Apres Moi

The rains begin to pour down upon Turtleback Ferry shortly after the party returns from the riverboat. Haggor looks wistfully out into the storm, sad that there’s no fishing. Taeva slogs around town looking for clues and barely finding her way back to the inn. By the second day, the rain has only increased, and the party is worried that it won’t let up anytime soon. Veshenga goes to check on Kaven only to find that he left the night of the fire to go back to the fort; they find this a bit suspicious.

With no end in sight for the rain, the party decides they can’t wait any longer to head out. They’re worried that all this rain after an already heavily-snowed winter might mean trouble for the dam, and the fort is on the way so they can inform the rangers of the problems they anticipate. Shayliss absolutely refuses to slog through 20 miles of mud and monsoon, but the rest set out as soon as they’re decided.

Despite the deluge, the party makes about as good time as can be expected. Footing is treacherous, visibility is severely limited, and everyone is continually sodden to the skin, but they make a consistent six miles a day as far as they can tell. At the end of the third day, they make camp at what they hope is the fork in the road between the fort and the dam.

About an hour before dawn, they’re awakened by the sudden lack of water cascading off the tents. Taeva is the first up, and thinks that she hears some kind of rhythmic thumping coming from the dam, as if some kind of construction was echoing off the wall and down the river canyon. The party hurriedly prepares for the day and sets off in the first light towards the dam.

As the sun finally rises completely over the edge of the eastern mountains. the light clearly illuminates the grim skulls that adorn the epic Thassilonian construction project. It also shines upon strange black tentacles, so giant that they are visible from a few miles away, reaching over the edge of the dam. A massive cracking sound overwhelms the sound of hammering on the dam and the party watches in horror as the upper right lip of the dam blossoms into a lattice of fragments. The tentacles whip in horror, and the party thinks that they’re grabbing and flinging oversized humanoids into the river below in their rage. Within a few moments, the party only having made it a few dozen yards in the race towards the dam, an immense section of the dam gives way completely, spilling fragments of ancient stonework, countless gallons of water, and an angry sea monster into the river below. Realizing that the coming flood will sweep them away on the road, the party rushes uphill, attempting to reach the fort.

As the screaming sound of the monster and the thunder of the exploding river passes behind them, and they worry about the fate of Turtleback Ferry, the party eventually begins to hear yet another layer of trouble: ahead there is nothing but the sound of battle. Rushing towards what should have been a safe haven, the heroes of Sandpoint crest a ridge to see that the fort below is being assaulted from all sides by hundreds of ogres. By the time they’ve come anywhere near close enough to help, the fort’s gates have fallen, the walls have been breached, and the river from the fort is running red with the blood of its defenders.

The party continues rushing forward, trying to decide if they can at least deliver some punishment to the ogres before fleeing, when they see to the south a small squad of rangers that appears to have been returning from the forest. The rangers have less reservation than the party, and rush with a battlecry towards a small cluster of ogres defiling corpses outside the walls. As the rangers and ogres clash, several younger-looking men fall in battered heaps before the heroes can alter their course to flank. Moments later, the party crashes into the ogres from behind, joining with the remaining rangers in a short and dangerous battle with four raging ogres. The rest of the scouts are killed before the ogres are put down and the group flees south away from the roused ogre army.

As they race through the scrublands to hide in the forest, the party has time to observe their new companions. One is Vale, the dark-skinned Shoanti Veshenga met months ago in Magnimar. The next is Kaven; very familiar to Veshenga of late, and, as far as Balekh and Haggor are concerned, most likely the man they saw leaving the riverboat under suspicious circumstances. The third is an older Varisian woman who seems to be their captain; she is obviously skilled with a bow, and travels with a bear companion.

Finally, the group loses the ogre pursuit and stops to rest at the edge of the forest. The rangers are obviously shell shocked and uncommunicative, though they explain that they had been on recon and were trapped by the rain only to find that being delayed had saved their lives. Haggor and Taeva become frustrated when they don’t seem to register that Kaven may have betrayed them. Despite having plausible explanations about his time in Turtleback Ferry and his sudden departure, Haggor senses that he is lying. Not just lying, but something in the ranger’s evasiveness reminds him of Justice Ironbriar. Certain that the man in charmed, they ask the rangers to detect magic, and the Captain confirms their suspicions but is too exhausted emotionally and physically to agree to any solutions at the moment.

Annoyed, Haggor and Taeva march off into the woods… just in time to hear the baying of hounds and something large crashing through the trees.