Grand Duchy 40

Grand Duchy of Adventure

Session 40
November 21 - December 3, 2014

Infiltrating Xitaqa

Nytdain 22nd of Flaurmont

Hiding Out in the Rain

The Grey Company quickly moves into the buildings that the baboons had come from. The three dead monkeys are dragged inside though a fourth one was missing. The road weary party stops for a moment to catch their breath after the recent skirmish. It looks as if no one was injured during the fight, but there is a worry that the commotion may have attracted some unwanted attention. And to make a difficult situation worse, a cold heavy rain starts to fall. 

Draven lingers near the door, hoping for some fresh air to defeat the oppressive stink of enclosed baboon filth and corpses. He also keeps an eye out and an ear for any sound of investigation, hoping against hope that any goblin that sees the fleeing monkey will assume that it was internecine warfare between them and not interlopers into the ravine system.

The only sound to be heard is the steady patter of the rain on the rocky ground outside and the occasional plop from water dripping in from a few small openings in the ceiling. The smell of rain and damp earth smells good compared to the stench of decay, death and baboon waste. A quick examination of the two connected chambers reveals nothing but trash, rotting leaves, tufts of monkey hair and a collection of different sized, gnawed upon, bones from the baboon’s previous meals. The buildings are made of a smooth, grey stone, fitted together expertly, though showing signs of age. 

“Today I will love the rain.” Marcel whispers. While the others are turning inward, he peeks outside and stretches his neck around to corner to scope the wide building across the ravine. “This looks like the front door to me. I wonder if it is guarded at all by goblins… or these small goblin dogs.” 


Griffin grins at Marcel.  “Sounds like I’m up, then.” Griffin slides up to where Draven holds station by the door. “Be ready. I may bring company when I come back.”

Griffin slips out of the baboon den, and with a quick glance to both sides, he moves slowly and quietly across to the building to his east. His moccasins make only whispers as he glides over to the far wall. He gazes up at the wall, looking for handholds, even as he listens intently outside the door.
Marcel stays at the door’s threshold so as to not jeopardize Griffin’s sneaky ways. His spear and shield ready to go… waiting for the next batch of goblin dogs to rear their ugly grins into view.

“I don’t know if the goblins have just become very trusting of their security here, or if they count on the monkeys to keep the riff-raff out. Either way, it may work to our advantage.”

Remar looks up at Draven’s comment. “They’re just Goblins. I’d imagine they don’t know what security is. It’s whoever might be up in that tower that I’m more worried about.” The mage rests heavily against the stone wall near the door. He is still breathing heavily from the battle moments ago, having a hard time catching his breath. “And what the hells is Marcel talking about, dogs. I haven’t seen any dogs here.” He shudders a bit, “I hope these Goblins don’t have wolves like the other ones.”
The other four keep watch from the other room, watching out to the north and keeping an eye on the direction the group had come from.

Griffin moves across the wet and slippery way toward the next set of buildings that stretch from one side of the ravine to the other. He heads to the right where the first door is close to the cliff wall, looking out for a possible way to climb up onto the tops of the building.

The rain really cuts down on the visibility, Griffin thinks to himself as he moves, but it also cuts down on the sound. His footsteps make no noticeable sound as he hurries across the hard, rocky ground. As he approaches, he sees that it would be fairly easy to climb up to the top of the building right next to where it meets the side of the ravine. There is a little gap there, with what just might be hand and foot holds, probably used by the baboons. The nearest door is about 5 feet to his left and he can already smell the stench of the filthy monkeys. Pausing to listen for a moment, he hears nothing but the falling rain.

Griffin pauses. Should we get started getting them up, or check out the other doors first?  Gotta love the rain at least.  He makes up his mind and slides along the wall to the door, peeking in as obliquely as he can.

Griffin peers into the building cautiously and sees nothing immediately dangerous, though he does catch some muffled and distant sounds that may be monkey made. The room is about 10x20, with most of it residing in the base of the nearby cliff. Large puddles of water dot the floor between piles of rubbish and debris. An open door to the left is in front of him. Water flows in through this doorway. Sounds of rapidly dripping and splashing water can be heard from through the doorway.

Griffin creeps forward and carefully peers into the next room. A wide waterfall is coming in through a crack in the ceiling, filling half of the floor with a wide pool. He can see through a side door into a chamber to the right, and then peering more around the corner, he can see across this room through another door at the far end as well. Several baboon hoots and grunts echo off the interior walls, but are nearly drown out by the sound of falling water. Griffin is not sure where the monkey calls are coming from, but they do not necessarily sound scared or aggressive. 
Scouting out the ruins.

When Marcel sees Griffin enter the building, before he leaves, he chops the head off of them goblin dog and, holding by the fur, tucks it behind his shield then starts to move forward. He makes his way to the door and peers inside. The room is quiet, stinky and wet. He slips along the wall to the leftmost door and have the most cautious look inside, listening ahead as much as possible. 

As Griffin is surveying the next rooms, Marcel moves up behind him quietly, surprising Griffin. The two companions contemplate their next move. The sounds of the baboons can occasionally be heard from ahead. Griffin is now sure they are coming from through the door at the far end of the next room.

Griffin waves Marcel back, out the door. “I think we can get above all this if we climb up here,” he whispers. He shows the warrior the place where it looks like there are sufficient hand- and foot-holds to get to the roof. “All these buildings could hold surprises. I think it would be better if we avoided them altogether.” He points up. “I’ll get a rope in place, you go let the others know what the plan is. And let them know there are more baboons in this building, so for Ixion’s sake take it slow and quiet!”

From the top of the building, Griffin scans the area. He can see that this is just a string of buildings next to each other spanning the ravine. Unless he missed something inside, there is no direct connection to tower from here. 

Back at the other set of rooms, Remar watches as Griffin climbs up and sets a rope down. “Everyone, time to get wet,” the mage calls in a loud whisper. “Looks like he wants us to climb up onto the top of that next building.” He turns and looks at Draven then down at the stump where his hand used to be. “Brother, do you require magical assistance for the climb? I can help you.” He shots a sidelong glance at Ree as he says this. Ree clenches her teeth as if to say something and her face turns a bit red. She quickly turns, grabs her gear and heads out into the rain. Burik and Iris follow her. Akaios waits for the others, planning on going last.

Marcel notices the other activating and takes a secure position to keep an eye on their next move. He pays special attention to the cliff tops, nooks and crannies where the movement of lurkers could be seen. He is particularly nervous of shadows as in these parts, there is a bite to them which isn’t all that pleasant. 

Griffin and Marcel watch as Iris, Ree and Burik run across the ravine. About halfway across, Iris takes a misstep and slides a bit, almost falling. A brief cry escapes her lips as she righted herself.  They reach the side of the ravine next to the building and Marcel motions them back against the wall as he checks around, watching to see if anyone heard Iris’s cry. Feeling it is safe, he motions for them to climb up the narrow path to the top of the building.They all make it up quite easily, Ree going so far as to climb up without the rope or Griffin’s help. At the top, she sneers at Griffin and slinks away to the opposite edge to keep a look out while the others make their way across. 

Remar, Draven and Akaios wait until they see their three companions safely on the top of the other building before making their move. Remar puts his hand on Draven’s shoulder and asks him again if he would care for magical aid for the upcoming climb.

“Yes, absolutely. Absent that, I’m not sure I can follow.”

Remar performs a quick ritual and speaks some magical words then rests his hands on the Acolytes shoulders. “That should take care of you, that climb shouldn’t be any sort of trouble now.” Draven leads the way across the wet ravine, his shield and mace rattling loudly against his armor. Once the three get there, they all easily climb up to the top of the building.

Griffin motions the team in close. “Okay, good job. I think we’re safe up here for a few minutes.” He looks up at the rainy sky and shrugs. “Sorry about the damp.” He points up to the top of the ravine’s edge. “If I can get up there, I think I can peek down on the entrance of the tower, see if there are guards and such.” He leans in closer. “If anyone wants to join me, great. It might be that going over the top is the best way to go. If not, hunker down here and I’ll be back with a report post-haste.”

With a wink Griffin turns to the wall and starts climbing up the slippery rock surface.  When he gets to the top, he readies his crossbow and makes his way quietly across the top of the escarpment toward the tower.

