos laughs as the Lemure snatches the man, "Or the fires of hell will consume you all."

These guys had no desire to deal with a mage and turn to flee, with a flick of his wrist Kavos casts Hold Person on the furthest one and causes him to seize up mid-stride.

Just to make sure they know he's not playing around, he summons an infernal stallion to chase the remainder away.

He snatches the black bag off the leader's hip while his Lemure tears the man to shreds and glances inside, his eyes widening at what he finds.

Gandil's severed head is inside, his own bronze star stuffed into his bloated, gaping mouth.

Kavos shrugs, ties the bag to his hip and binds the held bandit before he regains mobility. He looks around and finds that he's alone once more, the other bandits either mauled by diabolic summons or fleeing into the night. The held bandit finally comes to with a loud start.

"I never wanted to kill your friend!" the bandit shouts, the second he recognizes his position. "I wanted to run when he said who he was, and I tried to get them to just ransom him back but-"

"Shh..." Kavos says, comforting the bound bandit with a pat on the head. "He can be replaced, though my master is less forgiving of losing pawns than I am. Tell me, where can I find the rest of those responsible for his death?"

The bandit has tears running down his eyes as he says "I don't know, we just set up along the road every week or so, we don't really talk 'bout ourselves though, the boss don't like it. We just do what he says."

Kavos raises an eyebrow, intrigued. "How much does this boss pay you?"

"N-n-nuthing." the bandit says, obviously unhappy with the deal. "He just tells us when to expect someone and says that him lettin' us keep our heads is all the payment we need."

"That doesn't sound fair, now does it?" Kavos asks. "What if I told you that I could pay you 500 gold a week for a little information? Does that sound fair to you?"

The bandit raises his head and turns around, a look of shock on his face. "Yeah, yeah!" he says excitedly. "That sounds too good to be true!"

"Yeah," Kavos says, burying up to the hilt of a knife into the man's now exposed throat and allowing his blood to spill freely. "It is."

Kavos watches the man bleeding to death for almost a minute before he places a hand on the man's back and casts Cure Light Wounds. It stabilizes the man and Kavos checks his condition, figuring that the guy isn't going to be too hard to handle with most of his blood left behind.

Kavos binds the unconscious, half-dead bandit to the back of his horse and rides back into town in the dead of the night. He locks the bandit in one of the town's cells and then heads to the temple of Pelor to inform Adrian of what's happened.

Father Adrian wakes easily and Kavos explains what's transpired, though he spins the truth a bit. He tells the priest that he'd sent Gandil to Eastbank and used a Status spell to track him, when it triggered that he was in harm he rode off to find him and found several bodies. He gives Father Adrian Gandil's head for safekeeping and tells him that NOBODY is allowed to speak with the remaining bandit until he's had a chance to interrogate him.

Father Adrian says that it pains him to have lost a second sheriff so soon but says that he'll prepare the funeral rites for Gandil as fast as he can. Kavos nods and takes Gandil's star out of his mouth before leaving the temple.

It's almost 4am when Looman is roused from his sleep by the river, he looks up to find Mayor Kavos standing over him. The badge of office falls into his lap and Kavos says "Congratulations Looman, you're the new sheriff."

Looman snorts, still half asleep and asks what happened, if Gandil pissed Kavos off.

Kavos answers that "Gandil got himself into trouble. Deep trouble."

Looman looks a little more alert and mutters "Seems to be going around..."

Kavos instructs him that he's not to leave the village without support and Looman says that you couldn't pay him to nowadays.

Before Kavos can make his way back home, he's stopped by Jonathan Lark who's gathered up quite a few of the scales in a jar, Lark tells him that he's been hunting his entire life but has never seen whatever these things are before in his life.

Kavos rubs his temples and explains that Gandil died tonight and he'd like to go home and get some sleep. If the ranger is disturbed by this news it doesn't show as he offers to place traps in the river to bring whatever's down there to the surface.

The elderly cleric agrees that traps would be a good idea and tells Lark that the deputies are his to command until this thing is brought in. He then warns the ranger not to take the roads if he travels alone, but Lark assures him that he's got nothing to fear from bandits.

Lark then asks if Gandil ever got around to mentioning his deal to bring in the inhabitants of Briar's Pass and Kavos says that it's on his to-do list. Kavos assures him that he'll do what he can about securing accommodations for anyone who wants to come, but that the murderous fish monsters and bandits are his top priority. He then excuses himself and goes home for as much sleep as he can grab before morning.

Kavos hits the ground running when he wakes up and figures up that he could place about 9 people in the space the town has left. With a little more figuring he discovers he could put up about 20 houses with the gold he himself has left. It's pricey, but he can't think of a better way to ingratiate himself with the locals.

After giving word that the bandit isn't to have any visitors and gathering up his gold for the trip, Kavos sends after Looman to escort him to Eastbank.

They find the town as bustling as ever, though Kavos notices a rather heavy guard presence and wonders if this is Gandil's doing. He searches the town for carpenters and finds a friendly man with a clean shaven head and deep laugh lines named Geralline that comes well recommended. Kavos lays down well over a thousand pieces of gold and describes to the man what he wants; houses and a new market place.

Geralline is ecstatic over this oppotrunity, though he does seem disappointed that he has to travel to Westbank to earn it. They finalize the deal however and Geralline says that he'll gather his men and head to Westbank in the morning.

Kavos leaves him to it and searches out Bryce to meet this man himself. He discovers Mr Haverston's office guarded by a large man in superbly polished plate armor who inquires on Kavos and Looman's business here.

Kavos says that he's looking to formally re-open trade between Eastbank and Westbank and the guard nearly laughs, saying that merchants avoid Westbank like the plague; stating that "You people have nothing to trade and nothing to see."

Kavos furrows his brow and decides to low, claiming that Westbank is once again producing spidersilk and that if anyone wants it they'll have to go through him from here on out. The guard's attention perks at this and he tells Kavos to wait a moment as he heads into Bryce's office, returning shortly saying that Mr Haverston is interested in a shipment of silk if Westbank can guarantee safe delivery.

Kavos says that he will only negotiate with Bryce directly because there are more matters to discuss than just spider silk, however the guard says that Bryce was adamant that he not be disturbed.

Kavos glowers and identifies himself as the Mayor of Westbank and tells the guard that however angry Bryce would be for a disturbance, he would obviously be angrier at the guard for destroying such a lucrative business opportunity.

The guard wavers and steps to the side, Kavos being so damned persuasive.

Kavos and Looman Stroll into the office and Bryce Haverston glances up from his stack of papers. "And you are...?" he asks, returning his attention to the documents which need his immediate approval.

"Kavos Dasgrograv, Mayor of Westbank and faitfhul servant of Pelor." Kavos says with a slight bow. "And this is Sheriff Looman."

Bryce stares at the two of them for a moment and then rings his faithful bell. Once his man arrives, Bryce sighs and says "Deal with him like you did the last one and the next time I'm disturbed boy, it's going to be YOU that winds up floating down river." the aging dwarf growls as his assistant visibly pales.

"I've already been subjected to one of your sheriffs this week." Bryce says, returning his attention to Kavos and Looman. "What is it you want?"

"That would be Gandil." Kavos says with a sad shake of his head, "Ran into some bandits on the road, poor lad. But I'm here to discuss us, not him. I'm proposing a business venture: our town is harvesting spider silk and we would love to trade it with your fine city."

"Is that it?" Bryce asks with a grunt. "You could have saved a lot of trouble by just-"

"Not quite, we'd also like to contract one of your merchants in the meantime." Kavos interrupts.

Bryce smirks and nods saying that he's got the perfect man in mind.

Kavos seems pleased and asks what the man sells.

Bryce smiles and answers "Whatever he can scrape together before he's banished to Westbank. Now, I trust you will see yourself out." the dwarf says, returning to his work.

They leave the building and notice that a different guard is on duty now, shorter and stockier than the last man. Kavos tells Looman to hang back a day and escort the carpenters when they're ready; he assures Looman that he'll be alright by himself. He claims he has to commune with nature for religious purposes.

Once he's separated from Looman, Kavos rides to the forest grove of the unicorn; finding the beast waiting among the grove with a sizeable entourage of wolves and a handful of bears. It appears to be expecting someone.

"Not the manflesh we were expecting..." says the unicorn, narrowing its eyes.

Kavos realizes that the unicorn must have spoken to Gandil that fateful night and says that "Gandil's dead unicorn, he won't be coming any longer. I have other things to discuss however, things you will not like."

"Such as?" the unicorn asks.

"I have people moving into my town and I have need of wood, your forest is the most convenient source. There are also creatures in the lake which attack us in the night, if you have sovereignty over them I suggest you order them to stop or they will be dead very soon." Kavos says, more confidently than he feels.

"The locathah of the lake are yours to do with as you please." the unicorn says dismissively, "The wood however, has a price..."

Kavos raises his eyebrow questioningly.

"The other manflesh offered to rid our forest of the magic stench. Go to the forest town and remove the mage and its experiments, however you can." the unicorn demands. "Do this and you may harvest the outskirts of the forest...within reason."

Turning to one of the wolves the unicorn barks "Elfflesh! See that the manflesh does not overstep its boundaries."

The wolf nods and disturbingly stands upright, shifting into the form of a young male elf as it does so.

"This one is called Ibaeli. It came to us to learn the ways of the forest." the unicorn explains. "Now it will watch you, to ensure you do not take more than is owed."

Ibaeli steps forward and stares Kavos in the eye. "I've heard of your evil acts." the young elf growls.

"And...?" Kavos asks.

The young elf seems taken aback. "What?"

"They will continue, Ibaeli. Until such a time as I no longer feel the need to perform them." Kavos says, leaning forward mencingly, despite the fact that the elf has several inches on him. "Do we have a problem?"

"I...guess not." Ibaeli says, no longer so sure of himself.

Kavos turns to leave the forest and a massive ape leaps from the trees to land before him with a bestial grunt it tries to stare him down though the aging cleric simply sidesteps it. Kavos smirks at the creature and continues on. "Bring your pet Ibaeli, you'll need him."


First Post
We pick up the following morning, Ibaeli and the gorilla accompanied Kavos back home and the secretive mayor writes them off as being nothing more than a pair of bodyguards he acquired in Eastbank, citing the deaths of two sheriffs in less than a week as being a good sign they were needed. The people understand, though the sight of the wild elf Ibaeli and his hairy friend still draws heads wherever they go.

Kavos goes to Elder Hadran and asks the old man if there's been any news since he left. Elder Hadran reports that Looman arrived early in the morning with several carpenters from Eastbank who ignored the locals and went directly to work forming the foundations of their projects. Looman also reports that the traps have been set up by the mouth of the river.

Kavos mentions that Looman makes an alright sheriff and Hadran sighs. Kavos raises an eyebrow and Hadran says "Speaking of sheriffs....they found Gandil's body in the forest. It was tossed behind some bushes stripped bare."

Kavos excuses himself and heads to the temple to pay his last respects to Gandil's corpse, finds it and its severed head laying on a slab next to Longarm. Father Adrian is standing there with his sleeves pulled up around his elbows with a scalpel in one hand and needle and thread nearby.

Father Adrian moves in front of Gandil's corpse quickly and says that Kavos shouldn't be here, that he hasn't finished preparing Gandil for viewing yet. Kavos shakes his head dismissively saying that he's seen worse and that this isn't his friend anymore just an empty vessel, but that he appreciates Adrian's concern all the same.

The two clerics sit there awkwardly over Gandil's corpse for a moment before Kavos says that he actually came here to talk to Adrian. The priest asks what he needs him for and Kavos explains that he intends on questioning the bandit he captured and would like a little assistance.

Father Adrian seems surprised, but agrees. Tell Kavos to give him time to wash up and he'll meet him at the jail. Kavos agrees and uses this opportunity to send for Looman as well.

They all meet up about half an hour later in front of the jail and head inside. The bandit appears withered and dehydrated from such severe bloodloss and can barely hold his eyes open. Kavos casts Create Water over the bandit's head and a veritable deluge crashes down, waking him up but good.

"What do you have to say for yourself, scum?" Kavos demands.

The bandit glances around, terrified. "What do you want? I done told you that it wasn't the one what killed your friend. I wanted nothing to do with it!"

"Who leads these bandits?" Kavos shouts through the bars.

The bandit stammers before finally answering "Big John leads these bandits. He's the one you should be going after."

Kavos glares at the bandit like a predator about to strike, "Tell me where he is and maybe I will."

"I don't know!" the bandit wails. "He offered me a job in an Eastbank tavern, said if I passed his little test he'd make me one of his guys. Since I'm pretty sure you killed everyone he sent but me, I don't think I passed the test."

"I don't care if you're the one that made the killing blow." Kavos explains. "You were willingly affiliated with the group that murdered our sheriff and in my eyes you're just as guilty. Do you have any evidence that would sway me otherwise?"

"I don't..I mean we don't..I mean.. We're highwaymen! We don't keep evidence!" he shrieks pleadingly.

Kavos turns to Looman and asks what the proper way of dealing with Criminals in Westbank was, prior to Kavos assuming leadership.

"Hell..." Looman says with a shake of his head. "Local? We usually just kicked 'em around some and turned 'em back loose, unless of course someone got killed; then it's a hanging. But this fella from Eastbank? I say we use him as bait on the river."

Kavos smiles, "Of course. Interesting. We will let Pelor decide his fate. If he is truly innocent then he will be protected."

The bandit's cries turn from pleading to threatening, he begins shouting that "You people don't know who you're dealing with! My friends are going to burn this whole damned town down!"

"You have no idea who you're dealing with. Do not speak unless spoken to!" Kavos shouts, casing Cause Fear and smiling as the suddenly terrified bandit screeches, curls into a ball in the corner of his cell and cries.

Kavos dismisses everyone back to their duties and walks with Father Adrian back to the temple. Adrian doesn't seem to disapprove of his methods though he does point out that Pelor isn't traditionally a god of judgement. Kavos says that Pelor doesn't have to judge him, only punish him. Father Adrian smiles slightly and excuses himself once they get into the temple, saying that he has much work to do but will send when he's ready to perform Gandil's service.

Kavos watches Father Adrian head back downstairs to tend to his lost sheriffs before walking over the the altar of Pelor and resting a hand on it. He decides that he's had enough of Pelor and wants to drive his presence from this place. He mutters a prayer and casts Desecrate, however he's surprised to find that this wasn't a Consecrated area to begin with and the aura of corruption spreads over the altar unopposed.

He glances around to make sure that nobody noticed what he done and then smiles and exits the temple, meeting a parishioner on the way in he nods his head and pleasantly says "Pelor grant you strength."

Kavos finds Ibaeli and the gorilla lounging by the river and tells the young druid that he's ready to deal with the unicorn's nuisance now. Without another word, Ibaeli gathers his things and follows Kavos, eager to prove himself to his brutish master.

The trip is uneventful, several times they discover wolves following them in the forest; though the wolves seem to smirk when Ibaeli notices them, almost as if they know him and are looking out for him. Briar's Pass itself is as dilapidated as ever and it looks like they just stopped caring.

Kavos and Ibaeli head to the Inn to ask around about the wizard they're after. The only two people in the place are a strange pair. A human and a halforc, each in handsomely fitted armor who seem to be serving themselves and discussing which of the town's women they find least repulsive. The human wears a large shield across his back and a longsword at his waist, while the orc wears an ornate greatsword on his back.

Kavos introduces himself and his traveling companion and they do likewise, momentarily giving up their tasteless game. The human's name is Bartan while the half-orc is called Rutgard.

Kavos asks if either of them know of a wizard in the are and Rutgard shakes his head, saying that no wizards live around these parts. The man known as Bartan however nods and says "Remember? That coot Rambalt is some sort of magic user, that's probably who they want."

The half-orc disagrees and says that wizards are, by and large, useful people; whereas Rambalt is a waste of good food and the two of them begin debating this new topic with gusto.

Kavos interrupts them again to ask where Rambalt actually is and the half-orc says that the idiot barricaded himself in the shack on the northeast border of town when the spiders came through.

They head where directed and find a shack that's just as descriped, four battered walls that look barely large enough to house a man; let alone a supposed wizard's ego. Kavos knocks on the door.

It takes several moments and another knock, but a thin; wiry man with peachfuzz hair and thick glasses eventually opens the door barely a crack. "Afraid I'm busy at the moment, not safe I'm afraid." he says with a chipper inflection. "Maybe next week."

"Afraid not," Kavos says, barely able to get the end of his staff inside the door in time to keep it from closing. "I need to speak with you now. I'm the Mayor of Westbank and I'm constructing homes for the people of Briar's Pass. May I come inside?"
Rambalt glances over his shoulder nervously. "Erm...I..I suppose." he finally says, unleashing the various locks and latches on his side of the door and allowing the PCs entrance. As he opens the door they can see that his plain, utilitarian clothes are soaked in blood and gore and that he's wearing thick gloves up to his elbows covered in the same. The shack has two chairs, a bed and a chamber pot; but not much else. However there is a door leading down into what is presumably a cellar which is barred and chained shut.

"To be honest, it might be better if I stayed here." Rambalt says sheepishly. "My experiments make me a rather lousy neighbor at times."

"What sort of experiments?" Ibaeli asks, his eyes focusing. The gorilla senses its master's irritation and glowers as well.

"I'm attempting to create a hardier; more expendable security force to help counteract the local bandits." Rambalt explains. "We've lost enough good men, no sense in losing more you know...." he adds with a sigh. "However so far they've proven...less than cooperative, although that might just be the nature of my test subjects."

"Abomination!" Ibaeli shouts in disgust.

Rambalt staggers back a few steps stammering. "I-i-is it abominable to save lives? Is it abominable to h-h-hope for a better future?" he asks, holding up his hands defensively.

"Show me these experiments, manflesh." the angry druid demands.

"One of them is umm...resting." Rambalt responds, looking at his shoes.

"While I disagree with Ibaeli's disgust, I do believe that people have a right to know what sort of projects you're working on. They could be dangerous after all." Kavos says with a frown. "Show us."

Rambalt looks at his uninvited visitors for a moment and then sighs. "Give me a moment to make sure it's safe..." he says, slowly removing the bolt and chains so as to avoid making noise and motions for his guests to stay upt. He slips downstairs as quietly as possible and for several moments there's no sound.

Suddenly however there's an indignant roar and the rattling of chains as Rambalt stumbles back upstairs breathlessly. "Alright, he's ready for company"

Kavos steps downstairs after Rambalt nervously, followed by Ibaeli and the gorilla. the 'cellar' is many times larger than the shack itself and has half a dozen tables and workstations set up around it. Several staffs, wands and rods hang upon the wall and a massive bookshelf seems equally stuffed with strange volumes and magical scrolls..

A strange, massive figure better than 8ft tall and made of clay is laid upon one of the tables, but only half finished. It's obviously supposed to be in the shape of a man; while a pair of arms narly the size of rambalt himself and made of wrought iron rests on another table.

Far back against the wall is a creature that once may have been a man, but seems to be cobbled together from different men and even races. It flails against a collar recently placed upon its neck and attempts to free itself violently, seemingly more concerned with killing Rambalt than its own life. In fact, it's so singleminded that as they watch; it breaks its own neck with a mad rush forward and falls to the ground without another sound.

Rambalt rushes forward in tears, grabbing the creature by the head and cradling it like an overgrown infant. "No, no, no, no, no....not again. Not again!" he wails over his creation between gasping sobs.

Ibaeli soundlessly shuts the door to the shack, letting neither Kavos nor Rambalt know what he's doing. He's growing visibly angry at this man playing god.

"All I have to work with are these damned bandits!" Rambalt laments, releasing his failed experiment and collapsing back onto his haunches. "They're too unwieldy and temperamental while they're alive. Spending a few days rotting on Bartan's handcart doesn't make them any easier to work with."

"How long would these monsters take to finish?" Kavos asks, immensely intrigued.

"If I had quality parts? I suspect less than a month. Maybe even a couple of weeks." Rambalt says, shaking his head. "But I have need of surgeons, when all I can hire are butchers..."

"Do you know that your magical stench plagues our forest?" Ibaeli asks with a low growl.

Rambalt seems surprised and sniffs the air. "I know that people don't sit next to me at the tavern...but I didn't realize it had gotten that bad." the pathetic little mage says obliviously.

Ibaeli lunges forward, becoming a wolf as he does so. Kavos moves to cut him off screaming that the elf isn't to hurt this man, however he's too slow to stop the gorilla from sidestepping him and grabbing Rambalt by the throat as he attempts to crabwalk out of harm's way.

"You don't need to kill him!" Kavos shouts, "Your master only wanted him to leave and I will bring him to Westbank. The forest will be pure once again!"

The gorilla holds Rambalt by the neck as Ibaeli starts sniffing around the room with his wolf senses. He smells where Rambalt's corpses are kept and growls at the locked door intently.

"Release him!" Kavos demands again. "I will do your master's bidding, but I will not let you kill this man."

Ibaeli barks for the gorilla to kill him.

As soon as the gorilla flexes to tear open Rambalt's throat Kavos unleashes the spell he'd been readying and hits it with Command: Fall. Rather than murdering Rambalt, the gorilla takes its turn to leap face forward onto the ground. Rambalt rushes to the wall the second he's free and snatches a staff, spinning around and gripping it tightly as an aura of perceptible cold springs up around his weapon.

Seeing that Rambalt is now armed, Ibaeli charges him but is held off by the plucky mage's staff.

This is the point where Ibaeli's player says that he wishes he'd wildshaped into a gorilla so that he could speak with them. I point out that gorilla's can't talk and he calls BS, citing that he's seen Planet of the Apes and they seemed to have a pretty good grasp of English.

Kavos rushes towards Rambalt's storage closet and throws open the door. "Iabeli, look!" he says, indicating only an orc and half-orc who seem to have been slain in battle before being brought here. "No animals! He's not threatening your master's domain!"

