Monday, April 10, 2017

Session 28: It'll drive you batty

Bats are curious and magical creatures. Despite their cute and fluffy appearance, they carry many diseases and are much less fun to play with than they appear. As night fell at the inn, we resolved to set a trap for whatever corrupt force plagued our friend Bickle. I dressed myself as Mickle and rode out into the darkness on horseback while the others trailed behind in secret. Otters are very protective of their friends so, naturally, Dmitry was resistant to trailing behind with the others but, with a perturbed chitter, he agreed.

Everything seemed quiet at first but then, as a cloud obscured the moon, I heard a high pitched shrieking and a loud flapping sound swooping down toward me. I narrowly dodged to the side as two were-man-bat monsters tried to grab me. I quickly found my voice and screamed for the others to spring their attack while the were-man-bats hovered overhead. I then conjured a cloud of choking vapors amidst the creatures. While one of them managed to keep its focus, the other was taken by the vapors and, retching and convulsing, plummeted to the ground. While Lynnya loosed arrows at the flying were-man-bat, to reduced effect, Flint charged forward to attack the grounded monster. As Goblin unleashed magical fire, our new friend Marcus unexpectedly brandished a giant weasel from a small pouch and tossed it at the grounded were-man-bat.

So distracted was I by the sudden appearance of the giant weasel that I was taken unawares when the flying were-man-bat caught me in its talons and prepared to wing me to certain doom. Rallying, my friends mounted a vicious attack against the creature until I was able to thrust upward with all my might to end this threat. Meanwhile, Flint worked to destroy the other, which had since recovered from my spell. The creature, in a flutter of wings and fangs, managed to bite the dwarf, no doubt hoping to corrupt the cleric with its impurity but, due to his stalwart nature, he merely growled and bashed the monster to a pulp.

Bloodied but victorious, with Goblin hoisting the bodies of the were-man-bats on either shoulder, we returned to the inn. Upon our return, we found the corpses had shed their batty attributes and had become men. We questioned the innkeeper and other patrons on the identities of the two men thus revealed and were told they, though somewhat malformed, resembled a certain Erik and Ted.

Not seeing Pickle among the crowd in the inn, we decided to visit his room and inform that he was now safe. To our horror, we discovered the window had been smashed in and Bickle was nowhere to be found. We ran outside to scan the horizon to no avail. Luckily, several passersby informed us they had seen what looked like large birds flying to the northwest.

We gave chase, tracking the were-man-bats and our dear friend Mickle into the forest. After a hard day of travel, we came upon a clearing with a small lake at its center. To our astonishment, a keep, darkened and decrepit with age, hovered fifty feet above the waters. As if from thin air, a large raven appeared on Marcus’ shoulder. With a few words of instruction, the raven flew up to the keep to anchor a rope.

Flint was the first to begin the arduous climb up the rope. He was nearly at the top when a great cry sounded over the glade and its source, a giant eagle, plummeted toward the dwarf. Surprisingly nimble for a boulder with feet and hands, the dwarf managed to scramble the rest of the way up the rope, though not before sustaining a sizable wound from the attacking eagle. Meanwhile, the rest of us began our own climb (except Dmitry, who patrolled the lake). Flint summoned a hammer of light and faith to harass the eagle as we climbed, distracting the raptor from its prey. Though the climb was difficult, we were all able to reach the floating keep intact and, by the time we got there, the threat of the giant eagle was no more.

Making our way into the decrepit keep, we began searching for our friend Bickle. The guard towers, ruined and decaying, were empty so we made our way into the courtyard and the keep proper. We came upon a room where the floor and part of the wall had collapsed in, possibly as the keep was ripped from the ground. In the room below, there was a great pile of refuse and the half eaten remains of what used to be an ogre. Goblin carefully climbed down to the lower floor to see if there was anything salvageable within the remains. Unfortunately, his movements stirred the scavengers, hiding within the refuse, that had feasted upon the ogre and a pack of ghouls emerged.

No stranger to the cravings of the wretched undead, Goblin called upon his faith to castigate the creatures, causing three of them to cower, huddled in a corner of the room as far from the Goliath as possible. The damned hunger of the other two helped them overcome their fear and attack. A quick spell of thunderous potency obliterated the three cowering in the corner while an axe and arrows raining down from above felled the remainder.

Continuing our search for Pickle, we came upon the Great Hall of the ruined keep. There, seated at a large table, with flickering candles casting shadows over them ominously, were two more of the were-man-bat monsters. While one of them, with an air of gentility, plucked pieces of mango from a platter of fruit, the other sipped from a bowl of red, viscous liquid that I hoped was gazpacho but feared was not. To our surprise, the were-man-bat eating mango eloquently introduced himself as El Aviador, and his companion, Bob. They invited us to their table. While Marcus and I sat and chatted at the table, the two clerics quickly made for the kitchen, hoping for a sign of Mickle. Instead of Bickle, they found a human chef stirring a large kettle of boiling red liquid over a fire. He greeted them warmly and, seeing their discomfort with the kettle, assured them that it was only animal blood and, regrettably, claimed he had not seen any sign of Pickle’s whereabouts.

Goblin and Flint rejoined us at EL Aviador’s table where we briefly discussed the nature of were-man-bats. Eventually, the conversation turned to our dear missing friend, Mickle. Sympathetic, El Aviador gave us free reign of the keep to search for Bickle and sent Bob with us as guide. Our first stop was back at the kitchen where we questioned the cook once again. As conversation turned to the pantry, the room became tense. As we made for the pantry door, Bob and the chef attacked. Once again conjuring his magical weapon, Flint harassed Bob with it and then withdrew to meet El Aviador in the Great Hall who, hearing the commotion, was moving in to flank us. Meanwhile, I once again proved my comedic prowess and incapacitated the chef in fits of hilarity. Bob uttered the words of a spell and his fingers began to crackle with electricity. Just then, Marcus hissed a word of power and the corona of electricity Bob held suddenly winked out of existence. Marcus then threw the giant weasel at him for good measure. Out in the Great Hall, Flint fought El Aviador but the creature was a skilled combatant. Maneuvering through the dwarf’s defenses, the were-man-bat sank its fangs into the cleric. This time, the dwarf was not so lucky as he felt the creature’s plague wash over him.  The battle was fierce but, with perseverance, we were able to prevail and, at the end, three were-man-bats were no more.

Suspicious of their sudden tension at our interest in the pantry, we searched it and there, at last, found our friend Mickle. In conclusion, as I said in the beginning, bats are cute and fluffy but much less fun to play with than they would appear. They are best avoided if possible and never to be trusted if confronted.

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