After a long and restless night, a new day has come.
PCs and Hubbert, Nazarov, Ingvar, old Dragunov and his sons are all that’s left of the company of 16 they were just a few days ago.
Led by Brinnya, they are slowly but steadily making their way through the mountain, towards Eleb. It’s been a long, hardship-ridden journey; they all want to see it come to an end soon.
They climb steep paths around rocks, and the day passes in silence. Žbica is still shaken by the late nights events, both Darwin and Roland have some unexpected requests, but otherwise first half of the day is pretty uneventful. 11, 12, 13
In the other half, the terrain gets harder, and Brinnya trips. Wons grabs her by the neck and pushes her forward. She continues without a word, but soon old Dragunov begins falling behind.
The old man is exhausted; he will not be able to endure this kind of strain for much longer. And so they set a camp.
At that point both Darwin and Wons realize that Brinnya is coming down with a fever. The unattended wounds were exposed to filth – it will take Darwin till morning to prepare a spell that can heal her. He suspects he’ll need another such spell to keep old Dragunov healthy. During all this time Korr keeps an eye on the surroundings from above. When he finally lands, the rest of the party gathers around him.
We are being followed. There is a dog on our trail.
At first, they suspected the people from the other camp were using dogs to find them. But when Korr went to see how many people were coming after the dog, he saw none.
Said Roland. Darwin hid on one side of the road, Wons hid on the other.
I’ll make an ambush near the hut – civilians, stay inside.
(it seems Amadeus forgot that they are all, himself included, civilians.)
They prepared an ambush. As time passed, the chill of snow and ice they crouched in begun to crawl into their bones, but they stood still. The daylight slowly started fading away when the silhouette finally appeared in the mist. It was large, moving at a steady pace, lowering it’s massive head to the ground every now and then. Wons held his weapon at the ready but didn’t use it when the thing came really close. He heard a strange noise, like a drop of water fell onto a hot stove. There was a sudden chill at the back of his neck as he realized the snow underneath the creature’s paws was melting.
The dog stopped. It was now on the middle of the road, right between Darwin and Wons. It turned it’s ugly, unintelligent head towards the dwarf. 14
They stood there, facing each other.
It’s not breathing.
For a moment it seemed as though nothing was going to happen. Then Darwin slowly started casting a spell. And the thing opened it’s jaws.15
Roland and Wons closed in quickly, using the advantage of flank. Though the thing bared it’s teeth, it made no real damage to anyone. But when four of it’s kind appeared out of thin air, searing heat poured from their bodies. Two of them went for Darwin, others placed themselves between him and the rest of the group. 16
As teeth bit into his flesh, Darwin felt it burn. The fiery creature’s breath melted the snow, set his clothes on fire and burned away any body and facial hair Darwin begun to grow since the last ime his skin was caught in flames. Another bite burned holes in Hubbert’s pants but, unlike Wons and Darwin, Hubbert did not seem unnerved by any of this.
Žbica started casting another spell, when an alien, blunt thought formed in his mind.
only the blue one.
In spite of this, his rained fingers continued forming a complex pattern. The pattern grew and captured the attention of two dogs keeping Darwin and Roland cut away. Hubbert gutted one, and approached the other.
Roland and Darwin flanked their own foes; soon the creatures realized they were overpowered. In the middle of the fight, as suddenly as they appeared, the dogs vanished.
They were outsiders, creatures of flame and Sun., said Žbica.
What were they doing here? Did the green mage summon them?
No. No, I don’t think he did. This must have been a work of a Sun’s cleric. And they were after Darwin.
The PCs went back to the hut and tied Brinnya (whom Ingvar released so she could defend herself). While tending their wounds, they continued the conversation. Soon they concluded the summoner must have been Malachy or Porphyrios. It seemed Darwin had every right to worry about privacy of his thoughts. To send such hounds after him, they must have used scrying. 17
And it must have been extremely costly, too.
Also, such creatures would be mortal enemies of the corrupted ones, and those demon posessed. They may be the ones who caused the fire in the woods.
The night fell. Žbica and Darwin took the first watch, playing somewhat mouldy cards. 18a), 18b)
Roland and Hubbert took the second one, but when time came for Žbica to go to sleep, he wanted to play some more. So they played, till dawn, and the gnome barely slept at all.19
In the morning, just a few hours after they went on with their journey, Korr came down for the second time.
We are being followed. Some man, wrapped in a bunch of clothes an furs, is coming after us. He’s following a clear trail we and the hell hound left in the snow.
