Decem Reliquias

Death of a Templar

Tyree’s distinct silhouette gives him away when he crosses Corryn’s vision, lying atop a hill, watching the road heading north out of Oldham. The mage hails the large Avar and Dog rushes forward, barking happily at the sight of his master. Marius wastes no time in sharing Cathal’s fate with her fellow Avar, that she was captured by Corryn’s would-be jailer and has been taken north in chains. They head off at once, hoping to catch the two yet this night, following Dog and Tyree tracking the Templar and her prisoner down the road then west off the road.

Tyree spots a campfire in the distance and raises his hand to halt those following him. As they make their plans to ambush the Templar, Felayne voices her concern that this is a foe beyond their power to defeat. Although no one outright disagrees with her, they stubbornly persist in their path to what Felayne believes will be certain death. Corryn especially will not leave Cathal to her fate, as it is his fault she was captured in the first place. Felayne decides she cannot risk staying with them, and, with a heavy heart, she takes her leave, taking her two remaining Mabari puppies and heading back to the road to finish the last leg if her journey unprotected. Marius promises to come find her in Elmridge, should they survive this encounter.

Broga, being the stealthiest of the group, volunteers to scout out the situation and report back so they can make a more informed plan. Upon his arrival at the modest campsite, he finds Cathal, bound, gagged and chained, a horse tethered to a stake in the ground, and no sign of the Templar. He quickly hurries back to the group, and is bombarded with questions he cannot answer. Frustrated with the dwarf’s lackluster reconnaissance, Tyree sneaks up to do his own investigation.

Finding the same scene as Broga, Tyree smells a trap, and does the only he knows to do, spring it. He enters the firelight and grabs the bound and gagged Cathal. They are immediately engulfed in an inferno, but the tough Avar braves the flames and emerges with his cargo intact. The horse seems to panic, yanks the stake out of the ground and bolts westward. Tyree, with Cathal slung over her shoulder, rushes back south, in the direction of his companions as arrows strike him from behind. He tosses Cathal roughly in the direction of Corryn, then turns to find the arrows’ source. The Templar emerges from the darkness on her know calm horse and charges through their midst, releasing another volley of stinging arrows.

Marius tries to knock the Templar off her mount, but something deflects his attempt. Now concerned that Felayne might have been right, Marius steps back and let’s his warriors take the front line. The next time she rides through, Tyree swipes at her horse, knocking it out from under her and throwing her unceremoniously to the ground. This draws her ire quite nicely, and Tyree soon feels the bite of her silverite greatsword.

Determined not to let her remount, Armon leaves Tyree to contend with the Templar alone, moves up to the prone horse and slices its throat with the sharp blade of Aamar Fin. It makes an awful, screeching, gurgling noise as it dies, reminiscent of the donkey as it was being torn apart by skeletons carrying his fish dinner. Armon makes a mental note to do something to prevent the Templar and her horse from being raised by the Revenant, should they survive their first encounter with her. Meanwhile, the Templar punishes Tyree for his insolence to within an inch of his life, but Corryn hides behind him and keeps him standing with a steady stream of healing magic. His grim work complete, Armon shouts at the Templar, something awful about her mother, whipping her into a frenzy. She uncontrollably and wildly swings her massive greatsword at him, missing more often than not. That gives Corryn the time he needs to patch up Tyree properly and marks the turning point of the battle.

Berchan, remembering his last encounter with the merciless Templar, opts to keep his head and stays back from the main battle. Still doing his part though, he manages to break the chains binding Cathal, but she does not stand to join the battle. Now free from propping up Tyree, Corryn retreats out of reach of the greatsword, and finally notices the dying Avar. He quickly stabilizes her and turns back to the warriors to see who he might best help next.

Corryn notes that the warriors seem to have the Templar on her heels and the battle well in hand. In a fit of desperation, she grasps something from around her neck, a tiny glass vial, and tosses it at her slain horse. The vial shatters, and a purple gas rises from its remains and into the corpse’s nostrils. Corryn is horrified to see the bloody thing stir and rise, but forces back his revulsion to do his part. Before the Templar can remount and escape, the nimble mage rushes forward, jumps astride the undead monstrosity and rides off into the night.

