Sessions 81 and 82, part 2

Posted in Shadows Within on July 27, 2010 by eric22222

Chickens cluck and run in their pens. A peddler begins shouting at passersby. Coins and gems clink and rattle.

All around in the Remnas market square, the economy sings a song of renewal. A goblin uprising would change the very foundations of the Kendran monetary system, so merchants were especially glad that their plans were stopped.

“Glod, why don’t you check out the market for a while… I need to go be discrete.”

“Eh, fine. I’ll see what’s for sale, at least.”

Kerwyn makes his way down an alley. He can tell there is something distinctly magical about these shoes, but can’t put his finger on it. He does, however, have a very strong sense that he should turn left here, and swing a right through the next alley…

Glod continues wandering the marketplace.

“FRESH APPLES! Get ’em while they’re fresh!”
“Hey-we-got-some-quality-spices-over-here-come-on-over-how-bout-you-sir…”
“Fresh fish! Who’s a-wantin’ a nice tuna, hmmm?”
“You there, gnome! Now, you look like the kind of man who enjoys new technologies more than the layman,” says a man near the edge of the market. A large glass window taking up most of the width of the shop displays spring loaded toys and other gadgetry.

“And what manner of machinations are you selling?”

“Only my finest mechanical wares!” The man is very large with a bushy, reddish mustache. His large glasses have several lenses attached which appear capable of flipping over his already thick spectacles.

“Hmm, I wouldn’t mind looking around…”

“Ha, I knew you’d be the type to appreciate this kind of work. Come in and see!”

The man leads Glod into the cramped shop. Clocks cover every wall, ticking away in perfect unison.

“Now this little gadget is a fun one,” he says. He shows Glod what appears to be a small wooden staircase, with each step slanted in towards the inward corners. A ball bearing sits on the lowest step where a crank is positioned. “Give ‘er a turn,” he says with a smile.

Glod turns the crank. The steps begin to shift. Every other step begins to sink while the others rise. The two first steps become flush, and the ball rolls into the next step. As he continues to turn it, the process continues and the ball rolls up the steps, one at a time.

“Intriguing. And all done without any magic, or so it would seem.”

“That’s a magic all it’s own, my good gnome! Magic of pure craftsmanship! There are feats far greater than this which can be done with no more than gears and pulleys!”

“Feats like what?”

“Come, come, I’ll show you some of the more complex pieces.”

[Found a video demonstrating what I described to Adam in way too many words.]

***

Kerwyn feels a sudden need to take a sharp left, and finds himself standing before an uninteresting temple. Clergymen dressed in black walk the aisles with candles. No one else is present. The room is not large, and only two stories tall. A couple doors in the back flanking the altar hint at more to see. A preist stands in front of each.

Kerwyn walks up to the one near the left door. “Pardon me sir, I’m looking for a certain man, I don’t know if you’d…”

The man seems to recognize Kerwyn vaguely and opens the door for him, nodding silently. Kerwyn steps inside. The hallway bends right. Kerwyn passes a pair of clergymen as he rounds the corner, finding another right. Seeing that the hall dead-ends at the other door, he backtracks to the center of the hall.

Experimentally, Kerwyn places a hand on the wall, finding it illusory. Beyond he finds the more expected appearance of the guild. The whole place exudes a sense of efficiency. Walking across a large common room, Kerwyn finds Erelos. He nods and smiles.

“Hello Erelos. As you can tell, I got your package.”

“Yes, they suit you well,” he says. “You’ll find that there’s a compartment in the left heel that cannot be found save for by the one wearing the shoes.”

“Now that is handy,” he says, looking around. “It looks like things are going pretty well here.”

“Yes, we’ve just about finished up with moving everyting in, and gained a few new members in the meanwhile. That alcemist that helped us whip up those explosions is now fulltime. He enjoys this sort of work so much more, he says.”

“People tend to see that this style of life can be far more exciting and rewarding.”

He smiles. Well, we have a… wealth emancipation project that you may be interested in.”

“Heh heh. I’m always interested. Especially right now. My paladin and cleric friends happen to be away for a while, so I’ve got no one looking over my shoulder.”

He nods. “Yes, I know.”

“Well, information like that is your job.”

“Yes, information is of great value to those in my line of work, which is what we need to… acquire.”

“So, what exactly is that you need?”

“One of our former members went, er, rogue on us. He has been dealt with, but the damage he may have caused has not yet been reversed. A roster of every member in our local chapter was sold to a rather wealthy merchant on Poplar Street. We need to reclaim this.”

“What’s the name of the merchant?”

“Franklin Bell is the man. I’ll give you the address, but I’d advise you to prepare yourself. No doubt he has done so himself.”

“I should think he would. Fortunately, I happen to know a mischievous gnome wizard who’d probably be willing to give me a hand.”

“Now Kerwyn, this will be your first assignment, so I should go over some basic protocol for guild members. If you should decide to take anything beyond the targeted items, a set cut of that goes straight to the guild treasury, so keep your loot separate. Dealing with agressors is up to you. Our policy is that anything goes if you don’t get caught.”

“Don’t worry. I’m not going to get caught.”

Erelos laughs. “That’s what I like to hear. I’ve taken a bit of risk on by letting you in, but I believe you’ll be a valuable asset. Go out there and prove me right.”

“Will do.”

***

“And… done. Fifty-three ball bearings. I must’ve lost one recently; it used to be fifty-four.”

“Amazing!” Glod says. “Were I not an illusionist myself, I would not believe my eyes. How high can it count?”

“This particular one can count to over five hundred, but each lever I add would double the limit!”

“Were I a settled gnome, truly I would want one. But I am a traveler and cannot carry such things as do not have practical use to me. Though I daresay some beancounter might find this device quite handy.”

“If ever your travels bring you back to Remnas, be sure to stop in to see what new items we have.”

“I surely shall. But tell me, do you not have anything besides toys and trinkets? I mean no offense–I quite like them.”

“Ah, so you’re interested in things with more…” he lowers his voice, “practical applications?”

