The party returned back to the ruins of Redlee Manor on Godsday, 4th of Wealsun. Massive winds, beyond anything they had ever experienced, were blowing from the south at hurricane strength. These winds effectively finished off the town, as the half-burnt structures could not withstand the storm. Nearly everything was simply wiped clean, the debris scattered to the winds.
The soldiers of Keoland hunkered down as best they could, and they tell you that these winds have blown for two days. It sounds like a great hurricane moved north from the Azure Sea, scouring the land as it made its way up the Sheldomar Valley. There has been nothing to do but stay down and wait.
The next day things let up, with gusts over 70, and the following day all the winds basically stop. The keolanders send scouts north towards the Rushmoors, but they return with no news. It seems the trolls have indeed scattered back to their holes, hopefully forever. The party buys some horses from the soldiers, at far above normal cost. They then prepare to say their goodbyes and begin the journey home.
You have but to choose your route home. You can retrace your former route. This would take you East, through the Gran March, Ulek, the Lortmils, and finally the Kron Hills and home. Or you can choose a new way, along the more well-traveled Watchtower Road to the North which lead to Bissel and Veluna. That route is longer, but it loops around the mountains. With horses on good roads over gentile rolling plains, you can make pretty good time.
The temp is now much higher, with highs of 87 and lows of 63. It is much more comfortable to travel, and the partly cloudy skies block the worst of the sun. The roads are still pretty wet from the storm, but the horses don't have much trouble. So, which way do we go?
[DM OOC: I reposted this first post, as it gives a good starting point. Also, Rualiss has chosen to remain behind with the people she saved. Yes, she is banished from the realms of the Fey; she may as well help those for whom she sacrificed. However, the pixie has decided to accompany the party. She owes the party a debt for saving her life, ultimately for her getting back her wings, so she pledges to aid them for a year and a day. Also, Isilme says goodbye and flies directly home. She seems troubled, and says she has much to consider. So, she uses her spells to fly, either polymorphing or just casting Fly, and takes off. So, the party currently is a bit different. Rakk and Isilme are gone, and the Pixie, Alii Aithene Vanilja, will be traveling with you. You almost never see her, as she flies around invisible a lot, investigating the world. She actually makes a great scout, as long as she remembers to return with reports!]
OK, you guys can travel about 50 miles/day. On the first day out, you run into some Knights of the March, led by Sir Allemere of Proman Shire. They are on their way to Fort Tribulation to assist against the trolls. They are much gladdened at the news of Skalmad's defeat and the retreat of the trolls. He bids you farewell and also gives you a script which you can present along the way. It is stamped with his signet, and will allow free travel and stay, that is at his expense, along the route north.
Starday-Sunday 8th and 9th of Weasun (582 CY)
It takes 4 days total to reach Hookhill, capital of the Gran March. Another day will see you across the northern border and into the March of Bissel. The weather turns bad, raining heavily. You have to spend a couple extra days here in Hookhill. Deduct funds which I assume will be about 5gp/day. That's 15 each. This is a large town of about 8,000 people. You can find nearly anything "normal" you seek here, so if you want to pick up stuff in the two days you'll be here, go ahead.
Sunday, 9th of Wealsun (582 CY)
The party was stuck in Hookhill for two days on account of the rain. One night Emyn sits quietly with Hepla. He requests she perform an oracle, to learn what he should to with the great Fey majik: The Mojo Powder.
Emyn's Mojo Powder Oracle
Emyn sits down before Hepla in the quiet of their room. Gotrek joins them out of curiosity. Nobody else is there, since nobody else mentioned it. So, it's just the three of them, with Gotrek sitting back watching over a mug of gutshaker. Hepla takes out her Oracle cards. "Whew," she giggles. "I thought I had lost these!" She then smiles at Emyn. "As your question."
Emyn says, "My love, the question I would like answered is: What would be the wisest wish for me to ask for when using the mojo powder?"
Hepla frowns. Emyn opens his mouth, wondering why, but then Hepla mutters something about men. He picks out the word vague, but before he can speak, she silences him with a finger to his lips. "No, you have asked. Shush!" She then lays three cards on the table, face down.
"These represent your past, present, and future," she says. She then flips over the left card, the PAST card....
Four of Swords - reversed
Description: The effigy of a knight in the attitude of prayer, at full length upon his tomb.
"This card represents the more passive of the two alternatives before you," she says. "It is the one that would come to pass through a relative lack of action; perhaps, the well-trodden road. This card is a potentiality, good or bad, of that choice. It's hallmark is circumspection, certain success following wise administration."
[DM OOC: OK, it may not be totally necessary to role-play EVERY aspect. So, I'll move on, giving Hepla's interpretation based on PMs with Protector.]
"The card represents the past, my dear," she says. "It highlights passive actions or lack of actions. Isn't that just like you?" She can't help but suppress a giggle before she continues.
"You often take the easy road, which is what this represents. In your past this has brought success. However, true success will only come through following sound wisdom...."
She is interrupted by a sudden and then stunted chortle from Gotrek. A quick and fierce glance at him stops his chuckling, and her look tells Gotrek that she can just as easily kick him out! He nods, though she can still see the faint smile that he tries to hide.
Hepla then returns to Emyn. "Shall we continue?"
Hepla then flips the 2nd Card, representing the Present.
Ten of Wands
Description: A man oppressed by the weight of the ten staves which he is carrying.
"This card represents the present," says Hepla, looking into it carefully. "It is the more active of the two alternatives before you." She looks into Emyn's eyes. "It is the end that will be achieved through a greater exertion of effort or risk; perhaps, the road less traveled by. Again, this card is a potentiality, good or bad, of that choice, for it holds many significances. Some of the readings cannot be harmonized. The chief meaning is oppression simply, but it is also fortune, gain, any kind of success, and then it is the oppression of these things. It is also a card of false-seeming, disguise, perfidy. The place which the figure is approaching may suffer from the burdens that he carries. Success depends on the card that follows it...."
When Emyn hears all this, he asks, "What's that mean?"
"Reading this about you, makes excellent sense, my love," says Hepla. "Your present is conflicted. In the present you ARE taking the road LESS traveled. It is the harder choice. It shows the difficulty that results, but offers more possibility for gain. However, there is a potential for suffering from that choice too."
Finally, Hepla flips the 3rd Card, representing the Future.
Six of Cups - reversed
Description: Children in an old garden, their cups filled with flowers.
Hepla seems shocked by the card. She starts to say something, then stops.
"What?" says Emyn, looking concerned. "What do you see?"
Hepla looks into his eyes. Is that a tear he sees? he wonders. She then takes a breath, composes herself, and continues. "This card represents your dilemma," she says. "A renewal which may come to pass presently, bringing pleasant memories. These are the forces - internal or external, relevant or irrelevant - that are presently guiding your preference. Perhaps, this represents a third opportunity?"
With that, Hepla sits back, silent.
Gotrek grunts, takes out a pipe and starts smoking. It is the first time anyone has seen Gotrek smoking a pipe. Gotrek gazes into the embers from the nearby fireplace, deep in thought.
Tears stain Hepla's face for a moment, she wipes them away as she says, "there are some other meanings which I will get to later. ...sniffle...I see we lost Gotreck for the moment, hope he comes back, he left his gutshaker unfinished. Lets see what the last three cards have to say then I will read the total , as best I can."
Hepla takes another card and places it face down on the table, below the first card of the past, the reversed Four of Clubs. She then places another, face down beneath the present and future cards. "These will help clarify the first cards," she says. "Let us start with the past," and she flips over the first one.
Temperance - reversed
Description: A winged angel, pouring the essences of life from chalice to chalice.
"Hm, this represents things connected with churches, religions, sects, the priesthood," she says. "That clearly means you, my dear. The reverse implies the competition with the church, sometimes even the priest who will marry the Queen." She giggles a bit. "That means me," she says. She then frowns. "Following the past may lead to disunion, unfortunate combinations, competing interests. So, in this position it may mean that your past decisions, connected to church and religion, would be bad choices now. However, it sometimes refers to the priest who marries the queen, and the resulting disunion that may bring."
She looks unsure for a bit, then adds. "There are clear indications that I factor into your question..." She pauses a bit at the end of her sentence, as if she knows more than she is saying. "Somehow," she then says, looking over at Gotrek.
Before Emyn can say anything, Hepla reaches out and flips out the second clarifying card. "This will help to understand the present," she says, setting it back down beneath the Ten of Wands. She seems to start with some trepidation, which clears suddenly as she reveals the card.
Description: An erect and princely figure carrying a drawn sword. Two sphinxes draw his chariot.
"Wow!" she says. "This is a powerful card. It shows success in war, triumph, and vengeance." She sees Emyn smiling, and does so herself. "It is really the King in his triumph. He succeeds in all things and masters his questions, symbolized by the sphinxes, and liberating his people. Again, interesting for you. When clarifying the second card, it really shows that the lesser road, the less easy road, is the one leading to success. The weight of the staves in the 2nd card was a worry, but this shows that it will not be so. You will enjoy massive success by the harder choice!"
Emyn seems lost in the card, the possibilities of the powerful card clearly affecting him. Any worries of the previous cards seem to disappear. Hepla has to SNAP! her fingers to get him to pay attention again!
"One more, my dear," she says with a giggle.
Hepla takes ahold of the last card with slightly trembling fingers. Emyn wonders if this last card will explain everything. He knows now that he will succeed by doing something different, and this card will clearly tell him what that is. At least that's what he thinks. It's obvious that Hepla feels that too. She flips the last card over....
Two of Pentacles
Description: A young man, in the act of dancing, has a pentacle in either hand, and they are joined by that endless cord which is like the number 8 reversed, showing infinity.
Hepla stares at it for a long time, thinking. Emyn wonders what it all means. She seems to have a hard time figuring out what to say. Finally, she speaks, smiling broadly to Emyn. "This is a card of gaiety, recreation and its connections. Troubles are more imaginary than real. Follow the final course, and true and infinite happiness awaits." She then picks up all the cards and puts them back with her deck.
Gotrek puffs at his pipe, gazing at Hepla. He gets up to go. He stops at Hepla. He taps her hands gently, as they cradle the tarot cards. He looks at Emyn.
"My friends, know that I will fight for whatever cause you deem just." He pauses. "As long as I get to kill whatever hinders my path."
"Master Gotrek, it is good to know you stand with us," she replies. "If there is any killing needed, you are the dwarf for it." He then leaves, and Hepla turns back to Emyn.
"Now dear, you were a bit vague on your question, best for whom, best now or in the future and many other modifiers that could have helped things a little. You have made good choices but something, perhaps your faith perhaps me, perhaps something related to both are giving you a problem. You will succeed greatly by making the harder choice. I think you will need to find that harder choice. Whatever it is know that I will always love you." Again a tear and a catch in her voice.
"Gotrek," shes says, calling to the dwarf as he leaves. "While Emyn thinks about this lets see if this place has any REAL drink. I need something strong and lots of it."
Emyn says, "I fear that I am more confused now than when I started. It seems I must follow a path less trodden and will gain success but by doing so, I may cause you (Hepla) to come to some sort of harm. Am I right?"
[DM OOC: You know nothing John Snow! Sorry, couldn't help myself!]
"Perhaps," she replies, "but I do not believe I will be harmed. This is your oracle, not mine."
[Tempus OOC: Boy we sure have managed to turn oracle into a useless spell!]
[DM OOC: Just because I refuse to let the gods give you a straight answer, doesn't mean it's useless. In fact, the spell works EXACTLY how it's supposed to work, even following the text insofar as the answer is in vague riddles. That is also how oracles have worked in real life, literature, and film, so I'm following standard precedent. Further, there ARE answers there. You just have to figure out what they mean!]
[Thorgrim OOC: Then it means what...? He shouldn't wish for his lost Constitution back? What else could this Oracle mean?]
Emyn looks around and tells Hepla, "Dear, I think I know what I must do. My mother often said that there is no harder road than being a parent. Ever since my parents died, I have been searching for a family. At first, it was the Church and my brotherhood but as I've learned, one can have many families. Our groups here is one. The peoples of Hommlet and Nulb are another. But most important is the one only you and I share. With you and with our children, I am finally at peace."
Emyn takes out the powder and uses it, saying, "I wish that Hepla will bear she and I many happy and healthy children."
Everyone looks on in shock (players AND characters), and none moreso than Hepla. She can barely stand it seems, and Emyn moves over to her, taken her in his arms, and kisses her warmly. Whe he leans back, she is wearing a beaming smile, and tears of happiness wet her cheeks. He lovingly wipes them away, and the couple head upstairs for the night.
At the Smoking Keg
The party spent the last couple days stuck in Hookhill, capital of the Gran March. They stayed at the Smoking Keg, a well-known inn and the supposed best in town. It is a large two-story establishment, with more rooms than you've ever seen. It's food is the best. They also learn that the inn serves as a temple as well, to Farlanghn.
The lay persons of the Gran March are generally ignorant of the fact that there is a large church operating within their midst. This church is not secretive, it is just so widespread and subtle that it is not really noticed unless one keeps their eyes open. The Gran March has long been a major trade route to the Sheldomar Valley and has seen thousands upon thousands caravans, heralds, traveling fairs, adventurers and wandering minstrels ride through. Where there are travelers, there is Fharlanghn. Though locals may not realize, that roadside marker was placed by a traveling cleric. Those road repairs last spring were sponsored by the faithful of the Dweller on the Horizon. That lonely little roadside inn with the cozy common room a day's ride away from the nearest town is a shrine.
There is no true hierarchy within the church, though younger priests defer to their elders. Until a cleric of Fharlanghn is unable to travel, they stay on the move. They may gather to combine their efforts on a large project or major exploration, but they are usually traveling alone. However, when an old or disabled cleric settles down, it is nearly always to the benefit of the community. These settled clerics build small chapels that also provide travel-related services. As an example of the benefit of a settled number of clergy of Fharlanghn, the temple in Hookhill boasts a fabulous inn, excellent stables, courier services, and a library of exceptionally current maps of areas throughout the western Flanaess. The temple in Shiboleth includes river ferry services. Lortenford's faithful are direct sponsors of the largest shipyards in that town. The newly created ferry service in Hochoch lands on the temple grounds there. The bridge in Murille, Audley's famous Woodside Inn, the ford at Holiford; all are a result of the church of Fharlanghn establishing a chapel in those communities.
The innkeeper of the Smoking Keg, Sven Oderlund, appears to be of Baklunish descent, with his golden skin, straight black hair that falls to his shoulders, and dark green eyes. He is slight of stature at 5'4" and 150 pounds, but he is trim and fit from years on the road. Sven is friendly and informative to those on the road, but not especially helpful. His deep voice carries a muddled accent that could be from the easternmost Flanaess, but it cannot be pinned down. Sven typically wears the faded green of a traveling priest of Fharlanghn, though traveling clothes of other colors suit him fine. He claims to hail from Tehn, though this does not match his obvious Baklunish bloodline. He is extensively traveled, having journals and stories from lands and people across the continent. But he has based himself out of the temple at Hookhill for the last year and a half.
[DM OOC: Sven is a good source of information from/about the world. Lots of adventure hooks may abound here, as well as opportunities to garner information from all over the Flanaess. So, I'll leave this for a bit, in case you want to ask him about anything. Remember, you're not talking to a sage. You're not going to learn the properties of a magic item or something like that. This is where you may learn what's happening in other parts of the world, or maybe rumors and such. Maybe he knows about other places you may be interesting in; you could ask that. Anyway, I leave it to you to learn what you will.]
"Fharlanghn is my patron deity, as a bard we hold him in great regard," says Elrae happily. He pulls out his cittern and plays songs praising Fharlanghn. He leaves his cap up to get a bit of coin to help pay for his room and drinks.
"We have just returned from some unpleasant business in the Rushmoors and are looking for any recent new you may have in these parts or any other around Greyhawk." Berenn then puts 10gp on the bar. "And we can skip the boring stuff."
He talks of some of the things that have reached his ears of late. Rumors of a lost temple to some Reptile God in the Rushmoors that was recently thrown down and cleaned out. Evil temples rising around Verbobonc, but then defeated by a band of intrepid adventurers. Troll troubles in the southern Rushmoors. Wars in the Bandit Kingdoms. A lot of stuff that you know about, as you took part in them!
"We are familiar with these event as some or all of us were participants in a few of these," replies Berenn. "We were hoping for something a little more current."
"How about a little more current info on the Bandit Kingdom Wars?" asks Gotrek, wondering what happened after he left.
Since Gotrek basically teleported here, Sven is way behind on this news. He only knows of the Shieldlander invasion. He doesn't know anything about what happened afterwards. He obviously doesn't know that Gotrek was there, and he soaks in all the infomation that Gotrek has to offer. In the end, he offers Gotrek free food and drink for his sharing.
"Have you heard any word of the Dwarven Ulek State, or of the Pomarj?" asks Thorgrim.