Cursing filthy mages under her breath, the Templar calms herself and changes her tactics, once again concentrating on the less armored Avar. She nearly finishes him again, but suddenly breaks and runs right past him. Confused but grateful, Tyree turns and watches as the Templar rushes Corryn on her zombified mount, who had made the fatal mistake of coming back around. He is stunned as she leaps into the saddle right in front of him, and takes control of the beast.

Not wishing to be another hostage, Corryn lets go, tumbling to the ground off the speeding horse, a bit wounded, dirty and sufficiently humbled. Remembering his failure to knock her down earlier, Marius takes a cue from Tyree and aims his telekinetic blast at her mount instead. Once again she is sent sprawling. The warriors make short work of the distance, and Broga even helps a bit by making the horse squirm further away with a well placed arrow. Now with imminent doom upon her, she fights to the last. The dim blue light of Aamar Fin takes on a faint red cast, as the blood of the Templar drips down its length as she fights on through seemingly mortal wounds. Finally, when Armon makes the killing blow, he shows the same mercy as he is sure she would have shown him, slicing her head clean off her shoulders. The body stands for a moment longer, then falls to its knees, and at last to the ground, where it lies still.

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The Better Half

When Tyree finally makes his way back to the second floor of the Blue Goblet, Felayne nearly pounces on him when he enters, demanding to know what has happened. He turns her aside, for he has as little information as she, and grabs his weapons, making to return to the battle. However, Felayne stops him, pointing out the Templar from the window, stomping down the street, seeming even angrier than before. He takes some satisfaction in this, since she would have been much happier had she captured or killed her quarry. Now in less of a hurry, he collects all the belongings that the others left behind, but a noise in the hallway gives him pause.

Tyree gently drops everyone’s possessions and readies his now retrieved maul to smash whomsoever might come through the door. The noises stop without an intruder, so Tyree takes the initiative and slams open the door, only to see a frightened, teary-eyed Berchan standing forlornly and alone. He ushers the boy into the room, glances around to make sure he was not followed, then shuts the door.

Tyree’s attempts to get information out of the usually talkative boy are met with quick nods or blank stares. Finally, he chokes, “She chopped off their heads,” then bursts into tears. Felayne is able to calm the boy enough to discern that the ‘they’ he referred to was the Templar and guard who covered Corryn and the other’s escape into the tunnels. Tyree praises Berchan’s good sense to run, which calms him even further, but he is still not able to provide any information on Cathal’s whereabouts.

Tyree, Felayne and Berchan wait about an hour for Cathal to return, but to no avail. He laments having sent Dog after Corryn, but with little other option, they leave the Blue Goblet and get to the business of scrounging up enough silver to cross the toll bridge. Felayne volunteers to sell her horses, since they can’t afford to pay the fee for them to cross anyway, and Tyree has no issues parting with Marius’ donkey. It takes several hours to find a buyer, complete the transaction, and get across to North Oldham. During that time, they see no sign of the Templar or their missing companions. Well after dark, the three humans and Felayne’s two remaining dogs leave Oldham walking north along the Imperial highway, keeping a close eye out for bandits, Templars and renegade mages.

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Divided

Deep in the bowels of Oldham, Corryn, Broga, Armon, Marius and Dog follow Sister Stone silently through the damp tunnels. Hours pass in silence as they slope downward, under the river, bypassing the dreaded toll bridge. Finally exhausted, she leads them to a small alcove to rest. Corryn takes the opportunity to question Sister Stone about her motives in freeing him, to which she responds “You’re welcome.” He laughs uncomfortably and thanks her, then asks about what happened in the Empress’ camp. She relates what she knows, which isn’t much more than he already knew. After she sent Duncan out after the elf, the guards came to arrest her and she ran. Claiming ignorance about what or how the guards knew, she asks Corryn if he still has the feather. He confirms that he does, and she reveals that is what has been keeping the Templars from being able to track him with his phylactery. He clutches it even tighter as they continue through the tunnels.

