D&D4E Chapter One

The beginning . . .  

New text of the day will be in yellow.

Night has just set in on the evening of the autumnal equinox. As animals fatten themselves for the coming winter months, the citizens of the Bulwark Point Region celebrate alike, regardless of creed, with great feasting. The most prominent join King Leoboren IV at the castle in Bulwark Point, including all the council members and their friends and family...

Among them is the Mayor of Glenwood Village. A small village on the southern edge of civilization in the region, it is left for the evening to the overwatch of Sheriff Abbas and his two deputies. Most of the families have retired to their homes, celebrating on their own, while the guests all congregate at the only Inn in the village...

The Pig's Tail Inn is a cozy place for travelers to stop and stable their horses, get a bite to eat, a stiff drink, and spend the night. Just inside the door is a large room with many small 4 person tables and a large bar. Behind the bar, a surly barkeep pours ale from a tap behind the bar into a wooden tankard, handing it to a dwarf sitting on a high stool. A single serving woman brings a tray of pork and cooked potatoes to a table sat by a traveling merchant and his family.

A quaint little inn, in a quaint little town, having a quaint little gathering. Not the place one would expect to find a decorated paladin of Corellon, but here she is, albeit not playing the part of a paladin this eve. Corva Deepwater, long black hair bound into an intricate braid and clad in a long, shimmering gown of purples and blues, lends an air of grace to the room as she escorts her father, Cerek, around, chatting with the locals. It's one of his very peacocks that has been stuffed, roasted, and presented for dinner, he naturally must be here to help celebrate. So as not to break up the family on a feast night, both his elven wife, Lunelantha, and his daughter, Corva, are here in attendance.

Hardly notable in the throng of people, a thin figure wrapped in a tattered cloak, hood drawn, enters amongst them. She silently holds her collection cup, but not out to anyone in particular. Just near her, in case anyone feels the desire to donate to a poor, wandering soul. Meanwhile, however, she is listening, and looking. She notices Corva, but her dark eyes move on to the others in the room, not wanting to linger anywhere too long. Similarly, she keeps moving to stay out of the way until she can find a spot, perhaps in a dark corner if it is available.

Gilvadrion enters the room quietly, his placid demeanor belying a foul mood. <<Why I should be sent to the very edge of the kingdom to deliver a letter - a task that the meekest of porters could handle - is beyond comprehension. And on the night of the festival, when I could be mingling with the movers and shakers of Bulwark Point...>> He wears his travel leathers, tarnished with the dust of the road but still presentable. Still, dusts himself off just inside the door, then begins fastidiously removing his gloves and tucking them into his belt... not with the manner of a haughty noble, but with the precision of the obsessively tidy.

The barkeep nods and smiles to visitors as they enter, going about his business at the bar. With the recently influx he doesn't catch everyone though, and missing Selande to no surprise. He slides down to one corner of the bar as a dark stranger walks up. Wearing a simple set of battle leathers, which go well with the phrase form follows function. Over top of his armor he ward a brown leather oilcloth duster cinched at the neck, with his collar worn up and covering his face (Think The brotherhood of the Wolf). A matching wide flat-brimmed hat completes the ensemble. He pulls himself up to the bar on a stool and deliberately takes the hat off, setting it to the side on the bar top. "Water," he says plainly. The barkeep gives him a slight look and then shrugs, heading off to the other side to pour the drink. The stranger unfastens the front of his duster, revealing the leathers underneath.

Ah, now this looks like an interesting character. Corva leaves her father making pleasant conversation with a fellow fowl farmer about the effects of this summer's weather on his stock, and sashays up to the bar. Near to the stranger, but not so close as to be obviously making an attempt at conversation with him. "Harold, my father wanted you to know that he thinks pork with peafowl is a marvelous pairing and he'll be asking after your supplier later on this evening. Have you got anything decent to drink here?" She eyes the newly-arrived stranger sideways, trying to catch a better look at his features without being overt about it.

Selande sits down patiently out of the way, still holding on to her cup. She doesn't make any effort to get food. In fact, it's difficult with her hood to tell if she's thinking anything at all, except for when it cocks this way and that to reveal she's lost interest in one thing to have gained interest in another . . . as it does when Corva approaches the stranger, whom she's certain that she hasn't seen before.

Gilvadrion sighs and peers about with distaste. Not because the room is so common, but simply because there is so little of interest for him to DO here. Still . . . like any remote inn replete with dark corners, there are sure to be at least one or two interesting persons mingling about in the flock. And interesting persons have interesting stories, which Gilvadrion finds... interesting. He makes his way to the bar, and standing next to the dwarf orders a drink. "Innkeeper, I will have a cup of your finest..."

Upon closer inspection the stranger is a very young elven man. Typical pointed ears, but rather sharp facial features, especially along the jawline and cheekbones. He seems a little more pale than most, but not unusually so. He also wears his hair shorter than many, jet-black it is short, choppy, and unkempt. He stares forward blankly, apparently lost in thought. Harold smiles to Corva as he returns with the strangers water. He sets down the small wooden cup in front of him before turning back to Corva and leaning forward on the bar top. "Ah young miss, I do look forward to discussing that with your father on the morrow." He stops and ponders for a few moments, glancing in Gilvadrion's direction as well before taking a step back. "I think I may have just the thing for you two. I've been working on it all year just for today. It is a house brew, my special Fall Pale Ale. Let me go tap the keg." With that he turns and walks through a pair of swinging doors leading into a back room.

The dwarf ponders slightly, and then panics as the barkeep begins to leave. "Uh, umm, Harold," He yells hoarsely, "One for me too." He grins, looking in Gilvadrion's direction, "Ah sure can't pass up the chance to try a new brew."

"Peafowl and pale ale. Dad's sure to like it," Corva muses as the innkeeper goes bustling off to procure the brew. The man nearby--elf, it turns out--gets a more full-on look as she turns her head to regard him openly. Gilvadrion is the nicer-looking of the two, but decidedly...noble-looking. And anyway, he's occupied with the fine dwarf beside him! "Good evening. I'm Corva." He's drinking just water. Interesting. Lacking a drink to keep her hands busy, she twirls an escaped curl of hair with the fingers of one hand.

Selande, becoming ever more curious, edges slowly closer to get a better listen. Sitting at the bar would probably shoo them away, so she just sits as close as she can without being directly amongst anyone should would offend.

Gilvadrion smiles at the dwarf, amused that he has met such a quaint stereotype. "Ahh, you must be a connoisseur, then. You'll have to be the judge, then, of whether Harold's time has been well-spent. My own palette, I'm afraid, is not so refined."

The stranger takes up his cup and sips slowly at the water, looking at Corva out of the corner of his eye. "I'm called Mongoose," he says plainly, seemingly not interested in conversation as he looks back forward and takes another sip. Meanwhile the dwarf grins even wider, slapping Gilvadrion rather roughly on the back, "Ha ha, glad you asked. I will give you a full review, though it may take two, maybe three pints..."

It has been awhile since anyone has entered the inn, so many heads turn as the door creaks open, letting in a slight gust of the cool night air. In steps Sheriff Abbas, taking up almost the entire doorway, clad in his scale armor and scarlet cloak. He takes in the room slowly, apparently looking for someone in particular. When he cannot find who he is looking for, he walks slowly towards the bar.

Ah. A reluctant one. Well, Corva would normally let him go at that, but...she glances over her shoulder at the rest of the assembled crowd. Not a lot of hope of civilized conversation there. So she's left with being annoying to the crop-haired elf. "Not a name many mothers would give their sons," she remarks, not expecting any answer. "Clearly you're not here for the food or festivities, and you look like the type who does just fine on his own in the woods. So what brings you here to the illustrious Pig's Tail Inn?"

