Saturday, 3 September 2011

Shnecke's Wolves - Session 4 (Part 2 of 2)

19:00 – 01:00 (18/6/1472) – Celebrations echo through the village as the miraculous tale from the well is told and retold. Fireworks light the sky as the sun sets, and for a while everyone can ignore the intimidating mass of Aelnaerys, and the horrors of the recent weeks.

Varracuda is overjoyed to be mortal again, and is even more happy when he sees that Jaeger is with them once more – though he seems a little disturbed by his new form. Shnecke remains somewhat gloomy, and continues to struggle with the terrible urges that tell him to run, like a fox amongst chickens, through the people of the village, killing and feeding until he is dizzy and sick with fullness.

Whilst Grigori sleeps, Jaeger spends his time quietly gathering his wits and contemplating his new body, for whilst he has been restored to life by Grigori's ritual, he is no longer human. His flesh is less than solid, his entire body made from cohesive darkness; soaked through with the shadowstuff on which he draws. Although on one hand it is a strange and jarring thing to be so fundamentally changed, on the other hand, the assassin can see the huge advantages to being a living shadow when one's life revolves being unseen and unheard, and he decides that all in all, it is a good thing.

Lia simply enjoys the night and its celebrations, knowing that tomorrow will almost certainly bring pain and battle.

07:00 – 07:30 – The party awaken, and take a good breakfast.

07:31 – 07:50 – The party consult a map of the land between the village and the desecrated graveyard where the oni lair, and see that they have two choices. The first is to take an ancient footpath worn into the foothills, which will see them arrive at their destination within a day, but which is almost certainly going to be watched by the enemy. The second involves a two day climb over towering, thickly forested ridges of rock, which though slower and more trying, would be less likely to see an ambush by the enemy.

The party vote to take the footpath, 4 to 1 against.

08:10 – The party leave the village, and head along the steep footpath, into the dense jungle that clusters around the towering mountain ridges and foothills to the north of the village.

08:10 – 14:40 – The morning sees the group climbing high into the ridges, the jungle wet and dripping around them. The skies are bright and clear, though thick misty clouds constantly sweep over the path, plunging it into dank gloom, and leaving everyone soaked to their skin. The living are plagued by mosquitoes and ticks, whilst the dead have to shoo away fat carrion flies who have sensed their necrotic presence and mistaken them for ex-animate remains.

By mid afternoon the group are wandering along a fairly flat length of path, overshadowed by huge jungle trees, festooned with rope like creepers and a frenzy of mosses, ferns and epiphytes. The path is wide and fairly well defined in this place, and all but Lia are in fine fettle, their epic slog up the Nordvyrr mountains having honed their bodies for this kind of sustained effort.

However, they are a little too relaxed, and so, are caught out by the ambush.

14:41 – 14:46 – Several loud cracks up ahead are the only warning the party get before a huge spiked frame of bamboo, weighted by a massive log, sweeps towards them on vines from the canopy at great speed, smashing into several members of the party and sending them, bleeding and cursing, sprawling to the mud some 20' from where they began.

At the same time, the foliage around the group explodes with vicious snarls and screams, and eight stocky, 3' high green-skinned humanoids; bald with long pointed ears and wide mouths filled with jagged, bear-trap like rows of teeth, explode out to attack. They charge the group without apparent fear, mouths wide, clawed hands held ready to strike, and over half of them fall before they even get close enough to attack; seeming almost to launch themselves onto the blades and into the spells of the group in their mad dash to rip and slaughter. Those that make it close enough to the group to attack them do so without hesitation, and the party quickly learns that the teeth and claws of these things are weapons every bit as effective as a sword or hammer.

Split in two by the trap, the party fight to re-group. Suddenly however, those that were pushed back - Shnecke, Lia and Grigori – are engulfed in agony as a fine, shimmering mist of superheated liquid metal explodes over them, sticking to flesh, burning like acid and immediately forming a restrictive crust that slows their movements. The source of the attack flickers into view, its invisibility lost – a towering, 8' high daemonic humanoid with crimson skin, boggling eyes, blue hair and a wide mouth filled with brilliant white fangs, two of which jut up from its lower jaws like tusks. It has three eyes, each glowing with a yellowish light – two in the normal position, and one between them, above and at a right angle. It is clad in some kind of curiously angled breastplate, and its massive hands are wreathed within oversized gauntlets which cover its lower arms. The monster wields a huge club, who's brutal head is studded with pyramidal spikes of stone – a weapon that it quickly puts to deadly use.

The Oni gives a thunderous roar, and the rest of the party, further up the path, are also engulfed in agony, as another of the hulking fiends shimmers into view by them, and unleashes another blast of molten copper.

Despite their initial shock, the party quickly recover – thanks in no small part to the synergy between Lia and Grigori; their healing powers feeding each other, allowing the group to recover almost instantly from wounds that would incapacitate or kill them. The ardent's psychic powers also leave lingering fields of protective psi-energy around those she has healed, or grant her allies momentary flashes of insight, allowing them to strike truer with their next attacks. Grigori seems to revel in the battle, his eyes glowing with a molten, rotten light, his eye-teeth fully extended. He moves with eerie grace, sending his molten sword dancing amongst his foes, whilst Shnecke finally gives into his urges, grabbing one of the Bakemono (the smaller enemies) squeaking, by its neck, and sinking his massive fangs into its throat. He drinks deeply of the oily, rank blood, and feels its intoxicating warmth flow through him, numbing the pain of his wounds and filling him with strength.

Dropping the withered corpse to the ground, the Ulnyrr looks every bit as daemonic as the Oni; a hulking, pale nightmare; eyes blazing with coppery light, eye-teeth fully extended, his other teeth also grown long and misshapen, the slain Bakemono's gore dribbling down through his beard and onto his massive chest. He roars, and every mortal thing within earshot shivers with dread.

Jaeger flits from shadow to shadow, putting his new form to good use. His sword sweeps through the plentiful shade to strike at unexpected angles, leaving his foes disoriented and pained, whilst Varracuda calls upon a plethora of spells to smite his foes; blades of green fire, whips of snickering lightning, and sweeping waves of planar disruption. The swordmage delights his allies at one point by sweeping one of the Oni up, and depositing him, mid swing, next to the other – his Tetsubo club blasting into the second daemon's skull with shattering force.

The Bakemono are soon driven off, their bodies pouring black and oily into the muddy path, though all bear the marks of their savage claws and chomping bites. The two Oni prove tougher opponents, able to take repeated blows from the group, quick to deliver smashing blows with their huge clubs.

The battle becomes a skirmish; the Oni using their innate invisibility to vanish from sight and to strike at the party with advantage. They seriously wound several party members in this way, though against the sharp ears of the assassin their invisibility is of little use, and soon both of the brutes are slashed and blasted out of existence, their huge bodies boiling away into choking, fishy smelling smoke.

It lasts just over a minute in all, and despite their initial disadvantage, the group prove themselves the victors!

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