Five-Pointed Star

The Road Ahead

Chronicled by Jayden

Steeplefall Bound

As Tristan disappeared into the horizon, headed to Kingsport, the party rethinks their decision about going to Steeplefall. Caldwell leads the opposition, noting that Steeplefall is dangerously close to the fey wild, which he is actively avoiding. He argues that Tristan is clearly not to be trusted fully and Kingsport being a larger city may have more information and resources. Jayden is staunch in her opposition to head to Kingsport, but for different reasons. She argues that Steeplefall provides the party the not only stop Ichabod, but also to recover 2 scrolls – the one that is hidden there and the one that Ichabod stole. She also articulates that Ichabod is arguably more dangerous than Tristan and cites his rogue and unprovoked attack on Lady Bochenricht and his affiliation with dark forces. Only Erasmus knows her secret – she fled Kingsport where there is an active warrant for her arrest, before arriving in Bochenricht. Her points are persuasive and logical, and Erasmus keeps her secret – for now.

Having reaffirmed the party will head to Steeplefall, Erasmus and Jayden share with their fellow adventurers what they know of the city as they begin their journey on foot. Steeplefall is a former mining community that was formerly known as Steepleton, which was known for its large temple to Pelor. The city was ruled by the 3 leaders of the pagans that represented a sort of tri-branch government: the warrior chieftain (Cargwen), a shaman, and a wizard. The pagans are not affiliated with any known gods and they worship deities modeled after Norse gods. The black silk traders and mercenary pirates took the town over from the pagans, who were under the spell of a horrible infertility curse that was killing off their lineage. From what Erasmus knows, the town is still under the control of the pirates and could be dangerous.

Frappé and Erasmus lead the party northwest through the swamps toward Steeplefall, a trip that will take the party approximately 2 days by foot. Eventually, the swamps give way to a small forest and the party makes camp as the sun sets over the trees. Caldwell meditates and keeps watch, accompanied by an Eye of Alarm, which allows the adventurers to sleep soundly through the night.

Green Arms and Ham

Frappe stirs as the forest begins to awaken and prepares breakfast for the party who are gently pulled from their slumber by the delightful aromas of hare bacon crisping over a nearby cooking fire. After a hearty and satisfying breakfast, the adventurers head into fey territory. Still nervous about this trajectory, Caldwell tells the group that they should let him do the talking should they run into any fellow Eladrin. Taking his usual spot at the head of the pack, Frappe leads them through the forest to a clearing up ahead. Drawing closer, the motions to the group to halt and they fix their gaze upon a spherical object up in the distance that appears to have an arm sticking out of it. Stepping cautiously closer, Frappe, Erasmus, and Jayden all recognize it as a magical creature. Frappe is sure it is not a beast and Jayden thinks perhaps it is an earth elemental. Erasmus is not sure what it is, perhaps some sort of magical monster, but whatever it is, the green tinged arm growing out of the large boulder is not part of the creature. Caldwell notes that the arm looks an awful lot like his – an Eladrin arm.

Having kept a sufficient distance, the party decides to avoid the creature altogether and marks out a path well outside its detection radius. While they realize this will add a bit of time to their journey, they determine it is worth the excursion as the green-armed boulder perplexed them greatly. After clearing the creature, the party once again makes camp as the sun begins to set, Caldwell taking his usual place of mediation alongside the Eye of Alarm as the adventurers slumber.

Into the Woods

Again Frappe stirs first, greeting the morning at early sunrise as the forest and its creatures awake to a new day. Even in the early morning still, he notices an uncommonly quiet portion of the forest off to his right. At a distance he doesn’t see anything out of the ordinary, but his curiosity is peaked and he decides to investigate further. Wisely knowing the benefits of exploring unknown territories with a dwarf at your side, he wakes Rangrim to bring along to research the odd still. To motivate Rangrim, Frappe tells him that he needs help hunting for breakfast ingredients. The taste of the delicious hare bacon still on his lips (and in his beard probably, too), Rangrim agrees.

Frappe approaches stealthily and quietly towards the stillness, but Rangrim’s attempts at stealth and quiet fail miserably as his armor clunks and clangs with a loudness that is exacerbated by the veil of quiet that falls over the early morning. Just as Frappe turns to quiet his rather loud companion, Rangrim trips clumsily over the roots of a large tree. Frappe tries to catch him, keenly aware of the clamoring sound the dwarf’s fall will make, but loses his footing and it taken down to the forest floor along with Rangrim. The other adventurers are hijacked from their sleep by the clattering, but when they look around, Frappe and Rangrim are nowhere to be seen. Standing and brushing the moss off his clothes, Frappe notices that they seem to have stumbled upon a globe of silence.

