Codex II-Chapter 2

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As the sun was dipping toward the horizon, the party bid the townsfolk farewell, and, following Rynn’s lead, they ventured out towards Oldkeep. “Not big on original names, are they,” Amara had said as the set out. She and Jenika had laughed at that quip before Khaska had shushed them. Orensland had grinned at the two of them behind the cleric’s back.

As Rynn had suspected, following the trail to Oldkeep was easy, and the ettin’s trail seemed to match up with it quite frequently. It was obvious that few had traveled between the old hamlet and the new one the past few years, and the ettin wasn’t making a straight path, but after an hour it was clear that the two paths were roughly the same.

It was a little bit after the sun set when Rynn brought them to a halt. He leaned down over the main trail to Oldkeep and brushed the ground with his hand. “Blood,” he said. “Fresh, too.” He looked down the trail. “It’s quite fresh, in the last hour or so. Heading in that direction.”

“Is it human blood?” asked Khaska. “All of the villagers are back in Newkeep.”

“No, it’s not human blood.”

“Could it be the ettin?” asked Orensland.

“Could be,” the ranger said. “But looks like something smaller. Humanoid, though. Maybe a goblin, or an orc. A bunch of them, actually,” He said, surveying the ground more thoroughly. “And not just a few are injured. Looks like they lost a fight.”

Eryx (DM)
Now you have a choice. The blood trail leads perpendicular from the Oldkeep trail, but the most traveled trail of the ettin leads straight to Oldkeep. However, you have seen no indications the ettin has been on it recently. At this point, Rynn is pretty sure that the ettin seems to be coming and going from Oldkeep.

You have three options, as I see it.

1. Follow the blood trail.
2. Follow the blood trail away from the direction of their travel, i.e. backtrack to see what happened to them.
3. Continue to follow the trail to Oldkeep.

What will you do?

BlackWolf
I'd like to make some checks to see if Rynn can determine what kind of creatures were attacked:

  • Survival: 12 (rolled 5 + 7 bonus)
  • Knowledge (nature): 13 (rolled 8 + 5 bonus)

I'm not sure if those rolls will yield any more information. After Rynn is done looking around, he'll suggest they follow the blood trail to find where the incident occurred that injured these creatures. There's a good chance the ettin was involved — the ettin doesn't take the same trail we're on. At the battle scene we'll hopefully be able to learn more. If the ettin was there, we can try to follow its tracks.

I think that Oldkeep will probably be an important place to visit soon, but it's not going anywhere. The ettin is more likely to be heading toward the village than staying around Oldkeep anyway.

Eryx (DM)
The group is moving slowly, and it looks like there are signs of things being dragged. There are also tracks that look like they were made by younger humanoids. If you had to guess, it looks like they're moving an entire camp. You still can't tell what kind of humanoids they are, but you are pretty sure that the ettin was not with them, chasing them, or went along this path before they did. None of the tracks are that big, quite simply.

Thevarou
Khaska will also try his hand at gleaning information from the scene, as he has +7 bonuses in both Knowledge (nature) and Survival:

  • Knowledge (nature) = 8 + 7 = 15
  • Survival = 2 + 7 = 9

He leans toward the side of caution in their next move, of gathering information; Khaska thinks it would be a good idea to find out what happened with these little humanoids and whether it has anything to do with our ettin. He pretty much agrees with Rynn in this case.

Eryx (DM)
A 15 will grant you the knowledge that this is a party of orcs. Looks like a local clan just got creamed and is moving elsewhere.

Sayyadina
Amara is decidedly not interested in following the orc trail and would much prefer to either go to Oldkeep or wander around the ettin's trail looking for it. If the group insists on investigating the orcs, she would volunteer Kirza to go take a look and report back; given that no one in the group speaks Orc, she doesn't see much of a point in following them unless the intention is just to slaughter them all, which seems a bit beyond the capabilities of the group.

Thevarou
Now that Khaska knows that they're orcs, and not just any humanoids, he's a lot less inclined to try to follow them.

BlackWolf
It seems that you might be misreading what I wrote. Rynn doesn't have any intention of following the creatures (which we now know are orcs). He wants to follow the trail backward to find the place where they were injured, because he supposes there's a good chance the ettin was involved. If so, from there we should be able to pick up the ettin's trail. If not, we're only out a little time.

DeltaWolf

Jenika would like to go to Oldkeep. It seems some-what likely that we will find something about what is going on, and frankly any information we can obtain before we meet this thing the better. If we do find it at Oldkeep, then we can deal with it.

Her greatest concern, however, is that of indication, or in other words, she wants to have a plan in mind so when we meet the ettin we will be ready. For example if we broke into two groups (one for each head), then we can use the ettin’s two minds against itself. …Or something like that.

Thevarou
Oh, I guess I didn't understand the original situation. I didn't realize that the orcs' trail was perpendicular to ours and lead in both directions. With that information, yes, Khaska would support following the trail back to the site of battle.

“What kind of humanoid?” asked Jenika. “Humans?”

“Orcs,” said Khaska. He pointed something out in the ground to Rynn, and the ranger walked over, took one look and then nodded.

“That’s an orc track. Looks like they’re moving their entire clan.”

“Oh that’s good news,” Orensland said sarcastically. “So what’s big enough to make an entire clan of orcs pack up and leave?”

“An ettin,” said Amara. “I think it is good news.”

“She’s right,” said Rynn. “I’ll bet that they got into a tangle with the ettin. If it really is coming from Oldkeep, then their entire clan is in its claimed territory. It would have come after them. And if they’re still bleeding,” the ranger stood up and pointed in the direction they came from, “then it was pretty recent. I think our best bet would be to follow their trail backwards and pick up the ettin’s trail from wherever they fought with it.” He looked around at the group.

“You’re the ranger,” said Jenika. “I just want to catch it quick.”

“Then let’s move,” he said, striding off into the bushes. Khaska was the first to notice a change in Rynn, but the others picked up on it as well. Now that the trail was more precise and clear, Rynn began to move with more of a purpose. Whereas before he had been generally following the trail to Oldkeep, now he was plunging through the forest with speed and determination.

The ranger was on the hunt.

Barely half an hour later, Rynn stopped abruptly. The orc encampment was just ahead. At least, what was left of it.

Bodies were strewn about the campsite. It was obvious that the orcs had tried to resist, but whatever had attacked them had killed at least five of them, their broken bodies having bled out onto the forest floor. Lean-tos and other crude shelters had been smashed, the branches and trees making them up shattered. Wood chips lay all around the ground.

Orensland gave a low whistle. “Ettin?” he said.

Rynn put fingers to his lips while he scanned the area. Nothing moved. The camp had truly been deserted. He stepped forward, moving into the camp, and looked intently at the ground. He pointed. “There. An ettin track. Pretty fresh, too.” The ranger was whispering, and he quickly moved from place to place, searching for the final trail of the creature.

“This was no temporary camp,” Khaska said. “The orcs had lived here for some time.”

“So if it was the ettin, he only recently attacked? That doesn’t make sense,” said Amara. “They’re pretty territorial, aren’t they? Why wait?”

“They are territorial,” said Rynn. “I don’t know why the delay, though.” He paused, hearing something. A small whimpering sound was coming from one of the destroyed huts. Something was trapped. It sounded like a small dog. It barked once or twice, a harsh, tired sound. Rynn moved over to the ruined hut and began pushing aside the broken timbers. It didn’t take much before he came across a dead body of a small wolf pup. “Help me,” he said. Orensland moved to help him, as did Khaska, but Amara hissed at him.

“Do we have time to waste on this?”

“I’ll not leave an animal to die. Won’t take but a minute,” he said. Jenika helped him move the pieces as well. Working quickly, the four of them managed to uncover several more pup bodies, as well as the larger body of what must have been their mother. Rynn knelt by the adult wolf, his fingers touching the numerous scars and wounds. More than had been caused by the ettin attack and the collapse of the hut. A chain collar connected the mother to what must have been the central pillar. “They must have kept her here. Tortured her for sport.”

“Rynn!” Khaska said. He had just moved aside another piece of wood and a small wolf pup came crawling out. The animal, just between puppy and juvenile, was clearly injured. It had a scar running down its face from just above its eye to below its jawline. It was able to walk, though, and when Rynn reached out a hand, the small tail wagged once or twice.

“Hey there little one,” Rynn said. The ranger and the wolf pup stared at each other for a long while.

“Come on!” Amara snapped, though quietly. “We don’t have time for this. He’s safe now, let’s go!”

