Where the stumped heroes make a trip to Candlestick to peddle their wares.
The next morning, the Deputies and Spring gather around for breakfast at the Sitting Duck. Well, everyone save Broken, who seems to be taking his own sweet time waking up. They had been told the day before that an early start is essential when going to Candlestick. One does not want to be caught out at night near the Wolfrun Hills. Candlestick is two days from Boar’s End with an inn halfway there that serves as safe place of refuge.
Meander opens, “I think we really need to plan on going to Candlestick tomorrow.”
“Um, we are the Deputies, and this murder happened yesterday. I feel like we need to, even though we are at dead-ends, try to wrap up. And then we also need to do some planning so we can be ready to go in the morning, because we didn’t do any planning about the trip yesterday.”
Ember says, “So Meander… Don’t take this accusatorially, but where were you yesterday between the time I left you and the time you came up to me? Do you have any memory of that at all?” There is a long pause as Meander rolls his eyes up in thought. “I’m concerned that all this grabbing folks you are doing is messing with your head.”
“So, what I do remember, is that we escorted the guy back. We came back to town…”
“Yes, back to the wagon to talk to Spring.”
“No, no, no. That’s where I loose it.”
Spring says, “You loose it when?”
Meander says, “Um…”
“Before the party?”
Ember cuts in, “No, we are talking about yesterday, when you were deciphering the books.”
Spring nods, “Oh.. oh ok.”
Ember continues to summarize, “We came back from escorting the earth priest back to his tent. We
came to talk to Spring. You and I were there. Spring, you remember we were both there. But you, Meander, have no memory of that.”
“So, I remember us leaving the earth priest. I don’t remember us getting back to town. I don’t remember this conversation you say we had with Spring. But I do remember leaving the inn, not sure how I got there, leaving the inn to tell you that, well… that you needed to remember to heal the guys.”
“Which is kind of funny considering that you don’t know where you were.” Ember thinks over Meander’s actions and demeanor, but can’t discern any change of behavior over the past few days. “Listen, something is going on with you. I don’t know if there is anything that I can necessarily do from my priestly aspect. But I am going to be watching you carefully to see if I notice you slipping, or notice anything off, happening to you. Because there is a period of time yesterday that you just totally don’t remember. And I can’t chalk it up to you being a lush.”
“Um ok. If there is something wrong, I want to know what it is. And while we are grilling people, we should also grill Broken about his memory loss as well, that is once he comes down.”
“I agree, but does he have memory loss or just a hangover? I don’t know if anything is going on with you Meander, but it does worry me.”
“I really think that this… I don’t think that this has happened to me before. Because it seems like something like this would crop up in daily life.”
“True. You went all grabby and rigid when you touched that evil bitch. Did something transfer to you?” Ember’s eyes grow narrow and cold.
“Ahh yes. The imprint of the spell that she was attempting to cast.”
“So what was it?”
Meander looks puzzled, “That’s a good question. I haven’t tried to cast it yet.”
“Do you think that something that you brought over might be influencing you?”
“Well. It is definitely possible. For instance, when I first learned to use the Open Hand spell, it was incredibly painful, until I learned how to use it correctly. But I haven’t tried to cast this new spell yet, so… I don’t know what… I don’t know.”
“So you have no way to know what this is without blindly casting it?”
“No.. So I get feelings from the magic inside me. This spell has kind of an agitated whispery feel.”
“Hmm.. Not enough information to do anything about it.”
They eat and drink and pass time at the table. Soon, ToughBark asks, “So, if we aren’t going to Candlestick, what are we going to do?”
Meander says, “Well, we could try to rush going to Candlestick. Do we want to try? We’ve got the stuff. We’ve got the wagon. We just need to scope out where it is and go. But I feel like we have some loose ends… that we at least need to do some reassurance and I’m not sure what we are going to say…”
Ember jokes, “Stay calm. Everything is under control.”
Spring proposes, “Well, I wouldn’t mind checking out these Mists.”
Ember asks, “Mist?”
Meander asks, “Do you mean.. the?”
Spring interrupts, “The mists in the woods.”
ToughBark, “Before we do that, we need to do some planning for how we are going to get around, before we just barge in.”
Ember asks, “Get around where?”
“Just make sure that we have some sort of ..
Spring interjects, “way back?”
ToughBark says, “Yeah. However, if we get lost.. then we are lost.”
Meander says confidently, “Oh, well I’m awesome in the woods. I don’t think that we will get lost. Oh, are you are good too, leading us around. We are probably fine.”
Spring says, “Hold on. ToughBark knows a little bit about this.”
“So you guys were already near there… Where the lumber camp massacres happened.”
Meander adds, “You were up there too. You were really close to um… well… I mean… ToughBark, you told us that that was pretty close to where the mists were.”
Spring says, “The magic interests me, but I know you guys need to take care of your ‘Deputy Duties’.”
“Well… The problem with going to go see the mists… it is not just a day trip.We can’t go and see the mists and come back all in a day. That’s a multi-day trip.”
ToughBark says, “If you wanted to go to the mists and come back, you could do that in one day. But that doesn’t count doing anything there, nor does it count if you get lost going into the mists.”
Ember says puzzled, “Remind me, why do you want to go see these mists?”
Spring explains, “So, Starlight talks about some powerful magic that is protecting the area and also about a … basically a key that… Well, you know I like to see what I can do with magic and how it works. I’m interested in this key that lets you pass through the mists. I’d like to figure out what that would be.”
“Correct me if I’m wrong here, but isn’t that city that we got the information from, that is being protected by the mists? Isn’t that Arch?”
Spring pauses for a bit, “Yes.”
“They are already watching. They are already aware of us, not necessarily you. They have already said that depending on what we do, that they could potentially sponsor us to go in there on our own. So, if you want to go in there and start poking around, that might piss them off.”
Meander says ,“Well, he wasn’t a part of that deal.”
Ember says, “I understand that.”
Meander, “But she had a key, that really fancy key. I wonder if that is the key to the mists.”
Spring says, “Hold on. I don’t remember a key.”
“She had two keys. The plain key went to her room, but we didn’t find a use for the fancy key. So we have a crazy key that must go to a crazy lock.”
“I want to take a look”
Spring takes the fancy key. He prepares to cast his largest detect magic spell, focusing on the perception aspects of his spell, finding the most minute details. He spends some time analyzing the key and it appears to be a very normal key. It is made of brass, handmade with engravings carved along its intricate shape. After studying it at length, he detects a spell woven into the very construction of the key. The spell itself resists detection and is absolutely, insanely difficult to sense and incredibly subtle. The purpose of the spell is to keep all forms of tracking magic from interacting with the key. The key will also resist all attempts to attach a spell to the key so that it will forever remain a normal key. Certain metals were mixed into the key’s creation that will aid it in resisting magic. The spell is not something that can easily be dispelled as the magic is enchanted into the construction of the key. The magic should resist activities like, copying the key with magic, tracking the key with magic, or reading divinations from the key. And the key was constructed to be this way. There was no one in Spring’s order that could have performed this level of High magic.
After staring at the key at length, Spring looks up at the group and says, “I don’t even know what this means.” He tells the groups about his findings about the key.
Meander says, “Well, if it is an enchantment, it might be something, Ember, that you might be able to look at.”
“I don’t really have any way to look at the magic.”
“Something that just resists magic… Crazy. I need some armor that is built like that.”
Spring, “I guess what I’m thinking, we are going through this process, and you guys have already wasted part of the day… You guys need to find out who killed those people. Do you guys need to make a statement? You know… calm the townsfolk?”
Ember says, “I honestly don’t know which way to go. Just leaving town would send a bad message.”
“Could we kind of … just … lie? And say we are trying to get information somewhere else?”
Meander frowns and says simply, “Well.. That’s not a lie. We are going to go try to find information somewhere else.”
Spring smirks and says, “Ok, then if we are at a dead end, then let’s prepare to go to Candlestick in the morning.”
Ember thinks it over, “Well, we never did find out what happened to Broken’s girl. Let’s try to find out what happened to her.”
Meander says, “I think there is something weird there. There was someone at the bar that knew something.” He gets up and goes to talk to the barkeep and some of the folk who were working the party. Everyone remembers her, because she was a beauty. They remember her hanging out with Broken. They don’t remember her hanging out with anyone else. Nobody had seen her in town before. No one here at the bar has seen her since.
Going back to the group, Meander fills them in, what they couldn’t overhear from across the bar.
Ember asks, “Where is Sandpiper?”
