Rapacious Basterds

A Bar a Cave a Gnome and..............a Water Monster?

The Basterds, rather chuffed at having just completed the destruction of a pirate galley, some walls surronding a holy citidel and pissing off a bad ass paladin retreated to a local inn in an attempt to maintain some level of anonymity ( as much as nine strangers who waltz into a port town and start a bar fight the day before all hell breaks loose).

It was in the bar on the ground floor of the inn that Kira overheard the barkeep arguing with a woman who Kira assumed to be his wife about something to the effect of " no I won’t call em, its none of my business" “But the reward….” " “They are paying customers”. curious, and alarmed, though more alarmed based simply on his knowledge of the kind of characters that made up his party, Kira waltzed up to the barkeep (having first made sure to deactivate his skank armor) and inquired of the barkeep as to the nature of his argument. As he did this the woman departed rather hastily toward the kitchen. " Ehem um Umm…you heard about the goings on last night eh?" “Well of course” Kira assured him. “Well to be honest” the man continued “many believe your party was involved.” Though not surprised in the least Kira appeared taken aback defending himself by stating quite forcefully that he had spent the day at the local infirmary curing the ill. " Well of course I’m not saying you did" the man responded to the cleric fearing the possibility that the strange cleric would interpret his words as an accusation. “I heard something about a reward?” Kira inquired “Yes yes… there is a thousand gold bounty being offered for either the people or the know whereabouts of those responsible for last night” " Do you know who is putting forth the money?" " To be honest no, but the members of The Citadel surely have the resources to put forth such a sum…. But to be fair The Sealord would not be above such an action." In a feeble attempt to throw the local populace off the basterds trail Kira, having previously gathered the knowledge as to the power of “The Association” (aka the thieves guild) and the lack of previously agreed merchant fees being paid to them by Sealord and his trident followers, Kira put forth the notion that it was quite possible that The Association might very well be the ones responsible, as he did this Kira also put forth a good amount of coin into the palm of the Barkeep. " Oh, OH! the barkeep stated in a surprised look, the barkeep responded. " Well that is certainly something that I had not heard but I do see how it very well might be true." The barkeep pocketed the coin. You know, it very well could be unwise for you and your comrades to stay the night here" the Barkeep not so subtlety hinted. nodding his head towards the kitchen. With that Kira thanked the man for his time and went up stairs to consult with his brothers (and sister) in arms.

Upon Kira’s very eloquent relay of his knowledge to the party The Basterds determined that the best course of action would be to send Saleaan the druid out as an eagle to scout the island for a place to hold up for the night that was beyond the immediate reach of The partrols of The Citadel. Upon his return Saleaan told his party of a cave entrance two hours north of the towns border that seemed touched for at least two weeks. With the exception of Khord, Ikotosh, Woodchuck, and Blair; who opted to find a different, third tavern in which to consume alcohol, the party took off towards the new found cave, somehow managing to make it out of the city without attracting the attention of The Citadel. With Bale in the lead (the only member of the party with dark vision present) the party set out down the cave in in order to determine what lay at the other end of the water worn shelter. It was then that Saleaan noticed something move just out of site, he motioned for everyone to stop, but having taken the lead Bail did not see and thus did not head said warning and charged on through thus tripping an alarm that brought him to an encounter with a Gnome on a rock wearing a very funny little mask of some sort. “Why are you here?” the Gnome queried of him, “Cool mask the Drow responded why are you wearing it?” It is my land you are intruding upon I have a right to wear what I want in my own space. " Very true Bale thought, and reflected as to the ludicrousness of his inquiry. I have a friend you should meet. " Is he well mannered?" asked the Gnome “Define well mannered” replied Bale as he thought of woodchuck, on the dead ranger and the scar on his leg. This gave him pause as to his use of the word friend. He then noticed Deracles shadow coming ’round the corner, and put his fingers to his lips quickly explained that his companions who were on their way were unaware that he spoke more than a few words at a time and scampered back to the group. The gnome smiled and sat waiting for a few moments for the full party to arrive.

