TI4.05: Befogged in Sarnas

The characters for this session:

Fennec, L3 wizard, combat and curative schools

Crompton, L3 rogue, roguery and Runebearer background

Jotunn, L6 warrior, hunter background and tracking talent

Cauleigh, L4 warrior, literate townsman background

The four Restorers have achieved one notable success: the famed Sarnas library has given them some significant guidance as to the whereabouts of Ikkutas! Now, an encounter with marauding skeletal undead, during which Crompton claims control of one, may provide a clue as to strange murders occurring in the Abbey’s vicinity.

The dead leading the blind

Lights bob closer through the fog as Fennec rejoins the other three; Crompton’s skeletal servant is already disappearing – not north towards the Abbey but east. The four, running, attempt to keep to some sort of order. Jotunn is rearguard and has no time to see who holds those lanterns.

A merry dance the skeleton leads them, slipping through the clammy grey curtain. The fog is of that sort that muffles sound. Passersby – and there are few – keep out of knife-range. Their hideous guide slips past buildings encountered as deep shadows more than solid walls. Their sense of direction tells them they have tracked almost due east.

At length the sound under their shoes changes from stone to wet leaves as Cauleigh realises that the grasping arms above him are tree branches. They pass under a mighty tree and beside a looming dark wall and shortly thereafter Crompton hears bony fingers groping at stone. [IQ+Roguery, L3] He believes he understands how his undead guide operates a stone flag or trap very near a ruin. It slips below and the trap closes.

 

Blind-fight and branches

The four have agreed that, in their city finery, they will pursue no further. Now to mark the spot! Crompton calls up Cateyes again but the confusing shadows of fog remain confusing. But it does let him catch a swirl of fog as something leaps out of the ruin at him! He hurls his two ‘ready’ blades! [Misses L4, fails forward] The thing parries the flung knives and leaps away. Cauleigh’s first instinct is to dash after it: but Fennec barks:

“It’s that fucking assassin – stay together!”

They choose prudence and return to marking the area. Smells of charred timber and good cooking are of little help. Jotunn puts a blaze on the tree, and boosts Cauleigh up to the lowest branch. A trick of the fog allows Fennec to hear Osusk and Silas discussing which way “it” went…

Clambering further up, Cauleigh notes the massive scale of the building the tree grows nearest to, and where the river must be; climbs down.

 

Dwarves, pubs, and idle callers

Slow-moving footsteps and calling of the hour suggest a town watch; a cheery down-Vale woman’s voice invites the watchmen to her grogshop. The Restorers debate finding the grogshop versus finding the trapdoor’s exact location. They check around the big building to see if it is the necromancer Osusk’s house: it is not. All they see, across a yard, is a miserable dog whining at the fog. They, like the dog, are feeling fogged-up. Turning to follow the smell of cooking they find themselves at the servant’s entrance of a handsome building. Around the front, and a delivery marker: ‘Zarkana’. Crompton catches the sound of Dwarven voices. He knocks, and a plainly-dressed servant asks him if he is expected, then directs him to the nearest main road, closes the door.

Here on the main road it’s a hop skip and jump to a very small grogshop, backed onto the much larger Old Kraken alehouse. They get their directions over a pint and stagger back to the Porters – passersby keeping well away – noting as they pass the Abbey that the amount of bunting has increased – glimpsing theatre-goers guided by linkmen – Cauleigh vowing to return to the chase in the morning!

Rumours over cards

The Porters Arms is crowded by folk in the same damp fix. Supper is being served, and a general air of unclothed bonhomie and wet wool prevails as the roaring fire does its part. The Dwarves are assured it’s the time of year for fogs, and they generally last a day or two.

Cauleigh is invited to take a hand at a game of chance, Crompton chips in. Fortune favours Crompton who wins 50 gold, or enough for 10 grogs. Over the game, they hear that you can be paid to register to vote, as long as you pledge to vote for the senator, and a little more about Takrina’s Cutthroats. It seems common knowledge that the Restorers slaughtered her Cutthroats. A smirking wiseacre implies Crompton knows exactly what’s going on. But another player reckons he once saw Takrina speaking to ‘one ‘a them priests’. Agrees that they are known as Acolytes, but professes to be a Freethinker and not to care. Severin, head of the Acolytes, worries about the morals of fallen women.

During the religious debate and game, Jotunn chats to the barkeep, declining a Sentry-post and opting for regular porter. The barkeep is inclined to blame Providence for events – and as for fog, business is good on a night like this.

[AP is spent. Crompton moves WIZ to 23, Cauleigh moves CON to 35 (its first shift up), Fennec moves LK to 26 (Adds are 50), and Jotunn moves SPD to 30 and STR to 38 (Adds are 80).]

Mother Hobb keeps her hand in

The hunt for breakfast begins early in the morning and Cauleigh flips off last night’s plan and heads to Jane’s Bakery. After that he plans to hit up the library to research the Scions of Kolbrannus, whence he must bring the bones of the long-dead Templar. Jotunn and Crompton courteously agree to help. Fennec has his long-awaited noon appointment with Lady Bree of the Wizard’s Guild, and dare not be tardy, so decides to go to the Wizard’s Guild right after breakfast.

I do step out, halt others talking, and get Crompton’s opinion here. The others think that the stone trapdoor would be crazy hard to find. He was the only one near it. He’s reluctant to expose the others to traps: they would have to stay near enough for everyone to cover everyone, which in turn might endanger them. And he’s not 100% sure of finding it, outside of a clear day.

Jane’s Bakery is just as busy as ever. Betty, nose shiny with hard work, takes a minute to ask Cauleigh if he’s going to the Masque of Death. Three nights from now! It’s where all the cool kids will be!

Begging a moment of her time away from the press of breakfasters, they learn that Mother Hobb now puts her expertise into magical pastries. They stock up with honey-glazed donuts (for healing) and a couple of meringues (for flying) and ginger-cakes (for fire resistance). The bakery allows diners to order in for grog and chocolate, so they do that as well.

Lighter in the wallet and tighter in the belt, and with a promise to report back on how the flying goes, they leave, making their way up out of the fog to the palace gates. This time Crompton and Jotunn get through unimpeded by questions. The company divides.

 

Reena Spidros, mistress of indexes

The research team walks through the now-familiar teleport into the library. Cauleigh approaches Reena, seated reading at her research desk.

When he relates the narrative that has led him to search for the Scions of Kolbrannus, Reena’s normal scowl lifts and she appears interested. Indeed, she knows of associations to the Scions by heart.

She moves off to a nearby stack, lifts out a volume that proves to be an index, and cross-references which part of the annals of the Carloman Principalities should be researched. Then, calling Cauleigh after her, she finds the exact stack she needs. There, under her hands, are the accounts of the Scions – most nearly associated with ancient Ravenscrag – and the principality that is recorded as coming after it. Its old name here is Tennebaum and it is a mere five days westering from here. It even comes with a sketch map suggesting that the Scions were based at a lone tower or obelisk, south of that.

And so in about an hour – even accounting for Cauleigh making a sketch map – they are out on the palace processional once more. Without a care in the world, Cauleigh decides he really ought to head north through the fog and pick up his vambraces and gauntlet; and hey, Jotunn could have a look at the armour as well.

Jotunn is at least keen for another go at magical shield-buying, and opts to go north too. Crompton throws in with them.

“We should stick together,” he points out, as they leave Fennec to fend for himself.

 

Lady Bree and the airy show of power

It seems to be a working day in the Wizards Guild. As a visitor Fennec has nowhere to go other than the common room. He whiles away the hours reading the Tribune, Courier (a palace journal) and Clarion. The Tribune reports the disturbance last night in terms of revenants and undead fiends but does not mention the Restorers or ‘unknown dwarves’ at all.

An interview of the ‘necromanteer’ Osusk is included. He is quoted as saying that “a diurnial presence not be missed” is indicated.

“He’s making shit up,” Fennec concludes.

Fetched at length by a palace courier, and guided through at least one teleport, Fennec arrives at a room high in the citadel itself, offering a broad view of the fog-bound river and city. Lady Bree arrives, and extends her hand. He stoops over it.

Lady Bree’s purpose is to learn of conditions south of the river. Her manner is pleasant and open, and, dropping a few words of dwarven into the conversation soon has Fennec at his ease. She effortlessly – unconsciously perhaps – demonstrates a very high level of Conveyance magic, plucking her notebook and pen out of thin air.

Although Crompton hasn’t passed on Borer’s detailed information, Fennec has listened to Wanda, and with his own experiences, it’s a long lunch. [CHR then IQ, Fennec scores L3 and L5 respectively] Lady Bree seems impressed. She asks Fennec his opinion on whether Dolem’s Spire can withstand a siege, and of the siege at Fingold, and of fighting giants.

The talk turns to unearthing lost wands in Sarn Athrad. She’s cross at Daisy for telling Fennec about something that was passed on in confidence! There are two wands and a staff. Should they be interested she can supply a sketch map of the original, pre-destruction area they ought to be in. Fennec fences, hinting that the dwarves lack funds, but leaving it at an indefinite maybe.

 

Armour for Cauleigh and a fitting for Jotunn

The three dwarves make their way directly into the fog and, delayed hardly at all by an altercation between mercenaries and watchmen, over Temple bridge. The watch officer – the first law officer they’ve met – thanks them. It seems the mercenaries have a contract to Dolem’s Spire.

Temple Bridge, even fogbound, sports a few urchins fishing. Making their way past the shops and such, they find themselves closer to the North gate than any other landmark, and Jotunn ventures towards Mettastos’ workshop.

“Yoo-ee!”

It’s Elisha. And she’s put two and two together as to their involvement in the skeletal attack! She links her arm to Jotunn’s.

“If ya wanna guide…”

But at Mettastos Arms & Armor the burly blond-bearded young smith shakes his head when he learns Jotunn has secured no paper or writ.

“Like I say… without some authority’s say-so, ain’t no way forrard.”

They steer around back of the theatre and to the two armourers Cauleigh has work booked with. The armour fits well, and with some final strap adjustment, Cauleigh’s throw-knife also slides in well under his left forearm.

The armourers, and Cauleigh’s pleasure with the armour,  convince Jotunn to buy vambraces too. He pays a deposit, with pick-up and final pay on the morrow.

 

The house of Irian

Elisha navigates them to Cauleigh’s next destination, the house of Irian. This is the address he got from the editor.

While they walk, Cauleigh makes up a wild tale about Pausanias and Takrina being connected to see if Elisha believes it. She does not, but she does write it up.

Elisha can tell them that the house of Irian is elven, and connected to the Warriors Guild. The door is opened by a solemn – almost funereal – footman. He admits only Cauleigh.

“No press.”

 

Masque of Death explained

It’s around midday – though the fog makes it seem later – and damp and disconcerted, the others find their way to a cheap pub catering partly to the north gate guards. Elisha fills them in on the Masque of Death, a celebration not too far removed from Esgaroth’s High Day sacred to Urheru Sun-Swallower and the Death Cycle. Processions around the Abbey are the thing. Young people enjoy revels. Costumes are the important thing! Elisha can recommend them to one, not far away.

 

Vasily of the Guild

In the house of Irian, after kicking his heels for a time, Cauleigh is joined by a powerfully-built dark-haired man, mustachioed, with a strong hint of goatee.

This is Vasily of the Guild, merchant of power and the means of acquiring it. He savors war and the chaos it brings.

[I have a ball playing Vasily. Maybe I’ve heard Barovia mentioned once too often. I go full Strahd.]

