The Nature of Things

Kargak Revisited
Gregg and Mirrip report to Kargak...

With Shiraka and Mort heading to see Ulrik to report of their success, Gregg shows Mirrip the way to Kargak’s house, pointing out various sights along the way. When they arrive at Kargak’s house, Gregg knocks on the door and it is answered by Sid, who wordlessly shows them in and up to Kargak’s workroom, where the dwarf is speaking to a small boy and giving him some kind of item he has presumably just finished enchanting. When the boy turns to leave, he and Kargak notice the arrival of Gregg and Mirrip. who step out of the way to allow the young human to leave. Kargak, meanwhlie, welcomes the two, querying the absence of Mort and Shiraka but being quickly reassured by Gregg, who also introduces Mirrip.
Kargak suggests they go downstairs, where they can sit more comfortably and talk about things, so Gregg and Mirrip return to the main room below and make themselves comfortable. Gregg then fills Kargak in on what happened at Downdale, Mirrip offering a few words here and there. Gregg also mentions the snake pendant and the strange thin knife, placing them on a small table nearby so that Kargak can have a look at them. The dwarf does so, and requests that Gregg let him keep the items for a little while in order to discern what he can from them, though his first impressions of the pendant are that it isn’t magical.
At this point, Shiraka and Mort arrive, having finished their visit with Ulrik and headed straight for Kargak’s house. They are welcomed and sit down to join the conversation – Gregg fills them in on how much he’s told Kargak so far, while Mort mentions the free rooms they’ve been granted at the inn. The minotaur also queries the nature of the magic in his sword, expressing concern over its apparent “desire” to inflict harm. Kargak reassures him that such a hunger is only a property of the sword, and won’t rub off on Mort in any way.
Shiraka, meanwhile, subtly points out that there is still one more thing they have to show Kargak. Thus reminded, Gregg digs out the little goat figurine and shows it to the dwarf, who seems instantly intrigued by it and studies it closely – Mirrip notices that the dwarf seems to recognise it and Kargak confirms this, saying this is because he made it. The dwarf explains that the little goat is just a toy, and that once given a name, that name can be invoked to have the creature perform simple actions – jump, dance, etc. He doesn’t remember the name of the child he made it for, but recalls that it was probably a girl. He suggests that the group hang on to the little goat, in case they ever happen to come across Bannek again, in which case the human may wish to keep a memento of his old home.
Gregg and Mort then ask Kargak if he’s had any news of Bannek, or of the robed mage from the bandit camp. He hasn’t, though, and so Gregg decides to change the subject by asking about the object he’d seen the dwarf giving the boy when they arrived. Kargak explains that it was simply the head of a shovel, magically enchanted to be stronger after the boy’s father accidentally broke his previous shovel when he unexpectedly struck some hard stone whilst digging. The dwarf then inquires as to whether the enchantments he placed on the group’s weapons have been met with satisfaction – the group answers affirmatively. Kargak seems pleased, and, by way of thanks for bringing him an enchanted item (the knife, whatever its uses may be) and for clearing the darkness out of Downdale, offers to enchant the group’s armour as well, including Mirrip’s.
Kargak says that he will enchant the armour (which the group now leaves with him), investigate the pendant and knife, and write a letter to his Circle contact updating her with all this latest news, and then send Sid to find one of the group members when he’s ready. He says it will most likely be at least a day or two. The group thanks the dwarf for his services, and leaves to make themselves busy until they next hear news.

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Return to Farwatch
After a few more discussions, the group returns to Farwatch...

