Light of Chaos

Kashlia's Tale (Part One)

The campfire cracks and pops quietly as the cool night air hands silent around the party. Cliff wipes the blade of his axe with a rag while Alek leans against a fallen tree trunk, working her flute to no melody but the one floating through her head. The remains of the Orc encampment they have recently put an end to are off in the distance. There is a sense of relaxed elation among the party that comes with another victory.

Kashlia finishes repacking her gear after the evening meal and moves forward to poke the fire. A shower of sparks erupts upwards into the air and embers float lazily to the ground like fireflies. “I have never lied to you.” She says firmly. Breaking the silence. Alek stops her flute, Cliff looks up from his ask, even Leshanna breaks her trance to look in sudden confusion.

“What happened in the Feywild…” Kashlia continues. “I promised you an explanation. I would tell it now, if you would hear. I warn you however, it is not a short tale.”

The same image flashes through all their minds. Kashlia, then Reagan, staring down the demon general. Hate and fire in her eyes. Proclaiming her name and calling for vengeance. They all share a look. No one says anything, but several slight nods reply in stereo.

“Many tales,” Kashlia begins, "Have several endings. More have many parts of a journey before they are concluded. This story is unique, as it has two beginnings. I shall tell you of the one I know. The one I recall the most. The second beginning. And I shall tell you the other in time.

I awoke coming on six months ago, although I cannot say exactly how long, in the care of the Sisters of Enlightenment. They are a small sect far from here. I had spent many months before that in their care, though I do not know how long. For they better part of a year, or so they told me, I was in their keeping. I fear in that time I was not as hospitable a guest as they were hosts. Many times I tried to escape, fleeing at nights into the frigid darkness only to be found the next day huddled next to some animal for warmth. More than one of the sisters was injured by me as I lay bedridden and feverish.

When at last I woke I had no recollection of who I was nor what I had been through. Brief flashes of memory would appear, but I had no sense of what they might mean. One of their order took me as her charge at that point. For many days I was not allowed to leave my room. Given what I have heard about my previous jaunts about their cloister I cannot say I blame them. However, sister Bernadette took me in despite the fact I had broken her arm some months before in one of my fevered frenzies."

Ksahlia paused at this moment, and Jonn dropped another branch on the fire. As the night grew slightly less dim, she continued.

“Bernadette told me all there was to know about me at that time. I had been found injured, delirious, nearly to the point of starvation by one of their Paladins on the side of a road several wheels away. At first he had taken me for dead until he lifted me and was shocked to hear my breathing. He had brought me to the sisters for care.

As I grew slightly healthier, my illness became more pronounced. The discoloration in my face, the fever in my mind, and the breaks in my bones would not pass not heal. Their healers tried many spells all of which failed. There was fear of contagion, and greater fear that this was some evil, demonic illness which I had been cursed with. However despite some of their number arguing strongly for it, they did not throw me out on my own.

Then the escapes attempts and attacks started. I would pound on my door for hours on end shrieking and wailing. Other times I would wait for the food to arrive and capture the sister who fed me, forcing her to let me loose. This continued for weeks.

I was terrified and ashamed to have heard all of these things. The monster I assumed I was! What life could I have lived before to have inherited such cruelty? Such viciousness?

Bernadette in time showed me that I was not a monster and the things I was afraid of had uses. It was she that gave me the name Reagan, for at the time I had none. Reagan had been the name of her younger sister, who had died of the pox when she was young. I began to help out around the monastery and my strength began to return quickly at that point. Soon I was doing the work of four or five of the regular sisters, and it was clear I had a prowess with precision and weapons that frightened them. The first time they suggested I go with one of their Paladin’s to hunt the week’s meat, I had slain the beast before the the Paladin beside me even caught it’s scent.

I became a hunter, and the sister’s claimed they had not eaten so well in all their time. I felt pride and was pleased to be giving back to my benefactors. However, there were pieces of my heart and mind that would not let go of the lingering question as to who I was. I would take longer rides when I would go on hunts, and explore more of the world around. I began to go for days at a time – riding out in one direction as far as my horse would go before darkfall and then ride back the next day.

Nothing jogged my memory. As I grew more adjusted to life with the Order I began to get fewer and fewer flashes of the life I’d had.

