Day 19 - Eight Days later

Harpy

We finally left the Inn in the morning eight days later and followed Bertrand's directions through the forest and out onto rolling hills. It's early spring, which makes a nice change from the icy blasts of winter we'd just left. We follow the path through the hills till we came to a large village (small town - whatever) that should be Erehwon; we head straight for the tavern and let Damir shout everyone a drink (it's a bit early don't you think?) while Norton subtly questions folk, "Seen any large bat-like creatures lately?"

There's lots of stories but no one at the tavern has ever actually seen one - we ask who may have... The Bar-Keep suggests we try the Merchants, they meet at the Chandlers; so off we go. We elect Norton to be spokes-person for the party; he's got the same charisma as Yuna and I but he's probably altogether more respectable. The itinerate personage that answers is not terribly helpful; apparently he's the Treasurer. He hasn't seen the Bat-like thing himself but he directs us to the Stable Master. Again Norton acts as Spoke-person.... The Stable Master says that 'his boy' told him that the Tanners boy said he'd seen it... We decide to speak to the Stable-Masters boy first - Bruce didn't actually see it but he was with Joshua (the Tanners boy) when they heard a whooshing overhead - "I didn't see it myself Sir," he says. "But Josh said he did! It were 'orrible!"

While the rest of the party were questioning young Bruce, I noticed someone lurking, watching us... that's my field so I snuck off after him... I got to the far end of the Alley where the lurker was, but there's no one there. I pace quietly down to where he was and I look around... nothing.... I look up. There he is, peering at me through a gap in the chimneys, he beckons me. With ease, I leap onto the roof and join him... He's a thief - he speaks to me in Thieves cant. He says the local guild would offer us 10,000 gp to clear our the Bat-things. I ask him how many "things" there are... more than two and less than too many.... These thieves seem to have better reconnaissance on the 'bat-things' but... they want us to promise never to return to this place after the job is done (one has to wonder why... I mean, do they think we'd do something dishonest, like sneak back later and steal all their gear??? Some people are just plain distrustful.) I tell him I'll have to discuss their offer with the rest of the party but I think they'll be interested - he agrees and we part. I head back to the rest - he may have me followed (I would if I was him) but at present I don't really care.

I slink around till I can join up with the rest of the party surreptitiously - funnily enough none of them even noticed I was gone. We traipse from one end of this town to the other... talking to Tinkers and Guards and anyone else who'll talk to us....still there's no one who's actually seen this thing. We go to the tavern and get rooms so we can talk privately, I tell the others about the Thief and what he offered and they agree it's worth taking (thieves money is as good as anyone else’s) I go to set up a meeting...

We meet on the roof of the Inn we're staying at. These guys don't a huge amount but at least they don't seem to be lying about what they do know. Apparently, the bat-like things have taken over the new Thieves Guild, a four-story tree house, somewhere in the forest, built and planned by thieves, for thieves. The Thieves were still moving in when the 'attack' came and five went missing that night, including the Guild Master. No one 'my' thief knows has got a good look at the bat-things but consensus has them at about 8' tall and everyone seems to agree that they fly... Some say they 'sing' too, some sort of hypnotic attack perhaps. Since the attack, a six-thief strike team has been sent in and never seen again, and two separate scouts have gone in and not returned - one during the day and another during the evening.

Strangely, there are no stories about anyone or anything (like cattle or children) having gone missing.... You've got to wonder what these things are eating.

I got a detailed description of how to get to the tree and a rough idea of its layout. The top level is a Lookout Post; the next one down is the Guild Masters quarters (I'm looking forward to that one) then down again to The Journeyman Thieves quarters and the lowest level is the Main Entrance Hall, Meeting Area and Kitchens. He tells me about the traps on trunk of tree - he doesn't know about any others but believes they have some traps upstairs. I manage to negotiate 4,000gp up front; the remaining 6,000 on our successful return. We stayed the night in the tavern at Erehwon and left at first light... well, about 9:00am actually.

