An Unwelcome Reclamation

The gas that just passed...

After regrouping, the Party followed the gas cloud into the forest until they lost sight of it around the edge of a ravine. Eogond scouted ahead and found a small cave entrance, the Party grouped up and headed down the dark tunnel. Zoltan chanted and a brilliant light appeared in the tunnel, much to Quinn’s disappointment as he was quite stealthily sneaking down the tunnel towards an old wooden door at the end until he was bathed in light.

With subtlety out the door, Velkanaar and Balasar clanked towards the door where they could hear human voices from the other side. The dialect was similar to the one they had heard from the tribesmen outside, but after listening a bit closer, they could tell it was indeed a different language altogether. Balasar was growing impatient, and he shouted something about smashing down the door. The tribesmen on the other side heard this and sprung a trap on the adventurers after reinforcing the door. The Party eventually broke through the door into a small room with a door at each end and fought with the four men guarding the entrance. A badly beaten survivor escaped down the hallway and burst into another room before shouting an alarm.

Quickly following the escaped guard, our Party stumbled upon a group of eight men, and their wounded foe, in a room that was obviously the sleeping area for these men. The narrow doorway made the fight difficult, as only one adventurer was able to enter the room at a time, and they were often blocked by the groggy men wielding a variety of clubs and pans from nearby fire pits. The Party backed out of the room and let the tribesmen come to them, easily picking them off one at a time.

After inspecting the room and resting for a few minutes, the Party turned their attention to a large door at the end of the hall. After Quinn made quick work of the lock, they saw a small hallway with another much older door just a few feet ahead. The second door was unlocked and the party entered a very large room with ornately carved floors and walls, spotted with torches. Upon entering the room, all but Zoltan were taken back by the horrible smell of rotting flesh. At the back corner, the room was no longer worked masonry, but the rough stone of an old cave. In the center was an altar surrounded by four dim torches. On the altar lay the old man from outside. As the group slowly advanced on the man, he appeared to once again vanish in a cloud of gas that disappeared into the dimly lit room.

Velkanaar advanced towards the altar as the door behind the Party suddenly slams shut and the sound of a lock being turned can be heard as well. The floor is covered with a thick goo that appears to be the remains of countless humans.

As the Party inspects the altar, they are attacked by an ogre-like creature wielding a morning-star and occasionally blasting the adventurers with a powerful breath weapon that renders its victims unconscious. A battle rages and the Party narrowly escapes the same fate held by those covering the ground. The demon tries to escape with its last breath but is cut down before it can make it towards the door.

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A Buoy Named Sue

The Tavern…

At the Hart and Tail Tavern, spirits were high and tempers were hot when a citizen of Gayle accused local guards of negligence that lead to the death of his young daughter Sue, who’s remains were found floating in a ditch near the northeast end of Gayle. A fight began between guards and the citizen before it was broken up by a several patrons at the bar. Balasar and Velkanaar, along with their two companions attempted to stop the fight using more-or-less diplomatic means while Eogond managed to distract the most violent looking guard with a swift trip and a pint of ale. Quinn procured a new purse and nearly gained a free ride on the back of a distracted guard, but the combination of the ale he had enjoyed and a slippery table robbed him of this and he simply made a mess. Zoltan enjoyed a light snack of various foods levitated from neighboring tables while everyone was distracted. Eventually, Velkanaar was able to calm the citizen by lifting him clear off the ground and Balasar convinced him to carry his daughter’s remains home so that they may all give her a proper burial, and then search for whatever evil is responsible. The man agrees and the guards eventually go back to their drinks.

The Citizen’s home…

The man leads our adventurers to his home in the northeast end of Gayle where he invites them to stay for the night to repay them for their kindness. Everyone agrees that it would be best to get a good night’s rest before heading out at dawn for the burial and to search for the killer.

The Funeral…

At dawn, the party follows the grieving father to his family’s burial plot deep in the forest near Gayle. On the way he points out the path that he believes will lead our adventurers to some clues about what is happening. He tells how he has seen several of the scouts that have disappeared heading down this path just before they go missing. He then leads them took a small clearing with several tombstones, some that appear to be hundreds of years old. After the ceremony, Balasar, Eogond, Quinn, Velkanaar, and Zoltan leave the man to mourn under the protection of the two young crusaders as they trek down the eastern path that could lead to some answers.

