So this week in the Anduwin Chronicles…

The party started sleeping, and taking turns with watches. The cold night air makes sleep difficult and the watches longer. Journ’ee Touride, a stoutly built dwarf with flaming hair and burned leather armour sits looking out over the forest below. He is joined by the halfling, Brant Goldust who is starting to feel the overpowering waves of exhaustion being to take him. As the pair takes their watch and struggle to stay awake, a slender woman with faintly blue skin and a stag pelt cloak begins setting up the tents and bedrolls for the adventuring group. The air is cool, and the moon overhead just recovering from its recent fullness just a few nights earlier. The faintest hints of the Blood Moon left visible, hanging in the sky as a reminder of the dangers just fled, and an ominous warning of what is yet to come when the moon is next turned red. Crickets chirp and owls silently hunt as the night passes on. Fatigue takes over and Journ’ee misses something on his watch. The firepit burns emberous and licking every ounce of fuel to stay alive. From the fire, a pair of eyes blinks, before one clawed hand, and then another form. The flame creature creeps out of the campfire and towards the tired dwarf on watch, burning leaves and kindling with each step. It looks up at the dwarf and then beyond, to the sky above. It grunts a deep and guttural sound, like rocks falling into fire and steaming. Hearing this, Journ’ee turns his attention to the creature, unalarmed, he too makes guttural noises seemingly communicating. The dwarf breaks away from his dialogue and comes to wake the sleeping members of the group.

Beneath a bedroll and simple military issue blanket rests the tall and muscular form of a half-orc. Her hair shaved short on the sides, but longer on top for style and as some nod to femininity. Her tusks extrude from her mouth as she sleeps, and her breath fogs the air which clings between them. To her side rests a giant of a man. Eight feet tall at least. His skin is pale and grey in the red moon light, but even the sides lit by the campfire are too pale to appear healthy. His bones seem to have grown beyond the skin in places. Shoulders have bone spikes, and curved blades of calcium along his spine, as well as stretching out from his knuckles. A swath of blanket has become snared on some of his bone shards and as he fitfully turns in his sleep, the blanket uncovers him. The height is not the only thing huge about this man. He is built powerfully, with intimidating muscles twitching as he twists in his rest.

“My sweet beautiful lady Granuaile” starts the dwarf in a softly accented tone; “Ow I ‘ate to wake such a stunning vision, I ‘ave to warn you” He speaks softly into the half-orc’s ear, and then shakes her slightly.

She stirs, seeing Journ’ee so close to her, she leans back slightly before replying. “Journ’ee, whats wrong? We need to rest to have any chance of getting away from our persuers”

“Ah, but that is just it mademoiselle, we ‘ave not escaped. Magda ‘as just told me there ees a griffin over ‘ead with a Templar riding eet” the dwarf indicates to the flame creature as his magikal familiar, before pointing to a shadowy winged creature that appeared to be sewn into the velvet of the night air, until the wings beat and the creature sweeps down, screeching in its search. Indeed there is a griffon, and the familiar had seen it, when the mortal eyes of Brant and Journ’ee had been too tired. The solider, Lady Granuaile thinks on, and tells Journ’ee to dismiss his familiar back to a hidden realm, while she and the lightly sleeping giantkin begin to douse the campfire, to keep them hidden on the darkened forest floor.

Far above the treetop canopy, the griffin circles a few more times, before turning and flying onwards, having apparently concluded that its quarry wasn’t to be found in this area. The rest of the night passes without such incident, but the party is uneasy in resting. Without the campfire or Magda for warmth, the air seems to chill more than they are used to. A cold that would be enough to keep them awake, were it not for the sheer level of exhaustion they each held. Sleep eventually takes them all.

