Tempest Rising

Prologue
A gathering of clouds

OldHarbourGallery.jpgIn the 16 months since the winds and great waves that marked the end of the Shattering hit the shores of Malabar, many changes have marked the land. Heartened by word that Aerinor still stood the children of Aerin redoubled their efforts against the Bloodmaiden and her Baorn thralls. After months of heavy fighting she was driven from the capital, but left a ruined and burning scene of destruction behind.

Without their masters, the horde of orcs and other monstrosities she had gathered to her cause took to the countryside, pillaging and looting. For months these creatures roamed at will, until a former cuckold pirate and minor lordling named Hammich Lutro pieced together a force to resist them. First using stealth and guile, the men under his Otter banner started driving them back. Manor by manor, village by village the moved up the Scepter River taking back the land.

It was nearly the first harvest in the Vale by the time the Otter and his men sailed Back into Cyr Regus and retook the Stormgate. Since no member of the Regulum still lived, Lutro named a new council and ruled at its head. The winter saw a slowly return of stability to the troubled land. Only remote Chalced remains in the hands of the Baorn and its brutish servitors. It is said that the Bloodmaiden herself has settled there and plots her return to power.

When the trade winds rose in the fall, few even considered the traditional embarkation of the tribute fleet. But it did not pass unnoticed back in Rauxes. The empire had been extending its credit for more than two years, and payments were becoming due. It was decided to send a force to reimpose order, and to bring colonial priorities in line. The mighty galleon Kordros and a fleet of ships made the perilous winter crossing to start lying the groundwork.

A larger group of nobles, craftsmen and warriors will sail on the spring winds, to bring a fresh influx of Aerinorn blood to this battered region.

The story begins in the small holding of Wytchport on the northwest coast of the island. It has been decided that the First Prince Xannis Khordaine will make landfall there, and proceed to the capitol by carriage, meeting with nobility to collecting oaths old loyalty. A small advance group from the capitol have arrived to get things in order before the prince’s arrival.

Baron Earl Bellikan has been ten hard-pressed to make things ready for the imperial prince. Only noble my marriage — and not truly Aerinorn in blood — it is the pride of his wife and two nephews that he must appease. He rose in stature through cleverness skill at sea, harrying the enemy and securing the safety of the Bellik family during the long night. But the Bellik clan can be as stubborn as the oxen on their banners, and many — including the former baron Boreal Bellik — returned to face the invaders in open battle and died for the cause.

Eryse has tried to create stability since his married the Lady Manx last midwinter, proving to be a practical and pragmatic leader. He now stays mostly ashore, leaving his old dubious business dealing to his old bosun Jaxil ‘SkipJack’ Merrows. He maintains a moderate garrison at the old fortress (locally known as Oxenhold), and has set up a levy system for times of trouble. 

Most of the other nobility in the region are scattered on rural holdings. Only Lords Bracken Cervo and Timmaes Acerre maintain a residence in the city proper.

The spiritual needs of the children of Aerin are shepherded by Ardent Melliwass Omaro, who spends most of his time working to restore the crystal dome of his chapel. There are few other religious leaders in the city, and they duties of Seraschal have fallen to Telline of Lyss who has always been more comfortable on a battlefield than in a cloister.

The city is at the end of wide Wytche’s Bay and is plagued by stuff shifting winds of the coast. There are a string of rocky shoals on the approach to the harbor known as the Coven that are quite tricky to navigate. Wytchport has long maintained a group of local pilots to assist larger vessels reach safe harbor. These pilots style themselves the Warlocks, and spend their days dallying on the dockside awaiting a call to action.

Wytchport serves as a trading port for some of the mines of Gilt range up the Gilder river. There is a small community of dwarven craftspeople, and most do their business under eaves of Brann Hall, and under the guidance of Brann Dolgrin.

The town maintains a fairly broad community of craftsmen, and the nearby region has many small farmsteads. The old Crown Road to the capitol winds along the northern shore through the Erarohn forest. Most of the rural nobles and plantation owners maintain their own small docks and rarely venture into town except for holidays and trading.

