Grand Duchy 66

Grand Duchy of Adventure

Session 66
September 12-23, 2015

Ambush at the Burial Mound

Tserdain 20 Yarthmont

Arrows from the Mist

Draven helps Iris to a sitting position after using his magic to help remove the mysterious arrow that had just struck her. She shakes her head and looks around, confused momentarily. Griffin and Marcel quickly scan the area, though the swirling mist seems to close in, limiting sight distances considerably. No foes can immediately be seen, though they can barely see to the far side of the mound as it is. The mound itself is about 25 yards across and approximately 40 yards wide. It is about 8 feet high and has a number of grisly totem poles placed around it, many of which have headless, rotting corpses hanging from them.

Remar is standing at the base of the mound, watching the group’s rear in case more ghouls approach while Stephan is near him wrangling some horses. Ree has not returned to the group, but sounds of a galloping horse can be heard around the southwestern edge of the mound. Mr. Softie, Draven’s horse is nowhere in sight after having bolted directly across the top of the mound and down the other side. The three horses at the top of the mound begin stamping and neighing again and Marcel quickly grabs their leads, trying to calm them.
aftermath of the battle with the Ghouls
The sound of Ree’s voice rings out from the fog, “Gnolls! I see Gnolls here, guys! Around the south eastern part of the mound, two of th… oh shit!”

Iris stands up and ensures she is armed and ready to face whatever it is that struck her. I swear to whoever is listening, I am going to make sure I get through this forsaken day!

While Draven is tending to Iris, Griffin begins to strap on his shield, then readies his crossbow again and heads towards where Ree’s voice seemed to come from. He tries to keep moving up over the mound to gain whatever tactical advantage a  little high ground could provide. Maybe that totem pole can provide some cover. “Marcel, sweep left around the mound!”

Marcel nods at Griffin then asks, “What about these horses?” He holds out the leads to the three horses he is holding on to.

The sight of the horses brings Griffin up short. What had Old Gren said?  Move through slowly and carefully until we are spotted, then make all haste to the far end.  “Hells,” he mutters. He raises his voice, “Okay, team, new plan! Mount up and ride!” He looks at Marcel, “Answer your question?” He looks around again, “Iris, you’re with me! Let’s go!”

Griffin leaps to the back of the newly named Firewild and turns to help Iris climb on behind him. He looks to Draven and Marcel, hoping they follow suit.

Iris nods at Griffin and hurries to mount, “I’m with you, Griffin!”

While Marcel and Draven move to mount their horses the slow and safe way, the young Thyatian woman leaps up and grabs onto Griffin’s shoulders behind him on Firewild’s rump. As she mounts, she spots movement across the mound and squeezes Griffin’s shoulder and says, “Look, there just past the edge of the mound, past those two totems!” Griffin looks and sees a Gnoll, or at least what he thinks is a Gnoll. The form shimmers and fluctuates, giving the impression of a very blurry Gnoll with a bow taking aim at the group on top of the mound.

Acting with a thought, Griffin wheels his mount and yells “Hang on!” He charges his horse right at the Gnoll, hoping to throw its aim off and give his comrades time to mount their horses. He looks over his shoulder at them and yells “Follow me!”

Gnoll Fight!

A Gnoll archer is spotted across the mound
Draven and Marcel settle into their saddles as Griffin and Iris gallop off across the mound. As they charge, Griffin sees the Gnoll raise his bow and let an arrow fly directly at him!

Griffin leans hard to one side as he sees the arrow fly. Hope Iris follows suit - she just got healed! The arrow whizzes over his head and he drives his mount forward past the gnoll.

Iris sees the arrow fly past her, sending some of her hair into motion. Too close for comfort…. She stares the Gnoll down and tries to quickly decide what she should do. Following Griffin has never led to disaster, has it? She gallops after Griffin and tries to get past their attacker.

Griffin and Iris, astride Firewild, charge forward, and for a brief moment, it seems as if everything become silent, the only thing that can be heard is the sound of their own hearts beating. Then the mounted pair leap past the blurry Gnoll archer right at the edge of the mound and start riding down the far side. The sounds of a galloping horse once again fill their ears. Up ahead, and to the left, behind another totem pole at the base of the mound crouches another Gnoll.
Firewild charges forward to engage the Gnolls.
Draven and Marcel begin to urge their horses forward, following Firewild.

As they draw near, the new Gnoll reaches around the totem pole and points his staff toward Griffin. A dark bolt of magical light shoots at him, coming straight for his face!

Griffin swears and lurches in the saddle, this time the other  way. The strange eldritch blast passes by, by inches. That’s it. He nudges Firewild to pass close to the totem pole as he whips out Serenity and slashes at the shaman. He is hoping to incapacitate the magical edge of the gnolls.

