Episode 12 – Larceny in Lhobanport

 

 

Early Harvest 2511.

Drogo, Galadiir and Shadow accompanied by Deneris the war buffalo, after burying Marvellus, left Nal Sagath and headed north-east towards Lhobanport. After ten days travel they reached the shores of the Brown Sea and turned east towards the mountains, which began to dominate the skyline. Many days later they spied the glistening white stone of the city of Lhobanport and hurried onwards, glad to put the eerie Land of Idols behind them.

The city loomed large before them as they approached the Serpent Gate; they could make out several tall towers, one of which was curiously twisted, they could see the gilded dome of the Hall of Enlightenment and beyond this, crawling like ants, they could make out pilgrims ascending the Ten Thousand Steps beside the cascading River of the Clouds.

The Serpent Gate was in the shape of a rearing cobra; guards manned the upper battlements and stood either side of the gate. There was a steady flow of merchants and wagons in and out of the gate. The guards wore lacquered leather armour and carried moonblades; they were friendly.

“Greetings, friend traveller. Have you visited us before and do you have goods to sell?”

“It is our first time here”, replied Shadow, “we have a small amount of ivory to trade.”

The guard waved his hand through the gate. “You will need to take lodgings in Gaijun’s and do your trading in Small Traders. Be peaceful.”

They decided to check out the lodgings first, they assumed Gaijun’s was an inn or tavern. They actually found that it was the Foreigner’s district, a maze of short alleyways and courtyards; with lots of small blocks of lodgings. It was also walled with low walls, effectively isolating it from the rest of the city. The rooms were reasonable; 3 Moons for a shared room and meal. The rooms were basic with an unglazed window; but still far better than many days out on the road. Drogo went to the owner and offered his services as a bouncer/guard; this was politely declined; the man saying “Thank you, but we have all the protection that we need.”

They soon realised that the chiming bells ringing out over the city at intervals were a timekeeping mechanism of some kind; two bells had sounded when Galadiir and Shadow set out to Small Traders. This was a crowded bazaar, with many traders operating out of baskets or spreading their wares on the ground. They found a spot and spread out the twenty pieces of ivory that they had won betting on Drogo in the wrestling match.

Drogo, meanwhile, hefted the mysterious bronze staff onto his back and headed across the river into the Market. This was better quality than Small Traders; the stalls were made of wood and the area was roofed with billowing silk cloth. It was then that he chanced upon a beggar.

“A coin for a prophecy, master?”

“I am Drogo. I have no coin. I hump women to make payment.”

The beggar stood, easily as tall as Drogo and hissed foul breath into his ear, “Even when you carry the wealth of Kings on your back?” He vanished into a small alley. Drogo puzzled over this; then decided to return to Small Traders.

Meanwhile, Shadow and Galadiir were attracting very little attention when a very attractive young lady stopped and looked at the ivory. She wore a long blue dress and tunic, with a veil which was undrawn. She was VERY attractive.

“Your ivory. How much per piece?”

There followed a few rounds of haggling until they settled on a price of 25 Moons per piece.

“Please parcel them up and deliver them to this address at seven bells this evening.”

Drogo joined them shortly afterwards and Galadiir produced two orange gems and laid them out for sale. A pair of black-booted feet stopped; Galadiir squinted up into the sun to see a tall man wearing black leather and a long cloak.

“A Caldeian dagger for your gems”

“I do not think that …” started Galadiir, and then jumped to his feet to stare into the face of his uncle Anatoiir! “Uncle!” he cried. “I have not seen you for years”.

“Perhaps,” smiled Anatoiir, “but you’ve been making a name for yourself recently. Your father wants to see you. Be at the docks in the morning.”* Galadiir looked worried at this, but insisted that he went alone.

Seven bells came and they headed off to the address with the ivory; it was a townhouse just off the market. A maid answered the door and they were led into a wood-panelled room which smelt of sandalwood. The lady was very pleased and a servant brought a chest with 5 bags of 100 Moons. As they left, she spoke softly to Shadow “my name is Shameena.”

At the hostel they dined and Drogo drank lots of fermented yak’s milk (“it tastes like its name”), then they retired to the room. In the dead of night Galadiir woke to see a cloaked figure disappearing out of the window, carrying the staff. They gave chase across the rooftops, Drogo caught up with the figure and grappled with him, trying to wrest the staff away. He nearly succeeded when suddenly the thief fell backwards off the roof, an arrow through his chest. Drogo grabbed the staff and Shadow grabbed the falling thief. Looking down, they saw a group of figures, all armed with bows …

To be continued

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GM notes

* I have a card system that quickly generates family trees; useful for noble houses when sometimes you need to know who’s related to whom. Galadiir has two uncles and two aunts, plus three female cousins; his father is a merchant.

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Session Two

Early Harvest, in Lhobanport

Drogo and Shadow dragged the thief back on to the roof and ducked for cover as a flight of arrows came their way. Drogo took a minor graze off an arrow, but shrugged it off. Galadiir ran to the edge of the roof and cast “Wall of the Dead” to block any further arrows. Drogo quickly searched the thief; he found a bronze dagger and a medallion with the symbol of a mountain embossed on it.

A trapdoor opened in the roof and a horde of black- clad figures poured out; from below the archers shot their arrows at the “Wall of the Dead”. A melee ensued as the heroes fought a fighting retreat to the edge of the building and then jumped across to the next roof. At one point both Galadiir and Shadow were Shaken but the opponents did not pursue the attack. Drogo was the last to leave; he took out several opponents with the Staff of Geoff (as they have named it); then leapt over to the next roof and escaped.

The following morning, Galadiir set off to the docks to meet with his father. A black bireme was moored, flying the flag of House Xymart. The deck guard called him “Sir Galadiir” and indicated that he was expected. Entering the captain’s cabin, he saw a tall, black robed figure standing staring out of the stern window.

“Father?” he began.

“Well? What do you have to say for yourself?” The figure turned and Galadiir saw that it was not his father; it was his Uncle Ilroniir, Head of House Xymart.

“Tell me, how do we make our money? You don’t know? Of course you don’t, since when did you show an interest in your family’s business? We are a trading house and currently we are losing money. You may ask why? It’s because one of our major trading partners is pulling out of deals with us. The Priest-King of Caldeia is not very pleased with our family; there is a ten-thousand Moon bounty on your head.”

Galadiir was lost for words.

“Not only have you interfered with the legitimate slave trade of the city; you have also been responsible for the destruction of part of the city itself!” thundered his uncle. “Now you have brought ruin upon the whole family. Have you any idea of what the Priest-King could do if he even mildly exerted himself? Xymart may be our patron, but even he answers to a higher authority.”

Ilroniir sat down at the captain’s table.

“Your aunt and your cousins are all for turning you in for the bounty and to re-negotiate our treaties.”

Galadiir summoned up the words. “Do you agree, Uncle? What would you do?”

“I will not turn you in – yet. You are family. I have a task for you instead. Listen carefully. Be here on the first day of Harvest next year. You will meet a friend of the family. The friend will give you a task to complete. You must complete the task to the best of your ability. Fail; and the Priest-King will get his prize and you will no longer be a member of House Xymart. Is that clear?”

“I will not let you down” said Galadiir and shook his uncle’s hand. There was a faint sting and a pop, with a smell of brimstone. Galadiir recognised a defensive spell of some kind.

Returning to Gaijun’s; Galadiir found that Shadow had bought a bow and was practicing with it.

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GM: Most of the session was the combat; the PC’s are getting very good at fighting and so the number of opponents is increasing. They’ll be facing off some WC’s soon.

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Session Three

Early Harvest, in Lhobanport

The following morning they were woken by a knock at the door. Opening it, Drogo saw a Jademan, dressed in ornate green and gold robes, accompanied by guards wearing ceremonial armour. The man bowed and presented a scroll.

