The Dragonslayers II Pt. 13: Up the River

The bright morning sun shone over the marketplace in the city of Asternor. Vorwulf and Grom were at the tent-shop of a mage. Vor wanting the bronzed chest plate he had taken from the fighter-lich, who now was haunting his and the rest of the party’s dreams, to be identified and the shaman desiring that the ring he had taken from the corpse of the were-raven be enchanted. Vor was told after paying his 100 gp that the armor had the ‘feather light’ ability rendering it nearly weightless and that was all. Vor still refused to wear it since it bore the arms of Blackbrow beaten masterfully into the chest. The shaman paid the mage 16,000 gp in 8 superior quality diamonds and 1,000 gold coins to get the ring made into a magic ring with the Frost Nova ability built into it. It would be ready for pickup in ‘3 days and a fortnight’.

Bers and Kyr meanwhile, were sitting at a sticky table in the beerhall with Zancor the one-armed. They were simply chatting and drinking for lack of anything else to do when after some small space of time Bers spotted a pair of suspicious men in dull red cloaks. They were very obviously trying to act as if they hadn’t been eyeballing the 3 at the table just a second ago.

Bers (to Kyrahma): “Hey, check those guys out.”

Kyr looked over and recognized them immediately as members of her berserker coven, the Obsidian Gauntlet, but she successfully ‘played it off’ and Bers was none the wiser.

On their way to the beerhall to join their companions Vorwulf and Grom stopped at the blacksmith’s. They paid him 2 gold talons to get him to melt the infernal slag rod down thereby destroying ‘the evil thing’. Foolishly the blacksmith agreed and heated the thing to red hot and began to hammer it down on the anvil. It exploded.

Bers was busy guzzling ale with Zancor and Kyr was simply hiding behind her mug when the two women noticed that the patrons, mostly members of Vorahd’s army, were running outside and gathering near the saloon doors. They pushed their way out from between the men and saw a large dust cloud and smoke down the street from the hall and heard the exclamations of ‘explosion’!? They saw Vor and Grom stumbling out of the ruined smithies’ singed and covered in black soot then tending to the smith whom they had dragged out among the debris that had been flung into the street. Minutes later after the crowd had mostly dispersed back into the beerhall along with the other two dragon slayers. Vor cleaned himself off in a horse trough before walking through the saloon doors after the shaman.

As he entered the building a pair of fairly large men wrapped in red cloaks pushed past him hastily on their way out. He noticed the large tattoo on the chest of one and barely putting 1 and 1 together he recognized the brand.

Vor (to Kyrahman as he sat down): “SO what’s with those guys? They have the same tats as you. They yours or what?”

All those around the table turned their eyes to her. Kyr just “kept her mouth shut”. Vorwulf left it at that and pulled out his magic goblet of Swap Places and kept an eye on her. They passed the rest of the day drinking and talking little. At sundown Bers, Kyr and Vor decided to leave back to their respective rooms in the tavern at the docks. The shaman remained in the beerhall chatting with Zancor.

Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “Man that guy is a damned SPY.”

Gil (Grom’s Player): “I know man; I’m trying to get some information from him.”

On the way to their rooms at the tavern Bers spotted a pair of Coiled Serpent berserkers following them. They were trying to follow the slayers in a sly manner but were failing miserably. Bers alerted the other two and they simply carried on to the tavern where she bought a hot bath. Grom had decided to return to the tavern and his bed since his attempt to ply information from Zancor proved unsuccessful with the old one-armed man wandering off sobbing after blubbering a sob story to the shaman.

As the shaman entered the threshold of the tavern Kyr pushed past him to outside and shouted an angry challenge at the pair of Coiled Serpent berserkers who were leaning on either side of the door. She successfully intimidated them and they walked off under the gaze of a small crowd which had gathered due to Kyr’s shouting. After that the group settled down to sleep.

Come morning Bers bought breakfast at the tavern for the entire group including Zancor who just happened show up as soon as they had sat down. They were getting ready to ship out with the army by noontime and their equipment had been gathered and packed, weapons and armor inspected. As they finished their meal they heard a ruckus outside and decided to investigate. They found a crowd gathered in the middle of the street gawking at the pair of headless bodies that laid there each bearing a coiled snake tattoo on the chest.

Vor: “Aw, sh*#.”

Kyr: “Awww Crap!”

The slayers joined the army and Lord Vorahd at the docks there Vorahd had revealed to them that the army was going via the Nirix River up into and along the Estnik River northeast on 3 ships to a depression called the Red Glenn. They would be with him and his warriors on the lead ship. The ships were going to stop at the mouth of the Red Glenn on the southern bank to let the slayers off so they can scout the nearby ruins called the Grey Fort to make sure the enemy, meaning the trolls of Trollguard, hadn’t occupied or engineered some sort of ambush. After the scouts return the ships would land on the northern bank directly across river form the ruins and from there the army would move to a place simply called the Delta Glade where the creek that flowed from the cave that was Old Sawback’s lair spilled into the Estnik just northeast of the Red Glenn. That was where they would face off with the trolls.

The ships were typical Westlander 6-oared river-vessels shallow bottomed with storage under the deck, single leather sail painted with Vorahd’s heraldry and a large wheel-stone attached to an iron chain for an anchor. The slayers mounted the ramp to board their vessel. Zancor put his hand on Bers’ shoulder to stop her and asked in a high, pitiable voice where they were off to as he was curious wouldn’t be allowed to follow. Bers just shrugged and said she didn’t know.

Jenn (Bers’ Player): “Dunno, I wasn’t listening, I’m not hitting stuff. Don’t care.”

It was a several hour trip up the river. The ship landed at the drop point at midnight and in the deep darkness the slayers disembarked moving silently and swiftly over the gravel beach inland but keeping the river bank in view. Vorwulf was able to discern that someone had been in the area in the past few days and warned the others to be ready. They traveled through clumps of woody bushes making their way towards the direction of the purported ruins. When the moon-limned outlines of their goal was visible Vorwulf stumbled upon and odd collection of stones and markings in the dirt by a bush. Kyr recognized it as a coded signal set by members of the Obsidian Gauntlet. It said ‘we are following you’. She couldn’t say if she was in good standing with them or not when pressed by Vor. She had parted them under ‘weird’ terms. (It’s funny that none of the players asked as to how the berserkers were able to know where they would be or how they beat them there but anyways.)

They began to approach the ruins and noticed that the natural sounds of the area were much louder than they should be with seemingly every insect and small nocturnal creature buzzing, squawking, squeaking or chirping. The shaman communed with nature and found that the powers of nature were magnified here but for the reason he did not know.

The ruins were ringed by a burnt and mostly fallen wood palisade with about half of the gatehouse left intact. The central longhouse, the only fully intact building, came into full view. It was huge and was at least 2 stories high and very deserted. The first story was built of windowless stone blocks with a helmet armed with two curling ram-horns and a small heart below it carved in the stone by the front doors. The upper reaches were wood burnt in large patches and where the wood lay un-blackened the wood had faded to a pale grey speckled with white accentuated in its ghastliness by the pale light of the white moon. They also noticed once inside the perimeter of the old palisades that the longhouse sat on possibly older ruins as the ground showed a rectangular outline of solid stone larger than the area of the longhouse and which was orientated northwest to southeast facing the Estnik River. The longhouse was oriented to the west and east. They crept past the piles of ruin covered in weeds and probing vines to the gaping door-less entrance. They slowly and with care moved past the threshold into the murky darkness.


To Be Continued…

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