The two of them had another game night and they were going out in a group of 7 to hunt down the mountain lion that that killed another party’s thief. The mountain lion was going to harry the party with hit and run attacks before the mad hermit would make his appearance.
The Mad Hermit is one of those things that can spell a TPK to an unprepared party and as it was, it was a close thing here. At the end of the fight, we had one character with 6 hp, one with 3, 2 with 2, and 3 with 1 hp each. And no more healing. Another successful strike from the lion OR the hermit and it would have permanent death to anyone at the group.
But the Mad Hermit is written up in such a way that he is a travelling holy man, and I played it as such. Such an imposing figure and a terrible fight, that his battle cries about the Silent Gods were chilling. As it is – the two of them spent a few days in real life occasionally calling one another and saying, “The Silent Gods Hate You!”
Write up follows:
It took us half an hour to get to the part of the trail near where Jakes and his party had made camp – and from there, we set off into the woods to the north. Jakes, Sparks, and Darren all felt that we had to head north and northwest to find where Larson had been assaulted, but no one was entirely sure. Hoping to get more of a view, Charlotte offered to climb a tree but after only 8’ or so off the ground, a branch gave way and she slipped down.
As we were helping her up, a brown and black mountain lion burst from the underbrush and hit Corg, tearing into the fighter’s back before leaping away a few of our arrows trailing after him. His wounds were treated and then we set off looking again.
The afternoon waned and the light was slowly failing. Charlotte was convinced she smelled soup but wandering around the darkening woods we didn’t find the source. We kept going, northwest this time, keeping a ready eye out for our quarry. The forest became wilder, less safe, no sign of trails or anything.
Eventually we heard a creaking and the party slowed down, eventually beholding a large oak looking tree. Near the trunk, hanging, was a humanoid figure. A noose vine was wrapped around his throat, his fingertips trapped under the noose as well, and flesh purplish and rotting. And he slowly, slow, swung back a forth a few inches live some macabre pendulum, creaking from the branch above.
It freaked all seven of the party out. They wanted to cut him down, but didn’t want to get close. They shot the body, an arrow sinking into the dead flesh with a wet thunk. Nothing happened. Jakes offered to step forward and cut the man down. We watched with quiet care as the burly fighter stepped up to the dead man and lifted his sword.
And the group watched in horror as fresh nooses dropped from the tree above and landed around Jakes. He managed to duck a bit away but it looped around his up-stretched sword arm and lifted tight. His sword fell from his grasp and he was being elevated. William dared to run to Jakes while the rest of us were screaming at him to get free. As more nooses were dropping, William leapt and slashed the one holding Jakes up – severing the vine and dropping the fighter back to the ground. He gathered his fallen sword and the group ran back and away from the hangman’s tree.
We opted to no longer head north or northwest, between the failing light and the fear of what worse could be out there. We instead wanted to head back south and get out of the forest while there was a scrap of daylight. So we headed that way until the twilight came and night fell and we were lost in the woods.
Jakes and William took over now: we lit torches and two teams went out to collect LOTS of firewood with the remaining three would clear out an area to sleep at as well as make a fire pit. Once established, the group shared what food was in their pouches, shot the breeze for a little bit, and then drew up an order to keep watch – no less than 2 people on a given time. Charlotte and William would take first watch and would then awaken Sparks and Darren, who would then awaken Loq and Corg, and finally Jakes would have last watch by himself.
So the group went to sleep, the two friends stayed near the fire, keeping the flames bright and cheery, staving off the night chill and keeping the darkness away. They chatted quietly about the inability to find the mountain lion again or discover where Larson went. They also wanted to get back to town for a little bit and then get back to the Caves.
It was around 10 PM or so when the two friends heard a voice from the dark call out, “Hail the fire! Can I approach?” William said sure while Charlotte quickly awoke the rest of the party. The man can into the light, over 50, wiry grey hair, sort of a hunchback, wild eyes, oversized nose with a mole on the side of it, clad in layers of scavenged clothes and cloaks.
He identified himself as Martigan, a travelling holy man who preys to “all gods from all times should they want to hear my voice.” We were very distrusting of him but shared the fire, Martigan sitting between Jakes and Darren. He talked at length for a bit, preaching lightly, until it was dropped that “all people are loved except for thieves. Dirty rotten untrustworthy shits – they deserve nothing but to die.”
Charlotte was very bothered at him and the rest of the group was getting uncomfortable. But he asked her if she was loved? And she said yes. So he nodded, said, “Maybe, but the Silent Gods hate you,” and he snapped his fingers pointing at her.
And the mountain lion leapt from the trees above and tore into Charlotte, dropping her to 0 and killing her.
Martigan began laughing at this and drew a wicked 11” knife from a fold in his cloak, laying open Jakes’ scalp in a 6” slash across his face. Darren tossed one of the last 3 elixirs to Loq while Corg and William assaulted the mountain lion, trying to get it off of Charlotte’s dying form. They succeeded, the two fighters getting slashed in the process by the large cat’s claws.
