The Lands of Bryll

Session 6
Fall of the Baron

The party kept out of sight until the enemy troops started their next advance on the hill. A few archers held back under cover after firing a volley at the ruins. The leader of the enemy troops, an orc in ring mail, loosed two war dogs on the hill.

Ongewasgone advanced to within arrow range and began to fire. Sendaros moved up and blasted the enemy with lightning. Judah began his advance to cover the mage. Battle was joined.

The enemy archers’ short bows couldn’t match the elf’s range, so they moved closer. A portly man in a pink hat began chanting a spell, but Sendaros interrupted his casting with a blast of magic, staggering him back. Judah took an arrow to the leg, but he managed to close with them to prevent them from using their bows on him again.

The battle on the hill grew fierce as the Baron –seeing the foe’s attention split by his newly arrived friends– led his troops out to finish the foe on the slopes.

The orc called his dogs back and they bounded to his aid. One savaged Judah, but the other failed to penetrate his defenses. The bronze shield’s magic seemed to aid in protecting him.

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Ongewasgone’s arrows continued to do their deadly work, and Judah’s mace struck home on several foes. Sendaros managed one more blast of arcane energy before his mana was spent.

Up on the hill, the Baron’s horse had been cut out from under him and he was rallying his men around him. The enemy’s ranks were thinned, but there were still plenty of blades to avoid.

The orc leader fell bleeding and the dogs were wounded badly enough that they fled. The archers lost heart and tried to flee, but one more fell to an arrow. Sendaros called out to the enemy on the hill that their leader and the mage were fallen, trying to break their morale. He then tied the dying orc’s wrists and bound his wounds to stabilize him.

Judah and Ongewasgone rushed the hill to help the Baron, but he had fallen beneath the onslaught of the desperate foes. Judah dropped one as Ongewasgone fired into another cluster of men near a different section of ruined wall. Soon, the enemy was either slain or fled.

Sendaros questioned the orc. His name was Dawl, and he was a captain in Sir Merrot’s service. Sir Merrot was a rival of Baron Raythun’s. Dawl gave his parole and offered a ransom of fifty silver for his safe return to Sir Merrot’s home. The party agreed but took his arms as prizes. Dawl seemed sanguine about it; being a professional soldier, he expected no less.

It turned out he was an escapee from the Old Empire’s orcish slave troops. He had found his way to the Splintered Princes and took service as a sellsword. His training helped his rise in the ranks.

Dawl also told the party that with the Baron dead, these lands would quickly become contested between Sir Merrot to the south and Lord Watley to the north. Judah instructed the Baron’s men to bury the dead in a cairn made from the ruin’s rubble. He also had the fallen foes interred at the base of the hill in a mass grave. The soldiers planted the Baron’s standard atop the cairn and prepared to return his body to his home. The group decided to take Dawl south to collect his ransom and take their measure of this Sir Merrot.

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Session 5
Back to the Baron!

With Ongewasgone scouting ahead, the group trekked northwest. The traveled cross-country, skirting the southern edge of the Moors heading back to the Splintered Princes and their employer; the Baron. The rain had reduced to a drizzle but the air was cool.

After several hours’ hiking, Ongewasgone espied a small village in a low stretch between the hills. It was far enough away that he couldn’t discern whether it was occupied. The party decided upon caution and circled wide to avoid contact.

Not long before dusk, they found a small copse of trees to shield themselves and made camp. Ongewasgone backtracked a bit to see if he could hide their trail, but the mud made for far too many tracks to cover, so he returned to camp. Judah cooked a modest meal and the party set watches.

Not long before dawn, while Judah was on sentry duty, he heard a distant wailing voice on the wind. It seemed to come from the North, but sounded quite far away. As there was no further noise, he waited until first light to wake the party. The sun actually appeared in the sky that morning and the sky was a brilliant blue. The air was cold and there were hints of frost on the ground; signs that autumn was well under way.

The group made good time that morning, heading steadily closer to their destination. It was nearing midday when Ongewasgone saw two things that brought the group up short. The first was a stone well ahead of them in a field. The second thing was the realization that the mounds and hummocks the dotted the field they had been walking through were overgrown cairns. They had strayed into a burial ground. Judah recognized the features as a typical arrangement after certain ancient battles. The survivors would erect cairns over the valorous dead where they had fallen.