Rynn raised a hand and the sorceress fell silent. Then the ranger pulled his pack slowly off and found a piece of jerky in it from one of his rations. The pup came forward slowly, but eventually took it. Rynn moved towards it but spooked the small creature. It scampered off into the woods quickly. Rynn stood. “Poor thing.” Then he put on his pack and shouldered his bow. “Thank you. This way now.” The ranger was all business again.

Oldkeep lay open in the ruins of a village. Clearly it had been several years since anybody had lived here. Most of the huts were overgrown along their bases or had fallen into disrepair or wood rot. The keep itself stood out in the purplish moonlight of two of the other Pressen moons, a red moon and a lighter blue one. The party grew quiet as they approached.

The ettin’s trail had led straight back here. From what Rynn could gather, the attack had happened a few hours ago, probably just before the sun had set. The ettin had attacked, been driven off (there was ettin blood now, too), and the orcs had hastily left, clearly wanting to move away from the creature’s territory. The ettin had moved back to the keep. The group thought it best to go in together. Even though sending Orensland ahead might be better, if the rogue were caught unawares by the ettin, it would spell almost certain doom for him. The group moved quietly into the rotting keep itself, Rynn and Khaska leading the way. The Maha’i was slightly disappointed that his new armor made so much noise, but he did his best to minimize it.

They entered a room not unlike the entrance to Lord Yellman’s mansion. It had fallen on harder times in the last few years, a few pieces of furniture here and there, now overgrown or rotting down. Double doors at the opposite end of the room lay partially open.

They were about twenty feet into the keep when Jenika snapped her fingers and pointed to the walls. Everybody looked around. Scrawled on the walls were various words. It looked like they had been written using a piece of burning firewood, or something similar. But, yet again, it looked like someone had come afterwards and destroyed them, rubbing and smearing the writing. Only a few words here and there could be made out. “… HEADS … AVENGED … MASTER … PUNISHED … REJECTED … ONE HEAD.”

“Clearly the same riddle,” Amara whispered.

“But someone does not want it written down,” said Khaska, also whispering.

Rynn held out a hand abruptly, and the group fell absolutely silent. Rynn put an emphatic finger to his lips, then pointed at the door to enter the next room. The could hear faint humming. Rynn and Amara exchanged a look of incredulity. It sounded like a lullaby.

He motioned for Orensland to take a look, and the rogue snuck forward, testing his footing with each step. The group waited tensely. Amara caught herself literally holding her breath, and had to exhale slowly to avoid simply expelling the air in her lungs with too much force and then sucking a new breath in.

Orensland poked his head around the door, trying to be careful and move slowly, so as to not attract attention. His low-light vision let him immediately see what lay beyond the doors. The next room had been completely wrecked; there were even gaping holes in the ceiling. It looked like a large hall of some sort. Pieces of furniture were everywhere, and the walls were scorched with fire marks. A tapestry hung to one side, half consumed by fire, half faded and water-damaged. A bookcase sat at the far end of the room, but a few of the shelves had fallen, their contents, a series of scrolls and books, had scattered on the floor, where they had collected dust.

Off to the side was the giant form of the ettin. It was sitting on the ground, and its left head was softly humming; the other was fast asleep. In its right hand was a small tree that had been uprooted. It looked to Orensland like it had several broken branches. He guessed the ettin had used it as a club, probably against the orcs. No wonder they had had a hard time of it.

The ettin stopped humming, well, the left head stopped humming, and the elf froze. However, it didn’t look like the ettin had seen him. Instead, the left head looked at the right, then got up, its huge bulk obviously difficult to move from a sitting position, then knelt down, and clasped its two hands together. If Orensland didn’t know any better, he would say that the ettin was praying. He strained to hear, but the creature was muttering. The only word he caught was “Heironeous,” which was uttered several times. He crept back and whispered his findings to the others.

“What do you want to do?” he asked Rynn. The ranger frowned. He was unsure.

Khaska, however, was not. “It appears you were right Amara, but we must sill be cautious.” The Maha’i whispered a quick prayer to Teresh, and then slowly moved over to the door. He pushed on it, and it creaked a little on its hinges.

The left head turned to look at him. The cleric stared at the head, and the head stared back for a moment, then looked at the right head. Satisfied that it was still asleep, the left head turned back. “You can come in, if you’re quiet. We don’t want to wake him.” It was whispering, but the words carried in the silence of Oldkeep. “If you do, you’ll have to run. He’ll kill you.”

Khaska looked back at the others, and then motioned them to come in, and then quietly stepped through. “I am Khaska, of the Mawkhavi Maha’i, and these are my friends.”

“Come to kill me?” the ettin’s left head asked.

“We were unsure what to do,” the cleric responded. The others filed into the room quietly. Rynn had his bow out and an arrow nocked, Orensland had drawn his sword, and Jenika looked ready to spring into action. Amara hung back, but the sorceress looked no less prepared. Even Kirza was unusually silent. “It seems that your attacks and the riddle at the shrine were connected, but we could not see the connection.”

“I can explain,” the ettin’s head said. “I am Kyrnyn, a cleric of Heironeous. Several years ago my friends and I came here to rescue the town from the evil wizard Stondylus. We fought him in this very room, and were victorious, but at a great price. Three of my friends perished, and I was turned into this monstrosity.” He lifted his hands. “I killed them myself, with these very hands. My other friend, the rogue Hartmund, managed to kill Stondylus. After that, my mind was my own again, but my body remained like this.

“Hartmund helped me bury our companions and went to go get help.” He stood up, slowly, watching his other head the entire time. “But he never returned. Ever since then, I’ve lived here, trying to stay out of the way.”

“Attacking the local village is staying out of the way?” Amara asked.

“That is Muck, my other head. At first, the other head was just another set of eyes and ears, but in the past few months it’s, well, it has taken on a life of its own.” He looked down at the floor. “I cannot control him when he is awake. When he is asleep, I can control the body.” He smiled, a big grin full of crooked large teeth. “Luckily he enjoys the lullabies my mother used to sing to me.”

“So you are the one that wrote the riddle on the shrine in Newkeep?” asked Khaska.

“I am. After Muck began to attack people and assert his independence, I was praying to Heironeous for help and guidance. I had given up hope, but redoubled my efforts with others’ lives at stake.

“The riddle was given me in a vision by Heironeous. I wrote it down here to keep it fresh, but Muck destroyed it when he saw the writing. So, one night, when he was sleeping, I snuck to the shrine to pray. In desperation, I wrote the riddle down there so that I might meditate on it.”

“Why would Heironeous give you a riddle?”

“I know not,” he said. “But I do know that if I can solve it, the Invincible One will grant me a dispel magic spell, even without my holy symbol. That was clear from the vision granted to me. This spell would release me from Stondylus’ spell. I could be human again!” He sighed, then moved his bulk back to where he had originally been sitting, and sat down again slowly. “But I know not why my God toys with me so. Why does he not simply grant me the spell? He grants me other spells, but not the one that will restore me.”

He looked at the group. “I fear that if you cannot help me to solve the riddle,” he paused, then rushed forward, “then I ask you to kill me now, so that Muck will harm no more innocents.”

Eryx (DM)

I took the liberty of moving the story forward to the next interesting point. I considered stopping once you got to Oldkeep to ask how you would approach the situation, but realized that, since you weren’t going to go charging in to kill the ettin, you would likely end up at this point anyway, so I just made the decision to push forward. Hope that’s okay.

Kyrnyn has asked for your help in deciphering the riddle from Heironeous. What ideas do you have? And, as a kind of experiment, I don’t want you to spend oodles of time on this. Just be on the honor system and don’t try to spend a few days thinking about it. Try to limit yourself to realistically portray the scenario that your characters are facing. Eventually Muck is going to wake up, so you do not have an unlimited amount of time.

Sayyadina
Amara would reiterate the likely importance of the reference to Hextor, and possibly a priest of Heironeous who turned away. She's also very curious about Muck: where that personality came from, why it's only started waking up recently, etc. Her first assumption would be that there is something in Kyrnyn's past of which he must seek forgiveness from Heironeous, although that conflicts somewhat with the fact that Kyrnyn still has some spells. A second idea would be that the evil wizard somehow managed to shift part of his personality somehow into the second head, though that doesn't make any sense with Amara's knowledge of the arcane. On the other hand, the fact that he killed his friends at first suggests that he was under some kind of domination until the wizard died, and the whole gradually shifting to be more ettin-like mentally is characteristic of a polymorph spell. Perhaps the wizard was at one point a servant of Heironeous who then switched allegiances, but arcanists are far more prone to serve Boccob or Wee-Jas or Vecna. Amara's also a bit bewildered by the constant use of the plural in the riddle, and would inquire about the friends with whom Kyrnyn attacked the wizard.

DeltaWolf

I don't know much about this type of thing, and I'm sure Jenika wouldn't either. So Jenika would just be ready to attack if the other head awakes.