While Gregg reads his spellbook and explains the workings of his magic to nearby murafu, and while Mirrip chats to those murafu sitting with him, Mort takes Shiraka aside and the two speak privately for some time, continuing their discussion from before on the nature of “Good” and “Evil” and of how they view people. The discussion also includes the matter of Gregg’s unwilingness to share details about himself, something Mort had never really considered before. While Shiraka accepts that perhaps this is merely because Gregg truly doesn’t think there’s anything to be gained from sharing such details, she expresses her mild annoyance at the fact the human is so abrupt in brushing off such inquiries. The conversation causes Mort to start wondering about the nature of his friend, and whether he’s actually got anything to hide.
After their conversation, the two return to the campsite and the group settles down to sleep (accompanied by murafu, as before). The next morning, Mort wakes to find Mirrip and Shiraka have already woken and are waiting in the other clearing. Mort takes a few minutes to run through his sword moves before waking Gregg and preparing breakfast while the wizard memorises his spells for the day. A couple of murafu come over and tell them that Shiraka and Mirrip are waiting for them, so they finish up and head over to meet them.
As the group bids farewell to the murafu, some of them run over and say that Gregg’s query the previous day as to whether they have art or whether they create things has prompted them to demonstrate that they do. Though the Murafu don’t really have a concept of giving physical gifts to people, this is something they’ve seen among other races and so offer gifts to the group (except Mirrip, who’s mostly considered a murafu anyway, as far as they’re concerned) – small wooden carvings, made by the gnawing teeth of murafu. Mort is given a minotaur, Shiraka a wolf, and Gregg, because of something he asked about the previous day, a hand. The murafu acknowledge that they know it isn’t what he wanted for his magic, but that they thought he might like it anyway. The three accept their gifts, Mort and Gregg feeling obliged to return the favour – Gregg gives over his inquisitive’s kit and Mort his sling and bullets, both explaining ways in which the Murafu might find uses for them. Mort also mentions Meeka, the small girl in Farwatch, and says that she might love one of these carvings. Mirrip says that he can have a poke around near the village and see whether there are any murafu nearby, in which case he’s sure they’d be happy to make a little carving for the girl.
The group sets out, intending to possibly stop by at any villages they pass on the way in order to pass on news about Downdale. However, looking more closely at signposts this time, they find that the nearest village is Farwatch anyway (at least, as the roads go). Deciding to simply head straight back there, then, the group has an uneventful walk of just over six hours, since Downdale is about 20 miles from Farwatch. They arrive back at Farwatch and are greeted by a guard at the entrance to the village, who recognises the group (except Mirrip, of course) and welcomes them back. He also welcomes Mirrip to the village.
They pass the guard and enter the village, deciding to split up in order to take their news to both Kargak and Ulrik at the same time – Gregg and Mirrip head off to see Kargak (the latter being very interested in meeting Sid), while Mort and Shiraka seek out Ulrik, finding the elder in his house and being greeted and shown inside. There, they sit and Mort describes what the group found in Downdale, and that they have killed the necromancer responsible for the slaughter of the villagers. Ulrik passes on his thanks for what has been achieved, also thanking them on behalf of the villagers (those of Downdale as well as of the surrounding villages). He also expresses an interest in meeting Mirrip, whom Mort has mentioned in relation to their investigation of Downdale.
Mort then inquires as to whether there is somewhere the group can stay for the duration of their time in Farwatch – Ulrik says that they are welcome to stay in the Shining Moon and that he will cover all of their expenses.
Mort and Shiraka then bid Ulrik farewell and depart, leaving the elder to his work.

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Cleaning Up and Conversation
The group decides what to do next...

Ae the foursome walks back toward the area occupied by murafu, Gregg asks Mirrip if he’d like to accompany them back to Farwatch, in order to meet the people there and possibly tell them about the existence of the Murafu, with a view to getting the little creatures recognised as sentient and friendly beings rather than oversized vermin or strange demonic entities which, according to Mirrip, is how many other people seem to see them. The half-elf is reluctant to simply tell strangers about his people, but says he’ll give it some thought and possibly bring up the subject should the occasion arise at a later date with someone important. Gregg and Mortaar also decide that before they head back to Farwatch, they’ll stop at any nearby villages they happen to pass and tell the inhabitants of what’s happened at Downdale.
Some murafu await the group as they reach the treeline, and accompany them (in an ever-growing crowd) back to the spot where the group first met them the previous day. After exchanging greetings with the locals (during which time Mirrip explains to them what the group has achieved in the village), Mirrip leads the group to a nearby stream where they can clean the mess from their swords and have a drink.
As he works at cleaning his blades, Mirrip asks for further information about Farwatch – Gregg and Mort tell him about the “Man in the Moon”, and about Kargak and Sid. Mirrip is fascinated by the sound of Sid, and is eager to see Farwatch for himself.
The conversation then takes a slightly more philosophical turn, and branches off from Gregg mentioning Shiraka’s desire to learn about those she travels with, moving on to the subject of the definitions of “Good” and “Evil”. Shiraka and Mort exchange many words on the subject, though neither becomes irate or raises their voice. There is also a sort of “offshoot” discussion about the Murafu and their apparent inability to lie, or to even really understand the concept of deceit. During her discussion with Mort, Shiraka happens to mention his name for the first time (something she had previously told Gregg that she only does with people who’ve earned her respect), though Mort doesn’t seem to notice, Gregg either doesn’t notice or doesn’t say anything, and Mirrip doesn’t know about it.
The discussin peters out and Gregg suggests that they do something else – Mirrip suggests that they go back to the spot with the campfire where they spent the previous night, and when all agree to go, leads them there, lighting a fire as he did the previous evening. The group then sits around to continue talking, Gregg taking a few moments to have a closer look at the everburning torch he took from the necromancer’s cave (and making several nearby murafu nervous in the process, as their species has an innate fear of fire). Mort seems lost in thought, and Shiraka just seems her usual self, as does Mirrip.