The damp and tired travelers emerge from the tunnels into a dusty warehouse in North Oldham. Reminding him once more not to lose the feather, Sister Stone bids them farewell and, not unkindly, states her hopes that they do not meet again. Corryn, Broga, Marius, Armon step out into the muggy, late afternoon air and discuss how best to find their missing companions while avoiding the Templar. Dog follows closely on Corryn’s heels, happily panting, still following Tyree’s last command to track him. They decide the best course of action is to leave town as quickly as possible, then watch the road for Tyree, Felayne and Berchan, hoping that if they still live, they do the same. As a contingency, Armon finds a child on the street and asks him to deliver a message to their room at the Blue Goblet. The child extorts twelve silver from him, claiming he needs ten for the journey across toll bridge and back, and two for him to keep. Grumbling as always, Armon pays the outrageous price and watches the boy run away, clinging to the small hope that they boy has some small honor.

About a mile north of town, the majority of Marius’ company lies on a hillock overlooking the road, watching the travelers come and go. As night deepens, the traffic dies down. They make a small camp and avoid discussing the possibility that Tyree, Cathal and Berchan may not be coming. A group of noisy and obviously drunk dwarves passes them by, but they choose to remain hidden and continue to take turns watching the road intently.

A tall figure atop a snow white horse catches Broga’s attention, along with the distinct sound of clanking chains. As it draws closer, the dwarf is able to make out the grumpy Templar woman’s distinct pointed headpiece. She has a prisoner in tow, chained hand and foot, trailing behind. He discretely wakes the others, who crawl up onto the hillock to spy on her. When Marius recognizes the prisoner as Cathal, he nearly rallies them to attack, but his self-preservation instincts override that foolish thought. Without Tyree the odds may be against them. They let the duo pass, but begin plotting to track her down in the wilderness when she makes camp, hopefully with Tyree’s help, otherwise to avenge his memory.

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Jailbreak

Broga scouts for an inn near the building where Corryn is being held so they can keep watch throughout the night. They book a room on the second floor of The Blue Goblet, overlooking the prison from a few blocks away. Not for a second do they consider letting the Templar take their friend back to the capital for a mock trial and summary execution. Armon, wracking his brain for any legal loopholes to exonerate Corryn, can only think of one: A Gray Warden conscription. Though pessimistic of his chances, he sets out on his own to search the city for one of those legendary warriors.

Marius takes a more direct approach and decides to pay Corryn a visit to hear his side of the story. An elf answers the door, wearing heavy plate and a surcoat with the same flaming eye symbol as the door. He lets Marius in and makes him sign a guest book before escorting him to a room with a single chair. Through thick glass, he sees a similar room with a similar chair, where Corryn is brought by another guard. Before he leaves, he warns Marius that using magic within these walls is strictly prohibited and will be met with severe punishment. The guards leave the two alone. Having not much to hide anymore, Corryn relays the entirety of his encounter with Sister Stone and the Empress, leaving nothing out. He cannot decide where the Sister might fit in, wether villain or fellow victim, but cannot think of any reason she might have framed him. Marius leaves the prison with more information than he started with, but still no notion of how to extricate Corryn from the Chantry’s clutches.

Armon’s questioning of a passing dwarf reminds him that Fereldens and Gray Wardens aren’t on the best of terms. He abandons his search and, losing all hope of finding a legal solution, steels himself for the inevitable outcome to his moral dillema. He returns to The Blue Goblet near dusk, just as Marius arrives. They formulate a quick plan to keep watch on the building throughout the night so the Templar cannot slip away with Corryn without their notice.

As he takes up his watch, a dwarf stops Armon in the street, asking if he ever located the Gray Wardens he was looking for. He dismisses the dwarf, too intent on the task at hand to worry about that now. The dwarf shrugs and enters the building directly across the street from Corryn’s prison, which Armon soon learns is a lively tavern. Patrons arrive to drink the day away, not giving any notice to Armon. Felayne watches the warrior’s irregular, zig-zagging patrol from The Blue Goblet’s window, ready to wake the others at a moment’s notice. After a few hours, the elf guard Marius had encountered on his visit steps out of the prison and stands outside the door for several minutes. Seeing this, Felayne wakes up Tyree, unsure of what to do. A human woman approaches the elf, identically clad. They exchange a few quick words, she enters, and the elf heads across the street into the tavern. Assuming this is a normal changing of the guard, Tyree chides Felayne for waking him for such a small matter, then goes back to sleep.
Armon slips out of his hiding place and resumes his patrol.

