The Continent

The One With The Shared Wisdom
"Who said the answer first?...."

Morning came after the night before; their bellies filled and mirth in a spectral form returned to the Phisch estate. As plans were being hatched and an itinerary set in place, a servant arrived with a peculiar request: there was someone seeking the attention of our ever-present heroine, Lylah.

The group assembled and made their way to the main gate, eager to discover who could possibly have sought Lylah so far from home. With much delight they were met by the founding member of Team: Farmer Powerhouse, Barnet Winterbrook. He reported a fantastical tale about his son, Tark, who had slipped into a deep, wakeless coma; Barnet had been granted a sight in his dream which informed him to find the wondrous cleric of Tripos Lylah in these very halls and beseech her aid in saving his son.

Lylah, acting as the divine avatar of Tripos, granted Barnet’s wish without any hesitation, assembling the team and setting out within the hour. Many a joke was had between Barnet and the gang, with updates and tales of his exploits since the fateful day in Grate- a much needed pick-me-up after the peculiar series of events which had unfolded in their wake. During their journey however, they were greeted by a peculiar site- long columns of men and cavalry marched from the South East, making their way into Rigesillian lands; it was quickly established after a tete a tete with a passing horseman that they were marching to Praice, as the beacon within in the city had been lit, crying out for assistance.

Within 48 hours they had arrived at their destination- the busy farming village of Highlark. They were greeted by more familiar faces- the stooping Hobum Longsheaf, wizened pipe smoker Wycombe Halfpenny and the great lump of a man, Jeth de Marco. Swapping of stories amongst the rest of the team had to wait however- there was a young boys life to save!

Lylah quickly covered the ground with Barnet to his home, a small welcoming cottage filled with warmth and the smells of fine rustic living. Greeting his wife Martha and their newborn daughter Leelah, she busily set to work examining young Tark, prodding, probing and praying. By the time everyone else had reached the doorstep to the abode her diagnosis was clear- a large tumour was growing on the brain of the lad, one that looked almost impossible to effectively remove without endangering his life.

A great sadness passed between their fellows; if Lylah could not aid the boy, surely his life would be snuffed out in a matter of days. Our heroes believed that there must be some sort of foul play afoot- they sought out information from fellow villagers, examining lists of visitors, places of work and a multitude of other leads which in the end led to nought. Barnet offered food and lodgings for the night as a thanks for their continued help, and everyone set to rest.

They awoke to a peculiar sight: the whole team lay on grassy ground, encircling a small wooden stump upon which sat Tark, happily smiling as they stirred. Beside him stood a door in frame, completely devoid of surrounding wall or building. He informed the gang that something had ‘broken into his mind’ and he sought their help in ridding it of the affliction; moments later he opened the door which rested next to him and stepped through, disappearing into a nothingness. None the more perturbed, the adventurers made for the portal and pressed on.

They passed through and stepped into snow- chilling and rude, quickly rasping the lungs of the unfamiliar. Before them lay a village square, crowded with townsfolk cheering and jeering the heroes as they approached. Grimes and Oben glanced at each other with a look of recognition as they both moved to the same thought: the square of the trials. Grimes cracked his knuckles and readied his sword arm: this was the same square where he had failed all those years ago, defeated by the devious Mamoa and his cronies. At the far end of the square the same foe stood, heckling and pointing at Grimes, issuing orders to the same clutch of young warriors which once bested him, 5 on 1. Melee ensued, but from the onset there was never going to be a repeat of the past; Oben let fly a volley of bolts from his crossbow before moving into deal more damage to their opponents. Grimes rushed into the fray swinging wildly, fighting tooth and nail to destroy the specter of disappointment from years past. Bones were broken and muscles rended, and even a startling turn of events where the combatants turned into horrid half-man/half-vermin monstrosities was not enough to turn the tide of battle. It was over as quickly as it began- snow painted red in the light of the pale moon.

A new doorway materialized, moving them forward to an old stone place of worship which was instantly recognizable to our champion Lylah, who informed everyone that this was a temple of Tripos where she had studied the teachings of the deity. Ahead of them sat her mentor, Alvar, who subjected them to trials of their mental fortitude. Strangely, it was not the learned minds of the cloth which shone through, but the inquisitive minds of Grimes and Philleo, who both effortlessly put his riddles to the sword. Their reward: a further exit to another area of mystery.

Lylah brushed aside a hanging cloth cover as they moved into their next challenge- before them sat a hooded figure in a large, dimly lit tent. Lylah recognized this adversary without hesitation: the hooded heathen from the desert! She began to feel the fires of anger swell within her, but before she could act on her instincts the figure began to address them- with a voice that once more seemed to emanate form within their own minds. It informed them that they had been a thorn in the side of powerful beings, and to stay well out of the way of Chaccaron- who he foretold would end the time of the old Gods, starting with the crushing of Terrandor, followed by Rigeselle and Ryyk’vaan.

As a laugh echoed out the team awoke to find themselves returned to the safe surroundings of Barnet’s abode- and much to their relief young Tark had woken, and was gleefully embracing his family. The tumor had disappeared, the miraculous Lylah had worked her magic again! Tark broke words with the team thereafter: he had seen a vision of a great eye, peering hungrily at Terrandor. A great shadow begins to envelope the land, and the great eye in the heavens rests it’s gaze on the military town of Gromley. Disturbed but not disheartened, they set their own sights on reaching the city and foiling whatever plot is afoot: Chaccarron had shown his colours, and it was time for a team of heroes to show theirs!

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Catherine's Dream

We finally exited that strange and bizarre forest after bidding farewell to our new friends, and continued on towards my uncle’s mansion. We arrived at the gates and I informed the house guard on duty that I had arrived. He was pleased to see me, as we had not seen each other in many years due to my father and my uncle’s falling out several years ago.

In the courtyard, I heard a familiar voice call my name; it was my obnoxious cousin, Heranimo, who I had hoped would be away. He always looked up to me and my tales of wonder, so it was only natural that he should take up the pen, however I, and most other people around him, wish he hadn’t. He bored me with tales of his new play which would be no doubt terrible, before finally revealing in that droll, soul stabbing voice of his, that my sweet cousin Catherine had indeed vanished into thin air! My uncle was worried sick and becoming quite ill. I knew that it was my duty to locate her, as this could be the catalyst for our family to once again be reunited as one.

Upon entering the mansion— Wait, did I tell you the mansion was built by my cousin’s own design? I didn’t? Well! The full title of my uncle’s mansion is Catherine’s Dream, and the building is a sight to behold indeed! You would scarce believe it if you should see it! The rooms are odd shapes, with hardly any structure, however this is how my sweet cousin drew her house, and my uncle sought it built. They even had a whole room dedicated to her dolls!… Ugh… Those dolls… but I am getting ahead of myself. Where was I?

