"Anton!" Janos points to the necromancer, drawing the attention of the powerful archer. "Take her down!" He rushes towards the undead, hoping to draw some of them off of Drosil while also cutting of the necromancer.
"Dros! Watch yourself, don't let them cut you off from us!"
Rapid shot= -2
Negative levels= -3
Attack 1 MS: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (9) + 10 = 19
Damage: 1d8 + 9 ⇒ (7) + 9 = 16 and Damage: 1d8 + 9 ⇒ (1) + 9 = 10
Attack 2, RS: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (7) + 10 = 17
Damage: 1d8 + 9 ⇒ (8) + 9 = 17
Attack 3 iterative: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (17) + 5 = 22
Damage: 1d8 + 9 ⇒ (2) + 9 = 11
With the battle joined in earnest Anton can do nothing more than simply pump arrows into the fray, turning his attention now from the stricken werewolf to the necromancer pulling the strings. The distance is against him and throws off his aim but he looks to redouble his efforts with his next volley
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The festrogs and two clans of wolves clash in a titanic mass of struggling flesh as Feral thunders towards them over the broken ground. The demon wolves are clearly the strongest of the melee and though wounded they begin to prevail as the struggle continues.
Meanwhile Drosil begins his deadly dance with the bevy of wights, his silvery rapier flashing in the low light. He cuts them down one after another, but does not manage to completely avoid their draining slams.
Anton levels his bow at the undead monk rushing towards him, feathering her with a few arrows as she closes the distance. He begins to sweat as he sees the hate in her dead gaze clear as day.
B'yelka stands behind the paladin, one hand resting lightly on his back, her voice still raised in song. She fights the fear in her belly, seeing how ragged her team is, and feeling her own voice crack from the strain of channeling so much magic.
Janos rushes into the group of wights from behind just as Drosil gets surrounded. His powerful hews send dessicated limbs flying, and within moments the two boys have cut down the lesser undead.
Feral finally arrives at the melee, to find only wounded demon wolves still standing. With a wordless growl, the giant grey were launches himself into the fiendish lycanthropes. Their falchions seek his flesh, but Dantrian's concoctions make Feral night invincible. His claws and metal fangs shred flesh and fur like paper as he rends the demon pups.
Anton, steadied by B'yelka, takes a deep breath and grabs another handful of arrows from his dwindling quivers. As the monk runs the final paces towards him, she leaps into the air in a flying kick. Anton unleashes his arrows with the speed that only he can manage. TH-THunk! Thunk! Thunk! All four shafts bury themselves in the monk's face. Anton dives aside, shoving B'yelka back as the wights corpse crashes down where they were just standing.
The squeaks and whines of beaten dogs draw the eyes of the heroes back to Feral, who is just finishing twisting the head off the last Demon Wolf. It is over. The field is suddenly very quiet, filled with only the soft gusting of the breeze and the sounds of their own rushing blood. B'yelka and Anton were the only ones to escape unscathed. Feral bleeds from several cuts on his legs and hands. Drosil and Janos support each other, sore from the crushing, life-draining blows of the wights.
They have victory, but at what price? Peace, but at what cost?
The field is littered with corpses. Wolves, different undead, cultists, shattered skeletons and mass graves dug by the Whispering Way during the creation of their fell army. Stinking puddles of necrotic puss and blood already draw flies. The croaking of ravens soon joins their buzzing as the black winged servants of Pharasma come to survey the charnel town, following the trail of blood and death from where the Five had entered to the grand feast now laid out for them in the ruined town square. As the Five gather together, looking into each others' faces they find themselves right back where they started. Drawn together by fate in the land of the dead. Knit together by need and fear in the dark hallows of Ustalav.
That's it folks! Hope you had a horrific time! :P No, in all seriousness, thanks for doing this game with me guys. It's been a lot of fun, and I hope that you guys will continue to roleplay in the thread for as long as you like. The Way has been defeated for now, Petros has been avenged, and the items they stole are in the tower. I will respond to any questions and such, and keep monitoring the thread. I'd love to know what the Five go on to next, now that they've 'saved' Ustalav. Great job in keeping the most awful place in Golarion from becoming a true land of the dead.
