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Healed and back out into the fray!

The group relayed the news of an invasion and the motives of the Bandit King to the Abbot, as well as analysed their findings from the Volkar corpses. Amongst the things found were wooden idols of a demon warrior-like creature, which Tregan recalled a familiarity to. A successful check brought the memory of some documents he had scanned over in the monastery library. A collection of writings that he had passed off as inconsequential fiction. Drawn onto one of the pages of the collection was the image of a demonic head, very similar to the one depicted by the wooden idols. Tregan began to draw some connections to the writings and started to formulate that they were not mere fictional stories, but perhaps documentation of a long forgotten cult. A cult not dedicated to any deity but in stealing power to further their own motives. He also found hints of a demonic source but nothing conclusive. Tregan expanded on his findings with his own theory about what is going on, stating “these cultists must be stealing our power and using it against us.”

With this theory in the air, those whose magical abilities had not been functioning quite so well as of late began to focus their attention to this, rather than their own shortcomings or lack of favor with whatever source they drew their power. Abbot Tarlos was especially excited at this news, for he had thought he and his clergy had lost favor with St. Cuthbert over the failure to bring the Bandit King to justice. Despite the Abbot’s elation, Raiffen remained grim-faced at the revelation, reminding the Abbot they still cannot cast spells very well.

The Abbot then gave the group a new directive, if they so shall choose to take up the new quest:

-Scout out the Volkar movement and try to interrupt them as much as you safely can. -Discover the source of the magical power void. -Seek out the Bandit King and bring him to justice.

While the group formulated a plan, Tregan recalled some information about the local tribes to the north. The Volkar, are mountain-dwelling warriors of orcs, half-orcs and savage men. They live in the middle regions of the blackroot mountains. They are known to worship Odin, the god of battle, an aspect they focus solely on. It is unknown whether or not they know any of Odin’s other aspects, such as magic or wisdom. Also, further to the east and higher in elevation is where the frost tribe barbarians live. They too worship Odin and are typically more goodly in nature than their Volkar rivals, but care little for outsiders. The monastery knows this all too well as several missionaries have not returned from missions to convert these barbarians.

Dhakwan was resistant to further action without compensation, but the Abbot promptly reminded him of his contract to deal with the Bandit King, one the dark-skinned man insisted be penned out in writing. With that contract yet to be filled, Dhakwan decided to remain with the group for now and carry out his contract.

With all matters of business, healing, and planning out of the way, the group set off, with a plan of tracking down Jelkir, the bandit king, while making their way north to the blackroot mountains, to possibly seek an alliance with the frost barbarians.

Raiffen was able to track humanoid movement from a scene of a previous fight with the mercenaries, leading north westerly towards the river and Gray Sands. They arrived just as a besieging force of Volkar was launching an assault! They launched a volley of ballista fire while Volkar on horseback charged in! All the while a robed man in a chariot followed behind, unleashing a fury of fire attacks on the village. Streams of fire spewed from his outstretched hand cutting down several men at a time. The heroes saw a large group of civilians running down the dock to a small ship. As they ran down the dock to board, a ball of fire soared through the air above them and crashed into the timber of the boat. It burst into a fiery explosion and the ship went ablaze. People on fire ran about frantically, diving into the water for reprive. Others not so fortunate burned alive on the ship, while others turn and ran back down the dock only to be met by Volkar who aimed to cut them down.

The good heroes unable to stand idle and watch the massacre firmly resolved to help, despite the overwhelming odds against them. Tregan worked quick, telling the party to move in and wait for his signal, then in an instant he rocketed off into the air, flying out of site! Just as he took flight, a familiar figure emerged from the trees, warning the group that their effort was foolhardy and suicidal. It was Jelkir, of course, and under the hasted circumstances the party struck a deal with him. He was tossed a bag of gold and the promise at helping gain lost fortunes and revenge against “Remskaw”. In return he and his mercenaries would aid the group against the Volkar attack. He disappeared into the woods and the rest of the group wasted no time and rushed in along the river bank.

As they came upon the town Tregan swooped down like an eagle snatching its prey, and nabbed the robed man unleashing hellish fire, and immediately disappeared in a flash only to reappear over the frigid river, dropping the man at a tremendous velocity! The robed man skid across the water like a skipping stone and slammed into the opposite bank! Tregan circled back around, one hand at his hip, the other pointed straight ahead as he flew by the group, giving a knowing wink and grin. Understanding that to be “the signal” the group exploded into action! Raiffen, Pelic, and Dhakwan tactically moved into the fray, engaging the first group of warriors, while Telemacus took up a position outside the town, sniping. Arek, the surly dwarf monk, sprinted ahead building up for a tremendous leap across the 30 foot wide river! His target was the robed man, who was now regaining his head and climbing out of the river.

