The 15th day of Rova, 4713 AR – just after nightfall
Akorian bows. “A pleasure to meet you. All agreements of cooperation aside for the moment, we came for several reasons. The most important of which is we believe someone is trying to kill you. Perhaps we can move inside where we are less out in the open?” He hands her the letters.
Ravina reads them, and frowns. “I knew these brigands were after me, Lord Akorian, and am not afraid. If they come for me, Cale and I are more than capable of defending ourselves. As far as my question to you: I know you are not in Magnimar to protect me. You are here for other reasons. Reasons that resonate with the cards in a very profound manner. Why are you here? What brings you to the hinterlands of Varisia?”
The appearance of Ravina though causes a bit of concern for Kymrych – and not because she might not be all that she seems by first glance. No, he was used to that by now after seeing the sights he’s seen. He is concerned because of the way Akorian answered when questioned, like she was looking for something specific and almost coercing the information from him. The fact that she possessed an otherworldly sort of beauty made him pause long enough to regard Cale when he appeared with a sort of empathy. He understood the jealousy that Cale had, not just because they were of the living and he was not. More likely Cale was attached to Ravina in some fashion.
For a moment the indecision is evident on his face, and then he speaks and his tones are calm and even as he looks on her.
“Quite the change I must say…” he nods slightly, approvingly,“…but you are correct, if at least partially. If someone seeks to harm you, we would not sit idly by. However, we have sought you out for a specific purpose, one that we understand you can assist with. I will admit to a more than passing curiosity as to what you desire from Akorian as he has been under my protection since I joined him. However, unless you desire to hear it from him specifically, I will tell you why we are here. The quicker we can get the answers we seek, the quicker we can finish our tasks at hand.”
She looks up at the sound of Kymrych’s voice, as if seeing him for the first time. Her smile is wry, but seems honest enough.
“I care not who speaks, sir. It is the words themselves that matter.”
Before anyone can say anything else, Athera leans in and whispers into Kymrych’s ear. Her words have him drawing his sword and shield instantly.
“We are not alone! Defend yourselves now!” His gaze lands squarely on their guide.
Even as Kymrych warns you of danger, Gralnakh draws his twin axes and leaps to the attack. Meanwhile, Ravina draws a dagger, and attempts to bury it to the hilt in Akorian’s belly. Only dumb luck and Akorian’s quick reflexes save him from certain death, although he is badly wounded on the left thigh. Blood flows thickly from the wound.
At the same moment, Cale fades from view. And even as he does so, harsh shrieks are heard, and winged, humanoid figures are seen circling in the dark sky above. Seeing this, Sanaya casts an invisibility charm, and also fades from view. Chaos explodes a moment later, and more angry shrieks are heard in the sky overhead.
Talathel readies his bow, and begins to scan the sky above. A winged shape streaks down, and smashes him hard on the shoulder. He reels as a second shape streaks down, and strikes him as well. He falls into the mud, badly stunned. But as the third creature wings overhead, he gets a solid look at the thing, and sees it is a gargoyle, a winged man-like creature hewn from magic and stone. This third creature slams Igmar, and then the three gain altitude for another pass. Other shapes circle angrily overhead, and plunge as well. Soon Jayne, Athera, Whisper and Velka are fighting for their lives, and the battlefield explodes into chaos.
Akorian pulls back from “Mistress Songbird,” who manages to cut him slightly once more. He fights through the resulting pain, and cloaks himself in shadow. Now invisible, he limps across the battlefield, seeking fresh targets. Kymrych and Omari move to engage Gralnakh, hoping to take him alive. Swords and axes flash and clamor, and fresh blood is spilled. Then Cale appears once more, much closer now, and gestures oddly. Kymrych staggers back as the spell takes hold of him, and he collapses to the ground. Is he alive or dead? You cannot say.
Evelyn sees this, and turns to eye the ghostly man. She reaches into the belt pouch at her side, and pulls forth a small vial. She tosses it at the ghost, and he is suddenly engulfed in flame! He screams and writhes as the fire consumes, him, and then a still-invisible Akorian manages to put him down permanently with a bolt of eldritch energy. As he falls to the ground, dead, the ghostly illusions around him are dispelled, and a far different man lies nearby, charred and smoking.