“You are all cordially invited to attend the Hall of Enlightenment. You will not need your weapons; please bring the bronze staff with you.”

“This looks like an “offer we can’t refuse”, said Galadiir to Shadow. Both of them secreted a dagger somewhere on their person; Galadiir took his own staff as that hadn’t been mentioned. Drogo carried the bronze staff.

Outside, they were escorted to a wheeled palanquin drawn by two yak. The guards marched either side; the heroes realised that this was quite a heavy escort. They passed through the marketplace and turned onto the Street of Lanterns; finally halting at the Hall of Enlightenment.

The Hall was a large domed building; behind it was the mountain with the Ten Thousand Steps leading up. Inside they entered a long hall, lined with monks in green and gold and guards carrying moonblades. Looking up, they saw that the dome was transparent and they had a clear view of the sky. At the end of the hall was a simple chair, with a very old monk sat upon it.

“Come, approach closer. Sit and we shall take tea”

Galadiir and Shadow sat on the proffered low chairs; Drogo sat on the floor and did not drink the tea.

“May I see the Staff?” Drogo held it out, the monk looked carefully at it and sighed. “These runes – have you read them?”

“No,” replied Shadow. “It’s an unknown language”.

“They are written in a language that was old even when the Keron Empire was young. Have you fought using it?”

“Drogo has. It is a good weapon, but heavy for someone without Drogo’s strength”

“Indulge me. Show me some moves”. Drogo moved to the centre of the hall and swung the staff around, making some fighting strokes.”

“Permit me”. The monk took up the place in the hall and in his hands the staff became a spinning blur, moving faster than the eye could see. “This is one of the Seven Staffs that belonged to the Tai-Lin Monks. It is said that when all seven staffs are reunited then the monks will wake again to fight the last battle of the world.”

Outside the Hall they became conscious of a growing commotion, of people shouting and crying out. Looking up through the dome, they saw the moon was in the sky. But it was not the familiar silvery moon, now it was a boiling blood-red colour and moving upon it was the outline of a massive horned snake …

END OF SEASON ONE

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GM: This went well as the season finale. The Game is taking a break over the summer period.

I had been looking for a good place to set the finale, looking at my notes it is almost exactly a year since we started playing B & B. Also, this was the twelfth episode; again making it a good place to stop for a time.

SEASON TWO – what’s coming up

There is Galadiir’s quest to complete, a couple of loose ends to tidy up and also finding out what has happened to the moon.

Back soon!

GM: 28/02/17 – as will be seen, Season Two didn’t quite go according to plan.

Episode 11 – To the City of the Clouds

 

11 Homecoming, 2511, at Kularni in the Verdant Belt.

Drogo and Galadiir made their escape from Caldeia and returned along the caravan route to Kularni. They deemed it wise to avoid Caldeia for some time as the Priest-King has posted a 10,000 Moon bounty on their heads. Galadiir was intrigued with the bronze staff that they had found in the Temple of the Slime-God, the runes carved on it were Lhoban, although he couldn’t read them. After a pause at Kularni, they intend to continue to Lhoban and the City of Clouds.

They visited Gallmus and his family on the farm outside Kularni, the farm was doing well and the family were eagerly anticipating the first harvest of maize and vegetables. Drogo and Galadiir went into the town and commissioned a statue of Geoff; Galadiir wanted a stone one but found it would cost around 6000 Moons, he settled for a plaster and lath one for 500 Moons. Whilst in Kularni they kept a look out for Raven and Spark but didn’t see either of them. However, in the tavern they remarked upon a man seated alone, wearing a hooded robe. They sat with him; he was a Valk from Jalizar. He told them a tale of chivalry and honour, resulting in his exile from Jalizar. He called himself Shadow. They provisioned up and made ready for the journey east.

Four days later, travelling along the fringe of the Ivory Savannah, from ahead they saw an explosion of light in the sky, verdant fountains and rainbows of colour fanning out and spiralling upwards. As brilliant orange and yellow starbursts bloomed in the sky, they ran forwards to the edge of a Savannah tribesman village. Many of the tribe were gathered in a semicircle around a small man wearing silver and purple robes.

“And now I, the Great Marvellus, will show you the mysteries of the ocean”

At a gesture, the centre of the village was filled with a wind-blown ocean, foam-flecked waves crashed and broke and in the distance a sea serpent reared its head against a darkening sky. The tribesmen hooted and cheered; some dipped their hands in the water and tried to drink it.

Galadiir looked on in amazement. “I must get to know this Marvellus and find out how he does this. I am the greatest sorcerer in the world and I know of no spell that can do this.” He moved closer through the crowd.

 “And now, I shall show you what it means to soar high above the ground”.

The scene changed in the blink of an eye to drifting clouds, with the ground a green and brown blur beneath. The tribesmen began to look concerned; Marvellus waved his hand and the village re-appeared. A burst of cheering erupted, the tribesmen beating their spears on their shields in appreciation.

Later that evening there was a feast held. Galadiir got to speak with Marvellus; he was a wanderer from the Empire out to see the world.

“I’m heading for Lhobanport, looking for a ship across the Brown Sea to Kenaton or Ekram.”

“Where did you learn your magic?” asked Galadiir. “I’ve never seen it’s like”

“A good magician never reveals his secrets”

A tribesman approached Marvellus and gave him a sack full of ivory horns.

“Not bad for a day’s work.”

Galadiir went to speak but then a commotion caught his eye. The tribesmen were drawing out an arena circle in the dirt. Drogo stepped into the centre, stripped to the waist.

“Asagwara of the Babangida tribe! I, Khal Drogo, do challenge your champion for the right to earn a buffalo spear!”

Into the circle stepped a huge black man, the tribe champion; his entire physique dwarfed that of Drogo. Asagwara (the headman) stood and called out “the challenge is accepted, Khal Drogo. You will wrestle; first one to three throws to the ground wins”.

As Drogo and the champion clashed for the first time, both Galadiir and Shadow were offered bets; 10 ivory pieces for Galadiir’s short sword and Shadow’s armour if Drogo loses.

To everyone’s amazement, including Drogo’s, he won every bout by a clear margin (the dice were with him).* The champion was thrown every time. At the end, he was rewarded with his buffalo spear, Galadiir and Shadow got their ivory and the feast continued into the night.

The following day, Galadiir, Drogo, Shadow and Marvellus continued east towards Lhoban. After several days they reached the edge of a steep escarpment overlooking a plain of shallow hills and woods.

“I have heard of this place. This is the Land of Idols”, said Marvellus. “It has an evil reputation.”

The air grew thick and heavy and the light faded fast. Out across the plains a huge storm was brewing; bright threads of lightning split the sky. Shadow scouted for a suitable hiding place; he found a cave large enough to hid Deneris in. They made shelter as the storm broke; massive purple-blue bolts of lightning crashed down nearby and the concussion of the thunder deafened them.

The storm cleared a s quickly as it had begun and under a blue sky they continued onwards and downhill. Scouting ahead, Drogo came across a lightning-struck tree that looked like a man, a rough face in the bark and two twisted outstretched limbs. Shadow inspected it and realised that the whisper of the wind through its branches were forming the words “burn me”.

As Drogo scouted around on Deneris, Galadiir used a flask of oil to burn the tree. It gave off a sickly stench of burnt meat as it burnt; finally it toppled over to reveal a large hole in the ground, sloping downwards.

To be continued

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GM:  An omen? The last time this happened was in the Temple of the Slime God and it all went FUBAR next session.