Question: How does Stunning Fist work, I mean would it be possible to hit a head with it, if so would I take a penalty of some sort, or is that how it works to begin with?

Eryx (DM)
Not to get too spoilery, but you do not need a huge knowledge of the D&D pantheon to solve the riddle. Amara has already mentioned that Heironeous is "The Invincible," and is a good god, and Hextor is "The Six-Armed King," and is an evil god.

Crosis
I admit I don't do riddles well. But I'll do my best.

Frankly, I didn't see a question to be answered in the riddle. I thought of it more as a poem than a riddle. My ideas are either repentance, chopping off Muck's head (or both of their heads… the "one head" being both heads, as the one head must be "twice bisected"… I would vote Muck first) or hunting down Hartmund. I agree with Sayyadina in that some more background information about both the ettin and his companions would be useful.

Thevarou
Just thought I'd put the full riddle here again, for reference:

“Two head have we, but born with one.
We avenged, healed, and protected.
Our master was Invincible.
But punished we all who objected.
Heeded we the six-armed king,
And so by our god was rejected.
Thus, this is our fate:
One head, twice bisected.”

Khaska's mostly curious about the fourth line, though he's somewhat unfamiliar with human and other religions (the Maha'i have a unique concept of the pantheon). Did Krynyn murder some who didn't profess their faith in Heironeous? Would such an act be considered "heeding" Hextor? or does this refer to his time under the control of Muck? It sounds like the transformation was given as some sort of punishment, but the "twice bisected" part is confusing - Khaska was perplexed by it the first time he saw it. For if the ettin's two heads count as one head, bisected, it would seem that the second bisection could be cutting each each in two - or, perhaps, that the first bisection was a physical one, and the second bisection is the mental one he's now experiencing.

Eryx (DM)

I’ll answer your questions here in the grey box and give you all a chance to get Krynyn’s input. I’ll work this all into the narration somehow. We can go back and forth a few times here in this metabox. I’d like that.

From Amara’s questions:

Krynyn is emphatic. “I always served my God as I should. I never heeded the call of Hextor, and I don’t know anybody else the riddle could refer to.” He says it loudly enough that Muck snorts, but doesn’t wake up. Krynyn looks at the other head worriedly for a moment, then turns back. “I was very zealous in the service of Heironeous.”

“I do not know from where this new personality comes. It does not come from me, I have served Heironeous faithfully ever since I first felt the call! I never punished those who didn’t deserve it, as Muck randomly destroys and kills!”

“I don’t know about Stondylus’ religious beliefs.”

Jenika could attempt a Stunning Fist attack on Muck. It might help to stand close by and make sure Krynyn stays sitting so you can reach it more easily.

From Orensland’s Comments:

“If you were to slay Muck’s head, the wounds would eventually kill me as well. Obviously my one head has been bisected once, but I know not why it says ‘twice.’ If it had happened twice, I’d have four heads!”

From Khaska’s questions:

“I never murdered anybody. But in a world filled with evil, I did my duty to serve the Invincible One. Yes, that means I killed people sometimes, but none who were good. No worshipper of Pelor fell to my longsword. All truly good clerics must do this to serve their god. I did nothing more than you yourself will be called upon to do if Muck should awaken.”

About his companions:

“Zimmian was a wizard, mostly interested in expanding his power and knowledge of the arcane, but an honorable man. Gordell and Thorvald were fighters, but used their battle prowess to serve good means. The rogue Hartmund was in it for the adventure and the money, but he was not evil. I do not think the riddle pertains to any of them. Heironeous gave it to me in response to my pleas, but I am failing to learn the lesson my god is trying to teach me.”

BlackWolf
I think everyone else has more or less asked the questions that I've thought of and brought up the salient points. If Krynyn didn't "head the six-armed king" then who did? The second personality, perhaps? If so, who is that?

I agree that the "twice bisected" part probably isn't redundant, but I'm at a loss for what else it means. The riddle seems pretty clearly talking about the ettin; so the plural forms (e.g. "we", "our") could either be talking about two personalities or just that there are two heads.

It may be worth taking a few minutes to explore the keep, see if Stondylus left anything behind which could be a hint.

Other than that, I can't think of anything else pertinent to this. And as a character, I don't think Rynn would really be the riddle-solving type. So I'm resorting to some skill checks to see if Rynn would know or realize something that I don't:

  • General wisdom check: 12 (rolled 10 + 2 bonus)
  • Search check: 12 (rolled 8 + 4 bonus; for searching the keep)
  • Sense motive: (to be rolled by DM to gauge whether Krynyn is holding anything back; +2 bonus)

Rynn doesn't want to have to fight or kill Krynyn/Muck, but will prepare for the worst.

Sayyadina
Also making a few checks for possible info; Knowledge (arcana) and Spellcraft for anything unusual about the spell (and/or to confirm that it's a polymorph spell if that's the case), general Intelligence check, and search/spot/listen rolls for Kirza, who will search the area for anything of possible interest.

  • Knowledge (arcana): 23 (15 + 8)
  • Spellcraft: 25 (15 + 10)
  • Intelligence: 21 (18 + 3)
  • Search: 12 (9 + 3)
  • Spot: 23 (16 + 7)
  • Listen: 12 (7 + 5)

Amara would prefer to solve the riddle, both because she's fond of mental exercise and because she's extremely curious about the odd situation, but she won't put herself at risk to avoid killing the ettin.

Eryx (DM)
Rolls are good. Only Amara's really helped. Krynyn has lived here for several years since Stondylus' defeat. He's quite sure there's nothing here to help him. Scouting around isn't going to find you anything to help. The riddle is the key.

Rynn is quite certain that Krynyn is not holding back. The poor cleric is as much in the dark as any of the party.

Amara would realize that it is extremely unlikely the polymorph spell would generate a new personality. That's simply not how it works. And there are other ways of "heeding" Hextor than outright serving him.

"That is not true!" rages Krynyn, quietly. "Muck destroys everything. I only served my God and killed those that deserved it." The ettin clenched his left hand as he finished his statement.

BlackWolf
With this new information it appears (to me) that this isn't so much a "riddle" as it is a statement of facts describing Krynyn. My guess is that he did do something that "heeded" Hextor; most probably revolving around killing someone who didn't actually deserve it.

"And how do you know they deserved to die?" Rynn will ask softly.

I think the thing to do is to press this issue with Krynyn, even to the point of accusation. I don't see it in Rynn's character to do this too much — he'd tend to be more sympathetic — but I think others in the group could bear down on him quite admirably. Just don't wake up the other head, if you can avoid it.

My guess is that we need to get him to realize / admit that he killed someone he shouldn't have. If that's not the case then I'm completely stumped.

Sayyadina
I agree with that, and Amara is more than happy to interrogate. She'd probably try to bluff her way past his resistance first, if possible (i.e. "We know you're far from perfect; why do you bother pretending if you really want to be free of this?"), but is perfectly willing to try more direct tactics if necessary.

  • Bluff: 18 (10 + 8)
  • Intimidate: 7 (2 + 5)

“The line about Hextor is what I’m most concerned about,” said Amara. “A priest of Heironeous that turned away. A cleric maybe?”

Her point was not lost on Kyrnyn. He was emphatic. “I always served my God as I should. I never heeded the call of Hextor, and I don’t know anybody else the riddle could refer to.” He said it loudly enough that Muck snorted, but didn't wake up. Kyrnyn looked at the other head worriedly for a moment, then turned back. “I was very zealous in the service of Heironeous.”

“So then where did Muck come from?” she asked. “The polymorph spell would not have created a new personality.”

“Would this Stondylus have worshipped Hextor?” asked Khaska.

“I don’t know about Stondylus’ religious beliefs.”

Jenika stepped forward. “If Muck wakes up,” she cracked her knuckles, “I’ll try to stun him. Give us a fighting chance.” Kyrnyn sunk the ettin’s body down a little more, putting the sleeping Muck about the right height. Jenika nodded, ready for action. “No idea about the riddle, though. It doesn’t concern your companions?”

“I do not think so. Zimmian was a wizard, mostly interested in expanding his power and knowledge of the arcane, but an honorable man. Gordell and Thorvald were fighters, but used their battle prowess to serve good means. The rogue Hartmund was in it for the adventure and the money, but he was not evil. I do not think the riddle pertains to any of them. Heironeous gave it to me in response to my pleas, but I am failing to learn the lesson my god is trying to teach me.”

“If there is nobody else the riddle is talking about, perhaps there is some action in your past that you need to repent of,” Orensland said. Though he grinned shortly after, quietly drawing his sword. “Not that I know much about such matters. Perhaps we should just bisect Muck’s head.”