Aha! Upon entering the mansion, I laid eyes upon the man whom I had naught seen for many years; my uncle Lord Kuttle Phisch. He spied me enter and upon introducing myself, he seemed to actually resent my presence! I was hurt of course, but if I knew my father I would definitely know my uncle, and I knew that he didn’t really hate me, just still not over the… Well, I didn’t know at the time what the feud was about, but I was soon to know. What’s that? No, that comes later, I must stick to the structure of the tale! I can’t just reveal the plot out of order!

Anyway, my uncle. He was so distraught over my cousin, he didn’t know what he was saying. “You can’t find her Philleo,” he said, “You’re to leave at once!” he cried, but I knew they were the words of a grief sicken man, and I brushed them off, being the forgiving man I am.

It was then that my uncle spotted one of my travelling companions, the lovely Lylah. Of course, he was gracious however I saw the look of lust in his eye. Was this really my Uncle? A Phisch would never be so crude to a lady. I could see that Lylah was being polite and didn’t wish for the attention, however my uncle was blinded by her radiance. Where is Lylah anyway? Ah, she must be upstairs praying. The real reason she was shy for attention was that I had actually woo’d her a few nights previous, and while we had originally just meant for it to be a fleeting moment, she had become infatuated with me. Of course, with her devotion to Tripos we couldn’t announce such a thing and she will deny it, but I digress…

Suddenly, without warning, one of the ornamental suits of armour began to walk across the room! Hollow inside, but striding as if it encased a man, the suit came down upon my uncle with haste! I quickly and deftly whipped my rapier into a slight gap between the plates and managed to bring apart the unfastened and seemingly haunted armour, saving everyone’s life. My uncle feigned being unimpressed and ungrateful, instead retiring to the dining room. This was where another ghostly apparition happened where cutlery began to fly around the room! Everyone was terrified, except for me of course.

We began our investigation by searching around the mansion. We began in Catherine’s doll room, which was unfruitful, yet disturbing before heading down to the guest rooms. Whilst we were checking these, a maid servant brought us food and drink, which was thoughtful.

We searched the grounds and talked to the house guards who informed us that a stable boy had become “friends” with Catherine, and that maybe he might know of her whereabouts. I knew better, of course, and that he must know where she was being held, because it was obvious that he must have kidnapped her! I confronted him at once.

Walking into the stables, there towered a huge, hulking man at least 6 foot tall, with arms like trees. He sneered and refused to answer my questions, so I threatened to clock him right in his pig-like face. He laughed and insulted my mother, so I did just that. The brute fell face down wit a sickening crunch, which was the sound of his nose breaking. He looked back, snarling, so I put him in his place with another punch which had him begging for mercy. He claimed not to know anything, so I pressed for more information by pressing hard on his face wih another punch, but still he refused to give any information. I sent him to dreamland with a final blow and asked the house guard to restrain him.

We celebrated that night, having caught the kidnapper (or so we thought!) and ate heartily, yet I still could not shake the fact that something was wrong. Later that night, my suspicions were confirmed.

Lylah awoke after hearing some noises late at night. She went to investigate and found that the creepy dolls had come to life, possessed! Obviously, the game was still afoot and this time, I felt the need to investigate my dear uncle.

Later, the next night while we were all supposed to be having dinner, we distracted my uncle and I stole into his room to have a poke around. Unfortunately, it seems my uncle had gotten wind of this, and followed me in! I hid under the bed, however no matter how well I managed to stay quiet and still, he was still aware of me! Once he revealed to me that he knew I was there, I thought it time to confess my suspicions, and revealed myself, only to find my mind invaded by his! I called for Grimes and as he entered the room, froze up and was unable to move! My uncle was a natural magic user! Obviously this was what my father and my uncle fell out about, as my father disproves of the magical arts!

Still being able to control myself, I dashed to the protection of Lylah, who was left undefended. we held off my uncle, who had now taken to crawling along the ceiling, screaming that we would never take his Catherine away from him – the culprit at last! I notched a couple of arrows and fired few off in warning, however he did not relent.

It was then that Grimes managed to free himself from my uncles magic and joined in the fight, bringing him down to the ground, where he broke down and confessed that it was he who had ‘kidnapped’ Catherine and hidden her away, so that she could not marry and leave him. When we tried to reason with him, he would not reconsider and tell us where she was hidden, and stated that if she left, he would be better off dead, and gave us an ultimatum; he would reveal her location, if we killed him.

I don’t think I need to tell you that this was a very hard moment for me; on one hand, my dear cousin was missing and needed help, but I couldn’t kill my uncle! Unfortunately, I had no choice and agreed to his demands. He told us that she was hidden in a secret room in the stables, and with a tear in my eye, I put my rapier through his neck.

We found Catherine sat on some hay, crying in this hidden room. As it turns out, she too was gifted in the natural magics and had seen everything. In fact, it was her that was possessing everything in an effort to make my uncle set her free! She thanked us for freeing her, but scorned me for killing her father.

I doubt I shall be invited to her wedding.

It was as we were leaving that one of our old friends arrived at the door, asking our assistance in Lesserford to which we packed up and moved on.

That my friends, is the tale of Catherine’s Dream. Drama, action, romance and sadness, all in one. Now, can anyone spare some copper for a drink?

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The One With the Talking Bear
"No, this is not the bear you are looking for, Oben"

Rest was never a thing which adventurers enjoyed for too long- how could anyone possibly relax when there was so much opportunity for plunder and life experience out in the world? Luckily for our heroes, the call of adventure never quietened for long.

Day broke as a messenger presented our young Lord Phileo with a missive from his homeland of Rigeselle- sealed with the wax engraving of his house, Phil read a request from his father to be his presence at the estate of his brother, where his cousin Catherine Phisch had mysteriously vanished. With a promise of reward of gold or land, interests were peaked and a plan set out to travel- Albin detailed the best route: straight through the forest to the East via the Ranger’s Road to emerge a day or two’s travel from the destined estate.

With bags packed they left the busy streets of Grate and once more set out into the wilderness. Their first day was nearing its finale, so it was decided to stay in an inn skirting the forest boundary. During their evening, they were privy to information regarding the forest they were planning to pass through- it would seem that game had become very rare throughout the forest, and some even believe that the trees themselves had become sickened. Few, bar the most experienced rangers of this region, dared venture through on the trail to the other side. Never one to fear rumours or tall stories, the gang set out the following morning, deep into the heart of the wood.

The journey through the wood was as foretold- not much stirred through the whole day of travel: bird, nor rodent, wind nor insect. A strange eeriness hung like a malaise throughout the forest canopy.

Camp was established and set for the night. An uneasy darkness enveloped the trees around them, and all were subject to peculiar dreams which left all waking with a cold sweat. However much their boldness may have begun to wane however, they were too far in to possibly retreat now- especially when the word retreat is one rarely seen in an adventurer’s vocabulary.

