The Once and Future King

Anchors Away

The fight at the Aundarian Embassy continued, with both Thaddeus and Oskar attempting to bring the fugitive to justice through feats of arms. Sadly, Thaddeus was felled by Lucan before he was able to slay him, and might have succumbed to his wounds were it not for the timely application of a healing potion by Oskar. Thaddeus extended a heroic reach to attempt to channel positive energy into what he now assumed was an undead opponent, missing first before finally successfully hitting Lucan. He was fiercely retaliated upon, causing him to lose consciousness yet again, whereupon Oskar, with few hit points left, decided to flee. Only Aust was left to attempt to distract Lucan through the use of his flaming sphere spell, which he did with some success – even managing to convince Lucan that the spellcaster had, in fact, been Kithry, who suffered for this misunderstanding by taking a nasty attack from Lucan.

Surprisingly, none of the combatants was chased outside by Lucan. Aust tried, with only limited success, to convince the guard at the door to enter to premesis and investigate. With little other choice, the survivors of the embassy fight spent the evening either in a hotel or wandering the streets, trying to make sense of what had happened and what their next step should be.

Meanwhile, Thaddeus awoke in the Embassy (sometime later), bandaged and only slightly better off than Lucan’s dead female victim. He gingerly rose and made his way to the door of the room he had been housed in. The guards at the embassy entrance were more than surprised to see that he was still alive, and implored upon him to meet with the Ambassador before leaving. This man, too, was pleasantly surprised that Thaddeus had survived the night and offered what assistance he could as recompense for Thaddeus’ troubles. An escourt to the healing station of the House Jorasco was arranged, as well as a later meeting with Neya ir’Krell. It was during this meetign that Thaddeus learned that Neya had met with Lucan in order to give him a password for free passage on a House Lyrander airship to a foreign country. By the time Neya realized that Lucan was no longer human, or the kind man she had known and agreed to help, it was too late. The distraught woman agreed to attempt to help the party board the ship to continue their pursuit of Lucan.

Meanwhile, assuming they had lost Thaddeus in the battle, the rest of the party did what they could to recruit a new healer to their cause. Sadly, the bar proved a poor place to do so – eventually leading them to the same Temple to Dol Dorn that Neya had agreed to meet Thaddeus at later in the day. The party now reunited, they debated the merits of continuing their dangerous mission, but upon receiving a password from Neya, decided to at least cursorily investigate the airship port to see what could be discovered there.

A chat with a dockworker revealed that an airship was to leave for Karnnath on the North side of the continent within minutes, but that there was no airship leaving for Darguun from this location. Thaddeus, frustrated by the party’s indecision regarding their next course of action, approached one of the crewmen of the airship and whispered the password he had been given by Neya. Almost without warning or cause, the party suddenly found themselves in the company of five gnome crewman aggressors. As the party methodically took down the first 3 crewmen with a combination of sword slashes, spells, and arrows, the airship began to pull in its gangplank and prepare to set sail. It was at this point that Kithry pulled out his feather/anchor and dashed heroically to the departing airship, anchoring it where it was in the water with his magical item. The fight continued, with Kithry entering the fray once more with a surprise kill from behind on a particularly pesky archer before making an astounding dropkick to the remaining combatant. Left prone, the gnome rolled off the dock and into the water, where he flailed ineffectually for a few moments before Thaddeus fished him out of the water.

It remained uncertain what the party’s next step would be, but it was almost certain this captured gnome was to play a part.

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Party Crashing

After weeks of travel to the country of Zilargo, our party was faced with a choice – to continue the pursuit of Lucan Stellos, or divert and travel to Darguun to begin another quest in the name of Lady Elyandra – their former patron. With their temporary pardons dependent on completing the quest to capture Lucan, and the substantial financial gains to be made in doing so, they finally decided to head South to Zilargo’s capital city – Trolanport.

When the party arrived, they were greeted by a city composed of a network of criss-crossing canals and flooded thoroughfares. With little to go on but a description of Lucan and his coach, and the word “Krell”, the party began their investigations in the city. After purchasing a map, the group tried to determine where the upper class hotels capable of housing a large coach and human guests were located. Sadly, the size and breadth of the city made this task challenging. Thaddeus used his interpersonal skills to determine that the word “Krell” might refer to one Neya ir’Krell – an Aundarian diplomat working at the Aundarian embassy. As fate would have it, there was to be a party at the embassy that very night.. Aust did his best to lead the party to the high quarter to begin their search of the hotels near “Embassy Row” but the party eventually found themselves at a dead end, unable to take their horses further in the desired direction without a ferry. It was at this point that a detour through a dark, narrow alley brought the party face to face with a group of sahuagin cutthroats, intent on murdering for profit.

The sahuagin had little expectation of the welcome that greeted them in the form of one lanced Thaddeus on his warhorse. He was able to charge the first attacker with his lance and impale him completely, killing him on contact. Oskar quickly slashed open the jugular of the second sahuagin, causing him to drop to the ground in a pool of blood. The fight was not over though, as 2 more sea raiders emerged from the waters of the canal. The party managed to kill a third before the final sahuagin leaped into the murky waters once more to escape. Aust, being unsatisfied with this conclusion, sent his orb of fire after it, only to see the orb extinguised in the canal.

