Fight or flight: the most basic of our instincts. Their hands unwilling forced by mind-raping magic, the party slew their staunchest ally in Prometheus Peak. Town guards acted according to their instincts, rushing in to incapacitate the murderous lawbreakers!
The party acted according to theirs and executed the hapless peons.
Adrenaline had not gone away and neither had the party’s choice. run or fight? As often as the bloodthirsty band uses violence to solve their every problem, their screaming bruises and gushing wounds made a more compelling case today. They used subterfuge at first, evading patrols through Jarl & Zalarech's silver tongues and Adrik's clever misdirection. Edgy's attempts at stealth were eventually noticed, though, and one guard raised his trumpet to sound the alarm!
Edgy managed to recover, putting one crossbow bolt through the horn to silence it. Seeking a distraction, he lit several crossbolt bolts aflame and launched them into the thatched roofs of nearby cottages! Zalarech looked aghast.
Several of the guards were diverted to put out the blaze, but even more had noticed the light from the flaming arrows. They knew where the outlaws were! Luckily, those outlaws could run very, very quickly….
Weaving amidst crowds of screaming townsfolk and dodging volleys of pinpoint arrow fire, the party fled to the town gate. Hissing blobs of alchemical glue launched by a nearby ballista sizzled beside them: one solid hit and even a stalwart adventurer would be incapacitated. It was time to do what the party does best: make complete and utter chaos!
The screaming hooligans turned disciplined ranks in a dogpile of epic proportions. Under that flurry of tackles, presses and faced smashes, hardened soldiers flashed back to bad memories of big kids. The party strode out of the chaos as enchanted vines lashed around the survivors.
"Over here," a voice from the woods said. "My magic will hold them off!"
The party shrugged and followed the advice of a complete stranger. "Hey, why not?" had worked well for them so far…
After taking them to a forest clearing, the stranger introduced himself as a traveling druid whose "goals aligned with their own." He stayed aloof, cryptic and slightly insane; the last was a trait the party could respect. As the group relaxed, they got to talking amongst themselves, especially to the newcomers Kalea and Wralize.
Zalarech found out from them how his and Kalea's church had vanished. The priests had received a vision that Zalarech would slay the gods and decreed that he must die. Alister, the head of the church, disagreed and captured or slew most of clergy. Those who remained were converted to Alister's side and Kalea only narrowly escaped thanks to Wralize's rescue. and the church vanished behind them both.
More recent news followed. Kestrel and the Empire were now at war, fighting over Troll Rock…. the city that the Cult of Nerash had invaded and the group unwittingly aided. If the cult's goal was to set these two powers against one another, they had succeeded. Further, the party was now wanted throughout the Empire with a bounty of 50,000 gold on each one's head. Further, Prince Kathek let slip one small, insignificant detail….
"I wonder what happened to those contracts now that V's died…. what contracts? Oh, the ones where I bargained away the battle-elites' souls for their mystical powers. Wait, you look angry Genieve…. it's only a soul, isn't it? OW, dammit that hurt!"
The group broke apart the squabbling duo and decided to set off to Winterhaven. Supposedly there was an Oracle there who might tell them how to settle the issue of the contracts and maybe even figure out what to do next….
They were taken in at Winterhaven, where the head of the town gave them shelter and mentioned that they might find the oracle at one of the smokehouses. Sure enough, they encountered a wizened old man in the first smokehouse they went to! He beckoned them forward and said that they could each ask him one question each…..
Chronicler's note: Many, many details were missed in this passage. Feel free to edit to your heart's content to fill in the gaps.