Ainvar

Hunting the Giant Avian

Notes for Game 6

(Played August 5, 2006)

[The session starts out with the party at the base of the plateau about to ascend in an effort to try and find the child that was snatched by some sort of large, winged creature. It is about two and a half hours past noon and the gentle rain that the party was experiencing has finally stopped.]

Johna “There are two different ways we can get up there. There’s these sort of old stairs things here in front of us.” The party can see an are that appears to have been tooled into the plateau. “The other way is a long path over there,” Johna states pointing to indicate where the path is, “it winds more, it is easier getting up but it’s a long winding way. I don’t like to use the stairs, they are crumbly and old.”
Sagesse “It won’t do us any good to die trying to save the life of another.”
Shunk “I don’t think we can swing our swords well along that path. The other way will at least offer us some defense, otherwise we may be at the mercy of the creature.”
Johna “I always use the long path, the other is too hard to climb.”
Malthus “Why do you go up there?”
Johna “Gathering stones.”
Malthus “And you have not seen this large, winged creature before?”
Johna “This is the first time. We haven’t come here very many times for the stones. Building from stones, this is new, we didn’t find this until recently.”
The group collectively agrees that the longer, winding path is the more prudent path to take. After passing a couple of switchbacks, Johna mentions, “I did see a cave up here once but never seen anything from it. We’ll go slow when we get there.”

Malthus “Did you go in to investigate?”
Johna “No, no it’s a small cave.”
After about twenty minutes into the trek up the plateau Aiden notices that the path ahead switches back with the back doubling back above the party. The prince notices a small stone fall down from the edge of the path above them as if accidentally knocked over the edge by something. Aiden swings his bow around towards the potential threat and alerts the party. The group readies their weapons and trains their focus on where the prince has suggested except for Malthus who continues to scan for threats in the sky.

Shunk “What is it lad?”
Aiden “Up there,” he states point to the lip of the path above them.
Shunk “On rock or in the air?”
Aiden “On the rock.”
Shunk “Aww, we’re looking for flyin’ creatures. Lets continue, but cautiously.”
The party moves on.

Marqsam “I’m gonna stay back and look up here,” and Marqsam now pulls up the rear of the party.
After a little more travel up the plateau Johna holds out his hand and tells the group in quiet tones, “We are approaching the cave.” Everyone continues to follow him cautiously.
Upon reaching the cave, Malthus keenly notices a paw print of a large feline by the opening of the cave and surmises it to be a mountain lion.

The party moves along quickly, hoping not to disturb the feline, but after only moving along a few yards, some of the party notices movement in the brush nearby. The group stops. Sagesse picks up a small stone and throws it in to the brush near the disturbance but nothing happens so he grabs another stone and tries again. This time a feline growl is heard as the rock entered the brush and the party notices more movement in that area.

Shunk and Thunk take up the lead with Malthus close behind, Shunk stops Thunk near where the cat was just detected and Thunk lets out a large apen roar. A little further from its previous position the mountain lion lets out a growl of its own.

Aiden realizes that Marqsam, who was guarding the rear of the party, is now nowhere to be found and guesses he must have decided to inspect the cave the party had just past.
The party continues to scan for the cat in the thick brush. Thunk’s attention is locked on a specific spot in the brush and he begins to growls.

Malthus moves past Shunk and Thunk as the duo stands ready to intercede if the beast springs at the party.

Sagesse, too, moves to pas Shunk and Thunk and looks into the brush where the ape’s attention is focused and notices the lion staring strait back at him crouched in a position to launch itself quickly forward. Sagesse manages to move by the imposing duo without incident.

Johna then steps up to move past as well but the quick cat springs at the island native. The cat pounces into Johna knocking him forward. Shunk lands a blow on the beast with the flat of his sword that, despite the fact that he didn’t use the blade’s edge, opens a large wound on the back of the creature before it can cause any real damage to Johna. Johna recovers his footing.

Before anyone else can react Shunk swings another vicious blow into the right foreleg of the great cat with such force that his weapon becomes lodged in the beast’s flesh. Shunk is forced to relinquish his weapon or dismount Thunk as the ape is retreating to offer an opening for others to attack the beast. Shunk chooses to release the sword.

