22/02/12: After the brawl

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The party starts the session recovering from the brawl with the drunks and make it to the Butcher Farm.

Score 1834

03/23/24

12/13/1212. Morning of Darktide.

After the brawl, Jordian spares the dying on the two gored by Es'tonza as an elk and the one mauled by Odin as a bear, then uses his healers kit on them and Kasma. Everyone else recovers the non-lethal damage during the rest. As the drunks regain consciousness, one by one, the run off raining curses are the group as they go.

character ex ac hp kit   details
Odin 1 16 17/17   hd: 2/2; spells: 0/3 lv 1; beast shape: 2/2
Wen Mei   18 22/22   hd: 1/2; lay on hands: 0/10; divine sense 1/3
Kasma   15 14/14   hd:2/2; spells: 1/3 lv1; ring -mage armor; wand: 2/5; -arcane recovery
Jordian   14 14/15   hd: 2/2; spells: 1/3 lv1; healer's kit doses: 14; eyes of the grave: 1/4; staff: 3/5
Es’tonza   14 15/17   hd: 0/2; spells: 3/3 lv1; beast shape: 2/2
Taeleen   15 15/15   hd: 2/2; 

 

From down the road towards Nevermore, you see a woman riding in a cart pulled by a single, brown horse. As she nears your position, you recognize her as Leana, the alchemist – the mother of the little girl you rescued from the gamithians. She pulls the horse to a halt and climbs down from the cart, a  kindly smile on her face and a fresh-baked pie in her hands.

Leana has come to thank the party for saving her daughter. She has more than winterberry pie – she also has two special potions for the party: Potion of Strength and Potion of Antitoxin. Let the party have some roleplay with Leana as she awkwardly thanks them for the rescue of Emma.

“You hear ‘bout poor Dawson? Seems a pack o’ hoods came a’ knockin’ afore his door, n’ stuck a razor ‘tween his ribs for not payin’ his protections on time. I’d bet m’ last dirty Copp it were that Woorsten an’ his pair o’ cutthroats what dun’ it! Vile thems be!”

As you continue your vigil, you see a pair of priests flanked by two acolytes coming up the road. As they near, you recognize them as Primervia and Umbrey, whom you rescued days before. They wear smiles on their faces and carry a basket and a satchel.

“Cheers and greetings friends!” remarks Primervia as they approach your group. “Hello and good day,” says Umbrey with much enthusiasm.

 

Primervia and Umbrey (the priests that the hired thugs were trying to assassinate at Carnivalle the day before) will come walking up the road (assuming, of course, that the party was able to rescue the pair and they were not killed in the encounter with the assassins). The two priests have come to give their thanks to the party for saving them. The basket contains an assortment of fresh winter herbs and dried fruits. The satchel contains three Potions of Healing and a scroll with the cleric spell revivify.

 

Midday you see a small group approaching the camp down the road from the east. A woman wearing a bright yellow tunic over leather armor, riding boots, and a short sword at her belt as she dismounts her horse at the side of the road.

Behind her are two guards in chain armor that sport the same yellow tunic. They also dismount and walk toward you with the woman. As they get closer, you note that their tunics bear the crossed scrolls and wheel sigil of the Courier’s Guild. She walks purposefully up to your group. “Cheers and greetings! I am Avrael of the Courier’s Guild. I seek a shizzat woman named Salvensa En’daerasé who is said to travel with this troupe. Where may I find her?

The party tells her that Mother Salvensa has been unconscious. Jordian is able to convince her to leave the scroll with him. While Estonza ritually casts detect magic, Kasma goes and buys 1/2 a spell level worth of ink.

Finding the scroll to be non-magical, Jordian and the others deliver the scroll to her hands. As they are returning to their post, Anton calls Kasma back and shares the scroll with her.

 

Kasma shares the contents with Jordian.

Coming from the east towards Nevermore can be seen a number of iron-sided and metal-roofed wagons which are being pulled by stout, oxe-like creatures that are clad in armor.

As the wagons near your position, you hear a deep voice yell out, “gol-anda heyy-oh!” and the caravan pulls to a stop. A hatch in the roof of the nearest wagon opens, and a scar-faced dwarf with dark skin, green eyes, and red-and-gray striped hair looks out at you – a crooked smile on his face.

“Halo’ shizzats! Cheers n’ greetin’s! I be Thurvis Ironfist from the great dwarven citadel o’ Sundervulden. We seek a dwarven bloke by tha’ name o’ Stoof. Who be you?”

While Jordian and Es'tanza go to fetch a small keg of Stoof's cherry coridal, the rest of the party talks to the dwarves. Odin, still in rat form, sneaks into a wagon finds ingots.

