The battle won, the blood fury cleared, the party caught their breath and Angus was escorted to the storefront inside the trading post, where Tayle began to perform aid on him. Feeling like he was going to pull through, the party headed back out to interrogate the captured bandit. Much to their surprise, upon return to where the bandit was being held, he had bitten down on a rather sophisticated capsule hidden in his tooth. Tayle identified the poison as Blackbark, having heard of this sort of poison being used before. Although the only guilds he knew that could afford to manufacture it were the League of Shadows and Merrick’s old guild, the Red Scales, two of the most dangerous assassin’s guild known. The rest of this day was spent moving and burying the bodies of the slain bandits, in the forests nearby.
The next morning, Saarah had confined Angus to bed rest, and as such was taking over his daily duties. When the opened the gates to the trading post, she was pleasantly surprised to see Aydin, the travelling merchant walking towards the post. As he came upon the trading post, he was greeted warmly by Saarah, as Trifus quickly came to her side.
Trifus: Good morning, I am Sir Trifus Remington. I know that Angus would love to be here to greet you, however… (Trifus motions toward the bloodstained courtyard). The events that transpired here yesterday have left him rather indisposed.
Aydin: (Aydin is noticeably curious about the blood in the courtyard, and becomes more so at the mention of the events that caused the bloodstains) May I see Angus?
Trifus: I don’t that is the best idea, but please enter. Im sure that Lady Saarah will gladly attend to you. (At the mention of “Lady Saarah”, Saarah slightly loses her composure, but quickly gathers herself)
Aydin and the party gathered near the tables to discuss his business at the trading post.
Tayle: What can you tell us about these parts and this Sheriff Duncan we’ve heard tell of?
Aydin: The sheriff and I are on different travel schedules, from my understanding he usually arrives about two weeks prior to myself. As for the area, I don’t know much, just the basic terrain.
Draxxus: Do your travels ever take you further north from Kennet’s?
Aydin: Never alone, it’s far too dangerous for me to go alone. If there were good business and able-bodied hunters and trappers that would accomany me, I could see to adventuring further north.
Barthram: We have a lot of business in these parts, and we could use someone that knows the area, could you be persuaded to travels with some adventurers like us?
Aydin: I would be inclined to agree to such an undertaking, but I would be remissed if I didn’t ask what caused all of these bloodstains.
The party recounts the events of the prior evening in detail for the travelling merchant before pressing on with the conversation.
Tayle: In your travels, have you ever carried Blackbark by chance?
Aydin: I do recall a tracker asking for a large quantity of Blackbark. I believe his name is Breeg Orlivanch, a rather vicious man as far as the trackers up here go.
Barthram: About how long have you been trading this far north?
Aydin: I would say about a year after people began moving here for the resources. This land is rife with natural resources, for those men brave enough to seek it, and who better than to keep this trading post stocked with everything you would need, than a travelling saleman. (A sly smirk dashes across his face)
Tayle: You’ve never seen a golden band with leaves and vines of ivy engraving upon it on any of the people you trade with, have you?
Aydin: At a trader’s meet I attended to the east, I was threatened by one of the other traders. She carried twin axes, and called herself Kessle, her hand was so close to my face, I definitely remember a ring matching that description on her finger. By the way they were packing their gear at the end of the meet; I can’t imagine that they were travelling very far.
Tayle: Well, we are currently on a mission to pacify the Green Belt for the King of Lyonesse. We intend to reclaim these lands in His name, and bring civilization back to these parts. Would you aid us in this venture, Aydin?
Aydin: Bringing civilization back to these parts would most certainly increase the business I do… And getting in the King’s good graces couldn’t either… Yes, I will join you.
The party spent much of the day cleaning the coagulated blood from the central courtyard, so as not to scare away any potential business, or allow for the breeding of illness, and preparing for the journey ahead of them. Much time was spent discussing how best to locate the bandits that have plagued Kennet’s Trading Post, and whether it best to rally them to their cause or just to be rid of them altogether. During the night, while everyone slumbered peacefully, Draxxus and Tayle were not among them.