Griffin and Iris face off against the shaman
The Gnoll spins away from Griffin's attack toward the totem pole and then strikes out at Firewild's rear leg as the horse thunders past. The horse whinnies in pain and then Griffin and Iris feel the strength and energy completely drain out of the beast beneath them. Firewild’s legs begin to buckle, but the horse manages to keep its footing somehow as it pulls up to a stop.
Griffin and Iris have to hold on with all their might to hold on!
Back on top of the mound, Draven and Marcel urge their mounts forward following Griffin and Iris on their wild ride. Marcel goes left around the first totem while Draven stays to the right. Both of them spot the blurry Gnoll archer, less than 10 yards away. As Draven approaches, he suddenly realized that he cannot hear anything around him. The sound of the horses, his own breathing, the wind in the valley, nothing. The Gnoll ahead of him moves sideways, to Draven’s right, toward the north end of the mound, and looses an arrow directly at the priest’s chest, its aim looks to be true!

Draven and Marcel get their mounts moving
Frustrated by the zone of silence, Draven is woefully unprepared for the arrow and fails to get his shield up in time. The arrow strikes him in the chest and punctures his flesh! Reeling in the saddle, he barely manages to hold onto the reins, his cry of pain a silent scream. He takes a moment for the rush of pain to lessen, turning his horse as best he can to trample the archer or at least make him flee.

Griffin mutters “Screw this.” He vaults off Firewild and shouts, “Iris, find Ree! Move!” Griffin moves to the attack! He presses the shaman hard against the totem pole, battering its defenses. No retreat, you bastard!

Deaths Head Shaman.jpg
The Gnoll shaman
The Gnoll Shaman, a truly disgusting looking creature wearing some sort of painted animal skull as a mask. Griffin has to almost hold his breath when he approaches and then lets out a loud whoosh as the Gnoll deftly steps back and twirls his staff around, knocking both swords away. He mutters something to Griffin, though Griffin cannot comprehend the guttural language of the Gnolls then realizes all too late that it was magic and the world plunges into blackness deeper than Griffin has ever imagined. Iris too, climbing off of Firewild when she realized that the horse was completely exhausted and would not move another step, is blinded by the sudden blackout around her! From the top of the mound, Draven and Marcel see a globe of utter blackness appear down the far side of the mound where Griffin and Iris had just ridden.

Draven urges his mount forward directly at the Gnoll archer and despite his general blurryness, Iris’s horse seems to be right on track. The Gnoll looks a bit scared as he leaps out of the way, barely missing being trampled by the galloping hooves. The roar of the wind and thunder of the horse beneath him suddenly comes back, almost surprising Draven as he hears the curse slip from his lips after missing his target!

Marcel peels off to the left, “I see Ree over here! She’s in trouble!” He pushes Remar’s horse forward, ready to charge down the side of the mound to the young Half-Elf’s rescue!

Determined to deal with the magical threat, Griffin quietly slides forward and slashes at where he last saw the shaman.

His sword finds nothing but air. He is about to try again when Marcel’s words sink in. Oh my gods, Ree!  Twisting in the darkness, he heads off at top speed towards where he thought he last heard her voice.

Iris fears the worst when she hears Griffin’s request. Oh, no. Ree! She moves her mount around in the dark, trying to find a way to her friend, looking around in an effort to make anything out apart from the clear threat the group was facing.

Griffin bursts from the blackness running full speed to the south. He  is just along the edge of the mound and can see some movement ahead of him, though whoever or whatever it is, he can’t tell because some totem poles are obscuring his vision. He can see Marcel ahead and to the left, charging down the side of the mound and Draven a bit more back and to the left, charging toward the black cloud of darkness.

Iris also emerges from the inky blackness about 5 yards away from where Griffin is. She is leading Firewild, but cannot see him behind her as he has yet to step out of the magical darkness. The Gnoll shaman is nowhere to be seen. She also spots the movement around the southern end of the mound, but like Griffin, she can’t quite tell who or what it is.

Griffin continues to sprint towards the totem poles, trying to get a read on what’s going on beyond them. “We’re too spread out! Everyone to me!” he shouts, trying to recover some semblance of order from the chaos.

As Griffin and Iris maneuver to better see the movement at the base of the mound, they see two Gnolls standing over Ree, who is laying on the ground, unmoving. Remar, followed by a mounted Stephen, arrive on the scene while Marcel approaches loudly, charging down the hill wildly!
As Griffin watches this scene unfold before him, he feels a stinging impact on the back of his leg when one of the Gnoll shaman’s bolts strikes him. Chancing a look back over his shoulder, Griffin does not see the shaman and assumes that he is still inside the blackout zone.

