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"Out of the Frying Pan" - Book II: Catching the Spark (Part Two) - {complete}

Malexin

First Post
Good job Nemmerle. I can't wait for the next bit of story. What deity does that holy symbol represent? I'm not to familiar with the egyptian pantheon and I don't recognize it. Or does the party even know?
 

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Metus

First Post
Very nice. Odd that they gave them back all their stuff (I would've kept it and let them fend for themselves). You know what I realized? Besides Tirhas, I really miss that other dragon hunting group, the one with Jeremy's relative in it.

Excellent update, Nemm. Hope to see more!
 


el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Session #31 (part III)

“I just want it know that I almost exhausted all of my magic for the day,” Martin said, as the party trudged down the snow-covered hill towards the stony corridor that cleaved another nearby hill asunder. Ratchis had seen the ram go in that direction.

“We don’t need magic,” Kazrack shrugged.

They came to the entrance o the ravine. Either side was flanked with rocky cliffs about 25 feet above ground level; and a great deal of shrubbery and trees screen thee entrance, along with tall pines on the cliffs themselves, creating cover anyone or anything that might have been up there.

Beorth sagged under the weight of his armor, as he stood with the others, his exhaustion worn clearly on his face. Ratchis crept forward through the tree and poked his head into the ravine and listened. In a few minutes he returned.

“I hears some voices ahead,” Ratchis explained. “The ravine curves off to the left a few score feet ahead, and I think there are bugbears back there, but it could be humans; couldn’t tell.”

“Did you get a sense of how many?” Kazrack asked.

“More than three,” Ratchis said with a smirk.

Kazrack looked at Beorth’s sorry condition and called on his gods to heal the paladin, and while the wounds on his body closed, the weariness did not dissipate.

“I’m gonna climb that wall there and up to the left side ledge,” Jeremy said.

“No,” said Ratchis. “It is too dangerous.”

“I just want to see if anyone is up there and from up there we might get a better view of the area,” Jeremy reasoned.

“But we cannot all get up there and we should not split the group in such a way that we cannot easily get to one another,” Kazrack said.

Jeremy sighed.

Martin echoed the sigh and looked to Jana, “How do we get ourselves into these things?”

“I ask myself the same question everyday,” Jana replied with a shrug. “I have not yet found an answer, not that it really matters anyway.”

“We need to consider our next action,” Kazrack said. “It is not my place to tell you all what to do, but seeing as it is getting on dark and three of us are badly injured, I am not sure going in there after the ram is the wisest course of action.”

“Do you think the ram has the amulet?” Martin asked. “That would weigh our choice one way or another.”

“I think it does,” Jana said. “It is just a gut feeling, but I think so.”

“I will lead us to a place we can rest for the night,” Ratchis said. “We can return in the morning.”

“I think that might be a good idea,” Beorth croaked.

But suddenly, there was a scream like someone in blinding agony. It echoed through the canyon and sent shivers down their backs.

“Did that just sound like someone getting hurt?” Ratchis asked.

“Yes,” Martin and Jeremy said in unison.

”Maybe we need to press forward,” Ratchis suggested, changing his mind.

“I think our decision was made for us,” Kazrack said.

“Ok, Kazrack and I will go forward a bit and see what we can see,” Ratchis said. “If we are attacked from above run back. We will come behind you and watch the rear. I may take a little longer, but don’t wait for me.”

“Just let me climb up the ridge and look around,” Jeremy suggested again.

“No, you might be easily spotted,” Ratchis said.

“And if you are hurt we may not be able to get to you,” Martin said.

“And we should not split the group that way,” Kazrack said.

Jeremy sighed and fidgeted.

Kazrack looked up to the ridge in question and in the dying light he saw what appeared to be some kind of shabby figure retreating into the canyon.

“We may have been spotted,” the dwarf said, hurrying through the trees into the ravine, looking up and to both sides as he entered.

Ratchis was right behind him. They could see the retreating form of a bugbear above them to the left, so Kazrack hustled to the wall and squatted, and Ratchis charged towards him, planning on using the dwarf as a boost up and grab the bugbear before he could alert any more of his kind. But, the hulking half-orc miss-stepped and slipped, slamming into the cliff face and sending Kazrack off his feet. Above them, the bugbear hooted loudly.

