Campaign of the Month: March 2009

Denizens of the Nentir Vale

The Horses Spook

Or, a Good Place for an Ambush

You stand in the Hammerhold Inn with your companions, Erik the Ranger, Rift the Wizard, Tira the Sorceress, and Torrock the Shaman. You were sent to Fort Dolor in the kingdom of Nerrakis, to seek information on the Brotherhood of the Crescent Moon, and the fate of the dragon Aurumendor. You are a dwarf, and your name is Barrick.

You and your friends have found a magic key, and a golden orb which appears to fit within the key. You debate whether to place the orb into the key.

If you wish to place the orb within the key, turn to p. 59.
If you wish to continue on to Fort Dolor without trying the key, turn to p. 80.
If you wish to leave the Inn and return home to your village, turn to p. 321.


You slip the orb through the triangle at the end of the key. The orb falls to the ground and shatters. Warm colors of red, orange, and yellow rise up in a mist and take the wispy shape of a dragonborn form dressed in red and yellow robes with gold and red dragons inlaid. The spirit form speaks directly into your mind.

I am Landegar, a wizard of Arkhosia, and now a spirit guide for the Valiant Dwarven Warrior who has claimed the Key of Bonderstrong. Son of stone, you and your companions are the eighth to claim the Key. The great warrior and my great friend, Ferrol Ironfell, grandson of Bonderstrong…

You awake with a snort.

...twelve strong magical Wards that are bound to this tableau will be restored, and the Key will wait until is needed again. Time is short. I can answer three questions from you or your companions to help guide you before I return to join the Guardian. Know that the spell that binds my spirit here is limited. Ask now, even as I fade.

To ask how to find the nearest huge pile of treasure, turn to p. 99.
To ask how the key has been used in the past and future, turn to p. 40.


The spirit answers your question:
The dwarves used the key to open doors in their mines. The other end of the key is a great source of radiant power. To answer your second question, in the future, the key may find treasures that Ironfell did not find, and to fight a terrible shadow.

If you wish to ask where the dwarven mines are located, turn to p. 42.
To ask for another mug of ale, turn to p. 44.


The spirit answers your third and final question:
The key is the answer. The three points of the triangle are a map of the location of the three strongholds of the dwarves – Hammerfast, Hammerhold, and Hammerfell. The Tiefling empire took them over. Only Hammerfast retains a semblance of its former glory.

As the spirit answers the final question, you see its form begin to fade and then disappear. You and your companions are alone in the Inn.

To examine the Key of Bonderstrong for magic, turn to p. 65.
To ask for another mug of ale, turn to p. 44.
To depart immediately for Fort Dolor, turn to p. 102.


You carefully examine the Key. The wizard Rift and the sorceress Tira help you with their vast arcane knowledge. You realize that this is not an ordinary key – it is a weapon. In your gnarled and scarred dwarven hands, you can use this key as an axe, to send a shower of flaming radiant war axes raining down upon your foes. You can also use the Key to aid in opening locks, and to create magic unbreakable locks.

The Key also contains a sentient creature, who whispers to you even now. This is a potent weapon, and your mind is troubled.

To throw away the Key and rely on your trusty old axe, turn to p. 66.
To keep the Key, and trust to dwarven luck, turn to p. 68.


You tie the Key around your neck. If it was good enough for the likes of Ferrol Ironfell, it is certainly good enough for you.

The day grows late. The snow has stopped, and your companions are eager to quit the Inn and head onwards.

If you want to spend another night at the Inn, turn to p. 82.
To set off in the deep snow to Fort Dolor, turn to p. 105.


The snow is deep, but your horses are strong. Your wagon is piled high with trade goods, to cover your spying activities in Fort Dolor.

For a while, you progress smoothly through the snow. Soon, however, it grows colder. Your horses begin to whiney and complain. The frost is beginning to bother your companions. You, as a dwarf (and filled with ale), feel no pain.

Up ahead, you see a bridge crossing an icy creek. Standing before the bridge are several strange looking creatures. The ugliest one, a goblin by his looks, shouts for you and your companions to “Halt!”.

“I am Splirge!” he shouts in a commanding voice. “Of the Hand of the Brotherhood of the Crescent Moon. It is 5 gold per foot or hoof to cross the bridge. Pay or die!”

To meekly pay the toll, turn to p. 110.
To laugh in his face, turn to p. 116.
To try to find a way around the bridge, turn to the next page.


You and your companions decide to go around the bridge. Your friend Tira guides her horse towards the river. As soon as the horse’s hoof touches the icy stream, the horse rears up, throwing its rider.

The goblins scream “Kill them!” “They have not paid the toll!” “Arrrgggg!”

Erik the Ranger is in the wagon with you. He turns to you. “Show them the Key,” he says. “That may frighten them into submission.”

If you wish to bring out the Key, turn to p. 121.
To ignore Erik’s advice and throw an axe at the biggest goblin, turn to p. 96.
To hide under some blankets in the wagon, turn to p. 320.


You hide underneath the blan <flip>


You bring forth the Key from beneath your chain mail shirt. “Behold, I bear the Key of Bonderstrong!” you shout in your most raspy dwarven voice.

“Arrrrrrr! He has the Key of Bonderstrong!” “Thief, kill him!” “The key belongs to the Brotherhood. He has stolen it!”

To say “Oops,” and return the Key to the rightful goblin owners, turn to p. 220.
To attack with the power of the Key, turn to p. 153.
To attack with your bare hands, turn to p, 160.


You raise the key above your head. Calling forth the spirit of your dwarven ancestors, you shout to your companions, “Attack!”

A blinding hail of glowing axes descends upon the hapless goblin bridge wardens. They scream in terror as the glowing blades slice into them. Even after the initial shower passes, the area remains unsafe to all enemies who enter.

Your friends attack. Torrock summons a spirit of primal power to do his bidding. Tira lets loose with a dazzling blast of chaotic energy at Splirge. Rift suddenly disappears off of her horse, appears in the middle of the goblins, and releases a shroud of fire from her fingers. Erik, in a feat worthy of the heroes of old, runs across the back of two horses, drawing his two long swords in the process, pounces down like a wolf in front of Splirge.

Unfortunately, with Erik gone from the wagon, the horses bolt.

