Where the heroes investigate Candlestick and make an important discovery and a dilemma.
They visit Chopper early that morning and split the money equally between them. They all have different places they want to go see, and there are plenty of places to burn through their coin in Candlestick. They agree to meet back at the inn for lunch and part ways.
Meander heads to the market square where the adventurers had set up shop selling magical wares. They had recently defeated a coven of mages and had some of the mages trinkets for sale. Meander ignored most of the wands and magical cuffs, but did pick up a few potions to take back to Laurel. One was reported to boost magical ability while the other sped quickness of thought. He also quickly purchased the largest of the magical energy amulets, reported to fuel magical efforts.
Meander goes to visit the mapmaker. He looks over the maps and chooses a map of Allshine with trade routes marked. He asks the mapmaker for a map of the region from Boar’s End to Candlestick, with odd places of interest marked on it. He also gets a map from Candlestick south to the coast, also with odd places of interest marked on it. After bargaining for a bit unsuccessfully, the mapmaker finally comes a bit off the price, giving him the lot for 235 silver.
Meander also visits a jeweler. He doesn’t want to cart around this large bag of coinage. He invests in a small handful of loose stones, paying a large sum of coin. On his way back to the inn, he stopped at a smith shop, purchasing a short silver sword, just in case. Realizing he is too early for lunch, he walks about the streets, in the process spotting a curious local tavern that he’d like to visit tonight.
Spring heads straight to the market square, to look over the magic items recovered from the coven of mages. He spend time looking at each of the items, carefully looking at the weaves and patterns of the magic. He begins to form his own ideas for a magical rod and some magical armor bracers from his study. After leaving the square he visits multiple shops gathering up the raw materials needed to begin building his own trinkets.
While walking around town, Spring keeps seeing a tiny brilliantly yellow, orange and red bird. It really stands out in the city. It also radiates an aura of magic to the point where he questions if it is even real. It might be just and active spell. But every time he looks directly at it to investigate, it sees him looking at it and flies away. But then an hour later, he would see it again. He realized that he probably saw this same bird on the way to Candlestick, because he remembers thinking how pretty they were. He keeps seeing it in town, but he never gets a good look at it.
Ember walks to the Divine Inspiration shop, near the square. The store appears to have mainly found items. The owner does not appear to be a divine craftsman. A wide range of items from the cults and religions of the world are represented here. He looks over the shop, but doesn’t see to notice anything from Hearthstone. He questions the owner over the two symbols recovered from Silverlight, but he isn’t familiar with either of them. He purchases some incense to aid in meditation and some Dwarven steel knee guards for prayer.
Passing the adventures wagon, Ember stops to look at some of the magic items with Spring. He decides to build his own magical bracers, but does purchase a protective cloak and an energy amulet. Next Ember proceeded to the Ruin Delver, to look for any books on ruins. They didn’t have any that interested him, but they did have two books referencing the Dwarves. He bought both the book on Dwarven religion and the book on Dwarven forges.
He stops at a few stores to pick up crafting supplies on his way to the Library. Surprisingly, the library has a scroll that details a story about one of the demigods of Hearthstone. Ember, unaware of any of Hearthstones helpers, is quite pleased. He asked if anyone has ever asked about Hearthstone. No, the scroll was tucked into the old stories.
Asking the librarian about the two symbols reveals a bit more information, but nothing specific. One was a water symbol. Some mention of a goddess associated with it. It would be one of the elder gods. The other symbol was a magical symbol. It is supposed to be one of the magical symbols on necromancy.
Broken leads a very busy morning. He picks up one of the battle wands from the adventurers and then heads to Tepid Transports to talk about magical transportation. Wanting to pursue his idea for a flying ship, he goes down to the docks to find a shipwright. After spending some time, he gets a lead on a possible shipwright. Meeting the man, he discusses his plans to build a ship, and begins to inquire about lumber and other materials. Going back into town, he purchases miscellaneous materials that he can use in the creation of golems, and stops by the Library to study for some time on the Stargazers flying cities, trying to research and learn the magic he could us to animate the ship to fly. On his way back to the inn, he stops at a smith and purchases three great axes, awkwardly carting them back to the inn.
