The Shattered Sea

Let The Good Times Roll

When we returned to Green Man, our heroes had decided their next goal was to get a Mark of the Firstborn. They decided that Rudderkin could not help them in this, and managed to lead him back to his clan house before continuing on their way (with judicious use of Modify Memory). They decided to track down a bard named Ingvar the Lame that had assisted Alaric on his previous visit.

This led them back down to the waterline, as the bard was known to frequent the market there. He could not be found, but they heard that he was gathering warriors for a ‘High Hunt’ meeting before sunset tonight. With a couple hours remaining, they decided to visit his clan house to see what could be gained there.

Clan Kvistrin is famed for producing carved bowsprits. In the guise of shopping for one, they gained an audience with the clan mother (Ingrid, the bard’s twin sister, as it turned out). She disparaged her brother’s romantic streak and questioned the wisdom of sending boys off to a hunt when there figureheads to carve and fish to catch. She did say that he had been preaching of the hunt for over a week, and that it was probably not his idea. Keller swore to her that the omens of doom were true and that they were there to stop them. She would not give them the Mark, but offered her assistance and sent her children off to gain information on any ‘strange’ clan activities.

In return they promised to buy a bowsprit if the world did not end.

2697743886 b4c9d834e4 zAs the sun began to sink, they set off up river toward the meeting. They came upon a trio of teenage warriors in a clearing and got into a little competitive bragging. Ayelin offered to bench press one of the boys and had successfully lifted him when a crack was heard on the hilltop. There was little time for action as a huge collection of logs and debris came thundering down the slop onto them. Keller and Ferris were away from the trap (and Norrick had leaped up a tree to escape), but the others were overborne by the slide which took out the boys as well.

Keller grabbed the halfling crossbowman and went to the sky. Alaric was lofted by his eidolon as well. Ayelin grabbed to of the unconscious young men and scrambled free of the logs, followed by Quill and Greyshanks. While this was happening, fiery javelins shot out of the trees setting the logs ablaze.

Four more warriors leaped out of the brush and charged down the hill, as we paused for the night.

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(Not so) Warm Welcome

Following Hrud’s directions, the Order’s Frustration approached the port of Timberholm late that night. Seeing no beacon or lighted area at all, they swept the docks with lanterns until an older woman came out on a pier waving lanterns of her own. They approached and tied off to a ramshackle and corroded wharf. The gruff woman waved them inside through a sign marking the place as the Tideline.

They said they were looking for a bard known as Rudderkin at an inn called the Green Man. She waived them off, saying they would not be allowed to leave the waterline until morning.

Cliff town different light The inside of this collection of buildings clinging to the rock was only slightly more welcoming than the inside. The handful of Ismenni locals gave the party a wide berth, looking derisively at the halflings and with only slightly veiled fear of Alaric’s eidolon. The summoner explained that the Ismenni believed the jotun gave creatures strength and will (and height) to succeed in this world, and by their size and relative weakness hobbits must be shunned by the gods.

This didn’t sit well with Ferris, who challenged one of the Ismenni to a contest of strength. Assisted by a Bulls Strength from Alaric (delivered while the crowd was distracted by Ayelin’s tale of the battle of the Fangs), the small sniper easily defeated his larger opponent, earning some grudging respect. They talked to some of the locals and learned that Rudderkin was widely known as a drunk and a lunatic, and claimed to see apocalyptic visions. They decided he was exactly what they were after.

The next morning they were greeted by the harbormaster and pre-paid docking fees until the end of the world (by their reckoning). Afterward they made their way up the cliff and through the village to the Green Man, stopping to refill a merchants water barrels in exchange for bartering objects.

At the Green Man, they were directed to the wood storage closet where they found the sleeping Rudderkin. They told him that they shared his beliefs and Keller and Ayelin showed their tattoos and he agreed to come out and talk (and drink). He told them that Sutriblot was upon them and the signs were unmistakable. He had seen the shadow on the moon and knew the end was nigh. He added that some others believe that it was an omen of change and were stirring the young men to a great hunt. The three bards most known for spreading this idea are Higgdi, Oleander and Yngvar the hobbled.

They asked about the mark of the Firstborn and were told that only a clan mother could scribe the mark. He did not know of any that would do so, however. There are 17 clans at Timberholm, and none were currently known to be in any great trouble. Nor did he know why someone would want to lure the warriors out to a hunt.