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Session Two

25 Homecoming, 2511, in the Land of Idols

Galadiir, Shadow and Drogo prepared to enter the hole uncovered by the burnt tree.  Marvellus demurred and said he would set up the camp for their return. Drogo instructed Deneris to keep an eye on him.*

The hole sloped downwards for a short distance; then opened up into a passageway. Galadiir lit his lantern and they all looked round in amazement. The entire passage was lined with dark wooden panels, including the ceiling. The floor was closely packed earth. The panels had sigils carved upon then, spaced seemingly at random, although many repeated themselves. There were between eight and twelve sigils on each panel; they all shared a common twisting, curling style. Galadiir shook his head.

“I have never seen the likes of these before”

He made to prise one of the panels away from the wall to see what lay behind; but something made him reconsider and he put the dagger away.

At a fork in the passage they took the left-hand passage, emerging into an oval chamber, panelled in the dark wood. At the last minute Galadiir looked up and registered several objects falling towards them; he jumped aside and the creature fell past him onto the floor. Shadow also avoided the creature, but Drogo was not so lucky and the thing landed on the crown of his head. A loathsome grey creature about the size of a city cat was on Drogo’s head, six spindly legs gripped under his chin and jaw. Under the thing they could see scissor-like mouthparts chewing. A final long leg/tail protruded from the rear of the thing.

“Spiga,” breathed Shadow. He drew his swords and slashed at the two on the ground that were trying to scuttle back up the walls to the ceiling. They burst with a spray of evil-smelling grey slime. Drogo, meanwhile, drew his war club and beat at the Spiga on his head. He felt something, like a blunt needle, sliding into the wound on the top of his head. He knocked the Spiga off and Shadow killed it. Two others fell from the ceiling but Galadiir was ready for them, two “Rose’s Thorns” put paid to them.

“They are common in the sewers of Jalizar”, said Shadow, “as well as caverns and ruins throughout the Dominions. Have you never wondered why tomb-robbers always wear hats?”

“Khal Drogo has no need for a hat”.

Pressing on; the passage led to a circular chamber. It was empty and there was nothing remarkable about it so they continued to another fork in the passage. The next chamber they entered had two exits, but one was almost completely blocked by a cave-in. It looked like the ceiling had come down. Shadow climbed up to the top and was able to determine that passage continued. They had no digging tools and Galadiir’s magic could not help; so they took the other exit. A side passage led towards another chamber; suddenly the floor gave way beneath Galadiir’s feet and he fell into a deep pit. Fortunately he wasn’t hurt and Shadow climbed down to join him.

They became aware of a faint susurrus, a rustling sound that gradually was growing louder. The examined the walls of the pit and saw it was honeycombed with small holes, each about 2 inches in diameter. Galadiir’s inherent fear of swarms kicked in and he climbed out of the pit as quickly as he could; even so, Shadow beat him to the top.

Drogo examined the pit, it was 10 feet across. He decided that he could do a running jump and leap over it. He managed it; the others followed his example and also made the jump. There was nothing in the chamber; but in the next one they found a skeleton!

The skeleton was clad in traveller’s robes and a cloak, not really suited for the Ivory Savannah or the warmer southlands. A satchel held a leather-bound journal, a bronze dagger and a pouch of 20 Moons. Galadiir examined the journal. It was the journal of one Jaron Greybane of Syranthia. It was quite detailed. Galadiir turned to the last few entries in the book.

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25 Harvest

Have left Nal Sagath and am heading south-east. Nal Sagath is a dull, cheerless place, although I am told the spirit is better during the Carnival.

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29 Harvest

We have reached the Land of Idols. I have had to pay off several bearers as they will not set foot into the cursed land

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37 Harvest

It is the fifth day of Festival at home and I am missing it

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38 Harvest

My guides tell me that the ruins of Sisanak are only a day or so journey from here! I have just enough time to explore the small building near to our campsite. Garm, my loyal body guard, will keep entrance at the front of the building.

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After some confusion over the map reading, they finally arrived back in a chamber near to the entrance. Exploring the route they didn’t follow at first, they found a chamber with an upper level reached by scaling a 60’ cliff. Shadow scaled the cliff and found the remains of an old campsite, with a cache of five sealed bottles. He recognised the type from his days in Jalizar; the could be used for potions or poison. Suddenly the cliff edge crumbled beneath him and he fell to the floor of the cavern! Fearing the worst, Galadiir and Drogo rushed to him; to their amazement Shadow sat up, brushed himself off; then he stood up.**

“Sheera’s Horns”, he swore. “Three of the bottles are broken”.

To be continued …

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*GM: war buffaloes may be trained and loyal, but I’m not sure they’re THAT well-trained!

**GM: Shadow took four Wounds from the fall and was Incapacitated. Harry opted for a Soak roll (they had lots of Bennies due to Joker’s Wild). He soaked FOUR Wounds! so literally got up and walked off, dripping potions everywhere.

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Session Three

25 Homecoming, somewhere in the Land of Idols

As Shadow picked himself up following his fall from the cliff, Galadiir was outraged.

“You, you clumsy oaf!” he screamed. “We’ve lost those potions for good. What are you, a farm labourer?”

“No”, replied Shadow. “I am a member of a secret assassin’s guild from Jalizar.”

“Really? Then it’s a good job you don’t talk about it then”.

“Even the best assassins can slip and fall.”

“You’re the best?”

Heading back into the tunnels, they went through the Spiga cave and back to where they had found the pit. Ignoring a side passage, they entered another wood-panelled chamber, oval in shape. Stretched out on the floor was the skeleton of a huge snake, easily thirty feet long from nose to tail. No-one was able to identify the type (not easy from just a skeleton), other that it had been venomous, judging by the large curved fangs.

Continuing along the passage, another chamber held three large land lizards, obviously hungry. As Shadow moved to attack it sent out an impossibly long tongue that wrapped around him and dragged him to the creature’s mouth. He was badly bitten before managing to get free. Drogo was likewise attacked but was unhurt. Galadiir cast “Rose’s Thorns” on the lizard attacking Shadow and killed it, Drogo killed the lizard attacking him, but Shadow was badly bitten again and Wounded. Drogo ran over to help, took a swing and missed completely. The war club spun out of control and cracked Shadow on the back of the head, Wounding him a second time.

“Idiot tribesman!”

“Khal Drogo is sorry, although he does not say so.”

Galadiir hesitated over casting another “Rose’s Thorns”, but when both Drogo and Shadow failed to kill the creature he relented and the spell killed it dead. He used his healing talents on Shadow, curing his Wounds. Galadiir offered up the souls of the lizards to Xymart, his House patron demon*

Examining the chamber, the lizards had been feasting on eggs, each one a large leathery ovoid about 2 feet in diameter. There was no indication of what they were or what creature might have hatched from them. Drogo hefted one; he estimated the weight as being around two pounds.

Moving on, wading through a short passage half-filled with water, they emerged into a chamber where the far exit was blocked by a cave-in. On the floor was a calcified skeleton, humanoid but not human. The jaw was the wrong shape and the head had a bony crest, plus it sported a tail. It was then that Drogo spotted something glinting inside the ribcage. As he started to break the calcified ribs to get at it, several swarms of Strip Beetles poured out from between the panels lining the walls. Galadiir cast his “Sea of the Dead” spell (Blast); a horde of spectral warriors appeared and stamped two of the swarms into the ground. The third swarm swept forward and engulfed them all, despite being bitten badly, Drogo continued to hammer away at the bones, breaking a hole large enough to garb the object; a key on a chain. The final swarm of beetles was moving rapidly towards them; they beat a hasty retreat out through the water; rightly surmising that the beetles wouldn’t follow.

The key was ornate, made of a dull red metal. It was ‘twisted’ in a curious fashion; ‘sinuous’ was the word that sprang to mind. Drogo shrugged and hung the key round his neck.

Investigating the final chamber, it had once contained about thirty of the leathery eggs. Most of them were smashed and broken, their contents missing. Finding nothing else of value in the chamber they left via the Spiga cave and returned to the outside. Night had fallen.

