able of Contents:
Day of the Goyles
Beware Insects Bearing Silk
Three Days with a Dinosaur (The Phantom Introduced)
Swashbuckler v. Swashbuckler
Four of the Talons rummage through the wagons, while Nilch’i impresses upon Kailen the severity of the issues that might follow the death of the black wolf. Kailen genuinely regrets the death, but also wonders what he can possibly do to make amends.
Cam believes everything Nilch’i says, and wishes to support him, but with his “extreme near-sightedness”, he doesn’t think he can hunt, and he remains behind to examine a Coded Ledger with Mai (highest roll @ level 3 – Linguistics 21 if I read my note correctly). Unfortunately, neither of them are able to crack the code, and the book is added to the group’s collected gear for later examination.
Able to speak for herself, the released Sprite briefly describes how someone captured her two weeks ago. Unfortunately, she knows scant of the abductors or their plans. However, she assures her saviors they can call on her, Elfregin of the Embeth Forest, in the future.
Day of the Goyles
As the group travels ever-southward, Nilch’i asks passersby about wolves, concerned by the possibility of unrest. What the group discovers is an abandoned village near the Creeperwood. Recently abandoned.
The night hints arrival, and the group considers a camp site. Mai spots a sign pointing toward the town Veridian, and she recognizes the likelihood of civilized dwellings.
But fate has given the townsfolk an invasion instead.
Before the Talons hear the pealing of bells, Nilch’i spots flying creatures over the town. They rush forward, seeing damaged buildings; and strange, terrific insectoid creatures well into their assault of the townsfolk.
An aged warrior near the edge of town sees the approach of the Talons, but continues to struggle with his ranged weapon. His leg is torn up, and he is unable to ride his nearby, ready mount into battle. “I can’t ride Pernicious with my leg like this! Please help!”
Cam is unable to see the carnage, and calls out for information. At that same moment, Mai recognizes the flying creatures. “Silk Goyles from the Forest!”
An amazing deployment follows. Mai quickly calls out tactical advantages (bludgeoning damage) and disadvantages (piercing and slashing damage, immunity to mind effects). Kailen makes an amazing leap from Sugar the horse to Pernicious the hippogriff, and launches into battle toward the nearest Goyle; just making it above the nearest roofline. The rest of the team rushes through the center of the town and dismounts.
The group splits into two main advances, while Mai maneuvers into a position where she can provide magical artillery to support either advance. Kailen and Shae each take multiple serious wounds. Cammadon sees that the Goyles are not evil, but they are tough, and they are attacking the town, so he commences an attack in support of Shae.
Mai’s intense magic missiles crack carapaces both left and right, allowing Cam to smash apart a Goyle that briefly drove Shae back a step, to heal. Blackish hemolymph sprays across a nearby wall.
Meanwhile, the other Talons recognize that the Goyles are picking up townsfolk, to fly away with them toward the forest. They step up their assault, taking out Goyles on the ground and then turning their attention to the fleeing Goyles and their helpless captives.
Pernicious is badly wounded, but valiantly soars ahead with Kailen. Suffering under the assault of three Talons, the retreating Goyles fly at different elevations. Then, due to relentless pursuit and onslaught, are forced to drop their captives in a desperate attempt to escape. One of the captive townsfolk falls 30 feet into a second wicked melee, before bouncing off a combatant at that elevation, then finally hits the ground another 20 feet below.
Beware Insects Bearing Silk
Damaged buildings. Some townsfolk dead, many wounded. Uliana heals as many villagers as she can, using Divine energy where necessary. Kailen manages to bring Pernicious back to life, and returns to her owner: a retired Sky Warden by the name of Tolan Sendek. Kailen attempts to ply the goodwill of Tolan, and the interest of Pernicious, in another adventure. Tolan seems open to Kailen’s offer, and also provides the Talons with two Snapleaf tokens. Nilch’i suggests to keep them close to Pernicious for the time being.
Meanwhile, Green Sky, the aging half-elf Mayor of Veridian, regales the adventurers with lore and news.
The lore: the Goyles have lived in the nearby Creeperwood as long as anyone can remember. The Black Wolves and the Goyles are mortal enemies. The Goyle cocoons can be rendered into a high quality, translucent silk. But then, in a darker turn, he reveals that so too can their insectoid bodies be boiled whole, and also turned into silk. Even further, he admits that, a hundred years ago, some townsfolk took things too far and destroyed Goyle larva.
