Elemental Tide

Back in The Saddle

Scavenger settlement. The mere was a scene of massive battle from the past. The people here venture into the swamp searching for lost treasures.
Opening Encounter: The party sees the settlement, after setting up camp. Campfires and torches. The Mere gives off an eerie swamp glow, slightly illuminating everything within the area.
Small settlement is being attacked by the Abyssal Spawn. Surprisingly, the town people need no aid. They are made up of hearty folk, even the women are armed and use their weapons proficiently.
Whispers of the “Ravenger” are told around the campfires as being the only being the people fear.
Meet the Ravenger
Injure Tryst," a sickening crunch is heard as the beast’s fist connects to Tryst. Blood can be seen oozing from Tryst’s mouth and nose. Again the Beast strikes Tryst pounding him into the ground."
Have the party seek out, a healer. Meet Pierce

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Callindra’s Diary; The Ravenger

“So I suppose you’re here for the same reason as the rest of us eh?” Said the man sitting next to her at the bar, taking a pull from the large earthenware mug of the thick bitter brew they called Bog Ale, “Fortune and glory. There’s so much treasure out there it’s a wonder the whole world isn’t combing this marsh.”

She glanced around the crowded common room of The Drunken Thief taking in the contrast of the roughhewn tables and benches with the piles of glittering gemstones, gold and finely worked weapons that were being sorted on many of them.

“I can see the Fortune from here, but this place seems to be a little lacking of the other. My idea of Glory doesn’t include grubbing around in the dirt for some spare change.” She sampled from her own mug and sighed in satisfaction, “At least the drink measures up.”

“You’re lippy for a little tyke you know that? I suppose you acquit yourself pretty well with that toothpick of yours though, I think I saw you split one of those critters in half.” He looked at the two foot sword hilt extending above her left shoulder with grudging respect. “I haven’t seen a blade like that before, where’d you find it?”

“He was a gift.” She replied shortly, the memory of the man who had given it to her and taught her how to use it still fresh in her mind. The Winds sensed her mood and a slight gust blew the tangle of her hair back from her face, accentuating the vines that twined through it to wrap around her brow, the tiny flowers in it twinkling like jewels. “Brightfang is my companion.” The breeze shook the mithril chain that ran from the weighted pommel to a shackle on her wrist causing it to jingle merrily.

His eyebrows rose, “A bonded blade? Well that explains the chain I suppose. If you aren’t here for the gold then why the hells are you here? As you so bluntly pointed out there isn’t much more to this place than that.” A few other patrons who were close by had started to pay attention to the conversation.

“Callindra, are these gentleman giving you any trouble?” A hulking figure in mirror polished plate mail with a large round shield on his left arm approached the bar, setting a large battle hammer down with a resounding thud.

“You’re not bothering our sister are you?” A low voice asked, as a hand extended unseen from the shadows to rest on the shoulder of the man Callindra had been speaking with. He flinched in spite of himself, his skin crawling as though he had been touched by a corpse.

“There’s a misunderstanding, we were just having a casual conversation.” The man stood and backed away from the bar, coming into contact with a youth in black leather whose face told a story of pain beyond his years. Two bastard swords were nestled in a harness that crossed his back, their size looking almost comical until the way he moved spoke of his proficiency with them.

“Good. We don’t want any problems.” Vylhelm said, flicking a gold at the bartender who deftly batted it over his shoulder into an unseen cashbox and handed over another tankard of Bog Ale.

Callindra looked at her brothers and rolled her eyes, “You guys are so overprotective.”

“I wasn’t worried about your safety little sister, I was more concerned that you’d get us thrown out of here.” Tryst’s absurdly pretty face creased in a frown as he looked past her at the massive man with a battle club the size of a small tree who stood by the door, “We need to get information here.”

“Whatever, I’m going to go see if that little bald dude wants to toss some dice.” She stood and carried her ponderous tankard over to a table where a small man was inspecting some gems. “You up for a game old man?”

“Pull up a chair youngster, 50 gold buy in.” He rattled a dice cup and Callindra threw ten platinum on the table with a shrug. Tossing the dice, she grinned.

“Small straight, not bad. You might have trouble beating that.”

