Borders of the Imperium

Session 10
Hunting the Fiery Demon Bull to the Ends of the Earth

While those of our party currently in Isari relax at the Wayward Chimera, enjoying a well earned 10 days of rest, the mayor has had barely a second's peace. Between rebuilding the town and the terrified citizens banging on his door at all hours, he’s starting to questions exactly why he ran for elected office in the first place. Fortunately he’s come up with a solution to one of these issues and has already secured the support of several prominent merchants and nobles to cover the cost. Groggy (from lack of sleep, not drink) but determined, he heads over to the Wayward Chimera, confident that once again this odd band of adventurers will not let him down.

 

The mayor enters the bar to find Ulfghar, Nim, Hari and Kroll trying with limited success to teach a foreign giant some basic words in the Common tongue. Being used to this sort of thing from this group, the mayor doesn't bat an eye, but instead launches right into his pitch. 1350GP worth of fine goods if our brave band will hunt down and kill the fiery demon bull that rampaged through the town. Confused, since the demon bull has not been spotted since, Ulfghar asks why spend so much money hunting a creature that no one has heard even a whisper of since the Great Battle for Isari. Apparently, the mayor explains, the children in the town are so terrified of this living nightmare, that they can no longer sleep. The poor parents, at wits end, have been pleading with the mayor to do something to kill the beast once and for all, so their children can feel safe once more. The nobles happily agreed to forking over large amounts of goods and gold to anyone who can slay this beast. It only takes a few seconds for the party to exchange glances, before Nim pipes up and agrees to undertake the quest on behalf of them all. Even though he never doubted they would let him down, the mayor feels great relief and sleepiness. Kindly Ulfghar escorts him up to a bed, while the rest begin planning their new quest.

 

Yetu (friend of Chirpy the fruitbat and possibly of Jamaican origin) appears and offers to help track the bull demon. Yetu states that the beast was last seen at the Village of Sister’s Quarrel and that they can track him from there. They head off to the now infamous village and find a building crushed in the exact same fashion as they witnessed in Isari when the beast charged through buildings as though they were made of sticks, not stones. And so they set out in pursuit of the demon bull creature.

 

Fortunately for our heroes, being persistently on fire makes it quite easy for others to track you and they follow the scorch marks through woods, through grassy hills that become increasingly more barren, until 2 days later they find themselves in open desert. They begin the treacherous journey across the desert. Yetu, being a master of survival manages to find small amounts of water, but they never seem to be quite enough. Clad in his plate armour, Ulfghar becomes exhausted by the journey through the scorching sand, but still he pushes on.

 

After 2 days of crossing the desert, they see many shapes wavering in the distance ahead. They approach what appears to be a large caravan and confirm that this is not a mirage when hailed by a Bedouin from the group. He’s quite surprised to see them, in all his years of traveling the salt trail, he has never once comes across travelers walking out of the open desert. Even among his people who have lived their lives in the desert, traveling off the road is considered foolhardy if not downright suicidal. Always eager for the newest and best equipment our party inquires into the goods the caravan is moving. Disappointingly, they have no magical nunchucks, however they have something equally valuable (note: equally, because magical nunchucks are just that awesome). The Bedouin produces from a pocket hidden in the many folds of his robe a small round sphere, translucent and about the size of a grape. He calls it a Dust of Dryness Ball and explains that it is a rare item of limited quantity throughout this world. When crushed it expands to create a 15ft-cubed pool of water. He states the one of them is more than enough to water his entire caravan of 50 camels and their accompanying humans for over a day. After much haggling and internal debate among the party, they purchase 3 balls for 900GP and set out on their way once more.

 

That night as they bed down beside a small fire, Nim draws the short straw and keeps watch. Suddenly but quietly, enchanting beautiful music breaks the silence, drawing Nim to his feet. Ulfghar, also awakens, and as though under a spell Nim and Ulfghar walk out into the black desert night following the music. Ulfghar kicks some sand on Hari as he passes by. Hari is also enchanted by the music and almost rises to follow them before realizing how strange it is to hear music in a desert in the middle of the night. Suspicious, Hari wakes Kroll and together they set out after Nim and Ulfghar who are a couple hundred yards ahead. Nim, leading the pack, starts to slide slowly down a sandy slope. The slope steepens, leading down to a small flat area surrounded by cliffs on the other 3 sides. As he slides, Nim notices the most beautiful naked female elf, sitting on the cliffs and singing to him. Entranced, he fails to notices a large grey cone-headed beast that erupts from the sand, grabbing Nim in his jaws. Thankfully, Ulfghar arrives at this point and attacks the Bulette, while Nim continues to hang from its jaw, smiling vacantly around him. Hari and Kroll arrive and seeing the Harpy for what it truly is, a nasty, leathery winged creature. They attack it. At the sound of its scream, 2 other Harpies fly out of a nest in the cliffs and a furious battle commences, while below Nim finally snaps out of it and joins Ulfghar battling the Bulette. The combined might of Hari and Kroll is too much for the Harpies and the last succumbs to a fireball that Hari summons. Just as they head over to join in the battle against the Bulette. The Bulette, having been grievously hurt by Ulfghar, and barely scratched by Nim, decides he’s had enough of this and attempts to burrow back into the sand. His injuries slow him and with his rear end and tail hanging out, Nim attacks, determined to redeem himself for his poor showing earlier in the battle. He utters a tiny, but bloodthirsty cry as he plunges his whole arm deep into the Bulette’s asshole, grabbing and tearing at everything he can on the way out. The Bulette gives one finally shudder and then collapses, half-buried into the sand. The battle won, Kroll begins to pry off his scales for Hari, who wants to try and make some armour out of them. Hari heads over to the Harpy corpses where something seems to be glinting in the sunlight. He finds a masterpiece of a necklace, 5 large jewels of different colours on flanges 5 making a mace-head like pendant on a chain. Slowly, Hari lowers it over his neck, a little concerned it might have some odd effect on him, but all that happens is the thought “Damn, I’m looking good!”

