As the heroes prepared themselves to face the hideous form emerging from the flames, Feron scanned the room quickly for a means of assisting, realizing that unfortunately there was an actual fire pit containing the creature between he and Hiro who’d most benefit from his usual building tactics.
Unbeknownst to him or any of the rest of the party, the monk was waging a mental sparring match against the creature, in the end not only defying it but in fact attacking twice in a rapidity that eluded the sight of any watching. However the creature also had to doubt their existence as both ill-fated strike missed the flame shrouded figure.
Second in speed only to the monk’s attacks, the creature’s reprisal did not miss Hiro landing a blow so perfectly place that even the not as martially minded dwarf could marvel in the split seconds as others moved and attacked.
Aspen‘s attack fell third, after she had crossed the width of the room to stand by Valentine in front of the room’s door. End over end her blue glowing blade flew through the air to fail completely to connect with the creature.
Valentine with a single wielded pistol shot became the first to actually damage the beast with an attack. The scoring bullet grazed the beast, but proved that it could in fact be hit; if to a seemingly rather paltry effect.
The druid left behind all traces of self-preservation to sprint around the flame encased hulking creature to deliver Hiro every bit of extra hitting power that Feron had the spell-repertoire available to grant to the monk.
Quickly deciding that the off-chance that the spill-over effects of his grenades effects on his party mates were outweighed by the chance they may seriously disrupt the extra-planar being, Fuze lobbed one of the grenadier style projectiles missing the being altogether.
The greatly pained monk drew upon the renewed hope his attacks would damage the creature now that Feron had boosted them with feline grace. Once…and the immediately again the monk drove his flying fists…into the air where he felt they should be connecting.
To add to his disappointment Hiro found himself once again pierced by one of the beast’s deadly claws. This time however the other found the plant-borne druid to pierce with a precision matched in this battle only by its initial attack on Hiro. Again and again Aspen fruitlessly hurled her glowing blades in an effort to pierce the beast.
Once more in a flanking position the gunman Valentine unleashed a bullet spinning through the air at the being to even less effect this time failing to piece the shadow within the flames.
At this point Hiro made a point to rouse the druid to the seriousness of their situation commanding him to run. Feron answered this selfless direction with his own selfless smiting attack to connect with the fire enshrouded form solidly…again to little effect, though it was over twice the effect of any his party-mates attacks thus far.
This time Fuze’s grenade landed solidly…to either no effect, or worse a welcomed healing effect. And the dwarf despaired of conquering this beast this day.
Awarded two strikes this time due to the party’s moments, the claws of the beast pierced the spry Aspen with amazing effectiveness before delivering the second to lacerate Valentine as well.
Its claws still dripping with the life essence of the two heroes, the beast leaned forward to connect in a scene of spectacular horror it’s gaping, fang-encrusted maw with the green blooded Feron to devastating effect.
Seeing they were no match for such a foe as this, the fleet-footed party one-by-one justified the now dead goblin-warlord’s epithet of longshanks as they fled past the lesser stature of the alchemist. Agreeing with his deserting party’s assessment of the situation, Fuze followed their sure-footed flight from Thistletop as the sole uninjured member of these survivors.
After eliminating the easy passage to the island fortress, the disgruntled and heavily wounded (with singular exception) party made the trip back to the train station dodging their own nagging disappointments and the mocking barbs of their hired hands with equal aplomb for the two seemingly endless days spent awaiting the train to Sandpoint.
Defeated and dejected the party each selfishly squandered the wait and train ride back, neither discussing the event they had just survived nor having the discussion on tactics they all knew they must have to gain any level of effectiveness together.
Arriving back in town, once again the party was split based on what was most important to them each. The dwarf immediately headed to his lab to prepare a new set of tools for future forays. The rest of the group was drawn to a meeting with the Sherriff, no one fetching Fuze at this point, though they did decide to invite along a priestly friend of Feron’s to serve in the druid’s sted.
In the meanwhile, the Archanist dwarf began crafting a new gun, as well as preparing for the assembly of his new Archanist-alchemy bombs, including the foci pendants for his party. Until of course, he was interrupted. Though part of him was so enrapt in his works that he was tempted to simply ignore the knocking and continue his work, Fuze answered his door. There stood a visibly shaken and wan specimen of a human town guard.
“Um…excuse me, but your friends have asked for you to come to the Lumber Mill to help investigate the…um…murder…” he stammering-ly finished even as the dwarf grabbed a tool kit for investigation and instructed the man to ‘lead on.’ On the way, the dwarf managed to get the basics of the case that his party members had managed to ascertain without the dwarf’s skill set.
Arriving on scene, the dwarf quietly noted the druid’s absence and the presence of the human cleric. Noting and then ignoring the sawn in twain human female body, the archanist was much more intrigued with the body of the human male who seemed to have fallen due to deep slashes like the nearby axe would have been capable of. The dwarf’s curious eye caught that the body also bore claw-born gashes..five-fingered human-sized claws that bore the same smell of old death that the axe blade was in fact encrusted with. The smell was strong enough that it was making the humans queasy, and even the scientifically-minded dwarf wanted a good stiff drink.
Leaving the scene in the care of the town guards, the party of heroes turned investigators returned to the jailhouse to speak with Valentine’s friend the Sheriff. As he absorbed what he was being told, the Sheriff recognized that this crime would again require a special skill set. Retrieving a box of tin stars from a shelf, the Sheriff deputized the party giving them the legal recourse to follow this case’s leads where-so-ever in this township they may lead. Despite his official disdain for such titles of office, the dwarf let a tingle of illogical pride ripple through him even as he noted the queasy expression on the gunslinger at having to bear the ‘weight’ implied by this symbol of authority.