I grew desperate. One day I took a horse and rode nearly a week until our water ran out. We stopped near a small group of trees where I had a feeling we would find a stream to refill our skins. I had barely dismounted before my horse was felled by an ambush. I managed to dispatch the assailants – a scouting party of the red creatures – Deamons one of the sisters called them – had set upon us as they crested a nearby hill. It was when I laid eyes upon the first of them lying dead before disappearing into thin air, that I lost consciousness. I awoke to find I was uninjured, but the dreams I had had … … … I awoke with no recollection of the dream but simply with a knowledge that a part of me had awoken. A part that knew there was a great task I must undertake, and little time to do it.

I spoke to the sister’s about it upon my return and there was a great bustle of activity in the days that followed. Many closed door councils were held with the Paladins and the elders of the orders. For a fortnight there were messengers and officials coming and going at all hours.

Finally, the Mother Superior called a meeting between myself and the Paladins. All of us attended the banquet hall and the solemnity of the occasion was impressive. The order had convened with members of other churches, councils, and elders of many of the surrounding towns and settlements. My findings were not unique. Livestock and children had been going missing, strange tracks had been spotted getting closer to villages, and caravans had been waylaid and wiped out altogether. The signs of a great cataclysm coming were there – or so their read told them – and they felt a fear that a great force was about to come upon them with all the force of an avalanche. Half the Paladins were tasked to stay, begin preparing the village defenses, mentor the youth and able bodied in the use of blade and bow. The rest, of whom I was included, were sent to different compass points in search of strong warriors to assist.

I was sent the farthest East. I traveled by horse over a month to the great city of Hammerfast. It was mere days after my arrival I heard of the great contest of strength. I had heard in the Eastern towns of your party, and decided to see for myself your strength in battle. While you were not as mighty as rumors foretold, I could tell their was great potential there. And so, I joined you to see if that was correct, and find out if I could find the truth of myself whilst deciding if you would be the ones that might make a difference in the coming storm.

This brings us to the second half of my tale, the FIRST beginning… I will explain after we get back and this quest is completed. For once you hear it, I will ask you to make a choice that will result in great peril or our parting. Until then, I will accompany you and assist you with the rest of this quest you are on. However, I would see it done quickly, for the grains of sand in time’s hourglass grow ever fewer.

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Session 18
What is this feeling?

Foreboding. As the corpses of Edgar’s front guard lay at their feet, the party can’t help but feel it settling over them like a blanket of darkness. But they have come too far now to stop. Edgar is close – and with his capture, the end to the troubles in Hammerfast and the final chapter of Alvyn’s story…
Following the path, they soon come upon an encampment. Through the faces of a few familiar foes, they quickly determine whose camp this is. Alvyn goes to sneak into the camp, and successfully infiltrates Edgar’s tent – only to find it empty. His party is noticed quickly and are attacked while he is inside.
The ensuing fight is bitter and drawn out, but eventually, the party is victorious. After resting off their wounds, they find a ladder leading down into an underground passage. Alvyn tells the party to stay behind while he scouts ahead – following a group of soldiers through the twisting maze. Leshanna, Alek, and Elmiria follow slowly, while Cliff and Azure remain behind playing hackey sack with a bag of potpourri Cliff has acquired.
A wandering patrol happens upon all but Alvyn, and a battle ensues. After which, the party reunites with Alvyn and they continue deeper into the maze….

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Session 15

The ashes of Rhogar’s funeral pyre die down to embers and the party focuses on the new task at hand. The loss of their tracker and the one behind the quest for Cliff has left them shaken and undecided, and it takes a while to decide to continue with the rescue of Cliff. Eventually, they agree favorably and backtrack to where Alvyn encountered them.

The cavern is abandoned. Searching the area reveals drag marks and a trail that is not too difficult to follow. The track it through the narrowing passages of the cave until the path splits. Heavier footprints head north, while lighter ones continue south. The drag marks have also stopped. The party follows the heavier prints.

The passage narrows and forces them to proceed single file. Many off-shoots appear in the walls, but they hold true. Izzussan pauses the party before a turn in the path, and informs them he hears something. Alvyn tries to sneak around the corner, but Izzussan’s clanking armor fails the attempt. As a result, Alvyn rounds the corner right into the claws of a giant bear in mid-swipe. Rending his collarbone, he cries out in pain and surprise but continues.