He, too, is interested in the Restorers exploring Sarn Athrad. And interested in getting an introduction to Lady Bree Greystand. Cauleigh neither agrees nor disagrees, conceals his distaste and leaves.

 

Lunch, late lunch, and costumes

It’s an easy guess as to where the lads are, and Cauleigh joins them for his lunch. By the time he finishes, and Jotunn finishes helping him, it’s well into the afternoon.

The fog shows no sign of lessening.

To while away the time, Cauleigh gets Elisha’s scanty knowledge of Irian, and her thoughts on how the Guild may link with Bernhart the Beneficent. She has no views on the Guild itself since this is news to her, but thanks him for passing on the information. Elisha does fill in the picture of Lady Bree, attributing a lot of Sarnas’ survival of the Wizard Wars to her power.

The fog shows no signs of lessening.

They read over the Tribune, wondering about murders. Other than their own incident, there’s been only one yesterday, over to the warehouse district.

Elisha encourages Jotunn to go in for a costume, and leads them to her recommended costumier. Cauleigh is delighted to find they’ll do a demon-pikeman-facemask that goes great with breastplate, and they all buy that.

 

Befogged in Sarnas… Fennec rolls a 3

On parting, Fennec finds himself teleported straight back to the common room. Daisy is there, speaking to Max, the magister. He stops, rests, and chats with her but has nothing further to bring up – once again he’s not brought those bullets, or has forgotten that he has them – and after about half an hour of chatting Daisy has business to attend to, and heads away.

Based purely on stomach, it’s probably halfway through the afternoon. Fennec decides to head back to the Porters Arms. Mentally, he sorts through options. Decides to keep to the main roads: Down the processional to the Abbey then past it and parallel to the waterfront.

But [fail on LK] the fog tricks him, and what should have been a left turn near the bridge proves to be a left turn to the old, walled-in east porch of the Cathedral. Fennec pauses, uncertain which way to go. It strikes him that he’s taken the same course that led, the other night, to the ambush at the Porch. People passing through the fog are mere shadows, veering out of knife-range; and sounds echo in ear-tricky ways. He throws up Little Feets as a precaution.

 

A creepy cleric and a crimson choice

The nearest active building seems to be some sort of seamstress or clothier. [L6 IQ] As he considers it doubtfully, a priest, or acolyte, emerges, carrying an embroidered cloth. He stops, surprised.

“A dwarf! Are you lost, perhaps?”

Persuasively, the acolyte encourages Fennec to visit the Cathedral. He clutches Fennec’s shoulder in a vise-like grip… but Fennec has a better centre of gravity and leverage and shrugs him off.

“I’m sure I’ll be seeing you again…” the clerical type says.

Now, having passed between a mason and the Cathedral, Fennec has his bearings. There’s an open but cluttered area, then the Porch left and the cemetery ahead. The man’s footsteps remain close behind…

“I’m simply going the same way as you,” the man assures him, grimly amused.

It seems to be time to use the extra speed! Fennec scuttles away, across the cemetery and across a robbed wall’s ditch. Then in the clear! For he is in a wide, fog-filled area with not a building in sight.

[3 on LK again]

Three shapes rise around him, desperately close! [I draw for range, and get melee range]

Reverting to instinct Fennec chooses a L4 TTYF at the one most blocking him: the crimson flash and thunder roil through the fog! Then the figures close in and he knows no more!

 

Wonder where Fennec is? Oh well…

Well satisfied with their arrangements for the Masque, the three Dwarves head back over the bridge, Elisha still on Jotunn’s arm.

“Where do you suppose Fennec is?” Jotunn asks.

“He’s off with that Lady Bree he was sweating over for three days,” Cauleigh assures him.

Back at the Porters Arms – Elisha’s local knowledge proving invaluable – they enter what seems a glowing haven out of the fog. Under their fog-beaded cloaks, they are reasonably warm and dry. Changing shoes and stockings, they are all set for pre-dinner nibbles and drink.

 

A bit paralysed – is that better than a bit tied up?

Fennec wakens, slowly [L4 CON] finding himself mostly numb, mostly paralysed, naked, and lying beside dead bodies.

“Undead roaming the streets under nothing more than cover of fog! What the hell kind of city is this!?!”

He can wriggle fingers, slowly. The only light comes from phosphorescence on the wall of what seems to be a mostly natural cavern. The atmosphere [good WIZ roll of 19 on current WIZ, gets L4] reminds him strongly of the undead floor, under Fingold. And one of the dead bodies beside him begins twitching.

 

Dinner and no Fennec? Where to look?

With Fennec not turning up as dinner is served, the three Dwarves conclude that he is missing. Crompton suggests a visit to the Wizards Guild, or using Elisha to get there. She laughs that off but agrees they could send a messenger.

So before too long they approach the palace gate, finding, as they supposed, the shift has changed. A note is sent, Elisha bigging it up about being a reporter. [Joint CHR help from the other three] About ten minutes later, the courier returns with the information that no, Fennec is no longer in the Wizards Guild. He left perhaps three to four hours ago, no word on where he was going.

Concerned now, they ask that a second message be sent, asking specifically for Daisy. The courier looks glumly at the tip – enough for a cheap coffee and donut. But, egged on by Elisha, sets off. About five minutes later there’s a crack of displaced air and Daisy appears at the gate.

 

Daisy’s spritely guidance

Daisy Brightwater is an able, perhaps high-level, wizard, short and curvaceous, of uncertain years. She listens to their description and, moving her wand in a spiral pattern, summons a Will-o-Wisp kind of light that grows into a fairy-size sprite. Cradling it between her palms she whispers to it – to the Dwarves’ ears it sounds like a description of Fennec’s magic – and they watch as it circles up, and then to an open, fog-bound spot near the bridge.

Daisy is neither built nor shod for quick pursuit. She and Elisha are both on Jotunn’s arm as they arrive. The adventurers make more suggestions about gear Fennec might be using. [Fennec makes L4 LK] The sprite weaves its way towards the cemetery, and to the Mausoleum of Heroes.

[Fennec gets only L3 CON, and remains unable to move]

 

Into the Mausoleum of Heroes

Protected by the fog, and the ill weather in general, Crompton focuses on the lock. His eyes cope well enough with the gloom, and as he works on it, he finds the lock was gimmicked all along.

Elisha produces a tiny lamp, but Cauleigh’s torch is produced, and the gates thrust open.

Party order: Crompton, Cauleigh, Jotunn with the two women

The mausoleum is kept tidy, but it has not been swept recently and Jotunn picks out enough of a track in the dusk to point Crompton to one tomb in particular. Daisy snaps off an OTIS. As he slides it aside carefully (it has been reworked so as to do so easily) Cauleigh explains what buffs are, and asks Daisy if she has any. She seems puzzled.

Steps lead down, then into a steep spiral stair. The cavity below is a stretched octagon, deeply shadowed. The sprite’s light helps Crompton, a little.

As Cauleigh lights the area up, four great sarcophagi can be seen arranged around the room against the longer angles. The sprite flutters to one end, and through an arch.

Beyond, Crompton finds a rectangular chamber, longer left-right, niched, each niche with its stone panel a memorial of ancient dead. The sprite heads to one panel, in particular. Its light glimmers on a disfigured seraph statue at the chamber’s end.

“It’s a false panel,” Crompton announces, opening it to reveal a gaping hole into damp tunnel!

 

From the bottom, it eats you

Light grows in Fennec’s chamber: by it he becomes aware that he is being slowly eaten: by one of his undead friends: from the bottom up!

 

Props
Jane’s Bakery comes from Concept Cards’ Urban Locations (Ste Coffey and Loz Hensel) – of course, the involvement of Betty and Mother Hobb is my idea. 

Festivals and high days are simply tweaks of my own Esgaroth calendar. The Death Cycle High Day has become the Masque of Death here, suiting the atmosphere I’ve created.

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TI4.04 part two: Rewards and research in Sarnas

The dwarves have had the chance for a short night’s sleep since they survived – by a small margin – a confrontation with a street gang. Now, they have a chance to get on to the central mission: researching Ikkutas.

Jane’s Bakery and an old friend

Jotunn awakens first, and though Cauleigh did mention that he wants to head out early, they all look very peaceful and breakfast is a priority. On the second round of rehashed leftovers he sends a pot-boy to wake them.

“I don’t suppose I could hit you up for more healing?” Cauleigh asks Fennec, glancing out at what looks like another chilly day. Fennec obliges and all three dwarves are fully fit and well-dressed as they head to lock-up, switch gear around again, and head for the fabled ‘aunty’s bakery’ Betty ought to be working at.

The delicious smell guides them across what may once have been a common or even an ornamental lawn, now partly built over, to a queue of waiting diners, and they wait patiently. At length they enter Jane’s Bakery, and find that serving them is Mother Hobb.

“Mother Hobb?!”

“Lovely to see you!”

“And you, boys!”

“So you’re Betty’s auntie?”

“I am. Betty!”

Betty is working hard under her aunt’s eye, but in between serving them and other customers Mother Hobb and Betty explain that the Survivors broke up, Mother Hobb has come here to help her older sister, Betty’s mother, who would like to retire. It’s time Betty gave up on her dreams of being an entertainer, and settled to a solid career. They also learn that Betty’s father was human, and died when Betty was only 19.

As for the Survivors, Mother Hobb believes Mizva drifted, while Burnley and Whitey, the two half-elves, decided to head south to join the war. The Lefties left Fingold heading east, but as far as she knows the Heavy Hitters stayed on as mentors of the Guild.

Mother Hobb suggests they probably don’t want the meringue: Jane’s Bakery sells delicious honey-glazed donuts. The drinks served are light herbal teas, not a perfect fit.

Cauleigh chases Betty up for what she recalls of T for Trouble, the mystery woman of yesterday evening. She’s recalled that they’re a bunch of thugs that hang out near the waterfront, and are known as something like Tamara’s Cutthroats. The big-shouldered one is Zug.

Heads dizzy with the sweet (and costly) delicacies, but surprisingly fortified, the four head back out.

“Have you made any contacts with the Rogues Guild yet Crompton?” Fennec asks. Crompton makes a non-committal noise. “Because I would think they would know about this lot,” Fennec elaborates. Crompton mentions that he’s heard of a gang of ruffians outside the gates. Then their train of thought is interrupted.

[L5 LK from Crompton]

They see a cloaked woman, as much in the middle of the old common as possible, head up, standing as though she’s really enjoying the morning air. She’s probably an elf.

“Come to think of it an elf messenger was supposed to contact me at the Porters Arms,” Cauleigh remarks. They head over and stand in very obvious range of her. She looks at them, half-recognising them:

“Excuse me for asking, would you be the Restorers? …Well this is accidental but serendipitous. My name is Wanda. We have a mutual friend.”

“Who might that be?” Fennec asks.

“Shawndel…” the she-elf looks among them to see who this applies to.

“That’s me,” Cauleigh asserts.

Wanda is here to pick up the scimitar and discuss a reward. Satisfied with her credentials, they all return to the lockup. Cauleigh accepts two large black pearls.

Wanda explains her own knowledge of the southern menace, leaving them with an amusing character sketch of Gorgun’s diplomacy and her own impression or opinion that while Dolem’s Spire is safe smaller towns like Ironbridge, or even as far afield as Edoras, will be attacked, as the uruk horde raids along rivers. But, she opines, weather will stall the advance. Wanda, scimitar concealed beneath her cloak, takes her leave and the dwarves return to the plan: research!