Ibaeli pulls away, sniffing the air. The only smells he can find are those of rotting flesh and strong chemicals. Rambalt cradles his staff as he presses his back further against the wall.

Kavos takes Rambalt by the hand and drags him towards the exit. "I'm bringing this man back to my town Ibaeli. He isn't harming the forest and there's no reason for you to object to this!"

Ibaeli growls as the two of them leave, but makes no further move to stop them. Once they're upstairs Kavos leads Rambalt to the inn for a drink and laughs nervously as he says "Druids, right?"

Rambalt gives a nervous laugh of his own and nods.

"Let me set things straight." Kavos explains. "I am not opposed to your experiments and I can offer you shelter, unimpeded research and any necessary resources. All I ask is that you continue just as you're doing. This is a step up Rambalt, believe me."

"What about the druid?" Rambalt asks nervously.

"I'll worry about the druid." Kavos assures him.

Rambalt asks if someone could bring his things to Westbank; the iron arms alone represent more than a year's work in wages and effort. Kavos nods and says that he'll hire someone, he suggests that Rambalt wait until Ibaeli leaves and then pack his things. He then hands Rambalt a key and instructs him where to find Longarm's old house.

They hang around town for a bit and hire out Bartan's handcart and services for the day and then Rambalt asks Kavos to stop by his house with him before heading back to Westbank. Kavos is a little nervous about complying, but doesn't want to seem rude.

Once they're sure that Ibaeli is no longer here (though to their horror he's stolen the clay golem by using ant haul on his gorilla) Rambalt rummages in his belongings for a moment before returning with an old, rusted iron rod. He hands it to Kavos and says that it's one of his more useful tools; but he'd like for him to have it for saving his life.

"Uhh.....thanks" Kavos says unconvincingly, taking the rod.

Rambalt tells him to press it against the desk and as Kavos does so the wood splinters and rots before his eyes until a tower shield sized hole is simply missing from the top. Rambalt explains that it's a rod of Ruin and that he's used it in the past to clear debris during explorations; he apologies for the appearance but explains that its entropic energies give it a rather lackluster appearance.

Kavos expresses genuine gratitude for such a useful tool and decides to help Rambalt pack his things.

It takes several hours for Ibaeli and the gorilla to drag the clay golem to the unicorn's grove but they find the unicorn waiting for them all the same. The unicorn makes a distasteful face as the golem is dragged before it.

Ibeli quickly tells the unicorn what's transpired. The unicorn seems quite impressed that Ibaeli went to such lengths to please him.

"This clay-man reeks of the mage's magic." the unicorn growls. "Did you kill it elf-flesh?"

Ibaeli shakes his head. "No, it was never alive to begin with. A failed experiment of the wretched wizard. There was another made of sewn together manflesh, but we didn't think you would want that to spoil the grove."

The unicorn nods. "You have done us a service...Ibaeli." it says, awkwardly using the elf's name. Reaching down, the unicorn appears to bite a snake amid the foliage which strikes the great beast's face several times with its venomous bite as the unicorn shakes it savagely. On the third shake the snake is replaced by a leather belt which the unicorn tosses at Ibaeli's feet.

"You serve the forest and the forest rewards you elfflesh." the unicorn says with a tinge of pride.

Kavos interrupts this tender moment by stepping into the grove, having followed the trail left by dragging a clay sculpture more than a mile. "The wizard is taken care of, he is not dead but I am moving him out of the forest. The deal is done, may I harvest my trees?"

The unicorn nods and says that Kavos may take what he needs and then adds "Iabaeli has proven himself a worthy wervant of our realm; we ask that you assist him as he surveys your town. We have been long removed from the affairs of men and would know more of you if we are to be...allies."

Kavos agrees and adds that he's evacuating the people of Briar's Pass so that the unicorn can reclaim that portion of its forest. The unicorn says that it will see once the manstink is gone.

Kavos nods and says that he believes their deal is done, however the unicorn gets a glint in its eye and says "Oh, before we forget."

Kavos braces for an attack as the unicorn jerks its head, signaling for a great brown bear to emerge from the brush carrying a battered and bloody piece of chest armor. Kavos relaxes a bit. The bear drops the armor and the unicorn flips it face up, revealing the image of two fullsized mirrors facing each other but blank; the symbol of the Wandering Duke.

"Several creatures tried to pass through our realm." the unicorn says, absently stomping on the tattered breastplate. "Do these belong to the one who seeks you?"

Kavos nods. "Yes. Yes it does."

Ibaeli asks what happened and the unicorn says "They tried to use our forest to hide their presence, our wolves watched them and they struck one with an arrow." the unicorn growls low at this. "There were twelve such creatures with arrows and armor and cutting blades. Now there are only filled bellies and refuse."

Kavos asks where these men came from and the unicorn describes the northern border of the forest, the absolute edge of the unicorn's territory. Kavos asks if he can take the armor and the unicorn seems eager to be rid of it.

"How do you propose we establish this alliance unicorn?" Kavos asks.

"This realm is ours, it always has been, it always will be." the unicorn says bluntly. "If strange manflesh trespasses, then it will die. Stand with us and you are not strange manflesh."

Kavos agrees, much preferring the unicorn being on his side than against him and assures the unicorn that if the forest needs him, he will heed its call. The unicorn in turn promises to alert Kavos if any other soldiers follow. Kavos thanks the unicorn and says that he must leave now, his town must be warned.

Meanwhile, while Kavos and the unicorn speak, Ibaeli settles down next to an older, matronly druid in the form of a great shewolf. Her name is Yara and Ibaeli remembers her being an elderly halfling in her natural form.

"Do you ever get the feeling that unicorn doesn't care for us being in its forest?" Ibaeli asks.

Yara laughs and says that it's just his way, she explains that he was never meant to lead the druids; he never actually studied among his people's priests. She points out that he was one of the protectors, the warriors meant to keep the priesthood safe. She mentions that he was always taught to be wary of the outside world and that that training is all he knows; the other unicorns, the ones felled by the ettercap, were the open minded ones. The ones actually equipped to deal with the outside world instead of just squash it to keep it away.

Ibaeli asks why they would follow him if the other druids know that he's not fit to lead. Yara answers only that their kind has always venerated the unicorns and that it's the hope of the druids that this one can be taught to lead.

Ibaeli excuses himself as Kavos disappears beyond the grove and approaches the unicorn, asking what his mission is now that the mage is gone. The unicorn tells Ibaeli to get acquainted with the town of men and see if they are a threat to the forest. If they are, he wants to know how best to raze them to the ground.

Kavos calls an emergency meeting the second he arrives in town, having Elder Hadran, Father Adrian and Sheriff Looman all use every ounce of their authority to drag in the town as fast as possible.

Ibaeli hangs around the front of the town hall, making small talk as the locals files in; probing for how safe they feel and what they think of recent events; just trying to get a feel for the town's condition. Unsurprisingly, the whole town is on edge having lost two sheriffs in as many weeks and finding out they're about to be taken over. When Ibaeli finally tires of questioning townspeople he goes to the townhall as well, noticing Rambalt has slipped in without him noticing and that the sheepish mage refuses to make eye contact ouf of fear.

Ibaeli snatches Rambalt by the scruff of the neck, his clawlike nails digging painfully in the book worm's flesh. "I need armor for my gorilla and you're the man to do it." Ibaeli growls low.

Rambolt flinches and grits his teeth before nodding his head ever slightly. " I th-th-think I can do that." he murmurs. Ibaeli tells him to make it top priority and Rambalt says that he'll have to have a fitting for the gorilla at this home since he didn't bring any of his stuff with him.

Before Ibaeli can extort the poor mage any further Kavos stands upon the raised stage and loudly proclaims "The Duke is coming!" holding up the bloody armor for everyone to see. "We all know why he's coming - thanks to Longarm's letter. The Duke is a slimy rat and will do anything to take this place we have built. He will do one of two things, he will either try to sow dissent and take it quietly while we bicker among ourselves or he will invade by force. The outcome will be the same; he will destroy your way of life."

Kavos paces about the stage. "I know enough of the Duke to know that he will attempt to turn you against me. He despises leadership which bows to the will of the people. So that each of you may have peace of mind, I will bare my soul to you."

Kavos casts Zone of Truth centered on himself. "I did not forge the letter Longarm was carrying, nor did I kill our sheriff, I did however assist in slaying the ettercap which controlled the spiders. I became your mayor honestly, I never interfered with the votes and have given this town my all ever since my election. I am not employed by the Duke or the rebels though the Duke may claim otherwise. I beg you to understand this." he says, cleverly avoiding his actual involvement in most things through technicalities.

"What brought you here to begin with?" Yard the dissident from before asks.

Kavos almost stammers but then smiles and says "I needed a new home and when I found this town, I knew it would be perfect."

The townspeople seem impressed and after a quick Q&A session that deepens Kavos's cover story (and makes even those formerly for a military presence question the Duke's intentions now that blood has been drawn) he asks that everyone return home, except for those looking for work.

A handful of tradesmen stick around and Kavos explains that he needs people to go into the forest to the north and collect as much spider silk as they can find. He stresses that spiders are neither to be killed nor approached, only their silk is to be collected. Only three tradesmen stay behind when they hear the job.

Kavos explains that he's worked out a trade agreement with Eastbank and while several of them curse and spit at the mention of Eastbank they all seem desperate enough for the coin that they still agree. Once that's settled Kavos approaches Elder Hadran and has him work on setting up the traders that they have to deal with incoming merchants from upriver; Hadran is understandably impressed.

As Kavos is finished with the minutiae of the trade agreement he exits the town hall and slams right into Deputy Horace who's running towards him excitedly. Grabbing Kavos by the collar he leans in and whispers "They caught something!"

Kavos's eyes widen. "At the river?" he asks, receiving an affirmative nod from Horace. "Alive?"

"They've been watching the traps for days and one of those ugly monsters swam RIGHT into it! The damned thing's kicking up a fuss, but it' still alive." Horace says excitedly.

Kavos glances around the town for a moment thinking. This might be bigger than silk exports, he muses.

Kavos rides out to the mouth of the river as fast as he can and finds a group of people crowding around and gawking. Sheriff Looman and his deputies are there, along with several of the hardier farmers and the ranger Jonathan Lark, although Lark is sitting off to the side staring into the water and smoking his pipe.

When they realize that the mayor is there Looman rushes over and tells Kavos that they saw several of them pass by, but they retreated back into the lake when they saw one of their number get trapped.

"What is it Looman?" Kavos asks, but Looman says that he might as well see for himself.

Kavos approaches the net and finds a creature roughly the size of a man with a vaguely humanoid shape, though covered in deep orange scales and large fins; its mouth is filled with rows of needle-like teeth.

"Some kinda damned fishman." Looman says, unable to believe his eyes.

"How long has it been out of the water?" Kavos asks, seeing the fight the creature's putting up to get free.

"A little longer than it took you to get here." Jonathan says, exhaling a small puff of pleasant smelling smoke. "Seems like it can breathe alright."

"Think it could survive a few days outside the river" Kavos asks the ranger.

Jonathan nods, "I'd be willing to bet its life on it."

Kavos nods and looks around before asking Looman "Where's the bandit? I thought you were using him as bait."

Looman seems surprised. "Noone told you? The bandit's dead boss."

"How'd he die?" Kavos asks irritably.

Looman shakes his head and shudders, "Swallowed his own tongue. Father Adrian took him some food after we finished up, saying that everybody deserved a last meal, and when Devon went to get the platter back the guy was dead."

Kavos shakes his head, he didn't think the bandit had it in him. "Well set up another trap and get this one to a cell in Westbank, I'll be able to question it tomorrow."

Jonathan stows his pipe and starts measuring out rope while Devon and Horace haul the creature to a wagon for transport. Kavos rides back to town with them.

Meanwhile Ibaeli and his gorilla have cornered Professor Rambalt in his own home, forcing him to take the gorilla's measurements in order to create it a suit of magical armor for protection. Rambalt nervously assures the terrifying druid that he'll have the armor ready as soon as he can gather the materials.

Ibaeli growls and grabs the timid mage by the collar of his shirt, "You have until the sun rises to finish it or else my gorilla crawls inside of YOU!"

Rambalt whimpers and says that that'll be fine, he'll do his best with what he's got.

Ibaeli hurls him face first into the wall and tells him that he wants better than that, and that his life depends on it. Ibaeli and his gorilla leave the whimpering mage to his work and head off to the edge of town to claim a spot to sleep.

The next morning comes quickly and Kavos arrives at the jail before first light, the creature inside is livid; growling and snarling and hurling itself against the bars. Deputy Devon is more than happy to be relieved of his watch.

Once Kavos and the creature are alone, he reaches through the bars and quickly casts Share Language, giving the creature the ability to converse with him in goblin, one of the many languages he's picked up over his long life. The creature continues thrashing and cursing until Kavos calmly says "I can release you to your people you know. I'm the leader here."

Once the creature realizes he can understand it, its eyes grow wide and it ceases its hissy fit.

"I've allied myself with the creatures of the forest, why not the denizens of the lake as well?" Kavos says pleasantly.

"Why have you taken me?" the creature asks, obviously confused.

"My people are disappearing and they're worried about that. I've only done to you what you've done to us for months." Kavos points out.

"We only take what we need to survive. You have so much..." the fish creature says jealously.

"Your people...what do they need to survive?" Kavos asks.

"Meat. Fresh, filling meat. There are so many of us and nowhere to go, nowhere to hunt. The fish are too small to feed families." the creature says, the desperation apparent in its voice.

"We have food." Kavos offers helpfully. "But then you already know that. Tell me, what can you offer us in exchange?"

"We have so little..." the locathah says pathetically. "We have the river...but it is so empty now. My clan has lost much."

"How many of you are there?" Kavos asks.

The locathah grins devilishly, a hint of pride creeping through its 'poor me' act. "Many."

Kavos opens the cell door and draws his dagger, the fish man looks panicked and tries to back away, but trips onto the bed. Kavos leans down and cuts the ropes binding the creature's hands together. It seems surprised and flexes its arms to get the feeling back.

Kavos leaves the cell and asks the creature to sit with him at the table in the room. It shuffles out at an agonizingly slow pace, its legs are not meant to travel on land but it does as it is bid. Retrieving a bowl, Kavos casts Create Water to fill it up and passes it to the locathah which drains it almost immediately.

"Humans do not like being stolen from my friend." Kavos says with a tsk, tsk, tsk sound. "The livestock was one thing, we could have almost handled that. Jessup's son was another. Do you know who was responsible for taking the boy?"

The locathah seems genuinely confused. "Meat is meat?" it seems to ask.

"Not our meat. Our meat is off-limits. Do you know of anyone who eats it?" Kavos demands.

Shamelessly the creature admits "We do. I do, clan does....when meat is brought, we eat. No time for questions, eat or go hungry."

With a wave of his hand Kavos summons a pony, "I can make endless meat." Kavos says as the creature obviously salivates at the thought of sinking its teeth into the little horse. "You have a food shortage and I have the solution."

The locathah reaches for the pony and Kavos dismisses it with a second wave of his hand. "If you want what I have, you'll have to work for it. First off, you no longer eat our meat. It's forbidden."

It's hard to tell if the creature is even listening, but it nods its head all the same. "Fair..." the creature mutters.

Kavos refills the bowl with water a second time. "I'm going to let you go locathah. I'm even going to feed all of your families."

The creature's eyes narrow and it snaps from its reverie. "If....?" it asks suspiciously.

Kavos shrugs. "We'll have to see. Consider this a down payment on a mutually beneficial relationship."

The creature has no objections, not even when Kavos rebinds its hands and leads it from the jail and to Elder Hadran's house. The elder is quite surprised at the sight of his new visitor, though he invites them in all the same.

"I have a plan to deal with these creatures, but it involves letting this one go. I need to send it back to its clan with a gift of meat, can you purchase some sheep from the farmers for me?" Kavos quickly explains. "They don't mean any malice, it's only their food shortage that causes them to raid us."

Elder Hadran says that folks won't like dealing with these creatures, but he's personally for any solution that limits casualties. Hadran asks how many sheep Kavos wants him to procure.

Kavos turns and asks the creature which responds with "I...don't know. We take what we can, but the clan still goes hungry. Many haven't eaten in days and some....some turn to kin for meat."

Kavos counts up how much gold he has left and tells Elder Hadran to see if he can get 10 sheep for it, and that if it's not enough he'll work something out with the farmers for the rest. Elder Hadran voices a little surprise that Kavos is paying so much out of his own pocket for the town's benefit and Kavos smiles, saying that he's not going to force another man to give up his wealth for his plan.

Elder Hadran has even more respect for the newly elected mayor as he calls on his contacts for a good price on sheep and has 10 delivered to the river bank within the hour.

Kavos and the locathah are the only two along the river bank, save for the sheep, and Kavos tells the fishman to deliver these sheep to his clan as a gift and to return for more within the month. The locathah humbles itself before Kavos's generosity and takes the bleating animals one at a time upstream to the lake. Kavos stands on the bank, slitting each beast's throat before tossing them in with the locathah to save time and in just over an hour Kavos is left alone on the bank.

Just as Ibaeli promised, as soon as the sun rises he visits Rambalt's house to collect his companion's armor, not caring that it's been less than 10 hours since the request was made. Approaching the door, Ibaeli notices a note pinned to it and he snatches it down irritably before turning his eyes to it.

It reads "Ibaeli, there was a very minor setback with assembling your armor on time. It turns out that I didn't have enough leather on hand, but luckily I did have enough ink to write a Sepia Sigil."

The second that Ibaeli finishes the letter his eyes widen and he leaps out of the way as a transluscent serpent strikes out where he just was, dissipating into the air harmlessly. Ibaeli looks at his gorilla to make sure he's ok with a little panic in his eyes, it just occuring to him that giving a wizard 10 hours to think of a way to avoid getting his ass kicked may have been a bad idea.

Ibaeli orders his gorilla to find Kavos and begins throwing rocks at Rambalt's house, one of them shatters his front window and is rewarded with a soft flash of light from within that Ibaeli can't identify but is glad didn't hit him.

Eventually the gorilla finds Kavos and drags him to the house, Kavos sees Ibaeli trying to jimmy the lock and sighs. "Ibaeli, what the hell are you doing here?"

Ibaeli doesn't even look back, he simply says "Gotta kill the wizard."

Kavos rubs his temples. "Why Ibaeli?"

"BECAUSE WIZARD MUST DIE!!!" Ibaeli shouts by way of an explanation.

Ibaeli orders the gorilla to go in first and it leaps through the window without any ill effects, follow by its master. The whole town is standing there gawking at this spectacle.

Kavos lunges through as well and snatches both Ibaeli and the gorilla by the scruff of their necks and with a miraculous burst of strength (several natural 20s vs their unimpressive rolls of 4-5) he literally drags the pair out of the house and tosses them into the strength.

"Why do you care about this so much?" Ibaeli shouts.

"Because this isn't the wild Ibaeli, this man is a tax paying citizen and as both the mayor and a sane human being I'm not going to let you do anything to him. Why do you have such a bone to pick with this guy anyway? What's he done to you?" Kavos asks exasperatedly.

"You know what?" Ibaeli says, growling as he shifts to the form of a wolf. Whatever he was going to finish with is replaced by a malicious bark and the gorilla charges Kavos with a roar.

Kavos responds by casting Cause Fear on the gorilla which shrieks in fear and rushes past Kavos and towards the woods, unable to control its sheer terror. Kavos isn't fast enough to stop Ibaeli in his wolf form from tackling him off his feet and biting into his throat painfully.

Kavos wrestles with Iabeli's jaws desperately before another lucky string of rolls allows him to toss Ibaeli away from him and draw his staff. Ibaeli growls and shifts back into his elf form so that he can cast spells once again.

"That man nearly killed me with an exploding hunk of paper tacked on his door! It was left there specifically as a trap!" Ibaeli snarls.

"Then you should have let me deal with him. Tell me this Ibaeli, why are you at his house to begin with?"

Ibaeli stammers, unable to explain his presence in a way that doesn't make him look like power-drunk bully and instead casts Aspect of the Bear, becoming considerably more bearlike. "Just get out of my way Kavos." he growls deeply.

Kavos sighs. "I can't do that Ibaeli, I'm afraid you're going to have to go through me. Nobody's going to bully my townspeople."

"Have it your way!" Ibaeli shouts, rushing Kavos with a wild howl and intending to break the elderly cleric's spine.

Kavos hold up a hand and casts Cause Fear as Ibaeli gets close, simply whispering "Boo."

Ibaeli can't control the panic inside and flees after his gorilla and towards the forest he left behind.

Kavos takes a deep breath to clear his mind and then knocks on Rambalt's door, it takes several moments before the nervous mage appears in the doorway clutching a staff to himself and sporting a brace of wands along his waist. "I-i-is he gon?" Rambalt asks.

"Why was there 'an exploding paper' on your door? What was Ibaeli talking about? I told him to not speak with you." Kavos asks.

"He came by last night and demanded I make a set of armor for his beast. I told him that I would need time to gather the materials and fashion it; but he gave me until sunup to have it finished. Then he assaulted me." Rambalt says nervously. "I simply didn't have enough leather to complete such a project and he didn't seem like he was going to listen to reason, you know druids... The sigil was perfectly nonlethal, I just thought that if I had a few more days perhaps I could work something out."

"Dear gods! Where did the unicorn find this loon?" Kavos exclaims. "'re in a lot of danger."

Rambalt swallows nervously and says that he'll be prepared next time, he won't bother with nonlethal.

"No!" Kavos says firmly. "You're not leaving explosives lying around for children to trigger. If you feel threatened, then find some way to get in touch with me."

Rambalt says that he understands, but that he'll be beefing up his security just to be safe. He warns Kavos against coming into his home unless personally greeted because it's about to get dangerous in here.