Janos breathes heavily and kicks the corpse of one of the undead. "We did it! We finished off the Way and crushed their evil plans. And I suppose restored some order to his forest too." He glances around at the empty village. "It's a pity it cost people this much."
He stretches. "Well, what now? I think we should head back to the Lodge. I'll send Kendra a note from there, but I'll be heading back to Lepidstadt."
Feral looks up at Janos as he speaks, the towering wolf bent over Adimarus' still corpse. He holds Admimarus' heart, slick and oily and black, in one stained claw. "Yes we did, Janos. Heh heh haaaah." As if to punctuate the point, Feral crushes the heart in his palm with a low growl. "Yes we did."
He stalks back over to the fallen form of the necromancer Vrood and recovers the last half of Sain's heart. With a wicked smile, he devours it.
"There." Feral's tone carries an air of finality, of accomplishment. He looks back to Janos and the others, his eyes shining silver, "Ascanor will do nicely. Though I believe I now have business at the Stairs. When the remaining packs are brought to heel, Ascanor can begin to recover without worry."
Anton falls to his knees; hands trembling, blood coursing and a light-headedness overcoming him to the point where he nearly passes out.
It's over... it's finally over.
When eventually he has the strength to stand he surveys the scene of devastation, bodies and blood strewn and splattered everywhere. It is a grim scene and yet he feels elation like rarely before in his life.
We won! Haha!
He rushes to embrace Drosil, lifting the fetchling off his feet.
Ah but by Desna it feels good. Nothing will bring Petros back but to have removed their taint from the world... I think he would be proud.
He turns to B'yelka then, cupping her face his his hand and touching his forehead to hers.
You never stopped believing, my lady, and the strength and grace you showed carried us through.
As the adrenaline leaves her body B'yelka's legs shake and her breath becomes ragged. Without even being aware of them bright tears begin streaming from her eyes. She listens to Janos and his desire to get to Kendra.
Then her stomach turns as she listens to that monster, Feral, gloat.
And finally, her heart skips a beat at Anton's gentle touch. His words wash over her, and she smiles, despite her tears. "No, I did not always beleive", she turns her head up to meet Anton's silvered eyes with her own, "but I think your Lady had a plan for some of us that has yet to be fulfilled..."
|Drosil the Grey|
Drosil smiles at Janos, happy that the ranger will have the chance to be with Kendra once more. He casts an uneasy glance at Feral's words, just in time to see the last of the heart devoured. He even returns Anton's embrace good-naturedly, grinning momentarily from ear to ear, and watches B'yelka's reaction to Anton with interest.
Through all of it, however, he remains silent, slowly coming to terms with the enormity of what the small group has accomplished.
His smile falters briefly as he considers that these few - though, honestly, perhaps more Dantrian than Feral - have become as much a part of his family as his adoptive parents. He has been through all of this at their sides; leaving them now will be...painful, especially when he tries to consider what he could possibly do now after living through the events of the past several months. Can I just go back to my old life?
Perhaps. he agrees, that easy smile and bright blue eyes flashing like they have not in many weeks.
She only shows us the Road directly before us but we can choose the direction we travel. I'd like to return to the Stairs of the Moons, that place is sacred and a conduit directly to the Song of Spheres. Such a place shouldn't sit in disrepair.
It isn't a townhouse in Caliphas, my lady, but the place would be immeasurably brighter for your presence there...?
Feral watches the exchange between Anton and B'yelka from a small distance, a small grin playing across his blood-stained maw. The towering wolf turns then to Janos and Drosil and asks in his heavy, gravel-filled voice, "Leipstadt, Janos? Truly? Ascanor has a few rather critical vacancies in leadership at the moment. Think of what the two of you, along with Kendra, might be able to do. I'm sure Anton would be happy for the nearby company. Dantrian would too, no doubt."
Janos had already begun shaking his head. Kendra, I'm coming back. His hand goes to touch the frog pendant she had given him. He hadn't ever taken it off.
But at the sound of Dantrian's name, the Ranger stops. Did I truly forget about him? So easily? He's a prisoner inside there. What will the wolves do to him?
He looks up at the hulking werewolf. "What about Dantrian? What will happen to him in the forests? He's not exactly well-equipped to live here. The man should be with us in Lepidstadt. Count Caromarc would work with him. And where is Mosswick?" Janos looks around for the little homunculus, and then eyes Feral warily.
