The tempo of battle and blood slows down. Shaking the newly acquired ache from his muscular frame, Gargosh lit a cigar, letting the the first draw of tobacco calm his blood rage and proceeded to tear off one of the fangs from the recently felled drake. Ennui, seeing that her comrade was in manageable shape, began to investigate the farm house, looking for any sign of the stray child’s family. Dirym, too, made his way inside, checking out the main common room of the house. Invoking his gods’ gift, he reached out through his Craft, searching for any signs of magic. He felt (more than saw) faint motes of magic, seeming to emanate from the back of the house, though it was nothing that noted even the lowest of magic. But what caught his attention were the sickening and slick trails of blood that smeared the floors. Following one such trail led to a half-eaten corpse, the lower half of a body in a simple blue country dress. Gargosh came inside the destroyed structure, noting the streaks of blood with a slight twitch of his trollkin nose. Ennui, moved on to the next room, seeing another corpse. This one, a male human by appearances, was head to toe intact, but not without harm. His stomach was rent wide open, revealing the half chewed crimson and blue worms of intestines. Choking back her shock and nausea, she joined the other two in the main room as they each relayed to one another what was found.
As Dirym made motions to further examine the faint motes of magic that he detected earlier, the sounds of the forest that had began to slowly come back disappeared again as the gunshot sound of wood cracking signaled something was out in front of the house. Taking a covered position at the front door, Ennui peered outside but saw nothing. Gargosh and Dirym noticed, however, that the child’s bloodied teddy bear was lying unaccompanied at the base of the tree where the little girl had been previously instructed to climb. Rushing outside, the group saw a new trail of destruction that left the area, making its way north of the farmhouse and into the swamp of Widower’s Wood… but no sign of the child.
The group quickly races to catch up with whatever creature may have taken off with the girl, plunging into the heart of the woods. Gargosh noticed the scintillating scales of what appear to be another forest drake, but it is commented that the coloration on this new creature appear deeper and darker in hue, suggesting an older and possibly bigger drake that they now pursue. With conviction sourced from some secret place, Dirym tells the group that he must return to the farmhouse to retrieve his horse, Gwint, but that he vows to hunt down the creature that seemingly took the child. Gargosh and Ennui stay on the trail so as not to risk losing it as Dirym backtracks the short distance to the clearing of the house. Returning shortly, Dirym offers the mount to Ennui (much to her surprise) as he and Gargosh aid each other in tracking the drake. Further along the trail, the Dirym grimly notices a strip of bloodied cloth, matching the child’s dress, lying on the cold ground.
As the group pushed forward in hot pursuit of the quarry, they fortuitously happen upon the Witches’ Tomb, the crypt they had originally set out for. But noting that the trail of the new drake led further away, north by northeast through the woods, the group quickly decides to continue hunting their prey.
An hour later, the group stumbles out onto the main northern road out from the city. With winter’s early evening drawing around them, a decision is quickly made to make camp a bit away from the traveled courseway and continue to pursue the drake in the morning. Ranging for food, only Gargosh found any, and with no rations (as there was no previous plan to be outside of the city overnight), the group was looking at a difficult evening and morning. But just as Gargosh was sharing his meager findings with the group, a thought came to him and he suggested that they backtrack to the house and the fallen drake and make a meal of the carcass (seared, of course). Dirym offered to ride back and recover what he could while Ennui and Gargosh made camp.
Spurring his horse to make haste, Dirym quickly travels along the main road to where it branched west to the farmhouse. There, aided by his elven eyes in the growing darkness of evening, Dirym makes quick work to cut portions of what he hopes are the best meat from the dead corpse of the drake. Almost as an afterthought, he manages to cut the head of the beast free. Going back inside the home, Dirym investigates the softly glowing motes of magic that he had previously seen. In the main bedroom, he discovers several vials of liquid smashed to the ground, but one still intact. By sample taste and smell, he surmises that it must be a healing potion, though alchemical (rather than magical) in nature. About to leave, he notices that an even fainter glow of magic seems to emanate from underneath the floorboards. Prying them loose, he discovers a small, but sturdy iron-bound chest, secured by a crude locket. He brings the chest outside and, after fashioning a make-shift litter to pull behind his horse, places it and the head of the drake in tow of his horse. Figuring that the party will welcome the trophy and chest, he slowly returns back to the camp.
Sitting around the crackling fire, Gargosh and Ennui began to tell stories of their lives, mostly of Gargosh regaling Ennui with tales of the various bars he’s gotten drunk in, and thrown out of. Just as laughter settles in on the camp of two, the tell-tale double THRUMP! of bow strings brings both comrades back to attention, as a hail of crude arrows showers into their midst. With a couple of arrows finding some purchase into Ennui and Gargosh, both teammates begin to circle outside the light of the campfire. Gargosh’s trollkin darkvision enables him to quickly happen upon a group of three or four, one of whom appears to be the leader, while Ennui rushes the other side of camp to confront a second group of combatants. From the indecipherable yet unmistakable grunts and barks, the two easily make their bandits to be swamp gobbers, backwoods cousins to the gobbers and bogrins of the big cities. Surrounded by two of the nasty creatures, Gargosh lets out the discordant bellow of a trollkin war cry, leaving one gobber literally shaking in his boots. Taking the opportunity, Gargosh sends another message with his great maul, landing a solid hit to the second gobber in front of him, dropping the creature like a sack of rocks. Yet even as he struck dead the first gobber, he hears a calm and soothing voice speak before him, telling him to lay down his weapon and stop fighting. But before the suggestion can take a hold, Gargosh is able to shake the sensation and recognize the magic charm for what it is. Running up to confront the voice, he comes face to face with a very surprised and now very scared gobber chanter and its guard.
Ennui, swimming through another volley of arrows, manages to free her father’s pistol from its holster and squeeze off a shot of her own, as she sights a pair of gobber archers just out of the camp fire’s glare. Even as one of the gobbers begins to notch and pull its next arrow, the bullet flies right down the long axis of wooden-shafted munition, burying itself deep inside the gobber’s skull. Threatened by two gobbers with rusty short swords, Ennui takes a hit from one of the gobber’s cruel metal weapon that cuts deeply. But fires off the second barrel of her gun into its chest, dropping it dead in its tracks. Loosing her polished longsword, she threatens the remaining gobber, managing to scare it away as it tears off into the darkness of night.
Meanwhile, Gargosh lands another solid blow with his great maul, easily dispatching the gobber chanter’s head from its body. The remaining guard takes a half-hearted swing at the trollkin and then attempts to flee. This proves fatal to the gobber as Gargosh sends it further on its way into the woods with a windmill hit from his great maul that shatters the creatures spine and sends the crumpled body ten feet from the victorious trollkin.
Piling the dead bodies of the gobbers near the campfire as further warning to any others that might try and disturb them, Gargosh and Ennui tend to their wounds as Dirym rides back into the circle of the campfire’s light, with his treasures in tow. Dirym, spying freshly bound wounds on his comrades and a pile of dead gobbers near the fire, asks what has happened and is appraised of the situation. Nodding his head, he displays the drake’s head and small wooden chest, as drake steaks are quickly prepared over the fire. Opening the chest, Dirym is bathed in the low, yet unmistakable glow of magic as the chest reveals…