Our two heroes find themselves huddled together with the hill-landers (Baalkra, Han, and Skraan) in a log lean-to built onto the manor house in Veringer’s Field which the Templars, knights and Sir Chinsalis have taken as their quarters. Veringer’s Field is a fairly wide glade between a southern spur of the Granfor forest with the Light Wood bordering the North East. It’s the first morning after the first snowfall of winter and all is white, cold and covered with a few feet of snow. It was also apparent to Bers the fighter (played by Jen) and Dead-Eye the ranger (played by Cris) that the Hyvalian crusaders and their hirelings were not up to surviving the harsh Westland winter though the nobles were probably going to be fine for as long as the wine and food lasted nice and snug in the manor house. They would stand a better chance further in the Granfor but Dead-Eye was loath to travel any nearer to the ancient wood. It is essentially a cold rainforest whose floor is an alien landscape of massive tree trunks, giant fungus untouched by the sunlight.
Upon their arrival a few days previous they had met an Arborean (woody tree-man of average height with bark-skin, they lack mouths and communicate telepathically; see Monster Magnus Vol. I) named Olf (played by Mike) who was just hanging around determined to travel and see the world outside of the Granfor from whose heart he had come. Our two heroes decided to allow him to winter with them as he was a healer and they could see use for that kind of talent. He came along as they prepared to hunt for the day that morning in order to scare themselves up some decent vittles as the camp gruel was wanting and both Bers and Dead-Eye needed to forget an appalling incident the previous day. The crusaders had sent out scouts that morning on the orders of Han-Moro of which Dead-Eye didn’t get any word of until he questioned one of the servants in camp about the sudden activity. By late morning they were gearing up and suspiciously tight-lipped aside from the usual rude demeanor displayed towards Westlanders in general and nearly the entire camp rode off into the Light Wood barring those without mounts and Chinsalis who invited both of our heroes to lunch with him though during he was just as tight-lipped. That evening the mounted crusaders rode back into camp appearing that they had been in battle bearing with them spoils of fresh food and a pair of young women, 1 with the appearance of a warrior with sharpened-teeth and the other a typical young girl not more than 14 years of age. Bers inquired on the women but the knights shrugged her off as they dragged their quarry into the manor bound though the warrior had to be beaten unconscious. Dead-Eye spied a column of smoke in the distance in the direction in which the crusaders had ridden earlier that day. He then went to talk with Li-alo the fanatical cleric and found that an entire Westlander tribal village had been pillaged and burned to the ground. The task that the cleric was most proud of, he vented in his thick Hyvalian accent, was that they had felled and lit the Druid-Tree at the center ablaze. He finished with a great toothy smile, “the cowards that were not cut down fled into the woods. Praise the All-Light!” Bers was concerned and later asked Dead-Eye what should they do. He said, “Nothing.” Their lean-to mates appeared lust as uneasy and broke out a few clay bottles (the half-faun hill-giant had a couple of casks) of strong Hill-lander whiskey. During the evening there was concern that a group of Westlander barbarians were eventually going to make an appearance.
Later that afternoon while tracking a deer in the Light Wood the group (Bers, Dead-Eye and Olf with Dead-Eye in the lead) came upon a low anomalous hill among the bare trees, the area around Veringer’s Field is fairly flat. They prowled to the top of the hill finding it level with what appeared as an ancient and weathered stone alter covered in frozen blood. The menhir behind the stone table was millennial-pitted green stone carven into the crude form of a satyr. Dead-Eye recognized the work of the Otkid savages, slaughtered rabbits lying about the altar stones in a wide circle. Jen and Cris declared their hatred of Otkid at the table that night. Mike just looked on confused. Strangely enough, Olf was the only one who spotted a column of steam rising up from the far side of the hill-slope just before the dragon came into full view.