He was willing to talk of the Firstborn and explained that they were the ideal versions of natural life forces. He did not know what (or who) the Heart (or Hart) of Anu was, but believed it was sacred to them. He also believed that they could be found by going up the Hugrata river.

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Two ships in the night

We began with the fight underway. The ship crashed its beams down on them as the crew hunkered below-decks. Content Not Found: norrick was seized by rigging lines and the life was crushed from him. Keller quickly channeled and pulled him back from the brink. Quill fire-balled and Alaric cast Wall of Fire in an attempt to burn the foul hulk. The others slashed and pounded at the ship to keep it off. Norrick was swept off the deck and dragged beneath the water by the lines, while Ayelin and the ship were pounded by spars. Another fireball, continued fire and more pounding finally broke the magic that held the craft together and the scorching debris began to collapse.

Keller activated his manta cloak and dove in to revive Norrick. They— along with Ayelin— picked through the flotsam and found two humanoid corpses carrying magic. They retrieved a few potions, a couple scrolls and a magical elven curve blade before they returned the bodies to the sea.

Blacktyde longship by marc simonettiThey spent the next day in traveling and repairs on the Order’s Frustration. On the second night they began to see the smoky glow of the burning coast in the west. Early on the third day they spotted a sail to the southwest and moved to intercept. When they closed, the longship fired a warning shot from a ballista into the mast. Our heroes decided not to provoke them, and sent a message via a water elemental to meet for parlay.

Seeing a boat lowered from the side of the Ismenni ship (which Alaric Identified as a working crew and not a raiding party), the party followed suit and met halfway. The Ismenni captain began evasively, but eventually warmed to the party’s questions. He told them that they were a fishing crew that had been at sea for two weeks, and that the night before a ‘shadow fell before the moon’ and left schools of dead fish in its wake.

This was the news the party sought (although they hoped not to hear it). They told the fishermen that death had come to their land and they were going to try and stop it. As a show of good faith, they gave the captain the magical trident captured from the sea devils. In gratitude, he introduced himself (Hrud) and gave them means to approach Timberholm without provoking hostility. He also gave them permission to use his name and told them that a bard of his clan (Rudderkin) may be able to answer more of their questions. He can be found at an inn called the Green Man.

Departing peacefully and promising to return to fight together before the end, the two boats separated and went on their way. Our heroes continued to sail and by nightfall came within sight of the cliff-hanging village of Timberholm.

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Flame-broiled Fish

Our heroes gathered their crew and set off from Gullet by evening. They sailed down the sound, and after a brief questioning from forces of the Fangs (whom they lied to), they set off toward the Marjestyr gate. Setting watches for the night, most of the party went to sleep while Ayelin, Alaric and the halflings manned the Frustration.

The weather became increasingly difficult as the night passed, and progress slowed. Suddenly a strange unnatural mist swallowed the ship’s forecastle. Ayelin felt a shuddering of the ship and cried out for the crew to take cover. Alaric sent his eidolon to wake the others as a streak of lightning crashed down on the helmsman.

Genasivs sahuaginThe two at the fore were quickly surrounded as a shiver of sahuagin clambered aboard in the mist. One was exceptionally large and he swung his great sword down on Ayelin. Ferris and Norrick leaped from their hammocks and came out to join the fight, while Alaric pushed his way through the enemies to get to the cabin. Lightning continued to strike down on the eidolon while the fighting continued.

Quill stood in the entry to the cabin and cast a selective fireball across the deck. Five of the eight sea devils on-board dropped while the flames swirled harmlessly around his allies. Free to move and without the hazards of the mist (which was dismissed) our heroes focused on the remaining enemies.

Keller cast daylight on his shield and appeared on deck. The glow revealed a figure floating in mid-air about 30 feet off the port. Ferris fired at the enemy and Quill launched a lightning bolt of his own at her. This was followed by a flame strike from Keller and the sahuagin priestess was reduced to scattered bits on the wind.

The others were quickly dispatched as well. Keller ran out to see if he could gather any possessions from the priestess, and returned with a suit of hide armor, a trident and an earthen jug— all of which appeared to be magical. The others were carrying random loot that seemed to have come from Gullet and the Fangs. Our heroes decided that these creatures must have been preying on those fleeing the battle and decided not to search for a lair.