Kavos tells him that that's fine, so long as his traps are contained INSIDE the house. He also tells Rambalt that he believes in his work and asks him what he needs to complete a golem. Ibaeli lists off one ludicrously expensive component after another until he gets to...flesh.

Kavos asks him what kind of flesh he needs and Rambalt replies that he either needs fresh or perfectly preserved bodies, at least six of them. Kavos smiles and says that he knows where to get at least two.

He returns within the hour with Gandil (who he's been preserving magically just in case) and the bandit who'd died only the night before. He'd told Father Adrian that he had found Gandil's will among his things and that the young man had very specific wishes, the bandit he said was to be burned so as to avoid despoiling their holy burial site with his filth.

Rambalt looks them over and smiles like a child at Christmas, proclaiming them perfect.

Ibaeli finds the unicorn in its sacred grove, being tended to by its beasts and druid servants in beast form. He tells the unicorn what has transpired without any attempt at embellishment and stresses that Kavos has repeatedly protected the wizard at the expense of their interests. Ibaeli calls it an outright betrayal.

The unicorn paces, a strangely human display of worry. "The wizard will fall elfflesh..." the great beast says coldly, attempting to comfort the distressed elf. "As will all of the manflesh if they resist our influence. But for now, we bide our time. The manflesh spoke true when he warned of a coming threat and we will have need of their blood in our defense before this is done."

"I demand that we storm the town now!" Ibaeli shouts. "Have you forgotten your ideals unicorn? Those manflesh made fools of us! We don't need their protection!"

The unicorn's eyes flash dangerously and it snorts loudly. "Demand, little elf?" the beast says, jerking with rage. "WE demand. YOU OBEY!" it roars.

"Not anymore." Ibaeli says tossing the serpent belt at the unicorns feet, trembling with a rage of his own.

The unicorn bellows in barely restrained fury and slams into a tree in irritation, just for the pleasure of feeling something break under its strength. A little calmer it says "You have done us a service elfflesh, so we will spare your life. But do not count yourself among our number again."

"I wouldn't dream of it." Ibaeli scoffs. "Any druid who stays here is a fool and I will welcome them on my journey. I intend on finding someone iworth leading this forest." the elf says, turning to leave with his gorilla.

The elderly wolf, Yara, starts to step forward as if to follow Ibaeli and the unicorn snaps, it brings its massive hooves down onto her back her spine shatters from the pressure. Her tattered body oozes beneath the unicorn's weight and no other druid dares do anything other than stare at the ground in fear.

Ibaeli turns and gawks at the carnage before him. "Look how he exterminates us, no better than the ettercap before him! Protector of the forest? No, just a clueless tyrant that inherited the throne!"

"We protect this realm from all who threaten. This elfflesh would cast aside allies for its petty feud." the unicorn growls.

"Petty feud?" Ibaeli says, nearly laughing if not for the horror that he just witnessed. "You saw the unicorn eviscerate our sister just for wanting to escape his tyranny!"

"Its life was ours to do with as we wished." the unicorn says flatly. "Now leave this place elfflesh, our generosity is at an end. Your next words will be your last."

"You're right..." Ibaeli says emotionlessly. "Attack!" he bellows as he shifts form to a wolf and both he and the gorilla charge the unicorn with a roar.

The unicorn charges forward as well and skewers the little wolf on the end of its massive horn and tosses Ibaeli's broken corpse into the bushes in one smooth movement as it simply crushes the gorilla beneath its immense bulk.

The fight is over within a round with time to spare and the unicorn glowers at the rest of its followers who quiver in pure, abject terror under his gaze. "We lead." it says, gore dripped from its face and legs.

Nobody says otherwise.

Ibaeli wakes up, surprised to find that he's still breathing. He discovers that his gorilla laying next to him, panting painfully. A short, emaciated orc woman is hovering over both of them.

"You've seen the light too." she says, sadness in her voice. "The beast is no leader, only a blunt instrument, and the forest withers under his rule....but he is powerful. He is powerful and our brothers believe the forest his by birthright."

"Who are you?" Ibaeli asks, sitting up quickly and being rewarded with a sharp pain in his side.

"I am a friend, for what that's worth." she says with a smile. "A former disciple that left him, much as you did."

"How did you save us?" Ibaeli asks.

"I swooped down once he left. You are lucky that he didn't gloat any longer than he did, you barely made it." she answers. "I watched your speech from the trees, it was quite...moving." she adds, a mischievous glint in her eye.

"Are there others like us?" Ibaeli asks hopefully.

"Not living." she answers sadly. "He will not suffer a threat to his power to survive. Remember that if you return to the forest. Do so quietly or he will find you. I do believe that there are others who feel the same as us however, they are just conflicted. Scared. With your help though Ibaeli...perhaps we will reach them."

"What should I do?" Ibaeli asks desperately.

She almost laughs and shakes her head. "If I knew that Ibaeli, I'd have already done it." and with that she leaps into the air gracefully, becoming a crow and disappearing amid the trees as she does so.


First Post
It's been two days since Ibaeli vanished into the forest swearing revenge and neither Kavos nor any other member of Westbank has seen hide nor hair of him or his companion since. Just to be safe, Kavos has set up a regular night patrol with Looman and the deputies and personally keeps an eye out during his daily duties. Everything has been silent, so it's past due when he gets a hastily scribbled letter from Professor Rambalt which simply reads: "Come quick, there's been an incident."

Kavos drops what he's doing and rushes to Rambalt's house immediately, when he arrives he finds Rambalt waiting on the doorstep pale and jittery.

"I don't know.." Rambalt says shaking his head. "I mean, it couldn't...there's no way, I just... Something happened." he finally says exasperatedly.

Kavos tells him to calm down and just show him.

Rambalt leads the aging priest inside and Kavos can clearly hear the sound of somebody ransacking Rambalt's basement, he readies his staff and inches down the cowardly mage's stairs as quietly as he can. On roughly the third step he hears a mournful wail cut through the house, causing him to shudder slightly at the sound. The wailing seems to pick up its tempo rather than subside.

When Kavos finally steps into the basement proper he sees that it is set up as Rambalt's cellar in Briar's Pass was, with tables laid out and doodads hung up; the corpse of the bandit is laid on one table and a naked, gaunt corpse is staring at itself in Rambalt's full sized mirror; pieces of glass showering everything as the creature shatters it. It's holding its head in its hands as it turns around and then suddenly stops, staring at him.

"Kavos!" it shouts, rushing forward and throwing its arms around him before he can react. With a start, Kavos realizes that it's Gandil only...deader. With a second shock, he realizes that the creature has sapped his strength and it's become impossible to move.

"I vividly remember being killed by bandits and then....other unpleasant things. How am I alive?" Gandil asks, confused.

"You, erm...aren't." Rambalt says, coughing nervously. "I was repairing your wounds to prepare you for umm... But it seems that your spirit was still bound to your body, waiting to come back."

"Oh....Kavos," Gandil says, fear evident in his voice as he realizes where he's been. "The priests are all wrong, the afterlife is a horrible, horrible place. Way more fire and blood than I was led to believe would be waiting for me in paradise...I'd hate to see what Hell is like."

Rambalt seems to be trembling. "I don't know what happened..." he whimpers "I...I repaired the body and it sat up. It's not supposed to do that. They're not supposed to do that!"

Gandil turns to face Rambalt, his skin is gaunt and sickly, taking on an unnatural tone much like a man with jaundice; however his eyes (though unnaturally yellow) are sharp and alert,most definitely not the eyes of a dead man. His numerous wounds are stitched together haphazardly but he doesn't seem to mind or notice. As he releases Kavos the cleric tumbles to the ground, temporarily paralyzed.

Kavos realizes that Gandil is some form of ghoul, though a chattier specimen than is usually observed. Rambalt apparently realizes the same thing and as Gandil reaches to help Kavos up the usually reserved mage warns him against it; after a few seconds Kavos takes a deep breath and sits up under his own power.

"Gandil?" Kavos asks incredulously.

"Do you...know it, Kavos?" Rambalt asks with a note of wonder in his voice.

"It?" Gandil demands, "I am Gandil, SHERIFF of this town! What the hell are you doing in my basement?"

"Gandil..." Kavos says, putting out a hand to silence him as he stands up. "Gandil, when your head was detached from your body, Looman became the sheriff...and I gave Professor Rambalt your house."

"Nonsense!" Gandil shouts, "Looman doesn't have what it takes to police this town, I've got to get out there and make sure everyone's safe!" he says, bolting towards the stairs buck naked.

"Wait, wait, wait!" Rambalt says, running after him. "You're naked and quite obviously undead, you HAVE to cover yourself before you go out!"

Gandil stops in his tracks and looks down at the grisly wounds which cover his body, "You...make some good points." the impulsive warrior says. "Fetch me something that's nicer than whatever this is that you're wearing. I've got sheriffing to do."

Kavos steps between Gandil and the stairs, "Gandil, you're undead. REALLY undead, you can't just take a stroll through town, you'll cause a panic. We need to figure something out."

Rambalt returns from a closet with an outfit identical to the one he's wearing but without any obvious blood stains. "I don't own any finery," the professor admits by way of an apology, "Though I may be able to help your...umm...appearance."

"How long would it last Rambalt?" Kavos asks, immediately distrusting anything that sounds too easy.

"Almost long as he' careful." Rambalt responds. "It'll take me a day or two to prepare, but so long as you wear this hat," he says, digging a modest looking cap from one of his closet, "You should appear human."

Gandil sighs and apologizes to Rambalt for his rudeness, he says that it's just the 'murdered and woke up naked' thing that's getting to him. Rambalt says that while he doesn't understand, having never been in Gandil's posotion, he does assume that it would be trying.

Rambalt gets to work fashioning Gandil a Hat of Disguise and while Gandil doesn't understand why he should hide himself from the town (claiming that the townspeople would adore him no matter what he is) he sits patiently all the same.

It's early morning when Rambalt finally finishes the hat and Gandil immediately paces it on his head and rushes outside to meet the day. Since it's so early, the only people that Gandil see right off are a handful of laborers dragging boxes down to the dock in preparation for their promised delivery from Eastbank. From his/Rambalt's house Gandil can see the temple of Pelor, as well as the inn and Hadran's home.

Gandil takes a deep breath and Rambalt steps out behind him, placing Longarm's enchanted falchion into Gandil's empty hand. Rambalt helpfully suggests that every sheriff needs a weapon and Gandil cheerfully agrees as he straps the weapon's sheath to his back.

"People of Westbank!" Gandil shouts at the top of his vestigal lungs, "Your beloved sheriff HAS RETURNED!"

The workers look up at the noise and one of them drops their load in surprise. A murmur arises from the startled laborers and it quickly becomes a commotion which brings more and more townspeople out of their houses to see what it's about. Rambalt is nervous at all of this attention and slips back into his home to leave Gandil alone with his public.

Everyone had heard of what happened to Gandil and many had seen Jonathan Lark carry his headless corpse into Adrian's basement, that he's somehow back from the dead is a chilling concept. Several people cheer and one rushes to get Father Adrian to see what he thinks of this.

Soon a crowd has gathered and continues growing in front of Rambalt's house, they begin asking questions concerning what the other side is like and which god he worships that was considerate enough to bring him back. Before Gandil has a chance to answer anything however, Kavos steps out of the crowd with his hands up.

"Good citizens of Westbank, our lord Pelor has granted me the miraculous power necessary to resurrect our fallen hero in these troubled times. Do not pester Gandil about his final reward, it is the place of great Pelor alone to reveal such marvels." Kavos says, dripping with false humility.

Gandil shudders at the thought of what he actually witnessed on the other side, though noone seems to pick up on it. The crowd seems disappointed, but accept Kavos's plea. The devoted Pelorites of the town ttake this opportunity o tell everyone else that they'd always told them so.

Gandil takes this opportunity to slip back into his home while Kavos offers to perform further miracles for the crowd in the name of Pelor(since he's apparently Pelor's chosen prophet now). Once Gandil is out of sight he grabs Rambalt by the throat paralyzing the little man, he growls "Tell NOONE of what really happened. I'll only warn you this once!"

As soon as the paralysis wears off, Rambalt seems strangely relieved. "Me?! I was terrified YOU were going to tell them that I turned you into a monster!" he says, collapsing into one of the living room's chairs. "Villagers generally don't like to hear that about their neighbors...and they generally voice their displeasure with fire and clubs and ALL KINDS of things that are bad for my health."

Gandil suddenly feels bad for the sheepish little mage and apologizes again, saying that he just wants what's good for the town and that he wouldn't really hurt him. Of course knowing that Rambalt wants the same secrets kept that he does makes that easier to say with a straight face.

Stepping back out onto the streets, Gandil discovers Kavos leading a prayer session in Pelor's name and making promises of prosperity and health for everyone present. Gandil whispers in Kavos's ear "Don't lay it on too thick, you'll blow it for both of us. I may have been gone for a little while, but we're still a team.

"Blessed day!" Father Adrian says in a powerful, resounding voice, interrupting their conversation. "Pelor has returned our sheriff!"

Both Gandil and Kavos turn to face his sudden appearance and Father Adrian lunges forward before either of them can say anything, Gandil realizes what's happening a split second before Father Adrian connects and takes a step back, causing Adrian's grab attempt to miss.

"Apologies sheriff." Father Adrian says, a smile on his face. "It was only a handshake, though I suppose you're still a little jumpy from your ordeal."

Kavos is quick to step in, "Yes, the trauma of the bandit's assault still weighs heavy on his mind; it will take him a while to feel comfortable with the touch of another."

Father Adrian nods in agreement. "Of course, of course. Come sheriff," he says, motioning towards his temple for them to follow him away from the gawking crowd. "I'll send word to Looman that you've returned, I imagine he's anxious to return to his corn."

Once they're inside the temple and alone Father Adrian turns to them. "The reason I was searching for you mayor is a matter that I believe is very close to Sheriff Gandil's heart. I've heard a disturbing rumor that bandits may have taken over the Jannerson's cabin up in the mountain. Now most people don't look on the Jannerson's as even being part of the village proper, but they've always been pious and I feel that Pelor would have us look after our own."

Gandil swallows nervously at the prospect of facing the bandits again. "We have to proceed with caution," he warns ominously. "They are tougher than even the mighty ettercap and each fights with the strength of three men, their black sorcery alone nearly brought me to my knees."

Now I'm not sure if that's how Gandil remembers it or if he's trying to save face, it's really hard to tell with Gandil, but it cracks me up regardless because I know that they were literally a bunch of CR1 warriors that just got lucky against a 6th level fighter.

Regardless, Gandil assures Father Adrian that the bandits will fall and the Jannerson family will be saved. He grins and says that he knows just where to secure some assistance.

As soon as they step outside Kavos tells Gandil that they can't go to the unicorn for help. Gandil is understandably upset by this.

"We can't do this alone Kavos, are you forgetting that they've already murdered me once!?" Gandil exclaims, barely able to keep his voice under control. "He still owes us a favor right? Let's call it in!"

"Gandil..." Kavos says, shaking his head. "While you were gone, the unicorn situation got a little hairy. I angered one of his minions and haven't heard from either of them since, we've got to assume that we aren't welcome in the forest anymore."

"I'm sure that whatever problems you had while I was gone can be resolved-" Gandil starts, but is interrupted by Kavos.

"Gandi! I don't think you heard me. A druid wants me dead. I'M not going into the forest." Kavos states flatly. "We can take care of this on our own. We have to, that's what they're paying us for."

"Then I'll go myself." Gandil says, starting off in the direction of the forest.

"You're undead!" Kavos says under his breath, catching up.

It suddenly occurs to Gandil that the unicorn isn't exactly the understanding type and that he should probably keep his undead ass away from him. "Then we'll call on our dwarven ally in Eastbank!" Gandil says with a final nod.

"Bryce?" Kavos asks with a snort. "It'd be more productive to just deal directly with the bandits. He's a cold man Gandil and we've got nothing to offer him for his assistance."

"I've never seen anything like them!" Gandil says, his ego not allowing him to believe they were anything less than a legion of supermen. "If we don't get help they'll kill us both and you'll end up as a monster like me."

Kavos sighs and tells Gandil that he's fought them before as well and that they're just common thieves. He tells Gandil that he actually has the corpse of one of them in Rambalt's basement and Gandil demands to see him so they visit Rambalt to check on the corpse.

Rambalt explains that it's still sitting where he left it on the table downstairs, he says that he's not been able to summon up the courage to try and repair this one yet.

Gandil recognizes the bandit as the one who attempted to flee and tells Kavos that if they can bring him back like he was brought back that he might be an easily cowed ally. Gandil demands that Rambalt bring this man back immediately.

Rambalt sputters out that he's not some sort of necromancer, that he's never done that before. "I don't even know HOW I brought you back Gandil, certainly not how you retained your personality."

Kavos rolls up his sleeves and offers up a prayer to Asmodeous as he casts Animate Dead on the bandit's corpse. It sits up with a hollow groan and stares at Kavos expectantly, but without intelligence.

"What's this?" Gandil shouts.

Kavos screams back "I don't know, I thought that might work!"

"Well kill it and start over again!" Gandil demands.

"We don't even know if we can bring him back." Rambalt says, trying to calm everything down. "I've worked on plenty of corpses in my day and yours is the ONLY one that's ever stood back up on Gandil. Maybe it was the circumstances of your death or simply your unwllingness to, well, die."

"Regardless," Kavos says. "We can use this man in death more effectively than in life. We'll bind and gag him, the bandits will think that he's our prisoner and let us within their ranks."

"We'll call that Plan B." Gandil says, turning on his heels and heading out the door.

"Then what's Plan A?" Kavos calls after him with an exasperated sigh.

"I'm going to Eastbank." the stubborn sheriff says like it should be the most obvious thing in the world.

The journey to Eastbank takes most of the day but Gandil doesn't feel any sense of weariness from his long walk. Once in Eastbank he seeks out the office of Bryce Haverston but is stopped by a guard standing by the door with a heavy bound leather book in hand, the guard dismisses Gandil by saying that Bryce isn't accepting visitors today.

"I have an appointment!" Gandil says, feigning outrage.

The guard checks his book and shakes his head. "Apparently Mr Haverston has canceled it. What's your name sir? He has an opening tomorrow morning, so long as your business takes no longer than a quarter of an hour."

"Bryce will have you sodomized for treating me this way! Let me in now or a most undesirable fate shall fall upon you."

"Sir, I apologize. However I was personally instructed to cut off my predecessor's feet and drop in the river. Whatever Mr Harverston does or does not do to my aresehole; I intend to avoid drowning." the guard says in a sincere tone.

"Ah, understandable...but try to avoid this!" Gandil shouts, lunging toward the man's face with his exposed hand, attempting to paralyze the man with his ghoulish powers.

The guard bats Gandil's hand to the side and says "Sir, please make an appointment if you'd like to see Mr Haverston."

"Guards! Guards! Guards!" Gandil begins shouting at the top of his voice. A pair of burly men in polished scalemail show up to the commotion.

"This man assaulted me!" Gandil shouts, "He attempted to cast some sort of evil spell or other such nonsense. He's a witch! Burn him!" Gandil continues accusationally, unsure of where his own tangent is going.

The guards stare at each other and then at Haverston's guard. "Is this guy for real?" one of them asks with a confused look on his face.

"You want us to 'lose' him for you Jack?" the second guard asks with a laugh.

"I demand he be sodomized and I want an audience with Mr Haverston!" Gandil shouts.

"See?" Haverston's guard asks. "He keeps saying he has business with Haverston, but won't even tell me his name."

"I am Gandil, the legendary sheriff of Westbank and slayer of ettercaps. I request audience with him to offer him the head of a unicorn in exchange for his help" Gandil says, puffing out his chest.

The guards in scalemail look at each other for a moment, amusement etched into their faces. "Sir, have you been drinking?"

"I challenge all three of you to a duel!" Gandil shouts. "If I win, I get to see Haverston. If you win I'll spend the night in the drunk tank with no further commotion."

All three guards exchange glances.

"I won't even use my sword, we'll settle this like gentlemen." Gandil says proudly.

The guards nod. "Fair enough." one of them says and throws a haymaker that would've knocked the sense from a lesser man, but fails to even whip Gandil's head around. Gandil grins and responds by savagely clawing the guard's face and biting the man's throat so that all present are hit by the eruption of blood.

"What the f*** is wrong with you?" the guard's partner shouts, trying to stop the bleeding while the door guard begins tearing his cloak to make gauze.

"Do you concede?" Gandil asks obliviously, his victim's gore still dripping down his face.

Both remaining guards look at each other before drawing their swords and charging with a full-throated roar. Both pierce Gandil painfully, though it doesn't seem to affect him like it should.

"Have you no honor?" Gandil asks in shock. "We agreed to settle this as men, without the use of weapons!" he shouts, palming one of the guards in the face, paralyzing the man completely. He grabs the second guard by the back of the head and bites his face completely off.

A commotion has broken out and several more guards are charging into the fray. Gandil dodges and weaves as best he can though even when the blades do make contact they don't seem to phase him. Gandil bites another of the guards on the arm, causing the man to drop his sword and fall back in terror, Gandil claws another man to the point of death with his bare hands.

The fight goes on with Gandil thinning their numbers quickly, but before he's finished more than a dozen new guards show up in full battle gear. He declares that this is the most dishonorable town he's ever been associated with and bolts into a back alley as the guards shout after him. A good samaritan attempts to tackle him and loses an eye to Gandil's instinctual hunger for his trouble.

It doesn't take long until half the town is after Gandil and the suddenly panicked sheriff charges for the river, mutilating anyone who gets in his way, and tosses himself into the current. He claws his way out about 2/3rds of the way downstream and walks the rest of the way to Westbank feeling a little disappointed.

