Campaign of the Month: March 2009

Denizens of the Nentir Vale

Sky Pirates

From 1000' under ground to 1000' above

Felsmon awakes; it is quiet and dark. But pausing, he wonders, is that noise above, like creaking wood? And why does his head feel like Barrick looks most mornings? Moving to rub his head Felsmon’s arm stops mid-reach, halted by a sturdy length of chain. Sitting up as his eyes adjust to the gloom, he sees that the party is all there, sleeping more closely than ever before. Tugging the chain quickly shows that everyone is chained together, and to the walls. Felsmon’s brief exploration wakes the rest of the group, one by one, each adventurer waking with the same puzzled pained expression.

It does not take the group long to realize they are on a ship, the wooden cell and the rocking motion easily giving it away. Seeing no guards within sight on the other side of the lone-gated wall, they waste no time healing themselves. Tira begins picking the locks of their chains, her own dropping off like she was restrained with silk ties. But before she can undo the rest of the locks a guard appears, striding toward the cell. The guard buys the group’s attempt at feigning unconsciousness and enters the cell. Erik quickly grabs the guard with his legs in a scissor hold and flips the guard down on his back. Before the guard can even get out a shout, Z’alden moves in and easily kills the restrained lackey.

Free from bondage the party begins to search their surroundings. Obviously in the cargo hold of a ship, they find Erik’s pouch of holding, then the rest of their supplies, minus the coin. Erik finds a small secret door in the hull. Wary of being suddenly flooded, a vote of hands decides to open the door. Instead of water, light pours in through the hatch. Peering out they discover they are above land instead of water, and more surprising that they are 200 staff lengths above.

Heading up the ladder, Erik listens, then Barrick peeks above. Other than boots, nothing can be easily discerned on the top deck. Barging upward they find that their prison is not the only air ship around, there is a second ship, on fire, tied to theirs. It does not take long to figure out the situation. The party is trapped on a flying pirate ship, currently in the process of attacking a flying merchant ship. Most of the pirates, living and nonliving, were on the other ship, moving to transfer stolen items back.

Taking quick action, Felsmon runs along the rail line, cutting the grappling ropes as the rest of the party begins the attack of the pirate captors. Felsmon cuts the last grappling rope and the ships begin to lurch independently. Seeing the pirate captain left on the flaming merchant ship the party smiles, their odds of winning the battle improved. But the joy is short lived at best; the captain pulls out a grappling hook with a short piece of rope and throws it over. Magically the rope lengthens and the pirate is able to swing easily back to his ship, the ship on which the adventurers are fighting.

Seeing pirate skeletons trying to return and join the fray, Tira creates a swirl of space, forcing a couple skeletons out over open space, where they fell to their doom, skull jaws silently moving in protest. Erik uses the diversion to teleport aft, grabbing the steering bar. Straining, Erik is able to crash the pirate ship into the merchant ship, killing two pirates in the process. Erik smiles at his ingenuity, but the joy is short lived as the fire from the dying merchant ship jumps and sets the pirate ship aflame.

Despite the slowing magical aura surrounding the pirates, Z’alden wades in closer and attacks, killing two more villainous pirates. Turning to check out his comrades, Z’alden is disheartened to see Barrick attacking Felsmon. Recognizing the domination Z’alden moves to help his friend.

Tira kills the only pirate directly attacking her and tries to head aft to help Erik. But from seemingly out of nowhere, an elemental tentacle lashes out and knocks Tira over. Before Z’alden can render aid, Barrick turns and attacks the hand that would heal him. Expecting it, Z’alden nimbly sidesteps Barrick’s swing; taps Barrick on the shoulder and the glaze dissipates from Barrick’s eyes.

The battle rages back and forth as the fire rages along the port decking. Felsmon grabs the captain only to be bitten in return. The pirate controller is knocked overboard, but invokes a spell and flies easily back on deck. Suddenly the elemental that was ensorcelled into the ship breaks free and attacks the controller. The tide of the battle is turned! Erik gives up trying to control the burning sinking ship and, from behind, delivers a fatal blow to the pirate Captain. The original helmsman is all that is left of the pirates, but he went overboard and flew away before the party could give him a proper fate.

Falling rapidly, the party has a quick choice to make. Felsmon attempts to control the ship, but could only slow its descent a little. Z’alden decides to remain aboard, trying to bring the ship into a controlled tumble, hoping some parts of the magical ship might survive for salvage. The rest of the party dives over the edge of the ship, trusting that Barrick’s new, but untested featherfall enchantment will prove true.

