8. Wealsun 996 AF; Free Plains
After the battle with the bandits, the heroes form a pyre and Rurik performs the last rites of Thyr. Ruriks stands guard for a while while the pyre burns down, and then joins his comrades for a well-earned rest.
9. Wealsun 996 AF; Free Plains
After a refreshing night in the relative safety of the hunting lodge, the heroes discuss their next steps. Rurik,. who remembered the three hunting dogs in the kennel, decides to take possession of them and establish his dominance, while the others search the lodge.
After a simple lunch, the heroes march back to the forest. Rurik takes a different path back, and soon realizes that he led the party into the hunting ground of tow land-sharks, or Bullettes. It is almost too late as he realizes the dangerous situation they are in, as the Bullettes burst from the ground and leap in the middle of the group. Two dogs are instantly killed, and Kharamon pushed to the ground.
Finally, the heroes reached the grove. They caught up with Tram, the priest of Beory, who started to clean up the mess the scouts caused. He was not aware of any new attacks, but mentioned a winged humanoid creature that appeared yesterday and seemed to be concerned with a certain part of the central hill that overgrows much of the old temple. Tram agreed to perform the ritual for Kharamon and Tanquol during dawn, when the energy of rebirth is the strongest.
The heroes questioned the old servant and the stable boy. They remembered that a group of Children of Light arrived at the castle and their leaders demanded to speak with his and her lordship. After a while, their leaders and Lord and Lady Brightstone went deeper into the dungeons. Then chaos emerged and they barely managed to escape.
Afterwards, it was the bandit’s turn. Rurik used his headband to gain insight into the mind of the bandit, and Eddard cast a zone of truth, which aided in getting to the ground of things. It turned out the bandit was with LImping Jack from the beginning. Their goal was to gather certain antiques and kill people whose name were on a list. All names refer to old names in the borderlands. He didn’t know who compiled the list or ordered the killings, as it was only LImping Jack who was in touch with them.
Eddard knew enough to speak his verdict, which was death by hanging. The heroes used a nearby tree and brought the bandit to justice.
Next he heroes wanted to question the surviving scout. However, Tram answered that he made him suffer for his attack on the forest, and that he will give back to defend the forest in the future. He was concerned that the 9th Legion might return in force and destroy the forest or the temple in the future. Consequently, he started to prepare the forest for defense.
The heroes were in desperate need of information to figure out what is going on and decided to question the scout. Tram points them into the right direction, but said he won’t neither help them nor interfere, and was okay with whatever outcome will result from their actions.
The heroes went on their way and from a distance saw the silhouette of a gargoyle who seemed to be engaged in some activity. However, the heroes marched on as the life of the scout was on the line.
After a short walk they reached a glade. In the middle was a huge tree. The scout was pinned to the tree, his arms spread, the naked flesh bound to the trunk with thorny vines. He seemed to be in a comatose state. The tendrils seemed to slowly suck the life out of the man.
Stor went into a trance again and tried to commune with the tree. He realized that the tree was feeding on the scout, not only consuming his blood, but also his spirit. Stor pushed further and managed to glimpse into the memories of the scout. He experienced flashes of memories and feelings. A long and hard campaign in the north… an oath sworn in good faith, which bound him from then on and can’t be renounced … a circle of stones… terrible deeds that scarred and numbed his soul…
In the meanwhile, Kharamon composed a spell that enhanced his speed. He lunged forward, escaped vines and grass that suddenly became alive and tried to grapple him, dodging one swing of the branches of the tree – or more a vile treant? – that knocked the air out of him, and lunged onto the tree. He slowly hacked the vines away and tried to free the scout. After a while, a small battle between Rurik and the tree, and some healing, he was successful and the scout was safe.
Stor returned from his communion with the forest, but this time had a hard time coming back. He needed to fight to compose himself and felt that he lost something in the process.
Eddard also went into a trance, similar to the day when he stood guard during the night of ordination, when he received his vision and call from Thyr. For some reason he felt not compelled to fight the tree or help the scout. Instead, his nagging doubt about the development of the church resounded strongly in him, questioning his oath. But not in the sense to abandon his oath – more to pledge allegiance to a different cause. An oath of nature. And at the same time, this felt in line with his allegiance with Thyr. But instead of connecting to the abstract ideals of law and justice, Eddard connected to the more concrete ideals of nature. And it felt right…as if he was closer to Thyr in a weird, more personal or human way…
- To be continued -