It was with a rustling in the bushes that the morning’s march was interrupted- far off the path to their side something approached at alarming speed, directly on course with their trail: Grimes and Oben readied their weapons for any potential ambush. With a bold leap a silver wolf burst from the undergrowth, receiving a punishing blow across it’s underbelly from a well placed blade. It crumpled to ground without ever gaining a footing, it’s innards starting to push forth from the wound. Moments passed before a great wail bellowed out from the forest, followed by a great bear dashing forth from the same direction as the wolf previous. Much to the assembled surprise of the gang, the bear began to parley with them: he said that his name was Bloomer, and this was his close friend Treblinki, and they were protectors of the forest. After pleading for his friend to be healed, he told the team a tale about the fey creatures becoming warped and twisted, becoming peculiarly violent and leaving their forest to fall to ruin. They had been chasing the pair before they emerged on to the path, but fortunately the fey had given up the chase.

It was decided- they as a group would venture to the home of the fey and do what must be done to bring stability back to the forest- either destroying the source of the infection, which Treblinki had suggested was a strange insectoid corpse which had been found deep amongst the trees, or by wiping out the pixies et al which stood in their way.

They broke from the path and pushed into the thick woodland. Under the guidance of the bear, Bloomer, they began to approach the small fey village; a number of small structures surrounded a mound in the centre of their settlement where there was a busy thoroughfare of fey travelling in and out of an opening at its base. A number of small beings stood guard, scattered to allow a total view of the surrounding area – a plan needed to be hatched.
The ideas formulated, and one came out on top- Grimes and Treblinki were to grab the attention of the town and flee, hopefully forcing the fey to give chase and empty the area and provide an opportunity to destroy whatever lay under the fey mound. The duo stood with purpose, and began to sprint- through the fey and into the trees beyond. It worked like a charm.

The fey scampered and swarmed like ants, following the sprinting heroes as quickly as their puny legs could carry them. All that remained was a handful of guardsmen to be dealt with: Lylah requested that they should come to no harm, so Oben presented himself as a target for their tiny wrath. None could injure the Ryykan behemoth, so while their attention was taken Lylah, Phileo and Bloomer started to widen the opening into the earthen mound. It did not take long to create a girl-sized hole for Phileo to squeeze into to, and moments later he found himself face to face with a gnawed corpse of an alien insect-like humanoid, with mandibles and bug eyes staring dully from a bulbous carapaced head.

Treblinki and Grimes were making good progress- they had kept a teasing distance between them and the following horde, but now it was time to try and circumvent them and return to the main party to help destroy the infection. They turned on their heels and ran directly back at the fey- catching them entirely by surprise. A few misplaced swipes managed to land, dealing minor scratches to the racing twosome, but they burst through the crowd and back towards the settlement. When they arrived they found a fire had been started from one of the wooden structures, most probably with a fey child inside, and the strange husk of a body thrown on top to burn. A couple of the fey dived onto the flaming wreck, desperately trying to save whatever was left, but much to their misfortune they perished in the flames. Almost instantly, a semblance of consciousness spread amongst the town, although many were left questioning what they were to do now… almost lost.

Treblinki and Bloomer thanked the adventurers and offered them safe passage to the end of the forest. Two moon’s travel later they were saying goodbye to their new found allies of the forest, waving farewell as they pressed the final steps of their journey onwards to the Phisch estate.

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The One With The Moving Blocks
"Oh fudge- does this thing have a reset button?"

The return to Grate was welcomed: the now familiar hustle and bustle of city living breaking the steady ebb of the road walked. The clutch of rescued children were transferred into the care of Tripos and audience sought with Halas for a full update.

The party detailed the peculiar circumstances of Half hill; the Traxium cave, portal to a distant land, the sinister hooded man and the plight of the town, which now would surely be destined for ruin. Grimes, ever the entrepreneur, sought ownership of the Traxium within the area and demanded a cut of any proceeds. The refusal was abrupt and final, but there was an obvious boldness to the boy’s claims which seemed to warm the demeanour of the present Lords.
The team returned to their rented accommodation to take in some much deserved rest and relaxation; to their surprise Grime’s home was a busy foray of piping, clockwork and steam powered contraptions, running through the building like solid metal vines from basement to roof- Ralph had been a busy inventor. After demonstrating a number of his gizmos and wonders to the group, he began to enlighten everyone to a further discovery he had made from a book of local legends and stories: He believed that, if the tales were true, a source of great power lay in the forests to the south which, if retrieved, could be of incredible use to his further creative endeavours. Ever the gallant heroes, Albin and his groupies set out to investigate the peculiar findings.

The road was gentle, allowing for a leisurely journey to the fabled site. Quickly they forged a way into a moss-caked place of worship, shrouded by the surrounding nature over the centuries. The room which presented them was one of obvious pious worship, Heralding the life’s journey of Draxal the redeemed. In this first chamber they found a mosaic which portrayed the trial of the poisoned cup, where he was spared by the fate of the Gods to change his ways and become a champion of the Pantheon. A peculiar challenge was discovered, where they had to decide which of the men in the stone imagery would be the one to die. With some strong thinking from the wisest members of the party, they managed to click what must have been the correct switch and mysteriously shift the wall in front of them, opening a passage down ancient steps to a darkness beyond. A torch was lit with haste, and the party ventured forth.

Treading intrepidly through the murky gloom, they stalked into a further stone chamber, with a hazy, painted image on the wall ahead. Albin used the cuff of his sleeve to displace the heavy dust veneer, allowing another iconic episode of Draxal’s life to show through: the now Holy Man had journeyed to a village where mean were on trial- liars, cut throats, and innocents. In life he had reasoned through the evidence with the help of the Pantheon and reached a verdict which meant those who had done wrong were justly punished, sparing the innocent. The same task befell our adventurer’s; words were shared, quarrels erupted, and Gods were used in curses until a group decision was at hand- with the gentle pressing of hidden notches in the wall, they chose the fate of the painted men.

With breaths held- they awaited their own fate, and with a great exhale a hidden passage in the wall behind them yawned open, revealing further steps into the earth. With a growing swagger, the team moved onward, eager to defeat the further trials which may be presented… they hadn’t experienced the half of it.

In front of them lay their final trail, one quickly heralded as the trial of frustration. The annals of history could not detail the circumstances behind the final task, but the devilry in the inception of it’s hellish creation could not be understated: what appeared as a straightforward manipulation of tiles to allow the movement of a lead casket from the top of a jumbled mish-mash of rectangular blocks and cubes from an apex to an opening below was in fact a creation of an insane man, blessed with all the insanity of an insane asylum. Tears were shed, alliances formed and broken, but after what seemed like an eternity the blocks fell into their divine place and allowed the removal of the casket; an opportunity to see what great power Ralph had requested.

