February 13 - March 17, 2016
Village of Ronkan
Gromdain 26 Yarthmont
The Traldar settlement called Ronkan is nothing more than 20 or so buildings hiding behind a 15’ high cobbled stone wall and 10’ deep ditch. About 250 beings inhabit the village and all of them seem very intrigued and curious about the Grey Company. They receive many thanks from the locals for helping them in their battle with the Mutts and hailed as heros. The Company is told that the leader of the Traldar, a man named Guri Ben-kaal will meet with them in the morning at a breakfast feast.
Sunset is fast approaching and Kastok shows them to an empty building, more of a shed built against another building, that looks to be undergoing some renovations or repairs. He bids them goodnight and retires to his dwelling, warning them to not wander around at night lest the Killer in the Dark get them.
Iris looks over the empty building with hardly hidden enthusiasm, and remarks under her breath about the architecture in this village. She knows very well tonight will be a late night for her as she thinks over everything she learned today.
Griffin turns to Draven. “Okay, Father, what do you make of these folk? You’ve put us on a side in what looks like a tidy little war. Are you sure we’re on the right side?” He winces. “Frankly, I’d like to avoid more fights like today.” He pauses. “And in case I didn’t mention it, thank you again for all the care you give me and the Company. We would have been long dead if not for your ministrations.”
“I won’t lie, when they talked of ‘mutts’ I was sure they meant the gnolls we’d endured on our trek north. Makes me wonder if there’s any connection between the two races.” He shoots Iris a questioning look. “I feel comfortable that the Traldar defeated the Hutaakan in the wider world, and are the forefathers of the Traldarans, even of Marcel, but that’s no guarantee that they were the more civilized or even most humane.”
Taking a deep breath he ponders for a moment. “I think we’ll need to extricate ourselves from this war, and quickly, but I feel certain that having the support of locals may be just the thing we need to find our way to our goal.”
A young Traldar woman enters the room and deposits several trays and pots of hot, steaming food on the ground in the center of the room. She does not look up at anyone but says “For... you... brave... warrior.”
Griffin laughs. “Well, I think that’s for you or Marcel, brother. I spent the fight taking a nap.” Wincing at his laugh, he asks, “Is .. this .. for .. <points at Draven>?”
Draven waves away his suggestion with a pained expression. “You must have been brave, you were nearly dead!”
She looks quizzical at Griffin. “For… all.... brave… warrior,” she mutters and waves her hand over all the food. There is enough for everyone, though not a lot.
Griffin bows and smiles. “Thank you. Please say thank you to all who gave us this food.” He looks around, “Okay, folks, let’s dig in. Although there might not be enough Elven spices, right, Marcel?” Griffin steps up and starts helping himself to the food. He takes a bite or two and makes appreciative noises to the young woman. “This is good. I like it.” He gives her a smile. “My name is Griffin. What’s yours?”
Iris shakes her head and grimaces. “I really don’t think I classify as a warrior.” Looking to Draven, she nods and says, “Blunt, but very true. Despite being a very interesting civilization, a civilization does not presuppose civility.”
“Bravery is just foolhardiness in retrospect,” says Draven in a tone that makes everyone sure he’s quoting someone. “I think we all qualify as brave warriors at this point.” With that, he eats the food provided, simple enough though it be.
“Stephan, come and sit with us. What do you think our next steps ought to be from here? We’re fairly far into the valley now, and as much as my instincts tell me we should be dealing with the so-called Killer in the Dark for these benighted folk, I sense we’re getting near enough our eventual destination. Do you think we can trust these people to know our true purposes here?”
Griffin looks away from the serving girl to Draven. “I always liked ‘Bravery is being terrified and doing it anyway.’ And I know we’ve all been that kind of brave.” He takes another bite of the simple fare. “So I imagine we’ll get a good grilling from this Ben-Kaal headman in the morning. We’ll tell him we’re explorers, show him a map or two.
The girl watches the Company eat, watching them talk though clearly not understanding much but the simple meaning of things they say directly to her. She keeps her head and eyes down most of the time, as if shy or scared, but still seems very curious about everything. When Griffin asks her name, she blushes a bit then smiles, “Me… Thera,” she says, placing her hand on her chest. “You… Grifin,” she says, nodding to herself for getting it right.
The rest of the group shares their name, even Remar, who is quite in the dark, not even knowing the basics of Traladaran to fall back upon. “You… all… brave… warrior…” she says before standing and bowing to excuse herself. She looks nervously out the door into the darkness, holding a burning branch from the Company’s fire high above her head to scare away the dark.
As she steps out of the door, she immediately tenses and flings herself back into the room, falling into Stephan’s arms as a blood-curdling scream fills the air. The sound comes from somewhere nearby. Thera lets out a brief scream then starts crying, burying herself in Stephan’s broad chest. He awkwardly puts his arm around the young woman and tries to comfort her.
Killer Makes No Sound
Griffin jumps to his feet, his hand on Serenty’s hilt. “‘Killer in the Dark’, I’m thinking. Should we check it out?” He eyes Stephan, “Or should we just insist that Thera stay here this evening? I’m totally okay with not going outside, really.”