To stay within the wagon and try to calm them down, turn to the next page.
To grab your axe and leap out of the wagon, turn to p. 161.


You grab your axe, and leap over the side. As you leap, your mailed boot catches the side. You tumble out, right onto your head. Shaking you head, you rise to your feet, only to find yourself facing two foes.

To taunt your opponents and attack them both, turn to p. 180.
To attack the nearest goblin first, turn to p. 179.


Your taunts enrage the goblins. They rush towards you in a frenzy. “Give us the Key!” they shout. Swinging your great axe, you laugh as you slice them both down, dead.

Erik the Ranger has been blinded.

If you want to run to Erik’s aid, turn to p. 182.
If you want to attack the nearest goblin, turn to p. 179.


Three new goblins appear from a hidden cave.

You spot the nearest goblin and charge towards him, wildly swinging your magic axe.

Erik is now blinded and hexed. He cannot move from where he stands, lest he be destroyed.

If you want to run to Erik’s aid, turn to p. 182.
If you want to attack another goblin, turn to p. 190.


You continue to fight goblins.

Erik, hexed and blinded, swings wildly and kills a goblin. Rift’s icy terrain knocks over some goblins. Tira’s wild burst of Chaos destroys two goblin minions. In the meantime, Torrock calms his horse down, and charges after the cart and other horses, who have disappeared down the mountain pass.

Finally, Erik, with a massive swing of his sword, manages to cut down his foe and shake off the hex.

The rest of the goblins flee in terror.

To chase after the goblins, turn to the next page.
To ignore the goblins and search the dead for treasure, turn to p. 242.


You chase after the goblins. One of the little fiends runs around a bend and up a hidden trail. Puffing after him, you quickly lose sight of the pest. Behind, you can hear Torrock shouting “Wait for me!”.

You also hear shouting from the mouth of the hidden cave. It sounds like Rift has discovered a poison dart trap, the hard way.

If you want to wait for Torrock, turn to p. 239.
If you want to continue chasing the goblin, turn to p. 261.
If you want to run to Rift’s aid, turn to p. 262.


You come to a halt, your breath steaming in the icy air. Torrock huffs up beside you. “I tied the horses to a tree. Or a rock, I can’t remember. Ah well, no matter.”

Listening, you hear muffled shouts coming from within the mountain beside you. It sounds like Tira and Rift have both discovered the poison darts. Suddenly, a crack opens up in the mountain, and a hand appears.

To cut off the hand with your axe, turn to the next page.
To wait and see who appears, turn to p. 243.
To ignore the hand and break out a pint of ale, turn to p. 321.


Just as your raise your axe to strike off the hand, Erik’s face appears from the hidden doorway. “Hold on there big feller,” he calls. “It’s only me, Erik.”

You shake the sweat from your eyes. “Sorry about that,” you mutter. “Got a little axe crazed…”

You suddenly stop. Was that a crunching noise you heard? “Tira, are you eating those lizards-on-a-stick again?” Tira’s eyes flash with a sudden chaotic gleam. “Watch it, dwarf. My powers are unpredictable, and might just decide to strike you where it hurts the most!”

There it is again, that crunching noise.

If you want to rest for a few minutes, turn to p. 281.
If you want to rush to investigate the crunching noises, turn to p. 283.


After a brief rest, you feel relaxed and happy. The world isn’t such a bad place, even if there are goblins who want to brain you, dragons that would snap you up in a heartbeat, and demons that would blast your very soul. It’s adventure time!

To investigate the crunching noises, turn to p. 283.
To give it all up and return home to your village, turn to p. 321.


As you enter your ancestral village, Ardis Gundrun bounds towards you, her beard glistening and her big <flip>

You slowly make your way up the trail, following the horrible crunching and chittering. You see a mass of giant spider webs covering the trail. Something is eating up here, and it sounds hungry.

To charge around the corner and attack, turn to p. 301.
To send the ranger up ahead to scout, turn to the next page.


A nod, a brief smile, and Erik the Ranger melts into the forest. Moments pass, no sound is heard, save the chittering and chomping. Suddenly, Erik is again beside you. His eyes gleam. He raises his hands and begins to communicate what he saw in the rapid silent gestures known to all rangers. You and your companions stare at him open-mouthed. “Sorry,” he mutters. “There were five creatures, feeding on a giant spider. They looked like giant bugs, covered in scales and with sharp spikes for feet.”

You raise a questioning eye at your friends. “Kruthik?” asks Rift. “Definitely,” exclaims Tira. “Let’s kill them!” cries Torrock. The shaman appears eager to face off against these primal enemies.

To charge around the corner and attack, turn to p. 301.
To sneak quietly through the woods and achieve total surprise, turn to p. 296.


Moving with all the stealth and grace of the dwarven race, you stomp through the trees. Snap! Crunch. Oooof! “By Moradin’s bones these woods are full of sticks!” You peer through the leaves. The giant bugs have stopped feeding and are staring straight at you.

If you want to return home to your village, turn to p. 321.
To charge ahead and attack the nearest bug, turn to p. 301.


“For the dwarven women!” you cry, as you raise the Key of Bonderstrong. You unleash a hail of radiant axes down on the hapless bugs. Two of the smallest wither under the blows. Chittering madly, the others race towards you, their jaws snapping.

Tira steps out from the trees. Her bolts of chaos bounce from one kruthik to another, leaving long gashes, and killing one outright. Suddenly, a great blast of fire erupts in the middle of the clearing, killing the two adult kruthiks. “Woo woo!” shouts Rift. Only the kruthik hive lord remains.

The shaman Torrock summons his ghostly companion, who attacks the hive lord. Weakened and dismayed, the hive lord burrows beneath the earth.

To throw an axe into the hole, turn to p. 304.
To jump into the hole and attack, turn to p. 305.


Erik jumps into the hole after the fleeing hive lord. Summoning your dwarven resolve, you leap into after him. “Ahh, this is more like it,” you think to yourself. “A fight in the good solid earth.” You strike with your axe, a dizzying blow. The hive lord stops, stunned. Tira drops a wintry blast down the tunnel, followed quickly by a scorching burst of fire from the wizard. The hive lord, stunned, stabbed, frozen, and fried, is dead.

