Session 20:
Kidnapping


[JadedDM]: Ruebon 22nd, Rockday; 666.  It is 10 bells and raining lightly.  After a week or so following the failed expedition to Vassus, Gaheris has called a meeting at the Wolf Blaze Inn to discuss business.  As the party steps inside the inn, the warmth of the blazing fire above gently touches them, dispelling the cold of the rain.  The inn is rather full this dreary morning, and it's easy to see why.  A large crowd of people have gathered around one table, in particular.  The Tainted Hands are having breakfast, while Kricket regales them with a thrilling tale of their most recent adventure.  Gaheris sits at a lone table on the other side of the inn, nursing his wine and tossing evil glares at the other slayer group occasionally.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin sits across from Gaheris watching the other group absently, though she remains silent for the most part. The look on her face suggests that while she is watching the Tainted Hands, she is obviously thinking of something else.

[Eskar]: Eskar enters the inn, growling under his breath at the rain. He stomps over to where Gaheris is sitting and takes a seat that isn't too close nor directly opposite the man.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris grumbles.  "We should really find a new meeting spot."

[Aidan]: Aidan stops by the bar on his way to Gaheris' table, but turns away before ordering anything.  After a glance at the Tainted Hands' table, he sits with the others.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin shakes her head upon hearing Gaheris, and she turns her attention to him. "Well, we can't use our home considering you don't want Eskar getting the place dirty."

[Eskar]: The duergar says nothing, frowning.

[Aidan]: "Well, the library tends to be empty, but I'm sure that might conflict with being popular with the city, or whatever."

[Jasmin]: "Gaheris just doesn't like being so close to the Tainted Hands, or he is just jealous of the attention they are getting at the moment."

[Aidan]: "Maybe people will look at us if we stage a fight," Aidan mutters.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "Actually, the library isn't a bad idea.  Pretty quiet there."

[JadedDM]: Kricket:  "That's when we saw them!  Well, smelled them first.  Troglodytes!"  The audience gasps and murmurs.

[Eskar]: Eskar picks at some of the dust under his nails, ineffectually, before popping a piece of charcoal into his mouth and sucking on it for a moment before crunching it between his back molars.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin looks back over to Kricket with a small smirk as she catches part of his story. "He is good at telling stories, I have to admit."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris sighs.  "Well, any news?" he asks.

[Eskar]: Eskar stares blankly at Gaheris, licking his lips, which only serves to make them darker.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin shakes her head no in answer to Gaheris' question.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris leans back in his chair and rubs at his chin.  "Wonderful.  And no word on Daufer, either."

[Jasmin]: "You really can't depend on him to show up, Gaheris." Jasmin pushes herself up out of her chair and stretches.

[Aidan]: "It's not exactly news, but I don't suppose any of you would like to explain whatever happened while I was unconscious on the way to Vassus?"

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "We had to spend three days in that wagon."

[Aidan]: "I divined as much, yes."

[Jasmin]: "Be glad you were unconscious for it, Aidan."

[Eskar]: Eskar continues with his silent trend and starts to stare off into the distance.

[Aidan]: "Mm.  Well, I might have missed out on things while they were out in the open, but I think we're all still suffering from whatever happened."

[Jasmin]: Jasmin leans against the table. "Eskar...suggested that I take over leadership of this group."

[Aidan]: Aidan's eyes shift towards Gaheris.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris drums his fingers on the table, otherwise remaining silent.  He casts a quick glance at the dwarf to see his reaction.

[Eskar]: Eskar has no reaction to the comment, staring at the wall stolidly.

[Jasmin]: "That was pretty much it." Jasmin gives a small shrug. "Though, I'm sure there are some bitter people at this table right now because of all of it."

[Aidan]: "Yes, I'm sure that's the case," Aidan says, his gaze falling on Jasmin again.  "I'm sure this will make working together a pleasant experience."

[Jasmin]: "Working together has always been a pleasant experience," Jasmin says, flashing Aidan a cheerful smile.

[JadedDM]: Kricket:  "And then it burst into flame!"

[Aidan]: Aidan returns the smile, but it falters at Kricket's words.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin looks back over to Kricket, and then finally calls out. "Don't make it too exciting, Kricket. Some of those girls look like they might faint."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "Don't goad him, woman."

[Jasmin]: "I have to get my fun somewhere."

[Eskar]: Eskar turns his view to Jasmin, he regards her with a dull stare.

[Aidan]: "Excellent."  Aidan glances between Gaheris and Eskar, then says, "So anyway, I spoke with the Nightmaster, and he claims to believe that 'chaos will descend upon the land' or some such."

[Jasmin]: "That is...vague."

[Aidan]: "Goblins are a vague people.  There were some specifics about blood soaking the land, and the gods plotting, but that's mostly it."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "Blood soaking the land?  Sounds like a war."

[Aidan]: "Exciting, isn't it?" Aidan says sarcastically.

[Eskar]: "Is there something we could be doing?" Eskar directs his comment to Aidan.

[Aidan]: "Specifically, I don't think so.  The Nightmaster is not yet calling upon us to fulfill our debt."

