July 26, 2009
The group, after making their own coin of power, realize that being in or near a house with several bodies isn't a good idea. And if they didn't...
"Deekin thinks we should go. Bodies and the watch don't mix," says Deekin in his usual manner.
The group slinks away through alleys and side streets and make their way to the docks, knowing that their ship the Hyperion and Captain Wein would be waiting for them. They set sail and head toward Haanex, where their adventure began.
Shortly after leaving Zoa on the Hyperion, they find themselves sailing close to shore due to the winds making waves out on the bay too choppy. Ember and Jelena, the wood elf sisters, see a wagon that appears to have some trouble. Jelena describes what she sees, an everyone agrees to go investigate. They row to shore on a dingy, setting ashore a distance away.
"Let's not be caught unawares...everyone ready in case there's trouble? Good," says Raizix.
The group approaches cautiously, and see three bodies on the ground near the wagon that they couldn't see from the bay. One, wearing a robe and hat has a pool of blood underneath him, and two armored men share a similar fate. One of he armored men has spikes sticking through their helmet.
Then from the sky they see what attacked the wagon. Two manticores come flying down out of the sky, and fling a dozen spikes between the two of them at the group. Darwin, unprotected by armor and having minimal dodging ability is almost downed by the first volley. He responds ferociously, tapping into his new-found power and unleashes a fireball directly in the path of the lead manticore. Jelena shoots two arrows in quick succession, and then drops to the ground, looking for cover, along with Raizix and Ember.
Darwin soon joins them, but not by his choice. Another volley of spikes comes at him. A few hit home, and he falls to te ground, unconscious. Ember and Deekin rush to his aid, and Raizix takes a forward position, readying himself for the creatures should they fly close enough or land.
Darwin is quickly revived by Deekin's healing spells and conjures another aerial explosion. This one proves lethal to the lead manticore, which plummets to the ground. The other manticore lands, and approaches Raizix threateningly.
Raizix is ready for this, and charges with wild abandon, dealing a mighty blow. It appears that the manticore may fly off, but obviously angered at the death of it's companion and showing more than animal intelligence and emotion, it begins attacking Raizix.
Raizix, however, is up to the task and defends himself well. He counters, and between his sword blows and Jelena's arrows, it is quickly dispatched.
With the creatures dead, the group looks at the humans on the ground.
Inside the wagon, they see a more gruesome sight. A man and a women are inside, half mangled and half eaten, apparently by the manticores.
They check the bodies for any signs of identification, which is lacking, and take the several valuable gemstones from the robed figures pouch.
It doesn't take long for the group to recover on the ship, and they find themsleves sleeping at night. Raizix, sleeping in a cabin with Deekin is awoken by a screech and sudden pain on his chest. He awakes to find an almost ethereal creature hovering over him. He is buffeted again by wings, claws and teeth. Deekin awakes and begins screaming in terror and alarm.
The cries awaken Jelena, Ember, and Darwin, who begin running toward Raizix quarters.
Raizix, who had been sleeping unarmored but with his sword nearby, grabs it and begins cutting into the creature. Even though injured greatly, he hacks into it, killing it just in time for the others to witness it's destruction.
Deekin points out a note pinned to the creature, which he picks up and reads aloud.
"'Give up. You cannot hope to fight my growing power.'"
"Must be from Daresh. She must have meant for me to die," says Raizix. Everyone else nods their heads in agreement.
After that, it doesn't take long for the ship to reach Haanex. The town doesn't look much different from the last time they were there, except blue smoke is billowing from a tower in the center of town, which the group knows to be the home of Veoden the wizard and their original employer.
They enter the tower, and find the source of smoke is a scrying spell being cast by the wizard. Within a nearby mirror, the image suddenly shifts and lunges northward, settling on a castle. Inside the castle, they glimpse an image of Daresh, before the scrying spell is distrupted and ended prematurely.
Veoden congratulates the group on creating their own coin of power, but warns of it's corrupting influence. He wishes them luck and sends them on their way.
Heading northward toward the castle they glimpsed in Veoden's scrying, they soon reach a small, well kept hut. It's sunset, but no smoke rises from the chimney. Several weeds grow outside, which Ember recognizes as belladonna. Jelena recognizes wolf tracks, but doesn't think much of them.
"Perhaps we can take shelter here for the night. Let's see if anyone is home," says Raizix, as he knocks on the door.
There is no response. Jelena listens closely, and hears a slight moan of pain come from inside the hut. "I think someone is in there, and they sound hurt."
They decide to investigate. The door is locked and apparently barred, but they eventually get in. Inside, they see several carved wooden figures around the hut, and a back room that has a hanging cloth instead of a door. They hear another moan from behind the curtain.
"Be careful," warns Ember. "Belladonna is supposed to be a cure for lycanthropy. There might be a werewolf in there, or someone who will soon become one."
Jelena pulls back the curtain, and sees an old man lying in a bed, unconscious. There are more carvings in here as well, more intricate and detailed than in the other room. She looks closer, and checks his skin and body. She finds claw marks across his belly, and feels a fever.
"This man was scratched by a wolf, and took some belladonna, probably as a precaution. It's poisonous, but he'll live."
The man's eyes open suddenly. "Get out! They'll find you here, just like they got me. Werewolves...," he trails off. "Been after me for weeks. They attack at night...left...left... board..."
"Left board!" he screams before collapsing again.
Ember looks around the hut, and finds a loose floor board to the left of the fire place. She finds several thousand coins inside, and also a silver hammer.
Just then the howls of wolves can be heard in the distance. The howls are heard again shortly after, much closer this time. "He's in no shape to protect himself. We have to keep him safe," says Raizix, and everyone else agrees.
They close the door and bar it shut again as best they can. They take up defensive positions inside, preparing for the worst. It doesn't take long for a pack of wolves to come to the door. Unable to open the door or shatter it on their own, they stop their assault.
Just when they thought it was over, two humanoids with wolfish faces and bodies bust through the door and window, but everyone was ready for it. Deekin casts a spell, immobilizing one, while Raizix steps up to prevent them from making any headway into the hut. Jelena attacks with her bow, while Darwin and Ember cast spells amidst the battle. It doesn't take long for the werewolves go fall, and the surviving wolves retreat off into the surrounding land.
Curious as to where the werewolves came from, the group follows their tracks, while Ember remains behind to care for the man in the hut and protect him should the wolves return.
The path of the werewolves eventually leads to a dilapidated farmhouse. In the nearby stable they find two malnourished draft horses, and in the house they find a couple dozen silver coins.
They keep the coins, but give the horses to the man to help pay for repairs to his hut and get himself re-situated.