Meander says, “He left after the party. We’d have to throw another party to get him here.”
Ember goes over to the barkeep. “Where does Sandpiper go when he isn’t hanging out here?”
“He lives in Arch. He usually comes in every other week or so to pick up parcels for his master.”
Meander jokes, “We could let it be known that anyone named Sandpiper gets a free drink tonight and tonight only.”
Ember says to the barkeep, “Ok… Go ahead and pass the word.”
He laughs and says, “Yeah…. That’ll probably get him out here.”
While they wait for Broken, Spring shares his findings about the diaries. He stayed up late translating several diary entries, and after reading the first few, skipped to the end. It talks about her arrival in Boar’s End from Candlestick, but leaves them with more questions than answers. They just have time for Spring to read the entries before Broken finally wakes up and joins the group. They wait while he has a quick breakfast and then they go to find Baleson to report in.
Baleson has been moving around town, chatting with the townsfolk, and trying to get an idea if anyone knew the two priests or if anyone had any motive. He can sense when people are up to no good. He is hoping to catch someone looking nervous, but he is also taking the time to reassure the townsfolk that the priests were no one from town and they have nothing to worry about.
The group catches up to Baleson and tells him what they have found out. He tells them that the people are still uneasy because the murder from a few weeks ago was still unsolved. And now, here are several townsfolk murdered after the party. Now people are starting to put fires outside of town to try to keep the wolves out.
He also tells the group that no one has had any dealings with the priests or knows them. The other two thugs that were killed did not work lumber consortium, and no one know who they were also. They were definitely not one of Greed’s thugs, he keeps careful track of them.
They part ways with Baleson, walking back in the general direction of the Sitting Duck. As they walk away, Meander says to the Ember and Spring, “So about that unsolved murder from a few weeks ago. We think that was Jade.. or was it Jet. Anyway, she was a young girl, who we found in the woods, who was helping us try to find the other kids. We brought her into town with us and we think she sneaked out and killed someone that night. We didn’t know then however, people just said that a wolf attacked someone in town. She went with us to the Crucible and while we were fighting some of the Kobolds, she turned into a werewolf and tried to kill us.”
Spring says, “Nice.”
“And we ended up killing her but it was crazy. Stone Man almost cleaved her head off and it healed right back in front of our eyes.”
“So, when did this happen?”
“So, before we met up with you, we were trying to rescue some kids that had gotten lost during a dare of sorts. They had been captured by the Kobolds and taken up to the Crucible, which are some Dwarven ruins. It was just a couple of weeks before… ahh… just a couple of weeks ago.”
“Wow. So how did you end up killing her?”
“We happen to have picked up some silver knives, on a whim. I think ToughBark tried one against her in desperation, because she was right there next to him, and it just opened her up. It was really crazy.
Tough Bark said, “What Stone Man’s sword couldn’t do…”
Meander exclaimed, “I know right! This little knife left a massive wound.”
“And more importantly, it didn’t heal.”
Ember said, “Well. Probably not connected.”
Meander said with a sigh, “The problem is that once she was killed, she turned back into a little girl.”
Spring asked, “What did you guys do with the body?”
“We left it in the Crucible.” Meander continued after a long awkward silence, “It’s kind of a twisted tail, we found her at the orphanage.. the burned out halfway house nearby. It looked like the lady there had been torturing some of the kids, but maybe she was just torturing some of the werewolf kids. It was pretty weird. We found those silver knives in the torture chamber underneath the orphanage. It was Jet that told us about kids being tortured, but there definitely was a torture chamber.”
Meander tries to sum things up, “So there were two new guys to town, who nobody knew who they were. Then there were the two new priests. And then also, there was this chick, who fly-by-night came into town and out of town, the same day that it happened.” He hesitates, obviously struggling with thought, “So if we go back to the scene of the crime, didn’t it seem like they were already in the middle of fighting? And then something killed them all.”
Tough Bark says, “They didn’t appear to be fighting each other. They were all facing the same way.”
“I was basing it off the tracking.”
Ember says, “The tracking was inconclusive.”
“They were stomping around…”
Tough Bark says, “I couldn’t really tell, there is so much more traffic in town.”
Ember turns to Broken, “You were with the girl for awhile, do you know anything about her?”
Spring says, “He doesn’t remember jack!”
Broken, “We were having wine at the party and you know…”
Spring says, “and then the crazy monkey sex. Or … coyote sex.”
Meander says, “He had LOTS of wine and then just blacks out.”
Broken says, “I assume we went back to the room. I woke up in my room the next morning.”
Spring says, “You didn’t notice anything missing with your stuff?”
Broken says, “Oh no! I check my stuff every day.”
Everyone eyes him a bit questioningly.
Meander says, “So you have all your spell books and stuff.”
Tough Bark asks, “So did he pass out at the party?”
Meander says, “He was pretty drunk, but he left with the girl.”
They split up for a bit to question the townsfolk about the girl, hoping to find more answers. Quite a few townsfolk remember seeing the girl, but no one remembers seeing her since that night. She definitely wasn’t a towny. No one can remember her name. Even Broken can’t remember her name. She is not at any of the inns and no one has put her up, even at the Red Lantern. They meet back at the Sitting Duck to discuss and share notes.
Spring thinks back to the party. He didn’t remember seeing any magical auras at the party except for Sandpiper and a faint glow around the High Priest of Inheritor, Frog and Laurel. He says, “I didn’t see any magical about her.”
Ember says with a grin, “Apparently Broken did.”
Meander asks, “Do I have an aura?”
Spring shakes his head, “Both Broken and Ember have an aura.”
Ember quips, “That’s an aura of desperation.”
Spring, stifling a laugh, says “That may be true.”
Meander perks up and says, “Oh, you know what else we need to do today? We need to get a horse for the wagon.”
Spring says with disdain, “Why?”
“Well, we don’t need to ride a magical animated wagon into town.”
Ember says, “It has worked for us so far.”
“Yeah… But we are kind of known here.”
Spring quips, “Because we are kind of a big deal? Or is that just you.”
Meander replies, “That’s just me, but it carries over.”
ToughBark says, “Well, we have plenty of money.”
Spring, “We don’t have plenty of money, that’s why we need to go to Candlestick.”
Meander sighs, “Yeah, we still need to split those gold bars…”
Meander exclaims, “Oh!” and then he grows quiet, “and there is something else I would like to try, if we have time.” The others groan.
Ember, shifting back to the other conversation, “We can count all the mages in town, outside this table, on one hand. Obviously there is one more powerful than Broken running around somewhere.”
Meander replied, “She also talked about a necromancer.”
“Yes, she did.”
“and we know somebody has been raising the dead because… well… we keep fighting them.”
Meander pauses as Ember looks somewhat conflicted. Meander hesitates, then asks tentatively, “She is evil… right?”
“No, she is dead.”
“Uhh… but… she was evil?”
“Yes, she was.”
Seemingly consoled, Meander continues, “Alright… Part of me is wondering about the Necromancer. ShadesCough. Grave keeper. He did have some magical tomes. His son knew a lot about magic.”
“Who? What are you talking about?”
“She mentioned the Necromancer.”
“The town’s grave keeper is named ShadesCough. His son, Vale, knew a lot about magic. He had conversations with Broken down in the depths of the Crucible. Also, when we were looking for the cure for the plague in the town, ShadesCough helped us on some leads to find the magical herbs because he had books on magical herbs. So, if there is a necromancer, he either might be the Necromancer, or might know something about that.”
“So you want to go confront him, ask him nicely, beat him about the head and shoulders? What’s your plan?”
“So, we saved his son. So we could ask him nicely… as long as we aren’t accusatory.”
Spring chimes in, “I was going to ask you guys about that earlier, because I wasn’t sure what that was referencing. I didn’t know about the Necromancer in town. Something else seems like it is associated with that.”
“I think when she said the town necromancer, maybe she is talking about him being an amateur.”
“That would make sense. But I don’t he’s the one animating all these… I mean who animated the Kobold King?”
Broken says, “It’s like the chicken and the egg. How could the Kobold King, who is a Zombie, raise everybody else? He would first have to be sewn up and zombified. Clearly there is someone behind that.”
Tough Bark says, “No one is town refers to ShadesCough as the town necromancer. They refer to him as that old asshole out at the cemetery.”
Meander quips, “That sounds like necromancer. Don’t those mean the same thing?”
“Well, when he doesn’t come into town, nobody misses him.”
