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It started in Saltmarsh...
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Kirt
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:29 am    Post subject: Post 45: The Siege, and Farewell to Salinmoor Reply with quote

Note: This post contains spoilers to module U3: The Final Enemy

Post 45: The Siege, and Farewell to Salinmoor

1 September, 570 - Seaton
The next day Tyrius is again invited to dine with the Viscount, though no one else in the party is. Willa’s informants among the navy messengers tell her that the campaign against the sahuagin is going well, but it is a slow siege with no early resolution in sight. Sensing that they will be the Viscount’s “guests,” (that is, social hostages) for quite some time, Willa, Tyrius, and Aurora meet. Tyrius says that he cannot keep Thokk drunk forever, and sooner or later an unfortunate incident is bound to occur. For some reason Willa seems more inclined than before to help. It is decided that they will ask permission for Thokk, accompanied by Larry and Babshapka, to retire to the woods to “commune with his wolf spirits,” while the rest of them remain at the palace.

It may be that the Viscount doesn’t deem the orc / dwarf / elf trio “responsible” (or valuable enough to hold until the conclusion of the sahuagin campaign) - they certainly are not the party leaders. Or it may be that he himself is concerned for what might happen should Thokk remain at the palace. For whatever reason, permission is granted, and before the day is out Thokk, Larry, and Babshapka are on their way to the southern Dreadwood, with admonishment that large game are for the Viscount’s table, only. Although Willa has grown up on tales of the Dreadwood being full of hostile monsters, Tyrius has spoken to enough knights to convince him that, at least within the Salin River valley, the forest is regularly patrolled and reasonably safe. Beyond the valley, however, they are just as likely to find goblin tribes, bugbears, or even ogres, as well as fell monsters.


2 - 4 September
The next three days, with just Tyrius, Willa, Aurora, and Shefak in the palace, are much quieter and pass peacefully. Barnabus is out on the town more than he is in (and see Post 47: Barnabus' choice).


5 September
Willa is taking a mid-day meal at a harbor-front tavern when a bustle from the dock area attracts her attention. A ship has been spotted coming into port, with the flags of a naval message cutter. Two or three of these a day have arrived since she has been in Seaton, so she finishes her meal before going out to the docks to meet it.

As it comes in, she can see that there are two men working sail and rudder, and another bearing an official messenger’s pouch but with his arm in a sling. Then she recognizes the messenger as Tom. As the sailors throw lines to the men on the dock she shouts “Tom!” and then, thinking better of it, “Corporal Stoutley!” He grins and waves at her.

Tom is initially close-mouthed with her, but apparently more than the other two on his cutter, and before they reach the end of the docks and can find a cart to the palace, the waterfront is ringing with cries of “Victory!” Tom, full of his official duty, will say nothing to her during the cart ride other than that his wound is not serious. He is whisked away to a private meeting with the Viscount upon his arrival in the palace, and Willa does not see him again for several hours.

Later, after dinner, Tom is happy to spin the whole long yarn to the five party members still at the palace.

Lord Nehemeyer’s fleet approached the sea devil lair from the east, with the three troop galleys they saw in Saltmarsh landing at the protected river mouth while the two warships and the flagship headed for the lair itself. Immediately the three ships in the lead were set upon by sahuagin. Within moments it was clear that their intent was to take the flagship - about four times as many devils were involved as in any of the waves the party had faced, at least two hundred devils in all. A hundred surrounded and assaulted the flagship with javelins, and another fifty each the two warships as distracting forces, to keep them from coming to the flagship’s aid. Once the decks of the flagship were crowded with human defenders, a great wave arose from the sea and washed many of them overboard. Riding the crest of the wave was the first sahuagin boarding force. In addition to the three priestesses the party had faced before, at least another two were involved in this fight, with the head priestess capable of casting control water, which she then used to clear the lower decks of the other two ships with more massive waves. While the sailors and marines washed overboard were quickly torn apart in the sea, there was a desperate fight on the deck of the flagship. The lesser priestesses concentrated on incapacitating the ballista crews of the other two ships, as these were on the fore- and aft-castles, and too high for the priestess’ waves to reach. The priestesses seemed to have a limitless supply of paralyzation spells. The entire crew and marine contingent of the flagship was slain, and it was down to just a handful of Nehemeyer’s personal guard against numerous sahuagin warriors, lieutenants, and chieftains. Nehemeyer himself was already lightly wounded, and would likely have have been slain or captured had the fish-men giant eel cavalry not arrived - Nehemeyer had held them back as a reserve force. When the fish-men's charge temporarily relieved the two other warships, they could move to assist the flagship and the sahuagin on board were forced to retreat. Their main assault broken, all the remaining sahuagin present fell back to the sea cave.

Nehemeyer pressed the advantage by having the sea elf wizard teams move in immediately to seal off both the sea cave entrance and the back door with magically-created rock. Guarded by fish-men, the sea elves were able to seal both entrances before the retreating sahuagin could respond.

By the end of the first hour of combat a total of about half the marines and crew of the three warships combined had been lost, but the allies controlled the waters around the lair and the two sea entrances were sealed, so that only the land entrance remained.

Once the sea was secure, the troops that had landed on the coast were met by the lizardfolk force that had moved in overland. The lizardfolk guided the humans in staying on the trail and not falling into the marsh until they reached the causeway. Nehemeyer sent his heroes and veteran heavy infantry in first, as the vanguard crossing the causeway. They met light resistance once they were inside the sahuagin lair, but their heavy armor gave them the advantage fighting on land and it appeared that most of the sahuagin force had been involved in the sea battle and were still recovering from wounds or exhaustion.

Once the heavy infantry had taken the first level stairway room, Nehemeyer moved in his light infantry levies, marine crossbowmen, and shortbowmen levies. All through the first night the sahuagin tried sorties to break the allied hold of the staircase room, but the prevalence of allied missile fire always beat them back, with losses on both sides.

When the room was still held at the start of the second day Nehemeyer moved in his pumps. Twenty horses working ten mining pumps set up positions in the various rooms and chambers of the first level. Tubes snaked everywhere throughout the first level, taking water from the staircase room and emptying it along the causeway and even into the latrines of the slave pen, which apparently drained outside.

During the second day, the sahuagin and their priestesses attempted to breach the rock barrier of the sea cave. The elven wizards were able to keep pace with them however, creating rock as fast as they could destroy it, and keeping a watertight seal. Merfolk now helped to guard the sea elf wizards.

The lizardfolk were now dispersed into the marsh, going far inland outside the range that the sahuagin had been foraging, with their need to stay close to the sea. They hunted game and supplied much of the fresh meat for the allied army to supplement the grain that had been brought aboard the galleys. The fish-men fanned out under the sea, scouting to make sure that the allied force could not be surprised by a relief force of sahuagin from the depths.

By the end of the second day the water level had dropped by two feet. Men assigned to the staircase room gave a cheer every four hours as a new stair emerged from the water.