Split the Party

Griffin carefully scales the side of the ravine. The rain and mud make it difficult, but he manages to clamber to the top without much problem. He turns to look back down at his companions and sees Ree climbing up behind him. He helps her up over the edge and both turn to look at their surroundings. The tower juts up into the grey sky a mere 40 feet away. It’s dark stone exterior showing no visible openings from this angle. 

Griffin leads the way toward the base of the tower and then around to the north, hoping to get a look at what he hopes is an entrance to the tower itself. Eventually, he makes it over to the edge of the ravine where it runs up next to the tower. He stretches himself out on his belly and slides up to the edge. Looking down, he can see that here, the tower goes all the way down to the ground. Where it curves away ahead of him, flat stone wall of another building juts out from the cliff face ahead. A single, stone door can be seen in the short wall, down at ground level some 30 feet below. He scans the face of the tower from this angle and still sees no obvious means of ingress. He calls quietly over his shoulder to Ree and tells her what he sees, but strangely, he gets no response. Turning to look, the young girl is nowhere to be seen. He then hears her tell-tale cursing, “Shit!” from up above. Craning his neck, he sees her clinging to the side of the tower, about 30 feet up, nearly directly above. More ominously, he sees something dark moving in an alcove further up the tower. Ree sees it too, which is probably why she is cursing. The dark shape wriggles down tower a bit then expands and detaches from the tower. It flaps its wings violently and darts down toward Ree, a nearly imperceptible, high pitched cry coming from it. Griffin could see it clearly now, another one of those dreaded, giant, foul bats!

Seeing Ariadne in danger, Griffin rolls onto his back. He brings up his crossbow and takes a deep breath, trying to target the flapping creature.  “Hang on, sis,” he mutters.
Finding a door to the tower!

Before Griffin can bring his weapon to bear and aim, the large bat swoops in toward Ree. The young Half-Elf hugs herself close to the stone. The bat attempts to attack Ree but completely misses her and hits the wall next to her. Though its attack did not seem to harm Ree, its mere proximity affects her and she begins to cough and spit, a reaction to the bat’s foul smell. She manages to hang on, but Griffin sees her begin to lose her grip just as he lets his bolt fly. The bolt strikes the bat and it flutters its wings then flies quickly back up toward the top of the tower where it had come from. As the bat flies away, Ree loses her grip and falls, plummeting backward toward the ground. After falling about halfway, suddenly she stops and gently floats down toward the ground. 

Halfway to swearing, Griffin has to grin at Ree’s magic. He rushes over to the base of the tower just as she lands. Her sly smile tells him all he needs to know. She is quite pleased with herself at this moment.

He pulls her down next to the tower, seeking some cover, and mock-growls, “You know, I’d like to be kinda pissed at you for heading off like that.”  She starts to say something angry back but he cuts her off, “But I can’t,” and he grins his best Griffin smile, “cause that was really kinda cool.  Now, did you see anything useful while you were up there?  Besides stinky bats, of course?”

Through her smile, Ree coughs again, then shakes her head. “No, it was easy enough to climb, even in the rain, lots of handholds, but I couldn’t see any openings or windows or anything.” She turns her head away for a moment, “I’m sorry, I just wanted to help and check out something else while you were looking over there. I wasn’t thinking. Next time I’ll be….” she stops talking and stares over Griffin’s shoulder with wide eyes. He turns to look and sees an entire swarm of foul bats descending upon them!

“Aw, hells,” swears Griffin. He looks at the diving bats, then at the edge of the escarpment. “C’mon, RUN!” He grabs Ree’s hand and runs pell-mell to the edge of the escarpment. Without breaking stride, he leaps into the air!

As Griffin leaps into the air, he loses his grip on Ree as she almost immediately slows once they leave the edge. Down below, he sees his companions running across the building for a brief second before he crashes into a landing. 

The nimble Thyatian lands safely, if not a bit hard. He ends in a crouch and quickly looks back over his shoulder to see Ree gently floating down behind him. The smirk on her face is unmistakable. He looks past her to the bats, which are closing in fast!

Back on the roof of the building, the other members of the Grey Company huddle against the wall of the ravine, trying to stay out of the rain as best they can. The sit in silence, trying to remain undetected. Akaios whispers, “We should have waited INSIDE this building instead of on top of it. If we don’t get killed or slip and fall off of here, we’re going to catch a bad cold anyway!” He laughs and elicits a few weak smiles from his companions. Iris abruptly shushes him and points at the far side of the set of buildings they are standing on. A lone, rain-soaked baboon has crawled up onto the top of the far building and is poking around at the ravine wall, his back to the Company. Almost as if it knew they were looking at it, the monkey stops and turns, staring directly at the group. The animal cocks its head to one side and stares, then lets out an incredibly loud, screeching bark and starts jumping up and down!

Looking over at the mage, Draven asks “Remar, anything? I’ve one option, but it’s remarkably desperate…” As he asks, he starts to close some of the distance to the primate, fearing the worst.
“Not much at this range,” Remar responds, “except for this!” A bluish green bolt appears in Remar’s hand and the young mage flings it at the baboon. The bolt hits the monkey solidly and it shrieks and jumps before turning and scuttling off the top of the building.

“I desperately hope your assessment of these apes being the goblin’s watchdogs is wrong, Marcel” He shakes his head “The last thing we need is for them to be roused now, but I fear for the worst.” Draven moves to the side of the building to see if he can lay eyes on the fleeing baboon.

Marcel charges across the structure as far as he can, full move ahead as he flings the monkey’s head forward to create a distraction. 

Marcel leads the charge across the slippery top of the building toward where the baboon had recently been. Draven moves to the right side of the building and glances over. He sees an open doorway on a building ahead that is embedded into the ravine side. The sounds of hooting baboons can be heard over the sound of the falling rain. He also sees a little path near that doorway that leads up to the top, similar to the one the Company had just climbed up on the other side.
Charging across the roof!

Getting the Band Back Together

As the group reaches the far side of the roof, a commotion and loud thud draws everyone’s attention. Turning to look, they see Griffin crouching on the roof near the ravine wall while Ree is slowly floating down from above, clearly by magical means. Up above them swoops a swarm of foul bats!

Griffin turns towards the bats and readies his shield. “Hope you guys weren’t bored - we have a small problem!” he says over his shoulder. “Remar? Think there’s something you could do about those guys?” as he points up towards the tower.

As Griffin fumbles with his shield, the bats swarm around Ree, flapping and biting at her. Several of the bats veer off toward the larger group of party members while one of them angles toward Griffin. The three on Ree attack viciously, biting, scratching and ramming her into unconsciousness. Remar joins the fray by sending a magical bolt at an attacking bat’s wing, but the glowing ball of magic seems to  have no effect on the bat this time!

As Griffin continues to strap his shield on, one of the bats swoops into his space, attacking in very closely from above. The stench of the bat hits him and he feels his stomach turn. Across the roof, foul bats also attack Marcel and Draven! 

“Another batch of flying goblin dogs!” exclaims Marcel in half-tone.  While blocking the bat, he turn the attack into a fumble for the beast. He takes stock of the situation and tries to layout a plan of action where he’ll orchestrate the fight of the company as a cohesive team.

Marcel’s quick block seems to throw the bat off balance and it just flutters there momentarily, which gives him a second to look around and evaluate options. Tactically speaking, being on the roof of a building in a ravine during the rain being attacked by flying foes is not the best, but then again, he knows that there are more potential foes down below inside the building in the form of more goblin dogs. The group’s best option is to keep the ravine wall at their backs and and not let the bats flank them.

Draven also brings his shield up in defense, managing to block the attack of the foul bat. Griffin also goes on the defensive, giving ground to the swooping bat and backing up to avoid its attack. The other bats continue to attack Ree as she continues to float to the ground. Iris, Akaios, Burik, and Remar quickly leap to action. Akaios chops the nearest bat nearly in half. A worried Draven nods his approval. Remar fires another bolt at one of the bats attacking Ree, this time scoring a solid hit. 
Trusting Marcel to be able to handle himself, Iris and Burik sprint back across the wet rooftop toward the main concentration of bats.  

Griffin coughs, the stench of the bats tearing at his lungs. He can see the bats attacking Ree, and he wants to get to her to help, but this stupid bat is in. his. way!

He whips out his sword and swings with all his might, hoping to either kill the foul beast or at least knock it aside.

