Oulo

Session 1; Three's Company
"Oh my god, she's a werewolf?!"

“That’s it, no more drinks until you pay your tab!”

Eva Jadeleaf was out of money, but the alcohol hadn’t quite caused her to forget her troubles. Fortunately, she was a resourceful type, and offered to play a show that night in exchange for more booze. The Shanked Lamb hadn’t had live music in weeks, and so the innkeeper Terron readily agreed and set about making some signs to promote that night’s show, featuring ‘World Famous Dragonslayer, Eva Jayne’.

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Later that night, after a ‘successful’ concert in which Eva had played a series of self-pitying love songs, she was approached by a young human girl who introduced herself as Lydia Kells and asked if the stories that Eva had slain dragons was true. This caught the ears of two other bar patrons, Dalen and Evalin, neither of whom were quite as naïve as young Lydia. When Lydia offered to pay for Eva’s increasingly expensive drinks in return for driving off a mysterious threat to her father’s herd of sheep, the two stepped in and offered to help Eva with Lydia’s job. Though Lydia was concerned at first that her father had limited funds available to compensate them with, Dalen assured her that a place to rest in the Kells’ barn and some information on a crudely drawn tiefling portrait would be more than enough.

===

As midnight approached, the three newly hired shepherds found themselves sitting in a field with Farmer Kells’ farmhand and Lydia’s apparent love interest, Kevorin, a simple enough half-elf who fell asleep so quickly as to leave little question why the herd was not being properly guarded. After an hour or two of waiting and watching, they heard barking in the woods that sounded like jackals, and shortly after, a crash at the southern end of the fenced in pasture. Acting quickly, the adventurers placed themselves between the flock of sheep and what they soon identified as a pair of jackals and a gnoll, which they dispatched without effort. However, before they could even catch their breath, a noise from the house where Lydia and Farmer Kells were sleeping had them running to investigate.

In the dark house, their caution got the better of them, and they were not quick enough to stop a growling creature from leaping out the window and escaping. Lighting a candle to investigate, Eva soon discovered that Farmer Kells had been badly wounded and was unconscious, and that Lydia was nowhere to be found. While Evalin kept a lookout on the flock, Dalen checked the ground outside the broken window, finding a scrap of cloth that they inferred must have been torn from Lydia’s clothing as she was carried out the window. Deciding that the bleary-eyed Kevorin would have to look after Farmer Kells until dawn, the three set out to rescue Lydia, following the bloody tracks leading away from the house and into the woods.

===

Eva, Dalen, and Evalin were able to follow the tracks into the woods for several miles, before they came across a slight problem; a bear had been drawn by the scent of fresh blood, and was sniffing around the trail ahead of them. The company briefly considered their options, deciding that neither fighting the bear or going around it and risking losing the trail seemed like good ideas. Fortunately, Evalin came up with a brilliant plan, and soon her zebra companion was trotting gleefully away and leading the bear on a wild chase through the woods. The group moved quickly to continue along the trail, and the zebra later rejoined them, despite a momentary fit of panic from Evalin over her animal friend’s safety.

===

The three rescuers eventually found themselves facing a small canyon, which they deduced must be the gnolls’ lair. They encountered two more gnolls and two more jackals in the canyon, keeping watch at the entrance to a small cave opening. Though they sustained minor injuries, the company managed to defeat the gnolls and prepared themselves to delve into the cave, hoping that they were not too late to save Lydia.

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Session 2; Stranger Danger
"I'm a slaver, right? Can I just grab him and bring him with me?"

The group assessed the situation; they knew that Lydia Kells must be trapped somewhere within one of the caves before them, and decided it was more likely to be the larger entrance. They threw a torch into the dark cave to try and get some vision, and were able to notice a sliding spike trap guarding the entrance. Evalin suggested they toss the body of one of the fallen gnolls into the way before entering themselves, and they chased a retreating group of gnolls deeper into the complex. Though the gnolls managed to trigger a rock slide to injure Dalen and Eva, the party pressed on.

In the back of the cave, they discovered an eerie purple glow, which turned out to be coming from a wooden staff floating above what appeared to be a ritual table. As they approached the table, they noticed that the room also contained a cage with two prisoners, a sleeping Lydia and a strange old man dressed in traveler’s garb who cheerily introduced himself as Atticus. A quick interrogation through the bars revealed that Atticus can communicate with gnolls, and suggested to the chief that he wouldn’t be a suitable ritual offering, and they would probably do better with a virgin sacrifice. Presumably this prompted Lydia’s kidnapping, but as the group talked with Atticus, they were convinced that he was not malicious, just a little crazy. They released the two prisoners and decided to quickly get them back to town. Atticus snatched the glowing staff out of thin air (after warning the group that any attempt at doing so would be extremely dangerous), insisting that it was his and carrying on despite Dalen’s protesting.

Much to their surprise, the group escorted Lydia and Atticus back to Red Rock Bay without incident. There, they decided that the town wasn’t safe while the gnoll shaman remained alive, especially after all of the cryptic warnings that Atticus had been going on about. They asked Terron to give Lydia a room in his inn until the threat was eliminated (which he agreed to in return for another of Eva’s sold-out shows, the night after), and left Atticus at the bar of the Shanked Lamb while they ventured out to take care of business.

In the woods near the cave, they encountered the shaman and a handful of gnoll warriors. Though they quickly dispatched the shaman, they were not able to prevent him from completing a spell which summoned an enormous, disease-ridden jackal. This seemed to confirm something that Atticus had said about the shaman being a servant of The Plague. As the creature died, they felt an evil presence depart from its corpse in the form of a swarm of flies. Confident that the threat was ended, but eager to drill Atticus for more answers, the group found some scribblings written in an incomprehensible language on the shaman’s corpse, and hurried back to town.

Unfortunately, the group soon learned that not even Terron could take much of Atticus’ babbling, and the strange old man had left town. Evalin elected to chase after him on her zebra, to ask him to come back and translate the scribbled notes they had found. Meanwhile, Eva and Dalen attempted to convince the mayor of Red Rock, a shardmind named Paltho the Scholar that they deserved a reward for their actions. Evalin caught up with Atticus, who didn’t seem interested in returning the way he had come. After negotiations went poorly, Evalin attempted to grab him and forcibly bring him back, but he was able to avoid her and run off. Eva and Dalen met with similar results, managing to convince Paltho to agree to studying the notes they had found, but not to grant them a reward for a threat he hadn’t seen any real danger from.

The company decided that there wasn’t much left for them in Red Rock, other than Eva’s commitment to perform one last show at the Shanked Lamb. They returned to Kells’ Farm to rest and wait for the next evening, after which they planned to head out in search of Durv.

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