The melee group widdled down the first group of opponents with quick efficiency, but soon another group emerged, shouting out their battle cries to the Shadow Lord. It was another big and nasty Volkar, wielding a massive dire flail. They crashed into the fray and back and forth blows were exchanged. Meanwhile, Arek had plans of wrecking the squishy robed-man’s day. As he approached, the man tightend his fist and closed his eyes momentarily. As he did so, his skin began to ripple then harden like stone. Being a dwarf, stone excited him and he rushed in, launching a flurry of punches! The first punch slammed into the man’s face, but the impact was a dull thud, like fist on stone. Arek followed the punch with a right hook which had similar results, but this fist carried with it the stunning energy of his Ki! The impact stunned the man which had him reeling back, dropping the contents of his hands. Out fell 2 stones, a piece of graphite and a sparkling red one, and the man’s skin returned to its normal fleshy texture. Arek’s third blow, a wicked uppercut, brutally smashed into the stunned man’s jaw, shattering it! Outside the clearing, Telemacus watched closely and took the opportunity to fire a dead-eye shot at the disadvantaged foe. His aim was true and the crossbow bolt ripped through the throat, killing the man dead!

As the momentum of the heroes died out and the battle begun to turn back towards the Volkar’s favor, a shrill whistle sounded and streaks of arrows rained in, stinging the Volkar warriors! While the fighting waged, soon massive ballista shots began to fly through the ranks. Pelic was on his guard though, and quickly took to the defense, batting away the massive projectiles with his sturdy shield and amazing agility! Dhakwan and Raiffen, now in a snow leopard form, were hard at work to bring down the Volkar general. They inflicted some grevious wounds to the brute, but his assault did not relent! That is, not until Tregan landed from his magical flight and approached the man, babbling something about a woman, seemingly totally disoriented and “in a different place”. He approached the wounded general, squeezing his fists tightly, steam rising off of him.

“GIVE HER BAAAACCK!!!” Tregan shouted! His voice crecsendoing into a rage! The steam about him began to take on a faint blue glow which grew outward to that of a burning orange fire! As the mage vented his rage the fire suddenly snuffed out as his eyes flashed open, and but a moment later a burning column of fire ignited and engulfed the Volkar general! The blast of the sudden flame forced those around it to shield their eyes. The barbarian screamed and flailed about, but the intense fires made quick work of him and he fell to his knees, crumpling down in a heap of charred material.

Soon the route was over and the few remaining Volkar were cut down, except for a pair that fled back down the road. Unfortunately many civilians and guards of the town were dead already, but a small number of about 20 survived the onslaught. As the group regathered at the center of town, Jelkir and his mercenaries slowly creeped in from their hiding spots, bow strings taught and nocked as they moved.

“You were lucky. Obviously Remskaw was not expecting much resistance, but they will be back. With a much larger force I assure you” Jelkir says, looking over the scene with distaste.

The sky has begun to darken and the cold mountain wind picks up, chilling your sweat of battle.

[That’s the end of my recap – feel free to add anything I might have missed from the live game. I’ll leave actions open until I can get more posted]

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No Easy Escape!

The heroes fled the scene, with their dead friend and what loot/bodies they could, but their escape would not be as easy as they had hoped! The pissed off viking-like warriors who were searching for the sniper who headshot-killed their comrade killing hostages, spotted the fleeing carriage and heroes and 2 mounted warriors took quick pursuit! The exhausted heroes did what they could to stave off the assault, but these fierce barbarians would not be shaken! Pelic dished out a solid charge but was blasted from his mount and drug down the road by his mount. The barbarian was unphased though and continued his assault on the carriage, shattering one of the wheels! The jolting impact tossed Tregan off the wagon, sending him into the mud with a SPLAT

As the fight waged on, more vikings rounded the corner, heeding the call of their general as he called out battle cries to the “Shadow Lord”. It was about this time when Raiffen appeared and soon after volleys of arrows began to zip through the air, digging into the enemies. Tregan called upon a crafty spell he held as an Ace up his sleeve, summoning a celestial ass monkey whom he commanded to fist one of the viking’s horses, in search for a non-existent banana. His plan worked as the horse bucked and whinnied in protest, launching its rider into the mud.

The noble Pelic bought his allies time to escape and regroup by charging into the fray of newly arrived enemies. He was overrun and surrounded, being knocked off his mount. But this halfing was not all brawn, he kept his wits about him and was able to mysteriously “poof” back atop his mount and ride through the circle of death.

Soon the threat was downed, thanks mostly to the unknown archers, and the group was left in shambles. Tregan had fled the scene, calling upon the powers of a scroll to grant him expeditious speed of retreat, while the others were battered and punctured from the fighting.

