The party had the opportunity for some outside combat this meeting. However it was in a battlefield that had been picked by the enemy and prepared according to his needs and capabilities. The group was scattered for the most part and although they did manage to keep Selene alive, 19 other townsfolk did die and they are about half spent on healing.
Now the bad guy is getting away into an area that is his home turf and we have an opportunity to follow. So the party's track is now heading towards dungeon crawl (we had outside, town, investigation, diplomacy, and LARPing.). Let's hope they have all they need for this trip.
Write up follows:
We left the city proper of Heatherfield and wound our way north and east; crossing a number of the roads and byways until we arrived at what we had been informed was the Thanach family Homestead. The walls were in good repair and there was a well maintained one story home near an elongated barn and kennel. We rang the bell and waited until a 60ish looking healthy woman came out flanked by a pair of alert shepherds. She approached (not too close) and spoke to us, the party stating they were interested in dogs and had other matters to discuss. She called for her husband, Crastori, to come out and from the kennel along with a dozen other dogs came her husband.
We were invited in to see the grounds and the animals in question. Conversation turned to studding out Whosea and the Thanach family’s following of Demeter as their patron deity. We then turned the conversation more to what we were interested in, uncovering if the family had Selene in their care. And the answer was yes.
Their daughter, Dorothea, was the midwife assistant in question during Selene’s birth and told us of some strange whispering she heard that night; the selfsame whispering that told Torg (Selene’s father) to kill himself. Her presence was unnoticed and she managed to secret Selene’s birth for some time before bringing her to the Thanach home where she has been raised as a quasi-granddaughter to Crastori and Oona. Crastori wasn’t sure where the money was coming from or why, he assumed that he had sold the Silverhair some dogs through a third party years ago and they were supporting his effort by sponsoring his family annually. He was surprised to learn that this was a VERY rare case and that was what had led the party to their family.
We did some checking of the dates and narrowed down that Selene’s actual birth day was two days ago – the same day the Hades ward fired into being in the Raugeri root cellar. Selene was having her name day this Watermonth the 22th (2 days hence) and Flimflam was going to take over to run the ceremony. We felt that whoever was going after the Raugeri family was going to make a play for Selene next and the entire Thanach family was in danger merely by being in the girl’s presence. So for the next two days we were going to make sure someone was here on the family Estate (in fact, two of us), while the rest of us made sure that we were ready and investigated what leads we could around town.
The ceremony was to take place on the next estate owned by Meloder Griffanus, a taciturn older fellow who had beautiful property along with a few low rolling hills, a grotto, and a small pond. He allowed us to look around the place (seeing nothing out of place) and in fact there was already some set up being done (tables, chairs, a podium). There would be maybe 90+ people in attendance at the coming of age party and we knew that we were going to need some luck, eyes, and tactics on our side.
Quintus struck up a flirty friendship with Dorothea, the two of them growing closer as the days marched on. Flimflam was able to get three bottles of holy wine from the Temple of Demeter (normally, not for sale, but he is a druid/priest of and he was willing to perform the ceremony effectively for free.) We then purchased a number of small glass vials and divvied them up amongst the party as holy water/wine assuming undead were going to come out during the ceremony.
Finally the day of the party arrived and almost 100 people made their way to the Griffanus Estate were 5 trestle tables had been set up along with almost a dozen smaller tables. There were two fire pits (point of danger – Marcus and Geld took up position there) each with something brazing upon it. Many of the locals brought something to eat and for two hours there was much eating and conversation. The party stood out slightly (armed and armored) but did mingle and keep a watchful eye of the proceedings. Quintus had cast Mage Armor on Selene, Dorothea, and a few others in the Thanach family. There was some frolicking and general eating and goodwill for a few hours until noon arrived and Flimflam began the actual ceremony itself.
The group was around the entire perimeter of the gathering, watchful and alert. Only Flimflam and Quintus were near the heart of the group. And then Whosea and Sanford grew excited and anxious, broke ranks and charged Selene. She was born off the dais and into the crowd a moment before one of the barrels that were making up the lectern of the podium grew superheated and exploded.
