Chronicles of Bronze

Swamp

The morning began with Jiggo and Airest deep in discussion about the river Krad. Jiggo wanted to use the morning to scout out the mouth of the river, in hopes of finding a method for moving up the river and just how fast the current was. Airest agreed to go with him. She was keen to practice her alchemy and the estuary near the mouth of the river promised to provide her with some interesting plants. The two set off from the inn and through the town towards the beach.

Thorn, having awoken, gave a rough apology to Kendall for the trouble he had caused the innkeeper. He then sets out about the town, first to inform Dimopulous that they had indeed rescued the half-elf lycan and that he was awaiting questioning in the Halberd. Then he visited Bowden the leatherworker and Bowden used Thorn for a moment to get the measurements for the bracers and greaves that the gnoll had commissioned using the moniho hide. As he began to move through the merchant’s quarter, he spotted one of the stone shapers from the day before. She seemed to be moving through the various shops and stalls. Curious and with nothing else to do with his employer gone, he used his collar to change his fur color to a dark brown and began following the shaper from a distance.

Meanwhile, Airest and Jiggo were making their way through the marsh. As she began to gather a promising specimen, she pointed out that the trees surrounding them required great amounts of water, and that the area must flood regularly. Jiggo stood look out as the cleric gathered herbs. The monk had heard something crashing through the woods in the distance, and was wary of attack. When the cleric’s plant needs were satisfied, he scaled one of the trees to get his bearings, and marked it with his endless chalk for future use. As the monk clumsily made his way out of tree, he spotted something watching them from behind the trees about fifty yards away. The two could not make out what it was, but they saw that the creature was huge. They decided to make a run for it. A great crashing sound rose up behind them as the creature gave chase. Looking behind them they saw what looked like a flood of bones tumbling after them. A huge serpentine creature made up of the skeletal remains of many creatures. Airest recognized the creature as a boneyard and began to run faster.

Their lungs felt as if they were going to explode as they burst from the edge of the forest, the boneyard close behind them. Suddenly, they realized that they were no longer being pursued. Turning around, they saw that the boneyard had stopped just before the edge of the forest. It slithered slowly around the edge in frustration before slowly moving back into the darkness of the forest. They decided to head back to the inn.

Back in town, Thorn continued to follow the shaper. As she was picking through produce, she turned and recognized the gnoll (despite the change in color) from the day before. She made a proposition to the gnoll. The shaper’s guild seemed to be infested with howler wasps. A large insectoid creature with a face like a large fanged baboon and a temper to match. She explained that a tunnel must have collapsed somewhere under the guild, because a hole had opened in the back of the basement and were letting the wasps through. The shapers were apparently under orders to conserve their energy to help keep the town safe from a seemingly imminent attack from some of the various creatures of the forest. This effectively inhibited them from clearing out the pests on their own. She told him that if he and his companions were interested, to come to the guild hall and knock three times.

Thorn made his way back to Paelias’ shop, and asked for some sort of burning concoction from the alchemist. Paelias happily sold the gnoll a very large and obviously dangerous flask of alchemist’s fire, just as Jiggo came upon the store. He relayed the harrowing tale of what he and Airest saw in the swamp to the gnoll, Paelias and Dimopulous. Dimopulous warns them that boneyards are incredibly dangerous creatures, biting hold of their prey and drawing them into the mass of its body, trying to add the victim’s bones to its’ own. He finished by saying that they should be very wary of returning to that part of the island.

As the sorcerer went back to this work, the gnoll led Jiggo towards the inn, refusing to say anything other than they had been offered a job. After picking up Airest, who had managed to produce a nerve poison from her plant specimen, they began to make their way towards the Stone Shaper’s guild hall. After knocking correctly, they were greeted by a young Stone Shaper who made sure the group was there for the bug problem. After being satisfied with their answer, the Shaper led them through the guild. The hall itself was in sharp contrast to the rest of Malteton. The floors were of stone marble. The columns holding up the huge vaulted ceiling were carved out of huge chunks of precious stones. Everything inside the guild seemed to be made of precious stone or metal. With the shaper in the lead, the group made for the basement door. He explained that there must be at least three wasps down there, judging by the damage they had caused so far. Opening the door, the group found themselves atop a set of stairs that turned to the right down to a landing before turning right again to the basement itself.

Thorn moved quietly down the stairs, scouting out the basement. In the back was a large hole in the stone wall. The area around it was strewn with broken barrels, and other various items. The byproduct of the howler wasps’ search for suitable nest materials. Airest followed behind, using her innate cleric abilities, she could sense the presence of evil from the direction of the opening. Thorn and Jiggo began to raise a clamor, clashing their weapons together, and making as much noise as possible to lure the creatures into the open. Airest informed them that it was working, that the presence was moving closer towards them. Thorn began to pull out the alchemist’s fire flask, but was almost knocked over by a howler wasp rocketing out of the tunnel. He barely avoided its’ attack, only to be bitten by a second one close behind. Weapons swinging, and striking out, the party fought back at the aberrations. Thorn cut two of the wasps down, the pheromones of the howler wasps covering him in the process and sending the third into a frenzy before Jiggo could pummel the third to death with his staff.

After the three wasps lay still, the group could hear a tremendous droning, muffled by distance, coming from the back of the cave. They sent the gnoll in to scout out the tunnels, the other two following a safe distance behind. Making his way through the twisting stone tunnels, Thorn could hear the drone become louder and louder until he came upon a steep upward incline in the tunnel. Convinced that the wasp’s nest was right over the top of the incline, he slowly made his way back to the monk and cleric and told them all he heard and saw. Recognizing Jiggo as the most nimble of the group, Thorn handed the flask to the monk. Then he directed the monk to the general direction of the nest.

