The Chronicles of Foxton

The Deadly Seven: Leaving Town

The monster hunters sat around the public room in the Hunter’s Rest inn. It was early afternoon and they were, for now, the only people in the pub. Errol climbed up on a table and shouted for everyone’s attention. “Guys! Guys! We need to have a talk,” he said. He waited until almost everyone had quieted down (ignoring Tatiana).

“It’s time to talk about what our next step is,” he said. "I for one am eager to move on to greener pastures. I’m thinking we’ve mostly worn out our welcome here, and I don’t know how much more the Baron will pay us to do. Our cheques seem to be getting smaller with every job. Pretty soon, he’ll have us working for copper pennies. On the plus side, we’ve still got a fair amount of money (and the sooner we get out of this nowhere berg, the more of it we’ll keep!).

“Aaaaaannnnd,” he continues, looking over at Brandwyn. "We’ve got ourselves a magical artifact! Not many people can say that, and you all know that an adventuring group that has a magic artifact almost always goes on to become fabulously rich and famous! And we can’t do that here.

“So,” he finishes, sitting down on the table and grabbing a mug of beer. “What do you guys think?”

“I hate to disappoint you Errol, but I’m not planning on keeping the lute.” Brandwyn said. Before anyone could object, she continued, “For one thing, it’s not my instrument of choice, I don’t even know how to play it. Second, it belongs to the College of Doss, and I think we would eventually find ourselves there sooner rather than later.” She then grinned, “That’s not say we have to make a direct trip there when we leave Foxton.”

“Why not write to Doss, then, and see what fee they’ll pay for its delivery?” Brictius frowned into his drink. “Much as I’m getting bored, I’d hate to throw over a paying gig without the promise of another; it’s not as if we can just wander into the next town and stand around on a street corner until someone happens by saying ‘Just what I need! Accomplished slayers to save my daughter from her greasy boyfriend….’ Just try it here in Foxton. Good way to starve, that.”

“Wait wait wait, back up!” Errol insisted. “Brandwyn, what do you mean, you’re not keeping it? So what if you can’t play it – it’s magic! It just plays by itself, or it teaches you how to play it, or something… right? We can’t just give it up!”

“I don’t know if we get a choice in the matter, Boss,” Kienan chimed in, the hood of his cloak obscuring the top half of his young face. His feet were propped up on the table and he was idly twirling a freshly-fletched arrow between his long fingers. “Didn’t Brandwyn mention once that magical devices tend to have minds of their own? If the Lute wants to remain with Brandwyn, it will…but if it decides to go off with someone else, I suspect that things will arrange themselves to cause us to lose it.”

He noticed Randall eying the barely touched mug of ale and plate of chicken in front of the Warden and gestured for the big warrior to help himself. “I’m with Brandwyn on returning it to Doss Western. If anything, it’ll be a good excuse to get out of town. I’m getting the impression that we’re not really wanted here anymore, especially by Captain Hawthorne and the rest of the Baron’s staff. It’s not hard to notice that they don’t like us, looking down their suspicious noses at us like we’re little better than tame bandits.”

Kienan shrugged and sighed. “I say let’s part ways with Foxton while we’re still in reasonably good accord with du Clef and his Captain – after that job with the Giants. Doss Western in Godonsa gives us a destination at least….and there ought to be plenty of trouble to get into along the way.”

Benedikt drained his mug, wiped some of the spilled drink from his beard, “I think we should leave before town outstays its welcome.”

“Magic is finicky stuff, best not played with, specially bardic ones. Never good stand up stuff…” He looked at Brandwyn, “No offense, bard is good people, weird magic.” He nodded and motioned for another ale, “Leave while we got money…”

Randall greedily snatched up Kienan’s food, while waving for the waitstaff to bring him another. “So you’re saying that we’re not going to stay here anymore?” He continued to shove food in his face. “I was just beginning to like it here. They have lots of food, and…” His face twisted in confusion as he tried to think of anything else. “Well, I know they have food. Besides I think Lady Uptight is starting to tolerate me, and I really like that gardener.” He took the next plate from the server. “But I don’t make these decisions; that’s not what I was hired for.”

Tatiana opened on lazy eye. Momentarily satisfied in her appetites, she had stretched out, lazy leopard style, on a crossbeam overlooking the table.

She said, “Is there any way we can get paid for leaving town? There’s only one road out of here that goes anywhere, and once you get past that weird gate, it’s no civilization at all for about a week. Meanwhile this place is packed with merchants and pilgrims who might be wanting an escort out of town. Plus maybe we can pick up messages or something to hand over at the next town, get paid twice for the same job”

This all came out very fast.

“Elf has good idea. Get money on way out instead of spend money.” Benedikt nodded, “Is thin line between bandit and Monster Hunter. Think best to stay on this side of line. At least while near that Lady Captain, she must like us, she not get too mad after that, thing, with the giants.” He scratched his head for a moment, “I pretty good diplomat,” one gets the impression that if his mouth could be seen under the beard Benedikt would be smiling.

“Diplomacy…is that what you call getting plowed by a flying tree and captured by giants?” Kienan asked with a grin. Inwardly, he was grateful that the Uruk priest had survived, but that didn’t mean he had to let Benedikt know that.

Turning back to Errol, he said, “Sounds like we all agree with you, Boss, that calling it quits on this town is good scheme…but it doesn’t look like any of us want to keep the Lute.” The young man shrugged. “Personally, I’d rather not be famed just for owning some magical geegaw – I’d rather have a rep that speaks of my own skills and deeds. Let’s not let some trinket become a crutch for us.”

Knowing that the Hobbit would be disappointed with the loss, Kienan tried shifting the subject. “Anyway it’s been a while since the Festival so who knows how many heavy-pursed visitors are in town. But the road leads back to Warford so there must be someone traveling that direction that could use guards or couriers. Maybe we ought to split up and do some checking – like the hostels and inns for travelers on their way out….or the market for local folk looking to send stuff to the big city….or even the Baron’s castle to see if any of the highborns need messages delivered.”

“I’ll go to Gray Haven.” Bradwyn volunteered. “When are we planning on leaving? I don’t think there’s much more I can teach. Giantish isn’t that complicated.”

“My vote is for leaving in the next couple of days,” Kienan suggested. "Any longer and we might be out of hard cash again…with the way the taverns seem to be jacking up the prices of the ale around here.

“I’m willing to scout the marketplace and see if any locals are looking to send messages or deliveries. I’d join you at Grey Haven, Brandwyn, but like I said, I’m getting twitchy about the way the Lady Captain and her Guards look down at us. The common folk don’t have as much to pay us, but at least they don’t treat us like criminals.”

Asking around the marketplace, there are some pilgrims who are leaving town in the next few days, and a few merchants as well. Unfortunately, all the pilgrims have to pay you with is their gratitude. The merchants are little better, offering only a few coins. Still, something is better than nothing.