Everyone survives, including Z’alden, but the elemental escapes the bonds that bound it to the ship. Not taking sides, the elemental goes after the party. Barrick somehow manages to jump on and ride a creature made of air, and it was enough. A few well-placed attacks and the elemental perished.

Wondering if they could finally rest, the group surveys the area and the burning wreckage, all sure that if anyone was close, the sight of a flaming falling ship could not be missed. Sure enough, almost immediately, across a nearby lake, boats could be see being launched and heading in their direction. Dusting ash and debris off, yet another decision must be made, hide or confront whomever it is that approaches.

Letter of Marque from King Kaius ir’Wynarn III

To: Captain Ree ir’Wynarn
Commander of the Airship Black Wind

Greetings,

Whereas His Sacred Majesty Kaius III, of Karrnoch, Defender of the Faith, Etc. Hath an Open and Declared War against the Nentir Vale and the Kengi, their Vassals and Subjects. And Forasmuch as you have made Application unto Me for Licence to Arm, Furnish and Equip the said Airship in Warlike manner, against His Majesties said Enemies, I do accordingly Impower and Commisionate you the said Ree ir’Wynarn, to be Captain or Commander of the said Airship Black Wind, Burthen Eighty Tuns or thereabouts: Hereby Authorizing you in and with the said Airship and Company to her belonging, to War, Fight, Take, Kill, Suppress and Destroy, any Pirates, Privateers, or other Subjects and Vassals of the Nentir Vale, or the Kengi, the Declared Enemies of the Crown of Karrnoch; Their Ships, Vessels and Goods, to take and make Prize of.

With this letter I do hereby Request all Lords and Commanders in Chief, of any of His Majesties Territories, to permit him the said Captain or Commander with his said Vessel, Men, and the Prizes that he may have taken, freely and quietly to pass and repass, without giving or suffering him to receive any Trouble or Hindrance, but on the contrary all Succour and Assistance needful. This Commission is to continue in Force for the Space of Six Moons next ensuing (if the War so long last) and not afterwards. Given under my Hand and Seal at Arms at Karrn the Thirteenth Day of the Dragon: The Seventh Year of His said Majesties Reign, 998 YK.

By His Excellencies Command,

Kaius III

Letter from King Kaius ir’Wynarn III to Captain Ree ir’Wynarn

Captain Ree ir’Wynarn
Airship Black Wind

Greetings Cousin,

I trust this missive finds you in excellent health and spirits. I have received your reports on the war against the Nentir and the Kengi. All seems well on those fronts.

Continue your raids as you see fit. Spare only the port of Fallcrest. You know the reasons. I write today with several requests. First, my collection of ancient sarcophagi seems sadly lacking. I have heard tell of a most exquisite specimen in the Tomb near the village of Nenlast. You will know of the one I speak. It is rumored to be made of obsidian, with a jade cover. Any other sarcophagi you find would be appreciated. The usual reward, with no questions asked.

Next, my nephew has been stirring up trouble again. Apparently the chains that bind one’s relatives are never strong enough. I hear that Dreadhold is lovely this time of year. Perhaps you could pay my dear nephew a visit, and reaffirm our concern for his well being.

Finally, do try to acquire another group of heroes. You know how I like to experiment, and that last batch did not age well at all. Most disappointing. You might try Fallcrest, as we have not heard from our contact there in quite a while.

I will expect you or your agents back at the Court no latter than two moons from now. Be punctual, as you know how I hate waiting for presents.

Given under my Hand etc. etc. the Seventh Day of the Rogue, 998 YK.


Comments

DM: Inside Wynarn’s treasure chest, you find: 10 platinum pieces, 150 gold pieces, 3 non-magical gold rings and 7 non-magical silver rings, plus some miscellaneous cold weather gear. For experience: 2400 for Wynarn, 1800 for the skeletons, 1600 for the Githyanki raiders, 1600 for the Githyanki sky pirates, 2800 for the air elemental, 700 for flying the airship, plus 2000 for general coolness. Total of 12900, or 2580 per character. This brings your current total to 38940, just a little short of 13th level.

As you look on with a mixture of fascination and horror, the flames rush up the sides of the massive airship, reducing it to a smoldering mass. You had heard old wives’ tales of lighter-than-air ships, but before today, you had all dismissed them as idle fancy. Now, today, you have seen not one, but two airships. Where did they come from? How were the air elementals chained and controlled? Who was powerful enough to afford such luxuries?

