The undead have been re-slain. The corpse has spoken. You are as tired as any of you have ever been. Yet Lenar Hoyt is somewhere ahead, and he has the spear.
Rikard Castleberry: Does anyone else feel uncomfortable about the dead speaking?
Mistress Bianca: Maybe.
Casdegere Constantine: I wouldn’t care if they stood up and danced if it would bring us closer to Hoyt right about now.
Casdegere Constantine speaks between breaths.
Mistress Bianca: But I attribute that to just another drop in the bucket for this whole ocean of weird shit that has happened in the past couple days.
Casdegere Constantine looks over at Bianca.
Casdegere Constantine: Well milady, weird seems to be your middle name.
Rikard Castleberry: I don’t think I want to see the dead dancing, thank you very much.
Remember, before the battle, a black bird landed on a wooden post near one of the stone blocks. Now the bird takes flight, climbing into the brightening sky, toward the southeast.
Casdegere Constantine stops, straightens and watches the bird.
Mistress Bianca: Weird? Nah Bitch is my middle name.
Bart: The spirits are helping us. We should be grateful for their assistance.
Casdegere Constantine: We’ll leave your personality out of it…let’s go!
Mistress Bianca: Then away we go.
Casdegere Constantine starts off in a run after the bird.
Rikard Castleberry: Oh great, more running.
Bart: tries to pick up the trail once again to the south east.
Mistress Bianca moves up to Rikard and keeps pace with him as they follow; using her staff as a walking stick more liberally.
Rikard Castleberry: These are good for helping us move aren’t they, Bianca?
Casdegere Constantine notices the break in the river and heads for it.
Mistress Bianca glances at him sideways smiling but as always it is hidden by her mask.
Casdegere Constantine huffs and puffs, willing his legs to keep him moving.
Bart: There was a game trail to follow.
Mistress Bianca: Yes they are Mister Castleberry.
Casdegere Constantine appears to be moving fast, as if the hate he holds for Hoyt is whipping at his heels.
Bart leads you southeast. Soon you leave the short grasses of this dead place and once more enter the dense foliage of the swamp. The trail reaches the water, and you follow the shore southeast. Then the shore curves around towards the north. By now at least 3 or 4 more hours have passed, and you are more tired than ever. At this point, the trail runs right into the water. There is a narrow channel about 100 feet across.
Mistress Bianca: Heh, swim?
A lot of dirt particles and mud. You can’t see into it at all.
Casdegere Constantine stops short of the muddy waters.
Rikard Castleberry: Well, hurray, time to swim, eh?
Mistress Bianca: You go ahead and swim, I will meet you on the other side, unless you want to look for easier passage.
Casdegere Constantine: Hmm, Bart, can you find us the safest way across?
Bart: I will do what I can. Safe is not always quick though.
There is negligible current.
Bart: The animals mostly cross here so it is probably the safest path.
Casdegere Constantine: Very well.
Casdegere Constantine with that he raises his sword and shield up above him and begins to cross.
Rikard Castleberry fastens his gear and prepares to wade across.
_The water gradually comes up to your waist, but no deeper. However, your feet do sink and it is tough going. About 2/3 of the way across, Casdegere kicks something and almost stumbles.
Mistress Bianca considers for a moment using her spell points to get to the other side clean, dry, and safe, but considering it further decides that her spell points may be better used at another time._
Rikard Castleberry: Dang, even the calm river is a pain to cross here.
Casdegere Constantine: Something is down here.
Mistress Bianca takes off her cloak and wraps it around her staff and holds it above her as she wades in to follow.
Casdegere Constantine: I feel something near my feet, its not a rock, it feels like some kind of…animal.
Casdegere Constantine appears frozen in his tracks.
Mistress Bianca: Well, of course something is in here, it is a swamp. It is probably something horrible with intent to feed on anything that touches it.
Bart walks back to Casdegere to study what is holding him up.
Casdegere Constantine appears poised to strike.