As for the Nobs, we’ll play that one out in person, ’cause it sounds like Lady Crankypants has a job for the D7…

For those of you without a map in front of you, there’s three ways to get to Godonsa, which is where the College of Doss is. First is, you can go directly west. That’s the shortest as the crow flies, but it’s a tough slog through mostly uncharted mountains; plus you’re going through Giant territory. Second is east to Warford, then north along the Demorian road. You’ll pass through Tallhill, Masingberg, and Yatzy before you get to the Lelcia River, which will take you to Godonsa. Third is the same, except you go south along the Demorian Road – through Warford, then Drache, then to the Lelcia River and into Godonsa. The northern route is a little longer, and a little more subject to bad weather now that autumn is approaching.

Kienan would vote for the southern route to Godonsa. While the trek through uncharted mountains sounds like fun, he’d rather take the quick, safe route in order to get the Lute back to its original home with a minimum of fuss.

He’ll also suggest to Errol that the Seven go ahead and offer guard/escort services to the handful of merchants headed toward Warford. The party is going that way anyhow so they might as well get a little drinking money for the easy work. But he’ll leave it to the Hobbit to do the actual negotiations.

Benedikt votes for whichever way does not involve slogging through the mountains, again.

Lady Hawthorne makes an appearance in the tavern, in her uniform but without her swords, at some point around or just after the lunch hour. “Good afternoon.” She greeted those at the table, “Mind if I join you? I have a favor to ask.”

[little GM help on negotiating with these brigands, what’s a reasonable number for someone with her wealth (5pts) to hire the D7 for the venture?]

The Deadly Seven’s standard fee is 1000 silver florins to kill a dangerous monster. Errol is willing to negotiate with people who don’t have much money, but Lady Hawthorne doesn’t appear to suffer that particular malady.

She doesn’t want anything dead (shocking, I know)… mostly, though just from a mechanics perspective, what kind of money does someone like Hawthorne have on hand to negotiate with?

1000 florins is a lot, but it wouldn’t be impossible for Isobelle to put together if she had some time (a few weeks, at least). Reasonably speaking, she might have half of that at hand. It wouldn’t all be in cash, though. A lot of transactions are trade.

“Ah, m’lady,” Errol smiles his most charming smile. “Please, have a seat. (Kienan! Feet off the table, you lout!). What can The Deadly Seven do for you today?”

His cheerful facial expression did not change a whit, but inwardly the Hobbit prayed. “Please don’t try to give us another job! I just managed to convince these guys to shake the dust off our heels and get out of this berg!”

Isobelle moves a chair from the next table over and sits down, “Thank you. First, I’d like to thank you for your service to the Barony.” She gave him a genuine smile of appreciation. “You’ve been a great help to us in the past few months.” She moved an empty tankard off to the side from where she was sitting, “But I have something of a more personal request this time. Not in the Barony, however. Possibly of a much less dangerous nature than your previous assignments. I’d like to see if you can, discretely, find any information on a murder in Tallhill last month.”

Errol looked a little confused. “Uh, I’m not quite sure I follow you, ma’am. A murder in Tallhill? Isn’t that something that the Draconians should handle? I mean, unless there’s a monster up there killing people (in which case, I’m sure we can handle it). But we’re not exactly detectives.”

“I’m sure they are handling it.” Isobelle shrugged, “At this point I’m sure it’s been either handled or unsolved. I’m not asking you to solve the murder. But I don’t trust them to send the information down in a timely manner.” She paused, “I’d like someone I do trust to find out what they can and send a letter back to me.”

Brandwyn frowned. “Wouldn’t it be better for a Draconian to request the information? I mean I’m sure they would be more willing to share information with one of their own than a bunch of monster hunters. Why not ask Lieutenant O’Derry or one of the other officers to request the report?”

“The Lieutenant has.” Lady Hawthorne “It is one of her old friends that was murdered. I’m just not sure she’s going to get the answers she wants. There are reports, and there is what happened.” Isobelle made to stand, “If you have other plans then, I’ll leave you to them. Again, thank you for your service to the Barony.”

Errol, never one to leave a potential paycheque on the table, jumps up. “With all due respect, your ladyship. We haven’t said no, yet. Let me consult with my colleagues about this, and then we’ll send word to your manor.”

“Alright then,” Isobelle gave him a short bow, “Thank you for your time.” She turned and left.

After she was well out of earshot Benedikt spoke up, “Is obvious and simple ploy to get rid of us.” He huffed, “I say we just go as planned, towards better weather.”

Tatiana watched the exchange from her perch. “‘Meow meow,’ said the catspaw.” She took another mouthful of wine and added, “I don’t think she cares about getting rid of us. She’s got to know we were about to leave, anyway.”

Her eyes narrowed as she pondered the matter. “It was O’Derry’s friend that got whacked. The Draconians aren’t going to give her the answers she wants. Two plus two equals cover-up.”

She hiccupped. “I have got to get drunk more often, it slows my thoughts down enough that I can actually see them.”

“*We* didn’t know we were going to leave until just now,” Errol said. “Unless she can see the future (which I doubt).”

He sighs. “Dang it, this complicates things for us. If Bennie is right and she just wants to get rid of us, then no problem. We were planning to go anyway. Heck, I don’t mind taking some of her coin to do what we were going to do anyway. But I’m not sure we want to take the northern route. It’s longer, and if winter sets in while we’re on the road…”

“And if Tatiana’s right about there being a cover-up, is that something we want to get involved in? We’re monster-killers; we’re not geared for intrigue. On the other hand, this place has been pretty lucrative for us, and it doesn’t hurt to have friends in high places. The Baron is pretty highly-placed, politically, and it doesn’t hurt to have someone in his employ owe us a favor.”

“Gah. I’m torn. What do you guys think?”

Tatiana said, “Sure she knew we’re leaving. We’ve been all over town offering guard services to anyone who is heading toward Warford, so unless she’d deaf as a post, she’ll have to think we’re heading out.”

“As for the commission. Depends on how much we’re getting paid, or if we can get one of those nifty little whatchacallums. Like a note that said, ‘Hey, these guys are working for me.’ Heck, even just asking for one will tell us how much she wants this kept down low.”

Brictius rises and stretches. “Let’s go kick loose the machinery of justice. There’s more honor in that than babysitting some merchant’s custom. And as for not being qualified for intrigue or suited to fight crime, I don’t recall we ever had training in ‘diplomacy,’ either, but somebody went and did some anyway….”

Kienan had been quiet, sitting still with his hood shrouding his face while the Lady Hawthorne had been in their presence, worried about accidentally saying something to offend the highborn swordswoman. Now as his friends discussed, he found something the woman had said to be nagging at him.

“She wants someone she can trust,” he said half under his breath, “She trusts us?” Kienan wondered if he’d misjudged the Lady’s opinion of the motley band of sellswords. He leaned forward to weigh into the debate.

“I think we should take the job too, Boss,” he said softly, trying to arrange his thoughts into bullet points. "For one, it’s saying a lot that her Ladyship wants the likes of us to handle this problem. I don’t know about gaining the Baron du Clef’s favor, though — she said this was a personal commission, but I suppose she might have her own share of clout in the higher circles.

