The Traveller Edit
Daylight saw Belor, Jon, Krolmn and Twitch heading out on patrol from Fort Rannick in the company of Deeliah while Heron, adopting the favoured form from which he took his name, kept an eye out from above.
It was not long into the patrol that Heron swooped down from the sky, resuming his natural Halfling form as he reported that a lone rider was being stalked by ogres ahead, apparently oblivious to his danger. The group quickly agreed that they should help.
While Jon used his sorcerous powers to give them all supernatural speed and magical protection, Twitch began calling on the powers of the elements, and Krolmn thoughtfully sent warning arrows creating noise and smoke to alert the traveller to his peril. This done, the companions hastened to meet the ogre threat, as the lone traveller casually dismounted from his horse, urging the mount out of harm’s way as he loosened his sword.
A brief but bloody battle ensued, the traveller and the ever recklessly heroic Belor taking many wounds, but their steel combined with Krolmn’s arrows and the elemental and magical forces conjured by Jon and Tientrich won the day.
The traveller introduced himself as Tevan, and then offered to heal the wounded. This ability, as well as his presence alone in ogre-infested lands, prompted many a question from Sandpoint’s heroes, and accusations of idiocy from Deeliah. Tevan explained that he was wandering the land aiding its residence, a burden that had been set upon him when he received visions leading him to a lake, where he came by his powers, his sword, and his purpose.
Twitch was a little dubious at first that the man claimed to serve no god, but he had to admit that there were many forces working in the world that could grant such boons. He himself had been guided by the nature spirits of his people to discover his own powers, who was to say that there weren’t newer, less enduring powers in the world that could grant such a boon. And while inspection of Tevan’s sword revealed it to be quite mundane, and his visions seemed less reliable than those the druid had received while frightened, exhausted and at high altitude, he decided it would be arrogant to be dismissive of the man’s story. Besides, his healing abilities allowed the druid to focus his own energies on more interesting and versatile uses of the natural forces he manipulated. Besides Krolmn seperated from the main group to verify Tevan's story with his noble steed using his powerful animal abilities. After confirming that he treated his steed well enough it was enough to welcome him into the companionship.
The group decided to return to the Fort, Tevan accepting the invitation to join them on their return journey. On their way back, the Heroes began to swap stories with Tevan. Belor, on learning that the man enjoyed ale and wenches as much as he did quickly invited Tevan to join them.
Back at Fort Rannick they enjoyed a relaxed evening, during which both Peta and Screechie entertained them with their unique poetries. While both were beyond the understanding of most, except Krolmn who revelled in the unusual entertainment, they must have helped set a relaxed mood, as Kelar chatted to the group, and Jakardros and Shalelu seemed to begin rebuilding bridges.
The night ended with Lamatar, the leader of the Black Arrows, explaining that he needed to go away for a few days, but would appreciate the companions awaiting his return before they in turn departed. He also asked whether in the meantime they could assist several of the Fort’s residents in collecting supplies. Our heroes then thought, does our duties to others never end. But once hearing what type of collection was required they were more than happy to assist.
The next morning our group set off to a nearby bees hive, upon arriving the excitement was obviously not misplaced as the giants bees were busily collecting their pollen for the queen, who was nowhere to be seen. As Jon and Twitchy worked their magic to ensure that the bees were not hurt, Krolmn wondered if he would be able to catch one and learn to ride it. While all of the excitement was going on Krolmn and Vale wandered off to collect some herbs to also take back. Using his keen senses and ample skill he was able to find an assortment of helpful and handy herbs, possibly one to replace Jon's constant hand wringing since giving up his cigarettes the stick Krolmn found was not doing it's job. Vale wasn't seeming interested until he found one particular herb which had beneficial healing qualities.
After this collection Kagnorn brought to the group the other reason why he volunteered on this job instead of Deeliah, who seemed to get all of these types of mundane jobs. Nearby was a cave entrance which was apparantly home to a rich booty of gold and jewels built by dwarves, well so he said. Upon entering the cave it was obvious that someone did not want it to be disturbed as some poor soul had set off a pit trap and would forever lay at the bottom of the pit. Undeterred the Heroes travelled on. Kagnorn was then volunteered by the group to lead the way considering that he was the one most interested in finding the treasure, and noone else wanting to put their own neck out.
The cave then opened up into a small room, Kagnorn soon second guessed himself that it actually wasn't dwarvern construction after all, at which time he admitted that the hadn't actually gone inside the cave before. A decision was required at this stage as there were 3 doors which led out of this room. The heroes decided that Kagnorn should open the far left door, a click was heard as he opened the door at which time spears of various sizes came rushing at the group. As some were agile it was of a little nuiscance, however some of the other slower reactors were soon looking worse for wear.
Upon entering the room behind the door they were glad that there was a large collection plate, full of gems, gold and other valuables. While the others were trying to make up a decision to see how to retrieve the booty, Kagnorn was already filling his pockets. Who knows how much he jammed in before we realised. We then divided what remained up between us and went to move onto the next door. However suddenly the heroes got cold feet, or maybe without Marius around the group lost their lust for riches? So even though Krolmn and Kagnorn wanted to continue we returned to Fort Rannick for the day, with our honey, herbs and treasure. Krolmn vowed that they will return though to raid the remaining treasures that surely await.
Back at the fort, news came from Kalar that a large force of ogres was advancing on Turtleback Ferry. He had left two companions to shadow the ogres and offered to lead the heroes and a small relief force to intercept them. Following Kalar, the Heroes found no sign of ogres or the two Black Arrows. Instead there was nothing back a landslide. Kalar claimed it had not been there before, but Twitch had his doubts.