Rikard Castleberry isn’t sure he wants to look.
Casdegere Constantine: It’s not an animal, here hold my shield.
Casdegere Constantine holds it out to Bart.
Bart feels at Cas’s feet.
Bart lifts the body.
Bart: You have a talent for finding these.
Once he pulls it free from the mud, it rises easily to the surface. It is a man with blackened skin, as if he were burned.
Casdegere Constantine helps Bart drag it out of the water.
The man wears a short sword at his belt, a pack on his back, and leather armor.
Rikard Castleberry: Oh that guy looks like how I feel.
Casdegere Constantine begins to look through his gear looking for anything that might alude to who he is.
Bart: That guy looks like you look.
Rikard Castleberry raises an eyebrow at Bart.
Bart shrugs his shoulders back.
Rikard Castleberry: Well, at least we’re on the right trail.
Casdegere Constantine looks through his pack and in his clothes for papers, insignia, anything.
Nothing, not Jade Leaf, but he has swamp gear.
Casdegere Constantine looks into his face to see if he can recognize him
No, he doesn’t look familiar.
Casdegere Constantine: removes the sword, stands and gestures to Bart to continue on.
Bart: Is the sword better than mine?
Casdegere Constantine: I don’t know but sometimes people can recognize a blade.
Casdegere Constantine: This man will be missed I am sure of it.
This blade was probably scavenged from somewhere. It has seen hard use.
Rikard Castleberry: Yep, that’s for sure a blade.
Casdegere Constantine: Even if he is a poacher.
Casdegere Constantine spits some dirt from his mouth and begins to move quickly.
Bart ,grateful for the short rest, says a short prayer for the man’s soul then continues on.
Bart: Leave it for the swamp to reclaim.
Casdegere Constantine: or at least a hungry gator.
Rikard Castleberry: Gator sounds good about now.
Basically, you were following a channel heading north. It ran into an east west channel, which you just crossed. Like a “T”.
Casdegere Constantine: You kill Hoyt and I’ll buy you all the gator and ale you can stomach.
Rikard Castleberry: Well then, shall we be on our way?
Casdegere Constantine: Bart, east?
Casdegere Constantine asks questioningly.
Bart: The tracks head west.
Casdegere Constantine: Ok, west it is.
Casdegere Constantine looks back to make sure Bianca is faring well enough.
Rikard Castleberry: I imagine that we are getting fairly close to Hoyt now.
Bart: I hope you are correct.
You head west as the morning drags on. The fog has burned away, leaving only the broiling sun. Hours seem to pass, but how can measure time under so much fatigue? Somehow, you continue, and in two more hours this channel empties into a much larger body of water, so large you can’t see the other side. Now the tracks head north, roughly.
Rikard Castleberry: I wonder if Hoyt is as fatigued as we are.
Mistress Bianca: Perhaps.
Bart: I do not think he is.
Mistress Bianca: Me either.
Bart: I do not know where he is getting the strength to continue.
Rikard Castleberry: At some point we should stop for a few minutes, I don’t particularly mind when, but I would like to try one more time to tend my wound before we fight again.
You recall that you need to retrieve the spear by the next morning…
Rikard Castleberry: However, it doesn’t have to be now; it can be later when everyone needs a stop.
Mistress Bianca: I would rather continue on for now. But yes, we should eventually.
Rikard Castleberry: Ok then, let’s go north!
Bart continues on, following the tracks.
OK. You continue for another hour. The sun is near its highest point. Suddenly, the tracks veer away from shore.
Casdegere Constantine appears to be struggling to keep up the pace.
Mistress Bianca: Just another hour. Then we rest.
Bart: By the great spirits, where is he heading?
After only 10 or 20 feet, the trail opens into a clearing. You see a swamp boat, upside down, some crossbow bolts scattered about, some waterskins and other basic supplies.
Rikard Castleberry wonders how they will ever find their way back.