[Jasmin]: "Then what does this information mean to us?" Jasmin asks, absently keeping her gaze on the story telling Kricket.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "And if a war is brewing, who is going to start it?  And who is the 'other side?'"

[Aidan]: "I don't know.  He said that Shadowbite likely has his own plans for what will happen, and he suspected that Renos and the Dark Lady have their own plans, as well.  Considering he mentioned those three... perhaps the Soul Harvester might be this 'other side.'"

[Jasmin]: "The Bloody Maw." Jasmin frowns as she pushes herself away from the table.

[Aidan]: Aidan nods.

[Jasmin]: "I...I have more information on that front."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "I thought you said you had no other news?"

[Jasmin]: "I figured you wouldn't want to hear it, considering you don't find it important." Jasmin turns to finally face the others. "You were right in assuming that the Tainted Hands have something to do with them though."

[Eskar]: The duergar faces Jasmin with the same blank expression.

[Aidan]: "Really?  I had checked for a coin while we were at the mansion with them... Perhaps one of them was too far away."

[Jasmin]: "They aren't apart of the Bloody Maw. They defeated the Bloody Maw once before."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "What?" he asks incredulously.

[Jasmin]: "I haven't managed to get the whole story yet, so I don't know how they managed to do it."

[Aidan]: "How long ago was this?"

[Jasmin]: "I think it was Kricket's parents that defeated them, so a long time ago."

[Aidan]: Aidan looks confused.  "I had assumed Kricket started the Tainted Hands."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "He did.  Which means the Tainted Hands didn't defeat them."

[Jasmin]: "Though, his family did."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "Not very well, apparently, if they came back."

[Eskar]: Eskar's view starts to drift off to the side, approaching the spot on the wall he had originally become engrossed in.

[Aidan]: "Interesting."

[Jasmin]: "I can try to get the rest of the story."

[Aidan]: "It might be useful.  And perhaps if we knew who was a part of the Bloody Maw back then, we might be able to identify more of their members now."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "We haven't heard anything from the Bloody Maw in like a month."

[Aidan]: Aidan shrugs.  "They could be doing something, especially if they'll be causing blood to soak the land."

[Jasmin]: "Just because we haven't heard anything doesn't mean they aren't out there, Gaheris. They do have an interest in us...or at least me if you remember the last encounter."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "As far as we know, the Nightmaster was talking about the Vermin Plague or the Tainted Hands.  Or even the...Drow."  He shudders.

[Jasmin]: "You just refuse to believe the Bloody Maw is a threat."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "How are they a threat?  We took care of them when they were causing disruptions in the mine.  Since then, all they've done is spy on us once."

[Jasmin]: "There was only one of them, Gaheris!  If we killed one of their members, they probably can see us as a threat. If they didn't, they wouldn't have been spying on us."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "Well, what do you suggest we do then?  If they are leaving us alone now, maybe we shouldn't push our luck."

[Jasmin]: Jasmin lets out a groan of frustration.

[Aidan]: "They did have those snakes attack us.  And those lizards.  But either way, if we can catch them before their next move, it may push us ahead of Kricket and the others."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "If Kricket's parents defeated them last time, then shouldn't they be targeting the Tainted Hands?"

[Jasmin]: "Who says they aren't?"

[Aidan]: "But you are the ones who thwarted them in the mines."

[Jasmin]: "Instead of targeting one of us, they are going to target both. Get rid of two problems at once."

[Eskar]: "Should we not be talking about money, and letting them to come before us? We have pushed back many attacks."

[Jasmin]: Jasmin glances to Eskar. "I don't think any of you understand the power the Bloody Maw has. I was helpless in that battle with Santeria."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "I wasn't."

[Eskar]: "Yet you are standing before me. I am not being too worried."

[Jasmin]: "I saw the battle, Gaheris. It wasn't one of your finer moments."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "I think I did pretty well, considering I was blinded."

[Jasmin]: "And Santeria had Daufer turn on you."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "And I still came out on top."

[Jasmin]: "Barely. The point is, they have the power to control us."

[Eskar]: "And to control beasts. It did not help much."

[Jasmin]: "You can't exactly compare us to beasts Eskar, but fine. Don't think of them as a threat." Jasmin crosses her arms.

[Eskar]: "I am being more interested in making money."

[Aidan]: "But their power of beasts can't be denied.  Which just reminds me of the Rat King and his ring... By the way, did I mention that before our adventure with the gremlins, I had Loreleii locate more of those rat-shaped pins?"

[Jasmin]: "No, you didn't mention it."

[Aidan]: "Well, when she cast the spell, she said there were quite a few pins around the Merchant District."

[Jasmin]: "They are thieves, so that doesn't really surprise me."

[Eskar]: Eskar scratches his beard. "It is also meaning there are more of them again."

[JadedDM]: A young woman, bundled in an old cloak, enters the inn, drenched from the rain.  She glances around, and then upon spotting the party, walks toward them a bit timidly.

