Drow Wars: Episode 3 The Lost Villages
Cast of Characters
- Alfric, Human Rogue, Male
- Gibora, Half-Orc Barbarian, Female
- Ter'Ri, Human Monk, Male
- Lorenna, Human Druid, Female
- Gelnix the Magnificent, Human Wizard, Male
- Scrumpy Scruffyfoot, Halfling Rogue, Male
- Elleron, Half-Elf Bard, Male
From the journal of Gelnix
Saragost the capital city. We have been here less than 24 hours and already we have been double crossed by a captain of the city guard and shot at with poison bolts. Clearly a civilized place. Next I expect we will be fleeced for basic goods and have our purses lifted. At least it isn't raining.
We are joined by Brottor the dwarven cleric who tells a familiar tale. At last, a cleric!
After introductions we explore the city and find the following places of interest :
- Inn of the Flaming Beard (all comers)
- Grand Baronial Hotel (exclusive)
- Tower of Undying Light (council chamber)
- Sanctuary of the Seven Archways (Adepts of the Prism)
- Grove of Hernun (central park)
- Hall of Echoes (Bardic)
When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. We set off to kit up. Lorenna to get a Darkwood shield and a Pearl or Power, Gelnix buys scrolls and studies, others explore and investigate.
We return to the council chamber in the evening where we are shown a map of chillhame. Red red rings indicate those villages that have responded to the call . Those that have not responded are Astercote, Chalksmear and Vannendale. We are asked to follow up and find out why and try and persuade them to evacuate to Saragost.
Next morning we set off to Astercote. The journey is uneventful for most of the journey, until we near our destination when Ter'Ri spots something in a tree. We dismount and cautiously edge forward. The shape doesn't move. After studying the form for some time Gelnix makes out the form of a cow! Up a tree! Ter'Ri climbs the tree to investigate, it is a dead cow with no obvious wounds apart from those made by the tree as it fell to rest. The canopy above is broken from the fall. Weird. We press on to Astercote.
Whoa. The town is gone. There is a perfectly circular crater where the town should be about a mile across. There are no blast marks and no sign of any buildings. We circle the crater wildly speculating. Maybe the town flew away and the cow fell off the edge? The area emits a residual glow of the after effects of magic. The Bard mentions a legend of a flying citadel called Caradeth. Maybe he isn't totally useless after all. I just hope he doesn't put it into song.
Next day we press on to Vannendale. At the end of the day we come upon the sleepy town with a mansion on a hill. As they spot us they all run away. We cautiously approach but no one is visible and the town is deathly silent. We enter the empty inn, no one. We walk into the town square and Hendrik makes a speech, to no effect.
We head towards the mansion. A figure stagers towards us. It is humanoid but with the head of a locust. He stops at our command, and we communicate via hand signals as he cannot speak. He points towards the mansion house. Slowly we figure out that he had this done to him by his father, a wizard. There was some sort of masked ball and many guests had this done to them. He escaped whilst many more remain inside.
Two figures descend from the sky, landing 200 ft away. They are harpies and they immediately start to sing. Most of the party are entranced and start to walk towards them. Only Brottor, Ter'Ri and Lorenna are unaffected. Brottor and Ter'Ri charge in whilst Lorenna casts entangle on the Harpies. One of the harpies flys up to avoid the spell whilst the other is held down.
The free harpy flies towards Lorenna and lands, still singing. Some of the entranced party members turn around and walk back towards the moved harpy. Ter'ri and Brottor fire bolts at the harpy, one hitting, but with no obvious effect. Grace races back to be with Lorenna who is casting a defensive spell.
More bolts fly, an offensive spell and Grace the dog attacks as serious melee begins. The harpy is taking serious damage and flies off. As she flies away she drops out of the sky as the creeping cold damage kicks in. The other harpy is held fast and is peppered with crossbow bolts.
We again communicate with the locust headed man and we work out the harpies come from the house. He has had a locust head for a few days. Determined to root out the evil wizard we approach the mansion and examine the structure. There are three entrances, the front door, the conservatory and the back door. We make our way to the back door and spot a garden shed and two chickens pecking at a compost heap. Deciding they may yield clues we investigate the compost heaps. These are mighty odd looking chickens with lizard like tails. Magical creatures. Lorenna beats a hasty retreat as do we all.
