A Lantern Broken

Session #4: Meeting the Hunter
And Searching the Town

            "We wish you luck," a knightly guard says to Ambrose as he clenches hands, reading the bounty paper. Ambrose acknowledges the guard as he begins to leave the stage following the example of the volunteers he saw before. The elderly guard begins to address the crowds again, but Ambrose is too distracted by his thoughts to make out the speech.

            A werewolf in the city, he thinks, and they leave it up to bounty hunters? I'm going to need to more information than this. Ambrose begins to leave the crowded square and motions to two guards, armored in polished brass and adorned with red-plumed helmets, at the mouth of a nearby city street. Before Ambrose can form his words, the nearest guard speaks, "Your first time participating with the Justice Tree?" "Yes. You can tell?", Ambrose replies. "I could see on your face walking over here that you wanted some explanation," the man grins, "I saw you on the platform, either this was your first ceremony or you are really confident in your skills."

            "What do you mean," Ambrose begins to feel a bit concerned, what did I do now? "Well, you pulled your bounty from pretty high on the Tree, and typically those are known to be pretty difficult. Usually involves some beast out in the countryside." "Mind sharing your…" the guard motions at the paper still in Ambrose's hand. Obliging, he hands the piece off to the man before him. A dour look spreads on the helmeted man's face. "Oh."

            Both guards are looking between each other, "Do you think you could handle this on your own? Giridharan's been connected to a murder every full moon for the last eight months. There's no shame in going into this with a team." Shit, make something up. " Of course, that's why I came up to you two. I'm looking for assistance, and you two look like you know how things run around here. I was hoping you could point me in the right direction." Relief showers the guards, "If you're looking for someone, I know some rough and tumblers at the hunter's lodge on the Brima Road east of the city. Someone there would likely be willing to help."

            Ambrose thanks the guards and heads east out-of-town, through the markets of Low-town, and contemplates on how unusually helpful the guards have been today. At the edge of the upcoming farmland sits a thatch roofed building; its grounds full of tanning leathers. Tall poplar trees shade a comfortable wooden lodge from the rest of the world, the perfect hideaway for hunters celebrating after a successful day. Nearing closer, Ambrose hears a chorus of merry singing from inside the lodge. Sure enough, as he enters Ambrose sees a group of men standing on tables leading a off-key, drunken melody. Alton is already inside, leaning against a table of gamblers and gazing across the crowd; surveying the room for potential. Alton walks to a man sitting silently in the corner who is toying a large hunting knife. He's in excellent shape, obviously capable of handling difficult prey, and an occasional scar that lies on his skin only serves to highlight his experience. His demeanor, in stark contrast to the rest of the rambunctious lodge, draws Ambrose instantly to him. He sits down across from him, orders the man a drink, and begins his proposition.

            Ambrose approaches the man and introduces himself, "Hello. I hope you don't mind my forwardness, but I'd like a moment of your time. I've a particular prey to hunt, and was hoping you'd be interested in helping me. I'm Ambrose François."

            "Well hello, Ambrose. My name is Karladron. Those from the lodge call me Karl." The two acquaint themselves and Ambrose explains his situation with the bounty of Giridharan.

            "Would you be interested in joining me hunting down this man?"

            "A werewolf huh? I'd certainly love to have that trophy on my wall. I tell you what, I'll help you track this beast down and we split the bounty. Agreed?" The two shake hands and Karl begins to gather his things to leave, but Alton leans into Ambrose's ear and chides, "He's probably not going to be happy when you burn Giridharan to nothing. What are you going to do?" Ambrose turns to whisper back but Alton is gone. Why does he do that? Regardless, all those issues will be addressed once we get to them.

            Karl and Ambrose set off from the merry lodge together. They've more information to collect, and only a few days to do so before the full moon rises over the white walls of Illivan and the werewolf claims another innocent victim. The two head to a busy street in Lowtown outside of Illivan, and begin canvassing the streets. The citizens know very little, only offering what amount to no more than local gossip and rumors. The name Giridharan clearly isn't of the area, though, and a few people suggest that perhaps he comes from a land far away to the south. Ambrose and Karl piece together that they are perhaps looking for a tan skinned man with long, jet black hair. A helpful piece of information in fair-skinned Illivan, but an unfulfilling one nonetheless.

