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Mothman's Whispering Cairn

Game Master Mothman

Age of Worms, Greyhawk, Pathfinder rules


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Since the beginning of history, humanity has measured time in Ages. Ages of Glory, of Dreams and even of Great Sorrow mark the human tally of years, giving a sense of order to the events of past centuries. But one age has yet to occur – an age of darkness, of decay, and of writhing doom. Witty bards and wrathful preachers know it as the Age of Worms, weaving it into the peripheries of their passion plays as a mythic era of destruction that could begin at any time. Astrologers, diviners, and the servants of Fate know more. The canniest among them fear that the Age of Worms has already begun…


Diamond Lake; a muddy smudge on the map of the hills east of the fabulous Free City, its inhabitants predominantly miners and labourers, serious folk who spend most of their lives toiling below the ground. When not working, the miners congregate along the Vein, a seedy road lined with ale-houses and brothels.

Idle chatter around the Vein speaks of a trio of richly dressed adventurers who arrived in town a week ago. The confident heroes of the Free City spoke of hard won battles on their journey to Diamond Lake, and their intention to explore the long abandoned Stirge Nest Cairn on the lake’s distant southeastern shore. It has become a running joke amongst the locals to feign interest and admiration at such intentions; most know that said cairn is oft explored by the community’s youth, who always find it completely devoid of marvels and perfectly harmless.

However, the adventurers’ arrival has sparked a renewed interest in certain quarters of the scattered and seemingly empty cairns and tombs in the vicinity. If adventurers from the Free City believe their may yet be treasure to be found in the Stirge Nest Cairn, does it not stand to reason that some of the other cairns around town might hold undiscovered passages – and hidden treasures? Several locals have been taken with the idea, dredging their memories for talk of viable cairns and ruins in the area … and one evening, in the taproom of The Feral Dog, a plot is brewed…


Brashen and Boland:

Spoiler:

Some nine years ago, a teenage Brashen Trell was the leader (by virtue of being the biggest and strongest) of a gang of local kids.

One day the group was playing in and around a shadowy ravine on an abandoned mining plot outside of town, when one of the kids stumbled into a crevice hidden behind some bushes and disappeared from sight. It turned out he hadn’t fallen into an old mine shaft … but what appeared to be an entrance to a forgotten cairn.

Clearing away some bushes, an ancient entry archway was revealed, framing a dark tunnel entrance from which issued a faint sighing and whispering breeze.

In theory, a previously undiscovered cairn could mean great treasures … and also great danger – ancient traps, undying tomb guardians, undead. In practice however, most cairns had been looted decades, even centuries before.

Discrete enquiries around town suggest that Brashen’s gang probably re-discovered The Whispering Cairn – and unfortunately for the young would be treasure seekers, it had been explored and looted before, long ago … although half believed rumours held that many of the original explorers had died in the depths, and that there may be treasures within still.

Treasure or no, the cairn became a secret that Brashen’s gang held, and a rite of passage of sorts. The children all swore to keep the cairn’s existence and location secret, and to be a true member of the gang, they had to venture within, alone, and carve their name into a wall of the cairn’s first chamber. To be truly part of the inner circle, they had to spend a night in this chamber. It was in this way that the outcast ‘Bowls’ Karendum became grudgingly accepted as part of the gang (although he was still bullied).

One of the last members of the group to take up the challenge of venturing within the tomb was a girl called Kaela. It was an ill-kept secret that she had a crush on Brash, but he was rather uninterested in her, especially as she had not proved herself as part of the group’s inner circle. Her friends suggested that if she spent the night within the cairn, he would be impressed enough to notice her. And its thought that’s where she was the night she disappeared.

Of course, no one in town (least of all her family) suspected where she might have gone, except the gang, and they were scared – especially Brashen, who thought he might be blamed. He made the group all swear again not to reveal anything about the cairn, and given that they were all somewhat scared of him – as well as being scared to be held accountable for Kaela’s disappearance – they agreed.

The gang stopped going to the cairn, and in the end most of them stopped thinking about it. Years passed, children grew into adults, old friendships faded. Only two members of the old gang still thought about the Whispering Cairn at all…


Boland:

Spoiler:

After your parents were killed, and in the years spent first with the Cult of the Green Lady and later Allustan, you had little cause to think of the Whispering Cairn. But in the later years of your apprenticeship, you came to learn of Allustan’s fascination with the cairns, and the various cultures that built them, and you thought back to the one in your childhood.

However, you never quite mentioned it to Allustan. Whether it was due to an old promise, lingering guilt about the missing girl, or the fact that you didn’t want to look foolish when it was at last revealed that this cairn no longer held any treasure either, you were not quite sure. You had vague plans of exploring it someday, to see for yourself, but never quite got around to planning your foray in more detail.

Until about three weeks ago, when you met a man, an explorer and treasure seeker from the Free City named Nikola. You suppose that he sought you out due to your association with Allustan – who is known to be something of an expert on the cairns – rather than your childhood adventure, but it rather shook you that he knew the name The Whispering Cairn before you ever mentioned it.

Nikola, for reasons that he did not explain, seemed convinced that the Cairn still held treasure, but he did not know of its exact whereabouts (a fact that you have kept from him so far). He proposed teaming up to explore the place and discover its secrets. He wanted to keep word of the proposed exploration pretty quiet, but suggested that the two of you would need help – some muscle, in case there were dangerous creatures or guardian constructs within; a priest, if you could get one, to deal with the undead that sometimes infested such places; and maybe a tracker, or someone with a sharp eye. He didn’t know anyone much in town, so he left it up to you to suggest a team, but he proposed a time and place to meet to discuss it – a rough pub in town known as The Feral Dog. You were a bit surprised by this suggestion – it certainly wasn’t the sort of place you frequented – but Nikola believed that it was the sort of place where a gathering of sell-swords and such would not be commented on, and sensitive conversations would not be overheard. All in all he seemed rather paranoid that someone else would decide to explore the Cairn before you did.

