Friday, May 23, 2014

PBM: Chapter 2: Handle With Care: Part 7

In which the paladin's composure is shattered by a skeleton...

GM
With the two outriders scouting around, you are able to find a safe campsite, and have no further issues in transit to it. The other side of the bridge runs to a clearly defined, half-paved road, running through a surprisingly dense forest. About two hundred yards from the river, you find a place that has clearly been used by previous traveling parties. A side trail, wide enough for the wagon, has been cut to a small clearing, about fifty feet off the road. The canopy of the surrounding trees provides decent coverage against being spotted from the sky, though the fact that the trees seem to move more than the wind would indicate is a little disconcerting. Stones have been piled around the edge of the clearing, forming a wall about two-feet high, and a stone fire-pit in the center shows signs of recent use. There is even a small feed-plot, providing extra grain for the animals. You are kind of surprised that it is not already in use when you arrive, but, given that it is just getting dark, and is pouring rain, you suspect that most travelers would probably have pressed on into the city, probably by the more easily navigable eastern bridge. Aside from the tracks of other travelers, there are no signs of predators or or threats.

As you pull into the clearing, Rant hops down from the wagon and unhitches the worn-out oxen. Teldicia starts rummaging through the stores you purchased at Jerome’s looking for tarps, stakes, and other necessities.

Lyra
Lyra helps Teldicia dig out the tent, blankets, sleeping bags, tarp, tinderbox, and cooking supplies. “What do we want to fix for supper?”

Carrying the cookpots over to the fire pit, Lyra looks around. “If all the caravans camp in the same place, won’t those who make a living raiding them know exactly where to look for them? If we’re setting watch I’ll be of more use after a few hours of rest.”

Donovan
Donovan looks at Lyra, somewhat surprised by her travel-savvy, “A watch? That’s a good idea, glad someone thought of it. I was just planning on getting a bite and going to sleep…” He grins sheepishly. “What’s the best way to do that? There are six of us, plus Amara, and everyone needs to get some sleep, Do we just take shifts?” He goes into the back of the wagon and starts looking through the food stores. “I need close to two hours in the morning to study, prepare my spells, and identify that shield, so if we’re doing shifts I can take the last one—though I guess I could do some of that on the road if someone else can drive.”

Lyra
Lyra shrugs. “I’m not really sure about the details. Mother travelled quite a bit before she settled down in Waterdeep, and was cautious to find something off the main paths, but not so poorly travelled as it had its own dangers, on our way here. She had no shortage of warnings on the dangers of travel and being caught unaware.”

Frantiska
Frantiska scans the forest once more before dismounting,and beginning to remove Thistledown’s tack. She carefully piles her saddle and gear underneath of the wagon so that they can dry out a little, and leaves Thistledown loose to graze. She then starts scouring the surrounding forest, especially near the trunks of broad-leaf trees and low-lying shrubs for caches of dried leaves, twigs, and other potentially dry tinder and kindling to get a fire started.

GM
Desite the rain and inexperience on the part of several of you, you manage to get the camp pitched with relative ease. Frantiska manages to scrounge a few handfuls of relatively dried leaves to use as kindling, but creating a fire during a thunderstorm is still quite difficult. Finally Hurd, used to a nomadic lifestyle, suggests what his tribe often did, which is to re-pitch the tent over the fire-pit to keep the rain off. Thirty minutes later you are all huddled under the tarp around a merry little blaze. The two oxen and Hrud’s sturdy pony are tethered grazing in the glade nearby, watched over by the unusually intelligent and steady warhorse. Rant collects some rainwater and treats you to a simple, yet filling soup of chickpeas, onions, and mushrooms—the fruits of his labor volunteering in the slums. By the time supper has ended, everyone is feeling a little better—even Hrud’s headache has dissipated. After two hours the storm finally blows over and you are treated to about of half-hour of daylight before you turn in for the night, serenaded by the host of insects, frogs, and night-birds emerging after the rain.

During the middle watch of the night, Hrud is awaked by the sound of a snapping twig, startlingly loud against the sudden silence of the forest around you. The fire is still burning and Frantiska sits staring at it, appearing oblivious as if asleep despite being upright with her eyes open.

Hrud
Hrud, who was sleeping in his bedroll by the fire, takes a moment to register the noise. Then, realizing what he heard, quickly rolls to his feet with sword in hand, his back to the fire. Scanning the darkness for movement, he shouts, “Sampeyan ora dijupuk kula maneh, asu-pasuryan!”