The tree, I am told, is about 1.5 miles out of town, in the middle of a very thick forest.... I wonder how something 8' tall could manoeuvre while flying... it'd be tight, the trees are so close together. Damir has look round for tracks, he finds deer, moose, the occasional human (but those are several days old).

Quietly we slink through the forest, faintly I hear a wordless sort of singing from ahead. I signal Damir and we stop to put wax in our ears to block the sound. We slip around to where the sound is coming from and it seems to be coming from the Thieves Guilds tree. The rest of the party should be lumbering along behind us but as we can't hear them, we just have to trust they're there somewhere. I signal to Damir across the clearing that I'm going up a tree and will try and get across that way.

I climb... about 70' up I stab myself on something embedded in the trunk; it hurts - I think it may have been poisoned. I prise out and save the small coated blade so I can analyse the poison later. I climb further - checking before I put my hands down until I reach a point where I can cross to another tree - I pause and look across to THE tree.

A commotion erupts down in the clearing - the rest of the party appear to be fighting amongst themselves. Apparently, Yuna, who was invisible, decided to pig-a-back on Rumbles who reacted badly to something invisible leaping on him and hurled her to the ground, drawing his axe. Yuna sensibly moved out of range, still invisible... Rumbles thumped about with the axe for a moment or two then stopped, he signalled the rest of the party that something has attacked him. Norton does a detect magic and finds nothing... he suspects it may be Yuna and her weird sense of humour, he recalled her saying she was going invisible.

I climb to 140' and cast cats grace and invisibility on myself. I walk out along the branch, pause and leap across - no problem.

While I'm busy quietly stealthing my way up, Rumbles turned invisible and, flying, headed up the other side of the trunk. Norton, locks and loads his cross-bow and looks around for something to shoot... he spots a hand signalling from under a bush.... it looks like Banipal might be hiding under there... still no sign of Yuna but she could be anywhere.

I continue carefully along the branch - there're trip-wires every 10' but I slip through, marking their location. Finally, I make it to the side of the tree-house. I pause to look and listen. A flash of searing light comes from the far side of the tree... Wonder what's happening round there - I bet it's something to do with the rest of the party. They're such klutzes.

I climb up to the walkway at the top of this level and peer over to see an uncompromisingly red, 7' tall Harpy perched on the ledge - it seems to sense me and takes a wild swipe with its club, missing by yards. It hops off to the left a bit and takes another swing, it misses by so much it's obviously just 'having-a-go'.

I spot another on the far side of the walkway - the side where the flash of light came from - as I watch, it takes off. I use the opportunity to climb silently over the railing while the coast is clear. I creep across the roof to the open trap door. Further down and on the far side of the tree, Rumbles has just got his vision back when the Harpy swoops toward him. At least he's still invisible, he drifts away - carefully.

Damir and Norton are standing in the clearing with bows of varying sorts at the ready when the Harpy spots them and dives, Rumbles takes a swipe with his axe as it passes; this makes him visible but he takes a huge chunk out of it.

Norton takes a shot with his crossbow but it flies wild. He scoffs a potion of Fire-Breath ready for the next attack and starts to Air-Walk around the trunk to put some distance between the Harpy and himself. The Harpy swerves and pulls up in mid-air, Damir fires three rapid shots as it tries to flee and it crashes lifeless into the forest floor.

Peering down the ladder, I can see a room shaped like a pie-slice. There are two doors; one at either end of the room and the floor is covered with rot and muck. An all-pervasive stench of waste meets wafts up to me; mouldering piles of rope, refuse and furniture are everywhere. Gingerly I pick my way through, I'm almost across when a pack of huge (possibly Dire) Rats come streaming out from the garbage and head straight for me...

There's 14 or 15 of them so I make a break for the door, I want to get through as fast as I can, if I attack these rats I'll become visible. I beat them to the room by the skin of my teeth, slip through and slam the door behind me.

Meanwhile, Norton is Air-Walking up the tree; keeping a look out above, as he moves through the first layer of branches - he spots something looking down and only gets a moment to react before it launches itself at him. Having worked so well the first time, Rumbles hacks wildly as it passes - it works well this time too and like its predecessor it plummets to the ground... two down.