By the third day the sahuagin had given up trying to breach the water barriers and had turned their priestesses to supporting the sorties on the staircase room. Their attacks grew more desperate, but also more strategic - targeting specific individuals to cause a few deaths rather than many wounded that might recover with rest or healing. The wounded sahuagin, meanwhile, grew more apt to retreat as they cycled through their forces. Nehemeyer likewise adopted a rotation schedule to make sure he always had fresh troops in the room for the next assault.

All the next week was largely a repetition of the third day, as the water slowly drained from the sahuagin lair. The Baron began making appearances, a huge sahuagin with four arms who would engulf the missile troops in a magic net and dispatch the infantry with an enormous trident. Each time, though, he and his forces were driven back to the water, and as the water dropped the lead time for the remaining allied missile troops increased, leading to higher sahuagin casualties.

By the tenth day of the siege the entire second level of the complex was in water just two feet deep. Nehemeyer sent his remaining army down the stairs in a single massive charge. It was during this action, Tom mentions, that he was wounded, in capturing the second level, fighting the devils while sloshing through knee-deep water thick with blood and floating bodies. When the sahuagin broke before this combined assault and began retreating to the third level, which was still completely submerged, the sea elves opened narrow breaches in both the sea cave and back door. While the fish-men went in the back door, the entire lizardfolk force, which had been recalled slowly over the previous days, entered the sea cave, supported by the elven casters and the merfolk. There the sahuagin made their final stand, with the forces of just the aquatic races remaining to finish them off after the lizardfolk had to retreat to the second level to breathe. Tom heard that Oceanus was among the elves and merfolk who slew the Baron and the high priestess, but he has not seen him since to know whether he survived or not. With all the sahuagin slain and the fortress taken, the pumps were removed, water was allowed to refill the second level, and the whole place was turned over to lizardfolk. The sea elves have stayed on for now to help the lizardfolk until their females and young can be moved back in, while the fish-men are even now escorting the human fleet back to Saltmarsh and Seaton. Tom was sent ahead on this first message-cutter to personally bring news of the victory to the Viscount.


6 September
Some of the Viscount’s Own Foresters, rangers of renown, are dispatched to the Dreadwood to summon Thokk, Larry and Babshapka back to court. Meanwhile, the Viscount takes advantage of their absence to hold a victory celebration, with the rest of the party as his guests of honor, seated at the high table with the Viscount himself. That evening, in front of the entire court, the Viscount commends the party and makes it known their key role in the allied victory. During the dinner, he speaks with each of them personally, thanking them and inviting them to stay on as his guests through the celebrations that will greet Lord Nehemeyer upon his triumphant return to Seaton. “After that,” he chuckles, “I can’t imagine that adventurous types such as yourselves would be interested in staying much longer in as peaceful a place as Seaton…”


7 September
Knowing they will be leaving soon, Aurora withdraws her gold and the cached spellbooks she had in Seaton’s mercantile bank. Willa and Tyrius distribute the Viscount’s reward money to the party. In the morning, Tyrius visits the landless noble family who was given the plate armor he found in the cellar of the haunted house. After much exchanging of pleasantries, the impoverished nobles he meets with intimate that they have already sold the armor.

In the afternoon, Tyrius leads an expedition to Seaton’s marketplace. He spends nearly all of his savings on a suit of splint mail, while Shefak buys a tent and a few other supplies that may be useful on their planned overland trek to the Dreadwood. The other members of the party pick up a few odds and ends, but store most of their gold in the Seaton bank.

In the evening, Thokk, Larry, and Babshapka arrive in Seaton and return to the palace.
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My campaigns are multilayered tapestries upon which I texture themes and subject matter which, quite frankly, would simply be too strong for your hobbyist gamer.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Mp7Ikko8SI
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Kirt
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 8:11 pm    Post subject: Post 46: On to Gradsul Reply with quote

Note that Willa's Background gives Ship's Passage.

Post 46: On to Gradsul

8 September, 570 - Seaton
Willa visits the docks early in the morning, looking to find a vessel bound for Gradsul. There is a large whaling vessel in port. The ship has a full hold of whale fat, which will be rendered into oil upon arrival in Gradsul. She is taking on fresh water for the journey, but plans to depart as soon as she is re-supplied. After talking to the captain, Willa secures passage for the party, then hires a carriage back to the palace and has it wait for them. Fortunately they are mostly packed, mostly awake, and have little in the way of gear. They make it back to the docks just in time.

The quarters aboard the ship are cramped and stink of rancid fat and sweaty sailors, but the ship itself is fast and their passage is free. The whaler travels all day and all night with a fair wind behind her.


9 September - Azure Sea
By mid-morning the tallest buildings of Gradsul can be seen and the whole party gathers on deck. Barnabus has been in all the ports of the Azure Sea, and Aurora and Babshapka passed through Gradsul on their way to Saltmarsh, but the rest of the party is increasingly amazed as more and more of the city comes into view. Gradsul is a thousand years old and is rumored to have more than fifty thousand inhabitants - it is the largest city that any of them have ever seen, and approaching from the sea they have a great vantage of it, from the slums along the waterfront to the terraced garden estates of the nobles on the hills, from the great stone walls and numerous keeps and barracks, to the isolated towers jutting up all over the city. Tyrius has been in all the cities of his homeland of Sterich, but even the capital of Istivin is as nothing compared to this. Aurora recalls that her master once told her that Gradsul was home to the largest number of free mages anywhere in the Sheldomar Valley. Larry mentions that the human swarms in the streets and plazas look “worse than fleas in a winter cave.” Thokk seems uncharacteristically subdued. He grew up on tales of famous orc warlands uniting the tribes and burning down the human cities - but he does not understand how even a hundred orc tribes could assault such a place as this.

As they lower sails, keeping just those required to maneuver, and glide into the dock area, they can see that several of the recently-arrived ships are being met by the city watch and customs officers, checking new arrivals and collecting taxes. With a word to the second mate, Barnabus manages to get them off the whaler on a jolly before the ship itself docks. He directs them to a busy commercial part of the wharf where the watch do not notice their arrival. “If anyone asks you for a sword tax,” he says looking them over, the party all bristling with weapons, “tell them you already paid.”

“I will do no such thing,” huffs Tyrius indignantly as he carefully climbs from the boat.

Once they have left the docks and are making their way up a busy street crowded with shops and foot traffic, Barnabus tells the party that he has business to attend to and he will meet back up with them in several days. Before anyone can react, he melts into the crowd and disappears (see Post 47: Barnabus’ choice). “But, he doesn’t even know where we are staying…” says Aurora. “Uh, where are we staying?”

Willa smirks and tells them to follow her. She goes one block inland, takes a right at the next cross-street, and works her way parallel to the shore. Eventually she finds an acceptable inn - of the kind frequented by sailors between tours. It is cheap and serves food, but is none too clean and there are several beds to a room and common beds in some. At the moment it is unoccupied, all patrons having set sail that morning, and for a few silvers more the owner assures Willa they will remain the only guests for the duration of their time there.