 

The 4 head slowly back to their campsite, exhausted from the battle. They find Yetu still sleeping (as he is notorious for doing during battle unless one of them drags him along). And they lie down beside him to rest and recover. They awake refreshed and head out across the desert once more. They continue along the scorched path and notice walls of stone slowly rising on either side until they find themselves in a deep canyon. They continue along the canyon for some way, before coming to a junction, with 3 paths ahead of them and one behind. By each path, carved into the rock they find a symbol. After much debate, they decide the symbol to the Left appears the least ominous and begin walking down the path. The path winds and descends into an even deeper canyon until they come to a teardrop shaped room where the path terminates. Alone in the centre of the room they see a statue of a tornado in humanoid form, worn by the sand. As they cautiously approach, they notice the very sun seems dimmed in this room, as though it was being covered by a layer of windblown sand, but they feel no wind. They come to the statue and as Hari attempts to detect any magical properties it may have, Nim moves forward and places a hand on it. Immediately, he feels the wind, a stronger wind than he has ever felt and a wind filled with the deepest hatred. Sand begins to blow around the entire room and out of the sand and wind an Elemental creature appears and attacks. As they turn to face the elemental, a wraith steps out of the statue. A fierce battle begins and our party splits to attack both the elemental and the wraith. Yetu, moves towards the wraith, as he does so it rushes at him and passes through him as though smoke. Yetu collapses and ages a thousand years before the parties eyes. Before they can react, a spectre arises from his corpse and attacks. Naturally, our kickass band of heroes kills them all. Unfortunately Yetu is beyond reviving and they are forced to leave his body behind.

 

Finding nothing else down this path, they return to the forks and this time take the Centre path. They only walk a little ways down before Nim hears faint chanting in the distance. Motioning the others to stay put, he stealths forward using all his skills as a monk to stay completely silent. He pops his head over a mound of sand and sees a sentry standing directly in front of him and in a circular room ahead, a man stretched naked in the sand surrounded by 4 cultists in robes and 2 Crusty Bitches. Silent but deadly, he slits the sentry’s throat and drags the body back to the rest of the group, leaving a wide trail of blood in the sand. They set off together to kill them all, as they approach one of the CBs swallows the man tied on the ground through her vagina and promptly swells to an enormous size. Knowing what comes next, our heroes charge at her, but before they can kill her, 2 gross demon babies drop out of her. They battle it out, kill them all, and afterwards our heroes trudge slowly back to the forks, where Nim finds a perfect sheltered spot for them to take a rest and recuperate before heading down the final path.

 

They awaken feeling refreshed, if not slightly frustrated at the time they wasted down the other 2 paths and they set out down the path to the Right. They come to a large open space, with many crumbling buildings and 2 statues of ancient warriors guarding the entrance. Standing at the entrance, they see far ahead of them a strangely out of place grassy hill. And sitting on this perfectly manicured green grass is the fiery demon bull. They begin to approach when the bull charges, Nim and Hari manage to dive out of the way, but still sustain damage as he runs past. The fight begins, and after a few seemingly ineffectual attacks, Kroll manages to cram one of the Dust of Dryness Balls into the beast’s mouth, jamming it in the gums, he then swings his sword at his jaw with all his might. With a powerful gush to ball explodes and the creature rears, screaming in pain as his fire is briefly extinguished. But he soon pulls himself together, reignites and attacks once more. They continue striking with swords, battle axes and obsidian daggers. They do some damage, but still the beast continues to fight. Hari tries desperately to find an opening to use his own Dust of Dryness ball, but none occurs. Finally, Kroll delivers a mighty blow with his sword right down the middle of the beast’s face. He doesn’t quite manage to cleave it in half, but the effect is still quite impressive and the creature falls over dead. Nim grabs one of the horns as the rest of the demon bull turns to ash around him, he holds the horn intact. They see a statue sitting on the grassy knoll and approach. It’s Yeenogu. After learning his lesson from his previous statue-touching exploits, Nim puts his hands into his pockets. Finding nothing else, they set out for home. Fortunately, they learned many tracking skills from Yetu on the journey out and are able to make their way home without getting lost.

 

They return and head to the mayor’s office, finding him asleep at his desk. Hari climbs into the rafters and sets a spotlight onto Nim, the mayor awakes at the bright light to see a small Halfling standing in front of him holding a bull’s horn nearly a tall as he is. Nim hands the horn to the mayor and as the mayor takes it into his hands, it turns to ash. The mayor is thrilled at their success and gives them all the goods they were owed. And together they set out to the Wayward Chimera for a well-deserved drink or two (or 7).

 

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Session 9

 

Destruction and hardship is what remains of Isari. Several survivors of the knoll war have
gathered within the city to start rebuilding. The adventurers have returned inside the wayward
chimera to regroup and attempt to start up shop once more.
Upon the unexpected return of once thought lost Grog the bartender, Kroll and Ulfgar took it
upon themselves to find out exactly what happened. Grog explained that during the looting and
pillaging of the war, he caught 4 unknown bandits stealing our beloved trophy and took it upon
himself to chase and hopefully retrieve it back.
During his chase, Grog narrowly escaped death by hiding within a small crevasse undetected by
a retreating knoll army, or at least what remained of them. Although unable to retrieve the trophy
himself, he was able to return to us with direction of where the robbers had gone.
Kroll and Ulfgar not wanting to disturb the other companions from their work, hired a Elf named
Cidaris skilled with a bow and a particular keenness for traps. He would agree to help the
companions for a small fee of course.
A short trip to the cross roads brought the 3 to where Grog had described his hiding spot, they
were able to determine where the robbers had fled with their trophy but before they could
resume their pursuit, they had a small encounter with 4 Ghouls. No easy feat for mere mortals
but easily dispatched by these 3.
A quick horse ride west in pursuit took the adventurers to a tentative short cut called the
“pilgrims path”. 2 hours stuffed into a hole only big enough for 2 people and 1 dead horse later,
the 3 chose to turn back after finding out that this stupid “shortcut” was watch by some sort of
dragon who chose not to kill them and let them live another day.
taking the longer way around, the 3 companions found their way blocked off by a pair of
Manticores, after a sad attempt at politics, the 3 skilled fighters sprung into action killing both the
initial monster as well as its mate, making a small profit from merchants who had been blocked
off as well.
Another half days travel brought them to a small man named Connery trying to fix a wagon
wheel, they helped him and were then invited for dinner as thanks.
Once they arrived to this gentleman estate, they found that they were the second group to
arrive. They found 2 human mercenaries as well as a stupid lookiing although Giant human man
welding none other than our fucking trophy. Ulfgar and Kroll decided to play it cool. through a
strategic dance of bluffs and persuasion, Kroll was able to distract the mercenaries while Ulfgar
communicated in broken dwarfish to this Hrut the gigantic man and convince him to come work
for us at the Wayward Chimera and no longer be a slave. For a small price of course… 1
chimera head trophy.
the adventure ended with yet another stand off inside Connery’s house with an old friend, 1 red
haired mercenary bowman who had escaped Ebadullas compound when we took it. Through 1
very tense stand off, we agreed to let her go, to run away and never be seen again… hopefully.

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Session 8

<meta />

Caravan en route to Inverted castle with Governess to end siege.

