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"We would ask the same of you! You'll find Turtleback ahead, unchanged, other than the streets full of mud. You'll find folks settling in for the winter season; there's aught to keep a person occupied in this weather up there. Why ever since the Paradise sank, you'll find yourself fighting boredom up there, that's for certain!"
A humble village priest, Father Canthas, takes charge of the stranger's recovery. He does ask, however, that if you find out anything about his wife, Eridnae, to send word to Whistledown.
Later that morning, the rains dissipate, though the sky remains a mottled steel grey. Passing through Whistledown is uneventful. It's a small place, though unique in that about half the village's folk are gnomish. Their bright green cottages are easy to spot amid the much larger, and much more drab, human houses.
The land flattens outside Whistledown and the road is an easy travel alongside Lake Syrantula. On the north side of the lake, you get to the banks of Skull River, a narrow, frothing channel of water. All the recent rains have colored it brown and it surges up along its banks.
The next day, the Skull widens and you see another lake, much smaller than Syrantula, in the distance. "Claybottom Lake! We'll find Turtleback Ferry on the opposite side." Shelalu seems relieved that the end of your journey is in sight. The words are hardly out of her mouth when the rains pick up once more, heavier this time.
A path hugs the eastern shore of the lake, winding north towards the village. The trail is churned with mud, and in a few spots, the lake has spilled over and flooded your way. To the right, the Ashwood crowds upon you. Even Shelalu avoids peering into those darkened boughs.
"Let's hope the floods don't force us to forge a path through the Ashwood." Parthen says. "It has an evil reputation, one that I'll share, but only after we're safely indoors, in the daytime."
As you come up to a curve in the path, from the north you can see a company of decent-looking travelers coming in your direction. They have a team of laden mules. Seeing you in their path, they stop in their tracks, waiting to see what you'll do.
After you've made camp, magical healing is enough to ensure the man is made whole and can rest. He falls into a deep slumber.
The night passes without event, other than a steady fine drizzle soaking the horses and tents. Upon awakening, the man, whose name is Lochan, thanks you for your help.
"I am sorry I threatened you, but I'm sure you could tell I was no danger in my prior state to fine lords such as yourselves. I was travelling with my wife, Eridnae, a few days ago. We were leaving our farm up north to a new house in Whistledown.
Growing up, I'd always heard of giant-kin and big folk in the northlands, but never heard tale of them in these parts. It took a few seconds before my mind could accept what my eyes were seeing. They burst out of the trees on the side of the road and set upon my wagon, taking my wife, our horses, all our goods.
They were horrible - tall, brawny, some with a weird limp, others with misshapen noses, others still with teeth like fangs from a snake. It was a nightmare and I'll be mighty glad to leave this road."
He jerks the knife to the side, raising his forearm as if to block an attack. His body shivers, from the cold rain perhaps, maybe also from fear.
"You mongrel men! Have you no heart? You kill my wife, slay my livestock! Leave me ....
His voice trails off, his head sinks backward and his eyes close. His body slumps upon the ground.
By now, dusk has deepened to the point where you won't reach Whistledown before the sun has vanished.
You find a wounded man, lying on his back several feet from the road, and hidden by thick shrubs. His legs show several wounds, and the unnatural angle of a shin suggests a break. His face freezes in fear at your approach and he raises a thin knife up to ward you away.
He hisses, "Stay away from me! I have nothing left to pilfer.". Then, gasps again from pain.
Shelalu giggles at your apprehension. "Have no fear, my friends. The music is coming from Whistledown. It's an effect from some gnomish contraptions."
Parthen strains to look down the road through the gloom. "Ah, I think I can make out the tail of Lake Syrantula. I had no idea we were so close to the next town."
But, Lleidr hears a noise beyond that of an eerie melody. You can just catch the sound of someone gasping for breath. There's a set of thick brambles just a few feet ahead, to the side of the road, and that's where the noise emerges.
Light is failing fast. If you don't get into Whistledown soon, there's a good chance you'll be spending another night in the rain. It's not an appealing thought.
Parthen is also mounted and ready to leave.
The road is a ribbon of mud, churned by the occasional traveler and fed by the incessant drizzle. The late autumn damp works its way through hoods and cloaks. It isn't long before even Shelalu is in a foul mood.
The land begins to rise and even in this gloom, you can make out the steadily rising foothills and mountains to the east. A few times each hour, a series of harsh gusts sweep out of the mountains and envelop you in chill winds.