"Ah, the Pomarj, there were reports of a lot of fighting there," he says. "Nobody really knows for sure what's happening, but the humanoids have not raided out of the Pomarj since they started fighting with each other."
"It's Turrosh Mak at work, I'm certain," Thorgrim says. "I pray the power doesn't go to his head, and that he doesn't destroy all life in the Suss in his quest for a New Society. Frankly I'm amazed he's lived thus far, and that he's brought others to his cause. Though killing and personal gain is the cause most fight for, I'm sure." He looks at Gotrek. "You know the type. Still, we must all follow our path."
"As for the Ulek States," he continues, "the elves are being a bit more touchy than normal, and the borders are now totally closed."
"Insular Elves..." Thorgrim mutters. "Yet Dwarves are the same way. It comes to no good, when races keep only to themselves. For the world always changes. By 'Sbeard, I swear it."
"Berenn!" Thorgrim calls. "Your Elf Friends have sealed up the gates." To the party present, he speaks in low tones. "This is the sort of thing nations do when they prepare for war. I trust them not. But then I wonder why Clanggedin granted me my vision in the land of Celene?"
"Sven, I thank you." Thorgrim reaches in his belt pouch and hands him 10gp with a handshake. "For the drink, and the news."
"Closing the gates doesn't indicate aggression, it is isolation," Berenn responds. "The people of Celene in general showed me little more trust than they showed you Thorgrim. Elves aren't very trusting by nature and I doubt recent events will convince them to be more trusting."
"Mm!" Thorgrim grunts.
The party also says goodbye to Isilme here, as she decides to fly directly home. She received some mushrooms from the Fey, reported to be able to awaken any sleeping creature. Her immediate thoughts were of Prince Thrommel, and now she decides to not waste another minute. After a good night's rest, she takes her leave of the party and begins to head home on her own, using Fly spells to cover ground quickly. It will take her only 5 days to get back to Verbobonc using all her available magic.
Moonday, 10th of Wealsun (582)
The party heads out in the morning, on their way north towards the March of Bissel. [I put up Atlas info for Bissel!]. It takes them a day to get to Wallsend, the last town of the Gran March before the border. From there it is a one day journey north, across the border, to the town of Siheftorm. Another two days takes them to Pelak, a large town, some call it the second capital, of the March of Bissel. It is nestled up along the edge of a ring of lightly forested hills, and is the central crossroads of the land. The Watchtower road continues north, while secondary roads head east and west from here.
It's now Waterday the 12th. Weather holds at a nice 85 or so, with comfortable nights. It's a right nice journey. The party continues on the next day. It takes another few uneventful days to reach Valiserat Keep. There is another excellent inn there, though as this is an important crossroads. From there the Low Ridge Road heads NE, cutting across the tip of the Lorridges, and eventually reaching Falsford along the Fals River. The Fals is a tributary of the Velverdyva, and barges regularly ply its waters. It's not really navigable to anything more than barges, and even those can only travel through sections, with many falls (hence the name!) cutting the river off into separate segments. However, the Great Western Road runs along the southern bank of the Fals clear to Mitrik, capital of Veluna. From there it goes all the way to the Free City of Greyhawk!
Hepla comes down to breakfast a little late. On the road she says, "It is a nice warm day, but for some reason I am reminded of the dead of winter. Mom, And me when I was old enough, would go out some evenings anfter midnight and visit homes of some poor people. Star would go in first to make sure they were asleep then we would come in. Sometimes we had to use the chimney. We then left food and firewood, if anyone was sick a cure spell. If they had children some toys. Now that I am with you some of the elves help mom. I now imagine those little children and how happy they would be when they would awaken."
The next day the party can leave. From what Noot hears, the best route is NE, along the Low Ridge Road. Even if you continue along the Watchtower Road all the way to Thornwood, you then head back down the Great Western Road to Falsford anyway.
Waterday the 12th of Wealsun (582 CY)
The party starts to travel NE, along the Low Ridge Road. The first day is uneventful and brings them to the foothills of the Lorridges. After a good night's sleep in another inn, they press on to the small town of Claebe. It is an otherwise drab little town, maybe only a few hundred people. It's not walled, though you've noticed a lack of fortifications in the area. This part of Bissel, the Barony of Munderik, seems pretty peaceful, far from any volatile borders. Further, the Lorridges have long been cleared of humanoid threats, with none arising since the days of the Hateful Wars. It's a pleasant change to travel through decent country for a change!
Just wanted to post this. I put a copy of this map in the Atlas. The party is currently in Claebe. Weather is holding nicely, still warm but cloudy. It's a bit humid, but it never rains.
[DM OOC: Everyone should take off another 50gp so far for all the room and board of the trip.]
[Tempus OOC: 50gp! inflation must of hit, because that should give you room and board at the inn for a year with PH prices.]
[DM OOC: But everyone is paying for NOBLE rooms. That was 10 days of room and board at noble rates. 5gp/day seems about right, which includes taking care of mounts too. Hey, I'm just relieving you all of a bit of coin. Don't sweat it!]
Earthday, 13th of Wealsun - Low Summer (582 CY)
The temperature drops a bit as the party travels through the Lorridges. Highs are only in the mid70s, and the skies remain partly cloudy all day with a slight wind from the north. Again, it's relatively peaceful. There are a handful of travelers heading the opposite way, but all-in-all everything is nice. By the evening the party arrives at the walled town of Caelmet. They are a bit surprised to see walls, for they had seen none for some time. It's a very small town, and you do notice that Rao and St. Cuthbert seem unusually popular here.
Emyn asks why the need for walls to the local innkeep. He is also interested in news of anything of note in the area. He will spend some coin to learn of goings on if needed.
The walls were built after the Hateful Wars. The rampaging hordes destroyed everything in their path, and we vowed it would not happen again. He tells the story of the end of the wars, when that happened. Almost no humanoids are left in the region. In 510 CY the last of the Euroz and Jebli tribes were driven forth from the Lortmil Mountains. One particularly large horde made the ill-advised attempt to reach the Yatil Mountains by crossing the gap from the Lorridges. Unfortunately for these creatures they had been preceded by lesser bands, and the combined cavalry of Bissel and Veluna stood ready to stem the tide. Almost all were slaughtered along the Fals River, and those which did make it north to the Yatils found no friends amongst the elves, gnomes, and halflings there. The Lorridges have been a quiet, peaceful range of hills ever since.
"It is good to see you've kept the rabble under control. Tell me, the worship of Rao and St. Cutherbert seems common here. What of Trithereon?"
Trithereon too is well-considered. It is always such along the frontiers, where men stand on their own feet. Of course, Rao was the religion of the area when this fell under the Archclericy's domain. Though Bissel has since claimed independence, the reach of the church is ever strong here. And St. Cuthbert, well, who doesn't pay him homage?
The party goes to sleep, all except Vaddara who heads out to look around. She returns later, in the middle of the night, and quickly wakes up her friends. Once everyone is awake she tells what she has discovered:
She went to the nearby monestery to ask permission from the monks to build a small shrine to Tarsellis. She flew there but chose to land at the bottom of a long flight of hundreds of steps and walk them as a show of respect for their beliefs. Half way up in a small sitting area she found three dead monks. The arrows in their back indicated they didn't die of natural causes. One was barely alive, and all he said was "that an elf slay them".
"To horse!" exclaims Emyn. The party rapidly gets their gear together.
"Having been there, I'll lead," says Vaddara. "I doubt there is anyone to save or enemies still there but we should be able to gather enough clues to figure out who was behind this. One clue is an elf was behind it. We can ask a few other victims some questions."
As they leave, she adds, "I hope it's not dark elves."
[DM OOC: This was a strange turn of events. The party had stopped for the night, with everyone getting something to eat and then going to bed. Vaddara decided to use her abilities to create a small shrine here, just outside of town. She was told she ought to check with the monks first. She then cast Wings of God (basically fly) and flew to their monastery. I don't know actual mileage; but it was about a couple hours away. When she arrived, she found a dead monk, killed by an elf as she learned from a Speak with Dead. She came back to get the rest of you. So when she returns she finds the rest of the party asleep. She had to wake everyone up to tell them what she found.
So here's the situation. Vaddara has awoken everyone, and the party seemed to feel they should follow her back to the monastery to see what has happened. It's nearly midnight. You can be there in a few hours. The party decides to make all haste, lest more innocents die.]
Following the stream which flows down the long valley from higher in the foothils, it takes only a few hours to reach the steps that lead up to the Monastery of Serene Thought.
"Where is the body?" asks Hepla.
"About halfway up," answers Vaddara quickly.
The body is found about halfway up the stairs, in a small sitting area for people who probably can't make it all the way up the steps in one shot. You know, the Kung Fu Panda types! It has three arrows in the back, and is lying in a pool of water off to the side. No sign of poison.
Gotrek stays to the right hand ledge, to get to the top of the staircase. He will look around from up there, to try and get a different perspective on the situation.
"I checked this area and spoke with dead," says Vaddara. "I didn't move further up the stairs choosing to go back and get everyone."
Hepla checks out the body carefully, but finds nothing of note other than the obvious arrow wounds.
"Ah! The Monastery of Serene Thought! This is the temple you were speaking of!" says Thorgrim. "I was contemplating a visit. This monk looks like he got a bit more Serenity than he bargained for." Thorgrim moves to the body and starts to get it out of the water.
"Let's fish him out," he says. "He deserves better."
"Deserves got nothing to do with it," says Gotrek, glancing back and seemingly unconcerned.
[DM OOC: BTW, These are monks of Rao, more like Franciscan monks. Don't think martial arts monks here!]
Berenn tells Gotrek to hold, so he can look around for clues. "It looks like the monk ran down the stairs from up above," he says quickly, scanning the ground and noticing blood splatter. "He collapsed here, fell, and rolled into the water." He looks up, his eyes following the rising stairs into the darkness. "Whatever happened, happend up there."
"Then let us go," says Gotrek, that all-too-familiar look in his eyes.
From the top of the steps, you see the entrance to the monastery. It rests in a large natural cleft in a rocky knoll. The path from the stairs leads straight ahead, and in the darkness Gotrek can see a wall stretching across from cliff face to cliff face. It has an open gate in the center, and beyond the open gate are the hulking masses of some large buildings. In the darkness, and at this distance, he cannot see much else. He doesn't see anyone around.
Vaddara picks up rock about 2 inches in diameter and and casts continual light. She then throws the rock as accurately as possible to land inside the gate area.
The stone flies over the wall and lands about 15' beyond. It illuminates the area there. You all are further away, maybe 50 or so. You can't see through the wall, obviously, but you can see what's through the gate. I'll give more descriptions as you approach, but from here you are first struck by a couple more dead bodies in the pathway, just inside the gate. Beyond them it looks like there's a collonade leading to maybe a little outside temple area.
[DM OOC: BTW, the pixie is not with you. It was supposed to "maybe" become somebody's character. Maybe someday it will. For now it left with Isilme to go to her grove. It'll be in Hommlet when you get there, but it's NOT here now. Just thought you may want to know.]
"I fear this monastery has been attacked," says Emyn. "We must be wary for enemies may yet be about. If we are lucky, there may be survivors." He moves forward to get a better look.
"Let's enter and see what's afoot," says Thorgrim, as he moves forward with Emyn.
The area is fine grass, with a cobblestone path leading to the front gate, lined with flowering shrubs. There are two large oaks to either side, just up against the cliff faces. Emyn, Thorgrim, and Hepla move up to the entrance. The rest of the party follows behind them with Berenn taking the rear, bow in hand and arrow nocked.
Emyn and Thorgrim barely pass the gate so they can look inside. Though massive, the heavy carved gates of the monastery are wipe open. The entrance walk (area 112) is an open-air structure, a peaked roof supported by wooden pillars. Just outside the walk, four statues, each an identical carving of a thinking man, stand, facing out. [The map shows the ground with snow, but there's none this time of year!] Two monks of Rao lie here dead.
This enclosed building ahead (area 11) has no windows. It's 30' wide, and 10' deep. A couple steps lead up between two statues to an open archway. There's another open archway of the opposite side of the building, which leads to a garden (area 10). From here you can see a pool of water in the center of the garden. It is apparently surrounded by a collonade, as you can just make out some columns.
Hepla examins the first body for any sign of what killed it and if it was carrying anything. They are men. One was stabbed in the chest, while the other had his face bashed in by something large and heavy....
Off to the left is a simple building (area 9), less ornate than the rest of the monastery. The skittish horses neigh loudly from within, so it must be a stable. Movement within the garden area catches Emyn's eye, and looking that way he sees something large, just on the edge of the light. It steps out, and he clearly sees it's an ogre! [You should be able to barely see the token, the old school MM image.]
Emyn yells, "Ogre!" and points towards the garden.
"Emyn, Gotrek, see to the ogre. I will follow behind with the main group," Thorgrim says. His eye is roving all around, seeking hidden dangers and foes.
To the party, he says, "I think when we enter the monastery, those who can see in the dark should go first. That means me and Gotrek. For now, let's follow."
Gotrek advances quickly towards the ogre. Goreblade feels lighter in his hands. He swings it in a figure 8, as he charges forward.....
"Ogre! I hate ogres!" Berenn drops his bow and charges forward blades drawn.
Hepla moves into the stables, where she finds two small ponies. There doesn't seem to be anything else of interest within. As she comes back out, she sees Emyn move forward into the building, then out of sight.
Emyn moves up through the building [area 11]. Benches rest against both the east and west walls. Folding screens on either side of the southern door display peaceful country scenes and a beautiful, white-haired woman striding through the snow, beautific light behind her. Two oil braziers on either side of the northern doors provide heat for the room when needed, though both are currently not lit.
He moves on into the gardens (area 10). A stone path encircles a pool of water in the small, but serene garden. Four identical statues, carved in the form of beautiful women look on from the four corners of the garden. The garden is open to the night air.
Emyn is attacked by the ogre which swings a large two-handed sword at him (AoO). He ducks, moves up the beast, and swings his bastard sword, hitting it for . Before it can attack, Gotrek rushes up alongside Emyn, slashing at the ogre . It reels back, bringing it's two-handed sword down in a chop at Gotrek, who easily dodges the blow. Berenn then moves up as well.
Vaddara casts Stoneskin. Noot and Elrae stand guard next to her, as does Thorgrim.
Berenn is about to move up to attack the ogre too, when he is struck in the leg by an arrow . He doesn't know from whence it came, but it is from somewhere up ahead in the darkness.
Emyn shouts, "Someone turn on the damned lights!"
Another arrow streaks down hitting Berenn . He ignores it, splashing ahead through the pond to attack the ogre. It misses him as he approaches, and Berenn cuts its leg out from under it with Bonefire [not flaming] and with his other blade. Both hits drop the ogre, and Gotrek finishes it with a massive chop to its head!
Vaddara puts away the continual light stone and casts Animal Senses (Bat sonar), while Hepla casts Fly. Thorgrim moves up into the building, looking around. He cannot see anyone. Noot checks the bodies. They are just monks [remember, these area like Franciscan monks, NOT oriental Shao Lin monks!] with nothing on them but some sandals and robes.
The double doors to a large hall just passed the gardens then burst open as another ogre comes rushing out! It charges straight at Berenn, whom it slashes with a two-handed sword . Berenn is knocked backwards, falling into the water which is only about 2' deep.
Emyn steps up and attacks, missing.
Another arrow then streaks down from above somewhere, hitting Emyn in the chest .
Hepla can now fly. Vaddara has bat sonar to work with her infravision. In fact, everyone except Elrae can see fine, which is why he moved into the building. He's using Snowfang to see the area around himself, and that's shown on the map with the blue aura. The only ones who can see the archer are Berenn, Emyn, and Gotrek. Nobody else can see far enough with infravision, which is now revealing the map with red. The archer is atop the edge of the great hall that the ogre just exited, and it is haloed with yellow.
[DM OOC: Just in case you don't understand the map, I'll explain. There are cliffs to either side. The monastery occupies the space in between, in this 100' cleft in the rock. There was a wall blocking it off, with an open gate. You passed through that and into the open area beyond. You're not in a building. Everything is open EXCEPT where there are buildings.
Area 11 is a building. It is the entrance hall, covered and windowless. It is a waiting area.
Area 9 is a stable, with a couple ponies within.
Area 10 is an open garden with a pond. There is a stone path around it, with lots of shrubs, little statues, etc.
The path leads up the steps ahead to a large building, maybe 20' high. Inside you see pillars holding up the roof; it's some sort of Great Hall or something. It was from this hall that the second ogre appeared. The archer is on the roof of this buildilng. There are two other buildings which you can see, to the left and right of the great hall. The door to the left one is open, but you can't see what's inside.]
"Archers!" yells Gotrek. "Somebody take care of that bugger!"
[Berenn OOC: Berenn would normally do that, but the ogres madehim not think straight. He dropped his bow back outside the wall. Sorry.]