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The Death of Death
Battling the scourge of Downdale...

The group enters battle with the necromancer and his assorted forces – several zombies and skeletons, plus the necromancer’s own powers cast through his staff. The necromancer does little beyond shouting and screaming, firing greenish bolts at the party – Mort gets hit a couple of times, and is immobilised but fortunately not hurt too badly. Meanwhile Mirrip works mainly on taking down the zombies and skeletons, while Shiraka moves herself and her spirit companion into the fray, summoning up a riotous storm of angry spirits to damage and knock down nearly all the surrounding undead.
Eventually, some of the group manages to work their way around behind the altar to take down the necromancer himself – Mort manages to free himself from the effects of the necromantic bolts in order to run around and deal a hefty blow to the ragged-robed man, though this causes him to screech incoherently and summon up several more zombies from the various corpse piles in the room. Fortunately, at this point, Shiraka’s spirit companion comes to join in, dealing a blow which finishes off the necromancer and causes all the remaining undead in the room to collapse, becoming lifeless corpses once again. The necromancer’s staff is also destroyed, smashing against the altar as the necromancer drops it on his way down.
Mortaar decapitates the slain necromancer and smashes his staff into further pieces, venting his rage in the process and ensuring that there’s no way the staff or its wielder can ever be active again. Shiraka comes over and heals both Mort and herself, and the group then searches the room and discusses theories about the necromancer – Shiraka suggests that the bodies are all those of the villagers, and that the necromancer, when he first attacked, would have only needed to kill a few of them in secret in order to make the job progressively easier as he rose his victims as zombies in order to help kill other villagers.
The group notices that the corpses in the room don’t look as though they’ve been dead ten years, though the state of the clothing on them suggests that they have been here that long. Each corpse seems to have a small cut on it, the blood from which is not fully dry. Gregg, while distastefully searching the body of the necromancer, finds a strange, thin knife which Shiraka compares to the cuts on the bodies and determines that the blade could have dealt them.
The group also finds a few other objects in the room – besides junk, they find a few gold coins, an everburning torch (the room’s light source, hanging from the ceiling), and a strange tarnished silver pendant in the shape of an encircling snake.
The group then wonders what to do about the bodies in the cave. They end up laying them out respectfully (apart from that of the necromancer, which is disposed of outside somewhere) and then finding the trapdoor for the cellar (among the furniture and other things just outside the doorway of the tavern) and laying it over the opening, blocking and covering it with various other things they can find. They also then make some kind of sign and place it nearby, describing what happened and what is in the cellar, should anyone discover the place in the future (such as the Circle).
The group then searches the village, finding various corpses and bone piles lying as though they had collapsed en route to the tavern. They also find various other pieces of unusable equipment (particularly in and around what is obviously the remains of the smithy), and Mort manages to uncover a strange small figurine of a goat, which looks like it has been carefully made and with joints that look as though they’re articulated to move.
After searching the village, the group congregates near the ruined remains of the village well and decides what to do next – Mirrip wants to return to his people and inform them that Downdale is now free of the undead. He is happy for the group to join him and they all decide to do so, in order to rest up before heading back to Farwatch.

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Village of Undeath
The group face more undead as they search the ruins of Downdale...