To search the nearby woods for more kruthik, turn to p. 310.
To search the clearing, turn to the next page.


The clearing appears to contain only the remains of an ancient altar to Moradin, the patron god of dwarves. Two glowing pods of red and blue are filled with a restorative mist, helpful to those in battle. Too late for you now.

Returning to the cave, you find treasure! 150 gold pieces from the goblins, and a glowing ruby. You also find some armor bearing the crest of Nerrakis.

Turn to the next page.


You continue on your journey. Arriving late that day in Fort Dolor, you find the guard towers unguarded and the gates open. No one is about, but smoke rises from the chimney of a building just to the northwest of the gates.

To be continued…

Comments

DM: What do you do?

The Horses Spook
 

XP: Finding the key and getting past the traps (2050 = minor quest, 650 + 1400 for traps); Splirge’s friendly bridge (2530); and the Kruthik family dinner (1045), plus 500 XP for a partial success in the horses mini skill challenge (only nature skill) for a total of 6125 or 1225 per player. My math says all players now have 13,015 XP.

Congratulations! You are now 8th level. In addition to your increase in attacks, defenses, and anything else dependent on 1/2 level, you will gain a +1 to two ability skills and a new feat after your next extended rest, which the characters can take in about 2 hours.

The Horses Spook
 

“How odd. Erik, do you see any strange footprints, like those of an attacking goblin horde?”

Tira suggests looking about a bit before knocking on the door attached to the smoking chimney. If any building looks like an official entrance point, a guard station, a store or a public house or any sort, she wants to try those first. If a door is unlocked she wants to explore inside just a bit to see if it looks like the inhabitant left quickly, under duress, or whatnot.

The Horses Spook
 

Erik sees nothing that looks out of the ordinary. All he sees are regular humanoid footprints and some of large 4-footed creatures. He observes closely and notices that they are large boar prints.

Getting closer to the building with the smoking chimney, you see that it has a sign that reads, “The Avalanche Inn”. The building just to its north (“3”) appears to have a sign but you are not close enough to read it, yet. Moving just a little further north, you see that the sign reads “Trujy’s General Store”. The buildings labeled “4” appear to have large, wide doorways and shuttered windows.

The unlabeled buildings along the south palisade appear to be residences of some sort. Rift recognizes a sigil on the door of the building labeled “6” as that of a Herbalist.

DM: Where are the cart and horses? What do you do?

The Horses Spook
 

Rift would like to quietly knock on the Trujy’s door. If someone answers, she asks if this is indeed the General Store, and then nods to herself, knowingly. If they appear friendly, she also asks where everyone is?

If no one answers, she discretely tries to open the door and peek inside…

For now, we’ll keep the horses and cart with us, until we know what’s going on.

The Horses Spook
 

DM: Does the smoke rising from the chimney appear to be that of a roaring fire or more of old smoldering ashes? And are any beams of light escaping any of the windows anywhere?

The Horses Spook
 

Erik stops the cart just inside the fort’s gates. He looks at Barrick and then looks at the horses to see if they sense that anything is amiss. He grips his bow a little tighter and makes his way toward the north guard tower.

[DM: How high are the guard towers? If possible, Erik will carefully enter the tower and climb to the top to gain the better vantage point. His swords are stowed and his bow is at the ready. If he reaches the top platform, he will do his best to be stealthy (stay low to peek over any wall).]

The Horses Spook
 

With the cart at the gate and Barrick holding the reins, Torrock takes his horse to the southeast intersection of the Fort. He watches as Tira approaches the Inn and Rift approaches Trujy’s store. Some light can be seen penetrating the shuttered windows of the store. At Rift’s knock, several seconds pass. Rift is just getting ready to try the door, the door is unlocked and opens just a crack. A middle-aged female blue eye peers out through the crack. A sweet sounding voice, but with a harsh tone says, “What is your business?” When Rift asks, “Is this Trujy’s General Store?” the door opens just a bit more. You can see that the face is of an attractive middle-aged elven woman. She says, “yes, of course. I’m Trujy. Do you need to buy something?”

Tira sees that the smoke rising from the Inn’s chimney appears to be from a regular fire, neither roaring nor smoldering. Light can be seen coming from the shuttered windows of the Inn. Before she can start testing doors, Rift has already gotten to Trujy’s. OOC: Does Tira go over to Rift when she hears the voice?

Erik observes that the guard towers are more than 30 feet high. Erik has no problem blending into the shadows and move quietly to the platform, staying low. He can see that the building just west of the Avalanche Inn is a stable. The guard towers are higher than the other structures, so he can see over the Inn to the buildings in the northwest corner of the Fort. They appear to be military barracks. On the southern side of the southern barracks, he can see three large boars, and is not sure what is in the shadows further to the west. Erik immediately recognizes the creatures as Dire Boars. To the East, Erik realizes that the group hadn’t paid much attention to the buildings outside the Fort, but from the configuration of the land past them, he suspects that the northern most building is a home and the others are the stables of a rancher. He can see some cattle, horses, and many sheep grazing well past the ranch house. The use of the building just to the south of the Fort he cannot discern. As the sun is going down, he can clearly see light from the stable of the ranch (the southern building with a “5”), from cracks in the shuttered windows of the barracks, and from windows on the southern side of the Inn. Erik can see Rift at the door to the general store, but he cannot tell that the door has opened.

Torrock can see the door open a crack.

Barrick is not sure he likes holding the reins. Still, the horses are calm.

The Horses Spook
 

Tira makes sure her dagger is loose in its scabbard and ready to draw. She glances up at Erik, high in the tower, signals with her head to him, that strides casually over to Rift, a smile on her face.

The Horses Spook
 

Seeing Tira’s movement, Trujy opens the door just a bit more. The long golden hair of the elf shines brightly on her blue gowns. Rift can see a hand worn from hard work. “That your friend, stranger?” she says to Rift. “Will she be making a purchase, too?”

The Horses Spook
 

Erik’s eagle eyes can now see the partial elven face at the door. Torrock could hear Trujy’s hopeful intonation about whether Tira would be making a purchase.