In the afternoon, Willa takes Thokk back to the docks area, making sure he can find his way from the inn to the docks and back. Cities are unfamiliar terrain for him, but he is a quick study. She makes him promise to leave his axes at the inn and bring only a boot knife with him. She spends some time with him going from dockside tavern to tavern until she finds several that look like the kind of places in which he can easily get into bar brawls, but not be knifed and rolled if he is knocked unconscious. She makes him memorize the painted signs outside her choices and repeat them to her until she is sure he remembers and recognizes them. She tells him he is welcome to spend his days here drinking and fighting and she will know where to come find him when it is time to leave the city.

Thokk sighs wistfully. “Thokk lose his army...but he still has best evil advisor ever. Life of Thokk is great.”
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My campaigns are multilayered tapestries upon which I texture themes and subject matter which, quite frankly, would simply be too strong for your hobbyist gamer.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Mp7Ikko8SI
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SirXaris
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is great, Kirt! Thanks for posting. Happy

SirXaris
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Kirt
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SirXaris wrote:
This is great, Kirt! Thanks for posting. Happy

SirXaris


As great as the life of Thokk?
Next up: what is Barnabus doing? It's just business, not personal...
_________________
My campaigns are multilayered tapestries upon which I texture themes and subject matter which, quite frankly, would simply be too strong for your hobbyist gamer.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Mp7Ikko8SI
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 8:50 am    Post subject: Post 47: Barnabus' Choice Reply with quote

Note: This side post connects back to the main narrative line in multiple places. Like Willa's Choice, it was known only to the player in question, not the group.

Post 47: Barnabus' Choice

In Seaton: 27 August - 7 September
Playing for noble ladies in court is profitable in many senses, but Barnabus is bored and frustrated during his time at the Viscount’s palace, and is more often to be found in the numerous taverns of the town. He chafes at the wasted time - if it were up to him, he would be in Gradsul by now, learning disguise and poison techniques from the Thieves’ Guild he knows is there. But Aurora collected their latest reward from the Saltmarsh Town Council and hasn’t distributed it yet, and that is a fair bit of gold. Of course, he could just take his share when she wasn’t around (and a bit more for his trouble), but he plans on spending some time in Gradsul. If the Viscount wanted him back and sent people to look for him, that would make his planned Gradsul stay rather more inconvenient.

So he bides his time, waits, and ponders his decision. Tyrius has made no secret of the fact that as soon as they are free to leave Seaton, he intends to resume his original quest to transport Larry to the Great Druid of the Dreadwood. That means traveling inland, upriver at first and then into the forest. What is in this for Barnabus? Not much. Or is there? These bumbling adventurers seem to stumble over monsters and treasure hoards like cobbles in a stone road. Barnabus has made more in his month with them than in several years previous combined - both in coin and in material for songs. True, it has come at a greater risk, but there is no reward without risk. But does he really want to leave the sea, leave his freedom? Is being stuck under the self-righteous eye of the paladin worth the gold? Barnabus can’t believe he left his last ship for a chance at a tumble with Aurora. The ditsy wizard is a half-elf, true, and Barnabus is greatly swayed by the power of novelty - after all, he is an epicurean, with an eye to sampling all the world provides. But now a month with her and even the promise of novelty has worn off - and a half-dozen maids have given him more satisfaction in his time in Seaton than the silly enchantress ever will.

So here he is at the crossroads. When the Viscount gives them leave to go, Barnabus can take his gold, bid them farewell, and resume his free life on the sea, having profited greatly from the association. Or, he can demand that they go to Gradsul first, test the loyalty of his so-called comrades in arms, and see whether they are as willing to wait for him as he has been to live under the pious dictates of the paladin. Or, he can accompany them to the Dreadwood - meekly and with his eyes always open for the profit these fools seem to attract like flies to honey.


In Gradsul: 9 September
It is not difficult for Barnabus to track down an actual member of the Thieves’ Guild - a little coin here, the right words there - but he takes the better part of the day chasing the trail. A guy knows a guy who knows a guy...Halfway through he is aware he is being followed, and that most of this is for show - they are sizing him up, trying to see if he is working with anyone else, etc.

By the evening, he is finally introduced to someone who claims to be a member of the guild, and Barnabus states his intentions of purchasing a disguise kit and of learning how to brew and handle poisons. He is given the name of an inn to sleep at and told that he will be given an appointment in the morning.


In Gradsul: 10-13 September
After Barnabus has a horrid breakfast of gruel (he almost sends it back before reflecting that the innkeeper is likely affiliated with the guild in some way) a street urchin pops her head in the door and calls that Barnabus has fifteen minutes to get to another inn halfway across town. The girl is gone before Barnabus is out the door and it is all he can do to make it to the location, only a few minutes late.

He is taken to a back room upstairs, and finally introduced to “Jimmy Diamond”, a capo of the Guild. There is muscle in the room and on the stairs and, if Barnabus is any judge, in several adjoining rooms besides. Barnabus again pleads his case and Jimmy listens. His biggest concern is where Barnabus will be plying the skills he wants to learn, and whether he will be competing with guild killers. When Barnabus is able to convince him that he is a traveling adventurer, that all his kills will be done far away, but that he would likely be spending the money he gains from them upon his return to Gradsul, Jimmy grows much more friendly.

Jimmy offers Barnabus a disguise kit, a poisoner’s kit, and a short course in how to use the latter for 200 gold lions. Barnabus asks if Jimmy is a betting man, and proposes they play for it. Jimmy smiles broadly, and says that if he wins, it will be 300gp, and if Barnabus wins, it will be 100gp.

Over the next hour of cards, Jimmy catches Barnabus palming a card to use later and Barnabus nails Jimmy for pulling a card from his sleeve. They both laugh it off and get on excellent terms with one another. The game they play, Farango, is common among sailors, well-known among the port cities of the Azure, and requires betting on hands over a specified number of rounds. At the end of the hour, their respective piles of chips look about equal. “Another 15 hands?” asks Barnabus carefully.

“Sorry, amicino mio, but I have other obligations. Two card draw, high card wins,” Jimmy says, and offers the deck to Barnabus.

Barnabus pulls forth the four of cups - Jimmy, the seven of wands. When Barnabus sighs and reaches for his purse, Jimmy laughs and claps him on his back. “Look at dis guy!” he orders his mooks, “I like dis guy!”

After a midday meal, much better than his breakfast was, Barnabus is shown to an apothecary shop where he will be ‘prenticing. Over the next four days he learns about the making and use of poisons. The master complains about his “nimble fingers and slow wits” but he manages to concoct mixtures that kill a number of stray cats and dogs without managing to poison either himself or his teacher.