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Sendaros and Ongewasgone were all for retreating out of the field as quickly as possible, fearing evil spirits or worse. Stellatus wished to investigate the well, however. As he approached the ring of stones, a gigantic serpent rose up out of the hole, fangs bared. At the same time, one of the cairns near Judah’s feet shifted and a rock fell away as a bony hand reached out.

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Ongewasgone fired his longbow at the serpent knocking it off balance before it could exit the well. Judah swung at the skeleton with his mace and the rest of the party moved to engage. More skeletons started to crawl from the cairns and the snake bit Stellatus. Sendaros fired bolts of energy from his wand at the foes, but his more powerful magics seemed fickle.

Eventually, the party vanquished the monsters, but not before one of the undead clawed Ralf’s (the soldier sent along by the Baron) throat out, killing him outright. Stellatus buried him in one of the now empty cairns, saying words of the Radiance over the body. Judah found two silver coins in each empty cairn (presumably laid over the dead men’s eyes).

Meanwhile, the others explored the well. It appeared to be a dry cistern, with the hole widening down below. There was a glint of metal from the bottom. Judah lowered Ongewasgone down to explore.

Once the elf was confident the ground was not booby-trapped, he looked around the snake’s lair. There were remains of previous victims, a few coins, a small brooch, and a bronze shield. Sendaros scryed the treasure, trying to sense if there were any magic. The shield was enchanted, but the exact nature of the magic wasn’t clear.

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The party removed the snake’s head as a trophy and continued toward the Baron’s land.

It was late afternoon when Ongewasgone announced that they were now within the Baron’s territory. Since they had last seen the employer at a temporary encampment, the group decided to head for the Baron’s “Keep,” a semi-fortified structure that constituted his home and center of operations. As they walked, they noticed glints of sunlight in the distance, as if reflected off glass or metal. When they got closer, they could see that there appeared to be a skirmish or small battle at a hilltop about a mile distant. It was hard to make out detail, but Judah knew the Baron’s device was a red unicorn and there seemed to be something red at the top of the hill among some low ruined walls.

Ongewasgone found a culvert that let the party sneak closer. Once they were about 200 yards away, they could see a group of soldiers were attacking the hilltop. The Baron’s standard flew above the ruins. The men below bore orange armbands. It appeared the Baron was outnumbered about two to one, but the party decided they would try to even the odds.

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Session 4

Judah, Ongewasgone, Stellatus, and Leo rose early to the sound of rain on the roof of the loft. They went downstairs to find out if Sendaros had returned during the night. No such luck, but Vanlin the innkeeper mentioned that Trudi, the barmaid, had not shown up for work that morning. Trudi, Vanlin informed them, was the eldest child of a farmer named Byrn who live on the eastern edge of town. The group decided to investigate her absence to see if the two events were linked.

Outside, the rain was still coming down in sheets. Ongewasgone and Judah both saw that by the light of day (such as it was) that the strange obelisk in the town center was canted slightly to one side, as if it had settled unevenly. The stone seemed firm enough, and the mud was not so soft as to have made it cant over. As the two were shoving it to see if it would topple, another bolt of lightning struck the stone. The elf jumped back nimbly, but poor Judah was given a nasty shock. The strange symbols were traced again by the electricity, and Ongewasgone was able to commit part of the designs to memory.

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Stellatus helped him carry Judah back into the Panther to see how badly he might be hurt. As it turned out, the warrior was only singed a bit and had the wind knocked out of him. In a few minutes, he felt well enough to head out to the farm.

The farmstead was a modest property with a single story house and a somewhat ramshackle barn painted an ugly ochre yellow. A lone peasant in a hood was pulling root vegetables from the kitchen garden was the only movement to be seen.

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Meanwhile, Sendaros had awoken to find himself bound and gagged, apparently with a sack over his head. He was on a wooden floor, he could tell, and indoors. He could hear rain hitting a roof above him and the smell of livestock was strong around him. With a bit of effort, he managed to kneel and work the bag off his head to look around. He appeared to be in a hayloft with pigs and cows in the stables below.

