A Rise of the Runelords campaign journal that turned into a book

60. Skulking in the shadows of giants

4th of Gozran – Oathday – 193rd day in Varisia
Somewhere in the Kodar Mountains

I managed to maintain my grip of the Carmine Avenger, despite the fact somebody tried to flatten my head into a pulp. I felt like vomiting, but held back my breakfast. I shielded my eyes with my other hand, but it wasn’t the pale sun that was burning my eyes. I tasted blood and realized I had bitten my tongue. Then, the pain began to subside in waves, in rhythm with the beat of my heart.

“Fuck”, I cursed aloud, and doing so made me feel a bit better. The teleportation had evidently failed. I wasn’t in a throne room standing next to my brother, but hovering thirty feet above a steep sheet of snow. Before me opened a vista of rocky, barren, uninhabited mountains. The familiar merciless mountain wind made my cloak and furs flap and its coldness seeped through to sting my flesh.

The others were wheezing and laboring to breathe around me, coping with the shock of our failed attempt, while Dûath whined and growled anxiously. My free hand went to his back to soothe him.

“What happened?” I asked, and I was already actively not listening when Saffron began to answer. I gazed down, to a valley maybe three thousand feet below us, covered partly in volcanic ash and ice and bordered by another mountainside opposite to ours. The valley, a mile or two wide, continued further east and circled south beyond the slope of the mountain we were hovering above. There was no sign of the misted lake of boiling and freezing waters, the only positive of the situation. “The Occlusion Field”, Saffron began after carefully inhaling a few times, “the one you read about in Vraxeris’ journal. It protects Mount Mhar-Mhassif and must’ve rejected us when we tried to translocate through it.”

“So where are we?” Alfred asked, also gazing down. Saffron shrugged, unable to tell. Our attempt began to look like a massive failure and I started to form a suggestion to return to Magnimar. I lost my trail of thought when I turned my head north and took in what I saw: an immense mountain that towered over all others around it. Its majesty was almost laughable, its peak easily reaching over ten thousand feet above the valley, and I had no clue what was the elevation of the valley itself.  “Could that big one be Mhar-Mhassif?” I asked the others in awe.

“It sure is huge.. but there’s no city, no spires”, Alfred grunted in response. He was right. At the behemoth’s foot was just the empty valley and snow covered slopes riddled with rocky outcrops. It was just another big mountain. Gods knew how many similar there were in the Kodar range.

“Gods damnit”, I muttered and shook my head and trembled as a particularly strong wind gushed over us. Harsk, a dwarf of the northern highlands, was helping Alice cope by telling her to breathe with her belly rather than lungs. She got the gist of it quickly enough and soon she held her hand up, as if touching the wind. “I can’t.. sense any magic nearby. The field must have thrown us far off”, the magus reported.

Saffron bit her lip. “I concur.”

“So we could be anywhere?” Alfred commented, sharing my disappointment. Our mood darkened even though we couldn’t see each others’ expressions. A certain sense of despair produced a collective slumping of shoulders – all but Harsk’s.

“We must be close, I refuse to give up so easily”, he harrumphed. “Alpharius might be right. We can’t see to the other side of that monster of a mountain, maybe it hides the city.”

Saffron nodded, motivated by the god-touched. “Absolutely so, Master Harsk.” She reached out with her hands. “Let us join hands and form a chain so I can lead us closer. The effect of the flying spell ends in less than fifteen minutes, so we should hurry.”

No-one made a move. She stopped to think. “Ah yes. Better come out of invisibility first.”

**

Gliding through the air, hands together in line like a bunch of children from a story, led by the red-headed witch on her broom, we slowly approached the summit of the mother of all mountains. I felt both stupid and exhilarated at the same time. I really was flying. At first, it had been terrifying. Then, even my dark, stained soul had admitted it was kind of liberating. Fun, even. But some people tell you once you’ve flown, you never want to come back down. I never got that sentiment. Soaring like a hawk filled you with a sense of triumph and grandeur, of being limitless. But to me, ground was.. safe. Understandable. Predictable. Controllable. I liked having my feet on the ground.

We had flown for maybe ten minutes, covering one and a half miles or so of the glacial valley, when I started to feel strange, the reason not the altitude and the sickness it caused. The wind was shrieking unnaturally, whipping us with relentless cold. The airspace we flew through felt nauseating, as if something abnormal was trying to push against us, move us out of its way as it tried to force itself through and into existence. Dûath, carried in the crook of my other arm, kept growling in irritation. I could sympathize, but we had little choice. Still, the abnormality was a sign of something. A little flame of hope fluttered to life.