Norton heads up to roof level and arrives about the same time as Rumbles; but of course, Rumbles is invisible so Norton doesn't know he's there. Norton stoops to they peer through a roof-shutters. It's made of wood, so he can't see much through the cracks so he opens it and is hit full face by the stench - or perhaps not..... (he's a Dwarf and mayn't notice)

I lean against the door I've flung myself through and don't even get time to draw breath before a giant black Dire-Rat snaps nastily at the air where I was... not good enough - it misses. It sniffs around trying to get my scent but I move quietly away to the next door...I stop and listen before opening it. There's a faint scraping on the far side.

I quietly open the door and slip through, this room has a roof-shutter and it's open... maybe something just left or perhaps one of my roving party just came in. The floor is covered with broken barrels, rotting food and boxes that have been broken open. There is also a door - which should bring me full circle, back to where I began... back to the rats! I decline that choice and jump to catch the lip of the open roof-shutter. I lever myself out onto the roof and am greeted by the sight of Rumble’s and Norton’s bums - they're head-first peering down the roof-shutters.... Norton pulls his head out of the sky-light and peers up into the branches - he seems to come to a decision and air-walks up the tree trunk. I follow, using more conventional means. Ahead I see

Norton make it to the top then pull back quickly as a bone club is swung at his head - more smelly harpies!! He lashes out with a sonic attack and before he can say "diced dead dodos", Rumbles flies into the fray and hacks the Harpy to bits. Together the two of them clamber over the rail and out of my sight - hopefully onto the roof of the next level. The Dwarf and the half-Orc cross the roof to peer down through the roof-shutter... Norton looks down into a room with four large Harpy nests made from broken chairs and fouled cloth. There are two nests one on either side of each door - and on each nest is a Harpy (fancy).

One of them flies up and tries to grab Norton, it missed and Norton slams the roof-shutter closed. About that time I arrive on the roof - fortunately I'm still invisible... I watch, as Norton drops through one of the shutters and Rumbles lurks at the opening of another; he appears to be trying to tempt out a harpy with his sword - it doesn't seem to be working. He gives it up in disgust - closes the roof-shutter and joins Norton in his room which is chocka-block full of harpies.

It's a bloodbath - good thing this place has already been trashed cause Rumbles and Norton leave a trail of blood, chunks of flesh and assorted bits of harpy to show where they have been. Growing bored I head back to the trunk and begin the climb to the next level.... only two to go.

I wonder what Yuna's doing, I could use a cup of tea about now... I sigh and start the upside down climb out across the underside of the next level up...

My shoulders are starting to get sore... Rumbles and Norton continue to sweep like a plague through the second level rooms - they head into the next room. This semi-circular room has a ladder that leads to the roof. The floor is covered with filth and rot; there is a door at either end and a dark stain on the floor...blood maybe.... several large crates line the room, only a few show signs of having been prised open. Ten humanoid bodies lie dead and partly gnawed on the floor around the ladder. Norton has a search; he's discovered the Harpies have bracers (probably Bracers of Defence) and has been looting them as he goes (along with their clubs which are also magic)... He also finds the rope ladder which he ties off and drops, that'll make it easier for Banipal and Damir - wonder how far up they've got.... I haven't seen them since I started climbing.

I heave myself over the railing and onto the roof of the next level - there are two trap doors and ladder - I stop and listen... there are faint noises from below - it sounds like squeaking, but maybe I'm just being paranoid. I go to one of the roof-shutter and quietly try and open it - two Harpies must seem to sense me, perhaps they smelled the jasmine soap. They fly at me - I drop flat and they miss.

With immaculate timing, Norton and Rumbles appear over the railing and not even seeing me... I am invisible after all...they attack the harpies and slice them in to shreds in moments. I get Nortons attention by trying to poke bits of his beard up his nose and write in chalk that there is something down there - Norton catches Rumbles's attention and shows him my scrawl too at that moment, without warning half a dozen Dire-Rats swarm up the ladder and out onto the roof - I wasn't being paranoid after all....

