Conquering the Barbarian Altanis: Session 11
The events below happened at the same time as events described in session 8 and 9.
|Gabriel Faria||Elf level 1||Cravatted silk shirt and a gold-encrusted rapier are all this 7th son of a duke needs to carve his own empire.|
|Taaaz||Fighter level 1||Tall figure whose skinny frame is hidden behind plate armour he never takes off—including the helmet.|
|Arradir||Elf level 1||A freckled, flame-haired elf on the run, looking to start a new life.|
Taaaz's and Arradir's reports linked at the end of the post.
Dewsnap 15th–Flowerbloom 1st
Following a three day bender, Gabriel and Taaaz were sufficiently motivated to head out into the wilderness. A map from Sister Silente marking the usual pilgrim routes proved to be most useful. And let's not forget that our dynamic duo has now transformed into a dynamic quartet: Nutriel, an elf they hired at Drunken Whore, and Arradir, a red-haired elf that joined them at the end of their debauchery.
A group of acolytes, led by a priest dressed in chainmail adorned with feathered shouldepards and carrying a large iron staff topped with an eagle-like symbol, marched through Gates of Antil just as the party was discussing their best way forth. “Might makes right!” the man grunted as he hit the ground with the totem. Then he set off with such an incredible pace that his men almost had to run to keep up with him.
Assuming they too were pilgrims, our adventurers decided to follow them from a “safe” distance. They indeed seemed to be heading towards Windgod Hills. Good weather served both parties well, and they almost reached the foot of the hill by the sundown. Adventurers broke camp while the pilgrims continued marching. Everybody had a good night's rest—everybody except Taaaz, that is. He was pissing fire throughout the night.
Sun shone on the next day as well. By the end of the first watch our party had caught up with pilgrims. In fact, they found the priest pouting in front of some tents. “These men of mine... Never will they make it in this world! Look at them, still sleeping and lounging—and we haven't even yet set foot on the Mountain.” While Gabriel and Arradir spoke to the man, Taaaz used the opportunity to inspect the eagle-staff. All parts seemed to be iron, and it was covered in scruff marks all along. Was it also used as a weapon? Alas, his inspection was cut short by the priest's volatile response to elven provocations. Apparently, asking “Should we make this a little competition?” was enough motivation for him to set off further up—alone.
The party opted to follow him few paces behind, making their presence well known to him. Unperturbed, the man kept his impressive pace for two watches straight. Not even the setting sun deterred him. Unwilling to be upped, our quintet started burning through the torches in order to keep up with him. The ascent was difficult enough during the day, but traversing the jagged edges at night was completely different game. Every now and then, they'd lose the priest out of sight, be it for the rocks, turns, or distance.
“Come at me!”
It was the holy man's voice.
“Come! What are you waiting for cowards!”
He was shouting angrily. But it didn't sound like it was meant for them. The party quickly dropped to the ground, hiding in the bushed and behind rocks, in order to assess the situation. Three elves could see heat signatures in the dark, but Taaaz's mortal eyes could see only moonlight. Gabriel and Arradir prowled ahead, while Taaaz was led by Nutriel.
“Might makes right!” THUD. THUD. THUD. THUD. THUD.
Sounds of iron striking the rocky ground permeated the air.
Elvish duo came close enough to make out the priest's heat signature. There he was, standing in a power pose, facing something in front of him. Crawling a bit closer, they noticed three horse-like heat signatures some 50ish feet ahead. They seemed to be moving left and right, but not coming forward. Unwilling to wait any further, Gabriel and Arradir joined up with the man, whilst Taaaz and Nutriel caught up from behind. The creatures ran away, but the man had nothing to say to our party.
Exhausted from the march and adrenaline rush, the adventurers decided to rest for the full day. They made their camp on a small elevated clearing, well protected from all sides. Priest and his acolytes camped across them, but only rested for a brief moment before continuing their pilgrimage.
Onwards to glory, as they say. In this case it was upwards to sweat. The hills turned even steeper and more difficult to pass, often requiring adventurers to get on all four in order to proceed. Perhaps it was his helmet obstructing his vision, or the sun blurring his mind, or exhaustion stepping in. Whatever it was, Taaaz tripped over a body lying in the pool of blood he'd failed to notice. Turning the corpse around revealed a familiar face—one of the acolytes they've met earlier! His torso and face were ripped to shred, his innards strewn about. The blood trail lead eastwards, between a narrow passageway.
“Whatever might've been taking away the totem is probably that way...” Arradir's words of wisdom broke his fellow adventurer's reluctance to follow danger. Not before Gabriel and some others followed up on his macabre suggestion to carve up the corpse and carry some of the extremities in case “Some horrible creature needs to be fed!” The trail led downwards in a sharp zig-zagging descending pattern. They could see another man sitting at a small clearance overhanging the descent further down. “Hey!” went unanswered.
Taaaz poked the man with a sword, tipping him over. Another mangled corpse. That one was too relieved of its worldly possessions by our squire-in-practice. It did get to keep its body intact though.
The trail led them to the foot of the mountain, with a grassland clearing between them and the forest ahead. They could see the priest standing, again in his power pose, facing the forest. The area he was in seemed to be bereft of grass, extending behind him as some sort of a cape. Silence was his response to any hails coming from the party. He also hadn't responded to a rock being thrown at him.
Gabriel and Arradir went south whilst Nutriel went north, circumventing the grass-less ground. Taaaz went straight ahead and tried to pull the man backwards. To his surprise, the man was solid as a rock, refusing to budge even an inch. Frustrated, he stepped in front of the priest, only to be met with a grisly sight: his clothes were torn, his chainmail barely held intact. The man was covered in blood, little stream running down his arms and legs.
“Might... made... right...” he whispered barely audibly.
“I... was... not... worth... it...” were his last words before he collapsed to his knees and lifelessly hung his head.
FFIIIUUU! Nutriel whistled and motioned to a thick tree behind Taaaz. The party was quick to surround it, revealing a trembling man behind it. “Leave him alone!” the man shouted through tears. “Speak!” Gabriel demanded. “Leave him alone you animals!” But Gabriel wouldn't have any of that crap from a snivelling man. He slapped and spanked him “Speak!”
“I was trying to keep up, but my blister were bleeding and I was thirsty so I took a break. By the time I caught up he was already down here. He summoned it! He called it out! Oh how he fought! But the horror! I couldn't bare to look at it! So many head! So many! Horrible heads! it left once it ripped the holy symbol from him! Oh, you bastard!”
“Have you seen where it'd go? Lead us after it you peasant!” more slaps and spanks were all the additional motivation this broken acolyte needed. “I hope you all die! I hope it rips you all apart! May you be mangled so horribly your ancestors won't recognise you in the afterlife! You—” his flurry of insults was cut short by Taaaz backhand to the lips.
“Oh, I can never return to Antil now... I've brought such shame to my order...”
Upon reaching the creatures lair, good man Arradir persuaded his peers to release the acolyte. And so our party readied themselves to descend into darkness.
Player Session Reports
- Taaaz's diary entry
- Arradir's diary entry
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