“Jeremy, get up here! Bring your bow!” Kazrack cried, and with that the plan fell to pieces.

Jeremy ran through the trees and fired his crossbow at the rapidly disappearing bugbear, missing, while two more of the hairy goblins appeared on the right ridge and chucked javelins down at Ratchis’ prone form which covered the dwarf. Fortunately, they struck with little force, and did no damage.

“Fall back! Retreat!” Ratchis cried.

On the other side of the trees, Beorth obeyed the booming voice and began to back away from the entrance to the ravine.

Kazrack crawled out from under Ratchis and high-tailed towards the entrance, and Ratchis followed. Jeremy reloaded his crossbow and fired up at one of the two figures throwing javelins from above, drawing blood. However, this time one of the javelins struck Ratchis heavily. He could feel his ribs bruise and thanked his chain shirt for keeping him from being skewered.

Kazrack burst through the trees, yelling “Run!” to Martin Jana and Beorth, all of whom just stared at him blankly. Beorth made a move to retreat further, but his exhaustion slowed him way down “Fall back! We can take cover behind those large stones!”

Ratchis moved up to Jeremy who stood just within the ravine loading his crossbow. “I’m going to die if you don’t run away!” the half-orc screamed at the Neergaardian, who reluctantly slowed his reloading to move back. Ratchis dodged left and right, as more javelins came his way. A third bugbear appeared on the ledge.

Ratchis moved to the end of one of the narrow paths through the trees and made ready to clobber anything that came through, while Kazrack ran over to Beorth and tried to forcibly throw him over his shoulder.

“Jeremy! Come here and help me with Beorth!” the dwarf cried, but the paladin struggled, not wanting to be carried, protesting vehemently. He broke free and moved further away from the entrance to the ravine.

Jana merely stood there waiting, while Martin moved back to the shade of a tall tree, out of view.

Failing to carry off Beorth, Kazrack moved back to the treeline and made ready as Ratchis did, to hack at anything that came though the trees.

Two of the bugbears on the ledge crept past the tree line and made ready to throw more javelins at the party. Jeremy fired his crossbow at them, but the bolt went high, missing completely.

But now there was another group of bugbears rushing through the trees out of the ravine. Ratchis slammed his hammer into the first one coming through. There was an explosion of blood and fur, as it fell under the weight of the blow, but still struggled to get back up.

The bugbears on the ledge took advantage of the half-orc’s distraction and he felt the bite of another javelin.

Beorth moved further away from the melee, as Martin pulled a tuft of wool from his cloak and making his arcane gestures and muttering his words, the image of the enormous golden ram appeared on this side of the tree line, but blocking direct line of sight between the bugbears on the ledge and the rest of the party.

Kazrack charged into the trees, swinging his flail wildly with his off-hand, but missed, striking a tree trunk instead with a nearly arm-numbing blow.

Jeremy stepped over to stop a bugbear trying to get past the one Ratchis was engaged with, and with a quick chop of his long sword sent the hairy goblin’s left hand flying off. The creature’s arm gushed like a hose. It screeched, and dropped to it knees.

The other bugbear had barely gotten back up from his knees, when Ratchis crushed its skull with his masterwork hammer. But the stream of bugbears bursting through the trees did not stop. Another came through, slamming his spiked club into Ratchis’ already bruised side. While, the bugbears on the ledge threw javelins at the illusory ram.

“Let’s finish off these gobos and then we’ll run!” Jeremy yelled.

One of the javelins came sailing through the illusory ram, and suddenly one of the bugbears began to scream “Loxxo! Loxxo!”

Jana cast her blindness spell on one of the bugbears on the ledge, even as another moved up to join them, bringing more javelins with it. The young witch then moved back, watch over the exhausted Beorth.

“Take a taste of this!” Jeremy howled as he sunk his long sword deep into the back of the screeching bugbear that held onto its bloody stump.

Kazrack moved through the trees trying to cut down bugbears and keep them from bursting through the trees and getting to the rest of the party, but his blows all missed or were ineffectual.

