Updated: Feb 17, 2020
We enter as the heroes of our story are in pursuit of Retsk, the leader of the bandits, as he flees the town on horseback towards the town gates. He is pursued by Dinim and Hesphestia. The rest of the party, unable to keep up, follows a good distance back. The bandit bolts off his horse, and using his feline claws, he scales up the side of a two-story building. Seeing this, Dinim, with all his mighty centaur strength, bounds upwards up the side of the structure and elegantly lands upon the rooftop. The Centaur rears back and throws his javelin. As the weapon speeds towards him, Retsk quickly spins and bats the airborne javelin out of the air. He then locks eyes with his pursuer and gives a combative hisssss. Retsk then turns swiftly and quickens his steps in a new direction.
As she watches the conflict unfold, Hephestia progresses on horseback slightly in awe of the centaur’s ability to scale a building. She quickly refocuses and speeds forth on her horse to flank the escaping criminal. At this moment Hephestia seizes the opportunity to release her arrow. The arrow flies but falls short of its target, landing on the side of the building.
Comedically avoiding a pigeon coop on the roof, Dinim purses the bandit leader further and successfully grapples him to the ground. A tussle ensues and quickly after Retsk is restrained by Dinim’s grasp. As the frenzied fight continues, civilians escape the area to their homes and nearby shelters. Retsk, attempting to escape Dinim’s unyielding hold, claws at his capture to no avail. Dinim stands up with Retsk in hand and begins to drag him away. Hephestia promptly arrives at the fight, dismounts her horse, and quickly ties up Retsk.
Soon after, the rest of the party reaches the aftermath of the fight. Sandro wastes no time foraging the pockets of Retsk only to find a coin bag, a few blades, javelins, and small trinkets. Seeing an opportunity to gain his freedom, Retsk uses his claws to cut the rope around him. Dinim witnesses Retsk attempts and strikes at the bandit leader. This blow was just enough to finish the job and render him unconscious. He falls limp in Dinim’s arms.
As Dinim suggested, Sandro returns Hephestia’s bow and thanks her for her help. Then Sandro proceeds to rumage the belongings of the unconscious Retsk and finds a map. Most of the information on the map is familiar to Sandro, however it does contain some new information. Upon closer examination he notices more area of the Gultwin Deluge showing and sees a marker near the farmlands. Sandro recalls that Fallkirk Forest resides at the edge of the farmland, east of Crossroads.
As we check in on the rest of the party, we see Tak observing Hilda tending to the citizens.He sees both townsfolk and guards lying eerily still on the ground. Fully aware that Kobolds are illegal, Tak joins Hilda against his better judgement. Hilda, in a state of shock and grief, hesitantly gives a quick nod of approval to Tak; they both set to work helping the townsfolk.
Tak comes upon a person on the ground gasping and badly bleeding from deep lacerations around the neck. He acts quickly but soon realized they can not be helped. He then opens his arms to pray. As he begins, a shadow forms over him. He turns around to see Foreign Treehorn. The Firbolg works diligently and skillfully to stop the bleeding. The person releases a ragged breath as some stability takes hold. Foreign Treehorn uses a stronger, healing magic to finish the job. Hilda realizing the severity of the situation, suddenly begins to call out to any healer and priest that can help mend the wounded.
Motivated by her calls, Hecate jumps in to help. Salvador joins in as well, offering kind words and council to those in need. The gruesome aftermath and casualties begin to weigh on the hearts of our party.
Back to the bandit
Hilda kneels and grabs the Tabaxi by the scruff of his hide. Looking him over with a deep sigh of relief and a touch of disgust says "Retsk the thorn in our side for many years..." her hand glides down to his neck discovering a faint pulse and a bit of surprise enters her voice "alive even? It seems the last time my blade decapitates a criminal it will be Retsk...". As she lays the motionless creature to the ground Hephestia speaks up "should we not see if he has more information?".
Hecate seconds the motion of her ally "I agree. You can kill him in a jail cell for all I care after we get what we need from him if that's a possibility?" Hilda meets her eyes" A jail cell is too good for him, but if you so wish to question him within the hour you may do so." Hilda stands over the Tabaxi glaring down as the soft sound of her hand tightly gripping her sheathed blade anticipates his death.
The group sits the bandit up as Dinim produces a rope to secure the feline from any form of escape. The firbolg looks to Hilda with question and rhymes "These are dark & solem times, could you inform us what are his crimes?". Hilda raises her eyes to the party and says “by all accounts Retsk is in charge of the Blades... all of their actions were on his orders". Dinim looks down at Retsk "they should have picked a better leader". Hilda remarks with almost a form of admiration in her voice, "they were nuisances for a very long time, he kept them mobile and thanks to the information you have gathered, we now know why. They could hop bases and location at any point. And quite a few of them were our own farms. It has been troublesome... “.