"We're going inside," Thorgrim calls over his shoulder. "Elrae, a little something for the archer? Hepla, why don't--damn." Thorgrim then advances inside and to the left, ready to back his friends, secure that archer, or, more likely, deal with the next attackers.
"Hepla! Show no mercy!" Thorgrim calls. "It can't be a defender!"
Vaddara moves up, staying within aid distance of Thorgrim and watching for any potential attacks from the sides or rear. She enters the building, standing next to Elrae, who now casts Stoneskin himself.
Hepla flies across the garden, looking for the archer she heard about, but never saw. Without a pause, she continues into the great hall, where she sees another monk on the floor, seemingly dead. [The creature next to him isn't there. That's where the ogre started, but it has subsequently moved outside. It's still on the base map though, so ignore it.]
Outside, Berenn stands up and slashes at the ogre . It stumbles to the ground as Gotrek and Emyn simultaneously hit it with axe and sword, finishing it off. Noot slips around the right side of the entrance building, hiding in the abundant shadows.
Emyn moves up to where Hepla is. She makes sure the monk's dead, nods to Emyn, then looks around. This ornate hall features wooden pillars the length of the hall, a lavishly carved wooden throne upon a dais and balconies which run the length of the east and west walls. The grand hall is used to entertain important visitors and to conduct official monastic ceremonies. Each pillar bears a different relief from the tenets of Rao. Lamps hang near each pillar, their fires currently out, and a series of oil braziers beneath each balcony, when lit, provide heat for the room.
Berenn casts CSW on himself, healing all his damage. Gotrek then looks up when something catches his eye. It looks like a small dot, then get brighter, and brighter, until he recognizes that it's a ball of fire.
"Fireball!" he shouts, and dives to the side, tackling Berenn and taking him underwater just as the flaming ball explodes in the center of the garden!
Berenn takes  and Gotrek takes . Nobody else is in the area of effect. The covered overhang that surrounds the garden is now completely aflame!
"Archers and wizards, it appears," says Elrae, looking outside the small building. "We need to approach with caution."
"Anyone see where that fireball came from?" yells Berenn as he and Gotrek come out of the water.
Gotrek points up above the buildings to the NE, but high in the dark sky. "Up there somewhere." Gotrek climbs out of the water, pulling Berenn behind him. "Now what?"
The area is well lit now, thanks to all the burning wood from the covered walkway. In fact, the roof of the southern building where Thorgrim, Vaddara, and Elrae are starts to burn now. Elrae steps out, Snowfang in hand. He wants to thrust Snowfang into the flames to extinguish them, but he cannot reach.
As he stands there, Hepla leaves the great hall, calling across to Vaddara, "Vaddara, take out the light stone, now, ...please."
Vaddara takes out the light stone, calling to Hepla. "Now what?"
"We take away their darkness," she replies. "Throw it!"
Vaddara tosses the stone out, and Hepla casts Levitate on it, raising it into the air another 20' (remember, that's speed of Levitate!) which gives 30' total. It creates light in a 60'r, so you can see further above you, and don't see anyone.
Berenn runs back out to the entrance where he can retrieve his bow, while Emyn stands guard by Hepla. When Berenn gets outside, he sees somebody flying up and away carrying his bow! The figure is quickly out of sight, and all Berenn can do is wave a fist at it.
Thorgrim and Vaddara exit the building with Elrae, because it's really burning now. They get out just before a piece of burning wood falls in the archway. Noot had moved to the backside, trying to stay in the shadows, but the burning building is getting to be too much. He rushes back to the far wall, where he again will try to hide in shadows.
Gotrek is looking up [just after drinking his potion of Ex-Healing and getting back to full hit points] and seeking their flying foe, when a lightning bolt flashes down the alley between the great hall and the building to the right. It hits him in the back , knocking him about 5' and to the ground. As he gets up shakily, he notices that his buckler now has a huge hole blasted in the center and is useless! The bolt continues into the wall of the entrance building, blasting out a chunck and sending the rest of that corner toppling in a flaming mess!
Vaddara summons a snowman. She then looks around, trying to use her bat senses.
Thorgrim chucks his flask of acid in the direction the Lightning Bolt came from, as a distraction. "This garden is become a shooting gallery! We need to leave. Regroup in that building!" he shouts. Thorgrim charges to the building, but doesn't enter. Instead he stops outside and around the corner from the mage, in that square just to the west of Emyn. There he doffs his backpack, and opens it.
"Hepla! Detect Invisible!"
"Don't know detect invisible," Hepla says. She finds she cannot see anything above, so she cast Invisible on herself. "Sorry dear, " she says to Emyn.
"Better that you are safe, dear."
Emyn puts away his sword and takes out a normal javelin. He will also use his shield again. Elrae rushes passed them, into the building, moving deeper within to not be bunched up.
Berenn shouts from beyond the wall. Only Noot hears him, standing atop the wall himself. Noot says that he sees the elf, but cannot reach him with a throw, so he leaps down. He runs around the side of the burning building, shouting and pointing back towards Berenn, "Flying Elf in the air!"
The elf flies away, out of Berenn's sight. He takes off running back inside and around the building. He notes that the stables are now burning, and he hears the horses neighing wildly within.
Finally, another ogres bursts out of the building to the left of the great hall, with the open doorway. It charges straight at Vaddara, slashing her with its sword. Thankfully, she has Stoneskin!
Gotrek gets up, sees the ogre, and move to meet it as Vaddara steps away.
Another lightning bolt flashes down the ally, this one blasting into the supports of the flaming overhang and bringing most of the eastern part crashing down. It slams into the entrance building too, destroying the last corner support beams which causes half of that building to collapse in a flaming heap. The collapse also brings down a section of the west overhang, which narrowly misses the ogre.
The snowman moves over to put the fire out, when the ogre smacks it with a backhanded blow, knocking it to the ground in two pieces!
Thanks. One of the few perks for running online games, you have quick and easy access to lots of images! I find that they often save me from having to write so much, picture being worth a thousand words and all! :)
Zoomed view of courtyard. You can easily see that the overhang has collapsed in places. I've put wooden debris there and added some more fire in places. The building to the south is burning wildly too, and I've added rubble there. Finally, I removed the snowman [bye Olaf!]. The ogre hit it with an AoO. Everyone can still move this round.
Here's a new progress map. I'm going to add the area that Noot's about to see, just for more reference points.
You can see that there are building to the right of the one you are in. (Those are 16 and 17.) There's also a passage leading into the cliff (area 18). Actually, Noot's the only one who can see that, as he entered the building alone! As for the lightning bolt, it came from the north, between the building you are in (13) and the ones to the right (16/17). It was shot down that ally! Also, most of the fire is above you. However, where there is wood on the ground or debris or around the collapsed southern entrance building, the fire is on the ground. That's basically the whole right side of the covered walkway, the southern building, and the south half of the west walkway, behind the ogre. So, you can move "through" the northern flames, or more appropriately under them; sorry, maps don't do 3D too well!
Noot moves quickly over to the building to the right (area 16), pushing against the door. It swings open easily, and he ducks inside. He waits for a moment for his eyes to adjust, and then looks around.
This hall is used for large group exercises, and there are a couple of racks of staves on the walls. The hall is devoid of furnishings, though the walls are all hung with silk tapestries featuring the stylized image of a peaceful man standing before soldiers, as if holding them back by sheer willpower. Though mostly empty, the immaculately clean hall’s wooden floors have a warm luster indicative of many hour of polishing and waxing. There are four oil braziers at the corners, though none are lit. There is a passage heading east, directly into the cliff face. It continues out of sight, and Noot sees some sort of alcoves that way. To the north there is another building (area 17). He cannot see much about it from here, as it's not lit. It's also beyond his limited infravision. However, he can see that there's an open doorway at the far northern end. Beyond that there is light, coming from somewhere. Standing in the doorway he sees the silhouette of a short, stout man (or something like that. It's a silhouette in a doorway 50' away.)
Vaddara looks like she wants to cast a spell, then reconsiders. She stands there, very indecisive, then thinks that it's better to get out of this ring of fire, before something worse happens. She rushes ahead, following Thorgrim's earlier shout, and pushes passed him and into the great hall.
Thorgrim will quaff from his Potion of Invisibility while holding on to his backpack. He will stash the remainder in the empty slot on his utility belt as he backs up inside, not liking that burning overhang above his head.
Elrae moves down the great hall, to the next chamber (area 14). This is a shrine to Rao. Most religious functions were performed in this chamber. The room contains two wooden pillars, a stone bowl of wash-water, two braziers (unlit), a small altar shrine, and two wooden stands upon which religious texts can be placed. The double doors to the north are bashed open. He sees a short hallway to another set of double doors, also bashed open. He can't see what's in the far chamber (area 15).
Meanwhile, the ogre attacks Gotrek, missing. Gotrek slashes back with Goreblade, cutting the ogre across its massive chest .
Berenn casts Protection from Fire, preparing to enter the burning stables. Actually, he then takes a 5' move inside, as much to get out of sight of anyone flying about as anything else.
Emyn steps out, switching weapons to his javelin, and moves through the fire to the corner of the building. Peeking around, he sees down the alley. At the far end, he notes somebody peeking around the corner of the right building (17). [The bare bit of a token should be visible on the map.]
Suddenly, Noot comes flying back out the doorway! Hepla doesn't see what happened, but Noot is lying on the ground outside, clearly injured badly. He took  from an unknown source!
Gotrek slashes the ogre again, hitting it for  and killing it!
Hepla flies over to Noot,about 10 ' above him, ad looks to see what is inside 16. From her vantage point, 10' above him, she can see only to the north side of the lower chamber (area 16). She continues up to the doorway, the drops down enough to look. She sees the same thing I posted for Noot before. There's a figure at the far end, though she cannot make it out. It's just the silhouette of a man about 50' away.
Vaddara shouts, "EVERYONE INSIDE!!"
Emyn was about to charge, throwing his javelin, but upon hearing Vaddara, he backs up and enters the large hall.
"Gotrek! Join us!" Thorgrim shouts. He then drinks his Potion of Flying. Unfortunately for Thorgrim, he finds the potion of flying doesn't work. Sorry, but that's a dwarf thing!
[Thorgrim OOC: Aaaargh! Thorgrim needs him a Dwarven Alchemist!]
An arrow flies down from above, stapling Noot's arm to the ground. He tries to get up, but is stuck! [No damage, just one of those sneaky elven arrow tricks!] Noot begins to try and tear himself free. Gotrek sees this happen and rushes to his aid, ignoring Thorgrim's shout. Noot breaks free, just as Gotrek get to him.
Hepla meanwhile tosses a coin into the room. Gotrek hears it clatter and looks up, just in time to take a hammer in the face! He takes  and he's knocked backwards to the ground! He shakes his head, and all three see the hammer speed back into the building out of sight.
Meanwhile, inside the great hall Elrae checks the last chamber. This large room is mostly empty and rarely entered. A large concave mirror rests on an altar near the north wall. The room is never heated and there is not means for doing so. Oil lamps hang near each of the four pillars. They are full of oil, but unlit. There are no exits. He hears Vaddara, and returns that way.
"There's no way out," he says.
"Then I shall make one," says Vaddara. [OOC: Planning to have her cast Warp Wood and make an exit. Question is...where.]
Berenn goes into the stables and frees the ponies. He grabs alongside one, riding it outside as it clears the wall and runs away. He dives off it in the shadows outside the compound walls and slips into the trees near where the party came up the stairs. His idea is to get up above that cliff and regain the high ground!
Emyn prays to Trithereon and Summons Avengers to aid him. He doesn't know what he summons, as he follows Thorgrim's call and retreats back inside. He does hear a cracking sound, like another lightning bolt, from down the ally, though nothing comes his way. Least it seems he's created a distraction!
Looking up, nobody can see the archer firing from above. He's up in the darkness somewhere. However, that shot came virtually straight down at Noot, so those there can reason the archer is up on the hillside or flying up where you can't see him and/or is invisible.
OK, shifted the map a bit. Emyn doesn't know what he summoned, but hopefully it's working! Berenn is off the map to the south, but he's going to work his way up the hillside. Noot and Gotrek are both still prone; Gotrek knocked down this round, and Noot was last round and then had his arm stapled to the hard ground with an arrow shot from nearly straight above him! Hepla is flying just next to the doorway from which the hammer was thrown. She's actually mostly "above" the doorway, peeking in from above.
Inside the great hall, Vaddara moves up enough to cast her spell outside. She summons an Ice Storm which pretty much cancels out the fires, or will by the end of the round. Lots of steam starts rising nearly immediately. The Ice Storm covers the entire area, and Hepla is blinded by the stinging sleet just as a couple more arrows fly out at her, bouncing off her Stoneskin! Just before the sleet blinds her, she catches a glimpse of the elf firing arrows at her from the top of the cliff:
She notices that he is using Berenn's bow!
Meanwhile, Thorgrim casts Detect Invisibility, while Elrae moves back towards the rest.
Noot gets loose from the arrow, then crawls over to the corner of the building and the cliff side. There he hides in shadows.
Two arrows streak down together, bouncing off Hepla's Stoneskin. Clearly, the archer can see her despite her invisibility.
Hepla flies straight up, seeking the elf. She begins to scan the area.....
[DM OOC: This takes time due to the limitation of the spell, ESPECIALLY in three dimensions!]
Berenn calls upon St. Cuthbert [casts his CSW], healing himself completely.
Gotrek gets up, and he sees a bright flash, illuminating the figure at the far end of the buildings. He now sees that it's a dwarf, and it turns and throws a hammer in the other direction. There's another flash of lightning down there, and then the dwarf catches his hammer as it returns to his hand.
Gotrek charges down the hallway. He reaches the dwarf and hits him with Goreblade  knocking the dwarf face-first into the ground! Gotrek continues singing, and sees the following:
Close up of the other end of the building: Gotrek's view.
The dwarf rolls over and immediately gets up (he hadn't used any movement this round).
"Hrmph," he says, grinning. "Finally somebody worth killing!"
Also, about 5' away to Gotrek's immediate left is a wizard, who looks completely shocked (no pun intended). "Finish him Obmi!" he yells quickly.
The light from the Continual Light rock is centered 50' up, at which point it goes all the way to the walls. At the ground, it's only a 10' radius, basically the bottom of the light "sphere." Most the light is reddish, to show you all are using infravision. There's a bit of light from Snowfang, and some torchlight coming from the room off to Gotrek's right. I should also have added that Gotrek came out just in time to see some sort of creature dematerializing behind the two he just found. That was Emyn's avenger, which they defeated in one round! It DID distract them though...
[Gotrek OOC: Oh, Crap! Someone stop that bugger from casting! I got the dwarf!]
Emyn shouts out the door, "Why did you kill these innocent monks? By Trithereon, I demand an answer!"
If Emyn could see the priest of Iuz who strides out of the doorway to Gotrek's right, he wouldn't consider a parlay!
"I told you I can create us a doorway right through the side of this building," says Vaddara sharply. "Just tell me where!"
Elrae pulls out the wand of earth in his left hand. "We can passwall to help out Gotrek." He tries, but it doesn't work on the wooden wall of the building.
"It doesn't work on wood," says a frustrated Vaddara.
Hepla drops down, hitting the roof . She can ease herself down the side, if that's what she wants to do. Is she trying to get inside? She knows that she must be pretty close to the doorway.
Vaddara casts Mirror Image, creating 4 images of herself. Hepla drops down, hitting the roof . She can ease herself down the side, if that's what she wants to do.
Hepla continues down the side of the building, her feet eventually finding the open doorway. She goes down and finds herself inside the building.
At the far end she sees Gotrek's back in silhouette. Beyond him is another dwarf. She can't see anyone else. Then she hears a scraping noise. Looking back to the right, down the passage (area 18) she sees four zombies approaching her, hands outstretched. (I'll get back to them, as they move last!)
Thorgrim casts Pro-from-Fire, stepping 5' deeper into the building.
"Our opponents were in the alley last we saw, a few minutes ago," Thorgrim says. "We should begin our search there. And find the others."
"I can open an exit in the back wall," says Vaddara. "Go there!"
Elrae and Emyn both rush to far end. Thorgrim takes a 5' step.
Noot stands up, hiding in place. He's in the only corner spot NOT in the Ice Storm, so he's not moving.
Gotrek turns and hacks at the wizard to his left, taking a 5' step to do it. [yeah, the spaces don't work out perfectly, but I said the wizard was 5' away.] He lands a heavy blow against the wizard , knocking him back against the far wall of the great hall. Gotrek also takes  from an electrical jolt when he makes contact!
The wizard points his rod at Gotrek, and a bolt of lightning erupts from it, blasting him for another  and knocking him back 5' though he doesn't fall.
The priest casts a Hold Person on Gotrek, who feels his entire body start to tighten up. He bites his lip, making himself bleed to fight through the spell. As he tastes the blood, he realizes the priest's spell failed.
