To reiterate the options (as I see them), you could (1) follow the coast to Carron, (2) follow the trail inland and/or try to find the road through the interior of the isle, or (3) do some random stuff I haven't anticipated (building a boat, swimming for the mainland, attempting to invent a TARDIS (HINT: this won't work without epic level magic), or other things). Also, you still have 2 horses and Jamros's pony. It is possible to double up on the horses, and would be faster than traveling on foot, although you would probably have to go around some of the more difficult terrains (remember, there are a ton of rocky cliffs along the coastline).
Okay Chris, you got me. I've been playing way too much diablo 3. :P
Going to get focused back on posting again!
Gareth, who has remained silent for much of the conversation, gives the party a concerned look. "Whaddya mean, she's beyond our skills? Master Vincenzo hired us, we saved the king, we survived a f*cking dragon! I mean, c'mon, if we're not the best, I don't know who is. Sounds to me like someone needs to sweep that lady off her feet. Carron can wait!"
As the majority position seems to be to travel inland...
You travel inland through sparse, semi-arid forested terrain. In the distance, you hear the nighttime hoots, roars, and other assorted noises of animals. Ankou zig-zags through the forest, seemingly following a general trajectory rather than an actual trail. Very late that night (around 1 AM), you arrive at a rocky bluff on the southern edge of the forest that overlooks an open plain. It looks like a decent place to make camp.
(Assuming you do camp here) The night passes uneventfully, and you wake refreshed the following morning.
Darn random encounter rolls letting me down...
Ankou Survival:1d20 + 1 + 8 ⇒ (4) + 1 + 8 = 13 Untrained survival: +1 from wis, +8 from scent (ability), can track untrained.
Pygrado is nervous the whole time, constantly looking around. He paces the perimeter of the camp a few dozen times before settling in for the night, and he sleeps in his armor with his swords laid out on either side of him.
He brushes away any questions distractedly, and follows the party.
These are ripper birds. Large and flightless, these birds are capable of outrunning horses with ease and savaging foes with their razor sharp beaks and pounces (not the ability. The forward-facing claws on a bird's feet are called pounces, whereas only the rear claws are talons). They are apex predators on Windrip Isle. Sailors tell of hunting parties who chased after one bird, only for three birds more to blindside them from thickets.
Louis hisses at Leto. Leto nods his head and hisses back to him. Leto turns to the group "There are more of these birds in the thickets to the north and the southwest of us."
"Perhaps we should try to keep them away from us and scare them away rather than engage" A giant serpent thick as a giant tree around appears on squares I10, J10, K10, K11, K12, K13, J13, I13, H13 surrounding the party, it's face turning to look back and forth between the two thickets and the approaching birds.
Gareth grits his teeth. "I don't think they're just gonna let us walk around them. But here's to hoping you're right." He casts Divine Favor on himself and wait for the party to move before following suit. He seems to be uncomfortable with the current situation.
The birds hesitate a moment, and with a chorus of barking calls, dash away. You hear crashing sounds within the nearby thickets, rapidly becoming more distant. All is soon silent in the area.
We're off initiative.
The reptilian corpse is big. Fully erect, this creature could have stood almost nine feet tall, but with its hunched back it more likely stood seven feet tall. It looks vaguely humanoid, insofar as it has powerfully-built arms and legs. It has a tail, and an elongated head with two long, forward-sweeping horns. It is covered in yellow-green scales, and has viciously long, sharp claws on its hands, as well as a mouth filled with razor-sharp teeth.
Knowledge (Dungeoneering) DC 22:
This creature was a Deathclaw. Powerful, bipedal reptilian creatures, they are believed to infest the caves and underground passages of Windrip Isle. They are believed to have been created millennia ago by magic. Little else is known about the elusive creatures, save that they are aggressive hunters and extremely dangerous.
Heal DC 15:
The reptilian creature was not felled by the birds. It has a number of puncture wounds in its back, with burns around the punctures. The killing blow came when its throat was cut open by a blade. There's a ton of blood around the body.
Succeeded on heal check and were at the vista:
The puncture wounds look a lot like the wounds that were inflicted by the halflings' weapons.
Thanks for the reminder.
"It could be a temple to the element of fire itself. Alternately, there have been many civilizations before ours, with their own deities and cultures. You may have found a temple to a dead or dormant deity we don't have a name for. In either case, I suspect the goblins you mentioned were using it as a temple of Zarongel, their deity of fire, among other things. In any event, I'm afraid we don't keep any history books that describe this sort of thing. It would be... problematic, if a priesthood began teaching that gods could be anything but straightforward. You understand, I trust?"
"The stories of Sir Leonard go back a long time. Over a thousand years, if some of the tales are to be believed. He is more of a folkloric figure than a specific person. Over the years, various individuals have claimed the name, and they have shaped the region, for better or for worse. You probably found the grave of Tarbek Festinus, a powerful necromancer who adopted the title shortly before raising an army of undead and living dissidents in rebellion against Silverkeep. He was slain by one of the King's ancestors, did you know? Anyway, I've been to the site myself. It's a case of planar bleed. A ritual was performed in which an outsider was sacrificed, and their essence used to link the planes together."