The news: Black wolves started running amok approximately a week ago. Five lumberjacks are missing. There have been reports of a scaly, red-hued beast having been seen wandering the nearby territory. ArcaKnight investigation into the lumber mill revealed nothing, and they ended up moving on southward to Liberthane, toward reports of additional trouble: pirates.
The Talons ask around for additional accounts of the red-hued beast, and receive a different report from each respondent. They resolve to travel to the lumber mill; it appears to be silent and empty. Cammadon decides to dismount and enter, having taken no precaution against a battle.
Even though he has not really adjusted to the loss of normal sight, Cam is somehow not surprised to be washed over with a sense of true evil. A wave of terrible energy sweeps onto him and outwards for 20 feet in all directions (Unholy Blight). He is able to shake off most of the deleterious effects, but then the creature descends upon him, and strikes viciously, bloodying Cammadon with an attack that seems to be somehow optimized against his very nature.
Kailen charges toward the fiend, but there isn’t much room to enter the mill, and Cam is knocked prone by the hippogriff mount. The good news is that this spawn of devil kin, the antithesis of a celestial descendant such as Cammadon, is surrounded and dispatched quickly.
Three Days with a Dinosaur
With 3 days travel yet to Liberthane, Shae hears a noise during the night. The group awakens and prepares for battle, but the sounds do not seem to be approaching. Eventually she recognizes the occasional glinting of two eyes in the darkness. Nilch’i tries to engage the creature with some form of communication, throwing it some tack.
Turns out the creature is starving, and needs far more than trail rations in order to have a chance at recovering its health. While Nilch’i attempts to communicate with the creature, Shae recognizes that this creature is the result of an Anthropomorphic Animal spell. A dinosaur with fully upright, bipedal features, and limited intelligence.
Nilch’i resolves to hunt with the creature, in an attempt to procure it a more substantial meal. Cam is impressed with Nilch’i’s compassion and wits, but doesn’t feel his senses are up to hunting, and he needs to sleep in order to recover spent magical energy.
But before anyone can drift quietly off into dreams, Kailen asks about the phantom that briefly appeared in the battle against the devilkin fiend. “It’s here now?”
Uliana introduces Arima, within the darkness of the night, before the flames of the campfire, and to the rest of the Talons (save Nilch’i). The gathered group is disturbed as the gruesome visage rises from the ground itself. Uliana is not concerned. Kailen grills the image with questions of heritage and intention. Cam sneaks a peek as to whether the creature may truly be evil. In the end, the Grey Maiden is cautiously accepted as the next fantastic creature to be witnessed by the group (save Nilch’i).
Meanwhile, Tony 13 picks up a trail and presents a choice of deer or boar. Nilch’i chooses boar, and the dinosaur does its best to keep up. Tony 13 demonstrates his ferocious talent and prowess yet again, bringing down the boar with a vicious bite. Mr. Dinosaur participates as much as can a starving, transmogrified humanoid.
Returning to the camp, hems and haws conclude that the boar might as well be cleaned and quartered (instead of stinking up the joint for days). After all, General Malgos is in Isarn (southward still beyond Liberthane).
The beneficiary of gluttonous mercy, the dinosaur gives his name to be Vastorox. Mai and Shae surmise him to be a Battledragon far from home.
To their credit, and/or perhaps to their smarting collective conscience, the Talons decide on mercy and compassion for this latest wilderness beast to cross their path.
Arriving in Liberthane, the Talons behold a choked river harbor, and a majestic Arcadian Interceptor. Amidst the relative rabble, it is clearly a new and impressive ship.
Vastorox returns to the legion of the Shaper’s Guild, and the adventurers learn the full scope of the consequences of the Battle with the Black Wolves: an eye for an eye, a life for a life – the Wolf Leader is Lupia and she will not be satisfied by anything less than a life in exchange for a life.
Consternation rips through the Talons. Cam suggests exploring the idea of a life debt. Kailen and Uliana consider a magical ruse based on near-death (Breath of Life).
The Captain of the Emerald Order, having helped divest the Talons of Vastorox, sees that the adventurers are clearly befuddled – and he mentions that, with the idea of magic, perhaps they can salvage the situation.
Kailen realizes that the worth of the confiscated goods from the poachers would go a long way toward gathering the materials necessary to raise the dead wolf (Raise Dead). The Captain volunteers to match the value of the confiscated poachers’ spoils, and the Talons contribute the remainder from their own existing resources – to finish procuring the materials necessary to raise the Black Wolf slain in error.