Feeling the press of time, the party decided to split up – Thaddeus heading to a church of his order in an attempt to secure invitations to the party and the rest of the group working the upper part of the city for both forgery supplies and a victim from which to steal a party invitation. For his part, Kithry was able to steal a few pocketfuls of personal items, including a receipt for a local pawn shop, while Aust located paper and ink. Thaddeus found an unhelpful cleric at the temple of the Sovereign host unable to provide invites to the evening event, although he did confirm that some of the order’s clerics would be their for their own purposes.

When Aust and Kithry made their way to the pawn shop (with Oskar and Thaddeus), they were able to pawn off Kithry’s stolen golden locket for a minor magical item – Quaal’s feather token. More importantly, however, Thaddeus was able to use information gained on his way – that the party was indeed a masquerade – to do some preparations – namely, purchase masks and other costumery.

A quick survey of the hotels around the embassy revealed that the coach Lucan had been driving had been sold. A search of the inside revealed a secret compartment large enough to store a stolen sword, and containing some dark, musty smelling earth. It seemed the party’s only chance to seize Lucan now would be at the party – if they could just get tickets.

Time now out, the party went to the Aundairian Embassy to see the first party guests arriving at the large white marble building. The Embassy was well protected by a large wrought iron fence enclosing a fancy courtyard/garden with a guardhouse. The large double doors were guarded by two embassy guards, who were collecting tickets from arriving guests and dropping them into velvet lined baskets. It was then that Aust decided to cast an invisibility spell upon Kithry, so that he could sneak over to steal some tickets for the party. His mission was a success, and soon, the party found themselves at the gate being lectured on the appropriate dress and conduct for the party.

It seemed Oskar would be the first to have problems entering, as he was unwiling to part with his armour – leading to the loss of his invitation upon further permission of the ambassador upon the morrow. Oskar cursed the guard and swore he would introduced him to Oskar’s personal “ambassador” – his bastard sword – should he ever get the chance. Next was Aust, whose robes were judged unfit for a masquerade. Thaddeus was judge as acceptably attired, and allowed to check his weapons in at the guardhouse before entering through the large double doors. He entered to find an extravagant scene, a large milling of costumed guests consuming fine hors-d’oevres and wine in crystal goblets. Not seeing anyone who matched Lucan’s description, he bore his holy symbol outside of his robes to catch the attention of another cleric of Dol Dorn, Nantiken. The two conversed briefly, with Nantiken agreeing to point out Lucan should he happen to spot him in the crowd.

Aust and Kithry rested briefly in a back alley near the costume shop, allowing Aust to regain his spells, before returning to the party themselves. Nantiken at this point informed Thaddeus that Lucan was indeed present in a bird mask. Thaddeus saw 4 figures with a bird mask – 2 men and 2 women, but none of the men were blond. Still, figuring that Lucan was now separated from his magic weapon, Aust and Kithry conspired with Thaddeus inside the party to sneak to the guardhouse under the guise of invisibility to steal the magic sword before attending to Lucan inside himself. In the meantime, Thaddeus talked up a red-haired woman who had been dancing with a dark-haired man on the dance floor and found out that she was named Grilsha, and was the sister of the man she’d been dancing with. Thaddeus now highly suspected that man to be Lucan Stellos. The wizard made it as far as the guardhouse when a scream, and then a fight broke out on the dance floor of the Embassy, distracting nearly all of the guards outside and beginning a human stampede inside. Thaddeus was able to see a silhuoetted pair of sword fighters inside – a man he assumed was Lucan and a woman. He cast a light spell to provide additional illumination before witnessing the woman run through by the man in the eagle’s mask.

At the same time, Aust, who had heard the scream, rushed back to the embassy, pushing his way through the escaping crowds. Kithry was nowhere to be seen. Thaddeus was engaged in battle with the eagle-man and Oskar was close behind. Within the course of a few moments, the party had suffered some major blows, while the man they assumed was Lucan seemed relatively unaffected by their attacks. It seemed likely that this was a battle they were going to lose…

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Aust with their heads

After much secretive debate between themselves, Kithry and Oskar decided the “audition” provided by Violl was something they would try their hands at, for lack of a better option presenting itself. They were told that the ugly elf, Aust, would observe their progress, intervening if he thought it appropriate. The troupe headed out into the environs of the tropical greenhouse, Thaddeus, and now Aust in tow.

Although the party members could hear rustling in the trees around them indicative of the dire ape they were after, they did not locate the great ape until Oskar unthinkingly produced a large noise, causing the ape to drop from the trees above them onto the path in front of him. The sudden suprise might have worked to the dire ape’s advantage if the elf Aust had not been ready with a ray of enfeeblement, which he used to great effect upon the wild animal. The task of bringing the animal under their control became a simple matter of bloodying it to the brink of death before dazing it and dealing the final few blows non-lethally. When the deed was done, Violl revealed what the true mission they were to be hired for was: tracking down a dark lantern agent named Lucan Stellos who had gone rogue, stealing an important magical sword, a mere two days ago. Violl was willing to offer the party 2000 gp for the return of Lucan (alive) and an additional 500 gp for the return of the sword. He had little information to share with them, save the fact that Lucan had apparently left the city headed East, and his notes indicated that someone of something called Krell was of importance. Lucan had also seemingly gained strength and powers he was not previously known to possess, judging from the way in which he had assassinated the men who had been left to guard the sword at the vault where it was stolen.