After a few uneventful hours, Broga comes to relieve Armon, and Cathal takes up watch from the room. The less hardy folk filter out of the tavern, retiring early and heading back to their homes. The monotony is broken when a pair of men erupt out of the tavern in a brawl. Broga watches from the shadows and emerges after the victor departs to fleece the unconscious loser. Cathal snickers at this, but does not bother to wake anyone. The woman guard is relieved by a stern looking young man, and she also heads into the tavern.

When Tyree arrives to relieve Broga, the unconscious man is still lying in the road. He recognizes him as a fellow Avar and takes pity on him. He drags the man closer to the tavern to avoid being trampled. Berchan watches carefully, intent on doing his part to save Corryn. Tyree makes no secret of his presence, but feigns nonchalance, carrying only his red bastard sword. He finds sticks in the street to play with Dog and watches as the last of the patrons leave the tavern, it’s lights are doused and doors are locked for the night.

At the appointed time, Tyree does not return to the Blue Goblet as planned, instead taking a double shift on watch. Near dawn, the sour-faced Templar woman saunters down the road, the few locals out at this hour giving her a wide berth. Tyree waves cheerily and offers salutations, which she responds with an icy stare. Berchan, having successfully staved off sleep, excitedly wakes up everyone in the Blue Goblet. He, Broga, Marius, and Cathal run as quickly as they can down the stairs and out into the street, leaving Felayne and her dogs alone with Tyree’s weapons.

The Templar dismisses Tyree and enters the building where Corryn is being kept. A few moments later, just as his friends arrive from the north, an explosion reports from the south wall of the prison. Tyree directs Cathal to go around the east side to flank, while he moves towards the fissure from the west. A large man with a topknot wearing Templar armor steps out of the man-sized hole in the wall. Tyree makes ready to attack, until a familiar, though disheveled, red-headed woman emerges, followed by the former prisoner, Corryn. Sister Stone takes the lead, rushing from the wreckage, past Tyree, and across to the tavern.

p. In close pursuit, the Templar woman climbs through next, but Tyree blocks her way, buying Corryn and the others time. Sister Stone bypasses the tavern’s main entrance in favor of a side door, then knocks an unusual pattern on it and waits impatiently. Finding his bastard sword quite useless against the Templar’s silverite armor, Tyree laments leaving his other weapons back at the Blue Goblet, and, seeing he will not be much use to his friends without them, breaks off his attack and runs towards the inn to retrieve them.

The woman guard, whom Armon saw enter the tavern earlier, answers Sister Stone’s knock and ushers them in. They hear the Templar shout “Halt!”, but ignore her command. Corryn, Armon, and Broga follow Sister Stone behind the bar where a trap door reveals a set of stairs leading into an underground passage. Berchan sneaks up behind her and stabs her in the back of the knee, while Cathal peppers her with arrows, but this slows the Templar little. Marius, uncharacteristically standing his ground, blasts back the Templar several times before finally heeding the guard’s shouts and running through the tavern, down the stairs and into the tunnel.

Crouching just inside the tunnel, Marius watches the woman guard and unusual top-knotted Templar ready for combat while listening to the stomp of heavy boots on the wooden floor above his head. The man looks at him, holds up his hand, then yells “Run!” They scramble further down into the tunnel just as an explosion collapses the entrance, cutting them off from the Templar, but also from Tyree, Cathal, and Berchan. With nowhere to go but forward, Corryn summons his whisp to light the way, and follows Sister Stone, hoping she knows the way.