The party hailed the farmer and asked after Trudi, demanding to see her. The farmer –Byrn– explained she had taken ill with fever and her mother was caring for her. Stellatus tried to convince the farmer that he was a churchman and could help, but Byrn refused to let them go inside.

Ongewasgone’s suspicious nature prompted him to try and signal Sendaros if he were in earshot and began whistling a Feypine folk tune loudly.

Sendaros heard the song, pulled himself to the wall and began kicking his heels against the boards. The thumping agitated the animals below and they began to complain restlessly.

Judah heard the noises and moved toward the barn. Byrn became fearful and –grabbing Stellatus by the cloak– whispered harshly “He’ll kill them all!” and pushed past trying to stop Judah.

Ongewasgone tackled the farmer and sent him sprawling in the mud. Byrn told them tearfully that his family was being held prisoner in the house and he had to get rid of the party. Needing to hear no more, Stellatus and Ongewasgone ran for the farmhouse.

Judah reached the barn and looked inside. After a moment of getting used to the gloom, he spied Sendaros’ gagged face peering over the edge of the loft. He ran up the ladder and quickly cut the elf’s bonds.

Ongewasgone reached the front door to find it barred. Stellatus ran to a side window and smashed the shutters with his axe. As he attempted to climb through, a knife whistled out of the darkness inside and skewered his hand, making him drop the axe. Stellatus could see an oily gleam to the blade dripping onto his hand. Poison! He felt woozy, but kept his feet. A hooded figure rushed him and stabbed with his sword, scoring his side.

Ongewasgone ran around to join his comrade. Taking a running leap, the nimble elf dove through the window past the two combatants, landing on the floor inside.The assailant slashed at the elf across his back, scoring a wound. Ongewasgone jumped up and struck back, knocking his foe down and back into the hallway outside the room.

Judah reached the front entrance and used his brawn to kick it down. Whatever barred it inside splintered and the door swung open just in time for Judah to see a man with a short sword come crashing into the hall in front of him.

Sendaros, lacking his equipment, approached cautiously around the opposite side of the house, preparing to enter by another window.

Judah rushed the prone man and brought his mace down on his chest. Ongewasgone struck again with his blade, too. The stranger coughed blood and passed out. He was obviously badly hurt. Seeking answers, the elf bound the man’s wounds, but not before binding his hands. Leo, who had been watching the road, joined the others when the fight was finished.

When the stranger awoke, he revealed that he was a bounty hunter and the party matched the description on a notice he carried. He had captured Sendaros unawares and had holed up at the farmhouse to pick the others off one by one. Ongewasgone cut the man’s throat and searched the body, finding a fair bit of coin, some alchemical grenades, and the bounty notice.

Stellatus’ head was clearing from the poison and he found the family tied up in the kitchen. He cut their bounds and reassured them. They were shaken but unharmed. Sendaros chastised his cousin for the impetuous slaying, saying that they could have learned more from the man. For instance, the notice said to collect the reward at “The Lion” but none of them knew where that might be.

In the end, the party gave Byrn one of the dead man’s gold pieces and told him to bury the man secretly. The farmer also would tell anyone asking that the party had arrived looking for their friend, not found him, and then headed south, though they intended to head northwest to report back to the Baron about the tower. Byrn sent them to Berd, a fisherman on the edge of town who would secretly ferry them across the Bogbeast for a small fee.

The party found Berd and his boat and successfully crossed the river. It was late morning, the rain still fell, and there were many miles of the Broken Moors between our heroes and the last known encampment of their employer.

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Session 3
Drummond's Bluff

The Panther’s taproom was like almost any other; perhaps a bit seedier. A balding man drew pints at the bar as a barmaid ferried them to the tables. Heads turned at the sound of the door and the occupants scrutinized the party for a few moments.

A burly halfling in a leather apron sat at the bar sipping his ale. A lean man stood by the fire drying his traveling cloak. Another sat on a stool near the hearth, a long spear leaning by him against the wall. Most of the room’s occupants were all at one table, though: Eight hard-looking men in assorted armor playing cards and drinking. The remains of their meals around them.