Caldwell looks quickly to the ground, looking for tracks but is not able to find any. The party gathers and begins to move cautiously in the direction of the noise, checking for traps in the forest floor along the way.

Silence is Not Golden

As Frappe begins to step slowly backward from the cusp of the globe of silence, headed to warn the others, 2 creatures drop down from the tree above them. The creatures themselves look like trees and Frappe and Rangrim hear their strange and eerie whispers, but cannot understand what they are saying. They quickly learn that the tree creatures are not whispering messages of peace and goodwill, as each tree form makes an attack on Frappe and Rangrim. As one of the bark-crusted creatures attacks Frappe he hisses, “You are no elf. You do not belong here.” Rangrim retaliates immediately, swinging his axe at the tree creature – the irony is not appreciated by the bark beast.

The rest of the party begins to hear Rangrim and Frappe yelling as they inch slowly forward through the forest. Looking head, Caldwell tells them that it looks like they are fighting with a tree. Not appreciating what seems to be a bout of early morning playfulness and testosterone, Jayden moves in closer to determine what all the horsing around is about. When she asks them what they are doing, they reply most earnestly that they are being attacked by the trees. Wielding both weapons in his hands, Frappe swings wildly on the offensive against the tree and connects with a hearty vengeance. Just as Frappe feels the blades lodge into the wood, the creature disappears.

Wood You Believe It?

Seeing this, Caldwell shouts, “Wait – I know what is going on here.” Rangrim ignores Caldwell’s plea and continues to fight, hurling his Life Drinker axe into the side of the treacherous tree creature, hacking off a limb and causing it to shriek in extreme pain. As the limb falls to the ground, suddenly Rangrim sees 2 Caldwells – one standing in front of him and one standing next to Jayden, Erasmus, and Sorrow. Seeing no way to stop it other than battle, Caldwell readies an acid blast attack and the smell of smoke fills the air as he hits the tree creature. Above the noise of the attack Caldwell informs the group that the creatures are dryads, or tree nymphs, but he is confused as to why they are attacking.

Jayden is familiar with some of the mythology surrounding these creatures and knows they are normally considered to be very shy creatures, except around the goddess Artemis, who was known to be a friend to most nymphs. Dryads, like all nymphs, are supernaturally long-lived and tied to their homes. In fact, some dryads became such an integral part of their trees that if the tree died, the dryad associated with it died, as well. For these reasons, dryads punished any mortal who harmed trees or the forest in general without first appeasing the tree nymphs. These creatures, or spirits, can manifest themselves in various forms, including that of a tree, which the party first saw Rangrim and Frappe fighting with. They can also take other forms, which explains the 2 Caldwells appearing in front of the adventurers – the 2nd Caldwell is an illusion and is actually the dryad that disappeared in front of Frappe.

Jayden, speaking in elven, asks the dryads why they are attacking the party. The dryad taking Caldwell’s form answers, “To purge the unclean – outsider.” With that, it reverts back to its tree form and Frappe begins to step away in a defensive stance. As Caldwell answers the dryad’s threatening response with one of his own shouting, “Then you will die”, Rangrim attacks heartily with his steel serpent strike and the dryad is in very bad shape, tendrils hanging on by a woody thread. Caldwell and Erasmus move in to attack the dryad and Erasmus’ righteous brand splits the tree in half and the dryad falls to the forest floor (and the party asks, if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?).

Rock It

Sorrow focuses her attack on the remaining dryad and spits a fiery spiteful glamour its way. Jayden connects with psychological damage dealt by her vicious mockery, causing the dryad to reveal its embarrassing secret that its tree branches were rejected for pencil making. Seeing the other dryad dead, the tree creature shrieks a magical curse and 2 rocks appear to come to life. While Jayden doesn’t understand fully what was said, it is clear that the curse is very dangerous. Frappe sneaks a quick rest to gain his second wind, now beginning to feel the effects of the battle with the dryads. Rangrim quickly makes an attack on the geonid, but he underestimates how nimble the stone monsters can be as it dodges out of harm’s way.