 

Attacked en route

 

  • new demon type: female body with pale flesh, hideous teeth and lobster claws. Unrecognized by anyone. New type discovered, named by Narwen “Crusty Bitches”. See-Bees for short.

  • Nailo leaps into overturned carriage to protect the governess (or perhaps just for a good hiding spot)

  • To many demons for one simple caster like Jaganath to summon and control. Something is wrong.

 

Aftermath

  • note on killed cultist with ramblings, mentions the bones of the slain as temples, and something called The Wake.

  • While camped for the night Narwen awkwardly flirts with a seventeen year old human soldier. Gives him personal and practical demonstration on where half-elves come from. Also demonstrates poor stealth

 

The Inverted Castle

  • choking on her words, the Governess asks for help from the Knights of the Tarrasque while simultaneously lifting her siege upon them. Thankfully, Chief Exorcist Nuallan is loathe to refuse a chance to purge the land of demons.

 

  • Disease has already started to ravage the Governess' forces. This is strange as the siege has been ongoing for only a week

  •  

  • Nailo searches for a cause and inadvertently contracts smallpox from contaminated food. Problem identified!

 

  • Help in containing and eliminating disease solicited by Kroll from the Knights and their healers, useful in negotiating release of Exorcist Vikar (who is a paladin). It is determined that he will make his penance on the battlefield

 

  • Disease contained, but a quarter of the Isari forces are no longer in fighting condition.

 

The Wake

  • as it is supposed to be a source of power, the Wake is approached cautiously

  • first indications are iron spikes as tall as a man emerging from the ground

  • blighted ground where nothing grows

  • ambushed by cultist spell caster with spell scroll, fails at using it.

  • Ruins contain circular calendar, inspecting it causes the wizard Hari to experience it through the eyes of a reptilian sage. The sage grows worried as he studies cycles of the moon.

  • The wolf Falor is sent on a solo patrol of the perimeter. His end is predictably swift and gory.

  • In a rage of vengeance Narwen hunts down the small pack of gnolls responsible. A widespread excavation by cultists is discovered

Jaganath at a low stepped pyramid in the center of the site. Seems to be happy with what he has found despite being discovered by the heros. Orders his people to gather what they can and leave.

Heroes attempt to take out camp stealthily. On second camp one cultist uses a bone he has discovered and summons a balgura demon.

 Several camps and a wandering patrol eliminated, but many make it away as the heroes concentrate their attack

 Nailo takes it upon herself to evoke as many memories as she can by handling relics. Touching a set of leather bindings evokes the memory slaves being taken to sacrifice. The slaves are like slender upright apes, and they see the completion of the squat stepped pyramid on which they are to be sacrificed.

Heroes return to Nariswar to discover the gnoll army behind them.   

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Session 7

Isari’s forces have besieged the inverted castle.

<meta />

Characters learn that Vikar wishes to meet them at an area of the cross roads west of town. They learn he and his patrol are the ones who killed the Isari patrol. Jaganath had convinced the patrol that he was fleeing from the Order of the Tarrasque on grounds of religious persecution. Vikar could not let him be taken into protection and diplomacy quickly failed and in the skirmish Jaganath found his moment to escape.

Excorcist Vikar needs the help of the party to bring Jaganath to justice. Vikar’s hunting party has been gradually worn down by many attacks by gnolls until only he survived, but still he has tracked Jaganath to the wine rich town of Nariswar, which he suspects is now completely under Jaganath’s control.

Efforts are taken to disguise Vikar and the party heads to Nariswar, the scent of their quarry baiting them on.

The town of Nariswar has transformed. Ebadula, the wealthiest wine maker in town has become the defacto leader with a growing number of the populace now following him without question. Lata, the former community organizer, has disappeared. The only lead is the newest villager to fall under Ebadula’s sway. Locals say he vanished for several days only to reappear with his opinions on leadership completely changed. The party finds this individual doing a shift in the sentry tower on the south side of the village. He claims he was only gone for a few hours hunting pheasants and that those who say otherwise are clucking hens.

His story does not add up: there are no pheasants that close to town, and his account seems deliberately vague. Confronting him about this quickly escalates into a desperate melee, but their suspect has no thoughts of escape: in his last breaths triggers an alarm! The bell sounds out across town and before the characters can get out of the guard tower they find a militia has formed against them.

 An all out war breaks between the party and the townsfolk, culminating in the party storming the residence of Ebadula Madad. The fortified compound offers no easy entrance and arrow rain down on the party. The dwarf and half-orc attempt to batter down the heavy framed front door while the elven ranger and rogue slip over the eastern wall, though neither group is unharried by arrows. Finally breaking into the small towers at each corner of the compound the group manages to silence the enemies bow strings, but not before their leader makes an escape.

 Interrogating one guard reveals that the folks who disappear do so into the wine storage building adjacent to the compound. The party graciously spares their cooperative captive, and even allows him the wages he is owed by his employer. Also in the compound they find the journal of Ebadula Madad which tells of a compound under Nariswar which Jaganath commissioned as a hidden retreat when the Imperium began expanding towards his domains. Also, they learn that he has spent a fortune in recent weeks to raise a mercenary army.

Armed with this information they enter the wine storage building where they discover the entrance to the hidden bunker. Descending down they quickly come to an open portcullis, which they quickly lock in place with pitons lest they be trapped between it and the heavy doors in front of them. There paranoia quickly proves wise as the gate attempts to close behind them. Arrow slits open to the sides and burning sand pours from above. The heroes quickly develop a plan: the sleek ones hold up the shields as protection from above while the strongest breach the door. Soon enough space is made for the group to squeeze through and things quickly turn against the cultist defenders.  

 Catching their breath briefly, the group pushes onto the next room. It seems a plain room with three doors to proceed through. As they decide which to tackle first, one door opens and a small red bead clatters to the floor by their feet.  The roar of a fiery blossom fills the room and before the heroes can reorient themselves arrows and spells fly from every doorway. Ulfgar rushes to stop a cultist from pulling another small red bead from a necklace, inadvertently causing it to fall to the floor before his very eyes. This time there is at least the silver lining that the cultists are also taken in the fireball and their robes provide no protection.

 Badly burned and weary, the heroes press on to the next hallway, this time devoid of ambush. They elect to leave the room at the end of the hallway for last and go for a side room, finding a mostly empty storage room. It seems this was a vault that until recently held a vast amount of valuables, but now only has a small array of neatly stacked coins and a pair of chests.