Plan B it is then.

Gandil washes up as best he can on the way back to Westbank, though the Hat of Disguise hides the worst of his mistakes. It's the next morning when he finally makes his way back and he finds Kavos and Rambalt fitting the zombie bandit with a Hat of Disguise of its own.

Kavos inspects the bandit zombie's illusion; it appears slackjawed, underfed and ignorant. He declares the illusion complete, it's just as he remembered him. Kavos casts Glyph of Warding onto a small jewelry box he picked up while Gandil was terrorizing Eastbank and orders the former bandit to hold it.

When Kavos notices Gandil standing nearby he asks how it went in Eastbank. "Met some interesting people, had a bite to eat..." Gandil says innocently. "We can't rely on Eastbank for assistance, they're a bunch of honorless thugs. They violated the terms of a formal duel and then reneged on our agreed terms."

"Sounds like what the folks around here say about them." Kavos says, putting the finishing touches on the bandit's illusions.

"There is something else though..." Gandil says nervously. "I'm sort of...hungering for human flesh."

Kavos and Rambalt's heads both snap up to stare at Gandil in shock.

Gandil holds up his hands "And that's worrisome!" he quickly explains defensively, "Not something I want to do."

"Keep your voice down!" Kavos hisses. "Rambalt, why does he suddenly want to eat people?"

Rambalt stammers for a moment "The common theory is that undead sustain themselves by stealing the life of others. It's the main reason I abandoned undead research in favor of golems, as a sizable undead population wouldn't be sustainable."

"Do we have any prisoners?" Gandil asks, licking his lips in a disturbing manner.

Kavos just goes into a thousand yard stare, twitching in irritation.

"Sadly, the bandit's corpse would no longer satisfy you as he too is now undead. It may be possible to capture live bandits or maybe even..other creatures." Rambalt suggests.

"Unicorns?" Gandil asks, knowing right where to get one.

"Unicorns are too rare and their beastblood may make them unsuitable to your needs." Rambalt says with a shake of his head. "You need humanoids. From what I've heard of the creatures in the lake, they should do the trick just fine. Another option that is nearly as numerous would be kobolds. The impish creatures multiply like rats and inhabit most every forest in the known world. I would wager that they are responsible for a multitude of nuisances both here and Briar's Pass."

Gandil salivates at the thought of eating one of the childlike creatures but Kavos shakes his head. "We don't have time for that Gandil, I'm going to take care of the bandits. If you're brave enough to help out, I'd love the company."

"Bandits should do just fine..." Gandil mutters, forgetting his former fear of them.

"Just to be safe," Rambalt interjects, "I'd recommend bringing in at least one bandit alive. You may need to...stretch your food supply a bit." he says, disturbingly ok with this.

It takes several hours for them to find the Jannerson's cabin and they find it swarming with bandits who are hanging out fairly informally and wearing light or no armor. There's more than a dozen of them cracking up and lounging about.

Kavos sends the bandit out ahead of him and Gandil and makes enough notice that nobody could miss their approach.

One of the bigger guys moves down to meet them once they're brought to his attention. "The hell do we have here?" he shouts.

"I've come to negotiate with whomever may be leading you." Kavos says loudly. "I bear gifts and coins for your leader."

The big man swells his chest with pride and announces that that was him.

"Excellent." Kavos says, "I am the mayor of Westbank and I have come to hire you as a militia of sort for our village. Are you interested?"

The big man laughs and glances over his shoulder at the suddenly interested bandits. "Yeah, alright. So long as it doesn't conflict with our, ahem, dayjobs too much. How much are you offering?"

"The only problem, is that we need you to decapitate a local sheriff." Gandil calls out coldly. "Is that something that you guys do?

"With pleasure." the big man says, his broad grin widening. A particularly greasy looking bandit that's obviously drunk out of his mind giggles and says that it wouldn't be the first time.

Kavos places a hand on Gandil's chest subtly and smiles. "Can we discuss business inside?"

The bandit leader nods and invites the PCs and heir captive into the house to talk things out, apparently not caring why his captured friend is so quiet. The inside of the house is a complete mess and two members of the family are obviously dead by the door with their hands bound and their throats cut. The big bandit motions to a chair as he takes a seat himself.

Kavos quickly takes in the room to make sure they're alone and takes his seat, glancing by the windows and noticing that they're widely spaced and built high, obviously installed by someone unskilled. "What would it take for us to make a deal? What are your terms?" he asks pleasantly.

"We want what any man wants," the big bandit says with a laugh. "A fair week's pay for a fair day's work."

"Sounds fair." Kavos says, returning the laugh. "How much does a fair week's work come to nowadays? I haven't done any in years."

"We're clearing almost one hundred gold a week with our current employer, as well as other, less tangible benefits." the bandit boss says as he leans back in his chair.

"Current employer? So you aren't just opportunists?" Kavos asks.

The bandit leader laughs, "Oh no, we strike where we're told. This area is too sparsely traveled to be worth hanging around just waiting for an opportunity."

"Then how much gold would loosen your lips on who that may be?" Kavos asks.

The bandit seems insulted. "No amount of gold can get that information; our business is a discrete one. I answer your questions and the next thing you know you're wondering what I'm going to go around saying about you. Our work demands secrecy or we don't get no more."

"Do you know who I am?" Kavos asks pleasantly. "For that matter, do you know who this is next to me?"

"You already said." the bandit says flippantly. "The Mayor of Westbank and if I had to guess, I'd say that that fella there is the man standing next to the Mayor of Westbank."

"Close." Kavos says with a soft laugh. "He's the Sheriff of Westbank, the very one that YOUR men murdered. I can assure you that I am more powerful than any employer you may have. If I can bring a man back to life do you really want to know what else I can do?" Kavos asks coldly.

The bandit's boisterous exterior falters and a look of fear covers his face, however it only lasts for a moment before his grin returns. "Your sorcery is impressive, but our employer works his own brand of magic. While I don't know what you can do to me, I know EXACTLY what he'll do."

With that Gandil removes his hat and reveals his horrific visage, including the nasty scar where his head was reattached. "Does it involve digesting your innards?" he growls.

The bandit stares open mouthed at Gandil's undead form. "W-w-what is this? You bring monsters into my home?!"

The bandit begins to rise but is struck with Cause Fear by Kavos, he shouts in panic and our heroes hear footsteps rushing towards the door. Both Gandil and the zombie bandit press against the door with all their strength to keep it closed and the bandits outside begin cursing.

"I don't want to see you dead." Kavos says, rising from his chair and keeping his voice perfectly calm. "But you give me little incentive not to."

"If I tell you anything then he'll cut out my tongue and sew my eyes shut! The sick son of a bitch lives to send a message!" the bandit leader nearly shrieks.

"I'll do much, much worse." Kavos says, drawing out his amulet of Asmodeous.

"I don't know his name! He's some crazy dwarf in Eastbank, he seems to be a big shot!" the bandit shouts in terror. "He's got the clout to back it up, enough to pull us off or put us on the chopping block whenever he wants!"

Kavos grins. "Was that so hard? Now, let's iron out this deal while we're here, hrm?"

The door heaves and Gandil and the zombie are finally pushed out of the way, four men push in and Kavos raises his hands cordially, explaining that it was just a misunderstanding and that things are better now. The bandit glances at the scene before him nervously however is suddenly paralyzed by a blow from Gandil once the sheriff recognizes one of the bandits as a man that had a hand in his death.

The first bandit goes down paralyzed and the second, the one that watched Gandil die the first time, has his throat bitten out by the suddenly enraged warrior.

The remaining bandits skewer Gandil, however accomplish little and he responds by tearing into a third bandit and leaving the man as little more than a pile of screaming meat. Three more bandits from outside charge into the fray as the Bandit leader takes this opportunity to attack Kavos from behind, impaling the distracted cleric easily.

The zombie finds itself in the middle of a group of enemies and opens its jewelry box, causing a wave of sonic damage to strike almost everyone in the room. Several bandits are knocked out outright. Kavos stumbles away from the bandit leader and follows up by Channeling Negative Energy to both heal the damage he just did to his allies and knock out most of the rest of the bandits.

Gandil grabs the last bandit facing him and snaps the man's neck easily before rushing the bandit leader. Kavos shouts not to kill him because he may be valuable.

The leader deftly parries Gandil's blow before moving closer to Kavos and cleaves deep into the elderly cleric's side. Two more bandits rush in from outside and rush Gandil, however the warrior is too fast for them and they fail to land a blow.

Kavos attempts to cast a spell, but is driven to the ground by the large bandit who continues hacking away at the defenseless priest. Gandil seizes his two opponents with his vicious claws and tears their throats out with a roar.

Kavos finally manages to cast Command: Fall on his attacker and the bandit leader throws himself to the ground, Gandil immediately pounces and paralyzes the big man with a touch, then he and Kavos curbstomp him savagely. Kavos then takes this opportunity to whip out a length of silk rope and tie the bandit up for later.

Once Gandil realizes that nobody else is coming he falls onto one of the slain bandits and begins devouring the man in great noisy bites. Kavos draws his dagger and forces the bandit leader's mouth open.

"Like I was saying before, you worry too much about what the dwarf can do to you. You'll see though, it's not that bad." Kavos says with a sadistic grin, making the man's nightmare come true. The man shrieks wordlessly without a tongue but Kavos continues comforting him. "Hey, if this is the worst thing that happens to you today, consider yourself lucky."

Once Gandil finishes eating his fill he looks up and notices Kavos sewing the bandit leader's eyes shut. Despite the fact he's literally dripping with the juices of his victims however, Gandil seems offended at this. "Was that necessary?" he demands, placing his hat back on his head and becoming a picture of normalcy once again.

"Rambalt said that you need a living sample to feed from. I don't want to hear what he thinks of you eating him and I don't want him to be able to see our operation just in case he somehow manages to escape before we cut off his legs." Kavos explains, wiping of his tools.

Looking around, Kavos notices that they've got nearly ten useable corpses but realizes that they have no way of getting them down the mountain. He flips a table and breaks the legs off and then has Gandil assist in finding other odds and ends to work with. They find crudely drawn unholy symbols all over the house, some carved and others smeared in blood; Kavos starts thinking that there might be more to the bandits than they let on....

Finally they manage to fashion a makeshift sledge to tie to the back of Kavos's horse and Gandil and Kavos pile both the mess of corpses and the sobbing shell of the bandit leader onto the sled before tying them down but good. It's getting late and the mountains are treacherous, however Kavos doesn't want to wait until the morning and risk corrupting the bodies any further so they set off at a slow, even pace.

As the sun is going down Gandil notices a glinting far off in the distance to the wet, it appears to be a large structure made of polished black stone. Most likely the very Blackstone Keep they were sent to take over. However time is of the essence and they decide that it's not worth investigating tonight.

The going is rough and several times they very nearly tumble off the side of the mountain and break their necks, but outside of poor visiblity and the call of a cougar in the distance they don't encounter any further dangers. It's nearing 10pm when the two of them (along with their zombie bandit, hostage and pile of corpses) return to town and luckily everyone's bedded down for the night, so they miss the ghastly procession into Rambalt's home.

Rambalt is burning the midnight oil and lets the PCs in excitedly, nearly swooning when he sees the sheer volume of fresh corpses they've brought him. "They're still fresh!" he nearly shouts. "Yes...yes, I can make these work. They'll work just fine!" he happily proclaims.

Kavos leads the bandit leader into Rambalt's lab as the little man and Gandil begin dragging bodies downstairs. Rambalt motions to a steel collar in the corner and suggests that Kavos hitch the voiceless bandit there for now.

Gandil eyes the terrified man somewhat guiltily and asks if there's any flesh substitute that Rambalt could make so that he wouldn't have to eat people.

Rambalt shakes his head. "Not that I know of. There's never been much research on alternative undead diets, at least none that's ever went anywhere."

"How rare is an undead with a mind of its own?" Gandil asks.

Rambalt wipes sweat from his brow and shakes his head "Exceedingly." he says simply. "Ghouls naturally have a faint spark of their former selves left, but a truly sentient undead requires powerful magic to animate."

"You mean somebody purposefully brought me back?" Gandil asks incredulously. "Does that mean that they could be controlling me and I wouldn't even know it?" A note of panic creeps into his voice. "Do you have the juice for something like that Rambalt?"

Rambalt shakes his head. "If I had that kind of expertise I wouldn't have spent the lsat decade studying golem production. Fully sentient undead that don't attempt to eat me would be much, much easier to produce."

"Well somebody did it!" Gandil shouts. "People don't just get up and run around after getting murdered. Either somebody powerful brought me back as a flesh eating monster out of the goodness of their heart....or they're in my mind, controlling me like a puppet!"

Kavos moves to calm Gandil down, though it doesn't seem to work.

"The unicorn! Kavos, what about the unicorn? He's powerful. Could he be behind this?" Gandil asks frantically.

"He's powerful Gandil, but I'm positive this isn't him. Even if this wasn't a complete violation of the natural order, he wouldn't do us a favor without demanding something in return." Kavos assures his companion.

"You should go talk to him. Find out!" Gandil suggests. "Kavos, I've got to know if I've got free will!"

"I'm not going to be doing that." Kavos says dismissively. "You're back, I'm not going to risk my life finding out why. Let's not look a gift horse in the mouth. Besides, you seem to have plenty of control over yourself."

"I'm eating people Kavos! Does that seem like self control to you?" Gandil demands.

Kavos holds ups his hands reassuringly. "We'll figure this out Gandil, if someone has a hold over you I'm sure I can break it." the wily priest lies.

Gandil insists they do it immediatley, but Kavos needs a night of prayer to regain his energy. Gandil agrees and paces the lab all night.

The next morning Kavos sends word that he's only to be bothered if it's an emergency and takes Gandil somewhere secluded to test some things. He uses Command Undead on Gandil and forces the sheriff to climb a tree and leap out just to assert his control. He explains to Gandil that this is what being under someone else's control feels like and Gandil admits that he normally doesn't feel like this. However Gandil does point out that Kavos isn't trying to be subtle about it.

They spend the day trying different variations of commands to see if Kavos can convince Gandil that everything he asks is Gandil's own idea, however nothing works. Gandil feels a bit better, but still believes he's being manipulated and fears the moment when his mysterious benefactor calls in his debt.

Kavos releases his control come nightfall and returns to his home to sleep, placing his zombie on guard inside his home and leaving Gandil to his own devices. Gandil spends the night debating on visiting the unicorn by himself.

Eventually Gandil decides that visiting the unicorn in his current condition might strain their relationship and instead visits with Rambalt, finding the normally reserved mage cheerfully cutting up corpses, picking and choosing the least damaged parts from among them to form a more perfect whole.

"What do you know about unicorns?" Gandil asks curiously.

"Before I came here I would have I didn't believe in them, at least not anymore. They've always been rare to the point of extinct and I haven't heard of a credible encounter with one since I was a kid. I mean back in Briar's Pass I heard people talk about there being unicorns in the forest, but they claimed that LOTS of things live in the forest." Rambalt says with a chuckle.

"So you've never seen one up close?" Gandil asks a little surprised, just assuming the little man knew everything.

Rambalt shakes his head. "No and I don't want to. That druid that Kavos mentioned wanted to bring my head to it."

Gandil's a little disappointed that Rambalt doesn't know anything of importance about unicorns and their powers, but he still hangs out and assists where he can. Rambalt tosses him leftover bandit scraps as they work and seems altogether more comfortable with Gandil's new feeding habits than Gandil himself.

Several days pass in this manner with Kavos helping Rambalt to keep the bodies fresh and Gandil helping out nearly 24/7 now that he no longer needs to sleep. The village seems to be running itself at this point and outside of Father Adrian's broken heart when they report the death of the Jannersons, everything seems to be going fine.

Kavos is rightly proud of his work here.

Several days later, the sun isn't up, but they know it's morning. Rambalt is a madman with a basement full of brand new corpses, so obviously he's not sleeping. Gandil has replaced his base human needs with the ability to survive off of murder so he doesn't have to sleep anymore, instead he's playing Igor to Rambalt. Kavos is the only one getting a good night's rest as well as the only one above ground.

Kavos wakes up, unsure of exactly why since it's still another hour or two before he normally rises. He starts to go back to sleep when he hears it: Shouting in the street. Faint, like it's heading away from him but definitely there. Grabbing his staff and ordering the zombie to attack anything that steps into his house and isn't him, Kavos rushes outside to see what the commotion is about.

Deputy Devon and a group of laborers are gathered on the docks, gawking upstream and shouting excitedly. Other townspeople are being drawn out of their houses by the noise and add their own shouts to the mix once they reach the docks.

Kavos walks down to the docks, rubbing the sleep from his eyes and stops in his tracks when his vision focuses. Nearly a dozen ships are coming to Westbank, each appears to be a merchant vessel and unarmed. The mayor starts to smile broadly, assuming that Bryce had exceeded all expectations in reopening trade.

The excitement is short lived however, as Kavos notices that one of the vessels is emitting a thick, black smoke and doesn't seem to be under anyone's control, beaching itself on the side of the river as the rest maneuver the best they can to avoid being dragged under by its erratic movements.

Kavos estimates that they'll be here in about fifteen minutes and runs as fast as he can back to his home to quickly dress in his finest clothes, not wanting these people to see the Mayor of Westbank as some sleep-addled rube. With time to spare he beats on Rambalt's door and tells Gandil to get the deputies and be ready for anything before returning to the docks.

The first ship docks, it's a small craft with about a dozen people obvious on board. Kavos moves to welcome them when a mother clutching a small, bloodly child to her breast rushes off of the boat; wailing loudly as she rocks her child back and forth. One of only two men on board begins shouting that the kid needs help now!

Kavos rushes forward and casts Cure Light Wounds on the injured child, however the boy is clammy and burning up, Kavos realizes that this kid is deathly sick and he doesn't have a Cure Disease prepared. Kavos sees Gandil out of the corner of his eye and shouts "Get Adrian!" and the sheriff rushes to do as he's told.

"What happened?" Kavos asks, seeing the next pair of ships move to dock as well.

The man from the first ship shakes his head "I don't know, there was some sort of riot in Eastbank. Everything's gone to hell! Some guards bit a bunch of people a few days ago and by last night it seems like the whole damned town's joined in!"

Gandil and Father Adrian arrive just in time to hear that and Gandil exchanges a slack jawed glance at Kavos. Father Adrian takes the boy from his mother and utters a prayer, saying that the child will be fine but that he doesn't have any more prepared at the moment.

"Anyone that's been bitten or feels ill, please line up with me!" Kavos shouts as the ships begin to empty of other terrified survivors. He repeats his call several times saying that he can cure them all but he needs their cooperation.

Gandil sidles up to Kavos and whispers "Am I infectious?"

Kavos glances from the throng of survivors and hisses through his teeth "Why are you asking me? Seems like something YOU should know!"

Another thirteen ships can be seen in the distance.

"How would I know that?" Gandil asks. "You're the religious guy, this seems like something you should know!"

"Well OBVIOUSLY you're infectious!" Kavos answers between encouraging quips at the crowd. "A city doesn't just start eating itself." he whispers before shooing Gandil away so he can concentrate.

Gandil summons his deputies and they begin investigating each ship as it docks, sending anyone that's been bitten or is in anyway sick over to Kavos's quarantine zone. Kavos then has Father Adrian take the infected people to Jessop's farm and quarantine them in his barn, he tells Adrian that he'll square things with the grieving farmer later but right now it's all he can think of.

Another ship docks, though this one is quite unlike the rest. It's a massive and gilded pleasure craft with intricate carvings and gold platings all over its hull.

Gandil's men are ordering everyone not infected to return to their craft until further notice and Kavos instructs the townspeople to do the same, not allowing ANYONE into their homes unless it is himself, the sheriff or one of the deputies. Elder Hadran and the ranger Jonathan Lark head out to the farms to warn them personally.

The ships are resistant to this treatment however and the more ships that land, the harder it is to control the occupants; no matter how dire the situation the fact remains that it's five men versus what looks like the entirety of Eastbank.

As the tide of bodies grows larger and larger, a familiar face appears in the crowd. Bryce Haverston exits his gilded craft wearing a heavy suit of similarly etched plate mail and escorted by nearly fifteen guards, five of which are fellow dwarves in similarly elaborate plate, the rest are the more strapping examples of the human guards found in Eastbank. His faithful right hand man is at his side as usual.

Bryce balks at Deputy Horace's attempt to search him for bite marks, however his very presence on the docks seems to calm down the other refugees who suddenly seem less excited at the prospect of just walking over the deputies to freedom.

"Why does this man keep trying to peek under my armor?" the dwarf growls. "Is this how you treat guests in Westbank?"

"It is when there's an outbreak of undeath my good dwarf." Kavos says pleasantly.

"Do I appear undead to you?" Bryce asks gruffly.

"Of course not, but we must be thorough. Or would you prefer your new safe haven to be infected too?" Kavos asks.

"By all means, search the riffraff, but it took me the better part of the morning to get into this. I'm not taking it off until I know we're safe." Brye growls.

Kavos nods at Deputy Horace and he lets the dwarf through without inspection, hoping to engender a little good will with their numerous, heavily armed visitors.

Bryce asks Kavos about the situation and Kavos explains just how bad it is, before the cleric is even finished however Bryce orders the ten human guards with him to disperse the crowd back into their boats.

The guards move swiftly and aren't polite like the deputies. When somebody gives them lip, they lose teeth. When they raise a hand to defend themselves, they lose it. Kavos dislikes the rough treatment and believes it's only going to bite them in the ass later, however it's better that Bryce's men are overrun later than his men overran now.

When the headcount comes in there are 19 infected and more than 100 healthy refugees with little more than the clothes on their back. Another dozen or so merchants, most with what little they could save at the lsat minute, but a few (Bryce included) with massive stockpiles and even some luxury goods on board.