            While the two split up to cover more ground, Ambrose steps aside to take a break from asking passersby about Giridharan and glances over to Karl further up the street. Karl is turned away by a young, olive-skinned man. Karl moves on to the next passerby, but Ambrose can't help but watch the stranger walk through the crowd and meet with a similar appearing, older man. Both men whisper to each other and both look back to Karl before ducking down a nearby alley. As the men leave the crowd, Ambrose realizes Alton was standing right next to where the men were speaking. Alton seems to feign shock to Ambrose, seeming having over heard the secret conversation, and follows the strangers into the alley.

            Ambrose doesn't hesitate to follow after Alton and the two strangers into the shadowed alley, but as he leaves the crowded street he finds himself alone. Ahead of him, Ambrose sees an alcove dipping between the wooden walls of the buildings around him. Ambrose hears light footsteps from the alcove and draws his sword and edges to the corner to listen, but the two strangers are convening too quietly to be heard. Ambrose shifts his weight and leans around the corner slightly, hoping to get a better vantage, but he immediately catches eyes with the farthest man. He darts his head back around the corner, hoping the mystery man missed him. A harsh yell dashes his hopes, so Ambrose, ever quick-witted, drops his sword on the ground. As they approach me and demand to know why I'm here, I can say I've just dropped my sword down this alley and was bending to pick it up, he thinks. Foolproof! Strangely, the two aren't buying it.

            "You! What did you hear?" The younger asks. Ambrose attempts to explain his situation involving his sword, but he his cut off. "We'll make sure you never heard anything," the older man interrupts with an odd accent that Ambrose can't place. The two approach Ambrose while beginning to brandish daggers that were hidden at their waists. As a clash begins in the alley, Karl has doubled back up the street looking for his new companion when out of the corner of his eye he catches the sword fight developing. Karl instinct take over as he barrels down the alley to support Ambrose in the uneven fight. A mountain of muscles and bulk, he reaches the conflict with such velocity that he takes the younger combatant by surprise and knocks him out with a single punch to the face. Karl begins to restrain the attacker while Ambrose continues his scuffle.

            Through his deft maneuvers, Ambrose is able to wound his attacker and bring him to the ground. The stranger is on his back, sword to his chest, as Ambrose begins his interrogation, "Who are you? Do you know Giridharan?" The man denies any connection to the werewolf, while vehemently proclaiming that he will kill Ambrose. Before Ambrose can give his retort, the man knocks away the sword and begins to crawl away. Startled, Ambrose watches the man for a moment as he tries to come to his feet until Alton calls to him. Standing above the struggling attacker Alton says in a cool, short breath, "Stab him."

           With slight hesitation, Ambrose drives his sword down through the man's back. His final breath leaves his body as it falls to the ground, pulling itself off of Ambrose's sword. Ambrose steps back to turn to Karl as a blood pool begins to form. I needed to kill him. He already said he would kill me. Was Alton smiling? 

           Karl is standing close by, the young, would-be-attacker behind him. "All you Alright?" Ambrose asks Karl. "Yeah, I knocked the other out on the ground over there," Karl turns to point at the other man where they see him crawling across the floor attempting to get away. "Oh no you don't," Karl steps on the mans back keeping him prone. Ambrose walks to be in front of the young man who is near tears.

           "Please don't kill me!" As Ambrose gets a better look at the man's face, he realizes that he is more of boy and must be nearly half of Ambrose's age. "What do you know about Giridharan," and the young man spills his guts. "I've only met him the once, honest! He hired me and the some others to help him sneak people into the city."

           "How? What people?"

           "I don't know who they are, they never told me. We use underground tunnels from Low-Town to get through the walls."

           "Where do you take them all?"