[Aidan]: "Yes, but there were two small clusters of pins, and I doubt they might be thieving in groups."  Aidan looks to Eskar.  "And there were around 10 or so pins that she had found before we went to the mansion, so their numbers could have risen since then."

[Jasmin]: Jasmin looks to the young woman for a few moments, then her eyes rise in surprise. "I know you."

[Eskar]: Eskar pays no attention to the person approaching them.

[Aidan]: Aidan turns to look at the woman as Jasmin addresses her.

[JadedDM]: The young woman hesitates, before stepping closer and nodding.  "Miss Labree, Lady Monet has sent me.  She must speak with you...all of you, at once.  It is a matter of most urgency."

[Jasmin]: "Is she all right?" Jasmin asks, sounding worried.

[JadedDM]: Servant Girl:  "She will explain everything at her mansion, if you will just come with me.  She promises a great reward if you help."

[Eskar]: Eskar hops to his feet, and straightens his belt.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin quickly moves to retrieve her cloak, and wraps it around her shoulders before she moves for the door. "Lead the way," she says to the young woman.

[Aidan]: Aidan raises an eyebrow, but climbs to his feet and grabs his quarterstaff from the place next to his seat.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris puts his cloak back on and stands, nodding to the servant girl.  She bows her head in gratitude and then quickly leads them outside, into the rain.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin follows after the girl.

[JadedDM]: As they walk toward the noble district, the servant girl apologizes.  "My Lady is sorry she could not meet you at the inn, but she wished privacy.  Hurry, she is waiting."

[Jasmin]: "It is all right. I'm sure she has good reasons."

[JadedDM]: Moving quickly, the servant girl leads them to the Monet Manor and brings them to the waiting room.  "Please wait here, I will let her know I have found you."  She then hurries off, not even bothering to remove her wet cloak.  A warm fireplace is awaiting them in the room, though, as is a tea tray and a plate of biscuits.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin pushes back the hood of her cloak, and moves to stand near the fire to warm up a bit.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris removes his cloak and sets it on the coat rack to dry.  He takes a seat.  "I wonder what this is all about?"

[Eskar]: Eskar stands around a bit awkwardly, reaching for a biscuit. He takes one step towards the fire then decides to stand still.

[Aidan]: Aidan pushes his hood back and takes a look around the room.

[Jasmin]: "I'm not sure."

[JadedDM]: A few moments later, Lady Arael Monet enters the room in a rush.  She looks a mess, as her normally perfect hair is mussed, her left eye is blackened and swollen, and there is a small cut on her right cheek.  Her one good eye is puffy and red, as if she has been crying.  She immediately launches herself into Jasmin's arms and begins sobbing.  "They took him...they took him!"

[Eskar]: Eskar looks around in the same state of awkwardness.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin's eyes widen in complete surprise as Arael latches on to her. At first, she doesn't seem to know what to do, but slowly she wraps her arms around her friend. "They took him?" she asks gently, as she tries to comfort the poor woman.

[Aidan]: Aidan looks around the room then takes a few steps closer to Lady Arael, concern on his face.  "They took Lord Monet?"

[JadedDM]: She looks to Aidan and manages a nod before wiping her eye.  "The Vermin Plague...they kidnapped him.  Something about...a...a ransom."

[Aidan]: Aidan glances towards Eskar.  "How long ago was this?"

[JadedDM]: Arael:  "I'm not sure.  I was knocked out.  An hour or two, I think.  We were up in the bedroom.  We hadn't gotten up yet.  The servants were downstairs, in the kitchen.  They didn't hear anything.  They came in through the window..."

[Jasmin]: "What do they want?" Jasmin asks.

[JadedDM]: Arael grabs onto Jasmin's shoulders and sobs.  "I...I think they're going to kill him!"

[Eskar]: Eskar shrugs. "I am thinking they are expecting us. They are not needing ransom. Even if they are, they are to be killing the man anyway." Eskar sighs.

[Aidan]: "Do you know where they took him?  Or where they wanted to accept this ransom?"

[JadedDM]: Arael looks up again.  "Yes!  They are taking him east.  Outside of the city, I think.  They must not have realized...we have enchanted wedding rings.  They let us kind of sense where the other is at all times.  Airlen had insisted, because he knew something like this might one day happen.  We have a lot of enemies.  I can lead you to him, but I...I can't fight them."

[Eskar]: Eskar scratches his beard. "I am thinking this is exactly what they are wanting."

[Jasmin]: "It is going to be okay, Arael," Jasmin says gently as she simply holds the woman. "I don't think it is the best idea if you go with us."

[JadedDM]: Arael:  "I have to!  It's the only way to track them...please, I will pay you handsomely.  Whatever you want!"

[Jasmin]: "Arael, it will only put you in danger. I don't want anything happening to you."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "She has a point.  How else are we going to find him?"

[Jasmin]: "Will that ring still work if you take it off?" Jasmin asks.

[JadedDM]: Arael shakes her head.  "It can only be removed in the event of my death.  Same with his.  That's how I'll know if they...if they kill him.  I'll feel it..."

[Jasmin]: Jasmin looks as if she doesn't like this at all.