Out on the plain they saw a campfire; there they found Marvellus and Deneris.

Next Episode: Onwards to Lhobanport – or do they get side-tracked again?

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* GM: I did comment that Xymart, being the patron of a noble Tricarnian House, probably wouldn’t be interested in the souls of three scabby lizards. Matt, however, was adamant that he was going to keep in Xymart’s good books. Hmm. Wonder how Xymart feels about receiving the demonic equivalent of junk mail.

** The players commented that it was good to have a good old dungeon crawl every now and then. This particular one was created in about an hour, using a simple d6 table to give passages and chambers and using Story Cubes to generate the contents of the chambers.

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Session Four

26 Homecoming, somewhere in the Land of Idols

Having rested overnight without incident, the following morning dawned crisp and clear, as befits Homecoming. They continued north-east, heading for Lhobanport.

“Are there no roads in this god-forsaken country?” asked Shadow as they proceeded up out of another shallow valley.

“Once there were cities here, I believe”, replied Marvellus. “But they are long gone.”

“Long gone where?”

“Crumbled back into the earth from which they came.”

Shortly afterwards they spied a ruin on a nearby hill; a square arrangement of low mossy walls. They rested to eat some food; as Drogo sat down something crunched underneath him. Under the moss and grass were lots of snake skeletons; smaller versions of the one they had found in the wooden passages.
“I don’t like this”, growled Galadiir. Suddenly he stood and pointed to the north. “Look! A large number of birds are circling and swooping on something.”

They hurried to the north, cresting a low hill they saw a rough-hewn pillar of rock, about 60’ tall. A squawking, milling flock of bright red and blue plumaged birds invested the top. Shadow ran forward and began to climb up the rock, immediately three of the birds peeled off and attacked him with beak and talon. Drogo hefted a rock and threw it; the shot hit well and true, splattering one of the birds against the pillar. Galadiir loosed off two “Roses Thorns” and took out the other two birds. As Shadow climbed to the top of the pillar, both Galadiir and Drogo were engulfed in an angry gaggle of birds. Drogo realised that they were going for the face and eyes; twice he narrowly avoided having an eye pecked out, but got a deep gash on the cheek. He and Deneris prevailed; whilst Galadiir was able to summon his “Army of the Dead” warriors to help guard him. Galadiir also narrowly avoided losing an eye from a frenzied attack and reluctantly drew his short sword to fight hand to hand.*

On top of the pillar, Shadow drove off the attacking birds to reveal their target; a middle-aged woman clad in a simple hessian robe. She was Wounded and had many bleeding pecks and scratches, yet she still seemed to be in a meditational trance of some kind. Despite his attempts, she would not speak; it was only when he tried to move her that she reacted; lifting her right arm and pointing to the south-east. Down on the ground, Drogo had escaped from the circling birds and had joined up with Galadiir. At that moment; as if in answer to some unheard signal; the birds rose as one into a flock and streamed off to the north-east.

As he was unable to move the hermit-woman; Shadow climbed back down the pillar. Alas, history repeated itself and he fell from the top, 60’ to the ground**. He was badly Wounded, despite Galadiir’s healing skills and magic. ***

“Going up, I’m ok. It’s the coming down which is the problem.”

As is his habit; Galadiir took some of the red and blue plumage off the dead birds. He noticed that they were all ringed.
“Someone owns these.”
The rings were copper; all stamped “HK” in the Syranthian alphabet. Galadiir gathered up several of the dead birds and cut the rings off them, then stored the birds. “Should make a nice pie tonight”, he said. ****
Continuing north-east, in the late afternoon they spied a group of travellers heading north. Thirteen men and women, with three pack horses, were heading for Carnival at Nal Sagath. The PC’s shared their fire that night and Galadiir recounted a long story about Geoff the Mighty (to earn an Adventure Card); at the end a ghostly figure of a mighty warrior appeared across the campfire; courtesy of Marvellus.

Next Episode – The Carnival at Nal Sagath
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GM:
*Galadiir was seriously considering Ground Zeroing his Blast spell, reasoning that both he and Drogo could probably take the damage.
** Shadow rolled snake-eyes again; which cannot be re-rolled with a Benny
*** Due to a GM oversight; Galadiir has a Healing spell; which Sorcerers cannot have. However, it has a special backlash; on snake-eyes it kills the recipient of the spell and sends their soul to Xymart.
**** This from a RL veggie!
There was a very real danger of being blinded or ending up with the One-eye Hindrance in this encounter.

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Session Five

Late Homecoming, in the town of Nal Sagath

(as this is a published adventure I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just give some key events that happened)

Nal Sagath was a dreary town of red-brick buildings near to the Kyros border. The original town had been razed during the Kyrosian civil war and largely rebuilt on its original foundations. Every year the townsfolk celebrate their Festival. Everyone is welcome, there is food and drink laid out to eat, with better quality provender available to buy; there are strolling entertainers and contests of all kinds. The Festival reaches its climax with a show re-enacting the Princess’s Liberation from the Four Ghosts.

Drogo had to stable Deneris at the edge of the town, then he, Shadow and Galadiir went off into the streets. Marvellus spied an opportunity and set himself up producing illusions for the crowd. Drogo was invited to join in a dice game for money; he had none so he borrowed 50 Moons off Galadiir and played. To his surprise (GM: and mine!), he won all the games, pocketing 50 Moons after returning Galadiir his loan. Eventually they headed for the town square and the Princess’s Liberation.

The show went well, right up to the point where Dalla, the innkeepers daughter who was playing the princess, was kidnapped for real. After some investigation, they found the entrance to the tunnels below Nal Sagath and set off in pursuit. There was much tracking and backtracking in the dark tunnels, Drogo took the lead and narrowly avoided falling into a pit and a nasty encounter in a flooded corridor. Shadow heard someone following them and ambushed Oggo, the strong but dim-witted blacksmith’s helper.

“Why are you following us?

“Oggo wants to help save Miss Dalla. She pretty and has nice smile at Oggo”.

Noticing that Oggo was carrying a wooden sword; Galadiir offered him a bronze dagger; then quickly took it back when Oggo said he wasn’t usually allowed to have sharp things.

The passage was blocked by a locked gate; they couldn’t get past it and so had to backtrack. Descending a steep set of slippery stairs; looking back Galadiir saw four shadowy figures push a huge boulder down the steps! They turned and ran, with the boulder bounding down the stairs behind them, drawing ever closer. Oggo slipped and fell; Drogo grabbed hold of him and dragged him along. Finally Galadiir cast his “Wall of the Dead” across the stairwell behind him, too late as the boulder rolled over Shadow and Oggo*, they were not badly hurt. Drogo leapt out of the way as the boulder slammed into the “Wall of the Dead”. Galadiir ducked into a side alcove; eventually the spell expired and the others were able to get past the boulder to join him.

At this moment, a large albino rat landed on Galadiir’s head. Shadow stepped forward and killed it with a single blow. It let out an unearthly dying shriek and a horde of albino rats poured out of the shadows towards the heroes.

“Swarms,” cursed Galadiir. “By Xymart, how I hate swarms”

To be continued

GM: * Was unsure how to handle this; the Barrier would block the stairwell and the boulder would have to do damage to get through it. However, there was the potential for another player to get trapped between the boulder and the Barrier, also due to the abstract nature of the Chase rules it was hard to figure exactly where the Barrier could be cast.

Any comments appreciated.

Session Six

Late Homecoming, in the labyrinth beneath the town of Nal Sagath

Galadiir grabbed the corpse of the albino rat and threw it into the path of the oncoming rats, this distracted them long enough for the heroes to escape.

(Again, I don’t want to give too much away as this is a published adventure).