Selande loses interest in Corva's conversation when Sheriff Abbas enters. She watches as he heads to the bar, pulling back her hood a little and risking showing her clean, pale face as she tries to get a better look and hear at him. <<Uh-oh. Looks like something is up, perhaps . . .>>

Gilvadrion starts a little when the dwarf claps him on the back, glad that he wasn't holding a drink that would have spilled on him. Still, he straightens up and smiles pleasantly to he dwarf. "I look forward to it - and I'm sure Harold does as well, to have his first draft tested by an expert." His attention is easily drawn to the impressive figure that fills the entire doorway; <<A Dragonborn? In this little town? Perhaps this is a more interesting place than I imagined..>> He leans over and says quietly to the dwarf, "Is this inn often so full of diverse travelers?"

The stranger glances back at Corva once more, shifting in his seat (uncomfortably for anyone with decent insight). "I'm just passing through," he lies. Taking a quick sip of his water. Harold emerges from the back room with several tankards in hand. He passes them out before noticing Ishhral, placing both hands on the counter as he watches him approach. The dwarf is immediately lost in his ale, going through some sort of apparently faked taste test he probably saw at a Dwarven party once. "Sheriff Abbas, what can I do for you this fine evening," Harold smiles. The Sheriff nods as he sees Harold appear from the back and walks straight up to him. "Have you seen either of my deputies this evening? I cannot seem to find John or Margaret."

Ok. Corva gets it. She'll have nothing out of the out-of-place elf, not unless she feels like going to the effort to charm him. And she doesn't. Especially not with the new distraction of alcohol and the Sheriff's concern. So Mongoose gets his peace, and she takes an experimental sip of the ale and seems as if she approves. "Good ale," she says appreciatively, though by that point the conversation is already on to the absent deputies, and she sits in quiet, pondering whether she might have seen them since coming into town earlier in the evening.

Selande raises an eyebrow at 'Mongoose,' and then at the news that two deputies are missing. But, she is patient, so she waits to hear more. <<It's always something...>>

Gilvadrion raises an eyebrow at the Dragonborn. Not that a few missing deputies interest him - they're probably off getting sloshed - but if there's anything of interest to discover in the southern reaches of the kingdom, this dragon-man would be the one to know.

Harold raises an eyebrow and turns his head off in no particular direction slightly as he ponders.  "No Sheriff, I've been here just about all day, and they haven't stopped in here once."  Ishhral furrows his brow at this news, or at least thats what you think he does, "Alright Harold, thanks for the help."  He turns around and leans back against the bar, or more accurately, almost sits against it.  He looks lost in thought for a moment, before he turns to some of the new faces. "Excuse me, travelers," he smiles rather politely.  "May I pose you the same question?"

Mongoose loses some of his nervousness as attention is shifted away from him.  Maybe he can help, at least then something would come of what had been a dead end trip out to the reaches of the kingdom.  He turns in his stool, facing Ishhral, "Sheriff, I do remember the two of them earlier this afternoon.  They were standing just outside the guardhouse talking to one another."

Well, all of the attention hasn't left Mongoose. Corva isn't used to being totally put off, even by strangers, and he's earned her distrust by doing so. She's careful not to look like she's scrutinizing him, only looking at him when he speaks. "I'm sorry, Sheriff, I haven't seen them either. At least, not since dad and I got here this afternoon." Distracting elves aside, she does look concerned for the apparently-missing deputies.

If the Sheriff turns to look at her, Selande simply shakes her head.  Otherwise, she continues to peer out of the edge of her hood, curiosity luring her in to his plight.

 Gilvadrion turns to the dragon-sheriff with relief; he's sure to be more interesting than the dwarf who has turned out to simply be a typically sodden drinker.  He shakes his head, bowing slightly.  "No, m'lord . . . I arrived not two hours ago and have seen no deputies.  Is their absence irregular?"

Ishhral loses his smile, lowering his head slightly and shaking it slowly.  "This is all very disconcerting."  He looks up again, to the Eladrin, "Yes, this is very unusual.  The Scarlet Guardsmen are very disciplined, and very well trained.  I am worried something may have gotten the jump on them.  And worried more still for the village, about what could have gotten the jump on two fine deputies such as themselves."  He folds his arms, large muscles bulging against themselves, "I cannot keep watch over this place myself overnight.  We stand at the edge of civilization, all manner of creatures stand ready to attack us when we are weak."

Mongoose reaches over to his cup and takes it back up, sipping at it slowly.  His face is blank and he says nothing, though insight or not, no one is given the impression that he is lying about his seeing the deputies.  He folds his left arm across his body, staring into his cup of water as he sloshes it around slowly, apparently deep in thought.

In a gesture easily recognizable to anyone used to carrying a blade, Corva lets her right hand fall to her hip. Fingers accustomed to caressing a worn hilt come to a frustrated pause when they find the weapon absent. She glances down and ponders how long it's been since that missing blade has seen any real action; when those cerulean eyes move upward again, it is to focus on the burly dragonman. "If it's swords you need, sir, you have mine." The half-elf stands, leaving her barely-touched mug of ale sitting on the bar. "Corva Deepwater, warrior of Corellon, at your command." She sketches a short bow, her beauty and delicate dress making her claim to skill in arms dubious, but for the easy stance and honed musculature that betray the truth to anyone with a fighter's eyes.

A smile crosses Selande's lips at Corva's gesture, and she waits to see if the Sheriff is accepting such offers before revealing her own identity just yet.  However, she is already standing.  No reason to stay here, if something is afoot out there.

Gilvadrion watches with a smile and a raised eyebrow as the half-elf valiantly offers up her sword for the village's defense.  "If it is wild beasts and orcs you worry about, then perhaps you worry for naught - it seems that fortune has brought you enough of the able-bodied to watch this small village."  He leans against the bartop then to pick up his mug of pale ale, casually placing a hand on his other hip - and pushing his cloak aside to reveal a sheathed longsword in the process.

 A smile comes immediately across the Sheriff's face, though it does not betray his seriousness at the situation.  Defending the village was only an immediate concern, but what happened to the deputies?  "This is a great weight off of my shoulders.  The deputies whereabouts are still troubling, but at least all will be safe this evening."  He ponders for a few moments running a large claw against his chin.  "I will remain awake for the entire evening, should something happen.  I will make periodic rounds, otherwise you can find me at the guard hosue near the center of the village.  You two, if you would, please take the first shift, from now until midnight."  He points at Gilvadrion and Corva, then turns his gaze onto the other two.  "I could use two more to cover from midnight to dawn, if you would honor me?"

The stranger hesitates for a moment, perhaps overwhelmed by the Dragonborn's powerful personality.  "Yes, of course I will help."  He finishes off his water and sets the cup on the table, and then grabs his hat by its top, carefully placing it on his head.  Well, I'll need a room if I'm to get some sleep before midnight.  "Sir," he says in Harold's direction, "A room please?"

"Yes, sir," is Corva's smart reply, punctuated by a nod. "I'll just need a few minutes to get into my armor." A smile has taken up residence on her lips, the eager expression of a fresh recruit. In all likelihood it's just going to be a boring half-night of sentry duty, but it's a chance to say she did something useful in her time off before returning to the priory for her next assignment. As she turns to head for the inn's private rooms, she meets her father, who's come over to see what all the activity is about. A quick explanation later, he's disappointed that she won't be sharing any more of the evening with him, but he claps her on the back and sends her on her way to fetch arms and armor.

Selande responds instantly to the request for assistance in the second shift.  "Perhaps this cleric can assist you on the second shift."  She lifts her hood up enough to reveal her clean, ivory face, offering the hint of a smile and a confirming nod as she brushes her cloak aside just enough to show her mace and a glimpse at well-tended leather armor, then pulls her cloak loosely about her to hide her identity once more.

Gilvadrion nods, expecting to just stand outside for a while, sightsee in the village, and gain the appreciation of a sheriff of the Scarlet Guard.  <<As long as I'm stuck here for the night anyway...>>  He takes another swig of the innkeeper's ale, then starts putting his gloves back on as he heads for the door.  He nods to his fellow volunteer guards as he walks past, as well as to the sheriff.  "I shall be on watch, then.  Anything in particular I should have my eye out for? Orcs... kobolds... dragons?"