On the night of the 13th his teacher announces him graduated, and Barnabus takes his leave.
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My campaigns are multilayered tapestries upon which I texture themes and subject matter which, quite frankly, would simply be too strong for your hobbyist gamer.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Mp7Ikko8SI
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Kirt
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 5:21 pm    Post subject: Post 48: Out and About in Gradsul Reply with quote

Post 48: Out and About in Gradsul

10 September, 570 - Gradsul
In the morning Thokk is up early, eager to begin a day of brawling. Tyrius says that he and Larry will remain at the inn and watch over the party’s possessions. Aurora says that she will be taking Babshapka and attempting to do historical research in the city (see Post 49; The Riddle of the Malhel). Willa says that she will be working the docks area, looking for signs of Sigurd and the Sea Ghost. (see Post 50: Willa’s Choice II). Shefak says that she will be exploring the Foreign Quarter of the city, attempting to find and talk to Baklunish people like herself.

Shefak returns to the inn in the evening, and finds everyone else there. It was not a long walk to the foreign quarter, as it is in the “lower city” near the docks. The Baklunish people there are not well off - mostly poor and crowded into tenements, at best. She was assaulted several times and had to use her monk abilities to defend herself until word got around that this strange frail-looking woman traveling alone was not to be trifled with. Eventually she was able to speak with some community leaders and got the locations of a few temples which she plans on visiting on the next day.


11 September
In the morning Thokk and Shefak again leave while Tyrius and Larry stay. Willa returns to the docks, while Aurora announces that her research is taking her to some country estates north of the city. She will be renting a carriage for the day but will be back by nightfall.

Willa finds that Sigurd and the Ghost were indeed in Gradsul, but only just long enough for him to recruit a full crew of seasoned sailors. He departed for ports unknown.

Aurora and Babshapka return in time to share the evening meal with the party. Aurora says that they have been invited to a dinner party at the estate of Lord Farquarr on the morrow - provided Tyrius will relate to them the tale of their campaign against the sahuagin, which is apparently en vogue among the nobility at present. Tyrius is dubious at first, but Aurora convinces him that no dishonesty is involved and he eventually agrees.

Shefak says that her second day among the Baklunish was more productive but ultimately unsuccessful. Her people could not provide her with the locations of any monasteries, saying that all of them are far away in the mountains of the northern Sheldomar. The Keoish folk she asked don’t understand the true meaning of “monks” and “monasteries”, believing them to to be the vain palaces where fat men and women pray and light candles all day. Such places abound in this decadent city, but are not the ones Shefak is looking for.

Thokk arrives, covered in welts and bruises, after the meal has been cleared away. He proudly displays a block and tackle he has purchased, saying that it will make him “four times as powerful” and then begins bellowing at the innkeeper to prepare his meal.


12 September
Since Tyrius and Larry are leaving with Aurora and Babshapka, Shefak agrees to spend the day at the inn. Willa plans on going to the dinner party as well, while Thokk returns to the docks.

At the estate of Lord Farquarr, the party are celebrated guests. They are glad they still have the clothes made for them in Seaton by the Viscount’s tailors, and only worn once. After an amazing dinner that surpasses even the Viscount’s table, Tyrius tells a tale of their adventures that has the nobles applauding loudly and Farquarr beaming. At the prompting of Aurora, he tells a bit of history at the end, of a campaign against the sea devils from another age, in which a distant relative of the Lord figured prominently.

Larry has spent the day outside, talking to the gardeners and groundskeepers of the estate. During the dinner, he stands on a veranda in a light rain, silently munching raw carrots and picking his nose as he watches the brightly-costumed people in the dining hall inside, his friends among them. Those of the party at the estate are given guest rooms for the night; Larry finds a warm, straw-filled stall in the stables.


13 September
Those who were at Lord Farrquarr’s estate have returned to the inn by mid-day. They spend the rest of the day planning the trip from Gradsul to Silglen. Willa was able to look at some maps in a cartographer’s shop, although she did not have the coin to purchase them, and declares that the distance is about 225 miles, the entire journey over roads or tracks, passing through several towns and innumerable hamlets, small farming communities along the edge of the Dreadwood. Supplies are discussed, as is the potential purchase of a cart and pony, but Willa voices against any further use of “party” treasure for the time being. The party turns in with plans made. Sometime during the night Barnabus appears, though no one notices when - he is just found to be in one of the beds in the morning.
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My campaigns are multilayered tapestries upon which I texture themes and subject matter which, quite frankly, would simply be too strong for your hobbyist gamer.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Mp7Ikko8SI
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2019 11:07 pm    Post subject: Post 49: The Riddle of the Malhel Reply with quote

Note: All of the information in this post is known only to the player of Aurora. While Babshapka was involved in her investigations to some extent in Gradsul, she was not honest with him about her objectives.

Post 49: The Riddle of the Malhel

Excerpt from Post 5: Backstory for Aurora of Tringlee
Like all students of history, she knew about the Twin Cataclysms (the Invoked Devastation and the Rain of Colorless Fire), which had, a millennium ago, destroyed the two greatest nations the world had ever known, The Suel Imperium and the Baklunish Empire. She could recite several different authoritative texts (and note their contradictions and discrepancies) explaining how the Suel refugees passed over (or under!) the Hellfurnaces and brought human civilization to the east, eventually founding the Kingdom of Keoland...

...he asked her to recite the names of the principle Suel Houses.

“[House Neheli] founded Niole Dra and are today the most important noble house in the north of the Kingdom. [House Rhola] founded Gradsul and are today the most important noble house in the south of the Kingdom. House Malhel was wicked and fought against the good Houses. After many battles they were banished from the Kingdom.”

“[W]here did they go?”

“I imagine they dispersed, or died out…I have not read any record of them.”

“Indeed. A House powerful enough to war upon the Neheli, and they just faded away?”

“That does not seem likely, but…”

“But that is what the texts would have us believe. Most of them. Suppose they did not die out. Not at first anyway. Conjecture!”

“Well, they had the hubris to war upon the Neheli, thus they must have been both proud and powerful. Such people are unlikely to give up after a setback. While they could have fled, migrated out of the Sheldomar, it seems unlikely. More likely they would have withdrawn, regrouped, and planned revenge.”

“[W]hy do you suppose you have not seen any records of this?”

“Because they didn’t regroup? Something else ended them before they could?”

“Perhaps, or perhaps they did persist…and any record of their defiance has been destroyed, eliminated, or altered.”

[W]ho would have the power to make sure that this history was not known…and what else could someone with that power do?

“I believe I have uncovered an unedited text, describing how House Malhel retreated to the Dreadwood Forest, and from there planned their revenge. I have another text, very rare but likely authentic, claiming that the Malhel were powerful spellcasters, even while the Neheli and Rhola sought to ban magic. I will not tell you the names or locations of these texts, for your protection, and mine, and theirs...Travel to the Dreadwood, and see what you can find. Ruins, stories, texts, tales, anything. Most likely you will find nothing. But if I am correct, someone will find you. Someone will appear and, in the most delicate way, attempt to ascertain what you are doing and steer you away from any discoveries. And that is what we are after. I don’t expect you to find proof that the Malhel were in the Dreadwood. But if you can find proof that someone does not want us to know, then we will be sure that I am on the right track.”