Kavos asks Bryce how many ghouls are in Eastbank and if the town is saveable, he glosses over how exactly he knows they're ghouls.

"I have no idea." the dwarf says flatly. "It looked like a mob that stretched from one side of town to the other. I don't know how many were the eaters and how many were the eaten"

"As soon as we deal with the infected here we're going to have to put something together to deal with the ones in Eastbank. We can't leave them unchecked." Kavos replies. "I can't at least."

Bryce nods. "I agree, there's too much merchandise left in Eastbank to just walk away."

Kavos sighs and excuses himself, heading to the quarantine area.

Gandil meanwhile is visiting with Rambalt and asks if it's possible he's responsible for all of this. "Can I really turn people into ghouls by biting them?" he asks, alternatively horrified at his own potential and wondering what would happen if he turned his powers loose in the capital.

Rambalt nods. "Ghouls are known to replicate in that fashion."

Gandil ponders. "Can you come up with a cure?"

Rambalt thinks for a moment. "Not biting people?" he suggests, somewhat less than helpfully.

"This isn't a joking matter Rambalt, a literal boatload of infected people have come through and we need to cure them before they infect Westbank." Gandil says.

Rambalt replies that he doesn't have much of a head for curative magic, but says that he'll look over his books and see what he can come up with. Gandil insists that this is top priority and sits down with Rambalt to help him find something.

In the quarantine area Kavos is questioning people about when they were bitten and how fast the turn happened for the people that were infected before. He gets unhelpful and occasionally conflicting answers, but from the time that the first guard attacked until they had to abandon the town took less than a week. Kavos is on a deadline.

Kavos spends the night with the infected, keeping watch to observe their behavior, deputy Horace assists him. It's the middle of the night when he hears the terrified infected screaming that Ban is dead and discovers that Ban is an elderly man with a deep bite in his side. Horace asks Kavos if they should do something and Kavos replies that they are.

Kavos has Horace watch the rest and drags the old man outside to watch the corpse himself, it's several hours before the old man wakes up with a predatory growl, any weakness he may have suffered in life is long since forgotten. Kavos immediately casts Command Undead and strips the creature of its will.

Having learned what he set out to learn, Kavos instructs the ghoul to go behind the barn and lay face down in the dirt with its eyes closed until further notice. He then steps back inside and tells Horace to go coup de grace the thing. Horace pales and swallows hard but nods his acceptance and goes to do as he's told.

Kavos turns to the rest of the group and encourages them not to worry, that cures will be here first thing in the morning, casting Calm Emotions on the crowd to keep their spirits up.

In the morning Father Adrian appears with a basket of food for the refugees, between Father Adrian and Kavos they heal 5 of the 18 remaining infected. They're discussing what to do next when Gandil bursts in shouting that they've found a vaccine. A potion that can help you fight off the effects of even the most potent disease.

Kavos asks how many Gandil has on him and Gandil replies that they haven't actually made any yet, they just discovered it. Kavos sighs and says that that doesn't do THESE people much good, now does it?

Gandil grits his teeth and throws up his hands in exasperation, leaving the farm without another word. He's still mumbling under his breath about ungrateful this and ingrate that as he gets to town. He's so distracted that he just barely notices the predatory humanoid shape slinking through the field leading up to town; taking cover in brush and foliage along the way.

Gandil acts like he doesn't notice it, but keeps it in sight and change his own course to lead him to the houses on the outskirts of town. Gandil hurries as best he can and comes around the corner of the last house just in time to see the creature trying to pry open a window. He realizes it isn't a simple mindless beast after all, even if it is a hungry one.

Without making a sound Gandil charges and tackles the thing away from the window, trying to paralyze it but discovering that it's immune.

Gandil pins the creature to the ground and discovers that it used to be human but now it's just like him, only hungrier.

Making sure that nobody can see him before tearing into the creature with every attack in his ghoulish arsenal, Gandil sinks both claws and his teeth into the growling thing's face. The ghoul returns blows of its own but is unable to seriously injure Gandil.

Gandil continues raining down blow after blow until the ghoul fights less and less and eventually just stops moving altogether, finally succumbing to final death. Gandil immediately tosses the ghoul over his shoulder and rushes to Rambalt's, doing his best to move unseen.

Bursting into Rambalt's lab Gandil demands to know what this thing is. Rambalt glances at it and then says with some certainty that it's a ghoul, pointing to the bite marks on its forearm and saying that it's most likely from Eastbank.

"Where did it come from? Everyone's on lockdown." Gandil says.

Rambalt swallows nervously. "I would wager that they're running out of they're migrating. It most likely walked here from Eastbank, and I doubt if it came alone."

Gandil curses. "How's the potion coming along? We're going to need a lot of it."


First Post
It's now the next morning, Gandil has warned Kavos about the migrating ghouls and the two of them know that they must prepare the town immediately. Kavos heals a teenage boy and a young girl of their afflictions before drawing Deputy Horace off to the side.

Kavos indicates the rest of the infected, particularly a pair of elderly women, an older man wrapped in bloody bandages and a former guard with half of his face missing. "I've healed all that I can at the moment and have to go prepare the town. I don't think there's much else we can do for these people, they're just too far gone. If they go unconscious, don't wait for them to get back up. End them."

Horace nods, these people aren't his and it's no sweat off his brow if a few Eastbankers have to be put down to save the town.

Kavos returns to town and finds Gandil in Rambalt's lab assisting with brewing potions, the stench is unpleasant. Rambalt corks a flask full of the stuff and tosses it to Kavos.

"It's not a cure, but a decent preventative measure." the mage explains. "It will help burn the disease out of a healthy body, but won't do anything for those already gone. Give it to those who have been, or will be, exposed and it will decrease their chances of succumbing to infection."

Kavos asks how many people he can save with this flask and Rambalt says that it should hold enough for about five people. Rambalt points out that he could inoculate a few gaurds, but he's not got anywhere near enough for the whole town.

Kavos gathers up the few flasks that Rambalt has filled and heads out without another word to find Father Adrian, he instructs the priest to deliver the potion to the quarantine zone and then hand out the remainder as he sees fit. Adrian leaves at once.

Kavos starts spreading the word that the infected have been saved to raise morale but then tells them about the roving packs of ghouls on the way. He calls for everyone to leave their homes and seal themselves into the Eastbank ships until further notice. The people are upset that they should be expected to leave their homes, but aren't so bullheaded as to stand in the path of the cannibalistic tide on the way.

Kavos repeats his spiel for every sizable group he can find to make sure that the word gets out and then goes to find his partner. Gandil is anxious to go look for the ingredients that Rambalt needs to make more potion, but Kavos passes it off on the ranger Lark since he knows the area better. Lark is happy to help and disappears without another word.

Finally, Kavos calls for a meeting between himself and Gandil, the deputies of the town and Bryce Haverston. Since Father Adrian is busy elsewhere, Kavos gathers everybody into the temple of Pelor to discuss their situation. He explains about the ghoul that found its way into town and asks if everyone here will join him in an attack on the ghouls, stressing that all mighty Pelor won't allow them to fail.

The Westbank deputies are all willing and even a little anxious to get out there and save the day, but Haverston and his men are more resistant.

"I've seen what these things are capable of." the dwarf says gruffly. "I'm all for tossing the bastards on the pure, but I'm not convinced that it wouldn't be US doing the roasting. I vote we leave them alone until they run out of bodies. So long as at the end of the day, the eatern are more numerous than the eaters the probem will eventually solve itself."

"I'm not asking for you to lead a charge against the horde in Eastbank Mr Haverston, just lend us some men for a small scouting trip. Once you see the glory of Pelor in action you will know we are destined to win!" Kavos exclaims excitedly.

Bryce strokes his beard and nods. "I'll send two of my dwarves. If Pelor is truly on your side we'll discuss a more notable contribution. In the meantime, I have far too much cargo to leave my ship unguarded for a faint chance at glory."

"I understand." Kavos says with a smile. "I shall send for them at daybreak, when Pelor's power is at its strongest."

"Which reminds me." Bryce says, ignoring Kavos's statement altogether. "Your people are petitioning mine for passage. Our ships are already full of refugees and merchandise. Three hundred farmers are a bit much."

"Surely you can make a little room for the time being." Kavos says, ignoring the inflated numbers. "After all, surely a little space is a fair payment for saving the lives of your citizens."

Bryce grumbles and crosses his arms. "We will take on those that can fit." the dwarf concedes, "But I don't deal in lives, I deal in gold and should something happen to the merchandise we leave on your docks, I expect payment in full. After all, there's little point in the merchants surviving if they've nothing to sell once this is through."

"There's an even smaller point in merchants surviving if they've noone to sell TO my friend." Kavos points out.

"There's always SOMEONE to sell to." Bryce replies with a miserly smile. "My men will be dressed and waiting by sunup. Should you survive, we will see to outfitting a more invasive expedition."

"Marvelous, Mr Haverston. We'll see them at sunup." Kavos says cheerfully.

Come morning Kavos has reconsidered using the deputies. They were mostly brought in to show Bryce that they were committing all of their resources, but now that they've actually got Bryce's dwarves they no longer have to risk their men. For their part, the dwarves don't seem to care that they're going in alone; they're carrying armor and weapons worth more than some of the docked ships and don't see the lack of under-armed and under-trained humans as being a point worth arguing about.

But then dwarves aren't exactly known for their small-talk and these have the rigid look of lifelong soldiers.

The PCs and their dwarven escorts set out into the countryside, heading towards Eastbank and making no attempt to be stealthy; hoping to draw out any ghouls in the area with the promise of a free meal. Gandil sidles up to Kavos as they walk and fall a little behind the dwarves.

"Instead of trying to kill these things, why don't you use your powers to send them after the Duke?" Gandil whispers.

"That might work." Kavos replies thoughtfully. "But there would be considerable civilian casualties and if Lone Gate fell to the ghouls then there would be a literal starving army of the creatures unleashed on the rest of the world."

"I don't care, so long as the people of Westbank are safe." Gandil states flatly. "The duke is going to raze our town to the ground if we do nothing!" Gandil says, forgetting to lower his voice for a moment and buying into his own lies.

At this point Gandil runs down his masterful plan to Kavos:
Step One: Put magic hats on ghouls to hide their identity and mail them to the Duke.
Step Two: End civilization.
Step Three: Don't get eaten.
Step Four: ???
Step Five: Profit.

They start to debate the finer points of this plan when one of the dwarves holds up a hand and points out a trio of ghouls who seem to be feeding in the middle of the road. Kavos tells everyone to stand back and approaches the feeding monsters. As he gets closer however he hears a commotion in the bushes to the north and motions for the dwarves to check it out; they discover four more of the creatures who seem to be gorging themselves on another slain refugee and a large, bloated creature with the uniform of an Eastbank guard.

The ghast and its followers see the dwarves and let out a roar as they charge them, the dwarves nearly trip over themselves to return to the road and stable footing in order to do battle. The three ghouls near Kavos look up in surprise and find the elderly priest standing over them; before any of them can react Kavos uses Command Undead and seizes control of two of them, which he then instructs to murder the third.

Gandil and the dwarves form a semi-circle on the road and Kavos retreats behind them before the ghast and its followers reach them, however the uproar has drawn the attention of three more ghouls who were apparently lounging in a ditch to the east.

The dwarves stand firm as the ghouls charge them, using their shields to keep the monsters at bay while they hack off limbs with their mighty axes. Gandil doesn't want to reveal his own monstrous nature and draws his enchanted Falchion, cleaving a ghoul of his own nearly in half. Kavos summons a giant ant to help protect him and sends his controlled ghouls to slow down the advance to the east.

The battle rages on and rages loud, by the time our heroes have slain half of their foes they hear the clamor of more rushing out of the brush. The dwarves push the fight to the north and Gandil charges at the group to the east, hurling his falchion into the chest of one of them and pouncing on another with nothing but teeth and claws. Kavos loses his ghouls to their hungry brethren and takes control of two more, directing them and his ant to assist the dwarves in holding the line.

The dwarves' armor appears nearly impenetrable, but one of them takes a bite to the side of the face. The man is a consummate professional and doesn't let it slow him down. Gandil spits out a chunk of ghoul and calls to Kavos that they need to retreat.

Kavos summons a spectral weapon which severs the head of another ghoul and simply shouts "PELOR WILL PROTECT US!"

His foes slain, Gandil forgets himself and leaps barehanded into the tide of ghouls trying to press through the dwarves and Kavos's minions, if the dwarves even notice they don't seem to care.

Kavos casts Sound Burst into the crowd and stuns several of the creatures, cripples several others and kills a couple outright. The dwarves take this opportunity to redouble their efforts and suddenly they realize that they can count their foes on one hand.

Gandil and the Ghast lock up in a wrestling match while the dwarves and Kavos mop up the remaining ghouls and finally Gandil gives a victory shout, wrenching the ghast's head to the side and snapping its neck.

When its all said and done, Kavos has one of his ghouls murder his other one and then casts Searing Light onto the winner before taking stock of his team. Gandil's hat of disguise makes it difficult to determine how injured he really is, but Kavos figures that he's good to go and it's not like he can get infected with his own virus. The dwarves are both pretty well battered and one is obviously bitten, but they're hardy bastards and still appear fighting fit.

Kavos expends most of his spells healing everyone back up and comments that it felt like they just fought half of Eastbank. One of the dwarves humorlessly points out that Eastbank had a population of 3,678 last census and that as a trading post it most likely had considerably more than that in it at the time of infection.

Kavos's eyes widen for a moment and then he suggests returning to town and tending to the dwarves wounds before the infection can take hold. There's nothing more they can accomplish on this trip.

The trip back is uneventful and the town is nearly deserted by the time they arrive. There's still a few people milling about on the docks, trying to get onto a ship; but they seem lost in their own world. Nobody seems to care that they've returned.

Kavos takes the dwarves to Rambalt's house, but has them wait outside to avoid introducing them to Rambalt's more controversial experiments. Rambalt is dozing in his living room, however he's a light sleeper and bolts up as soon as Kavos and Gandil come in.

"Did you find them?" Rambalt asks groggily.

Kavos simply nods.

"Were...were there many?" the mage asks nervously, sitting up seeming a little more alert.

"I didn't count, but if there were a scant handful more we would not be here." Kavos says. "I need some more of that potion."

Rambalt nods and asks Gandil how he fared against others like him as he shuffles through a drawer and brings out a small flask of the requested potion. Gandil cracks a smile, indicating the black blood that covers him, not to mention his mouth, as he removes his Hat of Disguise. "Tore 'em apart, as you can tell."

Replacing the hat and bidding farewell to Rambalt, the pair go outside and hand the dwarves the flask. Kavos instructs both of them to drink since they're not sure if scratches alone can spread the infection. The dwarves drink deep and the PCs ask if they can arrange a meeting with Mr Haverston, they agree and lead our heroes to the docks wearily.

Less than halfway there they're greeted with a powerful stench and just before anyone can say anything a pair of undead guards rush from abandoned houses. Kavos is bitten in the neck by one of the creatures and the mostly untouched guard loses an eye to his attacker.

Gandil kicks the ghast off of the dwarf and draws his Falchion, shouting "Your kind aren't welcome here!"

Kavos gags on the overpowering stench of the creature on top of him but manages to keep his act together and use Command Undead to seize control of it. In short order Gandil hacks both of them to death and Kavos bandages himself as best he can. Kavos strips one of the former guards of a boot, casts Light on it and tosses it into the abandoned house; Gandil searches the place but finds it empty so they repeat the process a few times until they're confident that these creatures were working alone.

Gandil points out that it appears they were waiting for them in particular.

Kavos scowls at the thought of dodging undead assassins from here on in, but insists they push on to the docks to talk with Bryce.

They find Mr Haverston hanging around the dock with his entourage, directing the captains as they take on Westbank farmers for protection. "Your dwarves are marvelous fighters," Kavos says as they approach. "We were flanked and bitten, but we've made short work of the infection and their host.

Bryce asks what sort of resistance they ran into and Kavos is fairly honest, he mentions that they made short work of the first wave but were continuously flanked by more groups until they were heavily outnumbered. He points out that they made it out relatively unscathed.

"The more we whittle away, the weaker they become." Kavos points out. "If we were to have groups of fighters who struck and run this foul undead incursion would be history in a few weeks."

The dwarves don't contradict Kavos's version of events so Haverston nods his head thoughtfully. "If we had the manpower it would be a simple thing, but we barely have two dozen men and Eastbank was a city of....many." Bryce says with a sigh. "There were likely more than 5,000 there when we fled; who knows how many have turned?"

"Who knows how many have not?" Kavos insists. "If we combat them on the borders of town we can weaken them and have at least some chance of rescuing survivors...or your precious merchandise. On the other hand, if we do nothing we are allowing them to form a horde which we have no chance to defend against."

"If the city was salvageable it would have been salvaged." Bryce says bitterly. "We weren't alone when this pestilence struck."

"But you were unaware and unprepared." Kavos points out. "How can you be so sure that the town fell? Maybe your guards are handling things better than-"

Bryce cuts him off abruptly. "The day before the outbreak, a full company of the Duke's men arrived by barge. If they still lived they would be here for you. THAT'S how I know the town is lost." the dwarf explains.

Kavos simply stands there in shock, realizing how close to destruction they'd truly been.

"I agree that something must be done to turn the tide, but do you suggest we send away what few men we have?" Bryce demands. "If you're serious about this, then you're going to have to step up. I know of people who can help us, but they aren't cheap."

"Money is no object!" Gandil insists.

"You're right." Bryce says with a sneer. "They don't care for gold, they'll expect to be paid in flesh. I know of a dwarven outpost in the mountains, a mining camp though not one associated with my kin."

"What sort of flesh?" Kavos asks.

"Young, able-bodied men to work their mines." Bryce explains, "But believe me, it's a death sentence for those you send, men simply aren't built for the work they'll demand.

"How many?" Kavos asks quietly, despite the fact that nobody is paying attention to them.

"I'd expect five per dwarf you call from his duty, though perhaps a shrewd negotiator could talk them down to as low as three." Bryce says.

"My citizens will have no part of this." Kavos says flatly, "Though I won't object if someone from your town 'volunteered'."

Bryce grins. "What incentive would my people have to sell themselves to the mines? What is the going rate for a man's life?"

Kavos stares at him for a moment and then says "Mr Haverston, let's speak plainly so there's no confusion. How much would it cost me for ten good dwarves?"

"This town isn't known for much." Bryce says matter of factly. "But perhaps...three hundred spools of spider silk would be an acceptable price."

"Agreed." Kavos says, offering his hand to seal the deal.

Before Bryce can return the gesture Gandil punches him square in the face, driving the older dwarf back a few steps and bloodying his nose.

"I'll not have this in my town!" Gandil shouts.

Kavos glances at Gandil and hisses "What are you talking about?"

"It wouldn't be fitting for heroes of our stature to deal with the likes of him." Gandil shouts. "Selling his own men into slavery..." Gandil adds with a low growl.

"There's no other way to protect the town Gandil," Kavos says under his breath. "Just let it go and we'll with it later!"

"I'm dealing with it now!" Gandil says, drawing his falchion and bringing it down on Haverston with everything he's got. It audibly clinks as it strikes what is apparently NOT a standard suit of platemail.

Bryce draws what Gandil is now CERTAIN isn't a standard issue battleaxe from his back and buries it in Gandil's side. Bryce's guards move to protect their boss and Kavos casts Calm Emotions on the group.

"I won't let you harm the new citizens of Westbank!" Gandil growls, lunging towards Bryce again who calmly allows the attack to bounce off his armor before slicing into Gandil's unprotected stomach. Kavos forces himself between the two feuding men and calls for an end to this insanity.

"We need to work this out!" Kavos insists.

"I'm willing to work something out that DOESN'T require the blood of innocent Westbankers. I am their heralded sheriff. The slayer of ettercaps, destroyer of bandits and I won't betray their expectations of me."

"Fine Gandil!" Kavos says, noticing that their commotion HAS drawn attention to them now. "Just get out of here so I can smooth things over."

"I will not leave until I get a guarantee for the safety of these people in my care." Gandil replies.

"I'm a businessman!" Bryce says offended. "If you're not interested in my services then I'm not going to force them on you."

"Then we're done here Haverton, I DEMAND that you leave my town." Gandil says glowering.

Bryce nods and sighs. "Fine. My men and I will leave within the hour we will take our citizens...and as many of yours as would rather sail with me than stay here and die." the dwarf adds, suddenly realizing something he cares more about than profit. Spite.

"I never expect to see your face again Haverston!" Gandil shouts.

"Oh don't worry," Bryce says coldly "The next time I see you I'll be picking over what's left of your corpse after the cannibals are done with this place."

"People!" Gandil shouts, getting the attention of those on the boats. "Citizens of Westbank, both old and new, Bryce Haverston is a fiend and we have ordered him to leave our town. You know me and you know the mayor, you know what we have done for you in our short time as your protectors. Westbank is our home and I believe that we can protect it and reclaim it in all of its glory! Bryce would have you pick up your ties and run away with your tail between your legs, but I IMPLORE YOU, DO NOT GO WITH THAT MAN! We will deal with the ghouls as we dealt with the bandits, as I dealt with the Ettercap. I fear no undead and with my protection, neither should you!"

Gandil rolls excellent for Diplomacy and can tell that he really got through to the crowd on the boats.

"Dear friends..." Bryce says in a voice that sounds old and fragile. "For nearly two decades I have led Eastbank to an untold plateau of success and prosperity. This man wishes to cast me out when you need my aid the most. This is his home and I have no right to stay if he wishes me gone, however I will not abandon ANY who wish to leave with me. Eastbank, Westbank...we are all brothers. We are all of one heart and one mind and one purpose. I hate to leave my home of so long, but I travel north to seek aid from my kinsmen, so that we may retake our homes. Those who wish to escape the undead pox are welcome to follow."