“Exactly.”

“Come on back in to the workshop, sir.”

The room is dark, save for spots of intense light near workbenches. A series of magnifying glasses and tools sit at each one.

“Now let me say first hand that everything I show you is not to be used for an illegal purpose, and that any interest in these items is an agreement of full responsibility on your part should you decide to utilize them in any way.”

“Of course, of course.”

“This one has some potential, but right now it’s still more of an idea.” He holds up a small metal tube. “The idea is you put some sort of object in this end, the detachable crank in this end, wind it up, and… wham!” The small ball bearing shoots across the room, embedding itself in a nearby wall.

“Hm, though no magic missle, it’s certainly more compact than a crossbow.”

“Of course, you can fire what ever you want. I know some alchemists who… nevermind, I may have said too much.”

“I’m interested, but what else do you have?”

“For this one, well, I’ll have to show off a little of my chemistry wares.”

He takes out a small box. The gears inside give it a clock-like appearance, but with no face. In a slot on the top, he places a vial.

“Now this is just a cheap smoke screen, nothing too fancy for the demonstration.” He delicately taps the pendulum dangling from the underside of the gears.

The gears tick. “Now over on this side, it’s got this dials you can turn. See, this indicates the time it’s set for. Once it reaches zero, a small mallet swings up and…”

***

“Now where’d that gnome get off to…” Kerwyn surveys the market, searching for any sign of the illusionist.

A plume of white smoke violently erupts from a small shop on the distant side of the square.

“Ah, there we go.”

Nearby merchants shift their stands away from the narrow building. Glod and Wheatley emerge from the cloud, coughing.

“Perhaps you should have forewarned me…”

“My apologies sir! I really have been meaning to organize those vials. If you are able to come by some other time, I assure you…”

“Actually sir, I would like to purchase that shooter you demonstrated for me.”

“You would? I mean, of course! Just one moment…”

The large figure disappears into the cloud.

“You actually want to buy something from this guy? What’d you find?”

“Spring mechanism. Seems to have some kick.”

“Now it is still a bit of a prototype, so the price is reduced to just ten pieces of gold. And please keep in mind that as a prototype it is rather fragile…”

“A fair price. And keep working on the design. If you come up with an improved version I might buy it off you the next time I come through town. Off the top of my head, could you weld multiple tubes together? Multistring crossbows are too cumbersome to be practical, but this…this is compact.”

“Haha! This is the creativity and ingenuity gnomes are known for! I know a good customer when I see one!”

“Expect to see this one again if you can keep this sort of thing coming.”

***

“Look, it’s no big deal. We’re already under a mountain. A pit couldn’t go that far down.”

Mathus and Gante continue through the old temple. Little had been found so far save for a few shrines and an angry druid, but the two pressed deeper into the mountain searching for a way down.

At the very end of the corridor, they find a door labeled with some archaic script. The passage leads to a wooden lift. They ride it down through a narrow shaft.

Thirty feet down, the shaft opens up into a large mine, spreading out far beyond the light of their torch. The light glints off small fragments of some kind of crystal, clinging to the ceiling.

The lift reaches the bottom of the cavernous mine, and the two search the area for signs of where Epona may be. The sounds of pickaxes echo through the mine, and a few exhausted veins are found near cart tracks. Eventually, they find a door leading to a hallway beyond the mines. Ahead, they hear ominous chanting.

Sessions 81 and 82, part 1

Posted in Shadows Within on July 19, 2010 by eric22222

Snore.

Another morning breaks in to the city of Remnas. The capital had already had it’s fair share of break-ins lately, but mornings were much preferred to goblin armies.

Snore.

By the gods, it’s a wonder humans can sleep while making that racket.

Glod the illusionist, gnome of the Stumbleduck clan and recent hero of Kendra, does not sleep. By virtue of luck, he came in to possession of a ring which enables him to forego sleeping and eating.

Kerwyn the thief, of unknown origin and recent hero by technicality, sleeps quite a lot. And snores.

Glod prefers to spend his extra eight hours studying his spells and researching new magic, but has found much of his time has been spent seeking more effective ear plugs.

SNORE.

It was then that the wizard Glod decided he needed to stretch his legs and enjoy the morning. His raven accompanied him to the market square where he traded one noise for a dozen. Kerwyn was left to doze in his bed, so no one saw the unscrupulous character who dropped off a nondescript package in front of their room.

***

Two days’ journey to the east, a trio of elves seek out an old temple in the forest. Take note that while “trio of elves” may conjure images of a happy band of bards or toy-makers, these were well-trained warriors. Two of them, sworn to uphold good, are considering killing the third.

“They said it was just a few miles through the woods, right?”

“Yes, Mathus.”

“The way I see it, out of a village of a few thousand, one of ’em should be smart enough to know how far a few miles is.”

“Yes, Mathus…”

“And I’d say this smart… well, smart-er one should probably rise through the ranks of corn-growin’, pig-chasin’ hicks to the position of mayor, or similar office where he can use his talents to better his village.”

Yes, Mathus…”

“So tell me, why do these backwards little towns always decide the oldest fart among ’em is the most qualified to run their village? I mean, what th-”

A sudden silence. Gante eyes the cleric. Epona, having finished casting her spell, smiles to the paladin. Gante nods in appreciation, and Mathus begins mouthing obscenities.

***

Glod walks back into his room. “It’s about time you woke up,” he says to Kerwyn.

“Hey, I needed my beauty sleep…”

“I’ll say.” The gnome holds up a small package marked with Kerwyn’s name. “Looks like you got a gift.” He tosses the box to Kerwyn.

“Hm. Didn’t order anything…” He shakes it experimentally. He gives a quick shrug and opens the box. “Ooh…”

“What is it?”

“Shoes. Some pretty nice ones, too.” Kerwyn removes the leather shoes from the box and places them on the floor. “And there’s a note.”