Bart looks for signs of other boats.
Casdegere Constantine gestures for everyone to get down and gets down himself.
Rikard Castleberry crouches down and looks around.
Mistress Bianca is wary of a trap.
Casdegere Constantine says in a soft tone.
Casdegere Constantine: Bart?
Bart: There was another boat here.
Mistress Bianca looks around scrutinizing the tree line.
Casdegere Constantine: Alright…can you pad up to that boat and get us a safe path to it and check for traps?
Bart checks the perimeter to see if anyone left the clearing by land.
Bart: Unless he is under the boat it should be safe.
Bart heads to the boat.
Rikard Castleberry stays back for once.
Bart: We will need to repair this boat before we can use it.
Casdegere Constantine: Well I have some knowledge.
Mistress Bianca: What is wrong with it?
Casdegere Constantine: How to operate a boat.
Bart: There is a hole in it.
Casdegere Constantine: How big?
Bart scans the water for the other boat.
Bart: Where did the spirit tell us we needed to go?
Rikard Castleberry: Do you think he went away from here on boat or land?
Casdegere Constantine: I only remember the pink pillars.
Casdegere Constantine references to the temple.
Bart: I think he went NE by boat but I am so tired that….
Rikard Castleberry: Yeah, we are all tired. How hard would it be to fix the boat?
Rikard Castleberry: I don’t know much about that sort of thing.
Casdegere Constantine looks over the boat to see how big the hole is.
Size of a hammer head.
Casdegere Constantine: We can use some leather from the flap on my backpack and a rock for the hole…ill empty out my pack and bucket the water out as we move.
Casdegere Constantine drops his pack and begins to look for a suitable stone.
Bart starts to quickly look for a plant resin to use as glue.
Mistress Bianca appears to have been lost in thought before speaking. “Follow the spear man north past the pink columns. There is another tower. Or something like that.”
Bart: I could make something to hold it but it will take a bit of time.
Casdegere Constantine: We don’t have the time.
Rikard Castleberry starts to prep his materials to bandage himself during the boat ride.
Bart: It would be quicker then swimming.
You think the leather and rock idea would be serviceable if someone bailed.
Casdegere Constantine: I said I’ll bail if we get a suitable rock surrounded by leather.
Casdegere Constantine: It should do the trick until we make shore.
You can find a rock, and some thick mud.
Casdegere Constantine rips off his backpack cover and surrounds the rock. He wedges the rock in the hole and then begins to apply a thick layer of mud and grass.
Casdegere Constantine: everyone will have to pole.
That only takes a few minutes.
Casdegere Constantine looks around for suitable poles
You don’t see any in the clearing.
Casdegere Constantine steps out of the clearing into the tree line.
Bart: Do we go and bail or repair first?
Casdegere Constantine continues to look.
Casdegere Constantine comes back with two poles in his arms. He drops them near the boat and then turns the boat over carefully. He checks his work with the stone to make sure it’s wedged nicely.
Casdegere Constantine wants desperately to crumble in a heap to his feet but somehow he gets the strength to drag the boat into the water
. Mistress Bianca: We can take turns resting in the boat.
Bart: Rikard, I might be able to help with your bandaging.
Rikard Castleberry: If Bianca and Cas can start, then we can try to work my leg, then we can take over.
Once the boat hits the water, fatigue catches up with all of you. You are now Fatigued, and take a -1 to all Trait Tests.
Mistress Bianca: I will try to help pole.
Rikard Castleberry: It will be just 10 minutes, either way.
Casdegere Constantine empties out his backpack in the boat and readies it for bailing.
Casdegere Constantine steadies the boat with a pole for the others to get in.
Bart gets in.
Casdegere Constantine wants to lash out at the two slow pokes but holds his tongue.
Rikard Castleberry climbs in, and starts to get to work.
Mistress Bianca drags herself in and takes a pole.
Casdegere Constantine pushes off with a deep grunt.
