Everybody present + Rok that will play the Half-giant Maurus for this session.
…the group, with the addition of Maurus as a “local”, ride towards the small settlement very quickly, in approaching the place they already realize that the burning building is beyond salvaging, but the peoples standing around don’t seems busy in trying to salvaging it or anything, they seems more busy arguing and shouting and each others.
Maurus, using is knack for far listening, eavesdrop but can’t make no head or tail of what they’re saying. They seems hungry and confused. Cor dismount and sneaks around the houses and barns peaking through windows trying to see if there are any half-giants around that could look like Azul, the rest of the group reaches more or less the center of the settlement and Therai try to charms the farmers, but doesn’t have a good success. Maurus, since he is known, simply walks around trying to figure out what’s going on.
What is clear is that no half-giant is around, so if Azul was in the settlement, he is gone now.
The crowd suddenly turns violent, and Therai decides that is better to get out of there very quickly, so he beats an hasty retreat but is hit in response by someone with some farming tool. Hardok attempt to distract the crowd but he only manages to make himself noticed.
Cor, moves around one of the houses and is spotted by the crowd, so he decides to quickly beat it and leg it.
Everybody manages to get their crodlu and leaves the settlement, Maurus confirms that Azul wasn’t there anymore.
The group brainstorm a little, the path from the settlement is well used, and there are a lot of tracks going in both directions, so it’s kind of impossible to figure out if somebody has passed through and when. In any event they decide to go directly to Freedom.
And in the end… Freedom! Freedom is a surprisingly small settlement, built inside a crater in the hilly and rocky side of the vale, a long winding road goes down from the edge of the crater and ends at the gates of the ‘city’. Along the road they pass other travelers, Maurus quickly questions them and learns that somebody think to have seen Azul waling with some other buddies towards Freedom a little before.
The group reaches the gates, where they are looked upon with suspicion by the guards, but they quickly recognize Maurus as a local and then Fathalia arrives, and quickly inform Therai that there has been an attempted burglary at the Lirr warehouse.
It seems that the politics of Freedom is less than crystal clear: there is a ‘body of elders’ that takes decisions on a communal way, the ‘head’ of this body is Bartras, a middle-aged human that was one of the first founders of Freedom itself and tries to keep the place running without too much internal conflict, conflict that is unavoidable since there are soo many different peoples in the same space. Right now the place is split between two factions, one that wants to start trading and organize legal trading arrangements with other trading houses, this faction is helmed by Bartras of course and another faction, named ‘the Winds of Vengeance’ is more keen on raiding than trading, they are helmed by a Mule named Porgo. The two factions are basically at a standstill, but Fathalia’s expedition could (if successful), change the balance towards the ‘pro-trade’ group.
Azul was part of the Winds part, but never rised above the rank of “raider”, even if he thought of himself better. And then he decided to go to the Shrivan’s Mausoleum in search of glory…
Fathalia is very keen in going to look at the Warehouse and the caravan, but Therai quickly puts that part of the business in her hands and decide that right now the biggest threat is Azul and his weird influence on the peoples, the best option is to go directly to the center ‘square’ and have a chat with Bartras to clarify what happened and to warn them that some sort of malignant presence could be around.
From the inside Freedom looks like a slum, and not a good one either, the houses are not much more than huts made of stones, mud, dirt and chunks of wood or straw, the windows are simply hole in the walls covered with either cheap fabric or wooden slats, the roads are dusty and rubble is piled along the side. Peoples seems to be wary and not very talkative, looking with suspicion to the strangers. Maurus and Cor are also aware that it seems that somebody is following the group, but they can’t pinpoint anyone specific.
Theari at the lead, the group reaches the center market that is closing down for the day, some men are putting out stuff and tidying up… some others are arguing vehemently with each others. Bartras is in the middle talking and trying to get his men to cooperate.
Maurus quickly introduces Therai to Bartras.
Therai immediately informs him about the were about of Azul and the fact that he seems to be under some sort of demonic influx or other mood-altering influences, and that it seems that wherever he goes peoples starts reacting in an over-aggressive way. Bartras agreed that it seems the same is happening right now since his men now seems more keen in arguing than working and he has an hard time coordinating them. Maurus suggests to go first to Azul’s old house and then to Porgo’s place. That are the most probable places where Azul could go, then there are others but less probable. Cor inquires about this “attempted burglary” and it seems somebody (probably members of the Winds’ group, attempted to break into the warehouse but unsuccessfully, some stuff was damaged but nothing major. Anyway, that is a clear sign that the Winds’ group is trying to take direct action against the Trading plan.
Therai uses his Arcane knowledge to senses things, and he realizes that a psionic influence is lingering on the whole place, and it seems stronger in a certain direction, Maurus confirm that Porgo’s house is in the same direction, so everyone quickly moves to Porgo’s house (except Bartras that is still trying to get his recalcitrant men to cooperate).
Closing in on Porgo’s house, that is not much better than the rest of the houses around, there is a crowd gathering around, shouting and arguing, the group decide to approach from the back, so they circle and get into a narrow alley. The house has a window, barred with a wooden slat, Hardok peek through a crack and sees a mangled body on the floor and a tall half-giant standing by that announce “That’s it then! Is time to bring this forward!” and moves towards the door in the front. He quickly relay the info that Azul is in and is going to get out and Porgo is probably dead, then one of Azul’s followers exclaim “let’s go get that carvan!”.
Hardok smashes the wooden window, but is not big enough to climb in.
Maurus, Cor and Varnag climbs on the roof and moves towards the front, they has partial cover because of his high position and notices that Azul has a little group of followers, 3 humans and 2 half-giant, they begins to shout to the crowd to “make room for the Boss!” and the crowd seems scared and moves further away.
Combat ensues! It seems that another of Azul’s followers, a Dwarf, is in the house, and he takes offense at Hardok smashing the window, so he pokes him with his spear. Hardok responds by smacking him and dropping him on the floor, then he too climb on the floor and get to the front of the house.
Cor and Maurus are on the front, in a very bad spot because they are in the middle of the group, Azul seems mad, doesn’t have weapons, but he packs a mean punch, and he also seems inconsiderate in defending himself, Therai tries to fight from a distance, aware that getting close is not such a good idea. Hardok is stuck on the roof with one of Azul’s buddy that is hanging on.
The narrow road, the houses and the general place makes maneuvering and attacking very hard, in fact everyone seems to be either unable to hit effectively or to reach their targets, Cor and Maurus are hit particularly badly.
After a while, Maurus manages to hit Azul with his blade, cracking his skull, Azul’s body withers, it seems to collapse, then the skin splits open, the body right himself, the head snaps up and some sort of stone/flesh creature “explodes” out of Azul’s body, becoming even bigger than before and suddenly there is a blast of psionic energy that affect everyone.
The elemental force that was Azul now proceed to summon some sort of massive hammer directly from the stones of the road, and wield it in a menacing way, Therai uses that as a cue to start using his psionic influence to convince the other “guards” that Azul is actually the enemy and not them. This has some effect so a couple of them stop fighting and moves away. In the end, it’s Hardok, by pure luck, that strikes the final blow on “Azul”, he becomes unstable, yells “You cannot defeat Proud itself!” and then explodes in a mess of stones, blood, flesh and nasty things. Luckily, nobody is hurt by this last ‘explosion’.
Everybody is proved by this fight.. now the question is: what was “Azul” and what is going to happen now?