It is with no small relief that I inform you of our victory over the foul creature – truly, it was a close thing, and were it not for divine guidance, I feel we would not have been victorious.
Shortly after the ceremony of life to bring back the slain, Smriti and Ignatius disappeared, and in their place appeared Kumori. He asked the thing one who has been taken far from home always asks first, which is how long has it been, but since it was but a day, was somewhat relieved to have not been parted from us.
This lead to catching him up, including my plan to consult a druid, since it seemed like a fey creature – despite having dealt with fey in the past, including the satyr and faun, as I believe Kumori met the faun (though that could have been Cian, it all blurs together)… well, the idea that such creatures are part of nature and not some demon is odd to him, to say the least.
In order to find a druid, I took the low road, and Kumori took the high road – my contacts spoke of a poison merchant while his spoke of a medicinal herb merchant – both agreed he was often sought out to be a ringer for the moon-melon contests in this insane town in which we find ourselves.
I spotted the druid, a Bartholomew the Hermit, but Kumori took the lead. I was helpful in translating, as some ideas in Common are not as clear, so I was switching between Drusan and Kaidanese. Ian helped at times to decipher my translations, because I have a good vocabulary, but Ian knows more of the specialized terms, so he would say ulna where I might say bone.
He told us a lot about the creature, including confirming my suspicions that Kumori’s arrows would be of great use to face it, and that it would be folly to face it with anything but a cold iron weapon. Also, the creature was like a halfling pickaxe – the nature of the creature was odd, almost like it was opposite what it ought to have been.
With greater intelligence behind us, we sought out the wizard in his potion shop, where we acquired 5 scrolls of glitter dust and a potion of dark vision. He gave us these items at cost thanks to the paperwork showing us as deputies from the night before, as a good citizen, and we left behind enough for a pair of scrolls of dark vision as well, just in case we were not successful today. Thankfully, we were, so I shall make sure he doesn’t waste his time on that commission. Still, it was 700 gold well spent, and I shall ask Kumori to mention his name in the telling of the tales that I am sure will follow.
The next stop was to find Cold Iron weapons, and we found a man from the Hordelands who found Kumori’s armor interesting, and was working on some arrows. He apparently had some cold iron weapons – a falchion and a short sword as well as an axe and maybe one other item – I was interested in the short sword, Kumori the falchion, and we knew not what, if anything, Smriti may want, so we did not find anything for her. We gave him 200 gold for the weapons, as rusted and dull as they were, and he threw in ten additional arrows, since he was going to leave and go back to his homeland with our purchase.
We sought out help from the Singer and other divine aid, but they had either fled to return after news of the creature’s demise or had too much on their plate to help.
Thus, with directions to the creature’s lair, the sun still overhead, weapons to face it, and few options to heal from the attacks, we went off to find and slay it.
The trek was interesting and somewhat slow, with Ian and Kumori trying to spot the tracks and follow them – I was little use, for despite my ability to see fine details, I have no skill when it comes to telling from a broken branch which way a creature went. It was about 90 minutes later we came to a patch of difficult land, and began to cut our way through it – we were asked to stop by a fairly good looking woman who asked for a trade – a blow to us for the blows we delivered to her land.
Knowing that we had no way to recover from whatever it was, after the adventure in the monastery and the lack of Iz, Ignatius, and Dusky, we were all reluctant to volunteer, but being the heartiest of the lot, and the most unlikely to be hit squarely by the creature’s claws, I volunteered. After her touch, I felt weaker, and the soles of my feet were sore and blistering… it was as if granite had been made into mud.
Still, with her land safe to pass through for us, we pressed on, until we came to the creature’s lair. Ian had spent a good amount of his focus for the day, and maybe Kumori had also spent some, where I was as fresh as could be, eager to face the creature.
However, the bad news was that it was apparent that the child had been dragged through a tight space by the creature, leaving behind a bloody orifice through the brambles, one I could fit through, and maybe Ian could fit through, but which Kumori would not likely be able to fit through.
