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7th of Mirtul of the year 1492
With the ambush behind them, the group made their way a little further north and were led off the road by Bart to camp and hide a bit further than normal, in case any additional foes were chasing. It was at that point the night became all too familiar to the party.
George unharnessed the horses on the wagons, did his normal nighttime activities. Brushed the horses, checked the wagon axles for cracks and sufficient grease, the wheels for any cracks, the cargo for safety and tightness of load, and anything else to ensure that everything was in a condition for travel the next day.
Again, dinner was made by George. Even with a low standard, George had managed to make mud pies look appetizing. Even William seemed unwilling to eat the glop that had been made. Fogo created some Good Berries so that everyone would be able to eat safely. Only ISAC attempted the obscene thing called food that George had made, and even he, with his create fortitude against poison did not feel so well.
A bowl was made for Otis, with which he ate his meal like he did every other night. He would slowly spoon it into his mouth without expression or care. He would finish the bowl completely, hand it back to George, and then crawl into his tent for the night’s rest. The party had watched with great fascination as Otis was able to consume the “meal” without any difficulty or complaint.
While the camp was getting readied, Nathan expressed his happiness with the events, and cautioned about wandering around. The Deathguards stood around Nathan’s cart, with their swords out, ready for action at any time. They did not move much, they did not eat, did not look like they were planning on sleeping, and never departed for any personal business.
They would remain in this position all night without any change except for rotating around the cart to give each guard a slightly different viewpoint as the night went on. The Deathguards never spoke during any of the watches, and only seemed to communicate by some sort of hand signals that no one recognized. Even though they were armored in chain mail, no noise came from them. The normal soft jingle of chain was not there.
At some point in the night, Fogo went into the woods to conduct his ceremony to summon and then connect himself to his new companion, a wildfire spirit. A mischievous fey spirit that only druids of a certain circle can even convince to assist them in the human realm.
During the first watch with Fogo and Angelica, they were able to hear something from the road that was about 100 feet away from them, but they did not leave the camp and waiting for the morning to look at it if they remembered. Nothing disturbed the normal night sounds of insects and odd wilderness noises, but something had been on the road.
It was during the third watch that Sky thought it wise to approach the Deathguard. Once he was within ten feet, all three jumped forward and threatened him with their swords. They waved him back and once he had properly retreated, they went back into position, except that at least one of them started keeping a closer eye on all the party members, especially Sky.
8th of Mirtul of the year 1492
The last watch passed without any issues and morning arrived. The morning was like all others. George got up, made breakfast, fed Otis, got the wagons ready, and the camp was broken down. William was immediately pestering Vladimir for some additional sword fighting training.
It was clear that the guards had not rested, nor left their posts since their arrival. They have remained, silent, wary, and ready for action. Bartholomeus prepared their wagon while Nathan slowly awoke from the top of the cart.
Fwoosh, after completing the creation of his new studded leather mask disguise, went around and showed everyone his new look to ensure no one would be confused in the future about who he might be.
Everyone got back on the road with Otis in front, followed by George, and finally Nathan and his cart with the Deathguard walking on the side and rear of the cart keeping their vigilance. While this was going on, Fogo snuck in another detect magic to look over the Deathguard and seemed a little surprised by his findings.
Everyone progressed at their normal pace. Otis led, and he was not in a hurry, nor was he moving the group slowly. It was a normal movement to not tire out the horses too much for the day’s travel. As they progressed, Fogo noticed something somewhat unusual.
As they headed north, the horizon and the sky above had an orange tinge in it. Like a haze and head from a forest fire, but there were not enough woods ahead to have caused this. It was disturbing to Fogo. As they day got longer, others notice the strange coloration of the sky. All that saw it felt uncomfortable, the hair on the backs of their neck rising from the unnaturalness of it.
At some point, Nathan who had been working on something on top of his wagon, seemed to have finished it, and upon that he gave a slightly demented giggle, stood up and with a flash of fire, the paper in his hand burned into ashes, with those ashes slowly floating away from the group. The party looked forlornly at the ashes of what most likely the message that Fogo had found on the dead leader of the bandits of the previous day.
Fogo began asking the question of everyone about what everyone else’s were plans once they reach Red Larch. Avery expressed his interest in following whatever mystery was upon them with Vladimir agreed wholeheartedly. Fogo wanted to find the source of this unnaturalness. Eventually ISAC revealed that he might have some business with a friend up there.
Avery talked about his partner’s death in Waterdeep. He laid the blame on a person called Gabriel Crowe. All he knew was that the person was dirty because of being able to show his wealth in unusual ways.
Once again, they camped further away from the road than previous camps. Bartholomeus once again chose the location and assigned four members of the party to assist in removing any trails they might have left between the road and the camp sight.
Again, the oddity of normalness filled the camp. George settled the wagons and horses, prepared the camp, and made dinner. Vladimir went forward to chat with Nathan about the Deathguard. It was revealed that these were specially assigned to Nathan by his father and that they only truly only obeyed his father. They should not be seen any time in the future unless his father was involved with something.