Alvyn is cornered, and takes a brutal beating at the hands of the trapped creature, held in place by a chain to guard – or eat – something or someone. However they manage to defeat it before it eats him, and escape to the outside world.
Outside opens into a dense forest. They pick up a trail in the woods, and proceed forth. It is getting dark and so they opt to camp for the night. While they are trying to sleep, a pack of wolves attacks the party. In their weary, bone-tired state, they can’t seem to connect with the wolves but nevertheless hold their own. It’s a battle of attrition, but finally the party is victorious.
Sort of.
In the process, the uncontrolled use of fire magic ignites the party’s tent. The tent fire, untended, ignites a nearby tree, which soon sets off several trees around it. By the end of the battle, the fire has jumped to several surrounding trees and become beyond control. The party has little time and has to book it back to the cave, the raging fire hot on their heels.

Cliff’s story insert here after metagaming is no longer a problem

The party passes out in the room they started the day – the room Rhogar was cremated in. Afraid that they have lost Cliff’s trail forever, they agree to abandon the search for him, and continue with the quest for Edgar.But first, they want to investigate the last section of the cave they have not yet investigated – the path south off the room they are in.
As they proceed, they hear voices. Alek translates the goblin speak and hears a shocked and amazed Goblin foraging party just returned from their latest foray. They think that THEIR clan has burnt the forest down, and can’t figure out where they have gone. They don’t even notice when Alvyn walks right in until he’s a few feet away. The veteran fighter looks at him in disbelief. Alvyn, surveying the 5 on 1 odds, turns and runs away.
The goblins get a good laugh at this, and start joking about their bravado. The laughter covers the sound of Izzussan and the other’s approach. A flaming arrow rains down on the surprised group and one of the smaller goblins crumples. Another falls under Alek’s cutting word. Alvyn sneaks up on a third, one of the taller ones. He climbs a rock and jumps on the creature’s back, stabbing mercilessly. Trying to get the gnome off, the goblin does the first thing that comes to mind – he runs forward – straight into an underground river running along the far corner of the room. He and Alvyn disappear from sight.
Alek runs forward and lets out rope near where the river disappears under a rock overhang and out of sight. Izzussan continues to rain death down upon the remaining goblins, and Elmiria strikes another down with destructive spellcasting. The last small goblin collapses, and the final one is pushed into the river by the force of Elmiria’s spell.
In the river, Alvyn struggles with the goblin – still stabbing him – as he tries to get free and swim to safety. The current is FAST and has already carried him far from the party by the time he breaks free from his foe.
Back in the cave, the others, seeing no alternative, take a plunge and give chase.
Cliff—fore reasons thus far not disclosed, is fishing in the river with his bare hands. He has dived down to the riverbed in search of fish, and is about to lay claim to his first catch when, instead of closing around tasty, gill-covered flesh, he grabs… Alvyn. Frustrated, he throws Alvyn clear out of the river and onto the bank. . . . .moments before the goblin Alvyn had previously been engaged with tumbles down into him, knocking him out at the knees. They now tumble down the river together. THe goblin stabbing and Cliff biting right back.
Alvyn stands up on shore and finds himself face to face with the group of adventurers that had kidnapped Cliff to begin with.
“Please don’t kill me,” he gasps, “You would NOT believe the day I’ve had, and I do NOT want to leave this world on this note.”
One of the others nods and makes Alvyn drop his sword, then indicates a place he can sit under supervision. Alvyn acquiesces.
In the river, the other goblin makes it to shore under his own power, and runs off into the burnt forest. Still not sure exactly what just happened.
Alek, Elmiria and Izzussan continue to be swept along by the river. Izzussan struggles to swim in his armor and winds up being dragged along the bottom. Good thing he can hold his breath. Watch out Guybrush!
Everyone in the river eventually meets up in a battle against the final goblin as the river reaches a shallow point. Perhaps fittingly, Cliff, unarmed, deals the final blow – gnawing the neck of the goblin and severing the artery. Cliff then leads the group back upstream. As they approach, both sets of adventurers recognize the other. . . . . .
“YOU!!!” All nine people cry at once. Except Alvyn, who simply exclaims “This just isn’t my day.” And collapses.