A cleric was easy enough, and your first contact, and indeed your friend Andolphas seems interested, although you go into little detail, waiting for the meeting. The others are a bit more tricky, but eventually you decide to contact Brashen Trell for the muscle – it somehow seems appropriate given the Whispering Cairn connection, and you’ve heard that the guy is quite formidable in a fight nowadays.

The tracker; you’ve heard of a man named Strevlik – a hunter and tracker who lives out in the hills, but comes into town from time to time. He’s supposed to be a good man, and has been known to sometimes help find people missing in the hills. You leave a message for him at the Coach House, where he goes to pick up mail from the city to deliver to outlying communities. You’re not sure if he’ll be interested, but you’ll give it a try.

Then, about a week before the meeting, Nikola went missing – or at least you stopped seeing him, and he hasn’t been at his accommodation. You’re not sure what has happened – he got cold feet, he fell afoul of someone in town, he found out the location of the Cairn and decided to do this himself. You’re not sure, but you’ve decided to go ahead with this whether he shows at the meeting at The Feral Dog tonight or not … you just hope someone shows …


Brashen:

Spoiler:

For you, the only time you really think about it is either in guilt-ridden nightmares about a dead girl, or drunken musings about hidden treasure – but then everyone knows that the last cairn coughed up its treasure decades ago.

So you were quite surprised when, several days ago, you received a message from Bowls. You don’t have much to do with him nowadays. After his parents died several years ago he got himself mixed up with the Cult of the Green Lady, and then last you heard was apprenticed to the sage Allustan. You’ve seen him around and exchanged nods, but you lead different lives now.

You assume this has something to do with the adventurers from the city who recently arrived in town – Bowls sending you a message that he wants to meet you to discuss The Whispering Cairn … a meeting to be held at The Feral Dog. That surprises you as much as anything – the Dog seems like too rough a place for Bowls to be a regular. Hells, even you avoid the place if you can, several fairly bad ass gangs hang out there, and you don’t mess with the gangs if you can avoid it. But you’re intrigued, so you decide to go along.

The day of the meeting (which is scheduled to begin at sunset) you happen to be meeting Da’gret for a drink, and decide to tell him about the meeting at the Dog that evening, leave it up to him if he wants to go – can’t hurt to have some extra muscle along, just in case things turn sour. And if it’s muscle Bowls is looking for (and you can’t imagine too many other reasons he’d want to meet you), then maybe you can score Da’gret a job too.


Strevlik:

Spoiler:

You’ve just returned to Diamond Lake after delivering some mail to an isolated hamlet down south by the edge of the Mistmarsh. The young half-orc Da’grat has been traveling with you – you’ve somewhat taken the hulking albino under your wing, and have been teaching him tracking and hunting techniques. He’s good at the hunting – doesn’t seem to quite have the knack down for tracking.

Your plan was to buy some supplies in town, spend a quiet night at the Coach House before heading north for home in the morning. Much to your surprise, there was a note waiting for you at the Coach House:

“Strevlik,
I have need for a warrior and tracker for an expedition into one of the cairns. If you are interested, please meet me tonight at The Feral Dog, just after sunset.
Signed, Boland Karendum.”

You don’t know Boland personally, but you recognize the name. If you recall, he’s the young man whose family was killed by a roving pack of undead about 5 or 6 years back. You would hate to see the last survivor of that tragedy lose his life exploring one of the old tombs. You tend to stay away from those places as a rule, but you have a little experience in dungeoneering. Perhaps you can help. You at least resolve to go along to hear what he has to say.

You mention the meeting to Da’grat, to see if he wants to come along, but he is non-commital – mentions that he is meeting a friend in town (which surprises you – you didn’t know he had any friends in town), but that he would perhaps see you there later.

As sunset approaches, you set off down Diamond Lake’s main street, The Vein, headed for the tavern known as The Feral Dog.


Andolphas:

Spoiler:

Two weeks ago, Amariss spoke to you.

“I had a dream this last night,” she said. “In my dream, the world balanced on the edge of a dagger. To fall one way would mean that things continue much the way they are now – good, evil, light, dark, law, chaos, in relative balance. To fall the other way would mean that the world would be plunged into an age of writhing doom.

“In my dream, it was you Andolphas, who held the dagger. I believe that this dream was sent to me by our patron, or perhaps even the Ruby Sorceress herself.

“A change is coming, things stir, and I believe that you will have a part to play, for good or ill, in events of import. I want you to begin to take leave of your duties here at the shrine, the Boneyard, in town, and be alert for the call of destiny.”

A week after this somewhat disturbing interview, you were approached by your friend Boland. It seemed that he had an idea that one of the cairns in the area still kept secrets to itself, and wished to uncover them. To that effect, he was putting together a group, and wished you to be part of it. Wondering if this might somehow be part of that call of destiny, you readily agreed.

Boland seemed strangely reluctant to give you any further details at the time, but told you that he was setting up a meeting for a week hence at a tavern in town called The Feral Dog – not somewhere you would imagine your friend spending much time, but you presume he has his reasons.

The day of the meeting has arrived, and the time (sunset) fast approaches, as you disembark from the boat after your trip across the lake and into town.


Male Human (Suloise/Oeridian) Cleric 3

A green-clad scarecrow of a man makes his way down the dusty Vein with a purposeful stride, a shortspear with feathers dangling from the tip in one hand, and a small wooden shield in the other. Intensity burns in his charcoal eyes, contrasting sharply with his thin lips and perfect alabaster skin. His straight jet black hair hangs halfway down his back and whips around as the almost effeminate young man turns his head to nod at passersby, occasionally shaking his spear menacingly at one or the other to single them out, yet never stopping to have an actual conversation with any of them. His voice ebbs and flows, erupting into a hysteric shriek without warning and then falling into a dynamic whisper before resuming a semblance of a normal pitch. The locals all know him by name: Andolphas Hecker, Acolyte of the Green Lady.