That meant we’d have to knock down the door, as it were, which only Kumori could really do, and Ian or I could maybe try to help, but I certainly have little in the way of slashing since I’ve long abandoned the axe, and Ian borrowed the naginata to slash over and around Kumori. This had the unfortunate side effect of the creature, which may have sensed us anyway for all the various gifts it has, definitely being aware of us.
It couldn’t do much without being able to see us, so it tried to spook us with the aura of fear, and Kumori was shaken by it, which was unusual for the brave samurai to be afraid. Once we finally got through the area to the point where it could see us, it loosed the spell with the deadly illusion at Kumori, who failed to disbelieve the illusion, and despite his resolve, nearly let the illusion of the Emperor kill him.
Kumori took two such spells before we closed on it, and I spent a moment using an oil of magic weapon I’ve carried with me for many a day on my cold iron short sword, and Kumori did likewise just in time for me to face the deadly illusion, which I managed to overcome having foreknowledge of it, unlike Kumori.
The lair was in about a foot of standing water, so it was difficult to move around through, and despite Ian and I both having dark vision, the creature had cover to hide. We managed to flush it out, with Ian using glitter dust to cover an area likely to contain it, but it was very mobile and difficult to pin down.
Kumori did land a solid blow, and the creature backed off, leaving me the question of waiting to hope it struck or trying to save the child – I went to the child, and my cautious nature allowed me to spot that he was in a cleverly positioned trap. I warned the team and was going to step away when Ian told me to disable it, because the creature may gain some profane bonus for having the victim literally in harm’s way, and so I did.
It targeted Ian at some point with a spell that made him incredibly sad, possibly in retaliation for trying to electrify it with a blast of lightning; he felt victim to the spell, and though he was not shaken, the difference is more one of emotional state than effectiveness for the most part. However, when the creature lashed out, having caught Ian unaware, he was very badly hurt, and withdrew the next round in a frightened state. That left Kumori and I to try to hurt it, and I am poorly built to catch up and get into a position where it could be hurt. Had I been wiser, I may have asked for a scroll of haste for Ian to help us slay the beast.
Ian fled, and even though he was not hasted and could not fly away, he has a good speed, so he was far away quickly while Kumori and I faced the beast, trying to kill it. It was during this period I noticed that it seemed to be healing from the blows Kumori had landed, and so it was extra difficult to kill.
It retreated into the brush, leaving us wondering what to do – do we go for the boy or wait for Ian to return? Our weapons were losing enchantments, but we didn’t want to go back into the den separately.
The creature turned the ability to suggest a course of action to us against us at this point – it suggested to Kumori that he should rescue the boy, so he went to do so (without caution) and I followed only to be suggested that I rescue Ian, which is like suggesting a water bucket be used to wash a giant – sure, it can be done, but it’s a very slow process.
This was the creature’s goal, and so Kumori went to rescue the boy. He hacked at the branches that bound the boy, and thrust his cold iron falchion into the wall to have both hands free to pull the boy down from the tangle of brambles that held him aloft.
It was this that ultimately killed the creature – for it did not spot the change in the environment it knew so well, and turned from gas to solid in that same area, with the hilt of the falchion embedded near it’s fey heart. The surprise and pain dazed it momentarily, which allowed Kumori to draw forth the hilt of the falchion from the dazed creature, and strike it once in the gaping wound the cold iron weapon left in its wake before beheading it.
I asked Kumori how he overcame his fear, having spent his resolve, and he said that he warned all the demons of the underworld he felt at his heels to spare his life that he might send them a more foul soul in exchange. Such a bargain carries with it a possible for the future to be even harder, but for today, the innocent boy lived. That will have to suffice.
The witch whose domain we passed through earlier made good her promise, and released me from her clutches, seeming somewhat happy that we carried the child with us, and the creature would not pass through her area again.
As I write this, Ian is sleeping, Dusky is tending to the boy alongside his parents, and Kumori is looking for someone to bless our weapons so these crude cold iron weapons could be made into better representations of the craftsmen’s skill.
I hope this good news finds you similarly well.