Judah and Ongewasgone talked to the innkeeper about rooms but decided on the loft as it was cheaper. Judah noticed that the man with the wet cloak and one of the card players kept glancing in the direction of the party. Leaving the others to “check the horses”, Judah and the elf ducked back outside and conferred under the front stoop.

While they were speaking, the storm threw a bolt of lightning that struck the obelisk in front of them. The clap of thunder was nearly deafening, but both Judah and Ongewasgone saw the lightning momentarily trace weird designs along the rock’s face.

Inside the inn, the thunderclap rattled the windows and drew Leo, the spearman by the fire, outside to investigate. There he found our two heroes in conversation. they wove a story about the nonexistent horses bolting from the noise. Judah and Ongewasgone decided that the elf would spy through the window while Judah walked back in to see what the people in the room would do. When Judah entered, he saw that the man with the cloak was not in the room. And neither was Sendaros.

Ralf said that he thought the mage had gone out to use the privy. Upon investigation, Sendaros was nowhere to be found. Ongewasgone found a handprint in the mud outside (possibly a sign that someone was knocked down? ) and a scrap of thread caught in a splinter on the outside wall. The rust-colored strands matching that of the wet cloak from earlier.

Back inside, they questioned Ralf and the innkeeper about what they’d seen. Neither could tell them much, but Ralf did identify the group at the table as part of the “Bronze TIgers” mercenary band. Each of them wore a small bronze medallion with a tiger’s head as an identifying badge. Judah tried to convince Jacob, their leader, that Sendaros would be grateful and reward anyone that helped him, but the mercenary remained unconvinced.

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The party spend the next hour or so that night pounding on doors in the town, but with little to show for it. Meanwhile the storm continued. When they finally returned to the Panther, Jacob relented somewhat and said if they were serious about a possible reward, the Tigers might help look around in the morning. With little else to try for the time being. The group decided to get some rest.

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Session 2
Rolling on the river

Our heroes chose safety over comfort and encamped on top of the tower despite the chill. It was well after midnight when Sendaros heard a howl on the wind during his watch. He woke Ongewasgone for his shift early to see if his cousin could hear anything, but all was quiet again.

A bit later, light flared up at the standing stones in the distance. Someone had started a decent-sized campfire, it seemed. For a time nothing happened, but as dawn crept closer more howls were heard in multiple directions. Ongewasgone’s early life in the Feypines told him the calls were not from wolves.

The sky lightened as a steady rain began to fall and figures could be seen moving among the standing stones. The group decided that if forces were approaching from multiple directions, they could not hold “Judah’s Tower” for any length of time. Sendaros recommended heading for the huts by the river and looking for a way to cross.

On the way to the “village” the group spotted a scouting party of beast-men on a hill. Fortunately the creatures’ attention seemed fixed on the tower, so the characters managed to hide in the tall grass and creep down the slope to the river.

There was a rope ferry at the tiny dock, with a line stretched across the river. Recalling the Baron’s maps back at the encampment, Judah believed the water to be the Bogbeast River. It was over 100 yards across at this point, the water deep but not too fast. The group boarded the ferry and began hauling themselves across the water.

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Nearing the halfway point several things happened at once. A group of beastmen arrived at the huts and saw the ferry, two began firing arrows. Judah shielded the others as they pulled on the rope, but the range was too great for the monsters’ bows. Then the rope, nearing the point of maximum strain at the midway mark, gave up the ghost and snapped. Ongewasgone made a frantic grab for one end, but was not strong enough to hold it against the current’s drag. The ferry barge began to drift downstream, picking up speed.

The beastmen paced the boat from the shore, calling to their fellows. Ongewasgone and Ralf the man-at-arms volleyed arrows at them, even wounding a couple. The creatures had less luck with returning fire. Those without missile weapons brandished their axes in anger. Judah found a bargepole and used it to fend the boat off obstacles like submerged logs and to keep their distance from the shore. A couple of gnolls ran ahead of the boat, farther downstream.