Daylight falters and the moon's light is enfeebled by the veil of clouds. As the road dips down towards the bottom of a group of hills, a strange noise is carried on the wind. Your ears catch a haunting melody which grows stronger with each step forward.
Perception checks please!
LOL, that's funny, cause in real life, we had an RPG gaming store in Winston-Salem called 'Pair-a-Dice Games', many many years ago.
Anything else you guys are interested in accomplishing while in Wartle? Shelalu is very anxious to get back on the road. "The fate of the Black Arrows is like a heavy weight on my mind."
"When you get up to Turtleback, get someone in town to show you a gambling barge that opened up a few months ago, called 'Paradise'. The lady running the place, Lucy, gave me this mark since I was a special customer. I got to play a few games for free each week with it, but it's a secret, so don't let anyone else know about it."
Despite a persistent drizzle, the feast is a roaring success, with tables groaning from so many plates. Tent pavilions are stretched across the boardwalk and keep you mostly dry as the night proceeds.
Everyone wants to know what has happened to all of you. Yes, they remember Selia, and they mourn Nualia, Hakak and Jubrayl. As it turns out, word of your exploits in Sandpoint are already well known, but your adventures in Magnimar are new to everyone here.
You do catch up with Gareth (NOTE - Perception check please, for anyone talking to him).
"Yeah, I was working in a little place up in Turtleback Ferry called Bottoms Up, but business was getting a bit slow so my cousin, the owner, sent me back home. So you're headed there too, eh? Don't tell anyone I told you this, but there's an opportunity there to make some coin. You interested?"
Introducing Parthen Uhmdiar
OK, I'll assume you're all 6 travelling by mount (except Ned), on a footpath which parallels the rivers.
Shelalu is excited to return to the home of the Black Arrows, but is apprehensive about what you'll find at Fort Rannick. She shares several stories of her time training there, and of close calls she had with evil denizens which roam the nearby hills and vales.
Hours of pleasant travel pass quickly, and the noise and odor of Magnimar recede into a memory. The next day, your party is enveloped by thick forests, their floors flooded with stretches of stagnant water. It isn't long before you find yourselves atop a sturdy boardwalk leading into the woods. A pair of guards wave you through, recognizing Lleidr at once. Round a bend, the walkway leads into Wartle.
Hardly a town, more of a crude outpost, but a welcome respite from travelling through flatland swamps. Warm greetings follow your arrival, and soon it seems the whole community is following your party till you arrive at Lleidr's homestead.
The family is thrilled with the rare gifts but even more by your surprise appearence. News is exchanged, and soon you all know more than you would have ever guessed about all the comings and doings of Wartle's prominent families. "Headed to Turtleback Ferry you say? You should go see your cousin Gareth. He just arrived from there a few weeks past. Was up there nigh on nine weeks now, on some sort of job, he says."
Gareth, if Lleidr remembers, was always something of a lazy, no-account. But, growing up, you two were friends. The news that he actually had a job is a surprise.
Ah OK, sorry , I skimmed over your post and didn't read the fine print. Getting these items created will only delay you about a day, which isn't enough to agitate Shalelu.
Just curious, what mounts are the rest of you planning upon? Or you can go by foot, in which case the journey will take 2 weeks.
Hiring a mage to craft items is not a problem, other than the time it takes for the hireling to finish item creation. If you want to leave for Turtleback Ferry the next day, they won't be ready.
Off the top of my head, I'm not sure how long it would take. Any of you proficient enough with the item crafting rules to give us an estimate?
A trained gecko is definitely weird. I was going to say this is a first in an RPG for me, but that's not true. The Thistletop goblin chief had one as a mount.
It isn't easy to find a livery agent able to procure such exotic beasts, but at last, your search the next day bears fruit, and you're able to procure the unusual steed.
* tarnished silver ring = 75
There's also the lamia's gear, which is pretty esoteric stuff:
Impaler of Thorns (9,000 gp) +1 darkwood longspear, despair & nausea effect 1/day
Medusa Mask (10,000 gp) +4 on save vs visual effects, flesh to stone 1/day
Sihedron medallion (3,500 gp) +1 Resist on all saves, false life 1/day, gentle repose on corpse
Snakeskin tunic (8,000 gp) +1 armor to AC, +2 enhance to DEX, +2 resist bonus for Poison saves
NOTE - as long as you guys spend the time and skill ranks on Appraise and KNO Arcana, it's easiest to just assume you can figure out the major properties of magic items you find. Those gp values are the full values, not the resale.