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The Goblin Gang
A goth, a hippy, a viking and two elven hobos walk into a bar

We started with Ebn and Boomer discussing a social experiment. He told the goblin that the new noblemen would soon be cleaning out the [Erarohn | Erarohn] in preparation for the prince’s procession, and they should be warned. He gave him 100 silver coins and told him to exercise his executive capabilities.

The goblin rushed off to the Serachle and found Celeste in the shrine to Methys. He convinced her of the value of his task, and together they went off to the constable for recruiting ‘big people’. The officer on duty, Captain Corelai, was moved by the young oracle and offered escort. They next went to a collapsed tavern called the Tome & Tankard where ruffians were known to gather.

There Boomer found his college Saerin in conversation with an older elf. Celeste suggested that perhaps it would be helpful if they were out of town when the ‘cleansing’ began, and offered them equal shares in any profits. The two guardsmen flanking the doors of the shabby room helped drive her point home.

Overhearing the offer, a young human woman called out to Boomer in his native speech and wanted to know what the ‘little green lord’ was recruiting for. He tad her, and she quickly decided that being out of town and surrounded by warriors was an improvement in her prospects.

Finally, they came upon a large tattooed Ismenni drinking in the corner. Deciding that he was the biggest of the ‘big men’, they recruited him as well and their fellowship was complete.

Boomer ran out for a small cask of ale (with his executive functions) and they celebrated, agreeing to meet in the morning to outfit themselves for the mission.

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Red Lobster
The adventure begins

Winterhaven-2.jpgThe next morning came and our heroes gathered for their first great adventure, but their goblin ‘leader’ failed to arrive as planned. While they waited in the market, a group of outland Aerinorns came into the market, and Phaed slipped off into the shadows. Concerned that Boomer may have run afoul of the strangers, Saerin briefly questioned them about fires and wayward goblins. They showed little interest in his problems, and quickly turned back to their task of planning a hunter’s feast.

The group soon gave up hope of Boomer’s late arrival and went off to seek his patron, Ebn bar-Zuul. They found the artificer at his workshop, and told him that Boomer was lost. After a moment, he remembered that they had a discussion about mixing up bane-balm insect repellent in the morning. Perhaps he had gone off to the tide pools out of town to gather ingredients. He gave Celeste a whistle that is known to drive goblins to rage.

Following the lead, the left through the first gate after talking with ‘Steve’ the gatekeeper. Saerin searched for signs of the goblins passing and found a rotten stump that recently held a growth of death’s head mushrooms. These rate known to give a euphoric effect that Boomer is quite fond of.

monsReefclaw.jpgThey spent most of the afternoon making their way out of town, and dusk was settling before they reached the tide pools. Searching around, they heard a goblin cry from the shoreline. They scrambled down to the shore and found Boomer atop a rock about 20 feet out into the water, surrounded by a thrashing quartet of reef claws.

Kallius, Saerin and Luix fired at the creatures from the shore, and Phaed followed up with magic missiles. One of the creatures climbed up and lashed out at the goblin and another turned toward the group on the shoreline. It lumbered up on the rocks, and Kallius met it sword in hand. He tried to slash it and follow up with shocking grasp but failed to land the second blow. It latched onto him with its huge claws and he quickly collapsed. Celeste channeled her divine grace and he shook off the darkness. Luix tried to aid him and the two hacked away at the beast.

Between bows, blades and spells the four creatures finally fell to our heroes. Boomer quickly swam to shore and hugged Celeste for rescuing him. She noted the enlarged pupils that confirmed the effects of the death’s head mushrooms. As it was getting late, the group decided to camp near the shore and have a hunter’s feast of their own.

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Eight-legged freaks
And other delicacies

giant_spider_by_markusthebarbarian-d3d89lm.jpgFollowing a feast of freshly disarmed reefclaws, our heroes decided to move away from the shore and find camp for the night. They walked for a few minutes in the gathering gloom before settling on a high spot backed by a rocky projection.

They set up camp, prepared watches and settled in for the night. Deep into the second watch, Saerin heard a snuffling about in the brush beyond a boggy patch. He and Celeste woke Boomer and Luix and the four of them searched the darkness. They saw nothing, but continued to scour the area. Tiring of this vigil, Boomer went to the edge of their rocky perch and shouted out at the creature. Luckily, his quick wits warned him as a four-legged shadow leapt on him from the high rock above. His bomb burst into flame as the creature fell on him — barely grazing him with its fangs. Luix charged and brought his flail down on the cat.