They were surprised, but not disappointed- a huge orb of solid Gold rested with the container, which somehow gave the heavy metal an almost weightless feel. They escaped the trial chambers and returned to Grate to pass the precious artefact into the Dawrf’s keeping. He too, wrinkled his nose at what the ‘power source’ turned out to be, but rest assured he could make some great use of it. Our heroes once more settled back into their surroundings- all this adventuring was undeniably hard work, and thinking through trials ever more so!

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The one with the Fearsome Warlock
Come into my tree den of temptation!

Grimes peered back over his shoulder as the strange creatures slowly faded in their pursuit; his plan to give his comrades time to escape appeared to have worked as desired. He turned his steed and began to slowly circumvent the town, keeping the grain stalks between him and the perceived danger.

Lylah, the mute boy and Oben stopped to catch breath; Lylah had not run this much in such a long time, and keeping one’s garments pristine in an environment which claws and grabs with grubby,muddy fingers is far from easy! Oben urged caution and they both continued onwards towards the path which cut away from the town- instinctively they hoped to reunite themselves with Grimes there.

Oben’s grumbling at having to once more pull Philleo through an adventure must have dulled his senses for a moment, as it was Lylah who spied a shadowy figure through the long wheat sheafs before her. Before she could finish vocalising a greeting she was rushed by a crazed looking man with a spear, eager to discover if they were friend or foe, and eager to look closely at the status of their foreheads. After a cagey stand off (with Oben threatening a particular variety of holy wrath) guards were dropped and information exchanged.
We discovered that his name was Albin, and he was the missing agent sent by the Scarlet Shield to investigate the town. He divulged that he had discovered a wicked necromancer had been taking the innocent villagers and transforming them into vessels for some inhuman abomination! He added that he knew the necromancer was planning to sacrifice a group of children the next day as a reagent for some spine-chilling spell.

He invited the gang back to his tree-stump hideaway for a night of quiet safety; en route they met up with Grimes (after a momentary confusion in the dark of night) and eventually they arrived, awkwardly squeezing into the sunken hollow Albin had called his temporary home. Grimes, unenamoured by the thought of cramming himself into a tight hole, opted to spend the night outside.
Pre-bed discussion was set; Albin was desperate for help in stopping the magic user, but was willing to go alone if necessary at the break of day. Eventually he bent their ear, and agreed a plan of action-take the town by force!

The day came: The mute boy was left in the relative safety of the tree stump with Phil’s inanimate body, and the team set to task. They approached the town from an opportune angle and employed “Operation: Quiet-time”. Peering through a ground-storey window they spy a used sleeping room, but no sign of any inhabitants. They crept further, looking to check each domicile in turn, before Grimes plucked up courage to stir the soul; walking down the main street he cried out, shouting the advert for selling his imaginary apples. Silence was the reply.
Nothing stirred within the town, bar the rustling of the trees in the late Autumn wind. He continued to try and draw out any adversary, but could find none. Albin took the opportunity to usher the team into one of the houses on the other side of the street and showed them a hidden passage dug in the dirt, spiralling off beyond their view. After Oben created another ‘clever’ trap with fruit and forks (?) to alert them to the door opening, they made their way deep into the mysterious catacombs.

The tunnels stretched out randomly, like elongated fingers on a crooked hand. After finding a series of dead-ends they chanced upon the creator; a strange rock monstrosity, dragging its clawed hands against the wall as it wandered aimlessly through the passages. They set upon it with great vigor- but not without great pain inflicted to Albin, who couldn’t help but get crushed against a wall as he tried to get in a better tactical position to flank the enemy. After an exchange of devestating strikes it was vanquished, no longer free to stroll in the underground it called home.

After Lylah and Oben stirred Albin from his unconcious stupor, they pushed into the final passage, which quickly opened up into a flame lit chamber. At the far end they could see the chidren Albin spoke of; bound and gagged, with a sinister black-cloaked figure standing over them. More disturbing was the discovery of a clutch of large eggs in a clearing to their left, covered in a strange green jelly and being tended to by three of the tentacle-addled villagers.
An unsubtle entrance from our heroes alerted the enemy, and a slobber-knocker of a battle ensued! Acid was spewed forth from the tentacled skulls, causing excruciating pain to all those caught in the spray. Keeping to form, Albin quickly became incapacitated before being of any use whatsoever, so it was down to the combined efforts of Oben, Grimes and Lylah to pull the team through this most horrid of pickles.

The warlock moved menacingly into melee with Grimes but proved no match for the Ryykan warrior, being felled without much recourse. Oben opened a proverbial crate of holy vengeance and bashed mercilessly at the evil which beset him. Although the fiends did manage to cause some healing concerns for our heroine Lylah, the day was won with no serious casualties.

The children were freed and taken into their custody, all to be taken back to Grate and entrusted to the temple of Tripos. The eggs were smushed into goo, and Albin was (again) rescued from the brink of demise. After a brisk search of the cave they found stand out loot for the day- a new black cloak for the ‘man of a thousand hand-me-downs’, Grimes.

The heroes depart, eager to report back to Halas. Albin ensures that all are in good cheer- a mission complete, and an evil vanquished. What can the next day bring?

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The One With The Man of the Desert
"I promise, your home is right through that portal over there..."

Dawn broke with the return of a refreshed Oben, briskly jogging over the horizon with a sense of renewed vigor. A cheery smile at the motionless Phil and a wink at Lylah were met with glares of much disapproval from the Rigsen.

Lylah took time to explain the peculiar night which had passed to her then-missing colleague and together they hatched a plan to try and find their absent Ryyk warrior. The idea: walk. Walk long, and walk hard. Walk across the sands until they find him! Oben placed some debris from the battle to form an arrow, pointing in the direction of their travel in case he happened to return to camp, and with ropes attached to the ankles stricken Philleo they set off.

The day was blistering hot, and the going was tough. After many hours of plodding through a dune sea they (literally) stumbled across a potential spectacle. As they breached the crest of a particularly large dune, they saw at it’s base a large, stocky individual; shoulders as broad as he was tall, dark, baked, hairless skin and a wickedly large falchion thrust into the earth. He seemed to be tending to fresh wounds which had sliced his stern hide, and sat close to a body whose upper torso was covered by a filthy sack. The body’s identity could not be discerned, so Oben was on hand, being the upright bastion of good, to parly with the behemoth.

He moved with purpose down the sand, slipping and sliding before gaining it’s attention. Through careful and thoughtful negotiation of information he discovered that a weird beastman had attacked the man in the night, but luckily he was more than a match from a frenzied assault lacking guile. This man, Asdag, had become lost after following an evil magician through a portal to these lands. Oben declared he knew the way for Asdag to return home- through the portal they themselves had blinked through. Asdag was overwhelmed with glee and offered to return the body (which the gang had luckily discovered to be Grimes) in exchange for passage with them to the portal.
Much converse was exchanged en route- on many an occassion Grimes nearly exposed the grievous lie that Oben had told to assure co-operation, but luckily the trusting man of the desert did not read into the Ryyk boy’s ramblings and was more than happy to spin a tale of his homelands.