Iris follows Griffin, leading Firewild and trying to keep the horse between her and where she imagines the Shaman is after just seeing Griffin be struck with a magical bolt of dark energy.

Draven somehow manages to remain mounted as Iris’s horse continues to run. The horse charges off the mound and turns to the right, avoiding the large cloud of magical darkness. The beast makes as if to flee the area altogether but the young priest is able to direct the horse to the right and begins circling around the mound in a clockwise direction. He spots the archer Gnoll on the top edge of the mound, not joined up with two other Gnolls, one with a sword and shield, the other with a large axe.
Draven circles the mound and spots several more Gnolls
Marcel rides forth, charging at the two Gnolls surrounding Ree. One of them raises and throws a large, barbed spear in his direction. Marcel ducks and barely avoids the lethal looking projectile.

Griffin hardly notices the sting of the shaman’s magic bolt, but realizes it could become a bigger problem. “Remar! Shaman hiding in the black zone! Light him up!”.

He does see Ree’s crumpled body on the ground and pushes himself to go even faster. “Hey! Hey, you mongrels! C’mon, fight me! Fight me!” He bangs on his shield with his sword, challenging the ugly brutes.
Stephan and Remar come to Ree's rescue
The other Gnoll throws his spear at the advancing Stephen, but he manages to dodge it. Remar lets fly a magic bolt, striking one of the Gnolls in the back of the head, though it appears to have no result. Marcel, not quite in control of his mount, goes charging past the area on the back of Remar’s horse. Stephen continues to advance on the nearest Gnoll and engages with him while the other Gnoll turns and charges toward Griffin, running partway up the side of the mound. As he approaches, Griffin sees that the blade of his sword is steaming and then realizes that the blade appears to be ice-encrusted.

Meanwhile, Iris gets a bit of a surprise when she is struck by a magical bolt from out of the shaman’s darkness. It strikes her hard in the leg. The shaman must have gotten off a shot that went under the horse to hit her there. She realizes that if she takes any more wounds, it is going to start slowing her down.

“Oh, so you’ve got a magic sword, do you? I don’t think that’ll be enough, you wanker. Better get your buddy to help you out!” Griffin slows his approach and approaches cautiously, taunting the ugly mutt the whole time. Mess with my sister, will you?

The charging gnoll throws a spear as he approaches, but Serenity deflects it into the ground. He steps forward confidently, drawing the brute into his trap. C’mon, you brute, pick on someone your own size. Griffin projects an arrogant air, continuing to verbally abuse the gnoll.

It works! The beast steps in, and Griffin launches a flurry of attacks. The icy sword manages to come up in time, then slashes at Griffin’s arm, but Serenity knocks it aside. Well, what’s good for the peasant is good for the prince! He also slashes at the gnoll’s sword arm, which connects solidly, slicing deeply into the foe’s arm and causing him to drop his sword!

Desperate, the gnoll charges Griffin, trying to catch the young swordsman off-guard with a tackle, but he brings his weapon across its path, wounding it again. Hoping to finish it off, Griffin stabs for the vitals. The weakened monster can’t get out of the way and the sword strikes home, but its innate toughness manages to keep it on its feet. It turns to run away.

Trusting that the creature will not bother him again, Griffin turns and runs toward Ariadne, hoping he will not be too late.

Pain shoots through Iris’ leg. She yells out for Griffin, “I got hit! I’m not feeling too good… what do we do? I don’t know if we… I can fight this, Griffin.” Her breathing is slow and painful. She crouches to the ground, hoping to avoid further missiles. Looking across to Griffin, Iris readies herself for a sprint to join him.

Griffin looks back over his shoulder, but doesn’t slow down. “Iris, c’mon! You’re still in line of sight for that shaman!”

Griffin continues to run toward where Ree is lying unconscious. He can see Marcel wheeling his horse around in a wide circle just past where Stephen and the other Gnoll are sparring. Remar is running toward him along the edge of the mound, “I’ll go after the shaman,” he calls to Griffin as he approaches. Iris follows behind Griffin, moving as fast as she can, running in a crouch while pulling an exhausted Firewild behind her. She sees an unarmed Gnoll, the one Griffin had just disarmed, run behind and past her, fleeing the melee.

Draven, urging his horse on as fast as he can, rides around the base of the mound, trying to once again meet up with his friends. He keeps an eye on the three Gnolls on top of the mound. They watch him as well as they move across the top of the burial mound toward the southern end as well. Finally, he comes around the far end of the mound and can see most of his companions up ahead, Stephan engaged and the others nearby. The three Gnolls on the mound should arrive at this end in a matter of seconds, he estimates.
The Grey Company prepares for it's last offensive against the Gnolls

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 Vardaa Thyatian explorer and historian searching for answers and adventure guided by +Alex Safatli 

and +Jason Woollard as The DM

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