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Session 17
De"construct"ionism!

The magical statues around the treasure horde leap to life and begin attacking the party. They are quick to respond, but the battle is fierce. The party emerges victorious once more and reaps the rewards of their virtuous conquest.

After looting the treasure horde, they backtrack through the cave and find themselves near the entrance they arrived through. Deciding to check on their steeds, they exit and are confronted with a twitching rabbit whose face contorts into the image of Marisndra Goldspinner. She has a direct, if garbled, message informing the party she has sent them the wrong way.

The party hurries back to Hammerfast, where she informs them of Edgar’s actual location to the north. The party sets off again in the new direction and are confronted along the way by a group of vagrants. Alvyn attempts to get information from them, but gets attacked for his efforts. The party quickly lays into the opponents… bringing them down with great effort but even greater finality.

They continue onward with their quest…

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Session 16
4 Hours, 2 Encounters, 1 New Member

As the party is at a standoff, a really really ridiculously good looking guy rides up on his horse and claims to want to save the day. Largely ignoring him, Cliff explains to both parties that neither should be a threat. They’re both equally screwed with the forest having burned down, and despite a heavy-handed way to doing things, the group that kidnapped him treated him fairly well.

After several tense moments, they agree to go their separate ways.

The newcomer is told that the party is a group of merchants by Alvyn, and he opts to follow them until they reach their next city. They set off back the way they came, to a cave near Glimmer Lake.

Inside the cave, they find a group of spider fish like things. Cliff eats one of their webs, and finds himself the food shortly thereafter. Nevertheless, he manages to survive the encounter.

After defeating the creatures, the party continues through a passage they had been blocking and encounters a group of warriors that they summarily dispatch.

They find a treasure room to the south of the room with the warriors and Azure, the new guy, wanders around aimlessly as the party worries about how to deactviate the obvious trap around the treasure. Leshanna manages to deactivate a portion of it, before bringing the rest of the magical guardians to life….

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Session 14
Abduction! Murder! Treachery! Must be Thursday.

Goldspinner’s people have some success in breaking the will of their captors, sufficient to identify the source of their encampment – including Edgar’s headquarters – near Glimmer Lake to the South of Hammerfast. The party wastes no time in departing to put an end to his meddlesome presence once and for all.

En route south, they encounter a group of adventurers. Initially, they are well met, and seem an amiable enough group. Then things quickly begin to spiral out of control. Upon spying Cliff, the group demands that the party let them deal with him. Confused, the party seeks to understand what they mean but Cliff, curious to his doom, walks forward to meet them. The rest of the adventurers stay warily back and watch the scene unfold.

Cliff is shortly under attack, and the group turn out to be polymorphs. There is division over whether to help, and they remain out of it for a while. Cliff holds his own, but then gets ganged up on – at which point Alvyn intervenes, followed by others.

As things look to get fully out of control, Rhogar calls his mates back and puts an unnatural pause to the battle. Imploring the party’s trust, he tells them to let the group do with Cliff as they will and let the party be on their way. Confused and torn, but swayed by his conviction they agree. They continue down the road as Cliff falls unconscious.

Later, out of eye and earshot, Rhogar explains that since the group seemed to be searching for Cliff they must know something about his past. Cliff seems obsessed with solving some part of his life that is unresolved, and this might bring him closer to that. THe party can pick up the trail and follow him to find out what’s going on.

When questioned as to the danger this puts on Cliff, Rhogar shrugs and replies, “I am willing to take that risk.”

The plan actually goes well, they track the captors through the woods – finding evidence of first aid, reinforcing Rhogar’s hunch that Cliff is not in danger. They come to the entrance of a cave, and continue to follow it through. Reaching a split, in the road, Alvyn and Rhogar search the separate options. Alvyn runs right into the group holding Cliff – and lies his way out of the situation with remarkable candor. Rhogar spies a Goblin encampment and invokes their wrath trying to get back to the party. He manages to kill 4 of them before he is overcome while waiting for his friends and dies.

The party dispatches the remainder of them, and hold a funeral pyre for Rhogar. As the flames illuminate the dark matte veins of onyx in the cave walls, they contemplate the day – one of their number captured, another killed – and the long road ahead reduced in numbers by a quarter.