"Listen ta’ me… there be some brigands or… somethin’ else… attackin’ caravans on the King’s Crossin’. You knows… it be that old caus-away that runs fer miles across that Black’n-rot Bog. If you be headin’ thataway, my friend, I be thinkin’ ya’ should reconsider yer decision. There be three of four caravans missin’ … an’ there ain’t no survivors to tell the tale…”

The dwarves pay double (40gp) for the small keg. Stoof shares half the excess (10gp) with the party.

The packing up of the many wagons continues through late afternoon into early evening – with most of the work being completed as the sulset nears, Your work is just winding down, when Anton the priest comes around to your group. He has an uncanny ability to know when you are just getting close to finishing a job – typically greeting you with a wry smile before setting you to some new chore. Today, however, he is clearly in no mood for play – his dark eyes and downcast demeanor providing the evidence of a night without sleep – and his worry for mother’s condition.

“Hall0, my zatis. Thank you for taking care of this job and for watching the road. I do not know what we would be doing without your help. I also must tell you… sadly, there has been no change with mother nor little Vezzy. My heart breaks, but there is nothing I can do. The gods do not answer my prayers. Nor does Verdaus hear the pleas of Selvra."

 Anton will tell the players that Borag, Calnassé, and Kray have yet to return. He will not say so, but there is obvious worry in his eyes. 

 “Zatis, I wish you to head over to the animal pens. I do not trust that all the lizard-creatures are destroyed. Inspect the tunnel, and make sure that nothing appears to have been digging out from the dirt after we collapsed it. After that, return to me please… at my tent. There is something I wish to show you."

The party heads over to the area.

You arrive at the animal pens area. It is obvious where the tunnel was collapsed as there is a fairly large, long divot in the ground heading off to the southeast.

They will notice a strange, viscous liquid in the dirt near the hole. It is thick, slimy, and a sickly yellow-green in color. As they inspect the strange goo, they will get the impression that it is actually bubbling up from the ground below.

When Odin digs in the area around it with his magic, he discovers the remains of an old, glass bottle that appears to have broken only recently – likely in the collapsing of the tunnel. The bottle appears to have
held the strange, yellow-green liquid. They will not be able to identify the substance, but it smells like rotten eggs...

Wen Mei then hears a commotion at camp and takes all running, immediately followed by the others.

 The Gambling Tents are usually left up until just before you break camp, as there are always a few more locals willing to risk their coin for a chance at riches. In most cases, they would likely not have been taken down until the following morning. However, one of them is rapidly being consumed by fire. Nearby, two of the transport and storage wagons are also aflame, and the thick, billowing banks of smoke blowing across the field are making it much more difficult for the troupe to put out the blaze.

The wind is picking up some, threatening to spread the flames to the other tents. Your instinct is to rush into the smoke to help, but you only make it a few paces before the yunstas Trom and Trem
come running up to you, their normally mischievous faces now pale with fear.

“Zatis! Some nasty Townies just broke into Mother Salvensa’s wagon while everyone was fighting the fire! One of um’ was that Big Ned guy from yesterday’s Carnivalle! They took a bunch of stuff and ran off into the woods!”

Odin asks which direction and the boys point northeast. Odin then beastshapes into a spider and Es'tanza to a wolf. Everyone takes off running.

The sul is nearly set, it’s late rays filtering through the trees. A cold wind is rising blowing east-to-west across the path – almost as if to discourage you from your pursuit. But you know you can’t let this crime go unanswered. Mother Salvensa keeps many items in her wagon that are relatively worthless to outsiders, but are priceless to your identity as members of the Blue Veil. This spiteful act by the three men from the archery range angers you much more than if some sticky-fingered cretin had made off with a bag of coin. Such has happened before… and it was only fair… as your fellow Hanataz have been known to lighten a heavy pocket now and then. That’s just business. This, however, was personal. As you leave the carnivalle behind, heading north on the path in the woods, you wonder if there will be blood tonight. And, if so, will it be a problem for the troupe.

The path runs east by northeast through the woods behind the Carnivalle area, and gradually cuts to the north. It isn’t overly hard as the path isn’t used very often, and the thieves apparently weren’t concerned with covering their tracks... and a wolf is leading the trackers.

After about a quarter of a mile, the path exits the forest at The King’s Highway – which is a major thoroughfare for the region. Much of the road is paved irregularly in stone, but is in a state of disrepair. 
As such, because it is the main road in the heartland, there are many markings, ruts, footprints, and hoof marks that make tracking more difficult. They clear impression that the thieves headed east on the main road towards the Mangy Hound – which is just a few hundred feet up the road from the place where the path exits at the road.