ToughBark, never one for the crowds of a city, spends little time out shopping. He buys a magical feather that aids in stealth from one of the shops, and purchases a full quiver of silver tipped arrows, before hurrying back to the inn to wait. He is the first to arrive and has a few drinks before anyone else shows up.
Once they all get back to the inn, Spring mentions the magical, brightly colored bird to the others.
Meander asks, “How big was the bird?”
“The size of a canary.”
“ToughBark, do you know anything about birds?”
“There are no birds of the plumage you describe that are native to this area. In any season. I’ve heard of birds that look like that, but not here.”
“Isn’t there a crazy pet store here? I wonder if they would have an idea what it would be.”
“Ok, let’s go.”
Meander talks to the store owner of the pet store. “Why yes we have some nice yellow birds right here.” They look nothing like the description except for the size. “You can take these little birds and put them in these tiny harness cages. Then when you take them down into the dungeons, if they die, then there is evil magic about and you need to get out.”
Ember eyes Meander, peering through his hands as if sizing Meander up for a cage.
Meander looks shocked, having unanticipated the use of the birds. The owner says quickly, “Oh we have some that sing too.”
Ember whispers to Meander, “Can you sing?”
Meander glares at Ember, “I actually have a beautiful singing voice, thank you very much.” He turns to the owner. “I’m not sure these are the birds were are searching for.”
Leaving the pet store, they look around trying to figure out where to go next. “There was the temple that she mentioned?”
“Was that here?”
A sandstone building. All the stone was imported, which makes it out of place. But otherwise it is plain and blocky. Inside it is beautiful, and makes Spring feel a bit homesick. It is devoted to the Dawn Flower, the Goddess of Sun, Light and Healing.
Seems cheery. I wonder if they know about this evil, dark, cold bitch." After a pause, “She was evil, right?”
Ember looks around to find a priest on duty. Approaching one of the priestess, he says, “I’m wondering if you can help me. We’ve run into a bit of a religious question.” She turns her head slightly in interest. “There was someone who came through your town a short time ago apparently, that recognized this religion from where they were from but didn’t really follow the tenants, totally antithetical in reality. She was wearing a symbol, wearing one symbol and possessing another, that I am wondering if you are familiar with and also a name or perhaps the proper name for it. She referenced something call the Coven for the name and she was wearing…”
“That sounds like a cult to me.”
“I agree. She was wearing this.” Ember pulls out the water symbol.
She looks over the symbol. “I don’t recall anybody like that.”
“Does this mean anything to you? He pulls out the symbol for necromancy.
She peers at that symbol as well. “No… I don’t recognize that one.”
“It looks Golden to me though.”
“Yes, the Golden Tongue. The people of the golden sun. That is one of the places where Dawn Flower is worshipped most.”
Ember looks around, “Golden…”
Meander interrupts, “Where is that?”
She says, “On the other side of the inner sea, where the deserts are. There is a great empire that has lasted for as long as anybody knows. The Dawn Flower came out of the deserts and spread her light north.”
Meander turns, “Spring!”
“Was Golden Tongue made of pictures?”
“Ancient Golden Tongue is made of pictograms.”
“Is this one of those pictures from ancient Golden Tongue?”
“No. I would have recognized it if it were. The eye looks similar to the symbol of knowledge.”
Ember turns back to the priestess. "There were mentions made of undead issues, but not here. Have you had any issues in the general area with undead?
“I heard from a temple in the north that they are having undead issues.”
“Really, which temple?”
“The Temple of the Inheritor in Boars End.”
“Yeah. We are having problems there.”
“Oh, are you from there?”
“No, but most recently yes.”
“Well, would you like to purchase holy relics that are most damaging to undead?”
“You have my attention.”
“We have the water of life that can burn undead.”
Spring quips, “Burning undead is not a problem.”
Meander seems to struggle with this idea, “Water that burns?”
“Water gives life to those of us who are alive.”
Meander says "Ahhhh, " but clearly he is still confused.
The priestess adds, “We also have some rather rare relics called Sunstones. These can bring the power of the sun to your hand and is affective against many of the undead, but not all.”
Ember asks, “Single use?”
“Yes, but the effect lasts for awhile.”
“What forms of undead does it primarily effect?”
“Taking the basic forms as Animated Bones, Walking Dead, Eaters of Flesh and Incorporeal Undead, most of the Incorporeal Undead and Eaters of Flesh are sensitive to the sun and light.”