After the birds take off, Gareth wipes sweat from his brow, pulls his hand away from the bowstring, and gives Martin a nod, "Nice going. That could have been trouble."
When the party starts to look over the reptile, Gareth gives it a glance. "What is that thing? It's huge. It must have at least put up a fight against those halflings. We'll have to keep our eyes open for those little guys."
I just don't like this at all, not one bit. This monster here, and those birds; this woman, the halflings, the dragon... The sooner we reach Carron, the happier I'll be. There's not enough space to work, out here. I'm a city boy, I guess.
The illusory snake or the dead, bipedal reptilian thing? I used a snake icon because I was in a hurry and didn't want to dig for a lizardman-like image.
You continue south-southwest. By early evening, you find an old brown cobblestone road. The area surrounding it is a flat, grassy plain, although thickets of trees can be seen dotting the landscape. Despite its apparent age, you notice that no plants grow on or over the road and that the cobblestones are remarkably smooth and precisely cut. In the distance to the east, you see a crooked stone tower. Ankou seems to want to go west, along the road.
Knowledge (Engineering) DC 20:
This road was crafted thousands of years ago, if the stonework is anything to go by. The stones are smoothed and worn by age and traffic, but remain astonishingly solid and functionally intact. Traveling on this road would be as easy today as when the road was first built.
You are drawn to some carvings on the side of the road. They look like ancient, faded runes. Residual traces of magic still cling to them, but they are long since weakened and impossible to identify. The road itself appears to be the product of exceptionally skilled masonry more so than magic.
Gareth eyes the tower to the distance and the well kept road. "The path is remarkably well kept. Probably a spell or something. I wonder who lives up in that tower. Maybe they'd know more about the lay of the land around here. Why don't we go investigate?"
I'm not sure... we're not here to investigate everything we run across; we're here to get to Carron. We're in the middle of a war zone, surrounded by monsters and Achaekek only knows what other hazards. If this is the road we're looking for, it's the fastest way to Carron and that's what we want.
As it looks like we have a 2-1 split in favor of following the road...
You follow Ankou west along the road. Night falls, and you make camp once more. Yet again, despite the calls and shrieks and other assorted nocturnal noises, the night passes uneventfully for you, and you awaken to a warm, sunny morning.
1) Leto and Pygrado
2) Martin and Ankou
3) Gareth and Jamros
Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.
You set out, following the road across grassy plains and through forested thickets. Mid-afternoon, as you trek through one such thicket, you hear a scream, a roar, and an explosion (a gunshot, although your characters might only recognize the sound from the vista. Leto hasn't heard the sound before).
Through the foliage ahead, you glimpse a beast like the one you saw dead yesterday, save for the fact that this one is bigger, standing ten feet tall hunched over. It roars and glares upwards at a blonde woman floating about twenty feet above its head (30 feet above the ground). She has one of the shorter fire-tubes in her hand, and wears a black tunic and light trousers. She is covered head to toe in dried blood, but appears unwounded. The creature is bleeding slightly from a puncture wound in its arm.
As you watch, the woman remains stationary in the air, runs a hand over her weapon, which glows red, before splitting into four identical copies of herself that float in the air above the beast. All four of her shout at you, "Keep away from its claws! These things are very fast!"
Pygrado dashes past the party, into the trees (~I18).
Perception DC 18 (DC 24 for the woman):
You hear Pygrado whisper the command word for his amulet of vermin summoning.
Perception DC 24 (30 for the woman) (+2 if you made the previous check):
Pygrado summons his mantis into the undergrowth, intentionally trying to shield it's appearance from the eyes of the party or the woman.
Roll to conceal it 1d20 + 13 - 4 - 5 ⇒ (17) + 13 - 4 - 5 = 21I'm using my stealth modifier, but corrected for the mantis' size and subtracting a -5 for "terrible conditions" (i.e. I've never done this before). It's then modified for distance and distraction, and I added the situational bonus.
The creature leaps into the air and swats at the woman. Its claw passes through one of the four copies, causing it to vanish. The creature lands nimbly, and roars in fury. The wound on its arm begins to close.
Jamros casts Bless.
All allys get +1 to attack (and consequently CMB)/saving throws against fear. The woman is just slightly too far to benefit (and if she isn't I don't think Jamros yet considers her an ally).
"Long story, and I'd appreciate it if you could help me deal with this thing!" The woman shouts in response to Leto and Gareth's calls, before loosing a rapid salvo of fiery blasts from her weapon. Two of the three shots strike the creature, while the third harmlessly impacts the road. She then lazily drifts to J9 (remaining at her current altitude of 30 feet above the ground), calling out to the creature in the playful manner one might use when addressing a pet, "Come here boy! Yes, pay attention to me rather than to the nice newcomers!"