Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Shadowed Tower - 05 "Trouble in Wheat Hill"

Having survived the brigands ambush, and the Stormcrow's assassination attempt, the group waits for Rowen, who scouts the area in wolf form. Though she finds the Stormcrow's "nest", there doesn't appear to be a trail leading from it. The possibility that their assassin might also be a shapechanger crosses everyone's minds, but Rowen finds no sign of that either. With nothing further to go on, they mount up and ride to the nearby tower, just to check things out. They find signs that the brigands used the area to prepare, but nothing post ambush. Having already wasted enough of their day, they decide it is best to make hast to Wheat Hill.

Making all haste, but sparing the horses any permanent damage, they make their way north up the trade road. Though everyone stays vigilant, they are still taken by surprise when a bolt drops Jimmy as they ride through a dense section of forest. As Khabsha and Cinder see to their fallen escort, Rowen and Graham seek the assassin in the trees. Jimmy's wound proves fatal and at first Rowen-wolf finds no scent of the Stormcrow. As they are about to give up, Rowen catches the faint scent of an unknown horse. Gathering their things, and stashing Jimmy's body, they move off in pursuit.

The assassin's trail shows a hasty progress through the wildlands between the road and the coast. As darkness draws near, they come upon a slain horse, obviously ridden to collapse. With something less than shock, Rowen finds no scent or track leading from the scene. To the east lies harsh terrain and the rocky coast. Graham knows it to be a favorite locale for outlaws on the run. to the Northwest lies Wheat Hill and the trade road. Deciding that following an assassin who apparently has Deception magics would prove extremely difficult, they head back toward the road, making camp in a cave Graham knows of.

Thankfully, no one wakes up dead in the morning. Rising early, they make their way along woodsmen's paths back to the trade road. As they near Wheat Hill, they see a farmer's cottage and a family working in the garden. When the family spies them, they all hurry indoors, shuttering windows. Rowen gets a sinking feeling.

Next they see a pall of smoke hanging in the skies above Wheat Hill. Deciding it might be good to learn more before heading forward, they send Graham ahead. Asking some peasants, he finds that Wheat Hill has been recently attacked by a band of Syvani and their brigand allies.

While the rest of the party waits in the forest, the one most suitable to blending, scouts out the village road. When Graham comes upon a group of soldiers guarding the road he plays it cool, even going so far as to ask what the commotion is about. When the soldiers eye is weaponry and ask his name, he gives it. Upon hearing his name, they demand that he get off his horse and submit to being arrested. When the two closest soldiers attempt to arrest him, he pulls his halberd and proceeds to beat all four in some seriously adept combat, even going so far as to use the blunt end to try and spare their lives. Riding back to the others, he passes on the bad news.

Soon the horns sound from the roadway, and the team must make a quick decision which way to flee. They decide to cut back across the road and head toward the coast, where they might be able to hire a boat that can take them North straight to Neued. Graham works at covering their trail and they give the soldiers the slip, at least for the moment. Heading back to the coast.

As night falls we find the group weary, on the edge of the rocky coastlands. Graham has noted a likely brigands lookout post ahead. As a precaution, they are preparing to send Spider-Cinder up the cliffs to check out the spot before proceeding.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Shadowed Tower - 04 "Whitewood"

The party came out of Cairn Nan Arq and the Shadowed Tower, deciding what they were going to do next. Preparing to leave for the northern village, Rowen spots fresh tracks near the pond and heading toward the now fordable river to the south. Recognizing the tracks as the recently deceased Tom's, with one booted foot and one bare foot, they quickly discover his dug up grave. Deciding he is still in league with the demon, they feel obligated to run him down and make sure he stays dead.

They head south across the river, Rowen's sword Hawkwing picking up the vague demonic presence of Dead Tom, who's tracks eventually lead into a scrub choked ravine to the east of the road.

Rowen takes her wolf form and leads Graham into the ravine, while Cinder, Khabsha and Jorel follow alongside, waiting for sign that they have found Tom. A little ways in they do find Tom, hidden in a dark space. Rowen is about the get the jump on him when Cinder shouts from above, "Have you found anything yet?" Thus alerted, Tom takes off running.

Even on his best day Tom would have been no match for a wolf, and Rowen quickly trips him up. unfortunately , before she can do more than harass him, he convulses and does some transforming of his own, becoming a monstrous creature, half spider, half man. Rowen-wolf and spiderbeast engage. Chitonous legs are snapped and the creature that was once Tom nearly bites Rowen when the fates intervene and she miraculously evades the attack, reversing the situation and snapping Tom's neck with her powerful jaws. In his spasms of death, he rattles off, "You are too late! Chaos cannot be stopped the world will burn!"

When the others join them in the ravine's base, they search the body before, wanting no repeat of events, Cinder burns it to ash. In Tom's crude pack they find two books. One is a Dinari tome and the other a Kuranani book. The Kuranani book is a evil looking thing, covering anatomy and dark surgical practices. The Dinari book, when examined with a spell of Understanding, turns out to be alchemical work on a special substance called Nightfire, which is apparently highly explosive when exposed to even the smallest light source.

In the area where Tom was hiding before the chase, they find a hastily inscribed circle in the dirt and a lingering feel of magic in the area, as if Tom were casting some kind of spell just before he was found.

The group decides to send Joril North to report to Wheat Hill and Lord Talis' men what has transpired at the tower, while they continue travelling south a ways, to see where Tom might have been heading.
Before long they reach a village called Whitewood. While no one seems to know of Tom or his business, the Headman is rather rude, and obviously looks down on Syvani. Still, they are grudgingly given food and a bed for the night. Somewhere between house arrest and guest status, they are nonetheless able to study the books further.

Cinder finds a crease in the Kuranani book, where something had obviously recently been studied. A surgical procedure in where a foreign object can be placed into a living subject's abdomen. Dots are connected and they all remember the "wounds" on Jory Talis's stomach that had been magically healed even before their arrival. In the morning they decide to go North again, to warn Jory. Headman Gowen "offers' to send four guards with the party, nominally to ensure their safety but more obviously to act as guards on the group.

Important Names
Whitewood Village: Along the trade road in Ffom. South of Shadow Tower.
Gowan: Racist Headman of Whitewood.
Mary: Gowan's timid wife.
Jimmy: Village Guard. Nicest of the lot.
Ann: Fisherman's wife. Provided characters with clothing and info.
Kadig and Ewin: Village warriors.