The Horses Spook
 

With the slighly more opened door, Rift can see shelves with the usual sorts of common goods one would expect at a general store: lanterns, tools, foodstuffs. Barrels with unknown quantities inside. Trujy opens the door just a bit more, saying, “Oh, and that dragonborn on the horse. He a companion of yours, too? I’ll bet he’ll be needing some tack for his horse or some other goods. My store has got everything here you folks could need for wherever your journeying is taking you.”

The Horses Spook
 

Great campaign, guys. It’s a great read—very clean but with nice creative dashes here and there. I commend the players for some clever problem solving and tactics. Keep up the good work!

The Horses Spook
 

Thanks, Vecna_lives!

The Horses Spook
 

Tira strides forward and introduces herself. “Good evening friend! I am Tira, one warder of the wagon you see there. It looks like you have a well stocked store here. We will most likely need to buy supplies, but probably not until morning; easier to load up as we leave than have to store things during the night, I am sure you know. Speaking of, is the Inn open here for lodging? Save you we have seen no one in or around this Fort. Until you opened the door I thought that maybe everyone had been chased away. Is everything all right here?”

The Horses Spook
 

Erik’s grip on his bow relaxes a bit. Nothing to shoot just yet. He retreats back down out of the tower to join Barrick in the cart.

The Horses Spook
 

Getting close enough to speak, Tira’s insight tells her that Trujy is very distracted and that her hands are shaking. Tira’s smooth speaking appears to put Trujy at ease enough that she relaxes a bit.

“Well, Tira, come in then you that you can see our wares. Oh, I didn’t see your wagon. Fine dwarven guard you have there. Best to make a purchase now and then pick up tomorrow. That way I can be sure of everything you’ll need and get it from the warehouse if I don’t have it right now.”

“Yes, the Inn is open for lodging. Skeety’s not seeing much business, it’s all been tough on him. Not many strangers coming through these days, you know. Everything all right here? Well, in the Fort, seems to be alright without that little dwarven hag coming round and making all those words, but the guard’s gotten awfully thin just like she said, now you strangers have come, and in the forest, now…” She glances around nervously again. “I’ll show you the supplies and we can talk more.” She opens the door fully. “Is your dragonborn friend coming to look, too? What about the guard?”

Rift and Tira have no sense of maliciousness in this middle-aged elf, but she is definitely afraid of something. As Erik goes down, Trujy’s words are clear enough to Erik’s and Torrock’s keen senses that they could hear everything.

DM: Do Tira and Rift go into the Store? DM: What do Torrock, Erik, and Barrick do?

The Horses Spook
 

As the sun starts to fade on the horizon, a beam illuminates Erik such that Trujy can see him clearly. She starts. “Is that archer with you, too? The military won’t like his being up in their towers. I’ve got some very fine elven arrows that he might like, too.” She is speaking loudly enough that Erik, Barrick, and Torrock all have no problem hearing that last bit about the fine elven arrows.

The Horses Spook
 

Torrock comes over to the door with Tira & Erik and says while he summons his spirit companion. “Hello I am a shaman of the primal arts and this is my spirit from the otherworld.” Torrock makes a 1. perception check 2. makes an insight check 3. Asks wheres the nearst mug of ale I need a drink. While thinking too himself I need something that can locate the nearst bottle of ale

The Horses Spook
 

Torrock stepped past Rift and Tira before carefully examining the store and Trujy.

The Horses Spook
 

Trujy smiles nervously at the Dragonborn shaman, but seems nonplussed by the spirit companion. “Well, for ale, you’ll want to go next door to the Avalanche Inn. I don’t think that they will serve him, though,” pointing to Torrock’s spirit. “Oh, I’ve got some good skins if you need to store some wine for the road. And, I have all kinds of other goods. What would you like to buy?”

Glancing around the store with his excellent perception, Torrock can see that Trujy’s General Store has a fairly complete supply of adventuring gear, from candles and lanterns to climbing kits. There are enough cabinets both high and low that more than regular gear might be around. In fact, the store is stuffed to the gills with items. There is hardly any room. Despite these distractions, Torrock’s insight tells him the Trujy is very nervous about something. Maybe more than one something.

It seems to Torrock that the forest that she started talking about with Tira might be part of the source of her nervousness. He also perceives that her eyes keep glancing at an open ledger on the counter. Some of the source of her agitation is also tied to the ledger.

The Horses Spook
 

“Please get me some fine elven arrows, would you please, Tira? Rift?”, shouts Erik from the cart. He grips his bow a bit more tightly once again. Something is not right.

The Horses Spook
 

Torrock unobtrusively makes eye contact with Tira and Rift and directs their attention to the open ledger.

At Erik’s shout, Trujy clearly brightens up,”How many will he want?” With the door wide open now, she crosses the room, clearly agitated by the all of the stuff that she has to avoid, veers by the open ledger, picks it up and puts it down closed on a counter about 15 feet away. She grabs a stool and standing on tip-toes, pulls a key from a chain around her kneck. She unlocks a cabinet, pulls out a single arrow, and then locks the cabinet.

Even at this distance, the arrow looks beautiful. Never have the three seen such a straight and true arrow. The feathers almost shimmer. “Your friend will probably want to see this before deciding how many to buy,” Trujy says warmly. She seems a bit more relaxed now to Tira and Torrock. She stands next to Torrock about 8 feet away from the door, too far for a good identify magic check for Rift or Tira.

The Horses Spook
 

Tira extends her arm, “That arrow looks amazing, do you mind if I run it out to him? The horses sometimes become agitated in new places if he leaves their sight.”

The Horses Spook
 

Barrick is oblivious to whatever is worrying his friend Erik. “Eat some bad perlnuts, Erik? You look uneasy.”

The Horses Spook
 

Trujy moves up to the door. “Certainly seems a good idea to keep the horses calm. You can leave a 50% deposit with me of 150 gold pieces while he looks at it.” Tira again senses only good business acumen here for what Trujy perceives as a valuable commodity.

The Horses Spook
 

Tira pulls the needed coins from her pouch and hands them to Trujy in exchange for the arrow. She does an Arcana check on them as she walks over to Erik. Handing the arrow to Erik she asks, “For the price I hope they slay demons. What do you think?”