A mysterious figure emerged from the woods, along with some familiar looking camouflaged men wielding composite bows. He took claim of the cargo onboard the carriage, an apparent deal he had worked out with Raiffen to save his allies. The heroes had little or no fight left in them and offered no protest. They simply wanted to return to Iridine and tend their wounds.

A newcomer arrived at this point, a stocky dwarf, who shouted out claims of justice and surrendering for questioning. After a few words the dwarf sprinted off with great speed for one with such stubby legs and was gone…

On the ride back, the group was stopped by a contingent of Iridine soldiers, Knights of the Steel Cross, along with that same dwarf. Any misunderstandings were quickly remedied by the bluntness of Dhakwan, and soon the group was moving towards the monastery again; while the Knights took full gallop towards Vetallun to deliver the hammer of retribution to the vikings, who the group learned are known as the Volkar

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Bandit Captive and a Tragic Death

Telemacus snuck out the tunnel exit with the sun still behind the early morning horizon. With a bit of a stuggle, the rogue was able to tie up the man still in his bedroll. He drug him back into the cave along with his things and went back to the rest of the group.

The party gathered around the captured foe at the tunnel exit. He squirmed against his bindings as the group stared at him with those eyes… those scrutinizing, raping eyes… When asked of his identity and purpose, he resisted, only to find himself in a dire situation.. facing the ire of Dhakwan’s “interrogation” tactics. Telemacus forcefully stripping him of his gear and clothes with the threat of man-love didn’t hurt either. Soon the party was able to glean a few clues and had a lead to follow to track down the elusive bandit king. They found out: -they were here using the secret tunnel to access the city. -mission was to use internal contact to obtain an insider on the new team the abbot hired to take down the bandit king. -this captive claimed to not know anything other than his current mission. -Mark on the map was their rendezvous point where they would meet up with more of his group.

They tracked their way through the outskirts of the surrounding farmlands and eventually made their way past the guard towers and into the bordering meadow and to the road leading to Vetallun. More interrogation was done and the captive’s hamstrings were severed. He was left on the road as the adventurers trekked onward into the thick forest. Telemacus led the way, scouting into the woods seeking out the “X” from the parchment map they found on their captive. He slinked through the woods carefully, eventually coming upon a couple trees subtly carved with X’s marking them as the spot he sought. After some fruitless searching, Telemacus spotted movement off in the distance and took cover, carefully deploying his sniper apparatus.

Meanwhile the party was making their way towards the area, hoping Telemacus might tip them off to any danger that might be laying in wait for them. Pelic, thinking his small size would be idea for sneaking into the area decided to lead the way. Wildlife scattered as the sound of a marching army (Pelic rolling double nat 1’s) thundered through the forest. The sound perked the ears of nearby ambushers and Telemacus was able to catch sight of more men moving about him, all dressed up in camouflaged gillie suits, armed with crossbows.

Soon after a the clank of crossbow actions could be heard as the bandits took fire on Pelic, and Telemacus took fire on the unfortunate bandit he had his crosshairs set on. Soon the battle in the forest was full on, or rather the massacre of the ambushers as they were quickly reduced to 1 by the party. The remainder loosed a pair of thunderstones and a smokestick to make his escape, whistling out signals to his friends in hiding. Soon 3 more joined the action, taking up a defensive position northwest of the party,firing arrows. The party took quick cover in the expanding smoke cloud 60-70 feet away from the enemy, where Tregan devised a clever plan to quickly dispatch of the new foes. The reinforcements were quickly met with a flash of light as the entire group was teleported through a Dimensional Step spell right in charge range! The brave Kelvan was the first to charge in, hitting them right in the center of the bandit formation, hacking and slashing at any unfortunate enough to be in his way. Pelic followed suit and barreled in atop his dire badger, his lance striking true, literally bursting his target into giblets from the impact! Dhakwan rushed in delivering a near fatal blow to his target, while Telemacus buried a well placed bolt into the other’s neck. Seeing no chance of victory, one bandit fled the scene with Pelic pursuing. The last remanding bandit tried to flee, but was met with a wicked attack of opportunity from Dhak’s deadly reach, lopping off his leg clean at the knee! The fleeing bandit was quickly run down and destroyed… The struggling bandit was healed enough to stop from bleeding out his amputated limb and dragged back to his friend whom the group left on the road, bound and hamstrung.