Ember says, “The main thing we have run across that we have problems with are Incorporeal Undead.”
“Yes. The rest of them we just smash them apart, but those are a bit painful.”
“Well, another thing that can be handy is that sometimes they are merely frightened by it as well, even if they are not hurt by it. It can be used to scare them away. Although you will have to take some measures to make sure they don’t come back.”
“Understood. How much for a charge?”
“They are 400 silver pieces each.”
Ember grimaces, “How long do they last?”
“Well, about ten minutes.”
Ember buys a sunstone with the purpose of inspecting it later. It is a fist sized, smooth river stone with the symbol of the Dawn Flower carved into it. He begins to entertain what holy relics he may be able to craft. He glances back at the others, “Anything else?”
Broken pipes in, “What about the Kobold dude and how he was all sewn up?”
Ember clears his throat, turning back to the priest, “You say you’ve heard the Inheritor raising the alarm. Have you heard anything else particularly around Kobolds?”
“I have heard that Boar’s End has also had problems with Kobolds as well, but the Dawn Flower doesn’t have any specific ability to combat them. Although, they are from deep under the earth, perhaps they are creatures of darkness and the Light of the sun would cast them out as well.”
Ember looks at the others questioningly. They stare back blankly, absent of questions. He turns back to the priest, “What’s this about a dragon that I’ve been hearing about?”
Broken nods, “There ya go.”
“We saw a dragon, well, I didn’t see it. I was in the temple. But probably every other person you talk to saw it flying north.”
Meander bounces excitedly, “It was flying north?”
“Umm hmm. It was high in the sky. People say it was unmistakable. It was no bird. It would have been big. If they had seen a bird that size, it would have been right over their heads. And this one too far away to see clearly. But still it was as big as the sun, it would have blocked out the sun if it passed in front of it.”
They leave the temple and work their way back to the inn. The priest is right, the town is abuzz with the talk of the Dragon sighting. Signs are posted around the town offering good money for dragon slayers. Thousands of silver for proof of the dragons death. At some point, Meander asks what the signs with the dragon mean, and they relay the information to him. A big surprise is that the lumber consortium are the ones that want the dragon dead. They are offering the reward to the dragon slayers.
Meander offers, “I’m a dragon slayer. We’ve killed two dragons already.”
“Those weren’t dragons.”
Meander persists excitedly, “Should we go look for the Dragon?”
Ember and Spring both groan.
Meander, subdued, says somewhat to himself, “Bad idea? It sounds like a good idea.” Then he says more confidently, “There are just a couple of things that I want to do first.”
Ember drips of sarcasm, “Gee, I wonder if Gavel Greed would give us another reward?”
Broken frowns grimly, “Guess there would be another subordinate to kill.”
The light begins to fade, as night falls on their last planned night in Candlestick. They look around for Springs mythical bird on their way back, but don’t see anything in the dim light. “I want to drop my stuff off at the inn.” Meander’s eyes gleam and he cracks a smile. “But I also saw this interesting tavern that I saw while I was out, that I want to get a drink at. Does anybody want to go with?”
“Umm, when you say interesting, do you mean being thrown out on your ear interesting? Or what?” Ember says cautiously.
“Maybe,” he answers tentatively. Then more firmly, “You never know.”
“Ok, remember, if I hit them, they are evil.”
They all tentatively agree except Broken, who eventually caves to the taunts of the others, but whines and complains the whole way there. Ember keeps a close eye on Meander, who seems to be really excited. They arrive to a local dive that does not look like the kind of place that that a non-local would want to visit. Broken begins to grumble about how not only does this place look like you can’t get good wine, but it looks like the kind of place that only serves bad beer.
The group walks in, notice that it isn’t very crowded, but before they can really take in the scenery, they stop short staring at a familiar-looking waitress across the bar, who drops the beers she was holding staring in terror back at the group. She must be Broken’s girl from the party.
Broken’s eyes widen in recognition and he cracks a grin, “Hey! What’s up pretty lady.”
Meander turns to Broken, “I think we need to have some words.”
Ember says, “I think we need to have more than words.”
Broken, feigning obliviousness to the guys around him, says to the girl, “So, was I good.”
“No. No. No! That is not what we need to talk about,” Ember exclaims emphatically.