After a very long exhaustive exchange between The very magical very powerful gnome in a funny mask, a charming cleric, a brutish bloodthirsty fighter, and a Druid raised by wolves (read into that what you will) it was determined that The Basterds would fulfill a contract for the Gnome who apparently worked for The Association, that involved the ambush of a trade negotiation between members of The Trident and another unknown fourth party That the Basterds would keep the loot from said trade, and that they could fulfill their short term goal of a place to rest for the night. In addition Bale learned via three deep booming voices that he could not go right, nor could he go left, but that the bathrooms were in the corner.

Upon arriving at the place of the exchange the basterds readied themselves, Woodchuck by hiding in a clay whole made in a rock by Saleaan, Ikitosh by berrying himself in the earth so as not to be detected, Bale by transforming himself into a statue on the beach, and then realizing he was on a beach and following suite with everyone else and hiding behind bushes that were on the edge of the sand. And so they waited, and waited, and waited.

Finally come nightfall five humans came onto the beachhead in a three forward two aft formation. one of the five jumped up on the rock in which woodchuck hid and gazed out to see trying to spot the boat that carried their merchandise. (For some reason Ikitosh could not shake a strange fear that he might come face to face with his bride this evening) As he contemplated the possibility of this Bale used his hat of disguise and transformed himself ( rather poorly) into a member of Trident, he then marched up to the leader of the group and greeted him, the leader looked at Bale quizzically as the boat came to shore, there was something about this Trident guy, “I’m here to help unload the cargo” Bale stated quite plainly. The leader dismissed his misgivings and waved bale over to the half drows that were hopping out of the boat so as to take part in the exchange. As one of the original five was about to hand Bale a parcel full of some substance he paused and squinted at Bales face noticing something odd. Just then a loud crack sounded and the leader of the original five experienced a very hot loud painful blast coming from a projectile thrown by a Dwarven Rogue. Not to be out done Deracles Charged, as hard and as far as a maniac encumbered by large amounts of plate armor can. Ikitosh having heard the blast burst out of his earthen slumber and charged one of the five. Saleaan followed suite by summoning a ball of fire right on top of one of the half drow. Kira, not knowing bale’s location at the time sent out a sonic boom thus stunning the drow and all the half drow that surrounded him. Blair charged in attacking ferociously the same enemy that Ikitosh had set his sights on. Rassa Fired a lightning bolt right at two of the enemy who happened to be perfectly in the wizard’s line of fire. It was at this point that Woodchuck sprung out of his clay hole at blasted a thirty foot wide cone of flame towards the bulk of the enemy, unable to move as a result of the stun he was delt by the undiscriminating cleric Bale was caught most intentionally in the crossfire ( as he was still disguised as an enemy) The enemy reacted with force slicing back with various weapons striking a few good blows on some of the more forward of the Basterds The leader of the original party however did not strike with sword, staff or club, but summoned a giant water elemental to fight in his stead. The fighting continued, Deracles again moved closer to the battle, his rage turning to frustration at watching blood shed without his participation. After the third of the original five summoned some toxic gas to aid him the druid sent his wolf in to aid in the assault. In addition he moved his flaming sphere over to the elemental summoner, The liquid monstrosity was wreaking havoc, just as Deracles was able to join the battle he was scooped up by a watery whirlwind and taken out to sea. Ikitosh continued his assult on the leader who then conjured up three identical decoys to aid in his bid for escape Rasa having been knocked prone off his feat scrambled back and hastily fired a bolt of lightning straight through his assalents torso as this happened a look of shock and inhuman anguish came across the mans face as he crumpled lifelessly to the floor, By this point the Toxic fumes had gotten to Blair who was now hurling up yesterdays beer in a most violent fashion. The druids ball of flame slammed into one of the summoners duplicates causing him to evaporate as Bale realized the danger he had put himself in so he removed his disguise so as not to incur the wrath of the gnome once more. but this caused the half drow, now startled to learn they had been duped to turn on him, in addition he also suffered a most debilitating blast from the watery beast. all the while Deracles was being taken further out to sea after Khords failed attempt to cleave the gas man in two Ikitosh evaporated another illusion, now down to just him and his one decoy the leader of the opposing forces made a full retreat to the sea, this only provoked the druid who transformed himself into a hawk and took off after the man. Now surrounded on three sides by a wolf and two dwarves and noticing the loss of many of his comrades another of the original five retreated towards his leader in the hopes of escaping with his life. At this point Bale was on the verge of death, face down in the water unconscious it was only a matter of time before his life was brought to a close, though noticing the ferocity with which the basterds fought and their dwindling numbers the enemy was too distracted to notice this otherwise obvious fact. It also helped that Ikitosh was bearing down on one of the drow’s assailants in a bid to rescue the rogue. Rasa having returned to his feet fired another lightning bolt killing another enemy. The wolf took off after the second of the retreating men and made a second failed attempt at the jugular. However his Elven companion was having much better luck having just fired a second successful lightning bolt at The Summoner. In all the confusion the Watery giant lost focus on the crazed human fighter and focused his energies on the crazed half orc fighter instead, smashing him with brutal wall of H20. As such Deracles grabbed a single breath of air, sank to the bottom of the sea and began to slowly march on it’s floor towards the shoreline. At last the Druid managed to fry the party leader with a third bolt of lightning that rained down from the heavens, causing the water elemental to loose form and purpose and be lapped up by the tide, just prior to this however, Blair who had finally recovered from her stomach convulsions was able to rescue the Drow from drowning, and so…battered and bruised the basterds finished off the remaining enemies, and thus won the day…….and apparently in addition to a decent sailboat some packages of very valuable narcotics.

