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"Out of the Frying Pan"- Book III: Fanning the Embers

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Moderator Emeritus
Session #55

Isilem, the 9th of Sek – 565 H.E.

“Anubis! Please send these foul undead guardians of this nefarious place out of our sight, so we can continue our sacred mission!” Beorth cried, clutching his golden jackal’s head pedant.

The armored skeletal beings did not even hesitate, but held their swords aloft and inhuman voices screeched from their tongueless mouths, red pinpoints of malevolent light glowing in the dark pits of their skulls beneath their battered helms.

The Fearless Manticore Killers had spent the day resting, on the east side of the black rocky outcropping. Derek had explored the rocks themselves, finding narrow paths among them, and places sheltered from the wind and rain, where the stone edges were still very sharp, as if they had once been cut from molten slag.

However, as the sun fell once again, the whippoorwills returned, their spotted feathers ruffling in the occasional breeze from the south. They were scattered over the rocks, just watching the party, their heads jerking up and down and from side to side in that unnerving way birds often do. Kazrack had wanted to shoo them off, but Beorth did not let him, saying it was bad luck to do so with birds of ill-omen. Now the paladin was wondering if he had been wrong.

For not soon after, armored three skeletal figures had clawed their way out of the rock ground and surround the camp, and the birds had taken to the air, creating a great swirl of feathers and chirping above the battle, moving with chilling unity.

“In the name of Nephthys, send these foul creatures back to the grave so that their souls may be set free!” Ratchis cried, swinging his chain belt over his head, and holding his warhammer in the other hand. Again, the skeletons did not waver.

Martin, who had been studying one of his many books, slammed it shut and put it away, while Derek scrambled to grab his bow and axe. Kazrack followed suit.

The three undead warriors leaned back as one and lifting their left hands pointed at Ratchis and black bolts of energy flew from their fingers, striking the half-orc. Ratchis cried out in pain, as he felt the cold blows penetrate his back and chest.

Beorth charged one of the undead minions, “Ahhhhhh-nubis, guide my blow!” Bringing his quarterstaff down on one, cracking its collarbone, and its sword arm drooped weakly.

Ratchis looked to charge another, but at that moment his jaw dropped in disbelief and horror. The whippoorwills had flow into a formation that resembled a tall female form, with a whirling hem of a dress, they moved fluidly, as if she danced and dress rode up. She was nearly feet tall, as scores and scores of birds moved to keep up the synchronized illusion.

The half-orc had had enough of this ill-omened birds, and rushing past them headed for another of the skeletal warriors, but the hem of the bird-dress whipped past him and he felt the many tinny little pecks on his face and shoulder. Even as his hammer blows drove the undead thing back on the defensive, he noticed that while the birds’ wounds seemed very small, they seemed to have caused an unusually large amount of blood to go slipping down beneath his chain shirt.

“Someone get the bird-thing!” he cried out, even as he side-stepped the sword blow of his opponent, and it stepped oddly upon a stone and its ankle snapped like twig, falling awkwardly.

As it struggled to stand, it came up right into another blow from the friar’s hammer. It’s helmet sung out with a tuneful clang, as it fell again, but it rolled deftly away from a follow-up attack, moving unusually fluidly for thing made of bones.

Beorth shouted with satisfaction, as he cut the head off of his own opponent and it crumbled into a pile of rusted armor, but Kazrack was holding off, cautiously remaining out of the reaching of the dancing and flying bird-form looking for a way to harm it. Derek sent arrows through the formation to no effect.

Kazrack continued to remain clear of the birds, while Ratchis smashed his foe into pieces, only to feel the pecking of birds again. Martin cried out, as he stepped forward to cast a color spray on the birds, only to have it do no effect, and feel another swirl of birds strike him. Blood spurt from both the half-orc and the watch-mage as if their skin were the birds had pecked them had become a sieve. (1)

“Natan-Ahb, protect me from those who you have found wanting!” Kazrack prayed, casting protection from evil on himself, before heading in to deal with the bird threat.

The whirling ‘dress’ had a broad reach, and the dwarf grimaced as he felt the thing peck at him painfully, but he swung his halberd wide and felt like he hit the thing several times. He stepped back to safety, his pole arm a blur around him to fend off the birds, and saw several of the tiny creatures dead on the rocky ground.

Derek dropped his bow and brandishing his battle axe charged at the remaining armored skeleton. It side-stepped the young warrior’s attack and two bolts of black energy crackle as the struck him.