Ratchis stepped back from the trees and pulling a dagger from his boot tossed it at a charging bugbear, but the blade sunk into a tree. Jeremy moved to back up the half-orc, as he was guarding the widest path, and the bugbear approaching slammed the Neergaardian with his morningstar.

Martin continued to have his illusory ram move toward the ledge, as javelins rained down around it.

At that moment there was another commotion from within the ravine. They could see bearing down on them, the golden dire ram, its hooves cleaving huge rents in the snowy, rocky ground. It was being chased by give more bugbears, being led by one that was particularly large and dressed in a chain shirt.

“We gotta get these down and then run,” Jeremy yelled. “There’s an army bearing down on us!”

“We must stay and fight now,” Kazrack replied. “We have no choice.”

About thirty-five feet from the battle, Jana and Beorth watched from among some trees.

“I can’t see what’s happening,” Beorth said. “There are too many trees in the way.”

“There is some kind of commotion beyond the trees,” Jana replied.

Kazrack tried to finish the last of the first wave of bugbears by him, but missed completely.

Jeremy held the gap that Ratchis had held, and slashed the large charging bugbear in the chain shirt open, and nicked it with his short sword as well. Ratchis, did not hesitate and crammed into the gap, bringing his hammer down on the thing’s neck and shoulder. It dropped his arm down as if it were now useless.

At that same moment the ram leapt high into the air, and brought a hoof down on a bugbear’s skull, crushing it easily. Kazrack’s jaw dropped open, as bugbear brain splatter onto his chin and beard.

Martin had his illusory ram turn and look at the new one.

Kazrack made ready to attack the next bugbear that came through the trees, but one of the charging bugbears stopped short of the range of the dwarf’s flail and pierced his armor with a javelin.

Other javelins from above went right through the illusory ram.

Ratchis stepped back from the gap, keeping Jeremy there and called to his goddess, “Nephthys! Bless my weapon!”

Beorth and Jana crept forward, heading towards the real golden ram.

Jeremy rushed further into the trees to meet the charging bugbears.

“Wait! I thought I said to pull back!” Ratchis cried. The first bugbear ducked Jeremy’s swing, but the Neergaardian was committed to his position now, and suddenly found himself facing three bugbears at once.

Jeremy grunted as he felt the heavy blow of one of the hairy goblins, and staggered, just bearely bringing his long sword up to parry a blow from a second bugbear. However, all went black for him with a third heavy blow. Jeremy collapsed bleeding and unconscious among the trees.

Kazrack cursed in dwarven.

“Help! Jeremy is down!” Martin yelled from the relative safe vantage point by a tall tree.

The golden ram turned and walked to meet Beorth, and the paladin looked up into its large mahogany eyes.

It opened its mouth and upon its tongue was the malachite pendant that could control the undead. Beorth reached up and took it.

“In exchange for your life, please help my friends,” Beorth implored and tried to bargain. “I freed you!”

The ram regarded the paladin with a look of obvious disgust.

Kazrack ran to one of the bugbears running past Jeremy’s bleeding form and it let out a loud “oof” as the light flail made contact with its ribs.

Ratchis stepped up to help, but these bugbears were deft at avoiding blows. The second of the bugbears ducked and thrust his spiked club right into the half-orc’s crotch. Ratchis dropped his hammer and leaned over in pain, collapsing. The third bugbear began to go through Jeremy’s things. It held up his mithral sword, the Right Blade of Arofel, and hooted with delight.

“Jeremy’s down! Ratchis is down!” Martin cried, as he commanded his illusory ram to look as if it planned to charge the scattering bugbears.

“Loxxo! Loxxo!” cried their leader.

Kazrack took another blow from a bugbear. “You are more bug than bear!” the dwarf cried. “I will kill you all! I will squash you beneath my boot!”

Martin drew his crossbow, allowing the illusion of the ram to stand unattended.

“Jana, please! They’re dying!” Martin called.

“I’m going to go start helping Jeremy and Ratchis if I can,” Jana said to Beorth from where she stood behind him. “Follow me when you can and help.”