Spring asks, “Well, can we talk about the diaries a bit now? We also got the Necromancer. And then ‘The dead ones I seek also have a stronger power worthy of the dark lord they follow.’?” Spring’s statement is met with silence. Ember is obviously thinking deeply, but the others have blank expressions. Spring continues, “Along that same lines, when she references the undead here, is that the Kobolds? ‘I can not find the source of the undead here.’”
Meander says, “That’s the only undead that we’ve met.”
Ember asks, “At that point, where is here?”
Spring says, “Boar’s End. At that point she’s in Boar’s End.”
Meander asks, “Wait, are you saying there are Zombies IN Boar’s End?”
“I’m saying Starlight said that.”
Minutes later, Ember breaks the silence, “Well… I just had another thought here. We REALLY apparently pissed off GavelGreed. And Gavel would have the resources to hire someone to do this sort of thing as it appears that it is in direct connection to things that we can do. I’m not sure if he knows that or not, but that’s a possibility.”
Meander says, “The only one of us who has really, kind of, shared their mage-ness with the town is Broken.”
“They also know that I can cast spells.”
“Well, I guess they do now.”
“I’m a priest.”
“Well, okay. There are a lot of priests that can’t cast spells.”
“Really? Tell me about it. What did they do to you?”
They laugh at Meander as he sighs and says, “Not all of them are bad.”
“Anyway, that thought just occurred to me. I’m probably just being paranoid here, but that is a possibility.”
“No, it is definitely something we should remind ourselves when we are in town.”
Ember says, “So where does that leave us, aside from sitting here scratching our heads.”
Meander says, “Well, I guess I should spend some time getting the horses and working with the wagon.”
Ember says with a grin, “Ok. I’ll help you with that.”
Meander, clueless, says “Well alrighty then. Good, then there is something else I wanted to try too.”
“You know, I know something about carts.”
“Do you? Cool! I was hoping to work with Broken to try to teach the wagon to work with horses. But first I need a horse.”
“Well, I have a mule, would that work?”
Meander whines, “I don’t know. I don’t think so.”
Broken says, “It would be quite simple to teach the wagon to work with horses or animals with similar dispositions. It would be quite easily done indeed, although I would recommend using horses.”
Spring glances over at ToughBark, and then turns back to stare at him for a bit. “I’ve been kind of looking at ToughBark. He seems to be radiating an aura that I haven’t noticed before. I see that he is getting nervous with me watching him. Do you feel alright today, ToughBark?”
ToughBark shrugs it off saying, “Um. No, I don’t feel any different.”
“Ok… You seem to be emanating an aura and you weren’t before. In fact, I’m sure you weren’t radiating it yesterday.”
Meander, “How do you start radiating an aura? Is that a good thing?”
“I can’t say what it is.”
“But you can see it.”
“Yeah, It is not real clear. I can’t tell if it is something that has effected him, or something hanging around, lingering.”
“Is it something someone has cast on him?”
“I can’t really determine. I was trying to look at him and I could see him looking back saying like ‘Hey! What’s up. Look, no no. It’s nothing.’ So, I don’t know. I’ll keep an eye and see if it changes. You sure you don’t feel different?”
ToughBark says nervously, “No. I don’t feel different.”
Spring says, “Back to the diaries… What do you think the dead ones that she is seeking? I would like to go over the diaries and see if there is something else you guys are thinking.”
Ember, “Ok, sure.”
Ember consults his book on Undead. Traditional thought on Undead is that they rarely just happen. There usually is some kind of initial corrupting influence that begin an outbreak of Undead. It could be some kind of master Undead, the more powerful ones can create Undead from the people they kill. It would still be a corrupting influence. People just don’t get out of their graves for no reason.
Spring says, “It seems she is implying it is a cult of some kind, or an evil god. She may even know who they are. However, Kobolds aren’t usually Undead, right?”
Meander says, “Well, those last ones were, but usually they are small lizard-like people. These were reanimated by something. The Black Carapace told us through Red that the Kobold King was reanimating, raising the dead. But who raised the Kobold King back from the dead?”
ToughBark, “When was the last time we went to ShadeCoughs?”
Meander says, “That was when we dropped Vale, his son, off after we rescued him and the other kids. He did help us begrudgingly before and was an ass about it, but he was very glad to see his son back.”
Ember says after some moments of thought, “I see a couple of things that peak my interests. One is that she mentions ‘Goddess’. I assume the holy symbol that she has ties into a female deity. The other thing, ‘I see the enemy of my enemy is here and it worries me. I thought they were further west and north.’ I came from the west and north of here. There are a much larger concentration of those priests to the west and north. So I need to go have a word with them to find out who their enemies are.”
Spring says, “Before we do that, let’s just go through this. I don’t know if I understood everything that I translated.”
Meander says, “Well ok.”
“I’m going in order. The first passage is fairly straight-forward, you know getting there. The East Watch is where she mentions her goddess. And her goddess is going to take her through… basically drag her through everything until her task is complete. Then if we jump down to the entry on Candlestick…”
“So we skip a bit as she travels through TreeHaven until she gets to Candlestick?”
“Right. Candlestick is south of us. She talks dead having found a clutch here and the light of the temple…”
“Have or have not?”
“Ah yes. The dead have not found a clutch here.”
“Is it because of the wolves… or because of the moon?”
“It’s because of the temple. Does anyone know anything about this temple?”
There are shrugs and blank stares from around the table. Meander says, “We might be able to ask Lady Songbird.”
Spring says, “So that is definitely something to note… The Temple in Candlestick.”
“Yeah, it is opposite to her nature. ‘Even though it is the opposite to my nature, can I not still appreciate its virtues.’”
“Oh… And the southern sands she travelled, I’m assuming that she was from… and the temples so common from the southern sands that I travelled…”
Meander interrupts, “Hey, aren’t you from there?”
Spring says, “Exactly, that’s what I’m saying.”
“So, don’t you know what kind of temples are there?”
“Well… I don’t know if the southern sands she is talking about is my area, but it sounds like it. There is a goddess to the south called the Dawn Flower. She is the goddess of light, the sun, healing, and goodness. She has several orders of holy warriors, that don’t take the nice approach to the Dawn Flower. They would definitely oppose undead, darkness, and evil. You know, any of those vices and base things. It is an old and popular religion and is gaining ground in the north.”
Meander says slowly, “So, if she is not about light, then is she about the darkness?”
Spring recites distractedly, " ‘And it is the silver of the moon that truly protects the town’ "
Meander says, “Yeah… I don’t understand that at all.”
ToughBark says, “Well, we can’t just wander off to Candlestick, there are the wolves.”
“Yeah, but why would the silver of the moon protect the town. That just doesn’t make sense.”
ToughBark says softly, “The silver of the moon…”
Spring recites another passage, " ‘So I am off to trade the wolves of Arrowfell for the boars of Darkwood.’ "
ToughBark says, “So, the biggest threat in Candlestick are the Werewolves.”
Spring asks, “Where is Arrowfell?”
ToughBark says, “The Arrowfell forest is west of Candlestick and it is where the Werewolves live.”
“And so she had to travel through there to get… I see. So I am off to travel through Arrowfell and basically go against the wolves. Then the boars of Darkwood, which is where we are.”
Meander says, “Yeah! But we haven’t seen any boars.”
ToughBark says, “The silver of the moon stuck out to me, because doesn’t silver hurt Werewolves?”
Meander says, “Oh yeah! I guess it probably was the silver rather than the smallness of the knife.”
Spring begins to recite passages quickly, " ‘It is no wonder that this towns demons assault it so, for the foe Candlestick faces do not fear the light.’ So I guess the foe she is talking about are the wolves of Arrowfell."
ToughBark says, “Candlestick was recently completely overrun and attacked by an army of Werewolves and it is fresh on everyones mind. Everytime there is a wolf attack, people are looking over their shoulder for a man who is a little too hairy. The wolves may be smart, but they just wolves. I’d not seen one stand on two legs until we met Jet. And Jet didn’t like other wolves, remember?”
Meander says, “Well, there was that one wolf that was supposed to be smarter that she talked about.”
Spring asks, “Is Jet the little girl that you guys killed?”
Meander frowns and says, “Yes.” After a long pause, he continues, “Man, it was terrifying. You don’t understand.”
“So we don’t know what the temple in Candlestick is. Do any of us know what the silver of the moon reference is?”
ToughBark says, “Candlestick faces Werewolves.”
“But what is the silver of the moon?”
“This temple, what god or diety is it?”