Nathan also talked a little about his siblings. While he is a mage, he told Vladimir that his older sister Oedelphina is much more skilled in magic and his older brother Drake prefers the sword. He also revealed that his father Alexander has been the head of the family for the last 30 years, and that the Axedredge family has been around for over 400 years. He also told Vladimir that while his brother is a nice guy, they should watch out for his sister who is well known for being manipulative and cunning.
While waiting for Vladimir to come back and help train him with the sword again, William was completely surprised by Fwoosh who had snuck up on him and made him fall and toss his weapon. Fwoosh delivered a lecture in which Vladimir also agreed about being prepared and be watchful of his surroundings.
Once the watches started, Fogo started by testing his new Wild Shape and transforming into a Giant Rat, a shape he only recently became familiar with. The sky continued to concern the party members as they could see the ominous orange sky to the north. They also noticed that even without any light, the Deathguard seemed to be completely at ease in the darkness and did not seem to have any difficulty in seeing in the dark. It was odd that they never seemed to be exhausted, even though they have not yet rested since they showed up.
Vladimir continued to have difficulty in sleeping. The disease wracking him in pain and uncomfortableness. Wrought with hot and cold chills, his sleep was disturbed at best. Tonight though, his sleep seemed much more difficult than normal, he seemed to be rocking back and forth as if dreaming something truly horrifying. He was relieved from being forced to handle the second watch as Fwoosh took all the responsibility himself.
Otherwise, it was a normal night. The same as usual. No extra noises, the horses were not nervous, Otis snored gently, and the Deathguards kept guard against anything that might show up, including members of the party.
9th of Mirtul of the year 1492
The next morning was almost monotonous. It was the same as every morning. George got up, made breakfast, fed Otis, conducted his wagon check, and finished by harnessing the horses. Bart took care of Nathan’s wagon and horses. ISAC was feeling uncomfortable about the Deathguards, something just did not feel right. Something was seriously wrong about those guards. Fogo relayed that he had seen magic within the Deathguards to ISAC and the others. It left a lot for all of them to ponder on.
Fogo, using his magic was able to confirm that Vladimir had caught some sort of disease from the Giant Rats and would need a magical healing more powerful than what the party could deliver. They would need to see a priest in Red Larch and hope that they would be able to assist.
As they moved north the ominous and dark orange sky became clear to everyone. It was like a large haze hanging in the sky. The weather itself was dry and very hot, much warmer than what it should be at this time of the year. It should be a cool sprint day but felt more like the beginning of a hot summer. Again, it was something not so natural. The air was very still and stagnated.
When asked about the weather, Otis explained that while the weather has been odd, nothing like this. Besides the weather, Otis plans on taking some alternative routes after Red Larch. He did not like the weather, and he really did not want to get in-between the Axedredge boys in some sort of family squabble.
“It’s like playing politics, it’s the quickest way to get your throat cut, usually in a dark alley where no one is watching you.”
They continued to travel north with nothing occurring during the day. It was just another slow and boring day for everyone. Being on guard for so much time looking for additional ambushes or bandits was slowly dragging everyone down. It was getting dreary, dusty, and uncomfortable. As they moved on, they began seeing more farms, but the road was lonely. The was no one else on the road, not merchants, not guards, like it was an abandoned road.
About midday they finally caught sight of Red Larch. It was a welcome relief for many reasons. They stopped at Bethendur’s Storage. It was four large buildings made of big stones. All the wagons were led around the back and parked.
They were greeted by and well-dressed man and several large burly men. A quick negotiation between Otis and the man resulted in Otis being able to store his cart in a regular storage room. George maneuvered their cart over and then he and the large burly men unloaded the cart and sealed the door. The horses were put in a pasture that was just behind the buildings.
Otis paid the party the promised 100gp, minus the penalty from Rassalantar, and an additional 50gp as a bonus for helping so much.
Nathan on the other hand, requested a high security location. They backed his wagon into the secure area and the three Deathguards all went in with it. With some familiar chanting and a flash of light, Nathan came out alone from the room. The stone doors were pushed closed. Doors that were a foot and a half thick. With a flash of magic circles on the door, Nathan and the proprietor locked the doors.
Nathan then paid the party their promised 250gp. He expressed his happiness in the employment of the party and looks forward to a future employment of them. It was revealed that the cart had come from the Axedredge gnomish workshop.
When asked for directions, he directed them to the Allfaiths Shrine further up the street. The entire party headed to the shrine hoping for a priest of better magical ability than they had. They were greeted by the two priests within.
They were quickly able to explain the issue and because of Angelica belonging to the Order of the Gauntlet Vladimir was able to get the healing for free and he finally felt healthy and relieved. Imdarr took Angelica to the side and wanted to know if she was here to investigate the issues in the area. She queried about the current issues and what was happening. He talked about the odd weather and how the whole town seems more suspicious of each other. There were strange men in stone masks, and word of a plague at Lance Rock. He directed them to the constable for more information and assistance. They were also told Gaelkur’s is a hotspot for old men to gossip.
