10th of Mirtul of the year 1492
The group slowly awakened in their two rooms, mostly rested, except for Fogo who had been plagued by upsetting dreams and uncomfortableness all night. It was noticeable enough for Avery, Fwoosh, and Sky to wonder if there were any issues that they should be concerned about. Fogo described his dreams about the earth and stone and believes that it points to the quarries as a possible source. He did quote something he remembered from the dream. He heard from a genteel and well-spoken voice say:
“The last war did not wipe the slate clean. You all shall be crushed by the earth, ground into stone, and I shall begin again.
Fwoosh was still concerned about his golden statue, and he felt like it was sucking things from him. Something unknown, as it was consuming some of his essence. The action of handling it made Avery very uncomfortable, but not for any reason he could articulate, perhaps just fear of the unknown. Concern about the statue was expressed by Fogo as well.
The other group strategized about their plans for the day and wanted to make sure that they visit the owner of the inn who is known to be a wizard. Angelica spoke up about how both Imdarr and the constable should be trustworthy and that they should be planning on taking on the bandits soon.
It was at that point that everyone came together and went downstairs for some much-needed breakfast. Sitting at a large table they all ordered some breakfast and. All of them enjoyed the main room which were substantially cooler than their rooms, and especially the outside. Fogo related his dream from last night and requoted the voice he heard. Vladimir described his dream of fire, and said that he too heard a voice:
“You cannot stop the flames. I shall burn all of you down and rule over the ashes of rebirth.”
They also discussed that disturbing dreams had also seemed to have plagued several of the people of Red Larch. It was pointed out that the dreams were very elemental, perhaps even primordial. In the midst all this, Sky relayed that he too had a dream. It was of a white fox named Deloris, the Harbinger of Death. Sky was not sure about if there were any elemental links, but the giant berry he had been eating in the dream was very tasty.
Behind the bar was a short man sitting on a stool. The party assumed it was Dhelosk Quelbeard, owner of the Blackbutter Inn, and a wizard.
While the conversation was coming to an end at the table, Avery quietly went to the bar and hopped on a stool to converse with Dhelosk. It was explained that the party has questions for Dhelosk, whereas Avery was interested in finding a teacher of the arcane arts. It was implied that instructions might be available for the right price for Avery and his party members.
Vladimir led the party into considering what topics they should discuss and any subjects they should broach with Dhelosk. The golden statue was brought up several times. Fogo expressed interest in magic items and others in potions. It was also suggested that they ask him about the weather and any other odd occurrences in and around town.
As usual, the party then split into different groups. Fogo, Angelica, Avery, ISAC, and Sky went out leaving Vladimir and Fwoosh stayed to speak to Dhelosk.
Vladimir attempted to make a copy of the symbols on the statue, when he realized that all the paper left the building with the other party members. Attempting to develop a talking strategy Fwoosh and Vladimir concluded that after taking the statue out repeatedly, it was likely that Dhelosk had already seen it. So, they approached the bar.
It started with a little small talk that quickly led to asking about available magical wares that he might have available. They were told that what he did have, would not be around long, and new stuff would arrive frequently. Dhelosk expressed his interest in artifacts, old magic, anything that might be interesting for him to research. Vladimir and Fwoosh were directed to the shrine for healing potions, and pointed to the local smith in town that could make very high-quality arms and armor. Most of the things that Dhelosk had on hand were much too expensive for the party.
The old wizard was able to identify the unknown potion in their hands that was found in the Amphail Middens. Something the Wererat had on his possession, it was a potion of cure lycanthropy. He also explained more about Wererat society and their communal nature and that they do not allow new Wererats to exist unless they are a member of one of the clans.
When prompted for their questions, Vladimir asked about the odd weather and the old man replied:
“What has been going on is more primitive, more like ancient magic, something elemental.”