Griffin grunts as he slashes at the bat and connects with a solid blow, sending the filthy beast crashing to the wet stone. It makes a quiet, high pitched squeal and flops around, attempting to move away. As Griffin steps over the downed bat, he sees the others rushing across the rooftop to Ree’s aid. She is nearly all the way down now and the bats are continuing to attack her! Akaios and Marcel remain on the other side of the roof, dealing with the lone bat there. 

Marcel yelps at Burik and Remar to part and help Griffin at the other end of the building while he enthusiastically tries to beat the bat down to the ground. Marcel hoping that the hapless creature can be finished off by others quickly once thrown off balance. 

Patching up and Moving On

Completely overcome by Marcel’s shield, the bat puts up no visible resistance as Akaios brings his axe down in an overhead chop, slicing the creature in two. 

The others rush to Ree’s aid, who has finally floated down. A few good strikes and well placed magical bolts sends the remaining bats fluttering away with a handful of injuries. Ree is unconscious and bleeding from numerous cuts and bite marks all over her body.

A frantic look on his face, Remar pushes his way through and immediately begins casting a spell. He lays his hands on her and some of her wounds shrink mildly. He quickly turns and steps away, “That is all I can do,” he mutters quietly. He looks at Draven, “You must help her now, Brother.” The mage avoids everyone elses glances and moves to the edge of the building to keep watch while Ree is tended to. 

Everyone is on the edge of exhaustion now, panting and breathing heavily in the pouring rain. It is clear that no good rest will be had out here in the weather. Marcel and Akaios keep watch at the far end of the roof. Marcel is happy to note that, while he can still hear the goblin-dogs making a racket down below, none of them have ventured out into the rain again. Griffin and Remar keep watch on the other end, near where the rest of the party is. The others crowd around Ree, trying to block the weather from Draven as he checks her out. Draven sees that the young Half-Elf’s wounds are severe and that prior to whatever healing Remar managed, she would have been on the edge of deaths door. 

 “Stand aside,” yells Draven, his voice a little shrill, “let me do my work!” Taking hold of his holy symbol, Draven suffices with a single word, uttered in prayer, before laying his hands on the nastiest of the wounds - “Please.”

Divine Judgement

As Draven finishes his first spell, something unusual happens. Instead of Ree’s wounds magically sealing up or shrinking, they seem to intensify. They do not get worse, they just become more noticeable, more visible, to everyone around. The blood seeping out of her wounds becomes more familiar, more communal, like it was everyone's shared blood. 

Or like it was everyone’s FAULT there was blood there in the first place. The sky darkens and becomes heavier, threatening to suffocate everyone beneath it. The raindrops intensify, solidify, and become tiny hammers of judgement, pounding down upon everyone’s soul. The gaze of the Immortals shoots down from the Heavens, illuminating every past transgression, every fault, each misstep that led to this one moment. Judgement weighs heavy on everyone’s thoughts while they just stand there, staring, stunned at this unexpected trial of the soul. 

Eventually, after what seems like ages, the wind shifts and the clouds move back to their normal positions in the sky, still hanging low and dark, heavy with rain. One by one, the gathered members of the Grey Company snap out of it, though Draven’s blank stare holds on a little longer. Finally, he looks down at his hand clutching the holy icon of the Church of Karameikos. Then he looks to the still present and serious wounds covering Ree’s body. He keeps his eyes low, refraining from looking up to the sky as he contemplates whether to try another healing spell right now.

Griffin looks over his shoulder at the still form of his comrade-in-arms, the girl who he counts on to have his back. Have we bitten off more than we can chew? We already lost Eran, and we’ve almost lost more on the way here.  It’s been a month since the attack on Susikyn. What are the odds that poor Stephan could still be alive?  Even the gods seem to be against us!

“Okay, guys, listen up!  We are bugging out. This is wayyy beyond our pay grade. I don’t want to lose anyone - we’ve come too close already! Let’s head back the way we came - get to our base and regroup.” Griffin doesn’t look like he’s waiting, but starts gathering his gear. He moves to where Draven is tending the fallen Ariadne. “I’ll carry Ree if we need to, Brother.”

Marcel wasn’t expecting this turn of event. He, since the beginning of this campaign had looked up at Griffin as the moral anchor of the company. But, seeing his friend lose heart so far into the journey, he feels a swell of energy surge from the depth of his soul. 

“Friends, the gods are looking down upon us at this time of trial. This is not a time of judgement here, friends! Our hearts are on the scale and this is not how the Grey Company will respond.”, a few long faces turns to him, waiting for more. 

“Sure, there are goblin dogs, and smelly bats, and strange shadows lurking about. But isn’t it all part of the greater journey that we have embarked. Should we look up to the sky and tell the gods, whoever may be listening, that we are giving up on Stephan. That we are handing hope to sinister forces on the behalf of the pioneers down-river?”

Marcel makes eye contact with every member (but Ree). He, once more, feels that he is channeling more through his homely body than his simple manners. Warlock Marcel is speaking, the Grey Company should listen… 

“Draven, give it another go. Ree needs it. We need to find a place to regroup. The journey is not yet over for us.”, he utters while looking up to the sky in defiance.

Emboldened by his friends words, Draven begins his prayer again and lays his hands on the wounded Half-Elf once more. This time, the magic works as it normally does. Many of her wounds close up and disappear completely. Her eyelids flutter and she wakes up. “What is everyone looking at,” she spits out weakly. She is still visibly wounded and weary as she pushes herself up to her feet. “Where do you think you’re going, Griffin? Why are we still sitting out here in the rain?”

Draven says nothing, but gathers his things, deep in thought. His gifts might not be stripped from him, but there’s more than a little penance to be served for his own pride and presumption.

Griffin looks at her almost aghast as she struggles to stand. “What are you doing? You were almost dead a minute ago. Lay down and let Draven take care of you!” He tries to help her back to the soggy roof, but she shrugs him off. 

He looks at her more intently. “I was thinking we should bug out, abort the mission, retreat and reassess.” He waves to his comrade, “But Marcel here says we still have a job to do. Are you okay? Can you go on? Because I’m almost ready to cut our losses.” He looks her in the eyes. “Your call, Ree.”

Ree coughs, but looks up at Griffin. “You wussing out on me, Griff? I’ll be fine as long as my man Draven her continues to take such good care of me.” Burik looks up sharply, and Draven might be blushing just a bit, but she doesn’t notice and continues. “Stupid bat won’t put me out. We’re the Grey Company, and we got a job to do, right?”

Griffin nods slowly. “Okay, I guess we aren’t bugging out. So says Captain Ariadne, I guess.” He draws a deep breath. “Well, then, let’s see… I found a door that might lead into the tower. Back before all the excitement. Cold get more exciting once we go in. Do we want to find a dry place, catch our breath? Or press on, get inside, and hopefully get a chance to rest once we’re in there?” He looks up at the ominous tower looming over them.

Ree’s enthusiasm to continue the mission did not extend to the unbelievable, “Yea, I think resting for a bit before moving on would be good.” The entire Company practically nods in agreement. 

Burik chimes in, “So, what, do we backtrack to that last spot we were in over there,” he points through the rain to the doorway across the way, “or do we go down below and shoo those monkeys out. They weren’t that tough, right? We should be able to take ‘em pretty easily.” He looks to Akaios and Marcel for more tactical encouragement. 

“I am entirely in favor of the path of least resistance,” says Draven, woodenly.

Griffin straightens up and looks around.  “Path of least resistance.  Right.” He points back behind them. “Okay, we go back down the monkey trail, then through the building into this room here,”  He walks over and stands on the roof of the room closest to the tower entrance. “Then we take a break, out of the rain,” and nods to his friend Akaios. “Maybe polish off the last of the rations. Draven, you’ll have whatever time you need to get Ree ship-shape, okay?” He turns to Marcel and Burik. “I’d like to keep this quiet, but if those baboons come sniffing around, take ‘em down quick. They can make a powerful ruckus.” 

“Once we’ve had a chance to rest up, I’ll sneak over and check out the door. It could be our way in.” 
Akaios seems a bit disappointed in the choice to retreat to rest, but he follows grudgingly, knowing that there will soon be more foes to encounter. The group carefully climbs back down, using Griffin’s rope to help, and slinks back across the ravine to the empty room.  Akaios doles out some rations for lunch and the Company eats in silence. During the resting period, Remar casts a few healing spells to help patch up some other member’s minor wounds. 