Suddenly, from the third last position in our merry chain, Harsk shouted over the howl of the winds. I first took it as a warning, but then I realized he was cheering. “Below us, can’t you see? The city!” He yelled at the top of his lungs and pointed down with his chin. I followed the trail his considerable beard made but saw nothing but windswept glaciers and protruding rocks of once-molten lava in a wide valley. “What is wrong with you! And look up! To the tip of the mountain, there is the face, and the spires”, Harsk kept shouting, anxiously now, craning his neck up. I was instantly recalling his madness in the Aldern Manor, and I hoped he hadn’t completely lost his mind again. The ludicrously towering peak, ten thousand feet ahead and above, was empty but for snow and ice. I opened my mouth to reply. But before anyone could answer to him Harsk shouted a warning, in distress this time, and I felt my stomach lurch once or twice. The runeforged Carmine Avenger flared red-hot in my back, reacting to whatever we had encountered or passed through.

Then I finally saw what Harsk saw. Below were the ruins of a city in an epic scale. I gasped in simple awe. This was it. Canorate, Korvosa, Magnimar – cities I had thought to be large were anthills compared to the once-great capital of Shalast. Thousands of buildings, many of the mindbogglingly large in size, were visible even though sections of the city had been covered by everfrost and lava – it was impossible to say how vast it had been during its heyday. I raised my head and tracked the slope of the looming mountain before us. The sneering head was at the distance, visible even from our lowly position. Karzoug’s head at the peak of what couldn’t be anything else than Mhar-Massif, watching over the world hungrily. Near the head, a gleaming tower of white rock, pointing up from the steep slope like a nail driven to the mountain. Around it stood other spires and towers, its smaller brethren. A wide golden road snaked from the smaller city of spires at the peak all the way down to the valley.

I began to notice movement. Tiny figures, purplish and bloated spiders, that in reality had to be huge since I could spot them from so high up were slowly walking in the snow along the mountainside. Humanoid figures – giants – were pacing up and down the golden road. I even discerned giants walking among the massive buildings of the city. A sense of alarm passed me – what if they had spotted us coming – but then I realized to anyone watching up we had to be tiny specks of black in the air, easily mistaken for birds. If there were any around, that is.

Our group exploded in chatter and cheering – everyone was now seeing what Harsk had already witnessed. We had found what we had come looking for.

**

We landed on the slope, not really high above Xin-Shalast proper, but as far away as possible from any patrols of gigantic spiders. “Up or down”, Alice asked while she crossed her arms and rubbed them to make them warmer. I kept staring up towards the peak. The main spire and the groups of smaller towers loomed, taunting me to begin climbing and expose myself to the hazards of Mhar-Massif. “I am here to find the ancient library of Xin-Shalast”, Saffron stated gravely, her eyes peering at the valley below us.
“I say we go up”, Alfred murmured.
Harsk was nodding. “That’s where Karzoug is. That’s where Alpharius’s brother is.”

Mister Jenkins stuck his head out of Saffron’s right sleeve and the witch raised the arm to listen as it whispered something to her ear. She nodded, looking serious, and the rat-man disappeared back inside her sleeve. “I am afraid I cannot accompany you to the peak, now that there’s a good chance we can gain access to the city without being noticed.” Go ahead, I’m not stopping you, I thought to myself.

Alice grimaced. “Isn’t stopping Karzoug and saving Varisia more important, Saffron”, she asked her. But the one I could imagine supporting her righteous claim wasn’t so certain, for once. Harsk was beside me, looking up, stroking his beard in silent contemplation.
Saffron kept her tone level. “Miss Alice, the library could contain vital information that can be used against the runelord. Help me find the library first, then I promise, I swear an oath, I will help you find Karzoug and defeat him.”

At last, I decided to join the conversation. “Coulds and ifs”, I spat and pointed up the mountain. “My brother is there. I can feel it. I know it. Nothing will stop me from getting to him.”

Saffron walked to me and raised her hand so she could touch my shoulder. “Master Alpharius, you will get to him, soon. But I plead you, help me scour the city ruins first. You talk about being prepared and having a plan before you go. The library could be crucial. Don’t you want to be better prepared when we finally reach our ultimate goal?”

