The Adventure Begins
This story begins in the local tavern, where many adventures begin, in the city of Vaa, in the nation of Ostai. Inside is a rowdy, flame-haired dwarven woman, named Tekh StormCloud, drinking dwarven ale and lamenting loudly at the decided lack of good, solid, hairy men around in the tavern. She spots a pixie girl, one Rittophoran Chanjefir Diddlyophemeylicles , or Rit-Chan-Diddle for short, on the tavern’s small stage, telling stories, using illusion to enhance the story. She starts shouting for the pixie to show her some ‘eye candy,’ which the pixie does readily enough. Two large gumballs appear before the dwarf’s eyes. “That’s not what I meant you little…,” she begins, starting toward the pixie. A handsome human man, called Cham Leon, sitting near the pixie tells his little friend, “Now Riddle….” Rit grins at her friend and giggles, “She said she wanted eye candy… Oh, ok, fine. How’s this?” The illusion of gumballs is suddenly replaced with the illusion of a well-muscled, bulky human man. “Yeah, that’s what I’m talkin’ about!” the dwarf says, drooling over the image of beefcake before her.
Meanwhile, a middle-aged elven man in the simple garb of a sage walks in and speaks to the bartender, handing him a sheet of paper and a few coins. The bartender nods and takes the paper, which he then nails up on a post by the bar, and shouts “New Job Posting” to the room at large. The paper says “Adventurers Wanted” in large letter at the top, with illustrative pictures below showing big, burly fighters surrounding a figure in robes, and a pile of coins. There is smaller print saying that one Elrohir Oron, a local sage, is looking for adventurers to escort him into the great forest of Senpol, and is willing to pay 10 silver a day, with danger pay if any actual trouble threatens. It directs the reader to speak to the bartender if the reader is interested.
A vividly red-haired elven man with small horns on his head in the garb of a crusading priest of Koloka, named Ferasar Auvraheal, sits at the bar, nursing a glass of wine, when Elrohir enters. He looks at the notice, has a word with the bartender, who gestures toward the retreating sage, who sits down at one of the large table to wait. Ferasar then walks over to the sage’s table and the sage looks up at him and asks, “Here for the job? Good. Have a seat and a drink. I’ll get into details once we have a few more here.”
A rough-looking halfling man, called Vast, quietly approaches the table and seats himself, and the sage repeats his statement once more.
Meanwhile, Cham and Rit were conferring about the notice while Tekh continued to drool over the illusions Rit conjured for her. Eventually, they too approach the table, with Tekh in tow, who sits down and commences to take the sage up on his offer to ‘have a drink’ with gusto.
At this, Elrohir claps his hands together and begins to speak, “Ah, this should be enough, I think. I take it that all of you are here about the job I have for you?” He pauses for confirmation, then continues, “Good. Well, I suppose we can get down to business, then, alright? My name is Elrohir Oron. I am a sage specializing in magical items, ancient artifacts in particular. I need you to escort me to an ancient temple in the middle of ”/campaign/balatros-expedition/wikis/senpol" class=“wiki-page-link”>Senpol‘s Great Forest and back, as it is dangerous to travel so far alone. I’m willing to pay 10 silver a day. I do not think there will be any trouble from bandits with such a well armed escort, but if we are attacked, either on the way or once there, you will get an extra 10 silver that day. Once there, I will be searching for a particular artifact, the Staff of Balatro, which my studies suggest should be inside the temple. Anything else there, or that we come across on the way, you are welcome to. I will also provide provisions there and back. So, are you all interested?"
Ferasar says, “This sounds like a worthy endeavor, which Koloka would approve of! Yes, I will come.” Cham and Rit confer quietly, then Rit asks, “What’s the story behind this Temple and Staff?” Elrohir hedges, “Well that’s a long story…” Rit perks up, “Really?! Great! You can tell me on the way! We’re going!” Tekh slams down her empty mug after giving a long quaff and says, “Sounds good! I need the money, and maybe I can fight something!” Vast just nods and mumbles something affirmative-sounding.
Elrohir beams and stands, “Great! Well, I have preparations to make, as I’m sure you do as well. We shall leave in the morning. Meet me back here at dawn.” The group disburses. Ferasar goes back to the local temple of Koloka for the evening. Cham finishes his drink and heads up to his room while Rit, after waiting a moment, quietly changes form into a large black cat with overlarge ears and follows Elrohir, though the sage only goes to the local sage’s guild for a few hours, and then back to his home to sleep. Vast just quietly leaves the common room and goes to his rest. Tekh, however, continues her evening of drunken debauchery, and goes to look for the nearest willing dwarven man and spends the evening ::ahem:: indulging herself.
The next morning, the party sets out. They travel over the farmlands of Ostai, into the Great Forest of Senpol where they travel along the roads for some time before turning off and striking out through the trackless forest for several days. The entire trip takes 23 days, and is without significant incident. True to Elrohir’s prediction, no bandits harrass the formidable party along the way.
