Tale Six: We Can’t Stop Here, This is Gargoyle Country

Here we are again, my loyal fans and friends! It has been a full cycle of the moon since I last regaled you with one of my tales of daring and adventure. Prepare to be astounded and amazed by the prowess and skill of my companion’s deeds.

Last time, our powerful party entered Dagonsville, only to find it abandoned. We looked through several of the local establishments, finding a few useful items, but not a single person. After splitting up and rummaging through the various buildings on our own, we reconvened in the town square. In the centre of the square stood a fountain, surrounded by eight detailed statues, perhaps of historical villagers, or local nobles.

Hungry from our investigation, we entered the local public house. Inside a strange scene presented itself. Food rotted on plates, and stale beer still sat in mugs. It was as if the entire population of the village had simply disappeared, or perhaps evacuated at such short notice that they left their meals where they stood. While the food was mouldy, the alcohol in the beer should have preserved it against harm and I downed one of the mugs. It wasn’t the best beer I have drunk, but neither was it the worst.

Looking out the ground floor window, I noticed a pair of statues flanking the door. I hadn’t noticed them coming in, but it was entirely possible I had simply been focused on the free beer in front of me.

Suddenly, a roar came from the upper floor, accompanied by the sound of shattering glass. In the front window, I saw Demona plunge out of the sky. Her battle axe bit into the statue, tearing one of its arms from its body. Instead of shattering, blood poured from the stump. This was not a statue at all, but a gargoyle, its hide the texture of old stone. The creature staggered and fell to the ground, crying out and spraying blood over the cobblestones.

On the ground floor of the public house, near my side, Bel screamed at the violence outside. Fortunately, Aëlla was there to slap Bel back to her senses before she could draw undue attention.

Gesturing and muttering an incantation, William of the Smithy summoned an undead Bugbear, its bulging eyes glaring at our attackers. While he cast his spell, I kicked open the door of the pub and blared a tune at the four creatures still surrounding the fountain. The sonic blast appeared to stun them into immobility for the moment, leaving only the two by the door for our party to deal with.

Taking a step forward, the freshly summoned Bugbear swung at the other, unwounded gargoyle. Despite a powerful roar and a tremendous swing with its axe, the weapon didn’t connect. Dashing from her position next to her camel, Aëlla engaged the same gargoyle the Bugbear had failed to wound. Her scimitar flashed, and in its wake a long gash bloomed on the chest of the horrible creature.

Still looming beside the Pub, Will o’ the Smithy began invoking another spell. The air glowed around the magical construct’s hands, spinning and growing in intensity, Within moments, the heat and intensity forced me to avert my gaze. Shielding my face with my hands, I watched as a rolling boulder of flame blazed across the town square toward the four stone figures still standing by the fountain.

The gargoyle fighting Aëlla and the bugbear turned and lashed out at Bel as she approached. The creature’s claws bit into her flesh, drawing a torrent of blood. Still standing in the pub’s doorway, I raised my trumpet to my lips and played a song of inspiration for Demona, fuelling her rage. Filled with violent power, she roared, raised her axe above her head, and brought it down on the neck of the gargoyle lying on the ground in front of her. The blade severed the creature’s head, which rolled away, blood filling the cracks between the cobbles.

While Demona removed the gargoyle’s head, Aëlla took a quick look around. Seeing Bel had been wounded, she grabbed one of the potions hanging from her belt and tossed it to the rogue. Turning toward the centre of the town square, Aëlla cast soften stone on the gargoyles still standing by the fountain, causing their legs to deform, hopefully locking them in place.

A hot wind washed over me as William directed his flaming sphere back toward the centre of the fray, scorching the closest gargoyle. The monster’s skin blistered and cracked under the intense heat. Terrified by the fire, Aëlla’s camel, Sally, trotted a short distance away.

I still stood in the pub’s doorway and immediately to my left a gargoyle dodged and weaved away from the incoming strikes from both Demona and the summoned Bugbear. The gargoyle faced away from me and, sensing an opportunity, I drew my longsword and stabbed. My blade pierced the monster’s thigh and, when I withdrew it, blood spurted to the beat of the gargoyle’s heart. Taking advantage of the distraction, Demona swung her axe again and decapitated yet another of our enemies. The gargoyle’s head flew across the courtyard, passing within inches of Bel.

We all took a moment to collect ourselves. I carefully approached what we all had believed were another four gargoyles around the fountain. They weren’t gargoyles at all, just statues. Clearly our foes had been using them as cover. We still had to be wary, though, as we had originally counted eight statues. Somewhere, probably nearby, were at least two more gargoyles.

We had yet to discover what had happened to the town, so we went back inside the Inn. Taking a more thorough tact, each of us began looking over different parts of the ground floor. I sauntered between the tables and benches, looking for another mug of beer. I found one, and reached up to snag it. Nearby, Will, using his extensive knowledge of decomposition, was able to deduce that the food had been rotting for at least a month. I took a swig of the stale beer.

Will next examined the Inn’s guest ledger. The last person who rented a room was a ‘Sir Herrald’, five weeks ago. The town had been abandoned for more than a month and inhabited by gargoyles, but why? There didn’t seem to be any other clues to be found in the Inn.

We had originally come here to rendezvous with a group of soldiers, but they didn’t seem to be in town. After some discussion, everyone in the party decided that the soldiers had probably decamped for our mutual destination, the nearby troll-infested mountains. With the strangest noise I had ever heard, Will cast alter self and shifted his body into a cart. Aëlla harnessed Sally to Will the Wagon and we all piled in. Leaving Dagonsville, we took the high road to the dangerous territory ahead.

After a half hour of travel, we spotted several horses tied to a tree. No one accompanied the animals, so perhaps they were abandoned at the same time as the village. Suddenly, Bel loosed an arrow into the bushes by the side of the road. An answering arrow flashed over my head and planted itself in Bel’s neck. She crumpled to the floor of the Will wagon, almost instantly falling unconscious.

I dove for cover, making sure I was below the side of the wagon. I dug through my bag and extracted our orders, written on a square of velum. I carefully raised the document over the side rail and called out to the hidden attackers, asking if they were the soldiers we were sent to meet.

In response, four men in heavy plate armour emerged from cover, all armed to the teeth. One of them stepped forward and, in an unfamiliar accent confirmed they were sent to rendezvous with a group of adventurers. Raising myself up just enough to see over the side of the Will wagon, I watched the soldiers approach with a terrible sense of anticipation.

That’s all for this evening, fellow travellers. Come back next time to hear more thrilling adventures, powerful music and impossible transformations!