The adventure continues, and this episode sees our heroes making their way valiantly northwards on the long road to Everlund. By the time they reach The Rusty Mace they find it has been put to the torch. Unintimidated by flames, Vachedai runs into to help those poor souls trapped inside. Putting shoulder to the front door of the inn he finds it is weak and gives way beneath him – he lands hard on his side only to find himself surrounded by more horrible denizens of the grave!
The trio spring into action and make quick work of the vile creatures who were trapped in the burning inn. No sooner have they put the undead out of their misery but they find they’re surrounded by the 9th Regiment spearmen and their leader, Captain William Clavin. Capt Clavin addresses them, stating they’re under arrest for putting the Rusty Mace to the torch, then putting all who tried to escape the flames to the blade! FRAMED! The heroes are stripped of their arms and locked into a prison wagon where they find a fourth prisoner, a moustachioed man who introduces himself as Horatio.
The carriage is soon pulled underway and during the journey Horatio tells them he is a merchant of Everlund, and that dark times are upon the Silver Marches. Captain Clavin and his 9th Regiment were apparently considered good men, heroes of the city until they were sent north to assist with the siege of Silverymoon. When they returned, only two short months later, they brought with them Eroth a scholar unknown to the city. From that point on, the 9th Regt. have been little more than bullies – that combined with the legions of undead sweeping across the region have proved to be a burden upon the region.
When the cart eventually stops, our heroes find that they’re left locked up, but can see a small temporary camp has been made. The men of the 9th Regt make fires and settle down to their fires and their cups. Through clever use of Thaumaturgy, Vachedai causes a ruckus in the camp, distracting the guards whilst Bryn picks the lock and frees them from the cage. No sooner are they free than Bryn and Torinn sneak to steal back their confiscated arms. The four of them then flee into the woods before their absence is discovered.
It’s hard night of travel through the dense northern forests of The Silver Marches before the trio and Horatio are able to stop for a rest. They agree to take turns on watch as the others sleep, and so begins their first night’s sleep in days. It is Bryn’s watch and the night has been quiet, no sign of pursuit from Clavin’s men. The night wears on, and the stars track their paths, when Bryn sees movement in the tree line of the clearing in which they’ve settled. He goes to investigate and within a moment a great death dog is upon him, giant paws pinning him to the ground, two snarling and gnashing heads fighting to get to taste his gnome flesh first.
It is not long before Bryn is bitten, great teeth pierce the flesh of his shoulder and the searing hot pain of poison burns in him. He thrashes with short sword and keeps the beast at bay just long enough for Vachedai and Torinn to come to his aid, the sound of the fight waking them up. Torinn hurls fireball after fireball at the creature, searing it’s flesh with her arcane flame. Vachedai for his part wrestles with the great creature, grappling with it and lifting it’s front off of Bryn who, despite his wounds, sets about the creature with a now free sword arm. Vachedai wrestles the creature, finding himself in the clutches of it’s jaws but too strong even for it’s bite to pierce. Before long, the beast is done… it’s sides torn open, it’s four eyes lifeless as it lays in a pool of it’s own gore upon the ground. Celebrations would be in order, but all eyes are upon Bryn who after the bite, and the exertions of the battle, promptly vomits black bile and passes out.
Horatio tells of a shrine to the Goddess Eldath which is only a day and half’s march away – with Bryn over Vachedai’s shoulder they set out with time against them in their race for Bryn’s life.
Hard travel and sick companions make for melancholic adventurers, but upon reaching the shrine of Eldath they find themselves in a verdant grassy avenue cut into the forest, at it’s terminus a small cave cut into the hill side – inside it glitters gold. The air is full of beautiful song, the source apparently a beautiful elf maiden sat atop the cave’s mouth – perhaps Eldath herself?
As they approach, the song turns maudlin, and Horatio is soon bewitched by it’s tune. He wonders onwards aimlessly despite the reticence shown by his comrades. Before he has taken too many steps, great wings erupt from the back of the elf maiden, her face turning sinister and cruel as she leaps from her perch and swoops down to attack Horatio. Harpy!
The party spring into action once more, with Vachedai’s sword arching through the air to slash at the Harpy. Within minutes the creature is destroyed and Bryn brought into the shelter of Eldath’s shrine. The cooling water of the spring in the shrine soon restores him, and all poison is expunged from his body. Eldath appears in voice only and welcomes them to stay with her a short while to rest. Whilst there, she blesses their journey and bestows gifts upon her, so that the world might know that she favours them above others. A long sword is bestowed upon Vachedai, and an enchanted cloak is given to Torinn.
Soon enough, the party are under way again, their destination Horatio’s camp. The forest seems to almost make way for them as they travel, Eldath’s blessing upon them. When soon enough they arrive, it’s to a grander camp than that of a simple merchant…. armed men step aside for Horatio, and he is welcomed by many soldiers and folk of Everlund. A grizzled of Veteran of a man steps out to great him….
“My Lord Prince… we had thought you were not going to return…"