Beorth thought the bird-thing was distracted by Kazrack, and charged in with his sword swinging, but he was wrong and though he was able to cut down a few of the birds, he felt his face burn as he was pecked like sleet whipped in the rain. (2) The paladin was amazed at how the monster was able to behave as if it had one brain, and yet many brains, coordinating its attacks with such speed and surety.

It whipped out again, and again Kazrack and Beorth swung their weapons wildly in a futile attempt to ward off the tiny birds, that found their was easily through the defense.

Ratchis joined the fray against the formation of birds, and a dozen birds fell, but he collected more tiny bloody wounds to go along with those he already had.

Lentus! Martin chanted, but spells did not seem to want to effect the thing. (3)

The birds suddenly dispersed flying in all directions. Martin allowed himself a sigh of relief, thinking they were fleeing, but then cut it short. The birds merely reformed nearly instanteously 40 feet away to badger Derek, as he struggled with the remaining of the undead warriors.

Ratchis charged after it, hoping to avoid the birds and finish the armored skeleton so that the party could concentrate on the bird-monster, but he was wrong. The woman made of birds danced in his direction and he felt a plethora of pecks that drove him to the ground bleeding.

Unsure of what else to do, Martin grabbed a brand from the campfire, and moved cautiously towards the birds.

Kazrack and Beorth hurried to catch up with the birds. Kazrack pressed his attack, and more of the whippoorwills fell broken and bloody to the ground. Seeing their small crushed forms littering the site of the battlefield, it was hard to believe that moments before they had been attacking viciously.

Beorth knelt beside Ratchis’ bleeding form and laid a hand upon his forehead, “Anubis, please bring life to this follower of Nephthys so that he may free the souls of these fallen creatures.

The half-orc stirred.

Derek tumbled away from the birds, and around behind his foe, leaping to his feet and bringing his axe down to cleave its helmet, and the skull beneath, in half. It crumbled; the armor suddenly rusting as if it were hundreds of years old, and the bones becoming nothing but dust.

Again the birds, dispersed, and this time reformed in their dancing form to assault Martin. He waved the torch before him pathetically, and then put his arms before his face, the sound of wings fluttering about him. When the flurry of birds moved away to dive at Beorth once again, the watch-mage was on the ground bleeding.

Beorth impaled several of the birds on his sword, even as Kazrack sent a dozen more to flop about on the ground, as if dying broke whatever spell was upon them. Derek brought some down as well.

As suddenly as they had arrived the few birds left flying off confused.

“Wow, those were some bad birds,” Thomas chittered in Martin’s mind, when the watch-mage was awakened by the healing miracles of Kazrack’s gods. “Are you okay? I can feel it when that happens to you.”

“So can I,” Martin thought back to his familiar, wryly.

“This place is too dangerous to rest at and too dangerous to continue on,” Ratchis said, after he had closed some more of his wounds.

“Well, we are all too injured to risk moving, so we’ll just have to trust to providence,” Kazrack said.

”But what about tomorrow?” Ratchis asked, looking around, worried the birds might return.

“Tomorrow we move on, ready or not,” Kazrack replied

“We are too weak,” Ratchis said.

“We have little choice,” Beorth said, grimly.

“And we cannot go back to those broken lands, what if we encounter another one of those creatures that killed Jeremy?” Kazrack commented.

It was agreed that they would spend the night there and then decide what to do in the morning. Kazrack took the first watch, and after a few hours, he woke Derek.


The night was dark, and while they had a very small fire going, it gave off little light and the looming black rocks cast shadows towards the canyon wall, giving the desolate area seem all the more gloomy.

The fire crackled, and the sticks’ falling was the only sound to be heard, but Derek’s keen ears perked up. For a moment he thought he heard a footfall that echoed the fire’s cracking. He cocked his head to listen. Nothing. He stepped over to the north side of the camp, where he thought he heard the sound and crept about the rock. There was but the slightest sliver of moonlight, and he thought he spied a mark in the dirt, but he could not be sure. He crept towards it.

Long moments passed as he moved forward, and he thought he heard it again, as if someone was using the arrhythmic punctuation of the fire to cover their steps through the craggy rock. There was a sound over by the shadowy corner where Martin slept on the other side of the camp. Derek hefted his battleaxe and hurried over there, and then he heard it clearly. Someone was hurrying away from the rocks towards the canyon wall. Derek leapt atop a rock to get a better view and could see a robed figure disappear into the darkness.