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Arresting Development

Finding no crossing along the steep gorge, the part find themselves back on the imperial highway in the quaint town of Oldham. Wishing to leave as quickly as possible, they are thwarted by a surly, middle-aged female guard collecting tolls on the bridge. At five silver per person and ten per horse or pack animal, the cost is prohibitive to their meager wealth. They accompany Corryn to a local mage shop to return his borrowed horse while they scheme of ways to skirt the toll.

The mage shop is easy to find, and, to Corryn’s annoyance, Broga insists on accompanying him inside. The Tranquil shopkeep again greets Corryn by name, but this one seems less tranquil and somewhat agitated. He dutifully takes Corryn’s horse, but mistakenly leaves Broga alone inside while taking the animal around back. Broga eyes a tempting bejeweled bastard sword under glass as they leave the building, trying to figure out how to hide it on his person.

After securing the horse, Corryn and the Tranquil return to the front of the store, but he suspiciously does not go back inside. Instead, he attempts to talk Corryn into buying some potions, only five silver apiece. Not really interested in the potions, but curious at this man’s unusual behavior, he agrees to take a look at the wares. The sound of breaking glass from inside makes Tyree cringe, and he prepares to defend his miscreant dwarf friend. Unexpectedly though, the Tranquil doesn’t seem to notice or care. He enters the store and walks past the guilty-looking dwarf holding a colorful vial in each hand, crunching shards of broken glass beneath his feet, without reaction or comment. Corryn takes a cursory glance at the box of potions the man retrieves from a back room shelf, and seeing nothing special, politely declines the offer. Now more suspicious than curious, Corryn grabs Broga by the shoulder and leads him out, still holding the vials.

A severe looking, fully armored Templar woman strolls directly towards Marius just as Corryn and Broga exit the shop. She stops short, turns, and addresses Corryn directly and by name. “Corryn, mage of the White Spire, Circle of Val Royeaux, you are under arrest. Please come with me.” Corryn says nothing and prepares to go with her, but Armon suddenly protests, demanding to know the charges. After an annoyed glare, she perfunctorily lists his many crimes: failure to report to his superiors, participation in a blood magic ritual, and the murder of Empress Celene I. Corryn opens his eyes wide in shock at the allegations, then suddenly realizes at least one of them might be true. At that, she walks away from Armon and down the road, expecting Corryn to follow.

The obedient mage follows the Templar, recognizing her rank as Knight-Commander, trying to spare his friends from what would surely be a losing battle. Armon follows, persisting in pestering her about the man’s human rights, due process, habeas corpus, and any other legalese he can think of, while the others keep a safe distance. Finally she turns on him. “This maleficarum will be given no quarter. I will return him to Val Royeaux, where he will face trial and be given more mercy than his kind deserves. If he tries to escape, I will kill him. If you help him, I’ll kill you too. Now, get out of my way.” Then the grumpy Templar takes Corryn into an unremarkable one room building, whose door is emblazoned with a flaming eye, shutting the door in Armon’s as he attempts to protest further.

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All That Glitters

Grateful that no one seems to have been bitten, but feeling vulnerable out in the open, they break camp and make their way back to Haven to find a defensible building in which to spend the rest of the night. They locate a barn that suits their needs, bar the door, and hunker down. With the exception of a rabbit exciting Dog, the night passes with no further disturbances.

Upon leaving Haven in the morning, the company follows the nearby river east hoping to make a crossing to the north side before passing Elmridge. The rocky path along the steep drop off seems desolate and empty. After many hours, they come across a rickety looking rope bridge spanning the 30 foot gorge. After growing weary of her traveling companions’ indecisive hesitation, Cathal uses her sharp dagger to cut the rope, letting the bridge crash down to hang uselessly on the other side. That cuts the debate short and they continue on into the evening in silence.

That night camped on the riverside, Marius takes the opportunity during his watch to speak with Cathal about her brother and her plans. Bluntly and abruptly, she relates her last encounter with Azur. Izot being her sister by marriage, she still feels obligated to carry out his mission and agrees to do her part in leading them to Banur’s hideout. Not having any particular plans after that, she inquires about Marius’. He shares his intent to explore an ancient Tevinter keep near the Brecilian Forest. She makes an offhanded remark about watching out for werewolves, which Marius reacts to with alarm. She laughs at him and promises to share a tale or two about the creatures after rescuing Izot. After all, there is not much glory to be found building huts back in new Redhold.