Additions to Post 48: Out and About in Gradsul
10 September - Aurora goes to the Royal University of Gradsul, and charms a lowly library clerk into telling her which nobles nearby have important volumes in the early history of Keoland, dealing with the settlement by the refugee Suel houses. She gets a number of contacts from him, and leaves her name as “Scholar Wilhelmina of Saltmarsh.”

Aurora goes to the townhouse of Lord Baldin in Gradsul City. As the Lord is not home, she bribes a major domo with gold to have a quick look at the library. After a quick reconnoiter of the volumes therein, she she speaks with the major domo while messaging Babshapka. At her command, he uses stealth to cut four pages out of a volume of history without a chambermaid seeing him. She later tells Babshapka that the volume is of family history, and concerns her efforts to discover the identity of her elven father.

Back in the boarding house, she reviews the pages which mention that the Malhel, once defeated in war, fled south and west through the Dreadwood forest, and eventually settled in the land now known as the Yeomanry. This is the first textural account she has seen both linking the Malhel to the Dreadwood and the Yeomanry.

11 and 12 September - Aurora goes to the country estate of Lord Farquarr. With two days’ access to his library, she finds four different volumes stating that the Malhel, once defeated in the war, were driven from the Sheldomar Valley. What is odd is while that the volumes she finds have decades between them and more than two centuries from the most recent to the oldest, and while they all have different authors, the passages concerning the Malhel are virtually identical. The rest of the historical accounts are similar, accepted history, but display nothing of the nearly-identical voice and phrasing that the passages about the Malhel do. In some cases, the script appears to have been elongated or compressed to make it fit in the appropriate space. She detects magic on the books but finds nothing.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:54 pm    Post subject: Post 50: Willa's Choice II Reply with quote

DM's Note: The secret quest of Aurora to understand what happened to the Malhel, and who doesn't want her to know, and the secret investigation of Willa into what Aurora is attempting to do, had by now become important subplots in the campaign. The contents of this post are known only to the player of Willa.

For Willa's Choice I, see post 44: http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=8700&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=25

For Aurora's perspective on what is happening, see the previous post (49).

For what is public knowledge about this day in the party, see two posts ago (48).


Post 50 - Willa's Choice II
10 September, 570 - Gradsul

Aurora and Babshapka leave the inn in the morning. Willa announces she is headed for the docks, but she doubles back after a block and catches up to them. She is concerned about Babshapka noticing her trailing them, as she has seen him in the woods. There he hears twigs snap that none of the rest of them even notice. But in the city, it seems he is in sensory overload, confused by all of the noise, motion, and color. It is all he can do to keep Aurora from stepping in front of carriages, let alone survey the crowd behind him. She follows them at half a block behind and is confident she is not noticed.

They go to the Royal University of Gradsul, spread over several blocks of the Old Town, and ask directions until they find the library. Willa’s simple sailor’s clothes are already attracting attention among the scholars of the place and she dares not follow them into the library itself. She feigns a nap under a tree, hoping they leave by the same entrance they came.

She is surprised when they emerge soon after - not even an hour has gone by. She follows them higher and higher in the city, up into the hills that house the estates and townhouses of the wealthy merchants and minor nobles. Willa nearly bumps into Babshapka when she turns one corner - Aurora has stopped to examine the statuary of a fountain. Amazingly, the elf does not see Willa although she is just five feet from him before she turns about and retreats. They continue, then are stopped by a city watch patrol, and then escorted to an impressive - looking townhouse. After a brief exchange at the door the pair pass inside.

Willa looks about - there is certainly nowhere to loiter unnoticed in the clean and meticulously groomed neighborhood. Already the watch patrol is eyeing her suspiciously. She heads for a cafe diagonal across the street from the townhouse and takes a seat inside from where she can see the street-level door of the townhouse through an open doorway onto the al fresco tables of the cafe.

Again they emerge after less than an hour, but when the door closes behind them Babshapka is immediately in Aurora’s face, speaking angrily and waving a few sheets of paper in his hand. Aurora speaks soothingly to him and takes the papers. They leave back down the street they came in.

Willa has had to nurse her simple pastry and glass of white wine for an hour, to the growing indignation of the cafe staff. When they tell her her bill is one gold lion, her stomach twists, but she produces the single coin, to their apparent surprise. Perhaps she should talk to Runnel about an expense account - assuming she ever sees him again.

Willa catches up to them and follows them long enough to be reasonably confident that they are headed back to the inn, then she doubles back and returns to the university library. It is early evening and many of the students are leaving lectures and heading out to public houses, but the library is still lit so she enters. She tries to gain information about what Aurora was doing there and who she spoke to, but the staff are uniformly rude to her and, when she tries to press the issue, threaten her with calling the city watch. She makes it back to the inn halfway through dinner and tells the party what she learned about Sigurd and the Sea Ghost, claiming to have spent the whole day at the docks.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2019 1:05 pm    Post subject: Post 51: Gradsul to Daerwald Reply with quote

DM's Note: The party was now embarking on the first "overland adventure" of the campaign. As a DM, this meant I needed to add three things; (1) travel rates, (2) weather, and (3) large scale maps.

Travel rates were simple at first (although I would add more detail later in the campaign). I initially decided to use the World of Greyhawk Glossography (p.3) rate of 30 miles per day for movement afoot, unencumbered. At the time, I mostly handwaved encumbrance so long as loads were reasonable. I assumed a typical day's march was 10 hours, from 7am to noon, and 1pm to 6pm.

Weather was basically according to the tables of randomly generated weather in the World of Greyhawk Glossography (pp.18-25). That system has temperature tied to season (date), adjusted for latitude and elevation. I estimated the latitude of Gradsul from p. 18 as about 26.4 N. In the absence of official data on elevation, I used the following estimation: Any 30-mile (Darlene) hex with a hill symbol that touched a non-hill symbol was 2000 feet elevation, whereas any hill hex completely surrounded by hills was 4000 feet. Any 30-mile (Darlene) hex with a mountain symbol that touched a non-mountain symbol was 5000 feet elevation, whereas any mountain hex completely surrounded by mountains was 10000 feet. Further increments of 5000 feet were possible along increasingly surrounded isoclines.

By far the best source for maps of Greyhawk comes from the work of Anna B Meyer. I used http://ghmaps.net/keoland/ for the party's travel in Keoland, and the locations and identities of roads, terrain features, and settlements below come from that map. Note that that map specifically is no longer a valid link, but will redirect to more recent versions of her work. I would highly encourage any Greyhawk DM to use her work, and anyone with the means to do so to support her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/annabmeyer

Post 51: Gradsul to Daerwald

“Oh, the blades did flash, the blood did flow,
the sweat it ran like drizzle,
but through it all, there shone the smile,
of Barnabus the minstrel!”


