Dawn of the Unflankables

Chapter 32: Training Day

The Unflankables arrive in Ravenswood, laden with their bounty. A small one-cell prison has been built while the rest of the jail is under construction. The heroes park in front of the town hall entrance, noting that there still isn’t an Unflankables Exclusive Parking Spot sign. Pineroot, Ulfgar, and Darksex head into the building and locate Barnabus. The bureaucrat asks how their trip to Addertown was and they give him their inaccurate rendition of events. They do warn him that the king of the Yuan-Ti is probably out to get them since he was the one who destroyed their prison. Barnabus tells them to drop their prisoners off at the temporary jail and he’ll meet them there with their payment.

The heroes head to the little cell where Fyvo Puleesman helps them lock Olaf and Cy away. Darksex does his part by jabbing them with his foot as they curse and whine. The heroes are impatient and head to a crusty old tavern to wait for Barnabus. Ryndir takes a nap while Azaghal boxes with his bed. Ulfgar, Pineroot, and Darksex head in to the tavern where they find several crusty old men sitting at the bar. Ulfgar has taken a vow of silence for the day in the name of his lord, so Pineroot and Darksex ask one of the old fellows about Fern Foundry. The inebriated gent tells them that it is an establishment built up in the trees of the Jungle of Orbs and that it is inhabited by militant elves. Ulfgar and Darksex don’t care much for hanging out with elves high up in the trees, and as the old man begins another story, they move on to the next crusty fellow down the line.

They ask the second man about Helios Isle. The man slurs that the island is a pretty nice place, mostly inhabited by halflings. They trade in fruit and fish. This settlement seems far more appealing to the three heroes and they decide amongst themselves to head northwest to reach the isle. While the crusty dudes begin telling each other old stories, Barnabus finds the heroes. He hands over a large sack of gold, the 1000 promised for the bounty. The three Unflankables decide to split it between themselves and head off to see Jack Carver.

Jack is making his rounds at his institute and greets the three heroes amiably. The heroes give him the same porous story about Addertown. Jack actually ponders the rumors he heard that there was a storm sorcerer leading the Yuan-Ti tribes. He plans to increase Ravenswood’s magical defenses. The heroes converse with Jack a little longer, covering topics like the “pumpkin spice” lotion he uses to keep his head sanitary and the purpose of Lunar Brew.

Finally, the heroes mention that they’re going to head to Helios Isle. Jack tells them that he has a friend that runs a training facility up next to The Bone Forest, which is on the way. Darksex and Pineroot laugh about the forest, and even Ulfgar lets out a quiet chuckle. When asked about its name, Jack explains that the forest got it’s name because there isn’t anything living in the forest. There had been a goblin civil war years ago and now the forest is filled with bones. The three heroes decide to keep an eye out for this facility and bid their farewells to Jack.

The Unflankables travel for most of the day, crossing a river and following up towards the forest in the distance. Nearing the forest, they spot a stone temple topped with a statue of a sphinx. Ulfgar doesn’t like the looks of it, but the heroes decide to approach anyway. Azaghal and Ryndir remain in the wagon with Smugs and Gale, doing who knows what. Pineroot reaches up, grabbing the great stone knockers of the double doors. The knockers are ram’s heads and the sound of the impact seems to echo.

Moments later a man opens the door. He is dressed in monkish robes, though he’s rather pudgy and his red hair is in rather short supply. He gets a surprise as Pineroot greets him with a flex, but his demeanor remains friendly. He introduces himself as Gord and invites them inside as he talks about the place. The temple is large, but rather empty on the inside. There are many doors and torches lining the walls, and various bits and bobs litter the corners. Gord explains that he and his wife wanted to create a training establishment and the strange empty temple seemed like a good fit. His wife doesn’t appear to be around, but he introduces them to his young daughter, Thane. He mentions that they hear goblin cries from the forest from time to time, but they’ve never seen any.

