Holy crap, an Ogre
The members of The Oriflamme, having rested peacefully in their tower after their rough treatment by Kruthik, awoke to a bustling Winterhaven. They took stake of the information they had collected to date. The group had uncovered a number of hints pointing at a larger threat than could be explained by Kalathel’s alone. The party could rest for a time, taking advantage of the good will of the people of Winterfell. But it seemed clear their current work was unfinished. Resolving to see it through the party gathered up their gear and the horses they had been loaned. They resolved to head off to the Keep to find Marla Stonemantle. The note they had found on the hobgoblin’s corpse in the Kruthik cave indicated a threat to her expedition within the keep. They would compare this with Marla’s information and determine where their next move should be. They left town shortly after daybreak.
They took the road north, believing it clear and wishing to save time. They began to notice signs of traffic along the side of the road. The tracks paralleled the road but avoided traveling directly upon it, and included at least one set of enormous prints. Their diligence was rewarded when the noticed the tracks head of into the forest. The party resolved to track them down, fearing that the direction of track marked an attempted surreptitious approach to the keep. The impressive tracking skills of their newest member, Zim, lead them to the track’s creators. Two Bugbear, a couple strange drakes and an Ogre were resting in a clearing. The party moved into position and launched an attack from cover. Their surprise was not complete, however, and the fight was quickly joined. Jigjo, who thought he was well hidden, was disheartened to find a drake rushing directly at his hiding place. The creature impaled the diminutive goblin on it’s horns. Jigjo would spend the entire fight locked in a fight for his life with this creature. The remaining monstrous adversaries charged the main party, knocking them off their feet with powerful blows. The team recovered and focused their fire to good effect. The Ogre fell first, followed by one of the drakes. The two Bugbear persisted for a while but were finally overcome. Jigjo, in critical condition from the horns, teeth and claws of his adversary, finally defeated his foe. The party rested briefly after the fight. Their search of the bodies revealed only an additional copy of the note and map they carried with them, to their utter disappointment. Rested, they proceeded to the Keep.
Their arrival at the keep was welcomed by a couple of Marla’s guards. They explained the situation and directed the party to Marla. She was found in the second level, in the hobgoblin barracks. The team showed Marla the note they had brought. For Marla’s part she shared what information she had gleaned from the commander’s notes and maps. Both Marla and the party determined that something larger was going on, and the threat originated to the west… in the wild lands of Droam. Resolving to see this through the party left immediately and headed west along the route indicated on the hobgoblin’s map.
The Oriflamme traveled until nightfall and made camp in a small copse of trees. They posted a watch and rested for the night. Despite Morat’s watchful eye, the first sign of trouble was when shadowy tentacles appeared around Jigjo, Ashdown and Ryu. These three were awakened in pain as the malevolent bonds constricted around them. Morat turned at the approach of 5 shadowy figures from the edge of the trees. He quickly lit off a Fireball at them all but it exploded high to disappointing affect. The next several seconds saw Ryu surrounded and bloodied by 4 well armored shadowy warriors. A fifth assailant emerged from the forest and attempted to flank the party. A hideous creature with two fleshy tentacles erupting from its shoulder blades. It lashed out at Morat, and threatened to rip into the party’s back line. Ashdown, still bound, assessed the situation and identified this tentacled horror to be the greatest threat. Ash ripped off a malevolent lick from his bandore, burning the monster with the power of his awesome solo. Refocusing his assault, Ashdown acted again and followed up his initial lick with a stunning reprise. The foul creature would now be rocked by the echo of these assaults each time it was hit, taking damage and inspiring its assailant. Morat saw an opportunity, and was faced with a moral dilemma. All of the attackers were in range of one of his most devastating spells. But to hit them, he’d have to hit Ryu too. Ryu was severely wounded but the opportunity was too great, and Morat was still angry over the botched fireball. Throwing caution to the wind, and Ryu under the bus, Morat unleashed hell from his hands. The most powerful burst of fire Morat had ever conjured erupted forth, engulfing all before him. The screams of the assailants filled the countryside, as Ryu slumped to the ground… a mass of burned and bleeding flesh. As Ryu fell, Morat acted again and summoned a fountain of flame around the 4 soldiers now surrounding Ruy’s inert form. Fortunately for Ryu, Ashdown was nearby and came to his rescue quickly. Ryu had slipped one step closer to death’s waiting embrace before Ashdown brought him back. Morat’s cold tactical assessment left the four assaulting warriors reeling, and they were quickly dispatched by the party. The tentacled horror followed them. The Oriflamme had earned their name.
With the assailants defeated, the party commenced to searching the bodies. Again, no valuable items were found on the corpses. However, a strange stone was found on the tentacled creature along with a note. It was a smooth, grey stone… flat like a river rock. It seemed completely normal in Morat’s hand, but emitted tendrils of shadowy energy whenever it was touched by Ryu, Ashdown or Jigjo. Unsure of it’s purpose the party resolved to keep the stone for further study. The note was translated by Ryu but little could be made of it’s message. The party secured the camp, and resolved to get what was a now a much needed rest. Fortunately the only excitement came from a inquisitive bear that quickly wandered off without causing any disturbance.
Note on the body of the tentacled creature (with Ryu’s translation)