Suffice it to say, they eventually found the missing girl Dalla and after a prolonged battle, succeeded in rescuing her.  Oggo was pleased to see her, but Dalla only had eyes for Drogo (this might have been for his imposing physique or for the fact that yet again he had managed to shed his loincloth in the middle of the battle*).

Back in the town, the grateful innkeeper threw a party, with drinks on the house for the heroes.

Later that evening, Drogo had disappeared off with Dalla and Galadiir and Shadow went outside into the tavern courtyard. There was a body lying there; turning it over they saw it was Marvellus. His clothes were torn to bloody shreds and his eyes had been pecked out. Shadow noted that Marvellus’ ornate ring was missing.

Next: They finally get to Lhobanport.

GM

* As this is becoming a regular occurrence, does Drogo get the benefit of Loincloth Hero if he isn’t wearing one (or anything else for that matter)?

Episode 10 – Lair of the Slime-God

 

(The original of this adventure was written by Andy Slack and appeared on his Shadows of Keron/Halfway Station blog. My thanks to Andy for letting me use it.)

1st Winters Night, Caldeia

Winter is drawing in and even in Caldeia it is noticeably cooler than usual. Drogo, Galadiir and Geoff are out looking for a horse for Galadiir when they are spotted by some city guards. A chase ensued through the narrow, twisted streets of Landside.

(Caldeia is built on a series of islands in the delta of the Buffalo River; the islands are walled and linked by bridges. Landside is on the eastern bank of the river and holds taverns, the visiting merchants, the main slave market and holding pens and an open market. It borders the slums and the leper colony).

Running through the twisted streets, they failed to realise that they were being herded towards the waterfront. At one point, upon entering an open space, Galadiir turned and loosed a “Roses Thorn” which slowed one pursuer. He ran through a market place, leaping onto and over stalls, always keeping his distance from the guards. Elsewhere, Drogo was hit by an arrow and wounded. Another spell took down another guard, but the remainder closed in. They had been backed into an alley; the only way out was leaping over a low wall into a fetid canal.

They hid on the bank underneath the canal wall; from above they could hear the guards searching. Looking for somewhere to hide; they found a hole in the bank leading to a bricked-up archway. The bricks had been removed from inside; Geoff noticed that there were long claw marks on some of them and that there were web-footed tracks in the mud. Lighting up a lantern and entering in, a short passage led to a short flight of steps down into a smelly, slimy-floored chamber. Six pillars held up a ceiling carved to resemble bunches of grapes (?), the walls streamed moisture and were green with algae.

“Looks like part of the sewers”, commented Galadiir.

“So what escaped then?” countered Geoff. “Very big rats?”

Three archways led out of the chamber; investigating the left one, it led to a rough-hewn cave with a murky pool in the centre. There didn’t seem to be anything there so they returned to the pillared chamber, in time to see a group of humanoids spilling from the opposite archway. They were bigger than human and resembled bipedal frogs, with wide slobbering mouths. They carried jagged blades in their hands and uttered a harsh guttural croaking sound.

Always quick to react, Galadiir let loose his “Sea of the Dead” spell, a Blast that filled the area with the screams of the tormented. The frog-men didn’t like this and several succumbed to the spell. Drogo ran forward to melee the remaining creatures.

“Khal Drogo will eat your legs for his dinner!”

Geoff was about to join him when he was seized from behind by a giant crocodile that had stealthily crept out of the pool. The crocodile got a good grip and went into a death roll; Geoff was badly hurt and Shaken; not surprisingly he went Berserk and killed the crocodile in short order. Galadiir had wisely retreated away from the furious melee. Meanwhile, the last surviving frog-man put up a good fight against Drogo; finally it got past him and ran through the final archway. They heard a splash …

To be continued.

GM: The dice were with them this night until it came to Soaking damage!

Session Two

Galadiir* attempted to heal Geoff’s wounds but they were too severe with the limited resources he had available. They searched the frog-man quarters; Galadiir secretly pocketed 20 moons in slimy coins. Another frog-man escaped from a side chamber and ran off, again a splash was heard. There were no other exits from this area so they went back through the last archway.

A chamber, completely bisected by a ‘swimming pool’. Steps down into the water and up again on the opposite side. There were two bodies floating in the water and an archway in the opposite wall.

Galadiir cut off and threw in a frog leg, something began to eat it. Geoff grappled one of the bodies with a rope and grappling hook; it was a part-eaten female wearing slave clothing and collar. The torso was covered in hundreds of tiny bites.

Geoff and Drogo took several attempts to throw the grappling hook and rope to catch in the ceiling. Several times the hook landed in the pool with a loud splash. Finally it caught in the ceiling, allowing them to swing across.

At this moment, a glob of foaming spittle came from the far archway and landed in the pool, a second glob hit Geoff, Shaking him. Drogo swung across the pool and landed on the far side, in time to meet a frog-man coming out of the archway. Drogo grappled him, a struggle ensued, a second frog-man joined in and Drogo was pushed into the pool, right into the middle of a shoal of carnivorous tadpoles*. Galadiir cast ‘Rose’s Thorns’ and killed one of the frog-man; then swung across as Drogo struggled out of the pool and they both attacked the other frog-man. There was guttural chanting from beyond the archway and the frog-man visibly swelled in stature. Despite his heavy wounds, Geoff also swung over the pool; a stab with his short sword from Galadiir killed the frog-man before he could use his enhanced strength.

“Something in there can use magic!” yelled Galadiir. “It will not defeat me; I am the greatest sorcerer of the House of Xymart!”

Drogo ran through the archway to see a huge statue of a hideous frog-thing, like the frog-men but with three eyes on stalks and several tentacles. To either side were two frog-men; in front of the statue was a frog-man shaman. It opened its mouth and spat full into Drogo’s face, Shaking him. Galadiir summoned his ‘Army of the Dead’ to attack the frog-men; the shaman extended an impossibly long tongue and struck Galadiir a wounding blow. One of the Army fell to a frog-man attack, the other frog-man was taken out by Galadiir (who was becoming somewhat good with his short sword.) Meanwhile, Drogo and Geoff kept up an assault on the shaman, who finally fell to repeated blows from Geoff. The final frog-man ran through another archway; there was the sound of harsh croaking, gradually fading away…

To be continued

GM:  The first time various Tricks and distractions have been used in melee to any great degree. Also there was an air of desperation setting in as the shaman appeared to be unkillable; in ONE melee round the heroes spent 9 bennies between them on re-rolls to hit and damage before he finally went down on Geoff’s last re-roll.

* Drogo rolled snakes to resist the push so he not only ended up in the pool but landed in the middle of the shoal as well!

Session 3

                They searched the ichor-covered body of the frog-shaman but found nothing of interest. They then turned their attention to the two chests flanking the statue; in the one Galadiir found eight green gems and a few handfuls of assorted coins. Galadiir recognised the gems as similar to the ones he’d found in the Black Wagon (Episode 5 – Of Green Smoke and Sorcery). In the other chest were ten sealed waxed paper packets. Each contained a large white pill. Geoff decided to try one of them; it was effervescent and tasted of brine. For a moment he choked and gagged, then his neck split open to reveal gills! He was still able to breathe the air normally though. They split the pills and carried three each.

A flip of a Moon decided that they would investigate the right-hand archway next (not the one the frog-man ran through). A chamber smelt of fungus and contained multiple clumps of leathery puffballs. Drogo stuck a sword into one of them; too late he registered the presence of a small orifice on the top of the puffball. The puffball exploded, engulfing him in a cloud of brown spores. He didn’t breathe any in, but rapidly developed a red itching rash across the exposed parts of his body. They beat a retreat back to the idol room. Investigating the other archway, a stone floor sloped downwards to a jagged chasm at the far end of the chamber. A foul rotting stench filled the air.