Startled by the response of its prey, the mangy creature jumped into the bog and tried to escape. Saerin’s arrow sped faster, however, and a satisfying crash was heard in the brush beyond. The group decided the corpse might draw attention, so the ranger and the goblin slogged across and dragged the swamp cat back to camp. Boomer immediately set upon butchering the beast and slowly roasting over the fire, causing a stench that kept away nearly everything in the marsh.

In the morning, after being offered breakfast of swamp cat haunch, the group broke camp and moved back to the old coast road. Saerin led the way and soon they were back on the poorly maintained cart trail. Looking for signs of the goblin, he found tracks of two horses — one heavily laden.

They followed the road for much of the day, trying to keep ahead of the scouting party that was due to leave Wytchport that day. As the afternoon faded they came upon a swift flowing stream that had cut across the road. A large log had been set over the stream, and there were recent signs that someone had chopped rough footholds on the top of it.

Saerin scouted ahead, and on the far side of the creek he set upon by two huge yellow spiders that dropped from the trees. One dug in with its fangs and he could feel its poison enter his system. He swung at beasts, while Boomer (hiding at the far end of the log) drank one of his strange concoctions. Kallius charged across the log and and Phaed sent a magic missile into one of the beasts- while Celeste began chanting a spell.

A third spider jumped across the swift creek from above and landed next to the goblin. Luix rant forward and crushed the monster with one hefty blow. Saerin and Kallius squared off against the spiders and tried to bring one down, only to be saved a dire rat that Celeste summoned to their aid.

On the log, the oracle was surprised by an even larger spider that scrambled up from underneath. It was surrounded by hundred of smaller yellow spiders and even more were dropping from trees to swarm around it. She withdrew, and Kallius stabbed the creature before falling back himself. Boomer took the opportunity to lob a bomb on the growing swarm, exploding the creature and scattering the smaller spiders.

With the immediate danger past, Celeste noted that these were crab spiders that usually kept to their own hunting grounds deep in the woods. She had never heard of them attacking travelers on the road. A few steps further up they found the signs of a struggle, and hoof prints racing away from the site.

Boomer discovered the torn up remains of a pack horse in the brush near the road covered with the small yellow vermin. The horse was wearing a fox insignia that Phaed recognized from one of the houses that had made the crossing with her. They pulled the packs of the fallen beast and found two large tents and equipment for setting up a camp larger than one rider would need. They also found tools and equipment commonly used to mark trails.

They speculated on why a lone woodsmen was carrying all this gear, but chose to make good use of it as soon as the could find a spot to make camp for the night.

Four large saddlebags, masterwork (broken), containing:
Two large tents
Campsite kit (UE)
Folding table
Coffee pot
Coffee
Small cask of brandy
100’ rope
8 bells
20’ string of red pennants
4 water skins (empty)

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Snakes on a (flood) plain
or a Hole Full o' Goblins

1ce884bb02e4.jpgWith the spiders defeated and hours of daylight remaining, our heroes considered their options.They chose to continue up the road following the hoof prints left by the one rider, but acknowledged that warning the goblins was their main goal.

A few hours later that questioned was rendered moot as the hoof marks fades and merged with other old traffic. So they continued on until it was time to look for a dry campsite. Boomer found a goblin trail mark as the looked for a place to camp, but rather than approach at night they chose to sleep far enough off the road to avoid detection.

In the night, Saerin heard a branch break, but chose not to investigate alone. There were no further signs of trouble, but when they investigated in the morning they found a snapped branch about shoulder height in a tree with mud on it.

Boomer found additional markers and they followed the path off the road. They soon came a low spot surrounded by water, and Kallius spotted a cave opening on a rise about 100 feet away. Concerned abut what might lie in the water, they decided to send Boomer across to the nearest high spot on the folding table recovered from the pack horse. He tied ropes across and the group rope-walked over the flooded area.

There was another 35 feet of flood water between where they were and the cave mouth. A side path of rocks and stumps was dismissed as Boomer was convinced ‘his people’ would have trapped it. So he once again poled across the marsh.