Kerwyn,
Thanks again for your help against the goblins. We’ve finished setting up our new headquarters. You’re always welcome, so feel free to come by any time, especially if you’re searching for some way to put your talents to good use.
-Erelos

“Well, I may have a chance to earn a bit of extra cash while the elves are away…”

Kerwyn puts on his new shoes. A sudden sense of purpose indicates some kind of magical properties.

“How do they feel?”

“Like they need to be broken in. Come on.”

***

A finely crafted stone gateway sits snugly at the base of the northern hills. Dwarven motifs indicate the original architects of the temple. The large, misshapen footprints indicate the current inhabitants.

“I guess this is the place,” Epona says.

“Wha? I thought you did the magicy quiet thing?”

“That wore off half an hour ago. I didn’t think it worth the effort to tell you.”

“Ugh. Fine. Let’s get this over with.” Mathus pulls out his sword and heads into the temple. Epona creates some magical lighting for the dark hallway. Gante draws his sword and takes up the rear, his heavy armor echoing down the hall.

Just fifty feet into the corridor, Mathus stops the others. “Pit trap,” he says, prodding the ground with his sword. The floor swings down, creating a chasm, ten feet across.

Gante walks up to the pit. “Yeah, I don’t see me jumping this. You know, there were some pretty thick trees outside; think we could cut one down and use it as a bridge?”

The three work for a while to get a decently sized tree cut and into the hallway. Gante crosses the makeshift bridge, a bit uneasy. Mathus hops across without trouble. Epona steadies herself and begins her crossing.

“Hurry it up back there, short-stuff,” Mathus calls out.

“You know,” Epona says, trying to stay balanced, “I’m not… much shorter… than youuuuuu!”

Epona, loosing her footing, falls off the tree and tumbles into the dark abyss of the pit. Her scream fades out into silence.

Session 80

Posted in Shadows Within on June 15, 2010 by eric22222

After saving the town of Gade from the plans of a gnomish wizard, the party decides to visit Marlak in Karkin, then return to Remnas for the reward. Before leaving their contact Hoople offers them room for the night following the festival.

9th of Land’s Blessing

“I don’t know about you guys, but I’m ready to get out of this crazy town,” Gante says.

It’s a day’s journey north to Karkin. They arrive mid-afternoon. They find Marlak at his home, just on the outskirts of town.

Kerwyn knocks on the old wooden door of the small house. “Hello… anybody home?”

Books are strewn about the study, and loose papers are pinned to many walls. “Sorry that I haven’t had the time to clean,” Marlak says. “This has been quite a puzzle. There’s not a single line of history, geography, or even legend about this ‘Shady Grove’ place. I’d doubt that it even existed had I not heard it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.”

“Hmm… well that doesn’t leave us much to work with then,” Kerwyn says.

“Is there any magic that could help out?” Glod asks.

“I’ve a feeling that that diviner will be helpful, but we’ve little to go on for now.”

“Well, we do need to go back to Remnas to collect our reward,” Kerwyn says. “We could see if he could shed any light on this then.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

The adventurers travel north towards Remnas, passing through Celes and Duvik’s Pass. Glod attempts to translate more of the journal about once a night, but finds all the late night study tiring.

11th of Land’s Blessing

“On to see Stravin then,” Gante says. “We’ve got some bags of gold with our names on it.”

“I’m pretty sure it’s got the king’s name on it actually,” Glod says.

“I don’t even think this country has a king, per se,” Epona says.

Kerwyn laughs. “Doesn’t matter whose name is on it, just as long as it’s spendable.”

They navigate the city streets, arriving at the city’s main base of operations. Upon meeting with a bored-looking desk attendant, they are led to a planning room where Lord Stravin stands hunched over a map of the city.

Kerwyn waves. “Greetings Lord Stravin. How’s the city doing?”

“Ah, if it isn’t…” He consults a nearby sheet of paper. With a smile, he reads the title they gave themselves. “‘Those guys who are always there to save the day.’ Glad you could make it. The city’s doing surprisingly well, considering the recent events. Certainly, it’d be doing much worse were it not for your deeds.”

He goes in to the hall, waving for them to follow. He begins down a set of corridors, probably to the treasury.

“Kendra is by no means a rich country. Heaven knows, we still haven’t paid off the debts of the last war. Still, we get by with our resources, the most important of which is our people.”

“Well, we’re happy to preserve those,” Glod says.

“I have found it beneficial to reward those who deserve it when possible.” He takes a key from his pocket. He hands it to a guard, standing beside a rather hefty metal door. The guard returns, carting a large chest. “So, here’s to hoping we have you as an ally in the future, if ever trouble arises.”

“You can be sure we’ll be willing to lend a helping hand when needed,” Kerwyn says.

“And ya can keep the cart,” the guard says as he wheels the chest into the room. “You’ll prob’ly need it to get this to where e’er yer going.”

“Thanks, but we have a bag of holding for this sort of thing,” Glod says.

Gante laughs nervously. “Well, it can only hold so much…”

“Er, how much?”

“About 250 pounds,” Gante answers.

Epona crosses her arms. “Then mister pack-rat over there is going to have to get rid of some of this junk.”

“Hey now, you never know when you’ll need eight sets of goblin chain mail.”

“This is as good a time as any to try to sell it.”

“Yeah, surely someone will buy it. I’ll take it into town, see what I can do. I’ll be back later. Keep an eye on Kerwyn.”

“What did I do?”

“In the meanwhile, how about we head back to the diviner’s shop and see if he can help us?”

The adventurers return to the diviner’s shop. The walls of this old building are covered in long, flowing pieces of cloth. A small table in the center holds a crystal ball.

They hear a voice from the back: “I’m coming, I’m coming. Have patience!”

A wrinkled face emerges from the curtain, not yet revealing anything below its neck. In quick succession, he eyes each of them.

“Hm… A gnome, a… Oh. It’s you… WELCOME, MY DEAR CUSTOMERS!”

He bursts through the curtains, places his hands flat on the small table, and smiles broadly. His glasses hang on the tip of his nose.

“And what brings you to my neck of the woods today?”

“We need your help finding something,” Glod says.

“Ah, do tell.”