The shed is padlocked, Alfric cannot open it but Scrumpy opens it quickly, yielding a normal looking shed. A quick search yields a masterwork scythe and a package of graphite like powder. We then notice circular rings burnt in the lawn and some discarded fireworks.
We are unable to pick the back door lock, so Gibora takes out her battering ram. Not quite the stealthy entrance we wanted. We enter a large room with doors on all sides. In the centre of the room is a large table with silver candelabra and the remains of a banquet on the table. There are ornate pictures on the wall and a glass ceiling hinting at a gallery above. This is all irrelevant detail as there is a two headed giant and a couple of bugbears in the room. We are in deep do.
Chaotic melee ensues with the Bugbears falling quickly but the Ettin lasts some time, though we take minimal damage. We open a door onto a corridor and then enter the adjacent room. There are pictures of gods on the double height ceiling, there is a balcony above and huge holes burnt in the wooden floor. There are musical instruments along the far wall. We back out and cross the corridor into the entrance hall. We head up one of the two staircases. There are two large horse like creatures but with eagle wings and human heads. They speak and tell us one of us must stay and answer a riddle of speech and silence whilst all others must leave in a minute or be devoured. We quickly confer.
From the journal of Gibora
Who shall answer the riddle? Eleron volunteers, and we let him. As he leaves, Scrumpy shouts abuse at him. There will be no songs telling of the heroics of Scrumpy the half-pint. As he stands there, Eleron feels the effects of a spell, but shrugs it off. One of the manticores changes...
As we stand below, Eleron comes tumbling unceremoniously down the stairs. He is out cold. Alfric slaps him and wakes him up. He tells us that one ... exploded? We must go up to take out the other one, or look around downstairs. We need a plan. We head back upstairs to fight and there are now six of them.Alfric kills one with a single blow. Gelnix ponders something, but stands there. One hits Alfric, and a vacant look comes across his face, as if his wisdom was being drained. Gibora runs and strikes on down, again in a single sword swipe. Eleron can't fight for toffee. Brottor is useless. Ter'Ri's hands are a blur as he fails to make contact with the thing.Scrumpy runs down the stairs and back up the ones opposite, coming up behind Gibora. The beast turns on Gibora, but can't get through her armor. Then Gibora and Alfric take two down simultaneously. Brottor hits one, but this one does not fall. This one must be the leader. Ter'Ri kills another lesser beast. Now, only the leader is left on me. Scrumpy moves to flank, and misses with both weapons. It is surrounded and attacks Ter'Ri; the most unnassuming of us, having no weapons. It hits him. Our attacks all fail. Eleron goes to pick up his net. Finally, Ter'Ri hits. Scrumpy stabs it in the side, sneakily. A big paw slaps em and I feel strange, and wounded. Eleron throws his net and entangles it. After a long fight, Brottor makes the killing blow and it keels over. Scrumpy finds a daggger about it's person.
Alfric listens at the door, and hears sobbing. He opens the door, and I bravely steps in first. It is a corridor, with portraits on the wall. Alf looks at them, lingers for a bit then goes through another door. A bedroom decorated in blue, and someone crying behind a curtain. But most importantly, there is a four poster bed. Alfric approaches saying reassuring things. A young woman lies on the bed. Her face is very pale, and she has no mouth. Eleron sits down to console her, telling her she is unattractive. He then starts to pump her for information. She begins to draw us a map of where the wizard is. Apparantly, he is in a tower. Alfric goes back into the corridor. In the next room, the bedclothes are tied into a rope and their are figures on a table. This was probably Locust head's room. Eleron finds out the girl is 17, and still tries to chat her up.
In another room is a woman with a brindled(?) cat's face. In the last room is a snowfall of feathers, and a naked owlfaced man jumping on the bed covered in brown goo and feathers. Me and Ter'Ri grapple him and he calms down when we tell him we are here to rescue him. Alfric notices one portrait in the hall is smaller then the others. A gentleman sits before a desk with a parchment infront of him. There a constellation on it. Gelnix realises it is the Reaper.
We go back downstairs. Out of the stair room, we go west. A black dressed figure with no face sits writing. He leaves. We continue into a room with three bunkbeds, and chests. No dresses for Gibora.
