Shattered Star Week 3.
With their new quest – to discover the remaining scattered pieces of the Shattered Star of Xin – weighing heavily on the heroes’ minds, they decided to rest until morning. Once the sun had crept its blazing face above the Irespan, they once more met with Sheila to discuss their mission, and discovered that Natalya was currently recovering in one of the manor’s many rooms. Upon questioning the ex-Tower Girl further, she revealed that she found the Shard of Pride on a skeleton inside a secret chamber deep within the Crow.
The Crow is one of the ancient pilings of the great Irespan, the bridge that juts out into Magnimar’s harbour like a broken bone. Third out from the shore, on the left-hand side, the immense stone pillar is pockmarked with gaping windows, which betray the narrow corridors and ancient rooms that lurk inside.
She told the heroes that the Tower Girls have now taken over much of the Crow as their new hideout, to keep the gang safe while they explore the deeper regions of the pillar in hopes of discovering rare and powerful items, much as Natalya herself did. Their leader – Ayala Javeski – is a wererat, and has given her “gift” to a number of her favourite underlings: to strengthen them, as only silver-coated weapons can truly bite through the tough skin of a lycanthrope.
Thusly knowledged, our heroes went straight to the hustle and bustle of the nearest marketplace, and – after selling the small topaz from Natalya’s hideout, and the garnets from the puzzle box – they all bought sheaves of silver-tipped arrows.
Natalya had warned them that the Tower Girls kept a constant look-out for anyone approaching the Crow from the shore, so the heroes decided to infiltrate under the cover of darkness. Sheila had organised a boat for them, so they settled down in a murky Dockway tavern until nightfall.
Not but a few minutes after they had taken their seats, drinks in hand, Terisha Skiloni burst into the tavern, backed by a set of Varisian-looking thugs. She demanded that the heroes give her the Shard of Pride at once. No amount of well-crafted words would blunt her purpose, so a brawl quickly erupted. In a matter of moments, and with the aid of a well-timed Sleep spell and some magical Grease coating the tavern floor, Terisha and her thugs were subdued. The heroes bound them – after rifling through pockets and pouches for useful items – and left the criminals to the mercy of the city guard.
Seeing as it was still only early in the evening, the heroes elected to return to Heidmarch manor to rest, ready themselves, and prepare new spells for the coming assault. As the night began to shift towards morning, they were ready to set off once more.
The air stank of brine and a chill wind gnawed at them as their boat crept out into the harbour. The Irespan’s spires loomed over them: towering monuments of a long-dead power. After slinking successfully past the first and second spires, the tugging currents drove their boat into dock against the Crow with a loud scrape. They waited there for a moment with bated breath, ears keen for the call of alarm from one of the Tower Girls’ sentries, but no cry was raised.
Venturing inside the formidable structure, they scouted the bottom floor, and found it clear of any opposition. However, when they reached the stairs winding upwards, they heard a small squeak, and saw a rat start bounding up the stairs with surprising alacrity.
They raced up four flights of stairs in pursuit of the rodent, but at every turn it retained its lead. Finally, they burst into a room to find it convulsing on the floor and growing bigger by the moment, until – in a matter of seconds – it had assumed the form of a wererat.
Glancing around, the heroes noticed that they had been led straight into an ambush, as two lithe women entered the room from either side, moving to surround them.
The ensuing fight very nearly brought about the heroes’ demise.
Henrich opened the battle with a Sleep spell. As his incantations and arcane gestures finished, one of the Tower Girls’ eyes fluttered, and she slumped to the rough stone floor. The wererat set about slashing at the heroes with her short sword, and biting at them with sharp teeth. Displaying an acrobatic ease akin to a circus performer, the awake Tower Girl leapt over the party and landed behind Lelandra, whereupon she sunk her blade into the ranger’s unprotected back.
Alwyn pivoted with a roar, using the momentum of his turn to bring his greatsword around in a deadly arc. The blade cut deep. The Tower Girl crumpled, blood rushing from her body to trace the grooves and crannies of the floor.
The heroes then turned their fury on the wererat. But, senses and reflexes heightened by her transformation, they couldn’t touch her. For almost a minute she danced between every attack: dodging, parrying, and lashing out with her own blade, and always creeping closer to the sleeping Tower Girl.
When within range, the wererat ducked under one more swing and woke her ally. The heroes tried to use this momentary distraction to strike home, but they could not touch her. The Tower Girl regained her feet, then slipped around Lelandra, trying to flank the ranger. Lelandra backed up to a wall to protect herself, but the Tower Girl’s blade slipped through the ranger’s guard, opening up a grievous wound and coating the wall with blood. Lelandra went down, bleeding out.
Within a moment, Alwyn had closed the distance between himself and the Tower Girl. His greatsword smashed her to the ground in a broken, bloody heap.
Now it was two versus one.
The advantage was short-lived. No sooner had Alwyn dropped the Tower Girl, but he felt a peculiar sensation: the wererat’s short sword protruded from his chest, sunk hilt-deep. The lycanthrope grinned at him, exposing wicked teeth.
Henrich, having maneuvered to avoid catching his allies in the blast, unleashed a torrent of fire from his hands at the wererat. The roaring flames blackened skin, melted fur, and filled the small room with the stench of roasting flesh.
Alwyn – his strength fading from his body – took one last swing at the wererat before collapsing to the floor. His blade sailed wide, and the creature turned its attentions to Henrich.
Only to receive another blast of flame, full in its rodent face. When the flames cleared, all that was left was a steaming – and rather dead – charcoaled rat.
Henrich rushed to stabilise his companions with magical potions of healing, and the heroes completed their search of this level of the Crow after blockading themselves in one of the side-rooms to recover for a full eight hours. There were no reprisals from the Tower Girls during this time.
Now they stand, at the mouth of a dank corridor, leading deeper into the winding, hewn tunnels of the Crow. What will they find down there, hidden in the depths of this Thassilonian ruin? What dangers lie in wait for them? How are the Tower Girls planning to avenge the deaths of their comrades?
Find out next week, as our heroes continue their quest for the pieces of the Shattered Star.