"Evening, Farrod... strike a good lode today?... Banion -- haven't seen you at service lately... I hope you haven't been neglecting your daily prayers to the Green Lady... heard you had a close call the other day... Lorainna, keep your thighs closer together, and your journey to the other side will be far less painful... Myrtana -- fear not for your brother -- he was a pious and devout man, and his soul shall find the proper path through the Afterlife... I am sure of it!!! And let that be a reminder to everyone -- DEATH COMES TO US ALL!!! The question is: have you made the required preparations for the final journey?"

At last, the young man reaches the doors of the Feral Dog and ignores the folk behind him. Raucous laughter assaults him from beyond the rickety door. Why would Boland call me to meet with him in this dive, of all places? It's almost blasphemous... This better be worth it... Oh well, here goes... The green-robed acolyte gives the door a rough push and strolls in assertively, confident that his reputation -- enhanced by the long necklace of canary skulls and the silver skull-like symbol of the Ruby Goddess he wears around his neck, chainmail shirt and combat gear -- shall guarantee him respect and safe passage among the tavern's tough crowd.

The green-robed acolyte stands in the doorway, and scans the clientele in the dim room, giving his eyes a moment to adjust. Fools... I wonder how many remembered to give thanks to the Dark Lady before drinking themselves into oblivion? I clearly have a lot more work to do... Now where is Boland?

Spot: 12 + 2 = 14...


Male Human Wizard/3

Boland had arrived early at the Feral Dog, when the last light of the day was still lingering on the horizon. His nerves had been steadily building all week and upon stepping into the rough pub his resolve had nearly fled. He had come very close to scurrying back to the comfort and quiet of his small apartment.

A quick scan of the bar had revealed none of the people he was supposed to be meeting and so he took some heart. Probably no-one will turn up anyway. I'll have one quick drink and if no-one shows then i'll head home, no harm done, he thought.

He timidly made his way through the throng of large miners, his short slim frame and black robes a stark contrast to the well worked muscles and worn tunics of most of the clientele. After some time at the bar feebly trying to get attention, the barman seemed to take some pity on him and served him a house ale. He passed over the coin and clutching the frothing mug quickly pushed back from the crowded bar and managed to find an empty table on one of the side walls.

There he sat, his back to the wall and facing the door of the inn. He gripped his leather shoulder bag to his chest and allowed his longish dark brown hair to hang over his face, clearly not decided whether he actually wanted to be spotted or not. He sipped at his ale with a grimace at the bitter taste and tried unsuccessfully not to look as uncomfortable as he felt.

He had almost finished his ale and the relief of an escape was already starting to fill him when he noticed the door to the pub open and in walk Andolphas. The nervousness came flooding back in, and it took him a moment to raise one hand and try and catch the priest's attention. He's going to think me a fool! Why did I get involved in this damnable undertaking!! he berated himself silently.


Tonight, as with most nights, it is noisy and crowded at The Feral Dog. Most of the noise is centered around the dog pit, where a gaggle of miners crowd around the open pit in the floor, cheering on as two canines rip each other to shreds. Of course the serious betters sit at ringside seats on the lower floor, scant feet from the fight. In direct competition with the dog fight are those yelling for the attention of the barman at the long, scarred wooden bar.

At a table near the bar, a huge, silent albino half-orc with a scarred face sips moodily at his ale, watching the room, whilst the other thugs who share his table squabble over a game of dice. A well dressed and beautiful female elf sits at a table near the stairs down to the lower level, cleaning her fingernails with a sharp dagger. She studiously ignores the drunken lout who sits down beside her, declaring his love. When he tries to get over amorous, the dagger finds itself imbedded in the table a half inch from his fingers – he gets the message. Most of the tables are crowded with miners, artisans, and criminals.

Andolphas, you spot Boland sitting alone at a small table pushed up against a side wall, well away from the dog pit. A larger table filled with rowdy miners is positioned next to Bowls, threatening to crowd him out.


Anyone entering the Feral Dog may make Knowledge, local skill checks if they wish.

Local Knowledge 10+

Spoiler:
Dog fights are an almost nightly occurrence at the Feral Dog. Unfortunately, so are bar brawls.

The fat, bearded bar keep is known as Silent Mok.

Local Knowledge 15+

Spoiler:
The brutish albino half orc is a local tough named Kullen, leader of a brutal street gang. Word on the street is that you don’t want to mess with him … unless you want to end up maimed or dead.

Local Knowledge 20+

Spoiler:
The ugly scar across Kullen’s face is an old brand, marking him as the property of a now bankrupt (and … dead) mine manager.

Kullen is known to have killed several men in plain view of witnesses, but the local constabulary never try to take him in.

The elven woman does not look like a local. Chances are she’s one of the adventurers from the Free City who arrived in town earlier in the week.


Male Human (Suloise/Oeridian) Cleric 3
Boland 'Bowls' Karendum wrote:


There he sat, his back to the wall and facing the door of the inn. He gripped his leather shoulder bag to his chest and allowed his longish dark brown hair to hang over his face, clearly not decided whether he actually wanted to be spotted or not. He sipped at his ale with a grimace at the bitter taste and tried unsuccessfully not to look as uncomfortable as he felt.

He had almost finished his ale and the relief of an escape was already starting to fill him when he noticed the door to the pub open and in walk Andolphas. The nervousness came flooding back in, and it took him a moment to raise one hand and try and catch the priest's attention. He's going to think me a fool! Why did I get involved in this damnable undertaking!! he berated himself silently.