Roughly three-quarters across he felt his pole stick on something that moved with tension. Convinced of a trap, he started pulling on the rope back to the group. He was right, and a huge constrictor snake lurched out of the depths with a rope around its midsection and lashed out at him.

The group rallied to his aid, sending arrows and magic missiles against the beast. It failed to catch him in its grasp as Celeste pulled him closer to their dry landing. Luix charged out into the swamp, bringing his massive flail down and crushing its head. Celeste came to goblins aid and healed him of his wounds.

The food plain in front of the cave mouth was frothing violently as two more tethered snakes were set into a frenzy by the conflict. One snapped its leashed and surged across the water, not even slowed by the arrow Saerin lodged in it.

It attacked the northman hip-deep in the slime and Kallius and Saerin moved to join him. They rained blows down on the creature, as the third snake burst its bonds and moved the join the fight. Saerin stepped up to high ground, leaving a gap for the snake to attack Kallius — crushing the elf in its heavy coils. The group focused their attacks, and Phaed brought it low with bolts of dark magic.

It took effort, but Celeste managed to pull the magic back from unconsciousness. They gathered up on dry land to survey the cave. There was now a thin stream of smoke coming from somewhere under ground, and shadowy figures could be seen lurking just out of sight.

Boomer set ail again, shouting out to those within that he came to warn them of danger. After calling them by name and clan, a voice demanded he bow and ‘beseech’ his mightiness— Chief Rokkemuk of Clan Shadow Claw. After official groveling and the gift of meat and a pennant from the recovered rope, Rokkemuk agreed to hear the goblins warning.

Boomer explained that many, many humans were going to come and stomp around in the swamp, killing any goblins they see. Rokkemuk told him that he appreciated the warning, but he could not leave without his ‘beautiful bride’ Stormseeker. She had gone out night before last in search of a giant lizard she had seen in a vision. He added that she took three goblins with her and they went off in the direction of the old coast road.

Fearing that she may have run afoul of the horseman, the group volunteered to return Stormseeker to the clan so that they could go deeper into the swap to hide from the humans.

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Horseshoe Pit
And other sticky situations

ettercap_by_Geistig.jpgAfter agreeing to Rokkemuk’s terms, our heroes set out in search of the goblin chief’s beautiful bride. They found sign of the goblins’ passing fairly soon after returning to the road, and noted also that it seems liked the rider was following the same line. However, they were unable to determine who had passed first.

As the day went on it got cloudier and began to rain, obscuring the marsh in mists. That did not stop them from noticing an increase in webs hanging from the low brush. As they moved more cautiously, Celeste heard the sound of a creature in pain to the land-ward side of the road.

They followed a path toward the noise, and were rewarded by signs of the goblins on the trail. Just out of sight of the road they noted water swirling in the marshy ground, as if slowly draining off. Saerin cut a branch and poked at the area, pushing on some kind of cover and revealing a pit. Inside, a horse reared up and began thrashing in pain as the water drained down on it.

Saerin tried to approach the angry beast, but its violent response made him pull back. Slowly, After channeling her divine power to heal and soothe the animal, Celeste slowly approached the pit. The horse looked cagey and aggressive, bu took the apple that she toss into to the pit. Slowly it tired and eventually lied down. She slid into the pit, and splinted its broken leg. And healed its remaining wounds. After that it was much more receptive to her.

Firefighters-Rescue-Horse-Stuck-in-Natural-Sink-Hole.jpgAfter that, the party dug out the pit and lay down logs to help the creature out. Once freed, it started pulling down the trail away from the road. They followed its lead at as slow a pace as it would allow, and moved deeper into the marsh.

They came upon an area with large bare rocks breaking up the brushy swamp. The horse let out a fierce cry and tried to pull them faster. But as they came close to the largest of the bar rocks, a string of webs shot out from a tree at Luix, and he just barely tumbled free.

The group scattered for cover, and Saerin was stuck by another strew am of webbing from the brush. Another spider-like creature appeared behind a rocky outcropping, and a swarm of tiny spiders bubbled out of the brush at the group.Arrows and magic bolts were launched toward the enemy but none fell.

Saerin — stuck in webs — was covered in spiders and could feel their poison course through him. Boomer tossed a bomb at the mass to ’save’ him, burning the spiders, the webs and the ranger. Luix had worked his way around the rock and managed to bring his flail down on the strange spidery humanoid, crushing it.

