DM wrote:"We are in luck, it seems that Dark Dragon must have thought he left the city unobserved and is not covering his tracks at all,"Cheezus points at a broken twig on the forest floor where a boot had stepped on it. Cheezus points out in the direction Dark Dragon has traveled and immediately the Sergeant gives a hand signal to his men to spread out and begin to flank their quarry.
Cheezus silently walks through the forest, as if the forest seems to know his every step. Alastair can't help but notice that Cheezus barely leaves any trace of his own passing and that plants and branches seem to move out of his way of their own volition. ~It must be those Warlock boots that Sheyla gave him.~Alastair thinks to himself.
The company tracks Dark Dragon for about five hours deep into the forest, then there is the sound of fighting up ahead and out of view. The men that the Sergeant sent to flank must have found something. You can hear the clang of steel on steel and cursing. Then a scream from one of the men.
"Grab him! Grab him!"the Sergeant orders,"I want him alive!"
Suddenly the company hears a scuffle and the sound of soft bodies thudding against the forest floor.
"We got him!"yells back one of the guards.
"Good work, men! Bring him to me"
As the guards appear from the foliage, they have a masked man tied up and bring him directly to the Sergeant.
"Well it seems the rabbit doesn't get far from the wolves, don't you agree...Dark Dragon?"
As the Sergeant speaks those words he rips off the leather dragon mask from the Wytch Runner.
The man behind the mask is fairly handsome. He has short cropped black hair and his ears are slightly pointed showing a bit of Elven heritage, Alastair recognizes him immediately as being a Half-Elf. The man has a prominent scar under his eye that runs down his cheek.
"What is your name, Githarian?"the Sergeant questions.
"Well, since you have me within your power, I guess I can tell you my name. My name is Lancing Starburrow, but you are wrong in your presumption that I am a Githarian. I am no longer a Githarian as the Dreadlord Kannith looks to enslave the whole country to his dark whims. If the people knew what I knew about the Dreadlord, they would run as far away as possible from Githar."the Half-Elf informs the Sergeant.
"And what truth is that, Dark One?"the Sergeant questions again.
"That the Dreadlord has joined the Cult of the Dead...the followers of Orcus the Demon God."
Alastair quits breathing for a second at the mention of that name, as he knows full well that it was that cult that tried to summon Orcus into the world a thousand years ago. The Shadow Wars gave birth to all types of monstrosities in the world, but finally the Cult of Orcus was vanquished by a small force of warrior magic users from Tabor and Hellsblade, led by their mighty Warlock Master Knight, Asmodian Stormshadow.
"So you are saying that you have turned over a new leaf in life, because Kannith is following some stupid imaginary demon god?"
"No, I am saying I am leaving Githar in fear of my life and soul!"Dark Dragon responds.
Then one of the Sergeant's men throws the Sergeant a backpack. The Sergeant gropes through the pack and searches it thoroughly. In it, he finds a number of bottles with strange liquids and pouches full of unusual herbs. He finds a mortar and pestle.
"I would be careful with that, if I were you, Sergeant,"Dark Dragon warns,"Those are my mixing supplies for special occasions. You may want to wash your hands thoroughly before you partake of your evening meal."
The Sergeant looks at his fingers and wonders if that is just some dark joke coming from the Half-Elf, then the sergeant pulls out a leather padded bag. He unwraps it and inside is a book. The Sergeant looks at it and opens it, but can't read a word. The language is too arcane for the untrained to understand.
"This looks like a wizard's book! Here wizard, you read this!" The Sergeant tosses the book to Alastair.
Alastair the Wizard begins to read as if his mind were a hungry wolf that hadn't been fed in a week. A couple hours go by and Alastair is able to recognize a bit of what is going on.
"Well, it seems that this Ritual Book belonged to Asmodian Stormshadow, the Warlock Knight I told you about earlier. It seems that Asmodian had a number of portals of which he could travel anywhere in the world, and perhaps other planes of existence. He could travel from Hellsblade to Nyördand in a blink of an eye and back again. One of the portals is in Norule Keep, which is an abandoned tower left over from the Shadow Wars. The forest and briar are said to be impassable and deadly!"
"So what is in this Norule Keep?"the Sergeant asks.
Alastair responds,"Well, there is a very important artifact that must be used to enter the portals and unlock magically warded barriers. The item is called simply Asmodian's Key...what it is exactly it does not say, but it is safe to assume it would be a useful tool to a Wytch or a Warlock."Alastair glances over at Sheyla.
"Hmmm, well I fail to see any importance of this to the Kingdom of Fyrsdane, but I will help you get this item and any treasure that we acquire on the way, half must be given as tribute to King Fyrsdane!"
~Hmmpf! Is this guy crazy! Me?! Give up HALF!?! What if I just kill all these guys in their sleep? Nah, better not, I'm still gonna get my cut out of this deal, but I ain't given half to some King that ain't anywhere to be seen!~Cackle thinks to himself.
"The book also talks about a great weapon that was used to vanquish The Cult Of The Dead and some type of prison that keeps some type of foul demonic being trapped...you don't suppose Kannith wants to use the portals and the key to open that prison, do you?"Alastair looks a bit frightened of the thought, for he knows the true dangers of demonic power and what it can do.
"Well, let us get some sleep tonight, let's make camp. Keep Dark Dragon tied up, I don't trust him!"then the sergeant points at Cackle,"This one should be tied up too, in my opinion, but for now my men will keep watch tonight, especially on this thief."
One of the guardsmen has a sword wound across his ribs, and Cheezus tends to it with herbs and prayer. Soon, the wound is closed and the guardsmen feels much better and listens intently on Cheezus' stories about his goddess Melora.
The company soon falls asleep...as well as the night watch (oops!)
All is peaceful and then all of a sudden there is a howl, Maximus is awoken first.
"What the...Who in the Nine Hells is supposed to be keeping watch! Fools!"Maximus looks around and sees many shadows circling the camp. "We have been surrounded by wolves of some sort! Grab your weapons!"
The Sergeant wakes up to the commotion,"Yes..yes,"the Sergeant stutters in fright,"Grab your weapons and prepare for battle!" the Sergeant draws his sword, but doesn't advance. "I will stay here and protect our prisoner."
"You are just using that as an excuse to not have to risk your life and limb fighting whatever it is that is prowling out there,"Dark Dragon insightfully states,"You might be better to undo my bonds and give me my weapons back. The more men the better right now."
"Shutup, Dark Fool! I am not letting you go!"
Meanwhile, as the company begins to set up a perimeter, amidst the growling of wolves the company can hear voices in some gargle-like language.Sheyla recognizes it, as her Father taught her parts of that language in case she ever needed to use it; and Cackle knows that language well, as he had many a crooked dealing with these little vermin. GOBLINS!
At the outer edges of the perimeter, the company sees a number of Goblins with their pet attack wolves. They are ready to pounce on the party.