Crossroads in Cain

Episode Three: Revenge of the Bard

We find ourselves in a room containing the tomb of a knight of King Dorian. The search for Randall Mattockblade is beginning to feel grim. However, Nogg urges the party move on. Sounds can be heard from the next room. It is the bard Orlin who also was sent to find Randall.
Orlin looks tired and emaciated, so Nogg begrudgingly gives him a couple of rations. Orlin devours them as he tells the party of a hag who has been keeping him tied up in this room. The room itself appears to be a makeshift kitchen. Orlin points the party in the direction where he saw the hag leave. The party decides to pursue the hag, hoping it would lead them to Randall. Lusor gives Orlin a viol, a worthy substitute for Orlin’s favored multi-instrumental approach.
In the hag’s room, we can see two exits – a door and a cave. In the room some various trinkets and a gold chest. Gaitus decides to pick the lock and open the box. Right as he does, spikes fly out and hit his hand and it snaps shut. Lusor decides we should instead open it from afar with his Mage Hand. Inside, we find all of Orlin’s instruments as well as some books, a couple of full vials, another small box, some bracelets, buckles, and belts. Gaitus reads the engravings on the small box, “Sir Carak the Brave.”
Gormak asks Orlin if he ever heard a door slam when the hag had him prisoner. Orlin responds in the negative, so Gormak decides to check the cave entrance for prints, as well as any other signs of entrance at the cave and the other door. He is unable to find any definitive sign of which direction the hag may have gone.
As if he did not learn his lesson the first time, Gaitus eagerly opens the small box. A gust of poison sprays out, which Gaitus deftly avoids causing the mist to hit Nogg squarely in the eyes. Nogg lets out a huff, as though she is used to but still marginally annoyed by Gaitus’ antics, and pushes him aside. She takes a burlap sack out of the chest and opens it to find a couple of sapphires, a ruby, and three emerald gems. Underneath the sack she finds a belt buckle with some blood on it. Tyson snatches the books from the chest then takes a close look at the vials, identifying them as possibly being able to cure wounds.
The party decides to check the door exit first. Nogg leads. She sees a dug-out tunnel ahead. Gormak enters and immediately feels cold. He calls Thoros to use his divine senses. Thoros sees jars of body parts. The rest of the party enters the room as the air around them seems to get even colder. Gaitus decides he has not set off enough traps today, so he and Gormak approach the jars without care. Fate decides otherwise, as the two spring a trap and are knocked on their posteriors.
Gaitus takes out a bottle which had a bit of water in it. “Lusor, grab that blue object and put it in the bottle.” The party wisely stayed a safe distance back while Lusor used his Mage Hand to pick up the object and place it in Gaitus’ bottle. The object hit the bottom of the bottle then instantly froze.
Gormak looks in a nearby chest and finds a deer carcass, a jug of blood mead, and some eggs. Gaitus eyes the bottle to add to his collection later. Nogg urges the party to move on and find Randall, who she keeps lovingly referring to as, ‘the boy.’ The party retraces their steps into the hag’s room, then out the cavernous exit. Tyson, always the master of timing, warns his fellow adventurers that the topaz artifact we had smashed may have possibly released a demon.
The party exits into a field outside the structure. Ahead a blue-leafed tree lies toppled over with a hole in the top. Gaitus asks himself, “Could fate be so cruel?” as he investigates the opening. Inside he finds some rations, a purse with some silver, some rusty thieves tools, a crossbow, and a canteen filled with dwarven spirits.
As they approach the structure, Thoros sees a cauldron. He takes a closer look and reveals it to have some sort of ritualistic purpose and can create skeletons. “Nogg smash!” The cauldron breaks into dozens of pieces. “Nogg not take chances,” she snarls.
