From the Mists, it Comes
Riven crouches by a nearby tree, practically disappearing in the shadows. As he does so, LODROS turns toward the creature in the mist, launching vicious darts at the beast. They strike, tearing at its flesh and slowly sapping life from the creature. Howling, the strange creature charges at Drack at full speed but misses, crashing to the ground.
Surrounded by the Drack draws his blade and invokes the blessings of the Silver Flame, enchanting the blade as it glides through the air towards its target. Yelling out a blessing of inspiration as he attacks, Drack strikes the strange monster, inflicting a heavy wound as the sword tears into it.
“Be careful! This is a Mourning Haunt! These creatures are composed of the same magics that destroyed Cyre!” He points his rod at the foul composition and dark wisps of magic swirl towards it, tearing at its mind. “I have twisted its mind with my magic! If you stay far enough away, it will not be able to see you!”
Riven slips through the shadows and appears behind the Mourning Haunt and lashes out with his blade. His blade connects with the beast, cutting through the mist; grayish blood sprays from the wound as Riven weaves a shadow shroud around the monster.
The Mourning Haunt howls again and lashes out, biting at LODROS, Riven, and Drack. Missing all three of them, the Mourning Haunt musters its strength and attacks them all again, striking them each with its bite.
LODROS, concerned with the attack, shouts: “Danger! Recommend withdrawing to safe distance!” It carefully evades the beast and opens the distance between them. Empowering its crossbow, LODROS shoots a charged bolt at the Mourning Haunt, causing it minor injury but charging it with static electricity. Attempting to take advantage of the situation, Drack swings his sword at the Mourning Haunt, tearing through it with his divine might.
“Really, Drack? Is that all you have?” Riven shifts through the shadows and again appears behind the Haunt, his blade buried within the side of its body. He siphons the power of his shadow shrouds into the blade, further wounding the Haunt’s body with the powers of shadow. “Was that really the best that you can do?”
Harlan lets out a chuckle. “So crude and unglamorous.” He points his rod at the Mourning Haunt and vicious claws of shadowy ice reach out for the Haunt. As they miss the Mourning Haunt, Riven lets out a laugh. “At least my blade is effective…!”
The Mourning Haunt, with enemies at every side, lets out a toxic cloud of mist and dust, trapping Riven and Drack in its magic. LODROS immediately responds by launching a bolt from its crossbow but misses.
“Face the Silver Flame, foul aberration!” Drack swings his sword again and seemingly connects again; just as his sword contacts the Mourning Haunts flesh, it disappears in a cloud of mist, leaving a vicious bite and appearing several feet away, behind Drack. Drack, surprised, shouts to the rest of the group: “Be careful! This monster can evade our assault!”
LODROS aims its crossbow and launches another statically charged bolt at the Mourning Haunt. As it misses, LODROS turns towards Drack. “Recommendation: strategic modification.”
In response, Harlan lashes out with black tendrils of shadow, striking the Mourning Haunt. It howls, grasping at its head in pain. Harlan looks over at LODROS. “I think I can handle it from here…” Before he can even finish his sentence, the Mourning Haunt charges across the battlefield, dodging attacks from both Riven and Drack, and closes in on Harlan. “Waaaait!”
The Haunt envelops Harlan and LODROS in a large cloud of mist, paralyzing them. As it closes in to tear away at Harlan, Drack runs over and thrusts his blade into the beast’s neck. “Never turn your back on a Knight of the Silver Flame, fool!” As it lets out its last howl, Drack quickly withdraws his blade and wipes the thick grey blood from it. The body quickly evaporates into dust on the wind.
Riven stumbles over, exhausted. “We have got to get moving.”
Drack nods in agreement as he takes a deep breath. “But where?”
Harlan steps forward. “Please. Come with me. You can stay at my cabin. It is not too far ahead. We can set out early next morning.” He points off into the forest, to the east. “Please follow,” He heads off into the forest.
Drack and Riven turn to each other and shrug. “I suppose it’s better than what we have going on right now. I say we go for it.”
Drack nods his head. “Agreed.” Drack gestures in that direction as he heads off into the forest behind Harlan.
The Cabin in the Forest
Harlan quickly leads them through the forest, saying nothing. Pushing through overgrowth and fallen branches, he moves as a man with a specific destination. The others follow behind.
Drack looks at Riven as they follow the crazed man. “At least he seems to know where he is going, which is much more than we can say for ourselves.” Riven shrugs in response.
A few moments later, the trees begin to clear. A short distance away, a small cabin sits on a knoll. Harlan walks towards it, motioning for the rest to follow. “Welcome to my… home away from home.”
Pulling Borik’s lifeless form, LODROS, Riven, and Drack head towards the small cabin as the sun slowly begins to dip below the horizon.
Harlan gets to the cabin door and slowly pushes it open. The smell of old paper, dust, and pipe smoke waft from inside. “I apologize for the clutter. I have been hard at work these past days and had not the chance to properly clean.”
Riven steps inside, carefully avoiding stacks of books and papers. “Right. It’ll do.”
Harlan points at a cot in the corner. “You can put the dwarf on the cot, there.” He opens a small chest in the corner, removing a large sack. From the sack he withdraws some dried foodstuffs, passing them around the room to the LODROS, Riven, and Drack. Reaching into the chest again, he hefts a large waterskin and a set of small tin cups. Filling each cup with water, he passes them to the others. “I apologize I do not have more glamorous accommodations. You will understand if I say that I had not expected visitors.”
Drack puts a piece of jerky into his mouth. “We appreciate your hospitality.” Uncertain why he was given food and water, LODROS begins administering it to Borik.
After a few moments, Harlan reaches into his pocket and pulls out a finely carved pipe and a small sack of smokeweed. Stuffing his pipe, he quickly lights it and begins to smoke. “Although I know your journey has been long and dangerous, I am unaware of the details. Please humor an eccentric old man and tell me your tale.”