Then the dwarf lets loose with his hammer again. It smacks Gotrek in the side of his right shoulder , knocking him back into the building, but again he refuses to go down!
Looking back out as the dwarf catches his hammer, Gotreks sees three ogres running up behind the dwarf, fanning out around him as they charge him.....
Berenn starts moving around to the hilltop.
FInally...the zombies move for the doorway. Hepla BARELY is able to twist out of their way, as they file out passed her, oblivious to her presence. As soon as they exit, they slip and fall on the slick, ice-encrusted ground.
"Hah!" cries the dwarf. "I've got you now, you warty nose-picking, troll-barf!" He swears, throwing his hammer again. Gotrek spins out of the way, rolling to the side to avoid the blow as the hammer whips by, spins around, and returns magically to the dwarf's hands. "Hah!"
The Electro wizard slips across Gotrek's line of sight, making his way towards the priest. "Damned dwarf packs a punch," he says as he passes the doorway, rod leveled at Gotrek. But can you take many more?" The crackling electricity building up on the tip of the rod warns Gotrek of what's about to happen and he throws himself flat as a blast of lightning erupts from the rod. Gotrek takes  more as the bolt mostly misses him. It impacts on the next doorway, blasting the wooden wall apart!
"Come," says the priest. "Enough of this. It's not here anyway."
The three ogres move up to attack Gotrek, each missing. Gotrek hears another voice. "My minions will hold him back. Let us go."
"Where's Keak?" says the dwarf.
"Right above you Obmi," and Gotrek hears a cackling laugh from somewhere outside.
Berenn rushes up the hillside, eventually reaching the top just near the raging Ice Storm. He moves carefully to the edge of the brush, noting a large relatively open area along the edge. He doesn't see anyone there.
[DM OOC: Berenn will have to decide how he moves. It's dark, and there's almost no light. He only sees about 30' well with infravision. He can move though the open area along the cliff side area or stay to the east a bit, in some trees and brush. I know this part isn't mapped, so we'll do it best we can. I post this separately because it doesn't really affect anything else.]
Hepla attempts to cast a Wall of Force, surrounding the dwarf at the far end of the hall, but it fails. Somebody or something must have interrupted it as she attempted to form it.
Vaddara casts her Warp Wood, but she finds she cannot open a portal like using a passwall or a stoneshape. She just can't affect enough. With a curse, Emyn plows into the now-weakened wall. The wood doesn't immediately break, but he sees light coming in. He bashes into it again, and this time is successful, bursting through and tumbling to the ground. He gets up, weapons ready!
He sees a group of five individuals (all the ones I've mentioned). The elf has a bow, and he fires two quick shots at Emyn. One hits .
Actually, there's a gnome that you guys haven't seen.
He points, and the entire area around Emyn is engulfed in total darkness. It even covers all of the interior antechamber of the great hall, and Elrae is in total darkness. Thorgrim cannot see anything either.
Elrae doesn't do anything, and Thorgrim waits, cursing. Gotrek gets up and attacks the ogre ahead of him. He kills it with one blow, cutting it in half with Goreblade. He then attacks the other, also killing it with one shot. They really do not seem very tough to him, despite their mean appearance.
The gnome outside then chants, the five all hold hands, and they begin to take on a translucent appearance.
"Another time!" yells the dwarf.
"And tell your friends I appreciate the fine gift," cackles the elf, holding up Berenn's longbow!
They then fade completely from sight.
Everyone finally gets back together, and then they search the place. They end up finding one monk alive, in a back room. He is unconscious, but alive. The rest are all dead, mostly in their beds. Their throats are all slit, or in some cases heads are bashed, etc. Gruesome.
[DM OOC: There's not going to be any more fighting; the bad guys are gone. Man, I have a LOT to say about this encounter. I will wait to do so, maybe in the Inn we can discuss it. Let me just say, you guys basically got worked, strategically and tactically. If it had not been for the combination of the Emyn's Avengers distracting them at the perfect time for Gotrek to charge, I doubt anyone would have ever even gotten close to these guys. Gotrek put them back on their heals with his charge, and though they recovered quickly, the party busting through the wall was the sign that it was time to go. Besides, as at least Gotrek heard them say, whatever they were looking for wasn't here anyway.
So, good job on surviving. That was actually in doubt at one point.]
[Gotrek OOC: I thought I was dead.]
The last monk is actually the abbot of the monastery, Abbot Parcival. He is an older monk, maybe in his 50s. He can be brought around with some healing.
"I told you," he says, showing remarkable strength for one so weak, "it is not here. Kill me if you must, it will gain you nothing." He gives a very strong look around at everyone, pausing for a moment on Gotrek, before sighing and leaning back. His face is the visage of pure calm.
"We are not the ones that attacked you," says Hepla softly. "In fact, we were almost killed by the ones that I suspect did attack you. They escaped and even only seeing them for a moment, I can say, they had no one who looked like me. Now, can you tell us what happened and what they wanted?"
He looks at Hepla, "No, but I have heard enough tales of witches to know not to trust one." He smiles. "Even one so young and pretty."
"Holy One, we are not here to rob," says Gotrek, "or looking for an item. We are here to stop the bad buggers from doing just that." He then shrugs. "And if we have to kill the evil buggers in the process, we will. I vow. I will not let anyone get the item you are protecting. If they do procure it, I will retrieve it and kill them. So, I swear."
"We are not in league with the followers of Iuz, in fact I follow his arch nemesis," Berenn shows the abbot the symbol of St. Cuthbert. "Perhaps you can tell us why they murdered your fellow monks."
After Gotrek's speech, doubts clearly creep into his mind. His face reveals it, but he says nothing. Then Berenn shows up, having take some time to get there.
"What took ya?" ways Thorgrim?
When he sees Berenn's symbol of St. Cuthbert, you see him relax visibly, even sag a bit as he sighs in relief.
"They came here seeking that which we do not have," he says. "The Crook of Rao."
He tries to stand on shaky legs. "Please," he says, "help me up." Gotrek takes him under the arm and helps him stand. The abbot then looks at Berenn, asking the question the answer to which he seems to already know. "The others? My brothers?"
Gotrek implores, "Tell me all ye know! We will find these...vermin. We will rid the world of such evil." Gotrek stands tall. "I have given ye my oath." He grunts. He remembers the last oath he made, and failed. He grinds his teeth.
"I swear by my god, Clangeddin, their evil will die."
"So I a young and pretty, am I, I knew you were stronger then you look," says Hepla. "I know many witches are evil but not me and my family. There are good witches in our world, just not many. Let me help you." She casts Levitate on him so that he weighs only a fraction of his real weight (I think she can control the spell enough to do this.)
He is shocked by your levitate spell, and starts, "Wha, what, stop it! What are you doing?" He is very uncomfortable...and he looks to Berenn for help.
"Hepla, the abbot is obviously agitated by your spell." Berenn grabs an arm of the abbot. "Please release him from your levitation."
"Just trying to make your walking easier," she says. "But If you rather not. I will dispel it, just say the word."
"Please forgive Hepla," says Vaddara, shaking her head at Hepla. "She means well. In some ways I regret not rushing to your rescue when I first found the attack occurring. But looking back I didn't realize the extent the monestary was under siege. What can we do to assist you before hunting your attackers?"
"Yes, yes!" As she releases the spell, he wags a finger at her. "You do NOT help your cause, young lady, assaulting people with magic. You would be well-advised to avoid such affronts."
He then looks at Berenn. "We never had the Crook. Yes, it is a relic of our order, and there were stories that it was once here, but they are just stories. Who really believes such tales? Many believe that the relic's existence predates that of humanity, and perhaps even that of Oerth itself. Raoan scripture claims that the Crook alone protected Oerth from the insurgence of evil outsiders prior to the discovery of magic, though many of rival faiths dispute such boasts. Still, to the average man of the modern era, the Crook existed only in scripture and hymn."
"Please," he says, "just help my brothers."
"I am afraid you are the only survivor we have found. The rest were slaughtered by the servants of Iuz. Is there any written information in the monastery regarding the crook?"
He is quite deflated by Berenn's news, the more so because, though that is as he feared, he yet held onto hope. He holds back tears and whispers a Raoan mantra. He then shakes his head. "Nothing I have not told you. It has been lost for many years, maybe centuries. Why they would come here, strike us like that....It is madness."
Emyn says, "Holy Abbot, I am an Avenger of Trithereon and I swear I will root this evil out. This atrocity will not go unpunished. If any know the names of these miscreants, I can invoke a Pursuit of Vengeance, which may aid in avenging the deaths of your brothers and preventing the deaths of others. Holy Abbot, might you also share the stories of the crook with us please? Surely it must be defended against the Old One and his minions."
"I heard the names Keak and Obmi," says Berenn. "I would be most interested in settling the score with those murderers!" Berenn says angrily. "I will pass around my rod to all that need healing starting with the abbot." After that Berenn will exhaust his spells healing the party and abbot.
Thorgrim refrains from making oaths, and remains silent. "I will refrain from making such oaths," Thorgrim says, "As I've a growing list of them which remain unfulfilled." He scowls with distaste as he thinks of Skalmag and the Trolls of the Rushmoors, then his features soften as he thinks of the vows he has fulfilled. "Still, the crimes of this evil adventuring party are heinous, and their audacity irks me greatly...they cannot be allowed to go unpunished. Tell me, priest, have you any idea where they came from?"
"Their leader was priest of The Old One," says the abbot. Other than that, he doesn't know anything. "If you hadn't shown up," he adds, "I'm certain I would have died as well, and none would ever have been the wiser."
"We should also see to the safety of the abbot," says Berenn.
"Yes," says Vaddara. "We can help him to town."
He shakes his head firmly. "No, This is MY monastery. I will not leave it." He then asks you to send word to Mitrik about what has happened. He pens a message and asks if you would deliver it for him. There is a temple in Falsridge, which is on your way.
Though not her faith Vaddara agrees to transport the letter. She doesn't feel right about leaving the monk by himself. The party stays the night, helping the monk and promissing to see justice done.....
Moonday, 17th of Wealsun (582)
This day was spent around the monastery. After seeing to the dead and assisting with the cleanup (and keeping Hepla from levitating the abbot again!) the party is ready to move on the next day. However, being that it is Freeday, a day of rest (think the sabbath but without serious laws regarding doing stuff!) the party remains at the abbot to rest. As St. Cuthbert has such close ties to the church of Rao, Berenn insists on remaining with the abbot to the party hangs out the extra day. Perhaps a trip to Caelmet brought some soldiers to town, along with other townsfolk only too happy to help out. Thus the party is ready to leave the next day, the abbot being safe and attended.
So, it's a few more days later, after relatively peaceful few days of travel, that the party reaches the large town of Falsford.
The Diocese of Falsridge marks the western border of Veluna. The region starts on the western edge of Veluna City and stretches to the Fals Gap. The eastern half of the diocese is farmland with only the Great Western road breaking up the endless fields. The western half of the region is dominated by the Great Western Road as it stretches from Mitrik to Falsridge and then on to points west. The road and Falsridge generate huge amounts of income from tariffs and import/export fees.
The capital, Falsridge, grew up around the original trading post on the border hundreds of years ago. Since then, the border has shifted to the west about 15 miles. The region is ruled by Duke Darneath Grinish, a man who fits every stereotype for a knight you can think of. Broad shouldered, with dark black hair and green eyes, the Duke strikes a very imposing figure. He has ruled the diocese for the past 15 years and they have been very good years indeed for the region. He is assisted by Bishop Falton Barrett. The Bishop has long given up on trying to convert the Duke to Rao and the two have since settled down into a very good working relationship. The Duke’s representative to the Celestial Order is his wife Keri Grinish. An adventurer of some renown herself, she is a strong voice for war against Iuz in the Order.
Noot finds accomodations at the Inn of the Drunken Sailor. It is along the town’s harbor within a stones throw of the Falsridge gaurdtower and sets the rough and tumble stone and timber built inn. The poorly repaired scorched sign displays an overturned rowboat with a wet droopy eyed man covered in fishing net sitting on the keel. Normally a quiet and low key the patrons can get rowdy when the town guard has reason to celebrate. A half dozen small rooms occupy the second floor and a common room for sleeping is created late at night from the heavy wooden tables and benches of the dining area. Salted beef and pork broght in from Triplegte are serves along with fresher chicken and fish from nearby stocks.
He hears news about a large Velunese expedition into the Yatils, something about the Horn of Iggwilv.
[DM OOC: btw, there is no news here of any troubles. You are maybe picking up some info about this or that, but you are NOT seeking or doing adventures. You are on your way home. I am simply bringing to life the areas through which you travel. You may learn new things (like all the info I just posted about Veluna), which will be important to know in the future. However, I'm not planning any adventures until AFTER you go home.]
"I believe Gotrek wanted to check out the smithy to craft a buckler," says Thorgrim. "Come on, Gotrek. 'Tis doubtful we'll find a shrine, but there might be a Dwarven Tavern, at least!"
That's where Gotrek finds a buckler. There is also a shrine in the dwarven area.
Thorgrim prays at the shrine, thanking Clanggedin for success in battle, and asking guidance and wisdom in seeking his path. They continue on until finding a tavern built into a hillside.
"We've found the spot!" Thorgrim exclaims, clapping Gotrek on the shoulder. "This is interesting," he says, inspecting the architecture. "I like it." They go inside and pass the rest of the night.
While still at the tavern, Thorgrim asks the owner of any news of Dwarven communities elsewhere.
He inquires into purchasing a barrel of spirits.
"Our traveling barrel is near-empty," he says. I fear it will not see us to our destination." He looks at Gotrek. "I'm tired of ale. Maybe beer. You got any frongol beer?"
He pays him double the agreed-upon price, if he heard anything worth listening to.
"Come, Gotrek. Let's sack the inn. We ride on the morrow."
Meanwhile, Berenn and Hepla deliver the message from the abbot to the priests at the Temple of Rao. TIt is a generally stately, open-air affair, filled with incense, quiet chanting, and earnest philosophical discussions. Like many Raoan temples, it has extensive libraries and learned sages on hand. The priests are much distressed by the new from the monastery. It is a place of retreat for the Reverend Brothers, a branch of the Celestial Order of Rao which believes in simplicity, poverty, non-violence, and contemplation.
Hepla goes to see the bishop. Actually, everyone may meet Bishop Barrett, if they wish, as you have brought the message to him about the monastery. Bishop Falton is a very well respected man in Falsridge. He has been Bishop for the past 10 years and appears to be a man in his late 30’s, tall and lean with a severe visage and a calm thoughtful presence.
As I said, he thanks you for delivering the message, and after reading it and talking to you, he thanks you for your service to the church of Rao. You note the he seems most distressed, which is obviously something he tries hard to control.
"It is this priest of The Old One," he says, obviously troubled. "None doubt His evil nature, but this is twice that his agents have entered Veluna in the last few months."
"Your Eminence, my name is Emyn Frel and I am an Avenger of Trithereon. Though we follow different faiths, I have sworn vengeance on the perpetrators of this vile act of barbarity. I hope you do not consider it presumptuous. If it will aid your people, I will also entreat my Archbishop to send some paladins and funds to assist in the rebuilding of the monastery. In the meantime, please accept this small token from me to help to that end."
Emyn provides him a donation of 200PP.
He is most appreciative of Emyn's generous gift. "The church of Rao has often been at odds with your faith," he says. "But there is no denying your desire to do right." He then smiles. "We simply wish you did not have to kill everyone to do it." [DM OOC: sorry, couldn't resist!]
Yes, we have at times failed to agree on many things," says Emyn, "but goodness has many faces and we must be tolerant of them all. I'm only intolerant of evil and oppression."
He nods to Emyn. "You seem wise beyond your years," he says, noting the rolled eyes and snickers from some of the other party members. After a glance at Hepla, who has just taken Emyn's hand, he smiles. "Rao teaches peace, acceptance, tolerance, and forgiveness. They are life-altering lessons that we may never perfect, but must ever strive to master."
Hepla says, "May we ask forgiveness for those acts. I have been fasting since I saw the abbot there, and still feel sick to my stomic about what happend. I asked for his forgiveness and he ignored me, probably because of his great loss. Now I ask you for the forgiveness of my party and myself."
He shakes his head. "There is nothing to forgive, young one. Forgiveness in no way changes the past; it changes the future. May the blessings of Rao be upon you, seeing you through to a clearer understanding."
Berenn seems to perk up when he hears this has happened twice. "May I inquire as to the nature of the first incursion your eminence?"
