Season 3: Episode 73 – An Unexpected Welcome (Kerubiel’s point of view)
As the enormous murder of crows leave the far edge of the river and fly out of town over our heads, the feeling of foreboding can’t help but fill us all. Aila’s face is clear that she has a high level of concern. Finn is looking anxious and is mumbling to himself.
Drael voices that he wants to check in on his dad, Kardel and Glanrim nods with a look of he will go wherever we want. Before panic and worry can overcome any of them, I quickly give voice that something serious has happened here and we will check on Aila’s sister first, then Drael’s dad, and then head up to the Block House, but we best be prepared, and so I draw Lily’s Thorn. The others do the same with their weapons.
As we ride those few steps further into town, my mind flicks back to a recent evening in Silver Halls, taking a moment to look down from the castle rampart to admire my bustling city and the rapid growth we have succeeded in achieving in these past couple of years…to then look out at this town and up to the Block House with absolutely no movement.
We move first toward Valla and Traikore’s house, a humble dwelling, wooden with no windows, just storm shutters, like many homes back in Silver Falls. As we approach, I notice that the front door is not quite latched, and I can hear Aila pushing forward so I give her space to do so. As she reaches the door, we hear a large clattering sound from around the back side of the house.
All on edge, we quickly take strategic battle positions, and Drael casts his defensive spell that creates illusory duplicates of himself. I go to flank around the north side and Glanrim heads straight to the source of the noise. I then hear him shout that it was just some wood that had fallen over. Finn shouts out that it must be a trap. Glanrim comes back and says it was no trap, just the wind and a crow. Finn nods, reassured, and Aila heads inside.
Glancing in, the place looks turned over, but there are no people or sounds aside from us. Aila, starting to become overwhelmed drops to a knee, but Finn rushes up to her side, putting a hand on her shoulder and points out that there is no blood. Drael goes in to take a look around and I point out that perhaps they are at the inn. Aila nods and starts to head out when Drael says he found something – a note addressed to Aila from Valla.
It is just correspondence of a sisterly nature – catching up on life events and that she looks forward to the next time they can see each other but stops mid-sentence and Glanrim notices a pot of spilled ink nearby. Aila thinks they must have left in a hurry and Glanrim thinks that someone may have come in here after they left.
I say again that we should make for the inn with haste…the others follow my lead this time.
We head to the fjord of the river that divides the north and south side of town. The Water Horse is in view as we start to cross but then we hear a splash of water and suddenly Glanrim is pinched inside a massive claw of a large tentacle faced bipedal crustacean. With him in its grasp in pulls him to its face and the tentacles writhe all over him and he goes still. Shit.
I then hear a muttering of an incantation from Drael, and the world seems to slow for everyone that is not us.
Finn quickly starts to get to work on some kind of concoction since he can see that Glanrim is still breathing. Aila screams with fury and charges the creature but before her maul can make contact it grabs her with one of its pincers.
I quickly make my way up along the south side of the river and position Sorath and I to pierce this creature with Lily’s Thorn. While I ride past, I take notice of its impressive reach and block its other claw with my shield.
As I am turning around, I hear Drael yell that help is coming and I see out of the corner of my eye, Glarnim getting munched on while Aila is coated in a thick layer of magical grease. This gives her the boost she needed to slip free and prepares to attack again while Finn rushes up to Glanrim and wafts some kind of fume in his face.
Finally, in place, Sorath and I start to charge the beast, just as a fiery explosion goes off near this thing while Aila wails on its back and I, gaining the boon of Lancer’s Hope, skewer the beast right through its maw, causing it to drop Glanrim as it collapses down into the shallow water.
Glanrim then stands back up and even though he’s down on himself for being a pin cushion, I remind him that that is his job in our group. He chuckles and nods. It is then that Drael’s spell wears off and a wave of fatigue washes over all of us.
Finn wants to dissect the beast and Glanrim wants a trophy so with Sorath’s help we pull it up onto the bank. Finn shares that he thinks this is a Chull, and stats cutting it up. He says he finds the legs of a gray-skinned humanoid creature, two left legs actually. He shares that it is an adult leg so must have been a halfling or gnome based on its size.
We then move onto the Water Horse, Glanrim pointing out that this isn’t what happened to the whole town. We nod as Finn says something about Ray Jay with tentacles – oh man.
As we pass the watering hole, suddenly the ground opens up and Drael and Glanrim fall into a pit trap and are skewered by spikes at the bottom. Nothing fatal, but definitely painful looking. I help them up and assure Glanrim that that is a new addition to the town and Finn tends to some of their wounds.
As we approach the two-storey building, one of the only in town, we notice something carved into the door – “NOMEN”…hearing us say it out loud, Finn says that only Aila and Sorath will be able to go in. We shake our heads at the pun and open the door.
The common room looks as it normally would, except that the tables are lined with rotting food and no patrons, but in the back corner is a yellow nimbus of light encircling a large humanoid who is like a small giant of ten feet in height, but he seems to be paralyzed in the light. Things are getting stranger and stranger here in Varnhold.