Malthus takes a few strides towards the wounded but wary beast, swinging wildly, and fails to connect with his scimitar.

Sagesse moves in closer but maintains his defensive posture.

Johna stabs at the cat with his spear and manages to graze the beast’s head causing only superficial damage to the mountain lion.

Aiden looses an arrow into the underbelly of the great cat that impacts with such force that the arrow blows completely through the creature’s abdomen. The cat springs itself forward in reaction to the blow and tumbles over the edge of the path falling dead on the path below.

Preoccupied by the mountain lion’s attack, the party fails to notice that another mountain lion has positioned itself to attack in the brush. Sagesse is the unfortunate victim of the stealthy, cunning lion’s attack. The large cat launches into Sagesse’s back, launching him forward towards Malthus, and rakes his back with its claws. Sagesse catches himself just before he would have slammed into Malthus.

Shunk hops off Thunk to retrieve his sword.

Malthus spins around on the new threat and lands two strikes to the back of the beast with his scimitars but the beast does not collapse.

Sagesse turns back towards the beast locking stares with the creature and enchants himself with the stone skin spell.

Johna retreats a few steps away from the new threat.

Aiden reaches for another arrow.

The mountain lion turns around and leaps back towards the brush.

Malthus steps forward towards the creature but takes a defensive posture, aware that the creature is out the reach of his blades.

Sagesse steps towards the lion swinging the full length of his staff at the beast hitting it in its right hindquarter, causing the lion to grunt but it continues its flight.

Aiden knocks his arrow.

After studying the brush for a moment the party decides to let the creature flee.

A light rain picks back up again and Marqsam makes his way back to the party asking what all the commotion was about. The party explains what happened as they move on up the plateau. As the party gets close to reaching the summit of the plateau, everyone notices some blood on the path, presumably from the wounded mountain lion.

As the party begins to reach the top of the plateau, Aiden, ever vigilant, notices movement in the foliage near the party. The party cautiously moves past the disturbance and luckily manages to move by without incident.

The party finally comes to the top of the plateau and is given the following description:
As you crest the ridge and come out from behind the shadow of the cliff, the rain has come to a stop. The searing rays of the sun flow into your eyes. Before you lay the ruins of a beautiful old keep. The closest tower looms some thirty or forty feet overhead in near perfect condition but beyond it, portions of fallen wall reveal that this keep has succumbed to the elements long ago. It is now a home to a beast of nature where perhaps man is no longer welcome. Setting foot on level ground you strain to perceive something that might help you better understand this place, its history, what it once was or what it has now become. Dissecting the keep north to south is a waterway that comes nearly to the edge of the tall plateau where a large clear pond has formed. A marshier, brackish pond of reeds lies in front of the keep to the southeast.

Malthus “Johna, I know you probably didn’t think this was important but is there anything else you want to let us know about?”
Johna “Well, whach you talkin’ ‘bout? Where you think we get perfectly square stones from?”
Malthus “Since I’ve never seen you bring the stones I had no way of knowing.”
Johna “Yes, this is where we get da stones.”
Shunk “Who used to live ‘ere?”
Johna “No on I ever knew.”
Shunk “Any legends?”
Johna “It’s pretty new to find this. We don’t usually come this far north on the islan. You know we come two and a half hours walk. Where we live there ain’t no reason to come this far. One guy in the fields, he’s lazy. He tries to get as far away as possible and no one knows where he goes. He find this place.”
Shunk “Where’s he at now?”
Johna “Probably back in the village. He was supposed to help us gather stones today but he didn’t show up.”
Shunk “Does he talk much about this place?”
Johna “No not much, just that he find it. Told us about it. We come look at the stones, we thought, ‘this make good for building.’ Obviously that is what they use it for.”
Shunk “Have you ever seen anything inside here?”
Johna “I don’t go in far. I just been dat front room, there’s more water inside.”

The party spends some time studying the structure from a distance and decides to advance towards the closest tower, spacing themselves by several yards apart from each other. Malthus is the first to reach the tower and he quickly moves on along the wall towards the keep. Sagesse makes it to the tower and hears a strange ‘guttural screeching’ sound from above, likely on top of the tower and points it out to the closest party members, Malthus and Shunk.
Malthus gets a healthy lead on the party and scouts ahead in the keep. Meanwhile, the rest of the party gathers at the base of the tower.