[Aidan]: "I don't suppose you or your husband owns a shield or some armor...?"

[Eskar]: The duergar's eyes light up at Arael's mention of a reward. "Maybe we should be trying."

[JadedDM]: Arael:  "No...he's not much of a warrior.  He always relied on his bodyguards for that kind of thing."

[Jasmin]: "I'll do my best to protect her."

[Aidan]: "Do you have any of his bodyguards on hand to assist you while we travel?"

[JadedDM]: She shakes her head.  "They were all killed.  The goblins took them out before they came to get us.  I'm trying to keep things covered up, though.  So we must act quickly, but quietly."

[Jasmin]: "It might help if you have your whip, Arael."

[Eskar]: Eskar moves next to Aidan. "I am thinking the Rat King is doing this solely to get to us."

[JadedDM]: Arael:  "I'll go get it."

[Jasmin]: "And if you can, change your clothes. If they are outside the city, your dress is going to get dirty quickly."

[JadedDM]: She nods, wipes her eyes, and heads out of the room to get ready.

[Aidan]: Aidan nods to Eskar.  "Then we might as well go and remove him again."

[Eskar]: "I am not being able to."

[Aidan]: "Er...why not?"

[Jasmin]: Jasmin watches Arael walk off before she turns to Eskar and Aidan. "The last encounter with the Rat King, Eskar couldn't hurt him."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "I remember.  Nothing much could."

[Aidan]: "Ah, I remember now."  Aidan looks a bit more sullen.

[Eskar]: "I could be holding him down. Like with the goblins."

[JadedDM]: Arael returns in a heavy cloak and cowl to hide her face, and a whip tied to her belt.

[Jasmin]: "Maybe I can," Jasmin pulls out Radiant Star, and simply looks it over.

[Aidan]: "Well, we'll do what we can and make sure we retrieve Lord Monet before we're finished."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "My lady, you said they were taking him east?  Out of the city?"

[JadedDM]: Arael nods sullenly, putting on some fancy looking leather boots.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin places her sword back where it belongs. "Letís get moving. They have a bit of a head start."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "That means they're taking him to the Kelkar Highlands.  Why there?"

[Aidan]: "Perhaps they've been operating from there?"

[JadedDM]: Arael:  "I overheard them talking, right before I fell unconscious.  They said something about 'the mage' can track them, so they had to leave the city to be safe."

[Eskar]: Eskar nudges Aidan. "They are planning for us. I am telling you."

[Jasmin]: Jasmin shakes her head, but she doesn't say anything.

[Aidan]: Aidan coughs uncomfortably.  "If they wanted us to come, then they would have stayed within the city."

[Jasmin]: Jasmin crosses her arms impatiently. "Standing around talking about this really isn't saving Lord Monet."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "All right, all right.  Let's get going then.  But be on your guard.  The Highlands are said to be cursed.  Swarming with undead, among other things."

[Aidan]: "Then we should be on our way."

[Eskar]: Eskar follows whoever leads the way.

[Aidan]: "The situation just gets better and better," Aidan mutters, walking out the door.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin sticks near Arael as she moves out the door.

[JadedDM]: The five of them emerge from the home, after Arael gives her servants a few last minute instructions.  They immediately head for the east gate, passing by the checkpoint with relative ease.  Jasmin and Gaheris take the lead, with Arael in the middle, and Eskar and Aidan pulling up the rear.  The clouds above continue to rain lightly, spreading a chill in their bones.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin pulls out both of her swords as she walks through the rain, just to be prepared. "What did they want from you, Arael? Ransom-wise that is?" Jasmin asks.

[JadedDM]: Arael:  "I don't know.  I don't even think they really want a ransom.  I think they are using my husband to send a message to the other nobles."

[Aidan]: "They always did have some agenda against the Voxis' nobles."

[Jasmin]: "The nobles have the power."

[JadedDM]: The party enters a narrow gully that begins to turn northward.  The ground is fairly muddy at this point, and the clouds all but obscure the sunlight.  Arael manages to keep her footing pretty well, although she does slip now and again.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin looks over her shoulder to Arael to make sure she is all right as she walks.

[JadedDM]: They come to a stop at a fork, as the gully splits off into two directions, one heading northwest and another southeast.  Gaheris pauses as he considers.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin stops near Gaheris, glancing to him. "What?"

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "Which way?"

[Aidan]: Aidan looks to Lady Arael.

[JadedDM]: Arael closes her eyes and concentrates.  "I feel...they are heading northwest."

[Jasmin]: "Northwest it is then."

[Aidan]: Aidan gestures for Gaheris and Jasmin to take the lead.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin moves down the northwest path.

[JadedDM]: Arael:  "Will you really be able to save my husband?" she asks as they continue on.

[Aidan]: "We've stopped one of their kidnapping plots before, Lady Monet.  I'm sure we will be able to save your husband."

[JadedDM]: They continue until they reach another fork, this one heading southwest and northeast.  Gaheris leads them down the former, which takes them to an open area.  There is a small hill inside with a large oak tree growing from the top.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin glances at the tree absently as she walks.