The group head down into the village of Downdale, finding that the buildings are nearly all in ruins and that there are large heaps of debris everywhere, while plants grow in the road and in and around the desolate buildings, msot of which are little more than ruined walls and a caved-in roof.
As the group heads slowly south along the road, toward the main crossroads of the village, Shiraka spots what appears to be a heap of bones lying in the road, south of the junction. As the group reaches the crossroads, this pile of bones stands up, as do several others among the nearby buildings. The group face several skeletons, as well as a couple of human zombies and even two canine ones. However, after battle ensues, the undead are reduced to the merely dead, lifeless bodies and broken bones lying about the place.
The group then decides to explore a larger building at the end of the south road, evidently the tavern of Downdale, though the sign has been torn down so there’s no way of telling what it was once called. The furniture has been cast out into the area outside the tavern and the door has been torn off. The group enters, passing through the tavern’s common room and through into the back room, following a kind of “path” they notice that has been cleared in the debris on the ground. In this back room they find the entrance to the cellar – a square hole in the ground whose trapdoor has been removed.
Descending the stone steps through this opening, they find themselves in the cellar, casks smashed and alcohol presumably long since dried up. The first room of the cellar leads through into a second, which has a gaping hole torn in the far wall – the “path” leads here, and the group cautiously advances. Shiraka and Mirrip both pick up on sounds coming from around a sharp corner in the tunnel, and the group ventures round and finds themselves at the entrance to a large room, currently occupied by numerous undead, heaps of bodies, a crude altar, and, behind the altar, a man in a dark robe who immediately sees them and screeches at them, apparently outraged by the presence of living things in his little sanctum. The undead, as one, all turn to face this group of intruders.

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Of Mirrip, Murafu, and Magic
The group gets to know some new friends...

The group discuss tactics with Mirrip regarding their upcoming visit to the remains of the village of Downdale. They each discuss their preferred method of combat and decide how best to arrange themselves during the likely battles they’ll be engaged in against whatever undead are left in the village, as well as whatever else might be lurking. At Mort’s request, Mirrip draws a very rough map in the dirt, showing roughly where various buildings are (though he himself has never managed to get close enough to see specifically what they might once have been used for). Since the road curves around the side of the bowl as it descends and finally enters the town from the eastern edge, the group decides it might be better to approach from a different direction, and so plan to enter from the north, along a road which looks similar to Farwatch’s Divine Path.
Having made their plans and with little else to discuss on that subject for the time being, Shiraka asks Mirrip about his past. The half-elf explains that when he was very young (not more than perhaps two or three years old), he was travelling with his mother (a human) among a group of humans, though no-one in the group was apparently aware that he was a half-elf. There was also a male elf following the group in secret – as they were passing through lands inhabited by murafu, the rattish creatures had been watching this procession with curiosity, though keeping themselves hidden. At some point the humans discovered that Mirrip was a half-elf, and killed his mother – presumably she and the hidden elf had been secret lovers. At the point of the woman’s death, the elf burst out in great distress but was also killed. The humans then abandoned Mirrip and continued on their way.
The nearby murafu, having seen all this, moved in once the humans had gone and took Mirrip to their own homes. As they were in a valley pass between mountains close to Winter, and as Mirrip was so young, they couldn’t take him to any kind of human or elven settlement in order to be raised there, so brought him up themselves, teaching him their ways but also not hiding his origins. A few years later, when Mirrip was still a boy but old enough to walk around and find his way, he would travel with various groups of murafu and learned more of the world. Eventually he was capable enough to travel alone and so made his way through the world, eventually finding his way up through the Wanderers’ Way and into Embrachal, where he arrived some weeks ago and has apparently stayed with (or close to) this group of murafu ever since.
Though Gregg and Mort seem somewhat shocked at the cruelty of the humans in Mirrip’s tale, the half-elf himself says that he doesn’t remember it as he was so young, so can’t really miss his parents as he never really knew them. He is immensely grateful to the Murafu for everything they’ve done for him, and says he would do whatever he could to protect them if they came under threat.
The other group members then share their stories (with varying degrees of detail) with Mirrip. Then, as it’s now become dark and they’re tired from their various exertions of the day, the half-elf suggests that they get some sleep and assures them that if they don’t want any murafu tying to curl up to them in the night, they just have to say so – it seems that the rattish creatures are a highly tactile species, and seem to like sitting or snuggling against each other, or against whomever will let them. Mirrip is almost buried beneath a heap of the creatures, and neither Gregg, Mort, nor Shiraka offer any open objection to having murafu sleeping with them either.
Gregg stays up for some time, speaking to his own little group of murafu about the way his magic works, also asking them about their own views on the subject – they don’t seem to understand Divine magic, and can’t read so are incapable of using Arcane. But they tell Gregg that occasionally there is a murafu who can wield magic, and usually finds that they can do so when one of their number is hurt and they want that individual to get better and then find that they suddenly do so. This, coupled with the fact that the Murafu seem very knowledgeable about the way the Elements work, presumably means that any magic they use is Primal in nature. However, they say that for them, they are happy to have no magic at all, lest they become dependent on it and forget how to do physical things like climbing and jumping and relying on their natural senses to keep alert for predators and other dangers.
The murafu are highly talkative and asking a question of one of them seems to invite a response from numerous others, each taking it in turns to give part of an answer before another murafu continues from where the previous one left off. They continue to talk with Gregg for a while, until eventually he becomes too tired and falls asleep.
Once the group is awake the next morning, Shiraka, who has been talking to some murafu whilst waiting for the others to wake (as she was the first to do so), briefly summons her spirit companion in order to show the gathered murafu what it looks like, so that she doesn’t inadvertently scare them should she need to summon it near them at a later date. The murafu are fascinated and Mirrip casually inquires as to whether the companion is some kind of ancestor spirit, hence its shape – Shiraka is surprised and said she has never considered this, always believing that the spirit is in the shape of a werewolf merely because she wishes it to be. She acknowledges that perhaps some inner part of her has been influenced by the spirits of the past and so subtly shaped her decision as to what form she should give her spirit companion.
Gregg has been reading his spellbook, memorising his spells for the day ahead, and has Mort test out his Shield spell for him by asking the minotaur to hit him. Having found that the spell does indeed work (though a little too late to prevent a slap across the face), Gregg is satisfied and, after the demonstration of the spirit companion, gathers this things together and joins the rest of the group as they follow Mirrip back to the clearing where the half-elf left his swords the day before – they are where he left them and, after saying a brief goodbye to some young murafu hidden in a burrow, as well as to the main group of the creatures (who surround both him and the rest of the group much as they did yesterday, this time to say a hopefully temporary goodbye), leads the others through the forest, further down the bowl in the direction of Downdale.
After a while the trees thin out, and the group can see the ruined village ahead of them, down the bowl and across a more open stretch of ground dotted with a few trees. As the group leaves the main treeline, a cluster of murafu, who had followed them, stays behind in cover and watches them go.

