Defenders of Autumn

Rear Guard

What could possibli go wrong?

If you prefer your stories brief, I am not usually the one you should seek, but I’ll try.

Meet our heroes, a charming rogue with great natural power named Blue, a Gnome of the Gnorth (and recently ex-babysitter of wealthy children) Gnaomi, the living statue of an ancient goddess brought to life Mur, and a curiously non-savage, non-cannibalistic lizardfolk (desert variety) named Mort who was even more curiously a musical genius.

Not all of them were looking for adventure when this whole thing began. Oh sure, they were all of the adventuring type and currently with spaces to fill their schedules, but truth be told only one of them was truly interested in the job that night.

Heh, that job. “Rear guard duty”. So bad, so unwanted that even after Blue’s “offensive negotiations” backfired these four ended up getting it: the crappy job that would end up changing Autumn forever.

Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

So yeah, “offensive negotiations”… it turns out they were so offensive some red-skinned humans took it upon express their displeasure. With maces.

Guess they’d never heard not to anger a Gnome of the Gnorth before. Or a whatchacallit, animated-ancient-goddess-statue either, because the two of them tore through those humans so fast half of ‘em didn’t have enough time to put expressions of surprise on their faces. For their leader that might be for the best ‘cause Mur tore his belly open with her scythe and then stuffed his corpse into a dumpster, and I’d hate to be buried with a big “What’s going on” look on my face.

Then she just, walked away. They say she’s a holy warrior, but she gives me the creeps.

Sorry, I was going to make this short…

Ok, so they headed out to the crappy little outpost they needed to hold for three days. (That’s weird, isn’t it? Why?). Turns out some Warbling Mushrooms had sprouted across the road. Normally that’d be a really unpleasant time for everyone but that Mur explained matter-of-factly that they could put Deadmoss in their ears to block the painful sound.

Then she killed and harvested them, noting their use in the creation of healing potions. I tell you, I’ve seen entire caravans gone mad by Warbling Shrooms and that… statue dealt with them like they were nothing. Creeps, I tell you.

They also had a wolf pack threaten them, but that wasn’t a problem either. Gnaomi used her Gnomish War Kazoo to becalm the pack. One of them even seemed to form a bond with her, though it left with the rest.

They got to the outpost, with general orders to keep the area secure and head off any threats to the town of Autumn itself. Almost the instant the six former guards guards were out of earshot, a Kobold warband attacked, lead by their “Hero” who shouted “Now there are less! For the Tribe! Attack!”

Now, Kobolds are a bit of a terror for your average farmhand but truth be told most adventurers don’t give them a lot of respect. This party, though… they downright honored those Kobolds… by wiping them out nearly instantly.

Blue’s Scorching Ray tore through the entire pack of Kobold Archers, killing them all. One lived long enough to let loose a final arrow, but then died to the magical burns sizzling across his flesh. (Critical Hit on Mooks plus Ongoing damage)

Gnaomi just ran flat out to nearly the entire pack of Kobolds giving all of them clear chances to strike her before she became a whirling dervish of axe chops and pointed headbutts. She didn’t hold back one bit. That’s respect.

Mur walked from Kobold to Kobold, silently and efficiently ending them with her scythe, while Mort hurled insults that his Bardic magic used to sew chaos and finally stop the Kobold Hero’s heart. (Befuddle and a Battle Chant killing blow, both on the Kobold Hero).

OK, OK, three out of four respected the Kobolds.

The Kobold Hero bore a map and her instructions:

“The Tribe must flee. The champions of the tribe must flee first to find safety. Fleeing first is true Kobold courage. It is the way of survival for the Tribe. Kobold champions must make the fleeing-place safe. If the Tribe cannot flee, the Tribe will perish to the Oncoming Storm. Nothing is more important than the Tribe. Fight. Do not flee.
Unless you get really hurt, then you can flee. You’re not super kobolds.”

Gnaomi explained they needed to collapse the Kobold burrow or more would threaten Autumn.

It was around this time that young wolf made an appearance. That made Gnaomi very happy, I’ll tell ya. It’s too runty to be any help in combat, but already seems to be following simple commands.

They left Mort behind to watch the guard post and followed the map, which lead through a treacherously deep swamp. Using some of the Warbling Shrooms from before, Blue created a ritual of ice-walking, causing their path to ice up ahead of them and de-ice behind as they walked. A little more slowly and carefully than before, they resumed their way to what appeared to be the mouth of an ancient tomb, its interior blanketed by a mountain rockfall in ages past.

A giant stone door was slightly ajar. Gnaomi saw Kobold tracks leading from the doorway, as well as two more tracks heading in. They signified a pair of humanoids who’d wedged the door open enough for themselves to get in and the kobolds out.

“Probably human,” Gnaomi snorted, “They’d do something this foolish.”

Mur pulled the large stone door off its hinges.

“What about this Kobold burrow-hole?” Blue asked, pointing at the small tunnel breaking through a weakness in the stone floor.

Wordlessly, Mur hefted the huge stone door and dropped it flat across the hole.

“Fixed,” she stated as her head turned to peer into the darkness of the tomb as if she’d seen it somewhere before, and was trying to match memory with what she could see in the dim light now spilling in.

Armored statues lined the walls while columns etched with tales of heroism and the proud kingdom it spawned lined what was once a majestic carpet, but was now simply slightly different colored dirt.

Spurred on by her vision, Mur made her way inside, followed (of course) by the rest. Stairs led to a dais guarded by two skeleton warriors, all that was left of a once-noble afterlife honor guard. Things were made more difficult by an opportunistic Ghoul and its two “recent hires”, the two foolish humans who’d opened the tomb were now newly-risen Ghouls. It was founding a new nest with free door guards!

The undead were dispatched without much trouble. (So little trouble I didn’t even take notes. Lots of 20s were rolled by the players.)

Mur’s vision lead her to open the crumbling sarcophagi, revealing the dusty remains of an ancient king. Across the remains was what appeared to be a large halberd blade with a wicked curve. As Mur reached to pick it up, everyone in the tomb felt a pulse of connection.

As Mur worked to placed the relic on the haft of her simple farmer’s scythe the source of the blade became clear. The claw of a massive dragon had been sharpened by skills long-lost, into this, “The Claw of Furious Vengeance,” Mur announced to her party’s quizzical expressions, as though it explained everything.

Gnaomi and Blue exchanged glances. Sure, their holy warrior has a cool new magic weapon, but… dragons don’t lose their claws. And most of them, good or bad, don’t take kindly to people (or living statues) using their remains as tools.

Also, why is Blue’s hand smoking?

“Why are we standing around? Did you FORGET?”

(to be concluded — we ran out of time before the finale encounter which will happen first thing next session!)


joefulgham joefulgham

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