Peering through the smoky haze and over the throng of burly, unwashed labourers, Andolphas finally recognizes his old acquaintance, apparently trying to become one with the wall by which he is seated. Still standing in the doorway, the acolyte sighs softly as an odd expression clouds his face. Bowls... alone... in the bowels of the Feral Dog... on an evening where there are dog fights... this can't possibly be how my greater destiny in service of the Green Lady is to begin, is it? Let's get this over with... let's see what he has to say.

Andolphas pushes his way fearlessly through the rough crowd, returning threatening or irritated glances with a cold stare of his own. At last, he reaches Boland's table. "Bowls, my old friend," he says rather nonchalantly with a sly grin, "it's good to see you again... but whatever possessed you to request a meeting in an establishment such as this? Clearly, your apprenticeship has changed you in more ways than I would have expected. May I have a seat?" Without awaiting a reply, he pulls a chair back, and, with a look of contempt, attempts to mop up the spilt ale on the seat with his shield before slinging the wooden disc onto his back. At last, he sits down, the haft of his spear clutched tightly in his left hand.

"So, how have you been? What is this important news that you wish to share? And by the Green Lady's robes, man, why are you slinking so fearfully in the shadows? That's a sure way to get one of the patrons of this fine tavern to send you off to meet The Reaper without the guidance of the Stern Lady... will anyone else be joining us? I apologize for being rude, but I'd like to get this 'business' done as soon as possible, if you don't mind..."

Knowledge (local) check: 12 + 1 = 13.


Male Human Fighter / 3

Brash heads towards the usual meeting place with Da‘gret, stalking along the dusty road, glaring at passer-by’s and pushing past those who are to slow to step aside. Those who start to protest at such treatment soon halt when they see the formidable figure before them. Brash’s physical strength is evident even under his cloak, while the shield and battle axe held at his sides mark him as not the type to start a quarrel with. His shoulder length hair and fierce expression complete the picture. What the hell is Bowls doing at the Dog? He’ll more then likely be killed in that place just trying to get a drink…
Brashen reaches the tavern he and Da’gret usually meet at, and waits outside, hoping his friend wont be late. I don’t like the sound of this, but I at least wanna hear what Bowls has to say before he gets a dagger through his gut. Hope Da’gret wont mind talking business at the Dog. Though maybe if Brash has got anything worth telling, I can cut him a slice of the action too


Male Human Wizard/3
Andolphas Hecker wrote:

Andolphas pushes his way fearlessly through the rough crowd, returning threatening or irritated glances with a cold stare of his own. At last, he reaches Boland's table. "Bowls, my old friend," he says rather nonchalantly with a sly grin, "it's good to see you again... but whatever possessed you to request a meeting in an establishment such as this? Clearly, your apprenticeship has changed you in more ways than I would have expected. May I have a seat?" Without awaiting a reply, he pulls a chair back, and, with a look of contempt, attempts to mop up the spilt ale on the seat with his shield before slinging the wooden disc onto his back. At last, he sits down, the haft of his spear clutched tightly in his left hand.

"So, how have you been? What is this important news that you wish to share? And by the Green Lady's robes, man, why are you slinking so fearfully in the shadows? That's a sure way to get one of the patrons of this fine tavern to send you off to meet The Reaper without the guidance of the Stern Lady... will anyone else be joining us? I apologize for being rude, but I'd like to get this 'business' done as soon as possible, if you don't mind..."

Knowledge Local: 11 + 4 = 15

Boland glances around fearfully and then attempts unconvincingly to straighten up and square his shoulders at Andolphas' chiding. However, he does noticably relax a little, with the confident presence of a friendly face nearby.

He glances around the bar once more. "Trust me, I'm as much a fan of this place as you are, but I didn't choose it as a meeting place." He leans forward, and continues in a conspiratal whisper, "We are awaiting a few others I have invited at the behest of a man named Nikola. He has a proposal I thought you might be interested in...only I'm not sure now if he is going to turn up." He looks around the pub once more and then settles glumly in his seat. "I guess we have to wait and see."


Da’grat:

Spoiler:

You’ve just arrived in Diamond Lake after a journey up from the Mistmarsh – you have been traveling with your friend Strevlik, who was down that way delivering mail to an isolated hamlet. The older ranger has been teaching you hunting and tracking, and general survival skills. Your affinity with nature has allowed you to pick up most of his lessons really well, although you don’t seem to have the knack for tracking – it’s hard.

Strevlik tells you that he has to go to some sort of meeting at a tavern called the Feral Dog, and asks you if you wish to come along – however, you had planned to meet your other friend Brashen Trell at a different place, called The Duck and Goat (although neither animal is to be seen there). You are not sure that your two friends would get along, so you tell Strevlik that maybe you will see him there after you visit with your friend.

As the afternoon begins to draw into evening, you make your way from the Coach House down the Vein towards the Duck and Goat.


As Brashen leans against the front wall of The Duck and Goat, idly scanning the passersby on the Vein whilst trying to stay out of the chill (and slightly rancid) wind blowing in from across the lake, Bulldog Jorn sidles up to him, sheltering a crudely rolled cigarette from the wind.

The balding bouncer taps his tobacco pouch and raises an enquiring eyebrow – he never seems to quite be able to remember whether or not Brashen smokes.

“’Afternoon … waitin’ for someone Brash?” he asks somewhat unnecessarily in his slow, deep voice.


As Andolphas pushes past the miners in the crowded tavern, a number of them make a gesture, putting their closed fists, fingers inwards, first to their foreheads then their hearts; a gesture of respect (or warding), garnering the Dark Eyed Lady’s favour (or avoiding her wrath). Others mutter and spit – devout Cuthbertines no doubt.


Male Human Fighter / 3
DM Mothman wrote:

As Brashen leans against the front wall of The Duck and Goat, idly scanning the passersby on the Vein whilst trying to stay out of the chill (and slightly rancid) wind blowing in from across the lake, Bulldog Jorn sidles up to him, sheltering a crudely rolled cigarette from the wind.