The large sheriff laughs loudly, "No dragons around these parts.  Goblins mayhaps, or bandits who make their home in the woods just beyond civilization."  He takes a sweeping look past his volunteers, "Make sure you stick together, that way if there is trouble one of you can run and find me.  Do not assume any law enforcement duties without me present, for I'm not going to deputize you just for this evening.  When midnight rolls around we will all meet outside the guard house for the guard mount."  He pauses a moment, letting everything sink in.  "Any questions?"

Mongoose simply shakes his head no.  Without being dismissed he exchanges a few coins with Harold and grabs a room key.  The innkeeper points towards a door at the side of the room which leads to the stairs and Mongoose gives him a nod as he walks in that direction.  As he passes Selande he gives her a nod as well, stating plainly, "I will see you again at midnight," before heading through the door and up the stairs.

A few minutes later, Corva's return is announced by the soft clinking of her highly polished scale armor. The long, graceful dress is gone, its swirl of color replaced by an ordinary but elegant tabard adorned with Corellon's multi-pointed star. "Ready to go!" Her cheeks are flushed with the speed with which she donned her armor. "No questions here, sir. We'll see you in a few hours, then." She looks to her watch partner, Gilvadrion, to be sure there's none on his part, before moving to the door to open the way into the cooling evening air.

Selande decides to stay in the inn as well if she has enough coin for the room.  Otherwise, she simply begs until she has enough money for the short stay before retiring.

Gilvadrion stops just before reaching the exit, turning to address the sheriff one last time before starting his rounds.  "Is there any place in the village we should watch especially carefully? Someplace particularly prone to attack, or attractive to bandits?"

Ishhral stares at Gilvadrion with a serious look, "It's simple.  The stupid ones such as goblins enter from the wilderness south of town, if they dare at all.  Brigands and the like try to be clever, and will come in from the east or west, again if they dare at all."  He grins big once more, "I run a tight ship here, and we rarely have trouble.  Unless they have somehow caught wind of, or are behind, the deputies' disapperance, it will be a quiet night."  He thinks for a few moments.  "Noone is more prone to be a target here than anyone else.  Both goblins and brigands alike tend to target outlying houses simply for the ease of escape."

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Save for a few stray cats, the first shift passes without incidence.  The sheriff is out and about a few times during the shift, waving and smiling as he sees his two volunteers.  After ensuring they are doing well he always heads straight back to the guard house, so someone can find him in an emergency.  The full moon climbs high as the time approaches midnight.

The stranger, Mongoose, clad as he was at the inn, emerges from it silently.  Something about the casual way he walks suggests that he isn't trying to remain hidden, but is naturally light-footed.  Ever aware of his surroundings he begins walking towards the guard house.

Corva thinks deep, meaningful thoughts while she and Gilvadrion patrol the small village. Then it's midnight, as if by magic, and so they head together to the center of town. Funny, after all that warning about which way the threats might come from, she was sure they'd be sneak-attacked from the north. For good measure, she keeps her eye cocked that-a-way while they're on their way to change places with the next shift.

Shortly after Mongoose's more graceful exit, Selande comes rushing out, concerned about being late, but then recomposes herself when she sees him ahead of her.  She is without her cloak for now, looking more like the cleric she is (a bony one) with her mace at her side and her leather armor.  Running a hand back through her long, dark hair, she glances about silently as she finishes waking up with a small yawn.

Gilvadrion does his best to keep his mind on task during the uneventful watch, keeping conversation with the stranger beside him to a minimum.  He keeps his eyes out not only for threats from beyond the village, but for anything suspicious within the village - dead bodies, scraps of bloodied clothing, discarded weapons, ominous red glows coming from any of the farmers' hovels... that sort of thing.  As the full moon climbs up in the sky, Gilvadrion can't help but feel his mood lifted, the twilight beams reminding him of his fey home.

Once more the Dragonborn Sheriff emerges from the guard house, taking a quick scan of the immediate surroundings.  The village is now well let by the high moon, but he peers carefully into the shadows.  Noticing a group of two coming from each direction he smiles to himself.  "Right on time," he says under his breath, but stays ready just incase it is not who he assumes it is.

Mongoose continues walking, either not noticing that Selande has emerged, or not bothering to stop and let her catch up.  He is the first to reach the large man by the guard house, nodding politely and reaching up to briefly touch the brim of his hat.  He looks up to the moon, judging the time, satisfied that he was on time.  Mongoose takes a look around, much like the sheriff, trying his best to atune himself to the sights and sounds of the village.

Corva, at least, is whom the sheriff assumes she is. "A fine evening for a walk about town, sheriff. Nothing strange to report here. We didn't run into your deputies either, though."

Selande slows her walk to a more casual speed as she draws nearer, nodding politely to the sheriff and waiting for any instructions. She listens to Corva's report, hmming to herself about the missing deputies.

Having eyes well-suited to the moonlight, Gilvadrion walks easily under its gaze, observing the night just as easily as he would the mid-afternoon. He bows slightly to the Sheriff as they approach, nodding to affirm what his watch partner said.

A ear-piercing scream rips through the otherwise silent night. The sound turns your attention to a house not too far away, situated on the south edge of town. Just then you notice a dark figure race around the corner and sprint into the woods. A woman in a night-gown emerges from the doorway. "Help! Help! It took my baby!"

Without thought the Dragonborn rushes off, albeit not the fastest with his armor on, toward the woman. "Ma'am, ma'am," he shouts to her as he gets closer. "Oh sheriff Abbas! That thing, that little monster took my baby and ran off into the woods!" The sherrif turns to the rest of the group. "Goblins," he says matter-of-factly.

Not much of the person to make decisions Mongoose follows the sheriff silently, trotting effortlessly to keep up, and scanning the woods carefully.

Corva isn't reckless. Charging into the woods without her team would be silly. But she does follow the sheriff and unsheathe her scimitar as she jogs after him. "Do they usually steal babies at random or might this be a diversion to get us to hare off after it while other forces attack elsewhere?"

Selande starts running as soon as she turns and sees the woman as well, but also decides that it would be in the best interest for all to stick together. She makes a grimace at the mention of goblins, but doesn't appear afraid. At Corva's suggestion, she smirks to herself. <<Are goblins that clever?>> Silently, she starts to prepare her crossbow . . .

Gilvadrion sprints towards the scream at first, but then slows down to match the speed of the rest of the group - no use running into an ambush alone, after all. <<What could the goblins want with a baby? Other than leading us into a trap? Surely they wouldn't go to such risk just for food . . . perhaps they have a leader with some nefarious plan!>>

"Goblins are not that clever. They sometimes try to steal young for slaves, but I've never seen them so bold in this region." He takes one more look into the woods. "Ma'am, we'll get your baby back." With that he begins to trot south into the woods, his shield and spear at the ready.

Mongoose follows closely at his side, his well-adjusted eyes ever scanning.

Corva looks doubtful. Goblins in general aren't that clever, but one never knows what kind of mind is guiding them. Still, she's not the leader here, and she follows after the sheriff with her weapon at the ready. As they enter into the shadows of the trees, she silently thanks her mother for the keen elven eyes she passed down to her.

Selande follows closely, allowing at least a few of them ahead of her since she has trouble seeing in the darkness, but still glances about with crossbow close to ready, not wanting to miss anything just in case.

Gilvadrion scowls at the nefariousness of the goblins. <<Slaves to build the grand ritual grounds for some manner of apocalyptic rite, no doubt! How diabolical... they must be stopped!>> He draws his sword and prepares for the inevitable ambush as he follows behind the brave dragonborn.

