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On the road again

General Summary

Killer on the road?

Sharlot woke at the inn, and decided to embrace her inner detective. Finding a general store, she bought some basic fishing tackle and headed to the fishing docs, hoping to learn more about the poor girl killed the day before. She sat down to fish, and passed the time talking with the anglers working that day.

While they were happy to talk, not much was learned. The only things Sharlot was sure of was that the woman was young, she was betrothed, and there had been a number of travelers through town recently. One of the angler's wives, stopping by for lunch, was happy to spin a number of tales about the woman. The idea of not speaking ill of the dead had clearly never crossed her mind, as she accused the dead girl of having chased after a traveler, constantly went behind the back of her future husband, stealing other women's men, perhaps practicing witchcraft, and more. Sharlot couldn't take anything at face value, although the crowd at the dock only strenuously contested the charge of witchcraft.

Sharlot eventually went to the place the body was found, and did a bit of investigation. Unfortunately, many others had beat her there. While she found various detritus, none of it stood out from the rest. She eventually decided that she was unlikely to solve the mystery, and returned to the inn.

She stayed the night, performing in exchange for room, board, and tips. The people of the town were looking for a little release, and the inn was nearly as crowded as the night before. Sharlot did well enough, and added a bit to her funds. The next morning, she headed south along the river, hoping to make the town of Inwood.

While making her way south, Sharlot found a group of farmers, shouting while beating through the corn fields. Quickly figuring out they were searching for someone, she joined them, learning that the miller's wife had gone missing. They found nothing in the corn fields, even with the added height of Sharlot on horseback. Sharlot quickly rode along the river bank, looking for evidence of the woman, but didn't see anything in her cursory search. She doubled back to the farmers, and got some more information. The woman hadn't been seen since the night before, and she fit the general qualities of the dead woman from the last town. They had seen some people passing through, but not enough to identify anyone. Sharlot, deciding that she would be more use reporting this to someone in the local town, left.

Sharlot passed a broken down wagon on the way in, but with no way to help, pushed on. As she finally arrived in Inwood, she made her way straight to the center of town. There, she saw a building with similar design as the Bonae Court building in Geton, although the architecture was more severe. She entered, and found an older human at a desk, reading through a couple of large pages. She reported that she had seen a murdered woman in one town, and heard of a missing girl in the local farmlands that she was concerned may have met the same fate. As that was within the jurisdiction of Baron Inwood, the man said he would send someone, and asked if she had found somewhere to stay. She hadn't, so he suggested the The Hunter and Pipe by the docks.

Going to the inn, she secured room and board with the innkeeper in exchange for performing, although she had to split her tips. She gave over the fair share, and still came away with a decent amount. Clearly the dockworkers were willing to spend when they had had a few drinks.

Into the wilderness

The hunters awoke on the island when a few three foot high squirrels started to throw acorns at them. Malcer took a quick shot at one, but missed, and they fled into the trees. The group took Johny, the Nelwyn illusionist they had found near the water, to the boat, and started back to the town. As they left, they spotted Sif's owl - she had completed her duties at the College, apparently, and was ready to rejoin them.

Johny kept saying he wanted to go home, and quickly left the company. Sif met the group at the water, and they made their way to the inn to see Carta's retainers and figure out the day. Mal's boat was abandoned at the dock, with his name still carved in the hull. How long that will prevent a local from claiming - or reclaiming, as it may be - the boat is unknown.

The party made it back to the inn, and found Boha, Bolda, and Lews having breakfast. Lews was somewhat disappointed in the piece of driftwood for a wooden sword, but promises to teach him various things placated him for a while. Boha made a few veiled remarks about whether this was to be their permanent residence, and the group made it clear that they'd be leaving, eventually.

Another shopping trip was in order, with the group wanting to sell the meat they had acquired, excess gems and jewels, pick up books, and have a few items fabricated. As the day slipped away, Sif eventually talked Malcer into checking into the southern end of the lake, seeking something she said came to her in a dream. While Carta took Lews for a learning experience at the local orphanage, Durdeg eventually made it back to the inn. There, he saw Boha and Bolda, drinking heavily and sharing drinking songs. They saw him, and declared that he must have a song to share, bringing a round of grog to get him caught up. By the time Carta and Lews returned, he was in maintaining a healthy glow, and they decided that they were in for the night. With the only entertainment for the evening being Bolda singing his fifth version of "Hammer to Fall", the night ended early.