“I think we may have room for her tonight. I have no problem with that,” Iris replies to Griffin with slightly veiled amusement.
Griffin looks at Stephan and Thera. “Then it’s settled. Thera stays here tonight.” He lowers his voice. “Now girl, tell me. Was that scream from some monster, or is one of your kin in danger?” He crosses to his gear and starts getting his crossbow out while waiting for her answer.
Thera shakes and cries, holding tight to Stephan, “Killer… makes… no… sound…” is all she is able to spit out between sobs. She does not have any problem about staying with the Company for the night. She clearly has no desire to leave the safety and protection of the light.
“What was it you were saying about bravery just now, Griffin?” Draven asks, obviously rhetorically as he walks to the doorway, holy symbol held high. Pausing briefly, he ducks outside, awash in the light given off by his spell and peers around, wishing he’d not just been by the bright light of the fire.
The dark streets are deserted and the only indication that anyone lives here are the tiny slivers of light peeking out at the edges of covered windows and closed doors. The night is quiet, only the muffled sound of Thera crying behind him can be heard. Remar steps up behind Draven in the doorway, “Are we going for a look, Brother?”
Griffin steps up behind Draven and Remar. “I think we are, guys. Thera says that the killer doesn’t make any sound, so that’s someone in trouble. Haven’t made up my mind about these folk, but if we can help, we should.” He brings his crossbow to the ready and moves to the edge of the circle of light. “I think the scream came from over that way…”
Holding his holy symbol high, Draven leads his companions out and in the direction Griffin indicated, hoping to find tracks or something to give them direction.
Shaking with nervousness, Iris follows behind the others. She mutters an incantation and imbues her vision with a sense of keenness.
Draven, Griffin, Iris and Remar move through the village toward where they thought they heard the screams while Marcel, Ree and Stephen remain in the building with a terrified Thera. Within a few moments, the searching companions hear a new sound, that of crying. The sobbing is coming from a building close to the village wall.
Caution thrown aside, Draven hurries towards the building, pointing to either side of it for the others to keep an eye out as he ducks his head inside to see what’s going on, and what help is needed.
Draven pushes the door of the building open to the surprise of the inhabitants inside. More screaming erupts as several hard objects are flung in his direction. A young man leaps forward, swinging club of some kind and screaming incoherently at Draven, talking much too fast for him to make out anything but “killer” and “dark.”
“Draven!” Iris screams in panic, “What’s he saying?” yells Iris.
There is much chaos and confusion in the small building as the Grey Company enters and the residents scream and flail in terror. No one is hurt and after a moment it is clear that what happened was that someone was taken from the building, possibly through a back window, just moments ago. The window shutters were shattered on the ground and the room was in disarray. A dark, moist smear along the windowsill and wall were the only signs outside the house of anything out of the ordinary. A wide but short drag mark lay between the back wall of the building and the fortification wall surrounding the community. A few moist, dark spots could be seen on the rocky surface of the tall protective barrier as well.
“Alright, Griffin, do you think you can follow these tracks in the dark, with our light?” asks Draven.
Griffin nods. “We’ve got to try. Whatever this is has been terrorizing these folk too long.” Griffin immediately begins scanning the ground hoping to quickly follow the mysterious monster.
In the darkness, the gathered members of the company look around trying to find more clues to the whereabouts of this “Killer in the Dark” but the only signs lead to up and over the village wall. Muffled sobbing and occasional shrieks of panic come from the nearby houses and some eyes can be seen looking out through the cracks between shutters and wall.
“Come on, we’ve precious little time to lose, and if this thing is as afraid of the light as the villagers are of the dark, I’ve got a thing or two planned to put it out of operation for good,” Draven intones.
Griffin scrambles up and looks out over the wall, staring into the darkness. He hops down, leans in to talk to the team. “Okay, let’s hold up a second, there, Brother. Now, we’ve seen these Traldar in action - they’re no slouches in the combat department, yet they’re terrified of this whatever it is. We haven’t even laid eyes on it, don’t have any idea what it is even. I’m all for making the world a safer place, but are we really saying we want to charge off into the night? I’m not saying ‘No’, but I gotta ask. Do we have more of a plan than ‘run around and shine a light on it?’”
“I can’t think of a possible excuse we can come up with for not taking this thing down a peg. These people have lived for so long afraid of the night, and it’s kept them in spiritual darkness. I’m willing to hear ideas, but I’m not sure leaving it to keep hunting these people is one of them…” Draven explains.
Griffin shakes his head. “Okay, now I am saying ‘No’. We don’t go. Charging into the darkness with no more plan than ‘I’ve got a thing or two planned’ is a good way to get ourselves killed. If we knew what we were chasing, and that we were up to the fight, sure. I think we have to let this one go, learn more about what it is, and then deal with it. We didn’t fight our way all the way here just to get eaten in the dark.” He levels his gaze at the priest, waiting.
Cast of Characters:Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard
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
Remar Umerus, an Alphatian battle mage that escaped forced service in the Thyatian army currently marshalled by +Patrick Kelly
and +Jason Woollard as The DM