The balding bouncer taps his tobacco pouch and raises an enquiring eyebrow – he never seems to quite be able to remember whether or not Brashen smokes.

“’Afternoon … waitin’ for someone Brash?” he asks somewhat unnecessarily in his slow, deep voice.

Brash shakes his head at the offer of the smoke, one vice that he never took to. "Afternoon Bulldog. Waiting for a friend, though wont be coming in for a drink tonight. Heard anything interesting of late?"

Brash figures he'll make some small talk and try to gleen any interesting information that the bouncer may have come by, having nothing better to do while he waits.


Bulldog looks away and blows out a slow lung full of smoke. Its early yet for the ale houses along The Vein to be filling up – many of the miners will just be coming off shift about now (although you notice that The Feral Dog just down the street is already beginning to fill) – so the burly bouncer has it easy for the next quarter hour or so.

“Not comin’ in? Fat Rosie will be put out.” Bulldog turns and grins up at the taller man, showing a mouthful of yellowed, rotten teeth (and no doubt making Brashen glad that smoking is not one of his vices).

“Yeah, I heard stuff,” he continues. “There’s some ‘venturers in from the city,” he waves his hand vaguely to the south (the city lies west), “here explorin’ cairns. Reckon there’s treasure to be had. I reckon they’re ‘bout sixty years too late for that!” He grins again at his own wit.

A Gather Information or Diplomacy check may garner something more interesting ... if you think he knows anything worth telling.


Boland:

Spoiler:
Nikola never told you why he thought The Whispering Cairn might still hold treasure, but he seemed firmly convinced of the fact … and the interesting thing was that he told you all of this a week or more before the adventurers from the city arrived, re-sparking everyone’s interest in the cairns and ancient treasure.

In fact, you’ve wondered if Nikola turning up from the city looking for tomb treasure, and these adventurers turning up from the city looking for tomb treasure (albeit in a different cairn) might not be entirely coincidental … You never got a chance to ask Nikola – you haven’t seen him since you heard about the adventurers.


Male Human Fighter / 3

“Not comin’ in? Fat Rosie will be put out.” Bulldog turns and grins up at the taller man, showing a mouthful of yellowed, rotten teeth (and no doubt making Brashen glad that smoking is not one of his vices).

“Yeah, I heard stuff,” he continues. “There’s some ‘venturers in from the city,” he waves his hand vaguely to the south (the city lies west), “here explorin’ cairns. Reckon there’s treasure to be had. I reckon they’re ‘bout sixty years too late for that!” He grins again at his own wit.

A Gather Information or Diplomacy check may garner something more interesting ... if you think he knows anything worth telling.

Brashen subtly leans back from the rancid smell of the barmens breath, reajusting his position on the wall. "Ya dont say? Wonder whats got them interested? Many in town?"

Gather info check, 11+1=12


Brashen:

Spoiler:
“Three of ‘em,” Bulldog tells you, chewing on his cigarette. “A big blonde guy, looks like one of ‘em pit fighters … a cute elfess – think she likes me – and an old guy wearing a dress. Reckon they’ll find treasure still in the Stirge Nest Cairn. Well, you and me both know how that’ll go for ‘em.”

The Stirge Nest Cairn is a large underground tomb across the lake, about half a day out of town. It’s been thoroughly explored by all manner of locals over the years, and hasn’t coughed up a copper piece of treasure for about seven decades.


Male Human (Suloise/Oeridian) Cleric 3
Boland 'Bowls' Karendum wrote:


Boland glances around fearfully and then attempts unconvincingly to straighten up and square his shoulders at Andolphas' chiding. However, he does noticably relax a little, with the confident presence of a friendly face nearby.

He glances around the bar once more. "Trust me, I'm as much a fan of this place as you are, but I didn't choose it as a meeting place." He leans forward, and continues in a conspiratal whisper, "We are awaiting a few others I have invited at the behest of a man named Nikola. He has a proposal I thought you might be interested in...only I'm not sure now if he is going to turn up." He looks around the pub once more and then settles glumly in his seat. "I guess we have to wait and see."

Andolphas responds in a slightly more dramatic whisper. "And who might this Nikola be, Boland, and how did you come to be acquainted with him, and these 'others'? During your apprenticeship? Don't think I didn't notice your avoidance of the latter subject... is that also something best left to later? Why all the drama and mystery?" The acolyte drums his fingers on the table, looking at the young wizard intently. Andolphas's ghost-like features probably do more to unsettle than reassure the timid scholar.


Male Human Wizard/3
Andolphas Hecker wrote:
Andolphas responds in a slightly more dramatic whisper. "And who might this Nikola be, Boland, and how did you come to be acquainted with him, and these 'others'? During your apprenticeship? Don't think I didn't notice your avoidance of the latter subject... is that also something best left to later? Why all the drama and mystery?" The acolyte drums his fingers on the table, looking at the young wizard intently. Andolphas's ghost-like features probably do more to unsettle than reassure the timid scholar.

"N..No, I wasn't trying to dodge the question Andolphas!" Boland replies on the backfoot, a small stutter creeping into his reply. "Nikola came to me, probably because of my apprenticeship with Allustan and his interest in the Cairns."

His voice had crept back up to normal level unwittingly and when he realises he looks around in some alarm once more before lowering his voice again and continuing. "Nikola is an explorer - but it is best I leave the explanation to him when he and the rest arrive. He asked me to keep it quiet and so I have, the reason for which will become apparent when he arrives."

"The others who are supposed to meet us are two locals; Brashen Trell and Strelik the tracker. I'm not sure if you've met them? They seem to be running late..." He gives another glance around the pub to see if he can spot them". Spot check 10 + 1 = 11


Male Human (Suloise/Oeridian) Cleric 3

Mothman... would Andolphas know Brashen and Strelik by reputation? A Knowledge (local) check, if necessary, would suggest that I don't... 1 + 1 = 2... but???