Cauleigh gains +1 CHR for achieving this long-term goal. Counting only from the point he learned of the scimitar’s deadly quality, it has been two seasons.

 

Sarnas Library

The four Restorers arrive at the palace gate, an imposing structure, well guarded. Fennec and Cauleigh present their credentials.

[Jotunn and Crompton succeed in L2 LK and get through as well, on the ‘we’re with them’ strategy.]

They’re directed to second circle, right. The three that have not visited before undergo the shock of seeing the old-fashioned castle change to modern, dragon-proof citadel. Taking the second circle right they walk between lines of graceful but strong columns, at least a quarter-circle along, and come to an arch, that reads:

Sarnas Library

As they pass on through there’s a voip kind of feeling or sound and with a slight sense of dislocation they find themselves in a library. It’s of traditional architecture, but there are no windows. Immediately ahead of them lies a reception or reference desk, at which sits a woman, looking at a book. She appears to be an elf.

This is Reena Spidros, prideful and somewhat acidulous reference librarian. As she reads Cauleigh’s note from Shawndel her face registers surprise and interest. She tells them that with this, they will be permitted to access the ‘stacks’ themselves.

Cauleigh [L4 CHR] explains their task, and asks that Reena not share the outcome of their labour with other researchers. This is a familiar refrain, but Reena agrees provided it is not against the Commonwealth’s interests.

Session one: This extends into early afternoon. Crompton Jotunn and Cauleigh assist Fennec, using LK, and Fennec uses IQ. Joint research, level 9.

Their first bout concentrates on the stacks Reena indicates are most nearly concerned with geography and trade. They learn that once, a trade route connected Ikkutas somewhere west of a valley system known as Aunor, and from there south to Sarn Athrad. All trade from Aunor was swept away in the Wizard Wars, and trade out of Ikkutas ended generations earlier. The only itinerary-map they find is river focused and not useful for distances.

The Restorers restore themselves out a small side door, through a spidery-meandering kind of corridor or tunnel and off in a small, not-very-good kind of coffee house. It’s a reasonably popular limbo-point for Senate couriers and pages shirking their work or dodging their senators.

Session two: This extends to evening. CON SRs for maintaining concentration, Jotunn DAROs to L14. Everyone else is OK too. This time joint research tallies to level 8.

Aunor became the hub of the northern barbarians’ invasion. All of the old information about Aunor, except for the basic geography, is irrelevant. They do confirm that dwarf metal manufactures came from Ikkutas.

Between the two sessions, they also know that either through Aunor or west along the Vale will get them to the mountain ranges where Ikkutas is hidden.

They also gain one actual Ikkutas clue.

 

Who T for Trouble is

Strategising how to get to the Porters Arms safely, they teleport back from library to second circle, and walk around to the gates. Fennec has a boosted-up OTIS prepped.

The palace processional is adequately lit down to the official arch that ends it.

[Crompton DAROs to 21 on LK, I ask him who he would like to run into]

As they near the arch, Crompton sees Sedge walking towards them, dressed in her finery, and alone. He hails her, she pauses, making a pleased kind of sound.

From Sedge, they learn the correct name of the dockside gang, Takrina’s Cutthroats.

“You were lucky – she is deadly,” Sedge comments. “Well, I’ll be going, all the best… do let us know if you want to join…”

[L4 CHR SR from Cauleigh]

Sedge heads away but turns back:

“You might look towards the east waterfront.”

 

Supper and sensation

Hubbub and singing may be heard further towards the bridge. Choosing not to mingle they decide to swing west. But before they can, they all briefly glow!

[Fennec makes a WIZ SR and concludes it is some type of investigatory spell]

They make haste back to the Porters Arms where Fennec has them all strip and uses DetM to check that the only magic items they have are their own. Then back to the common room and a late supper.

“Sentry’s me name,” a portly brewer introduces himself to Jotunn, “I wuz wonderin’ if yez’ll taste me new brew… think’ o’ callin’ it suthin’ like ‘Sentry-post.'”

To Jotunn’s palate it’s a little more hopped than he’s used to, hops being quite unusual, with a more pick-me-up kind of effect than ale. He acknowledges it. Sentry asks that he endorse it, signing the paper he happens to have written, and gains a signed endorsement off Crompton as well.

Cauleigh discovers that the Porters Arms features the Voice of the People, the Tribune, and reads – among quotes from the senator and strange inserted accounts of useful products:

Cathedral Massacre!!!

Apparently a number of late-working glaziers were horrified to find blood sprayed upon the very lintels of their door and high upon their windows! Bishop Pausanias proclaimed himself shocked at the mayhem pertaining to the very Processional of the Cathedral.

Cauleigh reads on. Assailants made off, but Sheriff Johann van Diemer (or von Diemar, spelling seems optional) is quoted as saying “the men are known bad elements…”

(Wonder Wort! You Can’t Age… interrupts a strange article)

The sheriff also says that “good citizens rest easier when bad men fall out.”

“We’re not bad… just indiscriminate,” Crompton protests.

“You know lads, I’m beginning to suspect someone in this town does not wish us well,” Cauleigh remarks.

 

The third research session

It’s the day before Fennec’s appointment with Lady Bree. Cauleigh leads the others to Jane’s Bakery and buys donuts for breakfast and bagged donuts for lunch.

Bunting is being tied around the Cathedral. They keep clear and walk up to the palace gates again. Again they draw curious glances and are let in [this time with merely L1 SR from Jotunn and Crompton]

Session three: A joint level 9 effort.

They push on to near lunch, and find nothing further in the maps and charts. The best they’ve gained from itineraries is a genuine copy of Travels Through the Vale, in which, at the very westernmost point, the floridly verbose and irritating author describes a dwarf cup presented as being of Ikkutas manufacture.

Reena seems to think she knows a lot about where they should be looking, but doesn’t. She points them to a band of stacks as possible. Cauleigh asks to refine the search around Ikmal. Reena immediately provides his alternative names:

“Ikmal Iron-bringer, also known as Aule Stone-father. See also Yavanna, or Iavan, his wife.”

Their widened search among these relevant stacks, lasting the afternoon and into early evening, comes up with possibilities. The culture of the far Vale obscures things, for here they are dealing with the Carloman Principalities and even ancient Ravenscrag. Oldest records suggest that here and there, shrines will be found to those gods.

So in conclusion (for further research will simply be at random) the dwarves have learnt that Ikkutas is located in a large mountainous area at the far end of the Vale and – equally – at the western end of Aunor Valley, which itself lies north of Sarn Athrad ruin. It is such an undefined area that they are none the wiser which direction would be more efficacious.

A cry for help

It’s a deep mist abroad. Lights glow, rather than shine. A heavier mist or fog seems to be growing north over the river. Choosing to take a slightly different route, the Restorers steer their path counter-clockwise round the palace wall, and scuttle into cover so that Fennec can hide them. They are more or less circling the park, behind Central Perk. Merry cries can be heard, but muffled. Under a long-duration Hidey Hole they hustle past a decayed park wall and into the main lane.

There’s a scrabbling sound from the right and a girl’s cry of distress. Lantern lights bobble dimly down in the dense fog ahead.

The Restorers come to a decision and run towards the sounds!

 

Skeleton marauders!

Skeletal shapes are tearing at a lone female figure, prone under their claws: her clothes are torn and blood runs free. But as they smell the oncoming dwarves the skeletal shapes turn on them!

Their battle experience tells them, too skeletal to be a zombie. Fennec scans the mist for a controlling necromancer [WIZ SR] while Cauleigh runs at the nearest and aims his kukri at a joint [DEX SR]. Its knee is sheared through and it falls; but its bony hand grabs Cauleigh’s boot-top. Jotunn braces against the other five to protect Cauleigh [CON SR, Cauleigh gets overflow damage of 11] and Crompton jigs round behind them as they batter at Jotunn’s sturdy form. With his off hand Crompton wields his ring of undead command:  “Fight for me!”

The skeleton does so, and Crompton attacks the other three not occupied. As Crompton’s Antimagic axe strikes them their bones shatter apart, the mystic necromancy that kept their sinews intact gone in that instant!

Cauleigh finishes his skeleton and he and Jotunn deal with the non-controlled survivor. Crompton focuses on his minion:

“Go back to the ground.”

It heads away.

“Follow it!” Cauleigh prompts them. Fennec nods:

“They’re being controlled from beneath… remember the floor of undead below Fingold?”

He carries the young lady to Central Perk, commends her to their care, and races back to his fellows – as the chase begins!

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TI4.04 part one: Blood on Sarnas Cathedral steps

The characters for this session:

Fennec, L3 wizard, combat and curative schools

Crompton, L3 rogue, roguery and Runebearer background

Jotunn, L6 warrior, hunter background and tracking talent

Cauleigh, L4 warrior, literate townsman background

The four Restorers are in Sarnas, major city of the Sarnmark, and have entree to the library, reputedly their best chance to find solid leads on the whereabouts of Ikkutas. But a couple of peculiar murders in the vicinity of the Abbey grounds mean their guard is up. 

Jotunn fills in the time

Jotunn has successfully kept Elisha from following the others. Now, towards evening, he arrives back at the Porters Arms for dinner. Word of mouth passes to him:

“We’ve all gone out to the Drunken Nixie – Cheers! PS we may have lead on the weird killer”

Having thrown back the last of the ale, he hastens towards the park and finds the Drunken Nixie. His comrades are no longer there. He’s moments away from a decent meal when he hears patrons discussing soldiers patrolling the Abbey.

“Excuse me! Did you say soldiers patrolling?”

[DAROs to L3 CHR]

The youngster spots him as one of the Restorers and offers to take him there. Explaining, as they hasten through the darkened streets, that its some of the garrison. They are just in time! A small patrol, of four pikemen and two lantern-bearing swordsmen, are just headed away.

The youngster leaves without asking for a tip, leaving Jotunn visible to the patrol.

“Good evening!”

“He’s the dwarf ‘at was with Elisha,” one of the soldiers mutters to the others

[L3 LK SR, he makes L4]

The leader looks familiar. Jotunn recalls meeting him somewhere around Fingold, serving the west faction.

“You look familiar?”

“You want on this patrol? Looking for your friend?”

This is Musger, a sergeant once more.

As they set off, one of the pikemen explains:

“Two of our men have been killed around here – we aim ta see that don’t happen agin!”

It’s about a twenty-minute walk, at brisk soldier pace, through dark spaces and patches of window-light. Even the main street they use for most of the walk depends for its light on the occasional door-lamp. The weather remains chill and slightly misty, threatening rain.

After crossing what Jotunn now knows is the main street between palace and bridge, Musger decides to forge straight on for the Abbey grounds:

“The last killing was bridge-side. Let’s cover that ground, see what we might see.”

As the patrol progresses alongside the Merchant Guild, the enormous bulk of the Cathedral blocks out the few visible stars on the left horizon. Ahead, three dimly-seen stubby forms seem to be snooping about…

 

The company unites – but where’s the mystery?

After seeing a couple of people that may be a little hinky, Cauleigh Fennec and Crompton decide to do a late-late evening patrol, counter-clockwise around the grounds. And Crompton glimpses a pallid figure, half-seen in the gloom and evening mist, near one of the mausoleums.

But before they can run across the cemetery in pursuit, bobbing lanterns are to be seen, approaching them clockwise. And, after challenges and recognition, that unites Jotunn with his comrades. They explain to one another. But by this time, Crompton is no longer even sure what he saw.