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In Which Woodchuck Meditates

Having discovered an new interesting line of thought within the dense thicket of interpenetrating codices tattooed upon his arms, Woodchuck removed himself from the rest of the party and began to meditate. Suddenly he found himself standing within the ancient forest of Dunharrow peering up at the noonday sun. He could feel the heat radiating towards him, covering him, drowning him, and yet filling him with energy. Struggling within that sea of power he fought to find the point of balance, of harmony. Strangely his mind drifted to the method of meditation training his master had used; the candleflame, staring at it, becoming one with it. And then suddenly in his hand sat the very same candle, with that the sun raced across the sky to pass beyond the mountains. There once again time paused as the deep crimson of the final light of sunset settled like a veil over the world. The last point of light before darkness set in, still powerful enough in its moment of greatest weakness to hold the darkness back. Strength is weakness, and weakness strength, like a cycle or… a circle. As he glanced at it, the very first tattoo he had received, the one of the great cycle, glowed upon the back of his hand. Then, to his horror, the night set in. Darkness hung thick like a shroud from every bough as the thin sliver of a new moon sat alone like a single hairline flaw in the otherwise uninterrupted jet black sky. In this setting, this darkness, the memories returned and with them the world he was in shuddered and blurred in time with his emotional turmoil. The creature might still be out here hunting him, as it had that night long ago when he had felt its breath across the back of his neck as it had played with him, letting him think he had escaped and then setting him aflight again driving him ever deeper into the darkest parts of the forest. Blows landed but only wounded, never to kill. It had killed the others fast, oh gods… so fast, and now it wanted to prolong the hunt, to prolong his misery…. But no, NO… this was now, not then and while this was not a safe place, the creature was of no concern here. Here he was the predator, here the darkness was his ally, and he drank it in. He unfocused himself as he had learned hunting in this forest, for not just standing still would hide you well enough. You had to be the hidden observer, floating and ready. With your eyes open… Above him the moon opened in the sky like an eye. Then he too opened his eyes, which glinted briefly with an internal light, and smiled.

(Woodchuck was not present for what happened to the rest of the party during the intervening time and thus it was not of the slightest significance or importance)

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You're Holding the Map Upside down...

After gaining the patronage of the lord in payment for putting down his demonically inclined steward, the Basterds decided it would be agood idea to let things cool down in the city for a bit and agreed to follow the old treasure map they had stumbled upon earlier. From landmark to landmark they traveled, always finding evidence of another party having recently been there as well. Eventually the Basterds ended up at a massive ravine, at which point the map directed them to enter a tunnel to proceed. The spoor at the entrance indicated that they had once again been beaten to the landmark and that they would have to leave behind their pack animals as the other party had driven off theirs earlier.