Meanwhile, Pelic caught sight of billowing smoke out to the northwest through a break in the forest canopy. The party went to investigate, knowing this to be the relative location of Vetallun. Telemacus scouted out ahead while the party shadowed the road and took a look from a distance. They saw the mining town was now occupied by a large group of viking-like warriors, and were extinguishing the flames of battle (hence the smoke billowing up into the air). Telemacus moved back to the rest of the group and relayed his intel, then quickly doubled-back and deployed his sniper rifle, i mean crossbow, after seeing hostages being lined up and executed one by one. While he was moving in a large 4-horse drawn carriage made its way out of the town, with a robed man inside and an escort of 10 of the hulking full-plated warriors. Telemacus wasted no time in lining up a shot and burying a huge bolt into the executioner’s forehead. The heavy ammo snapped the man’s head back as it pierced through the horned helmet… but he did not fall. He straightened and roared defiantly before finally sucomming to the blow. By then the carriage has rounded the corner in the road away from Vetallun, turning northeast towards and unknown destination. The party moved to ambush the carriage while Telemacus fled from the warriors coming out to investigate the sniper shot. Telemacus slipped away and circled around to where the party was engaging the carriage.

A perfectly placed Stinking Cloud by Tregan stopped it dead in its tracks and left most of the crew coughing and vomiting from the horrid stench! Kelvan and Pelic took popshots into the cloud, honing in on the coughing sounds inside. Kelvan heaved a large stone while Pelic flung bullets from his sling, both striking something. Soon 2 raging vikings rushed out of the cloud, really pissed off while the rest of their commrades stumbled out, still nauseated from the stench cloud. The group systematically took down the warriors while they were literally helpless from the combined effect of Dhakwan’s wicked curse, dark companion, and the lingering effects of Tregan’s stink cloud. As the numbers dwindled Tregan added to the fray by summoning two beasts, one a hellish hound from the abyss, and the other a giant celestial beetle.

Soon the robed man made his appearance, exiting the carriage and loosing some fiery power at Pelic! Fortunately for Pelic, the Hex of Dhakwan would torment the man enough to throw his aim off and instead blasted poor Grady who had taken a backseat during the fights, not used to the viciousness of battle. Despite the difficulty he was finding in summoning and focusing his arcane power, Tregan was quick to counter the robed man’s magical ability with his… shaft topped with a swirling pink crystal… an eternal wand of Hold Person. He was successful in locking down the man, who had no choice but to stand there in paralysis while he watched his guard get cut down. Unfortunately for him, that was the least of his worries in a few moments…

The opportunistic rogue seeing the helpless juicy target could not resist. He loaded one of his Theryn-crafted special bolts and fired at the robed man… The bolt slammed into the man’s chest, collapsing the glass vial of oil in its center, setting off the alchemical concoction! A small blast sent giblets of the man’s chest flying about while inflicting some minor damage to all those adjacent to him. Seeing the man explode from the waist up, the remaining vikings went into a berserker rage and begun hacking with reckless abandon. A few took some heavy hits, but Kelvan would be the one to suffer the ultimate fury of the rage! The towering brute raised his axe high overhead and and chopped down at the noble Kelvan! Sparks showered the area as the axe cut through the helmet, hewing through skull and brain and continuing its severing strike, stopping only when the axe met the hard adamantite of Kelvan’s chest piece (3 nat 20’s x_x). The party looked in horror as their companion fell, but shed no tears and finished off the vikings. With the sound of Telemacus’ “boom” drawing the attention of the searchers, the group quickly rounded up what bodies they could, tossing them into the carriage and sped out of there…..

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Secret Tunnel

Dhakwan discovered a secret tunnel in one of the town’s storage bunkers, along the north wall. Telemacus investigated the tunnel and discovered a dead body with a gruesome wound in the gut. No futher details were discovered or revealed about the body. On his person several parchments were found, one totally soaked in blood and unreadable; the other 2 were maps. One was of Iridine, with markings (circles, x’s, etc) on several locations about the city. The other was a layout of the surrounding farmlands and the location of the sentry towers put up to protect the farmlands.

After some discussion, the group decides to continue their investigation of the tunnel rather than the marked buildings and walls on the maps. Telemacus plunges deep into the darkness of the tunnel…

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Tregan takes leave

As the party prepares for their mission, Tregan has one of his eccentric episodes and departs from the group. Demanding access to the monastery library. Eventually he is allowed in, with a few stipulations of the Abbot’s, but none others are allowed to follow, despite the protest of Kelvan who wished to remain at the man’s side.

Tregan spent several days here… only he and Brother Malachi know the details of what went on inside.

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Interrogations

Tregan and Raiffen go to the jailhouse to interrogate the female prisoner, but come back with little information. It would seem as if their efforts were in vein.

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Iridine, at last!
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Right Into Their Trap!

Kelvan approaches Gilven after the announcement of the traps on the road, and a few moments later heads to the rear of the caravan to assemble a defense. He beckons Tregan and Pelic to take up a defensive position with him in the rear. Pelic not to be sidelined while excitement is calling urges his badger mount with great enthusiasm and charges out ahead to catch up with the scouts. One of the men on guard by the wagon bursts into laughter at the sight and slaps the badger on the flank in passing to spur it on even further. Gilven is not so entertained by the spectacle. “Damn heroes…” he mutters under his breath.