My mouth worked but no words came out. I kept staring up, and found the reason in her argument. Was it cowardice that held me back from running up the slope? Or sensibility? The decision was made for me. Harsk coughed and turned to descend in the snow.
“Oh come on”, Alfred called behind him, “can’t we at least fly if we’re going down there?”

**

The giant, other-dimensional spiders kept close to the golden road so it was relatively easy to glide down from the foot of the mountain to the outskirts of the city without being spotted. We entered the ruins from the west.

We were children in a world of adults. No, like rats in the world of men. The buildings and roads were designed for creatures many, many times larger than us, and as we traversed through the ruins, we hid in the shadows and behind massive blocks of rock like vermin. All the while Saffron hovered on her broomstick, remaining invisible, having a peek through broken and intact windows ten to thirty feet above ground. It was a ghost city but incredibly, much of it was still intact, despite the unforgiving high-altitude weather and erupted volcanoes that had covered sections in lava and soot in ages past. Obviously, the buildings needed a lot of repair, but it was outstanding how they still stood so numerous after ten thousand years. The giants had built to last, it seemed. And they had not spared the expenses. Still here and there, under hoarfrost, we could see gold coating on the walls. The idea that the whole city had been once coated in gold was mind-numbing.

It was eerily quiet, save for the howl of wind, random shouting echoing from the massive walls and distant sounds of different creatures I had never heard before. There was some life in Xin-Shalast, but nothing like I could imagine the city must have had during its days of glory. We managed to sneak for an hour or so before we saw the first work crew of malnourished stone and hill giants laboring to repair a broken gate. They were overseen by their much more massive kin, storm and cloud giants, which I remembered reading about in Magnimar. But when we saw our first rune giant we were left speechless – even Alfred couldn’t utter a word. Standing twice the height of a storm giant, the monstrosity was unbelievable. Its black skin was covered in red and smoking runes. Its malevolent eyes regarded the other giants with contempt and barely-contained rage. Even its grunt sounded like thunder roaring a mile away, and the others heeded its commands with eagerness borne of fear, without second thought. In its hand it carried a longsword. The blade had to be at least twenty feet long. I wondered how many of those would one need to sack Magnimar and defeat the forces protecting it. Ten? Five? And we are going up against those, I thought, in awe, my mouth open.

Despite the dangers we kept on the move, going through buildings, looking for something that could’ve been a library, all the time being very careful not to be seen. First building of particular interest we found was an empty cathedral of sorts, its high walls full of gruesome artistry depicting violence and self-abuse. Then we sneaked past something Saffron identified was a house of tax collectors and a treasury, mostly collapsed. This aroused Alfred’s interest but we kept going, intent on finding Saffron’s book.

It was inevitable that we ran into trouble. As we crossed a particularly wide road in a run, something big roared in anger to our right. It was a huge blue-skinned giant – one of the cloud-kin. It took to a run of its own towards us and pulled a greatsword from its scabbard. It was slender for a giant and really fast. But lucky for us, it was alone.

“We need to get it quickly before it sounds an alarm”, Alfred shouted and pulled off, turning to face the monster. I told my panther to stay still, took my magic wand out of my belt, shook it and said the magic words. Nothing happened. Godsdamnit. Alice and Harsk both began to weave their own spells, leaving the sellsword to challenge the twenty feet tall monster alone. I tried the wand again. Again, nothing. I really need more practice, I muttered to myself and replaced the wand, focusing instead on what I did best – slaying my foes with archery and blades. A fireball left Alice’s extended hand, striking the giant in its midriff. It barely slowed down, and clashed with Alfred, who looked like a tiny tin-man, or adamantium-man, before it. But he held his ground, easily. I heard his guffaw over the roar of Harsk’s flame strikes and Alice’s rays of fire, and when he blocked the greatsword the sound his shield made was that of a gong. The monster didn’t last long alone against our onslaught, and perished, full of burn-marks, bleeding cuts and arrows. Our short fight seemed to have passed unnoticed by others.

“We’re not hiding the corpse, right?” Alfred asked, uncertain, brushing sweat off his forehead. It wasn’t like dragging a dead man into a thick bush or behind a corner. We left the cloud giant where it had fallen.

**

We kept going east, criss-crossing through the city of giants. To our south we glimpsed a black-grey fortress standing on a cliff overseeing the northern half of the valley, and my eyes picked up winged guardians on its battlements. They looked like harpies, but were larger, and less humanoid and more like vultures, or condors, with their beaks.