He then tells the party of the instance a couple of months ago, in the southern Yatils. I'll just copy what the King of Furyondy shared with Isilme. You basically learn the same thing:
A Velunese patrol along the northern border near the southern Yatils encountered a small group of individuals who did their best to avoid questioning as to their purpose. Magic was used against the patrol to bend their interests, but the enchantment thwarted by a cleric serving in the group. At this point, the group viciously attacked the patrol, unleashing terrible magical power, both clerical and wizardly in nature, as well as might of arms. The patrol was almost utterly annihilated had it not been for their training and some use of counter-magic; they fell back, scoring no decisive casualties to their enemy, but forced the interlopers deeper into the wilderness. However, in so doing, the group accidentally dropped a pack containing vital information about their hidden and dark plans.
Upon examination, a crude map of the Yatils with winding mountain passes was found, none of them terminating to any specific location. More disturbing, however, was the discovery of the skull-like holy symbol of Iuz the Old within the pack, thus revealing the true nature of this expeditionary force on Velunese soil. Powerful divination magic (both arcane and divine) was used by officials and agents in the Archclericy, and they all concluded the same: agents of the Old One were seeking some ancient site of power hidden deep in the mountains to the north.
To the goodly Velunese, this was unacceptable. Together with their ally Furyondy, always in the forefront of battles with the Old One, they mustered a rival faction to counter the Iuzian threat. The group was large, containing many warriors, priests of Rao, Heironeous, and St Cuthbert, along with a couple of wizards, too.
"It seems like the description is very similar to the group we encountered at the monastery," says Berenn. "Do you know anything about a possible location for the Crook of Rao or any place we might find more information? It seems these murderers are quite fixated on finding its location and if they locate the crook, they would definitely use its powers against Furyondy and Veluna."
"If anyone knew where the Crook of Rao were," he said, "Canon Hazen would have seen it retrieved. As far as the church knows, it is lost." It is possible that is the purpose of this other group of which rumor spread here recently. It certainly is a disturbing thought. The answer would lie in Mitrik. If you wish it, I will give you a letter of introduction to see Canon Hazen himself. He should be made known your information."
"A letter of introduction would be most kind your Eminence. Hopefully we will be able to fill in the missing pieces and bring those murderers to justice." Berenn bows. "If we are able to put these pieces all together, we will be sure to notify your Eminence at first opportunity."
It's a two day journey, which is mostly uneventful. The first day sees you to the town of Hadrian, along the south bank of the Fals River. The second day starts with a long sweep southwest, around the edge of a large lake. A causeway then leads back to the north, raised over a marshy area between the larger lake and another to the east. In that direction you see another small lake with a town on the far side. The road, however, continues north straightaway, and after another few hours it again reaches the vicinity of the Fals River. To the east, low wooded hills rise before you. The road passes through a forested area, where the hills stretch right to the river and beyond to the northwest. At the north side of this small copse, maybe only a couple miles wide, is a small village where the party pauses for lunch.
Soon you are traveling again along a stretch of road barely hugging a mile wide stretch of lowlands alongside the river. There is much travel on the road, mostly merchants plying their wares along the Great Western Road. It takes only a few hours to reach Mitrik.
Mitrik from the west, looking across the Fals River.
The city lies in a small valley along the south bank of the Fals River, between it and the vine-covered hills to the southwest. It is one of the oldest cities in Veluna and the national capital. With a population of about 15,000 people, it is much smaller than Verbobonc. As the river bends to the east, then turns north alongside the city, the party approaches from the south (the right side of the picture.)
"I am glad the travel through those marshes is over," says Emyn. "Nothing good ever comes out of marshes or swamps...except cranberries. Now, let's go into the town."
"I seem to remember a million coins of precious metal coming from the worst swamp we ever trudged," replies Thorgrim. "Well, you trudged." He twists his Ring of Water-Walking. "Thorgrim don't slog through mud and marsh. And Thorgrim don't swim, ever again."
Each morning Hepla starts the day by throwing up. "Must have caught a small stomach cold."
Emyn holds her hair back. He asks her if she has a tea or something she he can brew for her to help her through the cold she has. She thanks him and says that she will try.
Gotrek growls. "Hepla, if ye are pregnant, I don't want ye adventuring. There be too much to risk!"
The party reaches the city, passing through a massive old gatehouse. The architecture is different than the local architecture, certainly more pragmatic, military-based. It reminds them of the old Aerdy walls and gatehouse of Verbobonc.
Entering the city, they find a bustling vibrant place, full of activity. The most striking thing of note, however, is the flood of priests. It seems everywhere they look are priests, friars, etc. [DM OOC: Think the Vatican!]
Emyn asks about a church of Trithereon, bute finds that he is not well-respected in the city. This is the seat of the worship of Rao in the Flanaess. [DM OOC: Walk into the Vatican and ask where the local synagogue is!] However, he learns that there is a small church outside the main walls to the northeast. As he's learned already, Trithereon is too chaotic and violent for the Raoists, and they don't get along well.
On the other hand, before even entering the city, there was a prominent church of St. Cuthbert to the right of the road. [DM OOC: All this is noted on the map. Well, it's not a map, per se, but an image. Actually, it's an old picture of medieval Treves. If I could find a good "overhead" map, I'd use it. Maybe someday.]
"The sheep always resent the Shepherd," says Emyn, "but once the wolf appears, they are happy to have him around. Funny that. It is a shame that some Raoans don't practice the tolerance the hold so high."
Berenn sees where this is headed and speaks up. "My companion has had a long journey and is not himself at the moment. Please pardon his rash words, he meant no offense." He gives Emyn a glare and whispers, "Are you trying to start a holy war?!"
Berenn notes the location of the church of St. Cuthbert and will pay his respects after we are done with the Canon.
Emyn whispers back, "These sheep don't have the guts to fight back. That is why we Avengers do it for them."
Berenn replies, "I would prefer NOT to find out if your statement is an absolute. If you go around sticking your hands in fires, eventually you are going to get your hand burned off."
"Unless you're wearing gloves, or utilizing a Potion of Iron Hands," says Thorgrim with a straight face.
"Let's see if their leader is a little more enlightened," says Emyn.
Ignoring Thorgrim, Berenn continues. "You would be better served checking on your wife's condition than prodding people that are not your enemy. I am no midwife, but I know the symptoms of pregnancy when I see and hear them. Right now Gotrek is showing more concern for her condition than her husband and I shouldn't have to tell you what is wrong with this picture!"
"Emyn, it looks as if your wish is about to come true. But by knocking up your wife, you are knocking her out of the party. It's far too dangerous for her to adventure in her delicate condition, if indeed she is with child. This is troublesome news without our main mage, but we can't wait for 9 months or the forces of Iuz will run rampant over Oerth."
With Elrae's pronouncement, Emyn turns to Hepla and says in an almost child-like voice, "Is it true, love?"
"I would have to say I don't really know, but everything else seems to be pointing to it. If I am pregnant there is no reason I cannot be with you on this adventure. Maybe after 3 months I will reconsider. That the others might want me to take some time off is sweet but its my body and they don't know what I am feeling."
"You need to find out lass," says Gotrek, "and you are NOT adventuring if you are." He stands firm, and none doubt that the battlerager means what he says.
"In a week, maybe two, I should know," she says. "Thank you for your concern but moving through the lands we are in is as safe as heading home. Lets wait and be sure. As I said these priests seem too willing to debate each other than work for the good of all. Maybe I still have a little of my hatred for the one who killed my father but, humor me for at most 2 weeks."
"Let's confirm the pregnancy, before anything else," says Gotrek sharply. "If ye are pregnant, then I say party vote." Gotrek pauses. "Come on, lass. Let's go find out for sure."
"If Emyn can find a priest he trusts, I will let him or her test me. But in these lands I am not in danger. If some evil gets near me, I will throw up all over it. My new weapon," she jokes.
"Emyn! Quit hiding behind the plant! You used your spear, now it's time to pay the piper. You and your Mojo. What priest do ye want to go to?" Gotrek stares at Emyn and Hepla. They can't see thru the beard, but Gotrek is smiling.
"A priestess of a fertility deity would be wisest," he says.
"You worry too much, old friend," Thorgrim says, chuckling. "Hepla is resourceful, and has nine lives at least. Her Cat Lord will protect her burden. Is there anything cats love more, than reproducing?"
"I think this can be best dealt with by the parties involved in private at another time," says Berenn impatiently. "We should find the canon and hopefully he will be able to give us some useful information." He then asks around and get the location of the canon.
With Hepla's issues a bit on hold, the party seeks the Canon. They learn that Canon Hazen resides at the Cathedral, and it is easy to find.
The West front in five symmetrical sections remains typical of mid-Ferrond (Furyondy/Veluna area) architecture. The West end choir, with its apsidal semi-cylinder expressed on the exterior façade, was completed in 196. The interior is of three Romanesque naves with Gothic vaulting, and a Baroque chapel for the relic of the Crook of Rao, lost for many decades.
Entering the cathedral, you are blown away by the Ferrond architecture. It is very similar to that found in Verbobonc.
[DM OOC: Using the Cathedral of Trier. Check it out if you want to see the real deal. Once again, D&D makes us smarter!]
Emyn quietly says to himself, "How quaint. Not really the equal of the Cathedral of Trithereon."
"But it is pretty," says Hepla.
Berenn will look around for some clergy and explain why we have come to see the Canon and show them the letter of introduction from the Bishop while telling Emyn if he can't be polite he should wait outside or at least remain mum in the presence of the Canon. "Perhaps this would be a good time to practice the virtue of silence!"
"You can meet the Canon," says a priest, "but he is busy at the moment. You will have to wait. It won't be today though."
"We are not from this area," says Berenn. "I was hoping for a more specific time frame when the Canon would be available."
The answer you get, more or less, is "when he's available."
[DM OOC: You can't drop in on the Pope and expect a meeting! Plus, you guys are a handful of adventurers, not royal dignitaries or something. There's no way in hell that was going to happen. You guys need to hold tight and wait.]
"Is the slaughter of an entire monastery of Raoans by followers of the Old One not a priority?" asks Emyn.
Thorgrim grunts. He considers, then declines the idea of slaughtering these haughty priests. "Let us go, and return when the Canon has time for us," he says. "Emyn, don't you have purchases to make? The spare armor and weapons in the Hole are almost entirely for your benefit. Once that barrel is empty, you'll have nothing left, and nothing to spare."
"We should seek out accommodations for now," says Berenn. "It appears we are going to be in town for a while."
"I can ask the Raoans to put us up for the night, if you want. My order can receive such boons from all goodly churches."
"Let's not," Thorgrim says, and is the first to leave.
There is a fine inn right across the square from the cathedral. It is a massive building, Palace of the Wood Queen, looking more like an old fortress than an inn. You hear that is where all the notable visitors to the Canon stay. Down an ally to the south Noot hears of another, which is smaller and not as ostentatious. It is the Iron Cauldron, well known for its stews and ales.
It's late, so the party heads off to get rooms. They learn that the Palace of the Wood Queen is actually the home of a noblewoman from an old family. They ruled this area before the worship of Rao became ascendent. Their domain included the Silma Woods which lie to the south and west of the city. Though they have lost much power and position over the years, yet has their prestige grown, through their opening of their ancestral palace as an inn for wealthy and important travelers, foreign dignitaries, etc. Even the King of Furyondy stays here when he visits the Canon! Thus has the family forged a vast network of friends and alliances across many lands. Cost of a room here is very high, like 25gp a night. However, it's made for nobles and kings, so you can imagine.....
Once settled in, most of the party heads down the street, to the Iron Cauldron. Hepla and Emyn go to bed, while Berenn seeks the Church of St. Cuthbert. Once there he asks the priests how spreading the faith goes in this area.
[DM OOC: While Rao is the state religion of Veluna, there is a unique relationship between Rao and St. Cuthbert. While Rao is the peaceful God of Intellect and Reason, St. Cuthbert of the Cudgel is the combative deity of Wisdom, Dedication, and Zeal. St. Cuthbert is strongly allied with Rao, and many believe him to originally have been a mortal, ascended to Godhood by none other than Rao himself. Thus, his position in Veluna is second ONLY to Rao.
[DM OOC: However, to consider the one vs. the other is to misunderstand much. First, in a polytheistic society, EVERYONE believes in everyone else. There is no doubt in the minds of anyone that both exist. It's not a question of "spreading the faith." You guys speak this way often, and that just reveals the difficulty we have in seeing past our monotheistic natures. That's not the case here though.
There is no sense of monotheism in Greyhawk. The gods ALL exist. Temples exist to particular gods, and in some places certain ones are elevated above others. Along the sea, Ocean gods would be more important. Around volcanos, fire gods would be important. Farmers would pray to gods of rain and such, while warriors are more akin to look to gods of war and battle. However, everyone actually believes in all of them.
So, the churches aren't really going around seeking converts or spreading the faith. That's not what it's about. The faith is spread, to everyone. Priests are there to see to the various rituals of their particular deity, and the needs of the people. If you want luck in business, you sacrifice to Zilchus. If you want success in battle, you sacrifice to Heironeous. So, try not to think in modern, monotheistic terms.]
So, there is no "spreading the faith." The faith is strong, as everyone believes. It's more about how much people pay special attention to St. Cuthbert, and that is a lot here. Veluna has more churches dedicated to St. Cuthbert than anywhere in the Flanaess. There are, in fact, two in Mitrik. The one that the party passed outside the southern walls is more attuned to the rural folk thereabouts, while there is another in town which caters to the urban crowd.]
Berenn is happy to hear the faith is strong in Veluna and specifically here in Mitrik. "May St. Cuthbert continue to protect us from the Old One!" He gives the church a 500 gp. (already removed from my sheet) donation to help the rural folk.
"Also be aware the Old One's agents are everywhere and I have even seen the Old One himself and our patron St. Cuthbert. St. Cuthbert came to my aid when the Old One appeared."
The priests seem surprised by this, and they ask Berenn to relate the tale. He spends the entire night, eventually a couple dozen priests all gathered around him listening. When he finishes, they are astounded!
"It is still the most amazing and frightening experiences of my life. To stand in the presence of our patriarch and his arch-nemesis ... it was truly awe inspiring. I should probably retire for the evening and I hope my donation will help the people who need it the most." Berenn takes his leave and returns to the Iron Cauldron for the rest of the evening.
Meanwhile, the others reached the Iron Cauldron earlier. It is located not too far away, just down an alley in fact. It's actually another pretty high-end establishment.
At the Iron Cauldron Noot inquires about where one can play some games of chance. Unfortunately he learns there is no gambling in Mitrik. The priesthood of Rao does not believe it serves men, thus there are no gambling dens.
[DM OOC: OK, skipping some of the role-playing.]
Between the various groups, you learn a bit of different news regarding the Velunese expedition. Basically, it's who went on it. They left over a month ago, heading first to the Vale of Highfolk.
The group was led by a scholar-priest of Rao, Marius Velestus. He is the Church (and Archclericy) representative of the group, and though technically its 'leader' he deferred to the military authority of a high-ranking militant priest of St. Cuthbert, Captain Desmond Fallroyce. A Billet of St. Cuthbert, his primary edict, handed to him by the Church of Rao itself, was to protect Marius above all others. Captain Fallroyce was your typical no-nonsense St Cuthbertine priest who didn't brook argument very well. He was accompanied by another Billet of St. Cuthbert, the priest and minor noble named Sir Orsen Dalby. A couple other lesser priests accompanied them to round out the Cuthbertines. There were a couple of wizards as well as another dozen soldiers. Finally, they were joined by a Furyondian contingent, led by Sir Justarious, a paladin of Heironeous.
This is about when Isilme reappears with news from Furyondy.....
Freeday, 21st of Wealsun (582 CY)
The next day is a day of rest. A priest of St. Cuthbert, one Victor Eanese, appears in the morning, seeking out Berenn. "You are requested at services this day," he says, "by Bishop Athimar Vayne himself."
He is brought to the cathedral inside the city, and there finds many people assembled for the weekly prayers. There are many Cuthbertines, of all groups but his. There are no Wardens here. [DM OOC: Remember, that was a special order I created to combine priests of St. Cuthbert with rangers, and make a true frontier priest.] Though he expected to be treated harshly, since the Wardens are generally not as well-respected by the rest of the Cuthbertine Orders, to his surprise he finds that he is their honored guest. He is asked to assist in the local rituals, even leading prayers. When all is done, his presence is requested by Bishop Athimar Vayne, who has a small feast prepared for him. Berenn thus spends the day and evening with the local priests, culminating in a face to face meeting with the Bishop of Mitrik himself.
This massive, white marble structure rises majestically towards the heavens opposite the Cathedral of Rao in the People's Plaza. Due to its tremendous size, the Cathedral of Cuthbert dwarfs the Chapels of the other Gods, yet it is dwarfed in turn by the colossal edifice dedicated to Rao. Cuthbert's Cathedral gleams blindingly on bright, sunny days, with a polished roof of copper and ornamentation of gold and silver. Several copper doors, polished to an amber brilliance, lead to the chambers of vaulted ceilings of the interior. Frescoes line the sides, where past Canons and Bishops of fame are buried with Holy Reverence. Smaller chapels are spread throughout the interior, places of Prayer, Meditation, and Absolute Silence. The Cathedral has a visage of holy power and strength. It is an awe-inspiring sight even for non-believers.
