Sometimes the Wilderness gets too close for comfort. Rosehaven Stables, at the edge of the city, was attacked by something from the wilderness, which killed two of Stephanie Rose’s prize horses. Stephanie was very upset, and was thankful to have the help of the somewhat motley crew. The horse carcasses showed signs of mauling and the majority of the horse flesh had been dragged off.
Gilwen knew this was going to be a welcome challenge, she could sense the thrill of the hunt and was already following the tracks while the group investigated around the stables. According to Wraith, the last he remembered hearing about such an attack of gruesome violence was four years ealier, and then it had been humans at a farm in the outskirts of town. Sauveli questiond George, the stablehand, as to whether he had noticed anything unusual. George told them that he had discovered a hole in the ground out near where he dumps the refuse from mucking out the stables. It is at the edge of the woods where he also throws the food garbage and clippings from Rosehaven’s numerous gardens. He assumed at that time that Stephanie had dug out soil for a garden project, but noted that the hole looked like it went down and into the soil further than he could see.
Krifo, Illyana, and Hagan aided Gilwen as she tracked strange pin point-like prints with what looked like dragged swords in the forest floor. Thinking back to her training, questions from her friends prompted recollections of the type of beast they were dealing with- Kruthiks. These kruthiks attack as a group, mauling their prey and dragging it back in pieces to consume. The friends checked for tunnels just below the surface. They live in burrowed dens, where they lay their eggs and the hatchlings grow larger and metamorphosize into adults later on. They realized that the forest floor around them was riddled with mole-like tunnels whose upset mounds just barely shown above the forest floor covering.
Taking to the trees for safety, Illyana and Wraith perched in the branches while they plotted their next move. Would they try to kick in a tunnel? Try to enter the tunnel and fight the kruthiks in their dens? No, the tight tunnels and small dens were not suitable for such a fight and would only lead to disaster. Wraith smiled slowly and glanced around at his companions, who all recognized that look. Wraith pointed to a spot on the ground in the middle of where the tunnels would be, and suddenly a large “mooooooooooo” of a cow sounded. Suddenly eight kruthik hatchlings burst forth from the ground attacking with chitinous claws the cow they had heard. Much to their surprise, their claws reached for empty air as Wraith’s illusion became apparent. Gilwen chuckled as one hatchling was mauled as its fellow hatchling lept through the empty space and landed upon it. Surprising the kruthiks with the illusion, Wraith gained the advantage and burst forth fury upon the bodies of the hatchlings. Gilwen, so impressed by the display of magic, encouraged Wraith to work his magic just a little longer, almost taking out the entire group. Gilwen smiled as the remaining two were within her sights, letting loose a twin strike as accurate as death, she struck arrows through the eyes of the remaining kruthiks.
Wordlessly readying themselves for more to arrive, Krifo jumped to the shoulders of Sauveli. The kruthiks, upon hearing the tremors of Krifo moving, burst from the groud directly where Krifo had been standing. Claws and biting pincers slashed at Krifo and Sauveli. Sauveli stepped back only to charge forward again, goring the kruthik and launching Krifo, who flipped acrobatically and landed on the other side of the young kruthik, giving himself and Sauveli combat advantage. Illyana cursed her foe and went to work blasting it to the ground.
The adult kruthik emerged next to Hagan, who was prepared for battle after having blessed the party. He attacked the kruthik mauling at his feet. Before the mature kruthik could do any harm, he was brought down by the party in a flurry of blows and beatings.
The party was utilizing its strengths and covering its weaknesses, and acting as an efficient cadre of warriors. Hagan never had the experience of growing to manhood within a cadre of his own Shadar-Kai, but he was sure that his motley crew of friends was better than any Shadar-Kai war crew. His loyalty to his friends ran deeper than his ancestral blood lines.
Making sure the kruthik threat was completely removed, Krifo could not resist the lure of checking the tunnels for treasure. Tied to a rope which Sauveli held on the topside, Krifo started down the tunnels in search of shiny things. Despite his air of disinterested withdrawl, Wraith was worried about his diminuitive companion. He followed Krifo into the tunnels to make sure he didn’t get into any trouble. Krifo believes he is a dragon, therefore he often places himself in situations which are not exactly safe. The two searched the tunnels and found little other than more horse flesh, manure, chewed bridles of the dead horses, 50gp, and a key with an intricate rose design.
They returned to Stephanie at the stables, and Krifo willingly gave her the key. Stephanie was thrilled to have her store room key returned to her. The key was last seen with George, and it was assumed that the older horse (who tended to rifle through pockets and pouches in hunt of treats) must have nibbled it out and eaten it. She was so pleased with the removal of the threat and the return of her key, that she rewarded the group with magical items of a very special nature.
Stephanie offerred each companion a Bridle of Conjuration, with spirit horses that were carefully attuned to the personality of their masters.
For Krifo, Kalumann, -KA lu mann
Pinto, into good times and long walks on the beach. Likes dragons and midnight snacks. Great sense of humor. Usually apparates by stumbling onto the scene smelling vaguely of ale and carrots.
For Illyana, Thularka -Tu LAR ka
Dark almost black with red highlights in her mane. When first seen, she seems to be as any normal mount, but when she lifts her head, the red glow from her eyes becomes apparent.
For Hagan, Nightmare
Shimmering black, Nightmare materializes out of a deep purple haze as if he came straight from the Shadowfell to meet his Shadar-Kai master.
For Sauveli, Hasufel -HAS u fel (gray skin)
This proud destrier bursts into presence through a grey mist. His large size and powerful limbs support riders of, ahem, great stature.
For Gilwen, Roheryn -Ro he RYN (horse of the lady)
Roheryn apparates behind hedgerows, trees, boulders, and fences in an attempt to hide or stay low. She barely makes a sound as she picks her way through the woods.
For Wraith, Shadowein -Sha do WEIN
A blue roan appaloosa with a tenuous hold on this reality. Shifts into the realm by shadow, camoflauged texture morphs to the habitat until he is completely in form. When taking form, he either takes on the traits of the nearest horse, or at the will of his master, he will resemble another known horse. Shadowein prefers to walk subtly to the rear of the party, but when the time comes to run, only dust clouds remain.