           "There's  a house in the city, near the Loom's street gate close to Low-Town." Ambrose looks to Karl who nods, "I know where that is." Karl picks up his foot off the man, and the man pulls himself to his seat. "Ambrose, it sounds like we got a stake out." 

           "So, uh… Can I go?"

           "You should run." And the man ran back into the street as fast as he could. 

Session #3: The Justice Tree
Reason Enough

Ambrose looks at Alton expectedly. Something isn't right about Alton and he wants answers. The waitress looks a bit upset at Ambrose. "I'm sorry. That will be all for now," he says to remove her. She nods hesitantly and walks away. "She probably thinks you're crazy," Alton chimes. "I might be crazy unless you can explain yourself" Ambrose starts to eat his food to calm suspicions. "You shouldn't sell the lantern." "You've said that." "Aye, but let me explain. The lantern holds a dark secret that you need to know." Alton seems uncertain on how to proceed. "You know that the lantern has four colored panels, aye?" Ambrose nods, while Alton seems uncomfortable. "Well. Each panel is like a ward, or barrier. Each one holds back someone sealed inside a long time ago. "How can you know all of this," Ambrose asks quietly, looking around at the tables near him. Alton shrugs and gestures towards himself. "I… you could say… am the white panel."

Ambrose's eyes widen in disbelief. "How is that possible?"  Alton looks to the table, "The lantern was made to seal away powerful god, and to do that they had to sacrifice three others. I was one of the three. They put me in last, so I suppose I'm the first one out. I'm supposed to help keep the lantern from falling into the wrong hands, and letting the evil out." Ambrose takes it all in and looks to Alton, "And how do you plan on doing that if only I can see you, how can you keep the lantern safe?" Alton shrugs, "I don't know." "Did you give me that terrible spell?" "I suspect that was a piece of the dark god's power that slipped out." "Did it cause the lantern to crack more?" "Probably, it's likely. But I expect the lantern to slowly deteriorate away. The world you live in now is much different from my time. The lifestyles of the people I've seen would be enough slowly break away at the lantern." "So even if I hide the lantern away from everyone, the seal will still break?" "It might take years, or maybe decades. But I believe that eventually the seals will vanish on their own now." "Is there a way to stop it?" "I don't know. But I might know someone who might." "Who could possibly know that?" Ambrose scoffs as he finishes off his meal. Alton pauses,"I don't know their name, but they're inside the blue panel."  

Ambrose nearly chokes on his wine, "The blue panel? You want me to break another panel to stop the lantern from breaking?" Alton leans forward, "It's the only way I know of." "So I need to crack the blue panel? And that's it?" "It's not that simple, there is an order to it all. White, blue, red, black. The lantern was designed to break away in that order." "You sure seem to only know something when its inconvenient," Ambrose remarks. Alton chuckles, "But whatever you choose to do, I can't do anything to stop you." 

Ambrose decides he needs to sleep on all he's learned. Alton stays at the table, and watches Ambrose climb the stairs up to the room he rented. It's difficult for Ambrose to fall asleep, and when he finally does it's a restless sleep. Again, he dreams of the black skeleton. The sun hits Ambrose and he wakes up, he looks around his empty room and decides to prepare his spells for the day. After finishing his meditation, Ambrose feels it's time to find where Alton has gone off to. "Are you ready?" Alton's voice comes from the corner. Ambrose turns to see him leaning on the wall in the corner. Ambrose doesn't visibly react, but he is startled. Another reminder that Alton isn't real. Ambrose tells Alton that he's decided to go to the mages like he planned, but he wants to see if they can help him learn about Alton's civilization. 