Bart tries to help Rikkard with his tending to his wounds.
The day drags on, and you pole up the coast. Sometime that afternoon, who knows exactly when…you see the Old Temple! Now you know where you are.
Rikard Castleberry: Well, that temple sure looks like the right spot to be.
Casdegere Constantine: Keep your voice down.
Rikard Castleberry: Why are you shouting at me?
Casdegere Constantine says in a quiet growl.
Mistress Bianca: He said north of the pink columns is a tower.
Mistress Bianca: Rikard, your turn, I need to sleep.
Rikard Castleberry: Go ahead.
Casdegere Constantine looks for another boat.
Rikard Castleberry takes over.
Bart helps, taking the pole from Bianca.
You move up the coast, and pass Stonefall Point. The pink columns peak out from under the brush.
Casdegere Constantine: Can you see a boat, Bart?
Casdegere Constantine says in all but a whisper.
No boats in sight.
Casdegere Constantine: I’m sure he will have a lookout.
Rikard Castleberry: Maybe, unless he is all out of lookouts
. Bart: Unless he can create a man, and I wouldn’t be surprised. There wan only one set of tracks left.
Casdegere Constantine still tries to be as quiet as possible with the pole.
Casdegere Constantine: If he is alone he will be even more dangerous I feel.
Evening comes, and the heat lessens.
Bart: Follow that bird.
Casdegere Constantine looks up for the bird.
Casdegere Constantine: What bird?
Rikard Castleberry: Oh that bird.
Bart: He has been helping us for a while.
Bart directs you along the coast.
Casdegere Constantine: Well ask him if he will gauge Hoyt’s eyes out of his skull.
Bart: I think that is our task.
Bart: Do not shirk your duty.
Casdegere Constantine: Then you take his eyes then, his heart is mine.
Rikard Castleberry: Yeah, no shirking allowed.
Rikard Castleberry: Well, anyone have a better idea than storm the door and see what happens?
The daylight begins to fade… As full darkness descends, you reach the end of the black line on the map. You see a beached boat.
Casdegere Constantine poles toward the beached boat.
Casdegere Constantine gets out and steadies the boat for others to get off.
Rikard Castleberry gets out of the boat and checks out the other boat.
Bart jumps into the water and heads to the boat.
Mistress Bianca wakes up.
Casdegere Constantine: We have arrived Mistress.
Mistress Bianca: Already? It feels like I have only been asleep for a few minutes.
Casdegere Constantine: You have.
Mistress Bianca: It was light out still when I slept.
Rikard Castleberry: You slept a decent bit.
Casdegere Constantine: Well you are awake now and we are here.
Casdegere Constantine removes the stone from the boat and lets it take on water.
Mistress Bianca exits the boat carefully.
Casdegere Constantine replaces his things in his pack.
Bart grumbles “I remember sleep.”
Casdegere Constantine sets it back on his back.
Rikard Castleberry: If Hoyt was rushing here as much as we think he was, he probably is quite occupied and won’t have time for traps.
Casdegere Constantine removes the short sword from his belt and approaches the other boat.
Bart: It seems we are in a race. Hoyt is no longer even attempting to hide his trail.
Casdegere Constantine slashes and stabs holes in the other boat.
Bart heads of into the forest following the trail.
You clearly see where a trail was cut without regard for stealth. After a bout 10 minutes, you enter a clearing…and see a tower looming ahead.
Casdegere Constantine: We are close.
Bart looks to the tower. “What gave it away?”
Rikard Castleberry: The top stone gave it away.
Casdegere Constantine chuckles at how stupid his words were looking at the tower.
Rikard Castleberry: I even saw it.
Rikard Castleberry: Shall we go in?
Casdegere Constantine: Rikard.
Casdegere Constantine: Bianca.
Mistress Bianca: Some may survive.
Casdegere Constantine: When it comes to it, I’ll try and get his attention.
Casdegere Constantine: Do whatever you can to bring him down.