 One chest rests in a place of prominence, and another in a seemingly random place off to the side. This is of course a Mimic, the bane of adventurers everywhere. While Kroll desperately struggles with a toothy treasure chest fused to him, Nailo judges the situation squarely in hand and begins working on the lock to another side room. Her sense of accomplishment is short lived as the easy lock opens to reveal none other than Jaganath himself, accompanied by several cultists and a Fang of Yeenoghu. At his feet is Lata, emaciated and desperately feasting on a fresh kill of the gnoll.

 “Ah well it seems my time here must come to an end. But do not worry, I will leave you in the company of someone I believe you are already acquainted with”. He slips into a dark passage from where there now echoes the dread sound of a three headed flail.

 Ulfgar’s memory of this creatures destructive potential is keen, and he immediately darts to the threshold of the door and throws in one of the two red beads he recovered from their last encounter. The fire consumes the room but the flind still stands. Ulfgar rushes back and prepares to throw his final bead the moment his quarry reaches the threshold. The Flind obligingly rushes to there and the final bead of the necklace of fireballs is consumed. As it pushes through Vikar rushes to confront it unleashing the full wrath of his smite. Kroll, having just rid himself of the troublesome treasure chest lunges forward to confront the beast and with all his fury finally lays it low.

 The power of the three headed flail proves too tempting for him to resist, and as he instinctively grabs for it he finds he finds himself overcome by a vision. The rest see him dumbstruck, his eyes wide with terror. The heroes ask Vikar to perform an exorcism post haste. The ritual causes a burst of arcane energy leaving Vikar depleted and helpless, but alive. Kroll seems shaken but sane, and the flail disintegrates into ash.

 The heroes give chase but only to see their quarry has united with his newly purchased army of mercenaries.

 Vikar sees only one choice before him: his mission to capture Jaganath failed, he can only hope to restore peace between the Isari forces and the Knights of the Tarrasque. Despite their attempts to dissuade him the party ultimately follows his plan.

 Stripped of his armour and weapons, Vikar presents himself to the Governess. The party presents to her the journal of Ebadula Madad and gives testimony of the beguiling tongue of Jaganath which no doubt held sway over her patrol when they came to blows with the Knights of the Order.

 With much to consider, The Governess orders the execution of the scouts who had reported all was well in Nariswar and sets off to end the siege of the Inverted Castle.

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Session 6
New friends, familiar opponents

It’s mid-morning at the Wayward Chimera. Ulfgur and the new recruits, a half-orc named Kroll and a wood-elf named Narwen, are setting up for the day. Hara, one of the servers, pointed out to Ulfgar the Kvothe never returned; Ulfgar sends a message to him, and never receives a response.

Sanjeev, a local merchent, is noted to be sitting in a corner, alone. He looks as though he wants to speak with someone. Ulfgur and Kroll approach and take a seat beside him.

The merchant is concerned with regards to the wine trade; it has been noted that the incoming stocks of wine from the wineries north of Isari in Nariswar, specifically the world renowned Madad wine, are coming into the city in smaller caravans and less frequently. Merchants have been increasing their prices, and Sanjeev claims his business is taking a hit. He was hoping that the adventurers of the Wayward Chimera would be able to make the 2 day journey to Nariswar to investigate the issue.

Ulfgar, seeing this as a seemingly simple task, decides this would be a great opportunity to “break in” the new recruits. After some convincing, and an annoyed high-elf who ended up 50gp lighter (with and IOU of 100gp), the three companions stock up on some supplies at Gerbo’s before setting out onto the road.

The first days ride is uneventful. The companions set up camp in a small clearing off to the side of the road, and Narwen goes out with her wolf companion, Falor, to hunt some game. Narwen finds a body in some bushes, fitting the description of the bard Hara spoke of at the tavern. As she moves on Narwen comes face to face with a chimera. After a quick altercation, the chimera flies off, Ulfgar and Kroll arrive, and the companions make their way back to the campsite with Kvothe’s body,

The companions are startled awake by the chimera during the night. A hand-axe throw by Kroll makes the killing blow. They retrieve the heads, and take them back to Isari to be treated by a taxidermist for display at the tavern. As they arrive back in Isari they notice a mass exodus of soldiers, but no one they speak to seems to have an ideas about the increased military activity.

The companions journey north to Nariswar. The walls going up around the city have made no progress. The townsfolk are going about their business, the militia looks exhausted. After speaking with some militia men it is found out the Ebadulla Madad is no longer funding the building of the wall, and has recalled his staff from monitoring the perimeter of the town. The militiamen direct the group to Lata’s estate, where after a quick meeting it is confirmed the Ebadulla has pulled his wall funding and has begun to sell his personal items. A familiar face has been noted in Nariswar; a high elf with a broken nose was seen walking toward the Madad estate about a week back. The group makes their way to the Madad Estate.

The servant at the Madad estate claims that business seems to be going along as normal, that the Madad family is doing fine. He denies a high elf visitor with a broken nose, but Kroll noticed the servants tone and body language changed completely when directly questioned about the visitor. During the meeting with the head of the Madad household, Ebadulla claimed that business is fine, that they are sending out the same amount of wine, and that he is “comfortable”. He doesn’t seem concerned for himself or his business, although Lata seems to be struggling. He states he feels safe within his own walls, and is confident the gnolls will not be back. With that the group takes its leave to go to a local tavern.

At the tavern a lone dwarf is noted to be sitting at a table. Ulfgar goes over and sits down. The dwarf explains he is preparing to work the night shift, and is employed by Ebadulla. The dwarf is unable to discuss the nature of his employment, not even as a conversation between dwarves. He soon exits the tavern.

Narwen follows the dwarf out into the street at night. She tracks him behind the compound and sees a small pony drawn cart being loaded with chests. The dwarf sets off with his cart towards the north-west.

The three companions decide to track the dwarf and his cart. They follow on horseback, keeping a distance, during the moonlit night. Eventually they come to a stop when they see the small cart ahead. The team leads the horses off the road and walk them through the tall grass. As they approach, they tether the horses and make their way on foot. Narwen and Falor take the lead, staying low in the grass, moving forward to get a better view. The cart has stopped, the dwarf appears to be waiting for someone. As she is watching, Narwen hears a strange, unfamiliar sound above and around her. Two large, clawed feet land on the ground directly in front of her. She stays low, and still, the creature moves a few feet in front of her. She can see another caravan arriving at the dwarf, the chests are moved from the dwarfs cart to that of the new caravan. Their bluish armour is foreign to her. Falor, crouched low behind her, begins to pant, and the gnoll turns towards them. Falor begins his run towards Ulfgar and Kroll, who began their sprint to Narwen’s aid as soon as Ulfgar heard the gnolls calls.