The remainder of the night and much of the next day was spent repairing the scorched rigging and continuing their journey. They passed a few islands they had seen on a previous journey (to rescue the Laurel Crown) but now seem to be inhabited. They again chose not to be distracted (as they now believe they are following a 26-day ‘doomsday clock’). Another day of clear skies and smooth sailing brought them within sight of Pelintar, with a smoky haze hovering over Saltmeadow Port.

Overcoming the desire to do something petty, they stayed to the course and made for the hidden arch. As the sun began to descend for the day, Keller piloted the pinnace under the arch. The ship stopped suddenly with a bone-shaking crunch!

On the other side, the ship slammed into a decaying collection of wood and ropes that may have once been a ship. Sharp eyes noted that the bodies of a couple yeth hounds and a lukwata were bound into the rotting hull. As if that was not bad enough, several large timbers and loose rigging swung out and crashed down on the ship, pounding Quill, Ferris and crushing one crewmen.

Our heroes rallied, and returned the assault. The eidolon swooped Quill away from the fray, and lightning bolted the horror. Others ran to the rails and tried to destroy the collection of the debris wrapped around the prow.

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A Night on the Town

Within the White Stag, our heroes met a half-elven traveler and his strange winged companion. He claimed to have first-hand knowledge of the people of the mainland and agreed to join them for an equal share of the gains (although the party was not aware of much in the way of gains). They toasted to their new companion and settled in.

Not too long later Sir Jasper of the Watch appeared, and they noticed that the inn had slowly filled with other guardsmen. He begged a word, and questioned our heroes about events and what they planned to do about the impending mob at the boatyard gearing up to kill Nils Dekovya. They took matters into their own hands and marched straight to the yard.

There they met with Billivar, who also toasted their victory, and he asked if they were there to join him in scouring the remaining evil in Gullet. They told him the matter had been ‘handled’ and that Nils was going to be on their side now, or killed by his tie fling conspirators. This appeased him a little and he moved on to complaining about his ‘compensation’ for his part in the battle. They again explained that he would be in command of the fully working dock facilities in the sea caves, and that the tower above had been given over to the gods— and any complaints he had about that could be taken up with them. They added that any loot gained in the battle belonged to them exclusively and no one would demand an accounting. At this he brightened visibly and returned to his revel.

When the evening wound down, the party returned to the Kraken’s Appetite. Ayelin discovered a man sleeping in her cabin. Flashing light on him, he leapt up and apologized, introducing himself as Stephano Silvermane, also known as Greyshanks. He had been told by Valen Zanthus that Ayelin and Co. were a ‘story unfolding’ and might be served by a first-hand witness. Ayelin squealed with delight and the group had grown to seven, and one winged eidolan.

After even more toasting, they moved on to planning their next steps. They decided cot sail back to the arch at Saltmeadow and jump to Marjestyr, and then sail to the mainland. By this they hoped to get ahead of the Waste and their probably airship journey. The next day they visited Vorvashal Vune and bought some minor magic and potions, and traded the Kraken’s Appetite for a more nimble Pinnace (which they christened Order’s Frustration). To even the deal, Billivar gave them a cloak of the manta ray and a ring of jumping that had belonged to the deceased previous captain of the Kraken’s Appetite. A little taken aback, but aware that they would have looted it themselves, they agreed and sailed off with a new halfling crew toward Saltmeadow and the Hart of Anu.

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New Kid on the Block

Once they were healed and gathered up in the slowly sinking Evangeline, our heroes took a well-deserved rest. They kept a watch to deal with the constant administrative tasks of the post-assault, which continued well into the night. During Ayelin’s watch, Raf returned with the Burning Ember, and she gave him command over the group hunting those who fled the poltergeists.

Just after dawn, a hubbub was heard on the dock and a crowd approached the ship. Ferris dropped from his perch and came to face it, sending Quill to wake Ayelin. The mob was led by Billivar, who demanded to know what the party was going to do about the traitor in the ruling circle of Gullet. Apparently, rumors of Dolphus being on-board with the Maestro had spread through the camp.