The goblin now pauses a moment, and eyes the explosive flask in her clawed fist. Then she spies a nearby tree, and hurls it! Within seconds the tree is a blazing torch, and the battlefield is starkly illuminated. Meanwhile Sanaya sees Mistress Songbird move in to engage Igmar. Still invisible, the former slave-girl hurries over to help the priest, and is soon involved in a twirling melee as the three combatants circle and parry. Omari is also locked in deadly combat with Gralnakh, who strikes out with as much fury as he can muster. Whatever friendship between the two men is seemingly gone forever.
Evelyn stands for a moment eying the charred corpse of Cale – or whatever his name truly was. Pride fills her at the sight of his remains. Then she remembers Kymrych, and scampers over to him. Is he alive, she wonders? She kneels at his side, and checks his pulse. Loud, rumbling snores are then heard, and she cannot help but giggle. The big man is only asleep! She begins to shake him violently, and shouts as loudly as possible in his ear.
Soon Kymrych’s eyes flutter open, and he begins to stir. Even as this is happening, however, Omari circles around Gralnakh, seeking a weakness in his old friend’s defenses. He does not wish to kill the half-orc, but rather take him alive for questioning. Unfortunately, a cut from Kymrych’s orc-bane sword has enraged the other man, and assured he will fight to the death. Any show of mercy or restraint on Omari’s part draws in a killing response from Gralnakh, leading to many bleeding wounds on both men. Soon both stagger from fatigue and blood loss, and it is only a matter of time before a killing blow is landed. A body slams to the ground, gasping out its last, and then Omari regretfully turns from the body of his dead friend, and seeks out new opponents.
Elsewhere, Talathel eyes the circling gargoyles, and raises his bow once more. He nocks and looses, and then draws back again. One gargoyle staggers in the air as two of the bard’s arrows strike true. Then the creature adjusts its dive, and comes full on at Talathel. Within moments the two are entangled in a flurry of tooth, claw and fretful sword-work, and the bard begins to wonder if this will be his final memory. As the elf parries a quick slashing of claws, however, a blade blade erupts from the gargoyle’s belly, and it collapses to the ground. Talathel looks up to see Kymrych standing there, grinning starkly.
Moments later afireball erupts in the sky above, scattering the other gargoyles – at least for the moment. Akorian has continued to support his friends from behind a cloak of invisibility, and so far has yet to be targeted again. He then watches as Sanaya and Igmar continue to circle and strike at Mistress Songbird. Ravina is cut in many places, he sees – more than any mere human woman should be allowed to survive. The blood that flows from these wounds is not red, either – instead it reminds him of sticky black tar. Then his view of her is lost as Omari joins in, and suddenly Ravina decides she has had enough. She turns, and flees into the night. For the moment you do not decide to follow her.
A final blast of Akorian’s eldritch energy sends a gargoyle crashing to the ground, and the survivors scatter into the dark sky above. The light from the flames cast by the burning tree flicker and dance across you as you survey the battlefield. Three dead gargoyles lay there, unmoving, as do “Cale” and Gralnakh as well.
“Everyone. Come look at this.” Sanaya stands over the body of Cale. As you watch the magic disguise he was wearing fades away, and exposes the charred remains of a male elf, clad in simple peasant’s garb. His body is festooned with all sorts of keys as well, suggesting a connection to the room of keys you discovered back in Magnimar.
“The Key Lock Killer, I presume.” Omari spits to ward off bad luck.
“Kymyrch. Over here.” Jayne and Whisper stand at the entrance to the small cottage. Light from a hearth fire glimmers within.
Kymrych waits for Igmar and Akorian to join him, and then the three enter the tiny cottage. Inside you find the bits and pieces of a simple life: a rickety wooden table, a single chair, and a crude wooden sleeping pallet. Herbs hang from the rafters to dry, and a lone cedar chest holds an assortment of rough linen clothing, all sized for a woman. Ravina lays atop the pallet, her eyes glazed over in death.
“Excuse me.” Igmar pushes through the group to kneel beside the dead woman. It only takes him a moment to determine she has been strangled to death.
“I’d say she’s been dead a few hours. No more.” Igmar intones a brief prayer and pulls a wool blanket over the dead woman’s face.
“Lord High Britches. Mister Grouchy Face. Come here. I’ve found something.” It is Evelyn, calling from the edge of the firelight.
You troop out to where the goblin crouches in the muck near the place where “Ravina” disappeared into the night. After you arrive she points to a series of footprints in the dirt. Using the combined talents of Evelyn, Sayana and Kymrych, you should be able to track her, if that is your desire.