The woman begins to panic, eyes wide with fear as she darts glances behind and around her.
“Wait, why are you guys interested in her?” Broken whines.
“Hang on. Hang on.” Ember mutters under his breath to Broken and the others.
“Likely. Suspect.” says Meander, punctuating each word in annoyance at Broken.
“Suspect for what? She probably didn’t enjoy the party, that’s all. First of all it was held by ‘Lumber Guys’.
Ember steps forward and puts his hands out in a gesture of peace. His whole manner seems to radiate a calming presence, that doesn’t seem counter to his scarred visage. “Please, we just need to talk to you. Please calm down.”
The group follows Ember as he slowly approaches her. She doesn’t run, but she is obviously shaking and visibly afraid. She begins to stammer her words slightly as they draw near. “Look. I promise! I didn’t tell anybody. I… I… Nobody knows. I just came here and got a job and everything is fine.”
Broken frowns at Ember and asks, “Wait. Why do we care about this?”
Meander turns to Broken and yells in a whisper, “JUST SHUT UP!”
Ember proceeds very calmly and deliberately, “Perhaps we are a bit confused why you are acting so scared.” As she turns to glance at the barkeep, Ember notices a fresh cut on her cheek. “Who did that to you?”
She squirms, eyes flickering over to Broken and back to Ember. Her hands are shaking. “Look.. Just don’t hurt me. I promise, I didn’t say anything.”
“Okay.” Ember looks back at Broken with concern.
“Me? I would never hurt a fine lady of this quality. To hurt a face like that would be a crime against humanity.”
Ember frowns, “Hey Broken.”
“Can you give us a few minutes with your lady alone?”
Broken shrugged, “It’s not my lady. Clearly, she didn’t enjoy my company enough to even stay in town.”
“Ok. Great. Let us talk with her anyways.”
“Fine. I doubt this place will have wine anyways.” Broken starts to walk over to the bar when Meander grabs him for a moment, “Broken, don’t flash your money.” Broken shrugs him off and asks the barkeep for some of his best liquor.
Ember turns back to the barmaid and speaks softly, “Obviously, you are concerned about something, and we are clueless what you are concerned about. What’s wrong?”
Her eyes leave Broken at the bar, “Look. I didn’t have a choice. BloodEye made me. He would have killed me if I hadn’t helped him.” BloodEye is the owner of the RougeLady in Boar’s End. The RougeLady is supposed to be a gentlemen’s club, but in reality serves as the hub for illegal gambling and prostitution in town. BloodEye is likely the center of criminal activity in Boar’s End, but time after time is slippery enough to escape prosecution. Crossing BloodEye would result in a long conversation with some crushing bruisers.
“We know absolutely nothing about what you talking about. You are afraid of Broken obviously.”
“Well, he told me not to tell anybody.”
“Told you not to tell anybody what?”
“He told me not to tell anybody that they tried to kill him.”
Meander asked, “So you are talking about the priests and the toughs tried to kill Broken?”
“Yeah, they wanted me to lure him away from the party once everything died down. So, they came at us and he jumped in front of me and told them to stand back, or whatever. They said, you know, ‘You are going to die necromancer’. He just laughed at them. It was the scariest thing I ever heard, because I couldn’t tell if he was laughing about the idea that he was going to die, or laughing at them like they had no chance. And he said, ‘Well, I don’t have any old musty bones, but you can deal with this.’ He flicked his hands and this swarm of bats came rushing out of the blacksmith shop and starts cutting up these two guys with the swords. So the guy, uhh… Scorch, says, ‘Now you will burn and he starts making fire out of his hands.’ I hear Blade whisper, ‘Now that’s something I can use.’ He takes the fire and it starts attacking Scorch…”
Ember waves her to a stop, “Woah, woah, woah. You heard BLADE whisper?”
She furrows her brow, “Broken. He told me not to call him Broken anymore.”
Spring hums to himself while Ember gets wide eyed, “Ok, keep going.”
“So then, Wave, who was the other guy, does something and this frozen waterfall appears in front of him and all the bats stick into it. Then he, I don’t know, summons this weird glob out of the ground, and Blade just flicks his wrist at that too and says ‘Your master is thirsty, quench his thirst!’ And the thing jumps down Wave’s throat. And then they are all dead, just like that. I didn’t even have time to scream.”