When Berenn recognizes the presence of the Archbishop, he stops his story. "It is a deep honor your Eminence." and Berenn bows. "I am Sir Berenn Silverwood, Knight Commander of the Watchlands and Warden of St. Cuthbert. I am one of the clergy under Bishop Haufren of Verbobonc and he has been my mentor."
Berenn will also relate the reason for his visit to this town mentioning the encounter with the servants of Iuz, the slaughter of the monastery and the search for the the Crook of Rao.
The archbishop nods. "Ah yes, Bishop Haufren. A good man, that. Very strong in the faith. Verbobonc will rival Mitrik someday."
As you speak, you find that the Archbishop knows all about Berenn already. He has been informed of the rapid rise of this young man from the country. "Rarely do Wardens attain such status as you have found," he adds. Further, he wants to hear first-hand the tale of the Temple of Elemental Evil and the arrival of both the Old One and St. Cuthbert himself. Such an event is unprecedented, and he would know all there is to know on the matter.
"I am truly humbled that my name is known outside of the confines of Verbonbonc. I have been blessed with some good luck and to have an excellent role model to mold my life after. Bishop Haufren's teachings have been very helpful." Berenn relates the tale as requested and in as much detail as possible. "It would seem the agents of the Old One once again seek an artifact to boost their power. Once the Orb of Golden Death was destroyed, he apparently had put his minions on the trail of the Crook of Rao. I have taken of the cause of preventing his agents from discovering its location or using its power for evil, but so far my efforts to find information on the crook has run into dead ends. There doesn't seem to be much information on the final resting place of this artifact."
[DM OOC: Again, you learn that the whereabouts of the Crook of Rao are unknown. I'm not giving you that info easily!]
"According to myth," says the Archbishop, "the Crook of Rao was first brought to Oerth by the deva Incarum, who used it to banish the minions of Tharizdun from the face of the world. Its purpose complete, the artifact was lost until 9 CY. That year, the combination of Oeridian divination magic and Flan lore allowed it to be located in the site where the city of Mitrik would come to be built. The Crook was eventually brought to the Velunan city of Devarnish where, in 355 CY, it was taken as the spoils of war by invading Keoish forces. It has been lost ever since."
"So, it just vanished without a trace." says Berenn. "What concerns me is why the minions of Iuz would think they could find to the Crook and why start looking for it now? I am very thankful for your time your Eminence, it has truly been a honor to meet the leader of our faith. With your permission, I would like to take my leave, I see some difficult days ahead and hopefully St. Cuthbert will be looking favorably on me."
"Yes, that is bothersome," he agrees. The Crook of Rao certainly cannot be used by the Old One. Their interest is quite...unsettling." He pauses, considering something before continuing. "Add to this the interest He is showing in the Yatils, in the apparent search for the Lost Caverns of Tsocanth and the treasure of his fiend-loving mother Iggwilv...." He shakes his head. "I fear a storm is brewing, one for which we are ill-prepared."
"It seems my path will eventually lead to the Lost Caverns," replies Berenn, "and hopefully the adventure will be fruitful. I will pray to St. Cuthbert to help me prevent the plans of his arch-nemesis!"
"We shall all pray for such," says the Archbishop, nodding his head solemnly.
[DM OOC: During this period, nobody else is with Berenn. So, if there's anything that the rest of you wish to do this day, let me know. There are no dwarven temples here, nor any for the elves. I'm sure Emyn heads off to the church of Trithereon, while most of the rest don't have any spiritual outlet here. I will assume that they do nothing this day, unless you specifically want to do something. You can, however, use the time to buy pretty much anything you need. You won't find much in the way of weapons and armor here, but most everything else is available. It's a big town, just not militaristic.]
Gotrek walks around. He inquires where to find the best Smith in town. Once he finds him, he will offer his services for free, for the day. He explains he misses the forge, and the bonding of Smith and metal.
You also learn that walking around with weapons and armor is not allowed in the city. [DM OOC: I should have mentioned that earlier.] So, you probably had city watch escort you the day before, and you must leave all such items in your chambers.
Gotrek finds a smith and smithy, Rodney Smith. He runs the best smithy in town. He is a strong, barrel-chested man with scars on his arms and face from the forge. He is more than happy to let Gotrek work the irons. He has one other smith and two apprentices, and they all stand back to watch Gotrek work. After a bit, when they realize the extent of Gotrek's skill, they nod and get back to work themselves. Soon the entire smithy is ringing with hammers on steel, as all the men get into a rhythm nearly matching Gotrek's own.
Emyn will go to the Church of Trithereon to speak to them of the slaughter of the monastery and the newfound interest of the Old One in Veluna and old religious artifacts. He wants to impress upon them the importance of remaining vigilent. He will, of course, give a donation equal to that he gave the Raoans and also see what he might learn beyond what the sheep have bleated last night.
They do not like the idea of the slaughter of the Raoists either. While they may not get along so well with the relatively pacifist Raoists, the priests of Trithereon respect them greatly. "It takes much courage to stand up to evil without weapons and armor," says the leader of the Church of Mitrik, Prelate William Brocas. As for the Old One and Veluna, that is new. Emyn learns that there is a long-standing rivalry between Iuz and St. Cuthbert. That is not news to the party. Further, Furyondy has ever borne the brunt of The Old One's ire, being that nation which stands as the bulwark against His evil machinations. Since Veluna and Furyondy are such staunch allies and on account of the high place of St. Cuthbert within its borders, it's only natural that this extends to Veluna as well. However, direct actions within the borders is unprecedented, as is the attack on the monastery in the Lorridges.
"This bodes ill," he says with a note of dire foreboding...."for everyone."
"Indeed Prelate, this does worry me greatly as well," replies Emyn. "I provided the Raoans with a substantial donation in the hope that it might assist with their rebuilding. Perhaps I have been too rash in my judgement of them. I also said that I'd arrange to have a request for assistance sent to the Archbishop. Might you have a rider who could be dispatched to Verbobonc with the news and the request, please?"
Noot asks some subtle questions. If that doesn't work, he watches for pickpockets and will grab a younger one and have a 'chat'. He doesn't find any evidence of thieves here. It's not that there aren't; there may very well be. However, it seems that in this small city controls are pretty strongly maintained. Any underworld element would have to be EXTREMELY careful here. He doesn't see anything this night.
When Berenn sees Noot returning with a pouty face, Berenn will get a laugh out of it. "What's a matter Noot? Found a town where your particular talents are not appreciated?"
"I wasn't expecting much," says dryly, "and I got what I expected. Boring place, this town. It's too straight laced. It has no character or characters. We should be moving on."
"Some of us appreciate a less lively environment after all our recent adventures," says Berenn. "A change in your perspective might allow you to see the value in the smaller things."
That night, Thorgrim pens a note, and summons Isilme's chest. He puts the note inside, and wills it back to the Ethereal.
It is Starday, the 15th of Wealsun. Isilme arrived home the day before, having travelled alone all the way back to Hommlet. She washed in the river, and now wakes up about midday from a long and well-needed rest.
Feeling refreshed for the first time in months, Isilme prepares for her trip to Furyondy. She strips off all of her items and places them in her magic chest. She puts on her Gold Spider Silk Dress and pins on the Golden Arms of Furondy Brooch. She will hand carry her lenses of speed reading and the vial of mushrooms tincture in a small velvet pouch.
[DM OOC: These mushroom came from the land of the Fey. It was one of the few things she found, and she learned that they are able to wake any sleeping being. Remember that in this campaign they discovered that Prince Thrommel had been drugged with Wine of Eternity. This is something that came from Ruins of Undermountain. I actually rolled it up as a random potion in the ToEE, and that's where I got the idea for why Thrommel was sleeping. The wine, designed by Illythids, fit nicely with the Temple's drow history. Only a wish can wake somebody up, so that pretty much settled that; I don't allow easy uses of such magics IMC. I added the Amulet of Proof Against Detection and Location, to explain why nobody could find him. That's where Isilme gained her amulet, after removing it from Prince Thrommel's neck. After ToEE, they returned his sleeping body to Furyondy, where he has been ever since. Anyway, Isilme got the idea that she could use these Fey mushrooms to wake him up, and that's what she plans to do.]
She casts "seeming" to change her skin tone to that of a celene elf with pale golden hair, keeping her violet eyes. (This is supposed to be the most rare and "fey" of elven appearance). She will then use the mirror to look into the personal library of the royal family, preparing to enter if things seem clear......
Looking in on the library, she sees nobody about. Isilme enters the library and follows the protocol the king laid out for meeting with the royal family. There is a bell she can ring, which brings a servant from outside. He's surprised to find an elf in the library.
"Forgive me, Milady," he says with a bow. "I was not aware of your presence."
"I come upon invitation from the king," she replies. "Please tell the king that Isilme has arrived and needs to speak with him when his schedule permits. In the meantime, I will enjoy this book." She says with a pleasant smile. While she is waiting she looks for a book on the history of the royal family to enjoy with her glasses of speed reading.
After a short while, two palace guards arrive. They enter the library wordlessly, and take up flanking positions to either side of the doorway. Isilme puts down the book and slides the glasses back into the velvet pouch as she rises to meet whomever enters. They stand at guard until King Belvor himself arrives.
Isilme bows slightly and waits for the king to speak. The king nods when he sees who it is. He enters, then dismisses the guards. They leave, and shut the door behind them, as the king strides into the room.
"Lady Isilme," he says, "It has been too long." He moves up to her, takes her hand, and kisses it lightly. He then moves over to an ornate table, pours himself a drink of something into a small goblet, and turns back to her. "What brings you here?" he asks.
"Since the day I returned your son," she replies, "I have sought out a cure for the magic that holds him enchanted. It has always been my hope to see him fully restored to you and the Queen mother. I believe that day has come, please lead me to where your son is at rest."
"How?" he asks, almost taken aback by the prospect.
"Through true fey magic," she says. "Perhaps the same that created the original nectar that put him to sleep. In truth, it may not work, but I would not be here if I believed there was little hope. Shall we go see?"
The king nods and waves to the door. Together you head through the palace, to the sleeping chambers of Prince Thrommel. Two guards in plate armor guard his door, but they step aside for the king after opening the door. Together, you enter the chamber. There you find the prince, asleep in a large bed.
Isilme hums one of the pixie tunes she learned while she administers the tincture made from the fey mushrooms to the sleeping Prince. "Time will tell if this works" she says softly after a pause, looking for any signs of change from the prince.
While waiting, the Queen appears. She had heard of Isilme's return, and is also anxious. However, the minutes pass, and there is no change in the prince.
Isilme administers another dose of the tincture. "It may take time for it to have an effect, your son has been sleeping for over a year." She looks up from the bed. "Do not loose hope, I will find a way to restore your son." She says to the king and queen.
[Berenn OOC: A wish would have been real helpful here ... too bad no one has a wish!]
[Thorgrim OOC: "My kingdom for a wish!" shouts the King! OK, sorry, couldn't help myself.]
Isilme uses up the rest of the mushroom stuff. The queen has a chain placed next to Prince Thrommel. "I shall be here when he awakens," she says, with a look that brokers no argument.
"Let us retire," says the king to Isilme. "I would hear of this mixture and from when you came with it."
With that, Isilme and the king leave. As the guards shut the door behind them, the king glances back at the queen, sitting by the bed, and adds. "A mother ever hopes for the best," he says.
You retire back to the library, where the king now pours Isilme a drink as well. He then asks for Isilme's tale as to where this so-called cure was found. Isilme sits in the library and recounts to the king her adventures with the party since the Temple of Elemental Evil. She especially notes what the dead ancient sage said in the underground city ( a wish will restore someone who has drank the potion) and her recent adventures in the land of the true fey, with the herbal remedy noted to remove sleep enchantments.
She spends a few hours with the king before returning to check on the prince. He is still sound asleep. It looks like these mushrooms are not quite potent enough to awake somebody sleeping from Wine of Eternity. The queen refuses to give up, saying it will just take more time. She doesn't listen to the king, when he tries to take her out, and she almost gets violent.
Isilme takes out her velvet pouch as if to apply more of the potion to the prince and starts to sing another song, "Song of the Fey." [DM OOC: This would cause the queen to forget the last 24 hours. -3 to save.]
"The Queen looks tired, perhaps she should rest, I simply came to see if the prince's enchantment showed signs of change since I brought him home." She says pointedly to the king.
The king thanks Isilme for taking care of the queen. "She has been so upset since Thrommel was found, for now we have him, but are still kept apart. At least he's alive though," says the king.
After they take the queens to her chambers, Isilme asks the king if heard anything about the expedition to the Yatils that the party mentioned back at Falsridge.
The king seems surprised. "Where did you hear about that?" he asks.
"Commoners talk, and rumors abound as you well know," she replies.
"Commoners?" he nearly shouts. "How could commoners know about that expedition?" He paces back and forth as he talks, "that mission was under complete secrecy!"
"I do not know those you have placed your trust in, or the prize offered for success, so I can't comment as to the nature of the disclosure," she replies calmly. "Perhaps, if you shared with me the nature of this mission and its risks and rewards, I could convince the Heroes of Hommlet to take up your cause. I think you know can trust me with the utmost secrecy, anything said here I will not disclose to anyone, if you but ask."
The king calms down, the nods and tells Isilme about the expedition....
"A Velunese patrol along the northern border near the southern Yatils encountered a small group of individuals who did their best to avoid questioning as to their purpose. Magic was used against the patrol to bend their interests, but the enchantment thwarted by a cleric serving in the group. At this point, the group viciously attacked the patrol, unleashing terrible magical power, both clerical and wizardly in nature, as well as might of arms. The patrol was almost utterly annihilated had it not been for their training and some use of counter-magic; they fell back, scoring no decisive casualties to their enemy, but forced the interlopers deeper into the wilderness. However, in so doing, the group accidentally dropped a pack containing vital information about their hidden and dark plans.
Upon examination, a crude map of the Yatils with winding mountain passes was found, none of them terminating to any specific location. More disturbing, however, was the discovery of the skull-like holy symbol of Iuz the Old within the pack, thus revealing the true nature of this expeditionary force on Velunese soil. Powerful divination magic (both arcane and divine) was used by officials and agents in the Archclericy, and they all concluded the same: agents of the Old One were seeking some ancient site of power hidden deep in the mountains to the north.
To the goodly Velunese, this was unacceptable. Together we have always been in the forefront of battles with the Old One, so we mustered a rival faction to counter the Iuzian threat. The group was large, containing many warriors, priests of Rao, Heironeous, and St Cuthbert, along with a couple of wizards, too."
The king sighs, pouring another drink. "I guess it was too much consider that nobody else noticed," says the king. "I just hope our enemy hasn't...." he lets that thought go, hanging unsaid in the air."
"Iuz" Isilme says with distaste. "I though we had dealt him a serious blow with the destruction of the golden orb and his champions defeat on the field of battle after the fall of the Temple of Elemental Evil." She pauses in thought for a moment and says, "I had hoped we would not hear his name again in your majesty's lifetime. Have you heard back from the group you sent out, or had your high priests scry them? I would be interested in knowing their disposition. I am certain I can muster the heroes of Hommlet to your cause against the great evil that is Iuz."
"The mission is primarily a Velunese one," says the king, "though it is led by one of my vassals, Sir Justarius. I have heard nothing of them since they left Mitrik. That was why I was surprised by your mentioning them."
Isilme thanks the king for his hospitality. "If you get news of your group, or if you ever need my help, place a ruby on the table in your library, and I will come as soon as I see it. Know also, I will not stop until I find a cure for your son, even it be such powerful magic as a Wish."
She bows to the king and vanishes, stepping through the still open portal back to her study.
[And so the quest to wake Prince Thrommel continue....]
Sunday, 23 of Wealsun (582 CY)
You spend another couple of days, with little really happening. Berenn passes time with various priests of St. Cuthbert, discussing matters of the faith. He meets often with the Archbishop, whom he learns has a special interest in him. It seems that the archbishop's nephew is in Berenn's care, Derric Vayne. [DM OOC: weird, as I rolled the archbishop's name totally randomly!] Berenn spends some time talking about the young man, whom the archbishop has not seen since he was a mere baby. Last he heard, the boy had gone off to the Wild Coast to seek his fortune. Then he fell off the map. The archbishop is most pleased with Berenn adopting him into his service.
Gotrek continues to work in the smithy, forging a dagger for Hepla. The smith gives Gotrek the steel, out of respect for his incredible prowess with forge and hammer. He works on small projects for the smith, while on down-time with the dagger.
Meanwhile, Hepla spends her time preparing her various herbs. [DM OOC: Let me know which ones you prepare, and then figure out how to carry them all. YOu may have to buy jars and such. Not a problem, just spend some money to take care of it. Also, you may want to consider doing some work on Hepla's sheet to show what herbs she has ready, and maybe a quick note as to what they do.]
