Meanwhile, at the home of the two witches, Queenie was pulled back from the brink of death due to their magic. She needed to rest. Novak and the dwarf attended to the body of Brian, Novak’s deceased hireling. The dwarf spoke a few words over the grave. The priest offered fine wine. Novak remained silent. He wasn’t quite sure if the dwarf called himself Yarick or Yorick.
Back inside, the dwarf handed his new ring with a tigereye stone and a tiger motif to the witches for analysis. They quizzed the witches about the local history, learning of a dragon who slumbered somewhere nearby. They also learned that the map they’d found recently was to a ruined town once inhabited by the ancestors of today’s werewolves. The hags called werewolves degenerate and dangerous.
Cora sat by herself and began working on her tattoo. Novak munched on healing berries and before long Cora presented her work. The outline of the snake now resembled a rattler. She immediately attempted to summon the snake into life and all were surprised as it slowly transformed from illustration into living snake. The halfling quickly reversed the process somehow.
The next day, they set out for the old monastery, first stopping at the shrine to Molok, otherwise known as Pagnir Parkas by the hobgoblins. No new clues presented themselves, so they walked down to the field before the ruins. Presently the earth rumbled and overgrown insects emerged to do battle.
Huge mandibles clenched Novak around the waist, but he forced himself out with sheer strength. Steel clanged against hardened ant monsters. Barksdale, that lucky companion of Novak, was bathed in a shower of acid breath. He nobly collapsed into a hissing pile of goo, all dissolved save his few magic items.
Next, the dwarf was clasped and hauled underground. The halfling dashed down the hole and tried shooting her snake tattoo at the fleeing ant monster to little effect. The elf also jumped down just in time to see the ant monster clip the head clean off the dwarf before retreating out of view with his body. Oh what a sad fate! They left his head down there, considering it as good a grave as any other.
Into the Monastery
They hustled from the open field and up to the old monastery. Inside, they made for the magical fountain where the halfling drank and felt stronger. They also met a resourceful ranger of the woods who claimed to be tracking them. He called himself Kraum. He also drank from the fountain and felt ill. So ill, in fact, that he might never fully recover in all of his days. Novak thought any benefit the fountain might convey brought along some curse. Better to know the nature of the curse plainly rather than wonder if none of your companions can ever survive your company. Bolcox, Golmar, Brian, Barksdale. Did they suffer by some unspoken curse upon Novak?
They found their down down to the tunnels below the monastery and soon to the throne room of the berserker king. Without hesitation, the ranger fired an arrow on site. He answered their puzzled faces with a short explanation: you said they were evil degenerates. A short battle ended in the death of the king and his minions.
The adventures greedily opened the loot chest to find a handful of coins, hardly worth the loss of two hardy warriors along the way. Having proven himself rash but capable, Novak lent the magical armor and sword once worn by Barksdale to the ranger. He found not reason to elaborate on how three fighters using that equipment met their doom.
The elf noticed a secret door in the king’s chamber. The passage led 300 feet to a misty chamber. The waters of an underground river rushed into a dark pool. They paused to consider going in or leaving the old ruins.