The Keys of Legend

Session 2: Out of the Labyrinth, Into Trouble
In which the party gets gored to death

Session two! Sorry for the lack of a session one. Portal didn't autosave properly and I lost it, so here's a quick recap:

The party, Sant, high elf rogue, Aoth, human life cleric, and Damakos, tiefling warlock, were picked along with seven other people to be part of an annual sacrifice to a massive Labyrinth on a nearby island. They were shipped there, only to be plagued with traps and their victims, risen as the undead. Eventually, they came across a clan of kobolds living in the center of the maze's first layer. The kobolds swarmed the party, and attacked them with a clockwork war machine when that failed. The party then accidently stumbled upon the kobold's workshop in the center of the maze's first floor, where they were swiftly captured.

We pick up with the party, as well as the surviving sacrifices, trapped in the kobold's jail. It' a medium-sized room, the entrance barred and padlocked. The party was disarmed of their weapons, but not anything else. Sant and Aoth quickly began worked to cut themselves free with the contents of Sant's burglars' pack, at which they failed miserably. Failing that, Sant pulled a bell out of his bag and began ringing it. The kobold's boss walked in, took the bell away, threw Sant in a stock, and left. Damakos chatted with their guards, a pair of kobolds, but learned nothing useful.

The kobold's boss, an urd with a decanter of endless water, entered the cell to interrogate the party. She hadn't quite believed the party when they told her their story, and came back to try again. After a bit of negotiating, they made a deal. Something was killing kobolds in the second layer of the maze, and she wanted the party to go kill it in exchange for their freedom. Whatever it was. They agreed to this, and were led by a few kobolds into the center of the second floor.

The center room of the second floor was a large, well-lit, sandy room. Despite being well-lit, visibility was bad: the room was stuffed with wooden struts holding up loose parts of the ceiling. The party's kobold escort led them into the room and prodded them into they went inside, and then left. A grunting and shuffling noise was coming from somewhere among the struts. An experimentory crossbow bolt from Aoth attracted the noise's source: a minotaur, massive battleax in tow.

The battle was short, but bloody. Sant hid among the struts immediately, while Damakos readied their witch bolt spell. The minotaur charged within range, crashing through any struts in it's way, and the party struck. Aoth missed his mace attack, but Damakos trained their witch bolt on the minotaur, and Sant dealt a sneak attack with his rapier that massively injured it. But then, things turned south. Sant was thrown across the room and knocked unconscious by the minotaur's ax, and Aoth only managed to get in a single swing of the mace before going down as well. But the minotaur was badly injured as well. Sant and Aoth had dealt huge blows to it, and Damakos' lightning bolt hadn't left it's mark the whole time. The minotaur turned to Damakos and charged, but the warlock was able to deal the killing blow before being gored to death.

Damakos stabilized their companions and then searched the minotaur. On it, they found one small golden key, and another larger key made of some light silvery metal, with a bull's head on the end. Both, they pocketed. The kobolds, not hearing any noise for a while, came back. They were immediately grateful for the death of the creature killing their people. They helped reawaken Aoth and Sant, and took them back to the kobold boss, who guided them back to the maze's entrance, which was opened with the small golden key.

The party exited the maze to find the ship that had taken them there, still docked. It had been ordered to wait a week, in case anything dramatic happened, and then sail back to Wolfhall. The soldiers on the ship quickly gathered up the party and the other sacrifices, and set sail for home.

On the ship, Sant was approached by one of the commoner sacrifices, a blond human youth, who introduced himself as Lysander Albano. He was impressed by the party's heroism in the maze and wanted to hire their services. His lover, a woman named Eliza Faradolvi, was forced into an arranged marriage by her father to Lysander's rival, Dimitri Moldor. Lysander hoped to elope with Eliza to the home of his aunt, a wealthy recluse living in the forest outside of Wolfhall. The party was being hired to sneak Eliza out of her home and escort them to Lysander's aunt. He assured Sant that his aunt would pay the party gold for their services. After a bit of negotiating over price, Sant agreed on a deal, and they decided to meet the night after next.

The soldiers on the ship escorted the party to the king of Wolfhall as soon as their ship landed. The king was a massive balding human, who kept a dinner table and several meals in front of his throne. The party explained their story to him, and presented the key with the bull's head on it as proof. The king was shocked by the sight of the key, but for no obvious reason. He asked to inspect the key, which Damakos reluctantly allowed him to behind his throne. The king emerged from behind there looking shaken. He returned the party, and had then sent their separate ways.