The thief no longer under the feline’s claws, Loq was able to stabilize her, bringing her back north of 0 hp. Meanwhile Jakes was having a difficult time in hitting the wiry Martigan; in fact one blow that looked like it would connect instead was turned aside by a flash of eldritch blue light.
Sparks had backed up and drew his bow out, readying an arrow to shoot when the crazed hermit whirled on one foot and hurled his Kris bladed dagger the 15’ distance where it plunged into the magic-user’s chest – dropping him to 0. He crowed, “The Silent Gods Hate You!” and dragged another dagger free, reestablishing his attack with Jakes.
Darren raced to Sparks with the one of the last 2 elixirs, plucking the knife free from the wizard’s chest. Meanwhile Loq had gotten Charlotte back to her feet, the thief with tears in her eyes and murder on her lips. She drew her own dagger and joined William and Corg on whittling the mountain lion down, the trio slashing and hacking at the crazed and whirling feline.
Sparks managed to get to his feet, eyed blurry but breathing again thanks to Darren’s efforts. He snatched his bow from the ground and angrily shouted at Jakes to “kill that mad man!” At that point the mountain lion was stabbed deep and gave a dying roar, collapsing to the ground. This caused the mad holy man to grow wroth and leap upon Jakes, plunging his dagger again and again into the fighter’s back, howling about the silent gods hating him. Jakes fell over, bleeding out.
Sparks shot the mad man, but his arrow was turned aside by another flash of blue, and then Martigan leapt over the fire, dagger high, trying to skewer Charlotte. At the last moment William stepped in front of her, taking the blow that would have killed the thief on his own armored chest. Everyone was badly wounded now and Darren used the last healing elixir to bring Jakes back to positive hit points (1!!).
Corg and William tried to push Martigan into the fire but he held his ground, slashing and hacking, daggers whirling. But he was overmatched and outnumbers and with a final round of cuts and stabs, the party managed to bring Martigan down, killing at long last the crazed holy man, who gave a final spitting curse, “The Silent Gods Hate You!”
We bound our wounds, refed the fire, and looked over Martigan. The only thing of interest? An iron ring on his left pinky that would not come over his knobby knuckle. So William plied knife and cut it free. No one knew what to make of it; it had no markings or adornments. William tried it on and it fit his finger and then seemed to snug down, not coming off. There was talk of removing it (with knife!) but Darren and Loq urged the fighter to wait till he got back to the keep and see if it was dangerous or cursed.
We slept the remainder of the night and awoke feeling much better for our rest. Jakes and company told Loq he could have the mountain lion since he had the final blow that slayed it. We shouldered it and set off in the day light back south. It was some half hour later that Charlotte thought she smelled herbs again (soup like) and we all fanned out, finding what we assumed was Martigan’s home – a hollowed out trunk of a tree.
It was cramped inside, mismatched furniture, leaves, and just a mess. Charlotte gave the place a once over, eventually having William help her to toss the leaves on the floor aside. To her eyes, the dirt floor looked d a little disturbed, so she used her dagger and stabbed it all over until she heard a “clank” under the earth. Digging down, the two friends revealed a thin metal box that they took into the sun to open. A check for traps revealed none and then the hasp was busted off and opened.
Inside were gold and silver and a fairly nice dagger with some runes on it. Charlotte wanted it but Jakes wasn’t going to just give it up – they settled on him and his people took the coin while she took the blade. From here we wandered back to the Keep and everyone was a bit sad to part ways. Jakes and his friends were going to the Hospice to heal up a bit and then go back to Larson’s family to give them his share of their treasure before eventually coming back to return to the caves.
Loq and Corg were going to relax and heal up as well, getting a confirmation from the two friends that they would be going back in 2 or 3 days and wanted to hire the two of them again. They agreed and would meet up on the 26th.
From here Charlotte and William went across the training yard to the three towers on the far side of the keep, hoping to talk to the elven sage and wizard named Quasor. It took some doing before we were let in to talk to him but once inside, he was both deferential and interested in our findings.
We showed him William’s ring first and was assured it was not harmful or would kill the fighter. It was not associated with the Silent Gods, but maybe one of the sky gods and associated with protection. Hence why the blue blasts – wearing the ring most likely offered the fighter some protection from physical blows – and the tightness meant that it couldn’t be accidentally removed. He was thankful to have it and nodded his appreciation.
As for the dagger, the runes identified it as “Tranquil Wave” and was one of a group of 4 daggers that used to belong to the King’s Thieves some time ago, a royal group of spies and informers who would protect the king’s interests abroad. The group had been disbanded almost a century earlier and the knives lost over time. It was whispered that the daggers had a strong enchantment upon them, making them shake off rust, fail to bend even under the harshest conditions, and were almost otherworldly sharp.
Charlotte was wondering, if there was one knife here, would the other 3 be as well? They wanted to look out for them in the Caves. And that lead Quasor to ask the group to bring back some goblin viscera for him to use to continue and refine his enchantments on a magic sword he was working on – “Goblin’s Bane”. We would be paid well for our bounty and upon completion of the blade’s sorcery, we were to be given first option to buy the sword.
It was now 10:30 on the 23rd and we had some errands to do and then wanted to go to the Hospice and rest, getting our wounds tended to.