“You seem used to seeing magic thrown around.”
“Oh no. I’ve never seen anything like that before.”
“Yeah. He told me that I should probably get out of town and not tell anybody this.”
“Did he say anything about why they might be trying to kill him?”
“No? But I know why.”
“Yeah. They said he was the Necromancer. They said he had the sign sitting there right there on him, so he must’ve been a dumb one.”
“He had the sign sitting on him?
Meander asked, “So, BloodEye made you help him?”
“I was supposed to work at the RougeLady, but BloodEye gave me to these guys first. He said they had a job for me.”
Ember looks over to Broken. Broken seems thoroughly disgusted with his drink. He glances up from his drink, waves and begins to get up and walk back to the group. Ember waves him on over.
“Man, the bar really does suck. We should really think about going to a new place.”
Ember says in a near monotone, “I don’t know, Meander, what do you think?”
“Lady, I bet I could get you a better job someplace else, because in this place, I don’t think you have a future.”
Meander gasps and mutters, “Oh. You are cold-hearted.” He pauses for a moment, then says in a normal tone, “I’m fine with going somewhere else too.”
Ember says, “Sure. Let’s go, there’s not anything I really want to drink here.”
“What did you guys want to talk about? I was very bored.”
“Let’s step outside and talk a moment.” Ember herds Broken and the others outside the bar. He turns to the girl before he steps outside, “Everything will be ok. Don’t worry about it.”
Once outside, Broken excitedly asks, “So, how did she get the cut on her face?”
“That’s an interesting story there Broken. Let’s go for a walk.” Ember begins to slowly walk down the street.
“I’d like to meet the man who did that. Wooooo. I’d give them a good one.”
“You may already know him.”
“Who? Is it one of those fucktard neo-lumberists?”
Meander chimes, “Ah naw. It was a guy named Blade.”
Meander continues, “Yeah! Supposed to be an awesome Animator.”
“Shit, there is another? It’s a new guy, Blade?”
Ember asks pointedly, “Why do you call yourself Broken?”
“I don’t really like to talk about it. It’s a name the elder gave me. As a child, they just said my name was Broken.”
“How long have you had periods of time that you don’t remember what you did?”
“Well, everybody has those. I’ve had mine ever since I was, you know, quite young.”
Spring interrupted with a laugh, “Since you started drinking?”
Ember sighed, “How long have you had periods of time that you don’t remember what you did when you weren’t drinking?”
Broken groaned, “Oh. Um. You know. Every so often. I mean, everyone has those too.”
Meander says, “Um. No. Not really.”
“I don’t really want to talk about this anymore. What does this have to do with me and my past?”
“Broken, I don’t really know you that well,” says Ember. “I’ve only met you recently in the past month or so. You seem like a decent guy even though I give you shit for not paying for your power. But something is going on. Those four guys that were killed…”
“According to her, you killed them. In self defense.”
“Well, if it was self defense, what’s the problem?”
“You were calling yourself Blade.”
“Ohhhh. Ohhhhh! OHHH!” Broken groans some more and grabs his head.
“So this rings a bell?” asks Meander.
“We will help out however we can, but Broken, you have to tell us whatever’s going on.”
“Well, well, my name is Broken Voice of Elements. I have the natural skill to talk to the spirits and elements. Sometimes I … uh uh … I forget things and I don’t know where I am. Sometimes I hear that I have done things that I don’t remember doing, and different names come up. I’ve never heard of this Blade before, but … I can’t go back. I can’t go back. I don’t really want to talk about this anymore.”
Meander struggles out, trying to get a grip on what he is hearing, “So, what you are saying is that you… You are not saying that her story is wrong. It is possible that this happened.”
“It is possible. I don’t… I don’t remember any stories about someone that cold.”
Ember says in his calm priestly voice, “There is a problem with us not talking about it further. We are technically the law in that town and there are four guys who are dead. I don’t think we need to be parading this around, we need to work out what is going on.”
“I … I don’t … I don’t remember.”
“So, maybe there is a way that you can remember. Maybe we can get you some help.”
“I’ve looked for help.” Broken grew agitated, “My Father also said he was looking for help! Lying bastard!”
Spring thought back to his magical examination of the sight. The girl’s story checked out. One fire spell. Two water spells. Animation magic used. All the weapons lined up in a row, wet. It explained the scene perfectly.