Everyone emerges onto a dirt road leading south through the forrest. Mongoose with his keen senses is the first the notice the goblins a short ways to the south, and shouts a warning to everyone. The goblins appear startled themselves as they turn to look at the group run out of the woods. There are two goblin warriors, lightly armored, carrying spears, and armed with a sheath with several javelins sticking out. Between them and you are two rather large scorpions, almost as large as the goblins themselves. They chitter and pinch their claws, which seem to faintly crackle with energy, and well as their thrashing tails.

Ishhral bellows in rage and charges straight for the nearest scorpion, his spear aimed straight at it. Just as he gets there is scurries barely to the side, the spear sinking into the ground and the scorpion thrashing it's tail wildly.

The warrior near Ishhral screams and flees, turning to toss a poorly aimed javelin at him, missing horribly. The other takes much better aim, lauching a javelin high. Due to the poor light Selande has a hard time seeing it, and catches it square in the left shoulder as it bites deep.

Like a flash Mongoose takes off after the runaway goblin, hurling between tress as if they are not there. In a swift motion he draws a katar from under his cloak as he comes up onto the ugly creature.

Selande starts to charge practically right inot the javelin. She winces, but continues forward with her crossbow and attempts to fire at the scorpion closest to her, but misses as another sting from her wound makes it difficult to concentrate.

The scorpion claws wildly at Ishhral, but he deftly deflects with his shield, moving to the side. The other scurries straight at Selande, snapping out, and grabs her with a claw on each leg, gripping tight.

Gilvadrion trots forward calmly to the middle of the road, where he can see all the enemy clearly. As he walks he points a crooked finger at the goblin standing in the roadway, ignoring the scorpions since they are simple beasts who cannot call for help or devise nefarious plots. He mutters something dark and incomprehensible under his breath, dooming the goblin to die in the twilight with a sinister flash in his eye. Then he draws back the hand and cups the moonlight, drawing it into a ball of energy that bursts with green flame into his hand. With a practiced pitch, Gilvadrion casts the energy at the Cursed goblin, whose anguished cry echoes against the night sky as the eldritch fire burns his flesh and his soul.

Corva finds herself in a hard-to-maneuver position and charges forward. People are getting mauled out there and here she is, caught flat-footed when she should have been ready. Brows drawn darkly together, she raises her hand and lets loose a stream of arcane words because she just isn't going to get there in any decent time. Unfortunately the running and the magic-casting don't mesh so well and her stream of magic missiles go flying off uselessly into the bushes somewhere. On the bright side, she might have hit a squirrel. Snacks for all after the fight!

Sensing his companion in danger Ishhral disengages from the scorpion he is fighting, turns, and with a bellow unleashes a large belch of fire which engulfs the other scorpion and goblin. The scorpion chitters, unphased as the goblin turns and begins to run.

The bloodied goblin runs south, flailing its arms as it trys to flee the combat. The other turns as Mongoose emerges swiftly from the woodline and strikes with his spear, nicking his arm as it backs off to the south.

Mongoose follows the goblins withdrawl triking deftly and the preparing for a counter-attack. His blade slips past it's armor into the under-arm, and the goblin squeels.

Selande winces, but looks defiantly at the scorpion through the darkness as she swings her mace with a radiant light to hit the scorpion. The blow doesn't inflict a great deal of damage, but enough that the scorpion is caught off guard and lets her go, freeing her to back up a bit back toward the majority of the party, narrowly dodging the scorpion's angry thrust of its stinger with a slight stumble out of the way.

Angry for the fiery breath of the Dragonborn, the scorpion turns to Ishhral and skitters at him, pinching. The sheriff slams the claws hard with his shield, knocking them to the side, only to see the other scorpion bearing down on him. It claws, but they claws can't get a good grip and slip off his leg armor.

Gilvadrion knits his brow in consternation as the goblin flees - he won't escape his fate that easily. Skirting the melee in order to avoid the scorpions' snapping claws and stinging tails, Gilvadrion runs after the fleeing goblin, darting through the shadowy treeline as he draws another ball of arcane flame to his hand. He lets fly as he emerges from the treeline again, already muttering the prophecy under his breath, that will be the other goblin's doom.

The fleeing goblin, it's flesh still steaming from the last eldritch assault, stumbles in its rush to get away. It tumbles onto its back just in time to see another blast of the mysterious energy hurtling through the dim light at it. With a feeble cry and a burst of arcane flame, the goblin's life is extinguished forever.

Now they're in trouble. The paladin and her scimitar are in reach, and her downward slash at the so-far-unscathed scorpion reflects her frustration in its viciousness. The critter's carapace cracks and creamy goo leaks out, but it isn't out of the fight yet.

And also, Corva speaks some nasty-but-beautiful divine words that compel the scorpion she's smashing to face or her be smoten with fierce ferocity. And the dragonman is enveloped briefly in a shimmering golden shield that sinks into him and disappears, toughening his hide against the attacks of his enemies.

Ishhral turns on the scorpion Corva is facing, striking it with a roar with his spear. His strike inspires Corva who feels much better about her next attack. Then, with a loud battle cry he turns and rams his spear into the face of the other scorpion, striking it deftly. The creature stumbles, severly wounded but still up. Those around him feel greatly inspired by his presense and sure strikes, lifting their spirits and sharpening their actions.

The last goblin scowls and attacks. Mongoose's sharp reactions and prepared riposte strike first, cutting a line accross it's leather armor but nothing else. The attack causes the goblin to miss as it continues to back up.

Inspired by her allies and gradually overcoming the pain of her wounds, Selande raises her holy symbol to create a radiant lance, which she hurls into the scorpion who attacked her earlier. Already weakened, the lance makes the final blow, bodily fluid oozing from the break in the shell as the scorpion crumbles in on itself to the ground.

Out of seemingly no where a goblin sneaks up behind Corva. It grasps it's short sword in both hands and strikes hard at her back. At the last second, and not knowning it, she sidesteps barely, and the goblin misses horribly, cursing loudly.

The remaining scorpion, a near mindless insect, fights on.  Confused by the multiple opponents it turns its attention back to Corva, cliping menacingly at her with its claws.  Her shield neatly deflects the attacks as it continues to pinch madly in her direction.

Gilvadrion smiles coldly with triumph as the first goblin falls, but his smile is quickly replaced by a grimace when the new goblin appears.  He mutters the dark words of an eldritch curse as he darts across the road, where he can more clearly see his next target: the goblin Mongoose is fighting, which is the next most likely to flee.  He lobs another ball of crackling energy at it, but it goes over the squat creature's head and dissipates harmlessly against the tree.

Corva's head whips around when she hears the 'whiff' of a blade passing close by her spine. Another goblin! "Maybe you didn't notice you're outnumbered, greenie," she snarls over her shoulder as she savagely slashes at the chittering insectoid before her. A couple of legs come off, and the paladin's eyes burn with cerulean fire as she invokes Corellon's name to smite the foul abomination. A twist of the blade as she pulls it back causes vital fluids to spurt from the wounded scorpion.

Corva leaves the range of the scorpion's still-deadly pincers, taking her back out of danger from either of the attackers.

"Ha ha, the day is ours!" Ishhral howls as the scorpion goes down.  As the goblin appears behind Corva he snarls and shifts immediately in that direction.  He thrusts his spear straight for the goblin's throat, but the nimble creature moves easily out of the way.  The split second distraction however gives Corva just enough time to maneuver herself to a more advantageous position.  Ishhral brings his shield to bear against the goblin, preparing for counter attack.

The goblin fighting Mongoose flinches as the ball of energy flies over its head into a tree.  With just enough space between it and Mongoose to avoid attacks it turns and runs, ducking behind a tree.  On the run it pulls another javelin from its backsheath, turns the corner around the tree, and lets it fly at his target.  Mongoose sees it coming, but not in time as it catches him in the side as he tries to dodge.  He winces in pain and stumbles slightly.

Mongoose takes a deep breath and shakes off the javelin strike.  Narrowing his eyes he takes off swiftly through the forrest, circling wide around and coming up behind the goblin, cutting off its planned escape route.  Brandishing his katar he eyes up the goblin, waiting for it to make a move.