Seeing their opportunity at pardon, Oskar and Kithry agreed to accept the mission on the condition that they be granted a royal pardon for their assassination of Prince Morcant outside Galethspyre. Violl hesitated, saying he had not the power to grant such a request, but agreed to meet with the party later that evening, upon the supper hour, with a decision after he had talked to his superiors. A few hours later, Violl granted the party a temporary reprieve from the warrant for their arrest, so long as they were on his mission. This seemed sufficient to draw the party into the quest. The 4 adventurers were given a letter of pardon, a 2000 gp letter of credit (against their quest earnings), as well as 4 magebred horses from House Vadalis to use on their quest.

Oskar was quick to use his letter of pardon to retrieve monies owed him at the House Kundarak bank in the royal square – for which the letter proved useful, since his name was identified in the bank ledger as that of someone wanted by the royal guard. Oskar was able to brush away the escourt that arrived to apprehend him and continue on his way.

The quartet of adventurers had not gotten farther than First Tower when Oskar suggested they sell their magebred horses for cash (relying on their old horses instead). Only Aust and Oskar seemed willing to part with these reliable beasts, for which they received 400 gp each from Farmer Thorsen. It seemed the party was little concerned with actually catching up to Lucan Stellos in the near future.

It was on their third day of leisurely travel that the party encountered its first serious challenge – a raiding party of centaur highwaymen intent on relieving the party of its gold. The rough terrain and narrow roadway meant that the attacks of the hooved highwaymen were limited to head on charges, which were successfully rebuked by lead warrior Oskar. Aust did his best to help with a giant moveable fireball, but the superior reflexes of the centaurs meant that no damage was done. After a few strikes against Oskar, the second centaur was downed, causing the third to make his retreat into the woods. He didn’t make it very far, however, as he was shot down in his tracks. A cursory search of the bodies yielded a handful of gold, 3 longswords, and 3 composite longbows, which the party took with it. The rest of the trip to Wroat along the King’s road was relatively quiet.

Once in Wroat, a certain level of trust had been established between the new and old party members, and the group agreed that it would continue Eastwords on the guise of carrying out its mission, but not invest any particular energy in actually accomplishing it. The promise of Breland’s borders in the near future meant that the royal bounty against them would soon be a thing of their past, leaving them to pursue whatever missions they might choose. With a clear goal now in sight, the group decided to cash in their letter of credit. Now flush with coin, both Oskar and Aust decided to use the cash to purchase magical “rings of sustenance”, allowing the two to go without out eating and feel rested with only 2 hours sleep after wearing the ring for a week. An exchange of coin for the ruby ring found in Prince Morcant’s torture chamber at Mooncrest Lodge also occurred between Oskar and Aust when Aust detected magic in the ruby. Finally, the group purchased maps of Breland, Zilargo, and Darguun for use in their future travels.

The group was able to reach the Zilargo border within a few weeks of travel, and were surprised to learn that they were still, in fact, only a week and a half behind Lucan Stellos, who was apparently headed towards Trolanport with a red-haired woman Oskar suspected might be Tamsin Arrowway. Only time would tell …

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Introducing ...

With the days ticking by until the poison in their veins was scheduled to take its evil effect, Kithry and Oskar had little time to consider the hand-delivered note that arrived for them at the Sharnish Inn in the city’s lower quarters. Instead, they focused on ways they could rid their systems of the venom. They made their way to a Temple of Dol Dorn, intent on paying whatever price that could secure a cure for them. They were met by a tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed, scarred cleric in Dol Dorn’s robes who introduced himself as Thaddeus. Thaddeus was able to correctly determine that Oskar had been poisoned with snow moccassin (while Kithry’s system was poison-free), but it was beyond his powers to heal with the mundane arts. Seeking the advice of a church elder, Oskar bargained him down to the astonishing price of 150 gp for a Neutralize Poison spell – but there was a catch. Oskar would be accompanied for a month by a cleric of Dol Dorn’s order – namely Thaddeus – to ensure that he adhered to the moral code of the God who had granted this boon. If at any time Oskar was deemed unworthy, Thaddeus was instructed to smite him with all his god’s vengeful wrath. Oskar, however, was strangely optimistic that this new development would be to his liking.

After collecting his things (including one kick-ass war horse), Thaddeus joined the duo on their way to the Dark Lanterns’ secret meeting place in Myriad tower – where they were instructed by “V” to meet a guard at noon with their letter of introduction. The guard, however, was nowhere to be seen upon arrival, and it was only after some involved discussions with a seeming beggar that the party realized he was the guard they were looking for. He unlocked the sturdy iron gate blocking the stairs leading up to the greenhouse where "V’ awaited them in front of a greenhouse table littered with gardening tools, along with a rather ugly looking elf of slight proportions with a crooked ear and eye sewn shut. “V” introduced himself as Violl, one of the King’s Dark Lanterns – the covert eyes and ears of the King in the country of Breland. He demanded they “audition” for their role as quest-takers, while laying out a line of 6 cure minor wounds potions before them. Thaddeus seemed intent enough to pursue this line of action, while Kithry and Oskar had reasons to doubt this pale, guant man and his elven associate.

Would they or wouldn’t they take the mission?