Dhelosk continued to explain that whatever is happening has been affecting magic in the area as well in odd ways. Scrying is all but impossible around and in the Sumber Hills, and that most of it has been occurring within the last year.
It was then they brought out the golden statue. Fwoosh explained a little more:
“It’s taking things from me. It’s warm. It absorbs elements.”
With a gesture and a request, they were brought into the back area. A long hallway with several doors, probably leading to storage and the kitchen, but Dhelosk stopped at a blank wall. With some sort of arcane gesture, it transformed into a doorway which led into a very large room, at least 50-feet wide and deep. With the floors, walls, and ceiling all made of stone. There were a few other exits. This room should not be able to exist, it was outside of the confines of the walls of the inn.
The room was filled with a magical air with one wall covered in books and a comfortable chair and table nearby. There were several tables for different arcane purposes. It was very much a wizard’s research room. Once within the room, he led them to one of the tables and started examining the statue. He fetched a book and looked over the symbols and seemed to be comparing them to what was within the book.
“It’s hiding itself. If those symbols are true, then it is at least two thousand years old. It’s from an ancient Drow civilization. These are elemental symbols from the old Drow magic.”
He then explained each of the symbols:
Dhelosk asked about purchasing said statue but was quickly shown that it was attached to Fwoosh and if brought more than ten feet away, it would automatically return to Fwoosh. He did not know what the top symbol represented and was not in any of the ancient Drow books he had. When asked about the item being cursed, he replied that it might be, or that it might be trying to awaken, or using the “sucking” to power its magic. It was very old and details could not be determined.
When Vladimir expressed his concern that they wondered if it was dangerous. The reply gave them some feeling of comfort.
“He does not look worse for wear, if it is drawing something from him, he is not showing any symptoms of it. He is not aging, not fatigued, not anything. It is hard to say it is cursed at this point because there is no impact.”
After some additional small talk, they departed the hidden room and then the inn heading to the shrine.
The other group of everyone else had wandered outside. It was hot and humid. It was much worse than yesterday. The weather continued to bear down upon them. There was not a breeze, or anything else to break the heat. They headed north to the Mellikho Stoneworks, hoping to find out more about the men in the stone masks. Upon entry to the quarry, they were greeted by the banging of metal on stone with over a dozen men working with a middle-aged woman screaming instructions at them.
With some conversation on how to approach the group, Avery and Angelica split off from the group to head to the bakery everyone had passed on the way here. The rest went further into the quarry. The woman that had been yelling was not happy with the intrusion and when asked about any oddities, she derided them about anyone in stone masks. She told them it was just her quarry miners being weak and not wanting to work at night.
When Fogo pushed, she told them about an old treasure in a cave in the hills near town. She told them to go explore and adventure there and leave her alone.
Arriving at the bakery, the wonderful smells of fresh bread and pastries filled the air. They were greeted by a rat looking man. The selection was amazing, and after purchasing, it all tasted great. When asked about anything strange happening, they were told about the Tarnlar children that had been chased away by an old dwarf from Lance Rock claiming that there is plague there, and then about the Mhandyvver’s children having talked to a ghost somewhere in the hills. Mangobarl dismissed both as just children’s fantasy and games they were playing.
All three groups completed their various conversations and met in the street. Agreeing to meet for lunch later, Fogo left the group and headed into Haeleeya’s while the rest headed to the shrine seeking healing potions and perhaps some penance.
In Haeleeya’s, the store was clearly some sort of bathhouse as well as a dress store. The room was filled with the smells of flowers from the many that were situated in the room. Fogo met the proprietress and with a few shared hand signals they moved in closer and began talking in soft voices.
She was happy to find someone from the Enclave in town and questioned him about what mission he might be on. She expressed her concerned about the unnatural weather, the change of behavior of several members of Red Larch, men in masks wandering around, people having weird dreams, and that there were nearby haunted locations.
“Lots of things happening at once, like the supernatural just woke up”.