Gord offers to run the three heroes through a couple tests. They accept and they follow Gord through one of the doors. Before them is a long corridor filled with obstacles. Gord gives them the rundown of what they will encounter when making their way through the course. There are a number of stone outcroppings jutting from the walls, which incline towards a platform. At the top hangs a vine, which the heroes will use to swing down to a path of trapped tiles. After the tiles, are a trio of walls increasing in thickness. Beyond that are a series of pits filled with hot coals. Finally, a ramp leading to another vine, used to try and land on the target.

Pineroot decides to go first. Leaping up the outcroppings, leaves him a little winded, but he wastes no time in swinging down to the tiles. He glides his hand over the tiles quickly to determine which color holds the traps. This strategy works perfectly and he is soon at the next obstacle. The first wall is made of gravel and very thin. The patchy construction allows for plenty of fingerholds and Pineroot climbs over it easily. The second wall is made of clay bricks and slightly bigger. The gnome finds handholds in this wall too and he’s over in a jiffy. The third wall poses a problem. It is made of smooth stone and there is nowhere to fit his fingers. He tries several times to scale the wall with no success.

Finally his determination wins over and he gets a grip on the top of the wall. He soon realizes that the walls weren’t so bad as he tries to run across the hot coals. His shoes catch fire and he quickly tosses them. Unfortunately, that leaves him barefoot with two pits to go. Halfway through, he switches to his hands and expertly hand-runs over the rest of the coals. Despite the horrible pain, he dashes up the ramp and grabs the vine. He misses the target, but doesn’t care since he is rather focused on his burnt skin. Thane appears from a side door and gives the poor gnome some water and ointment to sooth his burns.

Darksex goes next. Right off the bat, he has trouble with the outcroppings. He loses no morale, however and misty steps to the top of the platform. He slides down the vine and easily skirts the tangled weeds at the bottom. He sends his shadow butler to test the trap tiles, determining which tiles to use and which to avoid. The magical dwarf reaches the three walls and spider climbs each of them without issue. He misty steps across the first two pits of coals and jogs across the final pit, getting a little hot. Feeling pretty good about his performance, he hurtles up the final ramp and jumps for the vine. Unfortunately, he misses completely and falls straight on his face.

Ulfgar finally takes his turn. He gets off to a slow start with the outcroppings and the first vine. However, he easily bypasses the trap tiles and is soon at the three walls. He winds up with his gauntlet of passive aggression and pulverizes the gravel wall. A moment later he pulverizes the clay wall in the same manner. He punches the third wall a few times, but only leaves a small crater. His aggression is pretty passive, however and wails on the wall some more. Punch after punch after punch and finally he has tunneled through to the other side. As he approaches the coals, he says a quick prayer. Soon enough, he is across all three pits, barely hot under the collar. The dwarf finishes strongly, swinging from the vine and landing directly on the target.

Gord congratulates the three of them on their performances and escorts them to another room. He tells them that this room has ten hidden tokens in it. The lights will be turned out so that even dark-vision won’t be effective for more than five feet. He warns them that there is a small stone golem at the other side with an eye of light. If he spots the heroes he will fire darts at them. If they are near a token, they will be able to feel its presence, but the presence could also be a trap.

The three heroes get ready as the door closes behind them and the lights are extinguished. Ulfgar quickly finds two tokens, followed by one from Darksex. Darksex tries to fall silently from tile to tile, but it’s not quiet enough. The tiny golem hits him with a couple darts. Ulfgar alternates between finding tokens and traps, while Pineroot continues searching for some tokens. Darksex continues taking darts to the face. Eventually, Pineroot begins to find some tokens, while Ulfgar begins to find less. In the end, each of the heroes gather a reasonable amount of tokens and only a couple traps. Darksex takes the award for darts however, and his shadow butler spends a few minutes plucking them from his face.

Gord offers to give them a meal of pheasant and potatoes, which the heroes gladly accept. He tells them that he can run a few more tests for them the following day. The two dwarves and gnome enjoy their meal and head back to their wagon to get a decent night’s sleep for the upcoming tests.

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snakeskinjones

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