Boland:

Spoiler:
Remember that you have not seen Nikola for a week – you may end up having to do this on your own…


Andolphas Hecker wrote:
Mothman... would Andolphas know Brashen and Strelik by reputation? A Knowledge (local) check, if necessary, would suggest that I don't... 1 + 1 = 2... but???

You may have heard of Brashen - you would have grown up about the same time in the town, and Boland may have spoken of him to you. With that roll, you haven't heard of Strevlik.


Male Human Wizard/3
DM Mothman wrote:
Boland: ** spoiler omitted **

Mothman:

Spoiler:
Yep, I was thinking that might be the case. But I am assuming some others will turn up, so I was kinda holding off on launching into it too much until they showed. It seems a waste to go through everything with only one potential party member present. Unless you know something I don't and think I should...


Male Human (Suloise/Oeridian) Cleric 3

Andolphas continues to make absent-minded small talk with Boland. "Brashen? Is he still around? Hmmm... how could I have missed him? And what's he up to these days?" The acolyte's attention strays once in a while to newly arrived patrons who make the sign of Wee Jas as they pass by, and to whom he fells compelled to make the appropriate response -- two hands tightly clasped around the holy symbol of the Dark-Eyed Lady and held up before the priest's eyes.


Male Human Wizard/3
Andolphas Hecker wrote:
Andolphas continues to make absent-minded small talk with Boland. "Brashen? Is he still around? Hmmm... how could I have missed him? And what's he up to these days?" The acolyte's attention strays once in a while to newly arrived patrons who make the sign of Wee Jas as they pass by, and to whom he fells compelled to make the appropriate response -- two hands tightly clasped around the holy symbol of the Dark-Eyed Lady and held up before the priest's eyes.

Bowls answers Andolphas' question with some humour in his tone. "Brashen?" He says with a half smile. "He now gets paid to do what he always has - flex his muscles and throw his weight around."

He falls silent as Andolphas does and once more feels his nervousness rising. Every minute that passes in which Nikola does not show makes him wonder how he will explain everything to those who do show.


Male Human Ranger / 2

Strevlik is still uncertain as to whether he should meet Boland, especially at such a rowdy establishment. He squashes his doubts and is resolute to at least find out if he can help Boland especially since he suspects that Boland is in for more than he can handle if he is really serious about exploring one of the Cairns.
Strevlik takes determined strides towards the pub but he is keeping his head down and avoiding all eye contact. He is uncomfortable in crowds and keeps his face well hidden under the hood of his cloak.
The noise and stench of the pub hits him as he pushes open the doors. He spots Boland at a corner table with a sickly pale looking man, at about the same time Boland looks up in his direction. Strevlik feels now he has been seen by Boland, it is too late to change his mind and he walks towards the two men.


Male Human (Suloise/Oeridian) Cleric 3

"Could this be one of your friends heading our way, Boland?" asks Andolphas, as he spies the hooded figure walking towards their table.


Boland and Andolphas look up to see a tall, broad-shouldered man approaching their table. His features are obscured by the travel-stained hooded cloak that he wears, hood up even within the tavern, but the cloak does not hide the fact that he wears a sword at his waist. He moves with a subtle grace that may surprise his audience – although his stride is long and purposeful, he seems to weave between the patrons of the crowded tap-room with no apparent effort.

Boland is fairly certain the man is Strevlik. He’s only seen the tracker a few times before, but he remembers that build and that stride from the first time he encountered the man. Five years ago, Strevlik would have been little older than Boland is now, but he had joined in the hunt for the creatures that had slain Boland’s family. Although the monsters were never caught, it had been Strevlik who had confirmed young Boland’s garbled report that the creatures were undead.


Male Human Wizard/3
Andolphas Hecker wrote:
"Could this be one of your friends heading our way, Boland?" asks Andolphas, as he spies the hooded figure walking towards their table.

Boland catches sight of the Tracker a moment before Andolphas voice's his question. He feebly lifts a hand and motions the new arrival over and nods a yes to the Priest. Just when he thought he couldn't become anymore on edge, he felt his nerves rise to a new level. Where are you Nikola?! he curses inwardly. To the tracker he says "Strevlik, I'm glad you could make it", trying his best to mean the words. If Nikola were here, he'd be relieved the tracker had shown, but now he was faced with two men to which he owed an explanation. And when Brachen turns up i'll be even more comfortable he thought glumly.


Moving through Diamond Lake always set Da'gret on edge. Humanity concentrated in such a mass spilling toxins and excrement into their own lands smelled of disease and death to one unaccustomed to it. Still, there were reasons to occasionally swallow his own disgust long enough to endure a trip to the township. Women weren't exactly plentiful in the wilds where the half-orc made his den and after catching up with Brashen he planned on seeing a performance at one of the houses of entertainment and trying his luck yet again with finding a mate to join him at his home. Despite past embarrassment and being chased into the streets on more than one occasion, Da'gret was persistent- and besides he was nearly 16 now and larger than the majority of full humans in this town even if his youth and inexperience still showed plainly in his face. In truth Da'gret was frighteningly huge by now, and due to his lack of socialization tended to behave more like a child or beast than a man whenever he was unsure of himself. Add in the fact that his lifestyle and upbringing lacked many of the inhibitions that socialized creatures develop at an early age and that he typically smelled like a wet (healthy) goat and it wasn't hard to imagine why his previous visits to town had uniformly ended in various levels of disaster.

By the time he neared the Duck & Goat Da'gret's senses were all overstimulated. He sniffed at windows and started at loud noises, ogled women in the streets and followed them until shooed away. When Brashen finally spots the late coming half-orc he is standing in a side street poking a passed out town drunk with the butt of his spear to see if he is dead.