Donovan
Donovan, sleeping on an extra trap spread out underneath the wagon so as to stay dry while also not subjecting the others to his snoring, starts awake at Hrud’s shout and hits his head on an axle. He jolts back to the ground and curls up, groaning before half-crawling, half-rolling out from under the thing. “What’s all the noise for?” he asks in drawled tones, between yawns, his eyes only half-opened.

GM
Hrud hears another twig snap, followed by the sound of footsteps converging on your camp from the south and west.

Hrud
Back still to the fire, Hrud moves to face southwest, sliding his sword into his belt and taking up his shortbow as he does so. He knocks and arrow and prepares to fire.

Lyra
The thud against the wagon axle and Hrud’s shouting rouses Lyra. She motions for Amara to remain quiet and picks up her bow, quiver and broadsword.

Sword safely on her hip, she strings her bow and tries to stay out of sight near the pile of statues in the chariot, looking out the front and rear of the wagon for signs of attacker or ally.

Frantiska
The shouting slowly tears Frantiska from her reverie. Continuing to sit, very still, on the ground, she slowly looks around, scanning the perimeter of the camp for evil.

Donovan
Donovan groggily moves over next to Hrud, “What’s going on?” he asks, then says “Oh, nevermind,” suddenly remembering who he’s talking to. He draws a small, thin stiletto from his belt and endeavors to keep his eyes open as he waits for whatever it is that has Hrud on alert.

GM
Brother Rant continues to lie on his bedroll under the tarp, though his eyes are wide open and alert and his hand is on his mace. «Friend Hrud,» he whispers, «what do you see?» In a bedroll on the opposite side of the fire, Teldicia makes a small snort and rolls over. Hrud hears more footsteps from the darkness, at least two men, maybe three, and Frantiska senses a faint but persistent malignance, an evil not strong, but so ingrained as to be instinctual, almost unthinking.

Donovan
“Ok, I heard that!” Donovan blinks a few times to clear the sleep from his eyes and try to focus his vision into the infrared. He takes a half-step forward and to the side, getting closer to Hrud and making sure his back is to the fire.

GM
To your heat-sensitive vision the woods appear teaming with life, the trees are full of sleeping birds and squirrels, you spot several nests of mice, rabbits, or similar small rodents nearer to ground level. The area where the sounds are coming from, however, contains nothing that you can see, not so much as a single mouse or drowsing sparrow.

Donovan
Donovan takes another step back, squints his eyes against the fire, and turns to Brother Rant. “There is nothing out there. Literally nothing. The forest in the area where the sounds are coming from looks like it’s completely dead. . . . . .Oh shit!” He sheaths the stiletto and almost runs for the front of the wagon to retrieve the third green sword from under the driver’s bench. “Undead incoming!” he yells, trying to make sure the girls are also awake, and confident that any element of surprise does not matter a wiff.

Lyra
At that, Lyra heads to the back of the wagon to have a look around. “Do we know what kind, and how far away?” Lyra picks up her cloak where it had been draped over a statue to dry, and carefully arranges it over her dress, the soft glow of an armor spell obvious in the darkness.

GM
On queue, three humanoid forms burst from the underbrush. The first, moving the fastest is completely skeletal, devoid of all flesh, but caked with black-mud. It leaps over the low stone perimeter and runs with swift, but jerky, strides into the clearing, a similarly mud-caked, dull-looking shortsword raised for the attack. The second runs hunched-over, its long, clawed fingers almost dragging the ground. It looks feral, its eyes blazing red, its hair long and matted with dirt, and its body covered with leathery, mummified flesh. It hops, animal-like up onto the wall and waits there, crouched and ready to pounce. The last lumbers slowly out of the trees, its bloated, rotten flesh hanging loosely from its from, a massive two-handed hammer held low, clutched tightly in hands that look like they might drop off from the weight of the thing.

Donovan
Donovan grabs the broadsword and spins, clutching it awkwardly in two hands. Not knowing what else to do, he hefts the sword over his head and charges the zombie with the hammer, since it looks like the slowest and weakest.

Frantiska
Frantiska springs to a standing position, drawing two shortswords from her boots. She leaps between the skeleton and the girls in the wagon, one silvered blade ready to block its attack and the other ready to counter. “Donovan, no! Stay close! They’re less dangerous if we stick together…”

Lyra
Lyra still grips the edge of the canvas tightly, although she no longer needed it to steady herself as she steps around the chariot. She scans the surroundings for signs of the threat. A skeleton. A zombie. For the briefest of moments, her eyes met the wight’s. The bow slips from her grip, forgotten, clattering against the chariot. She screams until her throat is raw and she’s gasping for breath.