“For another, I’m guessing that she needs a group that doesn’t necessarily work within the rules of the land….and that can’t directly be tracked back to her in case this is some kind of conspiracy. I think your Demorian courts call it ‘plausible deniability.’ If we get ourselves into trouble snooping around where we shouldn’t, the Lady can just shrug and say, ‘Oh, it’s just a bunch of adventurers. Why would I have anything to do with them?’

“For a last, it sounds like she’s doing this for the Draconian Lieutenant, O’Derry. Maybe I’m the only one who saw this, but most of the townsfolk tend to look askance at our like. Lieutenant O’Derry didn’t. I always felt she looked at us with respect, like we were people and not barely tamed beasts. I’d be willing to do some legwork for a woman who considers us friends and comrades.”

Tatiana said, “I’m not sure she really trusts us. Not like trust trust. It’s more like, you know, every adventurer is a trap detector once. This is just a different kind of trap. We go in there and things sort of blow up, you know, all politically, and then she see where the trap is.”

“Even so, I’m good with that, if the price is right. Maybe we should ask George.”

Randell scratched stroked his chin as if deep in thought. Finally after a much deliberation he spoke.

“When did the uptight lady become a fortune teller?”

Errol stared blankly at Randall for a minute, then sighed. “How about the rest of you?” Errol asked, looking at Benedikt and Brandwyn. It sounded to him like they were mostly in agreement – Randall would generally go along with what everyone else wanted, and Brandwyn was a bleeding heart who’d be happy to assist the Lady. Bennie… well, no one knew what the crazy Uruk priest thought (even on his best days), but if it involved hitting things he was good to go.

So Errol began to work out all the angles. Heading north to Tallhill would take at least a month, assuming they didn’t stop along the way. Maybe longer if they still wanted to play “Caravan Guard.” That would mean that the Lute would (theoretically) remain in their hands longer than if they took the shorter southern route. If the Lute stayed with Brandy, then chances are she’d start to bond with it, which means they’d probably end up keeping it.

“I’m in agreement with you guys; I think we should take the job,” he said. “We’ll make a little money, get in good with the Lady, and it’ll take us to a part of the country we haven’t seen yet. And who knows? Maybe they’ll need some monsters killed up in that part of the world. But we’ll need to leave in the next couple of days, so we don’t get stuck when the bad weather sets in.”

Benedikt sighed, “Bad weather gives me headache.” He stroked his beard, “But better than staying here. We only just started to talk about leaving and already that Lady knows. I think she’s spying on us.” He finished off the latest mug of ale, “Sooner we leave the better.”

Against the Giants: Epilogue

As the heroes are heading back to Foxton, their mission successful and several young Giants in tow, a rather subdued Bri gives her version of what happened here…

Balor, disguised as the old man, tricked her here with tales of her grandmother and of the Lute of Doss. When she arrived in the valley, she found a small hut, like the type used by a shepherd. The old man invited her in and although she didn’t entirely trust him, she saw no reason to refuse his hospitality. After dinner, when she was feeling warm and sleepy, he began to spin a yarn about the War against the Giants. He played softly on a lute as he sang. It was a great story, a very famous story, one she’d heard many times before, and she found herself joining in. She felt like she was drifting into a dream.

She didn’t know what was happening at the time, but Balor was spinning a story about the past, and using her abilities as a Filidh and the power of the Lute to recreate that past, to pull it out of the past and make it part of the present. All of what the heroes encountered was just a dream, an echo, a memory of an old time and place, but even a dream can become real when it’s infused with that much magic and that much belief.

Every night, he played the Lute and re-told the tale. When she refused to cooperate, he tortured her. She tried to resist, but his own power combined with the Lute made it impossible. But she had the last laugh on him.

What the Formorian didn’t realize is that the past is already set; bringing the past into the present only guaranteed the same thing would happen again. Nonsra was destroyed by a group of heroes and so too would Balor be. Even the power of the Lute couldn’t change that. And so it happened — not exactly the way it did thirty years ago, but close enough.

Randall: Deep Thoughts

Randall marched towards the doorway that the entire group had entered. Grim determination crossed his face as he thought about what was about to happen.

“Giants will come flooding into this room and I will have to hold the line; try and put up a good fight before I get squished…squished? Squashed maybe? I could go for some squash. That would be really nice for lunch. Is it lunch time? Wait…did we eat lunch already? Damn I hope I didn’t miss lunch. No, I think I would have known if I missed lunch. Besides if I die here I won’t get to eat lunch. Maybe I should have a snack, just in case the giants do kill me. OH SHIT! Giants! That is what I need to remember right now. Giants. Giants. Giants. Giants. Giants. Giants. Giants. Giants. Giants. Remember giants. All these thoughts of lunch got sandwiched in when I should be focusing on…Yeah! A sandwich. That sounds really good. A nice roast beef sandwich. Maybe with a nice spiced ale. Not cinnamon though. I don’t really like cinnamon anymore, at least in cookies. Cookies with fire and pain and cinnamon. If I get hurt really bad I may have to see the doctor again. I hate doctors…and cinnamon. Doctors make me cry with their fire and pain and cinnamon…

The others readied themselves for the ensuing fight. Damian happened a glance around the large cave and stopped. Confusion crossed his face as he grabbed Brictius’s arm as he tried to hurry past.

“Um…” Damian started. Brictius looked at him and then in the direction that Damian was staring. Randall was rocking back and forth in the fetal position, in the middle of the cave. A barely audible chant emanated from him.

“Doctor bad. Doctor bad.”

Brictius turned back to Damian.

“Don’t ask.”

Session 34: Against the Giants, Part III

11 Sunsheat to 12 Sunsheat, 960 RM
Valley of Steading, 11 Sunsheat, 960 RM
While the rest of the party moved the horses to a new campsite, Errol and Keinan stealthily moved toward the stronghold to gather more information. By the time the two reached the fortress, it was past dark. Keinan saw two or three figures walking around the watch tower.

Errol cast an invisibility spell on himself and Keinan. The two moved closer to the stronghold. Keinan noted that the walls were made from very large logs. The main door was twenty feet high. There was a gap between the ground and the bottom of the door that Keinan thought most of the party could crawl under. While Keinan climbed over the door to get a better look around the complex, Errol climbed under the door. Keinan saw light spilling out into the courtyard from a big double door and light coming down from the watchtower. Keinan saw two more doors, one next to the front door, which had no light coming from it, and another at the base of the stairs to the watchtower. Keinan listened at the main doors and heard over a dozen different voices, it sounded like a feast was taking place. He listened for any human voices, but did not hear any. However, one of the giant’s voices sounded like it had a Kalonese accent. He also noticed several bags and cloaks hanging on pegs in the courtyard.

Errol and Keinan then climbed the stairs to the watchtower. Keinan saw three giants playing dice by a fire pit. He also spotted a ballista sitting by one of the windows and a large dog curled up by the fire. Errol got nervous around the dog so the two moved to leave the compound. Keinan checked the small door by the gate and found it was unlocked. Pushing the door open, he saw a dark hallway leading into the main building.