Male Human Fighter / 3

Brash curses, and is about to ask Bulldog to pass on a message for Da'gret to meet him at the Dog when he finally spots him. I should really start meeting him out of town Brashen thinks, not for the first time. “Da’gret, what are you doing? Leave the man alone, come here.” Brash sighs, wondering at how different the brute is out in the wilds. He hurries over to the hulking figure and clasps his hand in greeting, but does it as much to pull the half orcs attention of the now bruised drunk as much as anything. “What took you? Distracted by the Wonders of our great town again?” Brashen asks sarcastically. “Any way, we have a slight change of plans. I’m meeting a guy I know at the Feral Dog, sounds like he might have a job in mind, and if it looks good then I might be able to get you in as well, if your interested. If not I was thinking I could head out of town with you for a few days and see what pickings are to be had.”
While talking Brash tries to steer Da’gret toward the Dog, where a path quickly clears as the other townsfolk steer well clear of the two imposing figures. “Now where gonna get noticed in the Dog, your defiantly gonna get noticed in the Dog, so just stick by me and try to stay quiet… and please don’t go prodding anyone else with your spear.” This is a really bad idea, Bowls better have a damn good reason for meeting is this hole


Male Human Wizard/3

As Strevlik sits at the table, Boland braces himself for more questions and wonders if he should try and put them off a bit longer or if he should assume these are the only 2 likely to show up and so tell them what little he knows.

The moment is put off a little longer however, when he sees Brash enter the bar. A bit of a smile crosses his face, happy that the imposing man had deemed his invite fit to spare him some time. He half-stands and motions the man over. However, his smile falters as he sees the even more imposing figure follow Brashen in, and he realises the two are together.

He sits back heavily and all the stress and worry comes flooding back in. Great! not only do I have to face those who I invited alone without Nikola to back me up, but Brash has gone and brought along someone even more imposing than himself! May the creatures of the night take you Nikola! The minute he thinks the curse, Boland immediately feels shameful and guilty for thinking it. Perhaps something had already happened to the Explorer, which may be why he hadn't showed. He would not wish that on anyone.

As Brashen and the big Half-orc make their way over he steels himself, knowing he can't procrastinate much longer.


Only a minute or two after Strevlik approaches Boland and Andolphas’ table, the main doors of the Feral Dog are pushed open again, and two imposing figures enter. Both men easily topped six feet tall, with muscled builds to match. The lead figure is decked out with weapons and armour, whilst the other is less heavily armed, but is even bigger, hulking, and has a face that … well, probably his mother did not well love.

These two cause even the most hardened of The Feral Dog’s regulars to turn in their seats and take stock of the new-comers. Something of a hush falls over the crowded tap room for several seconds before conversation resumes.

Brashen, you may make the Local Knowledge check noted several posts above if you wish.

Anyone who wishes may make an untrained intelligence check as they study the newcomers, or survey the rest of the bar.

Intelligence check 12+

Spoiler:
It does not escape your notice that the second newcomer is not the only massive, pale-skinned half-orc in the bar.


Male Human Wizard/3
DM Mothman wrote:

Anyone who wishes may make an untrained intelligence check as they study the newcomers, or survey the rest of the bar.

Intelligence check 12+ ** spoiler omitted **

Bowls is clearly too flustered to think clearly and notice much asides from his own current misery. Check 7 + 2 = 9


Male Human (Suloise/Oeridian) Cleric 3

Int. check: 2 + 1 = 3... ugh...

Andolphas watches Boland's group grow in size quite abruptly with curiosity evident in his eyes. "Interesting, interesting... Boland, I'm assuiming that these characters have been frequenting Diamond Lake for some time now, and that they therefore know who I am... but I am not particularly well acquainted with any of them... Care to do the introductions? I take it the monster isn't your friend Nikola, is he...???" Despite the acolyte's outwardly confident manner, his grip tightens on his spear...


Male Human Wizard/3
Andolphas Hecker wrote:

Int. check: 2 + 1 = 3... ugh...

Andolphas watches Boland's group grow in size quite abruptly with curiosity evident in his eyes. "Interesting, interesting... Boland, I'm assuiming that these characters have been frequenting Diamond Lake for some time now, and that they therefore know who I am... but I am not particularly well acquainted with any of them... Care to do the introductions? I take it the monster isn't your friend Nikola, is he...???" Despite the acolyte's outwardly confident manner, his grip tightens on his spear...

"What?" Boland blurts out at Andolphas' question, tearing his eyes away from the 2 large men drawing near. "Oh, um, yes." He takes one last look around the pub, desperately trying to spy Nikola. "No, Nikola is still not here", he answers Andolhpas' final question belatedly.

He pauses, takes a deep breath, once more sits up straight and leans forward on the table before continuing. Despite trying to gather himself, a slight tremor still enters his voice.

"Th-thanks for coming everyone. Let me do a quick introduction." He gestures vaguely to each of the people gathered around the table in turn "Andolphas, Strevlik, Brashen and I am unfamiliar with this last..." he pauses a moment groping for a word "...gentleman. Brash, maybe you can introduce him?"


A roar goes up from the direction of the dog-fighting pit. Perhaps a fight is starting, or has been won … or perhaps a spectator has been pushed in.


As he takes a seat and his earthy stench settles around him, the half-orc smiles- though his jutting lower jaw and yellowed tusks make even that somewhat disturbing. "Hah! I speak too. Rangers like Strevlik call me Da'gret so now I use this name also in town. I know Brash." Turning to Brashen with amusement he asks, "Who are these two little men? What kind of job they would do with us?"

Amidst swell of the crowd's roar the momentary yelp of a dog stands out and a look of dull confusion crosses Da'gret's face. "Dogs here? Too much noise for dogs. Why they here?" The half-orc stands abruptly nearly tipping the table.