"We've finished it. If you wish to discuss what we do now, I suggest you let us speak to Dantrian."
"Dantrian musters his strength even now, Janos. You needn't be so suspicious. I'll part soon enough. But I can tell you now what Dantrian will say, though I'm sure you won't like it.
Mosswick's still flitting about, we've been jumping straight from fight to fight since the Stairs though and there hasn't been any real room to draw attention to him, alas.
The Ranger laughs. "If I did, it wouldn't truly be Dantrian saying it, would it?" It felt good to laugh again. The cloud of the Way no longer held them in its darkness.
"You think Dantrian would prefer living here rather than working with the Count? If the man can create Aaron, he might be the one to find a..." Janos suddenly realizes the implication to Feral. ...cure."
Feral grins and spreads his long, bloodstained hands wide as a sign of peace. "Haa haaah, no offense taken, Janos. Dantrian's been quite forthright in that regard, after all. But he's missed his window for a cure, I'm afraid. For here I stand, yes?"
The wolf continues, his voice harsh and gravelly, "I'm sure we'll conspire and collaborate with the count, but the count can't offer Dantrian anything that compares to what we've already won for him: all the packs of the Shudderwood. I've taken in both halves of Sain's heart, you see. My place as Alpha is secured. As is Dantrian's. What better setting to study and understand than from the throne? Who better to keep the wolves in line and reign them in?"
"And Dantrian will simply accept that? He's been trying his whole life to avoid that fate. He'll be a prisoner of you and your wolves." Janos sighs. He knows Feral has already won. If Dantrian tries to escape the wolves, they will simply kill him. At least with Feral he has a place among the packs, even guiding them. But is that any life for the alchemist?
Has the time finally come to put an end to Feral? Dantrian always warned us that it might come to this. Or is Feral right and I should spend the rest of my life watching and helping keep him in check?
Returning to the Acanor Lodge largely in silence, Janos is surprised to see a new horse in the stables. From the horse’s breathing, it’s newly arrived within the hour. As he approaches it, he get a faint whiff of lilacs. ”Kendra?!” The Ranger bursts into the Lodge and is rewarded with the sight of his beloved coming down the stairs. Kendra was dressed in sturdy traveling clothes, a gray, split riding dress trimmed in dark blue with stout boots.
”Janos!” The woman hurries down the steps, leaping from the last few into the half-elf’s arms. ”I was so worried. They told me what had happened here, all the killings and that the werewolf packs were in chaos. What’s happened? Did you find my father’s killer?” She looks past him and gasps at the sight of Feral. ”Who is that?!” She readies to cast a spell, though on herself or at Feral, it’s unclear.
Janos grabs her hand, however, ruining the arcane energies. ”Easy, Love. It’s Dantrian’s other side.” He glances back at the werewolf. ”I’m not quite sure that he’s always a friend, but he’s not an enemy. It’s name is ‘Feral.’”
”Oh...ok. Um, is Dantrian ok?” The wizard swallows hard, but manages a stiff, curt bow to the werewolf. She eyes him warily before turning back toward Janos. ”Um, the werewolves are partly why I’m here. Shortly after I got your letter about Ashan, Judge Daramid contacted me. She and the...um, Order had heard that the packs were in chaos. Whoever their contact was here seemed to have gone quiet. She wanted to send someone, but I volunteered instead.” She rolls her eyes. ”My studies at the University were going nowhere. Those pompous idiots barely know arcane lore from a hole in the ground. No wonder my father left.”
She smiles at Janos. ”Besides, I missed you. And before you tell me that it’s dangerous, I can handle myself. You’re the ones who throw yourselves into danger.” She produces a small wooden coin from her dress. ”And the Judge gave me this to open friendly doors. I’m temporarily an Agent of the Order.” The wooden coin shows the Order’s symbol of a scarab beetle with the single eye. She tucks it back safely into a hidden pocket in her dress.
”And I have other news…” She trails off, smirking at the Ranger. ”You’d better learn to cook something other than rat stew. I won’t have my child gnawing on rat bones, growing up.” She beams at the half-elf.