“A chasm”, said Galadiir. “Chasms are not good. Remember what came out of the one underneath the arena”.

Geoff dropped a stone in; they listened hard but did not hear it strike the bottom. He went back to the swimming pool to recover his rope and grapple; they tied a lantern to the end and lowered it in. The rope got to its full 60’ extent and still did not reach bottom. Peering in, they could see the speck of the lantern hanging in the middle of a large open space. Drogo offered to climb down but was talked out of it.

Back in the idol room, a careful examination of the frog statue showed that it could, or had been moved at some time. They made a concerted effort and heaved with all their strength; the statue slid to one side with a loud ‘click!’ Galadiir barely had time to register the long object, like a staff, wrapped in oilcloth hidden in a recess beneath the statue when; with a loud groaning and rumbling, the walls and ceiling began to cave in! As fragments of the roof rained down, Drogo and Galadiir weaved for the exit to the swimming pool; Galadiir grabbed the staff and threw it to Drogo (with some difficulty, it was very heavy). Geoff, meanwhile, calmly walked to the chasm in the next chamber and began climbing down the rope. With a roar, the statue toppled from its plinth and smashed into fragments; Drogo just made it to the entrance tunnel when the entire roof of the chamber came down behind him. Around and above him came the shouting and screaming of many people; he reasoned that the collapse of the temple must have caused part of the city to cave in. He started to unwrap the staff.

“Don’t (cough) touch (cough) that”, came a voice from behind him. Battered and bruised, but very much alive, Galadiir was pulling himself out of the rubble. They turned and looked at the scene.

“Poor old Geoff. We’ll build a monument to him on the farm.”

Geoff awoke in pitch darkness. He could see nothing, but he was lying in several inches of fetid slime. He ached all over and it felt like his leg was broken. He could sense that he was in a large cavern or chamber of some kind. Just then he sensed movement and smelt a foul rotting stench. Dimly, waving high above him, he saw three phosphorescent discs. A huge mass, blacker than the darkness around him reared up and fell forward and he knew no more.

==========================================================================

GM: First PC death in any Game for some time. I have no idea why Geoff decided to climb into the chasm rather than try and escape.

Part of Caldeia now has a large hole in it!

The farm they are referring to is the one they helped fund just outside Kularni; they have decided to use it as a base of operations.

There are now various Threads going on which could do with tidying up – they want to go to Akoit the Demon City, Galadiir still has the task that Manda charged him to do; there is the horrible death of Khasis the Scribe to investigate and nor the Priest-King of Caldeia has put a really big price on their heads for their capture alive.

* Due to an error at character generation, Galadiir has a Healing spell which he (as a sorcerer) shouldn’t have. However, if he rolls ‘snake-eyes’, he instantly kills the subject and sends their soul to Xymart.

Episode 9 – A Cry for Help

20th Storm (Embarking), 2510, in Kularni

Still puzzling over the mysterious and terrible death of Khasis the scribe, Drogo, Galadiir, Geoff and N’Dula took service as caravan guards for one or Orrando’s forays to Caldeia. Galadiir was hoping to gain access to the library in Caldeia. As Raven was still being hunted by the Kularni guards in connection with the death of Khasis, Spark stayed behind with her.

Orrando had not hired top-quality guards this time; Drogo inspected them and found that they were nothing more than hotbloods, armed with clubs and enthusiasm. They were not too enthusiastic on finding out that Drogo was their commander.

“We can’t wait to beat on some savages,” said one. “Do you think we’ll be attacked?” Another asked Geoff, “Is he any good? I would have thought that you would have been in charge, being like us, from the Empire.” Geoff merely answered “Yes, he is good and he’s in command.”

The caravan consisted of seven horse-drawn wagons. Drogo stationed the guards around it, then rode ahead on Deneris Stormborn, whilst Geoff rode his horse Taylor “the Swift”.

Storm Season was well underway and it rained heavily most days and nights, with only brief lulls at dawn and dusk. They had another attempt at curing N’Dula of his Khav addiction; he stuck at it over several days and managed to succeed!

It was on the evening of the fourth day that the event happened. They had erected the centre shelter in order to light a fire and get some hot food; the rain had slackened and the air was damp and humid. Suddenly, one of the guard’s water flasks exploded in a shower of steam, fragments and hot water. He was startled, but unhurt. Then, Drogo’s flask also exploded, as did the man’s across from him. Drogo jumped up, readying his club and looked for attackers. Then he noticed that the spilled water formed a pattern on the ground; Galadiir looked at it and realised it was a message: –

“Me Help”

Both of the guards had the same message. Realising that the flasks had exploded in a line; they worked out that whatever had done it was somewhere in the jungle to the south. A plan was formed; Drogo and the guards would continue west with the wagons whilst Geoff, Galadiir and N’Dula checked out what was to the south. They would then catch up with the caravan.

25th Storm (Embarking), 2510

The day dawned in a foggy haze as the sun came up, as they broke camp the clouds massed and soon the rain started. Geoff, Galadiir and N’Dula set off south, Geoff was riding Taylor. After a short time they reached the edge of the jungle; it was so thick that Geoff had to dismount and lead Taylor. The air was full of lush smells and colourful orchids grew in abundance on the dripping branches. Under the canopy they were more sheltered from the rain, Galadiir took time to gather some orchids and store them in his belt pouch. They pressed on, here and there they remarked upon low mounds of earth, although they did not stop to investigate. After a few hours they emerged into a clearing, in the centre of the clearing was a circular pool with an island in the centre.  On the island was a blurred, indistinct figure; it raised a bow and shot an arrow at Galadiir. The arrow missed and stuck in a tree. There was a message tied to it; written in a straggly script in a blue ink.

“Help please me. Am being drunk am I. Too many drink me kill. Help come soon quick”

Looking back at the island, the figure had gone. Approaching the pool, it was obviously artificial, with the island being the top of a tower going down into the pool. The surface of the water roiled and fish could be glimpsed in the pool. Galadiir used “Rose’s Thorns” to take out a bird singing happily on a tree branch and dropped it in the pool. The subsequent reaction of the swarms of fish confirmed their suspicions – the fish were piranha! The tower was 18’ (3”) from the bank, too far to jump. Galadiir circled the pool, he found no way across, although he did stumble upon a skeleton in the undergrowth. The skull had a large hole in the top; he used his knowledge of medicine to determine that it was caused by something burrowing its way out.

Meanwhile, back on the other side of the pool, Geoff and N’Dula had been busy. Finding a tree with weak-looking roots, they hacked and used brute strength to topple it; forming a bridge. They quickly crossed to the tower roof. They found a bow and two arrows; both the arrows had the same message attached to them. A hatch and ladder led down into the tower. At the bottom was a wide ledge, overlooking a pit. Water streamed down the opposite wall of the pit from narrow slits in the walls. Looking into the pit, they saw a pool about 50’ below. Geoff rigged his rope and grappling hook and began climbing down the wall.

“N’Dula. Stay here and guard the way out”

N’Dula was not happy about this. “I swore to serve and protect you for rescuing me from that hell-bound caravan. I am not a weakling, to be left behind”. But Geoff had already gone down over the ledge.

At about 20’ down he found an opening in the wall and swung into it, then called Galadiir to come down. Galadiir was not so skilled at climbing and nearly fumbled the climb, but Geoff caught his belt and pulled him in. In a chamber, seated on a stone chair, was a man. He had straggly white hair and a greenish cast to his skin. He held an empty cup in his hands. He turned sad eyes towards them.

“You must help her”, he whispered wetly. “If you do not help, she will die”

“Who will die?” asked Galadiir. “Who is she?”

“The Mistress of Water, she is. I cannot say how to help her. Only she can tell you. But she will also fight you. She has no choice, it is her duty.”