Once Keinan and Errol returned and made their report to Captain Hawthorne, the group headed out. Moving stealthily, the group approached the fortress. As they drew near, Benedikt inadvertently caused a load noise that drew the giants’ attention. Captain Hawthorne ordered everyone to scatter as ballista bolts started flying at them. Benedikt was hit in the chest by one of the giant’s arrows and fell to the ground.

When the giants exited the fortress, the others used Benedikt’s “distraction” to enter unseen. They quickly entered the main building via the first door and followed the hallway. The hallway ended with a passage leading to the right and the left. Damien scouted the left hand passage and found a door with a light spilling out under it, further on the hallway ended. Returning to the group, they then headed down the right hand passage.

Again, Damien scouted ahead with others a safe distance behind. The first door that Damien came to had no light spilling out from under it. Listening at the door, Damien heard someone snoring. Moving down the corridor was another door; this one had light spilling out from under it. Damien could hear something, but could not make it out. Wythri used her magic to allow Damien to be able to see through the walls, and Quion did the same thing on himself. Both men saw a well-appointed room with trophies on the walls. Randell pushed open the door. The group searched the room and found another door. Damien, Keinan, and Brictius moved to open the door. When Damien opened the door the group was attacked by a large bear. The bear managed to injure Damien before the group killed it. While Gunn healed Damien; Captain Hawthorne, Randall, and Errol searched the room the bear had come from. That room was a bedchamber which contained a coffer filled with cash and gemstones. To their surprise, Captain Hawthorne let the monster hunters keep the coffer.

Tatiana took the lead in scouting ahead this time. The group came across a large set of double doors that were barred closed; they discovered that this door was an exit from the stronghold. Continuing on, they entered another room. This room had a crude map of the barony on one of the walls. After studying the map, Quion determined that is was thirty years old. Keinan found a large skin hanging on another wall that concealed another door. Randall carefully opened the door and found a stairwell leading down. Keinan carefully replaced the skin before following the others down the stairs.

The stairs continued down for quite a ways and lead to a large cavern that look as if the walls had been worked rather than being of rough stone. Along one wall was a door that had been smashed down and lead into what appeared to be a store room. The corridor continued into a large room. The magic users could tell that this room contained magic. Captain Hawthorne asked Errol to illuminate the room. The room was large and square shaped with a prison type area in the back. Quion determined that the magic was coming from that area. Approaching gates, Quion heard someone muttering, but could not make out what was being said. The rest of the group approached the area and saw a red headed woman chained to the wall. Captain Hawthorne recognized Bri, and ordered Damian to open the gates. When the second set of gates were opened, Errol shouted out that he thought some type of alarm had gone off. Captain Hawthorne and Damien unchained Bri, and saw that she was in a weakened state. Brandwyn took charge of the injured Bri while the others prepared for the arrival of the giants.

Benedikt: Little Dog Syndrome

The agony of the spear ramming through his shoulder blinded him for a moment; Benedikt wasn’t sure where he was. He opened his eyes long enough to see two enormous creatures standing over him, then one of them whacked him with a club and it was lights out again.

When Benedikt came to, he found himself stuffed into what appeared to be an enormous, stinky burlap sack. The pain in his shoulder burned; the spear had been pulled out of the wound roughly, and he could feel his blood seeping into the cloth underneath him. He cautiously felt around for his mace and shield, but they were nowhere to be found. He couldn’t hear any of his compatriots anywhere nearby.

But he did hear muffled voices — large, deep voices, the voices of Giants — somewhere above him. Then, someone opened up the bag. He immediately closed his eyes and pretended to be dead.

“Are you dead, Littlie?” a large voice asked, speaking in rough Demorian. “If you are alive, I have something to talk to you about. But if you are dead, I will have you cooked. Are you alive?”

Benedikt grumbles for a moment, curses in his native tongue, “Of course I’m alive, takes more than twig to kill followers of Crom.” He says back, trying to find a position that didn’t hurt his wound overly much, and mostly wondering where his mace was.

Benedikt looked up to see an enormous face looming over him. “My guards caught you sneaking around the stronghold,” he said. “You are lucky it was my men and not others. They would have taken you straight to Balor. My men were smart; they took you to me.”
“What is your name, Littlie?” the Giant asked. “I am Zind, chief of the Snow Mountain Clan, and second sub-chief of the mighty Balor.” He spat on the ground. “That is why you are here, yes? Because of Balor?”

Benedikt regarded the Giant for a brief moment, “I am Benedikt Of Crom, The Great Warrior. Crom, I mean, I am merely Good Warrior.” He nodded, “Benedikt rarely sneaks anywhere.” He shook a finger, “If Balor is the one causing all the magic to go wrong, I am here for him.” Benedikt stroked his beard for a moment, “It’s a good thing I ran into your first, Crom directs me only to the best of the best. We should talk.” He looked expectantly at Zind.

“Magic,” the Giant rumbled. “Yes, Balor has great magic. Big magic. His magic brought back the old days, the days of war, the days when Giants lost too many sons and fathers. And for what? Nothing. Only for his glory, not ours.” He spat again.

“I do not want any more of my people to die because of him. I do not want to fight the old wars again. You talk big for a little man. If you are here to kill Balor, I will help you. With one condition.”

Benedikt smiled beneath his beard, “Fighting is good, fighting for new glory is better than old glory. What is condition you speak of?”

“This is my condition,” he says. “I have three sons. I want them to learn the ways of humans – how to pull iron from rocks, how to grow plants to eat, how to make houses, how to make paper talk and listen. When this is over, when the old days are gone again, you swear to take my sons back to your city of stones and teach them the ways of humans. If you do, I will help you, even if it means I die.”

Benedikt thought for a second, “I think Baron of these lands might like this deal. Pretty sure this was mission of peace before Captain got angry. She is one you really want to talk with. Have feeling you might meet her soon.” He stroked his beard, “I will act on behalf of Baron and welcome peace to Giants. I promise your three sons will be taught our ways.” He nodded, “Is good deal, Baron is good man, you like him I think. I suggest you not die so you can make strong alliance.”

The Giant laughed, a deep, rumbling, growling sound. “I do not want to die either, little man. But I want the old days gone even more. Remember what you have sworn before your gods and mine, that my sons will be taught the ways of humans. The gods will punish you if you break your promise, if I do not find you first.”

“Now get up and follow me. The other littlies who came with you, I know where they are. We should find them before Balor does.”

> The Giant laughed, a deep, rumbling, growling sound. “I do not want to die either, little man.
> But I want the old days gone even more. Remember what you have sworn before your gods
> and mine, that my sons will be taught the ways of humans. The gods will punish you if you
> break your promise, if I do not find you first.”

“Benedikt forgets no promises.”

> “Now get up and follow me. The other littlies who came with you, I know where they are.
> We should find them before Balor does.”