With the aid of lanterns bobbing around the dwarves can see that one of the graves is open. Cauleigh’s torch-cube beams its powerful white beam into a recently-disinterred grave. There’s no sign of the body. Crompton confirms this is the site where he saw that bobbing bushy head.

As they consider reasons and necromancers, Sgt Musger reintroduces himself. As for why he’s now working here:

“It’s a matter of a professional seeking professional employment – Fingold went all amateur.”

He invites them all to finish the patrol, and offers to meet and talk over old times. The patrol is the same type of armed men that were murdered, and as Musger confirms (using the same words his pikeman did earlier) they are here because of the murders.

Their recollections have come up with the name of Osusk, necromancer (or ‘necromantier’ Musger says) and the sergeant makes a note. As for the pallid figure, Fennec seems to think it must have been an acolyte, based on nothing in particular, though Crompton, the only one to meet an acolyte, does agree he was pale.

“What building did you think it went into?” Cauleigh asks.

 

An unofficial suggestion

Immediately before them, looking west from the grave, is a large solemn building proudly bearing the legend, ‘Mausoleum of Heroes.’ Crompton is inclined to think it may be this one. But the gate seems close-bolted, and when a soldier rattles the gate it stays that way. Without his toolkit, Crompton can’t tell if the lock is rigged. And he’s beginning to second-guess himself. He looks about.

Looking south there is at least one other building. And there is an easy path from the cemetery lawn, across a robbed wall, to the clergy-house. Crompton mentions the suspicious acolyte from his visit.

“We can’t investigate… officially…” Musger comments significantly, and gestures Crompton aside.

“If you were to talk to the priest” – he breaks off and gets the name from one of his men – “If you were to speak to a chap named Severin, chief acolyte, and were to get a strong suspicion of wrongdoing, we could investigate.”

 

A second disturbed grave

His men are literally kicking their heels and they now fan out and walk right into the inner grounds. The dwarves follow them past a Mausoleum of Barons, and beyond inside the cloister past the Bishop’s Palace, a well-lit and imposing building separate from the Cathedral, and to an inner cemetery with much more imposing memorial stones. And here, another disturbed grave.

Fennec picks up a strip of cloth at the site. Judging from it, the body was swaddled quite some time ago.

“I’m thinking each of the graves has a different reason to be opened,” Fennec judges.

“We need to re-tool and come back, if we turn up nothing so be it, but we shouldn’t just leave it at this,” Cauleigh suggests.

“It might pay for one of us to wait here,” Jotunn begins but Fennec quickly points out that danger is afoot now, and Cauleigh fills him in about the mystery woman and the thug-type, seen at the Drunken Nixie.

A scud of rain persuades the soldiers they’ve done as much as they can. As they file out one of them rattles the gates of the second mausoleum: they too seem solidly locked.

“We’ll just say we’re working for the watch,” Cauleigh proposes but Musger corrects him: the garrison is not the town watch. This is an unofficial patrol – which is why they can’t do things officially. He leaves with a casual salute and an offer to catch up, either at the Jealous Hag alchemist, or the Old Alehouse at the South Gate.

 

Gearing up and a diversion

They pass from the workmanlike Abbey area to the more boisterous Upper Harbour. Nighttime entertainments and cheery shouts fill the damp, unlit streets. The dwarves mostly have things to get out of lockup, now Jotunn is back with them. They withdraw (and deposit) chosen gear and head back to the Porters Arms to change into workaday clothes.

Jotunn gives a moan of pain when one of the servants tells them “we din’t wait supper” but discovers the usual breakfast leftovers and climbs into them.

They head through a scud of rain, beating into their faces and make their way around towards the Abbey grounds.

“What about that suspiciously-behaving cleric?” Fennec asks, but as it’s the middle of the night, and they are geared for action, the idea of knocking up the clergy-house is voted down.

But before they get quite to within sight of the cemetery, Crompton catches sight of Osusk, and they follow him all the way back through dark streets to the mortuary, where he has some sort of business, and then to a three-story building near the east docks and east wall. There’s a smell of preserving fluid alchemy in the wet air, but it carries the smell of charred timbers, as well. Jotunn marks a building, probably once a stables, lying close enough to Osusk’s great house, to probably allow chimney-style climbing, and they leave.

Ambush!

It is very late, it has been a long day, all save Jotunn are very tired. But Crompton’s eyes are shining with Cateyes and he urges,

“Before this spell runs out, let’s get back to the Abbey!”

They hasten, Crompton using short-cuts to trim what would otherwise be a mile’s walk, [L3 SR, DAROs to 23] and soon come in sight of the monstrous bulk of the Cathedral. They swing counter-clockwise. As it looms taller on their left flank, and they cross what appears to be a little waste-ground between masons and glaziers, Fennec [misses L2 LK SR, makes L5 IQ SR with a tiredness penalty of 1 level] mutters:

“We’re being followed at speed, do we want to ambush them?”

“Yes, but let’s not be too hasty, it could be a reporter,” Cauleigh retorts. They make their way left and up towards the massive Cathedral Porch, and as Cauleigh delays to make sure his fellows are secure, an unseen hand drives a blade down between neck and shoulder and towards his heart! But by good fortune it grates off his magical Shield of Tahana, the same that he had prudently retrieved from the lockup, and he is still alive! There’s a muffled sound as something leaps away, and as Cauleigh himself leaps to safety there’s a rush of men at the dwarves.

Fennec hurls a L3 TTYF at the leader, obvious due to the fancy two-hander sword he’s wielding, and there’s a purplish flash and percussion as the spell goes off. He notices the colour of the blast is more akin to the purple he began his career with. The leader staggers back! Jotunn jumps among four shabbily-armoured cutthroats, as they use slings to wreak havoc on the other three.

[All slings hit. Owing to the removal of Jotunn the 116 damage has to be shared by the other three. Cauleigh is already down 10 and armour among them is scant. So they all drop to single-digit CON.]

Jotunn’s unexpected advance has caught the swordsman off-guard. Before he can draw a handaxe for close work [rival SPD rolls, Jotunn wins easily] Jotunn is on him. Fennec hurls a Glue You and Jotunn lays him low.

Crompton has already readied his attack: he has called tempus fugit and Vorpalled his axe, and Cauleigh downs one with a thrown dagger [L6 DEX] then they storm the other three. Hideous death cries sound: blood sprays widely, drenching the ground as far as the Porch and splashing across the processional for some yards.

“Thank goodness we got changed,” Cauleigh observes.

There’s a cry of alarm from the glaziers, lights indicate people will investigate the commotion and unexpectedly, the great door to the Cathedral begins to open.

“Quick, loot and go!”

Fennec casts a Detect Magic to pick what it was that stopped his TTYF, and they take a bracer off the leader, as well as his purse and fancy sword, then run counter-clockwise towards the park.

This is the first group combat of the season and an interesting one. First, the “assassination” style attack, which we have seen before, with LK SR to avoid dying outright. Then, in the brief exchange of spells and missiles and stunts, because of player-elected actions, the missile fire from the other side is not countered by anything, while the swordsman is taken down exclusively. 

Aftermath

After briefly strategising, Fennec pops into the Drunken Nixie, and buys two large flagons of wine. The other three use the wine to soak over the blood, then the four return to the Porters Arms. Jotunn pretends to hold the “drunken” pair up as they pass by a sleepy night-porter and safe to their room.

Fennec is now an adept of the Curative school. He has time and space to concentrate here, and provides 56 CON Poor Baby in short order.

“I’m pretty sure that ugly was the same ugly that was planning to shank me at the Nixie,” Cauleigh mentions as they assess the loot. The bracer is plain, save for a scorpion design on it. The sword is very fancy, with fair-quality gems on the hilts, and what looks like mithril intaglio on the blade. It will have to be hidden away in lockup.

[The dwarves spend some AP. Cauleigh moves LK to 39, Crompton takes Roguery to Apprentice (+5), Jotunn moves SPD to 29, while Fennec moves LK to 25 and SPD to 24.]

 

 

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TI4.03: Shopping and Schmoozing in Sarnas

The characters for this session:

Fennec, L3 wizard, combat and curative schools

Crompton, L3 rogue, roguery and Runebearer background

Cauleigh, L4 warrior, literate townsman background

It’s the second full day in Sarnas, chief city of the Sarnmark. Our heroes are beginning to gain useful contacts and sniff out job prospects. Aside from seeking clues about Ikkutas and the whereabouts of the Scions of Kolbrannus, they are here to purchase top-quality equipment, and have a couple of items that require “study” to really get best value out of. These are:

  • 24 magic-scribed pistol balls – studying the scrimshaw with the right tutor may allow the student to apply the same Level 1 ‘spite hit’ to blunt weapons/musket ball as the L1 sure-blade spell
  • Gem-set ceremonial knife – with study an incantation may be applicable that would make it equivalent to magical
  • Runebearer axe with the Antimagic property

 

Fennec

The Wizards Guild appears to be a separate building, perhaps south-east of the mighty citadel proper, although illusion may again be playing a part in this impression. It takes Fennec three spells to be “sorted” as to ability and he’s kept waiting a little while before Max Oberhelm, confident magister, welcomes him and signs him in as a visitor. He leads Fennec through to a lofty-vaulted members’ room with its members’ bar in one corner and many deep comfy seats grouped here and there.

Max listens sympathetically to Fennec’s story about Maeglos, mockingly imitates that elf master’s posing, but does admit the price suggested is likely to be fair. In terms of who else might restore the staff’s charges (and possibly store the higher level spells in Fennec’s ring) he brags up their senior member, Lady Bree, and warns Fennec to be on his best behaviour around her. (Fennec may be dressed in good wizard robe but his boots are still the same road boots he arrived in.)

Meanwhile, there’s only one other member in the common room, and Fennec is now introduced to Daisy Brightwater. She is a mightily-well-constructed woman of uncertain years who speaks with a delightful southern twang. And she seems to be a shrewd businesswoman. She’s very interested in the prospects those scrimshaw balls may open up, and arranges to meet Fennec for dinner at a superior dining-house not far from the park.

Over lunch (his chatting with Daisy has taken him pleasantly through the morning) Fennec does meet Lady Bree Greyswan of Greystand. There’s a suggestion of inkiness around her fingertips – in contrast to junior wizards who are liberally smirched in ink. She seems interested in records of his travels and makes an appointment with him three days hence, noon.

“You sly dawg!” Daisy congratuates him, “weasellin’ ya way ’round Lady Bree… [sotto voce] she’s got a thing fer beards… or has she?”

With a dinner date to look forward to, Fennec heads back to the Porters Arms, leaves word for the others and a handsome tip, and walks at leisure, to the upper bridge.

 

A quick recap from Borer

Borer, one of the three Ironbridge rogues that endured the entire Broken Land quest, happens to be seated on a short flight of steps in the merchant quarter as Crompton and Cauleigh make their way away from the south gate, towards the cathedral. Testily challenging at first, Borer discovers that Crompton is willing to pay for a meal and drink!

The trio head for Cinnamon Roll and turn the comfortable vibe in the place into a hostile one as Borer profanely describes what he endured and what he’s seen of the uruk menace. He sarcastically wishes the Templars well – though it turns out, he’s the one who reached them in Briar Keep, to warn them of the invasion.