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It's elemental, my dear Watson

Kithry Teaberry and Oskar the Nameless made it back into Sharn on the third day of Dravago with just a week to spare until the effects of the poison administered by Prince Morcant ir’Wynarn were predicted to make themselves known. It being the spring season, there was now little need for their traveling cloaks in this Southern city, but the two vertically challenged heroes kept their coverlets in the hopes they would help distract observers from the fact that they were wanted men. Strangely, the posters they found and ripped down in the city’s tower market stated they were wanted for robbery, not murder, but the two found little motivation to question this clerical error.

A series of unfortunate dice rolls caused the pair some grief in trying to locate an alchemist – any alchemist – who could lead them to Jezel Aberforth, but a gyptian woman’s instructions to seek out the alchemist’s guild hall a level higher in the city brought the two once again face to face with their own faces on wanted posters just beside the guards overseeing the lifts to the upper levels. Loathe to try donning disguises, the halfling and the dwarf decided to make their way back to the Rat’s market in the lower levels of the crooked spire, hoping they could find someone who had heard of a poison-loving alchemist named Jezel while at the same time avoiding the grudge-holding goblin Skakan. Finding a likely vendor, Kithry immediately recognized among the wares before him the names of two poisons listed on Jezel’s invoices. One, nitharit root, was said to kill a man on contact, while the other, Oil of taggit, merely rendered its victim unconscious upon ingestion. Kithry was able to trade his magnifying glass for 5 doses of the Oil of taggit. Having established a rapport with the vendor, it was not long before Jezel’s name was brought forth. Fortune favored the halfling, as the black market vendor had heard of Jezel – a gnomish alchemist from the city district of Gnomington.

In Gnomington, the wanted posters disappeared, and Kithry and Oskar were more at liberty to search out their intended target. Entering the first alchemist’s shop they came across, the duo met a wizened old gnome named Brender, who was quick to direct them to Jezel’s lab, but even quicker to warn them against mentioning his name to the paranoid alchemist Jezel. Brender was able to tell them that greenblood oil was listed as originating in Droaam, and would damage the liver after a period of about a month causing death, and that most poisons could be cured without an antidote but merely the blessings of a temple priest for the right amount of coin and/or prayer. The duo left Brender’s shop and headed toward Jezel’s.

The first sign that the description of Jezel Aberforth had been accurate was the layer of blue, metallic smelling “paint” that covered the descending passageway into Jezel’s underground abode. Kithry led the way down this slippery slope, and noted the abundance of blue footprints at its paintless base, just in front of a fountain that spouted a clear liquid smelling slightly of rotten eggs into a shallow basin beneath. Kithry collected some of this liquid in a wineskin, and notice that the liquid itched where it touched the skin on his hands. He rinsed the liquid off with water and waited for Oskar to descend. The dwarf, not wanting to cover the bottom of his boots with blue paint, covered them in burlap before descending the hall, and when he was done, threw the used pieces of burlap into the fountain. Both were surprised to discover that the liquid dissolved away the blue paint from the burlap pieces, and Kithry used this new knowledge to clean his boots before the pair proceeded down the hallway to the right, ending at a door.

Peeping through the door’s keyhole, Kithry saw yet another doorway beside a gnomish hatstand on the wall opposite this entryway, as well as the beginnings of an unbelievable assortment of gnomish tools hung along a wall the continued beyond his line of sight. Hearing nothing, the halfling opened the door and entered to tool room. Once again, curiosity got the better of the halfling, who couldn’t resist sifting through the drawers of tools in the hopes that he might find a weapon or gadget of interest, or better yet, paperwork revealing the nature of their ingested poison. It was only when he attempted to put the first item he’d picked up down that Kithry realized the tool was covered with some sort of alchemical crazy glue that refused to let go. It made matters no better that Kithry’s dominant hand was now glued to a glorified gnomish toaster.

Oskar tried to pass through the doorway by the hatstand, with no luck, as some sort of invisible force field prevented him from entering. Kithry, meanwhile, searched for secret doorways in the rest of the room, but failed miserably. It took the dwarven sense for stonework to reveal a hidden door in the paneling of the toolroom, and Oskar entered a room filled with all imaginable kinds of alchemical apparatuses – twisted and twirling glass and rubber tubing connecting bubbling and boiling liquids of various colors. The room also contained a large circular fireplace with silver-lined decorative symbolry on its floor and a writhing, life-like fire blazing above. Kithry entered next, and after rifling through the alchemical library of small potions numbered in spidery script, noticed a bucket of the blue “paint” sitting beside the doorway, giving Oskar the inspiration to try throwing it upon the flames. Sadly, this action destroyed the circle of protection ensnaring the fire elemental that Jezel had been using to aid in his alchemical pursuits, explosively releasing the elemental into the laboratory and upon our unsuspecting heroes. Wisely, retreat through the secret door was chosen as the best alternative in this instance, and the two lived to see another room.

Returning to the T junction at the bottom of the painted hallway, the duo turned left this time, coming upon the cloakroom, filled with paint-splattered outerwear, a large fishtank containing fish and a mixture of submerged tools and poitions, and a mysteriously entrancing rainbow pattern on a tapestry hung on the adjacent wall that ensnared Oskar’s attention with its ever-changing spectrum of color. The dwarf might have stood there forever were it not for Kithry’s intervention. In the room beyond – the receiving room – the pair found a log book detailing visits by royal pages, minor nobles, and interestingly, one Orwell d’Obergill of Mooncrest Lodge. There was also a catalog of poisons and antidotes on offer by Jezel, which included an item from the invoices found at Mooncrest – Snow moccassin. The Snow moccassin came from the Graywall mountains, and was likely to cause delayed poisoning. The antidote to Snow moccassin was a tincture of monkshood tinged with a drop of dragon’s blood.