As Malthus approaches a set of stairs within the tower he notices a foul rank odor.

Back at the tower.

Shunk “Why don’t we call out the boy’s name and see if he answers?”
Sagesse “What is your boy’s name Johna?”
Johna “We call him Gunny.”
Sagesse “Yell for him, lets see if he answers.”
Johna yells a few times for his boy but hears nothing in response but his own echoing voice.
The party starts to advance into the keep as Malthus reaches the top of the stairs. Malthus notes that the putrid smell he sensed at the base of the stairs fades as he climbs up. Malthus surveys the area from his higher perch.
In the murky pond Sagesse notices a ‘treasure chest’ looking structure poking above the surface of the water a couple of yards in from the edge of the pond. More concerned with finding the child, the part moves on into the keep.
The rest of the group makes it over to the stairs that Malthus had previously climbed. Malthus, not seeing any immediate threats moves to investigate a small structure with a door on his current level.
As Sagesse approaches the stairs he smells the same foul stench Malthus detected earlier and surmises that the smell is of something rotting. Moving around to one side of the stairs, Sagesse finds the decaying carcass of some sort of canine creature.
Malthus easily opens the rotting door to the small room and sees that it is fairly empty save for a small, old desk that looks very antique possibly as much as one or two hundred years old.
The rest of the party begins to ascend the stairs.

Aiden “Move forward quickly and be ready.”
The party sees that there is a bridge close by that crosses the waterway that bisects the keep.
Shunk decides it is best to let any other party members wanting to cross the bridge to go before he tries to put the great weight of Thunk on the ancient bridge.
Sagesse is the first to step up to the bridge, feeling it is sturdy enough to cross, and heads to the other side. Aiden and Marqsam decide to try and cross, not waiting for Sagesse to make it to the other side first. Part way across the bridge some of the stones give way under their weight.
Sagesse manages to tumble forward and avoids falling into the water below. Aiden is able to take a quick step back and avoids falling in as well; Aiden and Sagesse are on opposite sides of the bridge with around a six foot section of the bridge now missing. Marqsam is not as lucky as his friends and starts to fall, Aiden grabs one of Marqsam’s arms and strains to hold the entire weight of the man. Aiden is forced to his knees trying to hold the weight of the now dangling Marqsam. Marqsam attempts to get a better grip on the prince but slips from Aiden’s grasp and falls into the stream below.
Sagesse quickly dives in after the fallen party member and easily catches up to him. Eventually the two manage to guide themselves to the shore just outside of the keep a few dozen yards before the stream meets the edge of the plateau. Sagesse and Marqsam begin the long trek around the keep to the entrance where they came in. Marqsam managed to loose the net he brought up for capturing whatever strange creature flew off with the native child.
Malthus hearing the commotion at the bridge from within the small structure comes out quickly to see what is the matter.

As Aiden busies himself trying to fashion some sort of rope from the dilapidated carpet he looks up long enough to notice a large shadow in the sky quickly plummeting on the party’s position. Aiden shouts, “Oh, shit!” alerting the rest of the party that is still inside the keep.
Aiden sees the creature swoop down as Shunk’s back seeing large talons and a flurry of feathers on what appears to be a large bird with a huge, around fifty feet wide, wingspan. The creature’s talons rip into Shunk’s flesh but the beast fails to pull Shunk from his apen mount.
Thunk reacts instinctively to the attack on his master jumping up and grabbing hold of the huge bird by one of its talons, preventing it from fleeing back into the sky. With the bird’s momentum suddenly change by the gorilla, the bird crashes into the small structure where Malthus is just emerging from. The bird continues to try and break free of the gorilla’s grip but is unable to do so.

Aiden knocks an arrow.
Johna, frightened by the whole ordeal, retreats from the action.
Malthus moves around the structure to the side where the conflict is taking place.
Thunk pivots around, still maintaining his grip on the large eagle, and swings the large bird over his head like a club, slamming it onto the ground.
Shunk jumps over Thunk to land on the eagle bringing his large sword down on the bird causing a vicious wound.