The white urukin, Borer can definitively say, is not the Uruk Lord, merely a lieutenant. The Uruk Lord is served by three lieutenants, two of whom are Gorgun (who sounds quite rash, but tolerant) and Gariag (whom Cauleigh fought). Those are both full-blooded and huge uruks. Other than that he includes trolls ogres and at least one giant among his army. Which is now armed with gunnes.

The two other companions of Borer to see the quest through to the end are Elyn, who is alright for a human woman apparently, and Binye, a man. He doesn’t know where they drifted to – after meeting up on Sidewinder Creek, Borer headed downriver to Dolem’s Spire and they headed west and south to warn other settlers. Borer adds that he owes the elves a big solid favour, because Wanda, an elf out of the north somewhere, rescued him.

 

Gimme that old time religion

Crompton separates from Cauleigh fairly soon after that. The second breakfast, and long expletive-laden yarn, has taken them well towards the lunch hour and Cauleigh wants to be early to meet whichever elf Shawndel has persuaded to speak with him about the scimitar. Crompton has no reference to follow up, so is at leisure to look around the cathedral grounds. He heads north but runs up short against a old and massy wall and distinct lack of entrance to the cathedral.

A helpful passer-by explains that if he wants to pay respects to the gods, the Adoration chapel is the building with the breast-like dome, not the cathedral proper, and it can easily be reached, from this (south) side by walking west.

The Adoration or Seasons chapel has a regular west-facing frontal and open-air processional, lined with well-groomed hedges. A stone pavilion or kiosk interrupts the processional perhaps a quarter-way along. Despite the chill and occasional scuds of rain, plenty of family groups file along, entering and leaving the chapel.

Inside the chapel Crompton studies the mosaics with an unfamiliar eye and attempts to match them to the ten or so Esgaroth gods that he can recall. He doesn’t see the big boss god, or the boss-god’s lady. And there’s nothing he can match to Ikmal, nor Ikmal’s wife Yavan’. And he can’t quite match a mosaic of what appears to be an elf woman archer, to any god he recalls. But there are a couple at least he only half-recalls and he knows there are other even more obscure gods, so this is not a major discovery.

Half-expecting to see a pallid figure, he stares around and does see a pale-faced acolyte. Noticing his close inspection the acolyte approaches him, accepts a donation, and says:

“Welcome, friend dwarf! Have you come to make your adoration and are, perhaps, confused as to whom will show you most mercy?”

He explains:

  • Belor Cjernin is a hero of the Great War substituted into the pantheon;
  • Ara Fellmir is an elf heroine of the Wizard Wars substituted into the pantheon;
  • The coy lady, hot herald, virgin archer (Ara), good worker, warrior hero (Belor), and weeper are the deities of the adoration chapel, in that order. Seniority of place is given to Zolman Law-giver and Varda Star-mantle in the cathedral;
  • He doesn’t explain the absence of Ikmal/Aule or Yavan’/Yavanna and Crompton doesn’t pursue the matter; and finally
  • Holy Bishop Pausanias is a famed speaker (you’ve just missed the high day!) and Crompton should try to attend six days hence!

Having paid respects to Belor Crompton seeks the acolyte out once more and specifically asks about two murders… [DAROs to 21, earns the first boon of the season, L7 CHR SR] and the acolyte, who obviously has heard of these, retorts:

“There is certainly no question that the city is being punished for its sins… silly rumours…”

“We were able to be there when they examined two bodies…” Crompton begins then realises that he has said too much. He doubles down and ploughs on:

“They were murdered in an unusual way…”

“Were they perhaps harlots?”

“No… We were wondering if there is an undead presence under the city?”

“Pah, crazed necromancers babbling about the sewers…”

“Thank you for that information.”

Crompton keeps a weather eye out to his stern quarter and by the time he reaches the kiosk spots the acolyte ducking out and as he notices being noticed, north through a gap in the hedge-trees. Zipping around and north Crompton is in time to see the man slip into a sugar-loaf-looking circular building. It’s the clergy-house.

Undecided, Crompton hesitates until another scud of rain prompts him to get back on track looking around the cathedral proper. He decides to work back counter-clockwise, passing around the adoration chapel area, past a mighty tree, past the old wall and another mighty tree (and ivy up the wall, he notes) and some temple-related trades such as pillowers and embroiders, then squeezing through some other alleys that seem to mark where the cathedral was once open to the east, then through some plastic arts trades such as mason and glazier and to the north-running processional to the north porch. The processional appears to run north to a very secure, well-walled complex. From here the ground opens out to a cemetery lawn, memorial stones dotting it; and beyond that a handsome building reading “Mausoleum of Heroes.”

Pacing at leisure through the grounds, Crompton notes a disturbed grave. As he approaches, passsing three small family groups, he can see a bushy head he (much later) identifies as belonging to Osusk, at work there and barely sparing him a glance.

To his left as he passes the Mausoleum, Crompton can see another similar building. He steps carefully across a shallow robbed wall and leaves what was once the Abbey grounds.

Having concluded all he wishes to do, Crompton hikes back to the Porters Arms and buys a lunch of last night’s supper and good strong porter. Fennec arrives as he begins to think himself full.

 

Let’s hit the road north…

Watching Crompton eat pub leftovers is boring so Fennec is keen to get on to the next issue, speaking to the smith Meta-something, by the north gate.

The pair walk back through riverside bustle towards the Abbey and swing north over Upper bridge. The daytime stalls are busy; the only thing of note is a bear, coming the other way, [L2 LK OK] being led securely by a bear-handler. Seeing Fennec’s interest he pauses and asks:

“Interested in bettin’ on th’ fight?”

“What’s it fighting?”

“Ooh… couldn’t say right now… mebbe dawg… mebbe they git a wulfan…”

“Interesting… where’s this happening?”

The bear-handler gives directions south-east, outwall. Fennec notes it down for possible investigation but as he remarks to Crompton:

“The fact it’s being led through in broad daylight tells me bear-baiting is perfectly legal. I don’t like the idea of a wulfan being forced but… that’s not a given.”

 

Cauleigh

The burly warrior arrives in good time at Central Perk. It’s already busy: he finds a spot with a view: and Betty, on duty at some other benches, only has time for a friendly wave.

An elf arrives and perhaps unsurprisingly it is in fact Shawndel. The extra day’s delay has given him/her time to investigate Cauleigh’s bona fides and consult others.

Cauleigh recaps the situation and history, and Shawndel congratulates him on not blabbing the facts all over the city; warns him that another party, Sasha Orc-slayer, may be about; and suggests he be compensated for handing the scimitar off to the elven community. Cauleigh wonders where it might be safely stored? Shawndel replies it would be smuggled north to what’s called Elf Mountain.

Cauleigh wishes no recompense: he wishes access to the library! Shawndel writes a note in elven to Reena Spidros, the librarian, and a covering note to the palace. Shawndel decides that it’s best to make one transaction all told and will send an agent to the Porters Arms to complete the handoff.

[100AP for achieving the major thread “get access to the library”]

Betty has still no leisure: balances a spoon on her nose, goggles her eyes, and waves him goodbye.

Cauleigh catches up with Fennec’s intentions at the Porters Arms and walks swiftly around and north and soon catches up the more leisurely pair.

 

Crompton’s confession

Cauleigh is a little sardonic as Crompton confesses that he has made himself a lightning rod for the church.

“You were actually talking to someone who knew the deal, and was trying to find out what you knew, so you told him almost everything, walked away without learning anything new, but you saw where he ran to after that.”

“Yes a sugar-loaf kind of building, the clergy house. Oh and there’s a disturbed grave, and a bushy-headed fellow.”

The trio offer jokes to one another about the real culprit, citing dire mosquitoes and vampires.

Fennec mentions he’s following up the scrimshaw bullets over dinner. At this point they become aware that they are heading to some foot-bridges over a slimy-looking river, and that some young thugs have fallen in behind.

 

That’s dirty Luth

They swing around heading for the theatre and three of the lads swing right to cut them off. Cauleigh swings round and confronts the other three: the leader with a splendid quiff or pompadour of oiled hair:

“Say friend, which way are ya going?”

“Mebbe I’m jest goin’ this way”

“Well walk on by…”

“Mebbe I will… mebbe I won’t… ain’t fer you ta tell me”

Fennec murmurs to Crompton:

“Can you see anything that says they are local Rogues Guild?”

He cannot. Cauleigh continues:

“Do you want to do this with fists?”

“Mebbe I’ll see ya… later…”

The youths make off.

“Remind me to look up local laws about murdering ruffians,” Fennec mutters.

The potential fracas has been witnessed by shop keepers, assistants, and burgers of the tiwn. A smith standing at an imposing smithy and store gestures Cauleigh in:

“Say that was mighty fine! Don’t know as how I’ve seen summun’ square to an’ set them ta rights!”

“Who were they?”

“Dirty Luth an’ his boys… would-be big bad men outta th’ north… say, don’t s’pose ya’d be interested in some ironmongery… vambraces are th’ thing these days… ya got a yuge forearm there, betcha gotta get that tailor-made…”

“I like your pitch my friend, I’ll take a look.”

 

Mettastos

Crompton and Fennec wait patiently, then impatiently, then as Cauleigh is encouraged to head to the gauntletteer across the way next, they ask for directions to the north gate area, and the smith Meta-something.

“That’s Mettastos. Deals mainly with the garrison, money would need to talk.”

The smith also suggests Mettastos might be able to offer a suggestion about Cauleigh’s caliver idea (a Flick spell) and Crompton’s axe (specifically how you are supposed to use an Antimagic blade).

Congratulating one another on not having to work for a living the pair walk through bustling working folk and playing children, around north of the theatre, through pleasant airs and a suggestion of fruit tree, across foot bridges and another foul-looking river. Off left rises a grim barrack, before them extends an open area, and right is a large smith’s workshop.

Approaching it they indeed find the sign “Mettastos Arms & Armor.”

“Perhaps we should head back?” Fennec asks

“I want at least to get his opinion on the axe, to counter magics.”

“Then I’ll come in, you never know, something might meet the eye.”

Mettastos appears to be a burly young blond-bearded man (slightly singed) and though busy is willing to take some coins for his opinion. He examines the Runebearer axe and offers the commonplace that an enchanted axe stops Breaker spells. Then, just as a theory, if genuinely Antimagic, says maybe it could cut through wall spells and perhaps even a Protective Pentagram! As to work:

“Orders are very very tight, it would need to be top priority, tell your friends they’d be best getting a letter from someone in top authority.”

 

Attack of the clueless

Cauleigh places a deposit on the vambrace work (it’s superior steel, specifically resistant but no actual higher points protection) and next visits the gauntletteer. He selects a smooth-polished type and places a deposit on that. Then, seeing his friends have moved on, recollects that his shoes must be ready.

He realises that he’s alone when, at a convenient point in the merchant quarter, Luth and four thugs attack!

Cauleigh [L6 DEX] whips his throw-blade out and gets a throat-shot on one. Then using that initiative leaps to the nearest wall [L6 STR] and with a spinning cut with kukri whicks the next one’s head off. There’s a huge spray of blood! One of the remaining three immediately pees his pants and stops, knees sagging. Launching into Luth and his remaining off-sider Cauleigh slices their guts open and body parts litter the path!

“This is why you don’t try to rough me up and rob me, right, widdle-pants?”

Cauleigh lets the weeping, pee-poo-pants thug waddle off. But what with the slaughter his good clothing is ruined. He accepts a handsome compliment as to his sweep of shoulder, is easily persuaded to buy some outrageously-priced clothing, and is fitted and clothed again. Then, off to the cobbler!