14 September, 570 - Gradsul
The party spends the day in the markets purchasing a week’s worth of fresh food.

15 September
The party sets out from the inn at first light, shortly after 6 am - it is already in the mid-80’s and muggy. Carrying all their gear, on foot, they have not even left the city walls by the time they are sweating profusely. As the sun continues to climb, the day gets hotter. They are able to put in a good half-day’s march in the morning, staying together despite the crowded traffic along the forest road. The road is ascending as it travels away from the coast, but after the first few miles’ hard climb out of the Sheldomar River Valley the slope is hardly notable. The road is excellent, paved and well-maintained, and they make good progress despite the heat. By 11 am it is over 100 degrees. They fill their waterskins in a public fountain in one of the many townships that lie beyond the city walls and rest in the shade, swatting at mosquitoes.

It is three in the afternoon before it is cool enough to continue, and so they have only a short afternoon march before dark. As the settlements become smaller and farther between, they can actually see the fields to either side of the road. The sweet corn fields have all been harvested, but melon patches and orange groves are still in production. Barnabus soothes their journey with music from his lute, until Thokk begins to chase him with melons and he is forced to hide from the sun-crazed half-orc. At day’s end they camp in a cow pasture between towns, some 21 miles outside of Gradsul going by the last stone mile marker they passed. In the dark of night, enormous Gradsul is still visible below them on the coast, innumerable lights in the city itself, and then a trail of lights along the road toward them, gradually spaced farther and farther apart.


16 September - Forest Road (21 miles from Gradsul, just under the “o” in the Forest Road)
Having put some distance between themselves and the coast, and gained a bit in elevation, the day dawns a few degrees cooler, and the mid-day high barely breaks 100 degrees. They are still soaked in sweat, but after lunching at a tavern in the large town of Tanglewoods, they are able to get a full afternoon’s march in. (The tavern proprietor, after seeing how much ale Thokk was disposed to drink, relented and allowed them to eat their own food indoors in the shade of his establishment rather than requiring them to buy his tavern fare). All morning the clusters of houses along the roadside have grown fewer and smaller, and Tanglewoods has no true settlements for five miles on either side of it - just the crowded bunkhouse clusters of plantation communities. As they have left the coastal lowlands behind them, the fields of corn, melon, and cotton have given way to more and larger citrus groves - orange, tangerine, lemon, and grapefruit. They have yet to see any freeholder fields, but work crews numbering in the dozens are common - gangs of landless serfs toiling on the noble estates, nearly all of them dark-skinned Flan. Slavery is outlawed in Keoland, unlike in the lands of the Sea Princes to the south, and that is a point of pride for the nation. However, looking at the plantation serfs through the eyes of a free sailor, Willa wonders whether there really is that great a difference between a serf and a slave.

By day’s end they have marched 30 miles, and are now 51 miles from Gradsul.


17 September - Forest Road (between the twin “T’s” of The Forest Road and Tanglewoods)
With night dipping into the seventies, the party is uniformly glad to be away from the worst of the coastal heat. In the morning, they make rapid progress along the Forest Road, although the day reaches the 90’s. They have just passed the stone marker indicating that they are 59 miles from Gradsul when the road splits. To the north, the wide, paved Forest Road continues, and a sign in Keoish indicates that “Oakheart” lies that way. To the south, the road becomes a hard-beaten dirt trail, and a sign says that way leads to Daerwald.

Tyrius recalls that Silglen, their final destination, is reached through Daerwald, and suggests they take the trail. Willa responds that a road from Oakheart also leads to Daerwald, and while that route may be longer, they will likely travel much faster along the better roads.

Aurora turns to Thokk. “Thokk, dear, you are our skilled wilderness guide. Which road do you think we should take?”

Thokk shields his eyes from the sun and stares down both paths. “Stone road is flat - dirt road climbs into hills. Thokk want high ground and cool air - Thokk is sweating like roasting pig - sweat makes Thokk’s manly parts itch. Also, stone road passes boring lands where not-men poke in ground for food. Dirt road gets close to forest - maybe something to fight.”

“Well,” says Aurora, “I’m not looking for something to fight, but I think we could all use someplace cooler. I liked being on ship in the sea breeze better than marching, that’s for sure.”

Willa shrugs and starts off up the trail. “As long as it doesn’t rain. This dirt trail will turn into a mud pit faster than Thokk can scratch his manly parts.”

The party heads up the narrow dirt trail. Sure enough, it is not long before they are laboring up a steep incline on a hill slope of tall grass and low scrub trees. There is no way a laden cart or wagon could ascend the steep slope, which is more than likely the reason the paved Forest Road does not run directly to Daerwald. After an hour of hard climbing, the trail levels out and they break for lunch in the shade of a stand of trees, the most extensive wild growth they have seen since leaving the city.

After lunch they continue along the trail. To their left is a light, wild forest that rises above them. To their right the ground rapidly slopes away down, allowing them to see the distant farms and pastureland and villages that cling to the Forest Road. Having left the mile markers behind them with the paved road, they have no way of knowing how far they have come, but their progress along the trail is certainly harder-fought than it was on the road. As they make their camp at nightfall, a few huge spiders even venture out of the woods. Thokk cheerfully dispatches them, then sets about collecting firewood for dinner.


18 September - Trail to Daerwald (by the “s” of Thestos)
After another warm, buggy night in the 70’s, the party prepares for a day’s march in the 90’s along the dirt track. Soon after they start, the track heads downslope, until they have lost nearly all the elevation they gained the day before. As they descend, the wild woods are left behind, and they are again in farm country, much to Thokk’s disappointment. Here the farms are different, though - small fields of subsistence crops meant to feed a village, not the large plantations of cash crops bound for the markets of Gradsul. They pass through two such villages before, near midday, they come to a small river running north and crossing their track.

The river is spanned by a large stone bridge - seemingly overbuilt for the size of the river at present, but Willa suspects they are not so far inland that storms coming of the Azure Sea can’t reach here, and a long summer storm could easily swell and flood the small river to a torrent. A little wooden shack on the near side of the bridge provides shade for a toll-collector, a grizzled old man with one leg and a crude wooden crutch. At first he gruffly demands a copper each from them to cross the bridge, but after they have paid and Aurora invites him to share their midday-meal, he warms to them enough for her to ply him with questions.

The bridge is called “The Duke’s Bridge”, he tells them, and the river marks the boundary between the Duchy of Gradsul, which they are leaving, and the Barony of Raya, which they will enter on the other side. Daerwald is the baronial seat of Raya, and lies another 35 miles along this track, which should take them another day and a half or so, “unless it rains” (and Willa nods knowingly). The toll collector is a veteran - he was a soldier in the Duke’s army, until he lost his leg to bandits. He has manned this toll booth ever since. The Daerwald market will be an excellent place for them to stock up on supplies of food, and by Aurora’s calculation they should be just about out by the time they hit town.

