After surveying the perimeter of the ruined keep and discovering the southern edge to be not much more than a crumbling ruin and some large cracks in the western wall, the party decided to follow the trail the three Beastmen took to the North. Scouting ahead, Kestrel spotted one large Gor leading two Ungor along the trail. He wasted no time in seizing the chance for a surprise attack and began hammering them with arrows as he backed up along the path, keeping a good distance between him and their furious charge. Kestrel managed to severely wound one of the Ungors and bury two arrows into the huge Gor before he decided to turn and run back towards his companions. Meanwhile, the rest of the party had heard the bellows of pain and rage from the wounded Beastmen and came running to Kestrel’s aid. It wasn’t long before the two groups met rushing towards each other along the path and fairly quick work was made of the injured Beastmen as Quingar quickly turn the guts out of one with a nimble but savage strike and Das Wald and Kestrel took took down the other two with arrows. Aelfric once again proved himself a very staunch warrior as he easily parried the blows from the charging Ungor.
The Beastmen dead, the party debated wether or not to continue to follow the trail and see where it led, to mount an attack on the ruined keep or to return to the village to rest and see if they could replenish their supply of arrows. The group seemed to stand for ages in the path and argue out their next course of action and tempers were rising high, but in the end they decided prudence was the need of the hour and they returned back to the Village of Ulfstead to recuperate.
Back in the village the party was once again met with the cheers of grateful villagers who seemed more and more bolstered by the successes of our adventurers, especially since Kestrel had brought with him the terrifying horns of one of the Gors as evidence of their victory. Some of the jubilant attitude was lent a bitter note as several of the villagers asked if the party had any news of the missing child, which they could not answer. The Elf, Kestrel, tells of a fortress of Beastmen in the Reikwald not far from Ulfstead and the villagers are alarmed and begin to panic. Quingar tries to calm them by saying it is not so much a fortress but a crumbling ruin and not much account at any rate. Some are reassured by his words but other begin to whisper rumours of this great fortress in frightened voices.
Taking the celebrations to the tavern, food and drink was brought before the party as tales of battle with the Beastmen are shared by the excited and exuberant woodsmen who took part in the battle earlier that day. The men of Ulfstead laugh loudly and slap our party members roughly on the back in congratulations and admiration, while some of the womenfolk steal glances as the brave men who have rescued the village. Das Wald awkwardly approaches a small woman with dark hair and large brown eyes and asks her if she has “pair bonded” with anyone yet She blushes a deep red and asks him what he means. “Are you… married?” he responds, to which she blushes even more and tells him that she is not. A few more awkward words are exchanged and Das Wald learns her name is Tessa. She then excuses herself in a bit of a confused state and joins her friends who tease her and giggle.
Suddenly Aelfric stands on one of the tables and makes a resounding call for the village to rise up against the Beastmen and for all those who share their drink with the party to join the party in battle on the morrow with the foul Beastmen in the forest. His speech rallies five woodsmen to their cause and it is agreed that in the morning the party will once again head out with these woodsmen in company and seek the destruction of more Beastmen. Someone at the back of the tavern adds, “and rescue the boy…” and all murmur agreement that the child should be definitely be rescued. Many more plans are discussed that evening around beer soaked tables, and the woodsmen are unwaveringly enthusiastic about each one. In the end it is decided that an effigy of a Beastman shall be constructed using a goat’s head, a long pole and a cloak, and it shall be placed at the forest’s edge before the main gate of the keep at nightfall. Behind this effigy a fire shall be lit and it is hoped the image of a towering Beastman with flames at his back will confuse the occupants of the keep, at which point an assault will be mounted over the crumbling south wall in the hopes of taking them by surprise. This plan is devised using crusts of bread and beer mugs to signify enemy and allied positions on a wobbly stained table, but the atmosphere in the tavern is one of intense tactical intelligence and seriousness.