“Probably good idea. They a bit hasty.” Benedikt nodded, “Just moment, if you please, twigs not kill me, but they hurt pretty good. I need to have Crom’s blessing to heal wound so I am fit for next fight.” Benedikt will cast a healing spell if given the opportunity.

Benedikt casts a prayer over himself; the bleeding stops and the pain subsides. He (or one of the others) will still have to sew the wound shut for it to heal the rest of the way properly. But it’s OK – Crom appreciates scars. The Giant then leads him through a series of darkened corridors, past the lights of the great hall. It seems that the party is over; the sounds of feasting and laughing have stopped.

“This is not a good sign,” Zind says. “Usually, Balor likes to feast until nearly dawn. Maybe your friends have already been found out. If they are as sneaky as you are, this seems likely.”

He slips through another door; there is a massive set of stone stairs going down into the earth…

Session 33: Against the Giants, Part II

10 Sunsheat to 11 Sunsheat, 960 RM
Valley of Steading, 10 Sunsheat, 960 RM
Once the battle was over, the first order of business was to hide the bodies. After that Captain Hawthorne sent Keinan and Gunn to scout out the stronghold at the center of the valley. She sent Damien and Tatiana as one group and Brictius and Benedikt as another group to find campsites and food. Wythri linked the scouting parties and Brandwyn and Hawthorne.

The two groups looking for campsites found several likely spots, with Benedikt’s being the best.

Keinan and Gunn stealthily made their way toward the stronghold. They saw several small groups of giants patrolling the valley, but not in any regular fashion. Keinan realized that security was good, but not great. The stronghold had a watchtower that could see all the way around the complex. There were two entrances, one in front that was regularly used and one in back that looked like a stockade gate. There were no trees in the valley, but the grass was very tall. Gunn talked to a bird who told him that there were big dogs and big men in the stronghold. The two men scouted around the fortress to see if they could find a water supply or herd animals.

While the scouting parties were out, Wythri, Quion, and Errol analyzed the Flow of the area. Brandwyn sang a song to help the mages concentration. Quion and Errol saw that the valley was flooded with magic, but a type that Quion was not familiar with. The magic had an old taste to it, very primitive with a touch of theologic taint to it. The three thought it might be grimerist magic. Wythri told the others that she had seen the magic flowing into the valley this morning. Captain Hawthorne asked if one of Nonsra’s magic items could have caused the magic, but the three mages thought that would not be possible.

On the way back to the others, Benedikt noticed that the stronghold was made from a great many trees, but there were no signs of major deforestation in the valley.

Keinan and Gunn continued to scout around the perimeter of the stronghold. They did not see any cultivated fields, although they did see some wild sheep and mountain goats. The two thought that was strange as they thought the animals would have been severely culled by hunting by now.

After the two scouting parties had returned with their reports of campsites, the party moved to the site Benedikt had found and waited for Keinan and Gunn to rejoin them. It was well past dark before the two men returned to camp.

The first watch passed without incident or those on watch falling asleep. During the second watch, Wythri noticed that the magic in the valley was beginning to fade. Those asleep had bad dreams, similar to the previous evening. During the last watch, Quion noticed an influx of magic entering the valley.

11 Sunsheat, 960 RM
After breakfast, Caption Hawthorne asked Wythri, Quion, and Errol to continue to study the magic in the valley. Keinan, Gunn, and Damien went with them for protection.

Studying the area, Quion and Keinan noticed that the foliage and insects were from the late summer or early fall, but the Summer Solstice had past just last month.

Wythri tried tapping into the magic by creating a fireball, which had all the normal effects and effort usually associated with casting that type of spell. Errol suggested she try casting an illusion spell. Wythri created an illusion of Captain Hawthorne. Errol pointed out that the spell seemed very easy for Wythri to cast and that he could actually touch the illusion and that the illusionary Captain Hawthorn reacted to his touch, both things that should not happen with this type of spell. Quion then created an illusion of a raven, which ended up being better than his level of skill should have produced. Wythri then summoned an earth elemental, with the same effects and effort usually associated with casting that type of spell. Errol and Quion noticed that when that spell was cast, the flow rippled with the energy.

Captain Hawthorn had decided a night assault on the stronghold would be strategically wise, so the rest of the afternoon was spent resting. The first watch was uneventful. The second watch had trouble staying awake in the warm afternoon sun. Captain Hawthorne kept herself awake by constantly patrolling the area. She heard something approaching the camp and sent Brandwyn to wake the rest of the party.

Captain Hawthorne and Tatiana spotted a giant stealthily moving toward them. The giant threw a boulder at Captain Hawthorne, but Wythri had prepared a spell that deflected the boulder away from the Captain. Suddenly, Randall was hit by a second boulder that had been thrown from a different direction. Tatiana ran toward the first giant hitting him in the arm. Hawthorne drew her swords and yelled at everyone to look lively. Brandwyn starting chanting a song of fighting to aid her companions in the battle.

The rest of the party rose from their naps and prepared for battle. Wythri was struck by a boulder and Brandwyn pulled her back out of harm’s way. While Quion bandaged Wythri’s wounds, the rest of the party attacked the two giants. After several blows had been exchanged, the two giants started to flee. Errol caught one in the edge of a fire ball, stunning him and Gunn hit him in the vitals, dropping him. Brictius and Tatiana chased down the last giant, killing him.

While Benedikt healed Wythri, the unconscious giant was bound. When the giant regained consciousness, Brandwyn, Hawthorne, and Quion questioned him. They learned that Baylor was a giant with “big magic” who had come from far away. The giant could not remember how the stronghold had been rebuild, or how long Baylor had been in the valley. They learned that Baylor was planning on attacking the humans, but that he was still gathering together the rest of the tribes. They also learned that the giant had been impressed by Baylor’s magic, including making the dead talk; he had seen Baylor do that to the giant Orda, after killing him for disagreeing with Baylor. The giant had also not seen any other “little” people in the valley other than the party.

The party moved the bound giant into the cave they had been sleeping in and moved to a new camp site. The giant had confirmed Brandwyn’s suspicion that Baylor was not a local giant. Wythri, Quion, and Brandwyn discussed the different types of giants that could work magic. There were the Fire and Ice giants to the north and the Carraig Daoine, or Stone Giants, and the Formorian giants from Kalon.

Session 32: Against the Giants, Part I

1 Sunsheat to 10 Sunsheat, 960 RM
Prelude: Gray Haven 929 RM
Link du Clef looked at the five people standing before him. They had answered his call for help fighting the giants attacking the outlying villages and mining camps. The leader had introduced himself as Dragun, a paladin of the Trinity. The Baron felt as if he should know the young man, but could not quite place from where. The big warden was called Balph. The Baron had never met an Osiran before; the extremely tall and thin man wore a hawk mask and his skin was as black as ebony. The man calling himself the Black Rat came from Kidbod and was apparently a Jack. The woman said her name was Bri O’Derry and she came from Kalon. The Baron was not sure if she was a fighter or a spell user, or perhaps both.