She circles him as if he was prey... "you can add the murder of the cart driver, ransacking pillaging, piracy." Denim speaks up "Liam and Tristan".The mention of the names pulls Hilda back to the present world and out of the thrill of the kill. With a low exhale she says, "Liam, he was young". Then with a deep breath she says "if you're going to question this man, do it quickly" and walks away to check on her townsfolk.
Hephestias faces Retsk, “We would like to give you due process, do you have any final words?" with a deep breath and swift movement he lines his head with hers and spits in her face. She stands with a smirk, pulls out a vile, and scoops the saliva from her cheek. Sandro looks to the cat, "Thanks for the swords" and saunters away with his newly lifted treasures. Dinim upset from Retsk’s disrespect strikes him in the face, rendering him unconscious. Tak then asks "Why are we torturing this poor creature?". Hephestia responds in Sylvian, "We think him to be the leader of the bandits, but I would like to hear it from him".
As the bandit leader begins to wake, Tak protests torturing the creature yet again. Retsk’s eyes open, though mirky to the world around him, quickly realizes his current state. Retsk looks to Dinim, "Get that horse away from me.” Hephestia then interjects, "Please tell me who you are!” The tabaxi groggily meets her eyes, "I am Retsks.” Hephestia continues, “And do you carry any title of significance?.”. “No,” he mutters. She goes on, "Why were you running?" The cat looks down, "it would seem that the town has more protection than anticipated.” Confused she asks "Protection from what?" With a wide, teeth baring smile he hisses, "Uuussss.” Hephestias’ focus narrows, “Who is us?" Speaking with all the minimal effort he can muster, he simply snarls at a dead blade bandit next to him.
Feeling that she is gaining some ground in the interrogation she presses further. “How long have you lead them?" He ponders a moment as if not fully understanding the question and says "Retsk always leads" Dinim then asks, "What's your real name then?" Without hesitation, “Retsk.” Frustration now radiates from Dinim, and he strikes the feline again and exclaims, "Get wrecked, Retsk!" A few of the party members become increasingly uncomfortable with Dinim’s violence. Foreign then leans into the Tabaxi and says, "Retsks, before your life is ending, is there anything that needs tending?.” Retsks, his eyes now on the ground his voice a bit softened, simply replies, "They will have all that I have.” Dinim looks over the prisoner, "You don't have very much.” Retsk states quickly, “Most of us don't.”
For a brief moment, the cat contemplates an epic escape, but it is made clear that if he does he will die a swift death. The interrogation determined that there are many more bandits. And though the questions try, it would seem that they get no true answer if his name is Retsk. Hecate explains, “If it is indeed ‘Retsk’, we are all Retsk. There will always be Retsk.” Hecate then asks if he knows the whereabouts of Thadius, he simply says, “Thadius is Retsk.” Hephestia inquires about how prisoners are getting out of their cells he answers simply, "They walk out.” When asked who lets them out, he replies, "Guards." Still uncertain she asks who the Guards are hoping for some damning evidence to his aids. The only answer she gets is, "The guards are Retsk." The Tabaxi understandably seems to be a prisoner of war not willing to give to many answers. He does however give them the knowledge that they aren't in the slave trade. Retsk is asked if he has a message to send to anyone or any family. He says "They have seen.”
With that, Hecate makes a point that the Guards should be interrogated. Hilda reassures her that it will most certainly be taken care of. With the drawing of the blade, Hilda cleaves the head from Retsk's shoulders. As some look away from the gore, those who watch see his head roll onto the ground with eyes rolled back but a menacing smile pasted on the front.
The Heroes of Crossroads
Calm seems to settle over the town as the execution ends. Guards and priests tend to the dead. Looters finish going through pockets. Hilda notices Hephaestia kneeling over Retsk’s body as she takes some hair from it she asks, "Excuse me. What are you doing?" Hephestia stands nervously and turns "It's umm, well it's a tradition amongst my people to not let the life go to waste." Hilda confused and not wanting to seem culturally insensitive says "Dear hero, if you wish to take a trophy from this beast you may." Hephaestia awkwardly turns and walks away.
Hilda turns and clears her throat and all listen as she begins to speak, "These bandits have plagued us for far too long. The empire, the Thandelans, have been so preoccupied with their war to the north they have not sent reinforcements. It is thanks to these seven that their leader, Retsk, has fallen. As you travel the roads tell all! The Crossroads are safe again! That trade is welcome here, and that they do not need to depart with their goods." Salvador exclaims “Here here!" she continues "The bards will sing of the Battle of Crossroads." She looks to the seven, "What shall they call you?" With some murmuring amongst themselves one makes a joke, "the Asskickeers?" A nearby Bard feverishly writes the title down. We hear from the crowd, “Call them The Heroes of Crossroads.”