Another swarm came surgin out of the far brush and overwhelmed Phaed, who managed to shake off the poisonous bites. Immune to her magic, she waved a torch to keep the creatures at bay.

As our heroes looked to press the fight to the remaining creature, a strange mist began to spread out from the opening at the top of the bare rock, boding ill for the immediate future.

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Head games
or Goblins in my Noggin

blinkbox-dragon-skull-4_2_.jpgWe joined out heroes in mid-battle. Luix was locked in melee with a man-shaped spider and Phaed was being swarmed by thousands of smaller arachnids. She ran to escape their bites, and Boomer followed with a bomb — setting them aflame.

The strange horse form the pit was dragging Celeste toward a strange mist that was flowing from the largest bare rock. Luix crushed the large creature with his mighty flail and joined the group as they moved toward the mist. Arcane power shot out from within, and Phaed was knocked unconscious. Saerin and Kallius were monetarily shaken, but their elven immunities stopped the sleep spell from taking hold.

The group continued forward, led by the horse, and the sounds of fighting broke out in the mist. Boomer charged and found the horse locked in a fight with tow large spiders. Saerin and Luix were again attacked by webs from unseen creatures in the mist. Luix ducked by Saerin was trapped in place.

It took Celeste to free the ranger while the others continued moving forward. Another ettercap fell to their blades, and Boomer followed the eager horse up the rock into a small indentation. They found another strange spider-creature within, and attacked. Seeing itself outnumbered, the creature fled through a small opening in the rear of the cave. Boomer quickly slid after it.

Celeste followed, as did Saerin. Kallius stayed above to keep watch, while Luix and Phaed found an opening on the far side of the rock and slid down to join them.

In a long, low cave deep in the rock, they faced a large ettercap draped in bones, shiny objects and other totem items. Boomer lobbed his last bomb and set it ablaze, along with some of the adjacent webs.

In the spreading fire, they could see four large cocoons along the wall and some kind of alter stones at the far end. The spider shaman could not stand long against the combine efforts of our heroes, and was soon felled while Celeste moved to put out the fire.

Once the danger had passed, Phaed moved up to check out the alter stones. Unfortunataly, she overlooked a panel in the floor and was pierced by a spear that shot out from the wall.

Celeste started cutting on the cocoons to see what was within. She found two humans and two goblins — including one presumed to be the ‘beautiful bride’ Stormseeker. Casting a healing aura, all but one human regained consciousness.

Stormseeker briefly acknowledged them before swooning before the power of the ‘great lizard’ — rolling on the floor and hugging the stalagmites that ringed the end of the chamber. It was then that the group realized that they were in the mouth of a gigantic skull. Stormseeker claimed that its presence was still there, and when Kallius opened himself to it he nearly became physically ill.

The human turned out to be Kunola ren Vulpi, the game-keeper of one the outland lords. He was sent to trail-blaze for the hunting party, and his mount got caught in the ettercaps’ pitfall trap. He suggested the group rest and heal at the compound of the Acero family before returning to Wytchport.

The other human was a priest of Nox named Dremahl, who was ambushed by the spiders while traveling up-river on a missionary trip. He was very weak from poison, and could not answer much.

The group sent the last goblin off to tell Rokkemuk that his bride was found, but refused to leave her mighty lizard. Reconsidering, they decided it might be best if they went themselves. So they gathered up what they recovered from the spider’s cache — including potions, a divine scroll, a heavily decorated military saddle and an enchanted shield with the Omaro family crest — and moved off toward the goblins’ hiding place.

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Smoke and the Bandits
or a Furniture Fire Sale

14018782537228.jpgAfter discussing options, the group decided to split up and return to the Shadow Claws with the warning, and direct them back to Stormseeker. They brought the Aerinorn ranger with them. and were soon back at the marshy hiding place of the goblins.

Kunola kept busy sketching the goblin camp and their snake traps, and Boomer warned him not to steal the souls of his people with words.

It took some doing, but Boomer convinced Rokkemuk to return with them to the dragon skull. On the way back they found a strange cloth hanging in a tree, but no one could reach the spot to retrieve it.