Erasmus and Sorrow, continue to focus their attacks on the remaining dryad. In a clever attempt to out-game the rock geonid, Jayden retrieves her scroll of knock and hold the magical paper over the rock. She’s heard of battles between paper, rocks, and scissors and remembers that paper beats rock. Holding the magical paper over the rock, she tries to channel the magic power of the paper over the rock. The paper explodes over the rock, causing minimal damage (to them both), but does not result in a victory over the geonid, as she’s heard in legendary tales. Just then, a tentacle grows out of the rock and tries to grab Jayden. She deftly dodges the grab attempt but is slapped by the tentacle as its sweeps past her. Immediately upon being hit, she uses her cape of the mountebank to teleport out of arms’ reach of the rock, behind Sorrow.

Frappe continues to focus on his quarry, the remaining dryad and attacks (appropriately) with his Plant of the Hills. Rangrim follows with his Orange Crush crushing surge and at the hands of the 2 adventurers, the dryad is bloodied. Sensing his diminishing state, Sorrow turns her attention to the weakened dryad and exposes his delicious weakness – his fear of fire. Taking full advantage and preying on his fears, Sorrow attacks the dryad with a heavy blast of frightful flames. From behind Sorrow, Jayden attacks the geonid that attempted to grab her, launching the attack in such a way that the geonid thinks Sorrow was behind the assault. In retaliation, the rock creature attacks Sorrow and grabs her with its tentacle. The accompanying geonid reaches out and grabs Erasmus, who is also now grabbed and trapped in its tentacles.

The dryad is on its last leg and tries to move past Rangrim, who takes advantage of his positioning for an attack of opportunity. Caldwell, seeing his fellow adventurers in the clutches of the geonids, attacks one of the rock creatures and reduces it to a weakened state of molten rock. Jayden attempts to help bring the geonid down, but the smoke and pitch in the air from the fire damage to the rock blur her vision and she misses. Frappe and Rangrim continue their assault on the dryad and reduce it to a pile of wood, literally.

Rocks and Eladrins

At the exact moment of the dryad’s death, the geonids suddenly become boulders once again; however, Caldwell seems to have disappeared inside of one of the rocks! The party is immediately concerned, but some members less concerned about Caldwell’s well-being and more concerned about the fact that the scroll he was carrying was also now inside the boulder (not to mention valuable goods). As the party began to strategize about how to extract Caldwell from the stone, suddenly Caldwell appears amongst them. Using his fey step, he simply teleported out of the rock. Everyone was relieved to see him, alive and well, and some were more relieved to know the scroll and treasure were not lost. Upon examining the rock, the party agrees that it is no longer magical – it is just a rock once again.

Up ahead it looks as though a sphere has been cut out of the ground, as if a large rock had rolled into the area and left a small valley. They notice a body lying prone at the bottom of the slight dip in the ground and Jayden and Erasmus suddenly realize they were near a globe of silence that is now open. They aren’t sure what caused it, but don’t perceive any danger and head toward the body. As they draw near, they see the body of an Eladrin – he is alive, but barely. Jayden provides some healing to the wounded Eladrin and he begins to breathe more steadily; however, he is still unconscious. Caldwell approaches and lets out a horrified gasp upon recognizing the Eladrin saying, “Surround him. Don’t let him move.”

The party is alarmed and Jayden asks Caldwell who this Eladrin is. Caldwell, with hatred in his eyes, reveals that this is Arinar of Uthica – his rival enemy and the one who has kept him out of the feywild for all these years. The adventurers begin to strip Arinar, looking for weapons (Sorrow looking for loot, actually) and Caldwell notices a strange mark on his wrist. His demeanor quickly changing from murderous to concerned, he tells his friends, “It is too late for me. I must go back and bring him with me. Alive.”

Caldwell’s Curtain Call

With a heavy heart, Caldwell hands the scroll he was carrying over to Erasmus, who upon touching it immediately develops frostbite on his hand. The scrolls and the power and ritual they could create were the only hope for Caldwell to undo the curse of his birth sign and take his rightful place amongst his fellow Eladrin in the fey. He never said why, but the group knew that the marking on Arinar’s wrist killed the hope Caldwell had carried with him that he would be able to one day return to his people. With that hope gone, there was no need to continue the journey to reclaim the scrolls and harness their knowledge and power.