He closed his eyes and water began dribbling out of his mouth onto the floor.

Galadiir’s curiosity was sparked by this. There was another doorway leading out of the chamber, he went to the door; Geoff elected to continue to climb down the rope.

Just above the surface of the pool was another ledge; Geoff went to swing towards it when from out of the pool erupted a huge snake form, its armoured scales glistening. Tri-partite jaws opened and it dove towards Geoff, still hanging off the rope…

Galadiir opened the door, to see the top of a spiral staircase. Flanking it were two humanoids, like the one he had spoken to. They opened their hands to reveal long claws and with a slobbering sound, lurched forward towards the Tricarnian…

* * * * * *

Meanwhile, on the road to Caldeia, the caravan had stopped for the mid-day meal break. The leader of the guards approached Drogo.

“We’ve been talking, me and the boys, and we don’t like being led by a savage. So, we’re taking over. Best get going back to savage-land, which is that way. Oh, and there’s five of us, and only one of you, plus your cow.”

To be continued

==========================================================================

A Cry for Help – Part II

(An apology for the long delay between postings; due to a lot of RL intrusion we haven’t had a lot of RPG time on Mondays. This was the last session run back in September and I can’t find all of my notes. This is a summary of what happened.)

Drogo was attacked by all of the renegade guards; they used gang-up and various other tactics. Drogo still beat all of them bar one, who surrendered at the end of the fight. Drogo took one Wound in the entire fight (and Soaked several using his Loincloth Hero Edge.)

Back in the tower, Galadiir and Geoff fought their way down to the lowest level; a large room giving the appearance of being underwater. Warily avoiding a huge skeleton of a creature resembling a cross between a whale and an octopus; they were commanded to enter a room but not to look to their left else they lose their minds. A bubbling, watery female voice told them her story: – she was Manda, a water “nymph”. One day, when swimming in her pool, part of her was scooped up in a pail by a child from a nearby Savannah tribe. Now she is slowly being drunk; which is killing her. She urged Galadiir and Geoff to take two stones from the pool outside; when placed in a pail of water, the pail will never be empty of fresh water. This is her gift to the Savannah people in exchange for her body. Galadiir took the two stones from the pool and they climbed up out of the tower.

N’Dula and Taylor the Swift were gone.

“I think you upset him”, remarked Galadiir. “He did swear to protect you, and you wouldn’t let him fulfil his oath.”

Within a day they had caught up with the caravan and reached Caldeia two days later. They were paid for their services and went to find a market for some gear.

It was Geoff who first remarked on the WANTED posters at the street corners – there was a 250 Moon reward out for Drogo and Galadiir “for criminal activities, escape from custody and aiding in the release of slaves.”

Episode 8 – Panic in the Streets

 

Storm Season (Embarking), in the Verdant Belt 

Returning from the Eye of Cissirrus bearing several green gems, a bagful of money and two boxes of Khav; they decided to try and cure N’Dula of his Khav addiction. N’Dula agreed and over the course of the next few days he resisted the temptation to take a fix. Alas, the attempt failed, on the evening of the fourth day he lapsed into unconsciousness and was carried on Deneris. Drogo was still mourning the loss of his buffalo lance to the Lava Demon.

As they approached the town, they saw a cloud of dust heading towards them. It was Sergeant Vilir and twelve of the town guards on horseback. Galadiir and Geoff hid in the undergrowth. Vilir reined in his horse.

“Travellers. We seek a dangerous fugitive, one Raven Gallowglass. Have you seen her?”

“No,” replied Drogo. “We have not.” Spark shook her head in agreement. “What has she done?”

“She is wanted for the foul murder of Khasis the scribe, brutally done to death on the night of the last full moon.”

“We shall keep an eye open.”

The soldiers spurred their horses off down the trail leading to Caldeia. Above them, on the horizon, large clouds were building, presaging the heavy rains of Storm Season. The air was heavy as they rode in through the town gates.

The market was in full swing; Galadiir headed off to find a merchant to sell the jewels to. He was offered 80 Moons per gem, after some haggling he secured a price of 600 Moons for the lot. They sought out Gallmus and paid over enough money for him to buy his plot of land.

The gossip in the market was about the death of Khasis, with a lot of speculation about how it happened. Apparently, he had been found dead in his locked inner sanctum, a look of sheer terror on his face and both eyes sucked from his head. The group decided to check it, Galadiir was very curious about whether a demon was involved. At the house, they were met by Aurelianus, the Syranthian scholar they had met on the way (Narrator: Episode 2 – The Road to Kularni.) He asked them to find out what happened to his friend Khasis.

Investigating the house (basically two rooms, an outer “office” where Khasis did business with his patrons, and an inner area containing a bed and bookshelf. The bed was surrounded by a drawn pentacle and burnt-out candles. Geoff began looking through the books; one fell open at a marked page: –

‘Beware the moon-beast; it is not to be seen’

Interested, Galadiir looked further through the book, recognising it as written in a Tricarnian script, he found another marked passage:-

‘…and Helgrane, Lord of the Seventh Tower of Akoit, spake thus to his patron (demon) xxxxxxxxxxx and asked why he might not see as mortal men do. Thus he learnt the summoning of the moon-beast such that suitable eyes might be harvested.’

There was a commotion outside; Sergeant Vilir and his soldiers had returned. Geoff approached the sergeant as he dismounted and handed over the full box of Khav.

“Our debt is settled.”

Thunder rumbled in the distance as they made their way to the western sleeping hall, carrying the unconscious N’Dula. There was someone waiting for them in the shadows.

“Raven,” breathed Geoff.

“How did you get back into the town? Galadiir asked.

“I never left it,” replied Raven. “When it was obvious that I was going to get arrested, I ran through the market, always doubling back. Three guards nearly got me, but I escaped up onto the western roof walkway and climbed back down into the market, then made my way here. I can’t trust anyone else. Look, you must believe me. I did not kill Khasis. The door was locked on all three nights. The last night I remember settling down on guard; the next thing I was being kicked awake at dawn.”

“Who was there?” asked Galadiir.

“Aurelianus; I recognised him from travelling with him. The other man was a priest; I think he is the priest of the True Faith here in Kularni. The third man, the one who kicked me, I don’t know.”

Thunder rumbled and from outside came the sound of rain, increasing to a heavy downpour.

The following day dawned humid and sticky, as the sun heated the wet ground. N’Dula was still unconscious, Spark and Raven stayed to look over him. Galadiir went out into the market to see what else he could find out; Geoff and Drogo went to see Venarius, priest of the True Faith.

“Khasis came to see me some days ago. He was very superstitious and had read omens in the stars that said he was heading for a great darkness. It was somehow connected with scroll he had translated for a client; how he would not or could not say. I offered him the blessing of The Faith.”

“Thank you”, said Drogo.

“A small donation never goes amiss”, smiled the priest.

Out in the market, Galadiir came across Blind Pew, a beggar sitting against a wall. As he approached, Pew turned his white, blind eyes towards him.

“A fine day for business, master”, he whispered. “Tell me, how is N’Dula? Haven’t seen him for some time.”

Galadiir realised immediately who Blind Pew was.

“Tell N’Dula I’ve got some fine Caldeian dust for him, when he’s ready.”

“What do you know about what happened to Khasis?” Galadiir asked, squatting down by the beggar.

“Business is bad today”, was the reply.

Galadiir held out 30 Moons. With unerring accuracy, Blind Pew scooped them up and put them into a pouch.

“A Kyrosian tale tells of a wealthy merchant who went blind at an early age from the Red Fever. One day, he rode south into the Red Desert with several retainers and servants. He returned with a miracle cure, his eyes and sight were restored. His servants did not return. Every year he makes a return journey.”