[JadedDM]: They are interrupted when a worm-like creature emerges from the mud right in front of them.  It appears to be a massive centipede, at least five feet in length.  Its many legs wriggle as it begins to approach them, looking for a meal.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin jumps back upon seeing the worm. "What is that?"

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "Megalocentipede!  Get back, it's poisonous!"  He draws his bow and arrows.

[JadedDM]: (Actions?)

[Jasmin]: "Arael, get back!" Jasmin calls out as she moves to attack with her swords.

[Aidan]: Aidan takes a few steps back, raising his quarterstaff before him as he prepares to cast a spell.

[Jasmin]: [1d10] -> [1] = (1)

[Aidan]: [1d10] => [1] = (1)

[JadedDM]: Aidan's turn.

[Aidan]: [3d4+3] => [1,3,1,3] = (8)

[Aidan]: Aidan chants a quick incantation, the fingers of one of his hands contorting above his staff.  Three bolts of energy immediately erupt from his fingers, striking the creature.

[JadedDM]: Jasmin's turn.

[Jasmin]: [1d20] -> [8] = (8)

[Jasmin]: [1d20] -> [11] = (11)

[Jasmin]: [1d6+3] -> [4,3] = (7)

[Jasmin]: [1d6+3] -> [6,3] = (9)

[Jasmin]: Jasmin dances into battle with the centipede, and without a second thought she plunges both swords into the creature's back. The creature lets out what sounds like a squeal before it falls onto its side.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris lowers his bow, having just nocked an arrow.  "Is everyone okay?  Look around, there may be more."

[Aidan]: "Well," Aidan says, his staff drooping to the ground.  "That wasn't too bad."

[Jasmin]: Jasmin looks around the area to make sure everyone is all right. "Easier than I thought."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris looks relieved, nonetheless.  "It's a good thing you two were so quick to act.  Their poison can kill a man in seconds."

[Jasmin]: "Really?" Jasmin shrugs a bit. "Arael, you all right?"

[JadedDM]: Arael nods.  She had lost her footing and fallen into the mud, but she's now back on her feet.

[Jasmin]: "Well, letís keep moving on then if everyone is ready," Jasmin says as she starts the trek down the path again.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris nods and walks with her, Arael following after the pair.  They head into another northern passage.

[Aidan]: Aidan follows after Jasmin, looking around a bit more cautiously as he goes.

[JadedDM]: Arael:  "You move very quickly in battle, Jasmin," she says, a bit awed.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin glances over her shoulder to Arael. "You've never actually seen me fight have you? You know except during that embarrassment at the tournament."

[JadedDM]: Arael:  "It's a little different than a tournament."

[Jasmin]: "How so?" Jasmin asks curiously.

[JadedDM]: Arael:  "You just moved so fast.  What if it had bitten you?  You could have died."

[Jasmin]: "That is part of the fun." Jasmin smiles brightly. "It wouldn't be near as much fun if there wasn't a risk involved."

[JadedDM]: Arael:  "But if you keep taking risks like that, you won't live a very long life."

[Jasmin]: "What is the point of living a long life if you aren't enjoying it? I rather live a short enjoyable life. At least I can say I lived life to the fullest while I was alive."

[JadedDM]: Arael:  "But what if you knew you couldn't survive?  Would you still fight?"

[Jasmin]: Jasmin falls silent for a few moments.  "It depends on what I was fighting for."

[Aidan]: "At the least, we are all willing to take those risks to help you and your husband, Lady Monet."

[JadedDM]: Arael:  "And I am most thankful for that."

[Jasmin]: "You are taking a risk yourself, Arael."

[JadedDM]: The party finally emerges from the gully and find themselves in the highlands area.  A muddy and well-worn path stretches out before them in the hilly terrain.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin looks out across the muddy path. "I wonder how close we are."

[JadedDM]: Eskar pauses.  "Listen..," he says, tilting his head.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin pauses in her steps, and glances around.

[Aidan]: Aidan looks to the dwarf then takes a look around.

[JadedDM]: They don't see anything unusual, but even over the sound of the rain lightly falling, they hear ominous howls in the distance.

[Jasmin]: "Not more wolves," Jasmin says with a small groan.

[Aidan]: "...Were those wolf howls?"  Aidan looks to the others.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "Worse," he says, as the creatures emerge from their hiding spots into plain sight.  They look like wolves, but are larger and more primal in appearance.  A malicious intelligence glints in their yellow eyes.  "Worgs."  Three emerge from the north, and two from the south, east and west.  They slowly move-in, having completely surrounded the party.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin moves back to keep Arael protected. "Great."

[Aidan]: "This looks even less promising than last time."  Aidan moves to stand with Arael, a hand searching through the pouches at his belt.

[JadedDM]: Eskar draws his sword and shield and turns to their flank.  "Is bad."

[JadedDM]: (Actions?)

[Aidan]: Aidan pulls a piece of what looks like plate mail from a pouch and begins to cast a spell.

[Aidan]: [1d10] => [5] = (5)

[Jasmin]: Jasmin stays close to Arael as she gets into position to attack one of the worgs.

