Wherein the characters glean more information about the massacre.
Bodies are strewn across the clearing in front of the two southern-most building in the logging camp. The heroes had just finished dispatching the Kobold and the Zombie Kobolds. Ember looks at ToughBark. “That looks painful.” ToughBark has a small throwing axe sticking out of his shoulder. He doesn’t seem to be able to use that arm. Ember examines the wound. “This is going to hurt.” He pulls the axe from the wound and begins to manipulate a growing glow around ToughBark’s shoulder.
Broken speaks up, “Hey guys. I’m no simple Oxdriver. I’m a smart man. But these Kobolds look, well they look… I think I killed that one a few days ago. Or was it a week ago.”
Meander exclaims, “What! They all look alike. How can you be sure that that you killed that one?”
Broken stammers, “Well… Maybe not that one. No… I think I killed all of them. These are all pretty finely tuned, and I’m the best fighter here of the civilized folk. I, knowing an actual martial art rather than barbarically throwing rocks and punching you like a bar-room brawler. Anyway.”
Meander bows up a bit at the insult, “Yeah. You should just stop.”
Broken continues unabashed, “That one looks familiar. That one looks familiar. And… I think that one looks familiar.”
Red says, “I’m just generally uneasy.”
Ember finishes arranging the magical glow around ToughBark. The wound has knitted closed, leaving a scabbed over gash. It is still tender, but ToughBark thinks he can use it again.
Ember turns to Broken afterwards and says, “Ok. So you think we’ve killed these sons of bitches once huh?”
“I’m pretty sure. I’m pretty sure that one died by my sword… and that one died by the golem’s sword… and that one died by Red’s sword… Oxdriver may have even killed that one.”
“Do you see any that look burnt?”
“Uhhh.. Not particularly. Except for that one on the roof that you barbecued.” Broken looks about again. “Oh .. Yes. Some of them show signs of fire damage.”
Red speaks up, “I’m concerned about the insect critters around the area. They are agitated, which makes me agitated.”
Broken says, “What insect critters? I didn’t see any insects.”
There are lots of insects in the area. Lots of beetles and ants crawl on the ground. Mosquitos, gnats and flies cloud the air thicker than normal. Clearly something has attracted insects here in larger than normal quantities.
Ember adds, “Could it be the dead bodies?” He pauses for a moment and then says, “Ok, we are not going to get anywhere standing here guys.”
Red quips, “No, I’m going to stand here. I bet 200 silver will just appear in my hand.” After a few chuckles he adds, “OK.. so where to next Ember?”
“Well, I’m not the party leader… but we need to clear this camp here.”
Broken interrupts, "I’ll be the party leader. I think we should go down…
Red says, “Meander lead the way.”
Meander asked, “Where is the dead Kobold that turned invisible?”
Ember answered, “He’s on the ground there by one of the Regulators. By that building.”
Red says, “The buzzing is getting louder. I’m starting to not be able to use my normal sense.”
Meander turns to the group, “Should we check out a building?”
Ember turns to Red, “Is it coming from some location?”
“No, just the general insect buzzing is getting louder, so it is interfering in how I see.”
Meander sighed, “I’m going to go check this door here.” He walks confidently over to the south western building.
Red says, “If they are sneaking up to us, I can’t tell.” He seems quite disturbed.
The group begins to circle around behind Meander
Ember turns to one of the Regulators that is closest to him and says, “I’m the one who will heal you if you get hurt. Provide me cover.” The tough glances at ToughBark, who is rolling his wounded shoulder. The wound is an angry red blistery scab, but he seems to be able to use it. The tough glances fearfully back to Ember, but nods in understanding.
The other Regulators are listening to PayDay. He is coldly barking orders at the group. “Spread out! I don’t want any surprises.” They start to fan out, with the tough near Ember motioning him to follow.