The companions face off with a pack of gnolls, initially fairing well with 2:1 odds. Off in the distance reinforcements arrive, led by a powerful gnoll, with an other-worldy presence, in plate armour wielding a magic 3 headed mace. It is obvious to Narwen that these gnolls were the guard for the arriving caravan.

Ulfgar is immediately incapacitated by a single blow from the 3 headed mace, after insisting to the new recruits this battle is winnable! Kroll heals Ulfgar, and the team makes a break for their horses, leaving the fallen Falor behind.

The gnolls pursue for a short while, the team run their horses into the ground, but make it back to Nariswar by morning. The companions awaken Lata’s household and inform them of the gnoll attack, leaving out Madad’s possible involvement. The townsfolk make their way for the Madad estate, seeking sanctuary behind the walls. The companions leave for Isari to inform the Governess of the gnoll activity and their accusations against Ebudalla.

The Governess seems uninterested in the trials happening in Nariswar. Her troops are currently besieging the Inverted Castle after the death of one of her guards, a patrol killed by whom she thinks were the Knights of Tarrasque. Ulfgar informs the Governess of the escaped prisoner from the Underdark, who is most likely responsible for murdering her soldier, and that this prisoner was spotted in Nariswar.

The Governess agrees to send a small group of soldiers to Nariswar and investigate. The companions have a much needed rest, and Narwen meditates to call back her beloved Falor.

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Session 5
Through the Inverted Castle

Having just conquered the Hall of Trials, Nim volunteers to help Fenros the ranger they just rescued return to civilization. Ulfgar and Nilo return to the Inverted Castle to carry on business there. The wizard Hari has made progress and transcribed the spells he sough into his spell book. Librarian Balfour parts ways to give his enthusiastic report to Chief Exorcist Nuallan while Nilo slips off to find her contact. Nilo learns her client is an elf of the Imperium, some kind of noble who wants to be brought out to the surface.

 

Soon after this meeting the group meets with Chief Exorcist Nuallan who asks the party to spear head the Order's attempts to gain espionage capabilities in the underdark. As the party is clearly in need of a guide, Nuallan has offered a local who claims to have knowledge and introduces a colorfully robed tiefling female named Eza. The party is offered every provision that the knights can muster, Hari's remaining days transcribing texts waived , and what currency that can be spared from the donations. After brief negotiations the party accepts and goes to get familiar with their new partner. As it turns out, Eza the tiefling is an alter-ego for the drow Eza'rul Delai, Nilo's most reliable smuggling contact and claim to fame. Eza'rul explains that years ago Nilo hatched a crazed scheme to help him escape from the Underdark, a feat that became a tall tale for smugglers the world over.

 

After securing supplies and resting for the night the group heads through the massive rolling door of the Inverted Castle and into the darkness. In tow they have a trio of archers to set up their base camp. After a solid day of descending Eza'rul guides the group to an alcove carved into a massive stalactite hanging over one of the Underdark's many caverns.

 

With base camp established the party presses on leaving their scouts behind to guard camp. Electing to take the easier to navigate worm highways, th group soon comes upon a lone deep-gnome waiving them down. He explains that he and his comrades wave tracked a large grick into its lair and have locked it inside in the hopes of starving it death and claiming the treasure it has amassed by picking off travelers. This motley crew is a gnome, a duergar (a grew skinned dwarf) warrior, and a rapier and dagger branding drow. They have had it sealed up for over a month now, but no one in his group feels confident enough to pop the seal and stick their head in. Initially they ask to purchase rations to give it another week, but soon an agreement is struck to split the loot 60/40 for the party if they stick their heads in first. With Eza'rul staying outside to ensure they are not double-crossed and locked in, Nilo volunteers to be the first in. They find a ten foot long worm with tentacles that split from its beaked face lying seemingly lifeless. This is not good enough for Nilo who checks for vital signs by loosing an arrow into it. The creature immediately springs to life in protest to its rude awakening while the rest of the party squeezes through into the chamber to get their licks in. Its movements are sluggish and desperate as it scrapes the bottoms of it's reserves of energy. The duergar rushes in to justify his share of the loot while the rest of his crew decide that fighting was never really their thing anyway. A final precision shot from Eza'rul lays low the beast to reveal a pittance of coin and small work of art on the body of the grick's latest victim. The duergar takes a share of the silver, a dismal payment for a month of work, and heads off grumbling to his home. His accomplices are seemingly long gone.

 

After resting in the grick's lair the party presses on only to find their path on the worm highway flooded. Left with no other choice they back track into the warrens, a shifting network of passages with myriad different paths. The better part of a day is spent sliding down long passages only inches wide at points. As they crawl out from under a low crawlspace, the plate armored dwarven cleric electing to instead use magic to pass through stone, they find themselves at the foot of a steep incline in a cavern. The cleric Ulfgar makes the first go at climbing, making it look childishly simple. As he looks down at his accomplishment he has not taken leave of his senses: something stirs above!

 

From the stalactites above come two floating, beaked brains with jellyfish-like arms and stingers. Nilo attempts to assist with arrows but finds herself tangled in her climbing gear on the rock face. Hari finds a small ledge on the rock face to stand on and in a puff of mist teleports himself there to render aid. The brain-jellyfish begin to ponder if this member at the top was isolated enough when Hari's first fire bolt accidentally strikes the rope Nilo is suspended from. As it burns away Nilo searches for a piton or rock to grab, finding one mid tumble as the rope finally gives way. One of the grell (the brain-jellyfish) decides it should live to fight another day but just as it does Ulfgar is surrounded by a swarm of divine guardians, glowing cherubs that slash the wounded grell to pieces. The other grell suddenly remembers he is late for an appointment somewhere, anywhere, else and slips off into the darkness.

 

Without further issue the party finds itself at the edge of a great chasm: bio-luminescent fungus faintly lights the area for miles, shelves on the cavern walls have shops and homes carved into them, balconies stretch out from massive stalactites, the sound of dozens of small waterfalls echo, and linking everything is a network of spider webs. This is the Drow city of Mezzrym. Before a serviceable plan can be made a centaur like creature with the body of a drow on the body of a spider approaches them. He is Zenzel, a drider, and he has strict instructions to bring them to House Duskyrn.

 

At the spiraling stalactite structure of House Duskyrn the pary if briefly introduced to the Matron, who only states that their guest has asked to take his leave and has her blessing to do so. The party is escorted to a well kept but small room where they meet their client. A Tulwari elf, clearly a noble by his dress and imperiousness. He introduces himself only as J, and requires transportation beyond the Inverted Castle to the larger world above. Despite his abrasive attitude the party agrees to the job for 4000gp in jewels, planning to leave the next morning.

