Rasennan Summer

6 - Dangerous Ambuscades

The group finds that the other side of the ambush is scarce safer, and Master Whiteknees is at last brought to explain himself.

Ramilante returns the newly-widowed woman and her son to safety, and then rides quickly to Borsari to deliver the news. Opilio is overcome with anger at the tale of the murdered farmer, and sets out to join in on the ambush against the Kallikantos.

Opilio joins the other three as they’re completing their preparations. They set up the captured skull of blinding dust by a goblin corpse, the better for Vesper to destroy it with a necromantic word of unmaking, and turn a ploughshare into a sharpened trap to swing down from the upper potion of the barn. Vesper and Ettorio take watch in the hayloft, and Opilio and Roberto hide themselves in the stone-walled garden.

The first Kallikantos to arrive are a pair of scouts, with a single goblin hunt-servant. One has distinctive bronze vambraces; the other, a ragged ear and a hunting horn. Vesper advises Ettorio to let the Hairy Man blow the horn to call the others when trouble begins. And trouble does begin — one of the Kallikantos falls for the blinding trap, and the other is quickly beset. The two put up a fierce fight, and the ragged-eared Kallikantos does successfully wind his horn before being cut down; the group’s preparation is also rewarded when a wounded Hairy Man scout chases Ettorio and Vesper out of the barn yard, only to be slain by the ploughshare trap.

When the initial three goblinkin are dispatched, the group quickly braces for the rest, placing their flask of alchemist’s fire as another potential trap. Sure enough, a pair of burly Kallikantos come up the hill, with a small group of goblin game-beaters going before them. These are not quite as careless as the first group, and don’t blunder immediately into the fire trap. Worse, once battle is joined it’s revealed that they are only part of the hunting force; a murderous hunter with a bandolier of throwing hatchets comes in on one side to flank them, and a strangler with pale facepaint quickly closes on an already-embattled Ettorio and begins to garrote the luckless Iluni. The fight is particularly desperate, and the Rasennans manage to kill a pair of Kallikantos before two more Hairy Man archers bring up the rear. In the end, though, the four have more to fight for than their enemies do, and only one of the Kallikantos is able to flee into the night — though the Rasennans are in no condition to pursue.

The group rests out the night, then wheels off the bodies to the forest edge nearby and tidies up the farm as best they can. From there, they resolve to draw out Salzar before he can cause any more trouble. The group rides up to Potifol Whiteknees’ villa, Ettorio managing to convince the guards that he (a) has legitimate business with their master, and (b) is exceedingly drunk.

Once their host arrives, the treacherous landowner is quickly made to understand that his already grave situation has become graver still. He explains what he can of the situation: that Dorego’s predecessor discovered the Blackharvest Chapel some years ago and was quickly made into an example, that he has agreed to keep the plague-cult’s secrets, and that he has bargained with the cult via Salzar to drive Borsari from his lands in order that he might claim the land and sell off the timber rights to his Barcamir relatives. The group compels Whiteknees to dismiss his servants, and takes him to Borsari to await an inevitable appearance before Prince Temagli. Then they return to the quiet villa by dusk, light the green lamp in the tower to summon Salzar, and wait.

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