Chapter 04: Seeking & Finding

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Session Number: 93
Date: Sunday 10 April 2011
Venue: Fergus'
PCs & Players:

Arrian Rog1/Clr8 (Fergus) (kills: none)
Feren Rog9 (Yeran) (kills: none)
Rowaine Pal9 (Craig) (kills: none)
Tomen Rgr9 (Ash) (kills: none)
Troll Wiz9 (Densial) (kills: none)

XP Awarded: TBC

Just before Rowaine leaves the prayerful group, she asks about the local geography to the north. Zorn is the nearest settlement of any notable size, nearly a full day's walk north from Carthenage. Beyond Zorn to the north is a larger town called Piltover, possibly the second town the prince named as having been attacked, although the group assembled have not heard such news. North-by-northwest of Piltover is a large town called Bilgewater. Rowaine and Arrian walk back to the others who have been keeping a respectful distance.

"We've gotta do something about this," Arrian says.

"You're right," Rowaine agrees. "We need to be these people's prayers. Troll?"


"Bad guys."

"Where?" Troll brandishes his fingers like they were loaded. Which they are.

"We're headed to Zorn, not Haul," Rowaine says, "as long as that accords with you, Feren..?"

"I'm more interested in finding this rampant humanoid thing than finding the hammer," Feren replies. "Besides, if we stop it, my stock with the prince will only go up."

"Could we afford a little research time first?" Arrian asks. "It sounds like this might be the last reasonable-sized city for some time."

"A couple of hours, then," Rowaine says. They all head to the library.

Inside, Troll locates a local historian while Arrian and Rowaine ask for any material dealing with large metal humanoids. The historian has never heard of any accounts or legends concerning large metallic foes of any shape, mentioning that Carthenage is a pretty peaceful place. He knows only of one tale of a giant; one that many years ago used to occasionally come down from its mountain home and make off with a few livestock. It never troubled the populace. Troll asks whether there were stories of the giant or any other large humanoid wearing metal armour. He has come across no such accounts.

Rowaine and Arrian trawl through bestiaries. Most deal with local, mundane wildlife - nothing larger than a bear. The assistant says that Carthenage doesn't see many monsters, but does find an old book concerning golems. Most of the book's pages are missing or illegible, however Arrian and Rowaine do learn something of the creatures. Golems are typically large humanoid-shaped constructs fashioned by mages and artificers from a base material: flesh, clay, stone or iron. The creator summons and confines a spirit from the elemental plane of earth within the construct, giving it the semblance of life and intelligence. They are said to be incredibly strong.

After three quarters of an hour of research, the party leave Carthenage on the road to the north. The weather is sunny with light, high cloud. Once beyond the city, Rowaine calls Harley and Troll conjures two Floating Discs. The group climb aboard and follow the road to Zorn at great pace.

The road meanders through grasslands and fields dotted with small copses of trees. As midday approaches they spot two men on the road ahead, hurriedly readying pikes. Smoke billows up behind them. Rowaine reins in Harley, stopping sixty yards away and dismounting. She slowly walks forward with her mount. She and the others note the uniform of Ashhope guards.

"Halt!" one of the guards says, brandishing his pike. "No one is allowed to enter Zorn."

"Why?" Rowaine asks. "It is our intention to help Zorn, and other places beyond it. Why would you stop us?"

"We cannot allow members of the public to enter Zorn."

"Why not?" Troll asks.

"I am not at liberty to discuss. If your destination is to the north, then turn around, return to the crossroads a mile back and circle around to the west."

"You may not realise this," Rowaine says, "but Prince Dimaan has used us for investigative purposes. Particularly this gentleman by my side," she says, indicating Feren. "Would you care to see some documentation?"

"It wouldn't matter," the guard says. "I'm under strict orders not to allow anyone to enter."

"Orders from whom?" Arrian asks.

"I'm not at liberty to say, sir. If there is such a thing as liberty here."

"I wish to see your commanding officer," Arrian says. "I understand you cannot make the decision to allow us to enter. Show me to someone who can."