Hrud
Hrud, perceiving the clawed, feral-looking abomination to be the most dangerous of the three, lets fly with this shortbow.

Frantiska
Standing there, ready for the attack, Frantiska stares at the skeleton, as if there is something familiar about it. Hearing Lyra’s scream, the realization dawns on her, that is my sword! It had to be, the skeleton charging at her was carrying Sir Guy’s Spoon! Suddenly the memories of the last day come flooding back uncontrollably—the girl being raped, the executions, the lecherous dwarf, the rain, the weir, the water…the black water…

She gasps, choking, striving for air. She looks at the mud caking the skeleton. The black water. She gasps. That was almost me. I was in that mud. She gasps again, so hard to breath, she thinks.

She hears Lyra screaming in the background, I…can’t…breath…

She struggles for air. She can feel the water filling her lungs, her vision going black. She gasps one more time, then lets out an ear-piercing shriek, perfectly matched in tone and volume with Lyra’s, as if in stereo. Her paladin’s composure broken, her legs buckle. She looks at the skeleton one last time…

…and RUNS!

GM
Seeing Lyra and Frantiska melting down, Amara adds her own high-pitched note to the chorus of screaming. The blaring noise finally getting through, Teldicia rolls over, stuffs her fingers in her ears, and sits up, looking around utterly confused, “؟ چه همه که سر و صدا است!” she yells, in a language that is somehow painful to hear.

Ready for the incoming creatures, Hrud stands his ground and unleashes a flurry of arrows at the feral-looking abomination. Three of the four strike home, right in the thing’s center of mass, but seem to bounce harmlessly off its leathery hide without leaving a mark of any kind.

Frantiska spins on her heels to run, but is struck in the back by the fast-moving skeleton with a strong downward stab. The point of its blade slams into her back with enough force to knock her to the ground, not piercing her skin, but hurting like a blazing iron. She slumps limply to the ground.

Brother Rant leaps to his feet, mace in one hand, and shoves his holy symbol into the skeleton’s face. “THE POWER OF TYR COMPELS YOU!” he says in a bold voice, clearly unfazed by the undead creatures’ presence. Of course, it soon becomes clear that they are equally unfazed by his.

Donovan crashes upon the zombie, swinging wildly with the magical broadsword. Despite having his head turned away, trying not to look at the disgusting, rotting corpse, he feels the blade cut deep. With a sickening tearing noise, the thing’s left arm falls away at the elbow, thumping onto the ground taking the huge hammer with it.

The feral red-eyed thing stays crouched on the wall, watching the chaos intently with what looks like a smile.

Lyra
Lyra’s scream cuts off abruptly as Frantiska slumps to the ground. “No. Not again. YOU LEAVE HER ALONE.” She staggers out of the wagon, reaching out with her powers as she moves to protect Frantiska’s prone form.

Donovan
Donovan stands there holding the sword, mouth agape for a moment, amazed that he hit, let alone severed the things arm completely. He lets out a whoop and begins singing in his best death-metal growl as he gleefully hacks at the thing again.

Dancing round the bonfire as they weave their witchery
Disembrained bodies coming back from the dead
Disembowelled hands take the brains from your head
Because once you look into their eyes
You’ll see their faces is full of worms
A heap of guts in clever disguise
Their aim to make you zombified

No! (No!) It can’t be you, you’re dead! (Dead!)
No! (No!) You can’t bury me, I’m alive! (Alive!)

Lusting for treasure and killing for wealth
Enslaving the natives and toasting your health
Drums of the voodoo gods are sounding out in the swamp
Resurrection ritual, it’s you that they want
Once you look into their eyes you’ll soon become a ghoul of gore
Zombies teach cannibals to be afraid
They’re cruel like never before

Approaching the plantation at the setting of the sun
Now you’ll see before your eyes what voodoo rites have done
Retiring to your mansion to count your wealth once more
Fingernails will scratch the pine as you’re throwing back the door to say…

Frantiska
Frantiska feebly tries to crawl away, clawing at the dirt with her fingernails, but finds she does not have the strength. She croaks quietly, “Help…the water…drowning…can’t…breath…must…escape…”

Hrud
Hrud drops the bow, frustrated that his arrows had no effect. Drawing the Fang of Mace from his belt, he stalks over to the smirking creature and, with a mighty roar, swings with all his might.