Noot keeps looking for the "thieve's guild," without success.
[DM OOC: I think that covers everyone. There really isn't much to do. I just wanted to add a few notes here. I'm going to "fast forward" again, but I wanted to give you a few days update, for continuity.]
Berenn shares the additional information he learned from the Archbishop with the rest of the party the morning after he gains the information. He would still like to wait until they have spoken to the Canon feeling it would be rude to leave at this point.
When Berenn hears of the connect between Derric and the Archbishop, he says the following, "He has grown into a fine young man and a good soldier. I will endeavor to train him to be a great fighter and a great man. If his Eminence desires, I could bring him to Mitrik so you could see how he has grown up yourself."
He is pleased about Derric. "His father lives in Veluna City," says the Archbishop. "Perhaps you can go there and tell him what has become of Derric. I am sure he would be well-pleased. The boy was a bit of the prodigal."
"I will surely look him up in Veluna City," says Berenn. "If your Eminence could provide his full name, it would make locating him easier or if you know where he lives. I am sure it will give his father some comfort to know his son is alive and well."
"His name is Jennon Vayne," he says. "He is a member of the city watch in Veluna City."
Berenn thanks the Archbishop for his time and information and takes his leave. He promises to return here to let him know if the expedition is a success.
Freeday, 28th of Wealsun (582 CY)
You spend the rest of the week just relaxing in luxury in your hotel rooms. There is little to do, except for Gotrek who busies himself with his work. He has only a couple days left and he will finish Hepla's dagger. Thorgrim considers spending the time working on his plans for the portable hole. [DM OOC: You can do that if you wish. Just tell me what you're doing, and that's good enough, or put it off until later.]
The last day of the month is another day of rest, and Berenn finds himself once more drawn to the Church of St. Cuthbert. Emyn also finds himself busy, for while Hepla has spent the last few days working on her herbs, he has spent the majority of his time in silent contemplation at the temple of Trithereon. He has sought a Pursuit of Vengeance for the massacre of the monks, but it has been hard seeing his way to it. His mind has been torn between this and his worries about Hepla. He has had a hard time clearing his head enough, and he can sense this is blocking his ability to focus. The Prelate can only say that it is hard to balance duty between faith and family. He must continue the best he can to see his way clear in both regards.
The party also finds, towards the end of this day, that they are finally going to be allowed their meeting with Canon Hazen. It will occur after the customary ceremonies are accomplished, during the late afternoon. They are to meet at the Paladium, next to the Cathedrals just south of the People's Plaza.
The meeting takes place in the Paladium.
Paladium (Palatine Hall)
The Paladium was originally built around 100 CY as a southern palace for the first Viceroy of the Viceroyalty of Ferrond, Denial Stinvri. Originally it was embellished with colorful marble inlay, golden mosaics, and statues, and its occupants were made comfortable by a hypocaust, or hollow-floor heating system. It is now all but empty and austere.
The splendor and technology were all destroyed by the Keoish invaders during the Short War in the early fifth century. An expedition mounted by the brutal Commandant Berlikyn of Gran March in 415 led to a siege of Mitrik, during which the Aerdy baths and the Paladium were destroyed. Though the paladium was rebuilt, the hypocaust was never repaired. The building became the home of the Canons of Rao, and the great hall used for all official church business, meetings, etc. It is the largest surviving single-room structure from Ferrond/Aerdy times in either Veluna or Furyondy. 220 feet long, 90 feet wide and 98 feet high with a vast semi-circular apse its depth is magnified by an optical illusion – both the windows of the apse as well as the niches underneath become progressively smaller towards the middle enhancing an impression of length.
[DM OOC: Again, I've used the city of Treir (Treves) in Germany for the Mitrik. Mainly, I found a map I liked, and so went from there. The history of Treir is cool, and all these buildings actually existed (and still do, mostly.) I've freely used pics and images of them to highlight the places and bring them to life, along with actual descriptions and even histories, tweaked and tailored for Greyhawk. I hope you appreciate it.
Trier, which is located on the Moselle river in the West of Germany, was a Roman colony from the 1st century A.D. and then a great trading centre in the beginning of the next century. It became one of the capitals of the Tetrarchy at the end of the 3rd century, when it was known as the 'second Rome'. The number and quality of the surviving monuments are an outstanding testimony to Roman civilization.
There is no place north of the Alps where so many important Roman buildings and such a concentration of traces of Roman settlement have been preserved as in Trier, the “Rome of the North”. In late classical times, Trier was one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire; with a population of about 70,000 - 80,000 or perhaps up to 100,000!
Just thought I'd throw out a little real info, and share how I've come to create this city for our game. I do this a lot, but I have really been impressed with this particular city and its monuments. Again, it's just amazing how D&D makes us smarter!]
The party is "collected" by a group of priests of Rao. Along with them is a tall warrior, superbly armed and armored.
He wears the symbols of Rao, and almost beams righteousness. He is clearly a paladin, though none of you were aware that the peaceful Church of Rao included such amongst their ranks and adherents.
The party is led to the Paladium, and there they enter the Hall of Wisdom. The size, impressive enough, is made the more so by the very few in attendance. There are perhaps a dozen priests of Rao at the far end of the chamber. As you walk into the hall, you notice that these priests seem to come from various orders, though all clearly show the symbols of Rao. Amongst them you notice a couple of Reverent Brothers, the same order you encountered at the Monastery of Serene Thought in the Lorridges.
All are quit reverential, and when you reach the end of the hall, they turn and nod their heads towards the dais, upon which is seated an aged man on a plain chair. He wears a robe similar to that of the Reverend Brothers, though of even more austere look, if that's even possible. His white beard is neatly trimmed, though not too perfectly like many a noble you have met. Though old, he yet seems strong, and his eyes are full of emminence and power. He doesn't smile, though neither does he frown. His face is a mask of contemplation.
He nods, and a priest in white robes presents you..... He knows all of your names, presenting you one at a time to the seated Canon, who nods to each knowingly as they are introduced.
Once you are all introduced, Canon Hazen then speaks. "Welcome to Mitrik," he says, his voice soft yet firm. "It is troubling that it is under such disturbing circumstances." He then asks you to relate to him everything you know of what happened at the monastery. The two Reverent Brothers seem especially interested. As the tale is told, he sits back, taking in the knowledge like a sponge absorbing water. His eyes quickly move from one to another as various party members speak, taking in not only your words, but the reactions of others as things are told. When the party is finished, he nods to the Reverent Brothers, who further question you on various aspects. When they are satisfied, they nod that they are finished.
Canon Hazen then continues. "Thank Our Lord for your timely arrival at the Monastery," he says. "Without your arrival, we would have known only of their slaughter, and only after many days, perhaps weeks. We would never have known that it was a result of the Old One's vile machinations, nor of their search for our own, fabled relic, the Crook of Rao. But MOST importantly," and he stresses the word most, standing up, "you saved the life of Abbot Parcival. The Church of Rao is forever in your debt," he adds.
A chorus of "amens" follow from the other priests.
Berenn bows before starting. "We have felt quite welcome here Canon Hazen and we appreciate the opportunity to discuss these events with you. One of your clergy managed to escape the monastery, though mortally wounded and it was Vaddara who stumbled upon his stilled body," he says. "It was through this clergy's efforts we were able to arrive in time to rescue Abbot Parcival and discovered this most disturbing plot regarding the Crook of Rao. His heroic act should remind all of us," Berenn gives a look at Emyn. "that even the most peaceful of souls can summon great strength when necessary. The Abbot was not able to provide any information on the location of the Crook and we were hoping there was some clue here to its whereabouts. We have taken on the task of bringing justice to these murderers, preventing them from recovering the Crook and any information on where they may be heading would be most gratefully appreciated."
Again, Canon Hazen basically repeats what you have heard from others. There are no clues as to the whereabouts of the Crook of Rao. It was said to have been stolen by the Keoish a few hundred years ago, but they have never admitted it. Nobody has ever seen or heard of it since, which leads the Church of Rao to believe the Keolanders no longer possess it, if they ever did. With no mention of it at all, it's whereabouts are completely unknown.
There was a rumor from years ago that the Crook was kept at the Monastery of Serene Thought, but this was just a rumor. Certainly, the Church knew it was not there. Unfortunately, it seems the Old One, who has some design for the Crook which is of itself a bad thing, did not know this to be a false rumor. Thus his agents sought it there, with horrific consequences to the Reverent Brothers there. What The Old One's schemes are is something nobody ever really knows. The Cambion turned Demi-God is certainly one of the world's greatest scourges, and anything He is planning cannot be good.
How this ties to the recent incursion of His other agents into northern Veluna, very close to the capital too, is also unknown. They were following a map, though a vague one at that, apparently seeking the Lost Caverns of Tsocanth. These caverns were the source of His vile mother Iggwilv's power centuries ago, and they have never been found. The area is dangerous, and most stay away. Those few who have sought the treasure of the witch Iggwilv have either not returned or have returned with tales of death and failure. However, the tie between Iggwilv and Iuz made the Velunese take the Iuzian threat seriously, and they sent a very large force on their trail. Their mission, jointly mounted with the Kingdom of Furyondy as well, was twofold. First, they should prevent the Iuzians from whatever vile mission they were tasked with accomplishing. That was foremost. However, their secondary mission was to also seek the same caverns and if possible retrieve whatever powerful magics they found there and return them here.
They have been gone for nearly a month now, with no word of their progress.
[DM OOC: Yes, I know you guys just will jump to the "let's just scry them!" response. Well, now you see why I hate to overuse scrying, or to almost use it at all. It totally takes away all the mystery of stuff like this. Of course they could have done that, gotten nice updates like a Seal Team checking in with a sat phone. But come on! That just blows, eliminating all the mystery and uncertainty, and then where are we? Nowhere. So, before you go that route, just accept that scrying hasn't worked, for whatever reason. ]
"Once again we appreciate you taking the time to meet with us," replies Berenn. "We don't mean to take up anymore of your valuable time, so we will take our leave and thank you for seeing us. Rest assured if we discover anything meaningful in our search, we will make it a priority to inform you." Berenn bows and takes his leave.
Emyn says, "Canon Hazen, thank you for admitting us into your august presence. Your humility deserves great respect. Our churches have never seen eye to eye but as Sir Berenn says, there is strength in acceptance and submission. A courage to face what comes and endure. I will not pretend that this is my way but I do admire it. The threat of the Old One is dire indeed and both your type of courage as well as mine and those of other faiths will be needed to weather this oncoming storm. I believe we must face this storm and perhaps, if we can muster the strength, find a way to prevent it from becoming worse by finding these caverns and stopping the Old One. I stand ready to help in what small way I can."
"Surely there must be vengeance for this affront," says Thorgrim suddenly. He had determined to remain silent, and is surprised at his own outburst. "Vengeance, and blood."
Gotrek just grunts his agreement.
Canon Hazen nods to Emyn. "You are right, of course. Though our respective churches do not always see eye to eye, yet do we stand together against the forces of darkness. Nowhere is this more true than in our dealings with the Old One. Though we are pacifists by nature, yet do we have one motto of which many are unaware. "Sir Godwynn," he says, looking behind you, "indulge us."
The party looks back, noticing the paladin with his helm in his hand. His short, dark, curly hair bespeaks obvious Flan heritage, though his blue eyes show a mix of Suel or maybe Oeridian. "There is a time to think, and more rarely to act," he says plainly, as if he has spoken this line a thousand times, "but in that time, action is wisdom."
"Quite right," says Canon Hazen with a smile.
Hepla steps up and says, "My lords, I am the wife of Emyn. He is a good man and we wish to help the situation. Some here were almost killed by those Iuzians. We have fought the Old One, and I personally hid behind St. Cuthbert when he came to help us. I know that some people find some of us questionable but know this we will do our best to make a positive difference or die trying. Thank you." She steps back and simply pays attention.
Canon Hazen nods to Hepla, and he thanks he for everything that you all have done. "And do not think that I see you as questionable," he says. "I know a sound heart when I see one."
"Our Lord Rao is the serene, detached god of reason, intellect, and peace," he says. "Though it is true that his followers are often found among rulers, diplomats, sages, scholars, and philosophers; yet, there are those who take a more...active approach. Thus, we have the Temple Militant."
He indicates Sir Godwynn, who stands sharply at attention. "The Holy Knights of Rao are few, numbering only a hundred," continues Canon Hazen. "Their motto is Peace through Strength of Words and Weight of Reason, but they know that peace must often be won by strength of arms. The do not fear to use their martial as well as their intellectual abilities to bring about the ends they seek."
"Peace through Strength," repeats Thorgrim. "It rings true. Seems to me reason and force should play equally important roles. Perhaps one more than the other, depending on the circumstance."
Before Berenn leaves he begs the Canon one final question. "The joint expedition that was sent out by Veluna and Furyondy, you wouldn't happen to know the exact route they were taking?"
Canon Hazen looks at Berenn knowingly. "I heard this about you," he says. "You are an impulsive bunch. However, there are certainly times when action should be quick. Perhaps not rash, but not delayed either."
He then explains that the expedition went to Highfolk first. There they planned to hire guides to take them into the mountains and maybe track the Iuzians.
"Is it your intention to follow them?" he asks. "To what end?"
"Because this group acts on impulse, rarely considering the consequences of their actions," says Isilme. Everyone turns around, shocked, but not really surprised by her sudden reappearance. "No doubt their pride has been stung by this latest defeat. That said, our greatest victories have been won this way, so perhaps these times call for such action. I will stand by them." Islme says with amusement.
"The expedition has been without contact for a month," says Berenn. "Surely this is cause for some alarm. There are also some agents of Iuz out there who have committed murder, and if there is a chance to bring justice to these wrongdoers, tracking down this expedition seems to be the logical starting point. We would also like to ensure that if the Crook is somehow found, it doesn't fall into the wrong hands."
Canon Hazen agrees. [DM OOC: Though being out of contact for a month is not really such a big deal. I don't have everyone constantly checking in via magical radios!] Interestingly, he also seems to agree with Isilme. "I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent," he says. "However, there is an old saying, that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." His eyes bore into the party as he sits back down. "I can only pray that you have the wisdom to find the middle path of righteous action."
"Mm!" Thorgrim grunts in the middle of Canon Hazen's sentence, but then returns to silence. He gets out his pipe, pauses, and then puts his pipe away again.
"Will you fight by our side?" says Hepla to Sir Godwynn? "You would be well-respected and welcome."
"I have my doubts as to the welcome I would receive from your band," he says, before the Canon continues at which point he cuts short anything else he would have said.
Gotrek looks at the paladin. "It seems the time for wisdom has ended. As the time of battle draws ever nearer, Good needs heroes, like never before. Heroes are created thru action, not born to it." He pauses. "It would be an honor to fight by your side, Sir Godwynn, if Canon Hazen allows it...."
Emyn chimes in, "I too would be honoured to stand alongside this noble paladin. Surely this will be an even more epic challenge than when we destroyed the Throne of Vard last month. Holy Canon, might you have any information on the Yatils that might allow us to avoid the worst of the conflict so that we may come fresh upon the enemy?"
Canon Hazen will be more than pleased if you will check on the expedition. Scrying has found no trace of them, though some have wondered if it has something to do with the mountains. Being so near to Iggwilv's lost lair, there could be residual magiks which inhibit such attempts. If you are willing to go, then you will be well-provided with supplies. And of course, Sir Godwynn may go, to see to his lost comrades personally.
"Tomorrow begins the festival of Richfest," he adds. "If you leave on the morrow, you should be able to reach Highfolk before Midsummer Nights Eve. It is not a time to be traveling such wild paths. With Celene and Luna both full, lycan activity will be at its height."
"It has truly been an honor and thank you for your assistance," says Berenn. With your permission, we will take our leave and prepare to head out on the 'morrow." Berenn bows and leaves when he is excused.
The party can return to the inn and get ready. Gotrek goes back and finishes the dagger, which he gives to Hepla. [DM OOC: No, she is showing no signs of pregnancy, so don't worry about her. Emyn needs to get on the job! I will give you more info on the expedition that disappeared, as well as some other stuff. Then I think you all will be ready to go.]
Before leaving, Isilme has one item should like to mention. "Cannon Hazen, I found an ancient amulet during our adventures. Is it part of all these things going on, perhaps some prophesy? Through channels of the Church of Tritheron some of your brothers looked at it, but would say no more than it houses an extremely powerful angel and is of the times before when all elves walked in the light. I am not sure it has ever been stated, but what exactly is the crook reported to do? Why would your enemies want it beyond destroying it?"
She is wearing her spider silk dress, the Gold Broach of Furyondy proudly displayed. She cancels the magic which gives her the appearance of a normal elf, revealing her true, drow heritage.