"If you want to speak to my commanding officer, I'll need to see some documentation."

Boom! Troll unleashes a Fiery Burst straight up. The guards take a step back.

"I'm a priest of Corellon Larethian," Arrian says. "It's pretty plain who I am," adds Rowaine, her emblazoned armour gleaming and her patience wearing thin. "Besides, if you wanted to stop me, I cannot see how you would." The two men look very scared but maintain their position. "We will not allow anyone to enter without order from the CO."

"Very well," says Rowaine. "Would you permit us to fly overhead?"

"How would you do that?" one of the guards asks. Harley unfurls her leathery wings, extending them to their full thirty foot wingspan.

"Get your commanding officer," Arrian says.

"Our credentials should be plain, young man!" Rowaine barks. Troll surreptitiously uses one of his wands to Charm one of the guards while they are distracted by Rowaine's stone flyer. A glance passes between them, then the charmed guard pulls the other aside to talk. The other guard limps slightly. A minute later they return.

"Who are you?" the charmed guard says to Troll, who gives his name.

"Well, I can't let you in without a proper reason."

"I don't think you can let him in under any reason," Arrian says, "but your commanding officer can."

"Shush," Troll says quietly to Arrian. "He was about to!" He turns back to the guard.

"This is a priest, a healer of Corellon Larethian. This is a paladin, a healer of Moradin. This is our tracker, to track the beast that attacked. This is our envoy of Prince Dimaan. He has been told to investigate certain things that we are not at liberty to discuss with you unfortunately, things that have occurred recently. I am an advisor only. We are here to heal, and track the beast who came through. And yes we know about the large metal man. Here's the writ showing that Dimaan has given Feren here the rights to investigate things that we are not at liberty to discuss… You see his seal?" Troll shows the guard the writ, emphasising the seal and deemphasising the written words. "We are here to heal, track and investigate."

The guards retire to talk some more. It is plain that the charmed guard is swayed by Troll's words, but the other guard still appears very scared.

Troll raises his voice to be heard. "How about one of you guard us and the other one goes and gets your commanding officer. Who wants to stay here by thenselves and guard us?" The guards back up even further.

"We could just wait, you could both go if you like," Troll says, nearly shouting. "I don't really mind. Actually, I'll guard these guy, you go get your commanding officer." He points his fingers at Rowaine and Arrian. "Don't worry, they're not going anywhere. I'll make sure these guys don't enter." The guards look at Troll, fingers cocked, then continue talking. Evntually they return.

"So you are a healer?" the charmed guard asks Arrian. "Bill here twisted his ankle… could you heal that?"

"Of course," Arrian says. "May I take a look?"

Bill sits down and extends his ankle, still grasping his pike. Arrian carefully moves it aside and inspects the ankle. It looks to have suffered a mild sprain. Arrian casts a minor healing orison.

"It feels better," Bill says. He is a healer!" He stands up and walks about, more freely than before.

"OK Bill," says the charmed guard. "There's your proof. Now go get the CO." He then turns to the party, eyeing Rowaine and her stone flyer. "But can I trust you guys not to try to enter Zorn while he is not here?"

"Let me put it this way," Troll says. "The number of you here doesn't really matter." The guards hesitate. "Go!" Troll says, shooing Bill away. "Go go go!" Bill walks briskly away, leaving the charmed guard.

"So…" Troll says. "Do you play cards?"

"How long will Bill be?" Rowaine asks.

"Fifteen minutes?" the guard replies. "Half an hour max." Rowaine looks impatient.

Sure enough, twenty minutes later Bill returns with another man wearing more elaborate armour. "Who are you and what are you doing here?"

"Arrian, cleric of Corellon Larethian."

"Lady Rowaine Kharag of the Silver Hand, paladin of Moradin."

"Feren, envoy of Prince Dimaan."

"Troll, peasant and advisor." Bill turns to his commanding officer. "He ain't no peasant, sir," he whispers.

"Finish answering the question," the CO says. "What are you doing here?"

"Wanting to help," Rowaine says.