“Well, we are trying to locate a place called Shady Grove. So far, our research has found nothing. All we know is that this journal was there at some point.”

“This could prove difficult. You’ve no idea where the place may be?”

“Such a general finding spell could take months, years even. I will need more information on this place. As it is now, I would need to cast divinations centered at several different places, spiraling outward, searching for something so specific.”

“Well, maybe you can find out where the journal has been in past years?”

Belorin Millstone smiles. “That would be an unusual combination of two very different types of divination. Lucky for you I enjoy a challenge. You would, of course, need to leave the book here with me. I will deduct the cost of my services from what I owe you for the pearl.”

“Well as long as the process isn’t destructive. Do you have any idea how long it might take you?”

“That depends on how long I end up tracing it back. The further back and farther away its history goes, the longer it will take to trace it further. Assuming it hasn’t traveled far, I’d say I could have a decade traced back by tomorrow.”

Current year is 446, for those keeping score at home. Note that this doesn’t have any connection with the Gregorian calendar.

Session 79

Posted in Shadows Within on June 5, 2010 by eric22222

“The runes keep going through the forest,” Gante says, meeting up with the others. “I followed them all the way to the shore.”

“Does the pattern overtake the lake?” Glod asks.

“Well, I mean, I didn’t dive in to look… How would you even inscribe runes under water?”

“We might need to make a second trip,” Kerwyn says, loading a broken scarecrow into the… ahem, borrowed cart. “By my count, this is number forty. There’s at least a dozen more.”

“Well excuse me for not getting a better cart,” Mathus says, holding the unconscious gnome. Kerwyn has, in the mean time, taken the time to tie some better restraints.

Quoth flies back onto Glod’s shoulder. “Squawk! Looks like the whole circle is about two miles in diameter. So what do we do from here?”

“Well, if we’re going to get the rest of those scarecrows, we need to do something with these first,” Kerwyn says, pointing at the cart. “I guess we could use them to try and scare our little troublemaker into telling us more about what’s going on, but I kind of doubt he knows anything useful. So, the way I see it, that leaves either destroying them, or putting them somewhere safe while we get the rest. Also, it’d be great if someone could figure out what the runes are suppose to do, other than ‘probably something bad.’”

If there’s some sort of banish evil spell we could try that. Or, you know, just burn them. I admit, a part of me is curious what they would do, but not THAT curious.

“I can dispel a spell on a single object/person or small area, or counterspell on the caster, but this seems to be beyond that,” Epona says.

Gante nods. “As for me, I don’t see why a smaller identical circle of these runes around our little gnome friend wouldn’t make him more apt to tell us what it does. If he seems not to mind the gesture or to be happy, we could just take it back down.”

“Well in that case,” Kerwyn says, “Mathus or Gante and I can go and get the rest of the scarecrows while you guys see if you can get anything out of the gnome. After that, I say we burn the scarecrows and hope for the best.”

The team positions some of the scarecrows around the gnome. Gante wakes him up.

[Alright, gnome,] Glod says, speaking in Gnomish. [We want some answers.]

The gnome spies the scarecrows and sees what they’re getting at. He cautiously nods.

[You’d best let us know, or we’ll find out the answer based on what happens to you.]

Glod translates the gnome’s answers: [What do you want to know?]

[Who is behind all this, and what are they planning?]

[This is my doing… Is it so hard to believe I am capable of orchestrating this?]

[Nah, I could believe you could do this, but I like to cover all my bases. I know that your type usually spills the evil plan when our positions are reversed, but still.]

[Well, you’re more than welcome to test that theory,] he says, grinning.

[If you made it, you should know what it will do,] Glod says.

[I… I’m not fully certain. The spell was my father’s work I have merely prepared the circle.]

[You are related to the necromancer, perhaps?]

[Nec… necromancer? My father was no necromancer you-] Glod does not translate the rest.

[Perhaps this is all a big misunderstanding, perhaps you’d better set the record straight.]

[Gravly Steep was an honest illusionist. One of the greatest. What those fools decided to believe all those years ago has no merit.]

Epona takes Glod aside. “You’re familiar with illusions Glod, what danger can an evil illusion spell cause?”

“A a fair bit, but I’m not convinced the fellow was any sort of illusionist.” Glod turns his gaze back to the other gnome. [This still doesn’t get to the main point of the matter, which is this: what’s the purpose of this spell? You are clearly up to something, and we want to know what.]

[I’ve told you what I know. You are an illusionist, are you not, Mister Glod?]

[Yes, that I am.]

[I’ve heard a great deal of your skill; surely you will be able to determine the spell’s effect.]

Epona looks over one of the nearest runes. “Usually I don’t meddle with arcane magic, but there’s something interesting here, Glod…”

And the cleric gets a natural twenty where the wizard failed to break a ten.

“What’s that?”

“This spell is sort of bordering on two schools of magic. It’s like enchantment and transmutation.”

“But that… hey, you’re right!”

“All I can tell is that it changes the properties of the encircled area.”

“And if it’s a time-based cast, it’ll probably be set to go at daybreak for this festival thing.”

The team discusses the possible risks the spell poses, as well as how they can protect the town.

“Alright,” Gante says, mounting his horse. “Glod and I will return to town and evacuate everyone. If enough of them have bought in to this ghost story, they might be scared enough to believe us. Kerwyn and Epona will gather as many of the remaining scarecrows as they can, and also try to destroy the runes in the forest. Mathus, you go with them and watch over the prisoner.”

They break into their separate groups. Gante and Glod ride into town. “Ok, Gante, got any suggestions for getting people up and moving fast?”

“We need to get our client first, I’m sure he has some pull and can help us.”

After a full minute of knocking and waiting for responses, they hear someone stirring inside. “‘M coming,” Hoople manages.

A small window opens halfway up the door. Hoople peers out, then opens the door. He yawns widely.

“We’ve figured out what’s going on,” Glod says. “Some gnome has been setting up a spell. It’s set to go off at dawn, and it’s focused on the city.”

Though visibly more interested now, he still speaks between yawns. “So what… can we do?”