The Horses Spook
 

Rift shouts out to Erik, “Erik! Come over to the door here and look at this beautiful arrow!”. She signals to Erik that it is okay, and also uses the universal signal that he should keep Trujy busy for a few minutes. Perhaps Tira and Torrock can also stand around and block her view.

While Trujy and Erik are interacting at the door, Rift would like to unobtrusively see if she can peek inside the ledger… What does she find?

The Horses Spook
 

Tira is able to tell that the arrow is indeed magical. While it is only one-time use ammunition, it would give the wielder an accuracy of the elves that is even better than what elves possess.

Elven Arrows of Accuracy, Level 10, This arrow appears especially straight and sharp. Ammunition, Enhancement: +2 attack rolls and damage rolls. Property: When you attack an enemy using this ammunition, you can roll twice and use either result.

The Horses Spook
 

At Rift’s call, assuming Erik approaches, Tira, Torrock, and Erik are able to distract Trujy by peppering her with questions using Tira’s great skills in this area.

Rift is able to quietly open the book and page through it. With her high intelligence, and happening to read fluent Elven, she quickly ascertains that this is Trujy’s business ledger. Every transaction is dutifully recorded along with the date. For the last two years, Trujy has been doing well selling to foresters, miners, the military, the Inn, ranchers, and the herbalist. Additionally, she sees Trujy’s sometimes very personal notes on her customers, some of which Trujy would most certainly not want anyone else to read but nothing particularly alarming. Flipping quickly to the more recent entries as Tira’s distracting talk about the benefits of eating fresh dragonthistle seems to be winding down, Rift sees fewer and fewer entries more widely spaced, and then stumbles upon the most recent entry in the diary part of the ledger dated 4 weeks ago:

Complete shipment of extra goods arrived on time. Expect brisk sales to builders, miners.

Planned to store extra goods in warehouse. Manager of warehouse shirked on my promised space. Damn dwarf refused to provide space. Claimed he did not have room right now. In a few weeks. What am I to do with these goods? My rooms and store are a mess.

Dated 2 weeks ago.

Forester sales down. Troops sales down. What is in the forest? That hag said the evil would come. No one buying anything except Skeety, Berune, Aestirol. No sales to Phlen in a week. Rooms and store are still a mess. Otrun still says no room at the warehouse. When I asked about who was using the space, dwarf rotter only became nervous, refused to answer, then became belligerent and waved axe in my face.

Dated 1 week ago

No sales. No room for goods at warehouse. No answers. Will the evil come for the fort? What am I to do?

The Horses Spook
 

All the while Rift is rifling through Trujy’s ledger, Erik does his best to distract…

“So”, says Erik looking directly at Trujy, “how much bending can these arrows take before they break?” He grabs the arrow at both ends and starts to bend it, just a bit, doing his best to look overly strong and clumsy, tongue sticking out and up to the right as if it’s taking all his concentration. “How many you got?”

The Horses Spook
 

Trujy looks nervous and is quite distracted by Erik’s arrow antics. She seems horrified. “I don’t think that elven arrows should be treated that way. You must stop before something terrible happens.”

Assuming Erik does stop, between Tira’s distractions and Erik’s, Trujy completely misses Rift’s perusal of the ledger.

“Now, in answer to your question, I have been fortunate enough to acquire five of the elven arrows,” she says with a knowing smile, seeming pleased with herself to have gotten something rare and special.

The Horses Spook
 

Erik’s tongue slips back into his mouth as his hands relax their grasp of the arrow. Erik can tell that these are indeed fine arrows and he would like to purchase some, though he thinks that the price is high.

“Trujy, these are an amazing find.”, says Erik, “Just how did you come across these?”

After her answer, he makes his bid, “Just recently I came across a magic whetstone that gained me improved accuracy for several minutes and many a strike. Its price was less than a third of these arrows, which are single use. Might you see the price lowered to 200 gold, and 175 if I take all five? I am at the limit of my wealth and cannot offer more.”

The Horses Spook
 

Trujy smiles, “I have made some trips up north to the elven forests of my homeland. Rarely will they part with their arrows, and I had to pay a pretty price for the ones I have.”

Trujy looks puzzled, “Interesting, but either the gold you used is worth much more than what we have here in Nerrakis, or the whetstone made only a small change to your accuracy. In fact, I have one of those in my store, too, but it will make a large change to your strikes. I could sell it to you for 500 gold pieces.” She goes towards another locked cabinet, realizes that she left the ledger out, detours to it oblivious of Rift’s earlier reading. She picks it up, and puts in the cabinet after extracting a moderate sized whetstone.

“Now as to your offer for the arrows, 175 each for all five will do. If you are interested in the whetstone, I cannot part with such a powerful item for less than 500 gold.”

Rift and Tira easily detect the magic in the stone. A quick study of it reveals the following:

Augmenting Whetstone, Level 11, +3 (AV) This rough sharpening stone temporarily grants your weapon a magical enhancement. Level: 11 Whetstone Power (Consumable): Minor Action. Touch this whetstone to a melee or ranged weapon you hold. The weapon gains a +3 enhancement bonus on attack rolls and damage rolls until the end of the encounter. This has no effect on the extra damage dice or other special effect applied when the weapon scores a critical hit.

The Horses Spook
 

Replying to Trujy, Erik comments that the prior whetstone was not as powerful as what is offered now, but it was still really fantastic, especially for the price. Turning back to Trujy’s arrows and whetstone, Erik finds himself in a bit of a quandary. He wants both but has not the money. Surely if he gets the arrows one of his companions will snap up the whetstone – something Erik thinks someone should do.

Erik removes his money bag from his pack and fully empties its contents on the table: 1 amethyst, 2 jade, 5 platinum, 132 gold, and assorted other jems totaling 60 gp. Two silver pieces spill out last. He looks at Rift for help with the math, asking if it’ll be enough for all five arrows. [Erik needs 5×175gp = 875 gp; he has the equivalent of 692 in gold plus 1 amethyst and 2 jade whose value is unknown (does anyone know their value?)]

[DM: If no one else wants the whetstone, then Erik will purchase it and use up some of his remaining money to get an arrow or two.]

The Horses Spook
 

“A good bargain, then, you had with your last whetstone.” Trujy looks at the amethyst and jades. “I am a simple shopkeeper and not an expert in gems. Still, I can give you 100 gold for the two jades and 100 gold for the amethyst, and 60 gold for the other gems. That is the best I can do.”