On the continuing eastward journey the following day, one of Felayne’s horses begins limping. Tyree tends to the animal, finding the culprit to be a rock embedded in its hoof. He pries the offending stone loose, then reflexively hides it. Broga’s eyes are too sharp, especially when it comes to sparkling jewels, and he casually asks to see it. Being a terrible liar and trusting Broga less than he could throw him, Tyree decides to show it to everyone. After rubbing some of the dirt off, it becomes obvious this is not a naturally occurring stone. It has obviously been carefully cut and polished. It’s clarity and size lead Tyree to appraise it very highly. The mages look skeptical, and offer that it’s probably a counterfeit or perhaps a magical item. Tyree searches the area for tracks, and finds some quite large footprints that cross cross the area, then head south. Armon and Broga have a short-lived debate about tracking the gem’s potential owner, but with wildly varying intentions. They settle on a finder’s keeper’s policy and give no further thought to it. Tyree tucks the gem safely into his pack, and they all resolve not to succumb to any further distraction on their mission to lead Felayne safely to Elmridge.

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Amber Rage

Corryn nearly yells out when, during his watch, a hand covers his mouth and someone grabs him from behind until a voice whispers in his ear, calming him. He stands motionless for a few moments, listening to the silence, straining to hear the threat the voice warned him about. The snap of a twig pushes them into a flurry of action. Cathal releases Corryn, who immediately wakes the others. As they orient and arm themselves, she moves past them toward the unknown threat. Berchan, the fastest to wake, follows her. “I hear them,” the boy whispers. Before Cathal can stop him, he races past her into the darkness. Growls and snarls follow, and he rushes back to Cathal, three feral, dark-skinned warriors close behind.

Tyree rushes at the warriors from his hiding place to the right, keeping them away from Cathal, giving her room to shoot. Broga and the mages join her in support while Armon takes his customary position next to Tyree. Like the barkeep, these men emit a foul odor, affecting the front line fighters. The also similarly refuse to die, fighting on well beyond mortal wounds. Recognizing their stubbornness, Marius fills them with entropic energy, this time not warning Armon. The men explode, covering both warriors in yellow gore. Unable to stomach the smell, Armon begins to retch, stealing the breath he would otherwise be using to curse Marius.

Taking a moment to let Armon recover, Corryn shares his recollection of these barbarians, the darker skinned Alammari cousins of the Avar. Known as Chasind, they usually make their home in the Kocari Wilds, far south of their current position. The golden hue of the blood covering Tyree and Armon triggers a memory in Corryn and he relates his theory that these men suffered from Amber Rage, a disease not seen in Thedas for hundreds of years.

During the First Blight, the Chasind attempted to use herbs to enhance their warriors, make them stronger and faster to curb the Darkspawn threat. The plants themselves were tainted, so, while having the desired affect of enhancing their physical abilities, they also addled the mind, regressing the subject to an animal state. Even worse, the subject could then transfer the condition through bites to other victims. Entire Chasind villages succumbed to the Rage. Corryn recalls no record of how it was stopped.

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Haven

Marius, Corryn, Armon, Broga, Felayne, Berchan, their dogs, horses, and donkey arrive in the peaceful village of Haven at dusk. They spot a likely building in the distance, and travel through the dark and quiet town to what they assume is the local inn. Finding the door locked and the windows boarded up, Broga tries his hand at the lock. The trivial thing takes hardly any effort to disable, but the door still will not budge.

Unable to resist the challenge, Broga and the others move around back. He successfully picks the lock on the rear door, but finds this one also stubbornly refuses to open. With Tyree out, Armon volunteers to try his hand. He takes several steps back then runs at the door, using his shoulder to force it open, smashing it off its hinges and knocking down the several chairs propped against it. The pair enter the seemingly deserted building quietly, though after all that racket anyone inside would surely already be alerted to their presence. Broga takes the second floor while Armon guards the stairs. After a few brief minutes, Broga reports back no souls upstairs. They move on to a door at the end of the hallway where the adept dwarf makes quick work of that lock, revealing the inn’s common room.