Although you were too busy during the free fall to notice, you now look around to get your bearings. You are on a wide beach strewn with sharp pebbles. Before you stretches a vast body of water, which you can only guess must be Lake Nen. Across the lake you can dimly see the distant shore, covered with the pines and aspens of Winterbole Forest. Beyond the forest you can just barely make out the haze of the mountain range separating the Nentir Vale from the kingdom of Karrnoch.

A shout from Erik makes you all turn around. He points up the lake towards a thin wisp of smoke that must mark the village of Nenlast. Although Erik has the eagle eyes of the ranger, you can all just make out a series of dots that have emerged from the village onto the lake. The villagers must have seen the fight between the airships, and the flaming wrecks as they fell. You can only assume that they are coming to investigate, and that anyone who is caught near the airships will have quite a bit of explaining to do…

What do you do? The letter from Wynarn’s cabin hints at several possibilities.

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OOC: How long does Erik think it will take the villagers to reach the crash site?

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The villagers are making slow but steady progress along the lake. There appear to be 4 or 5 boats, two of which have small sails, while the others are being rowed. You estimate it will take at least a quarter of an hour before they reach the shore. There is fairly dense vegetation along the shoreline, and it would be relatively simple to hide in the bushes, and either watch the villagers, or sneak around to the village.

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“Those approaching by boat may assume that we were amongst the pirates”, says Erik to his companions. “If any of us have means of invisibility or concealment, then I think they should stay by the wreckage to hear what is discussed. Otherwise, perhaps Tira should stay to greet them while the rest of us wait nearby in the bushes and trees.”

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Erik’s words ring true for all of you. You hide yourselves as carefully as you can near the crash site. Erik and Barrick, using their nature and dungeoneering skills, try to disguise their tracks as best as they can, before they dive quickly for cover behind a dense patch of elfberry bushes.

As the villagers approach in their boats, you can all tell that they are a motley collection of individuals. Some appear to be fishermen, others are perhaps down-on-their luck adventurers. You notice that many of the adventurers have terrible scars or deformities. One individual, who appears to be a fighter-type, steps onto the shore from a rickety long boat. He stands tall and proud, but as he walks up to the smoldering wreck, you see he walks with a distinct limp. He carries a short sword at his side, but you’re not sure how he can use it, as what should be his sword arm is missing.

A woman steps out from the same boat. She must be the local cleric, as Z’alden can clearly see a symbol of Pelor on her brow. She radiates calm and power, but you can tell from her bedraggled outfit and her tarnished mace that this must be a remote outpost, and that the donations to Pelor are perhaps not enough to support her.

From the other boats, fishermen leap onto the shore, talking excitedly and pointing first up at the sky, then down to the wreckage. Clearly, some of them saw the battle between the airships, and are telling the less fortunate about the battle. As they paw through the wreckage, Felsmon gets the feeling that they have seen such happenings before. They do not seem surprised to find the remains of the skeleton warriors, nor of the githyanki sky pirates. Tira stifles a laugh as one of the fishermen grabs the dead skeleton’s skull and tries to frighten his companions. You see the cleric wag a finger at the fisherman, and he reluctantly drops the skull and begins to sift through the rest of the flotsam.

Another small boat glides slowly in to shore, the oars pulled by two strong women. From the boat steps a grizzled dwarf. As he steps out, Barrick catches a glimpse of a very battered and notched great axe strapped to his back. The cleric and the fighter walk over to him and begin talking. Erik strains his ears but can only catch a few fleeting words. “not much to salvage… second time this month… someone must have landed her…” The fighter loudly exclaims, “Think they’re here for the tomb?”

At those last words, Z’alden notices that everyone on the beach stops, stares at the fighter, and makes a shushing sound. “Fool!” hisses the cleric. “Do you want everyone…” You cannot make out the rest of her words.

The dwarf seems unperturbed by the conversation. “Humph!” he exclaims. “Like you’re going to go back in?” he says to the cleric. Z’alden sees the cleric glare back at the dwarf. “If I recall,” she says icily, “it was you that ran last time.”

The dwarf ignores her, and continues examining the beach. You see him bend down, studying something near the location of the battle with the air elemental. He looks up suddenly, and stares intently towards Erik and Barrick’s hiding spot. Barrick sees the dwarf smile, as if he could perceive the other dwarf hiding in the bushes, and knew exactly what he was thinking. The dwarf straightens, shouts something to his companions, and then heads back to his boat. His oarswomen begin to row lustily back towards the village.