After following the tunnel a good distance, the party stumbled upon a group of elves being ambushed by drow. Loathe to miss any opportunity to profit, the Basterds charged in and succeeded in driving off the drow. After making sure that the drow were truly gone they took stock of the situation; the drow had carried off all the survivors, save one, and left the corpses to scavengers. All that the party could get from the shocked survivor was that they would be rewarded well if they went and retrieved her comrades from the drow. With that bit of information the Basterds began a dogged pursuit into side tunnels after the drow, who would be slowed down by the potential slaves they were traveling with.

The gnome, Woodchuck, sprang the ambush the drows had set while jumping ahead of the party to reconnoiter the caverns ahead, and but was able to dash back to the party in time to give warning. A lengthy battle ensued with magics and poisoned arrows flying overhead and the drows using their superior knowledge of the network of caverns to their advantage. In the end the Basterds rallied and routed the drows, killing many, and capturing one as it attempted to flee. When they attempted to question it, however, the survivor of the previous ambush killed him with a spell. They did recover the line of potential slaves though and headed onwards towards the settlement mentioned by the survivor to claim their heroes welcome.

And what a welcome it was; a massive feast in honor of the heroes who had saved the patrol. As usual the Basterds indulged to excess in the wine, food, and women. Bayle attempted to explore with the help of his disguising hat but was stymied at every turn and had to console himself, after having his pants turned neon pink, with seducing the prettiest dancing girl present at the feast. When the two left alone, the girl led Bayle to a secret passage and, with less blood flowing to his brain than usual, he followed her through. The rest of the party retired as they saw fit and fell asleep full and satisfied. They woke up in far different circumstances however; they all awoke naked with lumps on their heads from being knocked unconscious. The less magical members of the party had been tossed in a large stone pit with a heavy metal grating coving the small hole. The spellcasters had, in addition to being hit on the head and stripped, been bound hand and foot in chains, with gags covering their mouths and their fingers lashed tightly together. It was further discovered from several sources that the people hosting the feast were in fact repilian slavers who had repeated this trick countless times. This time, however, they had made the mistake of trying to inconvenience the Basterds and would reap the whirlwind because of their hubris. The Basterds in the pit quickly picked the lock on the grating using a lockpick that Kord had secreted “very well” on his person and were in the process of climbing out when Bayle walked in, disguised as a guard, intent on finding a rescuing his comrades. Luckily the possibly lethal misunderstanding was avoided and the party looked about the room for their missing spell casters. In their cell, the spellcasters were making a spirited attempt at escape of their own, with the druid taking rat form to try and chew away at the wrappings covering their fingers. Due to an act of fate, this happened to be the moment that the jailors returned.

Three creatures entered the cell: two reptilian slavers and the elven woman who had led the party to the settlement. At first they attempted to subdue the still mostly restrained magic users but were suddenly set upon from behind by the remainder of the party and attempted to flee. The druid created a dense thicket of entangling vines at the exit of the cell however and the dwarve Kord was able to tackle the elven woman as she tried to flee. She attempted to bargain for her life but was not allowed to escape the consequences of her treachery. With the news of their escape silenced, the Basterds set out to find their equipment and wreak a terrible vengance on the slavers for the indignity forced upon them. (With Woodchuck meanwhile teasing the party members who had partaken of the women at the feast about “going scalie”)

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Removing Loose Ends

Resting from their travels, the Basterds were reminded about their brief encounter with demonic forces in the sewers beneath Oakhurst by the tome that the cleric insisted on carrying and, realizing that they had yet to settle the score (or be paid), decided to return and finish what they had started. However, first they had to rid themselves of the noxious Plague Stone that accompanied Kira wherever he went and made the other members of the group more sick to their stomachs than normal. They finally forced him to donate the vile object to the church and set out on their travels.