“If you were to slay Muck’s head, the wounds would eventually kill me as well. Obviously my one head has been bisected once, but I know not why it says ‘twice.’ If it had happened twice, I’d have four heads!”

“Perhaps you murdered someone who didn’t profess faith in Heironeous.” Khaska said.

“I never murdered anybody. But in a world filled with evil, I did my duty to serve the Invincible One. Yes, that means I killed people sometimes, but none who were good. No worshipper of Pelor fell to my longsword. All truly good clerics must do this to serve their god. I did nothing more than you all will be called upon to do if Muck should awaken.”

“There are other ways of heeding Hextor than outright following him.”

“I never did such a thing!" Kyrnyn raged, quietly. "Muck destroys everything. I only served my God and killed those that deserved it." The ettin clenched his left hand as he finished his statement.

“And how do you know that they deserved to die?” asked Rynn.

Kyrnyn opened his mouth, then shut it. “They were evil. Evil must be punished, as quickly and decisively as possible. Is that not what Heironeous would want? Should I not joy in serving my God by punishing them?”

“It’s clear you’re far from perfect,” Amara said. “Why do you bother pretending if you really want to be free of this?”

From outside the keep, the party heard barking. Then a yelp. The sounds of a group of people entering the keep reached their ears. It sounded like many people. The doors swung open, and a man stepped through, dressed in silver plate armor. In his hands was a large two-handed spiked mace. His cloak bore the trappings of the Knights of the Silver Dragons, and behind him came Malwick and several of the militia members from the village. The Knight looked at the situation, and realized that there was no immediate danger.

“Amara Palladia,” he said. “I came to help with the gnomes, but will now help you slay this ettin!” Malwick and several men drew arrows and pointed them at the giant’s figure.

“Shhhhhh!” the sorceress snapped waving her hands up and down to quiet them. Everybody froze. Muck had not woken up, but was stirring. “Only one of the heads is evil. The other is a cleric named Kyrnyn, trapped by a polymorph spell from the wizard Stondylus.”

“Kyrnyn,” said Malwick. The left head nodded. “I remember you. I am sorry that it has come to this, but this good Knight has convinced us that it must be this way.” He looked at the Knight, who nodded, and then advanced towards the giant.

“We cannot afford any more lives,” the Knight said. “I’m sorry.”

Malwick took aim, and fired. The arrow flew through the air, but bounced off of the wall behind the ettin. He had missed, but the other militia members were preparing to fire as well.

Eryx (DM)
I feel comfortable telling you that you’re 95% there to figuring out the riddle/poem. But Malwick’s actions have now placed you in a combat situation. Please roll initiative.

Will you try to prevent the attack, or will you join and try to finish off Kyrnyn and Muck (who, at least right now, is not yet awake)? Give me 3 rounds of actions. Speaking is a free action. You can talk and yell or whatever as much as you want.

To give you an idea of the setup, Jenika is right next to Muck’s head the Knight is about where the rest of the group is. Malwick and the others are by the entrance. There are at least four of them (including Malwick) and you think there are at least a few that haven’t entered yet.

Sayyadina
Initiative: 17 (15 + 2)

Amara would try to keep the others from firing right away by saying something like, "Stop! We know how to change him back."

  • Diplomacy: 22 (17 + 5)
  • Bluff: 22 (14 + 8)

I'll post other actions based on the result of the check.

Eryx (DM)
This is one of those places where the manner in which we are conducting the campaign breaks down, so I IMed realtime dialogue between Sayya and the Knight. This is how it went:

"How?"

"He must atone for the slaying of a man he misguidedly killed in the name of Heironeous."

"And how long will that take?"

"It will depend on the strength of his pleas for forgiveness."

"We don't have time for that." He began to advance again.

"We have until dawn!"

"Then we definitely don't have time for that." He looked at the left head. "I take no joy in this, but I cannot risk the other head's threat."

Kyrnyn nodded.

So, basically, the diplomacy failed. The Knight seems quite set on this course as the best option. He doesn't want to risk Muck, and Kyrnyn does NOT seem to be disagreeing terribly. Edit: I'm so sorry I forgot the "not" in that sentence.

You're still in combat. The Knight didn't get much further than where he was, so everything is about the same.

Sayyadina
Well, this may not be the brightest idea, but…

…casting Color Spray on the Knight and the Militia. XD "I told you we had time!" She'd then turn to Kyrnyn. "You would seem to have a history of thoughtless overzealousness, is it not so? How many times have you sought vengeance instead of genuinely seeking the will of Heironeous? If you seek to return to who you were, answer this—I will do no more to protect you when you will not exert yourself to contain the evil you claim to oppose."

Amara would not take any actions against the militia, and especially not against the Knight, that would inflict harm, and if Kyrnyn tries to argue instead of complying she might well turn on him when the militia start waking up.

Presumably it will take more than 3 rounds for the people to regain control of themselves, so we've got a bit of time.

BlackWolf
Rynn will call out to the Knight saying, "You are a paladin! You are honor bound to help those in need! Krynyn is in need. He was a cleric of Heironeous. If you don't at least try to help, you risk losing your powers and will be useless if the other head takes control."

I think Amara should wait for the Knight's response before trying color spray.

Then the ranger will turn to Krynyn. "You only have one last chance for survival and forgiveness. I don't want you to be killed, but once Muck takes control we'll have no other choice. Do as Amara has said, and quickly."

Initiative: 14 (rolled 12 + 2 bonus)

Rynn will prepare his bow and try to move to a tactically sound location. Ideally he wants us to all surround the creature. If Muck takes control, he'll begin to fire using rapid shot as much as possible:

  • Round 1 shot 1: 19 (rolled 18 + 1 BAB + 2 DEX -2 rapid shot). Damage: 3 (rolled 3)
  • Round 1 shot 2: 13 (rolled 12 + same modifiers as above). Damage: 2 (rolled 2)
  • Round 2 shot 1: 13 (rolled 12 + same modifiers as above). Damage: 3 (rolled 3)
  • Round 2 shot 2: 15 (rolled 14 + same modifiers as above). Damage: 8 (rolled 8)
  • Round 3 shot 1: 19 (rolled 18 + same modifiers as above). Damage: 4 (rolled 4)
  • Round 3 shot 2: 5 (rolled 4 + same modifiers as above). Damage: 7 (rolled 7)

If we fight and Muck goes down, we don't have to kill him. We may be able to injure and subdue him.

Crosis

Orensland, in his usual crazy way, would agree with the use of color spray. He is hoping Jenika follows through with her plans to stun Muck, as that would greatly decrease the chance of a fight breaking out. As for actual fighting, if all possible diplomacy fails, he would put up a fight against militia first if Muck has still not awoken. If he has… well, he's a danger.

…or, really, if everything goes down the drain (Muck gains control, everyone is shooting, la la la) an attempt to cut off Muck's head would still be preferable. Just saying.

I am unsure as to how close the militia is. I'm presuming they're fairly close, so I'm doing rolls for the longsword. Besides, if Muck wakes up… well, we're probably right next to him.

Oh, and tell me if I'm using the +1 of my sword incorrectly.

Initiative: 6 (1 + 5 DEX OUCH that was bad)

Attack 1: 22 (17 +1 BAB +1 sword +3 STR) Damage: 5 (1 +3 STR +1 sword)
Attack 2: 10 (5 + bonuses) Damage: 5 (1 + bonuses)
Attack 3: 17 (12 + bonuses) Damage: 10 (6 + bonuses)

Agreeing with BlackWolf, if Muck is down a fight does not have to ensue.

Sayyadina
I'm not sure about everyone else, but I would be a bit leery of actually attacking the militia…color spray doesn't actually do any damage, so although they'd probably be grumpy when they regained control of themselves, we haven't hurt them. Amara will also be more than happy to take full responsibility for what could be construed as an attack, on the basis that since they were too stupid to listen they deserved to be stunned before their stupidity got people killed.

Thevarou
Khaska does not want to go up against the militia at all. Not only would it create enmity between the party and the militia, but it could cause friction with the Knights - not what you want to do when you're going to visit them when you get to Hammerdine. However, he will not let them act impetuously and kill Kyrnyn. Without drawing his sword, but placing himself firmly between the ettin and the militia, he would say, "If I must say this, I must; we are here in the service of Lord Yellman who, as master of this realm, has the ultimate authority. As he charged us with this mission, and we believe we can solve it without battle or bloodshed, I respectfully request that you stand down." That said, he would be in favor of the use of Color Spray if the militia is insistent; however, if it would comfort them, he would have Jenika stun Muck. Then he would turn to Kyrnyn and say, "One does not earn favor with Good by indiscriminately killing all that might disagree; that is not the way to sow seeds of light. If it were, there would be no reason for us not to kill you now. But we do not wish to do so, for there is a chance that you can turn from past error; we are giving you the chance you did not give. May you understand now what you professed to serve all along, and repent."