Overcoming their desire to strike down the troublesome pirate, they assured him that they were aware of the situation and would be taking care of it themselves. He gave them until noon to do so and stormed off.

On waking, our heroes went to visit Orrin to discuss next steps. Ayelin was swept off her feet on the deck by an excited Jerrilim Cockcrow, captain of the Dawn Wind. Confused by this stranger’s appearance and familiarity, the party once again struggled with the desire to murder their allies. He escorted them below decks, and eventually gave in that he was indeed the Elder Zentus— giving the crowd an image to fight for. The discussed upcoming events, agreed to give the Kirodont to the church, leave Billivar with the sea caves and take command of the Giondont themselves. Orrin also offered to address the ‘haunting’ issue of the castles themselves, and try to keep on eye on the pirate. They also agreed to encourage, but not actively aid, Dannith in his pursuit of retaking his razed ancestral seat. They also explained that there next move was following the Waste That Walks to the mainland to avert apocalypse.

Their next move was sailing in the rainy mist to Gullet. They were stopped at the docks by citizens looking for news and Ayelin soaked up more accolades. They dropped by and picked up Cyrdak from the theatre before paying a visit to the Dekovya estate. Once there, they were greeted and brought in to meet with Nils.

Things got tense very quickly, and Ayelin pushed him on the note and his ‘dealings’ with the enemy. Faced with evidence, he confessed to passing information to the Maestro but claimed he only did it to protect Gullet and its people. He told them that they could go off chasing black prophecies to some people had to live in the ‘real’ world, and that meant trying to stave off violent assault from invading armies.

SummonerShe told him that his days of fence-sitting were over, and by simply meeting with them it would be seem as if he was helping them. So, he could either die to confirm his loyalty to the tieflings or he could actually help them. He chose the latter.

He agreed to provide steel and weapons to Dannith’s cause and do whatever else they demanded in exchange for his life. He also told them that Brodert had been meeting with a half-elf at the White Stag who had first-hand knowledge of the mainland. They told him that he would be watched hereafter and left him alive.

They then went to the get Brodert and go the Stag, where they came upon a half-elf arm-wrestling with a strange mystical creature. Brodert introduced them and we called it a night.

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Rock the Boat

Taking a quick breather, our heroes took stock of their situation. They did some quick healing and Quill redecorated the sails, when suddenly the Evangeline heaved and tumbled forward, as the water disappeared under the bow. Bodies stumbled and fell prone, and Ayelin and Quill spotted the priest and the Maestro bobbing off the port. Ferris fired and struck the priest and Quill tried to pull them toward the ship with his shining hand.

Just as suddenly a group of fiendish rats appeared out of the darkness and attacked. People jumped to their feet and battle began in earnest. Following that, darkness fell on the entire area dropping everything into gloom. Many of our heroes were carrying continual flames, so there were small areas of dim light in the darkness. Even fiendish rats were no match for the party and were quickly felled. Ayelin climbed to the stern to dive in and make chase against the escaping enemies while Ferris offered cover. Keller moved to the prow, and discovered the priest and the Maestro climbing aboard.

Fr preview pg dark pactThe tiefling rushed at Keller and he was soon hard pressed to defend himself. Others came to his aid while the priest Zayid turned dead crewmen from the deck into walking dead. Gaulter closed and landed crushing blows on the tiefling, with Jokha and Ayelin rushing up to aid. Keller pulled back to protect himself and Quill dismissed one hand and replaced it with the mighty crushing hand. The Maestro turned on Gaulter and landed several brutal cuts. Ayelin danced through a crowd of zombies, leaped the open hatch and dove under the blows of the Maestro to gain position behind the enemy. Quill’s fist scooped up the priest and crushed, breaking his concentration and foiling his spell. Norrick tumbled through the zombies and landed a well-placed sneak attack on Zayid, and was gratified by watching the light fade from his eyes.

The others ground away at the Maestro, until Keller stepped back in with a dark nimbus around his hand, touching the leader and cleaving his soul from the the now lifeless body.

The zombies were dispatched immediately after, as the evil priest’s darkness dissipated and the waters began to swirl back in under the the severely damaged ship. With the darkness now go, the ships altered sails lit up and Ayelin climbed the mast with the Maestro’s head to proclaim victory.