Derek awoke Ratchis, who immediately took to waking everyone.

“Someone has been in our camp!” the half-orc cried, scowling at Derek, who scowled back. “Everyone look through your stuff and see if anything is missing.”

The half-orc moved about the camp, moving away from the fire to use his darkvision to get a better view of whatever footprints there might be around.

“My spellbooks are gone!” Martin cried out with horror.

‘Thieves!” Kazrack spat.

Ratchis reported a pair of sandaled tracks that had come through the rocks and the around the south side of the camp.

“Monks!” Kazrack spat.

“Are all your books gone?” Beorth asked the mage.

“Only two, but they were my two most important and commonly used ones,” Martin said, his voice becoming thin and reedy with grief. “There were some of those books we recovered from the Necropolis in that bag as well.”

“Whoever it was, it was a big man, or at least they had very large feet,” Ratchis said, shrugging his shoulders.

“My best spells are gone!” Martin moaned, plopping down on the ground. Thomas crawled out from the mage’s bedroll and climbed up to nuzzle his master’s neck to comfort him.

“Don’t you have them memorized yet? You read them everyday!” Ratchis said, annoyed with Martin’s attitude.

“That’s not how it works,” Martin sulked.

“I guess that settles the question of whether to move on in the morning,” Kazrack said. “The longer we wait the further away the thief will get.”

Ratchis nodded.

“What’s the point? I’m useless now,” Martin whined.

“You know what Jeremy would have said?” Derek said, cracking a smile. “He’d say, ‘Come on Martin, we all know you were useless all along!’”

No one laughed.

Osilem, the 10th of Sek – 565 H.E.

The morning found the Fearless Manticore Killers following Ratchis from a safe distance as he follwed the sandal tracks south from the outcroppings to where the canyon wall was dotted with tall stone spires. The half-orc wore no armor in case he had to sneak up on someone, or climb, instead Martin had cast mage armor on him, one of the few spells found in another of his smaller traveling spellbooks.

The watch-mage was sullen, and did not respond readily to what anyone said to him. Derek’s guilt over having failed at his watch, was balance out by his contempt for Martin’s reaction to having lost some material goods, when they had so recently lost a bosom companion.

Whoever had snuck into the camp the night before was strong and agile. Ratchis followed the sandaled track as it easily vaulted over stone, and disappeared at a tall cliff. He climbed up to follow and found it again above, calling the others to follow him with a gesture. These cliffs and spires were of various heights though they all towered over the base of the canyon wall. Beyond they could see the open area where the Pit of Bones must be.

The thief had leapt from spire to plateau to spire with great deftness. Ratchis was not as confident of his own ability, and tying a rope around his waist, he handed the other end to the rest of the party to hold. He vaulted into the air, but came down shirt slamming into the rock face with a grunt and then falling only to have the descent arrested by the rope. HE jerked painfully for a moment, and then the others pulled him up.

He tried again, and this time his fingers grazed the edge, but he still fell.

Trying a different tack, he flung a grappling hook out to the spire. The metal hook scraped against the spire edge, but fell off.

Deciding it was futile, the party decided to back track and see if the trail could be found further ahead on ground level. It did not seem to much of a leap of logic to assume that whoever it was had headed to the Pit of Bones.

As they climbed down, Derek spotted a figure crouched on a distant spire looking down into the Pit. Whoever that was would have a much better view of what was within. It was hard to make the details, but it seemed to be a tall lanky humanoid shape.

“Tanweil?” Beorth asked.

“Isis,” Martin swore. “I hope not.”

An hour late the party marched along a narrow crevasse in the canyon walls towards the Pit of Bones. Ratchis looked and found several sets of tracks had passed through here, sandals, and boots of both gnomish and human size. They seemed to go in both directions.

The party also spied several more crevasses that seemed to descend back into the broken land they had emerged from two days before. Obviously, there was more than one route to and from the Pit.

As they drew closer to the Pit they could see it was immense. It arced, and was narrower and deeper at the end closer to them. It was over two hundred feet long, and at the broader and shallower end it was over sixty feet across. The pit looked like it had been excavated from some collapsed area that was even larger. The perimeter was littered with great slabs of cut stone, and other rough-hewn natural rock walls. The air was dry, and the ground a fine powdery dust that was white in many places, as if bone-meal had been ground down and mixed in with the earth itself. Pieces of bone, and fragments of armor and other artifacts of what had once been a great citadel could be seen half-buried in the tiered pit wall, but the bottom could not be seen.