Feral grins at the introduction and bows low, his eyes still shining silver like Janos' and the others'. "You can put the old crow's misgivings to rest, Kendra. The packs have a new alpha and the troubling period of chaos has thankfully come to an end." He smiles widely when he mentions a 'new alpha' but his gaze turns to Janos when Kendra offers her last bit of news.
"A child?" He laughs heartily then, the sound low and gravelly, "Janos! Congratulations! Haa haa haah! How exciting for the both of you." Though Feral's broad smile makes it seem as if he'd be ready to eat the child as soon as it was born, the wolf's words and manners belie his frightful appearance and suggest that he might actually be genuinely happy for Janos and Kendra.
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As the days passed, Dantrian lent his keen mind and methodical attention to detail to the restoration of Ascanor Lodge. With new leadership in place and the threat of the warring wolves diminished, it only took a few weeks time before the alchemist determined the small community stable and self sufficient once more.
At the last, and though his companions tried their best to delay its coming, the day for his departure arrived. Gathered in the recently refurbished Warden's Hall, the stoic alchemist made his rounds and offered each of his companions an earnest farewell.
Meaning well, each offered in his or her own way an encouragement or warning regarding the fate which we was walking toward, but he dismissed each with a patient nod and counter point.
"No, I am not worried that the wolves might harm me, Drosil, though thank you for your concern. Feral has proven himself strong enough to keep any challengers in line and, I humbly suspect, my time with you all has left me in a similar position of capability and readiness."
"You are right that I will be a prisoner of sorts, Janos, but that is a fate I fear I can only escape now in death. At least this way affords me the opportunity to continue my studies into lycanthropy and, if I am successful, perhaps discover a means to spare anyone else from sharing this bleak curse in the future."
Dantrian nods at Anton as the Desnan touches the arrow reserved in his quiver. "Thank you, Anton, but I do not expect you will need to put that to use. Let me use Feral and his influence over the wolves to bring order to the wild parts of the Shudderwood and we can see the Stairs of the Moon restored to their original purpose."
"And B'yelka. I will often wonder at the odds of our paths crossing as they did back in Ravengro and the vagaries of probability that saw us share a road again for so long. You have been a bright spot upon another otherwise dark and dismal road and, I hope for your sake, our paths diverge again."
Through it all, Mosswick flits and scampers about, showing more emotion than the alchemist ever has as the tiny creature whimpers softly as it nuzzles each of Dantrian's companions in turn with a sad, drooping tail.
With his goodbyes said, Dantrian turns and offers a final nod to his companions before setting out through Ascanor's gate, Mosswick perched atop his shoulder.
In time, and at the fierce and powerful urging of Feral, the scattered packs of the Shudderwood settled into a time of peace after perching atop the brink of civil war for so long. The first task the wolves accomplished after Feral seized control and established himself as the new Alpha, was the clearing and cleansing of the Stairs of the Moon. The grounds were washed, encroaching vines torn down, and the crumbled walls and passages cleared, leaving the place fit for Anton and his fellow devotees to more fully restore.
With their primary place of governing forfeited to the Desnans, Dantrian and Feral turned the unified pack's attention north, to Feldgrau. The wolves set about the lengthy process of clearing the ruined town and rebuilding from scratch. With the help of Anton and the growing Desnan clergy in the area, they were able to cleanse the grounds of Feldgrau from the foul necromancies practiced by the Whispering Way, save for the site of the crumbled tower where Vrood had fallen. The ground there remained stained and black, and the tower was left a toppled ruin, as a testament to what had nearly befallen the whole of the Shudderwood.
As the months turned to years, New Feldgrau eventually began to grow and serve as a home for the wolves of the varying packs. And with the wolves centralized there, the southern paths and hunting trails surrounding Ascanor flourished, helping the lodge regain some of its lost glory.
Dantrian rarely left New Feldgrau after its completion, devoting much of his time to research. What contact he did maintain with the outside world was via letter, the bulk of which he exchanged with Count Caromarc as the pair compared notes and theories from afar. The alchemist never did find happiness though, as if such a thing could be found for the cursed in Ustalav. He did pursue a life of duty though, in his view fulfilling the grim task of ensuring that the evils perpetuated by the wolves and the Way would never happen within the confines of the Shudderwood again. And, for as long as he lived, during a lifetime extended both by the curse which wrought Feral and his own alchemical discoveries, he was successful in that much at least.