Aoth chose to go back to his rooms in the basement of a local temple. He lived comfortably there, and was close to his god. Damakos didn't have a home. Instead, he roamed the woods, hunting food, dodging the local elven clans, and sleeping under the stars. Sant retreated to the Red Light district of Wolfhall, renowned for it's shadiness and cult activity. There he ran a gambling hall and night club with his associate, a streetwise high elf named Byron Amikiir. The club had ailed in his absence: the Thieves' Guild had been taking a large cut of their profits recently.

And so, they waited for their meeting with Lysander.

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Session 3: A Midsummer's Night War (Part 1)
In which the party kidnaps the princess

Sant Alard quickly skidded down to the other end of the bar. "And what can I get you today?" he said, putting a grin on to hide his annoyance. It was a busy day at the Devil's Fortune. When the customer looked up, Sant recognized him. The youth was tall for his age, and had long blond hair. This kid had hired Sant two days ago. The youth grinned. "Evening, Mr. Alard. It's time."

Onto session 3! The group's moving right along, and how!

Our session started with Lysander. As a recap, Lysander hired the party to break his lover, a women named Eliza Faradolvi, out of her arranged marriage with a one Demitri and to the house of Lysander's aunt, far outside of the city of Draug Town. Lysander traveled through Draug Town picking up the party and taking them to a room he had rented in an inn. He planned for the group to create a plan of attack, but as it turns out, that didn't take long. Damakos didn't have much to do in the woods beside scheme, and scheme they did. Their plan was tweaked and agreed on, and soon they were off to the Faradolvi plantation.

Outside of Draug Town lies a collection of ranches and plantations all spread out from the town and each other. The Faradolvi plantation was at the outskirts of even that, on the boarder of the tree line. On a quick outside investigation of the plantation, it was a two-story, clay-brick building given a rustic feel by curtains of ivy. There were two doors: the front door, and a smaller one at the back.

The group found a place to hide, and their plan was set into motion. Aoth was sent to the front door. Opening it was a young high elf, presumably the butler of the house. Aoth introduced himself as a wandering cleric in need to a place to stay the night. The butler ran off to get the master of the house, leaving Aoth in the entrance hall to look around. Before him was a sparsely decorated room, a pair of double doors across from the entrance and a staircase leading to another set. On that note, the master of the house entered. John Faradolvi was a large, well-dressed, and tanned man with a large beard and a quiver of arrows on his back. He had just been about to hunt, but didn't mind being interrupted by a priest such as Aoth. He was offered and shown a hammock in the guard's quarters, in which Aoth found where the smaller door led.

Aoth asked the butler, named Maldorn, to tour the plantation. He was shown a trophy room of taxidermy animals, a sitting room, and large dining room. The master bedroom and the upstairs, where Eliza's bedroom was located, were off-limits. Aoth exited the plantation on the pretense of taking a walk, and informed the rest of the group of the layout of the plantation. Then, he went back inside and waited.

Night fell, and the people outside acted. Eliza's room had a balcony jutting off of it, and this was their point of entrance. Sant hammered pitons into the wall while the household was distracted with dinner. When they went off to bed, as seen via windows, Lysander and Sant climbed to the balcony. Through the glass door of the balcony, Eliza could be seen, preparing for bed. Lysander got her attention, and his appearance gave her joy, but she motioned that she couldn't leave. The door was locked. That didn't stop Sant, who quickly pulled out his lockpicks. The door swung open, Lysander and Eliza enjoyed an embrace, and the three of them ran off into the forest. Then it was Damakos' turn. They clambered into Eliza's room. A large flame appeared in their hand. They grinned. This would be a fun night.

Aoth was sitting up in bed, waiting for his signal. This quickly came in the form of flaming debris and a cackling Damakos, leaping from the 2nd floor. He screamed "Fire!," waking up the house guards. They quickly abandoned the building, only to be terrified by Damakos. Damakos smiled.

"Catch me, or save your house," they cackled, pointing to the flaming house. "Your choice."

With that, they ran. Aoth stuck his head out the door.

"Help! Put the fire out!"