Selande rushes toward the remaining Scorpion, swinging her mace with the intent of finishing off the annoying creatures, but misses.

The injured scorpion stumbles as it continues to skitter forward, making a final lunge at Corva.  It falters as it nears, causing it to slip past her shield, and grab firm hold of her.  The claws miss the armor near her knee, sending a jolt into her flesh.  Just then the backstabbing goblin slips in behind Corva, looking to take advantage of the scorpion's attack.  Again it raises its short sword high in both hands and strikes, slipping on some loose leaves and missing horribly, cursing loudly once more.

Gilvadrion continues muttering the dark syllables that would drive these simple creatures mad, if they could understand them - but since they can't, the words simply serve to prophesy their demise.  Seeing that the stranger may have difficulty entrapping the fleeing goblin, he continues to chase after it as well, intending to keep it from running back to its foul masters and warning them of the presence of heroes.  With an arcane gesture, he calls up the mystic energy of the Feywild to assault the goblin's mind.  Brilliant white flames burst from the goblin's eyes, mouth, and palms, searing its flesh and its soul.

The paladin is badly shaken when the scorpion manages to latch onto her leg, though the actual injury is only minor. It's got a firm hold on her, though, and despite its sorry state, she can neither shake free nor do it any further injury. The blow of her scimitar is glancing and slides harmlessly off the slick exoskeleton.

Seeing the scorpion latch onto the paladin, Ishhral rushes forward, aiming to finish off the wounded insect.  It's close proximity to Corva gives him some problems lining up an attack, and his half hearted swing misses entirely.  With a scowl he brings his spear back and ready, beginning to maneuver to line up a better next thrust.

Panicked and mortally wounded the goblin thrusts weakly at Mongoose, who easily sidesteps the attack.  Fighting for its life it falls back slightly, trying to increase the distance, looking over its shoulder for a way to run.

Sensing the moment of weakness Mongoose rapidly closes the gap, ducks under the goblin's spear and punches his katar deep into the side of its ribcage.  The goblin's eyes get glassy and roll into the back of its head as it slowly tips backwards and falls dead.  Following it down Mongoose twists the blade for good measure, withdraws it sharply, and looks up from a crouch, surveying the battlefield.

As the cursed goblin dies under Mongoose's blade, Gilvadrion's body vanishes into a flash of silvery mist.  The mist, moving quickly and erratically like foxfire, zips between the foliage towards a tree 25' away, where the mist dissipates, leaving a fully-corporeal Gilvadrion in its wake.

Selande attempts to summon a Lance of Faith in the name of Sehanine, but falters, still weak from her wounds and unable to focus wholly on the prayer.

Hanging on for dear life the scorpion's claws charge and unleash a jolt of electricity straight into Corva's legs, as it thrashes madly at her with its stinger. One shot gets through, catching her in the arm and injecting its immobilizing poison into her. Her leg muscles seem to seeze up, preventing her from moving even if she weren't in the claws of the creature. Seizing this opportunity the goblin strikes once more, and once more again misses horribly. His luck can't stay sour for ever as he lines up another shot, remaining in a flanking position behind Corva.

Gilvadrion moves deftly through the forest growth, setting himself up behind and a short distance away from the last remaining goblin. He summons another blast of eldritch energy with which to scorch the little beast, but the blast misses and fizzles uselessly against the dirt.

Corva, muscles clenching in pain and unable to move at her will, nearly falls to her knees. Her sword arm is useless to her, but she is able enough to clench her fingers around the multi-pointed star emblem that serves as her holy symbol. "Corellon...cleanse this hideous foulness!" Cool white light begins to glow from between her fingers, and she releases the symbol to direct ribbons of winter-white brilliance toward the scorpion. The beast is ravaged by her god's wrath and falls, crushed, to the ground. Corva staggers backward, freed.

The Dragonborn Warlord circles around Corva's back and behind the goblin. He feints high, the attack allowing her to shift into a flanking position directly behind the creature. Ishhral then attacks low with his spear, but the nimble goblin jumps into the air, dodging the blow. "We've got him now, nowhere to run!" He yells over the fighting, bolstering Corva's spirits as she finds herself in a more advantageous position.

Mongoose rises from his crouch, turns around a tree, and moves swiftly into position 20' away from the goblin. He reaches underneath his duster and produces a shuriken which he lets flying at the goblin with a flick of his wrist. The spinning blade barely misses, even cutting a thin line along its leather armor, as it flies dangerously past and imbeds itself in a tree.

Selande makes to charge at the remaining Goblin, trying to dodge around Corva and around the dead Scorpion. Unfortunately, her awkwardly shaped, too-thin body stumbles in the movement and her attempt to summon the sacred flame of her deity fails in order for her to preserve her vertical status.

The usually most bold of the goblin's begins to loose faith as the last of its companions is truck down. It gives a fleeting stab in Corva's direction, somehow more well aimed then its other attacks. She easily parries the attack as her attention is now fully on it, and it backs off, trying to avoid being surrounded.

Gilvadrion stops in a clear spot and eyes the remaining goblin, growing tired of the creature's persistent will to live. He points to the goblin and mutters under his breath the words that plunge the goblin into a horrible living nightmare, breaking his simple little mind and sending him reeling about as he can't tell the difference between tree branches and pythons, or trees and dragons.

The goblin may think it's escaping, but Corva is injured. And she doesn't like being injured. With a vengeful growl, she swings her scimitar toward the unfortunate creature. This time, the blade connects, slicing cleanly through the armor and leaving a deep wound in her former-attacker's left arm.

Mongoose rushes forward, his katar held ready in his fist, and his sharp eyes on a break in the goblin's armor at its neck. He leaps at the last moment and rams the katar home. As he lands lightly back on both feet he quickly withdraws the blade, sending a spurt of blood flying from its jugular, a blank look on Mongoose's face as he again scans the area to be sure they are truly alone.

Selande shifts around the goblin, preparing to attempt her own contribution to the last opponent, but is instead startled by a small spray of blood that comes at her. She makes a little eeping noise and dodges it. <<Ick!>> Then, she recompses herself and also looks around for any other mysterious enemies in the darkness. Then, she remembers, "Oh! The baby!" She starts to look for it.

Gilvadrion glances about as the goblin falls, glad that he was not gathered around the beast like everyone else: he wouldn't want his clothing to be ruined with goblin blood. He sheathes his sword and approaches the corpse of the goblin, examining the thing with an academic's interest: completely unfazed by blood and gore, he tries to remember anything he's read before about goblins.

After hurrying about, careful not to *step* on it, Selande sees a bit of linen in the grass and bends over to cautiously wrap her spindly fingers around the linen bundle to lift the baby into her arms. "Are you alright?"

Corva's first interest is in making sure that the area is secure. Well, being the woods, it can't really be *secure* but it can be mostly free of enemies, anyway. As Selande goes looking for the baby, she scans the group's surroundings. "We got them all, looks like," the paladin announces, before returning to the side of the scorpion that gave her so much trouble and giving it a good, swift kick in the segmented tail.

Ishhral stands up straighter, taking a quick survey of the area, also looking to see if there is any additional threat. He shakes hs spear hard, once out to his side, freeing it of the little blood it had gathered in the fight. His eyes fall on the baby with Selande, and he nods his head solemnly. "We should go, he says in a slightly lowered voice. Before their friends realize they havn't returned." With tha the turns and begins walking back in the direction of town, apparently very comfortable with the surrounding forrest.

The stranger nods his head once. He crouches down and wipes the blood off of his katar onto the crude clothing worn by the final goblin. Standing back up he walks back over to the tree and begins to pry his shuriken from its place deep in the bark.

Selande smiles as the baby coos innocently, and holds it tenderly. She jumps a little when Corva kicks the tail of the scorpion, but grins a little and nods to Ishhral, sure that the mother will be eagerly awaiting her child back too. She starts walking back, once again filtering herself into the middle of the group since she doesn't want to get lost in the darkness with the child.