Then, he finds a laundry but the laundrymen are not optimistic. Blood is hell to shift.

 

Plans for the evening?

Fennec and Crompton head south across Temple bridge, to the merchant quarter and the cobbler. They spot Clarrie – notable by his eye-glass – reporting on some street-killing.

“If it bleeds it leads,” Clarrie remarks.

Well satisfied with his shoes, Fennec looks forward to meeting Daisy. He and Crompton return to the Porters Arms, where they catch Cauleigh up with the Mettastos situation and he catches them up with his success on the library, and take their ease until evening.

Cursing because he can’t get into the lockup to get a bullet to show Daisy, Fennec bids the others farewell. But then, as an afterthought, mentions that he’ll be dining near the Cathedral. So the other two offer to eat out, nearby, in case there’s trouble.

 

At the Drunken Nixie

Their hostess is an older woman named Tiara; the crowd is mainly young. A few recognise Cauleigh as ‘the dwarf that was with Betty’ and acknowledge him. The crowd is mainly human: Crompton spots a clean-shaven urukin and a pale-blue woman whose kindred he doesn’t recognise.

Betty bounces in with an “I’m off dooty!” and joins them, but tells Cauleigh regretfully that she has to “hit the hay early” because her aunt’s in town and wants her to learn the bakery business.

While Cauleigh is talking Crompton notices that his group is being subtly watched by a dark-dressed woman. She seems aloof from the crowd. Her build is slender, her eyes and hair are dark as far as he can see. He turns to Betty and interrupts her chatter:

“Hypothetically, if someone was a slender, dark-dressed woman… (he describes the woman) would you be able to say oh, that’s so-and-so?”

“Rings a bell… was there a big shoulder kinda scary guy with her when ya saw her?”

“I’ll just have a look…”

“Wha?!?”

Betty’s head whips round to look where Crompton is looking; having realised she’s been singled out the woman smiles. Cauleigh picks up what’s going on and waves her over. She rises as though to join them, but then there’s a little incident where one of the wait-staff stumbles and people fall over and move across the dwarves’ line of sight and then she is gone.

Betty’s vague recall extends only to her name beginning with T and she’s Trouble.

Cauleigh mentions the delicious baking smell and Betty tells him that’s where she’s supposed to be baking. Cauleigh assures her he’ll call in next morning to see her on her first day; she says goodnight, heads off.

The only other event of note, until Fennec arrives, happens when Cauleigh heads out back to drain the lizard. The place is fancy enough to have built-in stalls and he notices a sturdy thug who may or may not have intended to catch him alone and off-guard there.

 

At the Tranquil Boar

Chef Ona, red-haired, heavily-mustached, offers Pon’frac-accented advice on the courses; Daisy and Fennec are served by Urie, probably a relative of the chef judging by her curly red head.

Daisy is excellent company and the meal is a progression of four delicious courses. She explains a little more about tracking enchantments – though she is no specialist – and how items or people might be tracked, and asks for at least nine of the bullets, offering to buy them.

In terms of funds – since Fennec bewails the high cost of everything – Daisy mentions two courses:

  • Get in the good books of Bishop Pausanias, who may be worried about rumours such as necromancers profaning the cemetery. She mentions Osusk, whom Fennec hasn’t met, in regard to this.
  • The second option is to take a slap at the ruin of Sarn Athrad, north – not killing the poor folk living in the ruin – where at least one wand got left behind in the crisis.

The pair “go dutch” on the bill and Fennec parts with 100gp. Perhaps because he’s with Daisy, Fennec is not molested by any random or planned violence and he heads over to collect the other two.

 

On the trail again?

“There’s some dangerous woman with an eye on Crompton,” Cauleigh updates him.

“So about normal for a new place,” adds Crompton

“New city, same shit,” Fennec concludes as they head out and north towards the river, past the Adoration chapel and the clergy-house. Crompton knows the lay of the land now:

“If we sweep round the Cathedral we may get mugged and find something out?”

They swing east around the Abbey ground and towards the north processional. Looking south across the cemetery, Crompton catches sight of a pallid shape slipping towards the Mausoleum of Heroes, and the session ends.

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TI4.02: A second look at Sarnas

The characters for this session:

Fennec, L3 wizard, combat and curative schools

Crompton, L3 rogue, roguery and Runebearer background

Jotunn, L6 warrior, hunter background and tracking talent

Cauleigh, L4 warrior, literate townsman background

That feeling you missed something

It’s already after the time that Dalton, owner of the lock-ups, is wont to rise. The four restorers leave Central Perk, and begin threading around busy daylit streets. As they walk, Cauleigh recollects (wrongly, but not too bad) the dealings of the Guild and the Brotherhood, back at Rothway. And what they may have to do with the uruk army to the south. Jotunn speculates about tracking magic, in relation to the urukin’s scimitar.

Their easy walk has taken them along the main streets, and to the Cathedral processional. A colourful procession is even now clogging the area. So they swing west. The delicious smell of baking fills Jotunn’s nostrils, but he also sees a long queue, right down a block.

Their new course has led them into narrower streets. They pat pouches and rearrange some, away from light fingers. But, having patted his pouches and pockets more and more urgently, Jotunn curses and swings back:

“Left the damn’ lock-rod behind!”

Beatrix or Betty, tiny and cute

They all hustle back to Central Perk! There, balancing herself on a stool and balancing the rod on her petite nose, is a very cute, very short waitress.

This is Betty or Beatrix, possibly half-Hobb. She hands the rod over with a final juggling flourish. Jotunn looks closely at the rod. Fennec tries a DetM and gets the same unique flavour of enchantment.

“Probably the same…”

It’s now midday. Jotunn looks mournfully back at the queue as he wades through the delicious scents, that being their most direct way to the lock-ups.

 

A reference from Dalton

The river area is bustling and loud with daytime crowds: a much more industrial noise and smell than night-time. At the lock-ups – relatively busy with both Susie and Sol hustling about – a most important-looking gentleman with flourishing moustaches is seated, on a solid stool, below the tariff schedule. Clearly, this is the proprietor.

Fennec deals with Dalton, while the others head to their lock-up to test the rod. It works!

They return to find Fennec puffing (unfamiliarly) on a cheroot, and thanking Dalton for the information. He’s been provided with a very small square of parchment, on which is the address of Maeglos, an artificer-enchanter. And the one they’ve been warned never to reveal the elf-killing scimitar to. Fennec has also got a possible lead to a discount smith, using Boss Hooper (out of the same store the Porters Arms and Strong-Ale are part of) as a contact. In closing Dalton warns Fennec, being a wizard, to be careful around some of the city’s knife-merchants (as he calls them).

 

A premature walk north, and back

It’s now most definitely eating time. They manage to curb appetite until, towards the north end of upper bridge, they find a stall that sells real pies. These are washed down with street-porter ale. But, having gotten that far north, they decide to dress nicely and also, come to think of it, collect magical or potential magical gear they want Maeglos to enchant.

All of this requires another stop at the Porters Arms. Where Cauleigh asks about clothing merchants. Not slop-stores! It seems that if you want to look as good as the senator, you try the north.

 

You are the lead story!

The four look more like the adventurers they are as they once more head for upper bridge. Elisha cuts them off at the pass:

“Say! I thought ya’d be here!”

“Yes…”

“Seen today’s banner?”

The Tribune now leads with:

ON THE HUNT

It seems that the restorers are on a quest for long-lost secrets… though it’s hard to pick the exact context and story from among the slangy expressions and implications.

“So, I’ll guess there’ll be plenty of folks ready to press the flesh an’ get in line to help you guys out…”

“But we’ll be getting hustled by every charlatan in this town!”

“Don’t knock the power of the press my friend.”

 

The first murder… that we know of

Elisha shows no signs of leaving, walking alongside Jotunn and leaning close to add that her editor has told her to stick close, there’s a big story in here.

This is not convenient! Jotunn plays her along with talk of the library. For which, meeting her editor is needed. And Elisha already has them pencilled in for the Tribune’s corporate box in the theatre tonight. As to better rags, no need to be too hasty, but maybe better shoes?

They head along upper bridge, talking about cobblers. Elisha mentioned that Girol told her about a fracas at the park. Possibly an elf was slain? Blood on the trees? They agree to head along to the morgue with her later… but at the moment she’s with them!

 

Making nods and winks the dwarves attempt to separate so that Fennec and Crompton can get away to Maeglos. [Crompton fails CHR] Elisha is unconvinced and they all agree to go look at the body.

 

The morgue: Fran Limnsman

Elisha navigates the shoals and reefs of the law in Sarnas, making an appearance at a “bullpen” asking after a sheriff and who’s on morgue duty.

Around to a secluded side they go, to a private wagon entry. She nods her way past a bored-looking gatekeeper and pushes through a heavy door. Here, the walls inside are whitewashed and glaring, and the smell is of days-old bodies. The walls are lined with corpses, some seemingly on display. At the main work table a man works over a naked body, wielding a very sharp knife.

Fennec eases closer. The man appears quite scruffy; but of the body he can see very little. Elisha, familiar with the layout, skirts the table and hikes a little up a step-stool. Cauleigh squeezes up beside her as she hails the doctor:

“Fran! Visitors!”

This is Fran Limnsman, cracked-voiced but relatively young, tetchy but capable. He identifies the murder “weapon” as a thin-fingered hand, probably sharp-clawed, a quick violent drive to the chest that rammed a digit into the heart.

The dead man is young and fit, probably a fencer or swordsman, possible defensive wounds on the forearms. Crompton (and Elisha) investigate the pile of gear stripped from the corpse and find light sword-and-buckler armour.

Other than that the information Girol passed on seems to be wrong. Not an elf, not killed at the park, but closer to the Abbey.

Fennec uses the distraction to slip out, unseen by Elisha. What looks like a labourer, afflicted by a half-face twitch, passes him heading in.

 

Dr. Silas, freak on show

This common-dressed man is Dr. Silas, necromancer. He is by far the creepiest person the dwarves have met here. Elisha seems a little skeptical of his powers. He lays out paraphernalia and begins a ritual.

Doctor Silas looks like he’s enjoying communing with the dead waaay too much! A pale, almost fish-like face is briefly glimpsed.

“What was that?”

“It’s the last thing the dead man saw… heh… perhaps one of the undead… we’ve had reports of graves disturbed… people say it’s me… not this time… heh…”

 

Cauleigh’s new best friend and a third strange stange man

Fran kicks Silas out at this point. Cauleigh goes with him and soon regrets it, because he’s really creepy, and wants to show Cauleigh his apartment… But one other thing does come out of treating the doctor to a drink or two: Cauleigh does discover that there is a Sword Brotherhood that use that light fencing armour.

Crompton, Jotunn and Elisha witness another weird worker with the dead. A surreptitious visitor, shabby and with a wild thatch of beard and hair, pays Fran for unpleasant bits of an unclaimed corpse. This is Osusk, an alchemist.

 

Maeglos

Meanwhile Fennec collects himself safely over to the north and gains directions that leave him in front of a uncertainly-built three-story affair with a very fancy lantern still burning at its gate.