Unsure of the travel arrangements, some of the Talons remain in Liberthane while Kaiden, Cam, and Nilch’i witness the raising of the slain Black Wolf. They travel by way of teleportation back to the grave site, alongside a powerful Druid of the Emerald Order.
Leader Lupia watches as her Wolf is brought back to life. The Druid realizes that, even though motivated by just cause, some of the Talons do not fully understand the situation. He explains that fairies, hippogriffs, horses, wolves, and dinosaurs are the most common types of creatures that have been incorporated as fellow citizens of Arcadia.
The Pack approaches and surrounds all who returned to raise the dead. They greet their comrade, restored to life, and lower their heads to the humanoids, in recognition of remuneration – signaling forgiveness of the Talons, and the restoration of the Pact.
The Talons regroup in Liberthane and meet with the Captain of Liberthane Fortress, Capt. Kestrel Garess. Some of the Talons recognize him as the son of Kestrel Garess, a first-generation Arcadian who served the country with distinction. He brightens visibly with memories of his father, and then his brow furrows as relays a tale of elven pirates.
He references the Arcadian crest rings worn by each member of the Talons, and thinks that maybe they can provide him with advice on what to do. He is conflicted about what to do with the pirates, because they have orders not to engage the elves, but they also have orders to keep the river lanes open. The number of ships in the harbor appears to be the result of the recent slew of pirate incursions.
Cam asks if the pirates are violent bandits, or simply bandits. So far they have stolen and pillaged but have not killed. Then he suggests that someone with sight and flight should scout out the whereabouts of those there elven pirates.
Kailen takes Pernicious, and an ArcaKnight, into the sky to search ahead. Meanwhile, the Talons board the interceptor (name of ship?) and take up stations alongside the human troops. Nilch’i courageously overcomes a deep sense of uncertainty about water travel – but seems heartened by the unique green-colored hull and prow of the vessel. Designed to be strong enough for both defense against anti-ship weaponry, and for ramming other ships.
Cam immediately latches onto the idea of ramming the pirate ship, and tries several times throughout the journey to persuade the group that to destroy the ship may save more lives, and help reduce the fallout of an armed conflict between humans (Arcadians) and elves.
Meanwhile, Kailen and the ArcaKnight spot the pirates and return to the Interceptor with location and bearing. Cam continues to talk strategy, but the group is ultimately drawn to the prospect of riches. Including the possibility of a reward on the Elven pirate commander.
Perhaps a small solace to the Aasimar: the Elves attack first. Their massive ballistae bolts loudly thudding against the green ironwood prow – but causing little to no damage. Their pirate ship has two larger ballistae, but the Arcadian Interceptor possesses the enhanced prow, and six smaller repeater ballistae.
Though quite far out of range, the Elves begin to rain arrows down upon the Arcadians. Cam finds something to do with his drive to preserve life, and between each volley of arrows, he proceeds across the deck to heal wounded Arcadians. Each boat is out of range, but closing fast, and volley and volley continues to whistle through the shrinking space between the combatants. Arrows and bolts against the humanoids, and ballistae bolts against each ship.
Swashbuckler v. Swashbuckler
With 200 feet of remaining distance to close, Kailen flies atop Pernicious for the command deck of the pirate ship. Mai fires a volley of magic missiles into the weakened side of the pirate ship. The ship begins to list and it appears that the Talons have a choice between circling to ram the ship, or approaching alongside to initiate a melee.
As the Interceptor slides alongside, anyone with a moment to glimpse the mounted Swashbuckler’s amazing feat of daring – sees Kailen roll end over end, backward off the hippogriff mount, to land solidly on the command deck. The Pirate commander, a lithe and sexy Elven woman clad in black leather, immediately appears from just below deck – and the two swashbucklers exchange a series upon a series of sword strikes and parries.
Both appear to be enjoying their contest of skill, when the Elven commander takes a moment to focus herself, and strikes a precision blow straight through Kailen’s defenses. He makes one more attempt to land a strike on the Pirate commander, but realizes he is now cut-off and could soon be mortally wounded by this fellow swashbuckler. He leaps backwards again, this time into the river.
The Pirates turn all their attention to the melee battle against the troops of the Arcadian interceptor. The Pirate commander rushes to the front line, where she finds the rest of the Talons are more than ready for her.
Mai unleashes the most powerful magic the group has yet seen from her, and an arc of flame bellows from the Pirate commander out across her cronies. Uliana and her phantom rattle the Pirate commander to her core, and soon thereafter, she falls. Several pirates not captured or killed leap into the river in an attempt to escape.