In the morning, the party plans their next course of action. Finding the Anduwin items seems to be impossible, but it also sounds to be the only way to defeat the Greyborn Emperor, who seems so desperate to conquer the world. Nearby to the city of Quince, in the land of Naramia, Magnus Marche, a cartographer with some magikal abilities had been given a challenge by a religious leader of the Anduwin Kaine. He is to bring two warring tribes of trolls together to start peace talks, and after his limited and somewhat failed research in Quince’s grand library, he did learn that there is one of those same troll tribes somewhere in this wood south of the city. Magnus wants to complete his mission to start peace talks between warring Troll tribes nearby, however Journ’ee is firmly against this plan, fearing troll savagery. The two dwarfs from different places argue over this for some time, until the women step forward to settle the discussion. Granuaile suggests that the group could counteract the predicted savagery by making a noble offering, of a decent sized hunt, to show their worthiness and battle prowess – a skill that is believed the trolls will respect. Sivaras supports this, enamoured by Granuaile’s leadership, and suggests that she has been in these woods before she was captured and rescued by the group. She knows that there are likely to be large bears near the river, hunting or taking a drink. Magnus makes to adjust his wizard’s hat before remembering he lost as he fled the Lighthouse. The dwarf is not keen on walking far, with his injured leg, but he does have a map of the area, and is motivated by this being his personal quest – to bring peace to the trolls. Eventually, the party agrees to head south, with a plan that they would look for a river bear as a trophy kill. And use this same bear as a means to protect them from, and possibly impress the trolls, if they meet any.

After packing up the campsite, and making their way out of the more heavily wooded parts of the forest, the group of misfit adventurers set off in search of a trophy. A river bear. Sivaras Marvolaas has spent time in this forest and knows the route and the rivers. Her knowledge in the arcane is only surpassed by her understanding of nature. She guides the other five adventurers towards the long and winding river. All six slowly trudging southwards following the lazy water’s path through the land until they find themselves at a cave mouth.

The opening is vast, and dark, with moss and mildew around its entrance, not too far from the river’s shoreline. Sivaras and Brant begin to discuss the cave, combining natural knowledge with bardic lore of the land, to assume this cave could indeed be the home of a bear they are hoping to track and slay.

Lady Granuaile and Magnus make their way gingerly inside, being cautious, and relying on their half-orc and dwarven abilities to see in the dark. The pair is quiet and slow moving, before the giantkin, 428 goes inside. He travels further, needing to duck in places to get his eight foot height through. He makes his way in deeper, alone and starts making noise to draw out a bear.
Meanwhile, outside of the cave, Brant spots a nest with what appears to be sox foot tall Roc eggs just above the cave. Still thinking back to his stories of lore and legend, the halfling realises the danger the group are in, should the massive bird return to roost. Brant has been against this plan since breakfast, but has not wanted to wander off alone in the woods, so begrudgingly came along with his fellows. However, seeing this potential threat is a bit too much and so he finds a tall tree nearby, and scales it with the agility of any natural tree dwelling creature. His body sways and swoops as he flips and flies through the air, into a higher branch, out of sight, and away from the nest and the risk of becoming lunch for the nest’s inhabitants. The bard does call out his learnings of the nest, and warns the others to make their escape from the cave while they are able however, on learning of the eggs, the dwarf wizard surmises that a Roc could be a much more impressive trophy than a common bear. Its massive wingspan alone would be imposing and would surely set the group up as worth and formidable in the eyes of the trolls. Between the two dwarfs, Magnus and Journ’ee, a plan is devised where the Roc could be lured into the cave, so that flightless it would pose less of a threat, and the team of adventurers could trap, subdue and slay the beast. Journ’ee suggests using the eggs in the nest as bait, as this may be the only way to lure the great bird into the cave entrance. 428, the giant man with a child’s mind, assists Lady Granuaile in moving one egg, whilst Sivaras sets about creating a magikal means to float the eggs down. Eventually two have been moved towards the cave mouth. Whilst trying to move the third egg, the initial two are stolen by a ginormous purple tentacle. The tentacle flicks and one egg is thrown high above the river, before falling into a wide open maw. The monsterous creature has certainly gained the group’s attention as it flicks another tentacle to repeat its action on the second egg.

The plan changes in a flash. Not a bear, as the Roc would be larger. But what could be better than a Roc? Something that eats Rocs. This new foe is to be their quarry, and so a fight begins, half out of need to impress the troll tribes nearby, but mainly out of a need for their own survival.