Cheers rose from the boatmen and herders on the beaches, and the remaining guards tried to escape. Ferris landed a few crossbow bolts to encourage surrender, but the few remainders fled into the dark passages of the caves.

They gathered the remaining attackers onboard the Evangeline, removed the bodies and pulled the ship out of the cave mouth into the daylight. Quill noted a magical aura around the ship helm and grabbed it— successfully creating a troop of misty crewmen who pulled on the oars to accomplish this task.

Lashed to the dock, the party took a well-deserved rest. At some point during the melee, the man from Gullet has escaped. Ayelin found a message case on the Maestro and read a tersely written note from Nils: “To the commander of the Fangs. There are forces in my community that seem to be massing in an aggressive manner. This attack may be directed at you. I thought you should have this information.” They could not see any immediate combat in their vicinity, and only the occasional activity from the towers were items flung from the ramparts by poltergeists.

After sunset, Orrin cast Sending and made contact with party. They suggested to convene at the Fangs dock and a few hours later all the major players were gathered. They learned that Dannith had arrived to fight the main tilling force and drove their flagship to flee, that the Kraken’s Appetite was in the path of the Waste as she charged up the Sound and was slaughtered, and that a couple hundred former guardsmen were now stumbled down the ridge into the marshes of Roller Cay.

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All aboard

Ferris traded missile fire with two guardsmen on the stern while the others gathered to climb the rope trick. Gaulter completely failed to get up, so they climbed over his bulk to get to the deck, while Norrick climbed around the hull to the far side of the ship. Ayelin drew a crowd with her appearance and was soon hip-deep in enemies. Ferris, Quill and eventually Jokha climbed the rope to join the fray.

Meanwhile, a crowd of Roller Cay herdsmen were fighting the Maestro and his guard at the aft. A gigantic pig-aspected creature fought alongside the herders. Shouting was heard below and the oars were extended from the ship. Gaulter gave up on the rope and swam around the ship (thanks to his buoyant armor) and climbed up an oar.

120128 s0The ship began to lurch forward under oars, and Norrick took out the helmsmen with a flurry of sneak attacks. Ferris tried to stay out of reach and buried bolt after bolt in defenders, especially the tiefling mage. Quill summoned a lemure to aid in the assault, A human in scale mail appeared from below and sent a wave of negative energy through the party. He was accompanied by a handful of guards who spread out to press the attack.

Shoved aside by the advancing ship, Keller and Exander maneuvered the launch alongside the galley and tied it fast. Exander clambered up an oar onto the lower deck in time to see Gaulter destroy the deck commander.

Up on deck, the Maestro dropped the pig man and his cohorts also turned to the party. Keller came on deck and was faced by the priest, who tripped him with his boarding gaff. Jokha came upon the tiefling mage and shook the life out of him with his shocking grasp. Ayelin grabbed the helm and tried to divert the ship from its course violently, but its slow movement limited its effect.

Since the rowers continued (out of enchantment or simple fear) to pull, Gaulter left the deck to join the fight, while Exander continued to try and disrupt them. He burst through the hatch and was immediately surrounded by enemies. The Maestro stood over the prone Keller and slashed repeatedly with his two short swords, bringing the priest to the brink of death. Quill fired the Staff of a Hundred Hands and tried to toss the tiefling overboard, but he stepped aside from the mystical mitt.

Slowly enemies began to fall before our heroes. Sensing a turn in the battle, the enemy priest stepped back and shouted. “You may feel heroic slaughtering our guards in stand-up battle, but how will you feel with the blood of a score of innocents on your hands?”

Ayelin pronounced, “I’m sorry, but I think you have us confused with some kind of paladin,” then jumped down and decapitated a guardsmen. Another wave of dark energy shot out and the screams of dying slaves filled the cave. Exander, still below, was staggered by the carnage.

The second swing from Quill’s enchanted hand sent the Maestro hurtling from the ship, before he could continue to his destruction of Keller. The enemy priest ‘enlarged’ a guardsmen, while the others circled tighter against the onslaught. It was not enough, and one by one they were cut down by our heroes. The next round Quill’s hand sent the priest following the Maestro. Ferris kept on eye as the two swam together, and the priest covered his commander.