“We need to get everyone out of the city. We’re trying to stop the spell, but we can’t guarantee it won’t go off.”

“We aren’t on the best terms, but Flipt can help us, I think. We can get the church bells ringing!”

follow the gnome’s directions through the streets to the tiny cathedral near the town’s center.

They follow the gnome’s directions through the streets to the tiny cathedral near the town’s center. Hoople dismounts (tripping over his gown) and pounds on the wooden doors.

“Flipt! Open up!”

“Oi! Quit with all the pounding! Ya could wake the dead with that din!”

“Hopefully we won’t have to deal with that,” Glod says.

“Is’at you, Hoople? Thought you said you’d stop with all this messin’ ’round, hmm?”

“Flipt, let us in. This is an important matter!”

“Aye, and yer uncle’s a bugbear. Scram, then!”

“Wish he was just messing around, but Gravly Steep’s son has been setting up evil runes in a circle around the town. We caught him, and whatever spell they are enchanted with is set to go off in the morning.”

Roll for diplomacy, and… twenty.

“Grav… Gravly Steep?!”

They hear bolts being undone. “And here I am thinking you was just being yer usual self” The door opens, leading into a rather small cathedral. “What do ya need?”

Meanwhile…

“So, we can just burn ’em? I mean, I could’ve done that a long time ago.”

“Well, you get your chance now,” Kerwyn says. “It’s probably the easiest way to get rid of them. We just need to be sure and not burn any fields.”

Mathus nods. “Sure, sure. I’ve got this…” He eyes the gnome.

“Leave him be,” Kerwyn says.

“Hey, we could kill two birds with one stone, here.”

“Leave him.”

The scarecrows go up in flames, distant enough from fields and forests. Over the treetops, the distant sound of church bells can be heard.

DING. DING.

“That should draw everyone out,” Hoople says.

“Glod, you take Hoople and Flipt and explain things to the townspeople. I’ll keep ringing,” Gante says.

The townsfolk have been kind of worried about this for a while, so they aren’t really skeptical at all. After they explain the situation, they begin heading down the north road, grabbing valuables since they’re unsure of the effect.

“Smoke there,” Gante says, pointing west. “That must be where they’re taking care of things. Let’s meet up with them.”

Kerwyn prods the fire with his rapier. He sees the others coming into view. “There you guys are. Did you get everyone out?”

“I believe so, They were all very compliant,” Gante says. “See Hoople, here’s the main trouble maker.”

“Cobb Steep. You’ve been working on that beard, I see.” Hoople turns to the adventurers. “So do you still plan on evacuating? If what you’ve said is true, there is still a chance of disaster.”

“He’s got a point,” Kerwyn says. “I don’t exactly want to be in the middle of this, just in case something does happen.”

They load up in their borrowed cart and head north. Kerwyn looks back towards the city and lake. “You know, we never asked him if the poisoned fish was his work as well.”

“I would say the spell and runes require mercury as a component, and since some are likely in the lake, that’s probably the cause.”

After two more hours, the first rays of daylight break the horizon. A sudden shaft of light appears in the distance, about where the eastern side of the circle meets the lake. It begins traveling clockwise across the lake like a luminescent curtain being drawn upward. As it meets the other side of the lake, making half the circumference, the light begins to dissolve. A second later, a loud, fizzling sound is heard. All evidence the spell had ever been cast melts with the fading night.

“It looks like the spell couldn’t be completed without a complete circle.”

“Aw,” Glod says. “Now we’ll never know what it was supposed to do!”

The group returns to the town to make sure everything is as it should be. Satisfied that nothing is out of the ordinary, they travel north to let the people know their city is safe.

“And what do we do with this one?” Mathus asks, holding up Cobb Steep.

“Well, we obviously can’t let him go, or he might try and do this again,” Kerwyn says. “I guess we should turn him over to the townsfolk, and let them decide.”

Hoople nods. “Yes, he’ll have to be given a proper trial first.”

“Well first, I think there was a festival that was suppose to happen today…”

“Of course!” Flipt says. “Enough of this doom and gloom.” He climbs on to the cart to address everyone. “People of Gade! We have been blessed with an abundant summer! Let us enjoy the fruits of our labor and thank the sun for a plentiful harvest!”

The farmers return with the best of the season (save for one who couldn’t find his cart). A band of bards strikes up a jovial tune.

The rest of the day consists of dancing and drinking, until Hoople approaches with a rather bored looking messenger.

“Ah, yes, here they are,” Hoople says gesturing at the party. “This fellow says he’s been looking for your group for a while now.”

“Celes, Karkin… It was looking like you all were heading straight to the sea judging by the runaround I got. I’ve got a message for you from Lord Stravin.”

“That’s… that’s like, 400 gold pieces each!”

“You’ll have to pick that up in person, of course. Just need you to sign here. A group name will suffice if you’ve got one.”

“Huh… guess we don’t really have a group name…”

Kerwyn chuckles. “How about, ‘those guys who are always there to save the day?'”

Gante signs the name as Kerwyn suggests.

Session 78

Posted in Shadows Within on April 18, 2010 by eric22222

7th of Land’s Blessing

The adventurers walk back outside into the warmth of the early afternoon. The old shack creaks uneasily as they leave.

“Nothing seemed to have been recently used, though,” Glod says.

“Yeah, but you found some quicksilver! What are the chances of finding the same stuff like that?” Mathus asks.

“It’s a fairly common component for spells. It might mean nothing.”

“That puts us back at square one,” Gante says. “We may just have to wait for the festival tomorrow.”

“Wait, what?” Mathus looks at them incredulously. “If he’s a necromancer, he’ll come back with tons of undead minions. We’d be far outclassed.”

“Psh. I can handle those with one hand behind my back,” Epona says.

“Still, I say we track down his grave, dig it up, and burn it down.”

“I’m not so sure this necromancer is the culprit,” Glod says. “He seems pretty, well, dead. And while that doesnt always mean anything for necromancers… eh, call it a hunch.”