After a few minutes, Judah spotted white water ahead. Calling to his comrades to hang on, the ferry entered the rapids. Judah frantically worked to keep the unwieldy craft from dashing itself to pieces as the elves tried to help by throwing their weight against the opposite side of the boat so that Judah could shove off the rocks with the pole.

The boat was well into the rapids when Judah spotted the two gnolls that had gone ahead; they were standing on a large rock that stood out in the water, nearly in the boat’s path!

Ongewasgone and Ralf threw knives at them, and Stendaros tried to fry them with lightning, but the tossing of the ferry must have spoiled their aim and casting respectively. As the craft drew even with the boulder, the beastmen leapt at the boat. One fell into the water and frantically swam toward the shore. The other landed neatly on the deck, axe in hand.

For a few minutes, all thoughts of the rapids were forgotten as the party tried to knock the interloper overboard. Finally Ralf finished it off with a sword thrust. Judah took stock of the situation and found that while the rapids were largely behind them, the current was much faster and the boat had taken several hard knocks while he had been fighting the gnoll instead of fending off rocks. The group also found that the rapid’s spray had distracted them from the fact that the rain was now a hard downpour.

The barge still floated (for the moment), but was obviously in rough shape. Judah decided to make for shore. The group searched the gnoll, finding only its armor and weapons plus a crude stone pendant with a triangular marking. Ongewasgone kept this. Before disembarking on the far (eastern) shore, they lashed the gnoll’s corpse to the battered ferry. Then they shoved it back out into the current as a potential diversion from their own path.

Clambering up the bank, they saw no signs of the beastmen, but did find a muddy track that paralleled the river. Following it downstream, they eventually came to a ramshackle town on the water called Drummond’s Bluff (according to a roadside sign).

The streets were empty, which was hardly surprising given the weather. The main cross-street was marked with a large, unmarked obelisk in the center of the intersection. There was a inn on the corner with light and voices coming from inside, so the party made its way there and entered the Felonious Panther.

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Session 1
Finding the Spider Tower

After the party finished dispatching the beast-men, Ongowasgone and Stellatus circled thehill and climbed to the standing stones. The elf spotted movement among the menhir: another beast-man. Ongowasgone fired an arrow and struck the creature in its side. It belllowed in pain and ran for one of the rocks. As it moved, it seemed to “fade to gray” and disappear. Stellatus caught site of movement on the next hill. It was the same creature –arrow and all– that had somehow traversed the distance in a matter of moments. The beast-man ran out of sight around the slope.

The debated giving chase, but decided it would take too much time. Inspecting the circle, they saw that the dark stones were not like the rocks in the area. They also saw that the creatures had slaughtered a goat in the center of the circle. The animal was staked out on its back, flayed, and its entrails spread out around the carcass.

Convinced that the grisly scene portended some bad mojo, the party decided to get a move on. Judah easily spotted the tower a few miles to the east, and the group laid a false trail south for a short distance before turning toward their goal.

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They reached the tower by late afternoon and observed it for signs of activity. Seeing none, Ongowasgone crept closer, using the scrub to hide his approach. Sendaros circled the hill at its base to get the lay of the land. He spotted a few shacks down by a river a few hundred yards away. He saw no sign of life there either.

FInally, Judah and Ralf the footman made a frontal approach. The doorway was open and all was dark inside. Judah rapped sharply on the doorframe with his mace to announce his presence, but there was no response.

The group all gathered at the entrance to take a look. The doors were off their hinges, but looked more or less intact lying on the floor. The chamber within was dark, but some light came through the opening. There was dirt and leaves on the floor, but Ongowasgone could make out a pattern with his dark sight. The floor contained a large mosaic in the form of a spider and it web!

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The group tried to think of any historical or religious significance to the symbol, but couldn’t recall any (other than creepiness). Judah entered the room and headed up the stone stairs to check the next level. It appeared to have been a barracks, with a few bare and badly weathered cots lying about. The floor boards appeared to have rotted in places, so he was cautious in finding safe spots to tread. There was also a ladder going up to a trapdoor (the roof). While atop the battlements, the elf spotted what looked like riders a few miles distant, they did not appear to be heading toward the tower.

