I'll Never Get Ogre Macho Grande

[Through Sunday night, and into the dawn on Monday]

They rode quickly, with hot potatoes in their pockets to ward off the crisp autumn night. Terciel and Shard split the point, navigating by the stars and looking out for any pursuit, but with the death of the wolves their pursuers seemed to have given up on them.  As the sky began to turn from black to a dim purple, Terciel shook his head for a moment, convinced he'd fallen asleep in the saddle.  A moment later, Darg hollered from the back, "why did we turn around?"  His moustache ruffled indignantly as Shard and Terciel conferred and checked their bearings.  They were going the wrong way.

Shard dismounted and fired a crossbow bolt on a staked rope into the darkness. He walked along the rope and found himself standing next to the stake, with no quarrel in sight.  The others cried out in alarm; for a moment he'd disappeared to all but Terciel's eyes.  When Shard returned, Terciel went in and picked a few plants that looked familiar to him, bringing them back to show everyone.  When nobody recognized them, Terciel concluded tentatively that they must be near some sort of Fey crossing.  It didn't look anything like the portal he had come through before, and Bree, though familiar with the basics of portals,
couldn't suss out what exactly was happening.

They looked around, and noted that the trail led right into (and right out of) the disturbance, but while they had localized it, they wouldn't be able to pick their way through the thick woods until sunup.  Royce had warned them about Trammel, and it was clear that they had ridden long enough that this strangeness was the town of Trammel, but Sir Husit had said the town was abandoned, and Lord Wossname had asked them to take a look.  Surely it couldn't hurt to take a brief detour!

They rode into Trammel, then dismounted: the horses were beginning to shy away from the town as the scent of stale fires and decayed bodies cut through the cloying sweet smell of the fey flowers.  The first few buildings they saw were the burned skeletons of normal village dwellings, but as they moved through the town and saw more, they were troubled by the incongruities.  Along the left side of the road through town, all of the sheds were full of strange twisted ironwork in cruel shapes… certainly not residences.  The manor house's burned-out foundation implied a two- or three-story mansion far larger than one might expect for a village this small.  The fresh graveyard in the clearing was guarded by a memento-cantrip of Bahamut, the Platinum Dragon, most likely placed by Sir Husit on his visit.

Just as they were getting nervous and had decided that they'd seen enough, a deep groaning voice called out from the edge of the clearing in a strange language.  Once a second voice joined it, Lenora pointed in its direction and whispered sharply to Thea to form a front.  The two ogres shambled into view, eyes red with rage, foreheads scarred where Dagog had worn the arcane bindi that made him smart and compliant.  These ogres would not be speaking Elvish or peaceably complying with anything.  One swung a pair of cruel scourges, heavy whips decorated with bits of chain, thorns, and bones; the other hefted a massive club improvised from the branch of an ironwood tree.

The horses scattered, obscuring nearly everyone's view of the scene, but Bree was accustomed to inferring danger from the knees and ankles she could see.  She counted the legs, divided by two, and summoned a pea-green fog of stinking gas up from the turf at the ogres' feet. Thea staggered back, coughing in disgust, axe at the ready.  Everyone else was scrambling to take up sound tactical positions, but Rache walked towards the ogres.  Once she was close enough to see their eyes through the fog, she locked her gaze with theirs and began whispering under her breath, hands curled around the glowing threads of a strange cat's cradle; they wove together into a barbed bolt and shot forward. The ogre reeled and screamed and Rache started whistling quietly.

Lenora heard a crashing and crunching behind them and turned, hollering to Thea to cover their flank.  She charged the third ogre and beat him ferociously with her flail, balanced on the balls of her feet for the inevitable counterattack from the giant oaken branch he was swinging.  She barked and shouted at him, striking his joints hard to keep his attention on her while Shard picked his way around behind the big clumsy target.  The best thing about the ogres, from Shard's point of view, was the acres of space between the shoulderblades.  He picked a spot on a whim and sunk his blade in up to the hilt.  A runching and crashing from the underbrush behind him startled him, but not badly enough to make the blade go wide.  And even if it had gone wide, it still probably would have hit something vital… the liver on one of these things was probably the size of Darg's head.

Darg backpedaled carefully, staying close to Lenora and casting worried glances over his shoulder at Rache, who was standing her ground.  Whenever the ogre wound up to take a big swing at Lenora he would fire a few hammer-shaped bolts of light towards its head.  They splashed against its forehead and flashed like lightning disrupting its aim.  Shard danced between the closing gap, running out of room, and not one second too soon Thea arrived hollering for glory and blood, axe shining in the brightening dawn.

Bree shot icy blasts at the ogres' feet with one hand while carefully guiding the cloud to envelop them.  They staggered forward, swatting at the air with whips and cudgels, trying to get closer. Rache stood her ground, summoning wicked shapes into the air and flinging them into the ogres' faces: a shining necklace that choked one ogre, a bird which flapped drunkenly up to the other ogre and exploded in a puff of sharp feathers.  Dark forms oozed out of the dirt and hopped into her waiting palms.  Bree saw them getting closer and shouted for Rache to back up.  She clapped her hands and a bright flash of multicolored light sprayed wildly from her elbows, briefly illuminating the green cloud but clearly failing to yield the desired effect.  An unimpressed gre lashed out at Rache, grabbing her in the vicious bite of his scourge and dragging her back up close.  The other swung his club over Bree's head, trying to bash Rache apart.  All the while the two ogres hollered at her, always at her, and she just whistled and shot back nightmarish black shadows at them.  One fell, blood and smoke pouring from his ears, and Rache deftly stepped backward out of reach again. They followed, brushing past Terciel as though he weren't there, so close Terciel flinched reflexively… but they ignored him.  Peeved, he loosed arrows at them.  Most sunk into the thick hide armor they wore, or jabbed ineffectually.  One caught the remaining ogre high in the neck, and he vented his incomprehensible rage at Terciel while gesturing at Rache.

Lenora and Shard were ducking and weaving faster and faster now as blood coursed from the ogre's hamstrings and he staggered around trying to land a telling blow.  He managed to score one or two lucky hits, but eventually dropped in a pool of his own blood only a few feet from the steps of the manor house.  Thea continued to trade hits with the last one behind them, and relieved of their burden, Shard and Lenora swooped in to help.  In seconds he too was dead.  Rache was calmly walking backward while the last ogre stumbled towards her, black frostbitten flesh curling off its ankles where Rache and Bree had both blasted it.  Rache saw the last ogre swing its club coming a bit too close to her friend Bree, and scowled.  She clenched her fist and then thrust it forward with an open palm.  A giant phantom hand mimicked her gesture, pushing through the wretched fog and smashing into the ogre like a steel prison door slamming.  Blood squirted out of his eyes and ears, and he collapsed on his knees.  He gurgled a few more words, stretched an empty hand out toward her, and fell silent.

Rache pulled out the dagger she had found among Kral's belongings and plunged it into the dead ogre's chest, immediately working to split its rib cage and pull out its heart.  The rest of the party looked on in quiet horror, then began investigating the ruins of the village while Rache finished her grisly task.

 Map of Trammel



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