Spring says, “So the next passage, where she is traveling between Candlestick and Boar’s End.”
Meander says, “Yeah… Earthquakes…”
Ember says, “It sounds like she is almost… some of…”
“Do you think she was hallucinating?”
“Well no. It is almost like she is used to some sort of earth… um… I don’t know how to put it. The magic that she is seeing, it seems like she is used to seeing it. It is just that the power level is scaring her.”
Spring says, "So.. Yes. And then in the next sentence, she says ‘the dragon siting still has me shaking when I think of it.’ "
Meander says, “I think she is hallucinating. I mean, she imagines… I don’t know. She is paranoid.”
Ember says, “You are awfully quick to make that analysis.”
Spring says, “But she plainly said, ‘Actually seeing one was…’ Yeah.”
Meander says, “So… Look at the book. And what you had to do.”
“I admit… she…”
“A dragon? A dragon! No…”
“But it doesn’t mean that what she is writing is inaccurate. I think she believes it.”
ToughBark asks, “Could the dragon have some sort of elemental power?”
Ember says, “I don’t know nothing about dragons.”
Spring asks, “Do we think there are dragons in this area?”
Meander says, “Well, we met a little one. Yeah.”
Ember says, “Excuse me?”
Meander says, “Yeah! I had dragon armor made out of it. It was wonderful stuff. That freaking gelatenous cube! I hate that!”
ToughBark says, “That wasn’t a dragon.”
“Sure it was.”
“That wasn’t a dragon.”
“What about the Tatzelwyrm?”
“That was something else too. The Tatzelwyrm is just a nasty serpent that lives in the woods. What attacked us at the witch’s hut was a Wyvern. It is dragon-like, to be sure, but it is a beast like any other.”
“So if that wasn’t a dragon then what is?”
“From the stories… Big as a house. Bat-like wings. Breathes fire.”
“Ok. It didn’t breath fire.”
“And it had a stinger on its tail. Wyverns live in the mountains and Candlestick is pretty fair from the mountains. It is on a plateau, with a large valley separating Boar’s End from Candlestick. The Wyverns probably would not go that far. Also, I’ve never heard of any Wyverns that inhabit the Wolfrun Hills.”
Spring comments, "It looks like from what she was saying that it was a high flying dragon, because… I don’t know. Just that she saw it like it passed her or something. Not like she had any interaction with it.
ToughBark says, “Maybe there are not many dragon sightings because not many live to tell the tale.”
Meander says, “Ok then. Be small and insignificant. Gotcha.”
Spring says, “Alright. I don’t see anything there. Then she was in Boar’s End in the next passage.”
“Yeah, learning secrets.”
" ‘One false lead’… then we think that possibly the necromancer that she is referencing is… what did you say? GraveBottoms?…ShadyPants?"
“It was ShadesCough. I think the necromancer that she is talking about… I think it makes sense for it to be ShadesCough.”
“And then ‘The dead ones I seek have a much stronger power worth of the dark lord they follow.’”
ToughBark asks, “Ember, do you know anything about this dark lord they speak of?”
Ember says, “Not really, I don’t think.”
Spring replies, “She is not seeking the lord, but the dead ones that follow the lord.”
Meander says, “So if you remember, down in the bottom of the Crucible, in Jekkajak’s room, there were drawings painted on the wall of a dark creature with red eyes. And the kobolds were fleeing something. They were driven to the surface by something.”
ToughBark says, “So, should we go back and investigate that?”
“I’m just saying, if there is a dark lord, maybe it is something down inside the mountain. And she said it was something nearby. The mountains are nearby. The Crucible is only a half day away. But I mean, there are other caves and passageways in the mountains. We had gone down as far as we could in the Crucible.”
Ember says, “Technically you had not gone as far as you could. There was a passageway off the forge room that you didn’t take that had a pretty weird looking creature in it.”
“Yeah” Meander sighs and then perks back up. “I wonder what that was.”
Spring says, “OK, trying to pick this apart. If she cannot find the source of the undead here…”
“But she says that it is nearby.”
“Alright… so then the next”
Meander interrupts, "I don’t know what the other challenges she is talking about are.
“I mean, they have had other challenges. I was wondering if the enemies of my enemies were us.”
“I don’t know about when you say ‘us’. I was thinking maybe Ember.”
Ember growled slowly, “No.”
“Ah wait, I see the enemies of my enemies.”
“No, I’m pretty sure that has to do with that camp of priests. She talks about to the north and west. That is the direction I came from. This order is a lot more common in that direction.”
ToughBark asks, “Who are Ember’s enemies?”
Ember says, “I don’t think I have any to speak of.”
Spring, “Well, evidently you have her.”
“Well, yeah. But I don’t think she knew me at that point.”
Meander says, “Ok – I can go with that.”
Spring says with a smirk, “And I understand. It wasn’t that she was your enemy. There was just a wrongness about her.”
“No.. oh.. It could be a one way enemy.”
Ember sighs heavily, “Do I know why I killed her? No. I know that I was guided to do so.”
Spring, moving on, says, “So she was worried about being detected. She was worried about somebody detecting her presence and they may … kill her.”
Meander says, “Well she seemed pretty good at hiding stuff and finding things that were hidden.”
Spring says hurriedly, scanning the translations, "Oh ok… For all my effort… "
“She is the mistress of secrets”
Spring rambles quickly, " ‘then I may be done before I have begun, for all my effort was to stay shielded from the scrying eyes of my former masters.’ "
Ember says, “Umhum. The Coven. Or so she implies it was the Coven.”
The Deputies nod around the table.
Meander says, “Coven is fairly innocuous.”
Ember says, “I wouldn’t say innocuous.”
“Well, lots of things could be called covens.”
Ember shakes his head. “There is another diety of Undeath that I just recalled named Whitefly. She is the goddess of disease, rot, undeath and other bad stuff. Pestilence. A pestilence goddess. Only the truly insane would worship her.”
Meander says, “Well, its a good thing we haven’t been dealing with any diseases or pestilences, so we probably don’t have to worry about her.”
They all turn to stare at Meander like he is crazy.
Spring says, “I’m not understanding… the other goddess you found. But the goddess you mentioned a minute ago was a goddess of light. That was the Dawnflower… and ok right. We don’t know if there is a temple to her in Candlestick.”
Spring continues, “So then the last passage is when she is in Boar’s End.”
Meander says, “It’s about Arch.”
Spring says, “And Arch is to the north of us?”
ToughBark says, “Let me tell you something about Arch. When the Goblin Blood Wars erupted, which was mostly in Irongird, but it hit just about everybody in this region, the Goblins attacked Boar’s End. The Owls showed up. Those are soldiers from Arch. Now the Goblin army was like a thousand strong, and six guys… maybe ten, but they just ripped the entire Goblin army apart.”
ToughBark continued, “They supposedly used powerful magic. One of the stories that I’ve heard is the Owls rushing, running towards the Goblin army as the Goblins were rushing towards Boar’s End, and then the Owls just disappeared. The army, of course, kept coming for Boar’s End, and the town was getting ready for the impact, when it was clear that something was killing them from behind. All but the most focus and inattentive didn’t notice and they turned around to fight something and it was the Owls. The Owls got behind them and were killing them. And so the few that got up to the walls were killed by the spearmen. The Goblins didn’t do nearly as much damage as they could have. And so Boar’s End considers Arch their protectors. Some people say that it is selfish, that if the Goblins had taken Boar’s End, then where would they get food and supplies. Plus they would be next.”
“But with the army they have, they don’t fear Goblins… Most people are suspicious of them though because they won’t show their faces and they won’t let you in.”
Spring says, “So after she made this last entry, she had not had a chance to make another entry before we came back into town.”
“Yeah, she had been gone and Jack said that she had gotten back that day.”
“Well, I don’t know what to discern from all that.”
Meander says, “It’s a mystery. It’ll make sense later. Let’s get something to eat.”
“Well, I did want to go over it.”
Ember says, “Well, I do have some lines of inquiry now with the priests outside town.”
Meander says, “Hmmm.”
“Come on! Let’s go talk to them Meander!”
“But… I’m… But I had something else I wanted to do.”
“Ahh, you were going to go talk to the Necromancer.”
“No, no, no, no.” Meander continues hesitantly, “I was going… to… to um, do something else.”
“Alright, I’ll hang out with you.”
“Well… I guess we could do both. Alright Fine. Let’s do it all.”
“What were you planning on doing?”
“Um. I was going to go try a spell that I got from the Bugmaster.”
