The party is scattered around the northwest corner of the manor house. They successfully took down four men who had been trying to approach them under cover. One of the men was so muscular that he appeared to be wearing armor.
Two additional members of the Antar Watch, who had been with the party all along, but had spent last week guarding the rear, heard the noise of combat and had already rushed up the embankment and through the gap in the wall. They arrive at the manor house just as the last of the four bandits falls.
Andrew, a young shepherd from the hills, who hopes to hide his unnatural connection with nature from the world, rushed forward and tried to break through the service door at the northwestern corner of the manor. Unfortunately, he lacked the necessary strength and the door held. Simon, an experienced soldier, joined the effort, and together they forced open the door. Luck was on their side and the crossbow bolt fired by a man behind a wall of debris and rubble flew past the two of them and went harmlessly into the night.
Rowan, Iolaus, and Howl immediately moved toward the open door. Wilby, however, remains back, coving both the north and west walls of this very large manor house with his bow. Gemma falls back to hold watch as Andrew and Simon had done previously.
In short order, Andrew, Simon, and Rowan rush into the manor. The shadows of scattered debris stand out against the darkness of this vast room. Rowan takes cover behind the barricade that separates them from the crossbowman and another bandit with a sword. The man with the crossbow fires again, missing Rowan by inches. The hints of other men in the room rushing forward is evident from the sounds of boots on the tiled floor. Given the one hundred and twenty-foot wide expanse of the room, the only immediate danger is the two men on the other side of the barricade.
Andrew screams “smoke bomb” and suddenly a forty-food diameter cloud forms in the lower middle of the room. Rowan and Simon don’t seem to notice him lobbing something from his pouch, but the strange behavior of the smoke is a bit disconcerting. However, the cloud completely obscures the other side of the room.
Simon jumps over the barricade and slashes a deep gash in the arm of the crossbowman. Rowan fires off another arrow, but misses his target.
Iolaus and Howl follow into the cramped quarters near the door and then Iolaus follows Andrew around the barricade. Together they surround the bandits. Both Iolaus and Simon wield their swords like masters while Rowan continues to fire his bow, felling one man with an arrow through his eye. Andrew, shirks the trappings of the Watch and relies upon his shillelagh. Together with Felis’ power called down through Howl, the two bandits die quickly.
Other bandits, including a more heavily armored man, converge on the party, but everyone avoids the now quite obviously unnatural fog.
Simon and Andrew flank one of the bandits and with only a couple of blows, show what more formal training can do again men more used to intimidation and thievery. Iolaus, in turn, brings down his sword in a mighty swing that removes another bandit’s ear before cutting halfway through his neck.
Howl and Rowan, turn their attention to men south of their position. Unfortunately for Howl, Felis failed to deliver upon his request and the men remain uninjured.
Utilizing the cover of the fog, Andrew risks possible exposure as a warlock and summons a beast spirit to provide aid to him and his companions.
Iolaus and Simon contend with the heavily armored man, trading blows. Simon, protected by a chain armor is able to shrug off the blows, but Iolaus is not as lucky and feels the painful end of steel cut through his flesh.
The feminine cries of distress echo through the room, coming from the door to the south, where at least one soldier fled. Howl and Rowan leave cover and head toward the door.
Outside, Wilby spots a person moving away from the east side of the manor house and toward the enclosure wall. Wilby quickly offers pursuit and attempts to bring down the person with an arrow. However, the dark night hinders his aim and he misses his target.
Iolaus, Simon, and Andrew, who has stepped into the edge of his unnatural smoke bomb, finish off the bandit in chain armor by surrounding him.
Howl and Rowan make it through a pair of double doors and into what had been a grand dining hall, but now showing many signs of decay. Two men with bloody swords stand over the bodies of two woman. They are in front of a makeshift kitchen. Howl moves to his right to put distance between himself and the threat. The two men split, one through the double doors on the east side of the room, the other runs southwest. Rowan shoots the man fleeing to the front of the house, his arrow penetrating the man’s back and drops the coward in a rough tumble. Rowan, sensing the lightness of his quiver, calls out for more arrows.
Andrew, steps further into the fog and calls up powers that Felis would never grant and suddenly shifts into the form of a large rat.
Simon, having eliminated the immediate threats, follows behind Howl and Rowan into the old dining room. He spots the two woman on the floor, each of which took a sword to the gut, and rushes forward to administers aid to the closest one of them. Howl also rushes forward to help, but the second woman’s internal organs have spilled over the floor and his attempt to put them back has left him bloody.
They yell for Iolaus to perform healing and Simon drops his quiver for Rowan while he jumps up and chases after the man he was told fled through the doors.
Outside, Wilby continues to pursue the fleeing bandit. He struck the person twice with arrows, but Wilby himself had felt the pain of one of the bandit’s arrows. Before he can close the distance, the bandit disappears into the barn through the large open door. Wilby, still a significant distance away, continues to pursue with caution.
Inside the manor, Andrew spots the bandit, who had paused to check if everything was clear, moving through the open archways, past the edge of the fog, and back into the large hall. The bandit is intent on getting around the barricade to the door in the eastern wall. Simon throws caution to the wind and rushes after the fleeing man, ignoring a rat that runs past him and up onto the barricade.