“Night is coming on fast. You look like you are torn about what to purchase. Perhaps you want to speak to your companions in private? I will take 25 of your gold pieces against the remainder of the one arrow that your friend Tira had already given me 150 gold as a deposit, expecting that you are buying all 5 as we agreed. You can come back at first light and let me know what you decide if you and your companions are not ready to decide now.”

Trujy seems confident and pleased that a sale seems likely and happily scoops up the 25 gold, adding to the amount that Tira had given her.

The Horses Spook
 

“Trujy, before we retire for the night, do you know where we could find a warehouse to store the goods that we brought in our wagon?”

She looks expectantly at Trujy.

The Horses Spook
 

Having tied off the horses when he caught wind of a powerful whetstone, Barrick enters the shop with his bag of jems and gold worth about 600 gp. Not so long ago, he would never have thought of purchasing magical items at any price, let alone for 500 gp. Since he joined up with his current companions, though, he has had his eyes opened to the advantages to be gained from the occasional enchanted piece of equipment. As for the price, that much gold is bound to turn up in the next dungeon through which they marauder – and the whetstone would help the marauding.

“No need to wait for the morning. I’ll take that whetstone off your hands right now.”

The Horses Spook
 

Trujy looks at Rift. “Oh, I wish I did know where you could find a warehouse!” She laughs with that sort of mirth that only comes from troubles. “The warehouses are just across the street.” She points in the direction of the buildings (4). “The manager sleeps in the southern most one. I doubt anyone will answer now that that the sun is down. Perhaps you will have better luck than I have with getting your goods stored.” She gazes around the heaps in the store dolefully.

She brightens when Barrick enters to buy the whetstone. “Very good! Here is the whetstone for you. And Bowman, here are your arrows.” She sweeps the remaining 700 gold needed to pay for all of the arrows into a large pouch and hands the other 4 arrows to Erik. “Your companion Tira owns a share of one of those arrows. Never cheat a woman.” She gazes knowingly at Tira.

[By Trujy’s math, 7 gp and 60 sp remain on the counter for Erik’s change. She does not seem as though she intends to cheat anyone.]

The Horses Spook
 

Erik slaps Barrick on the back, grins and says, “We will have good hunting, ehh?” He then thanks Trujy, admires his prize for a moment and then carefully places them in his quiver as if they were his favorite falcons being put in their cages for the night. Finally, Erik thanks Tira and promises to repay the 150 gold he owes her.

The Horses Spook
 

[DM: Shouldn’t Erik have 267 gp? He had 992 gp (including the amethyst and two jades). The arrows cost 875. Tira already put down 150. Sorry if I’m doing the math wrong. If it’s correct, then Erik will immediately pay Tira back and so he’ll be left with 117 gp.]

The Horses Spook
 

[Trujy does bad math. But, Erik’s starting wealth was 500 gold in platinum pieces, 260 in gems, and 132 in gold pieces = 892 gp. Maybe the confusion is the jades; she’ll give you 100 gold total for both, 50 gp each. Tira paid 150 gp towards the arrows, leaving 725 unpaid. 892-725 = 167 gp in change.]

So, at the end of the transaction, Trujy apologizes for the skimpy change and puts 60 gp in the smaller gems and 107 in gold coins back to Erik.

She then looks furtively at the members of the party. “You are obviously honest, good folk. I hope you have a good night. Please, stay out of the forest. Great danger and horrors lurk there. Now, you best be getting to the Inn if you have not a room there, yet. I’m not sure Skeety will open the door after dark these days. Tell him I sent you if he doesn’t let you in at once.”

The Horses Spook
 

[DM: What do you do now?]

The Horses Spook
 

Just as the others head off to seek out Skeety’s, Erik remembers to ask Trujy about Captain Revince…

“Trujy, sorry to keep you late, but we were told that a Captain Revince was running the fort. Do you know where we might find him? Also, I must admit, the fort is not what I expected. Thought there would be guards in the tower and more commotion with these walls. Is everything okay here?”

Erik pays close attention to her verbal and non-verbal answer.

The Horses Spook
 

Trujy almost swoons at the mention of Captain Revince. “Oh, I’m sure you’ll find our most noble Captain Revince at the Barracks.”

Then, she looks nervous again, just like when she first opened the door. “Things just haven’t been the same since the great evil in the Forest came. Our soldiers have not been coming back. But, my friend Aeristol the Rancher really knows more about what is happening than I do.”

Then, she almost looks guilty. “I’ll have to confess I haven’t really wanted to know everything. But, when I saw you good people, I was worried. We’ve heard stories how strangers would come to town and cause everyone to be killed. I just can’t believe that you folk can be those evil people. Now, it is getting late, Master Bowman. You’d best be getting on. Come back in the morning if you have other supplies you need.”

The Horses Spook
 

“Goodnight, fair Trujy,” Erik softly speaks with a wink, “Perhaps tomorrow we can speak again of the mystery of the forest. May the good Captain and Aeristol the Rancher have news for us to keep us out of trouble, but never fear we shall not back down easily from a fight to defend ourselves and good people.”

Erik then silently slips out the door to rejoin his companions at Skeety’s. He notices that his pack is less weighty from the loss of coins, but he likes to travel light. Tonight he will dream of the hunt, five elven arrows and the forest.

The Horses Spook
 

The door to the Avalanche Inn is currently closed. It is now well after sundown. Light streams out of shuttered windows, but no boisterous voices of a crowd enjoying a night at the Inn are heard.

Your horses remain where you left them, just inside the gates. Surprisingly, the gates are now closed and locked, but no one guards them.

The Horses Spook
 

Sensing that a good rest will do a little more than just provide some sleep, Tira knocks on the door to the Inn. If no one answers within 30 seconds she will try the door.

The Horses Spook
 

Just as Tira puts her hand to the door, she hears locks opening. The door opens, and a dwarf clad in simple clothes with a thick apron stands before her. He is holding a large carving knife that is covered in grease. He does not look threatening. He eyes Tira and the rest of the group that he can see.

