24 Eleint 1384 D.R.
Year of Three Streams Blooded
The party took advantage of the early afternoon sun and proceeded through the woods at a brisk pace. Pretty soon, they noticed the sounds of wildlife had diminished, and, investigating, Badrick climbed a nearby hill to have a look around.
While atop the hill, a large snake dropped down atop Badrick, and he froze as it slithered away, down the hill toward the party. However, rather than allowing it to depart, Badrick followed it, and it soon sensed his presence and altered its course, challenging Badrick. The serpent wrapped itself about his legs as he once again froze in place, and it began climbing his torso. Grasping for the snake while precariously balancing on a wooded slope is not advisable, however, and Badrick wound up grabbing the snake further behind the head than he had planned, allowing it to strike him on his wrist. Letting go of the tree he was using to support himself, Badrick grabbed the serpent behind the head and pried its fangs loose from his flesh.
Meanwhile, Anders was frantically scampering up the hill to assist Badrick, and as Badrick gained some measure of control over the snake, Anders drew his dagger, intending to stab the serpent through the head.
The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, however, and as Anders thrust his dagger at the snake head, his foot slipped ever-so-slightly, and the dagger missed the snake, stabbing into Badrick’s already bleeding wrist. Badrick gritted his teeth and snarled at Anders to “remove the dagger from my wrist, priest, and kindly cut the SNAKE with it this time!”
Anders, abashed, withdrew the blade from Badrick’s gushing wrist, and, this time, carefully sliced the snake’s head off.
After tending Badrick’s wound, the party continued their search for the Cult in the hills nearby. Soon, they caught a whiff of cooking meat, and quietly made their way through the woods toward a cave entrance in the rock face of an escarpment.
Rummy snuck forward, listening at the entrance, and heard three voices laughing, arguing, and drunkenly cavorting inside. As he tried to figure out what they were doing, one announced he was headed out to piss, and Rummy concealed himself beside the entrance just as a dirty, bedraggled fellow crawled out, stretching his back and groaning.
The man ambled over to a tree and began relieving himself, and Rummy took the opportunity to sidle up behind him and interrogate him at the end of his dagger. The fellow explained that he and his friends had been turned away from Keczulla, and, growing weary, had taken refuge in the cave, where they had spent a couple of days drinking away their misfortune and dodging the snakes that infested the woods. Rummy summoned the rest of the party to his side, and then coerced the fellow to invite his friends outside for a parley.
Within moments, another figure exited the cave, and the party held him at sword point, awaiting the arrival of the owner of the third voice. However, instead of his arrival, the party was treated to the distant sound of a bell being rung, and, sensing they were quickly losing control of the situation, the party ended the lives of the two bedraggled men.
Seconds later, the vines and undergrowth around their feet began to writhe and wrap themselves around their ankles, and Mesmer spotted several figures approaching furtively from the base of the hill. The party scampered up the rock face, narrowly avoiding being completely entangled in the vegetation, and Mesmer slunk into the shadows of a large tree.
Moments later, six nearly naked men, their bodies colorfully tattooed in serpentine patterns, burst from the trees in pursuit of the party. As the first figure passed Mesmer’s hiding place, she jumped out, whispering words of arcane energy and spreading her hand in front of the rest of the pursuers.
A burst of dazzling colors sprang from her hand, enveloping the tattooed men, and all five crashed to the ground, their minds momentarily scrambled from the hypnotic light show.
Badrick launched a handaxe at the remaining pursuer, and it buried itself through his chest, its blade sticking out between his shoulder blades.
The party carefully climbed back down, and began dispatching the unconscious men, but Tonan lost his footing on the rock face and fell, knocking himself senseless at the mouth of the cave.
As the party slit the throats of the slumbering men, a robed figure dashed out of the cave, raising a sickle above his head and aiming for Tonan’s neck. Seeing the danger, Anders lunged across the gap, intending to impale the robed figure on his rapier. However, he became entangled in the undergrowth at the last moment, and plunged his rapier not through the attacker as planned, but through the shoulder of Tonan Anvilwork.
While not exactly what Anders had envisioned, his errant skewering of his companion did have its desired effect, causing Tonan to gain his senses and recoil from the pain, and thus dodge the descending sickle, which lodged in the ground where his neck had been a split-second before.
The party dispatched the figure quickly, and listened for any other sounds of aggression, but were met with only the silence of the woods.
Anders, cursing his luck, carefully tried to help staunch the flow of blood from Tonan’s wound, while avoiding the questioning glances from his other companions. For his part, however, Tonan took the wound without complaint, again not seeming to be fully present.