This is where Gandil discovers how someone as horrible as Bryce has kept his position so long, it turns out that Bryce's diplomacy modifier is nearly as large as Gandil's entire roll and the smooth talking dwarf even has the formerly hostile Westbank citizens eating out of the palm of his hands.

Gandil looks up pleadingly at his former citizens. "There is a place in Westbank for each and every one of you, please remember where your home is... But for those who believe that Bryce knows have one hour to get your s*** and leave."

While the fate of Westbank, or at least the majority of its inhabitants, is decided on the docks Gandil goes to Rambalt for a little moral support. The two had been growing close ever since Rambalt had unwittingly given Gandil a second chance at life and since Gandil still technically owned the place they shared a since of mutual obligation towards each other.

"It's bad Rambalt." Gandil says, sitting in their living room. "Everyone's leaving and I'm not sure that I can protect the ones that are left. I need an edge, some sort of advantage over the other ghouls if I'm going to save this town."

Rambalt awkwardly comforts the grotesque sheriff and suggests that he already seems to be a cut above the average ghoul. Rambalt points out that Gandil is obviously a skilled warrior and wields a rare magical weapon, not to mention his immunity to the various tricks of the horde.

Gandil isn't impressed though and tosses his sword across the room. "That's a weapon for a man and I'm...I'm a monster." the sheriff says morosely. "I've changed and my instincts have changed with me, I need a new weapon. Something that takes advantage of my NEW talents. Can you build such a thing?"

Rambalt shakes his head sadly. "I'm sure that anything I built would suffer the same shortcomings as your sword. I don't know how I could possibly take advantage of your-" Rambalt stops mid-sentence and then nods thoughtfully.

"What?" Gandil asks.

"I don't believe a weapon could help...but how do you feel about invasive surgery?" Rambalt asks innocently.

Gandil's manic grin returns slowly. He doesn't mind invasive surgery, he decides. He doesn't mind it at all...


First Post
Bryce Haverston is loading up everything he can get his hands on as Kavos approaches offering an olive branch of sorts. Kavos tells Bryce that it would be dangerous to bring his dwarves along with him since they're infected and could turn at any moment. Bryce explains that dangerous or not he'd be turned away from the gates of his ancestors if word got out that he'd left kin behind.

Kavos asks that everybody stay another night at least so that he can send Bryce off with enough elixir to cure his men. Bryce says that if they can get control over the sheriff he'd be willing to stay a little longer.

Kavods nods. "I can handle him for a night at least. He just has strong feelings over what he considers right and wrong." the priest explains somewhat apologetically.

Haverston shakes his head. "I've never understood the type."

As Kavos smiles and turns back towards Rambalts he bitterly mumbles "Neither have I..."

Kavos knocks on Professor Rambalt's door and the little mage answers shortly covered in thick black blood. "Can I help you mayor?"

Kavos asks why Rambalt isn't brewing potions and the professor explains that it's a simple process once you get going and that he's got some brewing as they speak, he just has...other projects which need his attention.

Kavos shrugs and asks if it would be possible to brew a potion to spread the disease instead of cure it. Rambalt admits that his knowledge of ghouls is rather limited so he's not sure if the disease can spread without the bite of a ghoul, but does believe it would be a simple thing to brew something which makes someone more susceptible to the disease.

Kavos asks if he can have it done by morning and Rambalt assures him he can, right after he gets finished with his current project. It seems to satisfy the priest.

Rambalt returns downstairs where Gandil is strapped down and missing about 80% of his hands and forearms, flesh and meat have been mostly stripped away and bone has been discarded in favor of metallic replacements.

"As I was saying," Rambalt says, sitting down next to Gandil and finishing up his attempt to basically meld steel and bone together, "One of my older experiments was with automaton effigies. They were stupid and unfit for real service, but as I recall their pointy bits were pretty sharp. These grafts should shred flesh easily, although they might be a little...unsettling."

"Whatever it takes to keep this town safe." Gandil says, watching as Rambalt begins sewing what meat and skin is left around the razor sharp digits so that he can still use his paralysis attack. "Will I be able to take down another ettercap with these?" he asks.

"Sure." Rambalt says absently, putting the finishing touches on Gandil's new and disturbing hands. "Although I assume you'll want the complete package?" the mage asks, admiring his work.

"What's the complete package?" Gandil asks, flexing his bladed fingers experimentally, enjoying the sound of steel dragging against steel.

Rambalt reaches into his kit and removes an entire metallic lower jaw filled with jagged, razor sharp teeth as well as the top teeth to complete the set. Gandil's eyes grow with desire and he lets out an audible "Oooooh."

Rambalt laughs and says that that's what he figured. Laying Gandil back he returns with a hammer and chisel, placing the chisel against the rop row of Gandil's teeth. "Now obviously you can't talk while I'm doing this, so try to think of something else to do, alright?"

He doesn't wait for Gandil to answer before the hammer comes down and teeth and bone start showering the floor.

Come morning Rambalt delivers a bottle of his anti-vaccine to Kavos in the temple of Pelor. For some reason Father Adrian never came back the night before, still dealing with the infected he assumed, and Kavos thought it would be fun to make a night of personally venerating Asmodeous in the town's holy place. Once he regained his spells for the day he made sure to rid himself of any lingering injuries or afflictions from the day before.

Kavos thanks him for the delivery and asks where Gandil is, Rambalt replies that Gandil is assisting him, but that he'll be along later in the day. Kavos asks if he could instead keep the sheriff busy for a bit longer. Rambalt almost seems relieved when he says that he'll do his best.

It's not long afterwards that the two infected dwarves arrive. Kavos greets them and hands them his insidious potion, encouraging them to drink up. The dwarves do as they're told appreciatively and then glance around conspiratorially.

"Look, we appreciate what you've done for us and we're sorry that you and Bryce couldn't work something out." one of them starts.

"But Bryce isn't the understanding type." the second finishes. "We don't believe in getting something for nothing, so we arranged for some lumber to be unloaded on the docks for you. Bryce rationalized it as being necessary to fit in more refugees since lumber is considerably cheaper than most of his wares, but we figured Westbank probably needs building supplies with the horde coming this way."

Kavos is touched by their generosity. Apparently war truly can make allies of the bitterest of enemies. He offers to pray for the two dwarves before they depart.

He takes this opportunity to cast Bestow Curse on each of them and reduce their already compromised Fortitude saves deep into the negatives.

"You should stay friend." Kavos says, patting one of the dwarves on the shoulder. "Within this town I can offer you the protection of Pelor, however once you leave I fear for what might happen to you and your people."

The dwarves look at each other and sigh. Finally one of them says "We're followers of Moradin, now and until the day we die. We respect what the sun god has you do, but we won't bend knee to him."

Kavos nods sadly. "If that is your wish. I wish you all godspeed."

The dwarves nod and insist that if Westbank can hold out for a few weeks their clan should send a warparty to reclaim their tradepost. When that happens they'll stop in to check on everybody.

They part ways amiably, though Kavos knows he's sent them and most likely their crafts to their deaths. Good enough an end for deserters such as them. The aging priest takes this opportunity to do a head count of those remaining and finds that their remaining citizens number around 160; they seem to have lost almost a third of their population to Bryce's fear mongering and most likely would have lost more if the boats weren't so full.

Kavos has Elder Hadran gather up as many skilled or semi-skilled carpenters as he can gather to get to work erecting a wall around the town. Kavos instructs them to use not only the wood that Bryce's men left, but everything left over from the unfinished housing project too.

While he's issuing orders Kavos notices Gandil emerge from Rambalt's house looking just as he always does, although he does seem to be rubbing his fingers together and grinding his teeth more than usual. Gandil flags down Jonathan Lark and gets a rundown of their current situation before sending Lark out to scout the horde himself; trusting the ranger's stealth abilities to be greater than his or Kavos's.

Gandil then joins his deputies in evacuating the farms of their occupants and bringing them into town for safety, no longer trusting the remaining citizens to lock down their homes properly. Kavos spends his day polluting the temple of Pelor with prayers and rituals to Asmodeous and the workmen bust their asses to erect a wall.

Several days pass in this manner with Kavos tending the temple in Father Adrian's lengthy absence (though Kavos hadn't heard from him several farmers reported him stopping in and praying for them and Jessup reports that Adrian evacuated the remaining infected somewhere to keep the rest of the town safe), Gandil and his deputies nearly kill themselves alternating between guard duty and evacuating farmers and everyone able to hold a tool work on setting up a perimeter defense.

On the third day Lark reappears to find a 4ft wall defended by pike emplacements almost surrounding the village, he gathers Gandil and Kavos together to discuss his findings.

For the most part all he's managed to find are small packs or even single ghouls milling about the area. He mentions finding nearly twenty of the monsters lying dead in the forest, apparently crushed or trampled to death. He also mentions that another half a dozen of the creatures had been killed in Briar's Pass by the mercenaries Bartan and Rutgard.

Kavos and Gandil look at each other eagerly. They'd nearly forgotten about the mercenaries and didn't realize they were so formidable.

Lark sighs and says that that was just for the most part however. He claims to have stumbled onto a horde of more than forty of the beasts gathering just under a day's march out of town.

Kavos asks if Lark would be willing to join them in attacking the horde if they could hire the services of Briar's Pass's mercs. Lark replies that it would be suicide to jump onto a horde of that size, but that he would be more than willing to lay a trap for them. Kavos asks that Lark join them in recruiting the mercenaries since he knows them.

Jonathan agrees but as he prepares to leave a messenger arrives on behalf of Rambalt, asking Kavos and Gandil to come by his lab at their first opportunity.

Remembering what happened the last time Rambalt requested his presence, Kavos decides that this takes priority for the moment.

They find Rambalt's door unlocked, alarmingly, and rush downstairs and into his lab. The first thing that strikes them is that is that it's surprisingly sterile. No body parts or strange contraptions laying around like usual. Everything's been scrubbed down and packed away.

The second thing that catches their eye is that next to Gandil's half-eaten bandit is a seven foot tall creature that might have been considered human at one time, long ago. The creature's body is a strange mashup of scars and reinforced leather straps and sports a steel collar around its neck, binding it to the wall, like Rambalt's earlier creation; but unlike his last attempt it seems to sit quietly in the corner and turns a mirror over and over in its large, meaty hands.

Gandil and Kavos gawk at the creature and Kavos finally asks if it's dangerous.

Rambalt whispers that it doesn't seem to have any of the rage issues of his former creations, it seems to be quite childlike. "It's only an hour or so old at this point, everything still amazes it." he explains quietly. "But I'm confident that it will defend itself if threatened."

"What's his name?" Gandil asks, feeling a strange sense of kinship with the hulking flesh golem.

"I considered calling him Junior...but I thought it might be a tad morbid." Rambalt says.

"Junior..." Gandil repeats, nodding.

"Hopefully we'll live long enough for me to build him a brother." Rambalt says with a worried smile.

"You'll do no such thing!" Gandil snaps. "Seeing this specimen with my own eyes makes me realize the horror of all this. Creating giant children to fight for us isn't what Westbank is about! Instead, we'll raise Junior with all of the values this town was founded on."

"Great idea Gandil." Kavos says with a laugh. "But what will the townsfolk think?"

"We'll tell everyone that Junior is a giant child we found in the mountains. If they ask about the scars we'll just make mention of the giant's brutality as the reason we're raising him!" Gandil says excitedly.

"I didn't create Junior as a solider, but a protector. He SHOULD know everything that he's protecting." Rambalt agrees. "But he doesn't look like a baby, he looks like a man...or rather six men sewed together."

Gandil thinks on this for a moment. "Then make him some toys Rambalt. Sturdy enough for him to have fun, but fragile enough for him to learn his own strength. We'll raise him!" (Gandl himself points out that this has suddenly become Three Men and a Baby starring a mad scientist, evil priest and zombie Edward Scissorhands. As such, he begins referring to Junior as Mr. Baby and I briefly considered titling the journal Three Men and an Abomination.)

Kavos asks if Junior is susceptible to the infection and Rambalt shakes his head. "He's not undead, but he's also not human. The infection shouldn't be able be passed along to him."

Kavos gives Junior an amulet of Pelor and spends the afternoon explaining basic values to the creature. Despite his mental age, Junior is a quick study and while he doesn't seem to understand all that jazz about honor and love for they neighbor; he does understand that they're good.

Kavos attempts to drill the tenets of Pelor into Junior's head and within an hour he can repeat them back to him, albeit with a childish; halting manner of speech.

Gandil and Kavos finally return outside and find that Jonathan Lark has returned, along with the mercenaries Rutgard and Bartan. He's also brought along the forty some inhabitants of Briar's Pass.

Outside the walls they have already began digging pit traps, hiding snares and laying tripwires under the supervision of Lark and the mercs.

Kavos mentions to Lark that he thought it was just going to bring back a few people and Lark replies that with himself and the mercenaries gone Briar's Pass would be undefended. He couldn't leave these people to die. Kavos agrees, though wishes he was consulted, and sets out assigning each of them a place to stay until the seige is over. Space is quickly becoming hard to find.

As Kavos wheels and deals with the townspeople and Gandil sits telling stories of his heroism to Junior something happens outside. Panicked shouts ring out across the town and our heroes leap into action. Gandil instructs Rambalt to watch over Junior and rushes off to join Kavos on the wall.

A group of about eight ghouls is charging across the field, the mercenaries are showing their worth as they cover the retreat of the Briar's Pass villagers who slowly scramble over the wall itself to avoid impaling themselves. Lark is peppering arrows into the undead as he sees them.

The ghouls are starving and reckless, most find themselves accidentally skewered on the defensive pikes only to be finished off by the deputies, the rest are killed by the mercs before they can do any harm, however they see dozens more swarming from the east.

All civilians are inside the walls and their assigned safehouses before the horde approaches, the half-orc Rutgard positions himself so that he can watch over both the East and South walls while his partner Bartan positions himself to cover the East and North. Looman, Devon and Horace take up spears behind the East wall but are ready to go where they're needed. The ranger Lark stands atop the East wall and fires into the approaching horde wordlessly, dropping several before they get anywhere close to the wall.

Kavos slowly lowers himself past the wall and outside of town, casting Hide From Undead on himself. Gandil gives a whoop and leaps both the wall and pikes so that he can face them man to horde.

An absolute tide of flesh slams directly into them. 60 or more ghouls and ghasts roaring for flesh. Kavos slips past them with all the stealth he can muster, finally arriving behind the bulk of their forces. The first wave of ghouls get stuck on their fortifications and are quickly dealt with by the deputies, several more tumble into their half-finished traps; some breaking limbs or getting stuck, others only mildly inconvenienced or even unaffected. Gandil dives face first into the horde, his claws easily slicing through meat and bone while his new teeth sever limbs. Those on the wall can't even see him however, he's just one more body among many.

Kavos summons a wolf which harries the horde as best it can, Gandil doesn't even aim anymore; just lashes out in every direction, confident that he'll strike a target. Those on the wall strike down on the horde, while the horde reaches up expectantly. In moments the Pikes are so laden with undead that they're no longer dangerous, ghouls simply climb over their impaled allies to reach a more advantageous location and even MORE are on their way.

Kavos casts Command Undead into the horde and has his handful of ghouls press back against their fellows, the tide halts for a moment but quickly resumes its march once the traitors are crushed. The horde starts spilling out and around the town; no longer do they just strike the East wall but anywhere there's room.

Horace and Devon break off from the thick of the fighting to secure the south wall while Bartan tries to cover the north but finds that every time he starts to step away from his position more ghouls haul themselves up. Kavos takes control of several of the ghasts and has them reinforce Bartan's position while he himself charges to the north to see what he can do.

Kavos sees around 14 ghouls piling to the north, overwhelming the wall and there doesn't seem to be anything they can do to stop them. He sees one of the creatures among the horde in a dark robe, even covered as it is Kavos can sense its strength. The creature is massive and barrel chested and its robe is tight and almost comical. Kavos watches as this creature lifts its green tinged hands up to the wall and...seizes one of the ghouls by the scruff of its neck.

Kavos watches in confusion as the robed ghoul literally hurls its catch into two more and then throws a haymaker which crushes the skull of yet another into paste. Kavos suddenly notices that there are a number of ghoul corpses to the north side of the wall, yet no defenders...

As the battle rages around him, Kavos simply watches their unknown ally wade into his fellows with fist and teeth. The creature has unbelievable power and Kavos marvels as he watches it bring a ghast down over its knee and tosses it aside, bent and broken.

Whatever it is, Kavos is glad that it's on their side. He hasn't seen a man this strong since....

Kavos gasps.


First Post
The battle rages on, snapping Kavos out of his reverie. He uses another burst of Command Undead to turn ghoul against ghoul but the horde marches onward. Gandil is pushed back until he's nearly impaled on one of the few remaining pikes and with a burst of agility leaps back up onto the wall ahead of his pursuers.

"We need Junior!" Kavos shouts over the din of battle. "Gandil, go get Junior!"

The others on the wall have no idea what Kavos is talking about but shout for him to go as well, any help would be appreciated at this point. Gandil for his part doesn't want to involve Mr Baby in such a bloody conflict but sees that idealism has no place against a horde of the undead and leaps from the wall, running into town and shouting for Rambalt to open the door.

Ghouls and ghasts finally breach the East and South walls, Deputies Devon and Horace retreat inside one of the safehouses as the horde overwhelms their position and do what they can to keep the ghouls from battering their way into the house. Rutgard is bitten what seems like a dozen times by the ravenous horde but every swing of his mighty sword drops an attacker and the ghoul standing next to it. Lark fires his last arrow into the face of an approaching ghast before hoisting a spear and joining Looman and Bartan's hasty retreat from the wall; they keep back to back and inch towards the inn.

Outside the wall the hooded figure drives the remaining undead away from the north wall and broken those that resist while Kavos directs summoned wolves and ants as well as a subverted pair of ghasts in thinning the herd while liberally peppering the scariest looking ones with whatever offensive spells he can think of. He novas through most everything he's got, however he can see an end in sight. Only a few dozen remain, more than half the undead army is laying dead at their feet...although half an undead army is still far more than should be let loose inside the village.

Gandil bolts towards Rambalt's house but before he gets there he sees a trio of ghouls and a ghast batter their way into a small house, he hears the scream of a woman and her children and doesn't even stop to think before changing direction and cleaving the ghast in half with his enchanted falchion. He sees fifteen people stuffed into the little house and while two of the ghouls leap on him and pin him against the door, the third leaps into the crowd biting and clawing. The civilians go down to its paralysis and would have been lost had he not abandoned his bulky sword and shredded his attackers with his deadly claws. The third ghoul doesn't even see him coming as he quite literally tears its head off with his bare hands.

The people are panicking and there's blood everywhere but Gandil doesn't have time to stop, and even if he did he doesn't have the skill to assist, so he shouts for the ones left standing to barricade the door behind him and help the wounded as best they can; he swears he'll be back for them.

Devon and Horace have lost the majority of their safehouse, having retreated into the basement and are holding the stairs against the increasingly agitated horde as best they can. With nowhere left to go they, and everyone else in the house, are as good as dead if falter for so much as a second. They're nearly overwhelmed by half a dozen ghouls backed up pungent ghasts whose stench threatens to disable them; when they suddenly find relief in the form of a raging half-orc mercenary bursting through one of their severely damaged walls like the Kool-Aid man, half blinded by the viscera dripping in his eyes as one undead after another becomes a gory fountain of blood and filth.

Lark, Looman and Bartan finally fight their way to the inn and discover it besieged by more ghouls than they can count in their fear-addled state. They lay into the horde with spear and sword from behind while the occupants inside use sharpened broomhandles, torches made from chair-legs and pillowcases filled with cooking utensils to keep the horde from overwhelming them.

Gandil finally reaches Rambalt's abode and discovers that the little mage has been hastily strapping leather scraps to an amused Junior in lieu of actual armor to fit him. Rambalt is visibly pale and simply asks "Is it time?"

"YES!" Gandil shouts in his best 'no doi' voice before slamming the door behind him and charging face first into yet another pack of ghouls polluting his town.

Rambalt leads Junior outside by one of his great meaty hands and the childlike golem seems amazed with everything. It gawks at the clouds, it grins at the sun and tries to catch a soft breeze that brushes against it. Rambalt chews his lip nervously and releases Junior hand, taking a few steps back away from him as a pair of ghasts leading half a dozen ghouls flood around the corner.

Gandil sees them charging straight for Mr Baby and tries to break away from his own fight to help, but is dragged down by his opponents and loses a chunk of his side for his compassion. Junior sees the charging undead and raises his hands to them, trying feel their squishy flesh. One of the ghasts sinks its teeth into his forearm until they hit bone.

Junior gives a pathetic cry like some great baritone infant and stumbles back, Gandil tries to surge forward and help him but once again finds that ghouls don't like to let victims just walk away. Rambalt steps back further, grasping his staff to himself tightly and holding his breath. "Rambalt!" Gandil screams. "Help him dammit! Don't just-"

Junior's wail turns into a roar and it flails it's injured arm with such force that the offending ghast's head comes off with a bloody pop. It continues flailing and brings both of its arms down on the second ghast's shoulders so hard that the creature literally snaps in half.

Gandil, hell even the formerly singleminded ghouls, stops what they're doing and simply gawk at the now enraged Mr Baby's tantrum. Gandil takes this opportunity to gut his attackers and run off to find more. Feeling as though he should wipe a tear from his eye as he sees Junior charge in a different direction wielding a mismatched pair of ghoul arms in his hands and roaring for blood.

They grow up so fast...

Outside the walls, Kavos has stooped to magic missling ghouls with his wand while the hooded figure mops up the remainder of the resistance. Finally they find each other face to face with no distractions and Kavos can see with no doubt that the figure is former sheriff Curtis Longarm..and he seems pissed. Whatever strange magic brought Gandil back seems to work both ways.

