Greetings and welcome to another episode of Tallavanor’s tales. Last time, our heroes explored Count Usher’s castle after finding his mausoleum suspiciously empty. Also very clean. The castle was a bit burned, a bit damaged, and a bit dusty. Also very empty, except for the body of the Count’s loyal servant. With that, let’s hear from Tallavanor.
We’d cleared the castle, but the local citizenry had arrived in time to surround our main escape. Their torches filled the space in front of the main doors. I recognized the priest among them, leading the chants.
“Give us back our count!”
“Death to the abomination!”
We hastily beat a retreat. Even I had to admit, it would not look good for me, officer of the watch or no, to be found in a building with a dead man and no other suspects. Down the stairs and into the basement we ran, finding the secret door and slipping out down the side path. We maneuvered around the castle and took refuge behind the mausoleum.
That was when the nascent storm that had been brewing decided to start things off with a flash. A lightning flash that is. And that’s when I saw it. Something large moving in the trees. It uttered a roar and stepped out from the forest into the road. Lightning flashed again, illuminating a body covered with thick plant growth and gnarled vines. From about a hundred feet we watched the beast shamble out and attack the crowd. Thumping hits from the vines and branches flattened the poor, surprised townfolk. Torches and bodies flew everywhere. Some of the more aware villagers fled towards the castle, thrusting open the doors and barricading themselves inside. Those too slow or surprised were trapped outside.
I will admit that I was frozen. I wanted to help, but I knew I could not take this beast on myself. Part of being a good officer is knowing when you need backup. Fortunately for me, I had my backup right next to us. Alastair was the first to truly respond. Ignoring the please to retreat from Gregario, he pulled out his fancy gun (I have got to get my hands on one of them!) and took the first shot at the beast. He called it a plant monster, and I thought that was an excellent allegory. (As an aside, I think Alastair’s first shot was perhaps the most brave thing he did the entire time. Most of the rest of the battle he simply hid near the forest and fired shots at the beast. But he did a good job of ensuring that people saw him acting gallantly, I will say.)
With that first shot, I joined in, unloading my pistol at the beast. I advanced, pouring four shots into the thing’s body. Claudia attempted to mock it, but it ignored her even after she closed the distance.
Gregario joined us. The monk shouted for people to run away, and those handful of remaining villagers fled down the road. He danced around, throwing some darts at the monster, but the harmless pinpricks did little to slow the thing down.
By now the monster had splattered the ground with the blood of many a villager. It started shambling towards the priest, who had taken cover behind some bushes near the castle wall. The priest was our last best hope for a lead in this cursed county, and I could not let him die. I drew my swords and charged in, stabbing and slicing away. The bushes fell around me, covering me in detritus.
Claudia dove in, casting Bane on the creature and confusing it, while Alastair’s shots covered the creature in glowing
glitter light. With the glowing effect showing me the way, I struck again and again. For a moment it seemed as though my efforts were in vain, but the creature’s appendages began to collapse. One particularly strong attack ended up covering me in dirt, and by the time I had cleared my eyes, I was flat on my back. I managed to recover from the first hit by the enraged beast, but the second one tossed me back.
My allies dove in as I recovered, tossing dropped torches onto the beast, the spluttering flames doing little to harm the construct. I attacked again, but this time my luck abandoned me as the creature’s swipe threw me back and knocked me out.
I awoke to the priest standing over me, the holy light of Paylor shimmering weakly around him as his power brought me back. I weakly reached for my gun, in no condition to pick up my dropped blades.
Fortunately for me, the combined efforts of my companions had brought the beast down in the time I had been tossed around like a bag of potatoes. The remains of the creature now burned fitfully in the rain. and those villagers who survived slowly peaked their heads out. I turned to the priest.
“How did you know this thing was here?”
“Yes.” I gestured weakly. “The abomination.” He shook his head.
“That’s not the abomination. That’s in the castle.”
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