The guards ran to a nearby well and returned with buckets of water, throwing them upon the house. The fire wasn't spreading, but it wasn't exactly dying, either. Aoth ran into the hallway, only to be passed by John Faradolvi, hatchet in hand. He ran up to Eliza's room and hacked at the locked door, howling for his daughter. With that, Aoth made a weak excuse about getting religious help and joined the others.

The forest was dark and wet with rain. Wind rustled through the trees. Damakos magically lit Sant's lantern to light the human's way, and Lysander led them onwards, the sound of crying and crackling fire in the background.  After walking for a while, Sant stopped the group. Voices could be heard through some overgrowth ahead. He instructed the group to hide, then attempted to run up a tree himself, only to fall out of it with a crack. The voices stilled.

"Who goes there? Show theyself!" The call came.

Damakos approached the overgrowth, as Sant, followed by the young couple, hid more successfully. Behind the plants were a collection of creatures of the forest. A trio of wood elves and a pair of satyrs accompanied a massive centaur, a massive broadsword and a longbow strapped to his back. He gripped this sword at the sight of the tiefling.

"Who are thou, tiefling? State they business!"

Damakos tried to calm the centaur, but to not much avail. The elves and satyrs were uneasy as well, spears drawn and readied. He told the centaur they were simple travelers who only wanted to leave the woods. As a show of faith, Damakos called to their companions, and introduced them. Sant refused to show himself, though.

"One of my companions is out hunting," Damakos explained.

The centaur glared. "Hunting?"

"Hunting for berries, that is."

The centaur said something to one of the satyrs in a language no one else knew, and the satyr ran off into the woods. At that note, a rustling sounded behind the centaur and company. From the bushes stepped a group of eight men in dark hoods and masks, all wielding swords. At their head was a balding man with a mustache, no hood and no mask. On his shoulder he carried a ferret, which he occasionally whispered to. Damakos, knowing the language of animals, could translate: "It is them, master! Them!"

The man with the ferret smiled to the party around the centaur.

"Hello, key holders." He said.

"What is the meaning of this?" The centaur looked angry. "What is thy business?"

The man with the ferret held up a palm. "We mean no harm. We only wish to retrieve what is rightfully ours from these people. We have a lockbox, which requires opening. And these people have the key."

The centaur glared at the party. "A key?"

Damakos tried to explain, but before they could, the masked men struck at the centaur's elves. Combat started poorly for the elves. They mortally wounded a masked man, but their ranks were thinned by the men's retaliation. Damakos hurriedly cast a curse of the man with the ferret. Wisps of smoke, like purple ribbon, burst out of their hand and wrapped around the man's neck, forcing themselves down his throat. Damakos them shot at the man. Where their crossbow bolt hit, the smoky ribbons burst out, proof of the curse's effect. The man attempted retreat behind his men, but the centaur and Aoth gave chase, knocking masked men aside as they went. The centaur was quickly distracted by these men, but Aoth pounded on the man with the ferret with his mace. The man glared at Aoth, his eyes glowing with magic. His voice resonating with power, he commanded Aoth: "KILL."

Meanwhile, in the trees nearby, Sant hid. He had been picking off masked men with his shortbow without their noticing. He knew exactly who these men were, and was more than sure they deserved to die.

Aoth felt the command burrowing into his skull. He mustn't do it, he mustn't do it. They all had to die, he could just take his mace and- No. Desperately, Aoth focused on prayers to his god, Apollo, and the magic dissipated. Before he could retaliate, the man with the ferret had disappeared. By now, the combat was more or less over. All the masked men but one were dead, and that one was pinned to a tree by the centaur, where he was being interrogated. The elves had only suffered a single casualty, and none of the party had been hurt at all.

The interrogation was going poorly. The centaur and the masked man were just screaming insults at each other. Sant hopped down from his treetop perch, waltzed over to the man, and broke his nose. The crack of his bones breaking seemed to persuade the man into talking.

The centaur glared at Sant. "I assume thou art the berry-picker, then?"

Before Sant could respond, he threw the masked man over to Damakos. "Thou can deal with him." He then approached Aoth. "Thou art a priest, correct? Would thou give our fallen comrade his last rights?" He gestured to the dead elf. Aoth obliged. He remembered enough of elven culture to competantly pray for the elf.