“I don’t know if I’m fully comfortable with the guy who hired us,” Gante says.

“He seemed fine to me, at the time at least,” Kerwyn says.

“On the one hand,” Glod says, “he is an odd character. On the other hand, why bring us out here if he’s causing trouble?”

“Maybe we should just head back to the town and see if there’s anyone else who might have an idea of what is going on.”

“Hey,” Gante says, “how about we find the guy who met up with the scarecrow?”

“Worth a shot,” Kerwyn says.

Back in town, Hoople directs them to a farmhouse near the outskirts of town. A rather large field nearby has about a dozen scarecrows in it. Mathus knocks loudly.

“Whadyawant?”

“We’re looking for information about a necromancer!”

“A what-a-whatser?”

“We want ta figure out what’s putting up all these scarecrows,” Glod says.

The door opens. A old fellow, thin, but strong, stands in the door. He holds a wide straw hat in his hands, gripping it tightly. “You say you kin git ridda them things?”

Kerwyn nods. “That’s what we’re trying to do, yes.”

He nervously looks around. “Whatdya need t’ know?”

“Tell us about your encounter with the scarecrow.”

“I just wanted to toss it out of my field, but… If you go up to them, ya… ya start seeing these things. I don’t even know what I saw. I don’t know nothin’ else ’bout em. But you can stop these things from showin’ up?”

“We hope to try. Do you mind if we stake out your field for tonight?”

“Not at all,” he says, a bit more relaxed.

The team walks out to the field. “Well,” Epona says, “I suppose we should empty his fields of scarecrows and then see what happens tonight.”

“It may draw in more,” Glod says. “That’d actually be good.”

“Alright,” Mathus says. “I’m on it.” He walks out into the fields, blades drawn.

“Should we have told him about the whole enchantment thing?” Gante asks.

“Eh… he’ll figure it out,” Glod replies.

“Gah! Whoa! Die, scarecrow!” Mathus takes several frantic swings at the scarecrow, finally knocking it over. Out of breath, Mathus shuffles back to the party, shaking. “There’s something wierd about those things…”

“I’ll take care of the rest, then,” Gante says.

Glod surveys the surrounding landscape. “I’m going to see if the farmer will let us stake out from his roof.”

8th of Land’s Blessing

Just after midnight, the party waits on the roof for anything unusual. The scarecrows have been piled together, hopefully drawing whatever is responsible.

“Okay, so I’ve got use covered by illusion. Mathus has the area triggered with an alarm spell, so we’ll know if anything bigger than a mouse gets near the scarecrows.”

“Sounds good,” Epona says. “You and I can take first watch.”

After a few hours, Mathus senses his alarm has been triggered. “Guys, somethings going for the scarecrows. I’m going down to check it out.”

“Quoth, fly over and check it out.”

Glod’s familiar checks the area and returns. “Nothing unusual. Might just be an animal…”

Mathus returns to the roof. “I didn’t see anything either.”

“Well, we’ll wait for anything else, I suppose.”

Another hour passes. Mathus’s alarm is triggered again, and this time, a voice is heard. “Guys, someone’s down there. Sounds muffled; I can’t understand a word…”

Glod listens closely. “Actually, it’s Gnomish. Gante, you sense anything?”

“It’s evil, whatever it is. Epona, what do you have for us?”

“Hmm… Mathus, go down to grab this guy. I’ll slow him down.” Epona casts daylight on the area, illuminating a small figure near the scarecrows. She then casts hold person, paralyzing the gnome.

“Gotcha!” Mathus says.

“Kerwyn, go tie him up good.”

“I’m on it.”

After the rope is tied, the spell wears off.

“Greem! Foota bee cloopt!” The gnome struggles like a madman.

“Uh, what’s he say?”

“He wants to be let go. Not surprising, really…”

“Tell him to calm down,” Epona says, drawing an arrow.

[Ok you, what’s this all about?] Glod asks.

“Vee Noop creclackle to! Freepa veem tavo beek!”

“He wants the scarecrows put back up,” Glod says. [Why do they need to go back? They are causing trouble to the farmers, and have an evil aura about them.]

“Veema hast loopa gwee fritbo too!”

“Hmm, something about wanting the spell to go off correctly,” Glod says. [Why would we want it to go off correctly?]

“Mea favivi loopa sam moosa boo. Glipt fluvit meeka hoo samma gleeb…”

“Looks like the gnome who brought us here was right,” Glod says. “Some large magical event is going to occur. I don’t know about the fish, but the scarecrows are some sort of distributed runic thing.”

Mathus grabs the gnome by the throat. “Tell us what is going on!”

“Hey!” Glod says. “Keep that windpipe operational or we won’t get much information!”

“So as long as these scarecrows don’t go back up, will that stop whatever is suppose to happen?” Kerwyn asks. “Or will something even worse happen?”

Glod turns back to the gnome. “Llghes, ghnahs bredg neak blor teratog?”

“Glitt? GLITT? Farmaf graeg too teev sah mako?”

“Tama gwin suhul clip heeto…”

The gnome begins laughing and smiling widely. His matted beard covers most of his face, but his eerie smile gets through.

“Kerwyn, knock this guy out. We aren’t getting anything useful out of him for now. Arion and I will try and take down all the scarecrows.”

“Take Quoth along. He can help you spot them.”

“Thanks, Glod.”

Gante summons his steed. Mounting the horse, he gallops off into the fields.

The others, heading into town, are stopped by Quoth. “What are you doing back so soon?”

“Squawk! Gante’s found something unusual! There’s a pattern to these scarecrows.”

“Really,” Glod says. “What is it?”

“They’re in a weird shaped circle around the town!”

“Ah, that is interesting! Whatever the effect is will happen within the circle, and… hey! What if we were to reposition them? Preferably around our prisoner here…”

“Hmm, then he might be more willing to talk,” Epona says.