The ample moonlight allows the party to get their bearings. They are behind the church where they had entered with the battering log. Returning north to the front of the church, Tyson suggests that the party take a rest. Lusor and Gaitus take watch. As Gormak is sleeping, Gaitus tries (and of course fails) to take a bottle from him. As Orlin is getting ready for a rest, Lusor asks him about Randall’s whereabouts. Orlin responds that he thinks Randall is dead. Tyson reads the books he had earlier taken from the hag’s chest.
Morning beckon’s the adventurers to press on. They head back to the tavern after a long, deserved rest. Tyson, who is known to be an occasional sleep-reader, informs the others that he read both of the books they picked up. He says that the first one is about Sir Carak, who was in service to the Martyr King Dorian. Sir Carak’s role was to purge the magic using villages. The other book was a Madduckblade family journal. The pendant the party had earlier looted was identified by Lusor to be something Sir Carak had worn, perhaps as part of a ritual. The stone inside was some kind of ‘godstone.’ Gormak decides that he had better carry it.
A commotion can be heard ahead at the Tavern and Nogg hastens the party’s pace. As they arrive at the tavern, they see Delb at the center of it all, trying desperately to calm the crowd. “I don’t know how he died,” and, “his livestock was ruined,” were all they party could make out amongst all of the ruckus. Lawrence (the server) tried bolting up the stairs but Nogg was just as fast. She chased after him up the stairs, giving Delb a quick glance at the belt-buckle she had taken from the hag’s room last night. Nogg corners Lawrence up in Randall’s room. Lawrence though is not trying to escape. Rather, he knew when the party returned without Randall that the story did not end well for him. Nogg showed Lawrence the blood-stained belt-buckle, which Lawrence remembered as Randall’s. She comforted him and gave him the belt-buckle and headed back down to the tavern.
Meanwhile downstairs, Gormak and the others are able to determine that a farmer was killed. The body, which was brutally gashed and impaled with spikes, lay just outside the tavern. Gaitus disguises as a farmer himself and joins the rabble, trying to subtly subdue them. “Calm down everyone, let’s just all calm down,” he urged the crowd. As the day was new, so too was Gaitus’ luck, as he convinced the crowd that the danger had passed. Some nonsense about ‘spike-pigs.’ Gaitus looked proud of himself.
However, his luck was about to end. Delb confronts Gaitus about the alleged “Titan’s Gate Elixir” Gaitus had used in trade prior to their adventure. Tyson interrupts to show Delb the journal they had discovered back at the church. Delb’s face turns from anger to shock as he gasps, “Lawrence!” and races up the stairs to look for him. Lawrence is nowhere to be found.
Nogg, sensing the calm is tenuous, decides to keep the crowd spiritually lubricated and takes Delb’s place behind the bar. While she’s keeping the ale flowing, the others notice three people in the corner who do not look like they belong. Thoros and Lusor decide to bring them some drinks. A woman, who appears to be some sort of ranger, and her two male counterparts, graciously accept their company. Thoros asks them if they know any more about the commotion. The woman replies that there is a demon roaming around outside. Gormak comes to the table and introduces himself as a fellow hunter. The two hunters trade verbal barbs, each bragging about their own tracking prowess. Nogg, overhearing it all, prods the woman into a bet that Gormak can track down the demon before her. She agrees. Lusor, wanting to put a proper name to the story, finds out she is called Mera Arper.
Both parties headed in the same direction for a couple of hours. Gormak’s senses then told him to head south as Mera and her mates maintained an eastward path. Just as the two parties diverged, Mera’s disguise wears off. She is the Hag, accompanied by two minions. Lusor quickly casts his Faerie Fire on the three, but it fails! Thoros moves closer to his friends to help out. Gormak pulls an arrow out of his quiver and lands a shot on the Hag. The Hag lashes a vicious insult towards Gaitus as he disengages and fires his crossbow at her. Tyson fires three magic missiles at the Hag and Lusor finishes her off with Bane. The minions attempt one last desperate strike on Thoros and Nogg. Gaitus and Nogg finish off the minions with ease.

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