Male Human Fighter / 3

Brash pauses while Da'gret talks, using the roar of the crowd as an excuse to quickly scan the crowd local knowledge check, 12+6 =15
As the crowd subside a little Brash‘s gaze swings back around and fix‘s the other occupants of the table with a hard stare local knowledge check 6+4=10 to see what/if I know of Andolphas, Strevlik
“Yeah, Da'grets a… friend of mine, thought I’d bring him along to see what you had to say. Long time no see Bowls. Your message had me intrigued enough to drop by but you better be talking fast to convince me to stay. What the hell is this all about? And why here? Might be lucky Da’gret is here, we might need the extra muscle in this place before where through.”
That said, Brash tries to get the half orcs attention back to the table, reaching forward and grabbing Bolands drink from before him (assuming i can) and offers it to Da'gret


Male Human Wizard/3
Brashen Trell wrote:

“Yeah, Da'grets a… friend of mine, thought I’d bring him along to see what you had to say. Long time no see Bowls. Your message had me intrigued enough to drop by but you better be talking fast to convince me to stay. What the hell is this all about? And why here? Might be lucky Da’gret is here, we might need the extra muscle in this place before where through.”

That said, Brash tries to get the half orcs attention back to the table, reaching forward and grabbing Bolands drink from before him (assuming i can) and offers it to Da'gret

Bowls leans back in his seat, subconsciously putting as much distance between himself and the half-orc as possible, particularly after being referred to as a "Little man" (true though it may be!)

When Brash cuts in he is relieved to again be talking with someone he is at least familiar with. "Ok, ok - I think I owe you all an explanation. We..." he pauses again, before continuing I invited you all here today because of the skills you represent, and because together I think there might be a profitable...opportunity for us. This opportunity was put to me by an explorer names Nikola, and it is he who chose this...establishment to meet. Only he seems to have gone missing since I sent out the invites".

With a reasonably intent audience, Bowls seems to gain some confidence and momentum. He leans forward once more and lowers his voice so that others will not overhear him. "You would all be aware that there is much talk at the moment about the Cains and the treasure hoards which may yet still exist behind hidden passages. Well, I have reason to believe that one of these Cairns" and he lowers his voice further, befitting the name "- The Whispering Cairn - may have some yet undiscovered passages. And I believe I know the entrance to it." He pauses for effect and looks towards Brashen with this last statement.


Male Human (Suloise/Oeridian) Cleric 3
Boland 'Bowls' Karendum wrote:
With a reasonably intent audience, Bowls seems to gain some confidence and momentum. He leans forward once more and lowers his voice so that others will not overhear him. "You would all be aware that there is much talk at the moment about the Cains and the treasure hoards which may yet still exist behind hidden passages. Well, I have reason to believe that one of these Cairns" and he lowers his voice further, befitting the name "- The Whispering Cairn - may have some yet undiscovered passages. And I believe I know the entrance to it." He pauses for effect and looks towards Brashen with this last statement.

Andolphas raises an eyebrow in evident surprise following Boland's declaration, then fixes him with a frigid stare and responds in an equally cold whisper. "Boland, you know that's non-sense... the Whispering Cairn has been thoroughly explored, and everyone knows there is nothing else to be found there... now is that all this meeting was about? A mysterious stranger wanting to gather a group of strangers to go ... I'm afraid that Boland here was the victim of a hoax, and that we've all wasted our time here... still no sign of this Nikola, is there?" The black-eyed acolyte holds one palm up and looks at the wizard's recruits one by one, hoping they will agree with his assessment of the situation and decide to end the meeting early.

Bowls:

Spoiler:
Bowls feels Andolphas kicking him in the shin as the cleric whispers "nothing else to be found there," underneath the table, as if to say "why are you telling these others about this?"

Anyone who beats a DC 18 Hide check with their Spot check:

Spoiler:
It looks as though Andolphas moved slightly when he said "nothing else to be found there," possibly kicking Boland under the table?


It appears, by the use of the ranger’s name and the slight nod that passes between the two, that the half-orc named Da’gret knows Strevlik as well as Brashen – although the brash warrior and the silent tracker give no sign of knowing the other.

Brashen:

Spoiler:
You vaguely recall Andolphas as a kid, although he was a bit more “upper class” than you or Bowls, so tended to avoid your bullying – just hung out with a different crowd.

Now he hangs about with those green robed cultists in the Boneyard and on the other side of the lake, and sometimes comes over with that lot to administer to sick miners and such – your father is a Cuthbertine, so you don’t think they’ve ever visited him.

You don’t know Strevlik, although now you hear the name, you recall Da’gret having mentioned it once or twice. You assumed it was one of the druids or rangers up at the Bronzewood Lodge.

Anyone who wishes to make a Spot or Sense Motive check will gain the information posted in Andolphas’ spoiler above if they succeed at DC 18. If you succeed at DC 23, also read the following spoiler:

Spot or Sense Motive DC 23+

Spoiler:
Out of the corner of your eye you notice the beautiful elf sitting a few tables away lean forward slightly and glance in the direction of your table when Boland lowers his voice.


The Whispering Cairn.

Most of you have probably heard talk of this lost cairn, said to be located somewhere near Diamond Lake. Rumours say that it was discovered (or perhaps re-discovered) some sixty or seventy years ago, although knowledge of its location was not widely distributed.

Some claim that its discoverers uncovered a fortune in treasure from the place, others say it was found already looted and empty, whilst still others say that none who have explored the place have returned. Common wisdom agrees that it, like most of the other cairns in the region, has probably been long ago emptied of treasure … but persistent rumours say that there are yet undiscovered passages – and possibly treasure – within the Cairn.

Whatever the case, the Cairn’s location has fallen out of common memory, although it is said there are still a few in town who know where it is … and perhaps even know the truth as to whether or not there is any treasure to be found within.


Male Human (Suloise/Oeridian) Cleric 3

Failed on the DC 23 Spot and Sense Motive checks...

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