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The Murafu
The group befriends some strange creatures...

The group are surrounded by the strange rat-creatures, who turn out (of course ;)) to be a species called the Murafu – peaceful, sentient creatures who are physically very similar to rats (aside from their size, and a difference in the shapes of their forepaws, as well as the gleam of sentience in their eyes). They happily exchange information with the group, while Mirrip sits nearby and joins in every now and then, answering any questions the group may have. He mentions that he was found by murafu when he was very young, and so was raised by them, and since has travelled the world to some extent, recently arriving at the area near Downdale and getting to know the murafu there.
The little creatures listen eagerly to everything the group has to say, immediately sharing the information among themselves and passing it on to some others peering out of a burrow nearby (though it isn’t clear why some of the murafu seem unwilling to come over and join the group). They are also happy to answer any questions the group asks them, now mostly slowing their rate of speech enough that they can be understood reasonably well. Though Shiraka and Mort ask little between them, Gregg is eager for information and asks many questions about the Murafu and their nature.
As talk turns toward the subject of Downdale, Mirrip suggests that the group join him for some food, and leads them a short distance to an area he appears to have already set up as a kind of camp site – it has a currently-unlit campfire with several logs and boulders arranged around it. He puts some wood onto the fire and then lights it using a piece of magic flint, enabling the resultant campfire to burn soundlessly and without smoke. Several murafu then appear with fruits which they pile near the fire, and Mirrip shows the group how the fruits can be cooked over the fire, explaining that he thinks they taste better this way. Gregg and Shiraka also take out their own rations and the group begins discussing tactics in preparation for their visit to Downdale the following day.

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To Downdale
The group sets out for the ruined village...