They reached the portal and parted ways with the disappointed Asdag- he explained that the temperate lands that Oben had tried to lead him to would not be suitable for his physique and he would more than likely perish if he spent any length of time there.Saddened, they bid farewell and leapt through the watery passage.

The return to Terrandor was… chilly. It was late afternoon, cloudy and a complete polar opposite to the sunny climate they had just been exploring. They returned to town as dusk claimed the day and were met by Malik who was eager to hear the situation. The mute boy was returned to the townsfolk and they were offered the stay of the inn’s guest room for the evening to recuperate before further movements to return to Grate.

Grimes, loathed to let his guard down, set a patrol of the outskirts of the village on his treasured steed whilst the others slept. It was Lylah’s slumber which was interrupted, as she woke with a start to see the mute boy standing at the foot of her bed. Within the cavity of her skull she somehow ‘heard’ the child speak, alerting her to danger. She shook Oben to alertness, and looked from their window to the street below; Standing motionless, eerily in a line, were men and women of the town, all whose gaze were drawn to the window. Panic set in. Oben pushed the lone wardrobe up against the door to bar entry whilst plans began to be formulated.

Slowly trotting into town, Grimes spied some folk lining up- perhaps they had seem something interesting to watch? Joining their queue, he peered. He peered with a smile. He peered with a grimace. He peered so. Very. Hard. But to no avail. He nudged the fellow he stood next to, seeking advice on what he should be oggling. With one uniform motion they all turned their heads to look at Grimes, and then their foreheads opened up. Pushing forth from their cranial recess stretched a long, slimey length of muscle; a writhing, undulating feeler which began to seek out our boy Grimes.

Instincts took over- he assailed his mount with the grace of a wounded gazelle, and turned towards the inn. Moments later, he had smashed through the front window and found himself in the bar area of the inn. The freskish beings pursued as he ran up the stairs, banging on the door to be granted entry. As his thumps rang out and echoed through the very structure of the building, conversation broke out. A discussion about whether or not to let him in did actually materialise.

As the votes were being tallied up, Grimes began to let out cries of pure anguish as he was splashed with acdic spray from the beasts. He had enough, and bowled through his adversaries with little remorse, severing limb and head from body to remount his horse and make a tactical retreat- all in effort to save the team who refused him safety. As he drew the enemy away, the team made their escape: Oben pushed Philleo’s body out of the second storey window and followed soon after. Lylah gracefully made her way down to ground level and then began running, leaving Oben to pull the still delicate Phil in his wake. The two disappeared into the crop fields of the night, sending prayer to the pantheon that somehow they might be delivered from their impossible plight to safer ground…

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The one with the Desert bound Hooded Heathen
"Guys... i did my shackles up too tight..."

Slowly turning their heads to gaze in horror into the cave mouth, they chanced upon a gruesome site: a series of children, naked and defenceless, had been tied by their ankles to an overhanging pole to bleed out like fish on a line. The tops of their heads had been dashed open and their brains removed, leaving a gaping cavity and hollowed-out sockets where their eyes should have been. In a ditch to the side were collections of simple shoes, sandals and garments which must have belonged to the unfortunate lot. The team were shocked and taken aback by the hideous acts carried out on innocent children, with Phileo, looking at the corpse of a young boy, particularly devastated.

Composing themselves quickly, Oben and Grimes led the team forward to ensure that the cave system was cleared of any further evil. Slowly, deliberately, they paced in single file, with Lylah summoning the power of Tripos to shed light as they slowly slid into the throat of the structure. At the first junction they moved left into a room with a number of crude wooden cages; all empty bar one which housed the shivering shell of a young male child. Locked and seemingly impossible to open without creating a ruckus, Oben used his years of strategy and wisdom to forge a silent piece of apparatus to prise the lock in two, releasing the boy into their care. It was quickly established through questioning the lad that he was in fact mute, and unable to do provide more information besides pointing in the direction he wished the team to go and making noises. Following his guidance, they pressed on down the main corridor in search of any remaining children and came to a wide, open chamber.

The wide cavern shone and impressed in equal parts; the walls glittered with a mineral Oben quickly defined as Traxium, which was a costly commodity used for enhancing objects with its beauty. The swirling patterns and chaotic twinkling almost felt like they were staring at a night sky on a distant plane of the Gods. In the centre, surrounded by what the team could only assume was some sort of drainage gutter, stood a peculiar round stone structure (much akin to a round doorway in a Dwarven settlement) with what appeared to be a painting of a sandy, desert vista. As the heroes observed it, they quickly realised that the image shimmered and shifted, much like picture being projected onto falling water; quickly they realised that the image itself was seemingly moving! A stone was thrown which passed through the watery visage and landed in the land beyond, but the team were worried about trying it themselves. Phileo, ever the courageous and selfless beacon of the group, answered their troubles: he summoning a being from the celestial plane, a thing so good and courageous it could make a grown man cry- a celestial monkey. Proud and brave, it waited for its orders; within moments it was booted by the hasty Phileo through the portal to land in a heap on the other side. It turned, dusted the sand from its fur, and slowly raised its middle finger as it phased back to its home plane.

After discussion about keeping the boy safe and the pros and cons of taking him to the desert land, they passed through without fear. Breaching the shimmery veil they were instantly hit with an aching, exhausting heat which no one in the party was accustomed to; the boys from Ryyk’vaan looked at each other with that certainty and dread of the impending chaffing in their armour. The boy pointed ahead, seemingly knowing the direction the other children were in, and the team pressed on.

As the hours passed the heat became evermore heavy on their shoulders; the adventurers wrapped themselves up as best as could be done with the materials they had at hand to shield their skin from the scorching sun, and water was created and passed around by the generous Lylah. As they neared their goal they were shocked and surprised to be ambushed from the sand by a family of scorpions! A couple of large beasts looked like they could be a worthy test for the hardy warriors, but sadly they must have been from the lower end of the scorpid gene pool , and were killed without a sweat being broken- much to the DM’s chagrin.
As dusk quickly approached and the climate began to cool, the team set their eyes on a small camp- supposedly what the boy had been pointing toward. A larger, grand tent was settled in the middle of a sporadic placement of much simpler abodes, with a small fire in front of the entrance. A handful of armed humanoids patrolled the perimeter, much at home in this environment.