Bart: He had led us on a merry chase but it is time for it to end.
Rikard Castleberry responds by stretching out.
Casdegere Constantine gives a serious look to Bianca
. Casdegere Constantine: I mean whatever you must do
. Mistress Bianca: I am ready.
The tracks go to the tower.
Bart follows the tracks.
Casdegere Constantine starts off after Bart.
Mistress Bianca follows.
You reach the front doors. They are closed.
Rikard Castleberry tries the door.
It opens like the other doors.
Rikard Castleberry: Well, that seemed easy enough.
Casdegere Constantine looks inside.
It is dark in there.
Casdegere Constantine looks for some of the wall stones.
There are none in the short corridor before the second set of double doors.
Casdegere Constantine heads up to the second set of doors and tries the handle.
Bart: Someone left here also.
Casdegere Constantine: Left?
Casdegere Constantine: As in left the building?
Bart: Yes, they entered the tower and left it.
Mistress Bianca: Same one we have been following?
Casdegere Constantine: Bianca, what were those words again?
Mistress Bianca: Follow the spearman north past the pink columns, there is another tower. Some may still survive.
Casdegere Constantine opens the doors.
They open. It is dark inside.
Mistress Bianca: Bart, are the tracks the same as the ones we have been following up to now?
Casdegere Constantine feels on the walls for the stones as he moves in.
Cadegere finds a stone.
Casdegere Constantine touches it once.
Bart: I can’t be sure but I believe so. The shoe, the weight, the stride are all the same.
It gives off a faint glow, like a few fireflies.
Casdegere Constantine continues trying to be quiet, touching more stones as he passes them.
Bart: His stride is not natural. It should be lessening from fatigue.
Rikard Castleberry: I don’t get it, wouldn’t we have seen tracks leaving the tower on our way here?
The others do not light. As you advance, the other light falls behind and you can no longer see.
Bart: I am not perfect.
Casdegere Constantine stops and lights his last torch.
Bart: It appears that he headed off in a separate direction, towards the east.
Rikard Castleberry: Do we even have time to search the tower then?
Rikard Castleberry: If he isn’t here we should pursue him quickly.
Bart: We can leave one behind to quickly search. It will take me more time to track in the dark.
Casdegere Constantine sees that the torch is still to wet and abandons his attempt.
Casdegere Constantine comes out.
Mistress Bianca shakes her head.
Casdegere Constantine: So what’s the plan?
Mistress Bianca: We should stay together.
Bart: Then follow me.
Rikard Castleberry: Apparently he went east.
Casdegere Constantine: Well aren’t we?
Mistress Bianca: And pursue the tracks.
Casdegere Constantine: East…away from the tower?
Bart follows the tracks.
Casdegere Constantine follows in bewilderment.
Rikard Castleberry: Yeah it seems weird to me too, but I believe Bart.
Rikard Castleberry: I have no skill with tracks unless they are really, really obvious.
You trek east, then angle southeast. If anything, it looks like the tracks break into a run. You’ve gone maybe 150-200 yards, when you hear an angry voice shout from up ahead. “Damn you! You will tell me! Where is it! I’ll kill you! I’ll burn you down, you green-skinned freak. Tell me!”
Bart: He pace has increased. He is…running.
Rikard Castleberry readies his spear.
Casdegere Constantine runs, staying with Bart.
Bart heads towards the sounds.
Rikard Castleberry feels his pulse increase, anticipating a fight.
Bart keeping to the cover of the brush.
You burst into a large cleared area. Suddenly, the clouds move from the face of the moon, and you clearly see the following sight.
Casdegere Constantine runs as fast as he can, the deaths of all of the Lizard men stream into his mind.
A metal pole rises about 20 high in the center of this cleared area, topped by a globe of some kind. Beside the pole, a man screams towards the pole, threatening death. But you see no one else. Then he turns toward you, face twisted in grotesque anger.
The man is about 8” away.