“Ok, Let’s go.”
Spring says, “I wouldn’t mind going to go watch. Where were you going to try out these spells?”
Meander, “I was going to try them at the wagon.”
“And where is RottenCough… or whatever his name is.”
“ShadesCough. He lives along the north road. It’s just a little bit… He’s a short walk from town.”
“So where are we going first?”
Meander looks over at Ember who gestures for him to make the decision. It appears that Ember really is planning to stick with Meander. Meander sighs and says, “Alright. Let’s go talk to the priests first. And then we will come back and I can try stuff at the wagon. Who all is going with me?”
Broken says, “I’ll go to the wagon and make sure it is ready and spelled up and everything.”
Spring says, “I’ll tag with Meander and Ember. If Meander is going to try out some spells then I want to be involved.”
They make the short walk outside of town to the tent encampment for the elemental priests. Once the enter the main tents, Ember asks the acolytes if Basalt, the head earth priest, has time to talk. After a brief wait, Basalt emerges from behind the curtain.
Ember begins without hesitation, “We’ve come across some references, and I’m wondering if you could help me out here. I know your order is primarily centered to the north and west of here. Is that correct?”
Basalt says calmly, with a voice as steady as the stone he follows, “We have more following in Honor’s Stand and maybe even gaining some influence in Midnight, although that is kind of a harsh land to try a new religion.”
“Are you yourself from that area?”
“I’m from Last Wall originally, actually.”
“Does your order have any enemies?”
“Well, we are a new order, so… we are being resisted by tradition.”
Meander asks, “Do you mean religious enemies?”
Ember says, “Well… yeah.”
Basalt, “No, we don’t have any enemies.”
Ember asks, “Is there anything that calls itself the Coven that you are familiar with?”
Basalt ponders for a moment, “Could you be more specific?”
“Um… Not really. Here is the passage we read, ‘If I can stay hidden, maybe I can make them my unwitting protectors as they would surely attack any of the Coven’s agents should they show themselves openly.’ "
“I don’t know. Maybe there is something that we would recognize as an evil sign and feel obliged to do something about it?”
“So this doesn’t mean anything to you then?”
“No, not as such.”
“Well. I had assumed that is what it was meant to mean, considering that I can’t think of anyone else around here from the same area that might be… against someone who was using divine magic. I was just wondering.”
“Well, certainly my order opposes evil doers and I would like to think that my people would do their part in trying to oppose such things.”
“But there is nothing systemized that you are aware of?”
“No. We are to new a religion to have ancient wars. No, we are fighting the gods that are already around and trying to gain converts from gods who have become old and useless and obsolete.”
Ember bristles at the comment, “Hey, hey, hey… Watch it.”
Meander steps in, “So, How do you.. How does your religion feel about undeath?”
“Well, the dead don’t exactly have any connection to the four elements. So there power is unnatural and certainly not something the average person would seek out on purpose. It doesn’t seem like a healthy thing to want to study to me.”
“I would agree.”
“It seems like a religion for lunatics.” After a short pause, Basalt perks up, “Where as the elements, you can see all around you, every day. Their power is demonstrated in everyday life.”
Ember says, “I know I’ve shown these symbols to you before, but can you think of any reference to these symbols in relation to a goddess?” He pulls out the two symbols, the eye and the water symbol, and shows them to Basalt.
“A goddess? No… The only thing that I can think of for the water symbol is our teachings tell us that water is a feminine element, where as earth and fire are masculine elements.”
Meander asks, “Is there someone here who might have more insight into the water element that we could talk to?”
“The only person that we have here who knows the teachings of water is one of our sisters and I’m afraid she is not very far along in her studies. This is a small tent where we are trying to do mundane works and gather resources and of course people. So we don’t have a master of each element available. You would have to go up to Honor’s Stand to find a water master. Or Irongird, I bet you could find one there.”
Ember, “I was really hoping perhaps that there was some group that you were aware of that wasn’t a problem.”
“Well, the problem with evil doers is that they don’t like to be out in the open. They are very hidden about their activities. It could be anyone.”
“I don’t suppose you ever saw this woman I’m referring to.”
“Ahh.. No. I don’t think you have mention this woman before.”
Ember pause for a moment in thought, “There was a woman in town that was emanating foulness.”
“Yes… So I killed her.”
“Indeed. With fire?”
“I tried that, but unfortunately I was not pious enough. Instead it was with steel.”
“Hmm. And so these books are hers?”
“What else did she have?”
“These holy symbols.”
“I see. Well, I can’t be of more help. I don’t recall anyone like that visiting our tent. Of course, an evil doer would be wise to stay away from us least we get wind of their activities.”
“Ok. Once again thank you for helping. I wish you had had more information, but I understand.”
“Sorry. Come back anytime.”
As they walk away, Ember leans over to Meander saying, “We’ll get you over that phobia at some point.” Meander just shakes his head. Ember says, “So you are going to cast a spell of some sort?”
“Not here! Back at the wagon.”
“Understood. How are you feeling?”
Meander says slowly and cautiously, “I’m feeling like somebody is watching me?” The others chuckle.
Spring, Meander, Ember and ToughBark follow the now worn path to the road and turn towards town. Meander says, “So, there are a couple of spells that I want to try. One is the… if you guys are going to be watching me anyway, then I might as well try the spell I pulled from the girl. Maybe you guys could glean something from the magic as I try to use it.”
Spring says, “Which girl?”
Ember says, “The one… The evil girl.”
“We’ve met a couple of evil girls. The one you were sucking face with?”
Meander says, “That was just good clean fun. I didn’t get any magic from her.”
“You remember that, don’t you?”
“Oh yeah! It kind of goes all blurry. Man she was a good kisser.”
Spring says, “So which… Ok, I don’t remember.”
Ember says, “The one I killed.”
Meander says, “Starlight”
Spring, “How did… But what magic did he take from her?”
Ember says, “He doesn’t know.”
“But when did he take magic from her?”
“When he grabbed hold of her and went rigid. Hmm… perhaps I should rephrase that.”
Spring says, “Ohhhhhhh. I forgot about that.”
Meander asks, “Do you want to see how this works?”
“Oh yes. I’ve got my glasses on.”
“Ok, put out your hand.”
Ember starts laughing. Spring jerks back and says, “Not so much.”
They walk a bit more, drawing close to the wagon. Broken is working inside. Meander says, “The spell that I have, it feels…” Meander pauses in thought.
Spring says, “How do you know what any of these spells require?”
Meander says, “I don’t know what they will do. I have a feeling about what they will do.”
“Not what they do, what they require?”
“What they require?”
“Trial and error.”
Spring backs up a bit.
Meander says, “So one of the spells that I got from the Bugmaster actually calls lightning down from the sky. That was kind of scary.”
Ember backs away too. Ember’s eyes light up with fire and Spring adjusts his spectacles, both intently watching Meander.
Meander start casting a spell. He begins making fluid gestures, but doesn’t say anything. For being trial and error, he definitely seems to know what he is doing. It becomes apparent that Meander is channeling divine power. Spring can tell that it is exact same spell that she was trying to cast in the market. Ember’s life sense can tell that the power is the exact opposite of a life spark. It is dark, cold and empty, and without energy. Spring begins to analyze the purpose of the spell. He can tell it is illusion magic, meant to deceive. Somewhere along the casting of the spell, showing the trial and error nature of his casting, Meander looses control of the energies and fails to form the spell.
Ember can see the element of water inherent in the nature of the divine power. It doesn’t correspond to any religion that he is familiar with. It may be from a lesser known demon or another otherworldly creature.
Both Spring and Ember ponder over the magic they have seen. After a few moments, they realize that since the casting, Meander has been standing, silent and unmoving.
Ember says, “Meander?”
Meander doesn’t respond, still staring off into space.
Ember walks over to him and nudges him.
Meander jerks a bit and seems to come back into the present. He puts his hands together and says, “OK! Let’s try this spell.”
Ember says, “Uhh. You just did and failed.”
“No. I didn’t try it.”
“Uh-huh. Ok. Meander, don’t take this the wrong way, but you just spaced out and now you are saying you didn’t do something. We sat here and watched you do it.” Meander looks back and forth to both Spring and Ember, struggling to reconcile his memories with what he is being told. Ember continues after a few moments, “Meander, nothing happened spell wise. Spring, did anything happen that you saw?”
Spring, “That it looked like he was casting some spell with divine energy, not from this realm. I couldn’t really tell anything past that.”