Caldwell reaches back and pulls a silver ribbon from his hair and wraps it over Arinar’s eyes. In all their time together, no one had ever seen this ribbon before and Erasmus has a strange feeling seeing it emerge from Caldwell’s silver locks. Erasmus hears the staff of knowledge click and makes a mental note to talk to Jayden about this later – now does not seem the time. As they lift Arinar to his feet, they find something in his hand. Jayden recognizes it as the “black spot” – a patch of fur with a message typically written on the back that usually served as a mark or prediction of death. The black spot was often used by pirates – it looks like this one is from the black silk merchants who where though to have been long gone. Jayden is surprised to find the black spot so far inland, as the black silk merchants were known for their piracy on the seas. On the back of the black spot reads, “13 days from tomorrow, Kingsport.” She can tell this was written a long time ago as the items appears very old. She posits that whoever wrote this, wrote it many years ago. Exchanged only through a glance, Erasmus is worried about its predictive nature, and Jayden agrees rightfully so.

Caldwell turns to his fellow adventurers, and more appropriate, his friends to say his farewells. He leaves to head back to the fey, with Arinar, for whatever fate awaits them and their fellow Eladrin. Not one for sentiment or emotion, he simply turns and begins to drag Arinar through the forest. Not more than 20 steps into his journey, his emotions overtake his otherwise stoic demeanor and he is overwhelmed with the memories of the most unexpected experiences he shared with this motley crew of adventurers – many frightful and painful, many light-hearted and warm.

He knew he will miss Rangrim’s foolishly brave gusto and penchant for rat tails, dragon knuckles, and other disgusting fare. Although new to the party, he’ll miss the connection he felt with Frappe and their shared affiliation and knowledge of all things in nature. Even though he knew Frappe the shortest amount of time, he felt he had more in common with him than anyone else. Although they did not get off to the best of starts, he will miss Jayden and her leadership. He had come to admire her selflessness and strategy and was even impressed with her ability to talk them both into and out of many situations. He trusted her and trust is a hard thing for him to build with anyone, having been on his own for so long. He also had a great respect for Erasmus, despite their butting heads on many topics. Caldwell’s arrogance was no match for Erasmus’ deep sense of understanding and patience and Caldwell gradually learned to let down him guard and trust Erasmus, as well. Despite the fact that their quest seemed impossible, Caldwell truly believed that someone like Erasmus could make the impossible happen. Caldwell even allowed himself to admit he would miss Sorrow – the one thing they did have in common was their affinity for the finer things. They both definitely had their eye on the profitable aspects of quests of this nature, more so than the others in the party, which often pitted them against each other in acquisition competitions. While horribly frightened by it, he was impressed with her power and had seen her use it for the overall good of the party. Admittedly, she had never stolen a piece of his soul (that was usually reserved for the more forgiving personalities of Jayden and recently, Frappe) – maybe that would have changed his opinion.

Taking a moment to meet the gaze of each them – Rangrim, Frappe, Jayden, Erasmus, and even Sorrow (although that mask is admittedly hard to look at) – he allowed himself to show them what their companionship has meant to him over this past year and how he’ll never forget them. With a simple, “Goodbye, my friends” he was gone.

Task at Hand

The adventurers watched in silence as the silhouettes of Caldwell and Arinar disappeared into the forest and they each felt the sinking weight of the reality that they would never see him again. Looking at his frost bitten hand, Erasmus remembers the scroll that Caldwell was carrying now in his possession. Knowing that it is not wise to have all the scrolls on 1 person, he reaches into this bag to hand it to Jayden. As she takes it, her hand, too, is filled with pain and the skin bubbles into a grey, leathery form. Seeing this, Sorrow tells them that the scroll is infused with necrotic energy and warns Jayden that she should not carry it – it is not safe for her. Jayden sees through Sorrow’s bluff and instead of calling her on it, she just smiles and wraps the scroll in leather before placing it in her bag.

Erasmus pulls the scroll of knowledge out of his bag and shows it to Jayden, explaining that he heard it click just after Caldwell pulled the silver ribbon out of his hair to tie around Arinar’s eyes. Examining the scroll she says she knows that the ribbon is a secret keeper – an anti-Iuon trinket with a magical effect of not allowing line of effect on the wearer. Erasmus now understands why seeing it made him uneasy.

