16-JAN-2010

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The group sets about securing supplies and a new scythe for Xantha, and hear that the roads are unusually quiet for the time of year, with very little traffic from Summervale, Koshrak's View or Hammerfall Pass. Some of the group remain behind to divert attention, spreading rumours that they have gone to loot Athelthiar.

With this in mind, the rest of the group leaves town later that day. A few hours later, Krato (Fucius Noran's raven familiar), spots something on the road ahead as they head north. Advancing cautiously, the party notices that the earth has been disturbed by some large burrowing animal – and one that is obviously very large and carnivorous, as they find some human remains in the ground. Fucius takes some rings they found on a dismembered hand and they continue north once again.

A few hours later, Krato sights a group of approximately three dozen people clustered on the road ahead, all armed. The group appear to be comprised of unarmoured humans, some still dressed in their nightclothes, and they are completely silent. Forewarned by Krato the party approaches cautiously, and the people charge towards them, again eerily silent. As they draw closer, the party notices that their attackers eyes are completely black, with what looks like wisps of black smoke coming from their eyes. Fucius recognises some form of necromantic charm magic in evidence as the group defends themselves against their attackers.

Tonrar and Xantha Lukka prepare a defence while Issaria and Fucius use their magic to help: casting grease, color spray, magic missile and a well-placed fog cloud stops the attackers flanking the group. They make no sound as they are cut down and Tonrar tries to subdue one for questioning, a notion that nearly costs him his life as the woman he took prisoner sinks her sharp teeth into his arm spilling a chill black ichor across his skin. Numbed by the terrible cold emanating from the bite (although she failed to draw blood), Tonrar is forced to kill her as she tries to strangle him. With her death, the body transforms to that of a corpse of several weeks old.

The group chooses to head away from the road, toward Issaria Snowleaf's village, Norvar. However, they discover Norvar to be abandoned – and has been for some time. After the Purge of Fire, any rumours of a military incursion lead to the civilian populace evacuating to the nearest fortification. Issaria's village Norvar is boarded up, with a month of weeds growing in the plots and fields, and the party spends the night in the local chapel of Pelor, surrounded by dust and the memory of a village. During the course of the night, Tonrar finds his dagger is missing.

The following morning sees the group leaving Norvar for the hills. When the party’s horses suddenly become agitated, the party goes on the defensive, with good reason – the trees are shaking as something approaches at speed: a Bulette (landshark) attacks! As the creature charges after the horses, Tonrar elects to chase after it as it pursues the fleeing horses...

A desperate battle ensues: as Issaria covers the Bullette in grease, Tonrar attempts to leap on top of the landshark, but slams into its side. Fucius Noran sets the bulette on fire but it seems to ignore the pain. The beast turns on Tonrar and wounds him horribly before turning it attention to the rest of the party. The party fights for their lives; they all battle valiantly, and the beast is dead – but not before it bellows its defiance and its mate responds…

The party makes its escape: Tonrar wishes to skin the Bulette, but the rest of the party encourages him to leave with haste, with another bulette in the locality!

The group makes rapid progress through the woods to Windsmeet, a ruin atop a tor, where they choose to spend the night. The ruins themselves predate the Volkranian civilisation, and are believed to be haunted. However it provides a spectacular view of the area, and also is far easier to defend. Taking turns in maintaining a watch, a mist draws in surrounding the ruins. Xantha is convinced she can hear voices in the mist, but aside from unnerving her, nothing else happens.

As the group nears Koshrak's View, Fucius loses his mental link with Krato and the group are ambushed. Two crossbow bolts narrowly miss Issaria and Fucius, as two Blue Mandragora rush in to attack. Deadly combatants, both Mandragora are more than a match for the party – and are on the verge of killing Tonrar when a band of dwarves come to the groups rescue with a volley of crossbow bolts.