The danger to our adventurers begins in earnest – No longer just worried about his lost gold, Pierre is suddenly faced with four hostile huntsmen. The men brandish they’re blades and bear down upon Pierre, intent on making sure he’s unable to leave the area.
Fortunately for Pierre, his prowess in magic and music allows him to make the first move – a somber melody reverberates relentlessly from his lute and pierces the unconscious of the closest huntsman. The unnatural sound dredges up nightmare, the shapeless horror personal and indescribable; the man immediately turns and runs, as hard and fast as he can, away from the primitive and raw fear that his conscious mind fails to suppress. As he fixates on the terror, he barely notices his suffocation as his diaphragm no longer works as it should – his mental capacity too full to operate his body, too occupied with its own self-perpetuating dread…
When the huntsman’s wailing reaches the ears of the rest of our group, they move in Pierre’s direction, expecting the worst. Damon bursts from the treeline, shield and handaxe ready; Mella moves in swiftly, her quarterstaff in one hand, with her other fist firm and steady; Whitacre hangs back and begins tracing runes into the air in front of him; and Naeris circles around, arcing to the rear of the remaining hostiles.
Pierre strums another tune, this one much less dreadful than the first. Quite the opposite, actually – a playful tune flows out, easily into the background, then returning and enveloping one of the other huntsman pleasantly. It mutes his anger, relaxes his muscles, and replaces any memory of Pierre with that of a harmless acquaintance. The man’s eyes clouded ever so slightly, and his posture relaxed to a simple standing position, seemingly oblivious to the mortal situation right before him.
Damon’s handaxe sung through the air as flesh made way for its edge; Mella’s deceptive muscle found its target easily, jarring chins, collarbones, and sternums into submission; Whitacre seared flesh and bone with streaks of practiced flame, and clouded yet another huntsman’s feeble mind into pacifism; Naeris’ shortsword flashed quickly with adept speed, piercing flesh and releasing life.
The adventurers neutralized the aggressors quickly, and used their canoes to cross the river. Around a gentle bend, they entered a cave; its location gleaned from the interrogation of the now dead patrols. The cave mouth was wide, and the path in the cave sloped gently downwards, curving left and right, narrowing and widening, until finally it opened into a large cavern. Torches adorned the cave wall at regular intervals, signalling that it was under regular use…
Damon and Mella took point, leading the way to the far end of the cavern where the walls closed in a bit, but left a sort of path deeper into the underground. Pierre, Naeris, and Whitacre brought up the rear, making sure that nothing sneaked up from the rear.
Reaching the far wall of that first cavern, Pierre felt a hint of danger in the air using the same presence of mind that kept him alive during the earlier encounter. He uncorked a flask of highly combustible lamp oil, pouring it along the floor from one wall to the other nearby wall. It was to be a trap that could be used if they were forced to flee back to this area, and would help their escape. ..
The trap ended up being used practically immediately. As the adventurers walked a bit further, towards another cavernous section, they were spotted by a group of three thugs and two robed men. The robed men barked orders, commanding the other three to eliminate the intruders. Damon and the rest retreated a bit, until they were just behind the line of oil. As soon as the first and second thugs set foot on top of the line of oil, Pierre tossed a torch at their feet, igniting the ground and sending 7 foot flames into the air around their bodies.
The two men leapt backward, screaming, and struggling to pat out their torched clothing. Damon intended them no time to recover, leaping through the flames, his axe and shield ready for the sudden appearance of targets. Mella followed suit, the flames ineffectively licking her as she flashed through. Naeris, Pierre, and Whitacre stayed behind, delivering piercing arrows, crushing song, and bolts of flame, respectively. It wasn’t long until the flames died down, and the lives of the enemy with it.
Our group moved on, removing a pair of patrolling guards with little effort, but Damon and Whitacre fell into a snake-filled pit trap. It took a good bit of flailing, and some assistive arrows, but the critters were rendered harmless, and Damon and Whitacre climbed out with some help.
The party came upon another group of bandits and robed figures, but they’re slightly more interesting – the robed figures, now clearly understood to be their employer, wielded staves. As battle ensued and blood escaped flesh, the robed men traced something into the air in front of them and touched the wounds of their allies – the bleeding then stopped, and the bandits stood straighter and fought with renewed vigor. The magic adepts supported from behind with intense balls of fire directed with killing intent.
Despite the challenge from their foes, our party managed fell all of them, and grappled and restrained the final surviving adept. Their plan was to interrogate, and learn about the possible dangers that lie in wait for them…