Kazrack screamed a battle cry, but it did not seem to help, as his opponent’s morningstar pierced right down to the bone of his left hand (his right still being broken and in a sling), and it throbbed in awful pain. (136) The dwarf backed away, forcing his injured arm to keep follow-up blows at bay.

The golden ram turned back to the battle and charged a laughing bugbear.

“Loxxo,” it said calmly just before it felt the crushing blow of the ram’s immense horns, sending it flying back.

Martin loaded his crossbow and fired at the bugbear dogging Kazrack, but missed and the recoil of the weapon nearly knocked him on his rear end.

Kazrack moved back into the trees using branches to provide cover. The other two bugbears looked up at the golden ram, and turned to flee. The ram ran one down, and it lay bloody and trampled. Jeremy’s sword was still in its hand.

Beorth moved to help Jana bind the wounds of the dying.

The bugbear on Kazrack turned and ran, just barely avoiding a parting blow from the dwarf. While the one the ram had sent flying stood and shook his head and dove for the underbrush to crawl away.

“Lady of the Raised Shield, please hear my cry and heal my wounds so that I may defend my friends,” Kazrack called to the dwarven goddess, Rivkanal (137), but the pain of his broken arm as he attempted the somatic components ruined his concentration, and the spell failed. (138)

The Ram walked over to Ratchis dying form, as Jana worked frantically to bind the many places Jeremy was bleeding from. It leaned over the half-orcs face and opening its mouth breathed on him.

In a second, Ratchis’ eyes fluttered and he coughed and choked out the words, “thank you.”

Beorth left Jana to do what she did best and walked over to the golden ram. The bugbears were out of sight. Even those up on the ledge had fled at the sight of the ram defending itself.

“Thank you, O glorious beast for saving our friends’ lives,” Beorth said, bowing his head.

Beorth suddenly felt a feeling like a clearing of his mind, and deep inside he heard the deep rich voice of what he knew to be the ram itself.

“You have been tested, Beorth,” It said. “And have been found wanting. The opportunities will come again for us to make this journey together, but this opportunity has been lost to you.”

Beorth looked up with surprised and then his head and shoulders sunk low again, as the ram turned from him and ran, leaping up the side of the nearby rocky outcropping and disappearing into the fading light.

“It is not safe for us to stay here,” Kazrack said.

“Thank you, Kazrack, your insight guides us all,” Martin snapped sarcastically, and kneeled beside Jeremy to aid Jana, but she looked up blood all over her face and hands.

“He will live,” she said of Jeremy. “But we need to get him out of here.”


End of Session #31

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Notes

(136) DM’s NOTE: Kazrack suffered the following critical effect: Primary Hand/Arm struck; Nujberb, -4 to attack rolls for 2d4 rounds.

(137) Rivkanal is Natan-ahb’s wife, and is the goddess of protection, motherhood and mercy. She is the balancing counterpart of her stern husband, espousing understanding, love, and generosity over duty, honor and law. She is also goddess of marriage.

(138) DM’s NOTE: Since spell-casting requires two free hands in Aquerra and Kazrack had a broken arm every time he attempted to cast a spell with somatic components he was forced to make a Concentration check against DC 15 + spell level.
 
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Cyronax

Explorer
Dawn said:
Beorth was found wanting? What didn't he do right?

My guess is that the ram didn't like how Beorth tried to bargain with it for help. I would bet that a simple and genuine "please" would have done the trick.

Just guesswork of course......

Great update Nemm!
C.I.D.
 

loxmyth

First Post
My guess is that the ram didn't like how Beorth tried to bargain with it for help. I would bet that a simple and genuine "please" would have done the trick.

And I think it also has to do with the fact that Beorth sat out the whole fight, instead of helping out. Sure he was close to death, but I'm guessing the Ram didn't see it has very paladin-like.

but like Cyronax, I'm just guessing here.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Well, I cannot specifically say why the Ram's attitude was how it was - as the time will come again soon for Beorth to be watched and tested, and do not want to unduly influence the player and let him play his character the way he likes. . .

But I think both of your speculations hit the gist of the problem. . . among other things. . .
 

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