“I have for you a token of gratitude,” Hilda announces. She unsheaths her majestic blade; it shimmers in the light refracting off of its bronze, gold, and polished steel. She lowers it stating, "I meant it when I said that Retsk would be the last criminal I would slay with this blade." She turns to Dinim and presents it to him, "I hope that you would take a sword in place of an Axe." Dinim kneels with his hands outstretched above his head which is facing downwards humbly as he accepts the honor bestowed upon him by Hilda. Now looking to the rest of the group, Hilda pulls her cloak to the side and reaches into her satchel "This is from my coffers of two hundred and fifty gold pieces. Unfortunately, I don't have any more, or I'd give it." She hands it to Tak who gleefully accepts the payment.
She continues further, "There are beasts and creatures that have been pushed from these lands and we have benefited from it greatly. We have removed their evil from these provinces, but clearly, this kobold has shown that is not the case with all of her kind. I cannot speak to the rest of the realm, But in Crossroads, you will be safe". Hecate translates this to Tak, who in his appreciation, embraces Hilda. With a smile she gives him a soft pat on the back.
Sandro then thanks Hilda for the kindness and gifts bestowed upon them for their heroic deeds. Hilda turns to Sandro, "As a resident of Crossroads you call the Torrid Affair home, do you not, “she questions him. Sandro pondering the question replies, "I do.” Hilda smiles at him, “For now that may be true, but come by my office tomorrow morning. I will have for you the deed to Thadius Clem’s estate. Now, mind you it is in a state of disrepair. I believe an explosion took out the top level, and there is a horse-shaped hole in one window." She glances out of the side of her eye to the centaur with a playful smile and a raised eyebrow. "Come by and you may use that estate as however you all may choose. I can draft the deed in your name, or any one of your names, or even all your names however you all so choose.”They agree to meet her in the morning and many thanks are exchanged.
The town begins laying the bodies of the fallen to rest. With a sign of peace Foreign throws a hand full of seeds in the air, casting druid craft. They bloom into flowers and fall amongst the people.
Drinks are on that guy!
After dividing up some of the gold amongst themselves, they do some shopping to pick up supplies and weapons. Afterward, a few members of the party were drinking with the townsfolk. Dinim helps tend to the dead. Sandro buys everyone a round. It is revealed that Hilda has arrested four guards to figure out who has betrayed the town. Hecate then informs Hilda that she found a gold pouch outside the jail, possibly from one of the guards that could have lost it the night of the jailbreak. Dinim then asks if Hilda is going to retire and run for Mayor of the town. Hilda tells them that she is not going to leave the town. She would be stepping down and would be around to give aid and advice for the town moving forward.
A new day
The next morning we find our party at a hardy free breakfast good enough to cure the small hangovers from the celebration the night before. Dinim visits a shop in hopes of finding a saddle made for a centaur to be able to ride a horse but comes up short from the shopkeeper. Sandro goes to the town hall and gets the deed to the manner in his name, and is also told that they are requesting more guards from crowns guard. The party gathers supplies (silk rope, tents, rations, etc.) Dinim acquires a magic horseshoe that seems to possess some form of lightning damage. They then embark for Bellguard.
The Road to Belgard
The road winds north through the grassland. Tracks of other travelers are on the ground but all seems calm. Sandro not being well-traveled, inquires about the party's journeys. He seeks stories of faraway lands, mountains, rivers, and other cultures. They share stories and laughter around a campfire. The days roll by until they come across a farmhouse. They wish to check in on the home to see if all is well. It appears to be a typical farm, however, they notice the windows are boarded. Tak uses minor illusion and a loud cry sounds out from the field, yet nothing happens. They split up and investigate the area. They discover it is a barracks for possibly the bandits. In the barn, all the animals are gone. The only signs of life are some simple heavy tracks in the dirt made by horses. Sandro discovers a map and a healing potion exactly like the one he has on his person. They make their way back to the road leaving the farm.
As they travel in the distance they notice a man approaching. Upon greeting the man they notice he is small, dressed in brown clothes, bearded, with a red cap upon his head, and he speaks back to them in broken Sylvian. Foreign begins to recall something about the figure, sitting at the back of his mind. Hephestia recalls that the creature approaching is very evil and very dangerous. Hephestia calls out for the creature to be on his way. As she draws her bow for he states that creatures of his nature are her enemy. Some of the party members feel a drip on their arm as blood begins to seep from their pores.
The Bloody Little Bastard
Tak steps forward and throws his torch at the creature, casting pyrotechnics, blinding the creature. Salvador attempts to strike at the creature but misses with one yet lands one ax in the chest. However the ax falls to the ground causing some damage but not a lot. Dinim then attacks with a charge at the creature (Edge of Justice) and swings at the monster with his great sword. Dinim slashes through its chest but no blood comes from the wound; it looks at Dinim with a menacing smile.