The party refocuses on their trip to Steeplefall, knowing that they are most likely looking for the scroll somewhere in the Steeplefall mines. Concerned about the message regarding Kingsport on the black spot, the group sets a tentative plan to head to Kingsport if they can take care of their business in Steeplefall timely and procure faster transportation to Kingsport, such as horses, while in Steeplefall. Erasmus, who has a keen sense of time (even keener while carrying the staff of knowledge) notes that they have been out of Bochenricht for exactly 13 days. Connecting this to the message on the black spot, he begins to become more concerned. Taking a short rest before beginning their journey, Jayden sings a song of rest and eases the bodies and minds of the party – today was especially taxing emotionally with Caldwell’s departure.

This Open Road

As nightfall draws near, the party comes across a trade road that leads to Steeplefall, a town up on a mountain, built partially into the rock. Realizing that they have been away from Bochenricht for almost 2 weeks, in and out of various battles and swamps, Jayden decides it would be a good idea for the party to clean up a bit, so that when they pass travelers on the road, they won’t look suspicious. She casts fastidiousness on everyone and they feel clean and refreshed – and look a whole lot better! Trying to anticipate what they might encounter on the way to Steeplefall, or within the city itself, the party decides that having a cover story could benefit them and they decide to present themselves as traders and merchants, seeking goods to buy and trade with their own wares.

Up ahead Erasmus notices a solid black flag on a caravan blocking the road – he knows this is the flag of the black silk pirates. Noticing they have horses, Sorrow’s mind immediately goes to how they might steal those horses and upgrade their current transportation. As the party draws closers they discern that the caravan is made up of 3 horse-drawn carts, what looks like a dwarf leader under a large hooded cloak (atop a dwarf pony), 3 cart drivers, and at least 5 heavily armed guards. The dwarf leader raises his hand to announce his approach as he rides forward, greeting the party with a thickly accented, “Hello.” He asks the group what their business in on the trade road, and Jayden responds they are headed to town to buy and sell goods. The leader asks to see their wares and as Erasmus shows him some of the snakeskin in tow, he notices that the dwarf leader’s skin is black as tar. A black-skinned, white-haired dwarf is very unusual to see above ground. Erasmus thinks this dwarf might be a drau, an evil underground creature. His large, hooded cloak is serving, then, to hide him from the sun which would cause a great amount of pain if his skin was directly exposed.

Sorrow’s Sales Pitch

The dwarf leader asks Jayden and Erasmus how much they want for the snakeskin. Not allowing them to answer, using her best bluff Sorrow tells him they are worth 500 gold pieces, but she will sell them for 450. She is a good liar, and he believes her. Looking at their other items Rangrim has pulled out of their bags, he asks about potions and vials. After some brief window shopping he decides he wants to the rat tails, snakeskin, powder, swords, and spears that are laid out. He tells them that he will pay them 200 gold for the entire order and that includes the tax they are to pay for traveling the trade road.

Jayden politely and diplomatically tells him that the snakeskin themselves are worth more than 200 gold and tells him she was unaware there was a tax for traveling on a public road in this area. Upon hearing this, the guards take defensive positions. The dwarf leader and his caravan seem on edge and uncertain about what will transpire – they are not accustomed to resistance or defiance. The black silk pirates have a reputation that most fear and therefore, many acquiesce to their demands. The party knows that there is no room for negotiation in this situation and an attack is eminent. And if this is the case, they’d rather be on the offensive!

Frappe stealthily sneaks off to the side, approximating a flank position. The party sees him skulk off, but the leader does not. Over 100 feet separates the dwarf leader from the rest of his caravan, as he rode forward to meet the group. Seeing an opportunity to separate the leader from his caravan and using that to the party’s advantage, Jayden casts a spell that causes an 8-foot wall of thorns to appear immediately behind the dwarf leader. Clearly taken off guard, Rangrim tries to capitalize on the opportunity to attack and intimidate him, but not only is he not affected, he insults Rangrim’s petty attempt by kicking him in the shoulder from atop his dwarf horse.

The Bargaining Is Over!