 

They spend the night about town trying to find out anything they can about their client only to learn that he has been a guest there for some years and rarely makes forays into the city if at all. The party settles down hash out a plan. When Eza'rul was smuggled out it was under the breastplate of a giant foolish enough to assault the Inverted Castle, but there are no such circumstances now. Could he be taken to the surface as an apparent corpse? What excuse would they give fro dragging it through miles of tunnel? Could he be disguised as a drow captive? Perhaps a rescued slave with invaluable information? Surely his abrasive tongue would make him break his cover immediately. Then Eza'rul has an epiphany: Nilo can make poisons and the underdark is home to a fungus called the tongue of madness! If the prisoner were mad upon resurfacing the part could get him past the gate and then figure out a way to break him from the prison while he recovered!

 

As they part from Mezzrym Nilo searches for the tongue of madness in the numerous side passages, able to identify it with the assistance of Hari's photographic memory. But before they can pass the client off as a slave, he must look like one he is bound, dragged across the rocks and punched in the face before being fed the poison. Sure enough, he quickly takes on the appearance of a slave tortured to madness.

 

At the gate they have little trouble convincing the guards with their rouse, and the client is taken to the prison until he gains a lucid moment. Chief exorcist Nuallan eagerly takes their report and asks them to attend the prisoner's debriefing once he gains back his faculties. The party slips into Eza'rul's tent to discuss the next portion of their plan. Not long after, they are summoned: the prisoner is talking again!

Time of the essences, they rush to the prison to find Nuallan and others drawing their swords. Guards rush into the prison block to find the guard with his throat cut and the cell empty!

 

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Session 4
Adventures in an Actual Dungeon

 

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Session 4

 

Adventures in an Actual Dungeon

 

While the rest of the party was ferociously battling trolls and gnolls, little Nim laboured tirelessly to make a breastplate for his good friend Ulfgar, who had saved him many times already in the course of their adventures. Upon hearing that the rest of the party had journeyed to the inverted castle, Nim with the breastplate in tow set out to join them in the exorcism of Sword of Vengeance.

With Ulfgar now smartly outfitted in his breastplate, the party set out guided by the Librarian Balfour. As they approached the infamous Hall of Trials, the  vegetation slowly faded away until they were left standing on a windy, sandswept hilltop in front of 3 sandstone statues weathered by the years, but still standing tall. To their left a menacing muscular figure in the nude stood peering out of his one unbandaged eye. Dead ahead loomed a large winged figure with five heads. While to the right sat a bloated being with rams horns and wings. Ulfgar immediately recognized this as Orcus, the demon lord of undeath, strode over and faced him down. Ulfgar bellowed a challenge to Orcus. Suddenly the sand beneath their feet gave way to a steep ramp and before they could blink they were sledding down into a dark cavern.

Shaking the sand out of their clothes as their eyes slowly adjusted to the dim lighting, the party found themselves standing in a large rectangular room. On three raised platforms set into the walls, stood the same 3 statues they had encountered in the sandy outdoors, but these were carved in dark granite with every feature detailed in terrifying excellence. Before they had the opportunity to admire the craftsmanship, previously unnoticed piles of bones slowly pulled themselves into respectable human forms. Armed with axes and swords these skeleton warriors slowly circled around. Before the heroes of the Wayward Chimera could fully draw their weapons, flaming forms seared through the air and landed among the statues and burning skeletons emerged there. While Nilo hid in the shadows, sniping the oblivious flaming beings, Nim and Ulfgar forged ahead into the skeleton fray as fireballs rained down around them. A ferocious battle ensued until once again our heroes were standing alone amongst piles of bones.

As the dust settled around our troupe of fighters they were faced with a decision. To their left lay a small passage with a sign reading “Shiny Things.” Nim took off  to see just what shiny things there were, but before he reached it he was stopped by a warning from Balfour that down that way lay only goblin traps and no shiny things at all. Thus, they went left, down a flight of stairs and found themselves face to face with a Wood Elf. After blinking a few times in surprise at meeting others down here, the elf introduced himself as Fenros, a ranger who had come down here with a group of treasure seekers. Unfortunately after a series of unfortunate events, he had become separated from his party, whom he now feared dead. As Ulfgar, Nilo and Nim were missing a few from their regular band of adventurers, they eagerly invited Fenros to join them on the rest of their dungeon excursion. He happily agreed provided they would help him find a way out as he’d been down there for about a week by now and was getting rather hungry.

In the room around them were 3 statues each guarding a dark passageway. Before any discussion could begin about their options, Ulfgar set off for the passageway guarded by a clenched fist holding a set of scales, the symbol of Kelemvor, god of the dead. The others followed into a room with a near identical statue to the one at the door. After a thorough search of the room, the only thing they noted were the shapes of an oval and a thin bar in the dust of the scales. Nilo, full of useful facts, immediately piped up that typically a heart was weighed against a feather when Kelemvor is judging the souls of the dead. So the party returned to the central room to pick a new passage in search of hearts and feathers.

This time venturing down a passage guarded by a dwarf statue, they came into a long hall with 6 dwarves carved of stone. As they walked past a dwarf smithing, a dwarf carving and a dwarf fighting an orc. They noticed a small lump lying at the feet of a dwarf mining. With a cry, Fenros rushed forward to kneel beside the cold corpse of his dear friend Gank. A distinctly orc noise sounded behind them. A stone orc gargoyle unfurls its wings and disengages from its battle with the stone dwarf to face down the live dwarf in front of him. With a shudder, the rock wall spits out a second gargoyle and the battle is on!

The dust of dead stone orcs settles around a chest. Nilo strides forward and throws it open to reveal a red ruby carved into an anatomically correct heart; albeit with some hypertrophy. As she draws it out of the chest a door swings open to reveal a second room. Nim rushes forward towards a familiar glow and finds himself warmed by the comforting smolder of a smithing forge, complete with anvil and dwarven tools. Nilo produces the Sword of Vengeance, Ulfgar hands him a hammer and Nim begins to beat the sword with expert precision.

clang

Clang

CLANG

With each blow, ominous black smoke seeps slowly from the sword. Nim continues with renewed fury, his tiny frame throwing its all into each hammer blow. When he’s satisfied that every imperfection has been purged, he quenches the sword with a loud hiss that times perfectly with the smoke congealing into a black gargoyle that seems to suck the very light from the room. The gargoyle births out two bloated demon babies in quick succession. They live a very short life before dying with demonic gurgles as blades plunge into their hideous throats. The smoke gargoyle is subsequently vanquished and our heroes return to the room of Kelemvor.