Flim and Quintus were both badly hurt and burned and some 9 other people in the crowd were set on fire from the exploding oil fire. Selene was prodded to her feet and was told to run – and then at the 4 cardinal points of the fire appeared 4 flaming demonic looking monkeys, each almost 6 feet in height and each bearing a feral cunning and a terrible glint of mad intelligence in their eyes.
Flimflam cast JUMP and cleared his way out of the fire while Quintus jumped and rolled his way to Dorothea who was badly hurt and dazed from the explosion. Selene was running towards Marcus, but the crowd was thick and mad. The monkeys started attacking the crowd and hurling fire everywhere. The group was scattered and there was no easy way to concentrate their strengths.
Zeta was pushing his way through the crowd, trying to get closer. Tranis had the longest to travel, running across the field, bow out ready to pick targets. Marcus and Geld shoved their way through, spears out. Oona and Crastori were yelling for Selene. A nearby monkey smashed into Dorothea and knocked her down and out and then another turned on Quintus who raced away fast. We learned that attacking the monkeys caused the fires on their body to flare out…and killing one made it explode – setting others around it on fire as well.
Another table exploded – this time right next to Selene, causing the girl to veer off course to Marcus and dropping another 5 count of townsfolk. Meanwhile the oil fires continued to spread and another 4 flaming monkeys appeared. Quintus, being chased by a much faster monkey threw himself into the grotto and dropped into the water, quenching the flames. The monkey stood on the edge of the water and threw flaming crap before turning his attention to the rest of the fleeing townsfolk. Spears flew and arrows followed and the monkeys targeted dropped and howled, their wild animalistic fury shifting to those who dared to strike them.
One monkey grew very close Selene and Marcus noted an elf on the far edge of the clearing was standing there with a bow out – who then drew back and let fire 3 clothyard shafts to intercept the demonic ape. Selene was spared and Whosea took the brunt of one of the attacks, the brave canine going down to 2 hp. Zeta was trading blows and losing, Quintus pulled himself from the water and let fire a pair of magic missiles. Marcus exerted his will and affected normal fire on the huge oil fire, cutting its area in half and saving many of the locals from further burning oil.
While scouring the battlefield we noted a think wavering sheet of flame creeping across the ground and heading to another table and our elven aide did as well, sending a volley of arrows over there to plunge into the ground and disrupt it from its source. It worked as the fires died around the moneys, making them no longer as terrible a threat, and stopping the spreading flames. It took a few more minutes to bring the chaos under control and then healing was doled out. Oona and Crastori were hurt badly but would live, same with Dorothea. Selene was healthy. Most of the party was hurt and suffering from painful wounds.
However as to the threat – we found 2 of the elven archer’s shafts, but one was missing. The archer, haughty, arrogant, high elven – identified himself as Pecheri Longwalker Silverhair and he was here to make sure nothing happened to the “human whelp”. He was more incensed at the loss of one of his arrows that was not accounted for. We also could not find a hole where the enemy spell caster and monkey summoner had come from. The thought was illusion. Pecheri browbeat Quintus into walking around blindly until he stumbled through an illusionary hole and fell down a set of stairs. Below were the remains of a ritual, a discarded hammer, and the missing arrow. Some blood splatters were seen but they ended immediately leading us to think of magical healing or potions.
Pecheri was pissed at his broken arrow and wanted to hunt down whoever and whatever it was. We know it was hit and fled, and this is our best lead to finding out what it was and what it could be. The elf gave us an hour to gather ourselves together and then we should plumb the depths before whatever it is gets away.
So here it was, 1:15 on Watermonth the 22nd, 19 villagers had died during the attack, and Selene Thanach nee Raugeri was still alive – but her mysterious killer (and maybe murderer for the last 25 years!) was on the run in the gloom and dark of an unexplored dungeon. We had an hour to gather ourselves up and then give chase. And the clock was ticking.