Suddenly a Roc attacked, snatching Twitch in it’s claws. Jon quickly cast a spell, coating the druid in slippery grease, allowing him to break free, then following up with a duo of powerful scorching rays that, in concert with the arrows of his companions succeeded in driving the monster bird away.
With no sign of the ogres or the missing men, it was decided to return to Fort Rannick.
On the way, Jon speculated to his companions of the possibility that the days events were part of a ruse to lure them, and a significant portion of the Black Arrows better warriors away from the Fort so that the ogres could attack. Unbeknownst to the sorcerer, Tevan used his powers to detect evil on the Kalar, and found a faint aura of evil; perhaps he was hiding something. Not certain enough, Tevan remained quiet about his find.
The sight of the red glow of fire in the night sky confirmed their fears. (And drew the comment ‘I’m tired of always being right’ from the Sorcerer).
Fort Rannick was under attack.
Racing to the rescue, Jon once more cast Haste upon his companions, backing it up with a communal spell to protect them from evil. With these two spells increasing their speed, attacks and improving their defence against physical and arcane harm, the Heroes of Sandpoint fell upon the attacking ogres.
Shifting into the form of an air elemental, Twitch summoned bolts of lightning and balls of flame down on the giant beasts, while Jon vanished under a spell of concealment and placed clouds of noxious vapour, haunting mists and greased ground in the path of the oncoming ogres. Belor and Tevan charged forward, blades hacking and slashing beasts left and right. Krolmn led his brave steed Fido into the fray.
Still in elemental form, Tientrich flies over the valley toward the fort. From this close he can see the destruction the ogres have wrought: fires blaze in the courtyard and one of the fort’s gates have been crushed. Inside the courtyard is a scene of horror, lit red by the fire. Twitch notes several Black Arrow corpses.
Near the keep, Screechy continues his attack on the ogres until in a burst of light his feathers explode in fire. Screeching for the last time he plummets to the ground, still aflame as ogres pounce upon his corpse, hacking and crushing. Twitch calls down several more bolts of lightning onto the ogres, scattering them while they search frantically for the attacker.
The druid notes with a sinking feeling that the ogres have already gained entry to the keep. He can’t be sure if there are survivors inside, certainly the corpses in the courtyard do not account for all the Black Arrows. With Screechy down and Twitch’s lightning expired, the ogres begin ransacking the keep, searching for survivors and loot.
Twitch reluctantly admits that the fort is lost. He flies back to his companions, who have recovered from the battle and are preparing to assault the keep.
“It is lost,” Twitch says, returning to human form. Jakardros pauses in his charge forward.
“The Black Arrows?” he asks. Twitch shakes his head.
Even now more ogres stream from the fort toward the Heroes.
“We must leave,” Jon shouts. With no spells left, he grips a wand tightly in one hand and a magical scroll in the other.
Belor wipes some gore from his face and rolls his shoulders. “We can take ‘em!”
Tevan whistles for his horse. “We could. But there will be more after them. Better to leave before we’re surrounded and exhausted.”
Suddenly another band of ogres crest a nearby cliff and starts charging downhill toward the Heroes. Soon to be outflanked, even Belor looks hesitant.
“Go!” Krolmn cries firing his bow at the coming ogres. He urges Fido forward, placing himself between the ogres and his companions. Jakardros nods. “We’ll cover the retreat!” He joins the gnome and begin firing his bow, the arrows streaking forward surrounded by magical arcs of lightning. An ogre topples forward as the arrows explodes with electricity.
Twitch turns and heads down the valley, Jon close on his heels. Tevan mounts his horse and charges past them, Belor on Shadowmist close behind, making sure the way forward is clear.
Jakardros shouts to Krolmn as the ogres close in. “Head to the road, we’ll meet you there!”
Krolmn nudges Fido and the hound turns, setting off after his companions. Suddenly an ogre bursts out from the rocks beside him. Fido pounces and Krolmn hacks with his small axe.
Belor turns back to aid his companion and sees several ogres closing in on the gnome. He kicks Shadowmist into a charge and bears down on the closest one, swinging his blade at the monster’s head.
“Keep going friends!” Tevan shouts to Twitch and Jon, but turns himself to follow Belor.
From the end of the valley, Twitch and Jon turn and take in the chaos before them. Even at night the scene is illuminated by several fires started from bursts of magical fire. Ogres crawl across the landscape, hunting survivors and the Heroes alike. Krolmn and Belor battle defiantly, slowly giving ground but their retreat is blocked by more ogres. In a last ditch attempt they burst from between the ogres and charge up the side of the valley. Tevan despatches another ogre and tries to follow but an agile beast grabs his horse, dragging him back. He slashes himself free and heads back toward the keep, the only path currently free of foes.
There is a sudden roar of anger as more ogres appear near Jon and Twitch. The two Heroes take off, the ogres hot on their trail.
They run on and on, the beasts following, shouting and screaming in their own guttural language. They hit the edge of the forest and dive in, hoping to lose their pursuers amongst the trees. Soon they are separated as Jon trips on a protruding root. Turning to help, Twitch is set upon by three ogres. He quickly shapeshifts into a squirrel and leaps between the outstretched arms of the ogres, then scrabbles up a nearby tree. The ogres mill about searching for him, and with some relief he spots Jon creeping away into the night.
Suddenly his tree starts shaking as the ogres spot him and attempt to bring him down. He takes off, leaping from one tree to the next, the ogres always close behind. Even the forest seems against him as the ogres hunt him mercilessly through the night...