“Stress is the demon in our society, stalking the cities and the countryside, striking down young and old and growing in strength daily.”
When our weary adventurers decided to fully retire for the night at the Red Ass Inn, each individual paired up with another to make certain no one slept alone. With three rooms graciously offered to them via the spooked Innkeeper, and an evening well spent observing Tumdrum’s gallant bardic performances, everything seemed to end on a very relaxed note. And yet, in these fiend-filled lands within the Kou Kingdom, it comes as no surprise the lulls many commoners, and even royalty, have, are often the calms before turbulent storms. In a world of strife where existing may even mean fighting to stay alive each and every single day, how, pray tell, will the adventurers continue to fair?
With their night’s rest interrupted by an uninvited (and very fiery) visitor, Millie, Tanna, and the others awaken to the sound of combat beginning to occur in another room. Sliding doors opened would reveal the presence of a fiend, a Charred Oni, who’s attention was mostly set on Tumdrum, the adventurers bard. A dwarf with the strangest and most mysterious of paths before him, it becomes quickly clear, after Kaleth questions the assaulting fiend, he is being hunted now more than ever. A Bounty Hunter dead set on taking Tumdrum for his own, Westin is swift to come to Tumdrum’s side and aid him, as well as Millie. With Deedee ferociously barreling down wooden-floor hallways to come to the rescue too, Tanna, nimble and sneaky as ever, takes a few sniping shots at the Charred Oni to help defeat him.
The Charred Oni, refusing to be cowed so easily, summoned a lesser elemental in the fight, setting the upper floor of the inn ablaze. Alas, a plan backfired once or twice, Tumdrum’s trusty sword, Frostband, dampens out the initial fire. Once the Bounty Hunter and its summoned elemental are defeated, the fires are put out. Alas, the rattled Innkeeper is given curt explanations, as per Kale and Tumdrum’s quick thinking, and for the rest of the night, they remain in their quarters; however, Kaleth chooses to stand guard in front of Tumdrum and Westin’s burned down doorway for the rest of the night, though she manages to get three to four hours of rest in the earliest part of the morning.
A little coin is offered as restitution to the Innkeeper in the morning, and after eating a meal, the group is swift to try to head out of Aki. Conversations between the members of the party ensue, but as they reach the outskirts of Aki it becomes readily apparent farmers from the farms outside of Aki are, with their families, quickly traveling into town. Kale stops to speak to a frightened farmer and in the midst of translations, it becomes clear violence also occurred outside of Aki overnight. Men, women, and children dead, their heads taken, the mention of a man impaled on a wall leaves some of the group chilled to the bone. The party agrees to set out to see what happened. Given the heavy presence of farmland outside of Aki, if agriculture production were to fall to ruin because of this incident, it might not bode well for New Dawnsburg. Perhaps a hasty conclusion, but sometimes… sometimes it is better to peer into a mystery than to avoid it altogether.
This mystery, however, was not a mystery; rather, butchery. Tanna’s keen senses, and newfound perception, picks up on the presence of something that doesn’t seem natural to the Natural Plane. Singed hoofprints. Tumdrum and the others look around, and after a little more discussion and realization of what they may be very well dealing with, its decided they will investigate further. Tethering their horses back at the farmhouse, they choose to follow after the hoofprints, believing fully now they are dealing with yet another fiend. Do the fiends visiting the Natural Plane truly have no end?
Encountering yet another devil, a headless fiend riding upon a nightmare, yet another fiend from the shadowy plane beyond, the party believes they are ready to deal with this otherworldly threat. Alas, the entity is wielding a vorpal blade and several a time during the battle, he nearly severs the head off of a party member. Flaming skulls, mayhaps even the very trophies which the fiend took from the headless victims back at the farmhouse, are floating through the air, mercilessly hurling fireballs at the party, and hurting them severely. Kaleth’s attempts at banishing the fiends fail, but the party refuses to be swayed, and fight tooth and nail to win.
And win they did, but not without nearly costing Millie her life.
Although the battle ended, Kaleth, the dragonborn, is clearly still enraged, and stays possessively close to Millie, even barking to the others to give Millie a potion or two to help heal her because she cannot. Millie’s wounds, though grave, does allow her to continue on with the group and the group returns to the Farmhouse. Tumdrum decides he will see to the dead at the Farmhouse and the others return to Aki to speak to the guard there. As it were, the guard seemed to be rallying to see about what happened at the Farmhouse themselves, but upon being given an explanation of what happened between Westin, Kale, Tanna and the others, They are thanked greatly for the service they performed to Aki and its citizen. Given everything that occurred overnight in Aki, the group believes it best to continue southward in haste to Nakamaru Port.
Kale, finally calmed down enough, believes it best though their group is escorted to Nakamaru Port. Believing safety in numbers, especially due to her possessiveness of Millie, if not also her well-being, she requests some of the military of the Nogami clan to escort them to the port. Willing to do this for the party, they are escorted to the port and make it there by nightfall. However, the Nogami military which accompanied them are not allowed to enter the port, so they turn and seek to return to Akita. Tumdrum, in the midst of all this, eventually reunites with the escorted group, but even he, and his griffin comrade, how to wonder if the group were prisoners or not.
After arriving at the port, the group is escorted to the fort and are allowed quarters there. With conversations about the port, and the fishing in the local waters, being a greater matter of interest, one can only wonder what their possible week-long stay at Nakamaru will bring them while they wait for a merchant caravan to arrive at the port for them to escort back home. And yet, it seems, there’s rumor of a Valkyrie to have exchanged hands with noble’s son of the local clan, the Sogo. Whether or not the Valkyrie was sold to someone in the local area though, has yet to be found out.