Continuing onward, the dwarf and halfling located Jezel’s sleeping chambers, but no written records of interest, and finally, came to a large underground space which served to store both kitchen wares and a variety of small animals who were now protesting loudly at the presence of the fire elemental in their midst. Noting the efficacity of retreat on first attempt, the pair decided to do so again, but were this time followed by the fire elemental. Kithry wisely chose to upset the large aquarium in the cloakroom, securing the two the time to run out of the building before the elemental’s pursuit caused the painted hallway to explode, and collapse upon the extraplanar creature.

The two were left to return to Brender’s shop, toaster in hand, to attempt to make sense of all that had just happened. Sadly, aside from detaching the toaster from Kithry’s hand, Brender could offer little help to the duo. They’d learned some things, stole some things, destroyed some things, and wasted most of a day, but seemed little closer to clearing the deadly poison from their veins.

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Steal my dice, pay the price

Kithry and Oskar decided the most efficient way to escape Mooncrest Lodge after 3 days of recovery in the badger’s den was to steal some horses and take off down the road leading back to Galethspyre. For the most part, they were correct, save the fact that the party tracking them had hunting scent hounds, and that firing crossbow bolts from an elevated position beside the road would give away their position. Oskar drew the brunt of the unwanted attention of the 4 pursuing guards, while Kithry’s light crossbow bolts skittered by mostly unnoticed. Vastly outnumbered, a few well placed sword blows by Prince Morcant’s guardsmen felled the dwarf, who looked poised to spill the last of his life’s blood across the grassy hilltop where he was overcome.

Kithry did his best to prove that brains could match brawn, using his thundersticks to scare off two of the guardsmen’s horses, left on the road, and his smokesticks to create a cloud of thick black fog which would not dissipate in the breezeless day. Leading the stolen horses across a stream and into the woods beyond, Kithry was able to circle back to the spot where Oskar had miraculously stabilized and perform an act of might so incredible the DM could scarcely believe it, lifting the armored unconscious body back onto a horse before taking off to the conveniently located waterfall hideaway where the party had previously battled an ogre. Once again, the small ones had time (but not food) to recover from their war wounds, until they were finally ready to take to the road leading back to Galethspyre.

Their first clue that things were not going to be as easy as hoped was the illustrated wanted poster (offering a paltry award of a mere 100 gp) hanging on the community bulletin board at the outskirts of town. At the city gates, the lazy looking watchmen were enough to convince Oskar that the pair should consider other avenues of travel. Reluctantly, Kithry agreed – after all, he was pretty sure he was not feeling any effects from the prince’s supposed “poisoning”. Oskar was intent on continuing back to Sharn, however, by country roads if needs be, to track down the Alchemist Jezel Aberforth, whose name appeared on the invoices listing various chemicals and poisons that might be the substances administered to them.

An almost unnoteworthy encounter with a bugbear reminded the half-pint heroes how quickly the tone of a traveller’s day could change, but it was the only thing that punctuated the trip back to Sharn along the shores of the dagger river. Pushing their horses to their limits, the party was able to reach the city with a week left until the effects of their ingested poison were supposed to make themselves known…

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The Vampire strikes back

Not satisfied with abandoning their expensive equipment to their villainous opponents at Mooncrest Lodge, both Kithry and Oskar made their separate attempts to locate and recoup their belongings from the hands of Prince Morcant‘s men. Kithry tried first. His attempt was punctuated by explorations of the stables (where he found a dagger and not much else), the servant’s quarters (where he explored the laundry, some servants’ bunks -where he stole Gunnar West‘s identification papers, the occupied kitchen, and the private living space of Orwell d’Obergill – the estate’s butler), and finally, the far side of Mooncrest Lodge itself. Sadly, while peaking in a window to the Lodge’s Great Room, Kithry was spotted by a pair of guards who quickly made their way outside to pursue him. One used his tracking skills to noble effect, following the halfling back to the grand entrance of the lodge, where Kithry used rope to bar the door. Stealing his way up to the second floor, he noticed a man in servant’s clothes pacing the balcony outside, while neglecting to notice a second pair of guards around the corner, guarding a door at the far end of the hallway running parallel the balcony. With little choice, Kithry leaped out onto the balcony with the servant and threatened him at knifepoint to reveal the location of the stolen gear, upon which the tongueless man, Eldon Moore, revealed his inability to speak. Kithry gained his aid in pushing the passenger pigeon hutch up against the doorway he’d entered through, but this accomplished little, as a second doorway at the far end of this outdoor balcony was also available to the guard. Kithry used the intervening seconds to attempt to ascend to the roof with the aid of the mute servant, but without success, and was finally forced to jump from the outdoor balcony to the ground below. A successful tumble ensured he suffered only minor damage before he began on a mad dash past the well and kennels to the stables. It was here that Kithry was finally cornered by the pursuing guards, and knocked unconscious after a failed attempt to impale one of his pursuers with a pitchfork.

