The group (now consisting of Bers the female fighter played by Jenn, Vorwulf the ranger/dragonslayer and his protégé Drasknor both played by Cris, Grom the shaman played by Gil, Jesae the bard played by Rheia, and Kyrahma the Ferenoi berserker played by Isis) sat drinking at a table and Vorwulf saw that Xanto the wasp was eating by himself and so walked to talk to him about the book when the shaman saw this he followed him over to the mage’s table. Vorwulf began bidding on the book but was lowballing Xanto but he looked as if he was about to give in as he was desperate to unload the thing. Grom immediately threw down 10 superior quality diamonds.
The bard thinking to make a little coin while the others drank decided to play a few songs. After a short while a rough looking ratling with a tattoo around his left eye tossed him a gold piece and told him to “play” in a gruff tone. Jesae played the best song he ever had (Rheia the bard’s player rolled a natural 20). After the song finished the ratling as he walked to the door while passing the bard mumbled “you play funeral dirges well”. When he told the others what had happened they immediately took it very seriously but Jesae couldn’t remember exactly what the ratling had told him.
The night was uneventful otherwise, the group retired to their campsite by the water troughs in the courtyard by the front gates amongst their wagons. Vorwulf looked for ‘the wasp’ at camp as the mage had disappeared almost immediately after selling off the book. The slayers took alternating watches as usual especially on the lookout for any ‘suspicious’ ratlings and the rest settled down for sleep in their bedrolls or on the wagons. The night was peaceful and quiet with Bers catching something out of the corner of her eye on first watch but found nothing. On second watch however, Jesae’s watch the horses began to buck and neigh foaming at the mouth their eyes bulging. In a panic the bard awoke everyone, as if they weren’t already that is, and pretty much ran around the campsite like a chicken with its head cut-off. Grom cast Mystic Diagnosis and Commune with Animals to try to get a handle on the situation as the horses collapsed and their bellies bulged. They had been poisoned and would be dead within the hour without treatment. Vorwulf used 3 of his Neutralize Poisons potions, Bers gave up 2 of hers and the shaman was able to concoct a quick antidote for 1 of the horses. They managed to save 6 of their 12 horses.
Vorwulf in a huff checked for tracks and found ratling tracks, which appeared that they were purposely left there to be found, by the water troughs. It was at this point that Jesae the bard was fumbling with the gold coin he had be given by the ratling at the tavern and noticed that the coin was stamped with the icon of a coiling dragon which the others recognized as Sawback’s symbol. Jesae observed that the ratling that gave him the coin appeared to be an adventurer of some experience and that he had heard rumors in the tavern that there’s a ratling adventuring party muscling its way into the Hirok-Nor underworld.
Bers: “The tat-eye’s getting revenge for Sawback?”
Grom: “That was a warning.”
Vorwulf: “Damn Tat-Eyes, Damn ratlings!”
They decided to leave for Merdna at dawn and doubled up the watches till morning. The next day it took almost 4 hours on the road to get the wagons to the city of Merdna a trip which should have taken 1 to 2 hours. As the city came into view they found that there were trolls between them and the city gates. The trolls were definitely familiar with 3 large trolls wielding war-hammers with wolf-skin mantles on their backs led by a 12 ft tall troll with stony brown hide. The group was interested to see them harassing the wall and its guards seemingly unaffected by the daylight.
Vorwulf: “They’re being protected by magic.”
The shaman stepped forward while the wagons were still a few hundred feet away from the trolls and cast Call Lightning causing the trolls to scatter and runaway. The group hurried to the gates and gained easy access based on their reputation. They heard horns blaring in the Thur Wood to the northwest and responses from the northeast each further than the last. Just as the last wagon rolled into town and the gates closed the very same trolls were gathered outside of the gates followed by 4 12-ft tall trolls in full-plate armor and great helms bearing troll-made Kris-blade swords. Vorwulf and Grom mounted the wood palisades alongside the young guard captain whom seemed on the verge of panic. Fifteen minutes later a mercenary unit of 15 warriors, 5 of which were Hill-Giants, spilled onto the road from the tree line led by what appeared to be an experienced captain. The mercs were obviously Hill-Landers and were bearing a standard on their leather lamellar covered chests of a split field of blue and red with the symbol of a spiked brown club hovering over a cracked yellow skull. Vorwulf used a power on his magic bow to fire a Thunder Arrow into the crowd of warriors slightly wounding a few of the human mercs and causing the armored trolls to charge the gate.