While most of the priests almost fall over themselves, she notes that Canon Hazen is quite unmoved. In fact, he smiles knowingly at her. "I had wondered if you would feel the need to hide your heritage," he says kindly. "Perhaps without, alas, but not here. You are welcome here, Isilme Battledancer."
"We shall be more than interested in examining such an item," he says, obviously intrigued. "As for the Crook of Rao, it is a relic of legend. We can only go by the stories passed down, which are vague indeed. Other than its intrinsic value as a relic of our faith, it purportedly has the power to banish beings from the lower planes. The Crook of Rao appears very early in the annals of the known history of the Flanaess, and may have existed since the creation of Oerth. Much of its history has been lost, even by the priests of Rao. In the Word of Incarum, a holy text of the followers of Rao revealed by a movanic deva, it is claimed that the deva, bearing the Crook of Rao, led the faithful to drive out the hordes of demons. Tales of its use almost always involved dispelling evil denizens of the lower planes, with Yugoloths featuring prominently. Of course, these could be simple myths, passed down through the ages. It has been hundreds of years since anyone has heard of the Crook, let alone attempted to use it."
"I thank you, and the church of eilistraee thanks you for your welcome," says Isilme with a deep bow. "We need to stand united against the evil I sense may be coming. Perhaps the very Deva you spoke of in the story of the crook of rao is the one assosicatee with the amulet. I would be happy to allow your brothers here to take a look."
While the rest of the party departs to prepare for the morrow's journey, Isilme stays behind. She produces the amulet she found in Markessa's study in the Pomarj, placing it reverently upon a stone pedestal. A murmur goes through the assembled priests, and even Canon Hazen takes a deep breath as he sees it.
"It is of the Celestial Spheres," he says. "I can see that as clearly as I could see your dark skin through your spell of disguise." He leans forward, reading the words on the side. "It is in no tongue of man," he adds. "This is written in the language of Angels."
"Weal and Woe shall make war through the night
Darkness returns, sealing Weal's plight,
But Against the Dark Hordes shall Rao send
The Crook east from Luna to rend."
That is a passage from the Word of Incarnum says one of the Reverent Brothers standing nearby. Canon Hazen glances up at him, them back at the amulet. "Where did you find this?" he asks.
"I found it within a protective circle of magic within the living quarters of the evil mage Markessa," she says, wincing a bit at the memory of that evil one. "She has since....come to regret her evil ways." Isilme says with a sweet mile. "I assumed she was experimenting with it to control the force within. I myself have touched the amulet and felt an overwhelmingly powerful presence within that touched my mind. I had planned to summon the angel within to awaken one who had drank the wine of eternity. I have heard legends that the most powerful of Devas can grant a wish if called upon in service. In all honesty Canon, I was never sure I had the wisdom to use this item appropriately, it seems to be of a greater scope than I normally deal with."
"This amulet holds the True Name of Incarnum, the Right Hand of Rao," says Canon Hazen. "If could be used to summon that August being. Would you leave it for us to examine more completely?" he asks.
"Clearly this a holy relic of your church Canon Hazen," she says, "and it brings me great joy to return it to its home at last. It is yours, consider it a gesture of friendship from me, and the church of Elistraee I represent. Friendship between those of Rao and Elistraee is far more important to me than any artifact. I hope someday we can return the crook of Rao to your hands as well." Isilme says with a slight reverent bow, before leaving herself.
In the morning, the party gets up and finishes their final preparations. Unfortunately, they can't find Hepla. When they do find her, she is getting sick. She is clearly pregnant. [It's been another 2 weeks that you've been here now, making it a total of about a month, so now she knows!]
Berenn frowns hearing this news. He believes this is decision for the two people this involves and it should be their decision alone.
Hepla says, "I will let the party decide but there should be no problem in my continuing with the party to at least our next town." She than goes and stands by Emyn, gives him a kiss and than heads off to saddle her horse.
"Dear, we should both take our leave and return to ether Hommlett or your mother's home. I have no more sacred responsibility than taking care of you and our child. You never got to know your father and I want our child to know me."
"Than work hard on staying alive," says Hepla. "The party needs you and Star can find you when the time comes. Than you can join me in the screaming and laughing when the baby or babies show up. Now the party needs you more."
"I can return Hepla to Hommlet since the portal is still available," says Isilme, "but I intend to return to follow you to high-folk, so that avenue will be closed to you soon. Please let me know."
"It is ultimately up to Hepla and Emyn," says Gotrek, butting in, "but I feel that would be the wisest course of action."
Emyn is clearly deeply conflicted. "If only there were a way to fulfill both my duties as a husband and father and my duties to Trithereon and the party." He furrows his brow and looks to the others in the party. "Friends, I know you believe this to be between Hepla and myself but I would appreciate your advice. I feel torn in many different directions and do not know what to do."
Gotrek looks at Emyn, and pats him on his back. "Let's go make this a better place for your young ones. We need you. We will get you back to Hepla as soon as we can."
"The battlerager speaks with wisdom," says Isilme. "Perhaps I should immediately follow up with a few detection spells to ensure this is actually Gotrek." She then starts to laugh quite uncharacteristically.
Hepla says, "I want in on this adventure but am being told I cannot go. You, Emyn, are my way to vicariouly enjoy what is happening. I will feel better with our friends looking out for you and you looking out for them. This is how you fullfill both obligations."
"You can stay at Warden's Station if you wish," says Berenn. "You might even be able to trade secrets with Lyseios while you live there. The reconstruction is complete and it quite comfortable."
"Thank you, I had planned to aid him for the first few months with doing some simple preparation of ingrediants, specially herbs. I do appreciat your offer to stay there and will take you up on it."
"Hepla, we will do our best to ensure the safety of Emyn," says Elrae. "I will personally make sure that he returns to you before your child is born. Feel free to visit my wife, Maia, at the Harvester's Theater in Verbobonc for help and tips for what to expect. Give her and my son my love and tell her that I will go to the ends of the world to find our wedding ring."
"Thank you, I will visit her," says hepla. "Verbobonc is on my visit list as I need to get this staff recharged. I will give them your love."
Emyn looks at Hepla and takes a breath. "As long as you will be safe dear, I will do ask you ask. If you can share news with me through Isilme's chest while we are parted, I will do the same." He looks very seriously at Star and uses his speak with animals ring to say, "Startle, she and the baby are under your protection. I know you will be a good friend. Thank you for helping all three of us."
Hepla gives everyone a small bag with a herb in it. "Apply this to a wound within two turns of receiving the wound and it will cure some [OOC: 25%] of your injury. Not quite a healing potion but it should help."
Vaddara is returning to Verbennic to study on some spells and possibly read up on her crystal golem manual. So I guess she's leaving with Hepla too.
Elrae gives 3/4 of his gold to Hepla. "Please take this to my wife and son. Tell them I miss them very much, but there are pressing matters that I must attend to."
"Apparently, our mages have all decided to desert us," says Berenn. "Shall we find others here in Mitrik who would join us instead?"
We will make do with what we have," says Emyn. [OOC: Unless the DM helps us!]
Before leaving, Hepla says she would like to say goodbye to Noot. It is at that point the party realizes that he has been gone for some time.
It's a peaceful town, with no seemingly shady side. Everything is remarkably clean and orderly. There's no reason for any of you to really consider bringing weapons around with you, since there's no apparent need here. You certainly are not walking around armored!
[DM OOC: I have to say it too, because if/when you DO get into a fight, and I say you don't have weapons and armor, I don't want to spend two days arguing how you would NEVER have walked around without them! Of course, when your DM says stuff like this it usually means there is going to be a need. I'm just saying, if you read that into things (maybe correctly) it's a bit of a meta-gaming thing. You may see the need, but your characters really wouldn't. I had to mention about your weapons and armor, because that's how the city runs. So, if your character would go against the law, that's up to you to decide. Just don't do it because you think that I'm setting you up for a fight where you face a bunch of armed and armored badguys who don't care about the law, while you guys have nothing. I may be doing that, but remember what your "characters" would really be doing in a situation and try and act accordingly.]
Also, since it seems some don't have access to the map, I'll put the updated one here:
I added some stuff, like where the Mills are on the river and the compound of the Temple Militant, also near the water. Right along the curved section of wall just right of the River Gate are mostly warehouses. The River Quarter is the section along the river, bottom right of city. It's mostly poorer fisherman, boatmen, and bargemen.
Hepla and Emyn go off looking for Noot. They head for the river but find that the docks are actually beyond the gate, but there aren't any taverns or inns there. In fact, there aren't a lot of taverns in the city period. However, they learn the location of the river quarter and head there. The area is well lit, by Continual Light "streetlights" which is new. In fact, the city is quite well lit, mostly. The alleys, of course, do not have any lighting. Candles show in some windows, but off the main streets, the city is dark.
There are some taverns here, pretty much one on each block. They enter the first, but do not find Noot.
"I didn't realize there were so many bars," she says. "We'll never find him like this. Let's go back and I can scry him."
Once back, she gets her small mirror our and casts Magic Mirror. Hepla sees Noot standing in a dark narrow ally. There's almost no light, but her night vision allows her to see (and she KNOWS he's in a place without much light.) Further, he's in a crouch, standing somewhat defensively, and has his dagger in hand, held somewhat stealthily by his leg. She doesn't recognize where he is though.
Emyn, Noot is in some kind of trouble. He is in dark, narrow ally and he is holding his dagger. Get back to the others and bring them so we can start a search. I will wait here on the well lit street and keep an eye on the mirror. Hurry."
Emyn nods, running back to the inn (since nobody else went with you!).
While she watches, she sees Noot reach out quickly, stepping back and grabbing another dark figure. Noot pulls him quickly around and seems to be holding him as a hostage. However, the man then stabs Noot in the leg which prompts Noot to let him go. The two step back from each other, and she notes that Noot not only is keeping his eye on the man he had grabbed, but back behind him as well, as if he's surrounded.
She notes that another figure moves up on Noot's flank, stabbing him in the leg. He's in a narrow ally it seems, fighting two men, one on either side.
Hepla tries Message to Noot, "Where are you, we are coming looking for you."
It works, and Noot suddenly hears Hepla's voice, as he looks up towards her voice. He keeps most his attention on the other two thieves though.
"Hepla, I'm down in the alley having a 'friendly' chat with some of the locals," he says. "All is well," he adds.
She sees another man with a foppish hat, standing before Noot and bowing flamboyantly. Noot then puts away his daggers, and tosses some coins at the man's feet. He puts his hat back on and claps Noot on the back. The two seem to be smiling, as one of the other thieves scrambles to pick up the dropped coins.
She relaxes, and tells Emyn to not worry everyone. "Noot is just fine," she says.
[DM OOC: Noot's night can now be revealed. We were doing it in Private Messages, but I can share it now.]
On one night, maybe a couple nights ago, Noot finally caught sight of a sneaky thief type. Noot follows the thief, who leaves the area and heads to a poorer part of town. It's dark, with narrow streets, and many shadows. He tracks the man down an alley, but then finds that the alley is deserted, with no exits. As he looks around, two men block the entrance to the alley.
Noot pulls out his dagger and holds his hand down by his leg. He calls out, "Hello, friend."
The men, not much more than shadows, don't move, but he notices they have daggers as well.
"Friend?" says one, though Noot cannot tell which spoke. "You've not friends here, half elf."
"We sees ya spyin'," says the other, "then following wheres ya don't belong."
"Knowin' too much, I think," says the first man.
"My friends," Noot replies. "I be just a visitor to this here city. I'll be out of here soon and I just wanted a little chat with youse with before I be gone. There might be a little gold in it for you since none of us can work without a little profit." He holds his ground while he speaks but looks for a way out if things don't go as planned.
"We don't knows ya," says one, "but we'll be seeing yer gold first."
"Yeah," says the other. "Toss it here!"
Noot reaches into his pocket where he always keeps a little cash and tosses a gold coin.
"Like I said, I'm Noot of Hommlet. Now, all I want to know is if you know of a group of troublemakers who attacked the Monastery of Serene Thought and killed most of the monks."
"Don't know what yer talkin' bout," says the one on the right.
Meanwhile, the one of the left moves out of the thick shadows to pick up the coin. "One gold luna?" he asks. "I'm thinking we be taking all yer gold, and maybe we leave ya alive," he adds.
"Maybe," says the other thief.
"Not likely" says Noot calmly, as he lets them see the dagger. He smiles and starts slowly towards the thief on the left while watching the others (remember that Noot has infravision). He continues: "What's an old beat up thief like you compared to a green dragon? This can end either of two ways ...comrade"
Noot hears a scraping sound behind him. It's the sound of steel on leather, a blade being drawn from a sheath. Glancing back through the corner of his eye he spots a movement from the shadow, somebody sneaking up behind him. It's the thief he had been trailing.....
[DM OOC: Noot has two thieves in front of him, half in the shadows, and one behind him, trying to sneak up on him. I did a contest of skills, the thief's Move Silently vs. Noot's Hear Noise. Noot won, so he heard him.]
Noot, turning half way around, "Not a good idea my friend."
The thief moves towards him, and Noot reaches out quickly, stepping back and grabbing the thief, pulling him quickly around and holding him as a hostage. However, he failed to note the dagger in the thief's hand, and he stabs Noot in the leg which prompts him to let him go. The thief and Noot step back from each other, as the two other thieves draw daggers and advance....
"Friends, are you sure you want to do this?" says Noot, still trying to stay relaxed and not hurt these thieves. "I am better armed than the three of you put together and am faster as well. All I want is a little information and we can each go our separate ways.... and you can keep the gold."
The two thieves glance at each other, as their leader says, "Hold." They back off a couple steps, keeping wary eyes on Noot, daggers held ready. "One gold won't go far," he says. "I got five kids to feed!"
"That's better," says Noot. "All I want is some information -- as I asked before. Give me something I can work with and you will see more gold."
The man steps out of the shadows, his large foppish hat still hiding his features. "What do you want?" he says.
"I want to know anything you know about the murders at the Abbey," he says. "First, Who were the murderers and where did they come from. They killed many peaceful monks. Second, where can you find a decent card game in this town?"
"I don't know anything about no murders," he says, then he doffs his hat, waving it in a flourish. "Now a card game!" He smiles broadly, "that I can do!"
The other two thieves look unsure, until the leader tells them to back off. He then walks up, offering a grandiose bow. "H'sim Firuz," he says. "At your service."
"Well met," says Noot. As I said, "I'm Noot of Hommlet," Now tell me about the game and there is another gold in it for each of you."
He looks down at Noot's daggers. "Pretty," he says. "But you won't need them 'cept to pay up after you lose." He snaps off commands in Baklunish, and the two other thieves put their daggers away.
Noot tosses three gold to the H'sim, puts his daggers away. "Lead on! We'll see who ends up with what."
The guild leader is H'sim Farouz. He is a Baklunish pirate from Zeif, who spent many years adventuring in the northwest region. He says he has close personal relationships with some high-ranking priests of Rao, and settled in Mitrik with their blessing. He quickly brought the city's underworld under his control, and keeps a close eye on things to ensure things stay civilized. He is a very popular man in Mitrik, owner of all the taverns and the head of the Innkeeper's Guild, which fronts for the Thieves Guild's other operations. These are mostly gambling and prostitution, both of which he hides behind the front of the tavern business. He does not allow any of the more unsavory thieving acts, such as robbery, mugging, etc. When new thieves show up, he tests them as he did Noot. Should they prove smarter than your average thief, as Noot did, he will take them into his confidence. They may stay in town, if they obey themselves. Otherwise, they will quietly disappear, being sent downriver as cargo to Verbobonc or Dyvers!
He is known as a wealthy ex-adventurer and pirate, who made his fortune on the Dramidj Ocean. He regales others with tales of adventure on the high seas, and has much knowledge of the lands beyond that fabled sea.
Noot will share what he and his companions are up to. He also discloses how he has built an inn in Nulb and how he plans to do much as H'sim has done here. "Besides all this I am worried about the murders at the Abbey. There should be no cause for all the violence we saw."
"For some, violence IS their cause," he says sadly.
The play some card games, and indeed Noot wins 100gp. by the end of the evening. He does end up having a lot in common with H'sim, though he has spent many more years at sea, something which Noot would like to do. As they talk about Noot's ideas for Nulb, he talks of some his...transportation projects. It seems to him that there are some significant business opportunities on the Velverdyva River which control over both ends of it could provide.
"Perhaps," he says, "once you complete your affairs here and return home, I can assist you in setting up your operations."
"I miss being on the water," says Noot, "so I appreciate your offer, and I will surely look you up when and if we get a chance to pass this way again. Meanwhile, if you should make your way to Hommlet or Nulb, let them know you know me. I suspect my comrades are waiting as it's nearly morning and they may be a little anxious. May we meet again!"
"I believe that is almost a surety, my young friend," he says. "Besides, I've 100 gold to win back!" His smiles lets you know he cares nothing for the gold, just the game.
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