DeltaWolf

Jenika tell them that there may be a way to save Kyrnyn, and insure everyone’s safety. However she will not take any action (other then words) to stop them. “If we do not abide the law, then who will uphold it?”

Initiative: 15 (14+1)

She will stand by Muck (but out of arrow/bolt fire) and if he awakes, hit him (hopefully in the head, but she will take what she can get);

*Stunning Fist
To Hit: 15 (12+3) Damage: 8 (4+2)

If that hits then do Un-lethal damage, flurry of blows twice. If it doesn’t stun, use stunning fist again, then flurry of blows.

*Stunning Fist
To Hit: 19 (16+3) Damage: 3 (1+2)

*Flurry of blows
To Hit: 6 (4+2) Damage: 8 (6+2)
To Hit: 8 (6+2) Damage: 3 (1+2)

*Flurry of blows
To Hit: 14 (12+2) Damage: 3 (1+2)
To Hit: 9 (7+2) Damage: 8 (6+2)

P.S. If I did this wrong, please let me know how to do it right.

“Stop!” Amara hissed. “We know how to change him back!”

“We can save Kyrnyn and insure everybody’s safety!” Jenika said.

The Knight paused and looked at Amara. “How?”

“He must atone for the slaying of a man he misguidedly killed in the name of Heironeous,” replied the sorceress.

“And how long will that take?”

“It will depend on the strength of his pleas for forgiveness.”

“We don’t have time for that.” He began to advance again.

Rynn whispered fiercely to the Knight. “You are a paladin! You are honor bound to help those in need. Kyrnyn is in need. He was a cleric of Heironeous. If you don’t at least try to help, you risk losing your powers and will be useless if the other head takes control.”

“We have until dawn!” Amara snapped, her voice whipping through the silence. The militia members looked from the Knight to Amara, then back again, clearly unsure what to do.

The Knight was undeterred. “We definitely do not have time for that. I must help all of those around me, including those threatened by the other head.” He looked at the left head. “I take no joy in this, but I cannot risk the threat. Too many have died already.”

Kyrnyn nodded. The Knight advanced.

Amara whirled and took two steps towards the entrance, where the militia members were crowding in the doorway. They were not spreading out, and were readying arrows. Chanting quickly, she invoked her arcane powers, spreading her hands in front of her. A blast of multicolored light flew forth from her hands, and most of the militia members shied away as the Color Spray washed over them.

Half of them, including Malwick, collapsed to the ground in a clatter of weapons as Orensland burst out loud laughing. Restik came through the door. “What are you doing?” he blurted out, astonished at what had just happened.

Amara turned back to the Knight. “We have the …” Amara started a sentence.

“Whu …” came a deep voice.

Amara’s face paled.

“Muck Kill!”

“… time,” she finished. She shot Restik a withering glance, but had no time for a sarcastic comment.

The other head had awoken.

Jenika moved in lightning quick and punched Muck right in the face, her entire body tensing as she poured all her strength and training into the blow.

Muck recoiled from the hit, but then roared at the monk.

The ettin began to get up, but Kyrnyn clearly was fighting back. The two heads were at war, the two sides of the body, the legs and the arms fighting each other as the cleric fought the evil head. The right side grabbed the small tree, but the left hand disarmed it by yanking the tree away and throwing it aside. To add to the confusion, the militia members that had not fallen unconscious opened fire, their arrows flying through the air at the flailing ettin, but not a single one hurting the ettin. The creature’s tough hide protected it. Muck landed a vicious blow on Kyrnyn’s head, but the cleric was unphased and continued to fight, attempting to choke Muck’s neck. The arms swinging wildly, the legs flailing and kicking, the giant was a sight to behold. Even the Knight paused, unsure if he should enter the combat.

Amara seized the opportunity. “You seem to have a history of thoughtless overzealousness Kyrnyn. Is it not so? How many times have you sought vengeance instead of genuinely seeking the will of Heironeous?” Amara practically screamed at Kyrnyn, watching the ettin’s body flail about.

“If you have any repenting, do it quick,” said Orensland, drawing his sword, but not wanting to get within range of the ettin’s flailing limbs. Only Jenika was brave enough to stand in that area. She weaved back in and threw all she could into another blow at the right head. This time the entire room resounded with a sharp crack, and the monk’s fist left a large red welt on Muck’s head. He was not stunned, however.

“You have this one last chance for survival and forgiveness,” Rynn said, stepping back and firing two arrows rapidly into the ettin. The first embedded itself in the right arm, but the second flew wide. The Knight finally got up his courage and waded into the fight, swinging his glowing mace and carving a chunk out of the ettin’s belly, the spikes tearing at the flesh.

Khaska, however, was the one that reached through to Kyrnyn. “One does not earn favor with Good by indiscriminately killing all that might disagree; that is not the way to sow seeds of light. May you understand now what you professed to serve all along, and repent! We are now giving you the chance that you did not give. Pray now, before we must slay you!” More arrows flew into the ettin from the militia. Only one hit.

“Heironeous!” cried the left head. Muck was gaining the advantage. “Forgive me.” Muck pummeled Kyrnyn. A large bruise was forming on the left head. “I heeded the six-armed king, even while in your service.” Two quick blows split Kyrnyn’s lip. He was now slurring his words a little, and wasn’t as clear in his prayer. “I realize now the lesson you have given me. Reject me no more, and grant me the spell that I may return to my form and serve you properly.” Muck laughed and hit him again. A purple bruise was forming on Kyrnyn’s forehead. “With no double-mindedness.”

Muck smashed the other head one more time, and Kyrnyn stopped talking, dazed. The ettin laboriously got to its feet and looked toward the Knight, a roar of rage and delight issuing forth from his mouth. But Kyrnyn’s head gasped, and he muttered some words quietly.

The ettin had barely taken one step when a pillar of light enveloped him. The cry of delight turned to a howl of pain, and everybody had to shield their eyes as the room grew brighter and brighter.

Abruptly the light disappeared. It took them all a moment for their eyes to adjust back to the relative darkness, but when they could see a new figure materialized next to the tall form of the ettin, a figure clad in metal plating, a shield in one hand, and a longsword in the other.

“You have saved me from myself!” Kyrnyn cried out. Then he crouched into a fighting position. “Now, adventurers, help me slay my demon! My unwitting, evil, bisected head!”

He charged at the form of Muck, which had recovered now from the bright light. The two screamed as they clashed, the giant attempting to smash the figure of the cleric—human once more.

The group converged on them. Throwing caution to the wind, Orensland ducked around the back, stabbing the creature in the leg with his longsword. The Knight of the Silver Dragons cried aloud the words of a spell before attacking again, holy light again blazing from his weapon, but the blow swung wide. Rynn began pelting the creature with arrows as Jenika moved like lightning around the creature, hammering it with her fists. Khaska also drew his scimitar, charging into the melee, yelling a Maha’i battlecry. Amara raised her hands and blasted fire at Muck, the poor creature now beset on every side and now on fire from her Burning Hands. The creature, however, was almost exclusively focused on Kyrnyn. His hands swung at the man, once, and he missed. The second time, though, he managed to catch the cleric with a vicious blow that knocked him back. Restik rushed forward, casting a quick healing spell on the staggering human.

“Your holy symbol,” the cleric cried out. Restik looked down, and then quickly jerked the sigil of Heironeous off the cord on his neck. Kyrnyn took it, and advanced back on the group as arrows from the militia continued to fly into the melee. He uttered the words of a spell and touched Muck’s leg as Muck hit Orensland with a glancing blow. The rogue managed to roll with the blow, whirling to slash the creature again with his longsword. Jenika cracked its knee with a well-placed blow, and the creature howled with pain.

Eryx (DM)
I took the liberty of rolling for Khaska since he didn’t give me initiative or anything else and had Amara cast Burning Hands three times, which is what she did with Nathan back in Codex I. If you really want to, we could go back and retcon some of it, but I’d rather not. Combat is straightforward, and I wanted to move the story along because …

You solved the riddle! Heironeous was displeased with Kyrnyn, who was sometimes extremely brutal and cruel. Truly, while the cleric observed all the proper rituals and devotedly served Heironeous, his zeal to punish evil sometimes lead him to acts of unusually callous violence against helpless foes. His realization of this led Heironeous to grant him a Dispel Magic spell. The downside is that it seems to have doubled as an weird version of an Atonement spell, and Kyrnyn’s evil half is now trying to kill you all!