When they’re just in front of the Mangy Hound. The ones that make the check will see one of Mother Salvensa’s earrings lying in the dirt beside fresh footprints that seem to be leading towards the inn.

 Evening has come. You can barely see the Sul as it hides behind the trees. As you approach the inn where the scoundrels have likely fled. A slight cloud-cover shrouds the darkening sky which is made somewhat lighter by the early rising of Luneós, the huge silver moon in Zyathé’s night sky. She is visible just above the tops of the trees – the three dancers leaving fiery lines around her as they run in their circular paths. Nearby is Vixen… the smaller blue moon that also orbits Zyathé.

Yet there is also an unsettling red cast growing in the twilight. As the clouds shift in the brisk breeze, a third celestial face appears in the northern sky, glaring down upon the world. Though the familiar host of stars in their grand constellations have yet to appear, this new, blood-colored face leers down at you, nearly outshining Luneós. You have never seen its like before. The light it casts is malevolent in itself, bathing the area around you in a sickly crimson hue. The star’s very presence makes you uneasy… instinctively you sense a grave significance to the appearance of this red luminary, but none of you know what it could portend. And you are most certainly far from anyone who could explain it.

The Mangy Hound Inn itself is a somewhat dilapidated, four-story, wood-and-plaster building. It stands on the north side of the The King’s Highway in a clearing with the more than a few gnarled, leafless oaks spaced about it. The building is tall and has a steeply-peaked roof that sports gables on the side facing you. Each gable has a small, dark window in its face. Also protruding from the building is a circular tower that rises up above the roof-line. Near the front of the roof is a weather vane in the shape of a hound on the run.

The entrance to the Mangy Hound faces the road. Affixed to the front of the building is a rather large, partially-covered porch which is reached by a stair. Sitting on the porch are two rocking chairs. A stout, wood door is set in the wall at the back of the porch. It looks as if it leads into the common room. Next to the door is a posting board with parchment notices affixed to it. There are windows on either side of the front door which have open wood shutters that are fixed to the wall. Light from the common room shines out into the dimness of the early evening… the floor above has a number of windows that are likewise flanked by open shutters. Dim light escapes from some of them, and you can barely discern a few Darktide Lanterns burning about the place. A stable can be seen behind the building.

 Hanging from the side of the building, above the steps that ascend to the porch, is a sign-board shaped like a dog’s head. Beneath the head are the words: “The Mangy Hound.”

Kasma knocks on the door with magehand, then swings the door open. Odin then jumps into the room in giant spider form.

Party fights Wolstoon and his goons. Wolstoon several times attempts to kill in the innkeeper; each time Jordian spares the man.

 

 Suddenly, the door to the common room is thrown open and Constable Rolf enters with a number of his guards in tow. They immediately level their halberds at your group, and Rolf draws his long sword. “Stay those weapons, shizzats! There had better be a damn good explanation for these bodies, or so help me you’ll be in chains the rest of your days, and I guarantee they’ll be miserable and few in number!”

Rolf is convinced by Fern Viss that the party saved her and her husband Bardred Viss. Rolf will then confide in the party, telling them the story that – a few days ago – he sent four of his men up to the Butcher place to check into some “bad hooch” that was being sold in town and making people sick… and that those men hadn’t returned. The constable had planned on heading there himself with some men later in the day...

He will tell the party that he will “forget this little problem” and “make sure that it doesn’t cause any trouble for you Shizzats,” if the party will “do a job for him.” He will also produce a pouch which contains 50 Golds and tell the party that the pouch is theirs if they find out what happened to his men and “deal with any problems at the Butcher place as they see fit” . He will also tell them that, if they find out his
men have been harmed or killed, the party is authorized to use “any force necessary” to deal with the Butchers. Otherwise, they should be captured alive if possible, not killed.

If the party accepts the assignment, the constable will be pleased. He will even give the party a Potion of Healing to aid their cause. The constable will tell the party to head east on the The King’s Highway for no more than a half-mile. There, he tells them, “you will find a huge, very old oak tree with a gash in its  trunk that’s shaped like a creature with its arms raised. The trail to the Butcher place runs north from beneath that tree.”

 The King’s Highway is an old, stone-paved road that runs from the southwestern coast of Zyranthea to the heartland of The Foulest of Spirits the Republic. The road begins at the town of Tothenshire which
sits at the western edge of Torrid Sound about a hundred miles or so south of the great City of Darkenhaven. It is about 65 miles from Tothenshire to Nevermore… a journey that typically takes  between four and six days by wagon depending on the weather and the pace of the horses. Some 70 or so miles east of Nevermore, the highway runs up against the Blackrot Bog where the King’s Crossing provides egress across the stinking marshland.