He forces some kind of greeting smile. He is definitely stiff and uncomfortable with the interaction, but is in no way rude. The dwarf says, “Please, do come in. Welcome to the Avalanche Inn. I’m Skeetorhammer, the owner and innkeeper. Folks call me Skeety. Would you like a drink or a meal?”

The Horses Spook
 

“A meal and a drink would be great”, answers Erik, “but what we really need is a place to stay for the night. Do you have any available rooms? There are five of us, but we can share.”

The Horses Spook
 

“Stay the night?” Skeety frowns. Then, he makes that face of certainty. You have seen it on Barrick’s face before, that I’ll do what is right kind of face, but I don’t like it. “Even if you are strangers, I won’t have it on me that I sent you away in the night. I have 2 rooms left. They’ll hold you, if you can share, as you say. Including some of the roast and ale, and I’ll get you a breakfast in the morning, I’ll need 7 gold for the all of you. Up front.”

In the Inn, there is only one other patron, a female halfling dressed in leather armor with a short sword, sitting with a mug of ale. While seeming to watch the fire in the center of the room and not paying attention to your conversation, it would be hard for you not to be overheard.

The Horses Spook
 

“Thank you very much,” says Erik, “We’ll take the two rooms. The roast, ale and breakfast are very much welcomed.” With that, Erik pays for the group with his last 7 gold pieces. He is well accustomed to being broke and that familiarity gives him a very odd sense of comfort and freedom.

As the group enters the inn, Erik finds a seat next to the halfling and quietly disarms, placing his bow and two long swords on the floor directly before him. He then sits down next to the halfling and stares into the fire. Without turning to look at directly her, he remarks, “These are especially dangerous times for Fort Dolor.”

[DM: Erik is keen on her response and her attitude, so he does his best to divine her motivations through the corner of his eye, only looking at her directly if she replies.]

The Horses Spook
 

The Halfling frowns. Then she gets animated. “Try to make a simple trip to see if times are good enough with that dragon gone for expanding my shipping business further upriver from Punjab. But, No! Folks in this Fort won’t talk to strangers. Only Skeety here’ll take my gold, and even then half-heartedly. And that Elf next door. Now, my name’s Jirl. Jirl Ondish. See, now I’m not a stranger.” The Halfling seems more than animated. She is almost infuriated and definitely frustrated. “Did you know we strangers are supposed to bring ruin on them all? Petrifying Poppycock, if you ask me. Hope you and your group weren’t trying to get a little prosperity here in Fort Dolor. Nothing but closed doors and wasted opportunities. That warehouse owner waved an axe at me when I was trying to talk business. Crazy!” She slams her mug down, “Skeety, will you give a stranger more ale?” Then she looks over at Erik, “Bowman, you and your friends are welcome company in this crummy place.”

Skeety brings plates of overdone roast mutton and mugs of ale. Then, he refills Jirl’s mug. “Jirl is right. The whole fort is scared. But, prophesies coming true and evil in a forest ‘ul do that to a soul. I didn’t belief that dwarf at first. She stood out front of my inn day after day spoutin’ off about how evil was coming out of the forest. The loggers had awaken’ it, she said. Said no bodies would ever be found, and none would survive except one – and it happened too! Just one farmer’s daughter out of all them folks who’ve died. Then she said strangers would come to town, and even though you meant well, it’d be the death of us all.” He looks worried. “Speakin’ of which, you got horses out there? Best bring ‘em round back to the stables. Little Thistlesticks probably won’t take care of ‘em, he’ll be too scared of you. But, you tend to ‘em and they’ll be warm. I’ll need 5 silver for the horses. There’s feed in the stable.”

The Horses Spook
 

torrock will pay the silver and give 10 gold to bartender and 5 to erik. just to make the bartender a little more comfortable

The Horses Spook
 

“So who is this dwarf who gives prophecies?,” Erik asks the dwarf Skeetorhammer and halfling Jirl Ondish. “And why do you think it is that Otrun’s warehouse is so full? Kind of strange for him to be so defensive and secretive. What could he be storing? What of Captain Revince? Do you think he would know more about the strange goings on?”

Erik half realizes that he’s asked a flurry of questions, but he is impatient because he does need to take care of the horses.

[DM: Before Erik retires for the night, he will take the horses around back to the stable. He has only 2 sliver pieces to his name, so someone else will have to pay.]

The Horses Spook
 

Skeety takes Torrock’s gold and silver. And, as Torrock had hoped, he certainly warms up to the party. “Paying in advance for another night, too? That’ll be just fine. Can’t live on what I’m getting these days. Certainly not like when I built the Inn two years ago after Frystimagithant was defeated. Things were looking good then. Now, I just don’t know.”

He clinks the gold in his hand. “Still, things are looking good tonight. I’ve been savin’ somethin’ special, but who knows if I’ll really get to enjoy it when times are good, and you’ve certainly paid for something special.”

He comes back with two large bottles and glasses. The adventurers recognize the bottles as from that great Nentir ’97 vintage they have enjoyed in the past. “Not easy to get Nentir around here, but it’s worth it.”

The dwarf has definitely lightened. As he pours out glasses, Jirl says, “Master Bowman, I’ve been here all of two days. I don’t know anything other than that this Fort is full of skittish folks who are mostly crazy. I didn’t know the warehouse was full, just that its guard is a nut. And, Captain Revince, who’s he?”

Skeety turns, “Oh, the Captain’s a mighty warrior, that’s for shure. I don’t know he’s let the guard slack so. Must be part of the evil. I wish he would’ve run that prophecy-spoutin’ dwarf off before she ever started speakin’. Course, that might not a’ stopped all the bad. But, I bet he’ll know a lot. I don’t know who that dwarf is, or even where she come from, but she can’t live too far away. Seems like she always walked. And, Otrun, I don’t have much dealin’ with him. You’d have to ask him what’s goin’ on there. Now, you best take care of those horses. And, don’t frighten Thistlesticks more than he already is.”

When Erik gets the horses and cart to the stable just west of the Inn, he sees a ragged-looking gnome that he takes for Thistlesticks. The gnome scampers to the farthest end of the stables as Erik tends the horses. Not seeing anything resembling evil, the gnome gets braver, “you’re not going to destroy us all, are you?” he asks bravely.