Half an hour later, already deep within the city, we spotted three stone giants working together, restoring a crumbled wall of a nondescript building, without an overseer. Encouraged by what Conna the stone giant priestess had told us about the true, more neutral and calm nature of stone giants, we approached them peacefully, hoping they would not attack us but rather could tell us where the city’s library was located.

The giants indeed were pacified, lame even, and did not attack. They were wary, and suspicious, but willing to talk to Alice who knew Giant. However their directions were worth nothing – they gave some, most likely out of fear, but to everyone but the gullible magus it was immediately obvious they had no idea where the library was, or if there even was one. We left them be, most likely an error, and continued further.

We reached the golden road that crossed entire Xin-Shalast from south-east to north-west, continuing all the way up to Karzoug’s spires. The causeway, maybe the only place in the city, was crowded, as a steady stream of working gangs of giants traveled up and down along it. Taking a big risk, we waited for a suitable moment and then ran across its nearly hundred feet width. We were lucky, again, and managed to pass without being seen. The day was long into the afternoon and we continued our search, oversized house by oversized house, focusing on the more ornate and distinctive. Saffron, flying with her broomstick, made most of the work as she could peer in through windows and openings in the walls. We found a massive arena, infested by pink, huge spider-like outsiders, and although Alfred was increasingly hungry for a fight, betting the place hid gold and other valuables, all our magic-sensitives felt something wrong with the place. I was happy to leave the place unsearched, even though I knew eventually we’d have to enter something that was wrong in all the ways possible.

Our snaking path had taken us through most of the northern parts of the city, and we had been able to keep a good pace thanks to our unwillingness to get into a fight. But the library still eluded us. When the eastern wall of the valley loomed before us, we had to turn south. There, the valley narrowed, thanks to a long-since petrified wave of lava that had covered most of the area. The golden road had remained open, and we stayed close to it, if far enough not to invite attention.

In that, we failed soon after we had emerged from the northern half of the city and into a district where the physical size of the buildings began to decrease. It was or had been an area for smaller creatures a long time ago.

We were hiding in the broken remains of a roofless tavern when Saffron glided down to us and whispered loudly. “I am seeing movement up ahead. Smaller creatures, humanoids. And I think they have been following us.”
“Are they hostile?” Harsk asked her. She considered the question. “They are actively trying to stay out of our way, even though they are following us tentatively. They’re unarmed as far as I can tell.” Unarmed and cautious? In Xin-Shalast? I was baffled. A word came to my mind. Prey.

“Maybe they can help us?” Alice suggested. “It could be a trap”, I countered, and she rolled her eyes at me. “I don’t think so, Master Alpharius”, Saffron interjected. “They don’t seem threatening.”
“Famous last words”, I muttered mainly to myself, and my panther growled and hissed. At least he understood.
“I’m going to have a chat with them”, Harsk said decisively, already pacing towards where Saffron had pointed. A hundred strides or so away was a tower that had collapsed, and Saffron had seen a few of the humanoids move around its vicinity. The witch went invisible, while I chose to escort the bold dwarf from a distance of a dozen strides or so, staying low and unseen with my animal, my bow half-drawn, arrow at the ready. Alfred and Alice both remained behind to watch our backs.

There was a small open space next to the ruins of the tower, and Harsk navigated directly into its center. “I mean no harm”, he began, talking loudly, looking around, and I flinched. What if enemies heard him shout? “I’ve come in peace to help you”, he continued and I resisted the urge to throw a rock on his head to keep him less vocal.

Like a chameleon reptile, from the ruined stonework emerged a lone, puny and human-like figure. It was holding his finger across its lips and approached Harsk very carefully, its head darting left and right. I decided my earlier conclusion had been correct. This was a prey creature, pale-skinned, hairless and soft.

When it got to five paces from Harsk, it stopped and tapped its chest with its palm. “Morgiv”, the creature said, in a weird guttural voice. Harsk understood enough, and tapped his adamantium-coated chest in reply. “I am Harsk.”
“You help, Iam Harsk?” The creature, Morgiv, asked.
“Just Harsk. You speak Common?”
Morgiv shook his head slowly. “Very bad.”