Ember asked, “How often do you have these episodes?”
“Not often. It doesn’t happen a lot. I have it under control?”
Meander asked, “Sooo, the two hundred silver? That was one of these episodes?”
“I … I … I believe so. One of the more benign one. I was just trying to make some money. What’s wrong with that?”
“There is nothing wrong with that Broken. We are just trying to come to grips with it. It is possible that I could walk with my god and see if there is a way that I could help you, if you are willing to accept my help.”
“Well, as far as I can tell, I spoke to Sandpiper about it once, and he said that it was something of the spirit. That my spirit is cracked or fractured.”
“Well, we probably need to get a handle on it some way or another. I’m willing to spend the time to do the God-Walking if you are willing to accept the help.”
“Um. I mean, sure. Sure. But I don’t think… I don’t know.”
“The next question that I have for you, and I don’t see any evidence of it one you, is that you were being targeted because you do necromancy.”
“Necromancy? I don’t deal in souls. In my research, and when I was in school, they told us this too, that matter is matter. It is all science. What is a body without a soul? It is just matter. It is possible to animate the bones or animate flesh. But that is using the base materials… the earth, the water or air, with its own natural personality, not necromancy. Necromancy is taking it a step further. The binding of more complicated souls.”
Ember says cautiously, “So… Did you ever have a chance to do that?”
“No, it isn’t really in my area of expertise. When I have to mess with a spirit, it usually takes a test of wills. And, " laughing it off, “the little sprites and elementals are below me, so I can take them over. But trying to take over another human? That’s way more difficult. You have to be a really good animator to do that.”
The group had moved to a relatively vacant street near a dark alley. They stood silently brooding over the news, trying to come to grips. Ember sighs heavily, “Well, I think we have at least solved what happened. The question now is how to go forward from here.”
Broken perks up, “I’m not going back!”
“Oh… Boar’s End. Yeah Boar’s End is fine. I like Boar’s End. I can make money there. I’m going to try to own that town.”
Meander looks curiously at Broken and says slowly, “You are not going back where?”
“You know… Where I’m from.”
Meander and Ember say in unison, “Ok.”
“I don’t want to talk about it anymore. I think we need to go get some wine. Some FINE wine.”
“I just want to point something out to you Broken. You are asking us to invest our power into a group project.”
“What group project?”
“WHAT! That’s different. That’s us being bad ass! We need a vehicle. A base! Something to show our, how would you say, our stature. Our badassery. Right now the wagon… the wagon is ok. It’s a lower noble. I’m aiming for emperor.”
Meander snips, “Well, at least we don’t have our heads in the clouds.”
“No, nothing like that at all.”
“I guess where I’m going with this is, if we are going to work together to the level that we are going to have to to do all this stuff then we need to talk about these things.”
“Why am I all of a sudden getting persecuted? Why aren’t you grilling Meander about him and the robed guys? I don’t see you guys asking him why he hates those guys.”
“There is more to that story. He got fondled or something.”
Meander bristles and raises up to his full height, towering above Broken. “Um. No! I did not get fondled.”
“Cursed? That sounds like fondling to me.”
“I’m pretty sure now that it was not a curse…”
Broken muttered, “sounds like a curse.”
“… although those two red robed mages would probably be out to get me if they saw me.”
“Well, my problems go more personal that I would like to deal with right now.”
“So we need…” Meander stops and thinks for a moment, "I think the problem is one of trust…
Spring says, “That’s what I’m saying.”
“… and we need to work through this so we can trust each other.”
Broken says, “I trust you just fine! Except for when you guys go stabbing random people in the middle of …”
Ember said sternly, “It wasn’t random.”
“It was random at the time. Then I had to try to save your asses against the law. And then he drew his sword and I was like, go ahead boss.”
“We all have… things we need to work through.” Meander struggled through and then sighed. It seemed like he was going to say more and then he sighed again.
Ember turned back, “Meander, have you thought through the implications of this… for yourself?”
“Of Broken’s spirit?”
“If it’s his magic?”
“Obviously it is his magic, or part of it, because you are having the same issues.”
Tough leans over to Spring, “Did that make him insane?”
Spring says, “No it shouldn’t have. He would’ve gotten his name before his magic skills.”
Tough continued, “Well, did the magic break him or was already broken.”
