Following the tracks of their once ally Scary Poppits, the group found their way into a small settlement deep in the Barrens.
They managed to track Poppits down to a local inn, after hiring Malcolm, the local young sifter. It was not long after that a band of people who the party had previously talked about Poppits showed up on the inn’s stairs, reading to move out. No one seemed to pay much attention to the gathered party, despite knowing what – or rather who – they were after. Scary Poppits was amongst them, and that was when the anger got the best out of some from the party.
It didn’t matter who struck first, what mattered was that a party of lesser numbers decided to go against a professionally-looking band of culprits, not knowing what they were getting their heads into.
The battle raged on the main square, revealing that the apparent leader of the band – a smooth-talking Andari – was a runecaster himself, but of a more tremendous power that our beloved Professor Ferrence.
Timothy managed to sneak on the third floor, from where he provided a necessary covering fire, and Scary ate a few blasts that turned her decision from fighting into fleeing. She turned her gaze towards the town exit and started running. The shouts of John Doe sank in the uproar of something else that happened at that moment.
Professor thought cleverly that the party was not standing much of a chance against the band and did what he was doing best – summoning another extraplanar creature. And that was when the storm hit the surroundings. Brother Midnight – either caught in the fight, or failing on his sensing instincts – was helpless against the runestorm that appeared out of nowhere and in the next heartbeats covered the entire square, raising some sorts of red sand, preventing anyone to see clearly and hitting ground with soundless lightings.
Everything went mad after that. Some from the band perished in the next few moments, aimlessly running towards safety that didn’t exist. The Andari leader commanded his forces to follow him through that reddish mist that was blowing around, and in that fog of madness something came to life, abominations of the darkest nightmares, growling and seeking blood to fill their thirst.
Scary was already on the ground at that time – the initial runestorm ripped apart all formations and squandered people around as if they were just leaves in the wind. She hit the nearest news boards with her head and fell unconsciously. The second-in-command – a big brute ran towards her, taking something from the body. But he was quickly approached by brave – or stupid, as some might argue – John Doe, and the dance of skills swallowed both men.
Despite magnificent shooting from Brit, who was continuing to do so without actually seeing any of his targets, nothing really helped, and the brute eventually disengaged from the battle, upon seeing the worsening conditions of the maddened runestorm, and left the scene, disappearing in the mist.
The problems did not disappear, however, and both John Doe and Timothy along with Professor – the only ones who hadn’t still make it to the safety of the Shadow Temple, – faced those abominations, quick, fierce, unforgiving. They sliced both men effortlessly, leaving their bodies bleeding out when the lighting struck both of them. Professor – understanding his fruitlessness in that fight and losing it – ran past them, covered by his power from the rune magic.
When the dust settled, there was no town. Everything turned into ashes, burnt to the foundation, alone and helpless in the barren landscape.
A few of the Barren Knights approached the survivors, who started slowly pouring from inside the temple, not fully understanding what to do, clearly having had not seen anything like that storm before.
Scary Poppits was dead. She bled out whilst John tried to carry her away from that board. The documents were still on her, but the seal on that parcel was broken. But no one knew if that brute took anything else from the pack.
And at that moment, the fortune smiled upon the party – two of the knights, the upholders of the law in the barrens, carried the blonde pursuer, and, after a short conversation with their captain, he was destined to the gallows…
…a man of some ruined believes, he wasn’t against the idea of talking to Brother Midnight, spilling out a few necessary names and concluding what might have already crept in the party’s minds – that the Red Wings, the mysterious formation led by unknown people, was after all after the same person as the party.
It seemed that many answers lied in the hands of Doctor Smartperson – the one who the party was hired to locate in the very beginning of their misfortunes…