Ember says, “It is totally antithetical to what I do, but then Meander, you just sort of Phased out there.”
Meander sighs, "Ok. So… Yeah! I was going to try a spell that I got from the Bugmaster…’
Ember interrupts, “You were going to try a spell you got from the… evil person that you grabbed hold of that I dealt with.”
Meander squints and peers up in the air, “I… don’t… think…”
Spring says, “We don’t know that she was evil, but it was the girl from the Courtyard.”
Meander eyes open wide, “Yeah! I did get a spell from her.” He turns to Ember, “She was evil, right?”
Spring says, “We don’t know that.” Spring turns to Ember, “It actually sounds like he lost other memories.”
Meander says, “I don’t know why I couldn’t remember this spell. When I think about the spell, it does feel… weird. It feels like somebody is whispering to me and it isn’t necessarily a good feeling.”
Ember says, “Oh really! Did it feel like it was trying to push you away?”
Meander, “Um. I don’t know. Do you mean right now?”
“When you cast the spell. Are you still hearing the whispers?”
“I can’t remember ever casting this spell.”
“Are you hearing whispers currently?”
“When I think about the spell and reach inward to the feeling of the spell, it feels like whispers.”
“Meander, I’m about to ask you to do something that is very dangerous to you. I want you to think about that spell, and concentrate on those whispers. See if you can draw something out from it.”
“Draw something out?”
“You pulled divine magic into yourself and I think you pulled it from a deity that is probably is not real happy about you having it. At this point, I want you to piss it off and see if we get a reaction.”
“Wait a second. If I’m pissing off a diety… I mean. Now usually I’m up for a lot of different things. I’m all for trying to cast it again… even though I don’t ever remember casting it.”
Broken, who was working on the outside of the wagon, chimes in, "See, I’m telling you guys, this is how it’s going to go. ‘Meander, you didn’t cast that spell.’ ‘Oh ok. I’ll do it then.’ ‘Meander, you didn’t cast that spell.’ ‘Oh ok. I’ll do it then.’ "
Spring says, “I guess I don’t understand why you thought you were going to cast the Kobold Bugmaster’s spell.”
Broken, “That was like three days ago.”
Meander says, “Alright. I got three spells from the Bugmaster. I’ve tried one of them … and just about shocked the shit outta myself. But I have two more and I wanted to try them.”
Spring, “Ooohhh. So you were thinking about that a couple of minutes ago.”
“Well, I was thinking about it earlier before we went to the…”
“I’m trying to figure out how much time you lost.” After comparing events of the day, they evaluate that Meander appears to only have lost a few minutes of time.
Meander says, “Well, I don’t really know how much I’ve forgotten.”
“Well, we’ll tell you.” Spring chuckles softly.
Meander says, “Alright, I’ll try to recast the spell, mainly because I don’t understand what Ember is asking me to do.”
Ember says, “Concentrate. Go ahead and cast the spell again, but concentrate on the whispers.”
Meander says, “Ok, they are really creepy.”
Ember, “Well, we are not going to find out anything unless you do, and I’m afraid you have pulled something in and you shouldn’t have done so.”
Meander goes through the motions again, casting the spell. As he works his way through the gestures, he missed one of the gestures and looses the spell. “Damn! Again?”
Ember says, “Do you remember it this time?”
Meander says, “I do.”
“What did you hear? What did you feel?”
“Well, when I concentrated on the whispers, I got a better feel for what hand motions I was supposed to do. So I just did that.”
Spring says “But you still flubbed it.”
Ember pulls out the symbols and hands them to Meander. “See if it makes a difference when you hold these.”
Meander takes the water symbol and goes through the forms. This time he makes it to the end and activates the spell. His image becomes blurry and indistinct. He would be very difficult to hit in combat. It appears to be defensive combat magic.
Ember asks, “What did you hear this time?”
Meander, “Focusing on the whispers helped guide my hands. That’s all.”
Spring examines the spell and comes up with much the same as before. It is illusion magic and might be just the thing that an illusionist would cast if they had an armed maniac running at her.
“The whispers aren’t anything that I can understand. It is almost like they are at the edge of…”
Spring adds, “perception?”
“Yeah! It still leaves me with a very uneasy feeling.”
Spring smirks and says quietly, “Kindof like a priest. A very uneasy feeling.”
Ember says slowly, “Ok.”
Meander says, “Alright! I got a new spell!”
“Well, that means you need to keep the rune.”
“The water symbol? I was going to keep that anyway.”
Ember says, “Oh no you weren’t.”
Meander says, “Oh yes I am.”
“Because I need it.”
Ember face becomes as cold as stone. “You need to understand something. I have seen that symbol in my GodWalking.”
Broken says, “Which must mean it is a good thing.”
“And that symbol seems to be problematic in my GodWalking.”
“Problematic to you, but not problematic to Meander.”
Meander asks carefully, “So, the symbol, or what the symbol represents?”
Ember, “Probably what the symbol represents. The power source that you are drawing your power from… It is not a good source, Meander. It has no connection to life whatsoever. Matter of fact it has a connection to void.”
“So, I need this to be able to bring the spell back later.”
“And I’m telling you that you don’t need to be casting this spell.”
“Well, that may be. But there might be some need for it.”
“Allow me to put it this way. I will withhold healing if you use that spell.”
Broken says, “Dude! That is harsh.”
Ember continued, “I killed someone who used that magic. There is a connection there somehow…”
Broken continues to talk in the background, adding commentary, “Yeah, I’ve killed people too. That doesn’t mean I withhold my stuff!”
Ember, “and I don’t know what it is.”
Meander, ignoring Broken and staring at Ember, “You guys are smarter than I am, but do you feel the wrongness right now?”
Ember says, “No I don’t.”
“So, is it the magic that is the problem, or is it something else the girl represented.”
Broken says, “Oooh! Look at the brain on Meander.”
Ember says, “I honestly can’t answer that, Meander.”
Meander throws down his hands. “Alright! Well, I… I… I won’t cast the spell till you get it all riddled out. But I am still keeping this.”
Ember says, “I obviously can’t stop you.”
Broken laughs and says, “It’s like trying to move an ox. You just can’t do it. It can’t be done.”
Meander stares at Broken with a puzzled expression, “Sure. I move Oxen all the time.”
Ember says, “Now for the Bugmaster spell.”
Meander says, “What Bugmaster spell?”
“Pardon? You’ve been yammering on about some Bugmaster spell all morning.”
“Yeah! Calling Lightning? I’ve already done that one. I had other ones??? Ahhh! That’s right.”
“Meander, you are beginning to worry… No. You are worrying me here. Did someone drop you on your head when you were a baby? What’s going on?”
“Someone might have dropped me on my head when I was a baby. Do you have a problem with that?” Meander stands up to his full height, casting shadows down on the others.
“No. I’m just concerned. I’m not saying you are dumb, I’m saying you keep mentioning things and then forgetting it is there. Is there something going on that I need to be worried about here? Do I need to talk to my deity to try to develop some spell to help you.”
Broken says, “Oh! Aren’t you still cursed.”
Ember waves Broken back, “No, I took care of it.”
Meander says, “No… yes.”
“Didn’t I take care of it?”
“Yes you did, right after you blasted the runes off the wall of the ruins.”
“Alright, I thought I did, but I am hanging out with you. Things kind of get forgetful, don’t they.”
Meander says, “So, I did get another spell from the Bugmaster, but … um… I don’t know it right now… anymore.”
Ember says, “What does that mean?”
“So, you know, you have to spend time… you can’t keep all the spells that you know in your head at one time.”
“So, it is going to take me some time to recall this one in all its…”
“You implied that you were going to do it now. That’s why I was wondering.”
“So this one is kind of weird. With the lightning spell, it felt like I was going to pull something to me. This one I hear the noises of animals. Cow. A horse. A cat. I’m going to focus on the horse sound.”
Meander spends some time attuning to the spell. Then he slowly casts the spell over the course of about half a minute. Meander feels energy and power course through his legs, along with the feeling of galloping horses. He runs off at tremendous speed. He circles the wagon a few times then comes to a stop, and lets the spell fade.
Spring analyzes the magic during the casting and while it is active. Meander has channelled divine power again, but this is indistinct in origin. It would seem to be divine nature magic. He has allowed divine power to possess and augment his body. In this case, it appears that it has augmented his ability to run. It seems like a very sophisticated spell that could be manipulated. Seeing how Meander heard multiple animals, it could probably augment other parts of his body.