It was decided that Martin would cast Invisibility on Ratchis and he would scout ahead to see what could be seen. He cast it grudgingly, as it was the only one he had prepared a few days before, and now the spellbook that allowed him to prepare it once again was gone.

As Ratchis hurried off before the spell would run out, Derek called to his companions.

“Hey, there’s a ram out there,” Derek said, point to a plateau above the Pit of Bones, but on the other side. “It is huge and golden.”

The others squinted to see it, but it was more of a big golden blur to their untrained eyes. (4)

“Is it that same ram I was told of? The one we fought the monks to free?” Beorth asked, his voice not hiding his puzzlement and curiosity.

“It must be,” Martin replied, letting his wonder at the coincidence cut through his woe for the first time today. “There cannot be two rams like that. It must have come to help you Beorth, because this place would be dangerous for it, if those monks are about.” (5)

“It could be here to fight evil on its own,” Beorth suggested.

“It had some kind of bond with you,” Martin explained. “There were times that you could see it, but others could not.”

“I do not remember,” the stoic paladin said, and Martin wondered how the ghost-hunter kept from giving into despair.


The party’s shadows had hardly moved when they hear Ratchis hiss to them as he returned.

“There are three men, dressed as monks down in the pit,” he said, his voice coming from thin-air. “We were right, the pit is deeper on one end, but there are like plateaus dug out to create levels. They must have been digging at this thing for years. They have a camp down there, and a fire, and there is rope ladder from the far side of the pit down to near where they are. There is an entrance or something they’ve uncovered, like a trapdoor to a chamber below. It is sealed off by some wooden planks with a rock atop it. Oh, and there are piles of bones and other things dug up laid on tarps, like they’ve been exhuming bodies. Oh, and”

“Does Anubis allow that kind thing?” Derek looked to Beorth, but the paladin could only shrug.

“I think there is special dispensation for monks of Anubis to move bodies in certain cases,” Martin speculated. “I mean there must be, right?”

“I will go and talk with them,” Beorth said.

“I say we take them out first and talk later,” Ratchis said. “I don’t trust these monks and they may try to stop us from doing what we came here to do, even if the yare doing for what they think are the right reasons. We have to enter that place and find the map.”

“And we will, one way or another,” Beorth said. “But let us try my way first. If my words do not succeed, then my staff shall have to be the means to show them the error of their ways, but I want to try parley first.”

The others were swayed by the charismatic holy warrior’s words (6), but Ratchis would remain invisible to be an ace in the hole if things went awry.

“Morning, Brother! It is I Beorth!” Beorth came openly around the pit, with Martin, Kazrack and Derek walking together about ten feet behind him.

The monks did not seem surprised to see them there.

“Yes, Beorth!” said a short stocky monk, with large calloused hands. He stood with those hands as fists against his thighs. Beorth had met him before outside of the Circle of Thorns, but of course, he did not remember, but Martin immediately recognized him. He was called Lomax. He wore the black robes and brown tunic of a Monk of Anubis, and bore no weapon.

The other two monks looked younger, one had a weaselly and pimpled look to him, and swollen osiris’ apple. (7) His head was shaved like the others, but was misshapen. He was called Thosir. The other was small and wiry-looking, his robes were disheveled, and wore a permanent frown. He was called Allas, and like Lomax had the olive-coloration of a Herman-Lander.

“May I come down?” Beorth asked, gesturing to the rope ladder that was bound to a stone shaped like an immense gray dewdrop.

“I see you are still with your companions,” Lomax’s tone seemed to say that he disapproved, but Beorth ignored it. He grabbed the rope ladder and quickly climbed down.

The camp was in an area several more feet deeper than the majority of the bottom of this part of the pit. Thosir stood down there, by where the wooden planks were.

“Yes, we have traveled here because we need to find something hidden here,” Beorth said.

“Of course you do,” Lomax nodded, an easy smile coming to his full lips.

“Perhaps we are looking for the same thing?” Beorth offered.

“Perhaps, but we have only come her to disinter the dead and bring them to where they can be buried in a sacred place, and to insure any relics are kept safe from the wrong hands,” Lomax said. “What is it you seek?”

“Simple knowledge,” Beorth replied. “And to see that the dead here are laid to rest.”

“I thought you might be off somewhere trying to correct your mistake,” Lomax said.

“My mistake?”

“Because of you, a malignant creature still roams,” the monk said.