Session 77

Posted in Shadows Within on April 13, 2010 by eric22222

“So, as I was about to totally hand a guy a coin he definitely dropped, an out-of-breath gnome busted into the tavern. In all the excitement, I forgot to return the coin and accidentally used it to buy a drink for the gnome, chatting him up for info:

“‘You make some very wise points, sir,’ he said to me. ‘Anyone in your company should surely give you more respect. Still, I am troubled by some stupid prophecy or something going down in Gade, a village to the south. Allow me to give you the history in excruciating detail… ah! But, of course, you are so wise, I do not question that you already know the stories. For your aid, your deeds will certainly be remembered, and there may be some cash reward but who really cares about that of course.’

“And then he said he’d meet us here near the south road today if we were still interested. I feel we should help him out of the kindness of our hearts.”

“It would be nice to know what we are actually doing though,” Gante says, “but I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.”

“You heard me. Some kind of prophecy deal. The gnome was shady on details. Plus you can ask him tomorrow if you’re really that concerned.”

6th of Land’s Blessing

It’s an overcast day in Karkin. After gathering their things, the adventurers head to the south road in the village. There, a small figure stands by the signpost, pacing nervously.

“Hey there,” Kerwyn calls out.

“Hmm? Oh ho! You weren’t pulling my leg after all… Thank Garl.”

Epona whispers to Glod: “who exactly is Garl?”

“Gnomish deity. This guy looks like a cleric,” Glod says, pointing out the purple robes and golden belt.

“I’ll admit, I figured all that boasting about your exploits was just drunken gibbering, what with the slurred speech and the falling onto the floor…”

“Ah… Just an act to blend into the crowd. Moving on… I believe there was an urgent matter to attend to.”

“You’ll have to forgive our less-than-trustworthy friend here, but he does have a point. How can we be of service?”

“We seek brave warriors in our time of need. It is rumored that at the harvest festival in Gade, a powerful and evil wizard will rise from the grave, seeking vengeance on those who wronged him.”

“Ah, no need to worry then,” Epona says. “Undead are our specialty.”

“It’s troubling,” Glod says. “Seem to be a lot of necromancers about these days.”

“Like I said last night, nothing we can’t handle.”

“Are we to assume that you are one that he would feel wronged him, or is this a whole village type of thing?” Gante asks.

“Or does he just hate everything?” Glod adds.

“Though it was long ago, I myself was alive during the proceedings. I hope he has- err, had nothing against me, but I cannot say for certain.”

“Are you sure you’re telling us everything we need to know?” Gante asks.

“Anything else you need to know, I can tell you. It is, however, a time-sensitive matter. We can speak on the road.”

“Sounds good to me,” Epona says. “Let’s get going.”

“Great! I’ve already introduced myself to Kerwynsh, but for the rest of you, I am Hoople.”

“I am Epona. I will quickly scare off your little undead wizard friend.”

“I am Gante… I try to keep ‘Kerwynsh’ in line.”

Along the way, Hoople and Glod begin talking amongst themselves in their native language.

“So, Hoople, anything you didn’t care to say in front of the tallfolk? They’re decent people but I know how it can be at times.”

“Ah yes, tallfolk so rarely appreciate jokes as Gnomes do…”

“Heh… as an illusionist I’ve played a few from time to time.”

“The shady fellow… is he trustworthy at all?”

“In large things, if not in small. Keep an eye on your purse, but not on your back.”

“I kind of got that vibe… He was a bit out of it last night so I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, I do see plenty of opportunity for fun with him, heh heh.”

“Oh?”

“Yep. Just watch.” Hoople switches to common. “Again, I do appreciate you so much for agreeing to help out. I admit I was skeptical, but when Kerwynsh agreed to help without any reward, I was just taken aback!”

Gante heartily pats Kerwyn on the back and laughs. “That’s just the kind of guy he is deep down inside.”

“Oh… right… We just love to help out of the goodness of our hearts.”

It takes a full day to get to the village of Gade. The town is nestled among a small forest in the hilly countryside. A bright half-moon illuminates the darkening sky as they follow the path to the lamp-lit streets at the base of the hill. Through the trees, they see a large lake extending to the south, just beyond the town. The few clouds left from morning cast hazy gray reflections on the still waters.

“So what has this necromancer been up to so far?” Glod asks.

“Well, for the past several decades, decomposing, I assume.”

“So is this just stories passed down, or has something happened that has worried the town recently?” Gante asks.

“I would think it’s just coincidental, but the town is up in arms about it. Fishermen have seen that every morning, dozens of dead fish are all along the dock. Then there’s the failing crops east of town. Mostly strange since scarecrows keep popping up that no one put out. Not to mention occasional ghost sightings in the hills north-west of here. I don’t think it’s anything to worry about, but people get a little jumpy, what can I say?”

“I wonder if someone not-so-undead is up to this,” Epona says. “Any place to stay around here?”

“Yes, the Pine Dock inn’ll have room for you. They also serve up some pretty nice fish, if you get hungry. Can’t get it much fresher.”

“Wait a minute. They aren’t serving the dead fish they find every morning are they?” Kerwyn asks.

“I don’t think so, but now that you mention it, I’ve kind of lost my appetite…”

“Yeah, I think I’m going to pass on any fish for now,” Kerwyn says.

“Well, I’ll probably stake out a field for the night,” Glod says. “Anyone care to join?”

“I may as well,” Epona says. “I don’t need much sleep, and you probably shouldn’t go alone.”

“Sounds good; I’ll ask the innkeeper about the scarecrows.” Glod asks around, getting some interesting information.

“Nobody’s tried movin’ ’em since the first guy… poor fella.”

“Oh?” Glod asks.

The innkeeper nods. “We ain’t quite sure. ‘Bout when all this started, he got it in his head he weren’t gonna take it. Said he was chucking the thing out his field. They found him the next morning half-naked, running scared like a chicken without ‘is head bein’ on. He’s calmed down, but he won’t go back in his field with that thing sitting it. No one else daring to try the same thing.”

“Hmm, thanks.” Glod relays the information to the team. They decide Epona and Glod will stake out a field overnight.

7th of Land’s Blessing

Glod climbs a tree, getting a good view of a few neighboring fields. However, he doesn’t notice anything going on during the night.