The battle was brief lasting only 1-melee round. Bers wounded the dragon with a first hit with her axe and Dead-eye hit the dragon with his first shot and then had to dodge a bite attack. As both had beaten the dragon in Initiative they both got another attack before it could act again wounding it horribly so it ran away the two dragon slayers with Olf in hot pursuit. They spent the night tracking the blood trail knowing that by the time they would arrive at its lair it would be fully healed (due to regeneration). By morning they came to the mouth of a dug-out cave and entered. The cave was a simple burrow-type lair and they easily made their way through the 1 young dragon and 3 hatchlings they encountered. When they came into the steaming sand-floored wallow which also serves as an egg-chamber, Dead-Eye stomped on all of the eggs they found, he actually dug around to make sure he got them all because he, “hates dragons”. Dead-Eye has the sole survivor character concept; the character lost his family to a dragon attack and seeks vengeance forevermore. They made it just past the wallow and were charged by the adult Hill-Dragon and Dead-Eye got the drop and shot it for very little damage. The dragon went into its dragon-rage it made a claw slash at Bers who dodged negating her Power Attack feat (allows her to make a power attack as a normal attack for the first attack of a melee round) and it snapped at Dead-Eye who failed his dodge and got bit hard and when it tried to swallow him he managed to lock with its jaws. Bers power-attacked using up her last two-attacks for the first round and took a tail swipe to the chest and a claw. The dragon broke the clinch with Dead-Eye and attempted to swallow him but he dodged out from its jaws using up an attack from the next round (players can always attempt to dodge). Dead-Eye won initiative in the second round and whipped out his long-sword and bowie knife. Bers struck the dragon forgetting to power attack but still wounding it severely. It snapped again at Dead-Eye forcing him to dodge as he was badly wounded and struck again at Bers who took the claw, her chainmail took the brunt but was basically reduced to shreds (luckily she had a spare leftover form the loot they managed to gather up to this point). Dead-Eye was forced to make a recovery roll as he failed to dodge to reduce the bite damage as he was wounded enough to die, the dragon failed its grapple to try to swallow him again. Bers got the deathblow on the beast with a major overkill covering herself and Dead-Eye in steaming dragon-gore. They found that the Hill-Dragon’s hoard was mostly shiny trash.
They returned to camp by the next evening in a sorry and very pungent state, their lean-to mates made them clean up a bit. Cris was a bit exasperated, “but they’re a bunch of GOAT-MEN!” Bers talked to a camp servant and found that he had seen Sir Chinsalis sneaking out at night into the woods headed north. She almost forgot to tell Dead-Eye until they were good and whiskied up with the Hill-Landers’ stash that night. So they began waiting for him at night, it took a week before they spotted him sneaking out. They tracked him into the Light Wood and found themselves at the base of a familiar hill. Dead-Eye was the one that prowled to the top to see what was going on since Bers tended to be very clumsy and noisy. He watched as the paladin waited in the cold for someone whom appeared in the form of a familiar green archer. He looked on as they talked about something but he couldn’t overhear them (he failed his listen check). As they parted ways he hurried back down to Bers and they both took off into the woods. They hid and planned to wait of ran hour then spotted a big black shape flying in front of the full moon through the bare trees, Dead-Eye was able to make out the shape of a certain green dragon. “Hey! The green archer’s the f***’*n green dragon!” Seriously he just realized that then. He pretty much also figured the green dragon’s manipulating both sides in the local religious/conquistador strife keeping both sides at each other’s throats. They planned to lay low for a few days while Dead-Eye thought what to do, Bers just wanted to confront the paladin to see what they could find out. But she decided to just eat some of the Ranger’s hard tack, dried meat and whiskey gruel instead when she saw him cooking it up.
A few nights later they were woken out of a dead sleep by shouting and the crash of the manor’s door. They saw the female Westlander warrior with the sharpened teeth take off into the snow as it began to storm her pursuers broke off as soon as she broke the bounds of the camp. After things settled down a bit the Templars carried out the other girl, her throat a bleeding mess and the young Changris a large chunk bitten out of his throat. Both were stone dead.
Bers: “Awww. I liked him.”
To Be Continued…