ToughBark quips, “Well… I wonder if Cat makes him obnoxious.” The group laughs.
Meander, talking to himself out loud, “I’m not sure I’m going to be able to practice that other spell without hurting someone.” Then louder to the group, “So, the spell I got from the Bugmaster has a feeling of venom, nasty bile that comes from deep within. I think it is the weakness spell that he cast on Red. So, I don’t really want to try that one now.”
Meander makes a quick mental run down of what happened, just to make sure he still remembers everything. “I remember that I have forgotten things, and I don’t seems to have any more missing memories that I am aware of.” As he starts to try to catalog memories, he realizes that he isn’t necessarily missing time, he is missing things. He didn’t forget the Bugmaster, he forgot spells he got from the Bugmaster. And it isn’t completely wiped out memories, they just aren’t able to be recalled until reminded of them. “Also, I seem to be loosing memories of things rather than missing time. But it is only until someone or something reminds me about it. Then I’m able to recall what was missing.”
Ember asked Meander, “So, is this something that has been happening a long time for you?”
Meander replies emphatically, “No. Oh no. I don’t remember this kind of thing happening before a few days ago. I haven’t had these kind of ‘Oh Yeah!’ kind of moments so often as I’ve had the past couple of days.”
After a long uncomfortable pause, Meander breaks the silence, “Well good! I was worried about that spell. I thought I might end up with a horse.”
Ember look up from his thoughts, “So, I know that you can’t probably answer this question. Have their been other episodes where people looked at you funny, because you’ve thought no time has past… recently? I’m trying to determine when this may have started and what triggered it.”
“Or was me saying ‘What do you mean?’ the first time.”
“So…” Meander squints his eyes and looks about, straining to remember, “There was the time by the Temple.”
“Time by the Temple? What do you…”
“When I met you.”
“Ok. Right.” Ember said, “That is the first time I noticed.”
“Right before the party, Spring asked me about my nap, but I didn’t know what he was talking about.”
“Ok. Was there any time before then?”
Meander scratched his head, “No. That’s the first time that I remember that happening to me.”
“Ok. That is after you took the spell from her.”
“Yeah! It’s all been since then.”
Ember curses under his breath.
Meander says, “You don’t think it has something to do with that spell, do you?”
“I don’t know. It could be that spell. It could be simply your interaction with her. She had to know she was dying at that point.”
Meander’s eyebrows jump up. “Did she cast a spell on me? Did she curse me?”
“I don’t know Meander.”
Meander peers over at Spring, “Do you seeeee a curse?” Spring has his head buried in a book with magical runes on it.
Ember replies, “I really have no way to detect that. Spring?”
Spring looks up from his book. “Um.. What?”
Ember shrugs and turns back to Meander, “You have lost time. Have you noticed anything else odd recently happening to you? Besides, of course, me asking you all these questions.”
Spring chuckles and starts scanning lines in the book again.
“Um…” Meander sighs again. Thinking through this is hard. How does one know what they don’t know? “Not that I can..” He shrugs.
Ember finishes, “Not that you can remember?”
The conversation died down as Ember ran out of questions. They begin to mill about around the wagon with Broken still working on modifications. Meander looks at the front of the wagon and says, “Hey! We still need horses.” He sizes up the wagon. “We would need at least four. Or we could use two oxen, but that would be really slow. Or we could get two really big horses, but those would likely be more expensive than just getting four smaller horses.”
Spring says, “And how are we going to pay for four horses?”
“We have gold bars.”
“Ok. Somebody is going to actually take that? And not think we just stole it somewhere?”
Meander looks shocked. Obviously the idea that it could be stolen hadn’t crossed his mind. “We didn’t steal it? Did you steal it?”
Spring sounded testy, “Of course we didn’t steal it. It was given to us as a reward.”
Ember says, “Begrudgingly yes.”
Spring asks, “How will they make change?”
Meander says, “I assume there is someone in the Perch that could change this in some way.”
Broken chimes in, “Not that you could carry. That is one of the advantages to the gold bar.”
Spring says, “Well… let’s go get some horses?”
Meander says, “Well, we could stick with the one mule.”
Ember shakes his head. “I’m sure he would really appreciate me doing that.”
Meander says, “Well, he isn’t actually going to be pulling at all.”
“It’ll just look funny,” Spring adds.
Meander says, “Yes. It is just for show.”
Broken stays at the wagon to work on the research of some sort of spell to banish spirits. The others make their way to the Perch and after a few trades and some minor squabbles over splits and shares, they divide up the coin. ToughBark and Spring decide to throw in coin into the purchase of the horses, but also get the others to agree to get full shares from now on. Red decided to part ways and goes off to pursue his own ends. Meander, Ember, ToughBark and Spring then make a visit to the stables, and after spending a sizable sum of coin, they walk away with four horses to outfit the wagon. They hang out by the wagon for the rest of the afternoon working on the wagon and prepping for the trip to Candlestick.
Getting the wagon to work with the horses was quite quick. Meander leads the horses to the wagon and gets them hooked up. He explains to Broken what the wagon should do to guide the horses. Broken performs some sort of magic spell on the wagon that takes just a few minutes, then he commands the wagon to guide the horses. They take right off, walking and working under the guidance of the wagon. Meander is amazed.
Meander, “Spring, if you aren’t doing anything else, there was another spell that I can do. But I don’t know what kind of magic it is? Would you be up for investigating it?”
“Yeah! Let’s go.”
Meander casts the Dark Sight spell, his eyes filling with inky black smoke. He looks about, but is blinded by the darkness of the daylight.
Spring examines the magic, recognizing it as elemental magic. “This is elemental magic. Shadow magic actually. The channeling of pure magical energy from beyond, and in this case the plane of shadow.”
“Shadow is an element?” asks Meander.
“One of the lesser elements, like ice, light or sound.”
“Hey, Can Broken animate sound?” Meander asks loudly.
“I would like to,” says Broken leaning out the window of the wagon. “That falls into the category of research. I like research.” He goes back to tinkering inside the wagon.
After dinner, Broken goes back out to the wagon to perform some ritual spirit magic. Broken settles down to use a new ritual he learned to get some fetishes. He was looking for a water spirit and a tree spirit. Through the ritual, he quests out to find the spirits and finds a nearby tree spirit. He easily catches it and places it in a fetish. After more searching, he finds a small water spirit. The water spirit is wary and resists Broken, eventually breaking free and getting away. Undeterred, Broken searches for another spirit. He finds a small wind spirit and places it in a fetish as well.
After an uneventful night, the group gets up early to leave for Candlestick. As they get ready to leave, rumors abound in the inn. Travellers have come to town speaking of a dragon being sighted at Candlestick.
Spring says, “I told you she said dragon.”
It was a big monstrous flying dragon. Everyone saw it.
It’s the end of the world
The Gods have returned.
Broken mutters, “That’s just ridiculous!”
“The gods have returned?” Meander asks questioningly.
“Why would they! This place is a dump,” Broken exclaimed.
The load up in the wagon and start the long journey to Candlestick. They spend a quiet day of travel, as each of them is wrapped up in their own studies. Meander sits on the front of the wagon, playing the part of the wagon driver. However, since the wagon drives itself, he spends most of the day playing with his Dwarven battleaxe, wondering at its powers. After a long day of tinkering, he manages to turn on and off its magical glow. Broken spends the day questing for spirits to put in fetishes. He manages to corner and pin a creek spirit during the trip, putting it into the fetish.
Near sunset they pull up to a well-built inn painted in cheerful colors, tucked in the eaves of the forest. A stable stands nearby with a hitching post with multiple mounts and more than one farm wagon sits in the yard. A large red sign above the door proclaims in gilt letters, “Travellers Stop Inn”. Above the sign, and stretching across the front of the building, is a banner with artistic lettering stating “The traveling expedition of Doctor Pleasant Crain, professor of antiquities and master of shroud artistry.” A number of colorful tents have been set up at the rear of the inn yard, apparently for this expedition.
Dr. Crain can take a shroud and through magic, he can pull the image of a dead person onto it. He doesn’t need the actual body, just something to retrieve the memory or image of the person. He had several shrouds on display of supposed ancient peoples of importance, but none are recognizable to the group. It is still impressive, the floating shrouds of dead people, even without knowing who the images represent.
They close everybody up at dusk, because they are afraid of wolves. The doors and windows are barred and everyone comes inside, but the night passes uneventfully. The group finds a table in the inn and gets a decent meal and plenty of ale to drink. They retire to their rooms and wake up early the next morning to get an early start towards Candlestick.
