Session 8 (TPT-2): The Huntsman Who Ticked Report
Leaving Dolan, Fallenbridge, and Little Sister at the Endfar Roadhouse and Inn to deal with damages to their wagon after the events of the previous night (ie:an undead zombie elk knocked off a wheel and bent an axle), the remaining Temple Thieves -- Ruhst, Trajinous, Kelpip, and Percy -- headed north to scout out the ruins of Castle Corey, ancient redoubt of the vampire Cordelia Corey and her spawn. The plan was for the others to join them in a few hours after repairs had been made. Things wouldn't turn out that way. On edge in the dark, silent, and spooky Forest of the Two Moons after having thought they might maybe have spotted Blood Rose's clockwork horse roaming untended in the woods, the Thieves make their way slowly along the winding path north. Only an hour away from where they suspect Castle Corey waits for them, they hear sounds out in the shadows of the deep woods. Sounds that aren't made by the infrequent leaps of squirrels or the burrowing of small animals into the leaves and loam. This sound is the clacking, steam-hissing cacophany of a clockwork monster! And, yes, soon enough three clockwork Hounds such as the ones the team had destroyed the night before in the Endfar's common room come leaping out of the woods. One lashes out with its razor-sharp, whipping tongue and brings down a mid-sized tree into the path, barely missing squashing Trajinous beneath its weight. The other two lay into Kelpip, at the back of the party's ranks. A desperate fight follows as these beasts seem harder to kill than the previous ones, or perhaps that is because three of their number, and a wolf, are still back at the Endfar. Still, the fight seems to turn the way of our heroes ... until another antagonist approaches through the trees. These Hounds, it seems, are commanded by a Huntsman: a looming figure of metal plates and grinding gears, fully inhuman in all but general shape, and dragging a massive double-bladed axe that looks wicked enough to chop through even Percy in a single chop. The Huntsman hefts that axe up onto his shoulder and then lashes out with it, striking not at the party, but at the ground itself. Where it hits, stone, earth, and loam spray up and outward, followed shortly by a wave of thunderous force that threatens to blow everyone backwards and off of their feet while simultaneously pelting them with shards of wood and stone. The Huntsman follows up this magical assault by striding into the fray that has coalesced around Kelpip, even as Kelpip tries to protect Percy, who now has two of the Hounds on her. He casts a web around those two, but this leaves him open to the Huntsman. Fortunately, Trajinous and Ruhst are there, fighting alongside. Magic and arrows and the glitter of blades flash and flicker through the forest, and the sound of the battle echoes for what seems like must be miles. Percy brings down one of the Hounds, and then the others do the same. Battered, himself, the Huntsman draws back and whistles off the third Hound. With grating voice, he says, "You are not he who is my prey. But if you remain, I shall return and make aught of you." With that, he moves off into the woods with the last of his Hounds, striding with surprising grace and dexterity, despite the hissing of his gearwork systems. Bloodied and spell-drained, the Thieves take stock, and then turn and head back to the Endfar to lick their wounds and tell the story of what happened to their lagging companions.