“Run, throw flask, run back” he said.

After a moment to center himself, Jiggo sprinted up the incline. His footsteps becoming unheard over the loud droning. As he reached the top of the incline, he could see a large chamber, like the interior of a cathedral. In the center of the chamber, was a huge mound, made of animal furs, palm leaves and other detritus. The droning was so loud it seemed to resonate through his skull. He only had half a second to take all this in, because at that moment he flung the alchemist’s fire towards the mound, turned gracefully and began to sprint back down the tunnel. Jiggo was barely below the lip of the incline when there was a thundering whoosh, and a great heat on the back of his neck. The droning suddenly reached a panicked pitch. As he ran back down the length of the tunnel, the gnoll suddenly rose up before him, running in the opposite direction, a pale Airest stumbling along in his wake. Stopping only to curse under his breath, Jiggo turned and sprinted after them.

The howler wasp nest was a towering pyre. The wasps were flying in all direction in confusion and pain, some still alight and burning. Others had managed to extinguish themselves and hovered angrily, making strait for the gnoll. The pheromones still covered Thorn and upon this the wasps descended. Airest sent a prayer to Ehlonna as she uneashed a large burst of sound with her staff, the shock-wave knocking Thorn’s attackers out of the air like dead leaves. The gnoll quickly took a deep drink of healing potion and readied himself for the next attack. Another swarm rose up from behind the burning hive, charred, angry, and larger than the first. They struck Thorn like arrows from the sky, and the gnoll fell to the ground. Before they could descend again for another attack, Airest let out another holy burst of sound, striking the second swarm dead. Airest rushed to aid Thorn, and drew upon her training as a healer to bring the gnoll from the precipice of death. As Airest helped Thorn to his paws, Jiggo treated the gnolls wounds with one of his healing potions. With Thorn still trying to recover from the attack, both Airest and Jiggo thought it best if the monk went and quietly scouted out the other side of the now smoldering nest.

Half way around the nest, he stopped, and motioned for the other two to move up to his position. As Airest and Thorn came around the side of the nest with Jiggo, they saw the source of his caution. Ahead of them was a queen howler wasp. Horribly burned, and shaking with both pain and anger. Six vicious looking drones surrounded her. Refusing to leave their queen. They shuffled from side to side, an agitated living shield. Airest informed the monk and ranger, that the drones would only attack if the queen herself was attacked, and they could leave quietly now if they wished. The other two were not content to leave the job half finished however, and the cleric reluctantly agreed with them. Airest took cover behind Thorn, as Jiggo pulled his sling from his belt. With a quick twirling motion, he sent a small bullet through the air. There was a small crunching sound and one of the rear drones dropped dead. The two in front suddenly flew into the air. Thorn was ready for them and so they missed their strikes against him as they swooped past. Realizing that the gnoll was still covered in pheromones, Jiggo threw his water skein at him, washing it off. His lapse in concentration however cost him, as three of the drones quickly descended on him instead, stinging him. A wasp was knocked out of the air by Thorn as it flew over him. Jiggo’s swinging staff broke one of his attackers, sending it crumpling to the ground. There was a small shriek from behind and they both turn in time to see Airest impaling a third would-be attacker with her spear. A suicidal effort was made by the last drone to bring down the cleric, but it makes it no further than the gnoll before it was cut in two.

A heavy buzz suddenly filled the air as the queen entered the fray. She landed hard atop Airest, plunging her stinger into the cleric. Airest went ridged, falling to the ground with paralysis. The queen scuttled angrily turning her mass towards the fallen cleric, desperate to kill at least one of the assassins, but with a flurry of both ice and fire, the gnoll was upon her. A flare of magical color as the enchanted axes bit into the wasp again and again. The queen shrieked and thrashed about, unable to escape the furious Thorn. There was a spray of ichor, and a sickening pop as some organ ruptured, and the queen lay still.

Then everything was quiet, save for the panting of the three fighters still standing. Jiggo hurried towards Airest’s side. After a moment, he was convinced that she was still alive, but paralyzed. What little learning he had about the healing arts proved to be enough and with a minimum of effort, he managed to relieve the venom’s hold her. Thorn suddenly grabbed her and roaring in delight tossed her playfully the air, terrifying the poor cleric further before setting her back down. He then stood and grinned at all the burned carnage. Both Jiggo and Airest looked on in disbelief at the gnoll’s joy.

Amongst the remains of the hive they found some interesting scrolls and potions that the wasps had collected over the years and used for building the nest. Wrapping these items up and putting them in their packs, they made their way back down the tunnels. They came up through the basement, the three of them. Thorn proudly carrying the corpse of the queen howler wasp. The shaper seemed thoroughly unimpressed by the group’s acts, but an annoyed and thoroughly stressed Airest demanded compensation for the feat all the same. The shaper reluctantly agreed and quickly paid the trio, ushering them out of the guild hall.

Later, as Airest rested back in her room. Jiggo treated himself to a stiff drink with both Paelias and Dimopulous, making a wonderful trade for one of the scrolls he found. Thorn, meanwhile, made his way to Bowden’s shop, with his prize. Bowden sighed as he saw the gnoll enter, already guessing that the gnoll had killed something else. After looking over the corpse, Bowden began to estimate all that he could make with the hide. The ecstatic Thorn requested both a new piece of leather armor, as well as two new blades that could be made from the wasp. Then, after a moment’s thought, he also asked for a helmet as well. In the cleric’s size.

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