Telemacus yells out his offer to help, to which Gilven just narrows his eyes, his hardened visage telling Telemacus the answer clearly without a sound. At that, Gilven turns his focus back to the treeline.

After ten minutes of searching, three of the four guards along with Pelic return to the main group. They report no signs of eminent danger and have found a safe path around the traps. Gilven nods his approval for their detour, which albeit is quite minor, any change or delay in plans just heightens the old man’s anxiety for this eventful trip. He gives the signal to move forward, directing the lead wagon driver to make for the remaining guard out in the field. “Follow his signals, he’s got the detour laid out for ya.”

With that the caravan circumvents the traps on the main road, circling around without losing too much time. As you pass you notice the traps do appear fairly weathered, consisting of long dug out trenches, filled with sharp rocks. There remain a few pieces of cover, sticks and brush laid over to look like overgrowth, but most has been blown away leaving the obvious trenched pits. Quite fortunate you’d say, as from the looks of the rocks in those trenches, they’d do quite a number on the rickety wooden wheels on the wagons.

As you travel, you get an eerie sense of being watched. Occasionally you spot a flock of birds being spoofed from the trees, adding to the suspicion of something being out there. Many of the traders have gravitated towards Kelvan, perhaps feeling a bit safer next to the well-armored god fearing man who performed holy services earlier that morning. Or perhaps they just seek to gain distance from the ominous presence of the dark-skinned man, whose very shadow seems to stir when one gets too close.

After another hour of travel, the tensions have eased some, the eminent feeling of ambush a bit more distant. Just in time for something else to catch the attention of the lead scouts. “Hold! Something up ahead!!”

“Ah hell, what now!?” Gilven answers, moving up towards the scouts.

You peer up ahead and notice something smoldering, some kind of wreckage. It’s too far away to make out specific details, but you do catch a glimpse of two people sitting near the smoldering pile. A moment later Gilven rides back and addresses the group. “Everyone hold here, prepare the defenses! High alert! Could be an ambush… we gonna check it out.”

Gilven and the two lead scouts ride out towards the wreckage to investigate. You see as they approach, the pair sitting on the ground get up and run towards the mounted men, appearing quite distressed. Gilven pushes one back with his boot, raises his hand up waving it around in gestures as he speaks, appearing to be annoyed as he speaks to them. The two scouts dismount and start looking over the wreckage. After about two minutes they return back to the caravan.

“Alright, looks like some folks had a run in wit the ruffians… humans, a decent number of ‘em by their count. Lookin at the scene I’d say probably only five ‘er six of ‘em.” Gilven reports.

“Its unfortunate fer ‘em, my heart bleeds” he adds, rolling his eyes. “We’ll toss ‘em a ration er two and be on our way. Got no time fer stopping in these parts.” Gilven adds very matter-of-factly.

A few concerned glances bounce around the group along with whispering. Some agree and others wonder what harm could come from two extra bodies joining on the trip to Iridine.

“H’yaw!” Gilven shouts, signaling the caravan to get moving again. As the wagons roll towards the wreckage you can now see it is the beaten and burned down remnants of a carriage. The pair of people you spotted is a man and a woman, faces scratched and dirty. The man’s face and body baring a few obvious signs of a struggle, with a swollen right eye, a slash across his midsection which has left a crimson line across his dirty white shirt. The woman also has a battered face, her clothes torn and tattered now.

“Please! You must help us! They have our baby!” the woman shouts desperately as the caravan begins to divert around them.

“Aye! They have our son! And our things! Please! We have nothing out here! We’ll die for sure!” the man adds, equally as desperate.

“We ain’t got time nor the manpower to help ya…” Gilven snaps angrily. “If ya change yer mind, ya can follow us into Iridine, but we ain’t helping ya find yer baby. Can’t risk it. Sorry…” With those words, Gilven reaffirms his orders to the drivers to keep moving.

The brings another division to the group, as the do-gooders immediately look to join the desperate couple in search of the baby, others, the more cautious are not so quick to join, or outright refuse.

Tregan utters the vocal components of another spell “Thauma et oclum pars infinisum” and sweeps his hands, then approaches the distraught couple. His piercing words of investigation bring an even more dramatic response from the woman as she sobs about her lost child. Seeing his companion pained by the stinging words the man steps forward, “We were desperate! We had to make it back from Iridine before the snows fell! Our whole livelihood is…”

“What kind of coward leaves two stranded travelers alone with nothing…?” The Halfling boldly interrupts! Pelic squares his gaze straight into the man’s eyes, “I will stay and help you find your baby!” he declares then puffs his chest out and addresses the group. “Is anyone else with me or are you all cowards?” Letting the words soak in, Pelic meets eyes with all of the able travelers striking at their conscious with the heart-felt gleam in his eyes. After a few moments he dismounts to approach the couple. Bowing low, Pelic addresses them “I will do what I can to aid you.”