They thank the man and set out in the afternoon. After the bridge, the road climbs gently, and they soon are on a ridge like that of the day before, with wild forest to their right, and a small river valley downslope to their left. They pass two more villages, but the trail does not go through them. Rather, horse paths lead down from the trail to the villages, which are built along the river. In addition to the peasant huts, each of the villages has a large, wooden building next to a millpond, so Willa takes the structures to be saw mills. They camp on the ridge overlooking the second village, and during the night sounds of music and cheer drift up to them.


19 September - the trail to Daerwald (under the “p” of Crypt)
The elevation and the shade from the mature forest help cool the late summer air, and after a night in the seventies, the party is able to march all day in the eighties - the most comfortable they have been since they left Gradsul. The trail continues to climb slowly, but once they are beyond the river valley in which the two villages lie, the ground to their left rises up sharply until a high ridge towers over them. Now they are marching over a long pass, with a steep forested ridge to their left and a less steep forested slope to their right, the track completely under the trees and with little visibility. The perfect spot for an ambush, and Thokk hums eagerly thinking of the possibilities. The rest of them are more preoccupied with the mosquitoes, which come out in full force under the shade of the trees, large and in thick clouds. The party eats a quick, cold lunch, not wanting to tarry while being savaged by the insects. Babshapka rummages through the supply bags and removes their entire store of garlic, then shows them how to crush and rub it on their skin, which helps somewhat, although their sweat makes for diminishing returns.

After lunch they continue on the narrow trail through the woods. The forest is alive with bird calls and apart from the mosquitoes is quite pleasant. The ridge to their south blocks the sun and they break march for an early camp while there is still light. After getting a good fire going, Thokk scouts about for wet, green leaves to top it off. The thick clouds of smoke he generates help to cut down on the insects, and most of them move their bedrolls downwind of the fire. Shefak’s tent is the envy of the party that night.


20 September - trail to Dearwald (under the “r” of Daerwald)
KRACKOOOM! A peal of thunder shakes the forest around midnight and rain begins to fall. Lightning flashes along the southern ridge as one, then another, tree is hit. The mosquitoes disperse and rain pelts the campsite. For the next three hours the thunderstorm passes overhead, lightning constantly touching down on the southern ridge and setting more than one tree ablaze. Fortunately the party is camped much lower and none of the strikes are near them. They all have thick bedrolls (and Shefak has her tent), so they are reasonably dry, but in the morning the campsite is a morass of red mud. The sloping land to either side has funneled the storm’s water on top of them, and there are standing pools and puddles all about.

The first half of the day’s march is downhill, descending the pass into the valley beyond, but it is slow going. The mud pulls and tugs at their boots, and they slip and - more than once - collapse in the steep parts and slide down the trail. By mid-day, after five hours of grueling effort, they have not gone even five miles.

After mid-day they are able to pick up the pace. Now they are down in the valley bottom, overlooking a vast, wide valley mostly filled with a huge lake. The town of Daerwald sits at the near end of the water’s edge. Down here on the flat-land the rain did not pool up as much, and all the morning’s sun has baked the sodden ground dry. The dirt track is soft and exhausting, but passable.

While there are plenty of outlying farms and pastures, there are no true village centers before they come upon Daerwald itself, so there is little of interest to look at as they march along with difficulty. Willa finds herself staring out across the lake, amazed that a body of water so large could be so calm, wondering at the many sailing vessels she sees traversing it, wondering if it is fresh like a giant bathtub.

In the glorious golden late-afternoon light they finally come upon the cobblestone streets of the town itself and are able to scrape off the last of the mud clinging to their boots. The streets are thronged with people, giving the appearance of a place much larger than it actually is, for in reality Daerwald is likely smaller than Seaton. People stop and stare at the mud-covered travelers, and children laugh, for everyone seems in a festive mood. A fat friar bows at them and says “Merry Brewfest!” in a booming voice.

Brewfest! Of course. Willa claps her hand to her forehead. Brewfest is a week-long harvest celebration, marking the transition from summer to fall. In Saltmarsh, dominated by fishing families, Brewfest has only a token following, but she imagines it is a much bigger deal here in farm country. Imagines? No, she can see it is a much bigger deal. For his part, Tyrius has seen plenty of Brewfest celebrations before - he just didn’t know that is where they were in the calendar, since cold, mountainous Sterich has a much earlier fall. There, Brewfest is a week’s relief from feudal labor obligations, and there is much public celebration and drinking. As he looks about him, he expects it is the same here.

It is after dark by the time the party finds an inn that has two nights’ lodging for the eight of them. The common room downstairs is crowded with drinkers and revelers, but the private upstairs bedrooms are mostly available. Exhausted from their long day fighting the muddy road, the party barely has time to wash and eat before collapsing into bed. Larry doesn’t even wash. Thokk skips both washing and bed, but stays downstairs drinking and in the morning can be found collapsed in a chair in the common room.
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SirXaris
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2019 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kirt wrote:
(by the 's' of Thestos)


Sounds like an oath:
"By the S of Thestos, you shall be avenged!" Razz

SirXaris
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Kirt
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Posts: 551
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2019 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SirXaris wrote:
Kirt wrote:
(by the 's' of Thestos)


Sounds like an oath:
"By the S of Thestos, you shall be avenged!" Razz

SirXaris


Perhaps Barnabus will have to work that into his ballad.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2019 8:48 am    Post subject: Post 52: Daerwald Reply with quote

Post 52 - Daerwald

21 September, 570 - Daerwald
The party eats their last day of trail food while they use the inn as their base to shop for more. The markets are crowded with Brewfest revelers and it is slow going. Willa goes lakeside to check out the fish markets, selecting some fresh for the morrow but mostly smoked for the coming week. Aurora and Babshapka work the central market for vegetables, flour, and dry noodles, while Barnabus roams the butchers’ stalls in search of fresh and cured meats. Shefak is given a pass from purchasing, as the vendors tend to sell higher to the Baklunni woman. She is in charge of drying out their bedrolls in front of the fire in the inn’s common room so that they don’t mold. Tyrius and Larry clean and polish Tyrius’ armor, and then the paladin instructs the dwarf in the art of laundering clothes. Thokk snores loudly in the common room, bellowing at anyone who wakes him.

By the evening Thokk has recovered and is able to eat dinner with them. When he talks of how he has another night of Brewfest drinking planned, his evil advisor reminds him that they are marching out in the morning, and he will need to be ambulatory. He grumbles that marching in the day is stupid, and that the humans in the party should learn how to march and see at night.


22 September
Sometime after midnight the party is awakened to the sound of wind and rain. All over the town, shutters are banging, awnings are ripping, and carts are being turned over. Willa and Barnabus are no strangers to the sound - it is an autumn gale blowing in off of the Azure Sea. There is less rain than in a summer tropical storm, or even the occasional hurricane, but the autumn gales have an abundance of wind. Willa doesn’t know whether to curse their luck that they may be several more days paying for staying at the inn, or thank their stars that they were not on the trail when it hit. Wind gusts of over 40 miles an hour would slow traveling to a crawl, and put them in real danger of being killed by flying debris or uprooted trees. She worries about Tom in Saltmarsh, and tries to remind herself that in his new house he is safer than they ever were in their parents’ shack, so long as he was not out to sea when this hit.