Finally, they arrive at an ancient, but surprisingly intact structure. There may have once been decorations, but they are long worn away. All that remains are two human-sized stone statues on either side of the open doorway, which is the only way into the temple. Rit pipes up, “I’ll go check it out!” and flies ahead of the others toward the entrance. She suddenly pulls up short, however, as the two guardian statues suddenly come to life and bars her way. They make no other move, but simply block the door with their bodies. As the others catch up, Rit takes a few moments to fly around the structure, looking for cracks or any opening that she could use to enter the temple. She then returns to the others and explains about the moving statues.
Tekh turns to Elrohir and asks, “We gotta get in there?” The sage nods, “I’m pretty sure that’s where the staff is.” Tekh asks Rit, “And these statues won’t let us in, right?” Rit says, “Yup, wouldn’t let me in!” Tekh then grins, draws her two battle axes and concentrates for a moment. The axes burst into flame. When the others see this, Ferasar and Vast also draw their weapons and prepare. Vast charges in first, swinging with his short sword and missing. Then Tekh comes charging in right behind him, just as the statues swing back at Vast and at Tekh herself. Tekh takes a large chunk out of one with her axes, as the statue swinging at her wallops her good in return and knocks her back a little way. Behind her, Rit casts a spell and suddenly in her place is a beautiful human warrior woman with shining armor and a shining great sword. The warrior woman charges in and attacks the statue on the other side of the door from where Tekh is still exchanging blows with her statue. Ferasar also runs in to help out the warrior woman, though with limited success.
As the melee continues, Cham stands back with Elrohir and shouts snide comments at the warrior woman. In the confusion, Vast suddenly concentrates for a moment, and then changes form into a small black cat, who runs between the golems legs and into the temple, only to reappear a moment later, again in halfling form, to stab a statue from behind, though without any visible effect.
The statues continue to exchange blows with the party, but eventually the statues are smashed, leaving the way clear into the temple.
It is only when the warrior woman finishes off the statue Tekh had been fighting that she notices the newcomer. “Who the hell are you?!” she asks in surprise, getting ready to continue the fight against the warrior woman if necessary.
The warrior woman pulls herself up dramatically and flourishes her sword, saying, “I am Reixelia! I am here to fight evil and vanquish those that would harm the innocent!” Elrohir then speaks up, “Well, thank you for the help, young lady, but I’m afraid I’m only paying these five here.” Tekh growls, “Yeah, so beat it, toots!” Cham admonishes Reixelia, grinning, “Riddle, I think you should tell them who you are before Tekh does something regrettable…” Suddenly, in place of Reixelia is Rit. “It’s me! It’s me!” Tekh’s jaw drops, “But…,” she stammers, “Where do you put the armor? …and the sword!?” Ferasar then breaks in, “Can we talk about this later and go inside now?”
The party then walking into the temple, only to find a spiked pit directly in front of them. It fills the corridor, but is fairly narrow, and easily jumpable. The group discusses this for a moment, when Ferasar just decides to make the small jump over the pit, whereupon he plummets down into a covered pit on the other side. He gets scratched by the spikes below, but luckily manages to avoid being impaled. The party shortly uses a rope to get him out again, but they are still faced with the problem of getting past the covered pit. Rit easily flies across and begins making exploratory forays further into the branching passages, though she doesn’t go very far because of the darkness inside the windowless temple. Cham examines the area around the pits thoroughly and finds a hidden lever, which he pulls. The larger pit then closes, and there is a scraping sound, like something moving across the bottom of the pit cover. The party then is able to jump over the original open pit and continue on, with Cham in the lead, checking for any more surprises.
Further into the temple, down a long set of wide stairs, the party comes upon a huge pit that stretches off into the darkness, with no apparent way to cross it. When Cham examines the edge of the pit, he feels an object sitting on the edge but cannot see it. It is about 2 feet wide and appears to stretch out across the pit. Cham inches out on hands and knees onto the invisible bridge, and eventually makes it across, with the rest of the party following along. All make it across safely.
Shortly thereafter, the party came upon a T-intersection and started to go off to the left, but Tekh suddenly spotted something funny about the wall just ahead of the intersection and stopped to examine it. She found a hidden catch, and suddenly the wall opened into a huge circular room with a large circular stair heading further down.
Cham once again took the lead and went into the room, carefully checking everything along the way for more surprises, which he found in abundance. There were pressure plates all along the wall, and a huge covered pit in the center of the room. He finally worked out the safe path across to the stairwell and led the party across.
At the bottom was another circular room of the same size as the one above, but with no apparent exits other than the stairwell. On the far side of the room is an alter with a staff laying on it. When Elrohir sees the staff, he gets excited and runs across the room before anyone in the party can stop him. He grabs the staff and… suddenly everyone gets very tired and falls asleep where they stand.