"There's no one here for you to heal, paladin of Moradin. This is an ongoing investigation."

"If you'll let me finish, sir," says Rowaine, "that is what we want to do - investigate. Find out what happened and make sure this doesn't happen anywhere else. What have you got so far?"

"If you want to make sure this doesn't happen anywhere else, let a local guard know if you see a metal man."

"I think it would be better if the guard let us know. It's not here any more?"

"No it's moved on." Rowaine turns away and rummages in her haversack.

"We're a group who can move quickly," Arrian says. "We are good at following things and good at putting things down that need putting down."

"…and we've met large metal monsters before," Troll adds.

"If you're serious about dealing with with this threat, sir," says Arrian, "we're your best bet." Rowaine pulls out a whetstone and polishes out nonexistent burrs on her waraxe's blade. The rhythm accentuates Arrian's words.

"I understand you want to preserve order and do things the right way, sir, but if this thing destroys another village and you have refused our help, how do you think that will go for you?"

"Sir," Rowaine adds, still sharpening her axe, "you are wasting time and lives are at stake!"

"I'd rather not let anyone in here," the officer says, indecision in his voice. "It's bad. If you really want to help, then go to Piltover. It headed there next; I've had reports of another massacre."

"Piltover is taken?" Rowaine asks.


"You have personnel there?" Rowaine asks. "Are they going to give us the same trouble?"

"You won't have much need to visit either village," the officer says. "Word from Piltover is that there's not much left."

"Are we going to be stymied by a similar person when we get to Piltover?" Rowaine asks. She is met with silence.

"Come on, man!" Rowaine yells. "The day grows old!" The officer relents. "Come with me," he says, leading the party towards Zorn.

The road turns behind a forest, beyond which smoke rises lazily. "Four days ago, Zorn was hit by something large and metal," the officer says. "Then it headed north and hit Piltover. No one knows what it is."

"We have met metal creatures before," Troll says. "Met, fought and destroyed them."

"Has anyone laid eyes on it?" Rowaine asks.

"None of my men."

"Have you found any survivors?"

"Only people that weren't in the village at the time. They returned, saw the carnage and dispersed to the surrounding towns."

"What sort of wounds did the victims sustain?" Arrian asks.

"They were impaled, pulverised, ripped apart."

"How many people?"

"It's difficult to say. Most bodies are not intact. We think something like seventy or eighty. We've managed to identify thirty of them."

"And none ran away?"

"We don't know what happened," the officer says.

"Can you give us something in writing to get us into Piltover?" Arrian asks. The officer sighs. "I suppose so…"

The smell of butchered meat is the first warning that something awful has happened here. The group see red buildings in the distance, only to find they have been stained red by splatters of blood. Dismembered limbs lie everywhere. Arrian looks at an arm. It has a large hole through it and appears to have been ripped from its body. There are large holes in the buildings' corners and doors. One building has a hole floor to ceiling, beside which is a jumbled pile of crushed meat and bone. There is blood everywhere.

"The attack happened at night?" Rowaine asks the officer.

"As far as we know," he replies.

"That fits with what Jimmy told us," Arrian confirms. "He said he was returning home in the morning after a night shift when he saw the creature leaving."

"Tomen," Rowaine says, "can you start looking for any interesting tracks?" Tomen veers off, looking at the ground.

The officer leads the group into a relatively intact building. Other guards are inside. He walks to a table, sits and writes a sentence onto a piece of parchment. He hands it to Rowaine. "This is a writ that will allow you to leave and enter Zorn and Piltover."

"Thank you," Rowaine says.

Arrian exits the building and walks around, Detecting Magic. He also looks for any sign of energy damage. He finds neither, just an abundance of physical violence. Troll joins him and confirms that whatever did this, it wasn't a spell.

The others wait outside for Tomen to complete his sweep. The officer escorts them.

"Is it your opinion from the evidence, sir, that this was caused by a single creature?" Rowaine asks.

"We don't know," the officer replies.

Tomen returns soon after. "There are lots of large, heavy tracks," he says. "They enter the village from the west and leave to the north. It seems to be one creature."