Meander stands by the door while the group repositions. Stone Man and Red approach and stand to either side. The building appears to be an office perhaps. It looks too small to house sleeping quarters. It would be fine for a single family dwelling, but those would not be found in the work camp. The door looks very sturdy, built to keep out wind and weather. The solid door makes the building look like one of the fancier buildings in the camp.
Meander opens the door. Inside is a cramped wooden room is strewn with sawdust to keep people from slipping on the mud slick floor. A simple stone hearth is set in one wall and a newly fashioned desk of unvarnished timber sits in the middle of the room. The body of a fat man is slumped on the desktop, his broken spectacles lying in a pool of thick congealed blood. Parchments are strewn all over the floor by the desk, each with a lumberjack’s name on it and a record of his work, hours, and wages owed. Each paper is marked with a childish crude face, painted in blood with x’s for eyes.
Meander pauses for a moment at the sight. There is a door on the far wall, and a door on the right wall, which appears to lead to another room. “O…K… Let’s check out the next room.”
Red starts to enter behind Meander. Meander calls out to the group. “We’ve got a dead fat man in here.” He approaches the door to the right side of the room and opens it. Three twangs of crossbow bolts issue from the wall behind Meander. They clang against the Dwarven plates in his armor, but don’t seem to have done permanent damage. Meander spots three Kobolds cowering behind a chair and gripping their spears tightly as he opens the door. They make “Murk Murk” noises as they “Jabby Jab” forward. Meander, startled by the trap and the Kobolds, yells, “CRAP!”
This room is slightly less sparsely decorated than the room without, with a few shelves on the wall, a desk, a bed covered in fluffy goose-down pillows and blankets against the east wall. A chest rests against the south wall.
Meander pauses, readying himself to hurl the nearest Kobold that approaches him. They appear to be ready for him however hiding behind the chair, using it for cover. Their eyes are open wide and their jaws clenched, with their spears quivering slightly; they look terrified. Meander, keeping his eyes trained on the three Kobolds, reaches down to get his chain whip, uncurling it quickly. The Kobolds look even more terrified.
One of the Kobolds bravely leaps forward and attacks. Meander quickly lashes out, wrapping the whip around the Kobold. Meander spins him around while pulling on the chain, launching the Kobold off his feet and whipping him around the room and towards the door. Unfortunately, Meander had not seen Red enter the room and slams the Kobold into Red. The Kobold bounces off the wall-like Red and falls at his feet.
Broken waffles for a moment in indecision about what to do and then quickly moves to attack the Kobold. The Regulators keep back, holding in a defensive perimeter. Ember stays close to the Regulator from earlier. Stone Man lurches into action, charging at the door with amazing swiftness and impressive momentum. Stone Man swings his sword under, splitting a rather large gash up through the Kobold’s mid-section.
Meander glances over at the fallen Kobold then back to the cowering Kobolds in the room and yells to the group, “Two more coming!”
Ember yells back, “I can throw some fire in there if you want!”
“Is that a no?”
“NO FIRE! No! No. No… No.” Meander answers awkwardly, glancing back through the door to make sure Ember understood.
The Kobolds take this lapse of focus to leap out with their spears and jab at Meander. The blows glance off the metal plates with little effect. Meander, refocused on the Kobolds, swirls the chain whip around, snagging the closer of the Kobolds. This time Meander whirls the Kobold through the room and slams it into the ground in front of Red.
Presented with a new target, Broken quickly reacts, making a double thrusting attack with both his rapier and his jagged parrying dagger attempting to skewer the fallen Kobold. As he begins to complete the move, he screams at the Kobold, “Where is my 200 silver!” The Kobold squirms narrowly out of the way of the blades, unaware of Red’s stout rod descending upon its chest. Red lands a crushing blow, killing the second Kobold.
Meander sizes up the remaining Kobold. They are identical to the tribe of Kobolds that they fought at the ruins. Same gear, same equipment, same scale patterns, same size, and same “murky murk, jabby jab” language. Red does appear to understand their speech. The Kobold darts around the chair and stabs at Meander’s thigh, again glancing off the plate armor. Meander decides to try to capture the Kobold and question him. He swings the chain whip, but narrowly misses the Kobold hiding behind the chain.
