We re-join our two heroes, Bers the female fighter played by Jen and Dead-Eye the ranger played by Cris, after a few days rest in a top room of the Merchants’ Inn in Fertum DreyHawk while they spent the day drinking in the beer-hall. It was cold outside as fall was beginning and the place was bustling with those travelers and merchants moving quickly and with haste to where they were to winter. The winters, especially this far North, in the Westlands are especially harsh and snowbound though it milds as you move into the interior of the Granfor where the snow never touches the forest floor the same as the sun but for the forest canopy. They sat a table in the corner of the hall near the alley door outside which sat the urinal trough, Dead-Eye had his back to the wall.
A young well-muscled man came up to the table and asked the two adventurers if they were the “dragon-slayers everyone is talking about?” Of course Dead-Eye said, “Yeah, what of it?” The young man introduced himself as, “Lundo, sportsman and sword for hire”. He was somewhat charming and handsome (CHA [Charisma] +2, BEA [Beauty] +2) and decked out with a full suit of studded leather armor of some quality and a wolf skin mantle tossed over his shoulders, a dagger and long-sword on his hips. Bers could tell by his slight accent when he spoke and by his dark hair, eyes and the yellow tone to his tanned skin that he was an Ivoran. She entertained talking to him since in Jen’s words “he’s hot” and followed him when he invited her to his table where his two companions were sitting. Strangely neither Bers nor Dead-Eye noticed his bracers.
He introduced Bers to his two companions. The first was Anizia, a young woman of mixed descent (Ivoran/Creschan) with her green quarterstaff leaning against the table next to her. The second was Shinzarro an unfriendly Ivoran who looked a little shifty. His chainmail coif drooped on his brow and he pulled his grey wool cape close about his neck in order to hide the gold necklace he was wearing and its large emerald (Bers spotted it but still thought nothing of it). Shinzarro also only seemed to be armed with 2 bowie knives and 2 throwing knives in sheaths on his thick waist belt. Lundo flirted with Bers for a while but she decided to get back to her adventuring companion as the guy seemed a bit “sleazy” to her and all of his flirtations seemed a bit suspicious since she was so gnarly looking.
As she sat down a pair of berserkers with tattoos of crossed axes wreathed in flames on their bare chests burst in through the doors. Both were perfectly sober and looking for a fight so of course they stomped over to our duo’s table. The faun berserker slammed his hands down on the table and made a snide remark about Bers (in a language she didn’t know) and laughed his goatish laugh while the human just stared at Dead-Eye. After a while as the patrons in the beerhall decided to begin vacating the human berserker asked, “You two wouldn’t know who murdered Baadach our brother, the same ones who’ve been sneakin’ abouts our camp?” About half-way through that Dead-Eye interrupted him and shouted out, “We killed ‘em so let’s duel or are you two cowards?”
The table flew and the opposing pairs faced off just outside of the beerhall with the human berserk attacking first. The battle lasted for 3 melee rounds with Dead-Eye forced into making a Recovery check on his second action in the second round and again in the last round in order to survive. Both of the berserkers were killed by the second action in the third round and both Bers and Dead-Eye were somewhat badly wounded. Fortunately it was a duel and thus everything was legit so they simply went on their way out of Fertum Dreyhawk. Where were they headed? They didn’t know. They did figure they might want to take the trade route out of the Cleft-Rills and head West since they figured that the local berserker coven would be after them now if they weren’t before.
They traveled for a few hours south-west through the farmlands and headed for the Trade Route still not having made a solid decision. Dead-Eye in his boredom decided to check to see if the hunting horn he had taken from the Otkid tribals (Pt. 6, I stupidly omitted the incident, they fought a small group of the Otkid including the scout with the fancy hunting horn) they had defeated while headed towards Black Brow worked so he and Bers could use it as a communication device should they get separated in the wilderness. Only he didn’t know that it was a horn of summoning and as soon as he blew it a dozen Otkid warriors and their Shaman were teleported within their midst. The shaman turned them into rabbits.