After resting the night out in his badger’s den to fullest (leveling) effect, Oskar was unwittingly next to take up the equipment retrieving cause. The dwarf wasted little time, approaching the lodge in the wee morning hours while most of the household was still asleep. He entered the doors to the great room, only to find the assigned guardsman asleep on duty at his post at the bottom of the stairs. After a brief interrogation, Oskar slit the man’s throat, heading in the direction of the kitchens, with hopes of locating the pantry, where it was suggested his weapons might be stored. In the kitchens, Oskar located another cook, who he threatened into assisting him, taking her down into the root cellar to look for his lost equipment, but to no avail. Once again, with little choice in terms of methods to silence her, he killed his hostage, returning to the great room to explore the upper level of the lodge. He noted with some satisfaction that the guard’s body remained undisturbed as he climbed the stairs to the balcony overlooking the great room, where he was able to gather a few weapons for further use and protection. His keen dwarven eyes also noted a dim corner behind the chimney from the great room’s fireplace where the sound of his footsteps rang hollow. It took quite a long time, but eventually, he was able to pry open a secret trap door to reveal the room where he and Esme had been held prisoner just days before.

This time, Oskar chose to follow the ladder to its bottom, in the underground passage below the lodge. Carefully making his way along the revealed tunnel in the dark, he soon came to a deep pool of water, which revealed itself to be the well seen above ground near the lodge. The tunnel’s floor at this point was marked by sets of muddy footprints, indicating that it had been used recently. Oskar forged onward, curious to see where it would lead next. After passing a second ladder that made its way up to the kennels, the twisting passage eventually ended in a wooden doorway, preceeded by an 8 ft gap of strange looking stonework on the floor that Oskar had the good sense not to trust. By placing a single foot on the section, Oskar revealed a pit trap that might have killed him, were it not for his keen dwarven senses. Oskar was able to scale his way along the wall over to the far side of the pit trap and open the wooden door on the far side.

Inside, Oskar noted several items of interest. A set of shelves containing many precious items of note, including a letter, a series of alchemist’s invoices, a ruby ring, the package that the party had been charged with delivering to Mooncrest Lodge (which revealed itself to contain a fist-sized dragonshard), as well as his personal identification papers, along with those of Kithry. Beyond the shelves and behind a coffin, was the stack of knapsacks containing the missing gear of interest, minus a few items of no particular note. After gathering the belongings, Oskar inspected the coffin, which contained nothing more than dirt, before breaking into the final locked set of cabinet doors in the room, which turned out to contain Kithry’s bound and gagged body. After ungagging and untying his friend, Oskar spent time meticulously combing over the underground chamber, trying to reveal more of its secrets, before the sound of footsteps finally halted the search. Extinguishing the light of the sunrod that had been lit by tucking it into his clothing, Kithry waited with Oskar at the partially opened doorway to the tunnel until a whiff of smoke bypassed them to enter the room -materializing as none other than Morrison, who had now revealed himself to be a vampire.

Much fighting ensued, but to little effect, save dazing Kithry into making nothing by the most minor of actions in each round of fighting. However, it was, in the end, Kithry’s decision to use the wooden crossbow bolts as improvised “stakes” to drive through Morrison’s heart that saved the duo from certain defeat. A single, action-point assisted and directed attack was all it took to fell the foul creature, and Kithry and Oskar were able to escape via the kennel escape route in the tunnel to the badger hole once again – equipment in tow this time. Few could argue that the two half-pint heroes had had lady luck on their side on this particular occasion as they schemed in the afternoon light what their next move would be…

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The Artist formerly known as Prince

Our story starts with the unfortunate assassination of the Brelish heir to the throne, Prince Morcant ir’Wynarn by the unphased dwarf Oskar, whose rage at being poisoned matched that of the most reckless barbarian. Certainly, a handful of unprepared guards did their best to intervene, but Oskar‘s superior initiative on this matter could not be argued with. It was all enough to cause at least one of the guards to lose his head in the fight. It was all Kithry could do to watch from his chatting spot near the staircase as a guard’s sword was held to his throat. Meanwhile, Tamsin yelled for Oskar to halt in the name of the king, but when he refused to do so, the shocked sorceress resorted to throwing magic missiles in Oskar’s direction. In combination with the hits of Morrison, it proved enough to finally fell the enraged dwarven assassin.

When next Oskar awoke, he found himself in a dark enclosed space, chained and manacled to a wall, in the company of a female elf bound to a table by hand and foot with rope, whom he’d never met before. There was more to this elf than one might initially suspect, however, as she soon awoke to use her own magic to free herself from the ropes which held her. At this point, Oskar tried to bluff his way into winning her aid with the promise of protecting her until they were safely away, but the elf Esme was wise to his lies. She left him chained where he was and investigated 2 of the 3 possible exits she could see – a trapdoor in the ceiling, locked, and a descent into some sort of tunnel which dug into the earth and led away from the lodge. Something about the lighting in the tunnel dissuaded Esme from using that escape route, and she returned to the room filled with the symbols of necromantic sorcery to try and magically charm Oskar into aiding her. Unsuccessful, Esme finally had to take the dwarf at his word that he would assist her in escaping their prison. Frantically, she searched the shelves and drawers for keys or implements which would help her in her mission to free Oskar, but none of the keys she found fit the lock on his manacles. One did fit the locked trapdoor in the ceiling, but footsteps heard nearby cautioned her against using it. Neither did magically cast acid splashes do anything to weaken the solidly made lock keeping him chained to the wall. Oskar strained in vain against the ring implanted in the wall that was holding him in place, and Esme redirected her acid attacks there, finally aiding the dwarf to succeed in pulling the metal ring from the wall. In a lucky stroke, Oskar was able to smash the lock off his manacles to free himself.