Broken yells out to Meander, “Save one for me to interrogate about my Silver.”
Ember looks around, seemingly expecting creatures to jump out from anywhere. He glances around the buildings, at the wood pile, and back to the trees surrounding the camp. Red also spends time listening. The sounds of the insects keeps building and getting louder.
Meander swings the whip again at the Kobold, this time catching it before it had a chance to dive back behind cover. Meander pulls the Kobold out to him and loops the chain around the Kobold’s arms and chest, restraining him.
As Meander begins to pull the last Kobold out of the small office, Ember says to the group, “Hey Guys, I heard something in the building to the east of us.” He gestures to the larger stacked log structure separated from the small office building by a narrow alley.
Broken exclaims, “I told you we should have checked that house!”
Red glances over and comments, “You were free to do it.”
Broken stammers and moves around behind the Stone Man, showing his bravery to all present. He begins to instruct Stone Man to move around to protect against a threat from the larger cabin.
Ember glares back to the Kobold being dragged from the building, “Let’s go ahead and see what this little fucker has to say.”
Meander flinches a bit, glancing at Ember, “Strong words from the priest.”
Broken blurts out, “Fine, I’ll say it! The little fucker has my 200 silver.”
Several people suppress grins as Broken brandishes a fist at the cowering restrained Kobold.
Red quickly manages to talk over Broken as he continues, “I don’t think he is going to understand you.”
“Well, then tell him he has my silver!”
Meander makes an attempt at the Kobolds language, “Shiny shiny… uhm… Jabby jabby… Damn you.”
Broken grabs his main gauche and waves it in front of the Kobold’s face, screaming, “Tell me who has the shiny shiny! Tell me! WHO HAS MY MONEY!”
Everyone is looking around The Kobold
Meander turns to Red, holding the squirming Kobold, “Alright Red. Here ya go. Talk to him.”
“What do you want to know?”
Broken yells out, “I want you to ask him who has my silver.”
Red smirks and whispers to the Kobold. It opens wide eyes at the Human speaking and shakes his head no, but continues to wiggle and fight against the chains and Meander’s grasp. Red beings to talk in ernest to the Kobold, and the Kobold distraught, cries and yells back to Red.
Broken says, “What’s he saying, Red?”
Red says, “He knows exactly where you silver is but he isn’t going to tell you.”
Broken takes his heavy jagged knife and moves it over towards the Kobolds neck. Red waves him off, “That’s not what he said.” There were some chuckles amongst the group as Broken moved back away from the Kobold. “He doesn’t want us to hurt him, because he doesn’t want to hurt Big Bigs.”
Meander replied calmly, “Well, he didn’t have a problem with stabbing me in there.”
Red answered, “He must have had a change of heart.”
Meander paused for a moment and then added, “When he said Big Bigs, I thought the Big Bigs were the big Kobolds. Is he talking about us or the big Kobolds?”
Red turned back to the Kobold, while others began to pepper him with suggestions. Ember sighed as if in disgust in the train of questioning, “Ask him what he is doing here in the first place?” Meander added, “What hurt the lumbermen?” Broken added, “Ask him why his kin came from the grave?”
Red turned the group and says, “He promises not to hurt us.”
Ember chortled, “I don’t think we are worried about that.”
Red turned back to talk to the Kobold. "Key to the Shiny Good Good in the room. Take all the Shiny Good Good and let him go.
Meander said, “That sounds evasive.”
Broken added, “That didn’t answer our question.”
Red said in frustration, “That what he was saying before in response to ‘Where is the 200 silver.’ You guys are talking to me. He’s talking to me.”
Broken said, “I probably could find something worth 200 silver in that room.”
Red continued, “Now I’m going to ask what happened here and why the Kobolds out here are dead looking.”
Red turns back to talk to the Kobold, but Broken keeps talking, “No, they were dead. I killed them. You killed them. Hell, even Oxdriver gutted one.” Meander grimaced at the comment.