“The trouble started when a giant chief named Nonsra started gathering together the different tribes.” Link explained. “Before him, they would group together in family tribes, were mostly nomadic and kept to the far hills. The reports tell us that Nonsra is a fierce fighter and very intelligent. He has made the more powerful chiefs his lieutenants. He has built a stronghold in the Valley of Steading that is far more advanced that anything we’ve ever seen the giants construct before. He also is reported to collect magical items, although I’m not sure how much stock I would place in that.” Link added seeing the expression on several of the faces of the adventures. “I have already lost several good men and Demorian soldiers in this fight. I fear if Nonsra is not stopped, Foxton and Crow’s Head Mountain will be destroyed.”

“We will not let that happen.” Dragun assured the Baron. And so the heroes joined the fight and eventually took the fight to the giants themselves. They attacked the stronghold at night, killed Nonsra, and burned the fortress to the ground. With Nonsra dead, the giants disbanded and returned to the far hills, leaving the people of Foxton in peace.

Gray Haven, 1 Sunsheat, 960 RM
“So what do we know about the current situation?” Isobelle asked, looking up from the records.

“As far as can be determined,“ Mathieu du Clef replied, “There are three large clans. The Bearhunters lead by Sinja, the Firelighters lead by Orda, and the Snow Mountain clan led by Zind. Sinja is a young fighter full of fire and said to have many wives. Orda was one of Nonrsa’s subchiefs and lost a hand and eye in the final battle. He’s much respected due to his age and experience. Zind is said to be the smartest of the three and is held in awe as he is rumored to know magic, although how much of that is true, who can tell. If you start with these three, the smaller clans might follow suit.”

“What do you know about their culture and customs?” Isobelle asked.

“Technology wise, they are still pretty primitive.” The Baron explained, “They know how to use metal weapons, but can’t make them. They work mostly in stone and flint. They like our processed foods, like cheese, and wine. Oh, and the leaders are always male and show their status by how many wives they have.”

“What about this magic lute the old bard sang about?” Isobelle looked at Wythri, who was studying another book.

“From what I can tell,” The young elf looked up from the tome she was reading, “The Lute of Doss was created by the founder of that Bardic College. It’s rumored to contain all his knowledge and power, as well as being able to, I believe the quote was charm the birds from the trees. According to the reports, there was a cave system under the stronghold, if the lute was in Nonsra’s possession, then it could be there.”

3 Sunsheat through 8 Sunsheat, 960 RM
Early the morning of 3 Sunsheat, Captain Hawthorne led her group out of Gray Haven. Wythri, Gunn, Quion, and Damien had become the standard troubleshooting group. The Deadly Seven arrived, ready to go, Lucky George the goat in tow.

The trek into the hills was not easy. The roads were not well traveled and the few mining camps the group passed through were far apart. At each camp, the group inquired after Bri and any information on the giants. Bri had apparently passed this way as all the camps reported her presence. All the camps also reported no contact with the giants, which Hawthorne took as a good sign.

9 Sunsheat, 960 RM
The day had begun sunny but changed to cloudy skies, developing later into a dense fog that descending on the travelers, then sleet driven by heavy winds pelted the travelers. Keinan found the group shelter in a large cave just off the trail they had been traveling.

Watches were set for the night with Brandwyn, Benedikt, and Randall on the first watch. Brandwyn started to compose a new song about this current adventure to keep herself awake, but she kept thinking about the Taleweaver competition held during the Baron’s Festival. She should have won; she just knew it, so why had she not even placed?

10 Sunsheat, 960 RM
The fog had cleared by morning when everyone woke. Hawthorne demanded to know why she had not been woken for her watch. Quion reported that the first watch had fallen asleep, although he had not slept and knew no one had entered the cave. Gunn checked their equipment and verified that nothing was missing. Hawthorne ordered Errol to discipline his teammates; she then brushed Night to calm herself down.

Errol pulled Brandwyn, Benedikt, and Randall outside to talk to them. Brandwyn explained that she had not realized she had fallen asleep, her mind had been focused on something else, and then it was morning. Errol admonished the others to start behaving professionally; otherwise their reputation would start to suffer. Brandwyn interrupted Errol to point out that below them in the valley was a large fortified structure. “I think we’ve found the Valley of Steading,” Brandwyn commented, “We’d better tell Captain Hawthorne.”

While the others were packing up, Wythri checked to see if there was any magic in the area and noticed a residue around the cave receding to the valley below.

Keinan and Tatiana were scouting out the surrounding area when they heard loud footsteps approaching them. Investigating, they spotted three giants approaching the cave area along the path. Tatiana warned those in the cave and everyone began preparing for the encounter. Damien, Gunn, and Errol moved out to form a perimeter around the giants and provide backup. Wythri, Quion, Benedikt, and Brictius stayed in the cave with the horses and Wythri concealed the entrance. Brandwyn and Captain Hawthorne went to intercept the giants and talk with them.

Before actually talking to the giants, Brandwyn listened in on their conversations. The three were joking and in good spirits. One of the giants told the others, “The world is agonna change. Chief Baylor will bring back the old days.” Brandwyn relayed the information to Lady Hawthorne. Wythri linked minds with Hawthorne, Brandwyn, Gunn, Damien, Quion, and Errol.

Brandwyn and Captain Hawthorne approached the giants. Hawthorne instructed Brandwyn to tell the giants that they had come to pay their respects to Baylor. The giants seemed surprised that the women had heard of Baylor. Brandwyn tried to flatter them, saying Baylor was known far and wide. The lead giant approached the two women, holding out his hand, but reaching for his club.

Keinan let loose an arrow at the lead giant, hitting him in the head. Tatiana ran past the other two giants, hitting both of them. Damien moved up behind the second giant. As the lead giant swung at Brandwyn and Hawthorne, Hawthorne leaped off night and kicked the giant in the shoulder, but he still hit the two women. The third giant chased after Tatiana hitting her in the shoulder. The second giant attacked Damien but missed. Errol shot the lead giant in the head with a wizard’s arrow. Gunn cast a flash on the lead giant, blinding him for a short time.

Tatiana recovered from her injury. Wythri boosted Brictius, Benedikt, and Quion’s speed and strength. Keinan, Hawthorne, Brictius, and Damien all attacked the giants. The lead giant kicked Hawthorne away, the landing knocking her out. The second giant attacked Damien, hitting him in the shoulder, but he was missed by the third giant. Brandwyn told a joke to the lead giant, causing him to laugh uncontrollably. Benedikt and Randall charged the lead giant. Errol hit the lead giant in the chest with another wizard’s arrow. Gunn and Quion moved to help Hawthorne.

Tatiana leaped over the second giant, hitting him in the shoulder. Keinan jumped out of the tree he was in and shot the third giant, hitting him in the hand. Hawthorne regained consciousness. Brictius did a moving attack on the third giant, hitting him in the vitals. Wythri cast an aid on Hawthorne, helping her recover quicker. Damien rolled under the second giant and hit him in the foot. The lead giant broke out of Brandwyn’s spell and stopped laughing. The second giant attacked Damien, hitting him the chest, stunning him. Brandwyn started chanting a song of strength. Benedikt and Errol attacked the lead giant, Errol’s wizard’s arrow dropping him. Randell and Gunn both attacked the third giant. Quion picked up Hawthorne and threw her towards Damien.