Gilvadrion nods to the dragonman, but is more interested in the giant bugs than in going back to town. He kneels down beside one, poking at it with his dagger and prying it's shell up to get a look at the thing's brains.

Well. Nobody else seems practial about it, but she sustained damage and needs recompense! Corva frisks the bodies (yeah, all of them, even the bugs) in search of Stuff.

The trip back to town is short, especially with the local, Ishhral, guiding you well even in the dark. The anticipating mother is overjoyed as she recognizes the sheriff emerge from the woods, and rushes toward the woman holding her baby.

Selande carefully holds out the baby to the woman, smiling warmly to her. Her contribution to the battle may not have been great, but she is still happy to see mother and child reunited.

Gilvadrion follows the dragon-sheriff quietly and quickly, at home in the twilit darkness. He smiles pleasantly when the child is reunited with its mother, but dark thoughts cloud his mind. <<What did they want with a human child, anyway?>>

Corva lingers a bit behind the rest of the group as they get close to town. Casually she fingers open the parchment she found, and angles it into the moonlight so she can better see the handwriting scrawled across it. A frown ghosts across her face, and she takes a few quick steps to catch up to Ishhral as he oversees the reunion of child and mother. "Sheriff, one of the goblins had this," she says quietly. "You should see it." And she offers up the damning note.

The sheriff raises a scaled eyebrow as he takes the note in his clawed hand. He holds it up to the light coming from the mother's house. His frown turns to concern as his eyes move over the parchment. Finally, he reads aloud, low and dark, "The guards will not be a problem any longer." He looks up to the faces of those around him.

Selande blinks when she overhears Corva's announcement to the sheriff, and turns to look. Her eyes widen when she hears the horrible news, but says nothing, again withdrawing vocally into herself. Running a pale hand through her black hair, she looks away uncomfortably.

Gilvadrion raises an eyebrow at the sheriff's words, taken out of his gloomy reverie. "Who do you suppose wrote that? Could they have captured your deputies, perhaps?" He tries to sound hopeful, though he's sure the two are probably dead - but if so where are the corpses?

Sheriff Abbas shakes his head slowly, looking back down at the note, "This is dire indeed." He looks back up to those around him, "I must report this to Bulwark Point. I will have Harold raise the militia to defend the town while I am gone." He pauses a brief moment, "If any of you are headed in that direction, I would appritiate the company."

"I wasn't scheduled to go back for another day, but I do have to head back to the abbey." Corva volunteers that much before pausing. Her parents are still at the inn, without their dashing and deadly daughter to guide them home. But they were both adventurers in their own right.... After that moment of internal hesitation, she volunteers, "I'll go with you, Sheriff, if we can pause at the inn so I can let my parents know they'll need to get home on their own."

Selande nods solemnly to the sheriff, offering him the most supportive look she can muster. She straightens up her gear and then stands ready to follow.

Gilvadrion smiles reassuringly and bows to the dragonborn sheriff. "I will be your traveling companion, good sir. Not that your village has been anything but hospitable, but there is much business in the city that I must be getting back to, and I am eager to do so. When do we leave?"

Ishhral smiles and nods his head, "Alright then, we'll leave in half of an hour. That will put us, on foot, into Bulwark Point a few hours past dawn. And I will need the time to ensure the militia is ready. Meet me ouside the inn at that time."

Corva opens her mouth to agree, then glances around, expression puzzled. "When did we lose our tight-lipped companion?" Presuming she's not talking about Selande, who's right next to her, it must be Mongoose she's speaking of. Indeed, the strangely-clad stranger is nowhere to be seen.

Selande nods again to Ishhral, silently relieved. That nap she got earlier wasn't really enough for this cleric! She glances to Corva at her question, shrugging without concern for the odd stranger.

Gilvadrion glances around curiously at Corva's comment, then shrugs. "Mysterious fellow, hmm? Well at least we know he is no friend to goblins. See you all in a half hour." Then he finds a place to meditate, so he might regain a little bit of energy before the trip.

Corva is uneasy at the stranger's disappearence, but there's nothing she can do. She's no tracker, and he's free to come and go as he pleases, after all. She returns to the inn to seek out her parents and inform them that she's heading back to the city. Then she takes a short rest to clean herself up and recover from her injuries. Really, it's only a flesh wound. Tis but a scratch!

Selande heads back to the inn as well to catch a few more zzs before it is time to meet up with Isshral again. This time, she attempts to wake up on time, however, and even manages to get there a little bit early, carrying her cloak with her just in case this duty takes her further away than initially anticipated.


*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

Ishhral arrives right on time to find Selande waiting for him. He is clad much the same, in his Scarlet Guard cloak, spear and shield in hand. He nods politely to her and turns to glance about, waiting for the other two.

Corva is also there right on time. She's a proper soldier of god, after all.

Selande nods to Ishraal as well, used to the awkward silences, and whistles to herself anxiously while she waits for the others . . .

Gilvadrion shows up early; it's easier to do when you don't sleep like a lesser mortal. He bows politely when he arrives, defering to the sheriff to lead them all on down the road.

Ishhral just nods at everyone as he sees they are ready.  He still seems somewhat more serious as the gravity of the situation keeps increasing, however now that the fight is over with he seems somewhat more good humored.  He begins to walk north out of town, down the center of an improved dirt road.  "It's four miles north to the King's Highway, which runs straight between Riverford and Bulawrk Point.  From there we'll follow it west the remaining 4 miles to the Gates.  By the time we reach there on foot, it should be an hour or so after dawn."

"Overall a perfectly lovely walk to take on a cool autumn morning," Corva sums up. It really is a beautiful evening:  not too cold to be uncomfortable, the stars shining vividly overhead, and the last of the summer's insects making late-season overtures from their hidden places in the surrounding forest. The paladin drinks it in, but it doesn't mean she's entirely unaware--her roving eyes still keep a lookout for unnatural movement, and her ears are sharp for unnatural sounds in between bits of conversation. She walks casually to the sheriff's right side, hand occasionally resting on the pommel of her scimitar.

Gilvadrion walks along behind the others, lagging back a little ways, but not so far that he can't hear any pertinent conversation - just far enough that he can process his thoughts unintruded.  He broods about the goblins, the note, the baby, and the meaning of it all.  It's all very nefarious, and he's determined to get to the bottom of it before it's too late and the world is engulfed and consumed by the horrible fiery terror of pure chaos and greed.

Selande walks quietly between Ishraal and the straggling Gilvadrion, and like Corva she also looks about cautiously, wondering about the note and what else may not be known about the situation.  Every now and then, she runs a hand through her black hair to work out the tangles in alignment with trying to untangle a deep thought of hers.

The pace set by the huge Dragonborn is quick, but manageable for everyone.  As you walk he does his best to make idle conversation and get to know everyone, asking each in turn about yourselves and why you were visiting Glenwood Village.  He seems to have calmed down a bit from the prior night, becoming his usual cheerful and pleasant self.

Gilvadrion looks up in surprise when Isshral addresses him, then smiles politely and shrugs, "There is little to tell about myself.  I am an apprentice at the University in Bulwark Point; mostly I am to perform menial tasks while I work on my studies.  It is such a task that brought me to your village.  Delivering a letter is all.  It is good fortune that the letter was sent though, I would say," he says with a smile and a wink.  Then he pauses, and asks, "And what brought a fellow like you to Glenwood Village? We don't see many of your kind, even in the city."

Selande is quiet, but not shy about introducing herself.  She talks a little about Sehanine and her work as a cleric with other clerics, but otherwise isn't too forthcoming about her past.  In fact, any questions beyond that of her work seem to make her tense.  However, she does smile slightly with approval as Gilvadrion explains his work.  <<Ah, he must be some sort of wizard.>>

The times passes rather quickly, with Ishhral continually making casual conversation with everyone along the way. Before you know it the group has reached the King's Highway, and everyone turns west to begin the final trek towards Bulwark Point. The sun as just risen, and as you turn a bend in the road you see a lone knight ahead.

