The party takes it's time searching the remains and the grounds around the battlefield. 8 gp's, 13 sp's, and 6 cp's, are discovered a few arrows remain intact as well as a few orcish shields and spare bits of armor. a strange set of footprints are found that lead of into the woods and then are gone but not much else. most things are damaged from the fire.
Trillian and Hingutulli the announce to the party thier decision to leave the group and go in search of the cleric's vision in hopes that it may help the party at a later time. 1 of the dogs goes with them as the wave by and head off into the forest.
Anvil, Rat, and T'sal are left with Sprinkles to ponder their fate and choose their path. It is now around 10:00 a.m. with a partly cloudy sky and a slight SW breeze.
After a brief and somewhat confusing discussion, the remaining adventurers notice that Sprinkles has curled up in a corner of the bunkhouse for nap. After the nights adventures this strikes them as a very wise idea and so they decide to follow the advice of Master Sprinkles.
The group will divy up the spoils and then rest for 12 hours in order to go up a level. (I am guessing and hoping that part of this time would be used for T'Sal to also learn a second magic missile spell since study would seem to be a part of going up a level.) The group will split up guard duty, while making sure that each has the time required to study.
Before sitting down to rest and study they will make sure they know where the tracks are and in what direction they seem to be headed. They will also attempt to discern how many people made the tracks and if the race/species can be identified - or anything else of use. This is to be done in the daylight. If all goes peacefully during the day the group should be ready to move out around 10p.m. that evening. At that point if everything has been peaceful the group will attempt to follow the tracks. If that proves difficult at night we will need to reevaluate the situation.
If is good to be going again - I look forward to continuing the adventure.
As the day wore on Anvil spent his time resting, practicing sword strokes and contemplating the complexities of tracking. T'Sal appeared to be consumed by his spell books when he wasn't resting himself. Rat, well one could never really tell what a halfling was thinking. He whistled when he was awake at any rate. And, to be honest, he kinda whistled and snored when asleep as well. The halflings "practice" at thievery was something Anvil found interesting to watch . . . and probably wise to keep an eye on as well. Not that he didn't trust the little thief, of course. It was odd to think that you would trust someone with your life, but perhaps not your pocketbook. Hhhhmmm....
Late in the afternoon Sprinkles woke, stretched and yawned. The entire group seemed to take the hint from the dog and prepared to move out.
During the day Anvil had gone out and examined the tracks and briefly followed them, noting the direction in which they were headed as well as noting the types of signs that would be left to follow later. (Practing tracking! )
Now the group went out and set out following the trail as best they could. They wanted to make decent time, but did not want to lose the trail.
The marching order is Anvil - T'Sal - Rat & Sprinkles
This assumes that nobody has tracking skills. If anyone does, this will need to be adjusted.
The flickering torch light and lack of special skills makes it hard for the group as they try to follow the unusual tracks into the woods. Frequent stops are required as they lose the trail and have to search hard to regain it several times as they get deeper in. About 2 hrs. go by and the progress is limited. It seems they are covering about a 5 foot a minute as Anvil has to get on his knees to look for signs many times in the stop and start search. Sprinkles is not much help as the only smell any are able to detect is an acrid smokeness that only gets stronger as the wind there way deeper in to the dark forest. Strange animal sounds cause one or another to jump and Sprinkles is proving a handful for Rat as he strains to go investigate.
3 hrs. in, the party comes to the source of the eveloping smell as they approach a small clearing. Feelings of dread and fear quickly raise the hairs on everyones neck as they take in the scene. Burnt out torches encircle a stone slab on a quickly built platform. The mutilated body of a woman lays in a glistening pool of blackend blood. Shreds of clothing are scattered around the evicerated corpse. Bile rises in everyones throat as you all try to keep from gaging as the horror of it all seeps into you brains.
Just then a strange bluish glow surround the mangled form on the altar and the corpse slowly raises it's head. A croaking strangle voice escapes it's battered lips.
"Betrayed! My heart is broken! My soul will never rest!"
The corpse now looks at you all as if just noticing you. All are rooted to the ground as the force of true heartfelt pain touches your very souls. Sprinkles shies away and wimpers as hecurls into a ball.
"Help me! My soul you must save! Find my mothers necklace and you will find my killer and my love. return it to me so that i may rest. Jon why, why did you do this to me! My mother's pearls! That's all i had left of her! You promised me a better life! you said you loved me!"
With that the corpse leans towards you and points at each of you
"Find the Bastard and return my necklace or i will find YOU!!"
with that the corpse falls back to the slab as the torches around the altar suddenly burst into flame.
"M'lady it seems that some greivous evil has been done to you. We would be honored to return your pearls to you. We shall endevour to fulfill your wishes. When we return, you may rest in peace."
So saying Anvil looked around nervously, thinking that again the dog had shown his wisdom in acting nervously around the apparition. The entire situation was creepy and not at all to his liking. Clearly great evil had been done here.
The group will slowly approach the altar and look around the clearing. However, their they will make every attempt to look for signs worth tracking - presumably the area is fairly well trampled so the focus will be on the area around the edge for tracking. The group will be careful to touch nothing. Rat will be making sure to keep an eye out for traps, T'Sal will focus on the altar and things arcane, while Anvil will keep his eye on the outer edge of the circle and the woods looking for potential intruders. At this point they want to get a closer look before doing anything besides walking a bit closer.
