Templeton removed the Zephyr from its stand, the hilt still emitted a faint glow, though the sapphire inlays fell dormant.
Tarhill stepped forward and said, “I think it’s best that we return to Aatondale. Samael is expecting us to return with this. And it may hold the clues to our next location.”
Gary leaned his shield against the tomb wall. “Yes, but how will we get there? The Ios is not a timid beast.”
Aerayal cleaned the dirt from under her fingernails with a sharp dagger. She kept her gaze and intent on the job at hand and said, “Aye. But there are ships on the far shore more days than not. I’m sure we can,” she paused to admire her work, “arrange passage.”
Templeton walked forward, slid the Zephyr in his sheath, and said, “Then let’s be off. The tide will not wait for us.”
Tirsh shook his head, chuckling silently at the rogue’s pageantry and frivolous sincerity.
The group fell in line, exited the Tomb of Roe, and no one mourned or acknowledged the desecration of this sacred place. Bones lay strewn about the ground, burial chambers lay disturbed and discarded, and no prayers were said for the interrupted dead.
As the group left the Tomb, the dull, heavy head returned teasing with nausea and slow thoughts. The heroes pushed through, the knowledge that the feeling would subside as they put more and more distance between themselves and the Tomb. When they had left the region of retardation a pair of lost men wandered in the open field ahead.
Thenn dashed toward them, fire in his eyes, and the rest of the group followed along. Gary pushed the mule on to a racer’s pace, and in little time they closed the gap.
Immediately, many recognized that the two men wore the colors of Aatondale’s standard militia. As they approached, one of the men lacking in height, but full of vigor began waving both of his hands high above his head. He continued this even as the group stood just before him. His companion, taller and darker of hair, smacked him across the chest with the better part of his left hand and arm.
“Delen, you can stop now. i’m pretty sure that they can see you.”
The tall, dark-haired one steps forward, focusing on Tarhill’s clothing. “You are of the Loups de Mort, yes?”
Templeton replied, “Yes. We all are.”
The group brandished their Loup de More patches, sashes, and various clothings.
“Finally, we have found you. “Agents,” he says, “we have traveled across the Ios to deliver immediate news from Lord Aaton and Samael.” He pauses
The other guard blurts in, “They have found Garran and Nemic.”
“The news that Lord Aaton’s sons might be alive is both startling and relieving, I know, but your mission is now to be diverted to finding and retrieving them.”
Gary steps forward, his shield at the ready, “We know that you call him Delen, but how are you called?”
“Please forgive me. I am Goret.”
“And how do we know that you are sent by the High Court, Goret?” Templeton asked.
“Forgive me again. Here. I have a writ from Lord Aaton himself.” He pulled out a small, ornate scroll case washed in magical energy. He waved his hand over it and whispered a two-syllable word that Templeton heard as “Victos,” and the scroll case opened. He handed it to Templeton who verified that it listed Goret and Delen as messengers sent by the High Court of Aatondale, sealed by each member.
Thenn, bored by the grown-up talk, started shooting fire into the ground. Delen, overwhelmed with glee and excitement, took to the dragon with great jubilence.
Goret held his hand out for the seal’s return, “Thank you, sirs.”
“So where are the brothers?” Asked Gary.
“A den of bandits have them. They are in the Silverlight forest, but beyond that, we don’t have much in the way of an exact location.”
Templeton asks, “And how do you know this?”
“One of their members defected and brought the information to the High Court. He expected to be well rewarded in gold coin, but found himself well rewarded in years in the dungeon under the castle.”
Goret tugged at the bottom of his tunic and avoided direct eye contact, “And have you found The Zephyr?”
The group stumbled to cover having it, then revealed conflicting stories that Zara had it and was returning it to Aatondale.
At that time, several crossbow bolts flew into the clearing, one singing right through the air and pushing through Delen’s left shoulder, sticking out of the front of his chest. He fell immediately to the ground. Within seconds a dozen short rat-faced men took positions for stabbing and shooting.
Thenn rushed in, released a hand full of magic missiles, and seared their flesh and fur. Tirsh closed in and swung his hefty axe and failed to find purchase. The rat-men surged in with blades and teeth, stabbing and biting. Thenn and Desvark found themselves in dire straights after that as blood poured from several new holes in their bodies.
Gary, and the rest of the crew poured in, attacking and maneuvering, and as soon as their weapons ripped flesh, the wounds healed completely. Gary cried out, “Our weapons don’t hurt them.”
Templeton slid The Zephyr’s blade into the side of one of the rat-men and it looked down in surprise, shrieking to its companions, “They’ve got magic!”
At the end of the onslaught, after several ineffective hits, and Aerayal’s arrow being pulled straight out and laughed at, Goret reached into his pouch, pulled out several silvery orbs, and threw them to the Loup de Mort.
“Silver your blades!” He cried as he burst one of the orbs over his own blade, coating it in a slick, silver fluid.
The opponent that Templeton had skewered screamed louder, “AND SILVER!”
Several of the archers run from the fight, leaving their stabby and bitey friends to work over the party.
And the DM got tired and lazy. . .to be continued. . .
. . . continued.
Tirsh stood fast and the rat-faced beasties closer. He hefted his great axe and posed an attractive threat. Two small clusters of hero and baddie emerged, and once the ratmen in the clearing had been dispatched, Aerayal and Templeton deftly maneuvered to where the remaining threat lay.
Once the backup had arrived, the second cluster had also been subdued and Gary had wrestled one of the ratmen back into the clearing where Aerayal bound him. Thenn and Templeton dashed off toward the wolf-faced man who had been watching from beyond the trees, only to find that he was no longer there.
Upon their arrival, the beast leapt from a tree, bit Tarhill hard in the neck, and sprinted off. Thenn gave chase, but the beast transformed into a large wolf and his speed went unmatched by the dragon.
Torturous plots found a heap of charred bodies and a rat-man strapped to a tree. He gave the best of his information, revealing Garran to be the leader wolf who had escaped, and his brother to be among the dead. Slowly, the bodies lost their fur and rat faces, reverting back to humans, and none of them were recognized to be Garran or Nemic.
Templeton dripped silver fluid in the captive’s eye, Gary issued commands for those with bows to take range, and when no further information could be gleaned from his will, he was asked, “Do you want a quick death?”
Aerayal, tired of the noise and banter made the beast’s decision for him and without a breath slid the answer through his good eye, closing the matter.
Goret and Delen’s wounds were seen to by Desvark and Gary and Goret shared that the knowledge of their ability as shape-shifters was the next thing he intended to share, along with the orbs and a cache of healing potions.
“They have at least thrice this count in their lair in the Silverlight Forest, Agents. And I have no more silver orbs.”
Templeton commented, “We are wholly unprepared to face this threat.”
Goret said only this, “Forgive my insolence, Agents of the Loups de Mort, but you had best get prepared.”