In Search of Answers…

After traveling for an hour or so, the party sees a large clearing ahead with four humanoid figures standing in the middle. Quinn sneaks through the high grass to get a better view while the rest wait just out of site behind the tree line. Eogond decided to move away from the group and quietly made his way to the Southern end of the clearing. While waiting for news from their halfling friend, both Balasar and Velkanaar sensed something and kept an uneasy eye on woods behind them while Zoltan watched the figures in the clearing. Quinn surprised everyone when he was able to crawl just a few feet from the figures, identifying them as four humans, one robed and carrying a small staff with charms and such dangling from it, that were obviously not from Gayle as they were speaking a strange dialect of common that he was unable to understand. He also noticed what they were standing around; an old man, beaten and barely alive. One of the tribal humans picked up the old man from the ground and held him as the robed figure inspected him like he was buying livestock. Eogond saw this and immediately drew his bow and stepped out in to the clearing shouting to the men to release the old man. The men readied their weapons and stood their ground as the robed figure waved his hand at the Ranger, trying to get him to leave without attempting to speak. Neither backed down and Zoltan was growing uneasy, preparing to make the tribal men regret any aggressive action towards his new friend. Quinn also prepared to make an attack on the tribesman that was guarding the old man. As the tribesmen slowly advanced on Eogond, a hidden strike from a bandit near the forests’ edge hits Zoltan, and Balasar turns to rush to his aid as Velkanaar lets out a fierce shout that nearly stops the tribesmen in their tracks. Zoltan manages to teleport into the clearing, away from immediate danger, and conjures a Freezing Cloud, surrounding two tribesmen and the robed figure in an icy mist. Eventually the Party was able to overcome the tribesmen and the only survivors fled into the woods. As they approached the spot where the old man had be laying, they saw no trace of him, only a thick cloud of mist moving towards the forest edge. Quinn hurries after, but stops to wait for the others to catch up when the mist disappears through the forest and into a ravine.

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The Hart and Tail Tavern

Although the weather is quite pleasant out, it’s a quiet night in Gayle as most of the workers have either gone home or are gathered inside one of the local pubs and taverns that line the docks. The walkways and alleys are empty except for the occasional Guard on patrol or drunk looking for a place to sleep, greeting any passerby with an uneasy glance or unintelligible mild heckling.

Inside the Hart and Tail Tavern, the mood is noticeably lighter. A varied mix races have managed to find comfort here, escaping the troubles of outside by drinking, gambling, and drinking more. The most common drink is Vanco, a cloudy white liquid that smells and taste like month old leftovers from the fish monger.

At a large table in the center of the room, several local Men and Dwarves make jokes and drink while playing a game that either has very loose rules, or those playing the game are making them up as they go along. It appears the only things required are a few coins, some cards, a freshly skinned rabbit fur, and as much Vanco as you can get your hands on. Occasional shouts of “Brekenburn!” are heard from the table as they all drink together.

There are smaller groups scattered at various tables throughout the tavern. They mostly drink and talk amongst themselves. Several of the patrons appear to be local guards choosing to spend their shifts indoors where the only trouble is an occasional bar fight that is easily resolved with a bottle or two of Vanco.

At one sits a handful of young Elves, two young Men, and very drunk Halfling. Despite his state, the Halfing appears to be out-charming the other lads at the table and winning the affection of the fair-haired Elven maids sitting nearby.

As a robed figure walks by, a few at the table wrinkle their noses and the halfling jumps up on the bench and grabs his nose and throat, falling to the ground as he gasps for air. He then rolls on the floor laughing as the others try to stifle their amusement. The robed figure glances back over his shoulder with a pale almost sickly visage and the table quickly straightens up as the halfling manages to find a new seat between the Elven maids and orders a round for his two new lovely friends. The robed figure walks to a corner table, sits down hard with a sigh and rest his staff beside him. His robes are worn and look as though they are hundreds of years old. Long, stringy black hair hangs in his face as he raises his hand slightly and calls over a barmaid to bring him some dinner.

At the end of the bar, surrounded by a cloud of smoke, sits a hooded figure that could easily be mistaken for a statue if he didn’t move to re-pack his pipe or occasionally toss a coin to the bartender after having his drink refilled.

At another table, towards the back, a few heavily armored crusaders sit and eat. Made up of a mixture of Men and a couple Dragonborn, their armor and banners clearly display the silhouetted head of a dragon on a field of blue. Crusaders, like all travelers, are welcome in Gayle but only a fool could miss the feeling of uneasiness they brought with them. Not helping was the sometimes savage appearance of Dragonborn and recent killings outside the walls. The crusaders are aware of this and appear to be keeping to themselves to avoid any trouble. Gayle has seen more and more of their kind pass through recently, though no one has been able to get a straight answer as to where they are headed.

Just as the patrons had begun to forget about the outside world, the outside world came bursting through the tavern door in the form of a rugged looking middle-aged man with a blank look in his eyes and large burlap sack over his shoulder, soaked through with water and a dark, thick stain growing from the bottom…

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