After what seems like several more hours, the other villagers head back to their boats, carrying a few unspoiled barrels and crates. Tira sees her fisherman whistling and tossing the skeleton’s skull up and down as he walks back to his boat. The boats all pull away from shore, and the beach grows quiet again.

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Tira stands up and stretches, “That was interesting. Did you see the way that dwarf smiled? There is something about him I like.” She surveys the wreckage, “Hmm, I wonder if we can whip up some makeshift sail rafts? What do you all think about visiting the village and finding more out about this secret tomb? ‘Where there is danger there is reward,’ as my uncle used to say. We can say we were out and about, saw the flaming thing fall, came to investigate, saw the village and are stopping in for a drink. Do you think we can pull off pretending to be a group of adventurers?”

Sky Pirates
 

“Ay, lets head on over to the village, but perhaps only the most charming should enter”, suggests Erik. He then winks at the gorgeous Tira and boldly states, “Hey Tira, we could pose as a newly married couple. We’d have to make it convincing.” Erik concludes, “Anyone know how to build a boat from charred wood and wreckage?”

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Tira laughs, “But what if word of our marriage got back to your new girlfriend Lorelei? On the other hand, I know of plenty of married couples that only squabble and have no physical contact, I could probably make that convincing.” She winks at Erik playfully.

Tira has never had to build anything as large as a boat, but she thinks that with the wood available they could make a simple raft, one mast, and a tiller. She thinks about asking Barrick if they can use the flat of his axe to nail things together, but then thinks better and remains silent.

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OOC: How long does Erik estimate it will take to walk to the village? Does he think it will be less than building a raft, with sail, for five? Which way is the wind blowing and does it look like it could storm before the adventurer’s got across the lake? If the raft seems like the faster option, and a safe one, then Erik will start to work building the raft. Perhaps the ships rowboat survived?

Sky Pirates
 

Erik and Tira scratch their heads for a while. Using their best boat-building skills, they estimate it would take six hours to build a sea-worthy craft, and two hours to reach the village on foot. And that includes walking through dense underbrush.

Felsmon looks impatient. You can hear him thinking, “Stop wasting time with the bloody boat!”

Sky Pirates
 

Tira looks sadly at Erik, “Only two hours to walk? I guess my next water outing will have to wait.” But then she perks up and announces loudly, “What are we waiting for? A tomb scary enough to cause that grizzled dwarf to flee has possibility written all over it. And yes, I can read possibility, with the red glasses.” She laughs at her own joke seeing as no one else does.

Sky Pirates
 

Z’alden shakes his head, as though awakening from a daze. He chuckles at Tira’s humor. Then he shakes his head some more. “That cleric of Pelor. What a sorry state for any of a priest of noble god. Dragonshards! And, this rumor of a tomb that causes dwarves to run out! I’ll bet our General Barrick would not be leaving such a place. Tira, yes, let’s be off before the sun falls further.”

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Pausing, the half-elven cleric looks at his friends with a puzzled expression. “By the Claw! did not the letter we found in Wynarn’s chamber mention a Tomb with an obsidian sarcophagi near the village of Nenlast? If the tomb the cleric mentioned is the one that Wynarn sought, then, I say we deliver the Lord Kauis his sarcophagi and then drive a stake through his heart. For who would collect a sarcophagi but a vile lord of undead?” Z’alden’s eyes gleam a bright blue even as he contemplates unleashing radiant light at evil creatures akin to Wynarn.

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Your party gathers together on the beach. Z’alden gives a final wave to the smoldering wreckage, thinking of poor Gutgob, lying in his magnificent funeral pyre.

After you scramble through the underbrush, you suddenly come upon a small wagon track, which must be the road that leads from the Fiveleague House, through Nenlast, and then onwards through the Winterbole Forest. The road appears to be little used. Weeds grow in the middle of the wagon ruts, and the tree branches dip low across the road. Felsmon trips over several logs lying in the middle of the road.

After a while, you see up ahead a wagon, going in the same direction. The wagon is loaded with firewood, and is being pulled by a decrepit looking mule. The wagon is traveling so slowly that you have no trouble catching up to it.

Sitting on top of the firewood is a scraggly old geezer. His white beard hangs below his belt, which you notice contains a rather fine looking leather scabbard and the well-worn pommel of a dirk.