The woman falls to her knees, grasping tiny Pelic’s arm, thanking him profusely. “You are a kind soul, may the gods bless you.” The distraught man says, bowing in thanks.

Drawing strength from the Halfling’s words, Telemacus flips down from the wagon in a deft display of agility with his longcoat flailing out behind as he dives through the air, landing a perfect somersault back up to his feet, striding forward. “It may not be the wisest thing to do, but it is the right thing to do!” he exclaims in grandiose fashion. The flamboyant man addresses Kelvan to gain his backing as well as throw another verbal stab at Gilven. He walks over to Kelvan whispering something, and the clasp hands in agreement.

Watching the scene unfold, Kelvan is unable to restrain his goodly nature. He approaches the couple giving his formal introduction and offers them coin as well as the vow to search for the missing child and instructions for them on how the child will be returned to them, should it be found. They are elated and thank him over and over, hugging and squeezing him.

The goodly man Kelvan then calls out loudly, “Gilven! Here is 10 gold for their protection.” His words stopping Gilven’s pace and obviously irritating the man. The leader pulls at his reins, circling his steed back around to face Kelvan. Once eye contact is made, Kelvan tosses at bag of coins at the weathered man. “Half the trip means half the cost. I will be taking my leave” Kelvan adds. Gilven raises an eyebrow curiously, staring at the coin bag for a moment. His hardened visage softens as he accepts the offering of coins, “Hmph, I ain’t never said they couldn’t go with us. We just ain’t goin on some wild goose chase fer a baby corpse. Seen ‘nuff of them, don’t need to be seein any more. An’ it fer certain ain’t worth the risk to the payload” he finishes, gesturing at the wagons.

The words from Gilven’s mouth cause an outburst of sobbing from the woman who’s still clinging onto the hope her child still draws breath. Kelvan dismounts the horse he borrowed and walks it over to a wagon to tie it up. As he’s working the rope he says aloud, “Perhaps I am gaining some understanding of how you came by your title…”

“Hah, rather it be Gilven the fool eh? Or Gilven the duped! Or Gilven the dead!!” The caravan leader getting more agitated with each hypothetical title that comes from his lips. “Be on yer hero’s adventure, yer fool’s journey. I’ll have the clerics o’ Iridine offer a prayer er two fer ya deaths.” Gilven retorts disgustedly.

Kelvan addresses the pair, trying to garnish some information about the attack and which direction the fled back into the woods. All the two seem to offer is a point in the general northern direction of the woods and how many they thought there were. Satisfied he’s gained all the useful information he could, Kelvan calls out to the others who would be brave enough to join him.

Telemacus and Pelic have already taken their stead next to the weary pair, ready to aid in the quest. After a few moments of careful study, Tregan hoists his pack and approaches the dark-skinned man, telling a story of the horrors of the north. He finishes with a quip in a foreign tongue; none seem to recognize the words except the exotic man sitting upon his horse, whose face was beginning to meld from an offended expression to one of understanding. Whatever the mage said to the man worked, as the fearsome warrior still holding onto his massive polearm maneuvers his horse over to the group of quest-ready heroes.

“H’yaw! Lets get a move on, we done wasted too much time already!” Gilven orders, giving the signal to move on, obviously disgusted with the situation playing out.

As the wagons begin to creak forward, the pair seems reluctant to join in the procession. Kelvan assures them all will be ok and reminds them of what he instructed earlier.

So here you stand, your allies made clear as those who will stand with you and seek out the evil lurking in these woods. You take a brief moment to acquaint yourself with the surroundings, to fall into your battle-hardened persona. You suck in a deep breath of air to revel in its essence; you feel the cool wind on your skin, tingling and igniting your senses. You allow your ears attunement to the moaning of the wind, the rustle of the foliage, tuning out all of the unnecessary. Your inner warrior surges its way to the surface, focusing you like a precise lens. You set your gaze upon the land, its scenery is similar to the lands you’ve been traveling the past four days with the addition of a spotting of trees. The trees are scattered about the grassy plain approximately twenty feet separating each; most are smaller saplings not yet thicker than a person’s arm. About two hundred yards to the north are the thick woods, where the ruffians made off with the couple’s child and possessions. That is destination your new quest will lead you.

The hesitant pair look at each other concernedly, then nod in resolution and make their way to catch back up with the caravan, now about 25 feet away, Kelvan bidding them farewell and good luck. Once there, the man turns to face the group of heroes staying behind. “May the gods bless you!” he shouts out very loudly with a sly grin on this face.