Sif and Malcer found a ferry at the end of the lake, and spoke with the ferryman about it. In the end, they found that the predawn ferry would be their best shot, so they settled in to camp, sending a note to Durdeg and Carta to meet them before dawn. Remembering the lobstrosities from the island, and feeling hungry, they set up to wait and try to catch a fresh dinner. When nine of the beasties came out of the surf, they paused, but the hunger won out.

With the two combining their magic, they were able to eliminate the beasts. They surprised them in two manners, one good and one bad. When Sif's familiar was separated from the group, a number of lobstrosities focused on it, watching as it swooped above. As they gathered waiting, eventually the owl flew within reach while harassing them. As one claw after another snapped down, eventually the magical construct was torn apart. It gave its psuedo-life to buy Sif and Mal enough time.

Mal turned the ground to camouflaged spikes - while the creatures next to him saw it happen, it would eventually prove ruinous to the other group. The ones that didn't see charged hard into the middle of it. Once they were hurt by the first of the spikes, they fled away from what had hurt them, not understanding that they were just driving in deeper. Eventually, most of them torn themselves apart trying to make their way. The rest were cooked by Sif's dragon's breath, or skewered by Malcer's swords. They ate well that night, and hoped to save some cooked meat for the next day. They found out later it was not to be.

Malcer and Tigger went to sleep with full bellies, while Sif rode back to the college to summon a new familiar. She then returned to the camp, exhausted from the day. Luckily nothing accosted them in the night, and they woke when the others reached them right around the same time as the ferryman returned.

Durdeg and Carta's journey was made easier by Boha's foresight in preparing a wagon, and they reached the ferry in plenty of time. They negotiated their way across, and set out towards the cave Sif was seeking. The day was made more interesting by a small tremor in the morning, and deadlier that afternoon.

Nature attacks!

Shortly after lunch, the ground shook again. This time, it wasn't a distant tremor, as they saw trees being knocked from the ground. the churning ground quickly exploded, and two large, hard shelled beasts broke from below. They had long, curved beaks, and a chitinous plate stretching back over their heads. Their bodies were as armored as their heads, and powerful, stubby legs drove them. The name land shark fit well, but the party also recognized them by the name bulette.

Sif acted quickly, throwing a web up to ensnare them. This likely saved lives, as one of the beasts was caught up in the sticky strands and took several moments to get out. The rest of the party began to surround them, and brought their magic and weapons to bear. While Durdeg was able to lash one with a thorn whip, the second avoided the webbing, and the first casualty of the day underscored the danger.

The bulette leapt from the ground, soaring a dozen feet in the air as it launched itself towards V4, which was on the edge of the web. V4 never had a chance to react, and the bulette came crashing down. Its weight and sharpened armor plates combined to crush V4, and the beast turned to look for another creature to fight.

Malcer and Carta waded in, swords held high and ready to strike.Durdeg swung out of the way, rattled by the damage to his mechanical companion. He cast a sanctuary on himself, hoping to survive what his invention could not. As Mal and Carta rained a series of heavy blows down on the bulette that had escaped the webbing, the other thrashed about, getting stuck again each time it tried to move. The other bulette focused on Carta, and with a series of heavy blows, eventually got a serious one through his guard. Carta was slammed to the ground, and the rest of the party saw the blood from his wounds. Stunned, they looked on, not yet knowing how bad it was.

Sif struck, damaging the bulette, and distracting it from the paladin at it's feet. She was able to get a healing word off, awakening Carta, just in time for the beast to focus on her. It turned and charged at her, as Malcer gave it a parting shot. The beast reached Sif and lowered its beak, then thrust upward. Sif was caught on the hard, sharp ridge, and thrown into the air. She came down hard, and didn't move.

The other bulette was released as the webbing came down. Carta and Malcer made it out to Sif, where Carta used his divine strength to heal her and Mal helped to finish off the bulette there. With everyone back on their feet, the remaining bulette was no match for them. They put it down, and gathered themselves.

After pulling themselves together, they eventually found the cave they had sought after dark. A check around the entrance revealed dire wolf tracks, and they decided to press on to a more defensible position. Once there, they set up camp, and Durdeg took the first watch.

Report Date
20 Sep 2020

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Cover image: by Chance Rose


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