Sorrow takes her hideous mask out of the pocket of her cape and puts it on before cursing him and revealing his delicious weakness. Turns out, he has none, but that doesn’t stop Sorrow from hitting hard – her attack nearly knocks the sturdy dwarf off his horse! The guards, drivers and mercenaries are frozen in fear and surprise upon seeing a wall of thorns appear up ahead and their leader disappear from sight behind it. Keeping the momentum going, the party focuses their attack on the single target of the dwarf leader, careful not to injure the dwarf pony – Rangrim has his eye on this horse for his transportation upgrade (in fact, he already picked out a name for him – Big Poppa). Rangrim connects with an attack; payback for the kick to the shoulder he endured at the hands of the dwarf leader. In the flurry of concentrated attack activity, Frappe misses, but Jayden hits with her blunder and throws the dwarf leader off his horse, back away from the wall of thorns. The series of attacks have quickly weakened the dwarf leader, who is now bloodied. As fortune would have it, the dwarf leader lands at the feet of Frappe, providing him another opportunity to attack, but he misses again – he was not prepared for such an opportunity to present itself so quickly. The party hears the dwarf leader growl in deep speech what appears to be some sort of curse or otherwise foul message. Upon hearing it, Rangrim attacks Erasmus and the party realizes the dwarf leader ordered Rangrim to attack one of his own.

Erasmus attacks the dwarf leader and Rangrim follows with a violent cleave, splitting the skull of the dwarf leader in half. As he falls to the ground, Rangrim has to pull several times to remove the axe from the lifeless body of the dwarf leader. A flask of black energy beams from a black seal on the leader and Rangrim is filled with a strange pulsing energy as he screams, “More lives for Life drinker!” Impressively, the party took down the dwarf leader in very short order, before he had any time to escape from around the wall of thorns or get help from his caravan.

One Down, Many to Go

Shrieks are heard from the mercenaries and guards as they see their fallen leader and the realization sets in that he is dead. Also preoccupied with the idea of a transportation upgrade, Sorrow unleashes her attack of glamorous spite and curses a driver of 1 of the 3 horse-drawn carts. Erasmus senses something wrong with Rangrim as he looks over at him, veins popping out of his head and neck – he appears to be filled with a lust for blood like never before. Jayden also focuses on trying to stop the horse-drawn carts from fleeing, both from the desire to acquire the transport and from a desire to stop the fleeing pirates from bringing back reinforcements. She casts a spell of ice on 2 of the carts up ahead, slowing them. Unfortunately, her attack also hit one of the horses who is now bloodied. Seeing Erasmus in need of healing, she uses her Majestic Word to restore some health and vigor to his weak state.

Rangrim’s blood fury continues and he cleaves at one of the mercenaries, but the fervor of his swing is overtaken by the excitement of the chance at blood rather than accuracy, and he misses. The only cart that is not frozen turns and readies to move. Sorrow and Frappe attack the guards and Erasmus unleashes an area attack that hits 2 mercenaries and a guard. Erasmus notices that the ground underneath the body of the dwarf leader is becoming sticky and it is difficult for the dwarf pony to move off the spot.

Jayden notices Sorrow reeling after being attacked by one of the guards and quickly sends some majestic words of healing her way. Jayden takes aim at the fleeing driver, causing confusion and making it seem as though the attack came from Rangrim. She connects and knocks him off the cart, breaking his neck as he hits the ground. Frappe continues his assault on the bloodied guard nearby. The cart draws to stop as the driver falls and the other 2 carts begin to turn slowly at the hands of the drivers – the ice can slow them but not stop them completely. Seeing the potential to lose 2 horses and carts, Sorrow attacks and kills the 2 remaining drivers and hits a mercenary along the way. A nearby guard retaliates against Sorrow in vengeance and she finds herself once again badly hurt.

Studying the ground below the body of the dwarf leader, Erasmus quickly consecrates the ground and as storm clouds roll in, the staff of knowledge clicks again. Erasmus deals a righteous brand attack to a mercenary closing in on Sorrow, while a mercenary hunter atop 1 of the carts hits Jayden with a loose arrow that was aimed at Erasmus. Outnumbered, Jayden sings her song of courage (“You’re the Best Around”) to invigorate the party and retaliates against the mercenary hunter whose arrow hit her with a misdirected shot that was cast to look like it came from Rangrim.

Rangrim unleashes his Reins of Steel and dishes out continuous damage to any foe around him. Sorrow takes a healing potion, not certain she can wait for another healing spell from Erasmus or Jayden. Still not fully restored, Sorrow directs her fury and strength at the guard responsible for her weakened state and shows him his doom with renewed power from the well of death spell she cast at Jayden’s expense. Sorrow finished off the guard with great satisfaction while Jayden stares in confusion trying to understand her weakened healing potential. As the guard falls dead Jayden feels a piece of her soul being ripped from her and is overwhelmed with great sadness.

