True to his word, their toothless guide was still waiting for them with the ponies when the heroes emerged from the forest’s edge two days later. As he stamped out the fire, and began to saddle the ponies, he stopped and stared in surprise at the ragged group of adventurers that plodded slowly forward.
The last two days had not been kind to them. Swollen purple eyes, bandages around the waist, and fang-marks from something that must’ve been enormous. Fargrim was undoubtedly missing a couple of teeth, and he seemed to have a hard time moving his left arm and left leg. Whenever he turned his neck, he winced, and a small pool of blood formed under his ribcage. Seraphina’s plate mail was destroyed or missing in several spots, and her entire left side showed a nasty-looking bite-mark. As Lucan and Nathaniel emerged, they showed signs of burnt clothing and ash in their hair. Bringing up the rear, appeared Vulpin, leather armor cut to pieces, and covered in different shades of blood. Behind him, he dragged a wicked looking wooden pole, stuck into what appeared to be a head of some unfortunate goblin…
The old man wryly laughed, and spat into the fire. “Can’t admit that I ever expected to see you lot again. Matter of fact, if you weren’t here by sundown this day, I was planning on just hitching up the horses and heading back to The Arm.” After a moment of considering, he turned toward Fargrim, who had sat on the nearest rock and was wheezing heavily. “What exactly happened in there anyway?”
Fargrim paused for a moment, then began to laugh. He was quickly cut short, though, and winced in pain from the laughter, holding his side. “Well, y’see,” he grunted, “what happened was this…”
The party told the amazed old man of the human city overrun with kobolds and goblins, and of their plan to navigate the city unnoticed. They told him of the town’s sinister residents, of the monstrous Ankheg, the goblin mage Rort, and the traitorous Kiris Hoyt. When they told him of their attempts to flatter and manipulate the brass dragon Trystiss, the horse-master just laughed and shook his head in disbelieve. Seraphina blushed with pride as Vulpin recounted the incredible power of the Slaying Stone, and the way the courageous paladin stood down a charging rage-drake, receiving a brutal gash just before melting it into a steaming pile of red goo and ash. They described Hu-Jat, the hobgoblin overlord, and Vulpin lifted the head on the stick asking “Would you like to meet him? He’s really quite charming!”
As they began to describe their ambushes from the Severed Eyes band, the old man cocked his head in confusion. “So, you’re telling me that you were sent after this magical artifact, and a group of orc henchmen were sent after YOU?”
Lucan answered, “Well, not us precisely. They were sent by another power, a mage named Dreus, to fetch the Slaying Stone too! We managed to obtain it first, and they somehow knew we had it. It was a vicious fight indeed, to escape their ambush. Funny, they probably didn’t even know that the stone was already destroyed before they found us…”
Fargrim described in detail the brawl with the Severed Eyes, the wolf-shaman, and their maniacal leader. With each detail, he gestured to a different cut or gash that he sported proudly. “This here is where I got shanked in the buttocks!” he snorted as he pointed at his dainty rear-end. “And this is where one of the bastards head-butted me!” he cried, pointing at a huge knot in his forehead. Nathaniel interjected “And this is where the wolf-shaman –“ but abruptly cut himself short as he turned away, hiding the dark patch in the front of his britches.
In a stash they found that the orcs had hidden, they found various looted objects that the orcs had almost certainly looted from the city. In fact, it seemed likely that they had visited several places before our heroes, and had taken what they saw fit (as an orc is inclined to do). Most notably, they found a beautifully engraved war-hammer, etched with the sign of the Silver Flame. It seemed likely that this had been stolen from the city’s shrine. Seraphina asked to hold it, and instantly felt a surge of divine power course through her arms and fingertips. They found a chipped garnet, and 174 gold pieces. From the orc-leader they took a finely crafted set of hide-armor, as well as a shimmering, elegant looking cloak. After the orcs had been searched over in a cursory manner,Vulpin couldn’t resist one more pass. Searching through dirty pouches and pockets, he found a small note in the pocket of the leader of the orc band. He slipped it into his pocket, reminding himself to take a look at it in private later. Standing up, he shouted “Nope, nothing else here. Let’s get back, I’m starving!”
Securing their packs, they saddled their ponies and prepared to leave the ghosts of Kiris Dahn to lie in peace at last. Although they had found what they were looking for, more questions seemed to have been asked than answered. How had two different mages learned of the Slaying Stone at the same time? Why did they want it now, of all times, after it had lain dormant for so many years? Why did Kiris Alkirk never mention he had a brother, and what was Kiris Hoyt doing, living in such a dangerous place for so long? (See Excerpts from the Journal of Kiris Hoyt )
To Fargrim, however, only one question seemed to be on his mind. He grunted loudly “What’s a dwarf got to do to get a pint of tar-ale around here? I feel like it’s been weeks since I had one!” And with that, the riders spurred the ponies and began to trudge west.
Also, see Lucan’s viewpoint.
QUEST: Keep Hidden – 625 XP
ENCOUNTER: Krayd the Butcher – 500 XP
ENCOUNTER: Charming the Stone’s Guardian – 250 XP
ENCOUNTER: Hu-Jat’s Squad – 675 XP
ENCOUNTER: Severed Eyes Showdown – 850 XP
QUEST: Destroy the Slaying Stone – 625 XP
XP TOTAL – 3525 (705 XP per character)
Slaying Stone of Kiris Dahn (destroyed)
1 Healing Potion!
Hide Armor +1
Baffling Cape +1
Warhammer of The Silver Flame