Some 50 or so miles from the other side of the bog, the King’s Highway connects with the Far Road at the Wy’rdwater River where the town of Prondadol is situated. You have ridden this long, stone-paved route for season after season – and know it well. It is the Hanataz lot to travel these roads… though you are never welcome in the towns and villages that lie along it. “Unfounded hate is a strange thing,” you think to yourself.

The night sky continues to come alive with flickering points of light as the Sul is nearly set in the west. Above your heads – Luneós, Vixen, and the malevolent red star compete for your attention, while the hoots of owls and the caws of nightbirds echo amongst the trees. After traveling about a half-mile east of the Mangy Hound, you come upon the huge, ancient oak tree that Constable Rolf told you of – the gash in its trunk looking much like the maw of some terrible monster. At its gnarled base, you see that a track runs into the woods to the northwest – and up a gentle incline. It is getting late, and you have been gone from the camp for some time now. You wonder how the troupe is handling the fire, and a sinking feeling in your gut grows as you turn back and see smoke continues to rise above the canopy. You may be on your own for quite some time

Party finds the moonshine and Kasma identifies the Universal Solvent.

 The trail continues up the hill in a northwesterly direction towards the Butcher Farm. The track runs away from the The King’s Highway and switches back and forth in an almost constant ascent up the incline. The way is unkempt to say the least… trees grow close, brambles form dense thickets, and the track is muddy in places due to the warmth of the Sul reaching certain parts of the trail during the day.

In the more shadowed areas, slick patches of lingering ice, invisible against the wet ground – and hidden in clumps of dead grass – make the walk even more difficult. More than once you lose your footing. Night is closing in; the crimson light of sunset reflects from the light cloud cover and mingles with the baleful light of the red star, casting a low, ruddy glow over everything. As you round a  bend, you see a strange sight… hanging on a rope at the edge of the track is a scarecrow… its arms spread wide. The effigy wears a straw hat with a burlap face replete with painted lips and nose and eyes made of red buttons.

 

 

Though you can see no one in the area, you have the uneasy feeling that you are being observed. Suddenly, to your right, there is a rustling in the thicket… What do you do?

Es'stanza sees a dire opossum, but backs away unseen. They continue on.

The path continues up the hill heading roughly to the northwest. About you, the dormant vegetation and leafless trees mix with the silverpines to close in on the track. Dead sticks claw at your clothing like long, twisted fingers… and you duck beneath more than one needle-covered pine branch as you ascend. At this point, the trail is barely wide enough to accommodate a small wagon.

Then, at a dog-leg turn, the track widens some… and before you can be seen a strange sight. Dominating the edge of the trail is a rather large rock formation about 12-feet tall. The stone feature
looks much like a giant pig, sitting on its haunches, squealing at Luneós and Vixen as they shine down from above. Set about the base of the rock are a number of moonshine jugs. Most of these are standing, though some are on their sides or broken. As you regard the oddly shaped edifice, a cold breeze cuts through the trees, stinging your faces… and, in the distance, you hear the mournful
hooting of an owl as she welcomes the coming of the night.

 

Odin finds a note near the base of the rock.

The trail opens up at this point as it breaks into a smallish glade that is carpeted in matted, brown grass that is pierced here and there by the stumps of long-ago cut trees. Patches of icy, un-melted snow can be seen in a few places, reflecting the light from Luneós that mingles with the crimson light from the red star. The field is bisected by a modest creek that is perhaps eight feet in width. The path of the flow runs from the northwest – where a small fall of water comes from the hill – to the southeast, where it continues down toward the base of the rise.

In the center of the glade, a wood bridge spans the banks – the trail continuing on the other side. A large, leafless tree is near the bridge… its great limbs spreading above your heads. Sitting on a branch in the tree – about 12 feet or so above the ground – looks to be a boy with a fishing pole. You can’t imagine there are any fish worth catching in the small, muddy stream, especially at this time of year, but the small boy pulls up a wriggling crawfish as you approach and stuffs it in a fishing basket. As you reach the bridge he calls out to you in a squeaky voice: “Hey, where’d ya think yer goin’? Ain’t nowhere road-folk a’ the likes a’ y’all need ta’ be trampin’ up ta’ this way. Get on back ta’ tha’ other way now.”

Moments ago, the boy in the tree started coming to the party when threatened by Odin. He climbed back to the tree, went around the tree, out of site.... and has not been seen since. The party rushed up 18 seconds after last seeing him.

 

 

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