When asked about what might important, she told him that the children have been seeing most of the things, mostly because the adults are working, and the kids’ stories just scoffed at.
Everyone else was at the shrine and Imdarr was readily available. He was quick to go straight to Angelica and start talking to her. The party impatient about asking about purchasing healing potions. Because of Angelica belonging to the Order of the Gauntlet, they were given a higher-than-normal discount, and most of them bought a few except Vladimir, who bought five. Imdarr also explained a bit more about the size of the River Dessarin and the fact that there are even pirates on the river. Angelica did ask about her sister and wrote up a letter for her sister to be delivered.
The group then reconvened at the Blackbutter Inn. Ordering food and drink from Delilia.
Gwendolyn brought out the drinks quickly and mentioned that she knew that they had met with her boss. She did not have too much more to add and went back to her bar.
The party discussed what each group had found. A lot of the discussion was around what was found out about the golden statue. They kept talking about wanting to test the magical powers of the statue, all of which would be casting damaging spells toward Fwoosh and hope that he is protected by the statue.
After lunch one group consisting of Angelica, Fogo, ISAC, and Avery went to the shrine and the remainder group of Vladimir, Fwoosh, and Sky went to the smithery.
The group at the shrine were looking for toolkits for some of the party members, but not much was available, but Imdarr suggested the group head to the market that was open on then end of every ten-day. They then headed that direction.
The other set of party members arrived at Tantur’s Smithery. They were greeted by the dinging of metal on metal. The heat of the forge made the day even more miserable than it already was. A muscular family was working the forges. On display there were a mix of weapons and armor, several of which were some of the best they had seen before. The smith’s wife came out and after giving them some of the prices, the group was in shock for some time. All the higher quality items were way out of their price range.
Fwoosh seemed to have taken something from the conversations with the Laefra that triggered him. With a few rude words he departed the smithery with Vladimir. When questioned about his attitude, Fwoosh revealed more about his history in Waterdeep and about how he had been kidnapped and forced to perform in front of nobles like circus freaks.
Both groups came together as they were all heading to the market. It was an interesting mix of vendors having anything from used weapons, fresh fruits and meats, junk, and finally pickles. Oh, those pickles. While shopping, the group heard some loud and raucous laughter coming from a large half-orc. He seemed to be manning a booth selling pickles.
ISAC was looking for someone to purchase used weapons, and there was a booth for Ironhead Arms run by another half-orc. Nothing was new, most were in mediocre condition, but he was willing to purchase and weapons and armor without too many questions. What was most interesting was a set of axes he had on display. While not the best of ironmongering, they were in fine condition. Battle axes, great axes, and some others less important ones. It was these that got Vladimir’s attention and to some extent horror, as they brought up his memories of the Iceshield Orcs from his past. It seems that these axes, were from these same Iceshield Orcs.
It seems that the Iceshield Orcs are in the valley, mostly to the east of the Sumber Hills. They like to raid the farms and steal from where they can. For a final stop, the party went to visit the pickle stand. The vendor was a very happy and friendly half-orc. He did not really pay attention to his sales very much, and he seemed to be much more interested in just having fun and talking with people. He offered dill, sweet, jalapeño pickles, and his extra special pickles.
While they were all chatting, Sky witnessed someone sneaking by and steal some of the pickles. When confronted the thief tossed the pickles at Sky and ran off. When asked about it, Grund claimed it was okay since it was just his friends that were playing pranks on him. Several members of the party bought pickles and when asked about his name:
“My name is Grund. My mother gave me that name. That was the sound that she made when she gave birth to me.”
It was at that point that Sky decided to sample one of the extra special pickles. It went in easy enough, but it did not take long before Sky was writhing in pain on the ground with foam coming out of his mouth. ISAC had to carry Sky back to the Blackbutter Inn. As they walked back, everyone was reminded at how awful the weather was. It was hotter than before, and the air was not moving at all. The stillness was as bothersome as the heat. ISAC went to the room to retire early while Sky went to the outhouse where he had his own personal religious experience while the extra special pickles had worked their way out. Fogo and Avery made their way to Helm at Highsun leaving behind Vladimir and Fwoosh at the Inn.