Meander said, “He sure is jabbering a lot.”
Broken said in a parody of the Kobold, “Please oh my god, let me go. I’ll tell you about the two hundred silver, it was that guy over there. Please, just let me go.”
Red turns back, “So, Depnarka, the Black Carapace, told the Kobolds to attack the Tall Legs. They tried to get the Shiny Good Good and run the Tall Legs off, but the Black Carapace want all the Tall Legs dead, but not this Kobold, he likes Tall Leg.” Red turned back to continue talking to the Kobold.
Meander grinned, “He likes himself.”
Ember says dramatically, “The Black Carapace.” He pauses as if in thought, “Ask him if this is what ran them out of the underground.”
Meander adds, “Or is that the name of that dead Kobold over there?”
Red tells the group, “He didn’t really like Depnarka, with all his mean bitey many leggers.” He adds with disgust, “That sounds like a spider. Or something else with many legs.”
After a brief conversation with the Kobold, Red turned back and added, “And it was too dark down below. They left.”
Meander asked, “Is that the black things with red eyes that was drawn.. on the temple”
Ember glared at Meander, “Is it really a good idea to let him know that we were the ones that went genocide on them to begin with. I’m just saying.”
Red chimed in, “I didn’t say I was going to tell him that.”
Meander says to Red, “Ask him if that dead Kobold over there Depnarka.”
Red turns back to the Kobold briefly. As Red turns back from the Kobold, Meander puzzles, "So let me get this right, so Detha… Detha Nappa, or whatever he said…
Red answers, “The Black Carapace.”
“Are they the same?”
“The guy over there, the Kobold, is Crusta, or Six Legs, who follows the Black Carapace.”
“Ahhhhh. So there are more Kobolds somewhere else that sent them here.”
“Do we want to find out where those are?”
Ember says to Red, “Ask him who is in the building to the east. How many?”
Red, “Who is in the building to the east, and where is Depnarka now?” He turns back to the Kobold. They jabber for a few moments before Red says, “Don’t go to the building to the east. The Gone Ones are there. They eat there. They would eat us, they would eat him. We should leave quick quick.”
Red says almost to himself, “So the Gone Ones like the Kobolds out here?”
Meander, “Yeah, are they the Zombies?”
Red jabbers again with the Kobold and then says to the group, “They are very bad. They should be gone. They should not walk walk more.”
Broken says, “Yeah that’s obvious”
Ember, “I think that would be a yes”
Meander asks Red, “Who made the Gone Gones?” Red turns back to jabber at the Kobold. The Kobold suddenly just stops. He looks down at the ground without saying anything.
Meander, “Does he needs some encouragement? I don’t think I can do that, but he doesn’t have to know that.”
Red asks, “Are we ready to let the Kobold go?”
Ember says, “I’m sorry.”
Meander interrupts, “I was going to leash him up. We’ve got a Kobold pet now.”
“You get to house train him.”
Broken says thoughtfully, “I would be willing to let him go, once I get 200 silver worth of Good Goods in my hand.”
Red, “your hand hands.”
Meander, “Alright, I’m not going to let him go to warn this Deshthapa..blah..blah person first.”
“Thank you, Dephnartha. or Decknappa.. or Dep whatever the hell it was.”
“Black Carapace. Just call him the Black Carapace.”
“Ok… Black Carapace. I don’t want him running off to warn the Black Carapace… So he can take us there, and then go on his way… But until then I don’t want to let him go..”
Red asks, “Wait, where can he take us?”
“If we go to find the Black Carapace. But until we decide, I don’t want to let him go”
Broken says, “I agree with that… and my 200 silver worth of gold.”
Meander asks, “Can’t you tied people up, Broken?”
Ember remarks, “But his rope is on top of the building we don’t want to go into.”
Broken wonders, “Yeah… I’ll go get that rope.” He turns to the building and waves his hand impressively. The rope snakes down from the roof of the building and slides over wrapping up the Kobold tightly, scaring the Kobold even more.