As you approach, he reins in his mule, shouting “Whoa, there Fireball. Slow down, ya crazy beast. Fireball, do ya hear me?” You see him stand up and pull on the reins, apparently straining with all his might. The mule has plodded to a halt and stands there, munching on the tall grass by the roadside. The geezer mutters to himself, “Crazy monster, just about bucked me out of my seat, couldn’t catch my breath for the speed we was a travelin’!”

He stops and looks at you all calmly. “Dwarf, human, a dragonborn, half-elf, and another half-elf. Hmmph! Can you carry firewood?”

As he says this, a large pile of wood slides off the back of his wagon, and onto the track.

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Moving to pick up the firewood, Z’alden greets the geezer warmly. “Well met, driver of Fireball. I am Z’alden Silverflame, servant of Bahamut. My friends and I journey to Nenlast. We have seen an airship fall from the sky and would know more about this strange occurrence. What takes you there?”

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“Airship?” grunts the old man. “Don’t know nothing about an airship. Sure you ain’t been drinking too much of those offerings to Bahamut?”

“I’m going to Nenlast to sell this firewood.” He eyes you all suspiciously. “You aren’t firewood traders, are you?” Then, as he looks you all up and down, he relaxes, apparently satisfied.

“Nope, you look like plain old adventurers to me. Probably coming to do a little tomb raiding, eh?” He laughs uproariously to himself, and continues laughing until the tears start streaming down his face. “Tomb raiding, get it?” He starts laughing again. None of you quite get the joke.

He suddenly grows serious. “Well, come on then, I don’t have all day. Pick up that fallen timber and get a move on.”

The geezer gives a sharp crack of his whip, nowhere near Fireball. The mule starts up with a shudder, and begins to plod slowly down the lane towards Nenlast. “Keep up if you can, my Fireball’s quite a racer.” By this point the wagon has finally caught up to Erik, who had been standing at the front by the mule, using all of his nature skills to divine if it was a happy creature or not.

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OOC: What can we tell about the geezer. Is he anything more than mortal? Does he carry any magic?

Sheepishly, Z’alden says, “Well, yes, the rites of the Great Dragon can be a bit…involved. Perhaps it was an image from the holy smoke.” Z’alden gathers the timber, whistling a tune from his village.

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As far as Z’alden can tell, he’s just an old geezer. Nothing more, nothing less. You get the feeling that he might have seen his share of adventures “back in the day”, but obviously he didn’t strike it rich. You get a powerful sense of magic, which appears to emanate from the dirk in his belt.

You are now approaching the village of Nenlast.

The geezer says “Well, I’m mighty obliged to you for carrying the wood. Just dump it all back in the wagon. Fireball and I can take it from here.”

He turns away, then turns back again, “Oh, and if it’s adventuring you’re after, you might want to stop by the Drunken Goblin Tavern. All the old warriors hang out there. And the smoked whitefish is excellent!”

“Oh, and the name’s Bertram. Bertram Barrelhouse.”

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You all make your way slowly into the village, following Bertram and Fireball. As far as you can tell, there are probably only a hundred or so inhabitants, but the place is neat and tidy. It appears that the few people who do live here take pride in their village. The streets are clean and appear to have been recently swept. There are several outlying houses made of simple logs, and then a few buildings made of roughly-shaped stone.

Near the lake you can see several fishing boats, as well as a large building with smoke coming from several chimneys. An unmistakable smell of smoked fish wafts from the building, as Barrick’s stomach gives off a large rumble that could clearly be heard throughout the village.

As you approach the main intersection, Felsmon hears cheerful music coming from a well-built stone building on the corner. A sign over the door shows a small green goblin, dancing and carrying a full tankard of ale. The music appears to be coming from the back garden behind the tavern. As you get closer, you now see that the trees around the tavern are full of brightly colored streamers. Several everburning torches are set in brackets on the trees, and appear to have been magically enhanced with different colors.

Z’alden surveys the scene, and suddenly slaps his forehead and exclaims, “I know what’s going on. It’s a wedding!” Sure enough, as you look, you see what must be the lucky man, er, dwarf, exit the back door of the tavern and enter the garden. Erik recognizes him as none other than the dwarf who had been on the beach earlier that day. Now however, he is dressed in the finest ceremonial garb, and is wearing a thick gold belt inlaid with diamonds. He bears no weapons, but on his ornately embroidered jacket, Tira spots a beautiful silver pin in the shape of a battle axe.

Further on in the garden stands the cleric of Pelor who had also been at the crash site. She too is “dressed to the hilt”, but her garb is simple yet elegant, as befits Pelor. Z’alden notices a holy sun symbol of Pelor glowing on her brow.