Kyrnyn is a clever boy. He just cast Magic Circle Against Evil actually on Muck. So everybody in melee receives a +2 AC bonus vs. Muck. Also, the Knight has cast Bless on all of you. So you’re also getting +1 to your attack rolls.

Orensland is down to 11 hitpoints. Muck is pretty bloodied. He’s got several arrows sticking out of him, multiple gashes and cuts, and doesn’t like being lit on fire. Several times. He doesn’t seem to be doing well. Nobody from your group (yet) seems to be doing that badly, but this guy hits like a truck. Be careful.

I’m assuming you’ll just continue to attack the ettin. Give me 3 more rounds of attacks.

Thevarou

I don't mind you rolling for Khaska; sorry I didn't give you anything. I thought that once the spell was broken we'd be done, that there wouldn't be a battle. But now Khaska will attack with his scimitar.

Initiative: 10 = 10 + 0 dex

  • To hit: 4 = 2 + 1 str + 1
  • Damage: 4 = 2 + 1 str + 1
  • To hit: 18 = 16 + 1 + 1
  • Damage: 5 = 3 + 1 + 1
  • To hit: 7 = 5 + 1 + 1
  • Damage: 3 = 1 + 1 +1

Argh, those were quite awful.

Sayyadina
Amara will keep her last 1st-level spell for the day in reserve in case some other thick-skulled creatures need to be knocked out again; instead she'll look for a clear shot for her crossbow.

  • To hit: 23 (19 + 1 BAB + 2 Dex + 1 Bless)
  • Damage: 18 (10 crit + 8 rolled)
  • To hit: 6 (2 + 4)
  • Damage: 5 (5 + 0)
  • To hit: 12 (8 + 4)
  • Damage: 3 (3 + 0)

BlackWolf
Rynn will continue loosing his arrows. I'll roll under the assumption he can just stand there and use his rapid shot ability. If he needs to back up, modify accordingly.

  • Round 1 shot 1: miss! (rolled natural 1)
  • Round 1 shot 2: 10 (rolled 8 + 1 BAB + 2 DEX - 2 rapid shot + 1 bless). Damage: 3
  • Round 2 shot 1: 13 (rolled 11 + same modifiers as above). Damage: 7
  • Round 2 shot 2: 12 (rolled 10 + same modifiers as above). Damage: 8
  • Round 3 shot 1: 12 (rolled 10 + same modifiers as above). Damage: 1
  • Round 3 shot 2: 7 (rolled 5 + same modifiers as above). Damage: 1

Not a great showing from Rynn, I'm afraid. I doubt any of these will deal damage. Here's hoping this isn't a party-wide bad luck streak!

Crosis

Sounds good. Orensland would attack with his longsword again. Although, quick question- I'm down to 11 hit points? I think that's my full amount. What am I really down to?

Should we do Initiative? Just in case…

  • Initiative: 24 (19 + 5 DEX)
  • Attack 1: 9 (3 + 1 longsword +1 Bless +1 BAB +3 STR) Damage: 11 (7 + 1 longsword +3 STR)
  • Attack 2: 17 (11 +6 Bonuses) Damage: 6 (2 +4 Bonuses)
  • Attack 3: 23 (17 +6) Damage: 8 (4 +4 Bonuses)

Bad, better, ok. The bad-luck streak wasn't totally universal.

…And if the initiative wasn't meant to be rolled, maybe that could take the place of my first attack roll… just saying… :D

DeltaWolf

I am a little disappointed that Jenika was unable to stun it, but I knew that it was a long shot.

Flurry of Blows
*To Hit: 8 (5+2+1Bless) *Damage: 3 (1+2)
*To Hit: 7 (4+2+1Bless) *Damage: 5 (3+2)

Flurry of Blows
*To Hit: 11 (8+2+1Bless) *Damage: 8 (6+2)
*To Hit: 13 (10+2+1Bless) *Damage: 6 (4+2)

Flurry of Blows
*To Hit: 19 (16+2+1Bless) *Damage: 6 (4+2)
*To Hit: 23 (20+2+1Bless) *Damage: 5 (3+2) Critical?

It whirled on the monk, a vicious backhand catching her across the face, but from several steps back Amara readied a crossbow bolt and fired it right into Muck’s right head. The creature sagged, unsteady on its feet, and both the Knight and Kyrnyn hit him with vicious blows. The ettin stumbled, and collapsed. The fight was over. Muck was dead.

Kyrnyn collapsed to his knees, clearly winded from the fight. After a moment he dropped his longsword and his shield, and held his gauntleted hands up. He began to cry. “Thank you, Heironeous,” he said, the tears streaming down his face. The Knight stepped forward to inspect the body, but it was clear that the ettin was not going to recover. Khaska stepped forward and put a hand on Kyrnyn’s shoulder.

“Thank you, kind sir,” the cleric said. “It was your words that brought me the understanding my god wished me to have.”

The Maha’i squeezed, and Kyrnyn touched his hand. “They are not my words, but the gods; to give them your honor.”

Kyrnyn nodded, and then looked at the others in turn. “You have helped me fine my way back to the true path of good. I am in your debt.” He turned to Malwick. “And I am sorry for the things that I did as Muck.”

“Well, I’m not sure I’m qualified to judge you on that matter,” said Malwick. “That seems something you clerics and paladins will have to help us decide. What I do know,” he said, turning to Amara, “is that you deliberately attacked my men.” He stepped forward. “I’m placing you under arrest.” The other militia members nocked arrows and stepped forward.

“Arresting me for accomplishing what you couldn’t?” she said, while smirking. “I see why the ettin caused such a problem for your militia.”

Eryx (DM)

Well, the fight was over pretty quick. Amara’s crit may have had something to do with that. But now she’s being arrested. And I actually asked Sayya what Amara would say, so I didn’t make that part up.

I should note that half of the militia are still out from Amara's first Color Spray, but she didn't hit all of them. There are 5 left, 6 if you include Malwick. And they are spreading out. You would not be able to hit them all at once this time.

What are you going to do now?

Sayyadina
For the time being, Amara will probably just see how the next few minutes play themselves out. Depending on the reaction of Malwick, the Knight, and the rest of the party, I'll probably roll a Diplomacy or Intimidate check at some point, but not quite sure which tack she'll take yet.

BlackWolf
"With all due respect, Malwick, I'm not sure that stunning your men in an attempt to save lives — including theirs — should qualify as an attack." Rynn frowns, and continues, "I agree that my friends actions were… impulsive, but are they really cause to arrest her?"

  • Diplomacy check: 19 (rolled 16 + 3)

Rynn is trying to diffuse the situation, but won't press the issue. He's interested in what the Knight and Krynyn may say about the matter. If Malwick is determined to arrest Amara, Rynn will ask what kind of penalties would be involved. If a day or two in prison is enough for Malwick to cool down, that might be worth doing. (Sorry Amara!) Also, he suspects that others in Newkeep might be more merciful than the militia.

Crosis
Malwick. What a bonehead.

Orensland would probably leave the talking to somebody else. While normally tempted to blow a fuse, he would recognize that the situation is high strung. Also, he would be seriously contemplating the idea of dropping by their place later to wreak havoc if they continue being… well, boneheads. And if Amara is put in jail, Orensland would consider helping her break out. What would you roll for helping somebody else be an escape artist?

Again, these are the thoughts that would be running through Orensland's head. Whether or not he acts on them depends on what happens, and how he is reasoned with.

Thevarou
Khaska was surprised by Amara’s Color Spray when he saw it, but recognizes that it was perhaps the only thing that allowed Kyrnyn’s life to be spared at all. Without it, Muck may have been awakened earlier and caused more damage, perhaps killing others and necessitating the death of Kyrnyn. He might say, totally seriously, “You know not how many lives her action, though unusual, may have saved.” As a token of good faith, he would invite those of the party to sheathe their weapons; they are not meaning to harm anyone. If Malwick continues to press the issue, Khaska would again point out that the party is acting under the authority of Lord Yellman, and if he would like to explain his case before the Lord, they would be willing to accompany him. Khaska is confident that the unorthodox strategy would be approved by Lord Yellman as a demand of expediency and would let them go free; besides, it would serve to teach Malwick a little about pragmatism.

Sayyadina
Amara will try a Diplomacy check as well, adding that, "I doubt Lord Yellman would thank you for arresting a friend of his daughter; you'll have a delightful time explaining to him the necessity of my imprisonment when your men wake up completely unharmed in a few moments."

  • Diplomacy: 22 (17 + 5)

DeltaWolf
Jenika got backhanded, so does her HP go down? To what?