Tatiana did a running attack against the two remaining giants. Tatiana and Keinan attacked the second giant as a team. Hawthorne jumped up to attack the third giant in the chest. Brictius charged the third giant, hitting him in the vitals dropping him. Wythri cast a fireblast in the shape of a dragon at the second giant, dropping him.

While Benedikt tended to the wounded; Randall, Brictius, and Errol looted the giant’s bodies, but were disappointed with what they found.

Session 31: A Visit to the Good Doctor

19 Lightening to 28 Lightening, 960 RM
19 Lightening, 960 RM
Captain Hawthorne, Wythri, Damien, Niamh, and Gunn traveled to Hill Rose. Gunn went ahead to try and locate Featherlight. He found her a few hours later and the two of them headed back toward the rest of the group.

20 Lightening, 960 RM
Gunn and Featherlight met the rest of the group on the road. Featherlight reported that Dr Rothbury had six large, not very bright men working for him. They performed various tasks around the grounds, and she had never observed them talking to each other or Dr Rothbury. She also had never seen Dr Rothbury without his two large dogs and she had only ever seen him going back and forth from the house to the barn. She also thought there were more than two dogs as she had heard barking coming from the barn. There was always someone on guard at the house and at the barn when Dr Rothbury was working in there. Several of the cattle had been slaughtered and taken into the barn.

After dark, Damien and Gunn approached the barn to see if they could get a look inside without being spotted. When they got within fifteen feet of the barn, they heard a dog start to bark that was answered by more barking from the barn. One of the men came out of the house with one of Dr Rothbury’s large mastiffs. The man checked on the cattle while the dog sniffed around the barn. The dog looked at where the two men were hiding and started to approach. Gunn tried to convince a night bird to distract the dog, but the bird refused. As the dog continued to approach, the two men moved back deeper into cover. The dog found their trail, but did not pursue them.

Gunn and Damien returned to Hill Rose to report to Captain Hawthorne. They realized that the barking started inside the house and then was picked up by more than one dog in the barn and that the barking stopped when the door to the house was opened.

21 Lightening, 960 RM
First thing in the morning, the group approached Dr Rothbury’s house. The men were already outside working when the group arrived and one of the men went into the house. Knocking on the door, they were lead into the kitchen. Dr Rothbury apologized for not having breakfast ready for them, but the group explain they had already eaten.

Captain Hawthorne asked Dr Rothbury how his research was going, and he went into a long technical conversation that made everyone wish Quion was with them as he was probably the only one who understood what Dr Rothbury was saying.

Captain Hawthorne told Dr Rothbury about the other creatures the two groups of monster hunters had found. Wythri asked if the squid creatures could fuse with something else. Dr Rothbury admitted that it might be possible, although he had not been able to test that (but was very interesting idea). It could be possible that a budding creature could attach to something else and fuse with it. He had discovered that the smaller squid things tended to eat each other, much like spiders.

Dr Rothbury sounded doubtful that a new creature had been discovered, and suggested that the monster hunters had fabricated the creatures in order to gain more money. The group doubted that the monster hunters would be smart enough to pull off such a hoax.

Niamh asked if Dr Rothbury had any reports ready that they could take back for Quion to review and Dr Rothbury retrieved his notes for her.

Captain Hawthorne was convinced that something was going on, but could not gain any concrete evidence to prove her suspicion.

After leaving Dr Rothbury’s house, Gunn found a mouse to talk to. The mouse told Gunn that the smaller creatures did not like the barn because it smelled like death. They also did not like the dogs.

21 Lightening to 28 Lightening, 960 RM
The group set out to find where the Deadly Seven had claimed to fight the owlbear creature and spent several days tracking through the woods.

Finally finding the spot, they discovered that not much was left of the creature after the monster hunters had burned the body and scavengers had picked through what was left. They also found the den and Gunn confirmed that it had only recently been dug out.

28 Lightening, 960 RM
The group returned to Foxtown. Niamh checked in with a very irate Lieutenant Tower who was not happy she had been gone for so long. She also learned that Captain Waggoner had not returned from Crow’s Head Mountain.

Captain Hawthorne reported to the Baron, who had also been concerned they had been gone for so long. Captain Hawthorne gave her report and her conclusion that Dr Rothbury was hiding something, but there was no hard evidence to act on yet. The Baron agreed and suggested she prepare her delegation for the trip to visit the Giants. Captain Hawthorne and Wythri spent the next few days researching the subject, delighted that the Baron’s library contained a wealth of information on the subject.

Niamh informed Captain Hawthorne that she would be unable to accompany them on this trip. She was needed on duty in Foxtown, especially since Captain Waggoner was still gone. She did suggest that Captain Hawthorne enlist Brandwyn, the Deadly Seven’s taleweaver, as the bard did speak Giantish. Since the Deadly Seven would not let their taleweaver go on a dangerous mission without the whole group, Captain Hawthorne was forced to hire the entire group of monster hunters. Very strict ground rules were established to keep them on their best behavior.

Session 30: Don’t Mess with the Bard

6 Lightening to 18 Lightening, 960 RM
6 Lightening to 14 Lightening, 960 RM
The Deadly Seven left Foxtown the morning of 6 Lightening, heading toward Hill Rose. Following the map Quion had given them, they headed deeper into the woods. They had purchased a goat to use as bait and several potions from Wythri.

The weather started turning bad on 10 Lightening and they had not found any signs of any unusual creatures. The evening of 14 Lightening, a storm broke loose. The monster hunters found shelter and pitched their tents for the evening.

The first watch was uneventful, even though Benedikt and Randall were not paying full attention. Tatiana and Brictius took over the next watch. The goat and mule became more agitated as the night wore on, but the two elves could not tell if it was due to the storm or something else. During a flash of lighting, Brictius caught a glimpse of a large creature rising up out of the woods.

Tatiana descended from the tree she was in and attacked the creature, but missed hitting it with her axes. The monster crashed through Brandwyn’s tent severely injuring the bard on its way to scooping up the goat. Brictius charged the creature, hitting it in the shoulder.

Tatiana did a running attack at the creature, but missed. The creature charged Brictius, destroying Randell and Benedikt’s tents, and struck Brictius in the shoulder. The commotion in the camp failed to waken Errol, but the rest of the team was roused from their slumber. Brictius ran toward the clearing, trying to draw the creature out into the open.

Tatiana did another running attack at the creature, but missed again. The creature charged Brictius, but slipped in the mud missing the gray elf. Tatiana did another running attack at the creature, but also slipped in the mud and missed. Keinan shot the creature in the head, but did little damage. Brictius swept his spear under the monster’s legs knocking it down. Randall moved up to the monster, “accidentally” pulling Errol’s tent down. Brandwyn, although injured, started chanting a song of fighting to aid her companions. Benedikt moved to Brandwyn, kicking Errol awake on the way, and healed the bard’s wounds. Errol, finally awake, assessed the situation.