“It is not malignant. I know its true nature,” Beorth said,

“So you say,” Lomax said. “But I fear Master Hamfast knows more of these matters than you do.” (8)

There was a long silence, and Kazrack paused at the top of the ladder, wondering if he should come down, as he did not want to provoke the monks unduly and ruin his companion’s attempt at parley.

“Even if it is a good creature,” Lomax began. “Would you allow it to live if you knew its continued existence would allow an even greater evil creature into this world?”

“What knowledge do you possess of an evil creature coming into this world,” Beorth thought he might be on to something.

“So has my master, Hamfast, told me,” Lomax replied. “His word is enough.”

Beorth inquired about the remains, and Lomax explained that they planned to bury them all in mass grave once more had been uncovered.

“I would study those remains,” Kazrack called down. “May I approach?”

Lomax looked at his two underlings, as if he could talk to them with his eyes alone, and then gestured for the dwarf to come down.

“Psst! – Follow me down,” Kazrack whispered to Ratchis, hoping he was nearby. He hoped that if they climbed down at the same time the monks would not notice the rope jerking.

“Where is Master Hamfast now?” Beorth asked.

“He is below with more of the brothers,” Lomax pointed to the wooden boards. “Seeking out more bodies and whatever relics are to be saved.”

“Do you know when they shall return?”

“When they succeed.”

“Perhaps we might descend and aid them,” Beorth suggested.

“It is too dangerous,” Lomax replied, his face remained impassive, no matter what he said.

“We have faced danger before. I am not afraid.”

“You should be,” There was a hint of suppressed smile.

Kazrack was half-way down, when the rope jerked violently, as Ratchis lost his footing above him and dangling for a second fell hard on the stone below.

He quickly go up and hurried over to where rough-hewn step lead to the plateau below where the bones were piled.

“’What was that?” Lomax cried, and the other two monks slipped into fighting stances, cautious. They squinted at the bottom of the rope, and looked around.

“Ratchis! Where are you? Making your presence known!” Beorth called out.

The half-orc groaned with disapproval.

“I was wondering where the half-breed might be,” Lomax commented.

“I’m on the steps!” Ratchis called back.

“I did not see him go by,” Lomax arched an eyebrow. “I hope you are not attempting some deception to get past us and below. We are being civil and allowing you into our camp even though our agendas might be at odds. I hope this will not come to blows…unless violence is all you know, Beorth?”

Kazrack made it to the bottom, and Martin followed suit, but as Derek was not even a fourth of the way down the it suddenly jerked violently and fraying at the top, and he came tumbling down the nearly 100’ foot ladder.

He landed with a cloud of dust and the wind was knocked out of him.

Kazrack looked up and saw a figure duck behind the stone above, where the rope had been fastened.

“There is someone above by the stone!” he cried out. Pointing up, and then he jumped down to where the camp was.

“Master dwarf! What are you doing!” Lomax demanded.

“Whoever’s there has a bow!” Ratchis called out from his still invisible form, he had seen the robed figure as well.

Martin followed Kazrack down, and put his back to the wall.

“Why is the half-orc invisible? Is this some kind of trick,” Lomax’s words betrayed anger.

“Beorth was forthright with it, and it is a spell that is not easily dismissed,” Ratchi said, and then looked up to where the hidden figure was. “And who are you stranger?”

Martin poked his head over the edge to look to see if any of the monks’ feet were unusually large, but slapping himself on the forehead, turned to see a pile of packs by the bedrolls, only fifteen feet away.

“We asked Ratchis to approach in secret because we were not sure what enemy we faced,” Beorth tried to explain.

Kazrack called up to the mysterious figure as well, “You! Behind the pillar! Why do you attack us? Come out from behind that stone, lest our we send our invisible companion to force you out!”

Derek took that as an indication as to how the parley was going to go, and drew his bow, putting an arrow to it.

Allas began to wave his arms back in forth before him, over where he heard Ratchis climb back up on to the upper plateau of the pit bottom.

“Yes, come out and show yourself,” Lomax called to the hidden figure.

The figure made a run for it. There was a flash of orange skin behind a silver and blue cloak. Derek stepped away from the wall and let an arrow fly.

There was a flash of blood as it graced the figure, before it rushed out of view with incredible speed.

“Come back! We would speak to you! We will hold our attack!” Kazrack called up, frowning at Derek.

Allas gave up looking for Ratchis and began to walk over with purpose towards Derek.