As he shouts this and turns back around you notice the woman wrap her arm around one of the rear guards smiling and saying something. She reaches deep into one of the rips in the back of her dress with her other arm and slides out a small thin object. Something is very wrong here; you can’t quite make it out until you notice the glint of sunlight’s reflection. It’s a weapon! With precision timing the pair snap into action!

The woman curls her weapon arm up, driving the small blade up under the guard’s chin! It pierces through the tender flesh with ease, the angled sneak attack burying deep into the man’s throat. He stumbles back, grasping at the wound spilling blood all over him. After a brief moment the man falls to his knees, looking up at the woman in disbelief and falls dead.

With synchronized movements, the man nimbly reaches for the hilt in the other rear guard’s hip scabbard, grasps the handle and draws the short sword as he spins away, putting himself directly behind the man. With a continued fluid motion the man drops low from his spin and sweeps the blade across the back of the guard’s knees, finding the tender rear flesh of the leg. The strike slices muscle and tendons forcing the guard to tumble down to his back and he cries out in agony!

You watch in shock as the ambush unfolds, things seemingly happening in a blur. Several figures emerge from the grasses north and south of the caravan rushing meticulously towards their targets, weapons drawn! They are covered in grassy camouflage, most carrying dual-wielding bladed weapons. Suddenly you hear an object whiz by and feel the rush of its airy wake! Schink!!!

The sound of chainmail being struck snaps you alert to impending danger. You glance about and see a thick, foot-long shaft sticking out from Dhakwan’s black chain shirt. The impact knocks the breath from him as the huge ¾ inch round projectile bites at his flesh beneath the armor! He back-steps, gritting his teeth in defiance to the pain.

“Ambush! Go! Go! Go! Get those wagons outta here!” You hear Gilven’s voice barking out orders as the swirl of the ambush ensues.

Your attention is pulled back to your immediate area as several figures surge out of the grass, surrounding your position with crossbows aimed for you! The thunk of crossbow action goes off all around you!

The first shot soars in grazing Telemacus, slicing a cut through the side of his neck! Blood drizzles down his skin in the bolt’s crimson wake.

As if alerted by the startled cry of Telemacus, Pelic deftly swipes his shield across in a backhand motion, catching a bolt directly in its center! He steels his glare at the one who fired at him, resolving to destroy him first!

Tregan stares coldly into the eyes of the nearest crossbow armed bandit whose sights are dialed straight to his heart. Click The crossbow jams up; however another bolt sails in from another direction striking Tregan in the lower leg! The shot weakens Tregan’s footing for a moment, the bolt deeply embedded into his calf muscle.

Two men not armed with a crossbow rush in brandishing swords and knives looking to strike at the well-armored Kelvan! The first to reach him, a dark-skinned ruffian wielding two straight-bladed swords, lunges forward, thrusting both blades out at Kelvan’s flank. One blade is stopped abruptly against the hardened steel shell surrounding Kelvan; the other however, slips past and finds tender flesh, digging viciously towards his kidney! The other ruffian, a pale-skinned rough looking sort, rushes in with a similar attack routine, this man wielding a short sword and a thin curved dagger. His first strike is a wild hook leading with the curved dagger, which screeches along Kelvan’s armor until it finally scratches a cut through an open seam. The follow-up strike is a straight-thrust stab aimed for the belly! The sword slips between plates and finds a soft spot on the man, opening up a deep gash. The wound spills blood inside Kelvan’s armor, which begins to show as it leaks through the joints of his armor.

Kelvan staggers back, bracing himself against the smoldering wreckage, but standing resolute nonetheless. The snipers in the grass drop their crossbows and draw their melee weapons, ready to finish their intended victims.

The ambush takes full swing on the wagons as two more men explode out from the grass in the same camouflaging, each holding the end of a long rope, pulling it tight just in front of the lead wagon! The driver is not able to react in time and is clotheslined from atop the wagon, jerking him backwards into the wagon and tumbling out the back. The poor driver had no hope of dodging the stamping hooves of the next wagon’s horses, his skull and body crushed beneath them.

The two scouting guards out front leap out of the way as the driverless wagon barrels past! Suddenly you see its front-end lurch downward with a loud splintering crash, its backend flipping up over itself, whipping through the air until it finally lands on its side; cargo flung everywhere! You can only assume the bandits had laid out another nasty trap like you saw earlier in the day. The trailing wagons skid to a halt, the drivers full-heartily trying to stop the steeds before suffering a similar fate!

The 2 bandits drop their rope line and draw their melee weapons, one sporting dual short swords, and the other two axes. Towards the center of the wagon line, two more men emerge rushing upon the guards, one from the north, one from the south. The southern bandit levels his spear as he charges in, screaming crazily as he approaches! The guard tries to bring his shield to bear, but its too late, the spear skewers the man, staking him to the wagon! The bandit releases the spear letting the rushing wagon carry the impaled guard with it.