The bird rolls its body, which forces it over the edge of the platform by the stairs. This sends Shunk rolling down the stairs, collecting several bruises and scrapes.
The eagle is motionless, hanging, still in the grasp of the large ape.
Shunk shouts at the fallen beast, “I wasn’t an easy bit o’ food was I bird?” then orders Thunk to release the creature.

The group in the keep all agree that they should confirm that the huge eagle is in fact dead. Shunk seals its fate by decapitating the creature.
On the walk back around the keep, Sagesse determines that the location of the nest is on top of the tower that the party had gathered by on their way into the keep and also notices some very, rotting smells coming from the brackish pond.
Sagesse and Marqsam make their way back to the front of the keep and immediately notice the fallen form of the giant eagle.

Malthus jumps across the fallen section of the bridge without any problems, his momentum from the jump carries him in to the dark, covered portion of the keep.
Johna decides to stay on the open side of the keep, not wanting to risk falling into the stream.
As Malthus tries to get his bearings in the darkness everyone hears the sound of large dogs growling somewhere around Malthus’ position.
A dog takes a snap at Malthus’ leg but the bishop instinctively avoids the bite. The dog takes another snap as Malthus nipping him on the shin. Malthus senses another dog approaching him in the darkness.

Malthus, now able to make out the faint outlines of the two dogs slashes at each dog hitting each with a different scimitar. The dog in front of Malthus, on his left, loses both of its front legs to Malthus’ deadly scimitar and the other dog does not fair much better losing one of its front legs as well. The now two-legged dog collapses and the three-legged dog can be heard whelping wildly.
Aiden jumps to the other side of the bridge and stops next to Malthus.
Marqsam examines the fallen bird while Sagesse climbs the stairs towards the rest of the party.
Another, somewhat smaller, dog enters the fray leaping at Aiden who deftly tumbles to the ground avoiding the attack.
Malthus turns, steps towards this new threat, and brings both scimitars down on the dog. One of his scimitars decapitates the creature, sending its head rolling into the stream below.
Aiden quickly recovers, quickly drawing his saber and puts the three legged dog out of its misery.
Aiden, thinking he heard something breathing in the dark, shouts, “Come out!”
Sagesse starts to look for a path that will take him to the top of the tower where he suspects the bird’s nest to be.
Malthus applies some first aid to his shin wound that he suffered from the dog attack.
Aiden stays close to Malthus but moves around slowly searching the darkness. [Secret time]
Sagesse finds a small structure and looks in to find a kitchen area, which is not the way up to the tower.
Aiden moves further into the darkness.
Sagesse notices a door not far from the kitchen structure and finds the door to be locked. Pushing on the door Sagesse finds that it is very rotted and it gives way, much of it crumbling from his efforts to open it.
Shunk and Thunk move over by Sagesse to help him investigate.
Beyond the doorway, Sagesse’s group finds a set of stairs leading up to an archway, beyond which the path is densely covered with spider webs.
After applying first aid Malthus follows Aiden into the darkness but stays close to the wall to keep his bearings.

Shunk noticing that this is the top level mentions, “I don’t think we need to mess with this.”
Sagesse “Well, we are looking for a child that is most likely in a nest and the nest is probably up here on one of the towers.”
Shunk “All I see is webs.”
Sagesse “We must go up to get to the top.”
Shunk “We’re not at the top?”
Sagesse “We still need to check all the towers.”
(Shunk begrudgingly concedes Sagesse’s point with a grunt)
Sagesse swings his staff through some of the webbing covering one end of his staff with the sticky webs noticing that the meager amount he’s managed to clear made absolutely no headway in removing the webs from the path.