Draxxus’ dreams were wracked with visions of a great Dragonborn battle against the Tieflings and Tayle was violently awoken as he felt Shera being torn from this world by an unseen force, only to reappear in the wood line, walking back to his tent. The party awakens at dawn, gathers their gear and prepares to set off. Final words are spoken to Angus and Saarah. They are told to keep the gate closed, and never to answer the gate without checking who is out there first, and only for hunters, trappers, and themselves. Tayle proposes that if the trading post should come to any harm, that the compost should be ignited and used as a signal fire to attract the adventuring party. Goodbyes were said, and the party took their leave from Kennet’s Trading Post.
They travelled northeast, constantly searching for tracks and signs of the bandits that had been pillaging the post. Grunthar, the most adept tracker, scouted ahead of the group, relaying back anything he found. Tayle periodically attempted to commune with the primal spirits of the Green Belt. These spirits, however, proved far more reclusive in the presence of people, whereas the spirits he had spoken with before had been much tamer. The party continued on their course for nearly two days, only stopping to make camp in the dead of night, eventually they came across an old ferry crossing.
A small dock lay disheveled and broken on southern shore of the river, nearby was a signpost that read “Ferry 5 Copper”, on the other could be seen the run-down, dilapidated boat house. As they approached the dock, Tayle felt an overpowering surge of hatred. As the feeling abated, a terrible cold wind began to blow—seemingly out of nowhere— and the bloated corpse of a ferryman, punting pole still in hand, arose from the river. His eyes glowed with a yellow-green menace and round his neck was a thick heavy iron chain attached to a crude iron anchor. The undead ferryman dragged the chain and anchor out of the water and towardds the heroes, obviously intent on their harm. Quick on his feet, Aydin placed five copper coins in the pail hanging on the signpost. The ferryman stopped moving towards the party and in a low gravelly, underwater tone, he spoke.
Ferryman: I have no need for your pathetic coins now, Mortal…
Aydin: Well, what might you have need of, Ferryman?
Ferryman: My only desire is the head of the Stag Lord…
Tayle: There isn’t a way you could ferry us across the river, is there?
Ferryman: (Pausing to look at the dock behind him) As you can see, I have no boat…
Aydin: If you let us leave and we come upon the Stag Lord, I will bring you his head personally.
The ferryman nodded in agreement, turned, and walked back to his watery grave, as the sun set behind the trees in the west. The party travelled on for a few more days before reaching a rather morose monument in the distance. It looked as though a man was chained to a massive boulder, but other further inspection through Aydin’s collapsible spy-glass, it was discovered to be the skeletal remains of what looked to be a Tharn chained to the rock. Not wanting to inspect this macabre scene at this very moment, the party sought rest from their travels and made camp, sleeping in shifts to guard the camp from would-be attackers.
In the dead of night, during Grunthar and Caelynn’s guard shift, a rumbling can be heard from the distance, the two of them raise their guard and look around for what is causing the noise, only to be caught off guard as a massive green scaled drake erupts from the ground mere feet from the slumbering adventurers. The drake immediately lets loose with a burst of fiery breath covering almost the entire camp. Grunthar quickly calls on the primal spirits, healing himself, before launching and arrow that snaps on the drake’s scaly hide. Unflinching, the drake leans down to Aydin, who was still in his bedroll, and clamps his jaws down on him, and leaps over the camp attempting to make an escape. Caelynn gathers herself and lunges, slashing her swords at the beast. The first strike hit home, but the second glanced off.
Barthram freed himself of his bedroll, sprang to his feet, and began channeling the power of Lord Tremayne. A dim golden glow overtook his body, as he channeled his Lord’s might into a forceful magic attack. Golden energies burst from his fist and struck the drake, but dissipated on its hide. The drake shrugs off the previous attacks, and returns its attention to the morsel wriggling in its mouth, shaking Aydin’s struggling body back and forth.
Caelynn takes this opportunity to pierce the drake’s hind leg with her rapier. Without moving from his bedroll, Trifus deftly hurls his golden shield at the beast, smashing into its face, drawing the ire of the drake. Tayle seeing the fighting around him leaps to his friends’ aid. Harnessing the natural energies around him to heal Aydin while charging the drake and driving his spear deep into the beast.