The party then decided to divide and conquer their information gathering. Angelica and Avery went to the constable, whereas Fogo, ISAC, and Sky went to Gaelkur’s, while Vladimir and Fwoosh stayed at the shrine. They agreed to meet later at the Blackbutter Inn.
At Gaelkur’s, it seems that it was a used tool and barber shop, and possible dentist. A group of several old men were all chatting on the side while one of them was getting a haircut. Fogo and Sky wandered the crowded aisles while eavesdropping on the old men gossip.
While his companions were snooping, ISAC found a seat and contemplated his existence. He seemed to be suffering some sort of existential crisis. Having a one-sided conversation out loud to himself, ISAC seemed confused on how to move forward. During the one-sided conversion he expressed his feeling that they should stay with the current group, it should provide some safety.
With Fogo approaching the old man group asking about what there was to do in town. He was told about the different places to drink and eat as well as a few other stores that were in town. Red Larch is just a small town. He asked about the ghost in town and was corrected that there was some girl that had claimed she had talked to a ghost. The girl was the daughter of Minthra “Minny” Mhandyvver.
Not gaining much more, they all headed to the Blackbutter Inn to meet the rest of the party.
Meanwhile at the shrine, Vladimir chatted with Imdarr. They talked about possible employment with the constable and the issue with bandits in the area. The primary focus of the discussion was around a dream that Vladimir had. Asking for help to interpret it, and any details about demons and devils. Imdar told about other types of elemental dreams that others have had, but nothing concrete.
“Fire, a lot of fire. Some sort of figure. Towards the end of the dream, two horns split out from my head while I was burning. But it could have just been my fever.”
Lymmura and “Pick” talked about where clock towers might be and about geography in general. He also attempted to get his ring identified and find a possible contact. Fwoosh seemed concerned about finding someone can help identify magic items.
Before the two departed, they looked for any similarity with the different statues of the gods and their symbols with the one that they had found on the dead body in the middens in Amphail as well as the mysterious golden statue. With nothing else needed at the shrine, they decided to head to the Blackbutter Inn to find the others.
On the way to the Inn, Fwoosh showed the golden statue to Vladimir. Fwoosh was concerned that it was sucking his energy because it was warm to his touch, but cold to anyone else’s. They decided that Vladimir would hold the statue for now until they were able to figure out more about it.
At the butcher’s location, Angelica and Avery approached and went into the store front where they met a large woman wielding a pair of massive cleavers. They purchased a very small amount of meat before heading to the last building to find her husband Harburk Tuthmarillar the constable.
At the last building they found Harburk sharpening a bunch of knives. Angelica took charge about asking about any details on current issues in the area. They were told that bandits were the most immediate concern. Given a map of the area with several points marked, they were requested to handle them with their mercenary friends. The group was also given some history about the area. The oldest civilization was the drow, followed by orcs, and then finally dwarves before mostly humans moved into the area. The whole area is littered with ruins and old remains from thousands of years.
The conversation also led to the Axedredges and that there was a family issue in progress. He said that Nathan was not a bad sort, just peculiar. The town of Red Larch needed that family for bringing in different metals that they do not have locally.
Deciding to go to the Blackbutter Inn and let everyone know about their new assignment from the constable, the two stopped at the shrine to satisfy Avery’s curiosity about who the two priests worshipped.
With everyone together again at the Blackbutter Inn, they were greeted by a young half-elf. She seemed surly and unhappy but seated them and took their orders. While it is hot outside, the inside of the inn was cool, almost cold. Though the walls were thick stone, it would not have been enough to have kept the building at such a low temperature. They all noticed that there was a slight breeze in the room, but from where they could not determine, just that the air was just swirling around.
Their drinks were served by a youngish red head who seemed willing to tease and flirt with the group. When she dropped off the drinks, she chatted up the group. She told them about the strange men in stone masks that had been going around frightening the quarry workers but blamed it on the old men group at Gaelkurs for playing pranks. She also talked about how the occasional dead body has shown up at Bethendur’s Storage, and then just quietly burned by Aergo and his men.
She did reveal that her boss was a wizard and that the other girl was the boss’s granddaughter who was brought out here after her parents had perished. She told them that he occasionally will sell magic items and will usually purchase magic items that had been “found”. Avery jumped on the possible chance of finding an instructor to teach him magic. She told the party that they should come back in the morning to meet Dhelosk.
Once she left, the group shared about what they had found and talked about deciding what their plans would be in the following few days. Getting two rooms for the night, they split into two groups with Fogo, Fwoosh, Sky, and Avery in one room and Angelica, Vladimir, and ISAC into the other.
At some point before everyone went to bed, Vladimir realized he no longer had the statue in his possession and that he must have lost it, until a knock at the door revealing Fwoosh with the statue in his hand.
And that is where the session ended.
It was a great session. A 100% role play episode. The party finally reached Red larch and are almost ready to start the main adventure. Did they pick up the clues they needed?