After resting for the night we go back to the other staircase to check it out. It curves up and around onto a landing and a room that opens up and out. The exit we come up to is flanked on both sides by two stone statues, much like the shattered ones below the trolls broke through. The room is filled with deflected light. The room is not large with a ceiling of only about 12 feet. There are 4 doors, one at each corner of the room.
We enter the room, one of the far doors is cracked, letting light into the room. The door is slightly off its hinges and easy to pull open. Opening the door shows us to be in the base of a tower with stairs up. This tower is one of four, only three are still intact, that form a fortified keep. We see a cliff and a road down below, we appear to have come out on the far side of the mountains.
We make our way to the road. Traveling along the road we pass several towns off in the distance. These towns seem serene and peaceful, strife has not reached this far, it looks like we’ve come in time. We are looking to find the order of the star and the guild, we continue on to see what we can see and find what we are able.
The sun is warm on our backs and the open sky above is a huge relief after the oppressiveness inside the mountains. We reach a town (Traun) by early afternoon its gates are open, welcoming and seemingly naïve to the danger we bring tidings of. The inn smells of fresh stew, we are welcomed in taking our sup and making arrangements for this night and the next.
News is there is war coming, word was brought by riders about a week back. They are making some preparations, though we have seen little evidence of this. Daily life does not seem to have disrupted yet.
We spend the night in comfort, sleeping soundly with little worry of dragons and monsters. It is a blissful evening. The next day Coy and Cilka go to sell some of our loot. Dom and Jensen go looking for churches.
We decide to head on toward Passau, we stop partway there and camp for the night. The temperature is dropping fast, we decide there is not much risk in having a fire to stave off the cold. Coy treats us to a hot breakfast when we wake, I think to make up for convincing us to leave late enough in the day that we were forced to camp outdoors overnight in the blistering cold.
Passau is at the junction of three rivers, which segregate the richer parts of town and the keep. We take the ferry into the richer section. Cilka makes her way to her guild and we secure accommodations. We go SHOPPING! New horses, armor and weapons abound! It will take 2 weeks for my new armor to be ready. Oh, and we get some clothes and stuff.
We go to meet Master Albertus, high up in the guild that Cilka is a member of. We are offered a pleasant repast of wine and cheese. Coy is on guard as madness abounds within these walls. Albertus inquires about the dragons and magic we’ve encountered. He seems genuinely interested in our adventures and shows proper sympathy for the rough times.
He speaks of dragons, that they represent some of the largest manifestations of magic known. He believes this may be a sign of the gods returning. Coy and he speak of the nature of the gods leaving and what it all might mean. There are items in Achau that should not fall into enemy hands. We assume Achau is under siege at this point. While we discuss these weighty matters, Gertie asks Master Albertus if he is familiar with The Order of the Star. They are not active in this area, but he has heard they are active in the east (?) and are recruiting to help against the enemies of man.
We decide to go rescue the books from besieged Achau. Master Albertus has a student of his that he would like us to bring along. Coy and he know each other? They are of the same race, he is tall and thin, with ink stained fingers and does not appear overly hearty or tough. Coy does not seem to like him, Keth (as he says he will permit us to address him) is more haughty than even we have gotten used to having been around Coy for so long. This is proving… Interesting.
Coy enlightens us that his own name is actually Tursidhion Glandur, that Coy is the name his people go by. Keth is of the Drave. Master Albertus offers us a few items to help us on our quest.
Potion- Cat’s Grace and 1 Invisibility (both 6th level)
Healing- Cure Moderate (2d8+4)
We party that night- probably too hard. Though Coy helps a rude young noble apologize for jostling my elbow and spilling my drink! I wake after a restless night of intense dreams. Kuni helps me with my headache and we leave to gather up the new horses.
We stop at a small town along the way to Achau, they are nervous and have been seeing people fleeing. As we approach the hills around Achau we use caution so we don’t surprise a scouting party of the army. Cilka sees manticore flying over the hills around Achua a few hundred yards away. We decide to take cover from them as we are pretty sure they are wise enough to report back our location. They circle a little ways off, then head away. We do not know if we were seen.
Once we reach the hills around Achau, we cut off the road and into the woods. Several of us hear stomping off deeper in the woods to the north. We remain hidden through the night.
At the end of last watch, I wake to Coy’s urgent warning, we are found. Gertie and I have enough time to properly arm ourselves and I immediately drop to my knee holding the rod in supplication. We run toward the flying monsters while their spines fly thick through the air. Keth is murmuring and waiving his hands, I can see why Coy keeps speaking of madness. A huge glowing batlike creature appears out of nowhere and streaks toward the manticores. I see a hail of arrows and crackling streaks fly sizzling through the air, they hammer into the manticore I am facing- dropping it like a stone.
The other one screeches in anger and strafes Cilka, the source of the attack that felled it’s brethren. She falls to the ground. The bat swerves and smashes into the flying manticore, ripping into it, they flap around ungainly but manage to stay in the air, at least until Jensen’s arrows slam into it finishing it off.
Coy and I hear more coming through the woods, we move up and brace ourselves for their appearance. Coy is becoming his alternate self, this time he seems to struggle against it even more than normal. Two huge beasts come out of the woods toward us, they are massive, matching Coy eye to eye(s?), they are abominations, each having an extra head. Several smaller grunts move up, they are heavily armed and menacing. We are vulnerable here until the rest of our group can move up and join us. The two headed monsters are tough, their blows heavy. They seem almost angered by Coy’s increase in size, they smash at him almost ignoring me, small and seemingly unimpressive at his side. I once again am in my element, surrounded by enough of the enemy to be truly effective as long as my sword swings true. Providence or Peoni smiles upon me and lends strength to my arm. I cleave through many of their number. Unfortunately I open a perfect path for a mystical attack from the back of their lines. An acrid smell permeates the air, all I hear is a crackling sounds as I feel a hot piercing punch smash into my chest. I stagger back, pausing to clear my head. I hear Cilka cry out behind us as the same electric bolt hits her too.
Arrows are flying, the bat Keth called forth streaks toward the source of the lightning. An arrow punches through my armor, I feel it but pay it no mind as I struggle to bring my sword back up recovering from the momentary weakness caused by the lightening. Cilka must be OK, actually she must be pretty angry, I see a flaming ball of fire come flying through our lines, smashing into the caster that threw the lightning at us and the unlucky few next to him. They all go down. Never piss off someone that can throw fire around as casually as tossing out the wash water.
Coy goes down, there are only a few left, we just have to off the last remaining, then I can help him. Out of nowhere I feel claws dig into my back. I have no idea where this pointy little red cretin came from that is now latched onto me. I can only watch as the two headed beast turns and wails on Dom. Dom is hit hard, as he goes down he lashes out, stabbing the monster in the foot, pinning him in place. Gertie steps in to finish him off. Suddenly it’s over, they are all laying prostrate at our feet, dead or dying while we scramble to heal our fallen.