CHAPTER 4.06 - THE OVERDUE PATROL

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CHAPTER 4.06 - THE OVERDUE PATROL

Post  Admin on Sat Oct 17, 2009 9:44 pm

Next day is fine and calm. Rudiger Aranabergh informs Wulfram that the patrol is overdue. "My brothers and Hrothgaard were due back at early dawn and they have not arrived."

Wulfram ventures down the track leading out of Haastenmoord towards the mine. He follows the gentle slope upwards and waits. Half an hour later there is no sign of activity so he follows the track towards the fork that leads to the mine or continues around the lake.

Wulfram continues around the lake. Two hours later there is no sign of activity. The track is quiet. PERCEPTION 21, 11 and 14. However he finds evidence of three day old tracks that match the footwear of the Aranberghs and Hrothgaard, presumably made when they embarked on the initial patrol. Wulfram keeps following the trail and reaches the location of the Satyrs cave entrance near the lakeside. There are no signs of activity. No footprints lead inside. A casual inspection of the area indicates that there have been no creatures entering or exiting the cave in recent times. The oldest impressions are at least three weeks old.

It is mid morning and, perhaps unusually, it is still very quiet. PERCEPTION 24. In fact, Wulfram notices that there is no birdlife sounding in the trees. He senses evil nearby at an elevation of 20' on a small ridgeline that follows the path. Wulfram decides he will approach the evil and does so by backtracking 50' and then ascends through a sloping treeline to the higher ground. PERCEPTION 18. MOVE SILENTLY 23. Advancing carefully Wulfram can see squatting behind a large rock formation and some dense scrub, a huge creature with three arms. It appears to be waiting for something. It hasn't seen him so Wulfram gets a surprise attack, as he catches it unawares. He pounds it with his longaxe, striking for 25 hp plus 12 hp fire damage. It howls, sounding frightened and surprised and attempts to struggle to its feet. Despite Wulfram's clear advantage it does so and collects a huge spiked wooden club from the ground and swings it wildly. The huge club goes flying from its hand as it over-extends its reach and Wulfram seizes an opportunity to attack again. He strikes it squarely for 21 hp plus 9hp fire. The creature flails wildly with its three arms, missing, and then it bites successfully doing 18 hp damage plus poison (FORT save 24 avoids) - Wulfram momentarily feel disorientated and dizzy but he shakes it off.

Wulfram strikes again doing 22 hp damage (no fire). The creature howls, upset at him. It again tries to hit with its arms. It hits twice doing 18hp and 15hp respectively. It tries to bite but over-extends its neck and howls in pain. Wulframs hears a popping sound and it looks unhappy. Wulfram tries to strike while it is preoccupied but misses. He attempts to recover the blow and hits for 25 hp. The creature roars angrilly and again attempts to hit Wulfram and this time grab him. 10 hp plus 12 hp plus opposed strength check (16 vs 25) ... Wulfram breaks free from the grapple and may again make an action.

Wulfram attacks, noting that the creature is bleeding badly. He strikes for 25 hp and the creature turns, bellowing and looking unwell, slightly staggering and it attempts to flee deeper into the forest. Wulfram pulls out his throwing axe and hurls it at the creature's back ... 24 hp. The blow is solid and brings the creature down face first into the ground. It falls and remains still and silent. Wulfram advances and makes sure it is dead.

Wulfram himself was badly injured and so rests for a few minutes to allow the amulet of Freya to restore his health and close his wounds with its power. He then returns to the path and can hear loud footsteps running towards his location from down the path. He ducks out of sight among some rocks and light brush. He sees Erik, Gunthar, Heiner and Hrothgaard running towards him.

Hrothgaard sees Wulfram first and exclaims "There's Wulfram!" Then, looking slightly confused, he asks "What brings you to this part of the Woedenwood?"

"Looking for you." Wulfram responds.

"Why?"

"You are overdue. Why are you running?" Wulfram says.

"We heard fighting and one of the combatants sounded human. We thought someone we might know was in trouble."

Erik steps forward and says "We didn't expect it would be you. But it makes sense, I guess, because who else would want to venture so far from the village?"

"There was a very large creature lying in wait. With three arms. But it is no longer lying in wait. There it is." Wulfram points to the giant creature's corpse.

The brothers investigate to see what it is. "An Athach. Very dangerous and unpredictable. Their bite is poisonous and can sap a victim's strength. Did it bite you?" Erik enquires.

"Yes, but I am strong." Wulfram replies.

"Then we shall see that your wound is properly dressed when we get back." Erik informs him. "You could get an infection."

The group heads back to Haastenmoord and on the way Erik tells you more about the patrol. "We ventured to the far side of the lake and we returned to the druids' stone circle. There was no sign of activity there but further into the woods we did see many wolves and we also saw large numbers of the druids following a path that leads to an abandoned village. We followed them unseen along that track and discovered that they are moving between that location and the mossy rock tunnel that leads beneath the lake. We don't know why they have an interest in that abandoned village. But there was a lot of activity. Perhaps they were searching for something? We also caught sight of the white stag that appears occasionally to travellers in the Woedenwood. It did not approach us but it did follow and observed our actions from a distance."

Wulfram says "I am going to the cave tomorrow, at Lord Crosstenmarch's request."

Erik looks surprised and says "Really? Did he say why he wants you to go there?"

"He said there was a dangerous creature down there."

"Then why bother something that is keeping to itself? Surely we should not provoke our enemies?"

"Yes, but what if this creature is controlling the druids and the wolves?"

"You make a fair point. Perhaps I should have considered that. You are wise beyond your barbaric-guise Wulfram and I respect that. I wish you well in your task. Lord Crosstenmarch does not request favours lightly. There must be more than he has revealed to you. He often sends us patrolling to new locations and that is usually when we make our new discoveries. Is there anything else he might have told you about that place?"

"I have some information which I'll read later. The creature has a name ... it is called 'The Corruptor'. A fancy title."

"I see. That does sound very ominous. Be careful. There are many druids in the woods and I suspect many more probably reside in those caves."

Wulfram tells the others as they are walking that he has received a list of weapons from Dierk Einshaden and Hrothgaard, I would like you to train the villagers, in the great hall, to keep the activity out of sight." He tells his friend.

Hrothgaard nods and says "Consider it done."

"You must look at the village defences, to see if they can be imporved without drawing too much attention."

Wulfram then addresses the Aranbergh brothers ... "You will be involved in this training too but I want a couple of you to visit Mab as nobody has seen her for a while."

Hrothgaard looks confused at the mention of Mab's name. He explains to Hrothgaard who Mab is, and that she is a servant of Freya. "She was cursed by Loki and a demon but part of that has been lifted."

Erik and the others nod solemnly and say they will get that done. "Are there any messages for her?"

"Yes - tell her that I have seen The Legion and have spoken to two of them." Wufram says.

Erik looks confused and says "That is good; but is there anything else you would like us to say to her?"

"No. That is all." Wulfram tells him.

A few hours later the group reaches the village. The women and children has grown concerned but are relieved when Wulfram returns with the others. "We are alright." Erik reassures them.

Wulfram advises Erik that he should share his information with Lord Crosstenmarch. He says "Of course."

The remainder of the day is spent with Hrothgaard and together they do some drinking, and eating, and training before Wulfram retires to prepare and rest ready for departure the next day.
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