The group departs Farwatch and follows the road through fertile countryside in the direction of Downdale, at one point stopping to ask directions from a passing farmer. The village is simple enough to find, however, as signposts pointing to it still stand (though have had the name crossed out). The journey takes several hours, and it is getting toward late afternoon as they climb the hill that shapes the “bowl” containing whatever’s left of the village.
As the (now rather overgrown) road climbs, it snakes back and forth, following a gradual climb up the hill which presumably was to allow wagons to safely negotiate the trip in previous years. Shiraka suggests that they leave the road, suggesting that it will be quicker to simply walk straight up the hill. Gregg and Mort both agree and so they leave the path and travel directly uphill through the forested area, eventually coming to the “rim of the bowl”.
The land directly in front of them drops away briefly at this point, which fortunately allows them a largely unrestricted view of the bowl and its contents – the ruins of Downdale (apparently little more than crumbling walls and caved-in buildings) are visible in the distance, still a few miles away.
Shiraka climbs a tree to see if she can spot the road, and reports back that it is visible off to the group’s right. The group, therefore, decides it might be better to approach the village from the other direction (so that whatever lurks there will hopefully not see them coming), and the three of them start making their way around the rim of the bowl.
After a while of walking this way, Shiraka suddenly alerts the group to the fact that she can hear something – she says it is the sound of fighting, and when Gregg and Mort agree that it might be worth investigating, bounds off in the direction of the sound (a little way down into the bowl from where they are), the other two following close behind.
They arrive in a small clearing to find a stranger fighting a group of undead – several rather decrepit-looking skeletons and a couple of rather rotten zombies. The group assists the stranger in destroying the undead, Shiraka healing him afterwards, and he introduces himself as Mirrip, a talkative, amicable half-elf who wields two swords (a scimitar and a short sword), though also carries a small hand crossbow at his belt. Mirrip thanks the group for the assistance and exchanges information with them regarding their presence near Downdale – Mort explains they have come to investigate what happened there, while Mirrip says that he was hoping to find whatever’s causing the undead and stop it as it is causing some disturbance among his people. He then suggests that the group accompany him back to his people, since they may not have enough time now to fully investigate the village before it gets dark.
Although he is asked, he declines to mention, for now, exactly who or what “his people” are. He makes an odd request, though, on looking at the group and deciding they’re probably used to making their own way with regards to survival – he asks that the group never try to hunt or harm his people, adding that he is rather protective of them. Further mystified and intrigued, the group agrees, saying they won’t harm anything that doesn’t try to harm them. Mirrip seems happy with this, and leads the group further around the bowl (although not much deeper in) to a larger clearing, this one containing numerous boulders, large tree roots, and all manner of small cracks and crevices.
As the group has approached this area from a higher point, Mirrip asks them to wait while he goes down, then does so, kneeling on the ground in the middle of the space and laying his weapons on the ground. Almost immediately he is mobbed by a horde of creatures which appear to be giant rats, though the group quickly sees that they aren’t attacking him but seem to be greeting him, jumping at him excitedly and swarming over his arms and lap. Mirrip himself seems delighted, laughing aloud as the creatures clamber over him. He then apparently speaks to them, indicating the presence of the group – as all eyes fall on them, the three climb down to join Mirrip.
Shiraka having reached the bottom first, she seems to immediately accept that these creatures are both sentient and curious, and tells them they may greet her provided they don’t try to take any of her belongings. As with Mirrip, the creatures immediately rush her, but take longer to investigate, sniffing eagerly and excitedly as she kneels among them. Gregg and Mort follow suit, the latter leaving his sword on the ground as Mirrip has done. Neither of them have seen creatures like this before, and they can just about make out words amid the excited chattering – Gregg manages to pick out that the creatures are deluging the group with a barrage of questions, asking who they are and so on, as well as making excited comments about how interesting they seem, and so on. Their voices have a rather high pitch, almost like that of a child, though not so high-pitched as to grate on the ears.
Shiraka, meanwhile, looks closely at one of them (gently holding the creature still so she can get a better look). She comments that the creatures aren’t true rats – their paws are different, and there is the look of sentience in their eyes. Both Mirrip and the rat-creature confirm this, the latter slowing down its speech a little so that it can be understood. Mirrip himself seems happy, and has been watching the interactions with a smile on his face – several of the rat-creatures are snuggled up against him as he sits on the ground near the group.

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Return to Durneg's Camp
The group revisit the bandit camp...