Just then the front door of the tavern opens and a red-faced woman stands there staring at all of you. “Well,” she exclaims. “Aren’t you going to come in and join the festivities? All are welcome, even strangers, on this happy day!” Before you can say a word, she bustles you all inside, hands you each a mug or tankard of your favorite beverage, and whisks you briskly into the garden where a huge banquet table lies groaning with delicacies.

What do you do?

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Z’alden joins in heartily, cheering the happy couple at every turn!

OOC: In a village such as this, what would a worker’s weekly wage be? Something akin to one of the silver rings the party found?

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Yes, one of the silver rings would be an average weekly wage. Nevertheless, no one seems to be asking or looking for any money. They seem quite content to have you all crash the party. In fact, you get the sense from the sheer number of people who are at the reception that perhaps many of them are also strangers like yourselves.

The dwarven warrior and the cleric are coming around to visit the various tables, making small talk, greeting old friends, introducing themselves to new ones.

You are all seated at a table, with drinks and plenty of good food. The happy couple is coming to your table next.

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Warmly greeting the couple as they approach, Z’alden says, “Well met! I am Z’alden Silverflame, servant of Bahamut. May hope and happiness fill your days. The Great Dragon’s blessings for many good eggs and a happy hearth be upon you both.”

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At the mention of the word “eggs”, the cleric blushes a deep scarlet, while the dwarf spits his beer out all over his beard.

The dwarf laughs loudly. “Eggs, eh? Well, I don’t know about that, given that we are at a rather ripe age.”

“Speak for yourself, Lars!” the cleric retorts. Just because you’ve been around the battlements a few extra times doesn’t mean I’m not fit as a fiddle. As she says this, she draws herself up to her full height.

“Welcome, guests, to our humble village. I am Monica, Priestess of Pelor. And this is Lars, my husband.” As she says this, she blushes at the word “husband”, as if she still cannot believe it is quite real.

The dwarf raises his mug in a salute. “How do you do, folks? The name’s Lars Yorickson. Retired explorer, now the village tavern owner.”

As he says this, the red-faced woman who had welcomed you in, comes bustling into the garden. “Ha! Owner!” she exclaims.

“It’s true!” retorts Lars. “I won this tavern fair and square, after that last bet over who was going to survive longest in the Tomb.”

As he mentions the name “Tomb”, a hush falls over the assembled guests. Monica puts a hand on his sleeve. “Now Lars, let’s not scare the new folks. I’m sure they don’t want to be hearing about an old Tomb, especially on our own wedding day!”

After saying this, Monica moves off to another table to greet her guests. Lars grins sheepishly, and pulls up a chair to your table. “Bah,” he says good-naturedly. “I can go visit my friends and relations any day. It’s not often we get strangers, ah, how shall we say, dropping in from the sky?” As he says this, he looks pointedly at Erik and Barrick and smiles.

“So, what brings you to Nenlast?”

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“Son of Yorick, you and your wife are most kind. We would be welcome of your visit. We came here trying to find out information about ships bearing pirates that may pose a threat to the good people of this region,” Z’alden says with true concern in his voice. Then, his eyes brighten with the intensity of one whose cares deeply about a subject,“But, hearing of a Tomb that causes such consternation, I would fain speak with you about this, too. I am avowed to the Great Dragon to put to rest all those who spirits have been enlisted by evil. Might this be a place with spirits that should be sent to the Raven Queen or back to the Abyss?” The dwarf cannot miss how the half-elf strokes the handle of his mace even as he awaits an answer. It is apparent that Z’alden is hoping for a ‘yes’.

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“Aye”, confirms Erik to Z’alden’s words, “The good cleric wishes to vanquish evil in all forms. Others of us also seek this, and adventure. So, what do you know of this tomb Priestess Monica and Master Yorkison? What dread horrors await those who dare to enter?”

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“Oh ho!” the dwarf exclaims. “So you are interested in the Tomb. We don’t get many folks nowadays coming to visit the Tomb, what with the terrible reputation it has.”

“But, speaking of airships, we have seen a few in the past year, coming over the Winterbole Forest. Sent from the king of Karrnoch, or Karrnath as he likes to call it. Apparently they don’t have enough villages to plunder and pillage up there, so he’s decided to make war on the Nentir and the Kengi.”