Damakos' interrogation was going well, when spirited along with the threat of a fiery death. The man worked for a group called the Ares Initiative. His orders were to capture the party and take the key. Yes, the key was meant for something important, even earthshaking, but no, he didn't know exactly what. No, he didn't know where the man with the ferret would've gone. The man was named Reind. Then Sant asked his own question. Yes, the man had heard of another masked man named Fenrir. He was a high-ranking debt collector. No, he didn't know where Fenrir was. Probably out extorting a shop. Damakos looked questioningly at Sant at this, but Sant only said, "Later."

The centaur thanked Aoth for performing the rites. He lifted the corpse onto his back, gestured to the elves to leave, and told the party, "You human friends ran into the bushes." With that, they left.

And with that, Lysander and Eliza were retrieved from the bushes, and the party continued onwards.

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Session 3: A Midsummer's Night War (Part 2)
In which Damakos does their own thing

Aoth leaned over the broken corpse. The elf's death had been quick. That offered some solace, at the least. He raised his holy symbol, in the shape of a golden bow-and-arrow. Under his breath, Aoth chanted. He racked his mind to recall the most basic of elven last rights, and was pleased with how he preformed. "Hey, Aoth!" Aoth looked around. Sant was poking around the corpses of their enemies. He grinned, and held up a gold piece. He had already pocketed a pair of the cultist's scimitars. "There's more where this came from."

The second half of the party's antics in session three. Where we last left off, the party had come out of a fight between a group of fey creatures and a squad of masked men, hunting the bull-headed key Damakos had found in the Labyrinth. Fortunately, the party and their impromptu allies found the fey more then enough to win the fight unscathed.

The party continued on through the woods. Damakos and Lysander led the group. Dragged along behind them was the remaining masked man, bound with rope and led by the warlock. Sant, Aoth, and Eliza all trailed at the back of the party. But Eliza stopped the group.

"Wait! Is that… dogs?"

Sant stopped to listen as well. Elven ears were good: he could hear the barking of the dogs behind them. Damakos stepped forwards.

"I can take them. Leave 'em to me."

Sant nodded. He made sure that Damakos refreshed their magically lit lantern, and told the group to run. Damakos and the masked man, still bound and on a leash, were left alone in the rain.

After a moment, three men ran up. One was a youth, hooded and wielding a bow. From what Aoth had said, this was Dimitri, the man Eliza had been betrothed to. With him was one of the plantation guards, gripping a spear and a torch, and a man in hide armor, holding on a pair of chains two massive dogs. Dimitri stepped forwards and drew his bow, pointing it at Damakos.

"Halt, foul demon! It was you that burned down the plantation, correct? You killed my lover! I am honor-bound to avenge my Eliza!"

Damakos simply smiled. They waved their hands. The guard's torch flickered, suddenly flared and swirled, and then went out. The dark night fell around them. The humans and their dogs could not see in the dark, but a tiefling like Damakos could see easily enough. And the dogs could still smell. They quickly caught Damakos' scent, and charged, only to trip over each other and fall prone. Damakos knelt, and began to speak to the dogs.

"Why are you attacking me?"

"Master told us to! Master has food!"

"But I have food to! If you go distract master, I'll give you some tasty meat!"

Barking their loudest about the prospect of food, the two dogs ran to a nearby tree and began to bark furiously at it. Dimitri and his companions, equally excited about killing themselves a demon, began to follow the dog's barks and slashed at the tree. Damakos quickly made use of their curse, forcing smoky ribbons of magic down the throat of Dimitri. Then, Damakos pulled out their crossbow and set about peppering the humans with bolts. They only scored a few hits, but it was more than enough for the choking and blinded Dimitri, crying for his group's retreat, he ran, his guards close behind him. Damakos threw the dogs a piece of steak and left in a cheerful mood, masked man towed along behind them.

After catching up, Damakos informed the party of his adventures and the group treked onwards. They had been walking for a while, though. Lysander and Eliza were both tiring, and the party was running out of spells. Something new was up ahead, however. Before them was a large clearing, and in the center of it a willow tree taller then any they had seen before. This was odd. Lysander had been on this path to his aunt's house only a month before, and this hadn't been there. Even more suspicious, movement could be seen at the base of the tree.

