Dragon's Claw

Always Pay the Toll...

Hyper Shapeshifting and Exploding Loincloths

Game Date: 9/17/09

A fresher, brighter day greeted us upon our exit from the tower than when we entered it. While not nearly a nature sanctuary, the forest had lost some of it’s cold, deadness. Presumably brought on by the shadows escaping the nearby portal. With the portal now destroyed perhaps it would begin it’s long, slow process of regrowth.

While not an easy task, signs of passage were discovered heading west from the tower. Their source or number was not easy to identify either. Perhaps it was one man, perhaps many. We hoped it included our elusive dark Eladrin.

Sebastian and Luke each independently scoured the path in an attempt to follow it. One of the first things they discovered was that we were no more than a day behind. Another was that our quarry was heading in a nearly straight line through wild, mountainous forests. While this posed an easier time of knowing in which direction to head, it made the actually following of such a trail all the more difficult. It crossed ravines and dove through briars with an unaltered commitment.

Much discussion was had as to the best way to both follow and trap our quarry. We were heading more or less west through rugged terrain, parrelleling the southern slope of a mountain range. Farther to the south, some miles away, lay a true path, a road perhaps, also going in that general direction. We assumed both road and quarry were heading towards Wolf’s Deep. Our objective was to stop them before they got there.

We opted to send our trusted, nature-attuned elf, Sebastian after the prey. His forest knowledge, great speed and shape-shifting “flexibility” would allow him to make up ground and leave the rest of us signs of easier passage.

Throughout the day and into the night Sebastian raced after the foe. Shifting relentlessly for bursts of speed, scent tracking and manueverability, he managed to close the distance. The rest of the party continued in his foot/paw/slither prints without rest. Each hour brought them closer to total exhaustion.

With the coming of the dawn, Sebastian broke from the dense undergrowth to the sight of a valley before him. Small farmsteads, carved from the trees, sprinkled the valley floor. At the far end, dominating the landscape, sat the great bulk of the fortress city, Wolf’s Deep. A river, fed by melting snows, cascaded down through the valley, heading south through the haze of morning. The road, now visible, crossed this river via a large wagon bridge before proceeding to the great gates of the city.

It was towards this bridge that Sebastian finally caught sight of his elusive prey. One man, maybe more, was heading to cross the river by the only means possible.

With a low growl, Sebastian dug deep into his reserves and surged after. With the man in sight and no further need to track, he raced at breakneck speed to intercept him at the bridge.

The others emerged from the trees at the last marker left by Sebastian. No other sign was left to indicate where he might have gone. Then, miles ahead of them, tearing across the countryside, was a great cat. Sebastian! And there was no doubt about it, he was making directly for the bridge at all possible speed.

Deducing correctly that their druidic friend was indeed looking to catch their quarry at the bridge, the other raced to figure out what assistance they could provide.

The Dragon Hoop.

The three stepped through onto the marshy, rooted bank on the far side of the bridge. While their entrance was unanticipated, it did not turn out to be as stealthy as they would have wished (blown roles). The dark Eladrin, as indeed he turned out to be, spotted them from across the bridge.

So too did a ragged old beggar on the near side, who dropped his bowl of coppers and made a break for the safety of the city. Dragonborn, humans and Eladrin popping out of nowhere be damned – the bridge fee could be waived!

As the cocksure enemy glared smugly across at them, he failed to notice the 250 pounds of feline muscle barreling down on his nether side. With lightning speed, Sebastian crashed onto the scene unloading twin cannon AOE’s (Action Point!). The resulting carnage knocked the enemy to his knees and obliterated a few, until now unseen, shadow figures encircling him.

The enemy’s retaliation should have been anticipated. His remaining shadows rushed across the bridge and enveloped the poor escaping beggar. With a ripping of clothes and a bursting of loincloth, the old man suddenly became a ten foot, knuckle-dragging goliath.

Fighting began in earnest across the expanse of the bridge. And, as we have seen time and again, when the pressure became too much for the lead enemy… he bolted. Into thin air, to be more precise.

And lucky us. The beggar-giant turned out to be almost too much. It’s retaliatory strikes to our hits were devastating. Horatio and Sebastian were both knocked unconscious. Between the two though, there must have been some god-like strength. Despite devastating blows, each was miraculously up and back in the fight in seconds (back to back natural 20 death saves!).

The tide was soon turned and the bestial toll-taker brought down.

We had survived yet another brush with darkness. And again, it’s true perpetrator had escaped our grasp.

It was onward, to the welcoming gates of civilization…


To the annalist: you’re a sorceror, why are you deploying the mundane solution to the problem? :P


Always Pay the Toll...

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