After some investigation in the street to learn the location of the library he heard of the day before, Ambrose learns that the library is in the Queen's castle. Hopefully he can get in. It's easy to find the castle, it's visible from nearly any street in the city. The white-stone keep looms over Illivan from the center of the city, atop a hill. He approaches one of the castle's public gates and sees a guard in polished armor who carries a gilded halberd. Before he can pass the gate the guard questions him where he's going. A brief conversation occurs, and the guard explains that the library is the only public area of the castle and not to wander. Ambrose affirms the guard and passes the gate and enters the walls. After passing through some luxuriant gardens he enters the castle and finds the library. He enters into the presence of three bespectacled, owl-eyed men. Odd in their years, the men are delayed in they way the react and are speak. Ambrose requests to see the oldest manuscripts they have about the civilizations from before the founding of Illivan. There is some argument between the library's keepers until they agree to show Ambrose to the section he seeks. As he is ledthrough the library, Ambrose looks to see if Alton is nearby. He tries to get Alton's attention without alerting the owl-eyed men. 

The librarian reveals the alcove that contains the oldest manuscripts, Alton is already there pointing to the scrolls. Ambrose pulls it out and opens it. DVNO. Four capital letters, printed in gold. The manuscript is written in an old language unknown to Ambrose. He asks the owl-eyed man if he could read it. "Certainly". The man hunches over the scroll and begins to slowly read pieces. Alton is shaking his head, "He has no idea what that says." Ambrose tries to motion to Alton to read the manuscript while the owl-eyes man isn't looking. The man stops reading, "Did you find my translation satisfactory?" "It was very insightful, I'd like to take some time to look over it myself some more." The owl-eyed man backs away and Ambrose returns to the scroll with Alton. The apparition reads over the scroll, "That's wrong… that too…" Alton tuts. "What is it?" Ambrose whispers, attempting to keep attention away from himself. "It's a history of my culture. It appears someone had found some artifacts from my time and made assumptions on what they were for. The language it's written in is similar to mine but it's off. I'm thinking it's from a descendent of the survivors of my home. So my time is lost even to the oldest records." Alton appears upset. 

It's clear the scroll won't be able to help Ambrose find a way to control the lanterns deterioration. He thanks the owl-eyed man and leaves the castle. "What can we do?" Ambrose asks. "The only thing that's made any noticeable change in the panels was when you cast that spell." "No. I don't ever want to go through that again." "It's all there is to go on." Ambrose sighs, although he can't find the spell in his book, the memory of if it etched into his mind. He feels he could cast it at any moment he needed. Ambrose looks to Alton then around him. They are alone near a park, "I'll see if I can cast it on that tree." Ambrose braves himself and focuses on the tree. Nothing. 

Ambrose remembers the entry from his spell book. For use on enemies. "I guess it only works on people," Alton surmises. "Great, where am I going to find someone vile enough to be sentenced to death by black flames?"  They continue down the path into a square. There appears to be a rally; nearly a hundred people have gathered together, cheering and joyous. At the center is a platform, backed by the waving, red and gold banners of Illivan. A circle of guards surround and branching iron pole that beaches into many smaller limbs. At the end of each limb is a strip of paper tied around its end. An elder guard, white-haired with Illivani styled mustaches, approaches the edge of the platform, "Are there any who might take up the tasks of justice? Any who might do good?" Ambrose taps the shoulder of an onlooker at the back of the crowd, "Excuse me, what is all this?" Men and women climb the platform and begin to pick papers off the tree. "Not from here? It's the lottery!" The man is excited. "Lottery?" Ambrose relies, confused at the explanation. "Yeah, they decorate the Tree of Justice and hold the lottery. The papers are the names of murderers and evildoers. When you go up, you pick your paper and," the man the puffs up a bit and seems to impersonate the guard that spoke before, "Are tasked with enacting rightful justice upon the guilty." A bounty lottery, what are the chances.

The volunteers on the stage start to dwindle, but many papers remain on the tree. Ambrose looks to Alton and they share a nod. Ambrose takes to the stage down the large row that divides the crowd. By the time he is on the platform it is just him and the guards. "Thank you, kind son. Take your time and choose," the elder guard speaks to Ambrose. The magus approaches the tree and selects a paper from higher on the tree. He unties it from its branch and unfolds the paper to read it. 'GIRIDHARAN. MURDER. WEREWOLF." Great. 

