21 Awakening 508 (cont’d)
The party is running from the burning remains of Quain Keep, with Savaric covering their tracks. They frantically run north along the Mondira River, looking for a ford. Once the fording point is found, they make their crossing, with only Savaric being unhorsed. As the sun rises, they camp in the wilderness of eastern Jossia, hoping that the ranger’s efforts have been enough to deter Quain’s soldiers from finding them.
25 Awakening 508
Over the course of several days, the party runs across the wilderness of Jossia to the southwest toward the highlands of northern Leilior. Finally, the arrive at the Ros River. There they find a river ferry they can signal to cross the river. The ferryman lets them know that the town, Stavan, is beset by a “beast”. The local inn, The Green Maiden, closes when the sun goes down. The local lord, Ulliam Stavan, has placed a bounty of 100 gold marks for the beast’s hide.
Arriving at the Green Maiden, the party is met by the proprietor with a bit of consternation over the half-orcs. However, his wife convinces him that with the larger matter of “the beast” that it would be wrong to turn away strangers so close to nightfall. The nervous man acquiesces. The party (covered in soot, dirt, and blood) order baths and rooms (with much complaint at the prices by Surm) and settle into the modest common room.
Despite their questioning (and some intimidation of traveling farmers by Mõrvar), the party finds that the locals don’t want to talk about this “beast”—except for the proprietress of the inn. She is more than happy to discuss it, almost gleeful. The Beast has haunted Stavan for generations, scaring children and adults alike. It has only been in the past month that attacks of livestock have been happening, attributed to the legendary creature. The strangest part of all is that all the blood is drained from its victims. The most recent attack was at Bowlan Greenbough’s farm where he lost two sheep to the Beast.
Surm removes the bounty poster from the tavern wall and announces to all that will hear that Savaric the “monster hunter” who defeated the minotaur under Grundr’s Teeth, will claim this bounty. He buys a round of Tarsian wine for everyone in the common room.
26 Awakening 508
The next morning, after breakfast, the party begins exploring the area, questioning the victims of various “Beast” attacks. At Tannen Corley’s farm, Savaric finds a partial track and determines that beast is bipedal, has clawed feet, and is of medium size. The only clear pattern that emerges from their numerous questions is that something is coming out of the western woods to prey upon the livestock. And whatever it is is either quite strong or has help.
That night, Surm buys a round of Yulanian wine for every one and the party celebrates the free meal that is given to them as the “monster hunters” friends.
Lord Stavan pays the party a visit, wanting to cast his eyes on the “monster hunter” that has come to his village. Soon after taking his seat, Surm and Mõrvar begin to try and up the take of the bounty, first swearing that their comrade, Savaric, the slayer of “Bulvi’s Wolf”, seldom worked for under 500 gold pieces. The Lord reminds the party that he is not hiring a monster hunter, that he is offering a reward for whomever can kill the beast. Nevertheless, he may be persuaded to up the bounty to 150 gold Marks. He then takes his leave of the party.
27 Awakening 508
The party finds a commotion in the common room the next morning—another farm has been attacked. The crowd leads the party Hapner Plowred’s place where two cows have been drained of blood. Savaric finds tracks leading once again into the western woods. The villagers stay behind, whispering amongst themselves as the party ventures into the woods, following the trail of the Beast of Stavan.
The trail leads about a mile outside of town to a large hill with a narrow cleft worn into its side. The cleft is only about three feet wide, though it stands about six feet in height. Savaric ventures into the small cave where he finds two creatures lying on the floor. One is medium-sized, the other smaller. Both are bipedal, reptilian creatures with iridescent, color-shifting scales and spiny protrusions coming from their back. One, the larger of the two springs up with a predatory hiss and lunges at Savaric. The ranger tries to dodge but is grabbed by the creature, who brings him forward and starts to suck the blood from his body in rapturous frenzy.
Meanwhile, Rilka grabs Savaric to pull him from the cleft in the hill. Savaric desperately tries to disengage from the creature and finally does so, allowing Rilka to yank him from the cleft. The creature steps out of the cave to continue his attack but is slain by the party. Then the other emerges and, despite its great speed, is quickly dispatched.
Mõrvar Ulrich is determined to search out the cleft while Surm wants to go and collect their bounty. While Mõrvar searches, he hears what could be voices from behind the small cave. His curiosity piqued, he rejoins his companions to tell them of his find.
Rilka and Mõrvar find another cave entrance on the far side of the hill. Inside the cave are three passages. The two approach cautiously, listening for voices, but hear nothing. Savaric and Surm stay behind. Mõrvar lights his spear with magic and leads the way down the left-most passage, listening. After a few twists and turns, as well as a descent, the two find a damp, mossy chamber with four mounds situated around a platform on which sits a long box. The box has bronze runes fitted on all sides, writing from a language that neither understand. Mõrvar approaches the box, but does not touch it. Finally, the two decide that this was not the source of the voices and that to leave the box untouched would be best.
Returning to the first chamber, the two now try the middle passage. This passage double-backs on itself several times as it descends into the hill. Eventually the two come upon a grisly sight—a man’s corpse lies in the corridor, his head crushed by a stone. It looks like the body has been stripped and left to rot in the tunnel. Both can hear the faint sound of voices coming from further down the corridor. Fearing more traps, the two exit the tunnel with the body, thinking that it may be that of the soldier Kirlan that had gone hunting for the Beast.
Now Rilka and Mõrvar try the right-most passage. This one is marked by its dampness and sharp descent into a chamber whose floor is mostly covered in water. The clear water of the pool fills the chamber nearly to the walls, leaving a three-foot walkway around the room. Near the water they find piles of dung, indicating that something has been using this as a watering hole. The two back out of the passage and return to the surface.
Mõrvar wants to check the source of the voices while Surm wants to go collect the bounty, as does Savaric. Rilka agrees to stay with Mõrvar while the sorcerer and the “monster hunter” return to Stavan to turn collect the bounty and return the body of Kirlan to Lord Stavan.
Surm and Savaric head into the village to find Lord Stavan. As the sorcerer and the half-orc approach the village, they start to draw a crowd. Whispers of “monster hunter” and “two beasts” can be heard from the group as they approach the village and Lord Stavan’s manor. At the manor house, Surm and Savaric enjoy Lord Stavan’s hospitality as they discuss the bounty and the fact that there were two beasts, not just one. Lord Stavan sees the sense of upping the bounty and pays them in both gold and with a silver torq, a piece of jewelery that the nobleman reassures Surm is not a family heirloom. They also discuss the hill that the other half of the party is exploring. It is known by the locals as Corocal’s Barrow and is said to be haunted. No one approaches the burial place of the ancient king. No threat has ever come from there other than ghost stories told about campfires and taverns. After being fed and bathed, the two make their way back to the hill where their companions await them.
The party decides to camp in front of the cave entrance to see if anything emerges at night. The camp’s light is away from the entry way, giving the half-orcs space to see at night with their darkvision. During Rilka’s shift, a strange-looking creature emerges from the cave. It is a small, reptilian humanoid carrying a spear and a shield. As Rilka stirs the others, it is joined by a companion. The two converse in an unknown tongue. They finally seem to notice the camp and approach on the attack, but both are quickly dispatched by the party.