So that was it for Stormcrow Tor. We got in the landcart and drove away without a backward glance.
And it took but a glance to see that our next destination was not the shinning centre of civilisation we’d been led to expect. Patrahk’n was a collection of hovels and ill-favoured shanties with not so much as a fourth-rate flea-pit inn to boast of (well, not one with any beds, anyway). The only reason the population topped one hundred souls was that an influx of refugees, fleeing forced conversion by cultists of the Red Hand of Narash, had chosen to pitch their tents on the village green. If they thought Patrahk’n was to be their salvation and haven, they were in for a sore disappointment.
Here we were to deliver the landcart to Doria’s fellow-Gatekeeper, one Amisha. But the local publican – a dolt of the first order – provided the information that she was out of town.
With Whiskey and Klang seemingly determined to question everyone within earshot, I took the landcart for a final spin. It was almost like the old days – although of course I would never have got to drive back then.
No sooner had I returned, than a pathetically small force of cultists appeared out of nowhere and attacked the refugees. Though they inflicted some little damage on us in the process, there were only four fighters and a mage and we saw them off after a brief struggle. Naturally the local militia showed up as just as we finished, and Amisha and three of her Gatekeeper cohorts arrived not five minutes later again.
At least Amisha was able to give us better information than the locals. It seems the Red Hand cultists first emerged about five years ago, started to become a problem roughly a year since, and have become much more of threat in the last six months. Doria’s friend Jaryn – the one we had thought to go looking for – disappeared with four companions about the time the cult made their first big surge last year. He was last heard from six months ago, by means of a sending ritual. At that time he reported being deep in the borderlands, at the head of a trail he called the Black Road, and en route for the temple known as the Pillars of Night.
It was all very stirring stuff and when we restated our intention to search for Jaryn, Amisha brought us all drinks.
After that we were attacked by a herd of pink bugbears, Klang turned into a faerie (though I never saw the wizard who did it), and I danced with two giant badgers and a shambling mound who arrived when the band started up.
All in all it wasn’t a bad night.