Luckily Sir Chinsaliss and a small contingent of Hyvalian Crusaders were in the area and again they were saved and restored by the Paladin. He and his retinue were on a mission for their church and were to forge into the wilderness of the Granfor to find converts and wipe out druidic strongholds where they could find them along the way. Their ultimate goal however was a secret. However, they needed a guide into the wilderness they seemed to be unable to find a local willing to accompany them. Since Chinsalis saved them both our heroes decided to do it for a reduced sum of gold and figured this company would afford them some measure of protection especially since they feared more were-bear berserker cultists. The crusader company was composed of Sir Chinsalis the paladin, his squire, Sir Changris the novice they had met at the cross-roads of Miller’s Fork, 5 Templars led by a greasy haired Hyvalian noble named Han-Morro whom made it plain he despised them even though he couldn’t speak a word of Westlander, 1 cleric named Li-Alo who appeared to be fairly fanatic about his faith, 3 Ivoran Knights each with a squire, a man-at-arms and a servant (these seemed snobbish and stuck to themselves), the 3 Hill-Landers they had met before (Baalkra, Han and Skraan), 10 men-at-arms, 20 servants, 1 very large Westlander responsible for the day-to-day camp operations, and 1 Ivoran minstrel. This isn’t counting the wagons, oxen and mounts. So after a day of rest they headed off fresh in the morning to a place 10 miles south called Veringer’s Field which was an old battlefield known to Dead-Eye where an old stone house sat often used by highwaymen and passing hunters as their first stop.
They traveled for several days passing into the Light Wood and traveling into the beginnings of the Granfor Forest where the trunks of the trees began to thicken in proportions and the daylight waned through the thick cover even at high noon. It had been about two days since they passed the last farmstead at the southern edge of the Cleft-Rills and were now off the map in the deep woods. They passed into a low pass surrounded by a high root entangled ridge on both sides when they were ambushed. Dozens of roaring berserkers poured into the pass from all sides catching the crusaders unawares at first. Groups of half-naked warriors swarmed the wagons as the knights and Templars charged forward leaving the servants to protect the wagons. At the time that this happened Dead-Eye was in the lead and actually spotted a couple of berserkers ahead so he crept a better vantage point in which to fire arrows at them while Bers was riding on one of the wagons. During the battle they found themselves separated by heavily armored war horses charging back and forth and hordes of berserkers attacking everything in their path. At one point Bers was under attack by two berserkers and Dead-Eye had to approach while dodging horses and avoiding berserkers trying to engage him in combat. He accidentally shot Bers once who was already horribly wounded even after killing her assailants, so she hid under the wagon. She had already drank a potion and made a recovery check during the fight with the two berserkers. A third berserker attacked just as Dead-Eye made it back to Bers and she found herself making Recovery checks for the first two of her actions that round, luckily Dead-Eye disarmed him and as soon as the second round in this fight started Bers power attacked him killing him in a single blow with the great sword she found at Black Brow. The battle was turning the berserkers were being beaten back mainly due ot the superior equipment of the crusaders. Then the berserker leader whom also appeared to be a dark priest of some kind made his presence known by wading into the battle and transforming into a very large tentacle monstrosity (via the Fearsome Form I spell) which began to turn the tide due to the horror effects on the crusaders. So of course our heroic duo charged it.
The battle with the berserk leader/monster lasted for 3 melee rounds. Dead-Eye was horrified when he got a good look at it but was able to overcome it on his turn, Bers flung her axe (she switched back to her axe) after rolling a natural 1 on a power attack in the second round. It stuck in a tree. She also wound up getting wrapped up in a tentacle and getting squeezed though she was able to break the grapple somewhat easily. Bers got the killing blow with a power attack chopping the beast in half where its monstrous guise melted away back into that of the human leader. Bers took the copper amulet from around his neck as a trophy. The battle ended and the last of the berserks either fled or were killed. The crusaders were mostly unscathed as they had only lost a few servants and a man-at-arms, the rest of the casualties were wounded but would recover. The crusaders, all but Han-Morro that is, were congratulating the pair for their heroics in defeating the dark priest which led the berserk-cult. After the tally and dealing with the dead the crusaders and our heroes put some distance between them and the battlefield before camping. In the morn they would continue on even as the weather turned ice cold as the fall progressed into winter.
To be Continued…