Erasmus connects with his Lance Bass of Faith and Rangrim takes an attack of opportunity as the remaining guard nears Erasmus screaming, “Kill the healer!” Jayden turns and attacks the guard, reaching deep inside to muster the energy for 3 consecutive shots – killing the guard before he can reach Erasmus.

With the leader, guards, and drivers dead, the party faces off against the mercenaries alone, who all happen to be half-orc. Frappe attacks with something the party has not seen before, a 2 wolf pounce, and kills 1 of the mercenaries in 1 fell blow (or 2, if this is a literal translation?). Rangrim attacks another mercenary and cleaves him dead with one swing of his axe. Looking around and seeing Frappe nearby, Sorrow steals a part of Frappe’s soul to deliver an attack of glorious sacrifice against another mercenary, who stumbles and staggers under the blow. Not dead, he is badly hurt. Wanting to finish him off, she finds within herself the strength to deal a consecutive blow, but in her haste the attack is misaligned and misses.

Erasmus continues to maintain the consecrated zone and heals himself before dishing a Lance Bass of faith attack at one of the 2 remaining mercenaries, but the mercenary jumps out of the way into the driver’s seat of a nearby cart. Putting their hands up, the 2 mercenaries ask if they can negotiate. Being muscle for hire, they have no affiliation to the dwarf leader – they would be happy to split the loot, take 2 horses and carts, and leave unceremoniously. Jayden is willing to let them leave with their lives and 1 of the carts, but Sorrow is not willing to give up the cart. Rangrim intimidates them and they take off on foot, in the end with only their lives.

To the Victor Goes the Spoils

Taking in the full breadth and depth of what just transpired, the party looks at each other in a state of semi-amazement. Although they will undoubtedly be hated with the black silk merchants from this point forward, they did find themselves at the foot of the gate to Steeplefall, with 3 carts and horses, 1 dwarf pony (Big Poppa) and 3 cart fulls of loot. Not bad for an afternoon’s work!

The dwarf leader was wearing a magical suit of armor and carrying a magical shield and ritual book that the adventurers quickly looted and added to their stock pile of goods. Erasmus healed the horse that was accidentally hurt in Jayden’s ice and wind attack and without any words having to be said, the party knew that horse now would belong to Erasmus.

It begins to rain and the party assembles a large tent under which to take cover from the tarps and materials in the carts. As the adventurers retell the afternoon’s events, Erasmus explains the bubbling mass of black tar under the dwarf leader’s body (and Big Poppa). He tells them that the dwarf leader must have been an evil dwarf king cleric of Amadeus. Rangrim’s life drinker (which is a blessing of Amadeus) either greatly pleased or displeased the god Amadeus, which explains the wild fury that fell over Rangrim after the dwarf king’s death. Erasmus shows Jayden the staff of knowledge and tells her it clicked again when he consecrated the ground where the dwarf king’s body laid. Reading the staff, she says that a battle between his god, Iuon, and Amadeus must have occurred as the ground was consecrated and now anyone carrying the staff can summon a storm, which explains the storm clouds that rolled in at that time. Frappe asks Sorrow about her glorious sacrifice and what it did to him. She explains that she need to borrow a part of someone’s soul for the spell and to say that Frappe is angry would be an understatement. He is furious and appalled and tells her to never touch his soul again. She tries to make light of it, giving him credit for the kill – it was his glorious sacrifice. Frappe is not compelled and warns her again to stay away from his soul.

Surveying the goods, there are some items that will sell and some that are of value, but Jayden and Erasmus know the people of Steeplefall are poor. Knowing that the real value of this afternoon’s win was not only victory and their lives, but safe passage on to Steeplefall and the transportation upgrades, she suggests that they donate some of the pottery and other less valuable items back to the town as a gesture of goodwill. She’s sure they will be grateful and it could even serve to help them locate the scroll and gain cooperation of the townspeople – someone there must know something! Among the goods, Rangrim finds a cask of liquid gold, which provides a never-ending supply of dwarven ale. Gazing upon the cask with a look of awe and wonder, the rest of the party exchanges light-hearted glances that make it clear they all know what Rangrim will be doing tonight!

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