Upon arriving at Oakhurst the Basterds did what they do best; the chartered members got roaring drunk and proceeded to scatter to the four winds in their nocturnal activities. Once such member, Volgin, wound up sleeping off his liquor on the roof and using the demonic tome as a blanket. He awoke however to a strange tugging and realized that some kind of imp was in the process of stealing the book. The imp quickly took flight and disappeared into the night followed by some parting shots from the irate sorcerer. When the party had collected itself in the morning, and after hearing Volgin’s tale (and determining that it was not the product of his special supply of mushrooms), they decided that their demonically inclined adversary had reclaimed his tome and that they needed to find him quickly. After attempting to enter the lair the had previously crashed through the sewers they encountered a massive cave-in. After being stymied several more times in entering from the sewers they were forced to do the unimaginable, go to the library and do research. After a lengthy and agonizing study they were able to locate several entrances to the sewers from the old area of the city where the noble classes made their homes. One such place was the residence of the Malovars, whom Bayle did not desire to see again anytime soon. The other happened to be the manor of the lord that had hired them to dig up dirt of the Malovars. Woodchuck felt decidedly uncertain about this turn of events as the rest of the party trudged unwittingly forward to meet with the lord. After a lengthy conversation with him, they were shown to a hatchway in the cellar of the mansion. With the massive orc left beside the lord, the rest of the party passed through and immediately realized that they had entered the lair from the side that had been previously been closed to them. Woodchuck was already on edge about these circumstances and in a few minutes the rest of the party realized that this could, in fact, be a bad thing.

The lord seemed as shocked as the party about this discovery and it was quickly established that the only person who used the entrance to the cellars was the steward Gerard. The party rapidly planned an ambush around the lord’s apartments and told him to summon Gerard. The servant came back alone however. It seemed that Gerard had departed earlier and the Basterds soon found that he had headed for a nearby inn. Upon arriving the Basterds sensed that something was off as they noted that the walls of the inn were shrouded in a flame that did not consume it. Utilizing their multi-varied skill set, the party adroitly broke into the inn’s top floor and snuck down the stairs to determine the source of the issue. Unsurprisingly it turned out that Gerard was behind this and had inscribed a massive summoning circle on the floor of the tavern and in process of summoning something. He managed to survive the initial warning fusillade of attacks and brought forth a massive creature from the abyssmal plane. Although Gerard did not survive his second warning, the creature remained and even seemed to find his death a strike of luck. After a few seconds of battle the creature summoned another one of its kind to the field and the party, which had sensed imminent victory was forced into the defensive. In the end, though, they proved victorious and claimed the tome, Gerard’s head, and the skull of the demon before striding out of the now-truly-burning inn and leaving the mess for the authorities to clean up.

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Log 3: Some Semblance of Respectability

Jingling and jangling the Basterds began their trek back to town, packs full to bursting with the spoils of their latest venture. Though only annoying at first, the cloud of stench enveloping the cleric proved to be more sinister than it initially appeared; those who had the misfortune of sleeping nearby woke to an unnatural nausea. Once this was discovered and, despite the will of the party, the avaricious cleric deigned to not give up the Plague Stone. He was therefore banished to the very tail of the party and later 40 yards beyond that.

As the party was leaving the last vestiges of woodland behind, they spotted a lone rider sitting several hundred feet off of the path. After watching the party briefly the man rode off and the party attempted to cautiously advance the half-days march to the relative safety of the walls. This was not to be however as the man reappeared accompanied by a well armed crew of bandits and charged the Basterds. After a vicious battle, in which several party members were grievously wounded, the bandits fled, leaving behind their two comrades who had fallen in battle.

The rest of the journey was relatively uneventful and the party split up upon arriving; some headed off to carouse while others went in search of a suitable building in which to set up the mercenary company. Finally after a lengthy search and some heavy negotiation the party was able to acquire a piece of property for the surprisingly small sum of X gold pieces. Once the the present members began to explore their new digs it became apparent why the price had been so cheap. The building was still occupied by the ghostly remains of the previous owner, a prim older woman who did not approve of the group in the slightest.

The following conversation resulted in several severely twisted ears (among other things…) and the lady’s ire was not cooled until the party’s disturbed resident sorcerer brought to bear the full might of his charismatic personality. After an awkward moment where the party was prepared to flee and should Volgin get up to his usual tricks, they gathered and set out to acquire some furnishings for their new venue.