To be continued. . .



(1) DM’s Note: The bird creature, which was a variant on the cifal, had a wounding ability, that caused hits to bleed at the rate of an extra hit point per round each.

(2) DM’s Note: The cifal had the combat reflexes feat, so was able to take more than one attack of opportunity a round, as the party found out the hard way.

(3) DM’s Note: Having a hivemind, it was immune to mind-effecting spells.

(4) DM’s Note: Derek’s spot score is twice that of the next highest in the party.

(5) The monks the party encountered in Session #31 said the ram was all that remained of an ancient divine aspect that sought to regain its godhood, and that once been an ally of Set. Beorth believed the ram was to be his holy mount, and was not evil at all.

(6) DM’s Note: I’ve always loved how Brian plays off Beorth’s charisma. The stoic, plain-spoken paladin often comes off as pessimistic, but he words are always delivered in that way you just believe him because he believes in his god and thus, in himself. This became especially apparent after he lost his memory. There was no canon, scholarly interpretations or lessons to fall back on just pure faith that his natural demeanor and way of looking at things was holy and was what Anubis would will because it was the parallel of a divine will in mortal form that created a harmony that made his anointment a blessing.

(7) i.e. Adam’s Apple.

(8) Beorth met Master Hamfast in the Interlude at the start of Book II: Catching the Spark (part II); just before Session #25.


First Post
What book is the cifal in? I really liked that creature and the way it formed from the whipporwills. Things are again getting twisted, as plots collide. I wonder what Martin will do without the gnomes to replenish his spell supply.

Your writing is definitely an inspiration for imagination. I could see the bird-dress and the pit vividly. Can't wait to see what's next.



Moderator Emeritus
handforged said:
What book is the cifal in? I really liked that creature and the way it formed from the whipporwills. Things are again getting twisted, as plots collide. I wonder what Martin will do without the gnomes to replenish his spell supply.

It is in the original 1E Fiend Folio. I don't know if it was converted anywhere else - b/c I converted it myself and added some variations. I could see if I could find the stats on it and post them. . . But don't hold your breath - I am going away on vacation for a week so it won't be 'til at least after then.

handforged said:
Your writing is definitely an inspiration for imagination. I could see the bird-dress and the pit vividly. Can't wait to see what's next.


Thank you. :eek:


First Post
If we're going to be catching up with those fearless Manticore killers, who meet every other week, I understand, we'll be needing an update soon. I'm looking forward to it. And hey, isn't the necropolis of Doom now destroyed? Are we in Part III yet?
Last edited:


Moderator Emeritus
Manzanita said:
If we're going to be catching up with those fearless Manticore killers, who meet every other week, I understand, we'll be needing an update soon. I'm looking forward to it.

And hey, isn't the necropolis of Doom now destroyed? Are we in Part III yet?

I was up late last night working on the next installment, but still did not get to finish it. However, I will soon.

Let's call this part 2.5 ;) ~ I've decided that even in the present time in the campaign they are not quite yet in Book III: Into the Fire.


First Post
Manzanita said:
If we're going to be catching up with those fearless Manticore killers, who meet every other week, I understand, we'll be needing an update soon. I'm looking forward to it. And hey, isn't the necropolis of Doom now destroyed? Are we in Part III yet?

Hah. My character probably isn't even going to show up in these story hours for at least another six months... *sigh*


Moderator Emeritus
End of Session #55

Session #55 (part ii)

“Yes, this must be some other force seeking entrance here,” Beorth attempted. The monk named Allas merely shrugged, but continued towards Derek to try to keep him from firing more arrows.

“I think our thief found us again,” Kazrack said, of the figure that had fled.

”Thief? Whatever do you mean?” Lomax asked.

“Some of our goods were stolen in the night,” Martin replied for the group, stopping himself from searching through the monks’ packs. The chance for peaceful resolution seemed to increase again.

“Well, be that as it may now that this thief has been spotted do you think he will go away, or that that he will return?” Lomax asked.

“He probably seeks the same knowledge we all do,” Beorth said. “He will return.”

“Shall we go track him down?” Kazrack asked.

“We cannot leave our posts, but you may do as you please,” Lomax said, his body was tense and ready to spring. “We cannot risk your invisible friend slipping below while we are made to think he has left with you.”

“D’nar (1), come closer,” Kazrack called to Ratchis.

“I am fine where I am,” the half-orc called from his spot between the ledge down to the lower level, and the pit the camp was made in.