Fogo and Avery were on the hunt for some of the miners from the quarry. While the Helm was busy and full, they were able to find a set of four that they recognized. Avery headed to the bar to watch, and Fogo went to visit the miners. At the bar, Avery continued his delving into different ales. The bartender was a slender gentile looking man. Avery was more concerned about watching the action with Fogo than a conversation with the bartender.
With the miners, Fogo offered up some ale in exchange for a conversation. When asking about the rumors of men in stone masks, the miners explained after a drink or two that they were concerned about their boss, and that she was upset from the visit earlier in the day. She was always angry but seemed more angry than normal from that visit. They did not know what had been discussed with her, but she was not happy at all. They then told Fogo that the men with stone masks started showing up around a month ago. They would be there at sunset and chase the miners around, there was magic and just general scary things. Why would the miners be willing to work with that? Their boss seems to be upset when people ask about it.
“Strange looking masks, stone masks. Chasing us around. Are they bandits? Are they ghosts? It’s just scary.”
At the Blackbutter Inn, Vladimir started off with a couple of bottles of strong alcohol, very strong alcohol. Fwoosh watched in amazement as his friend was quickly finishing off the bottles. Fwoosh tried to pry information out, and Vladimir explained about his past as a soldier and that a devastating ambush had killed most of his friends and had been conducted by the Iceshield Orcs. It had a profound impact on him.
Once the two from the Helm got back, they could see the poor condition that Vladimir was in, everyone there decided to bring him up to his room and head to bed. Angelica was able to drag and or carry Sky up to his room where Sky was a bit delirious and walking funny from his experience.
Eventually the group was able to settle somewhat in the rooms and went to bed for the night.
11th of Mirtul of the year 1492
In the morning everyone was feeling well except Vladimir who had an excruciating headache and Sky who kept a hold of his buttocks to ensure nothing was leaking. ISAC approached Dhelosk for some sort of elixir to help the boys in pain. Creating a mixture of different colored liquids and some sort of pill, the smoking drink was delivered. Once quaffed, both boys in pain felt a lot better.
After a hearty breakfast, the party got on the road south. Searching for several miles for any possible trail they spent the entire day finding not very much except old hunting and creature trails, but nothing recent, nor anything that led them to believe that they found any bandit tracks. After almost a week of camping with Otis and his sons, the group was proficient in setting up camp, however it seems that Fogo might have been watching George a little too closely and the meal he cooked was just as poor as most of George’s were. Once the meal was completed, they started their normal watch rotations with a small campfire being left lit.
It was very quiet as the watches went by until the second watch which was Vladimir and Fwoosh. Neither noticed the gentle vibrations in the ground. The dirt erupted around Avery as a large insect rose and grabbed him. It just as quickly dove back into the hole it had come from.
It quickly became a mass of confusion as the players started jumping into the hole to save Avery followed by the other characters as they awakened and followed into the hole. They were able to catch up before it ran off with its Avery dinner. The battle did not last long, but they discovered that the first hit upon it made it spew acid from the wound, that it was able to attack with both claws and a bite, and when riled up would also spit acid in a 30-foot stream at them.
There was a lot of yelling, dodging, and bravery, and they were able to kill it without too much difficulty. However, to their horror, they discovered that upon its death, it exploded into a spray of acid in a 30-foot radius which was able to cover almost the entire party. Still, they all survived.
And that is where the session ended.
It was an interesting day in Red Larch. The group got to experience different tastes, experiences, and the smells that went along with them. They finally started hunting down the bandits moving down Cairn Road working their way along the south side of the road first and planning on covering the north side on their way back. Who knows what they will be encountering. Well, someone does and he is not telling them.