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Session 13
Elegy for a Murdered Muroidea

A road of perils, always a hero
must set forth upon.
Appearing as a path forward unto
the gateway to Valhalla
but never yielding the key.

From depth of sky and stone and mind,
foes appear at great multitude.
Setting great obstacles and
Harsh rewards for those who would
in deference to the cause they serve
see that succorouus muse Glory.

From hilltops they fire
within buildings hidden and alleys set
They make ready to end their prey.
Yet they fight. For life. For loss.
For whatever drives them as the
first frost of winter drives
flora and fauna to their hibernations.


Flurrying blows and bows and throws
Clatter of weapons dropped
from death loosed grips.
Ambushers become the ambushees
Flee amidst a mighty blow.


And so quest forth with blood
drenched fist the hero progresses
through crowded din towards the
source of heroic bane.


Finding facing standing vis a vis
A test of mettle more than brawn
A standoff held plain to see
‘Tween then and now and soon to be gone.


A flash of movement. A trap is sprung.


Battle ensues.
Heroes fight.


Amidst the smoke and clash and blood
A single cry emerges from
A whisper whimper whinging whine
Heartbeat fades a gentle thrum
A noble steed at last afalls
‘Neath a minstrels gentle strum.
No more so seek no more to find,
Fallen finally in heroic kind.

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Session 12
The One Where Not Much Happened

The party talked to Goldspinner and then was ambushed by some dwarves. They defeated the dwarves and decided to go find Tras, the gatekeeper who was identified as being involved as an informant.

After the ambush the party decided to wait in the bar for Rhogar, Alvyn, and Alek to return. In doing so they ran into some not so happy bats. After killing the bats, Cliff decided to eat some of the meat, even though he had been told by his party members and his own insight that those bats were known to carry diseases…

Find out what happened next time, on LoC!

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Session 11
Adventures in Hammerfast

PCs Present: Alek, Cliff, Elmiria, Izzussan, Leshanna, Rhogar

The world fades back into being with the party in their hotel room debating the best path of action to deal with their current quests. The trouble of course, is that it seems they have only half the story on everything. A pendant. A horse. No master. Spies. A notebook. Half of it forged. The discussion proceeds and the party decides that based on the evidence, the half-orc carriageman is most likely a victim in this web, and might be able to give them some clues as to the nature of what is going on.

With this agreed, Rhogar and Alek agree to confront him. He soon passes the inn, and the two flag him down. They ask for a ride to the bridge and once they are into the busier thoroughfare of town begin to question him. It becomes quickly apparent that he has no knowledge of any enemies to himself, nor any information on the spies or the circle. He is viscerally shocked when the forgeries in his notebook are pointed out, and he agrees to allow the party to catch the responsible party.

Many hours pass, and the party is waiting outside the inn to rendezvous with the coachman. While they are waiting, a voice calls to Alek around the corner of the building they’re beside. Alek goes to follow it, and Rhogar, standing next to him, does the same. Around the corner, several crow-men unleash a torrent of attacks in their direction.

Cliff, bravely charging to the escape, rips open a door to the warehouse they are standing beside… and is suddenly set upon by four similar foes in the doorway. Another pair appear behind the far corner of the building between the Coach and Pony and the warehouse.

The battle commences. The heroes struggle to turn the tide against their foes. Izzussan and Cliff, being the closest to the doorway from which the second wave of attackers is, find themselves the worst off. Rhogar and Alek trade places, and manage to seven of the foes themselves before heading off to help their besieged colleagues. Leshanna clears the other alleyway, and assists with the battle in the warehouse. Finally, the steel comes to a rest and the party frees a group of dwarves trapped in the warehouse. The dwarves bashfully admit that this is the storehouse of weapons for the entire city. They also warn the party about a human in command of the Circle – who is holed up in another warehouse in the far district of town.

Several Hours Later

A short halfling woman works her way through the wee hours of the morning going about her daily duties as a maid in the Coach and Pony. Another adventurer has come and decided to make the main hall his haunt for the night, and so she has been forced to delay that until he leaves and focus on completing her other tasks.

Lifting a small ring of keys from her belt, she unclasps the lock on the door in the far North East corner of the inn. The latch gives way with the slightest click and she pushes the door open slowly, only enough for her small form to slip past, and then into the room. She leaves the door slightly ajar, and creeps forward towards the sleeping area of the room.