The team huddled and brainstormed possible plans- stealth was mentioned, but quickly dismissed due to inconsistencies in the ability to be quiet. However, after much cajoling a plan was forged- the boy and Phileo were to be used presented as prisoners who were to be sold into slavery, the group would then approach the camp, barter a trade and make a daring escape with the rest of the children from behind enemy lines! With a group smile of satisfaction and head nodding at such a devilishly cunning scheme, they set out. Approaching the camp they quickly surveyed the scene: a handful of the humanoids looked savage and feral, with a few dog faced men in their ranks. The perceived bandits quickly came together to respond to any potential threat and as our heroes made it into a dash’s length of the tent, they were halted in their tracks- from the folds of the larger tent emerged a tall, spindly figure, wrapped in fabric and concealing his face under an oversized hood. It moved gracefully, almost like it was floating about the sands. It eyed up the team and, after Grimes made the offer of selling the two into servitude, a voice could be ‘felt’ in the young Ryyk’s mind. It commanded Grimes to let the boys be given to the tall man, with the price paid: the rest of them would not be slaughtered. Obviously, for a man with Grime’s bartering know-how, this would never do.

As a whimsical Phileo started to lurch acceptingly towards the figure, Grimes presented his counter-offer: In moments he was in battle range, sundering limbs and smashing heads. The bandits were no match for his superior fighting prowess and after a blistering start things quickly got very worse- swords clashed and blood was spilt on the sand from both parties. The robed adversary started to open up with bolts of energy being projected from his hands, sending combatants flying around the battlefield such was their ferocity. After a number of volleys, it returned to the safety of the tent, clearly satisfied with the havoc it had caused. Phileo, snapping out of his stupor, activated hero mode and dashed into the tent cloth fortress to show whoever it was never to mess with a Phisch! Realising that he had actually fastened his shackles rather than loosely wear them, he threw caution to the wind and pressed headlong in pursuit!
Moments later, Lylah had to duck and dive as a charred husk of a man flew out of the tent, body crumpling with the force of the electrical blast which had taken the floor from his feet and the breath from his lungs. Lylah tried to tend to his critical injuries as Grimes sliced with unprecedented force, cleaving two foes in one awesome blow from shoulder to waist. Their innards were scattered and chunks of offal and flesh splattered on the beige terrain. He too charged in to be met with the same unbridled force which floored Phileo, sending him flying out of the tent in tow. Lylah, ever the brave, decided to peek in the tent, only to see the hooded heathen ‘slice’ a cut into the air, like a Rigeselle dead collector cutting into a cadaver’s chest. With an effortless movement he moved into the ‘pocket’ as the tear sealed behind him, leaving the tent vacant. From outside she could hear the tell-tale howls of a man ravaged with pain and inner mayhem, and looking back to the ruddy deathfield could see the familiar guise of Grimes sprinting beyond to the horizon, his physique contorting and buckling as he moved.

The mute boy sped past Lylah and to the rear of the sanctum, quickly pushing boxes around and searching in chests. The realisation that there were no other children to be found here quickly dawned on Lylah, as her eyes took in a bare surroundings. The boy let out a muted cheer as he took a small, worn lead box from inside a chest, and forced the weak lock open- unravelling a dirty linen rag he revealed a beautiful red prism, a jewel so dazzling that even a lady from Lylah’s previous life was impressed. Within moments her face of delight twisted into a face of confusion, as the object sprouted legs and wings and began to scamper around the boy’s physique, much to his giddy glee. She put her hands on her hips to consider her situation; a ragdoll of a bard unconscious on the floor, a boy with a jewel which had somehow come to life, a Paladin who had gone missing in action prior to battle and a beast-man ally speeding into the unknown. There’s always a silver lining she surmised- at least my new cloak is pretty!

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The one with the Kids and Elephant Hill Walkers
"Yay! I touched her boob!"

With much joy the team finally made it back to the safety of the Northern city- having battled wasps, strange giant men and successfully cleaned-out an elderly land owner, everyone felt the need for a much deserved break!

Sadly no respite was afforded, as they sought an audience with Forza to debrief him on circumstances beyond his walls. Grimes passed on their Prisoners to the local Guard, who were surprised; not because the team had somehow bagged themselves 2 hardened assassins, but due to the terrible state the prisoners were in! Battered, bruised, stripped and shackled, some would imagine they were grateful to be released from the team’s care.

After a short wait, the heroes were escorted to the central estate which watched over the city from behind it’s interior walls- clean, spacious and boarderline extravagant, they were led through a calm summer’s garden in full bloom, through a set of imposing, sturdy wooden doors and along a small series of corridors to a large hall. Sitting proudly at the opposite end on an ornate throne-esque chair, flanked by the familiar figures of Connel and Darkhound (who had been cured of their blindness) was a man unknown to the adventurers. Slight in frame, but wrapped in thick animal furs, the gentleman introduced himself as Halas Gremmel.
He explained how Lord Fairbrow was still bound to the South with Terrandor business, and in his stead he was overseeing his affairs. The gang regailed their tale of assassins, vermin and exploding ships which Halas ensured was noted down in the records. He in turn, explained why Connel and Darkhound had to be so secretive- they were part of an organisation who specialise in ridding supernatural evil from the land and protecting the masses from servants of Jul, known as the Scarlet Shield. He continues to tell the team that incidents of such horrors are becoming ever more prevelant, and his resources are stretched as the land becomes overrun with danger at every turn. He then surprised the team by offering them a contract of employment to bring them into the ranks, for a gnerous 5 silver a week each. Reluctanly they accepted; Lylah instructed that her payment be sent straight to her church, and Grimes decided that he would become a property tycoon. Before they could finish drawing up a shopping list for their mass riches, Gremmel issued them their first task: an agent had been sent to the vilage of Half-Hill to investigate peculiar reports of children going missing. He had been gone a number of weeks without reporting back and Gremmel was eager to discover what had happened to his man. While providing a description and a name, the discussion was interrupted by a messenger who informed everyone that the Beaumont Famiy from Rigeselle had arrived, (who were eager to start bidding on the now vacant Halfswith estate)and the execution of the prisoners was to takeplace shortly and Gremmel was required to be present at the spectacle. He invited the party, but only the battle-hardened Grimes and Oben had the stomach to accept his offer.

The huddled hoi polloi crowded around the execution arena, the home of the Brazen Boar! Copper plated and ornately designed, the impressive hollow-grotesque was a favourite way to dispose of particularly violent or ruthless prisoners. The murder of a wealthy Gratian was more than enough to send the peculiar-tongued kilers to their ends; thrown into the beast’s chamber, naked and unable to escape, the pair were roasted alive as a roaring fire heated the metal to white-hot, the screams of the dying whistling out of the boar’s nostrils like a gruesome symphony. During the ceremony Oben spied a set of guests in the Ruby Box (reserved seating for special guests)- a family sitting proud whose traits of black hair and bright blue eyes were easy for him to recognise: the Beaumont Family. Besides the peculiar addition of a blonde haired girl sitting next to a young male, he knew that the family were famed as one of the major players in linen and exotic luxury goods. Alongside the Tellurs (slavers) and Raibanks (armour and weaponry) they were a significant power in Rigeselle.
The slop of human goo was flushed from the boar and the crowds departed- Grimes quickly found a chap who had a vacant property in the cheaper part of town and agreed terms on leasing with the aim to buy. He asked Ralph to stay and work on his inventions in the interim, offering him the cellar due to his prototype design diagrams sadly being destroyed in the crash, which he cheerfully agreed to. That afternoon, the team set out.