The Wolf Run hills are high rocky hills that can’t truly be described as a mountain range. It is rough country, but still has a rugged beauty. The road turns down and around some mud flats. They were warned to avoid the mud flats. They are supposedly really dangerous. After the Travellers Stop Inn, the terrain turned harsh and rocky. The road leads into a valley, and there are gigantic boulders piled in the valley, as if something crumbled a mountain. The group is reminded of Starlight’s journal entries about the earthquakes. They pass ground that is jagged and broken.
During the second day of travelling, Meander goes inside the wagon to study in the research lab, leaving the wagon apparently driverless for most of the day. He researches his first spell, a simple spell that allows him to feel magical emanations. He does go back up to drive the wagon again as they draw closer to Candlestick. Broken spends the day questing for a shadow spirit, but the spirits stay elusive, and he is unable to find one. ToughBark stayed very elusive during the trip. He would hide in nooks and corners in the wagon during the trip, staying quiet.
Nearing Candlestick, the ground rises off to the left, blocking all sight to the southwest. Also to the south, a hill rises directly in the path of the road. As they draw near, they realize that Candlestick is built on the top of a small cliff, and the road winds around a small trail on the side to get up to the gate.
There are guards at the gate. They look over the group’s weapons and wagons, and seem dutifully impressed when they hear we are here to trade. But they require that each person grab a silver blade bare handed before they will let the group pass.
Everyone grabs the blades in turn. Meander, grasping the blade, turns to the guard and asks, “What would happen if I didn’t grab the blade?”
The guard looks back at Meander incredulously, and double checks that Meander is unburned by the silver. He stammers a bit and says, “Well, we wouldn’t let you into the city.” The guard glances over at a line of archers. The arrow heads sparkle brilliantly in the afternoon sun.
Looking around, there is silver everywhere. The guard’s spear tips are silver. Everyone seems to carry a silver knife or dagger at their side. The arrow heads are all silver.
“This looks to be the town to get a silver dagger.” Meander quips.
Once past the gates, they begin to discuss how they are going to sell the items. They could sell the item to a fence, or stop in the market and try to sell items themselves. Spring had mentioned earlier that he may have contacts in Candlestick whom he could sell items in bulk.
Broken says, “Honesty, I think we should sell the expensive items to the fence, and sell the moderate to inexpensive items ourselves.”
Meander exclaims, “What!”
“Don’t you need to get back?” Spring asks somewhat agitatedly.
“Yeah,” drones Ember.
“Well, cause think about it,” Broken says. “If it is expensive and we just set up in the market… The really rich people… I wouldn’t go to a market. I would go to good wholesome people, not to peasants.”
They stare at Broken like he is crazy.
Meander says, “It doesn’t really matter because we have to spend at least one whole day here.”
“I think just finding a fence and negotiating a deal,” Spring says. “That is going to take the majority of a day to do all of that.”
“I thought you said… I thought we got some names for people to go to…” says Meander.
Broken says “No, that was recommendation to come to Candlestick to sell these types of items. Not actual names. The only shop that was mentioned was Maestros Magic, but it was a specialty shop.”
“Well, if that is the only place that we know of, and we don’t have anything we can sell there,” Meander says. “Then perhaps we could talk to them about finding other places, unless you know of someone else we can talk to.” Meander peers over at Spring.
“Well…” Spring says hesitantly. “I… might know someone who we can speak to.”
“Isn’t the idea that we dump this and then get back?” Meander asked.
“I thought that is what you guys needed to do,” Spring says. “I’d probably not like to spend a lot of time here.”
“Oh?” Meander says curiously.
Ember says, “I don’t care how we sell the items. I do want to get an audience with the priests here and ask them some questions.”
“There is the temple.” Meander says definitively. “We probably want to see what is up with the temple of light.”
Spring says on the sly, “I know someone named Chopper that we could offload most of this stuff.”
“Is he named Chopper like of a butcher? Or a criminal?” Broken asks.
“Yeah.” Spring says innocently.
Meander says, “Ahh. He’s a butcher then. And he takes magic items.”
“He owes me a favor,” Spring says.
Broken asks under his breath, “A special kind of favor?”
“Is he taking this as a favor?” Meander asks. “Because there is nothing wrong with this stuff.”
“Oh no. I would just trust that he would do right by us,” Spring answers. “As much as a fence will.” After a long pause Spring continues, “Does that seem alright to everybody?”
They decide to at least go talk to Chopper. He offers, because he knows Spring, fifty percent of its value, without even looking at it. Take it all, unseen. He’ll go through it, determine the value, and then offer half back to the group. The group seems generally agreeable, because they don’t have the time to sell the items piecemeal. They agree to meet him in the morning.
They go back to find an inn. They ask the innkeeper about different places in town. They decide the following day to visit Chopper early, then go to the market for browsing, a weapon smith for silver weapons, the library for Broken’s research, Tepid Transports for , shops for magical ingredients for enchanting, and the Temple of the Dawn Flower to ask about Starlight.
They get up early and head over to Chopper’s place. They bring out all the items and take them in for Chopper to inspection. He takes some time looking over each item, pricing some above and some below the group’s expectations. He comes up with thirteen thousand silver, which matched the group’s estimate. They split the money evenly between the group members.
There is a group of adventurers in the market that looks much like the group itself. One of men dresses much like Three-Back, but while Three-Back is really hairy, this guy is his opposite. This motley band is boasting about how they took down a whole coven of wizards, and they have a large selection of items that they are trying to sell in the market. They have wands, amulets, bracers, cloaks, potions and the like.
Some of the wands were for battle magic. There were four mage guards that used these. They cast spells through the wands and it made it easier to cast in battle. There were other wands that would allow a mage to attune a single spell to the wand, which then would allow that spell to be cast faster, almost on reflex.
Broken goes to Tepid Transports looking for a shipbuilder. The storm magic of the Stargazers has gotten him interested in trying to build a flying ship. The storekeeper at Tepid Transports happens to know about a shipbuilder in town. There is a guy in town who currently builds boats. He is a disgraced shipbuilder from Emperors City that has somehow run upon hard times and the best job that he can get is making canoes. He is the only serious seagoing boat builder that she knows of, but she can’t vouch for him.
He searches through town and finally finds the man in a boathouse on the river. He’s a dreg, making canoes and rafts. His name is Sift Wheel. As Broken comes up and asks for him, he looks a bit frightened, hunching down and stepping back a half step. “What do you want? I didn’t do nothing.”
“I’m not here to harm you,” Broken says reassuringly. “I am interested in searching for a knowledgeable man or woman of the ship trade and boats.”
“Well, I haven’t done that for a long time.”
“Well, but, I here you are the man to see.”
“Why? Why don’t you go to Emperor City and find yourself a boat builder there?”
“Because Emperor City is not here and I am here right now.”
“What? Do you want a river boat?”
“You know when you say Ship, you mean on the open seas. These here are not ships.”
“Yes, but they are cousins.” Sift snorts at the comment, but Broken continues, “How much would a ship ship, an open sea ship cost?”
Sift considers for a moment, and then eyes Broken carefully. “Well, ok. What do you want this ship to do?”
“Well, my good sir, I want to go from one place to another. You know… Sturdy. Good Hull or whatever the hell you call it.”
“So you want to transport goods and stuff?”
“Mostly people. I don’t need a big transport ship… like a big merchant ship.”
“There is a longship. They are shallow draft and good for all purposes. The Northerners use them for war so they are good for that. But they are mainly designed for people, they don’t carry a lot of goods.”
“So how much would those cost a man.”
“To buy one would cost you about 10,000 crowns. You could probably make one for half that.”
“What about a Real ship. A nobleman’s ship. Something that would actually hold cargo.”
“Ohhh… 30,000 crowns to buy one. You could probably build it for half that.”
Broken pauses to consider the offer. This is the type of boat that he wanted to build his flying ship. However, they need much more money to build something like this. He could build golems to harvest materials and possibly make it for much less than even half cost. However, he would need to speak with the others to see if they would contribute to the flying ship. Plus, he still needs to find some examples of Stargazer storm magic. Rumors have it they had flying cities even. He could surely build a flying ship with some research.
But how would they get the rest of the money. Investing in merchants would yield too slow a return. His forays into cargo and tree cutting also yielded slow results. They made quite a bit of money looting the two ruins. Perhaps there was a magical answer to help them find profitable places to plunder. More research is in order.