|Frostgrave Gnolls by DevBurmak on Deviant Art|
It seems that the undead are not the only danger that is present in these lands. We were traveling further south by southeast when we saw smoke rising up on the horizon. Moving quickly, we found a a homestead cabin caught on fire in the distance. We rushed forward only to discover it was no simple fire but found that the house was under siege by a number of humanoid beings that had something of a canine appearance to them. I'm certain that Hellenae could have told me what they were, but I did not recognize them and was more concerned with their current activities.
We stepped forward to interrupt the attack in front of us while the Silver Oaks engaged with foes on another front of the homestead. I am not aware of the specifics of their engagement as I was mostly focused on my own section of the battle.
Panry had granted Miss Crest the gift of flight using his lute as she was halving difficulty keeping up with us. Apparently the sort of movement common on the deck of a ship is quite a bit different from the effort of running across uneven ground. Once we arrived, we saw that a dwarf was keeping the attackers out of the front of the house and we joined in to his aid.
I put to use the shape of magic that came to my mind after the battle with the ghouls and dropped a ball of crackling lightning between two of the canine raiders as I moved forward. A magically powered chord from the half-elf's lute sent a shattering blast through several of the attackers immediately following my own spell.
Miss Freehand followed up my engagement by attacking one of the ghouls but was unfortunate to fall afoul of that tiefling immediately afterwards. The other sorcerer cast a spell of his own which buried the nimble halfling in about five feet of what appeared to be layered webbing.
Dame TJ stepped forward to attack several of the raiders at the edge of that tiefling's webs. Miss Crest encouraged the vegetation somewhat further away to grasp several other attackers, but did manage the basic courtesy of not casting spells upon one's comrades as well as one's enemies.
That tiefling's webbing managed to provide little more than a nuisance to the dog-like attackers as they swarmed about Dame TJ and Miss Freehand. Others attempted to send arrows into myself, that tiefling or Panry. Aside from Liri's issues with the webbing rendering her vulnerable to assault, the attackers didn't particularly harm most of us. That tiefling spent a lot of time hiding behind me over the fight, much to my chagrin.
Miss Crest eventually traded out her mystical vines for a sheer beam of radiant moonlight washing over the violent raiders and between the two of us we were pushing the canine raiders about the grounds of the homestead. Liri spent most of the time struggling with that tiefling's excellent contribution to the fight, but eventually broke free of her enthusiasm, after a stray arrow broke that tiefling's concentration, for our comrade's magic in order to slay a few of the enemies.
Dame TJ was not having her normal run of luck as she engaged the enemies. They mostly had issues hitting her, yes, but her axe did not seem to want to connect with her either. Panry contributed to the battle with his rapier and suffered a little for his aid when one of the feral bandits bit into him. He was still able to contribute to the battle with his weapons, healing magic, and the flight spell upon Miss Crest. The dwarf we saw proved a skilled comrade as well.
Unfortunately, Miss Crest had the misfortune to acquire the attention of several of the enemy archers and they proved capable when a succession of arrows struck into her and sent spiraling unto unconsciousness despite the attempts by Panry and others to keep her conscious. We immediately avenged her injury upon the archer that brought her down. In my case this involved compelling a shovel-head to bury itself in said canine-bandit's skull.
In the wake of the fight, Dame TJ and Panry saw to Miss Crest's injuries while Miss Freehand and I spoke to the dwarf, a Khodrin Emberhelm, and the woman who dwelled there, apparently the Sylvia of the locket we had found before. We had the sad duty of communicating that the man I assume to be her husband was dead at which point we were introduced to her children.
At this point, I began to negotiate the matter of an evacuation, convincing both the homesteaders to leave and the Knights of the Silver Oak to provide them with an escort back to safety. My initial suggestion was that they escort them back to Athlin but Dame Elanil balked at that idea, suggesting instead that the homesteaders be taken back to the monastery instead. Sylvia was insistent that we evacuate the other families in the area as well. Since Elanil means to send Ulag, Yeswyn, and Belvon this means it will be some time before they are able to meet back up with us at the Moonlight Monastery.
I begin to think that we should see about establishing an outpost in this region to serve as protection for the homesteads here. It seems to be a definite weakness in the security of the region. Certainly the Monastery of the Silver Oak is present further to the north and closer to Athlin, but it feels to be just asking for danger to allow these homesteads to go unsheltered. That said, it is not the most pleasant of stations I could think of. This would likely involve a lot of time waiting for a keep or other outpost to be built during which time whoever would be entrusted with this duty would find themselves lacking the basic luxuries of civilization. In any case, it is unlikely to be my concern.
While I was engaged in this exercise, that tiefling had endeavored in the admirable goal of cheering up the children with a pantomime of an illusory figure patting them and hugging them. The performance was surprisingly effective. Unfortunately, this seemed to be the trigger to start a succession of more chaotic behaviors.
Panry apparently felt a bit annoyed with that tiefling's attempts to provide entertainment. I suppose he feels that should be left to bards specifically. In any case, the half-elf used his lute to begin to lift that tiefling up into the air, higher and higher. That tiefling attempted to retaliate but apparently the bobbing in the area proved to have deleterious effect on his aim. Either that, or he was simply playing along for the sake of the children. In any case, Dame TJ joined in at this point by tossing Panry into the air, followed, to my incredible shock, by Miss Crest using some sort of wind spell to keep the bard up in the air rather than allowing him to land.
I am still trying to convince myself that this was some sort of determined effort to entertain the children. Otherwise it may have completely shaken my impression of Miss Crest's dignity.