The next morning some arrows are purchased and a bow borrowed from the village fletcher and some jugs of moonshine and oil from the tavern owner and the troop of eager woodsmen and adventurers heads out towards the ruined keep. In a few hours they reach their destination and begin to prepare for their attack. Some different men are noticed patrolling the ramparts, one of them with strange elongated arms. A pit is dug in which to start the fire behind the effigy but during its construction a pair of figures emerge from the woods on the southern edge of the clearing and they seem to take notice of some noise where the party is working. To everyone’s horror, it is noticed that one of the figures has not human legs but the lower half of a hideous insect, a centipede! The other figure, a woman, has small horns on her head and it is she who points in the direction of those building the trench and she begins to wander over. The party scatters and hides as she cautiously enters the woods and looks around. Unfortunately, she spies the long sheathed blade of Aelfric’s sword poking out of the bushes and begins to retreat hastily to her companion. Wasting no time, Quinger looses an arrow and brings the woman down whereupon Kestrel follows up quickly with a series of arrows at her back which stills her struggles. Her centipede bodied companion shrieks on panic and scuttles across to the main gate (chased by some missed shots from Kestrel) to the keep where he pounds open the door shouting about an attack and demanding entry. The doors do not open however but the two sentries on the ramparts bring up a crossbow and shot bow and scan the forest for enemies. The party, however, remains hidden and eventually several figures emerge from the keep and collect their fallen comrade. The party retreats further into the forest as a small party of men and women from the keep search the near forest. Eventually they search party returns to the keep and our adventurers take up positions again and wait for nightfall.
Finally dusk arrives and the effigy is lit when Quingar, Aelfric and three of the woodsmen take up positions on the southern edge of the clearing with molotov cocktails at the ready. As the goat headed effigy goes up in flame Das Wald lets out a very convincing Beastmen howl and the sentries on the ramparts rush to the wall to see what is happening. At this signal, Quingar and Aelfric lead the charge towards the crumbling wall of the keep and all but quingar toss their now burning flasks of moonshine and oil over the ruined wall and see them light up the courtyard beyond in sudden bursts of flame accompanied by screams of fear and confusion from the other side. Quinger is able to distinguish amongst the shouts those of at least one child. At the gates Kestrel and Das Wald lead two woodsmen in trying to shoot down the sentries on the wall and manage to do so but not before Das Wald is hit badly in the shoulder with an arrow from a rather tough woman on the wall with a short bow. Once the sentries are down (one of which tumbled from the wall revealing his gross crablike legs) the archers run to assist their companions who have mounted the ramparts after scrambling up the crumbed wall on the southern edge. Aelfric was the first to surmount the wall and see before him a chaotic scene of about a ten or so figures running about in the half-dark seeking shelter from the flames. He draws his sword and heads halfway down the stairs to the courtyard and prepares to meet a sickening figure with no face and strange distended limbs rushing to attack him with a sword. Aelfric does not succumb to the fear that rises in his chest at facing (no pun intended) such a monstrosity, but the melee he enters blocks the stairs for others to join in the fray. Soon Quingar and the other woodsmen are on the wall and do their best to aid the fight as they can. Aelfric, seeing the bottleneck created by his potion, leaps to the group below him and lands safely attracts the attention of a whole courtyard full of angry figures. Right next to him a man with the lower body of a snake rises up and attacks, his mouth frothy with a yellowy, green bile that sprays forth as he screams a challenge to Aelfric.
The ensuing battle is confusing and chaotic with figures darting too and fro in the courtyard and Quingar and Kestrel holding a position on the ramparts dealing out death from above with arrows as Aelfric and the woodsmen fight a close fight with the hideously deformed mutants that engage them. In the midst of this, a grossly corpulent man with two mouths begins to bellow dire threats and proclamations of doom in a deep and throaty voice. The desired effect is never quite achieved though, for at that moment the scared but savage woodsmen cut down the faceless mutant and send him crashing to the feet of the huge man. Then a litany of dark and foul words begin to spill forth from the fat thing’s two mouths and Quingar feels his old wound twist in him though he summons up his iron Dwarven will and shakes off the strain it places upon him. Suddenly, more shouts of triumph from the two woodsmen at the bottom of the stairs as they cut down in two vicious strokes the huge, fat mutant and send him crashing to the ground in a pile of his own foul guts.
For a moment the air is still. The last shadows of the remaining retreating figures can be seen entering the inner rooms of the keep through a broken door and the party is able to catch their breath a moment before taking their next move…