Hollow's Last Hope

Dhohar awoke refreshed and began to prep for the day. He knew it would a long one but he hoped it was somewhat calm and without incident. He doubted that would be the case but it was possible the children simply wandered outside of their comfort range or one was injured and the other’s stayed to comfort them. His mind wandered in that vein for a time building his dread and anticipation. Perhaps one was injured and the others left to get help and then go lost or suffered further harm. The worst scenarios were finding them dead, having succumbed to some terrible fate. Or separated and each was alone, taking days to track them down. He firmly squashed those thoughts as pulled on his boots and strapped on his small bag and weapons. He headed out a bit before the time he was to meet Kieyanna and Zandu for breakfast and ducked into the meat shop of Cobrin Jabbs. Again, he requested organ meats and undesirable cuts and dropped them into a cheap jute sack for Rumble and Mischief. It was only fair that his companions enjoy the luxury that civilization offered as well. With that accomplished he headed back to a breakfast of pancakes and spicy sausages with his friends.

The word caused him to full on pause in the middle of the street. Friends. Yes, I suppose they are my friends, he thought. I hadn’t considered it before but our evening conversations have been lively and enjoyable. Not since I was a youngster and hanging about Greengold have had companions that could talk. Rumble and Mischief were more than enough to suit me – but they are light on the conversation. He smiled ruefully at the last, better to not say that around Rumble.

They struck out after breakfast, moving as fast as they could through the woods towards the halfway house. Once they arrived he gave Rumble the scent of Savram and Hollin and let the bear go to work finding them amidst the rumble. Fresh concerns that they may have fallen into a basement or cellar amidst the rubble sprung up.

After arriving at the halfway house, Dhohar and group encounter a small door amidst the rubble of the burnt building. The wreckage was certainly disconcerting. The townspeople had said no survivors made it out and Dhohar could see how that would be the case for sure. The charred timbers and cracked flagstones had been rainwashed and eroded over the intervening months – but they still seemed to jut their fingers into the sky in agony. It was as if the wails of there expired occupants and formed them even as all was consumed in the blaze.

In no time Kieyanna and Zandu had busted down the door to the basement. While Rumble was picking up no active scent of the two kids from that direction, other children spoke of the youngsters accepting a dare to sleep out at the site. Thus, no option was left unturned. Dhohar went down the worn flagstones after Zandu, his new ioun torch helping to light the way. In a corner, tied to some sort of stand was a rotten and desiccated body. It made Dhohar gag, but he knew he had to determine whom it was. The kids had not been long enough to reach this state but it was a possible indicator of what else the adventurers would be up against if others were perishing at this site…

“My word Zandu, this body is in terrible condition. It’s held and those instruments appear to be of torture for sure. I’m not sure what atrocities have been committed in this room – but whatever they are this person was on the receiving side in the end. I’m beginning to get the feeling that this fire was no accident.”

Zandu looked up from the table, where he was inspecting the various implements thereon. The cellar room was small and no other passages attached to it. “Yes, I can see that. What did this person perish of?”

“I’m looking now,” was the soft reply as Dhohar peered this way and that. The circling ioun torch cast odd shadows in a manner Dhohar hadn’t considered when getting it as a light source. While it allowed for fine visibility it was odd to have you light moving around on you when doing a close inspection. The flesh of the corpse was withered and rotten. Overall it seemed intact however; it was difficult to say if there was much of a struggle as the bindings at the wrists had sunk nearly to the bone. The weight of the corpse overtime had ensured that no confirmation of that would be possible. Nonetheless, he noted that the cause of death was, and he was startled and sickened at seeing it, the throat had been torn out. What manner of occurrence took place here? Further, why did it seem that Elara, the owner of the halfway house was the person dead here? The final minutes of her halfway house’s existence were beginning to look very different than the understanding that most of the townsfolk seemed to have…or perhaps some knew and didn’t say? He shook off these thoughts, something to pick up later for sure. Turning he addressed Zandu, “I’m not sure what to say. This appears to be the corpse of Elara, the owner of this halfway house. And…and…well her throat has been torn out.” He whispered the last and made eye-to-eye contact with Zandu.

“That is odd. Very odd,” said the Varisian man. “Amongst these various…implements I’ve found two silvered daggers. That seems odd does it not? Why would they have silvered daggers?!?”

Dhohar shook his head, “No idea.” But he did have an idea. It was beginning to line up a bit too perfectly to his thoughts. A dwarven god’s holy symbol that was silvered – to fight lycanthropes perhaps? – and then a kindly woman found tied to a wall with her throat torn out. All this under a structure that conveniently burned down. It was looking very much like the story he recalled of the unnamed hamlet in Andoran that had been overrun with werewolved. It’s occupants last days filled with horror and fear of the night. The warg, the fire, silver weapons it was looking to make a pretty picture in his mind.

As all these thoughts ricocheted around his head and he failed to notice the decent of a dog sized spider from the corner. He also didn’t notice the outpouring of tiny baby spiders from the corpse. Their life-cycle advanced that they sought new food, having cored out the insides of their current home. The swarmed his feet and crawled under his boots, biting him and injecting their venom. Dozens covered him in moments and he came out of his thoughts to feel their poison dulling his sense he shouted to Zandu but could do little beyond staggering towards the exit. He stumbled up the steep cellar steps into the light of day and leaned against Rumble trying to recover from the effects of the spider venom. He crushed those that lingered on his legs with his hanbo and waited for his blurred vision to clear. He hoped it would clear soon. His companions seemed to have some sort of plan going – burning the spiders out of the cellar using lamp oil – but most of it was foggy to him. Be the time his head cleared there was a load WOOF as the hole went up in flames and smoke from the fuel. He could hear the pops of the spiders burning and dying. He staggered to his feet and felt somewhat recovered from his bites. He patted Rumble and thanked him for his support.

He waited with the others at the top of the hole till the flames died. Then Zandu went down to retrieve the daggers and look to move on. While they waited however he laid out his thoughts on the werewolves, Elara and the town. When Zandu mentioned only two weapons survived the flames, the silvered daggers, Dhohar waved them off. “I thank you for the offer friend, but I have the hammer you kindly gave me already. I think we should all keep something silvered just in case I’m right. Perhaps these are just notions of mine – like the idea that your every step should be a dance and your shoes should have bells on them – but it is looking more and more like my fears of werewolves are correct. Please, you and Kieyanna take them. I hope we have no need of it but we might and you cannot harm the beasts without silver.”

And with that, the trio got moving, following the scent of the children via Rumble to a firepit and signs of a scuffle. A scuffle that included blood and kobold scales. Dhohar sighed again. It seemed all his concerns were proving right so far. He took up the trail and kept the companions moving at a good clip through the woods on the trail of the kobolds – and the children.

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