GM
There is a shudder in the ground beneath the skeleton as bits of dirt and sod vanish to be replaced by a doorway to nothingness. Lyra and Rant get a brief glimpse of the ground far below as the skeleton plummets through the hole, tumbling end over end, and vanishes.

On the other side of the clearing, Donovan strikes up a song and lashes out at the zombie again, scoring a vicious blow. Hrud rushes up beside him, swinging at the wight perched on the wall nearby. Just as he is preparing to swing, the skeleton, still spinning lands, sword first, right on the head of his quarry. The impact of the magic shortsword caves in the wights skull, and the impact with the ground sends pieces of skeleton flying in every direction. Unable to stop his swing, Hrud spins with the follow through, the long reach of his blade just missing Donovan, but cleaving right through the zombie’s neck and upraised arm, sending both extremities sailing splattering into the nearby trees.

The three creatures apparently defeated, Rant drops to his knees and says a prayer of healing over Frantiska. Teldicia looks at all the fuss, sees that it is over, rolls back over and is quickly sound asleep.

For a few brief moments more, the zombie stands there twitching, headless and unarmed, then falls over and ceases to move.

Donovan
Donovan finishes his song, then strikes his best ‘mighty warrior’ pose—arms above his head, sword upraised, muscles [all 8 of them] flexed, one foot planted on the zombie’s chest. He pumps his hands in the air a few times to congratulate himself on actually hurting something with a weapon. When he notices that no one else is congratulating him, he sheepishly puts his arms down, wipes the sword off, then turns his attention to the giant hammer the thing dropped. He kicks the thing’s hand away from it and tries to pick it up, gripping it up by the head, away from where the zombie was holding it, and closer to the center of mass.

GM
The hammer is designed like a war-hammer, having a long hook behind the striking head, almost like a pick-axe, and a long spike off the top, but the head is easily twice as big and the handle half-again as long, giving it reach comparable to a longsword. The hammer is much lighter than it looks, and Donovan is able to heft it with no problems. As he picks up the hammer, the head of the hammer begins to glow with a clean, blue light, bright enough that it illuminates the entire camp.

Donovan
Donovan strikes his victory pose again, this time with the magical sword in one hand and the obviously magical hammer in the other.

Lyra
Lyra sits down heavily in the wet grass next to Frantiska, eyes wide and shoulders shaking, staring blankly at the ground where the skeleton stood. Her voice was soft, her mind clearly elsewhere. “Will she be alright?”

GM
As Donovan stands there on the zombie’s chest, the zombie’s head slowly rolls back from the woods until it is staring right at him and moans, “We are for you. We will be back…”

Donovan
Donovan lets out a scream that would do a horror-film school girl proud, then begins hitting the head over and over with the hammer until it is a fine, pulpy mess.

When he is sure that the zombie is not going to talk to him anymore, Donovan starts poking through the pile of corpse-pieces for other valuables.

GM
You find no jewelry, armor, or other valuables on the bodies. However, as you search, your trained eye notices that the funerary wrappings on the wight are covered with slightly faded magical script, almost like someone had transcribed a spellbook or scroll onto the shroud before interring the body.

Donovan
Donovan looks distastefully at the feral corpse’s smashed head, then at the gore-stained wrappings. He sighs and shrugs, “It’s been a weird night anyways, might as well get to it.” He sets down the weapons, rolls the body over, and begins carefully unwinding the rags.

Hrud
Hrud spends a moment poking at the remains of the undead, on the off chance there was still some spark of unlife in the ruined forms. Finally loosing interest, he walks over to the wagon and grabs a handful of arrows to replace the ones he’d used up to this point. The fact that the tips are different from the ones he’d used up to the point isn’t lost on the barbarian. Slowly, his mind begins to put one and one together – different arrows for different foes – that’s why his initial attack had no effect …

As the others go about the business or looting and/or recovering the encounter, Hrud takes another five arrows from his quiver, and, sitting down by the fire, dips them into one of the vials of river sludge. After coating the tips he sets them to dry on the warm ring of rocks circumscribing the firepit. Arrows for the undead, arrows for the living … and regular arrows for food. But what would happen if he accidentally mixed them up? Deciding it would be a good idea to differentiate which arrows are which, he stains the fletchings of one subset with ash the other with some damp redish clay around the campsite.

Frantiska
As Rant’s spell takes effect and the strength returns to her limbs, Frantiska immediately resumes crawling away as quickly as possible. She crawls alternately panting, gasping, and crying, then scrambles, rising, then breaks into a run, leaping the low wall and disappearing into the forest.