Jenika doesn’t like the situation, however, she feels Malwick has the right to arrest Amara. I’m assuming that she isn’t going to be executed or anything, so we can appeal to Lord Yellman. He would have the power to pardon her, yes? That is what she would feel is best.

What she would do if the party becomes physical depends wholly on the situation. (She has a strong sense of Justice)

Rynn stepped between her and Malwick, holding his hands out to both. “With all due respect, Malwick, I’m not sure that stunning your men in an attempt to save lives—including theirs—should qualify as an attack.”

“You know not how many lives her action, though unusual, would have saved,”
replied Khaska. He sheathed his scimitar, looking around at all the others. “The danger is passed. We do not need our weapons anymore.”

Orensland paused for a moment, looking at Malwick with a peculiar grin on his face, but then sheathed his sword. Rynn took his bow and looped it around his arm. Jenika was already quite relaxed.

Malwick was unmoved. “I’m sorry, but I do have the authority to arrest those in Newkeep. I am the constable in the town, and with this Knight lending his strength,” he said, “I decided that we should kill the ettin. We had a chance to end this, and made our decision to save lives. You should have respected that decision once we arrived and helped us!” He looked at the Knight.

The Knight was cleaning off his mace, wiping the blood off with a dirty rag. He shrugged. “Malwick is right, you should have respected him and his decision to kill the ettin, but I cannot fault you for your actions now that we know what was going on more fully.” He stood. “This is a matter for the local magistrates. As a representative of the Knights, now that the ettin is dead, my role here is over. I cannot pick sides.” He looked right at Malwick. “But her spell was non-lethal. We Knights use it when non-lethal force is in everybody’s best interest.”

“We were acting under Lord Yellman’s authority,” said Khaska. “His supersedes yours. We had the right to act as we saw fit.”

Malwick drew his sword. “I’ll arrest you all if you keep up this impertinence!”

Amara scoffed. “I doubt Lord Yellman will would thank you for arresting a friend of his daughter and the party he sent to help you with the ettin! You’ll have a delightful time explaining to him the necessity of my imprisonment when your men wake up completely unharmed in a few moments.”

Kyrnyn and the Knight both stepped forward. The Knight held his mace up, slightly menacingly. “I will have no more violence, however,” he said. “We are all friends here.”

“Nobody was hurt,” said Kyrnyn.

“Hey!” said Orensland. He pointed to his bleeding face and gestured to Jenika.

“Nobody was permanently hurt. And I have been restored to my human form. This is unnecessary, Malwick.”

“They should have deferred to me!” the constable said. The stunned men behind him were beginning to stir. He paused, and the sheathed his sword. “I am still placing you under arrest,” he pointed at Amara. “But just so Lord Yellman can decide how best to conclude the matter.”

“Fine,” she said. “A dead ettin, a cleric redeemed, your town saved, I’m sure he’ll be very disappointed in all of us.” She held her hands out as if to be put in irons, but he turned simply scowled at her and motioned for her to come with. His body language brokered no argument, so the sorceress began to move that way.

“I will go to Lord Yellman and beg your release,” Kyrnyn said.

“Oh, we’ll not let her be locked up for this,” said Orensland. “At least not for long.” Then he winked at Amara.

Rynn was moving towards the awakening militiamen, helping them to their feet, explaining the situation. The Knight also helped the men up, and Kyrnyn just seemed once again, enamored with his human hands.

“So,” said Orensland, “no loot lying around in this place?”

“I haven’t been upstairs since I was changed into an ettin,” said Kyrnyn. “I had to smash through the floor to get out.” He pointed to the biggest of the holes in the ceiling. “And I know that Hartmund made of with at least some of the gold.”

“Well, I think I’ll go poke around upstairs then!” The rogue said.

Malwick stood impatiently and Khaska put a hand of reassurance on Amara’s shoulder. Rynn followed the two of them outside, and watched as Malwick bound her hands with rope. The constable knew that he was being watched, and the ropes weren’t that tight. To Amara, it seemed more a perfunctory gesture than anything else.

Rynn could hear a slight whimpering off to the side. The ranger’s face grew concerned, and he looked to the side. It was still decently bright out, In the shadow of the one of the buildings, the ranger’s sharp eyes spotted a small shape. He moved closer, and was able to see the wolf pup from earlier. Apparently it had followed them after the orc village. It was injured, whimpering softly. But its tail wagged as Rynn approached it.

“Stupid think started to bark as we approached,” Malwick said. “One of my men kicked it to shut it up.”

“Yes, because the yelping of an injured wolf pup is going to keep the ettin asleep,” Rynn growled. His sarcasm kind of surprised him. Perhaps Amara was wearing off on him. He took off his cloak and picked up the pup. He guessed that several ribs had been cracked, but the small creature seemed otherwise okay.

Malwick and his party were getting ready to leave, the soldiers having assembled. The Knight was also mounting his horse, and Kyrnyn stood in the entrance to the keep, unsure which way to go.

Eryx (DM)
Everybody but Amara has time to go search the upstairs (or the rest of the keep), so roll search checks. Malwick, the Knight, and the militia are leaving right now, but you don’t get the impression they’ll be moving terribly fast. They will be taking Amara with them, but nobody feels she’s in any danger. Malwick and the Knight are both on horses, the rest of them are on foot.

Rynn, it looks like the wolf pup has taken a liking to you, and followed you. When the militia arrived, it was what barked to warn you, but now has been injured. We’ve talked about this over IM. I’d like to introduce you to what will eventually be (I think and hope) your wolf companion, when you reach appropriate level.

I will tell you that when you get to the town, Malwick will let everybody but Amara leave. She’s going to stay under house arrest until Malwick hears from Lord Yellman what he should do with her. He will be headed back to Lord Yellman’s keep himself to make his case.

What do you want to do?

BlackWolf
Yay, puppy! Rynn will happily take care of the little wolf and name her Ranna. He'll make sure her immediate needs are met and then may well end up carrying the pup when they head back. Here's a skill check just for good measure:

  • Handle Animal: 6 (rolled 2 + 4 bonus)

Ugh, bad roll. Oh well.

Regarding Rynn's sarcastic remark, I'll defer to you, DM. But please remember that sarcasm is quite uncharacteristic of Rynn, and although he's taken a shine to this pup, I'm not sure that's enough to trigger such a response. I'm not asking you to change it; just be wary of writing sarcasm for Rynn in the future please.

Rynn will stay at Oldkeep to help search the place (after taking care of his puppy) because he figures that anyone who stays may want a guide to help them home. There are still orcs out there and all.

  • Search check: 23 (rolled 19 + 4 bonus)

DeltaWolf
Jenika is glad that Amara went quietly. So Kyrnyn is going to talk to Lord Yellman, and until we hear word back I guess we just need to hang about.

Search check: 21 (20+1)
Nice!

Crosis

Malwick is a jerk. Where does he live? Orensland would scout out his place and wait for a time when he's not there and… take a look at his place. See if he has anything fun. As a fun addition, it would be interesting to smuggle some red leaf into his house. Crush it up and sprinkle it somewhere where it will burn well, like in the fireplace or kitchen stove. Or both. (I knew that red leaf would come in handy… tee hee :D) He'd probably wait until Amara is out of the fire of his wrath before he makes him really mad, however.

Looting! That sounds like fun. Here's the search check:

16 (rolled 6 + 10 bonus)

Drat. With such a good bonus, too…

I've been asked to do an open lock roll. Here you go:

17 (rolled 6 + 11)

6 again. Bleh.

Sayyadina
Amara would be sorely tempted to have Kirza untie the rope just to make a point, but she'll probably let that go for now. On the other hand, if Malwick thinks he's going to go talk to Lord Yellman alone, he's got another think coming. Amara will demand that she also be allowed to go with him to present her case, and that some of his clearly uninjured men who were knocked out also be brought as evidence. She would also ask Kyrnyn if he would be willing to accompany them for the journey, as he is one of if not the only witness who is affiliated with neither the party nor the group of soldiers (I'm not including the Knight, since he did come with Malwick). If one or two people from the party wanted to come to serve as witnesses also, Amara would welcome their help as well.