Finally free of their bondage, it was time to consider their escape. First Oskar checked the trapdoor in the ceiling again, and, undeterred by the sound of footsteps, opened it a crack to catch sight of a pair of boots facing in the opposite direction. Oskar did his best to trip and pull the unseen servant into the hidden room with them, but failed, leading this man to raise the alarm. With little time to think, the pair of prisoners grabbed their dagger-like weapons from among the evil set of torturous knives and implements on the wall and bull rushed their way through the doorway in the corner of the room, which brought them into a closet which opened onto the lodge’s kitchen. The very surprised cook inside never had the chance to finish his preparation of the evening’s meal – he was first manhandled by Oskar (as Esme grabbed a frying pan for protection), ransomed against the incoming guards, and finally had his throat slit by the dwarf when he was made to understand the regard with which the cooking staff were held at Mooncrest Lodge. It was then that Oskar and Esme finally made their run for freedom into the woods beyond the manor house. Oskar was somehow able to outrun the guards, but Esme was not so lucky. She was forced to use her Charm Person spell once again to convince the capturing guard to let her go, “for the sake of her child.”

Meanwhile, “back at the ranch”, Tamsin and Kithry finally saw their chance to escape with the disappearance of their kennel-side guard in the midst of the new kafuffle at the lodge. Kithry was able to break out of the locked kennel with sheer force of strength, aiding Tamsin shortly thereafter from her canine caged captivity. It was at this point that the courier parted ways with the halfling, wishing him luck and putting foot to gravel to sprint from the premesis. While Oskar had found a badger’s den to curl up in and begin to recover from his wounds, Esme had taken to watching the road out of the estate, and followed Tamsin‘s progress to the front “gate”, where she aided the young human female by magically emptying the quiver of the guardsman intent on filling Tamsin’s body with crossbow arrows. Kithry, meanwhile, had not forgotten about the dog he’d aided earlier, and took the animal with him, before similarly making for the safety of the woods.

As night descended upon our divided party, all were left to wonder if they would ever see their friends or enemies alive again…

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Wench Prince were we planning on attacking?

After the mysterious disappearance of Duncan from the Gator’s Gullet Inn in the early morning, the party decided to continue on their mission to deliver the package to Prince Morcant‘s estate – Mooncrest Lodge – a day and a half’s ride Southwest of Galethspyre. Although the weather started out fair, it was soon miserably cold and raining. The road dwindled to little more than a little-used cart trail outside of Galethspyre and the party began to get the feeling they were being watched. They could not spot the danger, however, until it was directly upon them in the form of 3 hyena-like gnolls. In his new armour, Oskar set upon two of them with little problem, completely beheading one, with Kithry and Tamsin contributing some arrow-shots from behind the cover of the terrain’s scattered boulders. Kithry’s attempt to sneak up on the third, unsuccessfully, and paid with a grevious wound. He had his revenge though, in the form of a well-placed dagger stab to the throat. Fortunately, our heroes prevailed in the end, with a few light wounds to deal with.

The party chose, with the echoing howls of more gnolls in the distance, to continue down the path along the rocky escarpment, where the trail passed a waterfall. With his darkvision, Oskar could see the corpse of a dead stag in the water, and, (with an exceptional spot check), the hulking moss-covered figure of a snoozing ogre. It didn’t stay snoozing for long, however, and was soon charging across the pond at the foot of the waterfall towards our party. The 9 foot tall, 600 lb ogre provided a sizeable challenge, but the party was up to it, especially with Oskar’s new armour providing the protection needed to go toe to toe with an ogre. It was, however, Kithry’s use of alchemist’s fire which provided the killing blow which fell the ogre, and a search for the ogre’s lair revealed a waterfall-hidden cave filled with the bones of unlucky passersby and several treasures of interest – including a (heavy) mace of disruption, a chainmail shirt, and 28 gp. The party set camp that late evening in the cave and slept undisturbed until late morning.

It took another day’s walking to reach the Mooncrest Estate, and the team split up to search for Prince Morcant. Kithry and Oskar headed towards the sound of barking hounds, while Tamsin made her way toward the main estate house. Kithry and Oskar were met by the Prince’s man Morrison in the dark recesses of the kennel building, where several hounds had fallen sick of late, while Tamsin found and conversed with the Prince’s manservant Orwell.

It wasn’t long before the reunited party was granted audience with the prince and toasted on their mission’s success by the prince himself (who, Kithry noted, did not partake of the wine they were served). Prince Morcant paid the party their reward, hinted at further opportunities for employment, and invited the trio to join him on a boar hunt in the morning – an offer which was accepted. Kithry took opportunity in the late evening to scout out to the servant’s quarters, where he overheard talk of a “Second Sun” (or was it Second Son?) between a groomsman (Jacob Eomer) and house attendant (Benjamin Marteens), and talk of someone called Arturo being responsible for the estate’s trouble of late. He stopped by the kennels once more to apply some healing potion to one of the sick hounds, who appeared to get better with this expensive intervention.