After a short struggle about who is going to stay and welcome the new visitor, they decided not to get separated. So they waited, but no longer hiding in the snow. They all stood in the middle of the road.
Well, all except Hubbert, that is. He – for some reason – decided to go ahead and show Darwin just how well he can hide. 20
Soon, the silence of snowy hills was disturbed by the sound of footsteps. It wasn’t clear at first; but as the footsteps drew nearer, the PCs could hear that the man coming towards them was dragging something heavy across the snow. Žbica’s face became pale.21
The shadow appeared in the mist and came to the very edge of the visible. It saw them, and stood still, it’s face remaining hidden. One of the PCs shouted:
But instead of the stranger, out came the wizard. Žbica moved forward, towards the obscured figure. His friends reached out to grabb him by his shoulders, but it was too late. The gnome approached the visitor, and as he did so, the blurry figure spoke in a familiar voice:
shouted Žbica from the top of his lungs, and ran towards the figure. In one mad momet he halted, looked at the elf, and then, too fast for anyone to react, the unthinkable happened. Žbica threw his arms around the unclean, hugging the pile of fur that protected the elve’s thin and disease ridden body.
No, master, no!
Shouted bewildered R’vidd, shocked by such sudden and overly intimate outburst of affection.
This is wrong,
gasped Roland, somewhat weak at his knees, sickened and worried at the same time.
So he is barking mad,
thought Hubbert, climbing down from the rock he was hiding on.
Pitty. I liked the little guy. Wonder how long before he gets himself killed. Or makes us put him out of his misery.
Hubbert dwelled on that idea for one fleeting moment.
Oh well. You winn some, you lose some. It’s nice to have our mangy pet back, though.
After the first shock has passed, the others approached R’vidd and his little friend to see him dragging the remains of the hellhound they killed just yesterday. The body left after the creature was rotten and much thinner than the thing that attacked them – an instrument, Žbica knew, used to call it to this plane.
said R’vidd, proudly pulling up the leg of the carcass for everyone to see.
he continued, and then layed the thing at their feet. The “we” part did not escape any of the PCs, though.
Where did the unclean get the idea of a “we”?
thought Wons. They asked the untouchable how he survived, and he told them he came back to Jona’s island after the thing from the mines appeared. It took him some time, but everyone knows his kin has a knack for finding their way around in the dark. There he saw Jona, and soon came a dark, dog-like creature that reminded him of Hector. Jona and the green mage went after the thing to see what it will do, and decided not to get involed once it, and several more of it’s kind started killing the corrupted ones in the forrest.
Jona told R’vidd the dog was after his masters, and R’vidd may follow it, but will probably end up dead along with the humans he is so keen to find. R’vidd decided to join his masters, anyway.
Because master (he said this pointing at Hubbert) will teach me how to became a human.
And that’s how “we” were born, thought Wons. I should have known.
When R’vidd said he was going after his masters, Jona gave the elf a little box, and said:
Send our regards to Mr. Strife. 21
Žbica took the box in order to keep it safe till Eleb, so they could give it to Mr. Strife once they find him. Darwin watched the gnome. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen him so happy. It became scary when the wizard decided to share R’vidd’s food.
Let’s eat this hot dog,
Said Žbica cheerfully, and chopped off a piece. Wons sighed. Roland felt sick. Darwin couldn’t purify this food – he didn’t prepare the spell. But then Brinnya offered to do so. Except for Roland, nobody thought se was actually going to poison them. The meat was somewhat disgusting to Žbica, Brinnya and Darwin, but edible. R’vidd enjoyed it very much.
They also asked R’vidd where he got his clothes, smeared in ashes and something inconveniently blood-like, he explained he found them on the bodies of the people who died in the forest.
And so they moved on, after instructing R’vidd only to loot when positive the looted one is a corpse.
Nothing much happened during the day; they traveled, they rested. Darwin meditated. Again. 21
The next morning Žbica was fast asleep. Nobody wanted to deprive him of his prescious sleep so the party waited till noon for him to wake up. Then they walked till dusk, and set another camp.
Hubbert spend a part of the evening teaching R’vidd how to swear, before going to sleep. 22
And then, during the second watch, Darwin and Žbica decided to pull a trick on Hubbert. They cast a spell causing deep slumber on him, hoping to identify his sword. But things went somewhat wrong and it all ended up with Hubbert sleeping, his sword back in it’s sheet, and a few spell slots spent. 23, 24
And so the session ended.
Well, sort of. :) 24