The Defenders of Nubereg set out on the Old Road, tasked with seeking Lord Nubereg’s scholarly sister and trying to pursue the invaders who stole the mysterious White Orb.
With no other leads to go on, the group gathered up whatever traveling gear they could, mounted up and began their journey.
The first day went by without incident, but as night fell, the weather began to take a bad turn. The close proximity of the Konkresh Mountains cause occasional spring storms, and the temperature dipped back into winter. Aki and Fossil were unperturbed, and Sha’Riven was accustomed enough to the region, but Igor, Sir Henry and Damien were all quite miserable.
The freezing rain continued for another day and night, and then something else popped up to ruin the groups’ collective day:
A deep ravine along the Old Road had had a sturdy bridge built across it, but from its current state, it looked like the attacking airship destroyed the bridge to slow any would-be pursuers.
With no other choice (except giving up and going back, which Damien was an advocate of), Sha’Riven led the group overland, hoping to find a narrow ford to the ravine. If there was such a route, it was a 50/50 chance they went in the right direction.
Night of the third day brought a deadly bit of misfortune, when a swarm of stirges killed their horses, and left Damien sorely depleted.
Greatly slowed and now on foot, the group finally found a means across the ravine and could continue onward to Denhagen.
Going got tougher, with the group injured, afoot, and walking through the wilderness. Henry and Fossil were not suited for this environment, and Damien was recovering from blood loss.
Day four was slow, but at the very least, the weather cleared up. By nightfall a huge moon near-full lit up the sky.
Sha’Riven and Fossil took watch, and it soon became clear that they were not alone.
A massive displacer beast attacked the camp, injuring Henry and Igor before being driven off. But the group was rattled, and two of its healers were near death.
To make things worse, another beast appeared. Their innate ability to shift their position (to displace themselves, as it were) made it hard to hit them, or to truly determine their number.
But as a devotee of the God of the Hunt, Sha’Riven knew a hunting pack when she saw one. And they were the prey.
Unexpectedly, the wounds on Sir Henry began to close. Turns out he had some troll blood in his ancestry, which manifested in his very rapid healing ability. While this was all well and good, it rendered him weakened in direct sunlight. While the rest of the group envied his vigor, he always saw it as a private shame and avoided disclosing it whenever possible.
Finally it was decided that Fossil and Henry (both with the ability to self-repair) would draw the beasts into a pitfall trap, and hopefully the two could recover from the wounds afterthe threat was eliminated.
Finally a total of four displacer beasts were drawn to the trap, with two of them falling prey to the pit. Fossil and Henry took the fall with the bests, and were knocked out of the fight.
Igor and Aki stood their ground while Sha’Riven and Damien struggled to hit from range. With the blessings of her God, the remaining creatures finally fell.
With Henry and Fossil both out (and both heavy bodies), the group again had a big trudge before them. They then came across a seasoned-looking woodsman who offered them aid.
He was duly impressed with the group’s defeat of the displacer pack. The monsters had been plaguing villages throughout the valley for years. The ranger offered sanctuary at his lodge until their allies recovered.
The ranger, Denerik, was part of a cohort of rangers who patrolled the region between Denhagen and the mountains to the north. Unfortunately, he had no information about the invaders that attacked Nubereg, but once recovered, the rangers would speed the group along to Denhagen,
Once settled in the lodge and Henry and Fossil lay down to recover, the group took rest…
When all of the group regained consciousness, they were deep in the woods, bound hand and foot. The sun was setting, and the woozy effects of whatever drug given the four conscious Defenders of Nubereg was just wearing off.
“Welcome, honoured guests!” a voice for from darkening woods called. Denerik, the ranger. Igor immediately recognized now the holy symbol around his neck, the sign of Erythnul. God of Slaughter
“Welcome to the Sacred Hunt! O Worthy Prey, you alone passed the trial of the beasts. Tonight, by the light of the Hunters’ Moon, you shall be offered to the greatest of hunters!”
Sha’Riven, usually quite happy-go-lucky, was incensed. Erythnul was anathema to everything Solonor Thelandira preached. Cruel wanton slaughter were all sins in her eyes.
The ranger laughed at her outrage, and introduced his “cohort” to them.
Denerik then told then that the fast approaching sundown would be when the Sacred Hunt begins. The Hunters leave them to their fate and return to their lodge, awaiting the sunset.
Fossil and Aki are first to free themselves, they then release the rest of the group. Without weapons or armour, they are simply sitting ducks where they stand. Sha’Riven was still incensed at the blasphemous ritual, and vowed to slay all of the hunters.
Their first inspiration is to head back to the trap they set for the displacer beasts. However, once they found it, the dead beasts were already removed, and the trap itself dismantled. The sun was fully set and the night of a full moon began.
So began the Sacred Hunt.
Arrows stung the group from unseen snipers, and the well-armed Hunters soon closed in. Sha’Riven got the group to split up and not let the Hunters choose the killing grounds.
Using broken pit spikes as makeshift spears, Aki managed to draw first blood, killing the ranger Raoth.
Using his innate healing, Sir Henry drew Rik-Uriik and Jekun to him, feigning lethal wounds. The paladin of Bahamut took great pleasure slaying the mockery of a holy warrior.
Now armed with Raoth’s enchanted bow, Damien took out the ettin.
With his minions slain, Denerik took on his true form.
Revealed to be a werewolf of considerable power, Denerik repels the group’s combined assaults, and kills Ivan.
The rest of the group cannot withstand his assault, and they retreat back towards the Hunters’ Lodge.
There they were able to find a dagger made of silver, which made it possible to deliver lethal damage to the monster.
Damien took great satisfaction avenging Igor’s death. After the last Hunter was slain, the group returned to Igor’s body. He was too far gone for their rudimentary skill, so instead it was decided to honor him by turning the hunting lodge into a proper consecrated memorial.
A fitting monument to a cleric of the Death Goddess.
When they returned to the lodge, they recovered their own equipment, and came across a macabre trophy room. It seemed the Hunters had run the lodge for almost a decade, preying on hapless travelers every Hunters’ Moon.
Sha’Riven was grimly satisfied to destroy the altars to Erythnul, and the group set to lay all the physical remains to rest while searching for evidence of the victims’ identities.
After laying Igor to rest, the group sorted through the rest of the remains.
This was when among the trophied remains of one victim they discovered a very interesting journal:
This evidence showed that Nubereg had been scouted for at least a year prior to the attack. And now they had a name: Nemina.
But even more interesting was the next entry:
More names, Lemisk, and quite probably the Lady Nubereg were on the trail of another Orb, and it looks like there was an active hunt for more orbs.
The group decided to press on to Dehagen and find Lady Nubereg…