He deftly scooped the dice and spun them onto the table. Just before they stopped rolling his hand flickered as to move his wager into the center of the table, but Callindra saw him tap one of the dice with his sleeve, causing it to alter its course. Rather than cause a scene, she flicked a finger and sent a tiny zephyr out to make the die roll randomly again.

“What have I told you about funny business?” The bouncer was fast and quiet, she hadn’t seen or heard him approach. “When you cheat the patrons they don’t have money to drink.”

“There’s no problem, we just want to dice.” Callindra was enjoying herself and didn’t really give a shit about the money.

Letting go of the little man who darted away leaving his wager on the table, the bouncer turned his gaze towards her and flexed his tree trunk arms. “We. Don’t. Gamble. Here.”

Callindra tossed her head back and laughed, “You mean to tell me that you throw caution to the winds to live in this shithole, gambling with your very LIVES for a few coins and yet you frown on tossing dice? You people astound me.”

“Go spend your money elsewhere. We don’t gamble here.” He folded his massive arms across his chest and Callindra sauntered out of the tavern, her blade tether rattling and jingling in some unseen draft, still chuckling.

Once outside she allowed her eyes to adjust to the darkness and after surveying her options, chose a campfire with a few capable looking warriors she had seen in the fighting earlier over the caravan. The hard, adult eyes of the children who peeked out a window at her were unnerving.

“Mind if I join you?” The man jerked his eyes from the flickering flames and glanced up at her.

“Ahh- well…” He stammered, obviously about to tell her to leave until he saw she was proffering a flask. “Yeah of course you can. Thanks.” He shifted slightly to one side on the log he was sitting on and she sat down heavily next to him.

Callindra took out her pipe and tobacco from The Dry House and tamped the bowl full. Before accepting the flask back she concentrated for a second and a thin streamer of smoke trailed from her mouth. Sighing in satisfaction she exhaled a plume of smoke, took the flask back and took a swallow.

“So, you here for fortune and glory too?” She asked giving the fighter next to her a sidelong glance. “Or do you actually have scruples?” His leather armor had seen some use as had the twin long daggers he was polishing.

“Well mainly for fortune.” He replied with a dry chuckle. “There’s a lot of money out in the swamp if you’re willing to pay the price for it. I think I saw you out there in the fray earlier. Once you get a little older and a little less impatient you’ll be one helluva fighter you know? That flip almost cost you more than you bet on. How ‘bout you? What’re you here for if not for fortune?”

“At least you’re honest. I’m here because my brothers and I have a job to do. We’re looking for an artifact of some importance and we have reason to believe it’s probably here somewhere. My luck it’s probably in the bottom of the swamp.” She blew a few smoke rings and fidgeted with the shackles on her wrists.

“Heh so you’re here for the same thing we all are in spite of your high and mighty talk. No shame in it you know. In fact I could use some more good help, the weaklings keep dying off in my hunting party and only the suicidal go out in small groups. How ‘bout it? You want to join up with us?” He stuck out his hand, “I’m Gabriel by the way.”

Callindra gripped his forearm in a swordsman’s clasp, “Callindra. I’ll have to ask my brothers. Gabriel, that’s a strangely angelic name for someone with your outlook on the world.”

“Yeah, my old man wanted me to enter the priesthood. I never could stomach all that silence and the wardrobe leaves something to be desired too.” A familiar and dangerous scent struck her nostrils and she looked sharply to the sky.

“Night lights are out again tonight I see.” Wisps of vapor that glowed with a sickly green phosphorescence trailed from the swamp to wrap around one of the caravan wagons.

Callindra reached over her shoulder to loosen Brightfang in his sheath. Gabriel’s hand strayed towards the hilts of his knives, watching her nervously. “You smell that?” She asked, ignoring him.

He inhaled deeply, “Yeah, sulphur.” Suddenly the wagon that had been enclosed in the vapor exploded as a massive figure seemingly made of black stone with glowing green lava pulsating under the surface landed on it. Raising its head to the sky it let loose a scream of rage, hunger and longing.