Draven gives Ree some medical treatment while everyone else rests and watches. His hands shaking, he’s unable to work the bandages free. He pauses, takes a deep breath and tries again, still managing to re-open the wounds and raising a yelp of pain from Ree. His face a mask of rage and bright red with shame, he pulls the pixie necklace from his own neck with rather more force than strictly necessary. “Here. Take this,” he says with as little emotion as he can. “There’s nothing more I can do.” And he walks to the edge of the group, hiding in a corner, where he breaks down in tears.

Ree watches with wide eyes as Draven stomps away. She tries to say something, but winces at pain as she inhales. Grudgingly, she takes the magical leaf and places it in her mouth, immediately the thin metal turns into something soft and warm and then it and the threadlike chain dissolve into nothing. Her wounds nearly disappear, though not completely, with the Pixie magic. 

To The Tower

Griffin gives a hard look at Marcel, then walks over to the young priest. “We move out in 10 minutes. Are you going to be ready?” He deliberately keeps his tone level, matter-of-fact.  He doesn’t look directly at Draven, gives him some space. After all, a few minutes ago, this was me. Seeing Ree taken down, almost killed, I wanted to call it quits, too.  But Marcel is right - we came to get a job done. Now let’s see if we can do it and all survive!

Draven looks up at Griffin, then at Ree, then back at Griffin, and nods. “I will be ready, for what little help I can provide. We all need to spend some time considering our motivations here, and their weight on our souls, but first we need to either rescue Stephan or verify that he isn’t here. We owe the settlers back at Susikyn that much.”

Griffin leaves him to his meditations and heads back to Marcel. “I should check out the door I found before we are all standing in front of it. Want to watch my back?” The Traladaran soldier nods and grins. “Let’s go!”  Griffin takes a few minutes to get his gear ready, then goes to leave.

Griffin tells Akaios to watch the door. “If the coast is clear and I can get the door open, Marcel or I will give you a wave. Then get the others and come on over, okay?” The big man grips his axe and nods, an eager look on his face. Griffin gives him a single nod, then looks to Marcel and heads out, slow and quiet-like.

Taking a deep breath, Draven mounts his shield on his useless right wrist, and tucks his holy symbol inside the tabard over his armor. The gods have made it quite plain that he has a great deal to atone for in his own behavior before he calls upon their aid quite so profligately as he has in the past. He hefts his mace in his left hand, still surprised at the relative weight, off-handed. The time was past for fancy measures anyway. Time enough to crack some skulls and see if they couldn't rescue a few people from gods-know-what sort of conditions.

Marcel follows Griffin out into the rain once again. He is not as quiet as he would like to be, his shield keeps banging into his spear shaft as he sneaks, but the sound does not draw any immediate attention. Marcel takes up a position just inside the final door of the building with the baboons residing at the far end. He keeps a careful eye out on Griffin as he heads out the door and splashes through some puddles while keeping his ear pointed toward the monkeys nearby. He can hear them occasionally, but they don’t seem to be on alert at all. Griffin goes around the corner, heading toward the door he has found. 

Griffin makes his way through the wet ravine and around the corner to the door at the base of the ravine holding the tower. He can no longer see Marcel stationed in the doorway. The tower reaches up into the grey sky above him. He glances up, wary of any more foul bats, but does not see any. He approaches the ancient stone door. 

Okay, by the numbers.  It’s not like there are crazy monkeys and bats all over this place, or that it’s pouring down rain, or that we don’t know what the heck is inside this tower.  Just get the job done, right? Griffin takes a deep breath and sets to work on the door near the base of the tower.  First, he checks for any sort of obvious trap.  Deadfall, alarm, poison - you know, the usual.  It seems clean, so he checks the latch.  Locked, of course. Griffin looks around, then gets to work with his tools.  It’s a funny lock - takes a few minutes, but in just a few minutes he has the door unlocked.  He quickly tries it, to make sure he can open it. It moves, just enough for him to tell.  He carefully gathers up his gear and readies his crossbow.  Time to go get the others.

Griffin slides along the wall, trying to stay out of sight of anything on the ground or randomly looking down from the tower. When he is about 10 yds from the door, he can just make out Marcel standing in the doorway to the monkey house. He waves and motions for the soldier to get the others moving. Griffin holds position while he waits for the rest of the team.

Marcel gets the signal and gets moving but grates his shield against the wall and let out a nervous burp. He peers ahead to the monkey house, hoping that the relentless rain will be kind to his efforts. 
Fortunately, Marcel’s ruckus is not loud enough to draw the attention of the baboons, not yet anyway. He gets to the other door and waves to his companions. 

Back in the other room, Akaios whispers as loudly as he dares, “That’s the signal, come on, Marcel is waving us over. Griffin must have the door to the tower open. This is what we came for!” An intense grin crosses his face as Burik and Ree move out into the rain and begin to cross the ravine. Iris goes next, followed by Remar. Ree and Burik make it across quietly but Iris slips on a muddy patch and loses her balance. Remar, running with his hood up to help protect his face from the rain, didn’t see her and he runs right into her. Both let out loud grunts and make quite a bit of noise before making it to the open doorway where Marcel shushes them as they enter. 

“Your turn, brother,” Akaios says to Draven, slapping him hard on the shoulder and gripping with his wide, meaty hand. “Don’t worry about what happened back there earlier. Magic fails. Gods fail. Men fail. Happens all the time. As long as you don’t give up, then you will never fail. You have more heart than most, friend. Now lets go kill some Goblins!” 

Grim of face, Draven sidles along outside, his fierce determination keeping him quiet and focused on the task at hand. Eyes mere slits, he moves quickly to the “monkey house” and quietly closes the gap to the rest of the party.

Akaios brings up the rear and as he enters the open doorway, the big man steps wrong on a slick stone and slips, crashing loudly into the wall and knocking over some nearby debris. Marcel has already sent several of the Company out the far door toward Griffin’s location as the ruckus commences. A second ruckus starts at the other end of the building almost immediately. Akaios’s curses are drowned out by screeches and howls of agitated baboons. Draven, who is in the middle chamber, sees several baboons gathering at the open doorway 30 feet away on the other side of the room. Marcel motions to Remar to hurry as the young mage makes his way across the small exit chamber. Across the way, Marcel spots one of the baboons leaning out of an open doorway, following the movements of his companions ahead. Griffin, further along down the ravine, sees this same monkey leaning out the door and starting to hop up and down! 
Another tight spot!

Griffin draws a bead on the baboon in the doorway as he hisses, “Okay, Burik, Ree, Iris!  Less sneak, more speed!  The door is back behind me.  Get there and wait! Don’t go in!” I hope those monkeys don’t want to come out in the rain. If we can get inside, I can probably block the door so they can’t get in and follow us.  Now, where in the hells are the others?

Marcel decides to act BIG while waiting for the other to catch up. He inflates his chest and stares intensely into the goblin dog’s eyes. Between his teeth, he growls while stomping the butt of his spear to the ground. Now, can’t the other slowpokes get on with it?

As Griffin watches, Marcel makes some faces and sounds at the monkey in the other doorway and it replies in kind. The baboon stands up on its back legs a bit and waves its arms around above its head while making a low, guttural hooting sound. Marcel lunges forward while snapping his shield to his chest and hoots back at the baboon. At this move, the monkey shrinks down and slinks back into the doorway quietly, peeking only its snout out to watch. Marcel can still hear some of the other monkeys going on about something further inside where he cannot see.

Draven does his best to ignore the baboons on the far side of the room and carefully makes his way toward the exit. Once he passes the next threshold and is out of sight of the monkeys, he turns to look back at Akaios through the angle of two open doorways. The large man is collecting himself from the floor having slipped in a wide pool of water. He is dripping and his face is quite red. As he picks up his axe and pulls himself to his feet, the baboons go crazy, screaming and hollering at him, almost as if they were laughing at the fallen man. Akaios seems to feel this as well and he grabs a large stick that is laying nearby and flings it toward the monkeys, letting out a bellowing scream as he does. There is a loud, collective screech by the baboons, then quiet. 

Akaios lumbers into the next room and, seeing Draven standing there by the door waiting, says, “What? Get going, priest! No time for dilly dallying!” He pushes him forward toward Marcel and the door. 

Within moments, the entire Company is gathered at the base of the tall cliffside, the tower reaching high above. An ancient stone door rests in a smooth stone wall that comes out of the natural rock of the ravine.