The god-touched changed to a language I realized was Thassilon, and from there, the discussion became more fluent. Morgiv became visibly more lively, frantic even, as they discussed. After a while, I got bored and rose from hiding, to no reaction from the skulking creature. I guess he had seen me approach. A moment later, both Alice and Alfred chose to come over as well, but Morgiv wasn’t afraid anymore. Instead, he waved two other of his kin, both unarmed and equally pathetic, to join us from their hideouts. To me, it seemed the dwarf was negotiating with him and a certain level of trust and understanding had been achieved. I still eyed them suspiciously but let Harsk do his thing. The cleric of Iomedae called the favour of his goddess and suddenly a feast appeared in our midst. More of the skulking creatures emerged, wide-eyed. Morgiv was pleased and with Harsk’s permission, he and his kind attacked the foods that the good-hearted dwarf had provided.

“They have been living here for ages”, Harsk started to explain to us as Saffron revealed herself, “evading the giants and the creatures of Leng. They know little to nothing of Karzoug and what happens at Mhar-Massif, but are willing to give us directions around the city.”
Morgiv turned to us from the feast, a loaf of bread in his hands. “Harsk, you help skulk? Save our family?” He asked in his bad Common.

Harsk frowned in deep thought and went on. “A strange creature they call the Hidden Beast has taken over their home tunnels and has turned many of their kin into blood-thirsty monsters. Morgiv thinks we’re heroes whose coming was foretold, and asks for our help in defeating this Hidden Beast.”
Morgiv said something quickly to Harsk in Thassilon, and the cleric nodded, understanding. “They’ve been driven from their homes.”
“So he wants us to take care of this monster for them”, I said, not surprised. Our group attracted hopeless cases pleading for help like sugar attracted ants.
“That’s what heroes do”, Alice told me, and I wasn’t sure if she was serious or ironic. From what I had started to gather, she took the hero business quite seriously. “So a detour to our library search. You are fine with this, Saffron?” I asked, hoping she would be as uninterested as I was. I should have known better.
“Of course we will help Morgiv”, Saffron stated simply. “Excellent work, Master Harsk”, she added the compliment, “maybe they can lead us to the library.”

I sighed. I didn’t even need to ask what the sellsword wanted to do.

“Morgiv, gather the remaining food with your friends and show us the way to the Hidden Beast”, Harsk concluded the discussion.

**

Together with the skulks (as they called themselves), we marched further south, then made a tight turn to east and traveled into the parts of the city ruined and engulfed by the lava flows. As we went, Morgiv briefly told us about the city – how the most southern parts were full of giant slaves (and how more arrived every month), and  that the fortress at the slope housed most of the cloud and storm giants and was a very dangerous place. “Skulk no go there, very bad”, Morgiv underlined the fact. I was absolutely certain we’d find ourselves there sooner than later.

Following Morgiv closely and silently uphill, we arrived to a tower that stood alone among the half-buried buildings, jutting out of the petrified lava like a finger of a rude gesture. We climbed in through a window in its side, and descended into a network of dark tunnels connecting caves and chambers too many to count. It was city district turned into a maze, but Morgiv led us expertly, without hesitation – according to his story, the snaking tunnels and chambers had been his home after all. We trekked for a half an hour before Morgiv stopped at a junction and turned to us.
“This is place. Morgiv go no further. Morgiv afraid.” He was pointing straight forward, into the darkness. “There, Hidden Beast.”
“When we come back, you’ll be waiting for us?” Harsk asked the pathetic humanoid. He nodded frantically in response. Another set of famous last words.
“Light please”, Alfred asked Alice, business-like, and she magicked a light source into the sellsword’s shield. After stretching his neck and rolling his shoulders, he took point and started forward, the lightbeam of his shield showing him the way. Bow at the ready, I followed him the others at my back.

**

The way was short, and very soon Alfred emerged from the narrow tunnel of dirt and cobblestones into a large open space, a gallery of sorts deep underground, its vaulted ceiling supported by thick pillars of granite. Here and there in the walls hung everburning torches, offering just enough light for a normal person to see that Alice removed the light magic from Alfred’s shield. I quickly pulled out the wand of Gravity Bow, shook it and said the words. The wand made a slight humming sound and the Carmine Avenger trembled before burning veins of energy appeared briefly along its length. I smiled. Finally.