Shunk “I don’t think this is a good idea.”
Sagesse “I know of no other way to get to the tower.”
Back in the darkness:

Aiden whispers to Malthus, “I think I saw something.”
Malthus “What? Like an eagle?”
Aiden “No I think I saw somebody… I think I saw a woman.”
Malthus “Ok… The odds of finding…”
Aiden “I know, I know, I know.”
Malthus continues to move close to the wall, keeping it close enough that he can touch it. Aiden, on the other hand, is a little less cautious and walks a little further into the darkness.
Back at the spider webs, Sagesse focuses his mind on the nature of the source in an effort to channel the source to create some fire to destroy the webbing. After a few minutes Sagesse believing he is making headway on the formulas to release the required energy and continues his calculations, as Shunk and Thunk stand cramped in the stairwell behind him.
Aiden continues to move through the darkness slightly losing his bearings and mildly weirded out by the sheer darkness of this area.
Suddenly Malthus hears the sound of stone sliding on stone. The stones under Aiden’s feet give way, however, the prince is able to avoid falling through the floor, stepping on more solid ground. The stone flooring under his new position begins to vibrate beneath his feet. Aiden prudently heads toward the light of the bridge area where Malthus is waiting for him.

Malthus “Until we have light, I don’t think we should go back in there.”
Aiden “Well I’m pretty sure there is another floor below this one.”
Meanwhile, Sagesse focuses the energy of the source in a spot in the webs where a small ball of light has appeared. Bringing his hands closer, as if slowly squishing something invisible in his hands, the small spot of light erupts into a large ball of flame that quickly consumes all the spider webbing in the area. After the fire dissipates, stepping through the archway, Sagesse can now see the pathway leading to the tower.
Sagesse and the Shunk and Thunk duo head down the pathway, which is open to the sky. The group advances cautiously, looking often into the sky, wary of another giant bird attack. As the small group gets closer to the tower the guttural chirping picks up and Shunk mentions, “I’d be ready with the fire again if I were you.”
Aiden and Malthus decide to cross the second, still whole bridge, to search for materials to fashion some torches so the can see their way through the darkness. Part way across the bridge some of the stones give way under their weight. Malthus and Aiden both manage to get across the bridge without falling in and only a small section of the bridge collapses into the stream.
Sagesse along with the dwarf and ape make their way to the nest at the top of the tower and see three very large, infant birds with their heads up, chirping, expecting food.
Shunk shouts out, “Gunny!” but gets no response other than increased chirping from the hatchlings.
Sagesse enchants himself with stone skin so he can safely approach the nest to look for signs of the child. Looking into the nest Sagesse sees what appears to be a small patch of flesh that is dark skinned, like that of the islanders. Knowing of no other missing people from the village, Sagesse assumes it is the remains of Gunny.
Aiden and Malthus head back to the small structure where Malthus had found the small antique desk. The two start to fashion torches out of the desk’s legs.
Sagesse gives one last inspection of the nest and yells one more time for Gunny, which prompts the closest hatchling to peck at Sagesse. Sagesse manages to step back and swats the creature’s beak away with his staff.
Sagesse informs Shunk that the child is dead.

Shunk “Then I guess we should leave this place.”
Sagesse “ I would say so.”
Shunk yells, “We found the child!”
Johna starts shouting, “He’s here! He’s Here! He’s Here!”
Shunk “He is no more.”
Johna, who was running towards the stairs to the tower level, suddenly stops and collapses to the ground weeping.
Shunk, Thunk, and Sagesse head back down the stairs.
Aiden and Malthus head into a room adjacent to the room with the desk to find another small chamber that has three bookshelves that still has five large, dusty tomes on their shelves. The tomes they peruse appear to be written in some form of ancient capesian, one of which Aiden surmises is a servant log book. Another book appears to be a record of expenditures.
Malthus leaves these two books and grabs the other three tomes and places them in his backpack.
Sagesse stops at the kitchen area to rest and recover some of his spent energy from channeling the Source.
Aiden and Malthus continue to work diligently on creating torches and after about twenty minutes have four torches ready, one of them lit. Sagesse and Marqsam both regroup with Aiden and Malthus and head to the darkness. Going one at a time, the foursome make it safely across the mostly whole bridge. Shunk, Thunk, and Johna stay behind.
Once across …

Malthus states, “Stay close to the wall, we know it is safe there."
Sagesse “Thanks that is good to know.”
Malthus “Oh, and your friend saw a woman.”
Sagesse “Really?”
Aiden “I think I saw something.”
Sagesse “That wouldn’t be wise to say around him,” pointing a finger at the lecherous Marqsam.
Malthus “It probably wasn’t real.”
Sagesse “Yes, perhaps the stress has gotten to your head, Aiden.”
Marqsam “A woman? Was it a good looking woman?”
Malthus “Could be a specter, a ghost … “
Sagesse “If you believe in such things.”
The party eventually finds their way down to the level below. Aiden takes the lead down and the party finds themselves in a huge chamber, large enough that the meager light from their torch does not illuminate the entire chamber. Sagesse and Aiden hear a strange groaning coming from somewhere within the chamber.

