Thom's Kingmaking

Season 2: Episode 52 – Hunting a Coward (Kerubiel's point of view)

Season 2: Episode 52 – Hunting a Coward (Kerubiel’s point of view)
My rest amongst Sorath and Tamus is cut short by Glanrim telling us all to get up as large figures were seen sneaking from the fort. I guess it’s true that evil does not rest. Gearing up quickly my mind floats back to what Finn had said earlier that night.
He told us that he had talked to Ellira during the campaign about life and death. That she was of course afraid of dying but if that ever did occur, she did not want to be brought back. She understood that life is a cycle and death is an inevitable end. She would also not feel right being brought back when others also lost their lives due to this war. She did not feel better than them.
Once in the main room, I see that Netti – one of Glarnim’s officers, a blonde human woman, is speaking to him. Once we are all assembled she relays that she say somewhere between 2 and 5 figures sneaking into the woods. We rush to where they were spotted and Glanrim is able to point out 3 distinct sets of large humanoid tracks. Two sets are very similar compared to the third.
I get Sorath to take in the scent and learn it, because we will hunt these bastards if need be. The question is, is this Hargulka, or just decoy cowards running for their lives? Drael insists that we have to clear the fort first. We must know that that place is empty first. Netti, who is still around, nods and agrees with him.
I then ask if she is coming with us, and she nods and says if the general orders it. Glanrim takes a breath and says he won’t order anyone into the fort, they would have to be doing it of their own volition. She still says that she wants to come with us. Apparently, Glanrim is training some trustworthy soldiers.
Although it pains us, we decide to finish our rest because if we fight Hargulka, we want to be at full strength.
The next morning, the weather of the day seems out of place as a beautiful blue sky and the sun shines down upon the troll village. It does not reflect our mood. We discuss and agree that we should ensure the fort is clear first. Finn says that he would like to stay and perform some druidic ceremonies for Ellira. We respect his decision, and I leave Tamus with him.
As we head up the path to the fort, Netti runs up to join us and asks again if she can help. Glanrim nods. As we near the door, Drael starts suggesting different strategies we might use to finish exploring the place. Tells us he could create a sphere of invisibility centered on a point and if that target doesn’t attack then the spell will hold for up to 10 minutes. If anyone else attacks or leaves the sphere they will become visible too. This is great and we decide that when we get close, Sorath is a great candidate for being the center of the sphere.
I then get Sorath to track the origin of the tracks and we start to follow her lead after Drael puts light on my lance again. She leads us straight to the storeroom with the cavern entrance. We continue on and things look exactly how we left them last night. Nagrundi’s corpse still lays in a massive heap. The skull glittering off the light of the lance.
This time we head past where the two lesser trolls were and as we are about to head through this cavern, I ask if we should sphere up now? We agree and Drael works his invisibility magic.
The tracks split, one from the north and two from the west. We decide to head north first. What we find is truly why trolls are horrible creatures. The air in the room is cooler but it does not hide the scent of rotting and decaying animal and humanoid carcasses. The humanoid bodies are all decapitated.
It is at this point that Netti vomits. Guess she’s a little green to the vileness that some monsters possess. Other than that, the room appears empty, but Drael does a cursory scan with his magic and finds another one of the strange plant bulbs that we had found in a cave near the Old Beldame’s swamp. A troll lived in it too.
Remembering Ellira’s fascination with it, we decide to use magic to put it in my bag and then have Finn look at it later. Backing out of the room we go the other way and we a large room and within the center of it is a crude throne that looked like it was in the process of being carved, but the place is otherwise empty.
Damned Hargulka must have escaped. Coward.
Glanrim takes a closer look at the throne and tells us that there is a Kilgrog family crest on it something about the Crown of Ril-Korag and some other dwarven history stuff. Next to the throne is a small pedestal with a space for a circular object. One side of the room also looks like it was a cache of ore that had been completely drained and a fine yellow dust covers the floor. Glanrim says that it was a stelomene vein and then puts a piece of something he was wearing around his neck onto the pedestal, and it is a perfect fit.
Netti then asks him what it means, and all Glanrim says is that he’s close. Hmm. Then, realizing that we have nowhere else to explore, Drael, fist balled, curses that he escaped.
All of us are frustrated and I suggest that we tell Finn about the dust in here so he can take samples. We get the army to gather the supplies from the storeroom and then tell them to start packing up to head home.
We mention what we found in the gross room to Finn, and he says he wants to see it for himself. He takes it out of my haversack, and he has a vision, (he tells us later), but then afterwards he starts acting towards it, very much the same as Ellira did when we found the other one. She never ended up trying to stab us, so we let it go.
He tells us later that his vision was a large maze of plant animals and then a tree at the center of it. Sounds very similar to what Ellira saw.
Finn then gathers some samples of the Stelomene dust, and he thinks he will be able to make 4 more ‘anti tattoo’ bombs based on what he studied from the one he found earlier. Great. Means Drael will be able to light this dick up.
Glanrim tells the army to start marching back to Silver Falls and that we will catch up to them. We then have Sorath find the scent track again, and we ride hard to the south. We spend the whole day trying to catch them but unfortunately can’t by the end of the day, and although it pains me, I tell them that we must let this go- for now.
Drael can’t believe I am suggesting this. He and Glanrim agrees that we must hunt Hargulka. As much as it pains me to disagree with them in this moment, I explain that we have a kingdom that needs us more. And that Ellira would not want us to abandon our duties to our people out of vengeance. I assure them that I want him dead as much as they do, and they can see the sincerity in my voice because they agree to turn back. Netti also agrees and says the kingdom does need us. I didn’t need the help, but the support was nice. They concede to my logic.
On the first night back, we spend it in the fort, and oh yea, someone said they had found the tattooing tool and Finn thinks he could perform the ritual to tattoo someone. So, we fire up the forge and when Glanrim asks if he can be first, I allow it. He giddily nods his appreciation…he’s the one that stays up where Drael wants to huck fireballs anyways.
The ritual and tattooing are quite lengthy and Glanrim and Finn have an awkward moment where Finn is shaving Glanrim’s chest. Whatever. But when it’s done it does look good. And before we can come up with a reasonable way to test if it worked, Drael summons a barrage of flame from his fingertips, pointed right at Glanrim…and when the flame touches him it all gets kind of sucked into the tattoo and Glanrim has a tear in his eye. He then hugs Finn in a deep embrace and Finn looks uncomfortable. We then rest for the night.
We catch up to the army and then travel with them back to Silver Falls. Just over three weeks has gone by since the start of this war and it is incredible how much has changed. When we cross through the gates there are looks of relief and cheers of happiness as loved ones spot each other. There are also looks of grief and sadness as the realization that we bring home ones to bury as well.
Once inside the walls, Netti comes up and asks Glanrim’s permission to release the troops, he gives the nod, tells them to break ranks, and the army goes to meet with their loved ones as we ride up towards the castle. We spot two rather large vulpines at the castle gates. Sorath and Tamus’ ears both perk up but then Tamus goes bounding to meet them. I see Cora standing at the gates next to Rin and Dilph and the smile that crosses both our faces is the best thing that has happened this month.
And as we get closer to the now three vulpines, one of them changes into an elven male.