I hate them; it reminds me of when my fellow shield bearers and I were starving deep in an advance post beyond Frost Keep. We had exhausted our rations, something was creeping the game in the area, so all we found to eat for weeks were those damn rats. Even with spices, they don’t taste good… But I digress (you see, I know fancy words too)! Buy me another ale lad, and I’ll tell you the rest of my story. << drink. Belch. Tap on the knee. Laugh>>
Ok, where was I? Well, after “interrupting” the rats and orcs in Penda’s granary, one of them escaped (the same lil’ bastard that escaped from us after that ambush in the mountains on our way to Dunross). His last move before escaping was to shoot an arrow into Penda’s brainpan. Since I don’t like unfinished business, I chased him in the village, following his fresh track in the snow. The tracks were leading to the village’s palisade and stopped right there… I asked the guard if he’d seen anything: nothing at all. I went up the catwalk and looked outside for hints of where the orcs had managed to sneak in, when another guard post bell rang. I made my way there, where a guard explained he had just found a small tunnel that had freshly been excavated below the palisade. He could have sworn it wasn’t there a few minutes ago. SORCERY!!
Perplexed, I made my way back to the granary. Orrigg was looking into the orcs’ belongings and found several flasks. One of them had been recently emptied, and the others contained a foul smelling liquid. Orrigg thought they were trying to poison the town’s flour supply. It seems they have already started, and our healer was already trying to sort the bad flour form the rest.
The guards finally arrived on site with their captain. I used my legendary silver-tongue to explain them what had happened, and that we needed supplies to track the bastards and make sure they won’t come back for seconds. The way they had snuck it unnoticed was especially concerning, and suggested some wild magic had been used to conceal their approach. We’re eating roasted sorcerer for dinner tonight!
Good Orrigg used its runes to heal me, myself and Stormborn who still looked a bit green from the rats’ infectious bite. The baker arrived on site and we asked him to keep sorting the flour while we left the village on our punitive mission. The town council was being convened to talk about the situation, and the guard’s captain was going to relay our plan. All they could muster was a couple days of rations and horses. Better than nothing I guess, but I hope they’ll be more generous once we have killed the dragon and rescued the princess… or I keep the princess.
We had a hard time convincing Orrigg to ride a horse; the kid wanted to sedate him during transportation, but we finally talked the wee man into riding behind me. That’ll keep us warm I guess. As we left the village the weather started getting ugly again: lots of snow and chunks of ice the size of my cowbells were dropping form the sky. Our mad survival skills allowed us to take shelter during these deadly “rains” and we kept our heading despite these interruptions. The orc tracks disappeared started following an old road that seemed to have been unused for a while. At that rate, it’d take two days to reach the tower, and the first twilight was approaching, so we started to call it a day early and find a good camping spot. We dug a trench in the snow, started putting together a quick frame to hang the tarps on and started a fire. We grilled my leftover sausages, and I was about to start throat singing a sad ballad from Drachenland when Stormborn and Ember were hit by a freeze ray! I guess it could have been worse, since these two are fairly resilient to cold. The monster that had tried to turn these ladies into Elf-sicles was a strange elemental entity unlike any I had heard or seen before. My axe could not even make a dent into its frost shell, and it seemed to want to hurt Ember more than anything. Luckily, Stormborn’s porta-furnace managed to melt this thing in a couple hits. Our arcane inclined specialists reckoned this thing was a frost elemental, which normally should not even exist in Rassilion. “It’s supposed to guard odd mystical points where elemental energies are focused”, they said… Grilling Ember about the creature unveiled that our Paladin seemed to have angered some deity. Were the frost wave and the wolf attack from the very beginning of our journey related to this as well? In any case, this elf need to atone, and fast…because my sausage got overcooked, and I won’t stand for that.
Next morning, after a quiet but cold night, we resumed our trip and reached the tower by the end of the day. It was an ancient square building with a front entrance and a tower at its centre. Stormborn went ahead to case the place, and spotted a head on top of the tower. It disappeared quickly, suggesting we may have been spotted. We left the horses behind and approached the building. The place reeked of rat droppings and decay. Our mages prepped themselves by casting protection and deflection spells. Stormborn even used her hrimwisardry and cast a frosty shell around her. Orrigg and I entered the building, establishing a shield “wall” to protect the rear guard. As soon as we got in, a horde of rats came out from the stonework. There were hundreds of them. Luckily, the Anari kid used his fist-o-might power to squash half of them in a few seconds. There were chunks of rats flying everywhere, it was so beautiful! We managed to kill the largest ones afterwards, but it was rough. As the fight ended, the same bloody orc came out of the woodwork, took a shot at Stormborn with a barbed arrow, and disappeared. In the aftermath, we looked at the rest of the floor and into the tower, but it had been deserted. We also found stairs leading into a basement where the orc had obviously fled and was preparing a banquet in our honour. There was desecrated and decapitated statue of a deity. Argius was disturbed by this sight and decided to place the head at its rightful place. He felt something strange and as the statue finished to fix itself; his skin thickened and started looking like cracked stone. I almost proposed to put this new skin to the test with my axe, but the situation was tense enough. Orrigg finished healing some of us, but we could see he was running out of “juice”. The rune magic was taking a lot out of him.
We made way into the stairs and ended inside a natural cave. As we entered the first room, more rats rushed us. Some of them were as large as horses. I rushed into the opposite room entrance to prevent them from surrounding us, but was quickly overrun by the vermin. The rest of the battle was a blur, the damn beasts were everywhere. Ember managed to control some of them and get off our backs, Stormborn was frying some of them with her elemental inferno, Argius was bashing them remotely and Orrigg was doing his best to heal us as we were getting hurt. My lord Tiw granted me a second wind, but the foul beasts managed to overrun me and everything went dark… When I woke up, there was a lot of dead rats in the room, Stormborn looked just like I felt (just more blue), and my damn shield arm was broken! That does it, now I’m angry…