"Longarm?" Kavos asks nervously.

The figure growls menacingly and replies "Used to be."

The ghoulified half-orc charges him and Kavos just barely manages to cast Sanctuary on himself to avoid Longarm's grapple attempt.

The murdered sheriff grins wickedly and tries again, seeming to will himself through the effects of sanctuary to grab Kavos by the collar and hurl the suddenly terrified priest face first into the mud and the blood of the battlefield. Kavos tries to cast another spell in self defense but catches a kick from Longarm that breaks ribs and stops his prayer mid-sentence.

"You murdered me." Longarm growls, lifting Kavos so that they're staring at each other face to face.

Coughing up blood Kavos tries to look innocent. "Technically, it was the spiders that murdered you." he offers helpfully before being hurled about fifteen feet away by the hulking ghoul.

Gasping for air, Kavos nevertheless considers this a fortuitous turn of events and quickly casts Searing Light onto the approaching Longarm. The orc withers and burs under the effects of the spell, but weathers it just fine. The punch that Longarm places into Kavos's nose however nearly kills the elderly priest and he responds with the last trick up his sleeve: Command Undead.

Longarm's grin broadens as Kavos's attempt to control him fails and Kavos's heart skips a beat as he realizes why. Longarm's spirit is bolstered by a dark force, a presence that Kavos recognizes and knows well. Longarm is already under the control of a powerful cleric of Asmodeous.

Longarm delivers another blow to Kavos's midsection that drops the priest in the dirt. "Don't worry, I'm not going to kill you." the snarling ghoul says, hoisting Kavos up by his collar. "Not yet anyway. HE wouldn't like it, says the town needs someone like you. I'll be back though priest, make sure to tell your friend." Longarm says, dropping Kavos's limp form casually.

Wild theories flood Kavos's mind and he realizes that somebody has been suspiciously absent today of all days. Kavos thinks back to what Longarm himself said about bodies disappearing when they got here; to their bandit captive just so happening to chew his own tongue off during his last meal; to the unconsecrated altar of Pelor and the missing infected who were mysteriously moved for their 'own good'. To the unholy symbols which covered the Jannerson's place; he KNEW they were too much for those unwashed heathens to carve on their own! To the only man that's had access to Longarm's body since his death and to Gandil's before that...

"Where is Father Adrian?" Kavos shouts to Longarm's back.

The former sheriff stops in his tracks and laughs for a long moment before turning around to face the broken mayor, a strange mix of humor; fear and disgust flashes over the orc's face as he says "Where he's always been. Doing God's work."

When the last of the ghouls are battered down everyone takes a moment to survey the damage. Several people have been bitten, but thanks to the effects of Rambalt's potion it doesn't look like many are actually infected and Kavos assures those that are that he can heal them tomorrow. Surprisingly they don't seem to have lost anybody in the attack, even the severely wounded are stable.

The town sort of gawks at the sight of Rambalt leading a sulking Junior back to his home by the hand, but considering the number of ghouls the creature killed nobody seems inclined to mention him if Rambalt doesn't. The rest of the defenders are hailed as heroes, particularly the bloody and beaten Kavos who stayed outside the walls to slow the horde's assault.

The celebration is shortlived however as Lark immediately puts the town back to work, resetting the traps; laying new ones and dragging corpses off their fortifications. Bartan and Rutgard retire to the inn to drink and mend their wounds while Gandil and the deputies start repairing their weapons. Lark collects as many of his arrows as he can from the ghouls before setting out to make him some new ones and Kavos just collapses in his home to panick about Longarm's reemergence by himself.

Things go on as normal for the day but during the night Deputy Devon approaches Gandil with some bad news: Several of the apparently cured Eastbank infected seem to have had relapses; luckily Father Adrian caught it before they could spread their contagion further and quarantined them with the rest.

Gandil's saddened by this news, but assumes that Father Adrian knows what he's doing, it's not until he informs the exhausted Kavos that he learns of Longarm's revival and Father Adrian's potential involvement. Gandil leaves Kavos to rest the night away and paces the town, trying to think of something useful to do.

Thinking of nothing he decides he'll just visit the Unicorn.

As usual the wolves begin following Gandil the second he enters the forest, unlike usual they growl and circle him; letting him know he's not welcome here. By the time Gandil reaches the unicorn's grove it's already waiting for him.

"I approach Unicorn!" Gandil calls out, holding his hands up peacefully.

The unicorn's nostrils flare distastefully. "You smell of dead things, man-flesh."

"I AM dead things unicorn!" Gandl says, removing his hat and revealing his monstrous visage. The wolves bare their teeth and their hair bristles on end; the unicorn instinctively snorts a challenge but otherwise maintains its composure.

"Speak then, dead-flesh. Why have you come here?" the unicorn growls.

"Sheriff Longarm walks the earth once again, his corpse was in your care for some time. I came to inquire about that." Gandil says accusingly.

"Dead-flesh wonders how the dead may walk?" the unicorn says with a hint of amusement. "We had the orc for only a day and have no knowledge of what comes after death. Our dominion is nature and what has afflicted you and your kind is...decidedly unnatural."

Gandil seems disappointed. "Tell me then unicorn, could you restore my humanity? This form grants me great power, but if the townspeople knew the truth...I don't think they'd understand."

"There are ways to return the dead to life." the unicorn states. "But humanity? That we cannot guarantee. You will not be as you were...but that may not be a bad thing."

"Am I under someone else's control?" Gandil asks. "A powerful wizard told me that might be the case."

The unicorn ponders for a moment. "You stink of magic, dead-flesh, though we do not know what kind. You walk when you ought not, that requires immense magic of some kind...but as we said; our dominion is the natural and you are anything but."

"I want to propose a partnership." Gandil blurts out. "I understand if you do not wish to ally yourself with an immortal like myself, but we both have the Duke to worry about. I propose we work together to raze the Duke and his people. I destroyed Eastbank with my new powers and with your help I can do it again!" the demented ghoul brags.

The unicorn nods slowly, an idea forming in its head. "You are an interesting...partner." it says. "We also wish to see the Duke broken. We accept your proposal...for now."

Several of the wolves look at the unicorn with something like betrayal written on their faces but know better than to question their master.

"I will inform my partner and see you in three moons from this day!" Gandil says, bolting excitedly back the way he came. "We will hatch a plan most foul unicorn!"

Gandil returns to find Kavos healing the last of Westbank's infected, still looking pretty battered. Gandil quickly tells Kavos about his dealings with the unicorn, Kavos is barely conscious and tries to blow Gandil off. The impatient sheriff touches Kavos on the arm and the elderly priest seizes up and falls over from the paralysis.

"Whoops." Gandil says nervously, glancing around to see if anyone saw that.

They did.

"Are you alright Mayor Kavos?" a concerned voice calls out. Father Adrian jogs over from his temple, seeming to be genuinely concerned to see Kavos sprawled on the ground.

"I'm fine." Kavos says once his muscles work again. "I just tripped and had the wind knocked out of me."

"He's lying Father Adrian, this man needs your help!" Gandil says quickly, seeing an opportunity here. "He's just too proud to admit it, can we take him somewhere more private?"

"Have you been unwell?" Adrian asks, offering an arm for support which Kavos takes and adds a throaty cough for dramatic effect.

"Ever since taking Rambalt's potion to prevent the disease I've felt a bit feverish." Kavos lies. "I must be allergic to one of the roots."

Adrian clicks his tongue in disapproval and leads the pair into the temple and at Gandil's suggestion into his personal quarters. It's a small, modest room with few luxuries. Adrian pulls out a chair from his writing desk and slides it next to his bed, motioning for Kavos to sit.

"I've been having hallucinations as well." Kavos continues.

"That's troubling." Father Adrian says, taking a seat on his bed. "What sort?"

"During the battle to save the town, I swear I saw Sheriff Longarm return to save everybody." Kavos admits.

Father Adrian smiles sadly. "A pleasant hallucination, but unlikely. After all, I buried him myself."

"I would rest easier if I could pay my last respects." Kavos says. "Where was he buried again?"

Father Adrian smiles. "The same place we're all buried, in our communal graveyard; roughly a quarter mile due north. I didn't make much spectacle of it because, what with the letter the two of you found on him...I didn't want anyone to make a scene. Whatever his mistakes, I'm sure that Curtis did his best for us"

Gandil starts looking over the room, particularly poking around a section of hooks containing a considerable number of Pelor holy symbols; the kind that priests would carry with them at all times.

"Devon told us that the refugees had a relapse." Kavos mentions. "What happened?"

Father Adrian shakes his head. "Perhaps it's the magical nature of the disease? Or perhaps just the filthy conditions reafflicted them. It's a true tragedy."

Gandil probes the holy symbols further, he's surprised to discover that most are well worn as though they were carried for years.

"As far as I know the disease only transmits through contact with ghouls." Kavos says. "I had used spells, given them potions and watched them carefully. It doesn't make sense..." he says as though musing to himself.

Gandil casually tosses the largest symbol at the ground, wanting to see if it would break and reveal something inside it. It bounces off the ground with a metallic twang and Gandil holds his hands up as though he'd accidentally knocked it over.

"Please be careful!" Father Adrian almost shouts with a surprise gasp, he quickly kneels and retrieves the fallen holy symbol reverently; returning it to its place on the wall. "These belonged to my brothers; long, long ago."

"They aren't yours?" Gandil asks.

"No." Father Adrian says, shaking his head sadly. "They belonged to the men who ran this temple when I was only an acolyte. They were killed during the Duke's rebellion." the priest says darkly. "I keep them here because I cannot bear the thought of locking them away somewhere."

Turning back to Kavos, Adrian asks if they should quarantine the other survivors just to be safe.

"I don't think that's necessary." Kavos replies, "I'm sure they'll be fine, in fact I'll have deputy Devon keep an eye on them to make sure."

Father Adrian smiles. "Of course."

"Father, I've always been fascinate by Pelor. What would you say is your favorite piece of his scripture?" Gandil asks, hoping to catch Adrian; though without any Knowledge: Religion of his own I'm not sure how.

Adrian looks to the heavens and says "Though the darkness is deep you shall not fear its coming, for the rays of Pelor are swift and true; and that which is obscured by the wicked shall be unveiled by the light."

Gandil glances at Kavos who gets what he's going for and briefly flashes an Asmodean symbol (the equivalent of Asmodeansayswhat?) as he scratches his nose.

Father Adrian's smile deepens, though he doesn't respond. "It seems as though your weakness has passed Kavos; if you feel up to it I'll let the two of you be on your way. Make sure you visit Curtis's grave sometime; I'm sure he'd appreciate it."

"Are you a true follower of Pelor?" Gandil shouts, tiring of the games. "Did you raise Longarm from the dead?"

"We're done here Gandil." Kavos hisses through his teeth.

Father Adrian shakes his head. "I've followed Pelor's teachings for nearly 60 years. I've been the sole keeper of this temple for 40; I don't see how I could be truer." he says sadly. "It's true that I never officially took my rites, but that's difficult with the swords of the Duke's men lodged in the chests of the priesthood."

Kavos apologizes for Gandil's outburst and half drags the sheriff out the door.

"Gandil we don't have time for this right now." Kavos says, "We've got work to do."

"That's what I'm doing. I'm trying to expose him as a-" Gandil starts but is interrupted by Kavos.

"Real work Gandil, real work. I need you to gather up as many of the ghouls as you can and meet me at the lake; I need a short rest to refresh myself and I'll follow." Kavos says.

"Then what?" Gandil asks.

"Then, we're going swimming." Kavos responds as though it were the most obvious thing in the world.


First Post
Kavos and Gandil meet up on the shore of the Lake, Gandil has a small handcart stuffed with eight ghoul corpses and Kavos is looking considerably more refreshed. Gandil finds Kavos stripping down to his skivvies and folding his clothing into a neat pile.

Kavos has Gandil help him arrange the corpses along the river bank and then casts Desecrate over the area, followed by Animate Dead. Eight zombies rise from death and blankly await Kavos's command.

Gandil glances around to make sure that they're alone and removes his hat, stuffing it into a pouch so that he won't lose it in the lake. Kavos nearly gasps at his true form. His hands have been replaced by a series of six inch, articulated blades with only enough meat left between them to hold them together and allow use of his ghoul paralysis. Gandil's face is the real shocker though, the lower jaw has been completely replaced by a metal one, filled with jagged, razor sharp teeth. Gandil's upper jaw has been basically carved away for a similar prosthetic. Gandil catches Kavos looking at him and asks "What?"

Kavos replies "Nothing." and chuckles to himself, leading his gruesome army into the lake, casting Water Breathing on himself as he goes. Gandil instinctively takes a deep breath before diving into the water, even though his lungs are just for decoration now.

The lake is quite large and in only a short time they can't even see the bottom any longer. Kavos casts Light on his staff to give them some illumination down here and then casts Helping Hand, focusing on the locathah he caught before.

Gandil is trying to explain the upside to being a zombie swiss army knife as they swim deeper down, until Kavos holds up a hand to silence him. The elderly priest had just seen a shape in the water more than twice as long as a horse, moving fast and beyond their view.

Gandil glances around chomping his teeth menacingly when suddenly what looks like a shark snatches one of the zombies in its massive jaws. Sharks aren't well known for their fresh water expeditions however and with a second glance they realize that it's in fact a giant catfish.

Kavos casts Cause Fear on the catfish and begins swimming down with his horde. Gandil notices two more of the creatures at the edge of their vision and they appear to have riders, yellow scaled locathah wielding tridents.

Kavos breathes a sigh of relief and tells Gandil that it's alright, they're friendly.

As they get closer it seems that there are four other yellow scaled locathah with them and they all appear to be charging. Kavos is suddenly not so sure that they are in fact friendly and Gandil leaps into action, sinking his metal teeth into the hilt of one of the rider's trident. Kavos shouts that they're here to negotiate.

The second rider spears Gandil with his trident and deals about a third of his overall HP in damage to him with a lucky crit.

Kavos casts Comprehend Language to try and reason with these people and hears what appears to be the leader screaming about how surface dwellers are allies of the Tso'Cha!

As if on cue, two orange scaled locathah wielding spears appear from below the yellow scaled ones and manage to impale one of them outright. Gandil snatches the trident from his mouth and lunges forward, biting his victims face clean off his body. Surprisingly the fish man hits the spot and he realizes these people are edible. The creature's mount bites Gandil around the legs while the second locathah charges Kavos and slices the priest across the chest.

Kavos remains treading water and shouting that he comes in peace. Gandil shouts "I do the biting around here!" and chews through the catfish's spine . The orange locathah kill two more of the approaching yellow ones.

"Who is Tso'Cha?" Kavos shouts at his attack, barely dodging its trident.

"We are!" calls one of the orange skinned locathah which sounds a bit like the 'ambassador' Kavos was looking for. Kavos nods and motions for his zombies to deal with the yellow ones. Three of them drag the trident wielding locathah off and tear into him while the rest latch onto the catfish and break it apart.

"We must leave before the Le'uin return!" the ambassador shouts, spearing the last of the yellow scales. Kavos agrees and the creature motions for them to follow as best they can.

It swims deeper and deeper until it approaches the bottom of the lake; they can see a strange honeycomb of holes and trenches dug into the lakebed which seeming extends indefinitely in all directions. The ambassador leads them to one of the holes and swims in.

Inside are rather tight corridors which the creature traverses by dragging itself along with its upper body, propelling itself through the water and around tight corners with a strange grace. It leads them through a series of twisting passages and they watch as other shades of locathah; blue, green and brown cower before their orange scaled guides and press themselves out of the way as if to avoid notice.

After several long moments the passageway which the creature is leading them down empties out into a chamber roughly 40ft by 20ft and filled with others of its kind. The bones of all 10 sheep are mounted reverently on their walls like trophies and the creatures seem to be feasting on strange meat.

It takes a moment before they notice that green, yellow, blue and brown scaled haunches are displayed on the creatures makeshift table and several terrified locathah with green and blue scales are chained to a nearby wall. Gandil leans over to Kavos and whispers "Cannibals. Awesome." missing the irony.

At the feasting table itself are arranged nearly thirty orange scaled locathah, among which is one that's more than twice the size of his kin who seems to have a place of honor among them. The ambassador swiftly swims to the table, taking a place next to the large locathah and flourishes his arms. "Welcome to the halls of Tso'Cha!"

Kavos bows deeply and taps Gandil to do the same, they look up however when what feels like a wake slams into them as the giant locathah launches itself forward with tremendous force. The creature lands before the PCs and their zombie horde and towers over even Gandil.

Kavos's eyes widen a bit and he nearly steps back, but attempts to maintain an air of strength.

The creature regards the surface dwellers with its cold, dead fish eyes fr a moment before bowing itself; going all the way down to one knee and bending its head. The other locathah seem shocked.

"You are friends to the Tso'Cha." it says humbly before rising. "Without your gifts the Le'uin would still own this lake."

The other locathah shout and ones who are armed bang their spears excitedly against the floor.

Kavos is taken aback, not realizing that a few sheep would mean so much to these people. "I'm glad that the gifts were satisfactory, I've actually come to speak with you on a similar matter I thought you might be interested in."

The Tso'Cha patriarch nods and drifts back over to his place at the table. "Of course. Feast and let us speak."

The PCs approach and the large locathah clears a place for them on its left hand side. It tears a slab of meat off its current meal and divides it among both Kavos and Gandil before digging back into its food.

Gandil attempts to imitate the big locathah and fits as much in his mouth as he can before chewing. They're humanoid enough to fill his belly, but taste like seafood; a delightful change of pace. "Dig in Kavos, it's great." Gandil says between bites.

Kavos looks at his food and pushes it aside a bit. "I want to talk to you about a food source for your people, other than your people." he says, glancing at what's being served.

Gandil looks at the food before him and the sheep on the wall and asks Kavos "Wait a minute, are these the guys eating Westbankers?"

Kavos, glad that nobody here can understand Gandil or vice versa whispers that the green ones were doing it and that the yellow ones told them to.

"We are always eager to find alternatives." the patriarch agrees. "When you sent us your meat, we were starving; many of us fell prey to the Le'Uin and their monstrous beasts. Your contribution strengthened our dying warriors and let us reclaim our rightful place." it says, a hint of human emotion creeping into its alien voice.

"I'm glad to hear it." Kavos says with a smile. "Your people eat meat, correct? Regardless of origin?" he beckons one of his zombies over as Gandil stands up and slams his hands on the table.

"Where do these green bastards live? I demand restitution for my fallen comrades. I demand vengeance, I deman-" Gandil shouts, but is easily ignored as nobody save Kavos can understand him.

"We have never been choosy." the patriarch nods, whatever else he said being drowned out by Gandil's call for blood.

Kavos leans over and says "Gandil! The green ones have already been caught, they're being punished!" he hisses, indicating the creatures in the corner and on the plate.

Gandil stares down at his plate in horror. "But if the green ones eat Westbankians...and I eat them...then that makes me...a cannibal!"

Kavos just looks at him.

"I have to get out of here!" Gandil shouts and flees towards the exit.

Kavos smiles at the Tso'Cha and explains that Gandil's water breathing spell was about to expire and he had to get back to the surface. The patriarch understands and offers to send a guide with Gandil. Unsure of how Gandil would react, Kavos declines.

This turns out to be a problem. Gandil doesn't quite know how to get to the surface and just starts taking any turn that the finds, pressing deeper and deeper into the locathah city.

Back in the feasting hall the patriarch asks Kavos "Now what is his problem you have?"

"No problem." Kavos assures him. "Only an opportunity. A town on the river has become somewhat disagreeable. All of the people have forgotten how to listen and I wish to rescind my protection. Your people may eat all you can catch from this town." as he says this Kavos bites into his section of meat, finding that it's not actually that bad.

The patriarch nods. "Humans are dangerous to our kind, we don't move so good on land." it explains. "but if we can lure them to the water they will perish. If we can't, we will snare them."

"There's just one problem, and it would be wrong of me not to bring it up to you before you went about your devouring. The humans in this town have gone through a change. Your people may not be the most picky of eaters, however this change they've gone through is questionable to say the least. I have no idea how they will taste, however, it will certainly not be as you remember." Kavos explains.

The patriarch tilts its head. "They are like these?" it asks, motioning towards the zombies. "Rotting things?"

Kavos purses his lips and nods.

The patriarch seems uncertain. "We have seen some of the Le'Uin eat these before; they sometimes make our people sick. Sometimes they make them forget themselves..." he says solemnly.

"Your people go through the change as well?" Kavos asks surprised.

The patriarch nods. "We have differences surface dweller, but we have sames too."

Kavos nods, surprised to find that the locathah have a strangely human intelligence. They can be quite insightful.

Meanwhile Gandil finds himself in a 20x20 room filled with mud and blue scaled locathah trying to drive him off with sticks. Gandil flashes his teeth and claws threateningly and the smallish locathah do the same. With a stroke of brilliance Gandil scoops up a handful of mud and flings it into the face of one of them.

They don't seem to like this and commence to beating Gandil with their sticks. Gandil doesn't seem to like this and starts biting and clawing anyone in range. The injured locathah flee down random tunnels in a panic and somewhere someone makes a horrible noise like an underwater trumpet, Gandil can't see who did it however because of the growing blood cloud.

Back in the feasting hall Kavos continues negotiating with the locathah. Despite the fact they can't reliably eat the ghouls they agree to do what they can to drag them down into their element. In return Kavos promises more free meat and their alliance seems pretty well cemented.

Then they hear the horn.

The locathah glance at each other and then to the patriarch. "The Asch'al are being raided." the patriarch says. "They call for their kin."

The creature seems to grin if that's possible and turns to Kavos. "Join us for a hunt surface dweller?"