Lars stops, then says in a lower voice to Barrick, “They say there’s something strange about the king, but nobody knows what. The old king bit the dust a few years back, and the new king looks just like the old one. That’d be all right if they were father and son, but one was an uncle and the other a nephew. Strange…”

“But, where was I?” Lars looks around, perhaps looking to make sure that Monica is not in earshot. “The Tomb, eh?”

“You know what they always say. Many go in, but few return? Well, in this case, it’s true. Monica and I have each been in there, several times, with different groups. Never made it much further than the first few halls.”

You see him stop and stare into his mug of ale, as if deep in remembrance of past friends. He takes a large swig and continues. “You never know what will get you. Most of the time, you never even find out what happened. Your friends just sort of, disappear. No trace. Maybe a scream, one time even a small pile of ash.”

“Devil’s bane,” he swears, “that’s why Monica and I decided to get out while we were still sound in body and mind; or at least sound enough to get married,” he adds with a sly grin at Tira.

“We were tired of dragging out corpses (if there was one), having to hunt around for a ritual to raise the dead. Well, you know how it goes.” As he says this, you see him stare at Felsmon. “You’ve been there, haven’t you laddie?”

“You know, the weird thing, one time we came across a temple. Don’t know how we stumbled upon it – went through a black sphere or something. Anyway, it was a temple to Bahamut, Pelor, Avandra, maybe even Moradin. You know, the good guys! But there it was in the Tomb. But something wasn’t right. We never did figure it out. Had to flee right after Gutboy bit it – he took the wrong path.”

“Well, I’ve talked enough. Let me hear what your plans are!”

He looks at Erik and Z’alden eagerly. You notice that Monica is almost finished making the rounds of the tables, and will presumably come back soon. You sense that she will not be entirely happy with your conversation with Lars.

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Tira smiles at Lars, then leans forward a bit so as to keep her voice down, “Personally I would love to hear more of the Tomb. I have never been the girl to settle down, preferring adventure in the wild over a soft bed in a castle. If you will not join us, perchance you could provide more information and direction?” Seeing Monica approach, Tira straightens up and says in a more normal voice, “I thank you for allowing us to join in your most worthy celebrations. Not to overshadow your wedding, we have a minor celebration of our own worthy of raising a glass; our friend dwarf Barrick is ignoring another birthday, although which one I am not sure.” She slaps Barrick on the shoulder warmly.

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“Three cheers for Barrick”, toasts Erik, holding his mug up high. “May he celebrate many, many more birthdays, or die trying.”

Returning the conversation to the tomb, Erik asks Lars about the traps that had to be overcome. Erik wants specific details, since he will be the point-man on this. However, he knows that Tira will likely be doing the disarming, so he makes sure she’s paying close attention too.

Erik knows that this will be a technical challenge, unlike all others before. They must have their wits about them.

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Lars addresses Tira first. “Well, lass, I used to think the same. Seems like your dwarf friend here might have a few words on the subject of aging, although he seems to be in the prime of life.” He winks at Barrick. “You’re just a youngster, aren’t you?”

“The time comes in an adventurer’s life when he (or she!) realizes that the reflexes just aren’t what they used to be. Time was, a pit would open up under my feet and I could leap out of the way. Now, well, you can see what happens.” He gestures towards Monica, who has just walked up to the table. “I had to marry a cleric to keep me all in one piece!”

Monica smiles at the praise. “You just keep swinging that big axe of yours, Lars,” she exclaims sweetly.

Felsmon coughs, “Um, could we get the conversation back to the Tomb?”

Monica’s smile turns to a frown. “Now Lars, you aren’t filling these poor people’s heads with thoughts of adventuring, are you?” She looks around at your determined faces, then sighs and pulls up a chair. “Well, I don’t want it to be said that a priestess of Pelor didn’t help those in need. What can we do to help aid you?”

You all quickly fill her in on what Lars has already told you, as well as your own preparations.

“No thief, eh?” She ponders this, as she intently studies both Erik and Tira. “Well, it might be possible. The last time Lars and I tried the Tomb, we started out with a thief. What was his name? Gutboy?”

Lars pipes up, “No, that was the warrior. Pit trap, poison spikes.”

Monica thinks some more. “Abner?”

Lars shoots back, “Wizard. Magic bolt trap.”

“Arkayn?”

Lars sighs, “Priest of Moradin. Something ate his head.”

“Arlanni?”

Lars pauses, deep in thought. “Yep, that was him. Good at finding traps. Bad at disarming them.”