On the way back to the inn, he and Epona pass by the docks. A few dead fish are bobbing in the waters nearby. Glod examines some under torchlight.

“Oh man, we need to tell the others about this…”

“Good morning, everyone!” Glod says loudly, waving a couple of dead fish around. “Good call on not trying fish last night at dinner. I found some trace amounts of quicksilver on these. It’s a noted toxin.”

“Great,” Kerwyn says. “Could you get it out of my face, then?”

“Er, right. Anyway, I want to get a better look at one of those scarecrows.”

“Sounds like as good a plan as any.”

Outside, the adventurers are greeted by Hoople. “Morning, everyone! I was thinking over the night, and there are a few more locations you might consider investigating. This particular wizard had a sort of workshop in the hills, not far from where the ghost sightings have been reported. And, cliché though it may be, his grave is in a cemetary to the east. I’ll let you know if anything else comes to mind.”

“Thanks for the tip. We might check those out.”

The team first heads for the graveyard.

“Here it is,” Epona says. “Gravly Steep Snapjaw McFroot Puddlestamp – died in 372. Definitely a Gnomish name.”

“My question is, who would bother burying a known necromancer in a graveyard, AND give him a marked grave?” Kerwyn says.

After searching the area, the party checks out one of the scarecrows while on their way to the woods.

“My guess is that it’s a fear-based enchantment,” Gante says. “Hopefully, I won’t be affected by it.”

“Surprisingly clever deduction,” Glod says.

“I don’t detect any evil save for some kind of faint spell…” Gante walks up to examine the scarecrow.

“So?” Glod hollers from across the field. “What do you make of it?”

“Lemme check the inside.” Gante slices the scarecrow horizontally, splitting it open. Inside, there are several slips of paper, each with runes written on them. “Some kinda runes.”

“Gante, do NOT read those. I’ll check ’em out in a safer manner later.”

“Well, then let’s head down to that old workshop of his.”

A small path leads north-west from town through the trees. A dilapidated shed of a building sits quietly at the base of the hill. An old brick chimney, long since unusable, leans uneasily on a nearby branch. The rotting wooden door barely hangs on the rusted hinges.

“Looks cozy,” Kerwyn says.

Kerwyn walks up to the door. The interior is actually well-lit by the series of holes in the ceiling. Weeds creep through the old, wood floor. A fireplace on the left holds a rusty poker. A hallway leads back to the right, and a broken table sits on your left. Kerwyn bends down to walk inside, being careful not to hit his head on the low ceiling. The team spreads out, searching the rooms. Gante finds old, rusted cookware in the kitchen. Kerwyn spies an old moneybag and four very old silver coins inside. Epona, checking the bedroom, finds a passage hidden behind a dresser. The opening is about three feet tall, opening into a small passageway.

Glod follows the passage. The tunnel leads to a sort of wizard’s study, though time has taken its toll. Spellbooks lie open with most of the pages crumbling away. Beakers are stained with unusual fluids. A cauldron has rusted through. Glod begins examining the spellbooks, when Mathus forces his way into the cramped room.

“What are you looking for, Glod?”

“You know, stuff. I’m sure the gnomish details would be beneath you.” Glod picks up one of the vials. “Hmm…”

“What?”

“Let’s head back out. It’s getting crowded in here.” Back outside, Glod explains what he found. “The spells appeared to be necromantic in nature, no surprise there. But I did find some mercury residue in the vials. Might be a connection.”

Session 76, part 4

Posted in Shadows Within on March 6, 2010 by eric22222

5th of Land’s Blessing

Glod works through the night, translating two pages:

6th of Land’s Blessing

“So now a hollow has clothing? They keep sounding weirder and weirder,” Kerwyn says.

“Well, from the sounds of it, they were once humans, or at least humanoids,” Gante says.

“Yeah, but probably not something you’d want to meet in a dark alley.”

The last leg of the journey brings the adventurers back to Karkin. They haven’t been here in almost two months, but, surprisingly, things still look the same.

“Alright,” Mathus says, “So what do we need to do?”

“We need to ask a guy a few questions,” Epona says.

“Oh, right, right: ‘dead people to talk to’ and all that.”

The walk to the cemetary is short. They find themselves standing in front of a blocky, windowless granite structure. The word “Hanan” is written on an iron door in old-fashioned script.

“We’re not going to have to, you know, get to the body, are we?” Kerwyn asks.

“Aw, come on!” Glod says. “Now’s not the time to be squeamish. You’ve seen (and produced) enough dead bodies to be used to them by now.”

“I have no problem dealing with dead bodies. It’s having to get them out of the ground I don’t really care for.”

This lightless room is dusty and full of cobwebs. Straight ahead, moldering skeletons line the alcove, some busted into pieces. The hidden door remains open, though dusty from the two months it spent open. The team proceeds through the door, exercising caution near the skeletons.

This square room houses five levers in one wall, lines up next to time-worn letters. The large iron door ahead remains open, and a lidless sarcophagus lies beyond.

“Well, someone sure doesn’t know how to lock up,” Kerwyn says.

“Yeah, someone…”

“So, the spell, how long will that take to cast?” Marlak asks.

“I’ll need ten minutes, and it will only last for six after it is cast. You’ll have three questions; do you have some ready?”

Marlak nods. “Yes, let’s begin.”

Epona casts her spell. After a long wait, the team prepares for the questioning.

“What are the Soul Stones?” Marlak asks.

An airy, leathery voice hisses from the corpse. “They are phylacteries. Prisons for souls. Souls within souls.”

“Who created the Soul Stones?” Marlak asks.

“We, the champions of Shady Grove,” the voice hisses.

“What power do the Soul Stones hold?”

“No power greater than their function: to contain.” With that, the late Sir Hanan falls silent.

“Well that’s all we’ll get out of him for a week,” Epona says.

“At least the bit about Shady Grove might be useful,” Kerwyn says. “I guess that’s where we hand it off to you, Marlak.”

“I’ll see what I can uncover.”