“He was named Broken because of something before.”
Meander, thinking hard, “Maybe he broke until he got the magic, because he was going to get the magic.”
Ember says, “I’m willing to bare my soul if you want. But I think it is necessary for us to try that to fix whatever is going on, Broken. And I think it may be having an impact on Meander as well, from the interaction e had between you and your spells.”
“Oh! I don’t think it has anything to do with spells or his natural leeching ability of my arcane arts.”
“Or perhaps he is taking more than just the magic when he is touching someone then.”
Broken turns glare at Meander, “Do you have access to stealing souls?”
Meander’s eyebrows raise in shock, “Do I steal souls? I hope not!”
“As far as I know, my troubles come from my own soul. For some reason, my soul is fractured.”
“That sounds like something down my alley. That’s why I’m willing to try to help. At the risk of having you pissed off at me, what did your dad do to try to fix this”
“I…” Broken sighs with a grimace. “What any father would so. He sent me to experts.”
“Hmmhmm. And what did they say?”
“They said what I know! That I’m Broken and they named me. A lot of good that did.”
Meander asked, “So they just said your name was Broken and that’s it? They gave up? So be it?”
“No. No. The Bastard sent me to a special hospital… where everyone is, not like me, but worse! They chained me up and they did horrible things to me in the name of science. That wasn’t true science, it was Savage, Barbaric Stuff!” Broken huffed for a moment, “I escaped that place though. I had time to figure out how.”
“Well, my magic deals with the life spark. It deals with the soul itself. It is possible that I can find out what is wrong with you and see if I can fix it.”
“I can’t tell you that I can do it or not until I try.”
“I.. I guess I’m willing. I guess.”
Meander says reassuringly, “We’re not talking about chaining you up and torturing you.”
“You better not! Or apparently you’ll end up like those four guys who tried to get me.”
Spring says, “Yeeeaaaaaahhh.” They all start laughing, releasing the stress of the moment.
Broken reaffirms, “I’m not going back to that place.”
Ember asks, “How long ago did you leave?”
“Oh I was young.”
Meander asks, “So you escaped from that place, and then made it to a school where you started learning magic?”
“No, No. I went to school before I went to that place. I came from a good family, that means I went to school,” he added pointedly at Meander. “And then I studied and played. I learned things. And then… for some reason I can’t remember, but uh. And then I went home because school was over for me, apparently, at least.” Broken began to get more hesitant, “My dad noticed things, and I started to talk. Then he sent me to the namer like every boy does. And he said I was Broken. Then he sent me to that place.”
ToughBark asks, “So – you are named Broken because you are broken?”
“Yes. So, every young boy goes to the namer to get his name, for what be called henceforth. I was unfortunately named, Broken Voices of Elements.”
Ember asked, “Any idea why they may have thought you were a Necromancer?”
“Well, probably because of Bones.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, one of my special friends that resides inside me… He is very mopey. But he really likes to play with bones,” he chuckles, “hence his name.”
Ember and Spring blurt out together, “Explain that one again?” “What is his name?”
“His name is Bones.”
“So you know of other personalities inside you?”
“No… I don’t know them like I know you. I can’t talk to them. I hear stories of what my other friends do.”
Meander asked slowly and carefully, “Have you heard any stories of your bone friend animating bones?”
“Well, I usually can find the evidence pretty quickly when there are bones around. I don’t like bones. They are dirty and nasty and carry diseases.”
“I think Spring would agree with you there.”
“I prefer the elements of science. The normal ones.”
Ember asks gently, but with an edge growing in his voice, “Does Bones have the ability to create undead?”
“Not that I’m aware of.”
“What do you know that he has actually done?”
“He’s a very depressed man. Clearly, he didn’t have as good of a life as I did. Who would coming from someone unlike my family? But he does like… He likes to mock death by playing with bones. Move them around and pretend he is the god and the bones are beneath him. Even though he ties to hide the fact that one day he will become those bones”
Spring asked, “So, how do you know… How do you know about these other entities, voices, or characters?”
“Well… When I was in that place, they catalogued only a couple. Then I had to figure out the rest on my own.”
“So, how have you gone about figuring out about the others?”
“You know.. I investigate here and there. Listen to the word of new people coming into town. Or people who look like me.”
Ember asked, “What do you mean?”