The rain pours down on the gathered adventurers. Griffin huddles with the team before going in.  “Okay, let’s take this slow and by the numbers. I’ll take the lead, but if a fight finds us, Marcel, you step up and take point. Akaios, Burik and I will back you up.  Ree, grab some rocks for your sling. Stay in back with Remar for ranged attacks. Iris, Draven, you watch the flanks - don’t let them get around us.  If anyone sees something shiny, let me check it first. Remar, Ree, give a shout-out if there’s magic about, too.”  He looks around at everyone. “Any last thoughts?  Questions?”

“I’ve got the feeling that we’re not going to find what we’re looking for in there.”, whispers Marcel. “It looks a bit goblin-less to my taste. Not that I’m going to complain. I think that there must be another way in that goblins are probably guarding.”

He scans the others for any signs of distress or worries. Seeing everyone stoked, he nods to Griffin and takes a deep breath.  

Progress made through the ruins of Xitaqa

Cast of Characters: 

Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard 

Marcel Maasa homely but sincere wielder of spears aspiring to cooking greatness commanded by +Christian Blouin 

Draven Rickart, a Thyatian Acolyte of the Church of Karameikos ministered by +Jason Packer 

Iris Varda, a Thyatian explorer and historian searching for answers and adventure guided by +Alex Safatli  

and +Jason Woollard as The DM


Grand Duchy 39

Grand Duchy of Adventure

Session 39
November 20, 2014

Into the Ravine (Monkey Business!)

Moldain 21st of Flaurmont

Finally at Xitaqa

Griffin and Ree arrive at Xitaqa and begin scouting. They note the activity of some baboons that appear to live down in the ravines, possibly in some of the visible buildings with no doors. They are able to tell that the ravines are about 30 feet deep here and filled with stone buildings that jut out from the ravine walls down at the lower ground level. Most of these buildings have open doorways while some of them have doors made of cobbled together wood and branches, barriers more than doors. From their vantage point, they are able to get an over of the area but only able to look down into some of the ravine. It is dangerous to get too close as the packs of baboons move about near the tops of the ravines throughout most of the afternoon.
Layout of the ruins of Xitaqa
By late afternoon, the rest of the group arrives, having traveled slower, spending some time hunting and foraging to keep the Company's food supply up. Griffin and Ree quickly bring everyone up to speed on the layout and what they know about Xitaqa already.

As the sun begins to set, wisps of smoke begin to appear from various places around the ruins, floating gently up into the night sky. Some small humanoid forms can be seen moving about the ruins, carrying lanterns or torches from time to time as well. The movements in the ravine seem erratic and follow no discernible pattern at all. Marcel does not think it feels like any type of established guard patrol. The Company discusses several possibilities for approaching the tower, which lies at the center of the ruins.

Shadows in the Night

Deadly Shadow
Much later that night, during the last watch, Griffin observes a sinister shadow approaching the camp. He alerts his companions and they battle against a dangerous, strength stealing apparition. Draven identifies it as a type of Undead known as a Shadow. After the battle is over, everyone tries to go back to bed, though their sleep had already been interrupted and they would no doubt be tired the next day. And then it starts raining again.

Nytdain 22st of Flaurmont

Into the Ravine

The rain continues throughout the day and it is cold and breezy. The Company decides to descend into the ravine to the north and approach the ruins from that direction. The intention is to move from building to building and get closer to the central tower in hopes of finding Stephan. Moving slow and stealthy is the plan and avoiding confrontation is ideal. The first set of buildings the Company approaches is empty. They are built into the side of the ravine and share an interior door between them. As carefully as possible, they move along the northern perimeter of the ravines to the next set of buildings.

Sneaking through the ravine

A Barrel of Monkeys

While approaching the buildings, the smell and sounds of baboons is present. Almost immediately, several of the aggressive monkeys leap from the doorway and attack the party, punching, biting and flinging excrement as well. They jump and holler and howl, though the sound of the steady rain keeps the sound from carrying far.

Dealing with the baboons
The baboons are quickly dispatched, though one a wounded one manages to escape. The Company quickly moves into the the dry but filthy set of buildings that had previously housed this troop of monkeys. Hoping to not draw too much unwanted attention, they also drag the monkey corpses inside as well. As the rain falls outside, the company plans their next move.

Holing up in the baboon's lair

Cast of Characters: 

Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard 

Marcel Maasa homely but sincere wielder of spears aspiring to cooking greatness commanded by +Christian Blouin 

Draven Rickart, a Thyatian Acolyte of the Church of Karameikos ministered by +Jason Packer 

Iris Varda, a Thyatian explorer and historian searching for answers and adventure guided by +Alex Safatli  

and +Jason Woollard as The DM


Grand Duchy 38

Grand Duchy of Adventure

Session 38
November 7 - 19, 2014

Ambush at the Ford, pt 2

Lunadain 18th of Flaurmont

Fight on the Riverbank

The members of the Grey Company are locked in battle with bandits on the riverbank, just across the ford. It is unsure why this band of 8 horse riding Humans attacked, but the warriors are pressing the attack quite aggressively. The main skirmish is taking place along the rocky edge of the river where Iris, Griffin, Akaios and Burik engage a handful of brigands on a muddy patch of ground between the rocks, trees and river. Draven, Ree and Remar stand atop a rocky outcropping providing tactical ranged support and motivational encouragement. Marcel has slipped off to the left, through the trees, hoping to flank some of the attackers but ended up running directly into two of his foes who had a similar idea. He quickly engaged them, but a slip in his attack put him off balance and a flurry of all out attacks landed, nearly causing him to go down. Only Draven saw Marcel get himself into trouble back in the trees, everyone else is focused on the more obvious force.

The attacking bandits press their attack despite the fact that they do not seem very skilled or focused in their tactics. They yell and growl, some of them spit and slobber and all of them stare wildly around as they fight.

Griffin steps into the woods to try and get better footing and to keep the bad guys from flanking him. He eyes the weaponless bandit and snarls, “If you drop to the ground, now, you’ll be the one we leave alive for questioning.” He points his sword at the foe, letting him know he’s eager to run him through.

The wild eyed warrior looks at Griffin then down to his fallen comrade then hastily pulls a long knife from his belt and lurches forward toward Griffin.

Griffin sighs and stabs the punk in the guts. “Not a smart move at all, boyo.”

The man’s growl turns into a bloody gurgle as he slides slowly off of Griffin’s blade and slumps to the ground, unmoving.

Seeing his companion in trouble, Draven calls out, “Marcel is surrounded, in the trees!” and starts to move in that direction, taking a step and then beginning his way down the rocky step. 

Battle along the river.
Heeding Draven’s cry, Remar turns and steps in that direction as well, letting one of his magical bolts fly. The bolt flies true and strikes one of Marcel’s assailants in the back of the head, but it seemingly has no effect. Ree turns and sees Marcel but realizes that she cannot get off a clear enough shot with her sling through the trees so instead she continues aiming for one of the targets in front of her. Burik continues trading blows with the bandit he is engaged with while Akaios charges forward and attempts to slam another foe, holding his axe out in front of him. The two men collide, but the big man does not get a good enough charge and nothing significant happens. Seeing all the foes in front of her engaged, Iris turns and moves toward where she last saw Marcel, hoping to be of some assistance to him before it is too late.

Meanwhile, under the hanging boughs of a heavy fir tree, Marcel fights for his life. He is reeling from sustaining three hefty wounds and trying to hold on to consciousness. Though his vision is blurred from the shock of the previous blows, he knows he needs to take advantage of the openings in his opponents defenses after their reckless attacks on him. He stabs his spear out in an obvious strike at the man’s gut, striking deep, while he attempts to push the other back with his shield. The first man lets out a heavy breath and falls to the ground, clutching at his blood soaked midsection while the other merely grimaces as Marcel’s shield bangs up against him.

The remaining attackers growl and bark incoherently as they make overly aggressive attacks at their respective opponents. Burik takes a sword slash to his right arm, but he is able to hold on to his sword. Akaios manages to dodge a strike from his opponent and Marcel’s solitary foe slips to his side and makes a powerful swing at his back. Fortunately Marcel is able to keep his wits enough to step back and bring his glowing shield up in defense. 