The group spends some time in the tavern, talking amongst themselves about the Circle and about each other (though Gregg remains evasive about his own past). Mort visits the village hall once again and asks the former prisoners for their names and for information on where they live, intending to perhaps help escort them home at some point.
After a couple more hours, a villager finds the group in the tavern (Mort having returned by this time) and informs them that Sid is waiting over by the well. The group departs and goes to find the homunculus, who is indeed waiting for them and who leads them back to Kargak’s house as soon as they approach. They are led upstairs to the workroom once again, and are greeted by Kargak, who returns their weapons to them, explaining the magic properties the items have now been imbued with. The group are pleased with their newly-enchanted equipment, and thank Kargak. Mort asks whether there’s anything the dwarf wants in return, and Kargak mentions that he’s always interested in acquiring new magical items which he can investigate. He also says that he might be able to help them again in future, though for now is somewhat tired from the enchanting he’s been doing.
Finally, the dwarf cautions them to be careful in their explorations of Downdale, and once again urges them not to go near any of the strange hooded figures (the ones from the bandit camp), should they see any.
The group then sets out, heading back toward the bandit camp by the route they came the previous night. Travel is much quicker this time, and the group covers the distance in half the time it took them before. Even climbing up the ledge in the forest isn’t too much of a problem. Finally, the group reaches the edge of the Farflow and can see the entrance to the bandit camp once again.
However, this time, things are different. The bridge has been repaired. There are a few columns of smoke, but none from the campfire that burned there before – on entering the camp, the group discover it has been almost utterly destroyed – though the stockade walls are still standing, every building has been destroyed (by fire or physical force, it seems), and there is no sign of any of the cages (not even pieces of melted or splintered metal in the case of the metal cages). Also, perhaps oddly, there are no bodies – whatever has struck the camp was either allied with the bandits, or chose to take them alive. Or perhaps the bandits simply fled before it struck. Whatever has happened, Shiraka can find no trail to follow, and advises against doing so anyway, on the basis that if the camp could be destroyed this completely, the three of them will stand little chance. She suggests that perhaps this was a deliberate show of power for those who might come to the bandit camp, as they have – after all, if this force could do all this and leave no trail, why would it need to repair the bridge to reach the camp?
With several possible conclusions to think about (though Gregg and Mort seem convinced the camp was destroyed by the bandits when they knew their secrets were going to be revealed by those who escaped), the group decide they may as well return to Farwatch and report their findings. They damage the bridge again, so that no-one else (they hope) will enter the camp, and then return to Farwatch, arriving in the early hours of the morning as they did the previous night.
Sid awaits them, and once again leads them to Kargak’s house, where the dwarf waits in his main room (on the ground floor) with Ulrik, the village elder. The two greet the group (while Sid disappears upstairs, presumably to take up his usual post), and proceed to explain between them that during the group’s absence, Komtor Sarumi returned to Farwatch, albeit rather briefly. He arranged for the former prisoners to be taken to wherever they need to go, and apparently spent some time speaking with Bannek before taking the human with him in his hasty departure to deal with some kind of urgent news he has received.
Kargak, during this explanation, mentions the Komtor claimed he would “make a decent example” of Bannek – Gregg is immediately upset, assuming the worst, and starts complaining loudly, revealing the remainder of his knowledge of the former bandit (that he was a survivor of what happened at Downdale, and that Durneg took him in and subtly helped him). While Mort grumbles to himself, annoyed at having supposedly wasted time returning to the camp and therefore missing the Komtor’s return, Ulrik is confused at Gregg’s view on things, clearly not understanding the meaning behind his words. Kargak, however, is clearly somewhat better-traveller (or at least, in possession of a greater knowledge of realms outside of Embrachal), and hastily explains that “making a decent example” of Bannek means literally that – making an example in a good way, a former bandit being put on a new path, and that people aren’t simply put to death in this land because of things they might have done. Ulrik seems shocked by this very concept.
Meanwhile, talk turns to the subject of Downdale. Gregg and Mort wonder whether whatever struck that village is related to what is happening now. They also relate the news of what they found when they returned to the bandit camp, and Ulrik says that he and Kargak will see to it that the Circle is informed. Shiraka points out that whatever struck Downdale, as it was so long ago, may have nothing to do with the events at the bandit camp, a suggestion agreed with by Mort.
Ulrik, meanwhile, suggests that as the group have shared about as much information as they can for the time being, they should get some sleep. He says that though the former prisoners now no longer occupy the village hall, the bedding there has not yet been cleared away and the group are welcome to use it.
Kargak bids them farewell, saying he’ll be interested to know what they discover when they visit whatever’s left of Downdale. The group departs the dwarf’s house and heads, with Ulrik, back to the village hall – Ulrik sees them inside and then retires to his own home. The group settles down for the night and gets some sleep.
The next morning, some villagers come in and offer the group food – Shiraka takes hers outside to eat. Mort then heads over to the outpost to see about using their training grounds, while Gregg remains in the village hall, studying his spellbook.
Shiraka approaches Gregg, bringing up the subject of the three of them supposedly being a “pack”. She says that pack members need to be able to trust each other, but that she doesn’t trust Gregg because she has noticed the way he constantly evades any talk of himself. Gregg proves her right as he then tries to avoid the subject, saying his life isn’t important and that he wants people to judge him only by things he’s doing now and not by things he’s done in the past. Shiraka admits she can sort of see his reasoning, but says that he is a result of everything that has happened to him before, and so his past is by no means unimportant. Shiraka becomes rather annoyed, growling at Gregg and pointing out that she can see he is continuing to evade the subject. She accuses him of “hiding himself” from the rest of the group (or at least, from Shiraka – she is aware that she doesn’t know how much Mort knows about Gregg, since she doesn’t know how well they already know each other), and says that he’ll earn neither her trust nor her respect until he decides to be more open about himself. Gregg continues to evade, telling her he needs to study his spells so that he can cast them properly (or words to that effect). Shiraka angrily gives up, and implies that she may not remain with the group once they have completed their business in Downdale. She then leaves.
Mortaar, meanwhile, has been practising in the training ground, wielding his sword against the magically-strengthened training dummies there. Shiraka arrives, having headed there from the village hall after her argument with Gregg, but doesn’t mention this exchange to Mort. She instead says that due to her usual role in combat (as using her spirit companion to help and support others), it would be useful for her to see how Mort fights in order to better help him. The two exchange information about their various skills and powers, and Mort explains about his rage, saying he uses it as his source of strength but that sometimes it can fully overpower him and cause him to lash out even after all his foes have fallen. Shiraka asks whether there would be any way to calm him should this happen, and also offers to use one of her own spirit-powers, the ability to stop a person in their tracks, should Mort ever lose control of himself and attempt to attack someone he shouldn’t. She also suggests that perhaps her Path in life has led her so that she can guide him along his.
She then watches him train a while longer, until eventually he decides he’s had enough. They then go to meet up with Gregg in order to set out for Downdale, which they are told lies roughly south/southwest of Farwatch and which they will find if they follow the signposts along the road.