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Log 2: The Dragon Slayers

Intrigued by the rumor regarding the abandoned village the Basterds set out to discover if there was anyway they could personally benefit from the situation. Upon arriving in the vicinity of the village they stumbled across a small group of zombiis and, perceiving that this could very well be the opportunity that they were looking for, the basterds decided to seek out the source of the undead. The slowly increasing frequency at which they encountered small pockets of zombiis eventually led them to the shores of a massive, foul-smelling lake. As they arrived, the Basterds witnessed a black dragon fly into the area and then dive beneath the surface of the lake, which they surmised msu hide the entrance to the dragon’s lair.

Inspired by imagined visions of such a dragon’s hoard, they decided to return to town to recruit soldiers to aid in the hunt. Upon arriving in town, the druid Salean wandered off without a word and while the Basterds tried to decided how best to acquire assistance. Eventually they enlisted the aid of a minor lord who promised a small group of pikemen and archers in exchange for 30% of the creature’s hoard. As they left the lord’s estate the Basterds ran across their companion Woodchuck the gnome who had disappeared the last time they were in town to share his gnomish sense of humor with a rude merchant. Togther with the soldiers the party set out to return to the lake, encountering only token resistance along the way.

As they were in the process of assembling a trap for the dragon, the creature in question landed in the shallows of the lake and demanded to know their purpose for intruding. After a bungled attempt at reasoning with the dragon, the Basterds attacked head on. In their usual serendipitous manner, the Basterds managed to outpostion the creature and then proceeded to beat its ass wholesale. Bleeding heavily the dragon was able to escape the carnage and dove beneath the lake’s surface to return to it’s lair and lick it’s wounds.

Leaving the uncertain soldiers behind the Basterds quickly ascertained the nearby entrance to the dragon’s lair and, true to their nature, charged right in. The dragon, however, was already dead having bled out from the massive wounds inflicted upon it. Never ones to miss an opportunity, the Basterds butchered the corpse, removing anything of apparent value. While this act was occuring several of the more intrepid, if incautious, members of the group hurried further into the cave to search for the hoard. After some lengthy arguments over the divyving up of the goods, the Basterds decided that the soldiers, who were not present for the final charge, did not deserve their cut. Finally after the accounts were (mostly) settled, the Basterds exited the lair ready for the next step in their journey.

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Log 1: From Nevarre to Bloodthorn

(Game date 10/9/2010)

The Bastards finally returned to Nevarre from their extended visit to the abandoned fortress of Copperblaze. The caravan they had escorted was heavily laden with dwarven statues and artifacts, and the group was given a generous share of the profits that Fat Charles expected to reap. After relieving themselves of some of their heavier treasures, the group set about the most important part of their profession: getting piss-drunk.

They proceeded to a modest, yet popular tavern in the Old Quarter of Nevarre, along its flooded canal-streets. Khord made a beeline for the bar, demanding the “best in the house,” and was presented with an opaque bottle of a potent, dark green liquor. He and Volgan soon discovered the potent properties of Wormwood Goblin-wine, and spent the remainder of their tavern visit alternately hallucinating and lying unconscious on the floor.

Ikiatosh decided more vigorous entertainment was in order, and threw a punch at a rather unimposing fellow who had been minding his own business in the corner. The bartender quickly called for Grog the ogre bouncer to eject the troublemaker, but he did not arrive in time to prevent the ensuing fracas. As Grog was attempting to defenestrate the tavern’s troublemakers, Bayle caught sight of a scrap of parchment that two burly fellows seemed insistent on brawling over, and he proceeded to lift it from its unsuspecting owner.

Fleeing the scene, the group decided it would be best to skip town for a bit, lest their highly recognizable half-orc be thrown in the clink. They made their way to the nearby settlement of Bloodthorn, where Lucas could deliver the news of his previous companions’ deaths.

In Bloodthorn’s tavern, the Basterds happened to overhear news of a strangely abandoned nearby village. They quickly set forth, seemingly depending on Fortune to deliver them the rewards which they had not demanded up-front for this endeavor.

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