[Jasmin]: [1d10] -> [2] = (2)

[JadedDM]: Jasmin's turn.

[Jasmin]: [1d20] -> [1] = (1)

[Jasmin]: [1d20] -> [2] = (2)

[Jasmin]: Jasmin moves in to attack, but the rain causes Jasmin's grip on Radiant Star to slip. The sword nearly flies out of her reach, but she tries to attack with Scalebiter. The worg simply dodges the attack easily though.

[JadedDM]: Worgs' turn.

[JadedDM]: The three north worgs immediately attack the unbalanced warrior, tearing into her viciously.  The two on the east move in, but Aidan and Gaheris are able to dodge them.  The two on the west move in on Eskar, and one of them manages to pounce him to the ground, biting him.  The two on the south split up between the mage and the dwarf.  Aidan is again able to dodge, but Eskar is not so lucky.

[JadedDM]: Aidan's turn.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin cries out as the worgs tear into her flesh.

[Aidan]: Aidan mutters a spell, clutching the plate fragment in a fist and making large, circling gestures with it.  After a moment, he opens the fist, the fragment now gone, and raises his staff against the worgs.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris' turn.

[JadedDM]: Taking aim, Gaheris lets loose an arrow which strikes one of the two worgs on the east side right above the eye.

[JadedDM]: Eskar's turn.

[JadedDM]: Eskar manages to throw the worgs off of him, and slashes at one of his offenders with his sword with a mighty bellow.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris' turn.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris fires another arrow at the same worg, wounding it despite the rain in his eyes.

[JadedDM]: (Round 2.)

[Aidan]: Aidan readies another spell.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin quickly takes the fire breathing potion out of her pack, and then once she uncorks it takes one drink.

[Jasmin]: [1d10] -> [1] = (4)

[Aidan]: [1d10] => [9] = (9)

[JadedDM]: Jasmin's turn.

[Jasmin]: [1d10+2] -> [10,2] = (12)

[Jasmin]: [1d10+2] -> [3,2] = (5)

[Jasmin]: [1d10+2] -> [8,2] = (10)

[Jasmin]: Jasmin drinks the red liquid quickly. Jasmin then opens her mouth, a wave of fire bursts through towards the worgs. All three of them whimper as the fire courses through fur and skin, yet they still stand once the fire is gone.

[JadedDM]: Eskar's turn.

[JadedDM]: Eskar presses his advantage, slashing again at the same worg.  He shouts out some Duergar curse in surprise when he feels the heat of Jasmin's fire breath.

[JadedDM]: Aidan's turn.

[Aidan]: Aidan pulls a bit of glowing moss from a pouch and casts it into the air as he grunts a short incantation, pointing a hand at one of the southern worgs that had attacked him.

[JadedDM]: The eyes of the worg in question suddenly burst into light, effectively blinding it.  It whimpers and paws at its snout, baffled by what just happened.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris' turn.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris lets loose another arrow at the same worg, making it appear as a kind of weird pin cushion now.

[JadedDM]: Worgs' turn.

[JadedDM]: The burned worgs press on, despite Jasmin's impressive pyrotechnics.  The blinded worg, however, decides to flee.  Jasmin easily dances around the three burned worgs with no difficulty.  Eskar has his hands full with his own three worgs, as another one gets the best of him and bites his shoulder.  Gaheris rolls out of the way to avoid the one attacking him, and the remaining one seems incapable of touching Aidan.

[JadedDM]: Eskar's turn.

[JadedDM]: Eskar manages to get the worg off of him, but he's too slow to strike.  The worg quickly moves out of range before he can attack.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris' turn.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris' arrow misses entirely, sinking into the mud.

[JadedDM]: (Round 3.)

[Jasmin]: Jasmin makes a move to get Radiant Star, and then attack with Scalebiter.

[Jasmin]: [1d10] -> [4] = (4)

[Aidan]: Aidan begins to cast another spell.

[Aidan]: [1d10] => [9] = (9)

[JadedDM]: Jasmin's turn.

[Jasmin]: [1d20] -> [3] = (3)

[Jasmin]: Jasmin tumbles to the ground, her right hand picking up Radiant Star as she rolls. Once back on her feet, Jasmin presses her attack with Scalebiter, but the worg easily jumps out of the way of attack.

[JadedDM]: Aidan's turn.

[Aidan]: Aidan raises a hand, his fingers twisting about before him before releasing three bolts of energy.  One moves to strike one of the worgs attacking him, and two strike the other.

[Aidan]: [1d4+2] => [4,2] = (6)

[Aidan]: [1d4+2] => [4,2] = (6)

[Aidan]: [1d4+2] => [2,2] = (4)

[Aidan]: The worgs whimper, moving back and circling.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris' turn.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris fires another arrow, this one only grazing his target.

[JadedDM]: Worgs' turn.