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The Man in the Moon
The group visit the local tavern...

While they wait for Mort to finish speaking with Ulrik, Gregg and Shiraka talk amongst themselves, the former asking the latter about what Kargak did with her totem and also inquiring about her origins. She tells him that Kargak gave her totem, along with a note, to some kind of large bird which apparently lives in one of the trees beside his house and took both items, flying away with them to presumably return later once the totem has been suitably enchanted.
On the subject of her origins, Shiraka explains that she used to live with a pack, a group of her fellow shifters, some way west of Farwatch near some mountains. She explains that as the duty of a shaman is to guide others, she left her people to see whether she might find anyone out in the world who needed such guidance. Gregg tells her that she is welcome to consider himself and Mort as part of her “pack”, a suggestion she considers but says she will not accept just yet as although both of them have earned some of her trust, they haven’t yet earned her full respect. She also mentions that those who lack this are never referred to by name when she speaks to or about them.
Meanwhile, Mort comes over and explains Ulrik’s suggestion that they seek out the “Man in the Moon” if they require information on Embrachal and its ways. The trio head over to the tavern, the Shining Moon, and enter – they are greeted by the Man in the Moon himself, Herford Dunsen, who welcomes them from his position behind the bar. He offers them a round of free drinks, having heard from the locals about the group’s actions regarding the bandits and the prisoners. Gregg and Mort then ask him various questions about the locality and the land in general (particularly the Circle and the Komtor), while Shiraka, having apparently never been inside a tavern before, takes up her usual position of listening to the conversation as it unfolds.
Herford reveals a wealth of information about the Circle, explaining the groups, known as Arcs, which make it up and also describing the general layout of Embrachal – where the main cities are, and several geographical locations of note, as well as the names for the four regions of the country (the Southlands, Northlands, Coastlands, and finally the desolate Grey Reaches).
On the nature of the local region, Herford mentions that there’s nothing much to really get excited about. He says that the only real troubles he’s known of have been the bandits and what happened to the village of Downdale. The group inquires further about this and he explains little more beyond what is already known – that it was attacked and the people apparently massacred by an unknown force a decade previously, and that no-one has dared venture there since, rumours passing around of unknown (and apparently unpleasant) creatures roaming around whatever’s left of the village.
Gregg, feeling somewhat guilty about his previous attitude toward Bannek, suggests that the group investigates the village, the ex-bandit’s former home, in order to perhaps return the favour of his kindness by finding out what happened there, so many years previous. Shiraka supports this suggestion, saying that any “unnatural creatures” bear investigation, as far as she’s concerned. Mort says nothing, but doesn’t disagree with the notion. Instead he suggests that the group retire to one of the tables in order to discuss and digest all this information.

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