[7 Mirtul 1372]
Having discovered a way to put the angry spirit of a dead woman to rest, Markus searches the mausoleum while Mellia stands guard. Inside, he finds a silver comb studded with moonstones underneath the skeletal remains of the woman, who had tried to claw her way out of the tomb. There appears to be little else of interest, and the group returns (with difficulty due to the high winds) to Xantharl's Keep and the seedy inn where they had been staying. The innkeeper is dismayed to see that they are still alive, as he had intended to sell the group's horses. An adamant Mellia makes him clean her room, while Ellywick uses Gnomish magicks to clean her's.
That evening, the group braves the weather and ventures over to the Falling Orc tavern. It's a crowded and lively place, full of villagers gambling with dice and trying to out do one another throwing daggers. A heavily armored sellsword named Antonov Vassily reluctantly decides to throw his lot in with the group, given how dangerous travel along the Long Road has been in recent months.
[8 Mirtul 1372]
The group sets off south. After a few hours' travel, they encounter a stream of refugees heading north, claiming that a wave of troll attacks has driven them out of their homes and farms. Some of the refugees discuss hiding behind spellcasters in Longsaddle or with the barbarians in Grunwald, but most have decided that only the thick walls of Mirabar offer real safety. No one seems to know why the trolls have left their traditional hunting grounds, the Evermoors.
Later, during a break for lunch, the group notices smoke rising in the distance and hears the faint sound of screams carried on the wind. Rushing to investigate, they see that a roadside hostel is on fire and that screams are coming from within. Within moments, a horrific sight emerges: a monstrous, 9-foot tall, 500 lb. troll. Fortunately there is only one, but the resulting battle is still a difficult one. Antonov almost bleeds to death from a vicious series of claw attacks, but Markus is able to safe his life just in time with a healing draught. Ellywick shoots arrow after arrow into the monstrosity, while Mellia manifests fire from her fingertips that hurts and enrages the beast. Cain tries to do the same, but is cursed by Kossuth for failing to obtain a proper, non-flammable holy symbol. A final arrow from Ellywick strikes the troll in the eye and drops it to the ground, and a revived Antonov decapitates it. The group quickly pushes the remains of the troll into the burning building before its flesh can magically regenerate.
Director's Commentary (October 23, 2013)
I liked playing the seedy innkeeper as one of those stock characters that always run cheap motels in movie and t.v. shows. You know, the balding, greasy guy with a paunch who doesn't really care what happens as long as you don't set the room on fire, but who's also always on the look-out for a way to score a few bucks by hook or crook.
The character of Antonov Vassily was a one-shot PC played by the brother of the player who runs Markus. It actually took a bit longer than I thought it would to reach the point where Antonov would be travelling with the PCs. But that's due to good role-playing (who would suddenly want a stranger to accompany them?). Antonov had a very fun Russian accent.
The combat against the troll in the midst of a burning hostel, with screaming travellers inside, turned out pretty well I think. A troll represented one of the greatest threats the PCs had faced yet, due to the fact that it had multiple attacks, each of which could dish out some damage. One troll proved a quite tough encounter at this point, and any more would likely have been a TPK. The bit with Cain's holy symbol was another great bit of synchronicity. After the character lost his metal holy symbol when everyone was enslaved aboard The Woeful Tide, Cain decided to simply carve a rough approximation out of wood. We had chatted out of character about how such a flammable holy symbol was likely to anger the God of Fire, and sure enough, Cain cast an attack spell and rolled a natural 1. I have a set of critical fumble cards (from Paizo) that include fumbled magical attacks, and the effect on the card that Cain's player drew was "Cursed: -4 to Attacks & Skills". So everything tied together nicely, and it spurred Cain into seeking out an expert silversmith to craft a new holy symbol in order to get rid of the curse. Little things like that are perfect for adding some memorable events to a character's adventures.