We pick up with our intrepid travelers attempting to make up time on an already difficult journey. Being an hour behind schedule wouldn’t be so bad, if everything else would cooperate…which it did not. After coming to a mostly collapsed and dilapidated bridge, Spec managed to deftly and smoothly make his way across, attaching a rope for the other party members. Using all of the resources they had available to them, the squeezed their way past, including a memorable moment where a deconstructed and packed away skeletal dog managed to help our necromancer friend slingshot his way across the chasm.
The barbarian Tar’Nok used his incredible tracking skills to pick out the best, most efficient, and fastest route back to the Academy. This led to the heroes traversing along the treetops in acrobatic fashion, using the canopy as a makeshift road, then bypassing a large hunting trap – easily large enough to catch a wyvern – by simply skirting the edge. Once back on the road, the heroic men seemed to catch their breath, determined to make it back on time.
Along the way, our weary adventurers managed to send off a decoy to distract, drop some coin to delay and spring past a group of highwaymen who were set on causing trouble. Not easily distracted, the group devised a plan, set it into action and managed to avoid trouble by outrunning the bandits. Again, there were obstacles in their path but somehow their hijinks allowed them to work together, escaping danger and breezing past this trouble.
When the rains came, they came in force. Drenched, tired, beat up, and generally exhausted our group stumbled upon a shack that was little more than a barrier for rain to drip though. Upon getting close to the building, several more bandits sprang out and attempted to corral the heroes. Rather than delay their arrival any further, the party sprinted off, making a bee-line for the academy. With Tar’Nok in the lead picking out the footholds, Spec’s flying dagger clearing brush, Alder’s skeletal “dog” sprinting ahead to keep any doors open, and Royce signaling the city guard as they approached in a driving rain the party managed to make it back to the Academy just in time.
Three other groups had set out, two others had returned, but apparently only one had accomplished their goal. After some eloquently put words, Lord Royce managed to secure graduation for the stoic elves that had returned with an artifact….firmly implanted in the torso of one of their members. While not a traditional success, this group managed to graduate and our heroes may have found themselves some allies in the process. Another ragtag group of adventurers managed to retrieve their artifact as well, apparently graduating just before our group had the privilege of congratulating them.
After a day of celebrating, our heroes were tasked with finding out more information about the bandit groups that are roaming the roads and countryside, terrorizing the people and robbing merchants of their goods. With some social know-how and some intuitive detective work, they arrived at a hideout and proceeded to kick in the door – demanding surrender. Tar’nok was surprised that his idea did not work, but managed to wield his greatsword to amazing use, slaying many a foe in the battles that commenced. Spec sliced and diced his way in a gruesome dance of death, cutting open and stabbing through many enemies as the group approached the staircase leading to the lower level(s). While uncomfortable for much of the party (i.e. everyone), Alder’s powers over life and death were incredibly effective, and therefore useful to the group. Lord Royce stood his ground, calling out commands and shouting tips to the rest of the party, seemingly directing arrows mid-flight, redirecting maces and swords to just miss the heroes and calling down destruction when the enemies were hit.
Up the stairs came two devilishly powerful enemies, both wielding weapons and wreaking havoc on the group. After trading blows, and the fight escalating to the breaking point one final blow was dealt, with Spec having the perfect angle to see the horrifying and somewhat beautiful death dealt by Tar’Nok to the blade wielder. With every battle seemingly a life and death struggle, no one expected anything easy, but this agreement to help the king on this mission seems likely to cost the party a few pints of blood…at least.
We will pick up next time with the men at arms searching the hideout, interrogating the two captured enemies, and then deciding their next course of action.