Lyra
Lyra rises and walks over to Donovan, her lilting elven unusually shaky. «Teldicia just spoke Baatezu, and cast darkness with neither word nor component earlier. And those things…. Its eyes were full of hatred, and the promise of something worse than death.»

Donovan
Donovan looks at Lyra’s red-rimmed eyes, «Just wait til you see what that thing had written on its clothes,» he bundles up the wrappings and shoves them into his pack. He then looks startled as Frantiska resumes her running, apparently oblivious to her concerned friends tending her. “Should we go after her?”

Donovan is just getting ready to run after the elf-maiden when he stops, suddenly realizing what Lyra was saying. «So the reason Teldicia doesn’t speak elvish is that she’s a devil-in-elf’s-clothing? I guess that would explain the extra-large yabos too…» He looks intrigued. «Do you think she’s maybe one of those temptress devils?…» He zones out for a moment, then snaps back to attention, «Oh, right, Frantiska. Time to go rescue the third of our lovely traveling companions…» He takes off running.

Meanwhile a few hundred yards away…


Hrud
For some reason, Frantiska suddenly have a very vivid mental impression of Hrud talking to her in her native tongue, despite not seeing or hearing him. “Where are you going?”

Frantiska
Frantiska stops dead in her tracks. «What?!» she says aloud. She looks around frantically. She recognizes Hrud’s voice, but can’t see him. Selune! I must be going insane! I’m imagining the barbarian’s voice in my head. He can’t speak elvish. She screams and starts running again. Selune! Why can’t this day just end…

Hrud
“Not elvish. Not speaking at all. Mind-talking.” You get the impression of a thought derailed and sudden curiosity – not so much oblivious to Frantiska’s terror, as unable to comprehend it – “Selune …” Another impression of waiting, as if waiting for another to arrive, “I wonder if could hear her through you?”

Frantiska
Her mind is filled with images from the past twenty-four hours, juxtaposed upon each other chaotically. Orcs with their man-parts hanging out, flaunting their violent, sexual nature at her. Tidal waves of black sludge crashing down upon her. A girl, battered, and bloodied, her sacred parts mutilated by the foul touch of men. Drowning. A tower crumbling and falling into a lake of utter darkness. Drowning. A dwarf with piercing blood-red eyes staring at her, through her. Donovan, his face a grotesque mockery of desire, his hands reaching for her. Drowning, always drowning. An ancient and decadent city, awash in blood and filth, water and fire, black and crawling with verminous men.

The images quickly become replaced with a sense of nakedness, exposure, violation. Instead of the girl, it is she who lies battered and exposed. Instead of the orcs it is Hrud, forcing himself upon her, violating the sanctity of her mind. Fear wells up, greater than before, accompanied by rage, righteous fury at having been so violated. She stops running. She stands panting with exertion, her rage building. «Get out of my head!» she screams aloud.

She turns and begins walking purposefully back towards the campsite, her head now filled with images of her cold-cocking Hrud yesterday. Images of her slaying dozens of kobolds with her arrows. Images of hacking fish-things from the air. Images of her strength, the power to meet out vengeance. She walks back towards the camp her mind filling with the desire to destroy her enemies. The enemy. The one who could violate her so fully. She smiles as she walks back, her mouth changing from a rictus of terror to the calm smile of one who has made a decision. She draws her longsword and talks to herself as she walks, a bit of poetry perhaps, a thing to focus her mind on the task ahead.

“Love no god, that would not extend her might, only where
qualities were level; Selune queen of virgins, that
would suffer her poor knight surprised, without
rescue in the first assault or ransom afterward.
This she delivered in the most bitter touch of
sorrow that e’er I heard virgin exclaim…”

Back at the camp…


Hrud
“Enteni!” Hrud calls after Donovan. “«Rant, Frantiska is coming back, but she is confused and angry»”, he says, turning to the cleric. Then, completely without irony, adds, “«Her head is messed up».”

Lyra
At Hrud’s shout, Lyra looks up, from where she realized she’d been staring at the shattered ruin of three undead. She looks over to Rant. “What did he say?” When she hears his translation, she pales, trembling. “What did he do?”

Donovan
Donovan looks back, trying to make out what Hrud and Rant are shouting, and trips over the low perimeter wall in the process. As he disentangles himself, he finally catches on to what is being said. “She’s what?!”

Hrud
Rant translates, “«I asked her where she was going».” After a moment’s thought, Hrud adds, “«Maybe she wanted to be alone»?”