The hunt the next day was a success, with Kithry and Oskar felling a boar who was tougher than his small stature would suggest – much like the bravery of Kithry, who decided the best approach was to put the boar in a headlock … which he succeeded in doing!

At the celebratory party back at Mooncrest Lodge, the Prince revealed the nature of his next mission for them: to apprehend the halfling known as the Fist, to find out who his employer was in the theft and ransoming of the prince’s package and how the package was stolen, and finally to kill the Fist. In return for their success, the Prince promised a pardon for their sins at the lightning rail station and a rich reward. Not to be denied, the prince revealed that the party would also, as reward, receive antidote to the slow-acting poison they had consumed in their wine the day previous. He assured them they had at least a month to complete their mission, but this was little consolation to Oskar, who flew into a rage and charged the prince (successfully), leading everyone in the room, including the DM, to wonder what would happen next …

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You can say that again

After 3 or 4 days of shopping individually in Galethspyre for items to aid in their questing, our party of Oscar, Duncan, Tamsin, and Kithry agreed to meet up at an Inn just outside of town called the Gator’s Gullet, so named for the stuffed alligator above the mantle in the great room of this tavern/inn. It seemed like just another night on the road when Oscar and Duncan stepped in from the rainstorm to oversee the inn’s great room. Three figures occupied this room: two gambling brothers named Tanik and Vanik who happened to be twins, and one solitary dwarven prospector called Prak. Duncan made his way to join the twins in their game of chance, while Oscar approached Prak to gather local news. Before long, a pleasant barmaid going by the name of Klarissa arrived to take their orders of food and beverage. Oscar thought little of the flash of blue smoke emanating from a handful of Prak’s powder thrown into the fireplace at first, quickly distracted by a fight that broke out between the twins as to whether or not one had cheated. The innkeeper, Lantish, broke up the kafuffle, just as a scream pierced the night from upstairs. Klarissa went upstairs to investigate, and was followed by our party to discover a young woman in nightclothes declaring she’d seen a rat. Satisfied that it was nothing more than a rodent problem, the team came back downstairs. Before long, Prak had grown tired of the company and declared he would head home, but the Inn’s staff refused, trying to encourage this drunken regular to take a prepared room upstairs. Before long, Klarissa re-emerged from the kitchen with a deep cut in her hand, looking for a clean rag to staunch the flow of blood, which Duncan offered to heal. Klarissa was amazed by his healing touch and offered to skim the inn’s barrel for another mug of cheap homebrew in thanks. The party heard a clatter and smashing glass downstairs, followed shortly thereupon by an exclamation of “Dirty rats!” from Lantish. They scarcely had time to react, however, before sounds of an explosion upstairs caused something most curious to occur …

The party once again found itself reintroducing themselves to the twins and Prak, with a sense of deja-vu so strong they knew something was afoot. Only they seemed to realize it though. Seeking the first most logical explanation, Oscar zeroed in on the dwarf throwing the blue-smoked flash powder, questioning him carefully as to what kind of powder it was. Nothing seemed amiss in Prak’s story, but Oscar bargained half of his chicken dinner for the powder and threw it all in the fireplace, causing a mushroom cloud of blue smoke to fill the room. Duncan next investigated the woman’s quarters upstairs after she screamed and announced the presence of a rat. As expected, this armed and armor-carrying woman currently in a nightshirt did indeed sport a rat of significant size in her room. As it disappeared behind a nightstand close to the wall, the woman, Elthia, was quick to hint that her investigator should make himself scarce, which he did. Duncan passed the drunken Prak, being led by Lantish, on the way down the stairwell and was little surprised to see Klarissa emerge once again with a cut hand from the kitchen. He once again healed her. When they heard glass shatter in the basement below this time, Duncan and Oscar were quick to investigate, finding broken glass and a yellowish liquid that might have been ale in a puddle on the floor of the basement. Several rats scurried about, disturbed by the appearance of the guys. They offered to help with the rat problem, but failed to kill all of the rats before an explosion reset the timeloop again.

On the third loop, Duncan and Oscar split forces. Duncan heading directly upstairs and Oscar rudely demanding that Prak give him the powder before he had opportunity to throw it. The same sequence of events repeated themselves, save that this time, Klarissa’s hand was saved from cutting, and the guys had time alone downstairs in the cellar to more carefully examine its contents. Disappeared for so long, Lantish finally found the adventurers downstairs and demanded to know why his safety chest, containing the Inn’s profits, was damaged. Offering to help with the rat problem once again, the guys evaded Lantish’s questioning, but a glass container of yellow liquid was still knocked to the floor as Lantish escourted them out of the cellar. Frustration mounted as the loop began again.

In the subsequent loops, Oscar and Duncan were able to enlist the help of the visiting cleric Nantiken in trying to determine what was happening. They suspected Nantiken’s Glyph of Warding had something to do with it, but could not pinpoint who or what was setting it off, or how this had anything to do with the loop in time.

It was only by hijacking Nantiken in his room after learning the “password” to Nantiken’s Glyph of Warding that the guys were able to determine that a rat soaked in the liquid from the cellar, crossing and detonating on the Glyph of Warding was the source of all the time-bending going on.

Though they’d never seen “Groundhog’s day”, Duncan and Oscar were similarly able to right all wrongs and leave the Inn with a clean slate by correctly predicting and preventing the series of events as they unfolded. Kithry, late for their meetup, was none the wiser.

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