“Oh FUCK it’s the Ravenger! Callindra, we gotta get out of here now!” He grabbed for Callindra’s hand and started backing away while the entire caravan burst into unholy green fire.

“You asked why I’m here Gabriel?” Callindra stood and unsheathed Brightfang whose steely ring sang eagerly in the night air. “This is why. Sometimes there are things that are so wrong they must be opposed. The forces of chaos must not be allowed to run free.”

“Nothing survives The Ravenger Callindra; come with me and live to fight another day!” Some people were running screaming into the night while others ducked behind the Drunken Thief’s imposing doors.

“I’d rather die with honor than live a coward. Pick up your blades and prove your worth.” She hefted Brightfang and thought to herself, “So this is the Ravenger eh? Those innocents are going to be killed unless I take it on. I’m sure Tryst will be here soon, there’s no way he’ll be able to avoid feeling this evil presence.” She sprinted towards the monstrosity without hesitation.

As she approached, pain seared her body. The air around the creature burned and her tiara began sprouting tendrils that attempted to heal the damage. Spinning Brightfang in a tight arc she struck at the creature’s leg but it contemptuously brushed her off with a massive fist, sending her cartwheeling away.

Slamming her hand down, Callindra flipped back onto her feet and skidded to a stop. Swinging Brightfang in a complicated series of arcs she began chanting, bending the winds of the weave to her will. The arcane sigils on the blade shone with flickering white light and the sword itself started to tremble violently under the pressure of the forces being focused upon it. Sweat broke out on her brow as she invoked the most powerful spell she knew. She was so intent on casting she didn’t notice her brother exiting a small tent next to The Drunken Thief.

Without warning a giant wave of mud erupted from the ground as Vylhelm lifted it to hurl at The Ravenger. Before it could reach the creature it hardened into a solid wall from the heat the monster was generating. Dreadful intelligence pulsed behind its eyes; it knew Callindra was using powerful magic. With a single punch it shattered the wall between them, sending chunks of hardened mud flying. The winds whirled and deflected the larger pieces but couldn’t protect her from the other massive fist that slammed into her chest, rendering her unconscious.

A familiar golden light shone gently in her eyes and Callindra knew Tryst had arrived to give her healing.

“Thanks brother. With your help we won’t be defeated.” She stood on shaky legs, “Damn, he hit me harder than I thought.” Breathing was painful, she was sure she had cracked ribs. Several cracked ribs if the grating sound when she readied her sword was anything to judge by.

“We have to run! This is hopeless, there’s no way we can beat it!” Vylhelm was looking at the shattered remains of his most powerful attack, holding a javelin in either hand.

“Running away is for the weak! Besides even if we run it’s fast enough to take at least one of us down.” She inhaled deeply, the pollen from the tiny flowers blooming on her brow acting as a slight anesthetic and taking the edge off the pain. “The only kind of running I’m going to do is running straight at it.” Callindra sprinted towards the monster but it brushed the attack off without even looking at her, turning its back to her to focus on her brothers.

“Don’t underestimate me MOTHERFUCKER!” Reaching into the sealed case at her side, Callindra withdrew a piece of vellum, yellowed with age and began reciting the arcana scribed upon it. The symbols began twisting around The Ravenger, breaking through a barrier of magic resistance and nearly transforming it into an unmoving statue of stone.

The creature screamed in rage as the fires burning on the surface of its skin guttered and flickered, the spell coming close to putting them out. It raised its huge fists to slam them into Tryst, smashing him against the protection spell that surrounded The Drunken Thief. “Don’t turn your back on me like I’m some insignificant insect! Turn and FACE ME!”

Callindra’s body protested the movement but she forced it to move, attacking The Ravenger from behind. She dropped to one knee to avoid the backswing on another massive punch and slashed it behind the left knee. A fountain of scorching ichor fanned out from the wound but the Winds finally remembered their loyalty and protected her from the scalding substance.

Now that she had its attention Callindra was having wondering if maybe this had been the worst in a string of reckless decisions she had made. With a look bordering on pity The Ravenger backhanded her, shattering her already cracked ribs and flinging her aside. That look of pity burned in Callindra’s memory as consciousness blessedly fled.

Back in The Saddle
Tryst21

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