Hearing Draven’s shout, Griffin checks the foes facing him at the moment. Easily handleable by Burik and Akaios with Remar and Ree backing them up.  He surges out of the woods, running as fast as he can. He sees Iris heading in the same direction, and Draven scrambling down the rocks. “Hang on, buddy! We’re coming!” 
As Iris and Griffin move toward Marcel’s location, they hear the sounds of battle continuing behind them. 

Marcel tries really hard to keep it together. He head is swimming in pain and the sinking suspicions that he has only a few moment of consciousness remaining. He thinks of the life saving Pixie healing necklace, reaches out for it and shoves it into his mouth, biting into the thin metal. With strength coming from the gods, he leaps away from the remaining brigand in hope to remain out of harm until Iris dashes to his help.  

The wild brigand charges at Marcel with his sword out in front of him. Marcel swallows the chewed up Pixie amulet just in time to defend himself.

The pixie magic kicks in as Marcel raises his shield to stop a well placed blow. 

“By my beard”, his voice is but a raspy noise. “Look upon thy death! You… ” and his retort drowns into a coughing fit. Warlock Marcel isn’t dead just yet.

Draven and Iris continue toward Marcel, hoping to reach their friend before his strength runs out. Iris arrives at the Traladaran’s side as he blocks the vicious sword thrust.

The shouting and fighting continues from the riverbank area as the others move through the thick trees to Marcel’s aid. Ree screams “BURIK!” as a small splash is heard. Turning to look Drave sees Burik staggering backwards, stumbling and falling into the river and the water turning red from blood. The young Traladaran appears to be conscious still and it looks as if he is in shallow enough water that he is in no danger of drowning.

Seeing Burik fall, and Marcel quickly being aided to, Draven diverts towards the main fighting, hoping to get there more quickly than he could have to assist Marcel.

As Draven changes his course, he glances quickly at Akaios and notices an arrow sticking out of his left shoulder. He didn’t recall Akaios being hit with any arrows in the initial volley by the bandits.

Marcel can swear that magic is crackling from his hands, through his spear as he thrusts it into the heart of the brigand. The poor lad had banked a little too hard on him being too winded to fight back. Iris arrives just as the brigand lifts his eyes and comes to grip with his fate. 

Marcel looks upon his hands, convinced that magic had flowed through. He hasn’t heard about the great deeds of his friends: he exists in a tunnel. The tunnel leads to the horse at the rear. He staggers in slow motion to take possession of the horses as if to claim the loot amid the searing pain on his chest. 

Marcel stumbles forward, stepping on top of the man he had just put down. Iris steps up beside him. “Are you ok?” she asks.

Griffin charges past Marcel, quickly seeing Marcel still standing and Iris at his side. He sees the two bodies at Marcel’s feet and mentally counts, “six and seven.  Where are you, number eight?” He heads around the trees at top speed. “If we can wrap this up quickly, they may not have time to sound any kind of alarm!”

As Griffin rushes around the perimeter of the trees looking for the final attacker, Marcel and Iris push their way through the middle area, trying to make it to the horses on the far side. The sounds of combat continue from the riverbank.

Draven sees the warrior that was attacking Burik wildly run and jump on top of his friend who is now laying on his back in the river. The brigand, who has dropped his sword, is now trying to force Burik’s head under the water. Ree screams at this and continues her run forward. Remar flings another magical bolt at this fellow, but again, it seems to have no effect. 

Akaios finally manages to take his opponent out. The bandit lays bleeding on the ground in front of him. Akaios turns his attention to the left, just past the trees as another arrow comes flying at him. He tries to dodge out of the way, but is unable to, and it sinks into his side.

Hoping to use the open ground for greater speed, Griffin stays out of the trees and sprints around the next batch to the left, searching for the last bandit.

As Griffin rounds the trees, he finally catches a glimpse of the eighth bandit. This one is slowly backing up toward the horses while holding a bow and reaching for another arrow. The bandit is not looking in Griffin’s direction, but instead focused on what Griffin assumes is the fight on the other side of the trees. 

Ahead of him, Draven sees Akaios drop his foe and then lumber forward slowly toward the trees, as if going after someone who was just past them. Remar contemplates a shot at the man trying to drown Burik but cannot get a good line of sight due to Ree running right in front of him, so instead he rushes forward.

Ree slams into the man on top of Burik and both of them fall into the water and begin thrashing around violently. After a moment, blood fills the water and the bandit stops struggling. Ree stands up, holding her knife in her hand, blood and river water dripping from it.

Iris and Marcel make their way through and around the trees, following Griffin and heading toward the horses.

The Battle Subsides

The remaining brigand drops his bow and turns and bolts toward the nearest horse. Before he can climb on, though, Griffin and Akaios are there. Akaios, still holding his axe at the ready, looks at Griffin as if asking for permission to chop the man down.

Seeing the situation beginning to quiet down, Draven rushes to Burik’s side and checks on his status.

Burik coughs and spits water out then begins cursing and looking around, grabbing at his belt for his dagger. He leaps to his feet and looks around frantically, a terrified look in his eye. He then sees the wild stranger who had been trying to drown him lying face down in the water next to him, blood flowing freely from him, staining the water and mixing with his own blood that is staining the water. He looks at Draven, his face very pale. His mouth opens as if to say something and then he topples back over, landing half in and half out of the river. A brief squeal escapes Ree’s lips as she jumps to his aid, pulling him quickly out of the water and propping his head in her lap.

A quick inspection by Draven reveals that Burik is severely wounded, though not in danger of perishing. The gaping wound in his chest being the most serious wound he bears, it does seem that he swallowed several mouthfuls of water as well. 

“Keep him up there, Ree. We’ll see him through this.” Draven rests his holy symbol on Burik’s chest while he fishes out his first aid gear. “Let’s get the bleeding stopped first, then we’ll see how well the gods feel about aiding us in this time of our need.” Seeing that the bandages are insufficient to the task, he sighs and takes up his holy symbol again. Calling forth, he chants and focuses his will on closing the wound.

The energy called forth slowly stops the bleeding, and after a minute to rest, he lays hands on Burik once more and calls forth a greater flow of healing to close the wound entirely. 

The color quickly returns to young Burik’s face as he sits up. “Ugh, all wet!” he exclaims as he realizes he is sitting in the river.
Griffin shakes his head to Akaios. He turns to the bandit. “My friend here wants to chop you in half. Any reason you can think of why he shouldn’t?” His sword is still out, and he is ready to cut this man down if he tries anything funny.

The man looks scared but surrenders and puts his hands up and away from his belt where a sword and knife hangs. His hair is dark and bushy and he wears a light beard. He looks of Thyatian descent, though his complexion is darker. This man is wearing a light cloak with a small shield hanging from his shoulder. Light mail can be seen under his cloak and clothes. He is armed and armored considerably better than the other attackers and seems more in control of his emotions though he does not say anything.

Griffin relieves him of his weapons and steps back. “Here is how I like to do things - let’s see how well this works.  We’re heading to Xitaqa.  You can stay here, tied up and gagged.  If we survive our visit, we will return here and release you.  If we fail, we’ll probably be dead.  That leaves you to die here of thirst or hunger or random wild animals.  Therefore, it is in your best interests to tell us things that will make us successful, no?”

He looks the bandit in the eye. “So, is there anything you’d like to tell us?”

“You are a scary, one Thyatian,” the man laughs at Griffin and spits on the ground. He speaks fluent Thyatian, though there is a hint of a foreign accent there. He flinches a bit as Akaios feints at him with the axe, but continues to taunt. “Your pet here is scary too. Tie me up, lash me to a tree, weight my legs with rocks, whatever, just get on with it.”

Griffin mutters “Wasn’t trying to be scary, was trying to be reasonable.” He straightens and gives an affirmative nod to Akaios. The large man swings his axe as Griffin lunges forward with his sword and runs the prisoner through. You try to be a nice guy, what does it get you?

After that, Griffin’s demeanor is one of all business. After making sure the bandit chief is dead, he says to Akaios, “Okay, my friend, go get Draven to check you out.  The whole ‘arrows sticking out all over’ is not a good look for you.”

Griffin checks in with the injured members of the team.  Burik, Akaios, and Marcel are all pretty chewed up.  He leaves them to the brother’s gentle ministrations, then collects Remar and Iris. He lets Ree choose where to be.  “Okay, check these guys out, snag anything of value. We’ll tie the horses here in the trees out of sight, and maybe we’ll have a ride back to Sielo when we finish up.”