The ambush ensues and the party fights excellently, dishing out brutal attacks, everyone showcasing their styles. A new figure emerges during the battle, from the trees up north, a druid and his bear companion arrive to destroy the sniper and aid the rest of the fighters. The finish the fight with only a couple guard casualties, which has Gilven as heated as ever, but worst of all was the lead wagon was destroyed along with its cargo strewn all about. Tregan came up with a plan though, and used his magical powers in a unique way, summoning all of his available power to restore the wagon using a series of mend spells.

The group was back on their way the following day, with a prisoner in tow, the female whom helped lure the team into the trap.

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A Thief In Our Midst!

As the group prepared for the night watch, a special item turned up missing from Gilven’s lockbox. A special visor that bestows low-light vision on its wearer, illuminating the landscape with a brilliant blueish hued moonlight. Visor of the Moon is what these are later identified as in Iridine. Kelvan is the first accused as he had previously asked Gilven about them and expressed appreciation of them. Kelvan is hurt by the accusation and offers all of his things and sack for search, dumping his pack out onto the ground.

After he is cleared the caravan party is lined up for searches. Nothing is found on anyone, but one of the guards recognize Telemacus from the morning, sneaking out from under one of the wagons. Nothing is found on him but accusations continue to fly and tempers mount.

Just then.. Tregan looks about the camp for a bit, then his scrying eyes see the true thief…to be sure he spoke the words of knowing “cargras insalim regansian” and then there it was….60 ft to the west of the caravan. Tregan cried out “Look yonder, the true thief, a servant demon from the demonwinds!!!”. Tregan began to form a new spell in his hands as he cried out his alarm. “After it!!”

The pursuit was on in full at the spotting of the demon! The hunt was in vein though, as the demon released a stink cloud and disappeared from capture. The event seemed to clear Telemacus’ name for the time being, but Gilven still held open resentment for the man.

The group setup camp for the night, short 1 less visor wearing guard, and prepared for a long night in bandit territory. Sleep did not come easy that night. Many of the group are restless and stir frequently throughout the night, thoughts of demons and other horrors afflicting their dreams. One in particular, so affected by his nightmares the usually cheerful Halfling left the warm comforts of his bedroll to investigate the grasses surrounding the camp before returning. He was not the only to stir from the hellish taunts of dreams; a few others also awoke crying out, sweating profusely. This was naught a night of comforts to be certain.

After an exasperating night, finally the time comes with Gilven calling out his usual waking call, “Rise and shine, shine and rise!”

Usually the thought of waking up so early before sunrise would have many grumbling, but with the unpleasantness of the lurking darkness most were more than ready to be up and get on the way, away from these cursed lands of the bandits.

“We’re makin a strong push today, we ain’t stoppin’ till we’re clear of them woods. So eat hearty and be ready… no stoppin’!” Gilven reminds everyone.

Morale among travelers is low and tempers apparent. The cold, and more so the unnerving night that deprived many of a good night’s rest being the likely culprit for such temperament. A few guards secure the wagon fittings to the horses, swapping in the two spare horses to keep the steeds fresh. The pair who setup trip lines last night head out to recollect the supplies. Traders and merchants pack up their gear and prepare for the day’s journey.

A savory aroma catches your nose, a familiar smell you recall from the first few days of travel. The cook is once again preparing a hot breakfast stew. It would appear as if Gilven gave him permission to fire up some wood and cook, figuring the benefits of heightened morale greater than the risk of being spotted. The aged man even cracked a sly grin as the smell lofted its way to his nostrils, breaking his usual sour mood.

With bellies full and gear packed up, the caravan is ready to begin its day’s journey. Once again the wagons creak into motion, circling about to regain their easterly facing and file into a line. Gilven sends out two guards mounted on the two horses not hitched to a wagon to scout ahead and check for traps on the road. Travel is slow at first due to the darkness and fear of pitfalls or other traps designed to foul up a wagon wheel. Soon the sun crests the horizon, its fiery orange light scattering across the landscape, and travel pace picks up.

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Gnoll Ambush

A few members of the group caught sight of some doggish creatures following the caravan at distance. Before the ambush could be set off, the group acted first, the feral ranger loosing his wolf companion to draw them out. The desperate gnolls launched their assault from the rear, shooting their bows from a distance while another pack flanked from both sides of the road. They desperately looted what they could from the wagons and tried to escape. All but one of the dog-faced gnolls were cut down with expert precision. The escapee made off with a sack full of rations which started another feud between some of the party and the carvan leader Gilven. Eventually it was Kelvan who brought back order by offering his own rations.

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