The room is in shambles, the floor littered with overturned tables, broken glass, and splintered chairs. Broga immediately begins canvassing the room for abandoned coins and intact bottles. While the dwarf is preoccupied with his search, a shuffling sound from behind the bar attracts Armon’s attention. An old man crawls out through the debris, obviously wounded, with a makeshift splint around his leg. Armon calls to those waiting outside for help. Not wanting any part in their vandalism and also unwilling to leave Felayne alone, Corryn stays outside while Marius enters the inn.

Noticing his yellow-tinged skin and acrid smell, Marius surmises that the man has suffered some malady but is unfamiliar with these particular symptoms. He tries questioning the man, but doesn’t get much information. Instead he repeatedly insists that they must stay away, leave, and depart. Having had enough of the man’s ravings, Marius provokes him into a rage. The man unexpectedly stands up quickly, despite his wounded leg, and lunges at the mage, attempting to bite him.

Marius quickly dodges out of the way, and Armon steps up to intercept the attack. Attempts to calm the man are met only with snarls and bites. Hesitantly, Armon strikes the man. When this has no affect, he strikes harder. Rather than red, his new wounds ooze a rancid, thick, yellow substance. Broga sticks him with several arrows and Marius blasts him with arcane energy, but still the man does not relent. Armon does not pull his killing blow, striking the barkeep down into a smelly heap.

Surprisingly, the old man immediately stands up again and continues his assault through injuries no man should survive. Against his better judgement, Marius warns Armon to back up. After one last blow, Armon heeds the warning. A potent spell leaves Marius’ staff, black energy entering the ears, eyes and nose of the infected man. Within seconds, the man explodes, covering the room, and Armon’s shoes, in a rain of yellow gore.

Wary of the water supply, Armon chooses not use the inn’s well to wash off the stench. After investigating a few houses only to find them empty, they wearily leave Haven, opting to camp on the western outskirts of town to wait for their wayward Avarrians and hopefully stop them from entering the devastated village.

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Another Stupid Avar

Not one to give up, even on irresponsible, dog-killing barbarians, Corryn keeps trying, hoping that the Revenant’s spell runs its course before it’s too late. Through sheer stubbornness and force of will, and perhaps a bit of spiritual intervention, Corryn is able to snatch Tyree from the brink of death. A distant scream distracts them from this triumphant moment. Recognizing the terrified voice, Marius runs back to the riverbank.

He easily finds the sobbing woman near the reptile carnage, cradling Azur, both covered in blood. He gently pulls Felayne away from the unconscious, but clearly alive, Azur. Cathal takes her brother to dress his wounds, while Marius guides the unresponsive Felayne to the river to clean her up. Realizing the worst she has seen prior to this battle was the single Darkspawn in the caves of Redhold, he sympathizes with her reaction and begins to question the wisdom of bringing her along to rescue Izot in the dangerous Frostback Mountains. With the wounded tended to and the entire party now safely across the river, they decide to press on into the evening. The forest disappears behind them and they make camp on the flat prairie, a comfortable distance from the waterway.

The next day, as the group moves west towards the mountains, the terrain starts to become rocky and uneven. They come to the realization that they will not be able to take the horses with them to Banur’s camp. After debating several options and consulting Marius’ map, they decide to escort Felayne and the horses to the village of Haven, where she will await their potential return. If the worst should happen, she will have to complete her journey to Elmridge on her own. Felayne reluctantly agrees, wishing to help her friend, but knowing how ineffective in battle she would be. Figuring that since it’s been so long that Izot’s fate has been sealed either way, Corryn and Armon agree. Broga and Tyree remain indifferent, so long as their destination has the potential to include loot and glory. Azur vocally and vehemently objects, desperate to save his wife, but his protests are soundly ignored, even by his sister.

Night passes with no disturbances, but the morning light reveals that Azur is missing. Dog and Tyree ferret out his trail, which, as expected, makes a direct line northwest towards Banur and Izot. Cursing and swearing to all the Avar gods, Cathal gathers her gear and makes to follow him. Though they haven’t been on the best terms, Tyree volunteers his and Dog’s services to track the runaway. She agrees and the pair split from the main party, promising to catch up at or near Haven.