A quick search of the other fallen men reveals that they all are equipped with crude padded armor and were armed with cheap shortswords and long knives. Each of them has about 15 silver coins in their pouches and pockets. The prisoner has his armor and weapons as well as about 50 gold Gold Royals. A pair of sturdy manacles hangs from the saddle of the  horse he was trying to mount, similar to the one the river bandits had with them. There is also a small crystal vial in his pouch. It is marked with the seal of the Church of Karameikos, similar to other healing potions that have been procured in the past. 

Griffin collects the coins and puts them in his sack.  He hands the potion to Draven.  “Here brother, maybe you could hang on to this.  Found it on one of the bandits.”  

He takes some time to assess the opposition. They weren't that good, but fanatical.  Their leader seemed tough - perhaps they were just minions in fear of him.  The manacles bother him, though - tying this group of ruffians to the ones that attacked them on the river makes him feel like there’s some bigger picture that he’s still not seeing.

Iris and Marcel are both witness to Griffin and Akaios killing the bandit though the others over by the river’s edge do not. Griffin keeps everyone moving, taking care of post-battle cleanup and loot gathering. The horses are all quite surly and aggressive, though they allow themselves to be lead if handled carefully.

“So,” says Draven, who is next? He finds a level space of dry ground to set up shop now that Burik it out of immediate danger and well cared-for by Ree. He beckons to Akaios and Marcel to join him, knowing they’ve both seen better days, and looks them over before beginning.

Both men appear to have fairly serious wounds, though neither are in danger of unconsciousness. Akaios has two arrows sticking out of his body and Marcel is bleeding from a wound in his chest, the blood can be seen seeping out through the chinks in his mail. 

“While you’re doing an excellent impression of a porcupine, Akaios, I hope you’ll let me see to Marcel before he passes out?” Without waiting for permission, he pulls Marcel to his makeshift workspace and begins the chants necessary to first stanch the bleeding, and then to infuse the wound with as much healing power as possible. The wounds close up significantly and Marcel immediately begins to feel much better.

Turning to Akaios, he attempts the same thing, enlisting Marcel’s help in extracting the arrows, slowly, as the magic closes the wounds, pushing the arrows back out the same path they entered. The sensation is unnatural and creepy, but the arrows come out without actual pain and the wounds close up, leaving Akaios in much better shape as well.

Moving On

Seeing Draven use his healing magic to patch up his friends, Remar strides forward and offers help. “I have some small amount of healing magic, if you recall. Do any of our companions need further assistance?” Draven explains the condition of the injured companions and Remar uses his magic to heal them a bit more. He patches Burik up a little more and heals the remainder of Marcel’s wounds, but when he gets to Akaios, something else happens. As the young mage casts his spell, Akaios cries out in pain and jumps away. 

“What are you doing, mage? That is not healing magic you work on me!” Remar’s eyes go wide as he realizes that somehow, the spell produced the opposite effect and instead of healing Akaios, it actually widened the wound, causing more injury.

The horses are tied together in a small clearing between some trees, the bodies of the dead raiders are piled near each other and the gathered loot is stacked aside. By best estimation, Xitaqa is still 15 or more miles to the north. And the rain has started falling again. It is a little after midday and the party huddles beneath some trees in an attempt to stay dry while they ponder their next move. Leaving the horses here should be fine as long as they are not gone long. Hiding or burying the loot nearby would be smart as well, they could always collect it on the way back. The bodies of the bandits would be another issue though. Their presence nearby could cause problems. Patrols from Xitaqa could stumble across them, dangerous animals could be drawn to them, causing problems for the tied up horses, etc.

Griffin looks to Brother Draven for guidance in spiritual matters.  “Brother, have you any guidance in the disposal of the corpses?  I fear a pyre might draw attention, and a proper burial might take too much time.  They were probably scoundrels, if that helps.”

“Tarastia has seen fit to sit in judgement against them, by the virtue of the strength of our will and of our backs. Lokena understands the need for stealth in times of war and will stand with us if we simply provide them a makeshift mass grave. Perhaps some of these larger flat stones can serve to cover them and at least delay the inevitable discovery by scavengers in the area.”

Griffin nods. “Good idea, brother.” He moves to the corpses and corrals his able-bodied team members. “C’mon, folks, let’s get this taken care of. We’re burning daylight.” He looks up at the rain-swollen clouds. “More or less.”

The next couple hours see the Grey Company shifting rocks and corpses. Once that task is done, Griffin makes sure the extra food they recovered from the bandits is spread amongst the team. 

“Okay, let’s get moving. I want to get up on top of the escarpment in the hopes that we can avoid more encounters like that one.” He shoulders his ropes. “I’ll go first, leave a line behind. I found a spot where the ridge dips down a bit.  Shouldn’t be too far a scramble, but the rain might make things a bit slippery, so we’ll use the rope anyways.” With that he starts climbing.

After the tiring burial of the corpses in the rain, everyone rests for a moment before beginning the climb up to the top of the escarpment. As Griffin goes over the path they will take and how best to utilize the rope, Ree steps up to Draven and tells him she can, with magic, help him make the climb a little easier if he wants. As she is waiting for the Acolyte to respond, Remar comes over and quickly casts a spell, touching Draven on the shoulder. “There,” he says, “I got it, Ree. Don’t worry about it.” He then saunters off to ready himself for the climb. Draven sees Ree’s eyes go wide and her face reddens before she turns and stomps off in the other direction.

The escarpment is much lower here, probably only 35 or 40 feet. Griffin scrambles up the slippery slope, attaching the rope at several secure points along the way. After a few minutes, he is safely at the top and signals the rest to follow. Draven is sent first, with help from Burik and Akaios. Thanks to Remar’s magical enhancement, the one handed priest is able to make it to the top safely. Everyone else follows with no problems and Ree comes up last, untying the guide rope along the way. 

From the top of the rise, it is clear that traveling on the high ground will present its challenges as well. The ground is broken and rocky and the party has to travel a good distance away from the edge to circumvent numerous ravines and crevices that cut into the cliff face from below. There is little tree cover, though plenty of rough ground, narrow spaces and rocks to hide behind if the need arises. It is difficult to get the lay of the surrounding landscape due to the steadily falling rain. The rain also triggers several small mud slides down the face of the rise, though none of them posed any threat to the Company.

The group travels for a few more hours then has to make camp for nightfall as it is deemed far too dangerous to travel along the uneven, rocky terrain without decent illumination.

Marcel scans the area for a concealed and defensible position. He pestered the others today, speculating about the connection between Xitaqa and the brigand, but the conversation kept on being interrupted by some minor crisis such as a loose strap, a wobbly rock or a faraway noise. Eventually, he gave up and simply focused on staying alert and safe. In his search he seeks high-ground to get the best possible lay of the land and look for movement, trails or anything of interest.

While folks are settling in, Griffin wanders over to Marcel’s perch. “Sorry about earlier. I did want to talk more about what you said - connecting the bandits and Xitaqa. I think you’re on to something. The bandit leader today was kitted out just like the one who led the attack on the raft way back when. Right down to the iron shackles. I don’t think that can be a coincidence.

“No, not a coincidence at all. I think Xitaqa is going to answer a lot of questions for us, like how and why the folk here were able to get the goblins to raid all the homesteads, and the bandits on the river and the ones today carry shackles.  Babaka said the goblins from Xitaqa that took Stephan away wore iron collars around their necks. Maybe “Old Skinny-legs” is into bondage or something.” He rubs his eyes in the rainy gloom.

“I think we’re going to have more fights like today’s before we’re through.  Goblins, and hobgoblins like Vlack, and bandits too.  Any thoughts on various approaches?  I got us up here to see if we could do some sniping before we get into the thick of things, maybe soften them up a bit.

“Also, any suggestions for better procedures to prevent what happened today from happening again?  Buddy system?  Designated roles?” He looks at Marcel, “You’re the trained soldier, so I’m deferring to you for tactics during fights.  I know just enough to keep from getting killed.  I’d prefer if we were working on tricks to not only keep us alive, but cutting down on the damage we’re taking as well.  Do you have any ideas along those lines?”