For some reason, the masked man Damakos still had captive volunteered to investigate. Worried that he would escape, the man's lead was passed to Aoth, who also volunteered. Aoth quickly found the reason for the masked man's eagerness. The man with the ferret was resting among the root of the willow, bandaging his wounds. He quickly pulled out his holy symbol, readied a spell, and ordered Aoth to cut the masked man free. Fortunately, the others were already yelling for Aoth to check in, so Aoth refused. The man with the ferret attempted to command Aoth to cut the man free, but it was too late. Sant and Damakos were already on their way, and battle began.

As soon as the fight began, the masked man tried to escape. Damakos' first action was to grab the man's leash, but in an amazing burst of strength, he pulled on the rope to knock over the warlock, then tore the ropes from his arms. Having no weapons, he ran up to Damakos and punched them in the face. He was, of course, quickly shot and tied up again.

Sant and Aoth, however, had some more trouble. The man with the ferret put up a fight, casting spells and dodging their attacks. He attempted to command Sant to murder Aoth, but Sant was able to resist. Soon enough, the man was knocked unconscious by the hilt of Sant's sword. Damakos bound the man, ferret removed and trapped in a cage, to the masked man and gagged the both of them.

And so, the party was left alone.

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Update
In which nothing happens.

Hey! No update this week. Damakos couldn't make it and I feel I need a week off.

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Update: 3/13/17
In which we had a magical day, mother f&#$%*r

Hey there! This time, Aoth wasn't able to make it. We did play a oneshot called "How Not to Host a Murder." It was a lot of fun, but there's not much point in writing what happened. I might as well just link you to the adventure, it went pretty much by the books. I will say, the doves were a particularly fun running gag. I'll write a few more notes in the secret GM column.

Anyway, I hope to get back to the main storyline next week. I have big, big plans…

And here's the link to the adventure. It's free, too. http://www.dmsguild.com/product/181052/How-Not-to-Host-a-Murder-5e

See you next week.

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Session 4: Against Initiative (Part 1)

The two masked men sat on the ground, back to back. They hung their heads, not paying attention to the adventurers, eating nearby. Suddenly, one of them felt a kick. He looked up. Damakos stood over them, a slight smile on their face. "What do you want?" One man asked. Damakos glared. "Can't have you two falling asleep! You've got to be lively when we drag you away!"

Our session began as the party rested under the large willow tree atop the hill. Sant and Aoth patrolled around the circumference of hill, with Lysander and Eliza close behind them. Damakos stood over their prisoners, idly prodding them. Now that the group was able to rest, Damakos were able to get a better look at them. The man who had had a ferret was a tall human, balding with dark hair and a mustache. Their original hostage was a high elf, young for his kind, with hair dyed blue.

Sant waved Damakos away from their examinations. He pointed into the woods.

"I hear noises," said Sant, "Something moving out there. Light it up, will you?"

"I can see it just fine," Damakos replied flatly, "Besides, we can't burn the forest down."

Damakos squinted. Stalking through the overgrowth was seven men in robes and masks, just like those of their hostages. At the front of the pack was a human, also bald, with a beard. On his shoulder was another ferret. He stepped forwards, and looked to the mustached hostage.

"Ah," he said, a smile on his face, "You were always getting yourself into trouble, weren't you? Oh, don't go trying to do that." He was watching the group take positions. Aoth had stepped forwards, lovers still following behind. Sant had slipped behind the willow tree. But Damakos had drawn a dagger, and was moving to hold it to the mustached man's neck.

"I would gladly see him dead," the mustached man exclaimed, "Less competition in the ranks, you know?"

As the man spoke, Sant had slipped behind the tree, trying to take advantage of the darkness. Before he could strike, though, a ruckus sounded from the trees in front of him. From the treeline burst Dimitri, this time on horseback, two bodyguards and a fresh pair of hunting dogs by his side.

"Cleric! Eliza!" He shouted, "Run, quick! I'll save you from that demon! Dogs, attack!"

The dogs charged towards Damakos, but before they were halfway towards them, an arrow flew through the air, striking a dog dead. A second arrow followed it, only stopping the other dog in it's tracks.

"Stop this!" A deep voice split through the air. From the a patch of woods adjacent to the masked men stepped the centaur, massive sword held on guard. Close behind were the three wood elves, spears bared.

"Thou mortals have wandered these woods long enough!" the centaur shouted, "It is time for thou to take thy leave- forcefully!"