Aiden whispers, “Did you hear that?”
Sagesse “Yes.”
Malthus “No I didn’t hear anything at all.”
Sagesse “Let us move cautiously.”
The party moves along, following the wall around the large chamber. Eventually the party comes upon some shackles chained to the wall that are empty. As the party moves along they find another set of empty shackles every twenty feet or so.

Malthus “I really don’t think there is anything down here.”
Sagesse “We are here, so it doesn’t hurt to look. There is some history here that I don’t know that anyone has cataloged.”
Eventually the party moves to a point where they can see the wall opposite the side they came in and notice another set of shackles, this set is not empty however.
Sagesse and Aiden see what appears to be a rotting corpse hanging from the shackles, Malthus and Marqsam see something slightly different, they simply see skeletal remains mostly crumbled and on the ground.
Sagesse and Aiden notice the strange form start to move.

Malthus “This is useless.”
Marqsam “Yes lets move on its just a skeleton.”
Sagesse “What? Don’t you see what I see?”
Aiden “It’s moving!”
Malthus “All I see is a pile of bones,” and starts to walk away completely disinterested.
Sagesse focuses his attention towards the source to try and gain some understanding of the creature before him. (Critical Success, Secret Time)
Sagesse yells at the creature, “What are you!”
The creature’s head snaps up, starting at Sagesse, and groans loudly. The corpse now tries to free itself from its bonds tearing the flesh around its wrists.
Sagesse steps forward focusing the energy of the Source in front of this foul creature.

Marqsam “Come on, lets look over that way,” just as bored with the skeletal remains as Malthus.
Sagesse engulfs the rotting creature in magic flame, the groaning emanating from the corpse becomes a shrill scream. The creature manages to tear one hand free but succumbs to the flame before getting its other hand free. After a few moments the creature is nothing more than blowing embers on the ground.

Malthus mentions, “That was pointless,” having seen Sagesse lay fiery waste to a pile of bones, having not seen or heard the spectacle his fellow priest and the prince witnessed.
Marqsam “Why didn’t you just make light like that before?”
The large area of flame does a fine job of illuminating the large chamber and the group can see no other corpses or items of interest in the large chamber.
Aiden “What do you think that was?”
Sagesse “That was something other than the Source. There was a darker element to that creature.”
Aiden “Do you think you destroyed it?”
Sagesse “I believe it is taken care of.”
Aiden “Weird…”
Sagesse “Something dark had a hold on that one. I put its spirit to rest.”
Aiden “Should we do all the towers or just leave?”
Sagesse “We are here.”
Malthus “I’m done, we want to get back before dark.”
Aiden “Good point.”
Sagesse “Very well then.”
Marqsam “What about that pond? I’m kind of curious about that.”
Sagesse “I did notice a chest sitting in it.”
The entire party gathers back together and heads to the pond, everyone sees the chest that Sagesse was referring to.

Marqsam “I told you this was worth a look… man, this water stinks!”
Malthus “Whatever was in that chest is ruined.”
Marqsam, seeing that no on is overly eager to wade into the brackish pond states, “Oh, come on guys! Alright, I’ll go get it.”
Marqsam steps into the pond but can’t pull the chest out of the muck alone, “Come on Aiden, give me a hand,” he pleads.
Aiden, “Alright.”
Aiden manages to lift his side of the chest out of the muck and the mire but the handle breaks off, sending his side of the chest back into the pond, splashing the filthy, swampy stuff all over Aiden’s pants.
Marqsam is then able to get the chest out and the two drag it to dry land. The chest appears to be new, at least not as old as the items the group found in the keep.
End of Session

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