Marcel thinks like an old soldier. He rambles a bit about getting some more hands to cover the flanks. He then looks at the party and grins. “We’re just a bunch of fools that are consistently successful. I think that the last fight went as well as could be, minus that I got ambushed while trying to ambush. I should have listened more before moving in. I think that the Gray Company should have a small battleline: they block we thrust or they fix the baddies and we strike from the rear.“

Due to the rain and terrain, the campsite that is found is not very good but nearly everyone manages to find a little nook or cranny to squeeze into to stay out of the rain. Not happy with the fact that they are camping in such a place, Remar proclaims, “I’ve been working on a new spell for the campsite. If we can keep everyone fairly close, I will enchant a Magic Mist around us. It will protect us and hopefully shield us from at least minor trespasses in the night.” He begins chanting and speaking the magic words as he paces around the outer limit of the campsite. After about 5 minutes he stops as a sparkly, shimmering shroud covers the campsite. 

Everyone feels safe and protected within the mist and Remar smiles and marvels at his handiwork. “That was easier than I thought,” he beams. “Now if only I could do something about this rain,” he muses as he goes back to the spot he has chosen for his bedroll.

Gromdain 19th of Flaurmont

Taking the High Road

By the time the next morning comes, the constant rain from the previous night has stopped, but frequent, short showers still fall. It is a bit easier to navigate though, and visibility is much greater when it is not raining. Akaios is in an extremely foul mood. After his watch, he apparently fell asleep with most of his back hanging out from his narrow shelter and was rained on for the rest of the night. 

The trip north along the escarpment is difficult. The terrain is very uneven and often broken by wide and deep cuts in the cliff wall that stretch west sometimes close to a half mile. There is very little vegetation and animal life here along the barren plain and hunting and foraging leave something to be desired. At one point, though, Marcel climbs up to the top of a rocky outcropping and states that he thinks he can see the ruined tower to the north. He estimates that it is 10 or more miles away, but should be approximately where the Fairy King of Horses said it would be. Based on how far the company was able to travel during the day, it could take them as long as two more days to get there from here.

“Our stocks are running thin indeed. Can we tighten our belts and manage this, two days distant?”

“I think we’ll have to try. Stopping to forage will only give them more time to notice those bandits have been dealt with and warn them that someone is in the area.”  Griffin growls. If only Eran were still with us - he would have this aspect of the mission well in hand, I’m sure.  “We’ll press on. I may take Ree and try and scout ahead, see if I can find a smoother path to speed us up.” He ponders for a second. “Unless you can intercede with the gods to find us more food or speed our travels…”  He looks at the young priest hopefully.
He ponders for a moment. “It is… not unheard of, though the immortals do not look kindly on the lazy or the greedy. If our foraging for the day does not suffice to feed us, I will petition D’jaea, or perhaps Patura, to help us in our time of need. Though it will have to be true need, and not merely a convenience.”

Undaunted by the difficulties of the trail, the group decides to remain upon the escarpment and approach from the high ground. That evening, as the camp is being made, the rain stops and the clouds are pushed out by a cold, biting wind. At least it’s not raining, more than one member of the group thinks to themselves.

Tserdain 20th of Flaurmont

The clouds are back the next morning, covering the sky in a thick blanket. Winds howl across the escarpment and through the cracks, crevices and ravines, sending up a loud, almost haunting wail at times. The Grey Company breaks camp and  hits the trail. Griffin pushes the group to stay on the high ground in hopes of making a surprise approach. In hopes of speeding things up a bit, Griffin scouts ahead a bit, watching for better trails and trying to avoid any backtracking. The plateau continues to be devoid of much forage but the hunting this day turns out to be quite good. Ree even managed to take down some sort of large ground bird, though it took quite a bit of effort to track the wounded bird down. The group manages to get just enough food to stretch their stores through the end of the day. Tomorrow will be another issue though.

On one of his last scouting runs of the day, Griffin climbs to the top of a solitary tree to get a better view of the surroundings and is able to spy the ruined  Tower of Xitaqa, and from his estimation, it is only a few miles away! The terrain between here and there appears to be just as rough and rocky as the rest of the way here, and Griffin assumes it will take several hours of hiking still to get there in the morning. As he is climbing down from the tree, he is attacked by a swarm of good-sized black birds, ravens or crows or something similar. He almost falls from the tree and physically has to fight the birds off to keep them from pecking him to pieces. 

Fortunately he is able to recover a few of the birds to add to the food stores. He returns to the group and tells them that they are finally close to their goal.

Griffin ponders the situation as he returns to camp.  Boy, I hope this goes well.  We’re out here in the wilderness with no food, going up against I don’t know how many bad guys. We took the high road because I wanted to sneak up on this place, but it’s taking so long!  We could have ridden those bandit’s horses there probably in half the time.  

And of course I could be back in Susikyn. There have been quite a few times I think we could have given up and no one would have said word one. Settle down in a nice place with a nice girl, raise a family, chop down trees and fight gobbos for the rest of my life. Dad didn’t mention all the travails of just getting around. Kinda edited out the stuff between the exciting bits, huh Dad?

I hope the team isn’t too upset at my approach. Marcel can certainly handle himself in a straight-up fight, and of course so can Akaios and Burik, and maybe Remar, but it seems like Ree, Draven, Iris and myself are better off not engaging unless necessary.  

I suppose I can always gauge morale by Ree.  If she’s not giving me a piece of her mind, or a glare, I guess most folks aren’t too upset.  Now as long as I can keep us from getting hurt, at least more than Draven can fix, we might just make it through this.

The best I can do right now is scout the bad guys out so we don’t get surprised.

Tending to Griffin’s wounds, Draven revisits the subject of food. “I can’t make any promises, but right now we’re without even the makings of breakfast. It’s not a quick process, and I’ll need some crumbs of food to work from, and some fresh water…”

Griffin returns to the camp with his meager additions to their food.  He tosses the crows to Marcel and Draven.  “There’s something for the pot for breakfast.”  He rummages around in his pack and produces a wrapped package.  “And here’s something I’ve been hanging onto for a while.  Got some jerky and pemmican in here.”  He settles by the campfire to report.  “Well, we’ll be there soon. I hope that we can come in quietly and avoid some of their defenses.  It should still take us most of the morning to get there - the ground is still pretty rough.  If you think it would help, you all could hunt and forage today, try and get some food in your bellies.  Ree and I can go ahead, leave you a trail to follow, observe this place for a good while, see what sorts of defenses they’ve got, then attempt an approach this evening.  Use the cover of darkness to get past their perimeter, so we’re not as beat-up when we get to the main event.” He looks around at his hungry comrades. “How does that sound for everyone?”
Griffin and Ree will leave a trail to follow.

Remar ponders this tactic then speaks, “It sounds good, but what about a daylight approach? Aren’t we expecting Goblins and the like there? Sure we fought some Humans by the river, but are we SURE they came from Xitaqa?” He rubs his belly a bit, “Not starving is a good idea also, I think.” Akaios nods his head at this final statement.

Griffin nods at Remar. “Well, that’s a good point. I like nighttime because it’s easier to be sneaky - avoids some fights we may not need. If Ree and I can get there this morning, we could check things out and work on planning our approach until you get there, then make a more informed decision.  If it’s all gobbos, nighttime might give them an edge we don’t want. Then daylight would be about the same, I guess.” He frowns, stroking his beard. “Let’s say we rendezvous in the afternoon tomorrow and reassess, okay?”

Moldain 21st of Flaurmont

Approaching Xitaqa

The next morning, after a horrible portion of raven stew, Griffin and Ree head out to scout the best trail to the Tower while the others focus on scrounging up some food stores, or at least enough to eat for the day. The weather is a little better than the day before, it is not as cold and the wind is not blowing nearly as hard, which will make travel a slight bit easier. Everyone is beginning to feel the stress of the hike though, and movement around the camp is at a much slower pace than normal. 

At about the same time that the rest of the group gets on the trail, just before noon, Griffin and Ree arrive at their destination...

More battle scenes.. 
Iris and Griffin come to Marcel's aid

Dispatching the bandits in the trees

Burik is in a tough spot.

Cast of Characters: 

Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard 

Marcel Maasa homely but sincere wielder of spears aspiring to cooking greatness commanded by +Christian Blouin 

Draven Rickart, a Thyatian Acolyte of the Church of Karameikos ministered by +Jason Packer 

Iris Varda, a Thyatian explorer and historian searching for answers and adventure guided by +Alex Safatli  

and +Jason Woollard as The DM