Lyra
Lyra wrapped her cloak around her tightly. “You can’t just do that to people, it isn’t right!” She hadn’t known that either when she first came into her powers, but she had been very young. She didn’t know a lot of things then, but she learned. And so must he.

Hrud
Hrud gets to his feet in a huff, giving the impression not of a raging barbarian, but of a hormonally-imbalanced teenager, “«I didn’t even know I could do it until yesterday. Teldicia was all like ’it’s about time’ when I contacted her. And you didn’t say anything to me about it after I made us all incredibly rich.»”

Hrud sees Rant doing his best to not simply keep up with the rambling diatribe, but to allow for the various cultural and linguistic differences in their languages.

“«You don’t know what it’s like to be surrounded by people you can’t talk to – and who look down on you because of it, not that they weren’t already (Don’t act like you don’t think you’re better than us). And suddenly, when I find out that I can communicate, Frantiska goes insane and you start lecturing me on how I’m doing it wrong! If I had a choice in the matter, I wouldn’t even be here right now.»”

Frantiska
As Donovan recovers from tripping over the wall, he look up to see Frantiska, about as disheveled as the elven woman could possibly appear, with red-rimmed eyes, still-soaked hair, and the old black cloak belted around her as her only clothing, stalking towards him, a longsword held loose and ready in her left hand. She whispers as she walks, “Love no god, that would not extend her might…”

Lyra
“You found out you can communicate, and when I resisted because I wasn’t expecting it, you pushed through anyway! Most people can’t even do that much. Do you have any idea how that feels?!” Lyra stopped abruptly, deliberately slowing her breathing until the heat passes. “You don’t even realize how dangerous this is, to yourself, or others. Touching either of our minds after that, you’re lucky you’re not insane yourself!”

Hrud
“«Resisted? I don’t …»” Hrud starts to argue, when he catches sight of Frantiska bearing appearing by Donovan. “«Don’t attack!»” he shouts.

Frantiska
Her eyes scan the clearing, falling on Hrud, burning with intensity, “only where qualities were level…” She looks right past Donovan as is he did not exist, steps over the wall and stops, hearing Lyra’s words. “After that? Insane?” she whispers to herself. She throws down the sword, turns towards Hrud and charges, her hands beginning to glow.

Donovan
Apparently spared, rather than getting up, Donovan scrambles behind the low wall and lies down, hoping that Frantiska won’t notice him when she’s finished with Hrud.

GM
Hrud quiets and stares at Frantiska, concentrating, sweat beading on his forehead. Frantiska clears the distance in a few bounds and…

Frantiska
Frantiska swings, but instead of hitting Hrud, her arms go around his neck. The cold, white light from her hands spreads and encompasses his entire body, filling him with a sense of well-being, and she kisses him full on the lips.

Lyra
Expecting the cure, but not the after effects, Lyra turns bright red and looks away. Rant being in that direction, she turns redder and stares at her boots.

GM
Hrud’s head suddenly explodes into pain, worse than any he’s felt before. His skin becomes hot, the veins in his head bulge and throb, his eyes go wide, and then his body relaxes. A small trickle of black liquid seeps from his ears.

Frantiska
Frantiska maintains the kiss until Hrud’s body relaxes, then pushes him sharply away and stalks back to the wagon without another word.

Hrud
Hrud slumps to his knees, completely stunned. Feeling his bedroll beneath him, he allows himself to fall over and curls up into a fetal position. Frantiska’s kiss, aside from the sudden onset of unexpected emotions it stirred up within him, had also cleansed him and stripped him of his new-found powers. The barbarian was now several orders of magnitude outside of his ability to comprehend or articulate everything that had happened to him in that split second. Rolling over so the others wouldn’t see his tears, Hrud lay there until the emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion completely overtook him.

GM
As the yelling and the drama dies down, Rant walks over and helps Donovan to his feet. “I think it’s safe to come out now…”

Donovan
Donovan allows himself to be helped up. He thanks Rant and goes to collect the sword and hammer, putting both beneath the driver’s seat of the wagon. He mumbles “goodnight” to no one in particular and crawls back under the wagon to sleep off the events of the last several minutes. As he dozes off, he contemplates the buxom devil-ess on the other side of the fire and wonders how much souls were going for these days.

Lyra

Lyra heads back into the wagon and carefully unstrings her bow before curling back up in her sleeping bag. The disciplined breathing she’d been forcing herself to do for the last several minutes giving way to sobs.