Detect Magic

A rippling wave of fire erupts in front of him! And [L3 IQ SR] he spins to confront a lizardy-looking man who grasps Fennec’s staff firmly. Pressing his own head at two points the man keeps his grasp with a spare clawed hand, the says

“The boss wants to know what you want”

Fennec explains and the lizardy-man communes again, then invites him in and disappears. Once past the lantern, the appearance of the building changes completely! It is a powerful, stone tower, reminiscent of some of the Esgaroth towers. There is no visible entrance, but at the obvious bay where such ought to be Fennec uses an OTIS then KK. An elaborate elf-script-engraved door swings open…

Fennec’s interview with the enchanter Maeglos ends unsatisfactorily. The egoist, raven-haired, dark-eyed elf wants 50,000 to work on the staff, though signals that he could enchant a very small amount for a very small number of thousands. This is the wrong ballpark for Fennec’s humble funds. He bids Maeglos farewell and heads back south.

 

The check-in: we ain’t got jack

The four meet up as Fran finishes up his report and Elisha – finally – heads away to file. Though not before she catches wind of Fennec having met someone significant. They shop for a cobbler that can make up cork-heel shoes, and pay a hefty deposit for the work. It’s now mid-afternoon or a little later.

Fennec finishes imparting the detail and confirms he has nothing like the funds needed. A slight top-up is the best he can hope for from that source! For his part, Cauleigh explains that Silas was talking about things under the city. But he chooses not to improve that acquaintance.

In terms of looking for work, Cauleigh points out that the “old city” that predates Sarnas is just north, and there must be ruins to explore there. Maybe a conversation with the “Podsteppers” would help?

 

Bernhart the Benificent and the show of force

Their chat is interrupted by a smart squad of arquebusiers, jogging north. These are the heaviest-armed and armoured types they’ve seen, so on a whim, they follow. As do some children and some dogs.

The column of some two dozen arquebusiers jogs smartly right across the lower, temple bridge, out to the theatre square and right around the theatre, looping back to form up in ranks, facing the theatre itself. These maneuvers have been flagged by a column-leader using a simple flag. But now the ranks are joined by an imposing, strong-built man riding a fine horse. Many more children, dogs and gawpers witness the arquebusiers level their pieces and give fire: a crisp volley thunders over the theatre!

Senator Bernhart, a noble, speaks with stirring phrases and strong gestures. It seems the need to hire these fine mercenaries is pressing! He rejoins his carriage, where a very sturdy competent looking coat-holder awaits him. The arquebusiers form back to files and march crisply north, towards the north gate.

And at this same time the dwaves fend off an impromptu interview by ever-thirsty, eyeglass-wearing Clarrie Grimes from the Clarion, Voice of the People, whose clarion call is the voice of the most knowing, most discriminating people of Sarnas. “I’ll see you in the funny pages” Clarrie says as they persist in not telling him anything, and heads away.

 

Sedge, Rogues Guild, and Wiseman

Since they are now right in front of the theatre, and the theatre is where Elisha has said they can meet her editor, they begin drifting that way… except for Crompton, who has been signaled by Sedge, an ordinary-looking youngish woman. She checks what he’s been told about the Rogues guild, then leads him away upriver, to the warehouse district.

Through an ordinary warehouse door (but opened to a secret knock, by a particularly strapping troll) and after taking off all 19 weapons he’s carrying, and both magic charms, from there through a secret passage built into a normal crate, and from there down stone steps (but the lights are noise-activated) and finally into an underground cellar (but with supplies of fresh air).

The meeting with bald lanky half-elf Rogues guild leader Wiseman (that is a title) is low key, to the point where it seems to be striving to be that way. Sedge mulls some wine – a moment of comedy when Wiseman pretends to have been poisoned – and invites Crompton to join if he wants to and take a job involving elves if he wants to. Crompton doesn’t want to – at least for now – and having paid his respects – and no coin – heads back out with Sedge.

 

Some reading skills required

Jotunn purchases a programme for the theatre, learning that the main entertainment is the Death of Adder (or Ada, spelling varies across the programme). Cauleigh purchases a copy each of the Tribune and the Clarion, and looks for the funny pages. He finds them, but they aren’t all that funny. The three read both papers. The Clarion has worse spelling but is higher-minded. Both cover doings of senators, street crime, and the scandal that connects the two. On the whole the Clarion favours Bernhart’s noble “frill-neck” faction and the Tribune favours Isilmore’s popular “collar-neck” faction.

Elisha’s crime beat pages feature what seems to be a continuation of an open-grave crime or mystery. Fennec [L3 IQ SR] deduces that an expert has been consulted at some prior date.

 

Entree to the senate?

The pre-theatre crowd is thickening, and there are plenty of choices of street food and drink, so the trio await Crompton there, eating and drinking, until he catches up with them and sups too. A not-very-interested patrol of two passes through, one of the pair takes some stall food on the arm.

Cauleigh works his way into the ticket-booth and discovers that if they are box guests they won’t need tickets. And that it’s the best place to see senators, outside of debating chambers. The booth woman also has a cousin, Elias, a porter in the senate who can show them the action there, for a price.

 

The second murder

It is not yet the time when fashionable people turn up; an eddy of people coming from the bridge crying things like “another murder!”

The four work back down one of the middle bridges, ill-lit and with more verminous crowds. The strong smell of dog and possibly larger beasts comes to their nostrils. And at length they arrive, facing the Abbey, where a crowd of people block them from something on the ground.

Using their determined muscle they get to where Elisha is leaning over a dead body, splodge of blood on its chest.

“Say, don’t you guys just turn up like the proverbial!”

Testing with her stylus Elisha guesses it’s the same kind of depth and width as the other one on the mortuary slab.

Cauleigh checks gargoyles on the Cathedral (yes there are some) and Fennec catches a glimpse of a pallid shape slinking away around the Cathedral corner. The homicide police arrive and Elisha, known to them, hangs around chatting, probably explaining the clues. At length the dwarves excuse themselves.

 

The Tribune’s editor, Rimana, and factions on show

By the time they arrive back at the theatre, the up-market crowd is indeed fashionably arriving and entering. Vendors are doing a roaring trade. A concierge brings them to the Tribune’s box.

The editor, seated in a position from where he can see almost none of the performance but most of the crowd, is a man smoking a cheroot and wearing a twin aura of indifference and insouciance.

Hardly has he gestured them to a seat than an extremely attractive dark-haired pallid young woman enters. Her dress is dark and revealing.

“I’ll take your orders” she says in a honeyed tone

“Chocolate”

“Hot?”

“Uhh yeah, yeah hot, that sounds just the ticket…”

Stout Beer and Port wine are ordered as well and she leaves.

Girol appears, and unlike the editor is voluble. He begs for a scoop. Unluckily Elisha has been with them both exciting moments. He heads over to the editor, and Cauleigh strains to understand what the mumble means. Without any success.

Girol helps pick out key politicians. Bernhart is there, still with his powerful coat-holder, who Girol tells them is a “cuttin’ gent.” Isilmore turns up fashionably late with a dazzlingly beautiful elf on his arm. Who apparently is Kalashtriel, also a senator, but also a killer. The two men exchange nods and don’t seem hostile.

 

Another lead and a good time

Girol is already sleepy before the play’s first act ends. He has little more to say, even when Caueligh tries to explain the Guild and Brotherhood situation in Rothway. The editor pushes a slip of paper over: it’s an address in the north.

Crompton gets a surprise: Sedge is there, on the arm of a nobleman; she looks like an upmarket courtesan.

Cauleigh in turn tries to catch sight of Betty and does so: she’s down among the cheap seats. He excuses himself and walks down, in the intermission, and buys her a drink. She explains a little more about the cursed princess, Janorra of the Glade, and the elves taking on intercession prayers for her. He makes a date with her for after the show.

(But to be clear it is just a fun night with young quasi-entertainment-industry hipsters, and a handshake.)

Back up in the box the other three learn from Girol that the devastating brunette is Rimana, a particular friend of the editor.

 

[Cauleigh raises IQ to 19]

At the empty gate

The morning finds all four dwarves waking very early and heading out to find street food and the smiths’ street. The great south gate is weirdly empty, perhaps due to the cold rain just eased off. From the driest patch they make their way to a smithy and nod to journeymen, who are waiting for the ‘prentices to get things going.

Jotunn pays a hiltmaker to quickly strap leather around the rod-key so that it looks vaguely like a dagger. He also finds Boss Hooper’s smith and asks about “special” smiths. This is quite a mundane area, Jotunn manages to get a reference to Castan-something, towards the north gate.

 

At the palace

Fennec peels off to head for the palace, since that’s where the Wizards guild is. He works through pleasant terraces crowded with complaining housewives, burdened servants, and skiving children (and dogs). After that the hill steepens and opens to the palace walls.

Fennec works his way round the wall to a security gate, asks for the Wizards guild, is directed to third circle left.

As he passes the gate the old castle beyond changes completely. Now, he sees its true form is a mighty modern tower defence, geared for dragon fighting as much as anything. The third circle is marked by huge sigil-marked columns: he turns and walks down it.

 

You are still the lead story!

With the sky clear of rain, the south gate is crowded once more with vendors heading in. Elisha is amongst them, waving frantically!

“You were right – or I was – it’s the same culprit!” Elisha explains. She shows them today’s banner: the four restorers are intent on hunting down the killer.

Sighing, Cauleigh checks where the original murder actually occurred. Like the second, that too was near an opened or disturbed grave, west of the Abbey. The four run through the suspects, who at first glance can be listed as Dr. Silas, Osusk, and Fran himself.

“I’ll be right behind you!” Elisha assures them.

Props
It’s time to acknowledge some of the material I’m using in this low-prep arc.

Many of the NPCs are my own but I’m also using a frequently-used source for NPCs:
Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game
Engine Publishing – enginepublishing.com
Gnome Stew – gnomestew.com

I’ve reactivated the Guild/Brotherhood deal from season two, though since Cauleigh (whose player is the only one to bother going back to read the blog) has confused which of the two controls the mercs, I’m changing it up. The two NPCs involved, one of whom is also in the backstory of the elf-killing scimitar, come from:
Encounters-Plots-Places: Creatures, NPCs, Items, Places and Adventure Hooks for any fantasy system
Created and Written by: Benjamin Gerber.
Available from drivethrurpg.com

I should also throw props to an old gaming buddy from the dawn ages of T&T gaming, in fact the person most responsible for getting me into RPGs, Andrew Simmonds, who created Maeglos as a PC, the son of his favourite PC (so as to keep his grudges and treasure active, I guess). I’m really just using the character whimsically, as a survivor of the Wizard Wars. I don’t think the present Maeglos is anything like the original and may even turn out to be using his son’s name…

Finally I have also used an emulator to generate some flavour and direction:
The Location Crafter
Written by: Tana Pigeon
Word Mill
Available from drivethrurpg.com

Vale history
While Sarnas, or Sarn Athrad, has been around in my Vale forever, this new-look Sarnas needed a map and I found River City from terrymiranda.com to work for me. In the current age I conjecture that the original Sarnas, which took the brunt of northerners’ attacks back in the Wizard Wars, is now a remnant up on the River Way to the north while what was at that time a river crossing fortress and temple become the hub of the new Sarnas. The Great War also hammered Sarnas, and one of the things the dwarves noticed as they rode in (off-screen, I did not include it last session) was that the landscape is still pocked with craters left by shattered flying fortresses. The colossal hand to the south of the city is a full-intact fragment from that time.

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TI4.01: Sarnas at first glance

The characters for this session:

Jotunn, L6 warrior: STR37 IQ18 LK30 CON60 DEX30 CHR17 SPD28 WIZ14.

Fennec, L3 wizard: STR24 IQ33 LK23 CON26 DEX24 CHR23 SPD23 WIZ32.