She sees her target where it usually is – lying expectantly on the corner of the bedside table. A form in the bed shifts uneasily, and she freezes, fingers outstretched and reaching for the book. The sleeping figure does not rouse however, and after a tense several seconds, she lets out deep sigh of relief. She picks up the book and replaces it with one from within her apron, careful to lay it in the same position as the previous book.

Suddenly, there is a slamming sound and she whirls to see the door has been shut, with a large dragonborn glowering down at her. She spins around and nearly runs into an armored leg as the man from the bed, feigning sleep, has arisen and blocked the other way. She goes to scream but a scaly hand clamps down over her mouth.

“It’s not polite to take what doesn’t belong to you.” A deep, growling voice booms. With that, she felt her knees go weak and the world black.

xxx

“Rhogar!” Alek exclaims disapprovingly, punching the dragonborn in the shoulder. “Be gentle. We need her alive.”
“Rhogar WAS being gentle. She fainted.” He raised the figure up and tossed her onto the bed. The impact was enough to rouse her from her swoon.
“Wha…???”
“Enough – we’ll ask the qu- – - uaaackkk--” Rhogar begins to growl but instead winds up doubly over choking. “Alek…” he manages to wheeze, “Keep going – Rhogar swallowed a spider the wrong way and it’s trying to get out.” Despite her fear, the ridiculousness of this statement reduces the halfling maid to giggling laughter.
Alek shakes his head. “Look, nobody wants to get you in any trouble or report you to the authorities – but we need to know what you were doing with that book.”
“Just. . . doing my job.” The halfling replies.
Rhogar, composure regained, stands up and glowers angrily. “Do you want to get into trouble with your boss? Do you want us to report you to the authorities!? You’re going to have to do better than that!’
“I – I just replace the journals. And bring them to a tower.”
“The tower?”
“I will show you if you promise not to hurt me or give me over to THEM.”
“We will not hurt you; however your fate is far from certain.”
“I can live with that.”

xxx

The party meets up behind the Coach and Pony. The sky is just beginning to lighten in the pre-dawn hours and they make their way to the base of one of the sentry towers lining the outer wall of the city. The party crowds the base, while Izzussan takes the maid back to Marisandra’s for questioning.

Eventually – someone appears in the tower and the party grab him. He says he knows nothing of the circle, but drops a cipher pad. The party hauls him off to Goldspinners. In an attempt to save himself, he says that Idara and the racist entryway guard are suspicious if they are searching for spies. The party contemplates this as they meet Goldspinner to update her on the status of their quest. . . . . .

FADE TO CREDITS!


GOOOOOLD-SPINN-ER.
She’s the one, the one at the merchant’s guild.
A trader’s guild.
Such a bold guilder,
Beckons you, to enter her web of spies,
It’s your demise!

<piano>

Golden words, she will pour in your ear,
But her lies can’t disguise what you fear,
For a golden girl knows when she’s kissed her,
It’s the kiss of death from

Missus Goldfinger.
Pretty but beware of this heart of gold
This heart is cold!

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Session 10
Adventures in Hammerfast

PCs Present: Alek, Alvyn, Cliff, Elmiria, Izzussan, Leshanna, Rhogar

The weary party warily struggle their way back through the portal and emerge at the mouth of the Temple of the Fire Opal. Momentary disorientation quickly passes and they debate what to do next. Cliff convinces most of the party to return through the dungeon and make sure they have not missed any treasure. Rhogar opts to remain at the entrance and guard the way in along with the body of their former guide.

The party treks through the dungeon and recovers the gems used to activate the doorway, but otherwise finds no new spoils. As they return to the entrance Rhogar is gone. Alvyn spots the body of their dwarvish guide in the brush nearby. Not pausing to search for their missing member nor take the body with them, the party begins their trek back to Hammerfast.

Along the way, they are waylaid by a group of diminutive lyncanthropes. The ratlike hominids sneak up on the party, charging in while they are distracted amongst themselves. Four of the creatures make to pounce upon Ditran at the front of the group. Ditran stands, frozen in fear, as eight leering, hungry eyes glare him down.