As the group goes about there appointed tasks and slowly approach the altar the torches start to lose their flame and the bluish glow seems to diminish. T'sal motions to the others as she notices the corpse starting to change. All of you gather around (except sprinkles who is staying on the outer edge)the altar and witness the quick decay of flesh as the corpse turns into a skeleton. Everyone's hair goes on edge again as the faint blue glow dies and gives birth to a harsh violet light emeinating from the hole where her heart once was. a deafening shroek sends all to there knees as a ghostly visiage errupts from the broken skeleton. The dire death mask of the womans ghost looks down upon you and a shrill voice is heard inside you heads.
"You have accepted. Good. Now your work must truly begin. You don't have long until the evil done to me envelopes what is left of my soul and then i will forever walk this earth destroying life where i find it. Yours will be first. This is not a threat just a fact since we are now linked. Take my ring(at that moment a gold and ruby ring falls from the skeletons hand)it will give some protection also take a lock of my hair. keep it close and it will help lead you to that bastard. Hurry before both our fates are sealed."
The ghost slowly dissapates and total silence fall over you. the torches go out and darkness rushes in. You have aprrox. 1 week.
More than a little spooked by the ghost, Anvil accepts the ghosts of the dead woman. Anvil passes the ring to T'Sal, with the suggestion that a mage might know what to do with it.
Anvil kept the hair himself, even though it gave him the heebie jeebies. As the one in the lead, it seemed to make sense.
With that the group decided to move out quickly. Rat kept his eye out for traps as they moved out, T'Sal watched the surrounding woods and tried to figure out the ring, and Anvil attempted to pick up the path that had brought them this far. Anvil also keeps an eye on the hair to see how it might lead them where they needed to go.
Shaken by the encounter with the ghostly woman the party sets out in search of the one who had slain her. Anvil grasps the hair in his left hand and to his surprise the hair coils tightly around his index finger like a snake. The ends of the hair dig into his flesh and with a small grunt of pain a small jolt travels down his arm as his hand gets a mind of it's own and his finger points in a north by northwest direction. it ramains firm for just a few seconds and then relents control back to Anvil. The course is set.
T'sal slips the ring onto her finger with a "what the hell." gesture to the others. it forms to her ring size with a flash of pink light. She feels a slight surge of energy that let's her know that this ring is indeed magical but, she as of yet can not determine it's nature.
Now that the course is set the group douses the torch and relies on their infravision as the set of int the general directon. It is a slow pace they have to go as this area had been logged not to long ago and many stumps and branches litter the way. Several hours pass as the continue in to burnt lands, Anvil knows the direction is true as the sun starts to rise and the land is bathed in light once again. The sounds of rushing waters comes to ear and ignites thirst in the group. Sprinkles strains and the leash wanting to go insearch of a drink. Rat is well prepared this time and controls the large animal with a firm yank and a pat on the head. Several minutes go by as the party makes it's way out of smoldering copse of evergreens to stare longingly at the swift moving creek. Up in the distance the burnt remains of a bridge can be seen. As the party takes time to survey the suroundings and gather water Anvil notices the deep impresions of armored footprints.
Sprinkles then raises nose to the air and starts to bristle. A low throaty growl escapes her mouth as the party hears the sounds of marching feet not to far ahead. The group freezes and then goes to cover as movement is seen at the chared bridge. Black armored figures are crossing the road and can be seen as they top the hill at the burnt out bridgehead. It's hard to count as they are at a quick march but the numbers are strong. maybe 15, maybe more. It's not long before the are out of sight and then out of hearing. Anvil looks down at his hand and the at the rest of the small group. Everyone knows it but no one says it. Yes, they are going the same way the hair wants them to go.
As Hingutuli voices his prayer his mind clouds with the vision he is all to familier with. The gods voice reverbrates in his mind.
"Find it soon the time is growing short."
He feels the god touch his soul as spells are suddenly known to him.
He knows he must go his own way. When he explained to the party that morning at the logging camp all were understanding. Then Trillion spoke up his desire to go as well. He knew the importance of what a god wants. and so the split happened. Hingutuli and Trillion left then. Muffin eyed Sprinkles and then followed with them. Since then it had been a hard slog as he went were he felt lead. at first this took them back toward the town and the a ramble through the forest, but now as the sun was slowly climbing the morning sky the small party eyed the blighted lands once again.
They had not gone far into this accursed land but already it surounded them and eveloped them with it's evil and dread. They had come to a small stream stinking of sulphur. Strange plants grew down it's banks that were thick with foul red mud. Hingutuli lead the way as the party slowly made their way along the stream bank. Hingutuli lost his footing and splashed down into the stream. It was then that the heard the Hiss. Muffin went to full alert barking for all he was worth, as the large reptile sped down th water toward Hingutuli. Every bit of 20' mottled an ugly grey and black the snake was coming for them.
I need init. rolls please give me an idea of your actions. You are currently on your arse in about a foot and a half of water with a slick bottom and banks. I'll wait a little while and see if Darque will be able to take control of Trillion if not i'll NPC him. Your new spells I will PM you tomorrow I've got to find my book.
The group will continue to follow the hair. Same formation, and go where the hair leads. We do not want to catch up to the orcs, so we give them a little while to get ahead of us - about 15 minutes or so. As we travel we will try to be very quiet and will listen very closely. If we hear noise (presumably ahead, but from anywhere) we will find cover. We should have an idea of how fast the orcs were marching - we will make sure we are not travelling faster than that. We do NOT want to catch the orcs - or be caught BY them!
(Are we headed East or West on the road? To follow the hair and the orcs do we have to cross the bridge or do we stay on the West side of the river?)