The gates were smashed into splinters as the armored trolls charged through and were followed by the four familiar trolls and 15 roaring Hill-Lander mercenaries. Bers and Kyr were on the ground to meet them as the four wagons continued on in an effort by the teamsters to get out of the way with Jesae alongside the head teamster on the lead wagon. Vorwulf drew an arrow on his bow and Grom was preparing to sling spells. Bers and Kyr met the 5 faunic Hill-Lander warriors one of which clinched Kyr’s sword on a parry while parrying with his curved longsword. Bers easily killed another spattering blood over her, Kyr and the clinching warrior. The 5 human Hill-Landers charged through the gates into the town intent on pillage some being met by sword & spear wielding residents. The commander was shot by Vorwulf whom he met eyes with and charged into the gates intent on taking out the bowman. 5 hill-giants charged through the gates and went straight for the wagons.
Rheia: “Wait. What?” She looked up at me like a deer caught in headlights (seriously).
Luckily the giants attacked the wagon last in line (it was a random roll) smashing it to bits and killing the driver, horses and all of the livestock that the shaman had acquired. The shaman hit the armored trolls with lightning to little effect. The scout trolls led by the mountain troll (the 12 ft tall troll with the horn and stoney brown hide) attacked Bers and Kyr wounding Kyr badly. Jesae ducked into the back of the wagon he was on and hid. The battle was seemingly going in a bad way for the dragon-slayers at this point but the shaman going against an initial decision to try to make it to Kyr to try to heal her cast Mass Animal Form zapping 3 of the fauns, all of the armored trolls (only one of which was even remotely injured btw) and the 3 troll scouts transforming them all into frogs. The Hill-Lander captain made it to the top of the palisades and charged Vorwulf engaging him in a sword fight and was disarmed by the ranger his curved sword flying over the battlements. The remaining faun warrior was struck by a cone of force when he hit Kyr, a feature of her magic armor given to her by the slayers upon joining as a “prospect”, and was killed by the amazon when her sword was freed from the clinch when that warrior dissolved into a frog. The captain blew his horn before Vorwulf could stop him and the giants and human warriors reversed course and leapt over the palisades just as the hill-giants passed out of the gates getting snatched up by 1. In an effort to try to capture him Vorwulf shot the giant in the back and the shaman cast Entangling Growth causing the grasses they were running through to lengthen and entangle him but he easily ripped free (rolled a Natural 20) as Vorwulf leapt over the battlements using an acrobatic roll to prevent taking damage form the fall and while Grom ran down to the smashed gates. The mountain troll was killed by Bers who cut him into two pieces covering her and the wounded Kyr in black stinking troll’s blood. They wasted no time in calling Grom over in order to blast magic fire over the two already regenerating bits. The group assessed the damage and the shaman began healing the wounded.
While they did this they could hear the panicked blaring of signal bugles the bleating fading into the northeast. They realized that the guards as Vorwulf went to chastise the guard captain were just kids around the early teen-years and were armed with lower-end hunting bows the arrows they were using were useless for big game much less against fully armored warriors. Real fighters would’ve been armed with javelins while manning the timber. They were told that the absent forces of Merdna were sent to Fertum Vorahd to reinforce it about 3 days ago against a potential siege. Vorwulf asked after the druidic marshal, the druid and lord Vorahd all of which were based out of this city were also gone. The lord had retreated to the Fertum when the first troll incursions began and thus the reason the city forces were dispatched to protect the Fertum. The druid fled to where no one knows but he left with his pupil in a loaded wagon several days ago. The marshal left on what they assumed was an official mission but none knew exactly what he was up to or he had gone. They were also informed that a mysterious and sudden plague that spread from the south and was ripping through Hirok-Nor had made its way to Merdna and was rumored to have already hit the Fertum. Vorwulf and his protégé began helping the guards and resident artisans to repair the front gates while the rest of the team recuperated.
To Be Continued…