Next, we find a billiard room with creatures heads on the wall. There is a dartboard, and 4 bugbears playing cards. They see us. Alfric hastily locks the door and shouts "Bugbears!"... After a pause, the bugbears appear at the end of the corridor. They set upon Scrumpy and Brottor. Brottor is hit. Gelnix casts a spell and brottor goes down. Scrumpy hits one. I fly into a rage, and make a feint as if to knock the door down. It works as everybody thinks that was my plan all along. The fools. The bugbear comes through the door. One hits Eleron. Gelnix makes webs appear. Scrumpy hits again. I retreat back to guard Lorenna and Scrumpy is hit. He shoots one and it falls. I attack the one Alfric is on. Gelnix coup de graces the one lying down. Alfric hits it, and I don't. I kill the bugbear that Alfric couldn't, and he gets hit by the one behind it. Brottor wakes up, blinded, and Alric gets hit. I kill it, 2 to me.
In the next room, there is a huge hookah. Eleron approaches it. He takes a breathful and wants more. He starts singing, whilst flipping about. He tries to tumble onto the chandelier from the mantlepiece. He strarts hallucinating as we throw him into the web Gelnix cast. There are spiders! He starts screaming and thinks he is the Spider Queen. The spiders lay their eggs inside him.... Finally, he snaps out of it still stuck in the web.
We wait in the smoke room untill the web goes away, since it is blocking the door we need to go through. The stealer-ins can't open it, but I bash it down. We enter a religious room, with statues of he gods. It is well adorned, but for what purpose. Scrumpy examines the altar and finds a secret compartment. There are six golden chalices in there. Alfric examines them. We consider whether to take them, but Brottor disapproves so Alfric spirits them into his bag.
Next, we go into the conservatory, and noticed one of the windows has been smashed' So we go back upstairs. The next door opens up on to a balcony overlooking the ballroom, so onto the next door. It is a master bedroom with a huge bed. A male batface and a female with peacock feathers are playing chess. We escort them outside. There are lots of nice dresses in the walk-in closet, but all size 10s. Damn scrawny humans!
At the other end of the corridor is the bathroom and live in closet. Next to that is a study with a large desk. We search it. A safe behind a painting. Alfric unlocks it. There is lots of jewelry in there. I take the tiara and Eleron points a sword at me, telling me to put it back.. I rage and go for him. He throws a net over me which I break and give chase. He runs and hides. I leave him.
We go to the basement, the wine cellar or the food cellar. Nothing much. We sleep here, or do we? We decide to sleep here. We set watches. Me and Scrumpy take the dawn watch. Scrumpy covers Eleron in flour. Eleron wants healing. Now can we go and kill the wizard We go to the tower and are in a plush library, with shelves of books and everything. An iron staircase leads up. Gelnix goes to read a book open on a desk. He orates from the book, and starts talking nonense. I fade out... What was that about "sending the Quasits"..? Fifteenth epoch? It mentions the Starborn and the host(?) meeting. Time to choose sides(?) Gelnix finds a compartment behind a shelf. It contains a wooden box. A pair of glasses. Gelnix puts them on. He looks clever, and sees sharper.
We continue up the tower. More book cases line the circular room. There are pictures depicting the signs of the zodiac. Gelnix climbs up to touch the Reaper. A bookshelf moves to reveal a shaft. We go up. A flat floor above the mansion, outside. A brass construction in the middle of the floor. A barrel chested man stands, with a red beard and a red coat.
He is looking at the stars through the telescope, but the eyepiece is missing so he asks us to find it. He tels us that the Host is the enemy of the Starborn. Where would Alfons hide the eyepiece?
Alfric is in the smoking room, looking behind the fireplace. A secret compartment! Not trapped. he opens it. There is a small coffer. Not trapped, but locked. He opens it.and finds the missing eyepiece. Hooray! Now, shall we give it to him. If we don't, he won't free the Calomn family. We give it to him. He tells us to wait till morning while he studies the stars.
The following day, the wizard is gone, but the Calamn family is human again. They are not happy. He wants to reward us., but his safe is empty. We blame the wizard, knowingly.
From the journal of Gelnix
Next day we set off back towards Saragost to get our colleauges restored. It takes a day to get to the hole in the ground that was Astercote, and then another to get to Saragost. The journey passes uneventfully and the walls of Saragost come into view in the early evening.
On the approaches to Saragost there are crowds of people. We recognise faces amongst the crowds from Bronce and elsewhere. They certainly recognise us and surround us asking us to help them get into the city. Apparently only those with useful skills or 50 gold to spend are being allowed in. Ter'ri and Lorenna are appalled that these taxpayers are being treated like this. Several of us think it is pragmatic and possibly safer for them to be outside. After all when the Drow rise up they are more likely to emerge inside the city than out.