It was a weeks travel to Half-Hill, and the team quickly established that they would try and be incognito: Lylah was to be a wandering healer, Phileo an entertainer, Oben.. a Paladin… and Grimes an apple trader (without any apples). They arrived without incident, struggling to maintain their cover with a socially awkward Grimes. The team met with the town leader Malik, who offered them safe lodgings for a time whilst they made plans. The sleepy village was a stark contrast to the choking avenues of Grate, with a handful of erected buildings on a single main dirt path- there was also a bewildering amount of children, who streamed forward to greet the adventurers. The boys took a particular liking to the beautiful Lylah, who they provided with much attention before the young girls took her in for braiding of hair and girl talk. Whilst Lylah gathered information, the gang were taken to the local ‘tavern’, a single open plan room with a stair leading up to a further open-planned bed chamber.

Lylah had gleaned from one of the cockier boys that the children were playing in the forest near to the village when the last child was scooped up and taken away. Taking it as a good lead, she informed the teamwho set out to investigate. They searched the forest without much success, until Oben spied smoke coming from beyond the cusp of the hill to the North- a definite sign they needed to reveal. They pushed on, navigating the cooling terrain to reach a vantage point- they quicky spotted something entirely foreign lurking below; strange hulking men, almost animals, sporting tattered leather tunics. A set of prehensile trunks and ivory tusks struck the impression of an enemy far beyond it’s normal environment. The heroes set about dispatching this foe, which surprised them by being able to ascend a slope to attack them! Grimes took a stunning bow from one, cracking bone and winding the poor combatant. After a quick melee, the tides quickly turned and Oben, Grimes and Phileo managed to floor the beasts. As they looked into the cave which had been hidden from view, they were shocked and appalled to see a horrifying scene.

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The One With wasps and blind men
"For God's sake, just kill him!

After he dashed into the night bloody and terrifying, the peculiar incident with Grimes was quickly covered up. Stories were told to the other survivors that the hero was off ‘scouting’ for the evening- much to the bewilderment of Connell and company.

The morning came and sorrow was abound- Philleo had confined himself to his charred husk of a tent, sobbing like a girl into his sleeves. “What a cruel fate for a tent so magnificent!” he was heard to utter on more than one occassion. Ralph and Connell had departed for a morning stroll, which ended with a gruesome discovery: a naked, gore covered Ryykan lad huddled in a hollowed out tree. Grimes had been found! Adorning the pants from the murdered giant-man from the night before (pulled up to just below his chin) he returned to the camp, unsure of what had transpired.
Lylah was quick to suggest a retreat back to Grate to seek aid for whatever had produced such a malady in Grimes the night before, yet Oben (after the suggestion from Connell) was eager to seek out any further survivors in the front segment of the craft which had ditched further into the forest. A decision was made- to the action!

A path was forged through the scorched forest to the crash site- the trees had become charred and warped, with hardly any foliage to be had. As they approached what was evidently an impact crater, Grimes believed he heard a faint sound in the distance; one which began to grow into a deep rumble- climbing a tree to take in his surroundings he quickly discovered a giant flyiing creature: a wasp of abnormal proportions! Flinging himself quickly to the forest floor and updating the others, they pressed on.

Approaching the clearing they discovered a scene of destruction and carnage. Burnt, timber riddled bodies were strewn throughout, with the front portion of the ship entirely obliterated. The giant wasps were busily collecting the corpses and removing them from the scene, thought to be used as nourishment for their young.
One item which stood out from the mangled visage was a peculiar, hovering blue ball of presumed energy; around 6 foot in diameter and containing what appeared from afar to be the form of a loosely robed old man. A bold plan was put in place- dash into the clearing in full view of any winged adversary and check the bodies for life, whilst doubly procuring the orb with the man within. The plan went as expected- no other life was discovered within the corpses, and the orb seemed to be somehow solid, yet viscous- and also difficult to maneuver, showing much resistance to any force applied to it. As they began to haul it towards the treeline, a sinister presence approached- a wasp eager to take live prey home with it!

The fighting was fierce and debilitating- the wasp was a canny dodger of the hero’s melee, and it’s stinger was an ever present danger. On more than one occasion Oben was subjected to its poisonous properties, causing him to become lethargic and rusty in his actions. This would never do for a warrior from The North, and he finished the beast with a flurry of well-placed morning star blows to the beast’s carapace.

The orb was quickly (as quickly as the thing could be budged) away from the fight and into the forest. It was moved back to camp where, moments before arrival the energy dissapated and the old man floated to the ground. He was almost childlike in his demeanour, and seemed to be suffering from a horrid spell of amnesia. Oben took him to the camps fire to provide him warmth and food, whilst Lylah and Grimes informed the trio of Ralph, Darkhound and Connell of their findings.
Their report was met by an instant alarm by Connel and his elf friend; on observing the frail man sitting next to Oben, Connell made a dash towards him, drawing a dagger as Darkhound informed our heroes (yes, in common!) that the gentleman had to die!
A cagey stand-off appeared, where none seemed to wish to harm the other; this was of course barring Connell, who somehow missed stabbing the man, before ensuring he connected a second time with an expertly thrown dagger to the back. Oben quickly scanned for evil but could find nnone in the men in front of him, even upon the old man they were so intent on killing.
With the wrinkled corpse laying there, Darkhound instructed the team to help the return to Grate, where they would be provided with further information upon arrival. To everyone’s surprise (excluding Oben of course, who seemed to have some sort of clairvoyance throughout the entire adventure!) the body of the man rose from the ground, floating, and he turned to reveal a contorted face of hate and anger, adorned with two eyes as black as jet!
A fight broke out where everyone had to work together to overcome whatever this monstrosity was- Darkhound sent forth volleys of magical bolts from his palms,along with bolts of electrical energy to heap damage on the opponent. The melee stepped up and dashed to destroy- Grimes missed with a net which would of undoubtedly been the undoing of this caster, and then the whole team followed by missing over.. and over….and over.
The strange husk of a man cackled and began to weave his own necrotic magic to do his bidding-he drained the strength from both Oben and Grimes with volatile streams of ebony evil, and blinded both Connell and Darkhound, leaving them unable to continue in the fight. It was only when he let his guard down and began to move along the ground, decaying the plantlife with every step, that our heroes managed to finally deliver a killing blow, returning the fiend to whatever hell had spawned it.
The blind duo were challenged, but they could only stand by their word, and that upon their return to Grate everything would be brought together. It was agreed, and the team moved with much haste, eager to return to the safety of the city walls. As they approached the Northern Rose, they saw a train of Growlers entering the city ahead- Forza had returned, and some would say none too soon!

