An Encounter with Madness
The company decides to return to the Keep rather than risk camping so close to the humanoid-infested caves. The journey to the Keep is uneventful, though the heroes remain wary. Upon reaching the Keep, they report to the Guard their success in eliminating the goblins and the ogre. Dagonay upgrades his battered scale mail to a suit of chainmail, and the companions replenish their supplies. Tristan purchases some healing potions from the chapel of St. Cuthbert, and Jozan buys healing scrolls from the same source.
After a brief strategy session, the heroes decide to look into the rumors of whoever is attacking travelers north of the Keep. Myron decides to remain at the Keep to research and study. The other members of the company set out north, ready for trouble. On the eve of the second night away from the Keep, the companions set up camp in a small clearing not far from a small pond. They set up a watch schedule, and settle in for the night. About an hour after midnight, Tristan is on watch, while his friends sleep peacefully around him. Just as he prepares to wake the next watch, a dagger is thrust into his back, and nearly ends his life right then. Tristan shouts an alarm, and the heroes awaken and scramble for their weapons, all except Jozan, who slumbers on. Tristan whirls to face his assailant, and sees a filth-covered human clutching a bloodied dagger, with the light of madness shining in his eyes. Tristan draws his swords and moves to engage the madman. His blades score a solid hit, but the madman shows no signs of slowing. Dagonay grabs his sword and shield, glancing wistfully at the chainmail folded carefully next to his bedroll. With no time to don the armor, he knows he will be vulnerable. But as he moves to help his brother Tristan, a mountain lion bursts from the darkness, and slams into him, clawing and biting. Dagonay quickly finds himself pinned beneath the beast, bleeding from multiple wounds. The madman hurls himself across the camp and attempts to stab Hyram as he rises from his bed. Hyram defends himself, but his return stroke finds only air. Jozan finally awakens, and scrambles to his feet. He quickly channels the light of Pelor, and Tristan and Dagonay’s wounds close slightly. Edgar spots an opportunity, and blasts a ray of fire at the madman, but misses. Tristan leaps across the campfire and with a quick stroke, fells the madman. Dagonay struggles to free himself from the cat’s grip, but receives only another savage bite. He feels his life’s blood pulsing from his wounds, and knows that he is doomed without help. That help comes in the form of another pulse of energy from Jozan, which drags Dagonay back from the edge of death. Edgar fires another ray at the cat, but misses again. Hyram spots an opening, and his blade licks out, scoring a savage wound on the cat. The cat decides that this prey is too much trouble, and bolts away into the night.
Jozan heals the company a much as he can, and the heroes get what sleep they can for the rest of the night. The next day, the company searches the area for signs of any other attackers, but find no evidence of such. They do, however, find a small hollow under a huge tree where the madman must have lived. A thorough search turns up a small box containing a few coins and a small vial. A quick spell from Jozan determines that the vial is magical, as is the dagger wielded by the madman and a ring he wore. The heroes return to the Keep to report their victory. They have learned a lot about themselves and their capabilities, and now feel more confident that they can survive additional challenges (Advanced to Level 2).