With that, all three groups charged the party. Damakos shoved their hostages behind them and met the masked men with a huge gout of flame from their hands. Aoth watched them burn to crisps out of the corner of his eye. But he had the elves to deal with.

"What's this!" he shouted as an elf's spear met his shield, "I gave your friend their last rites!"

"Apologies, cleric." Was all he got back.

Sant met Dimitri in swordplay. Before he struck, Sant noticed that his foe's sword was a decorative piece. A realistic one, perhaps, but still more or less a shard of metal covered in gold leaf. It broke quickly, along with Dimitri's defenses. Soon, his bones would follow.

Lysander and Eliza hugged the tree, and each other. They were on the side facing Sant, not risking a hit from one of Damakos' spells. Lysander winced as the tiefling flew past him, the centaur close behind, a battle cry in his mouth, his sword in his hands, and his hooves in Damakos' face. Eliza turned her face away from their battle, towards Sant. She caught him standing over Dimitri, hacking away at him with his twin scimitars, ripping slashes through his armor. Before he struck the killing blow, Eliza shouted, "Stop, stop!" The high elf looked up just in time. At Eliza's face, he lowered his blades, only to rise them in combat with a snarling wood elf. Eliza watched as Dimitri's bodyguards dragged him out of combat, and sighed in relief.

On the other front, things were going well. Aoth and Damakos had done well to dispatch of the masked men, but the centaur provided many more problems. He had done a number on Damakos, hacking massive wounds into them, but a retaliation had come quickly in the form of hits from Aoth's mace on one side and hurriedly flung spells from Damakos. As the centaur coughed up magical poison gas, he glimpsed Sant rushing in to join the combat. The centaur thought as well has he could under pressure. He raised his broadsword in a defensive stance, and retreated.

"This," he muttered, "is not going well." He looked at his wood elves. Sant hadn't quite taken down his combatant, but it didn't look eager to join the fight, either. The centaur had been badly injured by the blows of Damakos and Aoth, as well.

"I request mercy!" The centaur tried.

"You started this!"

"That's- ah, true, but… I did not plan for this. I don't want my men to be injured."

Aoth watched the centaur closely. He had performed well it swordplay before, but now, the huge blade shook in the centaur's hands. He seemed to be having trouble keeping a straight face. He was afraid. And the party's disposition didn't seem to be helping him."

"Look. Thou wish to go to that lone house, right? Thataway?" The centaur gestured with his sword.

Sant looked to Lysander. "That's the way to your aunt's house?" This was met with a hesitant nod. Sant looked back to the centaur. "Yes."

"I'll give thy safe passage. An escort. Just as long as thou leave us and the forest alone as soon as you have finished thy business."

The party looked to each other. Begrudgingly, Sant sheathed his swords. "That works."

A few minutes later, the party was being led through the overgrowth, escorted by the centaur and his elves. It was a quiet walk. Occasionally someone would try to make conversation, only to be met with silence. Aoth attempted to ask the centaur if it needed healing, and the centaur's reply had a stabby sort of tone to it. And so, they kept on, the quiet being punctuated by the occasional blast of wind or burst of rain. A light shone through the rain. Before the party was a clearing, smaller than the previous, with a two-story house. The house was in bad repair. The brick walls were covered in water marks, and a garden surrounding the house was almost worse than the forest floor. A single beam of light seemed to almost shoot out of a first-story window.

The centaur gestured. "Your destination." And with that, he turned and left. The elves were close behind, but for one lingerer. He gave Aoth a quick nod, and scampered after his cohorts.

Sant turned to Lysander. "The right place?" He was met with a nod. Damakos started to walk towards the house, but Sant stopped them. "Wait. Some weird things have happened tonight. It could be a trap."

"You sure? I can't see anyone, and my vision's better than yours. Also, I'm kinda hurt. We should chance it."

"Um." Aoth pointed between the two. Lysander and Eliza were already running towards the front door. Sant slumped.

Damakos turned to him."Well? They're paying, after all."

"I'll go," said Sant. He plodded after the couple, who were already knocking at the door. It opened, and Sant could catch snippets of conversation.

"Auntie! It's us?"

"Eh? Lysander, that you?"

"Yes! I sent a letter, remember? Me and Eliza are here."

"Ah yes! And you have company, I see. Who might you be?"

"Ah, Sant. Sant Alard. You nephew hired me as an escort."

"Oh, yes! Come in, come in."