Session #2: An Unassuming Spell
And a Traumatic Experience

Ambrose and Alton take a nights rest before reaching their destination. In the morning Ambrose prepares his spells while Alton watches. "That one looks interest'n", Alton points out as Ambrose dips through the pages. "Which one?" He turns a few pages back and finds a spell he's never seen before. It's undeniably his handwriting, but where did it come from. All it reads: dark flame, for use on enemies. Curious, he prepares the spell. They approach the town creeping closer in the distance. A donkey cart driven by a couple makes its way towards the hero when he notices a rustling in the bushes. Two highwaymen jump out and take the cart drivers hostage . 

The husband is pressed to the ground with the highwayman's short sword, the wife held against the others knife. Ambrose attempts to take advantage by trying to daze the short sword but failed. This alerts the highwaymen and puts them on edge. "Don't come any closa, ya cocksukka! I'll gut imm I will." Ambrose takes a step closer and the highwayman kills the husband. 

After witnessing highway murder, Ambrose decides to unleash his new spell. "What do ya plan on doing by yaself?" Ambrose points his hand instinctively at the short sword and the man bursts into black flames. Completely enveloped in dark inferno the man's flesh begins to drip from his body. His screams transition from the horrid to a gurgle as now his skeleton stumbles across the ground until it breaks apart and burns to ash. The spectacle last for just a few seconds. Stunned and absolutely horrified, Ambrose turns to where the man with the knife stood only to see the wife cowering on the ground in terror and the back of the highwayman running through the trees. 

"Stay away from me! Stay away!"  The wife pulls the husband's body onto the cart and rides away as fast as possible. Alton pops his head out from a bush and comes over to Ambrose, still petrified by his own actions. Both loom over the charred ground where the only remains of the man is his sword. Alton whistles in astonishment and suggests they hurry to town before anyone else shows up. They walk as calmly as they can up to the town gate. The wall reaches nearly two stories and looks like logs driven into the ground. Two guards stand outside the open gate and eye the Ambrose who is acting is best version of inconspicuous. They let him pass without any resistance. 

Entering the town, Ambrose informs Alton that he needs to find an inn so he can recoup from his mental exhaustion. Ambrose extends his friendship and asks if Alton needs help getting a room. He declines and says he can find his own place to sleep for today, and they split. On his way to find his inn, Ambrose notices the crowd spitting to make way for three armored men, walking abreast. These men are known as Whitecloaks. A self-serving police force, the Whitecloaks hold their own country far away to the south but make it an effort to extend their reach to as much of the world as possible. The Whitecloaks often take it upon themselves to enforce their strict code on others and it's rare that that the local governance takes actions against them. Even rarer that the populace breaks the Whitecloaks laws.

The Whitecloaks main goals are to hunt down devil-spawn and their ilk and to stop the use of evil magic. After his recent actions, Ambrose thinks it best to make way too, and let the Whitecloaks carry on without incident. He is able to make it to The Elk's Hole, the inn's sign depicting the rear end of an elk, and takes himself inside. There he sleeps for the night. His dreams haunted by the imagery from that day. A Skelton in black flames screaming in a field of wheat. Edging closer until face to face. Ambrose wakens in a hurry that morning and decides it's time to find Alton. 

He makes his way back to where he last saw Alton and carries after the direction he left in. The town becomes poorer and dirtier the farther Ambrose goes until Alton emerges from an alleyway, clean as ever. It makes Ambrose think on how long it's been since his first bath. There is an awkward moment when Ambrose asks if Alton slept in the alley, "don't be ridiculous". He quickly changes he subject to leaving the town and heading to Illivan, the next stop. It's a three days walk from where they are so they stock up on rations and set out. Each night Alton offers to take watch ," I don't carry much and I need you well rested in case something attacks." That's reasonable. 