[JadedDM]: The three burned worgs attack Jasmin again.  She sidesteps two of them, but the third one catches her arm in its mouth and hangs on.  The one attacking Gaheris pounces him, knocking him down and tearing into his unprotected throat.  The one attacking Aidan manages to get past his magical protection and bites at his hand.  The spell protecting Aidan absorbs most of it, but then fails.  The last three fight Eskar, but the sturdy dwarf is well protected in his armor.

[JadedDM]: Eskar's turn.

[JadedDM]: Eskar slashes at the same worg, this time dropping it for good.  With a whimper, it splashes into the mud and remains still.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris' turn.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris manages to wrestle the worg off of him and attempts to nock another arrow, but instead has to roll to the side to avoid getting pounced again.

[JadedDM]: (Round 4.)

[Jasmin]: Jasmin once again attacks with both swords this time.

[Jasmin]: [1d10] -> [10] = (10)

[Jasmin]: (For crying out loud.)

[Aidan]: Aidan readies his quarterstaff for the worg that attacked him.

[Aidan]: [1d10] => [6] = (6)

[JadedDM]: Aidan's turn.

[Aidan]: [1d20] => [11] = (11)

[Aidan]: Aidan raises his staff against the worg and brings it down an arms-length away from its head.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris' turn.

[JadedDM]: Still bleeding from the neck, Gaheris gets to his feet and draws an arrow, firing.  The arrow is thrown off-course by the rain and lands in some unknown location.

[JadedDM]: Jasmin's turn.

[Jasmin]: [1d20] -> [9] = (9)

[Jasmin]: [1d20] -> [1] = (1)

[Jasmin]: [1d6+3] -> [1,3] = (4)

[Jasmin]: Jasmin manages to shake the worg off her arm, and very ungracefully stabs Radiant Star into the creature's eyes. She brings Scalebiter around to jab into one of the worgs trying to pounce her, but the rain causes Scalebiter to slip from her fingers. "Damn it!"

[JadedDM]: The worg drops dead at her feet, splashing her with mud.

[JadedDM]: Worgs' turn.

[JadedDM]: The two remaining worgs on Jasmin attack, one of them biting her ankle.  Gaheris suffers a similar experience with the one he's engaged with.  Aidan manages to evade the teeth of the one he is fighting, but Eskar is not so lucky.  He looks pretty badly hurt by the time he manages to get the two worgs off of him.

[JadedDM]: Eskar's turn.

[JadedDM]: Eskar slashes at the wolf that just bit him, cutting it across the left side and leaving behind a small line of blood.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris' turn.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris' aim is once again disrupted by the light rain.

[JadedDM]: Eskar's turn.

[JadedDM]: Eskar manages to wound the same worg with a quick downward slash toward its flank.

[JadedDM]: Jasmin's turn.

[Jasmin]: As one of the worgs jumps to pounce her, Jasmin dodges the attack by simply doing the splits. In the process, she picks Scalebiter up from the mud.

[JadedDM]: (Round 5.)

[Jasmin]: Jasmin attacks again with her swords.

[Jasmin]: [1d10] -> [10] = (10)

[Aidan]: Aidan attacks with his quarterstaff.

[Aidan]: [1d10] => [8] = (8)

[JadedDM]: Jasmin's turn.

[Jasmin]: [1d20] -> [4] = (4)

[Jasmin]: [1d20] -> [13] = (13)

[Jasmin]: [1d6+3] -> [4,3] = (7)

[Jasmin]: Jasmin dances in between the two worgs attacking her, she brings Radiant Star down upon the worg, but it manages to step to the side. Quickly, she brings Scalebiter under Radiant Star, and stabs the worg in the stomach causing it to whimper in pain as it stumbles to regain its balance.

[JadedDM]: Worgs' turn.

[JadedDM]: The worg she just attacked, in a frenzy, leaps at her, tearing into her shoulder.  Gaheris' target takes a nip at his thigh while Aidan takes one in the arm.  Eskar manages to bat the two attacking him away with his shield.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin crumbles to the ground from weight of the worg, and she cries out in pain as she feels the teeth crunch into her shoulder.

[JadedDM]: Eskar's turn.

[JadedDM]: With a dwarven battlecry, Eskar slays another worg with a slash across its throat.

[JadedDM]: Aidan's turn.

[Aidan]: [1d20] => [9] = (9)

[Aidan]: Aidan swings his staff horizontally over the head of the worg that attacked him, missing it completely.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris' turn.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris fires another arrow, this one sinking into the offending worg's skull, dropping it.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris' turn.

[JadedDM]: Drawing another arrow without missing a beat, he then turns and fires at Aidan's worg, catching it right in the eye.  It also drops.

[JadedDM]: (Round 6.)

[Jasmin]: Jasmin attacks once again.

[Jasmin]: [1d10] -> [6] = (6)

[Aidan]: Shouting his thanks to Gaheris, Aidan moves to attack the worg attacking Eskar.

[Aidan]: [1d10] => [2] = (2)

[JadedDM]: Worgs' turn.

[JadedDM]: There are three remaining worgs.  One goes for Jasmin, but she dodges.  The second tackles Gaheris, wounding him badly.  The third advances on Eskar, but then spots Aidan coming for it, so bites at him instead.