We make our way to a side entrance where the queues are smaller. With our freemen badges we are waved in and make our way straight to the main temple to get our colleugues restored. Ter'ri and Lorenna are all for going to the council right now but as it late the council is not in session and they will not meet until 11 bells tomorrow.
We take lodgings in the Inn of the Bearded Man. Settling down for our evening meal we catch up on the news and local opinions. Two arguments rage about the refugees.The pragmatic argument is that the city cannot take the volume and there would be chaos if they are let in. The other humanitarian argument is that it is morally wrong and they should be let in. We spend most of the evening arguing.
In the morning we go shopping and trading in our acquired goods. We then make our way to the council chambers. Lorenna and Ter'ri forcibly make their case about letting in the refugees. The council disagree and say they would if they could. They bid us on our way.
We journey to Chalksmere and arrive in the evening at a sign saying "turn back no body hear". Ignoring it, Lorenna leads the way towards the village. Something isn't right. It's deserted and eerily, quiet, no smoke is coming from the chimneys. Then we hear pigs squealing in the distance.
We knock on a door, there is no answer. Going in and looking around we see two piles of clothes by the door. Making our way to the town square some signs of life are evident. There are lights at the windows and a figure holding a lantern. We can hear pigs and see what looks to be piles of dung all over. The figure is a man who has thick stubble, a pudgy face and wild thinning hair. He stares manically at us and says "I don't know you".
In clipped speech we find out about the townsfolk and a horned deer-man in the woods that turned them all into pigs. It appears we are talking to the village idiot, Wem, and he is trying to protect the villagers who are inside the town hall building. He claims the villagers are pigs by night and people by day. Lorenna is convinced the deer man is something she should know about, but she cannot come up with a convincing explanation, as usual.
We decide to stake out the town hall overnight. Splitting into two groups we move into two houses and watch. Around an hour after midnight a 7ft tall naked man with horns appears and approaches the town hall. Wem blocks his path. We all hear Gebora bellow from the next house. Bloody amateur. We still watch Wem and the hunter. The hunter does not appear to want to hurt Wem. We all go outside and talk to the hunter.
Lorenna appears to recognise him, and addresses him as a servant of her Hernon! The hunter tells us that they have taken something sacred and he is here to punish the villagers and retrieve it. We ask him to wait a day and we will try to retrieve the item.
In the morning we waken early to see naked villagers running back to their houses from the town hall. We investigate the town hall and find an absolute mess. After a few minutes we are approached by a spokesman and we discuss the issue. He appears to know nothing of a stolen item or why they have been cursed.
The day kicked in after a feast where they ate a large roast boar, which is not unusual. Wem was not at the feast as he was sleeping. The hunter Garstang caught the boar at the edge of the forest. The boar's hide is hanging on the wall of the town hall, it is an excellent specimen, though not magical.
We interrogate Garstang and ask him to show us where he killed the boar. He take us to a random bit of forest, but he is clearly not being completely truthful so we confront him and accuse him. He changes into a boar-man, a lycanthrope?! Ter'ri jumps on him and grapples him. Several others pile on. Ter'ri is wounded but manages to pin the were-boar. We tie him up.
We make Garstang guide us to the place he killed the boar. He takes us to a place that looks like a shrine to Wahoon, the arch-rival of Hernon. There are three piles of human bones a pool of black water, and faded ribbons tied to a tree. We argue overmuch about the fate of Garstang. In the end we decide to make Garstang drink the water of the pool. He refuses but we force him. He immediately changes into a boar and settles down by the tree. A face appears in the tree and says that Wahoon is appeased and we are blessed, those that partook of the flesh of the sacred boar will still turn into boars at night but under their own will. We return to the town to relay the news. Mostly it is received stoically.
Returning to Saragost the crowd of refugees have grown. We again are waved in, make our way to the council chambers and report back. Later Gelnix receives a message from Lady Aragane Zagawy (head of adepts) telling us that a force of 10,000 grey dwarves has been spotted at Bronce led by dark skinned commanders. We need to prepare for war and just a few days to make ready. Researching the starborn and the host and finding our strengths and their weaknesses is top of my to-do list. Fortifying the undercity and identifying the enemy within are left to the other more physcial party members.