Broken turns thoughtfully, “Though, we are going to bring him with us. That’s the plan, right?”
Meander remarks, “We have no plan yet.”
Broken says, “Good… I am not a cruel person.” Meander snorts at the comment, but Broken continues unabashedly, “to a certain extent of situation, but clearly Zombies eat anything. So, if we were to leave him, I think we should leave him in the room. So at least he has some level of protection.”
Ember says, “Well, there is an important consideration here as we are discussing this.” He turns to Pay Day, “You want this camp cleaned up, don’t you?”
Pay Day answers, “Yeah! We gotta work here.”
Ember continues, “So, we are not done here. We are not going anywhere until we clean this place out. And besides, if there are undead in there, I’m not fucking leaving until they are not moving.”
Broken says nonchalantly, “Yeahhh, those guys do seem to be a pain in the ass.”
Pay Day adds, “Yeah. You’ve got gold to earn anyway. We are not leaving a bunch of monsters here.”
Broken says back, “Are you serious, gold to earn? we just took these bitches out.”
Pay Day responds, “Well it sounds to me that there are still more left.”
Broken, “Well yeah, we are working on it.”
Ember says to the group, “I think there are a few more doors to be kicked open, so uh.. Meander get to it.”
Broken says, “Well, it might be best to use the golem.”
Meander says back to Ember, “Why don’t you get ready to uh, like lay down some unholy fire.”
Broken gasped and turned to Ember, “Oh! Can you burn the building down?”
“Sure, you got a torch?”
“Actually, I do. And actually I have a torch that REALLY likes to burn thing.”
“Then it is really simple. Just light the torch on fire and throw it in the building.” After a brief pause, Ember adds, “Matter of fact, there is a big pile of somewhat seasoned wood sitting over there, help yourself.” After another pause, “You don’t understand my ethos, I’m sorry. I don’t do that. If you want me to catch you on fire, I can do that. All day. Everyday.”
“But it is filled with undead, as you so said.”
“Yes. And I want them destroyed.” Ember looks back to Pay Day, “Since we are making a shit load of money here, I assume you want the buildings reasonably intact?”
Pay Day remarks, “Yeah! If it is not absolutely necessary to destroy them.”
Broken says tentatively, “Well, there are a lot of zombies in that there house.”
Ember says firmly, “We haven’t determined that quite yet, if it is necessary to destroy it. I’m going to keep a torch lit just in case.”
Pay Day speaks up, “That’s fine. But we should check to see if there are any lumberjacks that we can save before we start torching the place.”
Ember, “I agree. Matter of fact, let me try something.”
Ember closes his eyes and appears to meditate, but seems unable to concentrate.
Meander says grimly, “I’m suspecting they are all dead, unless they have walled themselves in.”
Red mumbles “We could call out and see if they respond. If nobody does, then apparently there were no lumberjacks in there.”
Ember closes his eyes again, attempting to meditate. When he opens his eyes, his eyes are filled with flickering flames. He speaks to the group, “Move with me. I want to move over to where I can get a better view of these other buildings. I don’t know what kind of range I have on this, but I want to try to do a quick scan to see if there is anything alive in the buildings behind there, to the north.”
Ember starts walking towards the alley between the two buildings. As he enters the alley, he turns back to the group as says, “There is something in the back room of the building that we didn’t go into yet. Something odd.”
Broken, Stone Man and Red follow close behind Ember as he goes into the alley. The Regulators are still arrayed out, staying watchful of all the shadows. ToughBark has his bow out and is trying to stay alert. Meander drags the tied up Kobold back into the office, setting him on the chair behind the desk, and then proceeds out to catch up to Ember.
Ember yells, “Follow me!” as he rushes into the courtyard behind. A creaky wooden ladder ascends this tower of thatched logs. Hanging off the side of the tower, tied haphazardly in a dizzying array of knotted ropes, sags a living man, still moaning in agony.