Grunthar distances himself from the drake, nocks and releases an arrow, striking and immobilizing his prey. Realizing its meal wasn’t going to be as easily taken as it had imagined, the drake dropped its prey, instead choosing to lash out at its would-be attackers, claws and fangs striking flesh and metal. Caelynn, finally noticing the flames licking her around her armor, rolls to douse them before lunging and sinking her rapier into the beast for a second time. Barthram called forth the words of his lord, placing a curse on the drake, channels his magic to douse the flames on his cloak, before launching a psychic bolt of energy directly at the drake, confusing it and causing it tear at its own flesh.
The drake lashes out in rage again. Narrowly missing Talye with its claws and biting Draxxus. Aydin frees himself from the torn and tangled bedroll, swings his staff out at the drake, strikes home, and yells to his new allies to get into better positions. Draxxus lashes his shield to his back, pulls out his dragonborn battle standard, and unfurls the banner. He unleashes a draconic battle cry; a bright flash of silver erupts from the standard, rejuvenating all of his allies. Trifus wriggles free of his bedroll, gets his footing and surges forward, smashing his shield into the drake. Tayle strikes out from behind Shera, with his spear, simultaneously calling down words of healing.
Grunthar zeroes in on his target, and launches an arrow into the neck of best, immobilizing it again. In its fury, the drake claws out at Draxxus, gravely wounding him, and bites Trifus, denting his armor and causing him to bleed from the wound. As Caelynn’s rapier pierces the beast scaly hide for a third time, she call out words of encouragement to Draxxus, bolstering his resolve. Barthram creates a burning dark sigil in the air before him, and attempts to sear it into the skin of the drake but is unable to penetrate its scales with his magical prowess. The drake roars in fury, shuddering the very ground beneath him, then barely misses Draxxus in an attempt to tear him apart with its claws, but succeeding in an attempt to savagely rend flesh from Trifus with its gnashing teeth, who retaliates with a punishing blow on his axe to the side of the drakes head.
Aydin steps back from the rampaging beast, and with a cocky wink, fires a bolt of lightning into its chest. On the brink of exhaustion, Draxxus let out a bellowing roar, rallying and spurring on his allies. Spinning his broadsword overhead, Draxxus brought the blade down swiftly into the hide of the drake, sending it careening into Trifus and Caelynn, allowing them to attack the beast in the confusion. Lightning crackled across Caelynn’s rapier as she buried it into the drake, while Trifus brought his axe down in a massive overhead arc, leaving a wound the height of its body, gushing blood. Spurred by their attacks, Draxxus issues command to reposition for another attack, taunts the beast to move toward him, and allows his allies to punish the drake with a series of charging attacks. Trifus tactically retreats, deftly outmaneuvering a bite from the drake, only to turn around and charge the beast, slamming his axe into it with such ferocity as to send the drake staggering.
The drake loses balance and falls to the ground, allowing Trifus an advantage, which he rightfully takes; bringing his axe down on his foe a second time, and revitalizing his bloodied frame. Tayle attempts to drain some of the drake’s health into one of his allies, but is unable to do so in the heat of the battle, and instead chooses to call down more words of healing to aid Trifus.
Grunthar, seeking aid from the primal spirits, summoned a masking mist, covering Draxxus and Trifus, then attempted to fire two arrows at the drake, which narrowly missed his target. The drake, still bleeding from Trifus’ attack, roars in a fury unleashing fiery breath down on the party.
The dragonborn standard glows a silver hue again, abating the pain from the engulfing flames. The drake then lashes out attempting to bite Trifus and gouge Draxxus with its claws, but in its rage completely misses both targets. Caelynn, seizes the opportunity and pierces the drake with her blade again, causing another bleeding wound, while Barthram attempted to channel the darkness around him to envelope the drake, but was unable to coalesce enough shadows to prove useful. Feeling its demise was neigh, the drake leapt over its attackers, and began to flee at great speeds into the surrounding wilderness, at a speed that would be nearly impossible to follow. The party gathered their belongings, healed their wounds, and prepared to venture out to find the bandits again.