Nilo moves forward and places the ruby heart and a feather plucked from her best arrow onto the scales. With a grumble the wall behind slowly slides away to reveal the cloaked figure Kelemvor standing before a shrine. While the others stand back, Ulfgar alone walks forward, places an axe on the altar and prays. As his prayer rings through the room, a gorilla slowly climbs from the axe head, beats its chest in a magnificent mating display and attacks. To the dismay of animal lovers everywhere, the gorilla dies in a bloody battle just as a gong sounds. Balfour, who has stood at a safe, yet not entirely cowardly distance, now pipes up that the gong sounds when the trap of Shiny Things is sprung. Rushing back the way they came, our party encounters some Kobolds, who they easily cut down with minimal effort. After the dangers they’ve faced today, the Kobolds seem like a silly impediment. They reset the trap (just to be polite), decide to skip the third room, which Balfour states he knows to be a fury of uncomfortable environmental conditions and head back to the inverted castle with their now uncursed Sword of Vengeance.

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Session 3
Loose ends and trampling hooves

<meta />Session 3

It is the wee hours of the morning. The wizard Hari wakes to find a fruit bat at his window. Not the strangest occurrence he could imagine, at least not before it starts speaking in a familiar voice. It is the voice of Yetu, the druid that tipped the party off about the Fang only 10 days ago. It leaves a simple message to find an unnamed settlement south of the crossroads before fluttering off.

 

The party quickly gathers their gear and set off to the small settlement. There Yetu informs them that there is a common theme among the villages that have been sacked so far: personal betrayal has rocked the villages just before the gnolls attacked. In this settlement two sisters quarrel over the love of the same man, and tonight they intend to duel to the death over it. Yetu asks the party to defend the settlement until nightfall when he hopes to return with reinforcements.

 

Within the party argument ensues. Should they let the duel commence? Will stopping it prevent the gnoll attack? Would that mean they loose an opportunity to end the gnoll threat once and for all?

 

Even if the party agrees they must stop the duel, how? Nilo suggests she could seduce the same man and draw the wrath of both sisters to her. There is talk of kidnapping or even murdering one of the sisters.

 

Is there a way to shore up the town's defenses? Should the people know that a gnoll attack is imminent?

 

In the end indecision wins out and the party watches as the sisters face off at sunset. Chandara, the older sister, drives a blade into her sisters chest. Lila, the younger sister, grabs the embedded blade using her own body robs her sister of her weapon before running her through. Both sisters collapse in a heap, bleeding the last of their life out.

 

Just then Nilo spots something coming up the road, a troll! Worse still, the settlement is surrounded by gnolls. Ulfgar's attempts to preserve the sisters is utterly wasted as gnoll hunters take the women for easy prey and press on. The mage Hari remembers full well the fury of a troll burned by fire, but knows he must endure it if there is to be any chance of survival. The party struggles desperately against the tide tooth and claw when Yetu arrives. “Hold fast, help is coming!” he exclaims as he leaps into the fray. The growing sound of hooves seems a lifetime away as the party fights with all they have to lay low the rampaging troll. Ulfgar breaks off to distract the gnolls from devouring the rest of the civilians.

 

All seems lost when from the road there finally comes a crashing line of heavy cavalry. The troll is finally slain by precise arrows as lances impale the now fleeing gnolls.

 

The last are swept away by the cavalry and the surviving townsfolk emerge from their shelters. They are a mere handful, but a mere handful more than would have otherwise survived.

 

The cavalry is lead by a knight in polished steel, his slopped helm adorned with bronze horns wrapping around his head ending in stubbed points by the brow. He identifies himself as Knight-Exorcist Vikar, and expresses admiration for this band that has slain a troll, and while on foot at that! Furthermore, he states that the faithful of Kelemvor will always be welcome at the Inverted Castle and that a wandering cleric would do well to learn the rights of exorcism.  


After a trip back to town to resupply the party heads out to the inverted castle. In the shadows of the hundred foot tall walls nestled into the mountains they meet Chief Exorcist Nuallan. When he hears that Ulfgar intends to undertake the trials to become an exorcist, he gleefully directs them to the library where Magus Alosri can fill them in. The parties wizard Hari is impressed by the sum of knowledge found therein and arranges to become a scribe for them for 20 days in exchange for learning the useful spells darkvision and stoneskin. Alosri also sets the group up with a guide for the rights of exorcism, Librarian Balfour. This skinny wood elf is described as “good at getting behind a shield” but has gone with others on the trial before.

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Session 2
On the hunt

The province of Isaristan in on edge, and even behind the fifty foot high walls of the capital there is unease. The streets are awash with the pelts of hyenas and jackals, but traders are still nervous and do not leave without heavy escorts. 

The adventurers of the Wayward Chimera are again sought out by the mayor, but this time to summon them to the Governess herself. She muses how such a crowded space as the Wayward Chimera could accommodate a secret room upstairs, unless of course it had appropriated space from the adjoining smithy which has been abandoned for several years. And, of course, this would mean that the landlords of the Wayward Chimera had been squatting on abandoned land for several years without paying taxes. However, an agreement is possible. From her balcony overseeing the city and beyond, she tells the party that the wine rich town of Nariswar been attacked. Thanks to the vital information on the gnoll threat, the town had begun raising a militia and constructed signal towers to call for aid. Ill trained as they were, the militia fought with everything they had to protect their homes and families. Fighting desperately, they held by a thread just long enough for cavalry to arrive and drive off the gnolls. In the scrum a gnoll leader was identified before fleeing into the dense brush. If the party tracks down and kills the packlord the governess agrees to forgive the party the taxes and squatting charges that are outstanding and will even throw in the deed to the abandoned smithy.  

After securing some supplies the party sets out to Nariswar. There, every one with at least one functioning hand is hard at work building a palisade around the town. The party meets with Lata, the closest thing to an official the town has. She tells them that many are dead, and some may not survive the night. Seeing this suffering and death Ulfgar, the parties cleric, gathers the wounded around him and kneels in prayer. Wounds close, broken bones are set. After their darkest hour, the gods have delivered them grace.

The next morning the party sets out to track the packlord. By mid morning the party comes across another pursuing the gnolls: he is a shaman named Yetu, and he informs the party that their is a yet greater threat. Among the gnolls their is only one who can create more of their kind. Any scavenger that eats from his kills is cursed to become a gnoll. He is the Fang of Yeenoghu, chosen by the demon lord of the gnolls. More importantly, the Fang is alone. For now.