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The one with the DarkHound
DMs crash flying boats too!

After pocketing the best bits of loot from the mansion (stealing is subjective) the team hatched a plan: Phil and Oben would ‘survey the grounds’ whilst Lylah and her trusted cohort Grimes would take the prisoners back to town. After selecting the best two dairy cows to tie the men to, they set off into the forest of bees, en route to Grate. [DANGER WILL ROBINSON- PARTY SPLIT!!]

Oben began to search the study for books on how to look after the wild kitten he had taken hostage (even the Lord of beasts needs a helping hand) when he heard a sudden, sinister creaking of wood from far in the distance; far beyond the habitat of the mansion. Rushing upstairs, he firstly discovered Phileo somehow humping the body of the dead Baron (kinky) and then looking beyond, towards the horizon, he spied the looming oncoming form of an out of control sky vessel- seemingly on a collision course with the building!
Phileo ditched the Baron like a pirate hooker before catching Oben’s glare- the two heroes grabbed the corpse and started to heave it out towards the courtyard as fast their loot-laden legs could carry them. Moments after exiting they turn to see the gargantuan flying machine banking to narrowly avoid any collision, hurtling past the with a deep, bellowing roar which shuddered the very ground as it passed. Moments later they saw it ditch into the forest with an impressive explosion, but not before the rear of the boat-shaped craft appeared to unattach and fall in to the trees at a dangerous velocity, but safe from the radius of the greater impact.

Lylah and Grimes witnessed the crash from a much more intimate vantage point- being in the forest must have concealed the approaching craft from their senses, but they certainly witnessed the low-flying skyboat as it lurched by above them and the resultant explosion, whose heat was fierce enough to be felt at their great distance.

Lylah’s good natured spirit sprang into action- she had seen the rear fall to the canopy ahead and she managed to quickly convince Grimes to assist her- the cows followed in wonder.
The crash site was a mess- shattered wood from both the trees and the vessel itself had splintered everywhere, with a number of passengers impaled on branches and timber. Many more lay dead from impact wounds and fire. The broken carcass of the once proud craft lay at the far end.
A quick recce of the site managed to find three injured survivors; an elf, a dwarf and a man with tanned skin. As Lylah’s healing hands helped them to stir Phil and Oben appeared through the tree line eager to find all the loot help the survivors.
Grimes grabbed the situation by the scruff of the neck- they needed to search the fractured hull for further survivors. Oben offered to secure the clearing and protect the prisoners/injured, whilst the remainder of the team climbed aboard the wreckage.

They climbed into the crash site, boarding via the cargo level in the waiting cross-section. Besides torn fabrics and spilled spices and exotic produce, Phileo the loot hoover quickly found another reinforced chest; quite sturdy with barely a scratch on its surface. A very hardy lock barred entry. Knowing he would return, he pressed on upstairs into the habitat level- searching the bedrooms yielded little besides more dead, but in a sealed door to the rear they made an unsettling discovery; a large iron cage lay open next to a guard, whose death was determined to be not entirely due to the crash.
Grimes climbed up to the viewing level where most, if not all, of the fittings and furnishings had been broken and lost in the descent.

Dialogue was sparked with the shaken survivors: they introduced themselves as Ralph- a dwarf en route to Maleurn, Connel- a man from the deserts and Mr Darkhound, an elf on his way home to Ornal, who chose to address the group only in Elven. Much debate was had- Grimes and Phil were sure that they might know Elven, but could not be entirely certain (there’s every chance they’ll be fluent next week) and Mr Darkhound made sure to endear himself to the party by refusing to help out and criticising the majority of all conduct.

Phileo remembered that loot was laying unclaimed; after Grimes demonstrated why his physical prowess has won him great renown by forcing the reinforced chest open with a crowbar, much celebrating was had. An electic selection of all weather clothes was matched by what could be described as a ‘disguise kit’; a myriad of chemical vials (one of which was identified as Desert Bloom by Connell), some sort of ichor, another elegant dagger with an accompanying ring wrapped in velvet, a coin purse and a scrawled note, sealed with some golden thread. Everything was briskly absorbed into the party and itemised, with the note being passed on to Oben to read.
As the scholarly Paladin unravelled the scroll and began to examine it, a treacherous piece of trickery occured; an amber-brown glow eminated from the parchment, enveloping the hero. In moments he was covered by the magic, and entirely unable to move. Grimes gave him a good slapping to try and break the enchantment, but for all intents and purposes Oben was in some sort of suspended animation!

The day was drawing to a close, so camp was set: Oben was designated as on watch for the whole evening with the rest of the team assisting for a duration. The prisoners were tied up to a tree on one side of the clearing, with the cows teathered for sleeping and grazing on the opposite flank- watch began.
During Grimes’ extended watch (selfless bugger) the evening peace was interrupted by a lit torch being hurled by an unseen adversary into Phileo’s tent, setting it alight. Panic ensued, and everyone moved to the ditched hull for protection. Nothing appeared to stir (Phil had luckily put the fire out on his tent prior to fleeing) and Grimes had the confidence to move out back to the camp fire to investigate. Reaching the area where the cows had been secured, he managed to spy the silhouette of a hulking, beast of a man; easily over 10 foot tall, with a muscular barrel body and powerful features he loomed out of the darkness and into full view, showing a covering of mud and moss on his skin which covered the majority of his distinctively tribal tattoos. Grimes, ever the peaceful citizen, tried to quickly parlay with the behemoth, but was rudely interrupted as a wayward arrows from Phileo’s bow glided past the enemy harmlessly.

Battle thus ensued! In anger the opponent slammed his fist down into the spine of one of the cows, making the animal buckle and crumple inwards. Agile dodging from Grimes kept his injuries to a minimum, and everything he took he gave back in spades: slashing and thrusting with his blade, he managed to deliver some brutal blows, but much to his horror the burly target in front of him somehow had a body which managed to heal its own wounds, closing them almost as fast as they were opened! With a spark of genius he tried to poison the man, throwing the entire container of Desert Bloom over him. Sadly, although he looked groggy for a moment, he shook off the effects of the chemical and battled on.

When all seemed lost, a hero rose in heat of battle: emerging from the protection of the vessel came a warrior whose battle smarts were ready to be put to the test: Oben, somehow free from his affliction, charged across the battle field to engage the terror.

Great wounds were inflicted on both sides, but with the help of Lylah’s magical touch they managed to force the creature into retreat. No such honor was afforded, and the battling duo hunted the enemy down and ensured he was put to the sword. A frenzy of rage overcame Grimes, and he continued to pound and tear at the flesh of the man, creating an eerie mist of crimson which floated through the night air.

As the team approached to tell our hero Grimes that the battle was over, he looked at them, revealing a face which was not quite as they remembered; with slight angular features, peculiar patches of hair and piercing yellow eyes! Speeechless, the team looked at one another: what in the name of the Pantheon was happening?

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