(for Malwick, re: Amara also coming and bringing the soldiers) Intimidate: 21 (16 + 5)
(for Kyrnyn, re: serving as a witness) Diplomacy: 17 (12 + 5)

Thevarou
Khaska feels that Malwick case, while it might – perhaps – have a legal basis, is instead an absurd power play by a quaint local. A few things lead him to this conclusion: first, the party is working under the orders of a higher authority than Malwick, and second, the fact that Malwick’s militia arrived shortly after we entered the house means that they sent the party off, waited a maximum of 30 minutes, and then decided (or decided beforehand, which would make it even stupider to not tell the party to tag along with the militia in the first place) to go after the party, as it was “too risky” to wait. Then, of course, they ignore any of the thoughtful aspects of the situation and go in for the kill. Even if it does show a sincere concern for one’s village, it shows an inordinate degree of impetuosity and self-envelopment to do what Malwick did. Khaska is sure that Amara will be acquitted by Lord Yellman and would be willing to appear as a witness in court (if that’s how jurisprudence works here). Moreover, he would recommend an apology for the necessity of attacking the militia be made, to demonstrate that no ill will caused the incident, but mere expediency. In all this, however, he would be sincere and at the worst stern; never sarcastic, but pointing out irony straightly; not insulting, but not ingratiating either.

Search Check

8 = 6 + 2 … Oh, how pathetic.

“You go on ahead,” Orensland said to him. “Make sure Amara is not mistreated. We’ll be along shortly. I want to see what, if anything, Hartmund left!” With that, Orensland moved up the stairs to see what he could find, taking care to step lightly on the dilapidated steps leading up to the top. Jenika and Khaska followed him.

The stairs led to a long hallway, and the three of them poked their heads in each of the rooms. The room Khaska looked into had the look of a bedroom. A bed sat to the side, as well as some various clothing items. As he opened a window, he saw that it had been borded up from the outside. Instead, a small shrine had been set up around a gold statue of Boccob. Khaska picked up the statue, feeling the heft of it. He smiled and nodded. It was a good find indeed. The large central room that Orensland investigated had the look of a laboratory. Bookshelves lined the walls, but a cursory glance at most of them revealed them to be singed and charred. A battle had taken place here. The hole in the center of the room attested it to be the place that Kyrnyn had broken through, rather than be trapped upstairs, his bulk unable to squeeze through the tight hallway. “This must have been where they killed Stondylus,” Orensland muttered to himself. He began to leaf through the books and scrolls, looking for something worthwhile.

Jenika joined him shortly after he began, the monk having found nothing of value in the remaining rooms. A chest had been emptied of whatever was in it, presumably the gold the wizard had on hand that Hartmund had taken. Together, their search turned up a few scrolls, though nobody could tell what spells they were of, and one of the unsigned books turned out to be a spellbook, but had been damaged in a fire. It looked like about half of the pages were still legible. Khaska and Rynn finished looking through the upper level of the keep. Rynn was carrying the pup, which occasionally whimpered, but seemed to be doing better. It occasionally would lick at him as opportunity presented itself.

“I see you have a new friend,” the cleric said, as they investigated a final room.

“I think I’ll name her Ranna,” Rynn said.

“A gift,” Khaska said. “We have rangers among our own people. To have found an animal companion is the mark of approval from the gods of nature. Ehlonna smiles upon you.”

Rynn looked at the wolf pup, which again licked at his face. “Gift or not, I’ll take care of this little one.”

“I have seen such devotion many times before. It will be reciprocated by the animal.” The Maha’i reached out a hand and ruffled the small wolf’s head. “Your skill as a ranger grows, indeed.”

The rest of the top floor turned up nothing worthwhile, and the downstairs part of the keep had been so hammered by Muck that there was little to even investigate. However, Orensland’s keen eyes saw three graves as they left the keep from the back way. “Must be Kyrnyn’s friends,” he said. Khaska stopped momentarily to pray to the spirits of the departed, and inform them of their success and Kyrnyn’s transformation, but soon the party left, Oldkeep fading into the background of the forest.

Rynn was able to lead them back to the village with no trouble. Just outside Newkeep they caught up with the militia. Amara looked none too happy, but was pleased to hear what they had found while looking over the place. “Let me cast Read Magic, and I will be able to tell what the scrolls are and which spells are readable in the spellbook!”

“No spells!” Malwick said.

Amara rolled her eyes at him again. “What, you think I’m going to attack the entire town and make my escape. I’m just rather looking forward to Lord Yellman’s reaction when he realizes what a dolt you are. That will be worth the trouble.”

“You won’t be coming to Hillsdale. I’ll go alone and tell Lord Yellman what has happened.”

“I have a right to be present if you’re going to accuse me!” She snapped. They were just on the outskirts of the town now. “Or at least bring a few of your men as witnesses that I did no harm to them.” She turned to Kyrnyn, smiling sweetly. “And you said you would be a character witness for me.”

“The offer still stands, my lady,” Kyrnyn said.

“And what do you think, Sir Nicholas?” she asked the Knight.

“I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure Hammerdinian laws require the accused to be present, or at least send a party to represent them.”

“That could be Kyrnyn!” said Malwick.

“Not if he is a character witness for her,” said Khaska.

“Look,” Jenika said, “we’ll just all go to Hillsdale and talk it out with Lord Yellman.”

Aranda appeared, wrapped in a cloak. The old woman looked expectantly at all of them as she approached.

“We have slain the ettin!” Malwick announced triumphantly.

“Aranda,” Kyrnyn said. “It is good to see you again.”

The woman paused, but then recognition dawned in her eyes. “I remember you. You went to slay the wizard Stondylus.”

“And was successful, but with some minor side effects.” He stepped forward. “I was the ettin. I believe we have much explaining to do. Perhaps it would best be done sitting by a warm fire or indoors.”

“Please, do come all the way into town. Many will want to celebrate the fact that the threat is gone.” She looked at him. “It is gone, isn’t it?”

Khaska nodded. “The ettin’s other head was a representation of Kyrnyn’s lesser attributes. He has now slain them, both metaphorically and literally. The danger is passed. Heironeous smiles on his cleric once more.”

The matron clapped her hands for joy. “Restik, please get Hannah and, well, anybody else. I doubt any of them slept after the militia left anyway!”

Restik jogged ahead into the town as the party made their way towards the new keep.

“And why do you have this young lady tied up?”

“During the course of the attack on the ettin, she assaulted my men,” Malwick said.

Aranda listened, with a bit of incredulity. The party could not tell if her emotion was directed towards Malwick or Amara, however. The old woman had them come into her home and tell their tale.

Orensland walked slowly until he was in the back of the pack, then snuck off to the side, darting behind a house and hiding until they were out of sight. Then he slunk through the town towards where their horse was waiting.

With the red leaf tied to one of the saddlebags.

The town was turning out to see the heroes. Aranda’s assessment of the situation seemed correct; few had gone to sleep, despite the late hour. Or perhaps it was just that they were easily awoken when word of the triumphant return of the militia spread. The people seemed joyous. And they weren’t particularly paying attention.

It wasn’t difficult to grab some of the red leaf and stuff it in a pouch, nor to sneak towards Malwick’s house. Most of the townsfolk who were up were headed towards the new keep. A few ducks and covers made it possible for Orensland to sneak away.

Malwick’s house was deserted. The lock on the door wasn’t really even a lock. Just a small wood mechanism that the rogue’s masterwork thieves’ tools easily bypassed. He glanced around, but nobody was nearby. He ducked in the house, quickly assessing what he saw. There was a fireplace with a few charred logs, but clearly the fire had not consumed them. A pot of cold stew hung over it, Orensland guessed that Malwick had left in a hurry once Sir Nicholas had arrived. The fire looked like it had just gone out on its own, and the pot was still half-full. With a smile and a grin, the rogue broke up the redleaf into small portions, crushing the leaves in his fist, and sprinkled it liberally into the fireplace. He ducked out and left.

He stepped through the crowd around the keep, pushing his way back to the front.

“Lord Yellman,” Malwick snarled at everybody. “will decide this matter.”

“And where were you?” Jenika asked as Orensland entered the keep.

The rogue smiled. “Had to use the outhouse.”

“I will keep Amara with me at the shrine,” Restik was saying. “There is room there, and Kyrnyn can keep me company.”

Malwick looked at everybody present. It was clear that whatever conversation had been going on, he had won no friends. “Fine,” he muttered. “We’ll leave in the morning.”

“Afternoon,” said Sir Nicholas. “It is late, and I for one would like a full night’s rest.”

“Noon. No later.” With that, Malwick stormed off.

Kyrnyn and Restik both escorted Amara to the shrine, but released her from her rope bonds in the meantime. The Knight asked if he could stay the night, and Hannah offered to put him up. The others slept in the new keep with Aranda, making due with the half-finished building as their resting place. Ranna curled up with Rynn, the wolf still warming up to the ranger. Rynn’s last thoughts were of Khaska’s words, that the gods had smiled upon him and sent him an animal companion. Yet his heart still ached for Juliet. He was grateful for this new turn, but saddened that it signaled, to him, another step in his new life-without his wife.

Eryx (DM)
This will end the chapter. For slaying the ettin, you all get 900 XP. We'll deal with the loot a bit later, once Amara's had a chance to examine it.

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