Once reunited, the goblins rewarded out heroes and gave them leave to go. They gathered up their wounded comrades and made their way to the Acero family outpost. Crossing a river on a rickety bridge stalled them awhile, but by evening they had found the gate to Bar Acero.

The entry was in disrepair and the gate broken, so the party made a quiet approach. They first came upon a trio of goblin-sized slave barracks. There were signs of a struggle within, and the turniture had been stripped from the buildings

Farther in, they saw a large bonfire burning and a group of people gathered around. Kunola and Boomer crept closer and saw that it was a mix of human-size and smaller creatures, throwing furniture on the blaze and carousing.

Fearing discovery, they moved back to the group to discuss actions.

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Breaking Camp
or Rise and (moon) Shine

RAV_wartorch-goblin_87971.jpg After returning from their scouting, Boomer and Kunola shared what they saw. The ranger did not approve, but our heroes decided to approach the strangers under a flag of truce.

As they approached the gathering, they were accosted by three men from out of the brush — leveling crossbows at them. They demanded the group disarm and lie down on the road. By and large, the group did as they were told but the nervous warriors kept a distance and sent one of their number back to camp.

Soon after Dremahl and Kallius could see shadowy figures spreading out into the woods, but could determine exact where they were. After a few minutes, a quartet of strangers came up the road to meet them.

This group seemed to be led by a short, broad black-blooded man. He demanded to know why the group was here and what they wanted. Celeste explained that they were from Wytcvhport and in the wilds on ‘church business’. She added that a large group of old world Aerinorns had landed in the city and were foliowing not a day or two behind. He asked how they felt about the outlanders and she responded. "we’re out here, right.” This seem to calm him.

He offered to let them use the salve barracks for the evening, if they could come to terms. They suggested a trade with the military saddle reclaimed from the ettercaps, and he agreed. He added that his boss was engaged in a ‘sensitive’ business matter this evening, and they should not get curious.

The group returned to the barracks and made camp outside the low buildings. They found a disassembled guard tower, and when they tried to rise it they were yelled at to stop. So they did. From a rooftop, Boomer could see lights on the water coming toward the group, but could not make anything else out. So they rested.

In the pre-dawn haze, the goblin decided to do a little scouting. He found two guards around the barracks asleep, and left them be. He moved down to the complex, which showed signs of very recent vandalism. He avoided the attention of the few men that were standing about and went to one of three tents around the remains of the bonfire.

He peered in and found a handful of people sleeping on pallets, and human woman bound and beaten. He moved to the next tent, and when he opened the flap he was faced by the naked cheeks of a man pulling up his pants. Surprised, the man turned and the goblin tossed a bomb over his shoulder and set the inside ablaze.

Boomer ran, followed by the half-dressed bandit. Three of the folks outside were distracted by the spreading flames and did not notice the goblin scurrying through their camp. One did, and fired a crossbow bolt into him as he fled.

Empowered by his infusion, the little alchemist outpaced his pursuer and made for the tree line. Unfortunately, he came upon a drunken bandit returning a morning constitutional. The unarmed man quickly gained his wits, and tackled him.

Boomer smashed a bomb across his foe’s back, dousing them both in flames. The man screamed and slumped, while Boomer’s oft-scorched hide shook off the burns. He moved into the trees while shouts rose up from the now-wakened camp.

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Breakfast Interruptus

Boomer had gone down to see about ‘breakfast’, and the rest of our heroes were slowly moving toward breaking camp. To no one’s great surprise, there reverie was shaken by sounds of flames and screams from down the road.

They turned their attention to the two bandits that were set to watch over them, Saerin firing his bow and Luix crushing the other with his mighty flail. Dremahl moved down the road toward the sounds of chaos. Celeste and Phaed followed in his wake. The others moved to the sides of the road, creeping forward in the shadows.

Meanwhile, Boomer skipped along the edge of the bog toward his comrades. When he reached the road, he saw a group of bandits moving toward him. He scurried up a tree, dropping a vial of acid down when they got in range. They closed on him, and the groups collided on the side of the road.

Battle was joined, and the bandits were quickly outclassed. However, a line of additional enemies were spotted in the field to their left firing crossbows in the early morning light. Boomer again charged, using his swift movement to close the gap.

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