A flurry of flaming arrows erupts from the twilit sky. Ditran has the sensibility to jump backwards as a hailstorm of firey death erupts before him. All four of the wererats squeal and are momentarily stunned as they tend to patches of singed fur. A second volley drops one of them completely and lodges an arrow firmly in the paw of another. Nevertheless, the enemies advance forth, only minorly daunted.

Delirious with pain, the wererat’s advance is dreadfully ineffective. They claw, bite, and scratch the air and the ground uselessly. A second wave of creatures, drawn by the sound of the scuffle with their friends, charges onto the field of battle – right past Ditran and into the middle of the fray.

Alvyn and his rat, seeing eye to eye with the attackers, make a quick strike against the new foes. Izzusan connects with the ground as a rat scrambles between his legs, grabbing his ankles. Elmiria holds her ground and Alek’s cutting words slice to the bone. Leshanna launches a magic missile at the nearest foe and it sags to the ground with great finality. More arrows land amidst the chaos, and two more foes transition to a lower plane of existence. The party makes brief work of the remaining foes.

Having defeated the threat, Cliff finds a large quantity of copper pieces, which the party is only too happy to allow him to keep for himself. Alvyn uncovers a strange amulet, with Eladaerya and Baldyr engraved on it. He pockets this and the party continues onward to Hammerfast.

Upon arriving, they split up again. Alvyn and Rhogar head towards a market, while Rhogar is unsuccessful in acquiring what he sought. Alvyn meanwhile swindles a number of locals out of their hard earned gold in a rigged game of chance. Later as they are returning, they pass a stable. A mighty steed within the stable immediately begins to go crazy, and erupts forth, shattering the wooden dowel that had held the gate in place. A small throng of people dive out of the way as the horse races forward towards Alvyn. Rhogar steps between them and the horse stops at the last second. The horse looks affectionately at Alvyn who, upon reflection, brings the amulet our from his pocket. The horse whinnies gleefully before shuddering as Rhogar brings it under mount. Alvyn hands Rhogar the amulet, and Rhogar leads it back to the stable.

A brief exchange with the stable owner and Rhogar indicates that the horse’s name is Eladaerya and she has been in his charge for some time – since the owner left and said he would return for her. That was some time ago and the horse has become very restless in her master’s stead. Rhogar sees the pain in the creature and vows to bring the two back together. The stable owner feels that would be best, and entrusts the beast to the party.

Meanwhile, back at the farm – er – inn (not that, given the timeplace, there is a terrible amount of difference). The rest of the party is intercepted by a bard namse Tarris who suggests they visit, Marisindra Goldspinner, who is identified as the head of the Trade Guild. She has heard a band of adventurers is in town and seeks their counsel. Admitting an audience, the group learns from her that the guild is suffering from the impact of the highly organized thieves and bandits operating in the area. She knows the name Edgar, and believes that there is a spy among them feeding him or his group information on their shipments.

She suggests the party examine the Coach and Pony – a name the party recognizes. She informs them her sister runs the place, and has far from… ideal… associates at times.

While the others contemplate this and make their way back to the hotel, Izzussan finds his way tot the large library to study things. . .

The party meets back up and stakes out the Coach and Pony. How a group of 8 inconspicuously stakes out a sparsely attended luxury hotel is best left to the imagination of the reader – but it happens. As they are there, they notice a half-orc coachman making meticulous notes in a notebook. Hoping it may hold clues, they watch him leave and take off in his carriage. While the party debates what to do, Elmiria, Rhogar and Alvyn slip out after him. Elmiria flags the cab while Rhogar and Alvyn sneak into the busy market square. Alvyn finds an area of the square where the rooftops overhang the road and hides under an awning. Rhogar hides in an alleyway near the overhang and waits. Elmiria directs the coachman to the market. As the carriage approaches, Rhogar steps out and flips back the hood of his cloak – startling the horse and causing it to rear and nearly upend the cart. Elmiria leaps off and disappears into the crowd while Rhogar re-hoods and slips back into the alleyway.

Alvyn drops down from the awning and grabs the notebook from the back of the coach and disappears underneath.

The three meet up back at the inn just as the rest of the party is deciding on a plan to get the notebook. Producing it, they review it and see that it seems that some pages have been replaced with forgeries. They ponder what this could mean as the scene dissolves into the next week’s session...

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