Kavos nods and follows the swarm of creatures through their intimate tunnels, through several twists and turns until finally they empty out into an enclosed area filled with mud, blood and screaming blue scaled locathah.

Gandil is pouncing on anything within reach like a rabid cat, he lifts the broken corpse of a blue locathah to his mouth a and chews through one of its arms with a single mighty bite. The remaining blue scaled ones seem terrified and cower nearby.

Suddenly more than a dozen of the blue creatures flood the room, wielding sharpened sticks and with their faces contorted into a vicious battlecry.

Kavos, Gandil and the orange scaled locathah ready their weapons and the blue locathah's battlecry turns into a pathetic squeal and the flee into a random assortment of tunnels without even losing momentum.

The patriarch laughs as his entourage breaks up and follows after their squealing prey into the walls. "A creature after my own heart." it says, indicating the gore covered Gandil.

"These...aren't your allies?" Kavos asks.

The patriarch seems amused. "They are Asch'al. Builders. Prey."

Kavos looks around, understanding the culture a little better. Seeing that the hunt seems to be crowded as it is, he asks the Tso'Cha patriarch if a guide could take them to the surface and the large creature has the 'ambassador' take them.

Under its guidance they find their way free of the city in only a few short minutes. Once they say their goodbyes Kavos casts Water Walk on himself, Gandil and the zombies and they shoot up through the depths in record time.

They take a moment to collect themselves and they Kavos half buries his remaining zombies along the edge of the lake beneath the waves so that they're there when he needs them. He then reminds Gandil to put his hat back on as they walk back to town.

Once back in town Gandil heads to Rambalt's lab carrying a pair of sticks, he explains to Rambalt that he's going to teach Junior how to sword fight. Rambalt thinks that's a fine idea so Gandil approaches the childlike flesh golem who's sitting cross legged on the floor seemingly fascinated by a book on animal husbandry.

"What'cha got there Mr Baby?" Gandil asks and Junior shows him. Impressed that he's already reading, or at least looking at pictures, Gandil decides to quiz the golem to see if it's retaining any knowledge. "What's the book about?" he asks.

Junior looks up with a vacant grin and makes an O shape with one hand and repeatedly inserts his index finger into the opening. Gandil's eyes widen in shock and he slaps the book out of Junior's hands.

"No!" Gandil shouts. "That is an inappropriate book for someone your age!" the prudish zombie declares. Forgetting about his desire to teach Junior sword fighting Gandil instead spends the rest of the night teaching him the ways of the hero; lecturing him on his own adventures, or at least how he remembers them.

Kavos checks the fortifications and then heads to bed.

As soon as the sun rises Kavos prays for his daily spells and then sets out for the graveyard that supposedly holds Longarm's body. It doesn't take much effort to find Longarm's grave though it seems odd.

The headstone is there, but Kavos realizes that the grave site itself doesn't seem to have ever been disturbed. Nothing could be buried here because it was never dug up. He feels around in the dirt to make sure, but it's tightly packed.

In fact, almost none of the grave sites seem to have been disturbed.

Suspicions confirmed, Kavos heads to Elder Hadran's house to discuss the locathah. He explains their situation with the Tso'Cha and asks for Hadran to smooth over things with the town. Elder Hadran agrees that they need allies desperately and vows to put a good spin on their new relationship.

Kavos thanks him and then sets out among the people to comfort and inspire them as he can.

Gandil spends the day following through with his intention to teach Junior swordfighting and by the end of the day the excited golem can hold a tree branch almost like a sword. He's clumsy and stiff, but unbelievably powerful. Gandil considers it a smashing success and asks Rambalt to work on fashioning a proper weapon for Mr Baby. He includes a sketch of what he'd like made.

Then Gandil has an idea. Junior needs to go to school, he can't spend his life in Rambalt's basement. He does a head count and finds about 14 kids in town of various ages, not counting Junior. Gandil asks around and Mrs Boddan at the inn is willing to teach, she doesn't even have a problem with Junior; she'd heard of the contributions he'd made during the siege and Gandil explained that he was a simpleton they'd found in the woods with the mind of a child. Knowing Gandil this might be how he remembers the events.

Gandil declares that he'll whip the children into physical perfection and teach them survival techniques. Rambalt is unknowingly volunteered for a variety of subjects and once Kavos hears about it decides that he'll volunteer his services for a weekly class devoted to Arcana and Religion.

All in all, Kavos figures it's a pretty good way to scout for new talent.


First Post
We pick up exactly where we left off.

Gandil is in Rambalt's lab doing his thing, while Junior throws a leather ball against the wall and watches it bounce back to him. Kavos stops in to check on the state of Gandil's bandit, to see how much food reserves the ghastly sheriff has remaining. The bandit has neither leg, nor one of his arms but there's still plenty of meat on his bones, much to the bandit's disappointment.

Rambalt is setting aside books for the school's use, all of which are dry; academic and assuredly above the heads of the schoold children. Kavos asks Rambalt how Junior's been progressing and Rambalt replies that the golem picks things up remarkably fast; as though he's remembering how to do things rather than learning them fresh.

Junior grins when he hears his name, looking over to see what they're saying before returning to his game.

Satisfied, Kavos bids everyone a good day and excuses himself to visit Father Adrian, alone.

He discovers the elderly priest int he chapel as usual, a bucket and rag in hand; scrubbing one of the pews with an almost youthful vigor.

"What is it you hope to achieve?" Kavos asks bluntly, startling the priest out of his reverie.

Father Adrian turns from his work and wipes the sweat from his brow with one of his sleeves. "I hope to remove this stain before it attracts ants. Some child seems to have smuggled in a sweet..." he mutters, glaring at a syrupy mess on the pew.

"I speak of Longarm." Kavos demands.

Father Adrian's face splits into a patronly smile, his pretenses dropped now that they speak alone. "The same thing you want out of Gandil, I'd imagine. Someone strong to help keep the peace."

Kavos takes a seat on the pew and Adrian does the same, being careful to avoid the stain.

"What happened to the people I put under your care in Jessop's farm?" Kavos asks. "They were safe, the disease hadn't advanced; they were cured."

"They've been put to good use." Father Adrian assures him. "They've become much like our friends...thought not quite so intelligent." he says with a small frown. "I have faith though. I believe they can be recovered...or at least trained."

"We can't afford to be reckless with the power that's been bestowed on us. I trust your judgement, but so many people disappearing at once is sure to draw attention." Kavos says.

"They Eastbankers." Father Adrian says dismissively. "They've spent the last twenty years making our lives miserable. Nobody's going to look for them, frankly, nobody cares if they're dead."

"Just one slip though Father Adrian, one slip and you lose everything you've built for this town. Such a large disappearance, even Eastbankers...there are risks." Kavos insists. "You know this already though don't you? Adrian. Just because the end is in sight doesn't mean you need to push harder, you'll only end up falling, and I won't be able to help you back up."

"That's exactly what it means!" Father Adrian says, his gaze distant and a look of fear on his face. "The two of you have dragged the Duke directly to our door step and if we're going to survive, we must have an army!" he nearly shouts.

Kavos is taken aback by this.

"The last time that man came here he reduced a thriving community of nearly three thousand to...this." Father Adrian says sadly, waving a hand around dismissively. "So tell me Kavos. What use is a reputation among the dead?" the elderly priest demands. "So long as they survive, they can judge me as they see fit. IF they survive..."

Kavos sits in silence with the priest for a moment. "So you want an army... Adrian, I've allied with the forces of nature itself. The denizens of the forest AND lake stand by my side. If it's a force you want, I'd like you to accompany me to a meeting with one of the leaders."

Father Adrian seems a bit surprised but nods his head. "I'll attend your meeting..." he replies simply, possibilities flitting through his mind.

Kavos bows and excuses himself, leaving Father Adrian with his work.

Meanwhile, Gandil's grown bored sitting around Rambalt's basement and decides that he's going to hold an impromptu chess tournament; with the winner winning a spot in their new government as an adviser. He goes and shouts this news in the town square and then begins knocking on doors to announce it as well.

He heads to the southside of the village to tell the rest of the population when he sees a glimpse of something rushing him out of the corner of his eye. Gandil spins to face it and receives a punch square in the face with enough force to knock him off his feet.

He hits the ground and flexes his claws dangerously.

"Did your friend give you my message?" the voice of Longarm asks cold and hollow, his cloak wrapped tightly to conceal his horrific visage. He's as large and burly as he was in life, but death has replaced his once jovial face with something sharp and predatory.

"I think he might've said something about-" Gandil starts, standing up nonchalantly and receiving a knee to the ribs for his trouble, those ribs are suddenly rattling around inside him.

"Adrian wants you alive." Longarm growls, "But I honestly don't care. Make you a deal though, give me back my grandfather's sword and I'll leave you some teeth."

"This sword belongs to the Sheriff of Westbank..." Gandil says, feeling the weight of his injuries even if he can't feel the pain associated with them, "And last I checked..THAT'S ME!" he shouts at the top if his lungs, the sword flicks out and carves a hole down the front of Longarm's chest; the blow is accompanied by both a bite and a claw.

Longarm scowls at the injury but delivers a one-two punch combo that rattles Gandil's undead brain and breaks another rib.

Gandil hacks into Longarm twice with the enchanted falchion and a commotion can be heard in the street. Longarm looks worried about getting caught in the act and backhands the contested weapon out of a very surprised Gandil's hands. Before Gandil can say anything however, Longarm lands another punch to the face which caves in his eye socket and makes the world go very; very dark.

Kavos is enjoying a leisurely meal in the tavern when a villager storms in shouting that the sheriff's been injured and doesn't have a pulse. He rushes to attend to the fallen sheriff before his secret is discovered.

Kavos finds Gandil lying limp in a pile of trash, his sword nowhere to be seen. About a dozen people have gathered in the street to gawk; the fact that their sheriff had apparently been mugged keeping them all on edge.

Kavos turns to the crowd and demands that they return to their homes. It doesn't take much prodding to send them on their way; just knowing that whatever did THIS is still out there is enough to get them moving.

Once everyone's gone, Kavos unleashes several negative energy blasts directly at Gandil's corpse. Gandil's wounds knit themselves back together as he does so and finally the battered sheriff sits up with a groan.

"Who did this to you?!" Kavos demands.

Gandil rubs his head with the back of his hand and says "It was Father Adrian. He's not trustworthy Kavos! He sent the ghost of Longarm to kill me!"

"I spoke with Father Adrian earlier today, he's doubtlessly on our side. Are you sure this was his doing?" Kavos asks suspiciously, knowing Gandil's tendency to jump to conclusions.

"This was definitely him!" Gandil insists. "Longarm attacked me and muttered something about Father Adrian while he did so, I swear!"

Kavos curses under his breath and rushes to the temple, leaving Gandil in the trash.

Gandil glances around the dark alley and decides to join him.

They find Father Adrian lighting candles in preparation for tonight's service. Kavos bursts into the room and shouts "What game are you playing at Adrian!?" unmindful of whether or not they're alone. Luckily they are, for now.

"What are you talking about Kavos?" Father Adrian asks, genuinely surprised.

"Longarm attacked Gandil. Why?" Kavos demands.

Adrian sighs and rubs his temples. "He's been ranting about his grandfather's sword in the hands of his murderer... I instructed him to leave the matter to me, but..." Father Adrian looks at Gandil, a look of seemingly genuine concern on his face. "Did he hurt you?"

Gandil growls and leaps forward to snatch Adrian by the throat. Adrian's eyes flash dangerously and Gandil goes limp. When Adrian instructs him to sit down, he does so with no choice in the matter; he feels a will inside him replacing his own.

Kavos glances at the angry, but subdued Gandil and asks "So Longarm was acting on his own?"

Father Adrian nods. "Yes and I have to say, considering Gandil is still with us he must be showing CONSIDERABLE restraint. I apologize for his behavior, but the sword meant a great deal to him. This is all my fault for not broaching the subject sooner."

"Did you bring me back to life?" Gandil shouts, using the only part of him that's still his to control.

"I think it's pretty obvious that he did." Kavos says.

"I'm not asking you Kavos, I'm asking him!" Gandil growls.

"Actually...I didn't. Though your revival WAS what inspired me to bring Curtis back, I had no direct hand in it." Father Adrian replies.

"Do you know what did?" Gandil asks sullenly.

"You're unique Gandil. Well, less unique now, but still one in a million." Father Adrian says. "There are a number of things which COULD have brought you back, I admit that I'm not sure what it was that did so. I've heard stories of soldiers falling in battle to be reborn as you have from the spiritual resonance caused by the carnage. Perhaps my own experiments created such a situation for you?" he suggests.

"Why did you bring Longarm back?" Gandil demands. Kavos is struck speechless; he'd just assumed that Adrian had brought Gandil back himself; learning otherwise opens up too many questions.

"Once I realized the two of you were lying about his involvement with the Duke, I couldn't in good conscience turn my back on him. Curtis has been a friend for years." Father Adrian replies.

"And we killed that friend. So why do you care if we live or die?" Gandil asks, displaying a shocking amount of self awareness.

"Because I don't believe you were lying about the Duke." Father Adrian explains. "This town needs the two of you. A strong arm to defend it and a strong mind to lead it. "I'll admit that I'm somewhat upset at your attempt to manipulate me as you did, but since Curtis is still well, not alive... but active, I suppose there's no real harm."

"So where do you end up when this is all over?" Gandil growls suspiciously.

"Where I've always been." Father Adrian says. "Watching over my flock. Pelor failed to protect them, Lord Asmodeous will not."

"Has Longarm's personality changed since bringing him back?" Gandil asks, curious about his own condition.

"He seems angrier." Father Adrian admits, a note of sadness in his voice. "But under the circumstances, I don't hold it against him."

"I will not be commanded like a dog. Let me up!" Gandil demands, unable to physically struggle.

"Are you going to behave?" Adrian asks bluntly.

"I swear I'll kill you Adrian!" Gandil growls.

"No. You won't." Kavos reprimands him.

"Oh yes I will Kavos, if he doesn't let me up now I'll eat his innards later!" Gandil snarls.

"He's our ally!" Kavos snaps. "You're being unreasonable!"

"Gandil, if you're willing to forget this mess; I'll compensate you for the loss of the sword." Father Adrian offers.

"Keep your demon trinkets. I wish to stand!" Gandil shouts.

"I'll release you." Adrian replies. "But this is your only warning: Lunge for me again and I will remove your skeletal structure." Father Adrian says coldly, but without a hint of exaggeration.

Kavos positions himself between Gandil and Adrian. "Gandil, you listen to me! I WILL NOT let what happened with Haverston happen again. Don't you DARE attack Adrian."

"Alright, fine!" Gandil shouts. "Just release me!"

Father Adrian relinquishes control of Gandil and the undead sheriff immediately leaps forward snarling and brandishing his claws. Before he gets within 10ft of Father Adrian however, he's fallen under the control of Kavos who makes him sit down once again.

"Get control of Longarm." Kavos tells Father Adrian. "I'll do the same with Gandil. But mark my words, I know him. He won't forget this."

Father Adrian nods, "I will leash him if need be. The peace will be maintained for all our sakes."

Kavos nods and informs Gandil that they will be staying for the evening service. Gandil tries to protest but Kavos shuts him down quite literally. The sermon is somewhat pleasant and revolves around keeping the faith during these trying times; that not even ghouls can threaten a community united as they are.

After it's over, Kavos leads Gandil to the jail and locks him in a cell. He releases control and steps back.

Gandil immediately throws himself at the bars with teeth gnashing and claws flailing; surprisingly he he manages to absolutely wreck one of the bars.

"Gandil. Stop!" Kavos shouts.

Seeing his chance, Gandil presses himself into the new opening he's made and manages to squeeze through. Kavos attempts to seize control of him again but Gandil resists and pounces on the elderly cleric.

Like a rabid animal Gandil tears into his former friend, dealing 3/4ths of his hp in damage in a single focused assault. Kavos just barely manages to take control of him once again and places him in the remaining cell, his clothing soaked with his own blood.

Kavos goes to Professor Rambalt's lab. Rambalt himself is in his lab working over a makeshift smithy on Junior's weapon.

"Rambalt, the tonic to ward off infection... I need one." Kavos says.

Rambalt motions towards a cabinet which holds several bottles and asks "What happened? Did ghouls get in?"

"Nothing." Kavos says, shaking his head and taking a seat. "Rambalt, you've worked with the human anatomy, correct?"

Rambalt nods. "Oh yes. Quite extensively."

"Extensively.." Kavos repeats, taking a sip of the tonic. "The brain. Could you, if necessary...could you 'reset' a mind? Is it possible?"

Rambalt's face scrunches up in confusion. "To what end?"

"To remove unwanted memories." Kavos says.

"Well...yes. Butthe side effects would be quite...umm unpleasant." Rambalt replies.

"How so?" Kavos asks.

Tapping the front of Kavos's skull, Rambalt says "A quick incision here could make the brain incapable of storing recent memories as long term...however NO further memories could be processed."

Kavos thinks for a moment and then sighs. "Plan B then Rambalt. Do you have any chains or potato sacks?"

Rambalt nods indicating several sets near the tortured bandit. "I always keep spare chains, in my line of work you never know when you'll need them... And I should have some potatoes up in the larder."

Kavos nods. "Could you and Junior please carry those chains to the jail? I'll get the sacks."

Rambalt's confused, but does as he's asked; loading Junior down with heavy chains and leading the golem to the jail behind Kavos.

Kavos unlocks the door to allow them in and as they enter, Rambalt gasps at the sight of Gandil in the cell. "Kavos, what is this?! Why is Gandil locked up?"

Kavos waves towards his wounds.

"He did that?" Rambalt asks incredulously. "But...but he's the sheriff!"

"I'll explain later." Kavos says, "At this moment, we need to secure him."

"Why's he just standing there like that?" Rambalt asks concerned, but does as he's asked. "Did he...revert?"

Kavos explains that Gandil is under his control until he answers some questions. Kavos proceeds to place the potato sacks over Gandil's hands and face, tying them tight to make sure they stay in place. He then carefully arranges the chains to bind Gandil so that if he does somehow resist control, he still can't move.

Kavos turns to Rambalt. "He believes a person to be acting against him when he's not. That person is sort of like you Rambalt, someone I protect from the prying eyes of the public."

Comprehension flashes across Rambalt's face. "Oh... Is he going to be alright, do you think?"

"We'll see." Kavos says. "Step outside, we need a moment alone."

Rambalt nods and leads Junior outside to wait.

Kavos releases control of Gandil and says "Take a moment and listen before you react."

Gandil confirms that he's listening.

"Earlier, before the chains, I wanted to ask you why you attacked Father Adrian. Now I want to know why you attacked me." Kavos says.

"Because nobody controls my mind!" he growls. "You not only defended Adrian, but took control of my body to do so. AND you forced me to sit through that blasted sermon!" Gandil nearly shouts.

"I did it for the town. For you. For everything we've worked for." Kavos insists. "I spoke with Father Adrian earlier today. He's our ally and a powerful one. Not only is he the man who brought Longarm to life, he's a powerful cleric of my god. He would have done far worse than take control of you if you'd managed to harm him. He's not our enemy, remove that notion from your mind. He just wants the town to be safe, to prosper. Isn't that what you want?"

"He sets a rapid dog like Longarm loose in Westbank and you want me to believe he has the town's best interests at heart?" Gandil shouts. "He's up to no good Kavos. You can't be so foolish as to not see it!"

"A rabid dog?" Kavos asks with a genuine laugh. "Who was Longarm before we arrived here?" he asks. Gandil doesn't answer so Kavos does himself: "He was the sheriff! Who better to bring back from the dead to protect this town?"

"We already have an undead sheriff! A half-orc who couldn't handle a pit full of spiders is neither wanted nor helpful." Gandil insists. "If our friendship has ever meant anything to you Kavos, help me take Adrian and his pet ghoul out once and for all!"

"Adrian wants nothing but good for this town!" Kavos replies angrily. "YOU moved to strike first, YOU initiated the conflict. I can understand your feud with Longarm, but you need to leave Adrian out of this."

"Kill me now if you want to save Adrian." Gandil says flatly. "He has plans in store for Westbank and they do not include us. Kavos and Gandil? No. Adrian and Longarm will rule this town."

"Gandil..." Kavos starts exasperatedly. "He's lived here for decades, if he wanted to run this place he would have. YOU KILLED Longarm. If it had been the other way around you would have done far more than just beat him up when you got back."

"Me?" Gandil asks in shock. "I remember both of us watching him being eaten alive by spiders." he says morosely.

"I know." Kavos says. "But that doesn't change the fact that you had a hand in his murder, nor does it change my point. We've all done wrong, but we need to set it aside to move forward."

"My point still stands as well. If you want Adrian to live, then kill me now. You may not get another chance." Gandil replies defiantly.

"All I hear are the delusional rantings of a mad man." Kavos says with a sigh. "I won't lose a powerful ally to gain two powerful enemies because you feel slighted. I pray that you see reason."

"Do what you have to do." Gandil replies, "I'm not backing down."

Kavos shakes his head. "No...I suppose you won't."

He calls for Rambalt and orders the mage to retrieve his tools.

"You too Rambalt?" Gandil asks before Kavos seizes control once more.

"Are you sure Kavos?" Rambalt asks sadly. "M-maybe he'll come around?"

"I've given him every chance he'll get. Remove the claws and metal appendages." Kavos instructs. "I won't kill him, but I'm not going to let him run wild.

"But...that would leave him helpless." Rambalt protests. "The claws have replaced his hands, the jaws...Kavos, he doesn't even have a jaw without the implants."

"Are they re-attachable once removed?" Kavos aks.

Rambalt shakes his head. "I'll have to saw them off to remove them. Kavos, this is permanent..."

Kavos sighs and glances one last time at his old friend before turning to Rambalt and simply saying "Good."

Voidrunner's Codex

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