The party agrees to put aside their search for the packlord with Yetu as their guide. Just then there is a crash and a horse comes flying into the brush beside them, thrown clean through the air by some monstrous force. Parsevel the ranger slips into the brush to disclose the nature of this threat. On the road a wagon has been tuned over. The source is obvious: a towering troll, ugly as it is hungry, munches on the lower half of a humanoid corpse. Soon the parties element of surprise is lost and the battle ensues. Through flames and steel they wear the monster down until it is finally slain by a good old fashioned smack on the head. The monk Nim, now officially a trollslayer, gathers the creatures enormous nose as a trophy.

The party looks through the possessions of the trolls victim and finds it was a wizard, apparently fleeing from some failed experiment of his in the River Delta.

After licking their wounds and pressing on, the party comes across the Fang feasting on a recent kill with small hideous demons joining in the feast. A careful shot from hiding succeeds only in driving the quarry into the bush. Parsevel uses his ranger cunning  to chase through the deep brush while the cleric Ulfgar crashes through the brush just behind him. The monk Nim and the wizard Harry do not fare so well in the unfamiliar bush and soon the party is separated in a long line. Just then the Fang strikes out from the brush at the ranger, who takes a beating while his party catches up. Having no desire to take fight the reuniting party, the Fang again flees into the brush only to be snared by the shaman’s magic. A bolt of killing light from Ulfgar strikes out and stems the tide of gnolls once and for all.

After an extended rest the party presses forward to find the gnoll packlord, who it seems has retreated into a canyon. The canyon culminates in a cave and the party plots their assault but to noisily as arrows interrupt their committee. The packlord emerges to confront the party and his followers join the fray, their ferocity peaked by their leader’s influence. Nunchucks, fire and steel coordinated finally end the threat of the gnolls and no survivors are permitted to escape.

Yetu makes a request that the party use their influence to end the bounty on hyenas and jackals before the ecosystem is altered to the ruin of all, then takes his leave. The party returns to Isari with the head of the packlord and the nose of a troll in carry. From the first guard recognizing the scarred face of the packlord rumour spreads like brushfire.  

The Governess is good to her word and grants a pardon for the back taxes and squatting charges. The landlords of the Wayward Chimera waste no time getting their new smithy occupied and enlist Udo the armorsmith to be their new tenant. He agrees to work on armor for the party in exchange for free rent.

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Session 1!

In a poor neighborhood of the trading city of Isari sits a seemingly unremarkable tavern. The sunbleached paint on it's hanging sign proclaims it as the Wayward Chimera. Above the hearth hangs an old taxidermy head of a goat and lion on furry shoulders and apparently space for one more head. Some patrons whisper the missing dragon head never existed and the whole thing is poor forgery, while others loudly tell tales of a night where the head was stolen on a drunken dare. 

Into this establishment steps a worried looking high Elf with fancy but well worn clothing. He finds the server and quietly asks her "Would you tell the landlords that the mayor has arrived with special business and must speak with them at once?" The Elf is in fact none other than Mayor Karim and in a few moments  he is lead to a special room in the basement.

Waiting for him are four rough and tumble types, exactly what he needs. With minimal pleasantries he confides that two farmers who frequently make the trip from their settlement have not shown up for some time, and one of them is a friend of the mayor. This close to the border sending soldiers a field is a risky proposition and he requires adventurers to find out what has happened. For a moth's relief from property tax they agree and set about town to find what they can of the missing farmer. 

A day of investigations yields a wine contract, a drunken nine year old street urchin, and the name of a ne'er do well named Nirav. He is from the same town as the farmers, and is also conspicuously absent.  The party sets out to the farmers' village of Hafenghar.

There is only ruin. A corpse is tied to a stake in the village square, its torn clothes branded with the mark of an adulterer. In every home there are corpses.  Some tried to barricade themselves, others were caught completely off guard. Elderly. Children. None are spared. The bones are cracked and their marrow sucked out: scavengers have long since cleaned up the remains. The possessions have been ransacked.

In all this one thing stands out: a single corpse still has vultures feasting on flesh. His clothes are largely intact, dead seemingly from a single wound to the stomach. In his boot is a dagger inscribed with the name Nirav. 

The party spends a night, a day and another night in town to scare away only curious lions and monkeys. 

Upon delivering this news to the mayor he is aghast. Just this morning the farmers from the village of Elakar failed to show up at the market. There is no time to loose!

Two party members stay in town to make a planned rendezvous while the ranger and monk go on ahead to scout.

Hiding their horses in the brush 5 miles from town, they creep in to find a quartet of bandits going door to door collecting valuables. The bandits seem completely without worry, every door is already broken, there is no one to offer the slightest resistance. By its size Elakar must have had at least 30 people, how could these four have wreaked so much havoc with no apparent effort? Hyenas and jackals pick at the corpses: what ever killed these people did so only hours before.

The monk and ranger quietly split to pincer the bandits. All seems well until the monk hears the tension of a bowstring and the command to not move a muscle. Apparently in no mood to be captured, the monk dashes into cover and a skirmish ensues. The ranger exchanges arrows with a bandit scout, jumping from roof to roof to avoid being surrounded while the monk deftly brawls it out with thugs in the street.

All the while the scavengers continue to feed. They are bloated from eating and each bite looks painful to swallow, yet they tear away unabated. As it appears the party is gaining the upper-hand in the skirmish one hyena falls over, unable to force another bite. It's belly now touches the ground as it lets out a tortured cackle. The whimpering and whining builds toa crescendo that breaks the skirmish. The miserable beast lets out a final scream as its belly finally explodes, spraying gore all around it.

But it does not lay still. Claws emerge at its haunches that slough off the old torso to reveal a towering sinewy biped, the old face still there but the misery replaced with burning red eyes and fresh hunger. The bandits were the real scavengers, the hunters have returned!

The sounds of more bursting animals are heard in the distance and the heroes of the Wayward Chimera recall that discretion is the better part of valor. They flee into the thorny brush with their former enemies trying to desperately keep up. The ranger stops long enough send an arrow into the chest of the bandit behind him. As they continue to flee they hear screaming, then sudden silence.

Once at the horses they hastily make their way to the rally point and tell their allies, who are fresh from a shopping adventure in town, exactly what has transpired. The smuggler among them knows these creatures: gnolls! It has been nearly a century since they have been seen around these parts.

With the party reunited they return to Elakar to confront the gnolls. At the edge of the town a frontal assault ensues. The monk boldly engages the enemy only to find gnoll reinforcements pouring from the buildings. The unconscious monk seems certain to be torn to pieces until the cleric charges into the melee! Concentrated arrow fire and bloody blades finally prevail.

Upon return to Isari to inform the mayor they are rewarded with all the discretionary goods and funds he could summon on short notice. A bounty is placed on jackals and hyenas lest they turn into more gnolls while the mayor determines how he will control panic and, more importantly, inform the Governess. 

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