So, one question, folks ... after you've finished re-supplying yourselves, which route do you want to take to get to Turtleback Ferry? It's about 400 miles away. You've got a few options:
- travelling by foot will take about 2 weeks
- you can buy mounts, and get there in about a week
- buy passage on a river barge, which will also take a week or so. You'll be travelling upstream on the Yondabakari and Skull Rivers.
Shelalu nods. "Yes, it would be foolish to try the wilds again without better preparation. And, we need to decide on our approach. We could travel the river upstream via ferry, or simply on foot, following the river.
There's a small town just south of the fort, called Turtleback Ferry. I suggest we head there first and see what news they have of my friends in the Black Arrows."
NOTE - i'm going out of town for the holiday. But, we will be back Monday night. So, next post will be Tuesday, 5/31, most likely.
Congrats again on wrapping up the 2nd volume of this AP. Things are going to get interesting real quick, folks.
Have a great weekend -
Shelalu is tired and tight lipped the evening of her arrival. In the morning, you're all rounded up and made ready for the day ahead.
The festivities consist of an impromptu fair, a parade, a solemn public ritual at the central temple for Desna, and a pair of lavish feasts. The lord-mayor's speech lavishes praise on himself and his council for solving the crimes which bedeviled the city, but he is quick to point out the valuable aid he received from you all.
Shelalu smiles at your accomplishments and is eager to hear all about them. Back at the mansion, her grim demeanor returns and worsens by the time she reads the letter you found in the Clockwork Tower.
"I wasn't able to get to Fort Rannick after I left Sandpoint a few weeks ago. The woods had become too dangerous; terrible ogre-kin roam the wilds between here and the fort and I've never seen them so far south. Since Sandpoint is safe now from the goblin threat, I figured I could ask you all for help. Now ... seeing this letter ... I'm afraid it explains why. We have to get to Fort Rannick and see if the Black Arrows are still there."
Parthen pipes up and says "The Lord-Mayor is to meet with his council or perhaps has already done so. They're going to determine what course of action we should take."
Shelalu shakes her head. "Nich, you could be on to something. A harvest of greed? Weren't the victims marked with that ancient rune? We don't have time to wait on the mayor's council to figure things out. We should leave now .. tonight!"
"Thank ye, little lord."
He mumbles out loud while reading the letter, stumbling a bit when getting towards the end.
" ... managed to harvest that lord-mayor yet ... Oh, dear heavens! He tumbles down to the floor in a dead faint.
Upon regaining his senses, he hands you back the letter. "This is most dire, indeed. I must discuss these matters with the City Council at once. In the meantime, I'll take my leave, and have my Chief Provost show you to your new home."
The Provost is a laconic man, by the name of Parthen. The home in Alabaster District you now own is a large dwelling of stone and dark paneled oak. A little run-down, as its sole inhabitant has neglected its appearance for many years, Parthen explains.
Yes, you have a housemate, a caretaker of sorts. "An arcane scholar on the side, I believe he is. An eccentric chap, but otherwise quite decent. I'm sure you'll get on quite well with him. He can tell you all about the house's history. And, since he knew you were coming, he took the liberty of fully stocking the buttery and wine cellar."
[NOTE - my kid's wanting to play a character, and he'll be joining us shortly]
Parthen then tells you about the upcoming festivities.
"Arrangements are already being made for tomorrow's grand feast, and a parade as well, I might add. You all, of course, are the guests of honor."
You're barely an hour into checking out the grounds and the house, when there's a loud ringing of the front bell. The door opens to reveal Shalelu [NOTE - remember her from Sandpoint?]. She doesn't look happy.
The mayor gives you a broad, beaming smile. "Oh how wonderful to find such selfless members of the body public. It is a nice change from the preening sycophants I normally have to work with.
To be honest, when we first heard that you folks were sent here by your sheriff from Sandpoint, several in my council had doubts. I was instead advised to bring in those cantankerous Black Arrows from the frontier, so they could deal with this spate of murders.
But, we've received little word from those rangers lately. Rumors are that their hands are full and Fort Rannick is a very busy place nowadays. At any rate, one of their number, an elven friend of yours, spoke highly of you if memory serves.
So, about this upcoming banquet, ...
And then the lord mayor launches into a very detailed list of proceedings, speeches, and grand feasts to be held in your honor over the course of a few days in the very near future. It's difficult to maintain focus on so much minutia, and you find your attention wandering.