[JadedDM]: Aidan's turn.

[Aidan]: [1d20] => [9] = (9)

[Aidan]: Aidan stifles a pained cry and brings the butt of his staff down against the spot where the worg had just stood.

[JadedDM]: Jasmin's turn.

[Jasmin]: [1d20] -> [2] = (2)

[Jasmin]: [1d20] -> [14] = (14)

[Jasmin]: [1d6+3] -> [6,3] = (9)

[Jasmin]:  Jasmin pushes herself up from her roll weakly. She swings Radiant Star at the worg attacking her, but he is able to dodge. She brings Scalebiter down upon the creature quickly. It whimpers for a few moments before it drops into the mud.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris' turn.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris shoots the other worg attacking Jasmin, wounding it badly.

[JadedDM]: Eskar's turn.

[JadedDM]: He swings his sword at the remaining worg, but is so weak from blood loss that his moves have become sluggish.

[JadedDM]: Jasmin's turn.

[Jasmin]: [1d20] -> [20] = (20)

[Jasmin]: [2d6+3] -> [4,5,3] = (12)

[Jasmin]: Forcing herself to move, Jasmin literally shoves Radiant Star into the worg's head. It doesn't even have time to whimper. It simple falls down into the mud as Jasmin pulls her sword free.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris' turn.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris shoots at the last remaining worg, but he misses in his exhaustion.

[JadedDM]: Eskar's turn.

[JadedDM]: Eskar strikes out at the last remaining worg, cutting it across the snout.

[JadedDM]: The remaining worg decides not to press its luck and turns and flees.

[Jasmin]: Upon seeing the worg run, Jasmin drops to her knees in exhaustion.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "We're in deep trouble here...we need to get out of the open.  We're sitting ducks," he says, coughing up a bit of blood.

[JadedDM]: Arael:  "Look, up there...in those hills!  I think I see a cave!"

[Aidan]: Aidan leans against his staff, surveying the damage.  "Let's head for it, then."

[Jasmin]: Jasmin barely raises her head to look to the hills. Slowly, she pushes herself up and starts limping for the cave as fast as she can.

[JadedDM]: Moving as quickly as they can, which is no easy task with their wounds and the rain and mud hindering them, they hurry to the northern hills Arael pointed out.  At their base is indeed a cave entrance, just big enough for them to enter without hunching over.

[Aidan]: "Maybe we should throw something inside to make sure nothing else has taken residence..." Aidan says, eyeing the cave entrance suspiciously.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin gives Radiant Star a little shake to give them light so they can at least look into the cave.

[JadedDM]: The cave is not very deep, and appears empty.  It's large enough for them to stretch their legs, though.  It may have once belonged to a bear or some other creature, but it appears abandoned.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin steps into the cave. Once inside, she gently eases herself down on the ground, and curls up against a wall. "Now what?"

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "There's nothing we can do now.  Even if we find the Vermin Plague, we're in no condition to do anything to them."

[Aidan]: Aidan settles himself against the far wall.  "We rest long enough to get our strength back, hopefully.  And for me to re-memorize my spells.  Lady Monet, you still feel the connection to your husband, correct?"

[JadedDM]: She nods.  "I sense that...they have stopped.  Perhaps they are resting, too."

[Aidan]: Aidan considers this for a moment.  "He should be fine for some time, then.  Can you tell how far away they are?"

[Jasmin]: Jasmin closes her eyes as she listens to the others.

[JadedDM]: Arael shakes her head.  "Not exactly.  He's further west from here.  We might be able to catch up to them in the morning."

[Jasmin]: "We can't fight them. We have to think of another way."

[Aidan]: "They are to the west?  Have we gone too far east, then?"

[JadedDM]: Arael shakes her head.  "I am not sure."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "Maybe they're doubling back...they might know we're after them."

[Jasmin]: "How could they know?"

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "We were kind of busy with those worgs.  If anyone spotted us, we wouldn't have noticed."

[Jasmin]: "Then I guess we head back in the morning."

[Aidan]: "And there was quite a bit of shouting on our part."  Aidan pushes himself from the cave wall and moves to stand by the entrance, pulling a squishy-looking substance from a pouch.  He makes a short gesture with his hand and mutters some indistinguishable words, looking out to the west.

[Jasmin]: "Hmm. Even if we do find them, we can't fight them. Not even in the morning. Wounds don't heal overnight."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "If only Daufer were here."

[Jasmin]: "I doubt he would heal us anyway."

[Aidan]: Aidan sighs and settles back into his place against the far wall.

[JadedDM]: Eskar settles himself in a corner and munches on a piece of charcoal quietly.

[Jasmin]: "Well, I'm going to get some rest."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "I guess I'm taking first watch then."

[Jasmin]: Jasmin closes her eyes tightly, and soon falls asleep as it isn't hard to do considering the state she is in.

[Aidan]: He closes his eyes for a moment, and then opens them again, pulling a thin leather-bound book from his cloak.  He flips through some of its pages before finding one to stare at.

[JadedDM]: (All right.  We'll end it here.)

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