The knight, who Gilvadrion recognizes instantly by haraldry and face as the young Prince Leoboren V, is mounted atop a bay colored war charger. He wears plate armor with a heavy shield strapped to his left arm, and a bejeweled bastard sword in a scabbard on his left side.

Before anyone can react, Selande and Gilvadrion catch a glimps of what appears to be brigands darting out from behind trees to attack the Prince.

Gilvadrion looks up in interest at the lone knight, firstly only because such a sight would always bring a small measure of excitement to an otherwise uneventful trip. But then when he sees the heraldry, he blinks in surprise and almost chokes on his own spittle. When he turns his head to clear his throat and avoid choking, his eyes turn across the woodline and he gawks, unbelieving of the fortune (good or ill) that has brought them to this particular place at this particular juncture in time.

Selande uses one of her pale hands to shade her eyes as she looks ahead. Her dark gaze falls on the knight, and then she glances to Ishhral to see if there is an expression of recognition on his face. But then, her eyes sharply widen when she sees the brigands and she reaches for her weapons! "Look out!"

Emerging from behind trees on either side of the road, a pair of small drakes rush Leoboren V, moving swiftly on their two legs. A couple feet away each of them leaps, clawing and biting. They both catch him, one in the leg and one on the arm as he howl's in pain, obviously taken by suprise from the ambush.

Gilvadrion calls out, "M'lord, look out!!" but it is too late; the drakes already bear down upon the prince at high speed. He runs forward past Isshral and the others, hoping to slay the beasts, or at least slow them down, and give the prince a fighting chance. Not that he's feeling particularly heroic, but he knows the value of having powerful friends who owe you favors. As he runs forward he whispers to the Fey beings to help him bring down the drakes, then calls forth a ball of eldritch energy to destroy them.

Selande charges forward after Gilvadrion, taking the other side and firing from her crossbow. She's a bit startled and shaky, though, so the arrow is high, going beyond the drake.

Bellowing a battle cry, the sheriff rushes forward and lobs a javelin in an arc through the air. The missile catches a bandit who staggers slightly with the blow. "Prince Leoboren, aid is here, fight on!" He roars in encouragement to the knight who seems to shake off some of his suprise and eyes those surrounding him.

Corva is slow to respond, not realizing what's going on until Selande and Gilvadrion have passed her up. But as Isshral lets loose his battle cry, she follows suit and charges, eagerly drawing her scimitar with one hand while she hurls a silvery bolt of arcane death with the other. Unfortunately, she didn't learn from her last battle, and hurled while running. The arcane death misses its intended target and instead slays a poor, innocent spider just minding its own business nearby.

Howling in fury the Prince draws forth his bastard sword and swings his horse around and towards the bandit near the woods. With a low hack he strikes the bandit hard in the leg, drawing blood and causing it to cruple to its knees. He breaths heavily as his adrenline kicks in, fueling his battle lust.

Gilvadrion keeps moving, darting between the trees and foliage to make himself a more difficult target. In truth, each step he takes straddles the Fey world, which partially conceals him in its shadows. He continues to call on the same Fey spirits to help him bring doom upon his enemies, and casts another Eldritch Blast at the bandit whose dagger gave him a nasty cut.

The arcane fire goes wide, fizzling uselessly against the dirt road.

The struck bandit scowls as he stands up, drawing his mace. As the other pinches in at the Prince's flank they both attack. Now on his guard, the prince easily deflects one attack with his shield, turning his horse as to send the other wide.

Selande is a little startled when Ishhral addresses his highness, and she charges forward with her mace to attack the bandit with her own mace, sparkling with radiant light as it swings around to thud heavliy into bandit.

The massive dragonborn readies his spear as he rushes forward. As he draws upon the bandit he swings and strikes the bandit hard with the blunt part of his spear shaft, leaning forward and roaring violently at him. Leoboren is noticibly inspired by the attack as he wheels his horse around and prepares to strike.

From seemingly nowhere a slingstone flies through the air and pelts Gilvadrion painfully in the head. Turning to look, you see a halfling bandit preparing his sling for another attack from his position behind a tree.

The drakes stick close by their bandit masters as they continue to pile on to Leoboren V. One leaps and misses horribly as he turns the steed at the last moment, however the move leaves him exposed to the second drake which bites him hard in the thigh. His wounds begin to wear on him, but his chest heaves with another surge of adrenline.

Corva charges forward at full speed, running in an arc to reach the enemies' flank. As she approaches the drake, scimitar at the ready, she shouts a challenge to the creature; "Face me, or feel Corellon's wrath!"

Shaking off his wounds with his adrenline surge Leoboren swings his massive bastard sword in two huge arcs on either side of his warhorse, cleaving bandit and drakes alike. The one previously wounded takes a mortal wound across the chest and falls dead, as the others take equally scarring wounds. Only one of the drakes appears to still be in good shape.

As the first bandit falls, Gilvadrion vanishes into a cloud of silvery mist, virtually invisible in the light of the rising sun. The mist shifts across the forest, and he reappears at a run, moving for cover as he curses the halfling who lobbed a rock at him. He narrows his eyes and utters a phrase that should cause the halfling's eyes to disbelieve Gilvadrion's existence lest he go mad, but the sounds of battle drown out his voice.

Sensing the battle turn, the remaining human bandit ducks between the two drakes to protect itself. It then launches a strike with its mace at Leoboren's head, but the attack misses horribly.

Selande lifts her hand as the bandit steps aside to put the drake into view again, and she hurls a radiant lance of faith, shimmering with the light of Sehanine, into the drake, drawing blood and illuminating a point of weakness for Corva to take advantage of.

Ishhral pushes forward and strikes hard with his spear. He aims towards its flank in attempt to force the drake to move into the Prince's path, however the attack thrusts wide and the tactic is ruined.

Again a rock flies from seemingly nowhere, striking Selande hard in the ribs. When you turn, you see a second halfling slinger reloading his weapon from behind a tree.

The first slinger begins to rapidly sling off rocks in Gilvadrion's direction. Due to the harried reloading and aiming all three attacks fly wide, striking trees and the ground alike.

Drawn by some sort of divine strength one drake turns from Leoboren as the other attacks him, wildly missing. She isn't quite ready for the quick turn-around after her sprint and it sneaks past her shield and bites her hard in the stomach, drawing blood through her armor.

Corva winces in pain at the sharp blow, taking just a moment to recover before shifting around to further flank the beast. With a shout of "Corellon, give me strength!" she slashes at her foe, drawing a spray of blood and bracing herself for its next attack.

Leoboren V turns and swings hard at the drake. The sword lands a devestating blow, cleaving its head from its shoulders, and continues on to bite deep into the wounded bandit's side.

Gilvadrion moves from behind his tree, muttering the doom of the remaining bandit as he retargets the little man trying to pelt him with rocks. Again he glares at the rock-slinger, his eyes gleaming in an array of phantasmal colors, but again the attack fails.

Selande murmurs a prayer for healing, and it is answered, closing wounds on Leo's body. Seeing that he will be alright, she quickly heads to his other side, preparing to pursue the final drake.

The remaining bandit strikes Leoboren fairly soundly with his mace, darting back after the attack. Then, like the coward he is, he sees and opening and turns to run. He passes by the slinger and begins to head for the forest.

Spotting the final drake, Selande hurls another lance made of radiant light at him, trying to finish off the battle (even though there are those OBNOXIOUS hobbits that hit her earlier!), but the lance fails to hit home.

While shouting words of encouragement to the human paladin, lifting her spirits after the onslaught, Sheriff Abbas starts to flank around the guard drake.  At an opportune moment he strikes, giving the Prince a chance to back away from the little reptile.  The spearpoint catches the drake in the side, as it snarls in pain. 