The creature stood up and hit Randall in the chest. Tatiana moved toward the creature and hit it in the foot. She also threw two more axes at it, hitting it in the arms and vitals. Keinan shot the creature in the head again, still doing little damage. The monster swung at Brictius and Randall, missing Brictius but hitting Randall in the head doing little damage. Brictius knocked down the creature again. Randall hit the creature in the head. Brandwyn continued changing. Errol used a spell to illuminate the area so everyone could see. The creature was a large owlbear with two sets of tentacles instead of forearms. Benedikt moved over to the creature, hitting it in the chest, but not doing much damage. Brictius and Randall started to feel the effects of the creature’s poison.

Tatiana ran pasted the creature again, hitting it in the foot. The monster stood up and took a swing at Randall who dodged the blow. Keinan shot the creature in the vitals, doing more damage there. Brictius knocked the creature down again. Brandwyn moved closer to the fight, still chanting, the creature found her song funny and started to laugh uncontrollably. Errol shot his magic shards at the creature, drawing blood. Benedikt cast a warblessing on Randall.

Tatiana dumped a flask of lamp oil on the creature. The monster continued to laugh. Keinan hit the creature in the vitals again. Brictius hit the creature in the chest. Brandwyn continued her chanting. Benedikt drank his potion of Fire Breath he had bought from Wythri and caught the monster on fire, killing it.

Benedikt was able to slow the progress of the poison effecting Brictius and Randall using some herbs he had until the effects of the poison faded. He was also able to save the goat, which the group adopted and named it Lucky George.

15 Lightening to 16 Lighting, 960 RM
The group spent the next couple of days back tracking to the creatures den. Keinan determined that the den had not been established for very long, less than a season. While Brandwyn composed a report to the Baron, Benedikt and Randall stood watch over the area and Keinan, Tatiana, and Brictius searched the area for any signs of more creatures. Tatiana found a glass tube buried in the mud and Randall recognized it as a syringe belonging to Dr Rothbury. Brandwyn finished her report and sent it by pigeon back to Gray Haven. The group then made a quick march back to Foxtown.

18 Lightening, 960 RM
Returning to Foxtown, the Deadly Seven requested an audience with the Baron. They presented the skull of the creature and the syringe to Quion for study. Captain Hawthorne dismissed the monster hunters until Quion could complete his report. Quion requested Wythri assist him with the analysis, which the elf reluctantly agreed to.

The examination of the skull revealed it to have belonged to a particularly large owlbear, but not outside the norm. The analysis of the syringe showed it to have contained a sedative. Quion requested a sample of blood from the goat to analyze the poison from the creature.

Captain Hawthorne talked to the Deadly Seven and was quite disappointed that they asked for payment for the sample. After some “gentle” persuasion, the group reluctantly agreed.

Examination of the blood showed the poison to be very potent and caused death by completely paralyzing the victim. This type of poison was similar to that found in some types of snakes around the Sylvan Gulf, specifically around Brills and Korma. After hearing this, Captain Hawthorne went to speak to the Baron. Several ideas were discussed as to why the syringe would be found near the den, the most logical one being if the creature did indeed have trolls blood, then it would need to be constantly sedated to be moved. The next course of action would be to visit the good doctor and learn what he had been doing.

Niahm: Lovers

Niamh Interlude: Birthday Reflections
2 Lightening, 960 RM, pre-dawn, Derry Dale
Niamh rolled over in bed and stretched, ready to start her day, until she realized it was not even dawn yet. “Why am I awake already?” She asked herself. “Because it’s your birthday and you always rise before dawn to reflect on the past year.” Sighing, she pulled herself out of bed and went into the kitchen. She coaxed the embers in the fireplace into a blaze and put the kettle on so she could have some tea.

When had she started this tradition, she wondered. “On your seventeenth birthday.” She reminded herself. Seventeen. When she had turned sixteen, she had left her mother and joined the Draconians in Tallhill. She hadn’t told her mother what she had done until Arwyn had been ready to move on. Her mother was disappointed that she would not be joining her, but had wished her well in her new pursuit. The Draconians had never had a witch join the force before, so they were at a lost as to where to put her. She obviously did not belong in the Theologic Corp as she was not a priestess, so they put in the Thaumaturgic Corp.

She had struggled there; she just could not wrap her mind around how to do the spells as they were being taught. Then Thomas offered to tutor her. Thomas, her first lover. He was a few years older than she was, with curly black hair, sky blue eyes, sly smile, and surprisingly strong hands for a wizard. She still remembered those hands working out the knots in her shoulders whenever she got frustrated. He taught her a great deal, not all about magic. She had felt as if a knife had been thrust into her heart when she had caught him with Mary and learned the only reason he had offered to tutor her was to try to bed her. “List that one under young inexperience.”

A few years later she was stationed in Alphabet City in Drache. She had finally found a place in the Epoptic Corp and was working her way not only to Foxton, but the rank of Sargent. While investigating a series of burglaries, she met a locksmith named Stephen. Stephen was tall and thin with long, almost elven fingers. He had short brown hair and dark eyes. It was his sharp wit that had attracted her. That relationship had ended when she arrested him for the burglaries she had been investigating. She had learned that he was using his locksmithing business to make extra keys and then helping himself to homeowner’s valuables when they were not home. He had almost killed her in the fight, but she did make Sargent for her efforts. “Why couldn’t I have inherited mom’s knack of finding good companions? What about Anthony then?”

Six years ago she had been assigned to Warford. There she had met a young printer named Anthony. He had blonde hair, green eyes, and an easy smile. He was intelligent and romantic. She had never felt so at easy with anyone. She could talk to him about anything and she would have done anything to make him happy. They had been considering getting married. Then Niamh received word that Arwyn was ill and left to go take care of her mother. She had arrived too late though. She returned to Warford depressed and angry at herself.

To try to cope with her loss, she had thrown herself into her work leaving little time for anything else. In Anthony’s defense he was very patient and understanding and tried very hard to comfort Niamh. When she was promoted to Lieutenant, and finally given her transfer to Foxton, that’s when everything came to a head. Anthony refused to leave his business and Niamh refused to give up her new assignment. She still regretted their last argument. “You have no one to blame but yourself for that one.” She chided herself. She sighed as she sipped her tea, “I know. So what has the past year brought you?”

She had continued focusing on her job until she had been suspended. The time off had forced her to reflect and rethink her position. She had been assigned as liaison to Baron du Clef. She had met and became friends with Lady Hawthorne, Wythri, and Quion; the first people she had allowed herself to get close to for many years. Then just last month she had been infected with the werewolf curse. She shuddered remembering the ritual to remove the curse. “But it wasn’t all bad, what about Benedikt?” What about Benedikt. What was that relationship? Was there even a relationship? She just didn’t know how she felt about him anymore.


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