Monica also sighs. “Well, we made it back out without him, so that should count for something. My advice? Don’t go in. But… I know you won’t follow that advice, will you?” She looks at Z’alden, and sees the look of devoutness and determination. “No, I thought not. Well, barring that, I’m afraid we can’t help you too much. It’s been several years, and every time we went back, things had mysteriously changed. But, general advice? Do not trust anything. Walls move, the floor disappears, dead ends become doorways. Doorways lead to death. Or at least a nasty surprise.”

“You found that out the hard way one time, didn’t you sweetie?” She pats Lars on the cheek. He turns a bright scarlet, and buries his head busily in his mug of ale. You hear a faint “Don’t remind me.”

Monica closes her eyes for a moment. You see her symbol of Pelor glow briefly. Then she stares at Z’alden. “You serve your god well. I can sense that. But there was a time when this was perhaps not so true, and not so long ago. No matter, now is the present. Lars and I leave tomorrow for our cabin on Lake Wintermist. Stop by tomorrow morning, before you depart, and we may have some items to help you in your quest. If you do manage to rid the Tomb of its evil, that would be a great thing, and the gods would truly smile down on you.”

She stands.

“Now, Lars, we should go and greet the rest of our guests.” She gestures over to a large table full of gesticulating dwarves, and adds, “I can see that your cousins from Hammerfast are growing impatient with the weak ale. Come.”

They both give a gracious bow, and prepare to move away.

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Z’alden thanks Monica for her assessment just before the happy couple departs. Turning to his compatriots, Z’alden says,“My friends, not only is good work to be done by clearing evil from this tomb of horrors, but what a delivery to this evil King of Karrnath we could make. By the Teeth, I say we shy not from this challenge. Let us toast more to Barrick’s health, then rest at this fine inn and meet the kindly couple on the morrow.”

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“Aye, another toast to Barrick’s friendship and his skill with an axe,” cheers Erik, “May he celebrate many a warrior’s victory or die trying.” Turning his toast to Tira, Erik says, “Now, anyone can find traps, but who among us can disarm them? Tira! I believe we have a volunteer! Keep those fingers nimble, for soon unknown horrors will be upon us.”

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OOC: DM, are we able to get an extended rest?

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Lars and Monica have graciously extended the hospitality of the Inn to include a free night’s lodging for all of the wedding guests. After a long and plentiful dinner, you each retire to a comfortable room.

Your sleep is uninterrupted, except for a terrible dream which wakes you in the dead of night…

Barrick, you dream that you are a dwarf laborer in an unknown tomb. Your master is most unkind. Everything you see is being done in a shoddy manner, and it outrages you. When you try to improve the quality of the stone cutting, you are severely beaten for your efforts. For your punishment, you are given the task of digging a 100 foot deep pit, with a dull chisel and a bent hammer.

Erik, you are in a hall of endless pillars. Each pillar contains a deadly trap. You know it is there, but try as you might, you cannot discover the mechanism to disarm it. As you reach for a pillar, it slips out of your grasp, and you float upwards to the ceiling like a balloon.

Felsmon, you dream of a room full of a thousand swords. They are all fighting against you, but there is no real foe for you to attack. Once one sword is beaten back, another joins its place. You have been struck numerous times, but yet you continue to soldier on.

Tira, a terrible fate befalls you in your dream. You are no longer a beautiful female half-elf. Instead, you are a brutish male, with snarling lips. Everything you see makes you angry, and you lash out at everyone, even your friends. A fog descends, and you remember no more of the dream.

Z’alden, your dream is most foul. You are in a fine temple to Bahamut. But everywhere you look are skulls leering at you. They fly about, biting and snapping. You reach for your mace, but it is not there. You reach next into your endless quiver, but it is empty. In fact, all of your possessions are gone, and you are left alone with the skulls, desecrating the holy temple.

Despite the troubling dreams, you all awake in the morning feeling refreshed, and ready for adventure. When you go downstairs, you find a hearty breakfast awaiting you, along with a note giving directions to the new home of Lars and Monica.

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The cleric digs in to breakfast with an appetite like one who is about to have his last meal. “My friends, I believe that the evil of the Tomb knows we are here and fears us. I had a dream most foul, as I did before the attack on the Kengi.” Z’alden describes his dream. “Let us find out all that we can from our new friends and then send these spirits back to the darkness from whence they foolishly came.” The radiant servant of Bahamut’s eyes glow a sapphire blue.

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OOC: DM, would you upload the letters found in Wynarn’s cabin?

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rplayer gorthmog

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