Battle ensues as 428 and Granuaile land hit after hit, and each time the great axe or warhammer strikes the beast is wounded, and fluid sprays. A grotesque combination of river water, blood and bile filling the raging barbarian’s mouth as 428 swings again and again, cleaving chunks of flesh from the monster. The calm and collected half-orc seems transformed into not just a noble lady, but a warrior as Granuaile pummels her mother’s warhammer into tentacles and parried strikes. One tentacle slips past her defences and the tip coils around her boot before heaving her skyward, much as it had done with the eggs. Before she could fall to be swallowed, the barbarian’s axe cuts again, and the creature recoils in pain, allowing Granuaile to turn her free fall into a dive into the water. The moment that she was flung into the air and seemed helpless, another tentacle swept through the clearing trying to knock the party of adventures and would be lunch down to the ground. Most manage to avoid the sweep, but Granuaile’s war horse, Julio, is not so lucky, and he is thrown far across the clearing, impaled on a broken tree not too far from Brant. The horse howls a pained equine sound, and its breath quickens as the war horse draws on all its strength to fight and get up. It’s hooves failing to shift it from the branch’s impalement. But the battle rages on, and Julio’s struggle will have to wait. The flaming dwarf, Journ’ee, uses his dark magiks to summon a blade seemingly made of shadow and darkness. In the noon light the shadow is an odd sight, but then the beasts form rises out of the river higher, blocking out the light more, and hiding Journ’ee in an area of darkness. He cuts and slashes to great effect, before realising he is getting too close to the monster. The dwarf backs up, and throws his shadowy sword, which curls and spins in the air as it makes its rapid journey from dwarf to tentacle. The blade sinks in with a soft wet thunk and cuts surgically, before vanishing from the wound, and reappearing in the hand of the dwarf who threw it. Meanwhile, Brant begins to throw daggers from his place, hiding in the trees. Each dagger strikes for some small hurt, but Brant seems to quickly assess the creature’s weak spots and soon is targeting those areas exclusively. He notices the connections between tentacle and the body are glowing somewhat, with a strange type of magikal energy, and when these areas are struck with enough force, whole tentacles are severed from the beast. In his success the halfling then begins to bolster his allies and starts to demoralize his foe, by throwing insults at it to distract it from hitting his companions. At the same time, Sivaras draws her cobra hooded staff to her body, before swinging it out muttering some arcane incantation. She scrapes her hands down their opposite arms, and seems to shed skin, snake like and wild. Each piece of shed skin collects and merges until there is Sivaras and three dopplegangers of her, existing to be targets of the tentacles rather than the real blue skinned Sivaras. Her defences cast, she pulls the staff back into her body, and absorbs it into herself, as her body grows taller and her armour and cloak are also absorbed, after a few seconds, Sivaras has fully transformed into a brown bear of imposing size, flanked by the three Sivaras dopplegangers. The bear keeps its distance allowing Sivaras to observe the fighting abilities of her new tentative allies. The wizard, Magnus goes again to adjust his hat but remembers having lost it. He dips his hand into his satchel and withdraws components to enable him to hurl fireball after fireball into the enemy’s open mouth. Each time, the wizard casts his magik the spell travels as a tiny red bead of light until it reaches its target before detonating as an arcane grenade. Feeling emboldened by the party’s collective success, Magnus continues to cast and walks closer. He is wrapped and bound by a tentacle and then carelessly chucked into the air, before he plummets into the creature’s mouth and is swallowed. Still holding tight to his component pouch for his spells, Magnus gathers more ingredients quickly to avoid being digested, and casts a final fireball centred on himself from within the beast. The magiks erupt outwards igniting the beast, but he dwarf is able to shape the burn so that he is protected from it, and the fire burns outwards. He starts to climb out of a hole in the monster’s throat which didn’t exist just moments before.

With a hole in its throat, and it starting to loose limbs, the creature should have been wanting to flee, but for some reason, possibly pain, it fights with renewed vigour until it is repelling 428, Granuaile and Journ’ee’s collective melee assault, Magnus is weakened and low on his magikal strength, and Brant is almost out of dagger’s to throw. Hope waning until a crumhorn sounds from within the trees.

A tribe of trolls arrives, charging into the fray, riding horses, and dire wolves. They immediately take to throwing spears and javelins, and using nets to pin down tentacles and allow pike warriors to attack the glowing axilla of the beast. The troll’s arrival is crucial in allowing the barbarian, 428, to dive down, and swim deep with his axe, and gills, before turning all his energy upwards, propelling himself from the water, and level with the beasts damaged throat. At the very apex of his jump, he spins around, allowing his great axe to whirlwind into the foe, and cuts it again and again and again, until his spin begins to descend and the cuts become less powerful. As he lands he draws back his axe once more, and rages it into flesh, achieving the killing blow, drawing his storm enchanted great axe down through glowing axilla connecting the tentacles to the body, and ending the abrasion’s life.

That’s where we pick it up next week.