Foreign uses the torch on the ground to make a flaming spear and strikes the small creature burning him. The beast blips from one place only to suddenly appear next to Dinim biting him. Blood pours from the wound. Seeing the strike, Hephaestia shoots with her arrow hitting the beast. As he stumbles back, Hecate dashes at him thrusting her dagger. As he dodges out of the way, she turns and punches him twice. The monster grins at her seemingly unphased by the blows.
Sandro rides upon his steed, like a knight he strikes with his rapier downward. The blade hits but not a lot of damage lands. It seems magic is the only way to hurt him. Tak then jumps off his horse and shoves a blue pepper into Hecate’s mouth giving her dragons breath. He then tucks and rolls to successfully throw a fireball at the creature.
Salvador strikes with his greatsword and then uses a cantrip on the creature. Denim recovers from the wound as the blood flow stops. Seeking revenge he strikes with his broadsword with all his might landing good damage. Foreign then tries to run him through with his flaming spear. The creature dodges again but takes some damage.
The creature's eyes glow red with rage and the party begins to bleed taking necrotic damage. With a quick spin, he turns and kicks at Hephestia but seems to loose power behind the attack. Then he strikes with his pike, hitting Hephestia, he proceeds to bite her. She falls to the ground motionless.
Hecate seeing her fallen friend rushes to her side and force-feeds her a vile of healing potion. Hephestia regains consciousness. Simultaneously, Sandro rushes over and helps Dinim. He then goes to Hephestia. As she hands him her bow, his eyes locked on the creature. He fires an arrow and hits the beast.
Seeing Tak unconscious next to some flames, Salvador rushes over to drag him to safety. He then uses the fainting attack on the creature dealing damage. Dinim rushes over and stabilizes Tak. Foreign heals Tak back to consciousness.
The creature then kicks at Salvador; he falls to the ground, and a pike comes down at him. In a swift move, he attempts to block the attack with his sword but it hits the creature. Trying to end his foe, he goes in for a bite; blood flows from the wound. The beast drags him and begins to drink blood from Salvador.
Hephestia then takes back her bow, as Salvador feels life fading and he looks up at his end. The face of death suddenly has an arrow pierce right through it. Rippling with magic, the beast falls to the blood soaked ground.
The creature lies dead with an arrow sprouting out of his head. The party all sit in silence for a moment as a soft breeze whistles the tall grass. Some party members trade expressionless, wide eyed looks as the events settle into their minds. Hephestia stands walks over to the slain creature and without hesitation begins to pull teeth from its mouth. Tak approaches and cuts the red cap from the corpse head. Hephestia extends her hand outward asking if he wants to keep it. Tak states that he wants to destroy it so it does not find its way to a new host. Tak then cast firebolt to burn the cap, but it seems too moistened with blood to catch fire. He takes the cap and rings it out to store it until he can find a way to destroy it. Hephestia bottles her teeth collected into a vial and begins to write in her journal. The body now burning sends rotten smoke into the air. Hephestia and Salvador are still bleeding from the creature's bite. Hephestia explains that the creature was a red cap. She cast cure wounds on herself which seems to have some effect. They discover they have teeth of the creature lodged in the wounds. They pull them from the wounds and the bleeding stops. Hephestia then spots a small stream and encourages those affected to clean the wound. First Tak cleans himself and then cleans the red cap and bottles it. After a short rest, they begin traveling again. It's brought up that it's odd that the Fey creature was in these parts. Sandro wonders why the creature bathes its hat in blood. Dinim then talks down about all Fey. Foreign quickly retorts that there are both good and bad in the Fey and tells tales of the green knight’s good deeds. He goes on to state that some even hold trade agreements with the Fey, such as the Dwarves. Hephestia reveals that it is her covens duty to remove Fey. They come to the material plane to harm people of that realm. Hephestia suddenly detects a portal about a mile northwest of their current location. They decided to move onward down the road making sure to mark on the road closest to the portal in case they need to find the portal in the future. Before leaving Sandro sways all to investigate the portal. They stealthily move towards it leaving Denim, Salvador, and Hecate at the cart to keep watch. As they make their way into the field they come across a hollow. The grass lays all in one direction pulling towards a large glowing rip floating in the air. It stands at about eight-foot tall. As they gaze inside, they see the beautiful scenery of the Fey wilds. Hephestia then asks Sandro if he is satisfied and as the turn to leave Sandro takes a bit of a stumble. Looking for the cause, he discovers an odd-shaped hole in the ground and then another. The cone-shaped holes seem to come from the portal. They follow the large tracks back to the road and see that they continue onward across leading away, leaving the party baffled.