Borderland of Adventure #44: The Hermit at Clear Water

At the end of last session, our heroes bravely rested in the Traveller’s Rest after defeating the demon spirit that had been plaguing the village of Trellmont.

BoA

 

Oreal wanted to rest and develop his skills and Rayne had to recuperate after his near death experience and so the party stayed in the village for several weeks. While they did so, bad weather gripped the land. Snow fell in ever deepening amounts and although a few travellers managed to struggle through to the inn – some of the party’s companions among them – the adventurers were in no rush to brave the icy temperatures.

Toward the end of the year, a traveller, Chanders Westlake Burgomaster of Roake, arrived at the inn. His village was being plagued by disappearances of cattle and Chanders had heard of the PCs’ heroics. He hoped they would return with him to Roake and solve the problem. After much discussion as to who would actually go Oreal decided to return to Roake accompanied by Tzaran, Delvier and a new companion Ulmo (a halfling sorcerer that had recently made the group’s acquaintance).

With the matter decided, the party made their preparations and set out the next day. The weather was relatively calm – although it was still cold – and the party hoped to make good time to Roake, but sadly a crowd had gathered to see Oreal and his companions off. Speeches were made and gifts were given and so it wasn’t until midday that the adventurers finally left. Sadly, this meant the party didn’t reach Roake until the next day and they were thus forced to spend the night in a dilapidated, abandoned building which they thoroughly searched in case something lurked within.

They arrived at Roake the next day and after securing rooms at the Prince & Pauper poked about the village in search of clues. It rapidly became apparent that most villagers thought the hermit lurking at the nearby hermitage of Clear Pool was to blame (although a few thought that Laika Frost – a prominent local animal trainer – may have lost control of one of the ferocious beasts she was training).

Eventually, the party decided to investigate said hermitage and with no time to waste set off. Laika had provided them with a rough map and so they found the area easily. However, two gigantic and ferocious dire boars lurked in the woods near the hermitage. Seemingly driven mad by something, they attacked the party and had to be slain.

After dispatching the boars, the party easily located the hermitage set as it was in a small cave system behind a waterfall that tumbled into a deep pool. Initially, they tried to get the hermit’s attention by shouting into the cave, but the roar of the waterfall drowned out their cries. With no option, they ventured inside and discovered a scene of horror. In the first cavern they entered, the ripped and torn bodies of sheep and cows lay scattered about the room. Blood spatter covered the walls and ceiling. Of the hermit, there was no sign. Several passageways led away from the chamber and picking one at random, the party discovered a kitchen of sorts – a fire still smouldering below a natural chimney. Assuming that someone must therefore be alive in the caverns they continued their exploration.

In the next cavern they discovered a gruesome workshop – bloody body parts and suchlike being scattered across the area. Before they had time to investigate, though, three bloodied zombies stumbled across the room and attacked. Lacking a cleric, the party pulled back and dispatched the beasts one at a time in a narrow corridor. Although Delvier was badly in injured, he shielded the rest of his companions from injury and in short order the beasts were destroyed.

However, before the party could investigate the chamber a bearded man entered and angrily demanded to know what the party were doing in his home. The man – Dunstan Wymer (seemingly a powerful necromancer) – demanded they leave. He admitted to stealing the cattle, but said the villagers should be grateful that he did. The party were stunned by this (and Oreal wanted to kill the confessed thief outright). Cooler heads (in particular Ulmo’s and Tzaran’s) prevailed (just) and negotiations continued. Perhaps suspecting the party had homicidal thoughts Dunstan showed the party why he needed the cattle – by changing into a hideous half-man/half-boar creature – a wereboar! Oreal now really wanted to slay him, proclaiming that such a hideous beast must not be allowed to live within Ratik’s borders. However (again), calmer heads prevailed and eventually the party offered to help Dunstan find a cure; in return Dunstan agreed to stop stealing cattle and pay for the ones he had already taken.

With this agreement in place, the party left the cavern and began to search the woods for wolfsbane – the herb needed to cure Dunstan. It proved illusive, though, among the winter snow and it took them the best part of a week to secure the necessary supplies. However, their quest was a success as Dunstan consumed the herb and failed to transform into a beast afterwards. In thanks, he released a prisoner they didn’t know he held (and warned them that the man was also infected with lycanthropy but had not yet turned) and told them of a hidden cave below the waterfall…

Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

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