Ongowasgone checked the ladder and roof while Stellatus inspected the mosaic. It was tightly mortared black stone set into the gray floor. He also found a trapdoor leading down to a cellar. The group left Ralf on the roof to keep watch and Ongowasgone went down to the cellar to look around. Sendaros considered whether he had enough daylight left for a walk down to the fishing shacks and back as Judah muscled the fallen doors into place. He even managed to set the hinges with spikes as pins. There was also a sturdy beam that could be used to bar the doors shut.

Stellatus was partway up the steps when he heard a sound like shifting sand from the main floor. Turning he saw the spider mosaic “sliding” up out of the floor and becoming three dimensional! Shouting an oath, he fired his crossbow at the monster as it closed with the unsuspecting Judah. The warrior was badly bitten but his armor took the brunt of it. Sendaros readied a spell and even Ongowasgone downstairs heard the shout. The battle was joined.

Judah landed several powerful blows with his mace and dodged its webs. Sendaros stunned it with his lightning magic. The creature still managed to inject Judah with its venom, weakening him badly. But before the spider could finish the young warrior, Ongowasgone finished the beast off with a well-placed arrow. The spider curled up on it back and sunk back into the stones- now showing a very different looking mosaic: a curled-up, dead spider on a web.

After binding Judah’s wounds, the group then tried to decide the best place in the tower to spend the night, in case the creature somehow returned- or if something else showed up.

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Session #0 (and a start on #1)
Heroes are formed and monsters are fought.

Most of the inaugural session was spent creating the characters and explaining some of the FAGE rules to the group. We had four players at the table, with a fifth likely for a later session.

Our heroes:

Ongewasgone An elven rogue from the Feypines. Exiled from his clan when convicted of theft, he became a wanderer. Eventually, he left the forests to experience the wider world.

Senderos Talloran Is from a prosperous elven house that trades with the human and dwarf lands. He is a distant cousin to Ongewasgone, but largely ignores him. Senderos trained as a mage (Lightning and Heroic Arcanae).

Judah Is a human warrior who began life as a longshoreman at the river docks in Havron. Years of labor have made him strong. As a youth, he learned the basics of combat and stories of warfare from an ex-soldier that worked on the waterfront too. A local friar of the Radiance taught Judah the basics of the faith and his letters.

Stellatus Quercus Is a human rogue from a moderately prosperous family in Havron. As a younger son, he was sent to become an initiate in the church, but a scandal forced his departure before taking his orders. The family hushed it up, but he was “asked” to leave town, at least for a while.

START OF PLAY
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The party found themselves in the temporary employ of the self-styled Baron Tasca, a petty lordling in the Splintered Princes. While pursuing a “border dispute” with a neighbor, a scout returned with news of an abandoned watchtower not far into the Broken Moors. Tasca had been looking for such places as possible sally points to use in his “conquests.” The party was given the task to investigate the tower up close and see if it would be suitable.

The scout’s directions were simple enough: A half day’s march to the east until you reach the standing stones atop a wide hill. From the top you can see the tower a few miles off to the southeast. Tasca sent Ralf, one of the foot soldiers, to bolster the party’s ranks.

The hike through the badlands went smoothly enough. Once the menhirs came into view, Ongewasgone and Senderos’ keen elven senses detected movement among the stones. The party split up, with the rogues (Ongewasgone and Stellatus) sneaking around to one side and finding cover. Judah led Senderos and Ralf straight up the hill, weapons at the ready.calanaisstandingstones_750_tcm4-552293.jpg

The rogues found a convenient boulder to hide behind, spying four beastmen (gnolls) on the hill. They ambushed them with a volley (bow and crossbow) and the fight was on!
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The battle was fierce but over fairly quickly, and the monsters managed to get in a few good blows before falling to the heroes. Ongewasgone favored using his archery, Stellatus switched from crossbow to bladework when a gnoll closed with him. Senderos cast ably with his heroic spells and some electrical stunning. Judah skewered one with a javelin before employing his brutal mace. Even Ralf managed a few good hits with his sword and survived the fight despite taking a couple hacks. When the last beastman fell, the party prepared to search the bodies and area before pressing on to the tower.

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