"Thanks. Oh, hold on a second." Sant was already half inside. He stuck an arm out and waved for Aoth and Damakos. "It's fine!"

The two followed close behind. Inside, Lysander's Auntie was lighting candles throughout an entrance hallway. With better light, they could see she was in fact just an old women. Hunched over, wrinkled with silver hair tied up. Aoth studied her. She was making a show of hobbling around, and hiding her strength. She led them into a sitting room, where a few cozy-looking armchairs surrounded a fireplace, that she quickly busied herself over. A couple seconds later, a pleasant fire was burning, and she turned to the party.

"Would you like some tea?"

An hour later, the group were slumped into various chairs. Lysander and Eliza shared a couch, laying together and chatting idly with the party. After a little while, the Auntie approached them.

"You'll be wanting a reward, I imagine?"

They followed her up a flight of stairs. Sant was still clearly on edge, his hands placed over the hilts of his swords. The stairs led to a small bedroom, a four-poster bed tucked into a corner. The Auntie wandered over to a wardrobe leaned up against a wall, and started to fiddle with the lock.

As she did so, she spoke. "You're adventurers, right? You know, I used to have quite the journeys back in my day."

Saying this, she swung open the wardrobe doors and stepped inside. Sant visibly jumped at this, drawing his swords and looking panicked. The Auntie poked back out. "Oh, do calm down. Come in, come in."

Cautiously, the party squeezed through a secret passage at the back of the cuboard. The rooms behind was about the same size as the bedroom, but it's walls were plastered with weapons. Blades and bows of all sorts, many that looked almost outlandish, covered the walls. A table lay in the center of the room, covered in various knick-knacks. Golden spectacles, multicolored masks made of hide, oriental helmets, everything in imagination was represented. The party gauped. Eventually Sant said, "Did you get all this on adventures? Like, from dungeons, and stuff?"

"Well, that. I also made forged of it myself."

Damakos started. "Hephaestus?"

"Oh, no. I was never the religious sort."

As the Auntie spoke, she dug through a plain-looking bag. The party noticed her arm was in the bag deeper than the bag itself was. With very little care, she reached in and pulled out a small heap of gold. She started to count it out.

"Let's see… twenty-five, was it? Twenty-five for you…" a pile was shoved towards Sant, "Twenty-five for you…" this pile was for Damakos, "And- oh dear." The bag was empty. She looked sheepishly at Aoth. "I'm afraid the rest of my gold is in my other hiding place. Ah- say, how about you just pick something?" She stretched an arm out, waving it around the room. "Take what you will. It's not like I'm using it!"

Aoth scanned the room. There were so many things. Staffs, maces more decorated than his own, the golden spectacles, that bag she was still holding… Finally, his eyes settled on a little crossbow, inlaid with gold leaf. It was similar to his own, but smaller, for one-handed use. He tested it's weight.

"Ah, that one's enchanted, you know! It'll serve you well."

Aoth thanked the Auntie, and fitted it into into his bag. With that, the party agreed to retire for the night. The Auntie went to her bed, while the others tried to curl up as best they could on various armchairs.

As morning came, it stopped raining for once. Sant wandered outside. Elves were light sleepers. He had been up and about for a little while. He stared out into the woods. It seemed that Damakos had tied their hostages to a tree at some point. They had also appeared to have stolen Dimitri's horse. Sant relaxed. He would wake up his friends and they would get to their homes. Sant could go back to his bar. It would be quick, and there would be quiet for a while. Upon thinking that, someone stepped out of the treeline and started to stumble towards Sant. Sant almost didn't recognize him, but it was Dimitri, hobbling and covered in mud. But something was wrong. Sant looked closer. There was a large dagger sunk up to the hilt into Dimitri's neck. Sant called into the house. "Get out here! Now!"

Aoth and Damakos appeared at the door, clutching their various weapons. Shortly after, Auntie joined them, clutching a rather large mace. Dimitri, or his corpse at least, glared right at Damakos. His mouth opened, and a strange voice left it. The voice wasn't Dimitri's: in fact, it didn't seem human. It chattered and screeched in a strange language, and in a deep, scratchy voice. After it finished it's speech, the corpse fell to the ground, once again dead. Damakos seemed troubled. A hard look crossed their face.

"What was that?" Aoth asked, "What did it say."

"It called me 'sibling'."

 

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