Upon their return, the Company decided that Fallenrock was as good a place as any to set up a new base of operations, if only temporarily. It made sense that here, they would have access to immediate supplies and be able to protect the townsfolk, should whatever laid low the Citadel decide to turn it’s eye on the town. To this end, they set about constructing a watchtower at the edge of the settlement. It would also serve as a roof above their heads, so that they did not wear out their welcome at the tavern. Using timber from the nearby wood, the crude but effective structure was built within a week, hardly the Citadel of the Iron Star, but a servicable watchtower nonetheless.
During the construction, they overheard the worried voices of townfolk speaking of bandits who prey on farms and traders along the road, but when they sent out patrols, they found no evidence of such attacks. They also heard rumour of a travelling circus making it’s way toward Fallenrock. Indeed, this tale turned out to be true, and when the entertainers arrived, the mercenaries of the Iron Star were on hand to make sure the travellers were, in fact, what they appeared to be.
Their caution did not prevent them from taking part in the festivities, and some members of the Company decided to try their hand at games of skill and wits. There was a moment of some concern when an imprisoned “baby dragon,” which was on display for townfolk to marvel at, somehow managed to open it’s cage door and escape into the crowd. Fortunately, it was well known to Renuk (who knew something about dragons and longed to meet one someday) that this was merely a great lizard and not really a threat. Tyr calmed the crowd, while Filbert Quickfoot lured the beast back into it’s cage with some meats from a vendors stall.
All in all, the whole of the Circus was deemed not much of a threat, and the festive atmosphere seemed to lift spirits in the town. The Company, with the notable exception of the elves (Misrani Karaquazian and the Lady Jenaga), followed the revelry to the Dancing Dryad. Renuk was quite amazed to find, among the performers, another half-orc. This was the Master of Beasts for the travellers, but he did not offer much in response to Renuk’s questions during his bestial quest to get as drunk as orcishly possible. It was not long after Renuk’s drinking partner passed out at the bar, that the noises began in the street.
Rushing to the door upon hearing smashing sounds and then screams from outside, the Company looked out onto an unpleasant scene. Several ruffians were surrounding a pair of young ladies from town. It was unclear if these men were members of the circus or just nasty sorts from outside Fallenrock. What was clear was that the ladies were in distress. One had been thrown to the cobbles with a torn dress, while the other had broken free to run in terror, only to be pursued by one of the men who was clearly brandishing a glittering knife.
It took no time at all for Renuk to rush out, intercept, and cut down the knife-wielding man with his greatsword, allowing the fleeing woman to escape. But now the other toughs took notice of the Company and weapons were drawn. Their clear leader was a scowling, muscle-bound dwarf, who the party thought they recognized as the circus strongman, seen earlier that afternoon wielding a wooden mallet in feats of strength. He had now exchanged mallet for a huge steel warhammer, and looked ready to crack skulls.
Tyr felt that fearsome hammer when he rushed the dwarf in the hope of dropping him quickly. His quarry proved nimble and dodged below the attack, swinging the hammer up to glancingly connect with Tyr’s head and send him reeling to the cobbles. Renuk was on the dwarf strongman then, and tried desperately to fell him. Unfortunately, his adversary’s prowess was formidable, and while scoring a few hits, the half-orc was forced to fall back, also wounded by the whistling great-hammer.
At the same time, Filbert was taking shots at some of the other ruffians with his crossbow, and at least one of the men broke and ran for it. However, another among the sinister band raised a huge crossbow of his own and prepared to fire a bolt that would surely impale the halfling if his aim was true. Tristem Tsara would not see this mis-deed done. He raised his voice in magical verse and hypnotized the crossbowman, eventually lulling him into a comatose slumber. Throwing the sleeping man’s giant crossbow to Filbert, Tristem rushed to Tyr’s aid and helped him to shake off the ringing effects of the hammerblow.
Meanwhile, Whot had brought his axe to bear against a distubingly fat, blotchy-skinned man wearing a black mask. Something strange began to happen to the fat man then, as he began to shake and his skin began to ripple. He rushed at Whot, tearing into him with strangely angled arms and hands that seemed to have formed bony claws. In horror, Whot gave in to his rage. He had learned the ways of the northern berzerkers and in a fury, struck blow after blow at the bloated monstrostity, finally bringing it down by spilling its still twisting black guts onto the street.
Tyr and Whot joined Renuk against the hammer-wielding dwarf strongman, but all three were already wounded and they began to feel dismay setting in. Even Tristem’s magic seemed useless in this case. Luckily for them all, a huge crossbow bolt suddenly came flying between them to drive itself into their opponent’s eye socket. The strongman crumpled to the earth, dead, and when they looked behind them, they saw Filbert the halfling waving to them. He’d managed to brace the huge heavy crossbow against some barrels and fired it like a ballista. Of course, his aim was true.
Just then, all heads turned again, as rushing forth from an alley was another warrior, all in travelling clothes and nimbly wielding a quarterstaff. She was engaged in deadly combat with one of the ruffians who had fled the melee in the town square. The companions rushed to her aid, and she and Renuk dealt the battle’s final blows together, sword impaling the man and staff caving in his skull. Nodding to her newfound allies, she introduced herself as Mara.
It seems that Mara was a traveller in these lands, though with no association to the circus. She had come to the region just a few days ago and had seen for herself the ruination of the Citadel of the Iron Star. Astonished at the fall of such a storied band of warriors, she travelled to Fallenrock in the hope of learning what had happened. All that she had found so far, on her way to the public house, was a bitter fight and couple of nasty knife cuts. The Company saw in her a kindred spirit, and offered her their aid and a place in their number for the time being…
Eventually townfolk wandered warily into the square, the ladies in distress thanked the Company profusely, applause broke out, and much patting on the back commenced (not to mention the healing of wounds and the burning of the fat man’s body, as his black innards continued to twitch and curl with life of their own…) The crossbowman was taken to the local stockade as a prisoner, and the town was safe for now. Next,… to question those travelling circus folk!…