Barnabus spends his time turning the moods of the inn’s patrons from bitter over the loss of the remainder of Brewfest, to grudging mirth at his songs and stories.


23 September
With little to do, Aurora wonders if she can perhaps continue her genealogy research. She learns a bit about the Baron’s court from their innkeeper, easily convinces Barnabus to play for the nobles, and asks Tyrius if he couldn’t see about getting her an introduction. Tyrius replies that he will, so long as it results in good for people. Aurora responds that learning about the party’s adventures will surely inspire the nobility, and perhaps even get them to regard his god with more respect.

The trio goes across town, oilskin cloaks braced against the wind and rain, and show up on the Baron’s proverbial doorstep. They plead their case to a servant, who sniffs that His Lordship the Baron is trying to salvage Brewfest, protect the town and harbor from damage in the storm, and entertain his noble guests, and thus has better things to do than admit uninvited foreigners of dubious merit. Aurora responds brightly that with all of his lordship’s concerns, why not let them assist, as they can surely provide entertainment for the noble guests for the evening. The servant allows them to enter as far as a dry cloakroom before he tells them to wait.

Some twenty minutes later, the major domo arrives to tell them that Aurora is permitted to use the Baron's library, provided Tyrius and Barnabus entertain the guests for the rest of the evening. His Lordship regrets that he will not be able to meet them in person, as he will be using his time in pursuit of the protection and defense of Daerwald, rather than at the evening's festivities. “You see, Tyrius?” says Aurora before they separate, “Already you have allowed a leader to dedicate more of his time to his people - how can that not be good?”

[Note: For Aurora’s work in the library, see Post 53: The Riddle of the Malhel II]

It is well after midnight when the nobles' thirst for Tyrius’ stories and Barnabus’ songs is finally sated, and Aurora has long since joined them in a music hall. She takes a moment to ask whether any of the assembled nobles would like to donate to the cause of a band of good adventurers, protecting the lands of the King...and receives hearty well-wishes and little more.

For her part, Willa is bored stuck back at the inn. In the evening, she announces that she is going out. “Where?” asks Larry, somewhat miffed that Tyrius would leave him behind.

“Public 'ouses. Drinkin',” Willa shrugs.

“Bu' there be drinkin' 'ere!” Larry protests.

“Look, I be tired o’ baby-sittin' Thokk, an’ ther bar be full o’ cheap, fat merchants and gilded ladies. I be goin’ t’ ther docks. Mayhaps I can meet a sailor or some ot'er real man.” Willa storms out.

[Note: For Willa’s luck, see Post 54: Willa’s Choice III].


24 September
With everyone stuck back at the inn, this day is a tedious affair of listening to the wind and rain assault the inn.


25 September
The day dawns clear and bright, and the party again goes shopping to acquire a week’s worth of rations. They could have set out in the morning, but Willa advises them to give the trails at least a full day of sunshine to dry out.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2019 4:38 pm    Post subject: Post 53: The Riddle of the Malhel II Reply with quote

Note: The information in this post is known only to the player of Aurora.

Previously:
Post 5: Backstory for Aurora of Tringlee

Post 49: The Riddle of the Malhel

New:
Post 53: The Riddle of the Malhel II
Concurrent with Post 51: Gradsul to Daerwald
15 - 17 September: Aurora travels from Gradsul on the Forest Road, and passes through Tanglewoods on her way to Daerwald. The names (“forest” road, “tanglewoods”) amuse her, as there are no woods or forests to be seen - just farm fields and open orchards. She reflects on her knowledge of history and reasons that hundreds of years ago, the boundaries of the Dreadwood must have extended much farther into the plains - perhaps the “Forest Road” really did traverse a forest, then. Most likely the farms and pastures of Keoland have been steadily eating into the edge of the Dreadwood for centuries.

Early on the 17th, the party faces the choice of taking a longer but better road, or a shorter but worse road, to Daerwald. Aurora slyly maneuvers Thokk into opting for the shorter road, as it takes them deeper into the true forest. If, as her master believes, the Malhel did retreat into the Dreadwood, but that fact has been hidden, it seems that she is more likely to discover evidence of their occupation the deeper into the forest they go.


Concurrent with Post 52: Daerwald
23 September: In the private library of the Baron of Daerwald, Aurora finds three volumes about the early history of Keoland, and one about the Yeomanry.

Although Suel migrants and interaction with Keoland figure prominently in the volume on the Yeomanry, nowhere are the Malhel mentioned. This seems curious considering Lord Baldin’s book claiming that is specifically where the Malhel went, but that was the only reference she has seen about the Yeomanry so far.

In the three volumes on Keoland, she finds the same curious passage, of exactly the same wording, describing how the Malhel were driven from Keoland, despite the three different books being of different ages and authors. In the first volume, the passage seems perfectly at place. But in the second, it looks as if it has had to be compressed to fit into the space allotted, and in the third, it is as if the line spacing has been temporarily increased to fit a short phrase in a large space. Each of the books is handwritten, and in each case the passage about the Malhel is in the same hand as that of the book - but something is definitely off. Aurora spends some time examining the pages, but cannot find anything of note. She even casts detect magic over the volumes - and then surreptitiously uses it to see whether any of the Baron’s books or scrolls are magical. She is left concluding that she needs to investigate whether a spell exists that could alter words on a page without leaving a magical trace, and whether there is a spell that could nonetheless detect the effects of such a spell.
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Kirt
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Joined: Jan 05, 2002
Posts: 551
Location: Sky Island, So Cal

PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 2:15 pm    Post subject: Post 54: Willa's Choice III Reply with quote

Note: The contents of this post are known only to the player of Willa

Previously:
Post 44: Willa's Choice:

Post 50: Willa's Choice II:

New material:
Post 54: Willa's Choice III
Concurrently with Post 52: Daerwald
Willa waits at least half an hour after the departure of Tyrius, Aurora, and Barnabus from the inn before following them to the Baron’s palace, as anyone out in this weather will attract attention. She slips a silver coin to a liveried servant at the palace and inquires after the trio. He is incensed that she would bribe him to spy on guests of the Baron, and has a mind to call for the palace guards. Willa hastily assures him that she is an agent of the Viscount of Salinmore (which helps quiet his objection to her accent) working in service to the King, keeping tabs on some suspicious characters (and here he agrees with her as well - Aurora certainly is suspicious). For a few more coins he agrees to send someone later to a pub she names.

Two hours later, another servant, just off-duty, arrives at the pub to tell her that Aurora spent much time in the library, and according to the second-story maid, read and examined in a most peculiar way books about the early history and founding of Keoland, and also about the Yeomanry. All told, Willa is out a lion and half for the evening, but she does make it back to the inn before the trio.
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