"What's to the west, sir?" Rowaine asks.

"Flatlands for two days' ride, and then you hit Ionia, a large town."

"The tracks north do not follow the road," Tomen adds, leading the others to the north road and showing them the tracks to its left. They lead arrow-straight away from the village.

"What lies in that direction?" Arrian asks the officer.

"That's pretty close to a direct line to Piltover," he replies. "Maybe a bit to the west of the town."

The party finish up and leave Zorn, choosing to follow the road rather than the tracks. As mid-afternoon approaches they see two more guards standing on road.

"We must be close to Piltover," Rowaine says. "Tomen, see if you can pick up the creature's tracks."

The party follow Tomen at a distance. He quickly acquires the tracks, southeast of the town and to the left of the road; he beckons the other to approach. The tracks are very easy to distinguish. The guards see the party move off the road and approach, pikes levelled. Rowaine presents the writ from the Ashhope officer and the group are led into Piltover. The party's hearts sink as similar sights and smells assault them. They are taken to the town hall where they are presented to Sergeant Galeo. He tells the party that Piltover is home to about a hundred and fifty people. His commander, the officer in Zorn, sent him and a dozen guards here yesterday, but they arrived too late to help. Again, they have found no survivors, just mangled bodies. He doesn't know when the creature left town. He has sent some of his contingent to nearby towns, looking for refugees.

Tomen returns and tells the others that he has found day-old tracks leaving Piltover to the north. it is mid-afternoon; the party decide to make use of the day's light to continue their pursuit.

The tracks are obvious: Tomen has no trouble following them at a fast walk. Harley and Discs ensure the others keep up.

After two hours, the forest looms. Arrian recalls that this forest is very expansive. Tomen stops and re-examines the tracks. It seems they are catching up, but only very slightly. Two hours later they enter forest. It becomes even easier to follow the creature's passage; smashed trees point the way. After two more hours the light fails. Tomen checks the tracks by sunrod light. They are now only eight hours old. The party make camp. The elves keep watch while Rowaine sleeps the whole night.

The next morning the partry continue onwards. After two hours Tomen stops everyone. The tracks indicate that the creature stopped upright for some time, then continued on. The area is surrounded by smashed trees. The tracks leaving the area are eight hours old. The party move on.

Arrian casts Magic Vestment on Rowaine's shield. The tracks veer left for a time, then veer back to the right, as if the creature were avoiding an area. Half an hour later Tomen says that he sees a large handprint and says it looks like the creature had been kneeling. The damage to the surrounding trees is more extensive here. The tracks are six hours old. Troll considers levitating on a Greater Disc, but he could only ascend fifty feet before his lesser discs would vanish and the canopy is higher than that. The group continue on.

Forty minutes later Tomen says the tracks become erratic, going in odd directions at different stride lengths. If he were following a man, Tomen wold think him drunk. The trees have fared poorly as a result. Troll Detects Magic but finds none. Tomen finds other tracks in the area but they predate the passage of the creature. The odd phenomenon only lasts for thirty feet before the creature resumes its normal cadence. The party keep going, quiet now, listening.

A short while later, Tomen and Rowaine hear a thumping noise. The group keep going, trying to be quiet. Everyone now hears the noise, punctuated with crashing and creaking. The sounds stop and the party follow suit. Tomen says the tracks are less than an hour old. Troll conjures a Greater Disc and ascends fifty feet but cannot see anything. at Rowaine's suggestion, Tomen looks at the tracks' stride length. He estimates the creature's height at 18 to 24 feet, if it approximated the build of a human or elven frame. The party move on quietly, discussing tactics. Troll readies two wands: Ray of Enfeeblement and Melf's Acid Arrow. The others also ready missile weapons.

As the party move forwards, they hear further screeching, cracking and erratic thumping. The screeching stops but the thumping noise continues. Troll sees sun reflecting off something metal in the distance, about a hundred yards away. "I see it!" he says, triggering his Acid Arrow wand. The greenish missile streaks past tree trunks and strikes its target.

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