At the gallery’s center was a slab-like dais and on top of it a throne. It was occupied by a hunched skeletal figure wearing dusty robes, and the figure addressed us in a gurgling language I could not understand. Saffron, at the back, heard what it said and translated what was necessary. “He asks who wants to offer him his or her blood, and calls himself our lord.”
“Sounds like the Hidden Beast”, I muttered the dry quip.
“No-one”, Harsk snarled his response to the beast’s question and that was Alfred’s cue. He launched himself into a charge towards the skeleton at the throne, but I was faster. Drawing a blunt-headed arrow from my quiver, I took quick aim and shot it straight into the Hidden Beasts skull. It went cleanly through and struck the headrest of the stony throne. Upon impact, the robed skeleton vanished completely. I frowned at that, before the realization dawned.

“It’s an illusion”, I shouted the warning. We were in the middle of yet another trap.

The battle was joined by several nastier versions of Morgiv’s kind, who appeared from balconies overhead and screaming viciously leaped into the fray around us. Alfred was guffawing and taunting them to come to him. Alice let out a battle-cry of her own and charged with Harsk to support the sellsword in melee. All the while, I kept searching for the main objective. Where was the Hidden Beast?

I didn’t have to look for long. From tiny fissures around the dais I noticed gas beginning to float upwards. The gas started quickly to take a hideous form of a ten-tentacled undead monster. It was a size of a horse carriage, and its body was just a leering head with a massive mouth filled with teeth like short swords. With milky orbs for eyes it gazed hungrily, assessing each of us in turn as its minions fought us. It was invisible, and thought we couldn’t see it. But when it rotated its slob-like body towards me, I locked eyes with it, and its satisfied sneer turned to rage. “Watch out, the beast is in the air above the dais”, I warned the others and selected undead-bane shafts from my quiver. You had one chance and you missed it, I told it in my mind.

Saffron was the last to emerge into the gallery proper but she had heard my warning and heeded it. Acting fast, she dispelled magics around the dais, and succeeded in pulling the shroud of invisibility off the vampiric monster. Mister Jenkins was working as well from her shoulder and blasted a black ray from his tiny paw/hand. It hit the tentacle monster and immediately it began to veer away from the fight. A half a dozen mirror images of its sick form appeared, and it bean to flick in and out of existence randomly. It had underestimated us and was now paying dearly for it.

By my command, Dûath charged into combat with the nearest vampiric skulks and I focused on the retreating abomination. “Negate its defensive magics”, I shouted as I took aim, hoping someone with the relevant capabilities would heed my request. The pale-faced magus was dueling with a vampire, her back against the dwarf’s who shouted oaths of holy war and held the enemies at bay with his blessed longsword. Alfred was already bathed in ichor-like blood and had left a trail of corpses at his wake. He too was single-mindedly going for the Hidden Beast. Saffron worked her magic, spitting words that coalesced into runes in the air before her and the false mirror images exploded into non-physical shards. “Your turn, Master Alpharius”, she shouted back at me. Shaft after shaft twanged from my bow in a furious volley, but barely a few hit the monster as it was still displacing and evading my wrath. Seeing its minions fall to our might it hooted and roared in rage and went into the offensive, its fat tentacles rippling and striking at the sellsword. “Disgusting”, Alfred cursed as the slime-covered tentacles slapped against his shield and armor, trying to grab and choke him, and he parried once so powerfully with his battle-axe that it cut one of the appendages in half. The Beast’s cry of pain filled the gallery.

Harsk cut the last alive skulk’s head apart and turned to regard the writhing mass of tentacles and teeth. “Finish that wretched beast”, he shouted the command. I was more than happy to oblige. Even its displacement magic didn’t save it from my flaming arrows that blossomed into explosions upon impact. Alfred became a whirlwind of destruction, hacking madly, severing tentacle after tentacle. As its last desperate attempt, the Hidden Beast floated up, away from the sellsword’s rampage. It got maybe three strides before its body was impaled by two searing rays of fire and it fell to the cobblestones like a bag of rotten meat.

Alfred approached the bloated, ruined carcass with little caution and struck it once with a powerful overhead blow. A wet crunch followed and monster blood and tissue spattered around, a most satisfying sight if any. “Yup, it’s dead”, he informed us over his shoulder and asked Harsk to pass over his magical bottomless tankard of beer.
“See, that wasn’t so hard now was it”, Alice asked me as she was cleaning remains of vampires from her scimitar and leather armor. “Being a hero”, she added.
“Yeah, I feel so much better about myself now”, I replied dryly and went to look for bane arrows I could still re-use. Those things were expensive.

TO NEXT CHAPTER

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  1. Pingback: 59. Crossing the boundary | Journal of a Ranger - Pathfinder Campaign Stories

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