Upon reaching the city's outer border they duo enters Low-town, the poor district surrounding the city proper. Every building in Low-town is built from wood, and gently sway in the wind. Ambrose attempts to find a place where he can sell off his treasure, the lantern, but instead finds that he has lost Alton. Searching back through the crowded streets, he catches sight of him. Alton's typical happy demeanor is missing and is replaced with a stoic gaze. Alton hasn't noticed Ambrose so Ambrose decides to watch Alton for a moment. Alton meanders through the crowd easily, never making contact with anyone while he surveys the area. Ambrose notices that Alton is making circles around him, but thinks nothing of it when Alton meets eyes with him. The smile returns to Alton. "What were you looking for?" Ambrose asks. "I was looking for you," Alton replies, "I don't think we'll find what you want here."  

Both agree that it would be better to head into the main city. Ambrose's search narrows as he hears rumors of an old man paying for mysterious objects of unknown origins. Perfect. Outside the address they were given, Alton announces he would prefer to stay outside, noting the door covered windows. Nevertheless, Ambrose knocks and is greeted by a bearded old fellow. He invites Ambrose in and guides him to a parlor filled with beakers and burners and twirling glassware. Ambrose tells his story and presents the lantern to the man. The crack has grown. They elder inspects the lantern and suggests his price, 10 gold. "I nearly died for this, I think it might be worth a bit more than that." They argue until the man gives his ultimatum, accept his offer or leave. Ambrose gladly retrieves his lantern and meets Alton on the street. 

The two explore again, hoping to find somewhere worth his time, Ambrose finds a small, alley shop devoted to odd magical trinkets. The shopkeeper informs that he cannot buy the lantern without knowing what its magic is. He suggests Ambrose take it to the arcane library in the city to have it studied. The portly shopkeeper bids Ambrose safety on his journey alone to see the arcane professors. Ambrose attempts to correct him but notices that Alton isn't in the shop. Honest mistake. 

Ambrose finds Alton alone just outside the shop. He suggests to Alton that they get a nice inn to stay at, as a preemptive celebration for getting to sell the lantern soon. They reach The Queen's Grace, I quality inn with musicians and a bathing room. Ambrose pays for a room, with dinner and a bath. He takes his bath while the food is prepared. Re-entering the common room he sits down at the table where Alton is waiting. The waitress brings Ambrose his food. A platter of steaming, thick sliced beef dripping with fats, rich marbled cheeses and a short decanter of punch wine. "This is excellent, please bring some for my friend." The waitress eyes him for a moment then leaves. Alton has a serious expression on his face, "I don't think you should sell the lantern." Ambrose is confused, "Why do you think that, the only reason I took it out of that ruin is to sell it!" The waitress returns, concerned, "Sir? Is everything okay?" "Why do you ask?" Well it's just that you've been talking to yourself for a while…" Ambrose looks Alton in the eyes, he's pan-faced. Sudden realization fills Ambrose. He's never seen Alton interact with anyone other than himself, he's never seen Alton sleep or eat or bathe, and no one had ever seemed to acknowledge Alton's presence. Ambrose slaps his hands to the table and points at Alton, "Explain what's going on! Right. Now."

Session #1: Outside the Frontier Village
A Mysterious Ruin

Ambrose Francois is a level 1 magus who is a middle-aged adventurer.  He spent his younger years as apart of an academy for the arcane, but decided after completing his qualifications to strike out on his own. Since then he has been a relic hunter, delving into ruins to find valuable objects to sell to researchers or collectors. 

About 20 years ago, a new frontier town was settled between the northern borders of Illivan and its neighbor. Soon a group of people started to scout the nearby forest to see if they could find anything useful. A lake, some rivers, local wildlife. They happen upon an ancient ruin…

The ruin is unlike any known civilization. The style of architecture is foreign, and any designs that may have been present had eroded away centuries ago. The first and second foray into the ruin were failures, the explorers driven away by a population of forest goblins. Short, black-skinned burrowers that have made the ruin their own. 

Now, rumors have spread about a mysterious ruin and they have reached Ambrose's ears. He's arrived at the frontier village and has spent a few days gathering information from the locals about the location of the ruin. 

