Thursday, February 7, 2013

Play Report: A Party Unacquainted With Defeat

The Hounds have pulled through, though they really aren't the Hounds anymore. The last original member being dead, it's likely that they'll change their name and draw up a real contract. It seems that Keir is in the driver's seat, at least as far as quartermastery is concerned.

The remaining Hounds, knowing they'd been scouted, rearranged their positions even as the flashing lights in the distance told of Oloz's death. Cain, Adriana, and Naur took up places in the false camp while Naur created a series of illusions of themselves standing on the hill opposite between the trees. Braggi Biletooth's elves (and two dwarves) were positioned up there as well, amongst the pines, ready to catch any attempt the Scourge made to go around and come from a different angle. The Shadow Priest was amongst their number. Keir lay in wait by a turn in the road, concealed behind a tree and some scrub.

When the foe finally appeared, it was the main force of the party along the roadway and the elves-at-arms clambering over the crest of the southern hill, coming for the campsite (where the Shadow Priest had been earlier). Salainen waved a dispel magic over the camp upon seeing doubles of several people in the hills—this scared Naur and prompted him to activate the magic ring his master had given him, putting him under the effect of a blink spell. When the figures at the camp remained firmly solid, Salainen cautioned the elves-at-arms not to move.

As he prepared a fireball, Naur countered with a rapid magic missile, interrupting the High Wizard. By that time, Cain had already run all the way across the road and into the trees on the far side, anticipating a roasty toasty death. Adriana called upon the vines, the roots, and the grasses on the hillside to pin the elves-at-arms in place, freezing their descent.

Salainen had finally had enough, ordering his party to charge. They went wheeling round the first bend even as Naur beat it for the hill, trying to get away. Cain fired at the wizard from his new position on the high ground, even as the wizard protected himself with some unseen magic. The bolt missed him and Naur's follow-up magic missiles vanished as they approached within a foot of the wizard.

Now Cain called his men to charge, and they came barreling out of the trees. Braggi, worried about the state of the battle, revealed himself at last: a skin-changer from the northerly kingdom of Leukerio, his body warped and shifted as he waded into the fray. The melee grew thick and dangerous, and Keir crept closer to the mage even as he prepared his next magics. Cain struck him in the breast with a crossbow bolt that dissipated another spell, but Salainen managed to summon forth a wall of ice from the roadway. Shedding snow and freezing air, it shot up between them, cutting the crossbowman off from the wizard.

Keir rushed him, drinking the last of Tomasso's potion of protection. The few elves-at-arms with the mage could not stop his charge, so potent was the stuff. He stopped the wizard mid-chant even as green lights flickered into being around him and evil ghoul-green vapors swirled around his robes. The wizard's thigh was parted with the blow, blood gushing in hot spurts. He fell, clutching Cain.

Adriana was meanwhile taken in the back by a sneaking Varan-looking fellow with a brilliant silver blade. She turned to fight him, but he leapt onto her and stabbed her again, downing her. Nothing more was seen of him after that: he must have seen the tide of the battle turning.

The fray between Braggi and the Scourge grew even more dangerous when the Shadow Priest threw crackling black fire over the lot, indiscriminately burning Scourgemen and killing Braggi's elves. Only the swordsman al-Saif neglected to extinguish himself, instead drinking a potion of his own and, still crackling with black fire, hacking through Braggi's thugs with aplomb.

Naur managed to blind one of the Scourge with a spell while the Shadow Priest held al-Saif and the elven thief Findal. The other two surrendered; Keir dispatched the blind elf with a workmanlike throat-slice, while Coroman the Weyl tried to escape only to be gutted by one of the last remaining thugs. The Shadow Priest himself killed Findal by walking up to him and nicking open an artery in his neck. He stood and watched al-Saif continue to burn, pinned in place by magic and surrounded with consuming black flames.

Gathering up the loot and allowing the priest to ritually strip and stack the foe, the Hounds made cairns for the elves they hired. As the sun set and the light snow continued to fall, Braggi and his boys made their way back to Tyrma and the Hounds slogged on to Ardina and the Silver Cymbal. They put up there for the night, the bodies of Adriana and Oloz covered in canvas and left in the stables for future return to the Temples of Meri and Anunia.

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