The Lord Mayor has the party escorted to a rambling old manor, severely run down but one of the better homes to be found in Underbridge. Cider and wafers are arranged on a table in the hall. Once everyone is seated and comfortable, the Lord-Mayor quizzes you on all you've found, to hear it from your own voices.
NOTE - feel free to add in any information you think he should have, whether true or false.
"We will have a formal ceremony soon to celebrate your success, which will put minds at ease. Having lost a few of their own, the nobility gave me no respite regarding the murders. And, knowing that a Justice of the City was a prominent actor in all this ... he shudders, "Well, let's just say, we need to publicly close the books on this affair. I'll show you off to the upper crust, we'll have a few speeches followed by a massive feast, and the City will grant you a house in the Alabaster District. Does this strike you as a square deal? You get a mansion, and in return, I buy the city some peace of mind by having you live here. Of course, you're free to travel as you will ... just the knowledge that you can use Magnimar as a place to roost will be enough for my purposes."
"Having just been informed at your remarkable deftness in solving these horrific crimes, and in removing their chief perpetrator, I insisted on getting to Underbridge at once, hoping to find and meet each one of you.
Of course, we had word some days ago, in the highest circles, that the Heroes of Sandpoint were in the city! And, I must say, you did not disappoint. You've slain a lamia hiding in our very midst, who was orchestrating these depraved murders.
There is some business I would discuss with you in private however. Would you be so kind as to come with me?"
You get the impression that Lord Mayor Grobaras could go on talking like this for a long time.
Tracking a slithered trail of swept dust, Ned can see where Xanesha last visited the rookery some time ago. (NOTE - Ned, instead of Perception, I made a Tracking check on your behalf). She last left the rookery a few days ago, passing the old clockworks room on her way.
Inside, Lleidr finds a parchment wadded into a ball sitting on the floor. One side bears a date three days old. The other side is a letter.
Shortly after your discovery and after packing up the last of the loot, there's the sound of a horn coming from ground level. Ducking inside, you can see a dozen or so soldier types filing into the tower, with a few others of rich dress and regal bearing. A cryer bellows out a summons,
"The Lord Mayor of Magnimar, here to give audience to the Sandpoint warriors!"
The crowds are cowed by Nicholae's pleas, and at the mention of dire and evil forces, they pull away from the old shop. They're soon replaced by several members of the city watch, led by none other than Eland Ritsar, whom you met several nights ago after your fight in a tavern.
"I might have known I'd find you lot here when the alarm was rung. I take it this all has something to do with Seven's Sawmill and that lot of roustabouts? Any news you have for me? As you might imagine, the very top people in the city are hounding the watch for answers on these murders."
Upstairs, at the top of the tower, the chests yield their contents; the keys are a perfect match.
Five of the chests contain many small leather pouches, each stuffed with 100 coins. In all, they contain:
The sixth chest holds several pieces of fine jewelry as well as even smaller pouches containing prize gems, all worth 4,200 gp.
Chest # 7: items all displaying magical auras:
Also, there's a room you passed on the way up without exploring, which contained the old corroded clockworks.
It appears her body crashed into an abandoned merchant's shop. By the time you reach the bottom of the tower, a small crowd has formed trying to peer into boarded windows. But they're easily dissuaded from entering to satiate their curiosity.
A number of gear items detect as magical:
- her longspear
She also carried a ring of metal keys on her waist. Which works out well, since you noticed a line of small wooden chests after climbing the stairs to the tower roof.
Shadow Clock, Top Floor, Round 7 Continued
With a magical assistance at the ready, Ned spies Xanesah hovering beneath the stairs, about 20' below the tower's roof.
Selia's archons zip about, continuing to blast away at your enemy, raising clouds of dust and splinters where they miss and strike the tower's steps instead. Several of the shots do hit her, however.
Hanging from the top of the tower, high above the sprawling depths of Underbridge, Lleidr's dagger strikes true, tumbles towards the ground, and then spins as it changes direction, flying right into his outstretched hand.
Nich's archons immediately launch into the air and deliver a pair of blasts, one of which the lamia is unable to dodge.
You see a look of utter despair cross Xanesha's face but she shakes a fist in defiance in your direction. "I may be vanquished, but you are too late. The harvests are reaped and stored away. Very soon, you will see. And soon, all of you will bow."
She pushes off from the side of the tower, and glides through the air, before plunging towards the ground. She's aiming for street level, to get the nearest row of houses between her and the tower.
NOTE - No need again for a map, since she's moved off of it. If you can strike her for another round, maybe that will prove enough. She is heavily wounded.