Allas turned back from Derek, and made a grab in Ratchis’ direction, but totally missed.

Before anyone could react to this, Derek cried out as an arrow clipped his shoulder from eastern side of the pit, where the tall ravine walls were. Everyone looked up instead, and saw that the figure that had cut the rope before had moved to the other side of the pit. It was tall humanoid of some kind, with the goblinoid features prominent snout, with thin lips, large eyes and large canines, and a swarthy orange pallor. Outfitted in black, they could see this monk used a recurved longbow, and the slightest swell on its chest showed it to be a female of whatever race she was, for she was nearly six-feet tall and as broad as Ratchis, but as her hood fell away they could see she had one tail of braided blue-white hair tucked behind one pointed ear. (2)

Allas shrugged again, and continued to swing his arms before him, looking for Ratchis. Derek spun around and fired an arrow back at the bizarre monk-monster-woman, but she ducked behind a protruding rock, only to emerge from the other side and send two more arrow at Derek, who leapt backward, and cursed, feeling the bite of both. This monk was an excellent archer.

Martin popped back up to the upper level away from the camp, craning his neck to see who was firing the arrows.

“You are vulnerable up here,” Lomax warned the watch-mage. “Get back down.”

Martin hopped back down. “Who is it? What is it?” he asked.

Thosir came running at Derek, and tried to shove him forcefully off the ledge to the next one ten feet below, but the young woodsman side-stepped, but this left Beorth as the only open shot for the archer above, and he winced as he felt the bite of the broad steel-headed arrows.

Undaunted by the arrows, Kazrack scrambled up to the main plateau just in time to see Thosir try to push Derek. “We are betrayed!” he cried, and took a hard chop at Allas. The monk sucked in air through his teeth, as blood cascaded down his leg. He whipped around and took a defensive position. “Why did you betray us?”

“Why did you attack me?” His eyes growing wide, as he watched for another attack from the dwarf.

Lomax leapt down to martin, putting space between himself and the attack dwarf. “You must stop your dwarven friend,” the monk said in a convincing voice. (3) “He is making a mistake.”

“Kazrack! Stop! What are you doing?” Martin popped up over the edge of the depression and looked to his dwarven companion. “You are making a mistake.”

Allas backed away from Kazrack cautiously, and the dwarf hesitated for a moment, but Beorth did not.

“Why do you attack my friend?” Beorth asked Thosir, with anger in his voice. He drew his sword, swung with all his might. The monk reached up and knocked the blade out of alignment with an open palm, side-stepping the blow, but his hand still caught the edge and blood flowed freely down his forearm and splattered from his elbow.

“I was only trying to push him out of the way of the arrows,” Thosir replied calmly, but the veins beneath his dimpled and misshapen scalp twitched. “But now I am forced to defend myself.”

The monk feigned a punch, but then kicked out down and low, driving his heel into Beorth’s knee with a great strength. The paladin hobbled back, and the monk drew away as well. Beorth got the impression that he had purposefully struck him in a painful, but not vital, spot. (4)

Beorth struggled to not let his knee give way, and felt the bite of two more arrows. Blood flowed over his tunic, and shone on his armor in the glare of the afternoon sun disappearing behind the canyon.

Kazrack went charging at Thosir, and the monk whirled around and grunted, as he was cut deeply.

Martin leapt up and over to Kazrack and speaking an arcane word tossed some colored sand Kazrack’s way, and a spray of rainbow lights washed over his companion.

“Martin, stop it!” the dwarf cursed. “I am still in the way!”

Ratchis, who had been climbing out of the great pit altogether to get at the archer, decided he was needed below, and dropped on Allas who seemed ready to join the fray again. The monk collapsed under the great weight of the half-orc driving him into the packed earth. Ratchis landed painfully on his own shoulder, but rolled away.

Allas lay there bleeding from his head and nose, unconscious. Ratchis was now visible.

Happy for the distraction Kazrack became, Beorth was able to lay a hand upon his chest and call out to Anubis to close some of his wounds. However, he made himself a stationary target and felt the bite of another arrow. Reflexively, he ducked and a second arrow struck Derek in the chest, and the young ranger fell down bleeding to death.

Thosir took the moment of distraction to duck his head down and turn to rush at Beorth, but Kazrack swung his halberd around cleaved into the monk’s calf. Thosir fell bleeding out.