Ambrose rises for the day and prepares his spells.  He sets out into the forest, a tangle of vines and roots, until he finds a riverbed. The banks are rocky, but clear of obstructions. He's right on track per his investigations, and continues up the bank. He's able to make it to he ruin, but not without an odd encounter. A number of dead deer are left on the rocky banks. Seeming dead for no more than a day or two. Their bodies only partly eaten. Chunks of hide are cut away and the rest is left in the sun. Must be goblin work. 

After arriving at the ruin, Ambrose circles around it to find an ideal entrance. There are many holes where the ruin has collapsed, but Ambrose stops when he sees two goblins emerge, bickering. The fighting escalates until one goblin hits the other in the head with a rock. The collapsed goblin wails in pain until a third emerges that takes both inside. Taking the opportunity for a distraction, Ambrose sneaks in.

The goblins have burrowed deep beneath the ruins. The deeper Ambrose delves the worse the stench. In trying to save his nostrils and avoid detection, he stays close to the surface. A tunnel opens into a vestibule inside the ruin,  major openings in the walls light the room with sun. Two goblins sunbathe while napping. Ambrose is able to sneak by but is startled when directly in front of the napping monsters when he hears a deep growl from behind him, deeper in the tunnels. Something much larger than a goblin. 

Ambrose hurries along into a tunnel that was a part of the original ruins. There are murals in here, safe from the weathering effects of the world. They are simple, depicting a crowd growing until it surrounds an object or maybe a person. Strangely the subject in the center is too worn away to make out. Ambrose continues to the end of the passage where it ends in a small room. A slight crevice in the wall lets in enough sunlight to light the pedestal in the center. Upon it sits an ornate, bronze lantern with four opaque, colored panels (white, blue, red, and black). 

Sensing the ominous atmosphere of the room, Ambrose steadies   Himself to lift the lantern. Nothing happens. He briefly inspects it and places it gently in this backpack. As he make his way out the way he came it is immediately noticed that the murals have changed. Instead of people crowding there are now rough, black strokes. In the center before is now a single large eye. 

The paints seem the be as old and weathered as the old murals and not fresh in any sense. Concerned, Ambrose hurries to the vestibule. The sun outside hangs far lower than it should, something is wrong. He is suddenly made aware of a man-sized monster on a ledge above where he originally entered the room from the goblin tunnels. How long has it been there? The beast heaves with its breath. Inhaling deeply and aggressively. Ambrose books it for an exit in the wall, jumping out just in time to avoid the monsters charge that follows him through the exit  

Outside on the edge of the ruin, Ambrose begins a fight for his life against a monster unfamiliar to him. The creaturereminds Ambrose of a goblin, but it is much too large. The beast breaks its club on the ground when he misses Ambrose with his swing. Tossing it aside the monster draws a nasty, broken blade. It drips a horrid black ooze. Ambrose sidesteps and gouges deep into the monsters abdomen with his longsword, but the beast is able to make a cut on Ambrose's shoulder. 

The beast staggers to the ground, roaring, while Ambrose makes his escape, certain that the beast is too wounded to follow. Running through the forest, he starts to feel slow and heavy. He's been poisoned, though he struggles to keep going. He makes his way to the dead deer he saw earlier; they are now half-rotten. Ambrose collapses. 

He wakes with a jolt under a small hunter's shelter. A man is sitting on the ground nearby and is happy to see Ambrose awake. He introduces himself as Alton. He tells Ambrose he found him passed out in the forest and brought him near the town. To thank Alton, Ambrose offers what he can to make even. Alton suggests he let him travel together to Illivan. Ambrose agrees, no harm in that. 

Ambrose heads to the inn to retrieve it he rest of his items. The townsfolk are worried when they see him, alerting him that he's been gone for several days. Ambrose collects a crowd of locals as he explains what happened and reveals the lantern. There is a crack formed on the white pane, it stretched all the way across, branching once. Was that there before? When asked who found him, Ambrose remarks Alton. The townsfolk aren't familiar with the name and don't know whom he means, but attest that there are many hunters who come and go every few weeks. It's not uncommon. Ambrose leaves the inn with the good faith of the townsfolk. He meets up with Alton and takes off to the next village, a day away. 


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