Somewhere further down the tree Damir and Banipal, having gained the second level, come across the diced Harpies left by Rumbles and Norton. Damir opens one of the roof-shutters, a claw swipes at him, he slams it closed. Banipal joins him, together they open the roof-shutter and out leaps the Harpy... Damir swipes and Banipal thumps it bare-handed - it reels, swips at Damir and misses, Damir swings again, the creature falls dead.

I spring to the trap door and slam it closed before any more damn Rats get through. Rumbles, with a mighty swipe, cleaves through all six with one swipe of his great axe and Norton just stands there...laughing....We peer through the roof-shutter - the room below is 12'x20' with only a single door and is empty except for a iron-bound chest standing against the wall.

Norton makes wild hand gestures to get my attention and motions down into the room. I suggest we wait till the others get here so Norton finds the rope ladder on this level - ties it off and air walks down to meet them.

For the first time in what seems like hours but is only about 30 minutes - the party is reunited. Just as we come together we spot a Harpy fleeing from one of the windows in the floor below - Banipal shouts and points and Yuna, who must have been invisibly following Damir and Banipal, Dimension Doors away - we feel the spell. I was busy watching the fleeing Harpy and failed to notice Damir wandering across to the trapdoor - he opened it before I could do anything and three Dire-Rats spill out.

Damn! Damir kills the rats and he, with Norton and Rumbles head down the ladder - Banipal and I are still at the roof-shutter - I drop down into the room and check for traps - it looks clean. The door is locked and the keyhole's blocked - perhaps by the key in the outside of the lock! I check the chest - no traps; it's padlocked but that's not a problem, I pick the lock... as it clicks open something explodes - I freeze in place and hold my breath for a count of 20 before I'm game to move again - I open the chest and find six potions of Healing (3x CLW & 3x CSW) plus 6 small but very nice rubies (each worth about 200 GP).

In the next room Damir, Rumbles and Norton see smoke seeping under one of the doors. Norton and Rumbles break down the door - there's a huge smoking hole in the wall.... as though someone had fire-balled their way out.

Norton casts create water to quench the flames, Rumbles flies through the gaping hole in the wall and catches a glimpse of something fleeing. Banipal, from the roof, sees it drop past - the next moment Rumbles appears out of the smoke - Banipal gestures downward and Rumbles drops after whatever it was. He falls for two levels then catches a glimpse of a leathery wing out of the corner of his eye and takes off into the branches, trying to follow it's path through the traps - no luck. Two brilliant flashes light up the sky as he triggers a trap; fortunately he only catchs the edge of the flash.

For a moment, he looses sight of it but he continues in the direction he last saw it heading.

Norton, having put out the fire has a look around. The room looks like it would have been a bedroom before someone blew a hole in the wall. He heads back the way he came, finds the door with the key in it and opens it in time to see the lid of the chest closing - I'm still invisible..... I ignore him, which is easy as I still have wax plugging my ears and check the room for traps and hidden compartments.

Norton leaves while his Air-Walking spell is still running and heads up to the next level which should be the Look-Out. He gets there easily, the roof-shutters are open and the whole level is significantly smaller than those below.

Norton checks it out - in the main room, covered with leather, are set round the room. There are two doors leading from this room, Norton boldly heads down the step-ladder into the room, across the floor and then, struck by a fit of prudence, casts a Find Traps spell on one of the doors - it's clear so he goes in. There are seven of VERY large barrels and skeins of silk rope - he ties the rope together - goes back up onto the roof and chucks it down to Banipal who shinnies up like a little monkey. Together they investigate the barrels, which are full of water. There are seven barrels in all - filling the room.

Back to The Inn of the Far Shore.


Stupid things we've overheard...

Don't be silly. That kind of monster NEVER follows you.

Random Quote

If you can't open it, you don't really own it. It you don't open it, you don't deserve to own it.