The Horses Spook
 

As Erik checks the horses’ hooves, he calmly answers the gnome, “No, we’re not here to destroy, but I have heard that a dwarf woman is predicting such things from strangers. What do you think? Perhaps we should try and meet with her so we can avoid fate.” Erik smiles at the thought of changing one’s fate, for would not that new course still be fate? He shrugs and makes a mental note to ask Rift about that one.

The Horses Spook
 

Thistlesticks seemed pleased by being asked his thoughts. He comes closer. “Well, bad things sure have been happening. I thought she was full of horse manure, but then with everyone dying and no bodies being found, and then with that farmer’s daughter surviving, just like the prophetess said,” he intones in a high shrieking voice, “Only one will survive and that one is key to defeating the evil.” He looks pleased at his mimickry. He then scowls at Erik, “Well, you don’t look like you are going to be the death of us all. And, meet with her? No, you’d have to be crazy.”

“Nice job taking care of the horses. Almost as good as me,” he smiles, “I’ll see to them. I don’t think that they could possibly be the death of us all.”

The Horses Spook
 

Back inside the inn, Tira speaks to Skeety, “I am impressed with the quality of your drink; it is much appreciated. We are not ones to cause trouble, but could be ones to stop it. Might you know the whereabouts of the surviving farmer’s daughter? If we could speak with her it could help us learn what is behind the disappearances.”

The Horses Spook
 

Skeety clearly has a liking for Tira, and he thanks her for the compliment. But, then he frowns. “Now, this is just what that hag of a dwarf said. Strangers would come to town. They would mean to do good, but they would end up causing everyone in this place – the town, not the Inn, ya’ know, to be killed by the evil. Now, you’ve showed up and Jirl, here, and you are saying that you might stop the trouble. It doesn’t look good, ya’ know. Still, you folk’ve been polite and more than fair, so I’ll tell ya what else I know. The soldiers that went out to see about that farm found that one daughter and brought her back to the barracks a few weeks ago. Strange, now that I think about it, but I haven’t heard tell of her since. It was after that people started to be real scared.” His voice drops to a whisper, “Then, when soldiers started going out on patrols and not coming back, well, that sent everyone into a real fearful state. Farms and ranches being destroyed is one thing. The guard gone, well that’s another. Almost all the shops closed. Everyone just stays inside and only comes out when they has to.”

Skeety continues to eye all of you and the Halfling, as though he doesn’t want to believe the prophecy but he is still nervous, especially after your confident offer to stop the trouble. He clears his throat and fills all the empty glasses. He goes an gets a large pitcher of ale. “Maybe one of you knows a good story?”

Jirl brightens. “Oh, in Punjar, we have great stories.” She goes on to tell of a mighty sailor named Singood, who fought 40 thieves and their master Baba Ali. There was masterful swordfighting. To find their treasure after they were defeated, Singood was stopped at a magical door. Luckily, his Halfling companion, Frojo knew many magic words and was able to open the door saying “Open Says Me!” Singood and Frojo went on to become rich and brought the fabled lamp of the Jinn to Punjar where it now sits in the meeting chamber of the Council of Elders.

With that, Skeety doesn’t look quite so skittish. “Need anything else? Your rooms are just upstairs.” He fills small wash basins with what turns out to be clean but very cold water. The rooms are tidy. Each room has two beds. Each bed could hold two humans. Straw covers the floor. Despite the apparent cleanliness, Erik and Torrock hear the skitter of rat’s feet near the edges. A quick burst of flames from Rift’s hands and acid from Torrock’s breath clears both rooms of such sounds. Luckily, the furniture is not damaged.

The Horses Spook
 

[DM: Anything else before an attempt an extended rest? After an extended rest, your 8th level feat will be available.]

The Horses Spook
 

[DM: The group would like to settle into their rooms and take an extended rest.]

The Horses Spook
 

The night passes uneventfully, except for snorting and snuffling sounds around the Inn early in the morning. Opening the shuttered windows very quietly, a Dire Boar on a leash held by a humanoid soldier, 2 other soldiers with swords, and 3 dwarven soldiers carrying crossbows are leaving through the main gate, which now stands open.

Not long after, you hear Skeety’s voice at each door, “I’ve got some breakfast, such as it is.” When you venture downstairs, some warmed mutton and hard biscuits, as well as tankards of ale are waiting for you.

DM: Any retraining is now complete, and you have your new feat. Everyone has 1 action point, and all daily powers.

The Horses Spook
 

DM: What would you like to do?

The Horses Spook
 

lets go 2 the warehouse

The Horses Spook
 

“Ah, there’s nothing like warmed mutton for breakfast. Nothing like warm mutton for lunch. Nothing like warm mutton for dinner.”, grins Erik as he takes a big bite of dry mutton. “Perhaps some ale for Barrick?”

Turning more serious, Erik suggests to his friends that they see Captain Revince as soon as possible to find out about what’s going on in the forest and what has become of the farmer’s daughter. He suggests that Rift and Tira see Captain Revince while Barrick and Torrock check out the warehouse. Meanwhile, Erik plans to use his budding friendship with Thistlesticks to seek out the prognosticating dwarf hag.

The Horses Spook
 

Thistlesticks greets Erik warmly, “Master horseman, your horses are ready for you.” Indeed Erik is pleased by the young gnome’s care, but he gives him a few pointers on the brushing and grooming. When asked about the hag, Thistlesticks shrugs, “Don’t know much more than what I tole ya’. I hasn’t seen her in weeks. She stopped comin’ round just before her prophecies started comin’ true.”

Assuming that the others agree to Erik’s plan:

Meanwhile

As Torrock and Barrick approach the southernmost warehouse, with its large doors and shuttered windows, a dwarf comes out of a smaller door. He is dressed in leather armor and wields an axe. He shouts at the pair, “Begone! You have no business with me, and I certainly have no business with you!” The dwarf looks menacing and angry at the one staff length distance from you.

Meanwhile

Rift and Tira are not entirely surprised that no flag is flying on the flagpole near the barracks as they seek out Captain Revince. All the windows are shuttered. A rap on the main door on the more southern building brings a stern-looking elf. “I am Private Frome. Who are you, and what do you want?” he asks roughly.

The Horses Spook
rplayer zplayer

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.