Each slinger begins to hurl out stones as fast as they can, aiming for the softest targets in an attempt to even the odds.  Most of their shots fly wildly and harmlessly off to one side or another, but a stone finds each Selande and Gilvadrion amongst the hail. 

The guard drake, seemingly less sure of itself with the lack of nearby allies, continues to hound Leoboren.  It runs after him, leaping through the air to attack, but is easily knocked aside by his heavy shield. 

With firm hold of the reigns Leoboren eyes the halfling slinger on the open side of the road.  He spurs the horse forward, which tramples the guard drake into a broken mess as it begins to pick up speed and charge straight for the poor halfling bandit.

Corva takes a deep breath, the color seeming to return to her face, as Isshral's words and the turning of the tide buck her up.  With renewed vigor she charges after the fleeing bandit and the rock-slinger near him, calling out, "Come and finish the fight you've started, cowards!"

Gilvadrion disappears into a cloud of silvery mist again when the drake falls - something he seems to do frequently.  In combat, it's almost as if he spends as much time in a state of noncorporeal existence as not.  This also helps him avoid the halfling's stones, as they pass for the most part harmlessly through the silver mist - until the mist dissipates and Gilvadrion reappears, taking one of the stones square in the chest with a loud *thud* on his armor, knocking the wind out of him for a moment.  As he recovers, Gilvadrion glares at the most wounded bandit, the hideous secrets of the universe showing for a moment in the depths of his gaze, and only for the man whose gaze meets his.  Then he turns and limps for the cover of the trees, cursing the other bandits as he goes.

Seeing the prince head off for the forest, Selande hurries to try and keep up with him, wincing at the few founds she has, and raises her crossbow to fire upon the hobbit waiting in the direction the prince is headed, hoping to stop any additional threats that stand in the way of his escape.

Seeing the prince charging straight for one of the halflings, Ishhral turns his attention to the other. He moves quickly up behind Corva, readying his weapon and shield and eyeing the slinger.

Stoutly facing the charging knight, the halfing quickly looses three stones in rapid succession in a last ditch effort. Two go wide, but the third strikes home into a chink in his armor, bruising his arm but not stalling the advance. The other backpedals frantically, loading a stone and slinging it at Corva, but to no avail.

Corva moves quickly to flank the halfling as the ratty little punk tries to get away. She dares the halfling to turn his back on her again, swinging her scimitar in a vicious attack that cuts the slinger's weapon arm deeply.

Leoboren V raises his sword high as he gives his steed a final kick. It winnies and pushes forward as the prince brings his sword down in an arc, gashing the slinger deep accross his chest.

Gilvadrion moves through the shadow of the large trees at the edge of the road, eyeing the desperate slinger with a sinister glare. "Behold your doom, halfling..." He says quietly, an eldritch glint in his eye revealing a glimpse of unfathomable madness to the tiny bandit, whose mind twists and spasms with the effort to come to terms with what it sees. This leaves the halfling a crumpled mess, toppling over like a sack of dead hamsters. Or potatoes, whatever.

Selande hurries along determinedly after Leoboren V, slipping a little in the grass on her clumsy, slender legs while attemting her pryaer for the lance of faith . . . which, following her footing, narrowly misses. Fortunately for her ego, however, most everyone else seems to be more successful than her and probably completely unaware of her blunders.

The sheriff sees the halfling fall. Quickly he assess the situation, taking off at a spring to the prince's side, should the remaining halfing prove troublesome.

Sensing his impending doom the halfing backs away from Leoboren and loads another stone. In his panicked grabbing and slinging, his stone misses horribly, and the halfing can only watch as everyone turns on him.

Leoboren pushes his horse forward and makes one final strike which decidedly ends the life of the remaining bandit. He spins around, searching carefully to ensure that all the bandits have been dispatched before sheathing his sword.

As the last halfling dies, Gilvadrion disappears into a mote of silvery mist, reappearing moments later near the corpse of the other halfling. He picks up one wrist and drops it again first to make sure she's dead, and then starts rifling through her pockets, looking for any mischievious missives, nefarious notes, or perhaps demonic doodlings that may give a hint to the bandits' intentions.

Selande takes a moment to look around, uncomfortable with how bandits keep appearing and wanting to make sure there really are no more. Once she feels at least mildly safe enough to calm down from the sudden battle, she looks to the prince. "Are you alright, your Highness?"

Still breathing heavily from the combat, Ishhral trots over to Selande and the prince. He looks between them quickly before taking a moment to calm his breathing, slinging his shield over his shoulder. "Prince Leoboren, you're hurt..."

Corva gathers with the others around Leoboron, bowing slightly as she approaches. "Yes, we should certainly see to those wounds, Highness... perhaps we should find a more defensible place to rest."

The prince removes his helm with both hands, holding it under the crook of his arm as he wipes the sweat from his face with the other. He largely resembles his father the king, with blue eyes and his shoulder length blonde hair drenched in sweat. "Hah! They wouldn't dare attack all of us. If they had been smart enough to post look outs they wouldn't have attacked me with possible help so close. Not that I needed it." He offers a wink to everyone.

Gilvadrion finishes searching the halfling, and immediately moves to peruse the other nearby dead bandit's belongings, conversing quietly with the deceased while he does so. "Come now, don't be so obstinate. Is it really worth it? I mean, look what happened to you a minute ago. Yes, I know he's the prince. Yes, but - do not interrupt me, it's rude! In any case, chance was not in your favor today. You should have looked out more carefully for other travellers."

Selande blinks, surprised by the prince's good spirits, but rather than draw more attention to him she nervously turns back to Leoboren V. "Ah, um, well, now that the fight is over, is there anything we can do for you?" She reaches within herself for another prayer of healing, but finds her healing energies tapped out.

Ishhral lowers his head and shakes it slightly at the prince's comments. He has known the prince by reputation for some years now, and he still hasn't changed. He takes a good look at the others from where he stands, ensuring that none of them require aid.

Corva nods to the Prince, not sure what to think of his cavalier additude. Still, he IS cute. And a prince! She smiles, turning on the charm. "Where were you going all alone, your Highness? Has some trouble befallen your retinue of admirers?"

Prince Leo takes a quick glance over his shoulder from the direction you all came, "There were a couple of guardsmen with me awhile back. One moment they were with me, the next, gone. I decided to make my way back to Bulwark Point alone. Not that I wouldn't have made it out of this ambush alive, but I thank you all for the assistance."

Gilvadrion happily continues his macabre work, carefully avoiding the bloody bits as he rearranges the corpses to make them more conducive to searching. If avoiding the bloody bits is impossible, he tears off a handful of cloth from their raggedy clothing to do the handling, so that he doesn't get any on his nice leather gloves. It could stain, after all. And there's nothing worse than stained leather. Except, possibly, the end of creation. But even then, you have to consider that stain removing chemicals have yet to be invented.

Selande frowns at the notion that his guardsmen simply "disappeared," and is quick to offer, "May we accompany you on your way back, then? We were heading that way ourselves anyway, even though you surely don't need the assistance." <<Ha.>>

Ishhral nods his head, taking a step forward, "Yes, I think we would all be better off travelling the rest of the way together, what with all these guard disappearances lately."

The prince turns a raised eyebrow to the sheriff, "Have there been more?"

The dragonborn nods again, taking a quick glance around, "Yes Prince Leoboren, but maybe we should discuss this on our way back to Bulwark Point."

Selande eyes their surroundings again, feeling more aware of the possibility of yet another surprise attack, and checks her things, ready and eager to be on their way.

Corva bows to the prince, gesturing on down the road towards the destination.  "Yes, it would honor us to travel with your Highness, though you are clearly capable of taking care of yourself."  Then with a coquettish smile she adds, "Should there be more danger, it will be a comfort to have such a noble warrior around."

Gilvadrion scurries over quickly when he overhears the bit about the disappearances.  "So this was not an isolated incident?"  He asks with measured concern.  "I had not heard - how unfortunate.  I hope this does not mean trouble is brewing in the kingdom . . ."


(more to come...)