An unnatural specter of a bear moves up behind the bandit who was struggling with a bar over the door. Simon, believing the man must be a warlock, leaps over the barricade and forces the man into combat. Working hard to kill him before the bandit can do more damage with magic, Simon slashes at the man.
Andrew, still a rat, spots a gap near the exterior doors and slips through their feet to the outside. He draws his bear through the people and door, bringing it outside and placing it on the large stone patio just in time for Wilby to see the translucent form of a large creature appear.
Wilby holds, uncertain of the new threat while Andrew, not seeing his companion, scales the stone exterior of the build and climbs through a window to enter the eastern room of the manor.
Rowan, who had followed after Simon, diverted to the hall to the eastern room at the same time Andrew enters the room. Rowan misses seeing the rat climb down the inside of the wall, but hears some disturbing sounds as Andrew hides among the scattered debris and returns to his human form. Seeing the room filled with debris and places where the ceiling had come down, Rowan retreats from the room despite the noise, or perhaps because of it.
Howl has moved up to check on the man Rowan killed in the dining hall and unhappily discovers the sword man appears to be little more than a servant with just a handful of copper coins on his person.
Iolaus, arriving at the side of the women, utilizes the power of Felis to heal the woman that Simon had stabilized. She was still bleeding, but Felis’ power knitted together the slashed skin and organs.
Andrew, not seeing anything of use in the room, busts out the window and starts making for the barn. Wilby, already having moved further in that direction, sees Andrew, but in the darkness, Andrew does not see Wilby. The two of them move toward the barn separately, with Wilby lagging slightly behind in an attempt to remain quiet and concealed. When Andrew reaches the barn, he turned around to close the door, which allowed Wilby a chance to sneak inside and hide behind a ladder into the hayloft.
Simon, still inside the house, removes the bar and heads outside to investigate the sound of boards and a window breaking. He sees the debris on the porch, hears the barn door close, so he heads for the barn.
Iolaus begins to question the woman who was nearly killed while Rowan and Howl start searching the rest of the manor for valuables, focusing on the chests and cots in the center room. Howl, had already discovered the second floor was inaccessible because of the collapsed roof as he made his way through what had been the front entrance hall.
Inside the barn, Andrew decides to take the shape of a wolf, not realizing Wilby was in the barn with him. In his new form, he utilizes his nose, looking for signs of others and discovers several ox, a horse, chickens, a crude forge, charcoal, and the recent presence of people. With a couple of leaps, Andrew is across the barn and trying to converse with the chickens.
Wilby, on the other hand, is unnerved by the obvious display of witchcraft and quickly moves into the hayloft (as wolves don’t climb, and there might still be bandits present).
Still inside the manor, Iolaus demands the woman tells him what is going on and who might be practicing witchcraft. The woman admittedly denies witchcraft, but her explanation of what is going on sounds off to the holy warrior and he commands her to “Confess!” To which, she will explain they are making weapons for the pending war, but she was only brought here to cook and act as a servant. She most definitely is not a witch.
In the barn, Simon slides open the door and comes inside. He misses seeing a wolf dash into an empty stall. A quick check of the wagon shows a couple dozen swords. None are fancy weapons, but they are all serviceable. Wilby announces himself and comes down the ladder, having found no one in the loft. The person he had tracked got away. He tries to direct Simon’s attention to the wolf, but the soldier is intent on the cart.
Simon calls on Wilby to help him hook an ox to the cart so they can carry the injured woman back to Antar for help. As they do that, Andrew slips out the open door of the barn and tries to track the path of a fleeing bandit. Unfortunately, the trail is lost near the wall when the wolf encounters dust that covers the ground and burns his nose. Giving up on the trail, he returns to human form.
Howl and Rowan continue to search. Behind the curtains in the main hall, they found a desk with papers that reflect the fact that the bandits had been scouting out other farmsteads as well as the two that had been robbed, with the families murdered.
They find a chest, but Rowan is unable to open it. Howl goes to the body of the well-armored man and searches for a key. He finds one, as well as some coins and an odd marker. The marker is old and bears the markings of the Burdger family. They do not reflect the specific markings of Duke Burdger, or his son Elard, but perhaps another line in that family tree. The marker would reflect a promise of a favor from the person who had it struck. For a while, Howl conceals the marker for himself, but then realizes if he should try to call in the favor from the man who made it, he would likely be killed as these types of tokens are not transferable. With that realization, he shares the discovery with the others.
After they finish a search of the manor, they find a handful of coins, plenty of weapons and armor, and count ten dead men and women inside the house, six dead outside, and one servant who has expressed a desire to surrender herself to the church. Wilby counts at least one who escaped through the barn and Howl realizes the person he put to sleep outside was never secured and that woman has also managed to escape.
Of the dead, Wilby suggests removing their heads and bringing those back in the wagon instead of trying to return with sixteen bodies. Andrew starts to dig holes to bury the bodies after the heads are removed. It will wait to be seen if he has the stamina to bury all of them.