Cauleigh, L4 warrior: STR38 IQ18 LK38 CON34 DEX38 CHR26 SPD40(+9) WIZ17.

Crompton, L3 rogue: STR26 IQ20 LK32 CON32 DEX32 CHR19 SPD25 WIZ20.

 

The hand

The four Restorers, riding their ponies Kip, Fanshaw, Barnsley and Dice, with pack-pony Toto jogging behind, make their final push in to Sarnas in gathering dusk. It’s about a week past the autumn equinox and the westering sun, on their left, picks out the upraised digits of a monumental hand. This last leg takes them through well-husbanded homesteading, so even from pony-back the base of the thing is obscured… it’s perhaps a mile away.

Eager Elisha

Traffic at Sarnas’ great south gate is at a crawl, what with travelers heading in and produce-vendors heading back out. As they ease their ponies along, taking stock of the gate guards: efficient, low-key: Jotunn lets out a groan.

Elisha Bradon, girl-reporter for the Tribune, has already zeroed in on him! He met her in Dolem’s Spire, and let drop more than he planned to! Curly brown hair, smooth olive-skin, plump and eager face.

She seems intent on learning what the Restorers are in Sarnas for! Jotunn temporises, she slips him an address in the Warehouse district, and they agree to meet up later this very night.

Initial dispositions

A bored guard gives them conventional-sounding instruction to tie their heavy arms to their mounts, as they dismount and pay a nominal tax. Fennec is puzzled by what looks like opposing tax collectors… beyond the gate lies a city garrison and market-cum-parade area… Cauleigh spots a rogue and gets a reference to the top dog…

The Restorers first goal is simply accommodation and security. A friendly pot-man, Paul, accepts a gold coin to lead them to the best place… they are led through fairly crowded streets to a riverside area he calls the Upper Harbour, where stands the Strong-Ale Brewery, and where they find accommodation in a stabled wing commonly called the Porters.

The tariff for stabling and room includes a share of the hearty meat-based meal going in the tavern part of the Porters. Paul advocates that they stay on, and listen to the senator, a guest speaker tonight, who’s sure to give a wing-dinger of a speech. But they choose not to… and having put something behind their ribs the four check their heavier armour and head to the bridge.

Elisha by warehouselight

Though light spills from late-evening workshops and stalls, the streets themselves are not lamp-lit. Out on the water, what seems to be a fishing-boat, or more than one, shows its lamps.

Their course takes them around the cathedral grounds. Paul has also called it the Abbey, which is a little confusing. A pale shape, hard to distinguish, lurches around a corner, perhaps in the grounds.

There appears to be any number of bridges, all clustered together, over the river. They take the nearer, upper-harbour path and walk north past many open shops and workshops, and swing west to the warehousing district. A theatre-going crowd is suggested by orchestral sounds and bright-dressed types, off in the gloom east.

Elisha intercepts them again and in her chosen warehouse, they meet cub reporter Girol, and suspect the pair are accompanied by someone of heftier build, off behind the stacks. In the conversation that follows, the dwarves get a few introductory names and ideas to follow up. Elisha takes many a note and they leave with information about their goals but also with the uneasy feeling she has a lead banner for the morning edition, featuring their search.

The old river god

Before they head back, Jotunn invites them east. They walk past the theatre and mingling footmen and chairmen and vendors, waiting for the theatre-goers to come out. The areas east and upslope do seem to a swankier part of town. Though, not far away at the riverside, there’s an unpleasant, corpse-smell that Fennec thinks might need investigating.

They keep to that side, and a broad way that must once have been a bridge, leads them past a traditional-built temple of the river god. In Esgaroth he’d be Brant Balduin; here in the western heart of Nandil lands he’s Brandualadin. His temple has a repurposed look.

Once again, this time on the other side of the abbey, that pale form is glimpsed. The four walk on past a lone watchman and quickly make plans to find out more… but the shape doesn’t follow them.

The man of the people

The docks district on this quarter seems familiar to those of the four that hail from Esgaroth. Plenty of light spills from doorways, but no lights for public ways. Raft brothers, sawyers and perhaps even adventurers carouse.

At the Porters, Senator Isilmore Baroque is still pressing the flesh and making sure folks know to vote. Since they aren’t planning to vote, the dwarves file to the back, and find out a little more by watching and asking the barkeep. Cauleigh tries a Gnome stonebrew ale. Randomly, he then asks about elves.

“Ya c’d try th’ park – theys gotta be some tree-huggers amongst ’em – I heer theys one er two in th’ senate… what kinda elf ya lookin’ fer?”

“One with money and means”

“Oh! Well, th’ senate then.”

Cauleigh notes the half-recalled names he’s given (Rennie Fairious and Quesquetoon) and they all finish their stonebrew. Then the senator finishes the room and gets to them.

Isilmore, thin, mustached, dark hair slicked back and well dressed. He welcomes the four noble visitors and explains the democracy of Sarnas in glowing terms. Fennec asks about Sarnas dwarves, and since Isilmore’s memory goes back a few terms, he does recall an ex-senator, Hodstipper, out of the north, in fact the family is out of the old city. (Here a quick history lesson on Sarn Athrad of old and its move south to the current metropolis). Isilmore’s cause is the poor and downtrodden, especially in outwall slums. He manages to convince Cauleigh to donate 10 gold.

 

Contemplating where they are

The weary dwarves find their rest, and count over the tasks they have set themselves.

Major threads:

  1. Research Ikkutas lore in the library
  2. Find a competent enchanter

Minor threads:

  1. Store valuables in a lock-up or similar
  2. Sell the elf-killing falchion once owned by the white urukin
  3. Register with the Wizards guild, buy a spell
  4. Register with the Rogues guild

New dawn, more leads

The following morning, they pack their valuables, including metal armour, in Dalton’s lockup, meeting slip-of-a-daughter Susie and even-smaller-slip-of-a-son Sol. Dalton keeps gentleman’s hours. They hire the minimum charge, 50 gold, and receive a magical rod that unlatches the lockup. They choose the code-word ‘Tigley’ for the rod. Jotunn is entrusted with the rod. Don’t lose it! The unsealing fee will be thousands.

Fennec makes a note to obtain a reference to the enchanter off Dalton.

Girol, cub reporter, follows them incompetently and when beckoned over, convinces them that the place for breakfast is the Cinnamon Roll, counter-clockwise from here in a more upmarket area. Here, the dwarves are introduced to the wicked new drink out of a place that sounds like ‘Pomfrahk’ – chocolate – and Girol points out a few notables of the upper and lower crust. The bacon rolls are delicious. Girol knows not a lot about non-humans in the city. He does know the name of the librarian, Reena Spidros. He scratches his head about elves that are at once important, in the senate, and representing the people, but does recall the right name – or a different name – for the senators Renee Finaire and Kalashtriel. In return they describe their journey from Ironbridge. Girol incautiously lets slip a very valuable piece of intelligence about a mercenary arrangement the senate is considering, with the Guild. A mysterious name, but one that Cauleigh does recall.

Tipping a good sum of gold down to cover the chocolate they depart further counter-clockwise, to Central Perk, charming sweep of place, has a view of the park.

The park is a woodland reserve. Fennec gets a feeling from it… the teachings of his master, Ormen, come back to him. He heads over there. This is not a good place for Curative magic. The soul of the earth is not friendly to his new school.

Crompton turns to the young Elisha, who has indeed been expecting them. “What have you heard about Esgaroth?” She talks colourfully and at some length about the glories of the Tribune, versus Esgaroth’s papers. In return Crompton finds himself describing a little more about his own background than he intended.

Jotunn slips across the wall and into the park. He spots an elf, kneeling.

“It’s our time for intercession,” spindly, tall, androgynous Shawndel explains later. Apparently there’s a roster to keep the cursed princess Janorra of the Glade. It can take until midday, depending. She/he does warn Cauleigh never, ever, ever, to sell the falchion to Maeglos the smith. She agrees to find out and pass information to the next elf on the roster, who will be same place same time tomorrow.

Cauleigh meets burly centaur Cettros who bosses Central Perk and can make a coffee liqueur for him. “This is the thing. You’ve been waiting your whole life for this.” It costs ten gold.

Threads to progress:

  • Smith street – but it’s said they are tied up with defence contracts
  • Dalton – artificer-level enchanter
  • Wizard’s guild for research
  • Tribune’s editor as a means of accessing the library
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Downtime in Ironbridge

In alphabetical order:

Cauleigh

1. Main project demanding much attention: Researches Ikkutas in Lady Ezra’s library. This provides 4 cards. Reshuffle each time. Repeat clues are possible.

2. Lesser project requiring only a few days face-time: Funds, with a barge-captain named Will Stavenger, a series of abortive expeditions to settle the restless sprite downstream. Eventually the body-count rises to the point that Lytera orders a cease and desist.

3. Minor details, less than one day: Assists Crompton with his ax-hafting

4. Minor details, less than one day: Purchases various leatherwork items such as a mount for the light cube, saddlery/furbishings.

 

Crompton

1. Main project demanding much attention: Sponsors the foundation of a new Rogues guild. This entails bribery, purchasing a small warehouse, tricking it out with some nasty traps, and some negotiation with Dolem’s Spire Rogues guild. Becomes founding director.

2. Lesser project requiring only a few days face-time: Researches scrimshaw-marked bullets that seemed to ignore defenses. Works out that this type of specialist inscription requires two or more expertise levels in enchanting.

3. Minor details, less than one day: Pays a good smith, through Cauleigh’s good offices, to fashion a steel haft for his ax.

4. Minor details, less than one day: Pays the Warrior guild smith, through Cauleigh’s good offices, to produce silver and normal throw-weighted daggers.

NB: Crompton and Sage have a secret agreement to swap spells. Neither can afford any major new spells.

Fennec

1. Main project demanding much attention: Detailed and difficult study of healing specializing, ie Curative school. This requires him to balance the forces of combat magic and healing magic. There is no certain outcome until he reaches Level Six.

2. Secondary project requiring virtually all remaining time: Courteous love-making to Lady Ezra. She is inexperienced and guarded by her maid. Fennec wins half her heart but being a wanderer prevents him winning her all.

3. Minor details, less than one day: Keeping Wizards guild membership.

Jotunn

1. Main project demanding much attention: Travelling to Dolem’s Spire to have his coif repaired. More news:  The Prince throws down the Danforth plot and offers employ for mercenary captains.

2. Secondary project requiring virtually all remaining time: Keeping an ear to the ground. News comes from as far afield as Joetown and Jacob’s Mill. Refugees from the Uruk invasion flee to Dolem’s Spire and even Ironbridge.

3. Minor details, less than one day: Checks on the gnome wench Abbie, while in Dolem’s Spire.

Other updates:

The Herbal Teas: Sage Heartsease and Calla hold a big farewell party for the whole market. Wolfie and Kowlee have a lower-profile shindig. They head for Ravenson hill.

Rogues: Tadiko does drift in. She is as respectful to Fennec as before but there’s a mean look in her eye that wasn’t there before. She buys one more spell, asks Jotunn to make sure a certain gnome wench is OK when he gets to Dolem’s Spire, and drifts on.

Weeks later news collected by Jotunn is that three other rogues survived the Broken Lands and reached safety, probably in Dolem’s Spire.

Erklen: The gnome master sells his iron ore mill to a consortium of barge captains and Lord Orctooth, and moves out. It’s said he also advertised for an expedition back to Gray Dagon Hill.

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