Leaderless, the enemies fell before the party; leaving the deck empty except for one man— recognized by Ayelin and Keller as a member of Gullet Mercantile League. The party plans to take command of the Evangeline, use Quill’s minor image to disguise it as the ’Dawn Wind" and sail out to demoralize the enemy.

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Fires in the Hole

As he scouted ahead of the charge, Norrick came upon another side passage in the caves. He quickly followed it and was shut at by crossbowmen hidden behind crates in an natural open space. He dove down another passage , creeping forward only to find another battle being fought on the shore.

LeaperMeanwhile, the others joined in the battle at the beach. Ferris rained fire down on the guards while Gaulter and Ayelin charged. Keller moved in to assist while Quill, Jokha and Exander guarded the intersection. Suddenly, an explosion went off on the beach and several herdsmen were engulfed in fire. Gaulter was splashed by the caustic fluid and Ayelin stepped aside. Our heroes slowly ground away awey at the guards, but were taking losses from the mysterious bombs coming from the darkness. Keller used a mage hand from the staff and sent a light out— revealing a wild-haired man clinging to the rocks. Quill fired magic missiles, but they were deflected by a shield spell. Not so with Ferris’ bolts, several stroking home on the bomber. Norrick returned to the group, aided by a flare by Exander. Gaulter fell back to seek healing from bomb damage, and Ayelin charged the lone man on the rocks.

He threw again, and fire engulfed Ayelin damaging her greatly. Unable to charge up the rock in this condition, she ran into the dark water to get a better vantage point. The remaining guards were dropped and two herdsmen remained from the original group of six. Keller passed out healing from the Staff of Dawn and the group discussed going to the aid of the fighters that Norrick had seen earlier.

Unfortunately, Ayelin came upon a concentrated battle around the corner of the flooded cave. A large xebec was docked near the shore with a large group of fighters around it. She spotted a gigantic boar-shaped humanoid locked in combat against a group of sailors, while others worked to clear the ship’s lines. She relayed this information to the group via message, altering their plans. They climbed aboard the boat left by the herders and set off toward the battle— covered by Ferris.

This proved too tempting a target for the hiding alchemist, who popped up to throw a bomb at it. Ferris was waiting for this opportunity and dropped the alchemist before he could launch. He then rejoined his comrades for the fight.

They rowed out to the center of the underground lagoon and got a better view of the small battles raging around them. They saw the large ship ‘Evangeline’ and another on the far side of the cave. Spotting a trio of tieflings on the xebec’s they focused their attention. Quil recalled following the elf herdsman Herron on Roller Cay only to have his tracks disappear into the swine tracks. They decided they would worry about the creature’s loyalty after they took out the tie flings. Ayelin swam amidships and leaped up to the deck, while the others maneuvered the boat closer so that Exnder’s rope trick would give them access to the stern castle. One off the tie flings spotted their approach and fired a scorching ray at Ferris in a desperate bid to slow their approach.

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Rank-and-Ruin

Dretch127A little retcon put Ayelin back in action (Cause Fear only works to 6HD) so our heroes were at full strength when stuff started blowing up. Hail and Fire tore through the front ranks, only to have them bolstered by additional Dretches summoned in. When the groups closed, stinking clouds obscured the center of the fight while Keller and wall-mounted halflings sniped demons from the periphery. Ayelin and Haikar joined up to play scissor twins (both withstanding the stinking cloud) and Daebor cast an aqueous orb to scope up drenches around the field.

Quill blew down Dragon’s Breath on the center of the fight and cleared out the majority of the remaining demons, while both Haikar and Ayelin side-stepped the blast. Young crewman Ferris, armed with good-aligned bolts made short-work of outlying drenches as they popped up. In the end- the nearly mindless demons were sent back to the abyss by the party.
Regrouping, the decided to move toward the ruins where the demons came from. There they found a crumbling building with a wide floor containing an inlayed diagram of the planes, with two doors mounted at nexuses. Haikar and Ayelin entered to inspect the area, fearing more dretches, but war instead attacked by a hidden halfling. Haikar is well aware of thinly tricks (using them quite often himself) and was not surprised by the sudden attack. Even when the tricky little guy produced a whip that attacked by itself and provided flanks they stood their ground. Ferris pinioned the whip and Ayelin landed repeated blows knocking the foe to the edge of death.

The stabilized him, tied him tightly and waited for him to awake in order to interrogate him.

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