Chipper Entry 2
[arrives back in Barter’s Pass, a little worse for wear but much warier than anything else]
Deidra broke the rousing silence what seems like only moments ago. Her chill shriek pulled me and my new compatriots out into the street alongside The Kickin’ Chicken, fearfully distraught about something dire. The Sheriff and his dog were there about the same time, and it was quickly obvious that her oafish Thrugg had gone and got himself assaulted. The stumbling drunk had apparently become enough of a target for the as yet unidentified town menace to take action. As she tells it, they were walking along, and then he was just gone, sucked underground by giant insect-like beasts.
It wasn’t the ‘first adventure’ situation I’d been hoping for since the last beer but there we were. The sheriff in what must have been his ‘walking around’ attire and the rest of us in at least some semblance of well used gear. A few words between us and we were off towards Thrugg’s last known location. The sheriff, to his credit, asked only for a weapon and some backup. I gave him one of the extra daggers I carry, and he was good to go. That speaks well of him, even if first impressions can’t.
We were gone maybe five minutes at the most before those kruthik tarts came out of nowhere. The beasts burrow and sneak, much more than you’d think on the latter point. Our first test, a trial by fire. Scrapes and bruises aside, we did okay. There were going to be many other tests but we didn’t know that at the time. We just focused on the unexpected situation at hand and everyone did their part. I’ve been in worse company, and been the worse company to others. I think this band could go far if interests run along the same veins.
Thrugg was found among the kruthik corpses and returned to town. The sheriff, having a moment to breathe, returned the borrowed blade (always a good gesture) and got suited up properly. It was a sight to be seen, and instantly obvious why he doesn’t traipse around town in that stuff. It must be eighty pounds worth of steel just that can be seen. I’d be a turtle in that thing, all sealed up with one little snapper lashing out helplessly. Glad he’s on our side, or us on his. Either way, there is a pretty good chance I won’t be seeing the business end of those gauntlets.
Returning to the scene of the crime, we soon discovered a burned out wagon. It was just off the main path and badly damaged. All but the smallest trinkets were lost. Still, some telling artifacts of Thadius Markins were among the remains. It seemed clear that whatever had attacked him, Thrugg, and possibly others in the area was held up in the abandoned house on the other side of the fields. We approached and breached that structure.
The first thing we ran into, a ratman guard by the name of Kuix. He wishes he’d have stayed home sick that day. We bested his beasts and took him for a prisoner. While I searched the rest of the immediate area, Sheriff Jack was able to get Kuix on speaking terms. I’m not sure what he did to the ratman but I hope it was painful. The bastard gave me a nasty wound. Best we ran into him though. What the Sheriff was able to get from him could have been very difficult to uncover otherwise.
Kuix had been brought into town four months ago by a lady named Gennevive. He was tasked with establishing a kruthik hive below that abandoned house. To his credit, he did just that. His employer, who seems to be a shapeshifter of some kind, is more elusive. Kuix was very reluctant to speak of or act against her. In the end, Sheriff Jack was able to get what we needed. I also found some rather odd items in an upstairs room. They were so odd, for that context, that I’m sure they must have been taken from Barter’s Pass proper. Some of them had a decent value and others were just not in bad enough condition for someone to have gotten rid of them.
With our new Kuix guide in the lead, we delved further into the depths of the ratman’s hive. A bevy of kruthik beasties tried to make things difficult for us, as well they should, but we have steel and they have mandibles. Who do you think won? And after we won, it was then that we saw the gore of their slaughterhouse. Corpse pieces lay everywhere and one at least was known to some of the group. An adventurer, female, who had recently come looking for Mr. Markins. Her body was respectfully laid to rest. It was also among that heinous scene that Sheriff Jack stumbled upon a magical blade. The thing hummed as soon as he picked it up, and it seemed to be a good fit for him. Good thing too. The battle that was soon to come would not be kind.
To begin with, the kruthiks we would fight had just devoured, in the most disgusting manner possible, an entire ankheg. I couldn’t believe my eyes, saw the whole theing first hand. Impressed as we were, or at least as I was, we dove straight ahead into the assault. Kruthiks, after all, would need to be cleansed from the land for the town to be safe and these didn’t seem the negotiating version of the species. It was a particularly pitched battle but we survived. Boy did we survive.
At this point everyone was in some state of pain or discomfort, nearly everyone anyway. I myself lobbied for a return to the Chicken. What good I could do that day was all but spent. If we pressed too much farther ahead I was not going to be able to keep up. These beasts mean business and that ain’t something that should be kept up all day. Let the seasoned military do the grunt fighting. I was there to accomplish a mission and that mission did not include death by exhaustion.
All in all, a good day.
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