Not far from their camp, they find a depression in the grass where it appears Azur rested. The trail leading away from the site is not fresh, so they can tell he has time on them. Cathal gives a wry grin, says “Race you,” and takes off running. Never one to back down from a challenge, Tyree follows. Several minutes pass where they are very close, but Cathal suddenly stops. Oblivious, Tyree keeps going. Finally she shouts at him and points to attract his attention to a pile of corpses. Four dead Genlocks litter the ground, their Darkspawn corruption already turning the grass ashen around them. Avar arrows protrude from their flesh, indicating to the trackers that Azur was here. Now, more leery of their surroundings, they abandon their game and keep a watchful eye out for more Darkspawn.

As evening descends on the Avar, with still no sign of Azur, they press on into the night, trusting Dog’s nose to keep them on track. He proves worth his keep when, just after dawn, he barks and approaches a small copse. An arrow whizzes past Dog, shot by an unseen archer hidden among the trees. Furious that Azur would assault his companion, Tyree charges in.

Several more arrows come his way before Tyree locates Azur among the trees, one of those striking Cathal, who returns the favor. Upon seeing the wounded and frightened boy, Tyree rethinks his attack and instead uses his intimidating presence to scare Azur into surrender. Even as he drops his bow and drops his head, Cathal does not relent, sending several more arrows his way. Tyree makes a half-hearted attempt to stop her, until he puts the boy’s wounds and ashen complexion together with the Darkspawn casualties to realize what must have befallen him.

Cathal walks up to Azur and looks into his smokey, distant eyes. She places her hand on his shoulder and he drops to his knees, whimpering. She carefully unsheathes a dagger, slides it across Azur’s throat, kicks over his body, turns, and walks away. “Let’s go,” she says to Tyree, who stands in stunned silence for a moment, then hurries to follow, leaving the disgraced Azur to the land-dwelling scavengers, unfit for the halls of the Sky Goddess.

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Stupid Avar

The Revenant blasts Tyree with a wave of entropic energy, but the stubborn Avar pushes his way through, reaching the undead mage and landing several solid blows. Tyree, with no sense of self preservation, shrugs off every magical attack the Revenant throws at him and continues his relentless assault. Berchan arrives in the clearing just in time to see the Revenant swallowed by the earth, slipping away from the brutal attack.

Marius, Corryn and Broga finally catch up, only to find the wild-eyed Avar, covered in blood and black sludge, cursing at the air. Another area fills with the sickly green mist, catching Broga and Corryn in its choking fumes. While the others canvas the clearing for any sign of the enemy, Tyree lets out a sharp whistle and yells a single command, “Track”.

Dog comes running to his master’s call. The mutt sniffs along the ground for a few moment, following a zigzag pattern, and, not far from where the Revenant sank, barks happily, then begins to dig. Berchan rushes over to assist, and they soon reveal the top of a bald, decaying head. Berchan proceeds to stab at it and Broga follows suit. Tyree does not join them, finding it difficult to stand, let alone lift his maul. He collapses onto the grass just as Armon enters the clearing.

Confused by Berchan and Broga stabbing the dirt, Armon is unsure how to proceed. Corryn, tending to the fallen Avar directs him to help. He is reluctant to join the boy and the dwarf, not wishing to mar Amaar Fin. Seeing their short mundane weapons become ineffective when the head sinks lower, Armon sighs and plunges his magnificent blade into the soil. It emerges covered in black sludge, the Revenant once more returned to his liquid form.

Though Tyree is clearly quite wounded, Corryn finds his healing magics useless. Though he knows it is futile, Marius attempts his bandages anyway. The Curse of Mortality prevents his wounds from being treated, leaving Tyree’s companions to watch helplessly as his life slips away. Berchan pushes his way through the circle around the dying Avar, kicks the man as hard as he can, and, through choked words, tells him, “Get up you stupid Avar! You still have to save my sister!”

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