Back in the centre of the market, the group were met by Aurelianus; he wanted to know what they had found out. Basically being told nothing, he walked away. As he did so, Pulin, servant to Orrando the merchant, approached them.

“Greetings. Orrando has a caravan to Caldeia which he needs guards for. 10 days at 25 Moons per day as usual. The caravan leaves tomorrow.”

“Caldeia has a large library of the arcane and occult”, said Galadiir. “I might be able to find out more.” He turned to Pulin. “Tell your master that we accept his offer of employment.”

To Be Continued

==========================================================================

GM: I used my solo system to generate the whole Raven episodes. The chase was run as per the rules, with Raven being chased by the guards on foot.

N’Dula going cold turkey was run using a Dramatic Task, with the time increment in days. As it turned out, he drew a load of Clubs and so really didn’t stand a chance. He is still addicted to Khav.

 

Carrying on with Beasts & Barbarians

Hi everyone, I’m reviving Uncanny Worlds. Numenera is still running over on BGG and is going great; one of the players (Troy Jones) has written up the Game so far as a fantastic set of short stories which you can get off BGG.

The Games group has expressed an interest in some good old-fashioned swords and sorcery, so we are heading back to the Dominions. First thing for me to do is to get up to speed on what went before; I realised that I never finished posting the write-ups here. So, here is everything up to date. It is some impressive reading (did we really do all of that?)

The House at Codun

Grateful for the return of his prize Rukomol and true to his word, Ruko Uolis bought the Wayfarers a house on the edge of the town of Codun (in the Pytharon Empire).

                The sale took some time to go through; it was on the 29th of Prevaen when they headed out to view their new house. It wasn’t quite what they were expecting. A screen of hedges and vegetation hid a perfectly circular lake, crossed by four bridges at the north, south east and west. The bridges led to a circular island; on this was a building that looked like a pile of stone globes or spheres piled on top of one another in a random pattern. Many of the spheres had asymmetric curved windows set in them; some were obviously open to the sky, like balconies. There was one doorway, facing south, with a clump of smaller pods / globes next to it.

Galadiir strode towards the doorway. The nearest pod split open to reveal a tooth-lined maw and a set of grasping tendrils – an Orgulous! Galadiir was struck and grasped by the tendrils, which started to pull him into the mouth. Harrylock leapt forward to help him and a second Orgulous opened and attacked him. He was not so lucky; the stinging venom on the tendrils paralysed him and he was dragged towards the creature. Sonny charged his verred and severed the tendril holding Harrylock; Galadiir used Ice Onslaught to break free; almost immediately the creature grabbed him again. A second Ice Onslaught hurt the creature and it released him and closed up. Judson shot successive arrows into the other Orgulous and it released Harrylock and closed up.

They decided to come back later and deal with the Orgulous * Passing through the entrance, they went through a kind of force field and into an entrance hall.

(GM: The entire house is a series of globular rooms arranged on top of each other, linked by curving stairs, or sometimes on the same level, with just a slight step up or down. I gave them an expanded map of the house with named areas showing the links, and let them explore.)

They first of all went to the Force Room; Galadiir and Judson were seized by an invisible hand of force and thrown against the far wall, taking some damage. They continued up the outside stairs to the East Balcony, Harrylock and Sonny went up to the Kitchen.

In the Kitchen, they found it a well-equipped and spotless food preparation area. At one side was a large machine wearing a chef’s hat at a jaunty angle. There was a speaker grille, a dial reading 1-10 and a large green button. Sonny pressed the button. The machine spoke, with an outrageous French accent: –

“Ah, M’seur, you have made an excellent choice. I, Henri-Louis, will prepare for you Sauted Serand Roots with a Scange dressing. It will be ready immediately.”

A panel slid open and out came a plate with a steaming dish of food on it. Sonny tried the food; it was delicious.

Judson turned the dial to ‘10’ and pressed the button.

“Ah, M’seur, you have made an excellent choice for your banquet. I, Henri-Louis, will prepare for you Sauted Serand Roots with a Scange dressing. It will be ready in a short time”.

Sometime later, the panel slid open and out came ten plates of steaming food.

The East Balcony was overgrown with a moss-like flower. Galadiir and Judson went through into the Living Room. There was a dining table and eight chairs, as well as low sofas arranged around an opaque globe. The globe didn’t seem to do anything, so they went through to the Kitchen. Galadiir pressed the button.

“Ah, M’seur, you have made an excellent choice. I, Henri-Louis, will prepare for you a selection of Chatowsis in Arrakhee. It will be ready immediately.”

The panel slid open and a plate of food slid out. It was yellow balls of something in a thick brown sauce; it stank like an unwashed dog. Galadiir picked it up and threw it in the bin.

Judson set the dial to ‘3’ and got three plates of delicious Wegan Bean stew topped with flaked Scarrap. He ate all of them, stating he was hungry**

Galadiir and Judson headed up to the Library, Sonny and Harrylock went down to the Basement. They found the Cellar, stocked with all types of rare vintages; some possibly not of this world. The Imagination Room, with its weird shifting images, gave them a headache. They headed down to the Basement.

                In the Library, they found a windowless room with many synth panels covering the walls. A central dais held a circular panel on a pedestal. Galadiir found how to activate it; the Library was an Asset to any general research tasks. Moving up to the Study, this was another windowless room with a large synth panel on one wall and a table showing a map of the Steadfast. The map was not active.

“There must be a power switch somewhere. Is it in the basement perhaps?”

Sonny and Harrylock entered the basement; it was dark and they were using a glowglobe. Just too late, Harrylock yelled a warning; Sonny walked into a Steel Spider web that sliced into him. The spiders were alerted and moved to attack; Harrylock backed off; yelling to Sonny to do the same. Sonny elected to stand and fight;*** it soon became obvious that he was outmatched.  He did use a tactic of sending an electric charge through the webs; creating an area effect. However, he was bitten and badly hurt by the injected monofilament. He retreated back to the Kitchen.

The Observatory was a hemisphere; open to the sky but covered by a window field (they had found that all of the windows were covered by a force field that stopped wind and rain getting in.) In the centre of the room stood a three-armed device; designed to rotate. A simple examination showed that each of the arms was made to have something attached to it.

In the Upper Hall, Galadiir found a niche in the wall with a bracelet in it. The bracelet had a series of tiny lights set in it, along with the inscription ‘”Mi raba in nehati predvajati enega”. He did not recognise the language; he put on the bracelet.

Back in the Kitchen, they decided to take on the Steel Spiders in the basement. The fight was fairly straightforward, although Harrylock stumbled into a large piece of web and was hurt, this shook him as he is not used to taking damage. Eventually the spiders were killed. ****

Searching the room (taking extra care because of the monofilament web left); Judson found a Needle Pistol and Sonny found a Rejuvenation cypher. A control panel turned on the power to the house; they could seal the front door; turn off the Force Room and operate the lights in each room.

The day was drawing late and they decided to turn in for the night. There were six bedrooms available; each was identical. A bathroom / fresher removed all grime and dirt using sonic force; the bed was a disc on the floor with a suspensor field projected above it.

The following morning they awoke to find Galadiir was missing. A note was in the living area, on the table.

“My friends. The time has come that I must go away. I may return; but I may not be the same person that you knew. I have left some item in my room – use them wisely. G” ****

End of Adventure

XP = 2

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GM

* Actually, their first thought was to go and find Uolis and beat him up for selling them a turkey.

** The 29th is the night of the Full Moon – Judson’s warning timer isn’t working.

*** Interesting. Sonny’s player (Joe) actually has a phobia against spiders.

**** So does Matt

***** This is actually a parting of the ways. Matt is off to university (in Leicester) and so will not be a regular Wayfarer.  We are hoping that, once he is settled in, that maybe we can Game still on a Tuesday using Skype.