“Martin, Come! Levitate me up to the archer so I might cut her down from her perch,” Kazrack called to the watch-mage. Martin hurried over, but instead of casting a spell, he tried to rip the halberd from Kazrack’s grasp.

“This is a mistake!” Martin said. Kazrack pulled it back out of the mage’s weak grip easily.

Ratchis made it to his feet, and looked up only to see Lomax coming down on him, with a great flying kick. The hard heel of the monk’s foot slammed Ratchis’ chin and cut open his lip, it immediately swelled and ran with blood. He felt a tooth crack and break apart upon his tongue, and the bruise grow, as all the capillaries burst beneath his left eye.

“If you must be foes, then worthy foes you be, “ Lomax said. “I am unafraid to go to Anubis’ Realm. Are you?”

Ratchis staggered back and called to Nephthys to close his wound, as he dodged wildly to avoid Lomax’s flurry of blows.

“Kazrack, over here!” he called to his friend for aid, seeing the dwarf had dispatched another of the monks.

Kazrack moved to help Ratchis, but Martin leapt to grapple him and hold him back. The dwarf simply spun around and struck the watch-mage across the face with the shaft of his pole arm.

“Cut it out!” the dwarf yelled at the mage, and then turned around marching towards Ratchis and Lomax. “I think Martin is ensorcelled.”

The dwarf swung his halberd at the monk’s legs, and Lomax attempted to jump over it, but Kazrack clipped his foot. There was a gush of blood and the monk landed on his side. The monk kicked his legs out in front of him and rolled up to a sitting position, and then continued to spin his body, until he was suddenly turned upright, keeping blows from both his foes at bay. He slammed his foot into Kazrack’s lower abdomen. The dwarf grunted in pain, and then felt Martin futilely grabbing at him from behind.

The watch-mage’s lip was split as well.

Lomax’s spinning did not deter Ratchis and spitting on his hands he gripped his warhammer and brought it down on the monk twice. Lomax staggered and felt the bite of Kazrack’s halberd. The monk fell, and this time did not get back up.

Beorth lay a hand on Derek and whispered to Anubis. Stabilized, Beorth was now able to heft his companion over his shoulder and move toward the camp.

Ratchis immediately dropped his hammer and began returning arrows at the strange hobgoblin monk, as she appeared just long enough to send two arrows towards him. The fell just short of him.

“Martin, levitate me up there, and the bind your friends, the monks,” Kazrack said, pushing the mage away from him a bit.

“You can’t move in any direction but up an down with levitate,” Ratchis said. “It won’t work.”

“I think the only safety lies in the pit,” Beorth said, hustling past them with Derek, and moving around the camp towards the boarded up trapdoor. He laid Derek down gently and then leapt down to that lower level.

Kazrack grunted, and laid a finger on Lomax’s forehead. “Rivkanal, please stop our foe’s bleeding.”

Suddenly, Martin slapped his own forehead in dismay, “…Oh, no, not again!”

“Martin! I need help getting the body down,” Beorth called from over by the boards, where he was pushing the heavy rock off.

“We can’t go down there in the state we’re in,” Ratchis said. “We don’t know what is down there. We’ll search the bags and see if Martin’s thing are here.”

Kazrack walked over and stabilized Thosir as well, but he was distracted craning his head to get a view of the archer. The arrows had stopped coming down, and no sign had been seen of the bizarre monk from behind the large stone she had fired from.

“I’m afraid we will fall to this archer,” Beorth said, gently putting his hands beneath Derek’s shoulders, while Martin grabbed the boy’s feet. The brought him down to the camp level of the pit.

Ratchis came down into the camp, and started kicking at the monk’s bags, taking a cursory look at what might be there, while pointing a heavy crossbow up to where he had last seen the archer.

Martin crawled over to look at the packs more carefully, and once they were convinced the archer had left Ratchis and Kazrack collected the monks and laid them out on their bedrolls.

“We have no other choice but to go down there now,” Beorth said, pulling up the planks. “We are too exposed here. There is no other way.”

End of Session #55



(1) D’nar, which means ‘uncut gem stone’, is Kazrack’s name for Ratchis in dwarven.

(2) This monk is a hobgoblin. Hobgoblins were long ago made extinct in Derome-Delem and the islands of Herman Land. They can still be found in great numbers in the west in Thricia and El Reino Unido de Las Familias Superiores, and in smaller groups in the Black Islands and Neergaard to the east.

(3) DM’s Note: This was a suggestion.

(4) DM’s Note: He dealt subdual damage.
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