Flame of the Ancients

CS4 - Through the Barrow Vale

Mid Spring 798 - The Wilds

Arising at midday, Darwish and Drake head off with Carrad and two companions, Owen and Rent. At first they make good time, cutting cross country almost directly eastward in an effort to cut off the fleeing thieves before they can enter the Vale of Barrows.
Cutting the southward trail, disaster strikes as Owen is injured in a fall. It is decided Rent will return with him; Carrad, Drake and Darwish will push on. They soon find tracks of men moving southwards, in numbers that could be the fleeing thieves. They push on steadily to pursue, but manage to get no closer before darkness falls. The way forward seems to treacherous to continue without light, so they pause, build a small camp, they lay in to wait the break of day.
In the late watches, they are alerted by the blaring of a warning coming from the south of them – in the direction of their prey.
Thinking it might be a trap, they pack camp and move cautiously towards the origin of the sound. Cresting a small rise, they spy a great fire built upon an outcropping of rock surrounded by the Barrow Wood – obviously a camp. As they watch, they see nothing and soon the fire begins to die. They creep forward and are greeted by a gruesome sight: blood stains and spatter throughout the camp but no bodies.
Tracks of men being dragged away to the east (and into the supposedly haunted wood) are evident, but Drake’s keen eye points out that there are only indications of three men being dragged away and the party they were following numbered at least four.
Taking a moment to recheck the area, the three are surprised by a shape which emerges from the woods: a feminine creature with grey skin, a mouth full of wicked teeth and sharp claws. Her mouth is covered in bloody mess, as are her hands and body. As the creature curiously pores over the wreckage of the camp they surprise it.
Though it puts up a savage struggle, they down the creature in a spray of gore. It’s death shriek echoes through the Vale and is answered by distant cries.
The three travelers are faced with a difficult choice: pursue the surviving men (and hopefully the Sigil) or retreat in the face of more of the strange feral women. Darwish pauses for a moment and then moves uphill – there he discovers evidence of a watchman separate from the main camp. There is evidence of a struggle, but tracks of a lone man lead off the south (along the trail they were originally following). Putting their faith in luck, they follow the trail. It is soon evident the man they are following is both wounded but also extremely determined to reach his destination.
In the end, they overtake the wounded man as he emerges from the Vale and is crossing the hill country towards the keep of Southguard. Drake and Carrad are exhausted, but Darwish burns the last of his reserves to catch the fleeing thief.
A sword fight ensues, and it become evident that Darwish’s opponent is deadly with a blade. Still, he is wounded terribly and the two fight to draw. As Carrad and Drake arrive, the thief make a last desparate bolt towards the keep. Drake feathers him and search the body, they discover the Sigil of Kaldor in a blood soaked rag.
In the distance, the horns of Southguard sound and the threesome beat an exhausted retreat into the eastern uplands.



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