“As far as I can tell, it is my body. I just have different voices inside me.”
Spring says, “So, what you are describing is that you see it actually when it is taking place.”
“Oh no! No no. I can’t remember anything. I remember walking around… and then I remember going to sleep. But I don’t remember the in-between.”
Ember gets a big smile and leans over towards Broken, “You don’t remember fucking her at all, do you?”
“Oh THAT’S the girl you guys were talking about? HOOO! I hope I did, she was hot!”
Spring sighs and Ember mutters, “Oh god!”
ToughBark says, “I don’t think it quite reached that point. A mass slaying interrupted the evening.”
Meander, “Yeah, that’s surely a downer on all fronts.”
“Some might call that chivalry where I come from.”
Ember said, “Actually she said you were chivalrous.” Meander nodded in agreement.
“It was in self defense. I would never murder or slay someone for no reason…” Then he muttered softly, “I mean unless they scuffed my shoes or something.”
Meander gasped, “Scuffed Your Shoes! Spoken like a true nobleman.”
Ember asked, “So will you accept our help?”
“Oh – your god walking thing?”
“I might be able to find answers for you.”
“Sure. I guess I’ll try it. I’m not one for religion so I’m not sure how I would help.”
“Well, I wouldn’t necessarily ask you to follow the religion. Although if you are ever interested, I am always available to explain.” Ember turns his gaze to Meander, “You too.” Meander looks up startled and says, “Ok”
Spring says quickly, “I’m good.”
Meander says quietly, “I already have a god, thank you very much.”
“Really? Who do you worship?”
“Old Deadeye. You know, he’s…”
Broken exclaims, “Sounds like a downer.”
Spring asks puzzled, “Old One Eye?”
“No no! Old DEAD Eye. He takes care of family, hunting, farming and trade.”
ToughBark says, “We’ve been in this alley long enough, let’s get going.”
As they enter back onto the street, the flutter of wings is clearly heard over the noises of the night. Spring slips on this glasses to peer about. Since there are people still about, Meander steps back into the alley and begins to cast his Dark Sight spell. ToughBark also joins him in the alley and silently begins moving his hands into complex gestures. Meander’s eyes fill with black smoke. Spring turns back to stare at ToughBark, who stops and looks disappointed.
It appears to Spring that ToughBark is attempting to pattern some shadow based magic, much in the same fashion as Meander. One difference is that ToughBark is not speaking words of power like Meander. Also, the fading aura that has surrounded ToughBark for the past few days grew stronger while he was trying to invoke magic. The aura and the magic appeared to draw from the same source, however the magic from the failed spell was patterned to do something. It had the same patterns as the sight spell that Meander was casting.
Meander looks about, while Spring is obsessed with ToughBark. There is no sign of the bird anywhere. He releases the power and his vision returns as he steps back out of the alley. “So, we doing anything else tonight? Should we go talk to the chick to make sure everything is alright?”
Ember said calmly, “Tell ya what, let me go back in and talk to her. Just to calm her down.”
Meander’s eyes light up. “Sweet party time! Let’s go out on the town all night.”
“Oh shit! No! Woah. Woah!”
“I’ll go with you.”
As they walk to the bar, they consider what they’ve learned. Broken is a man in his mid twenties, but he has always looked used up, his health and strength wasted. But if he had been held prisoner, and abused for years, then his physical condition makes sense. No wonder the strong feelings on his part.
They get back to the bar, and there is no sign of the girl. Ember approaches the barkeep about the girl and he looks puzzled. He goes to the back and comes back cursing. They had taken too long and she had made a run for it. They proceed back to the inn quietly, each consumed by their thoughts.
After a bit of drinking, Broken takes his head out of his wineglass and speaks to the group. “I had this great idea I wanted to talk to you guys about. I wanted to turn the wagon into a boat.”
“A boat? You want to turn the wagon into a boat?” Meander said incredulously.
“But we are not near water.”
“I understand that. But there is a great island to the south that I would like to visit. And I think it would be beneficial to all of us to have a boat. And THEN, just between you guys and me, we could eventually… I’ve heard of these great structures that could actually fly themselves. We could have a flying boat.”
Spring asks, “Which island are you talking about?”
Broken begins, “There is an island in the sea to our south, its kindof…”
Spring interrupts, “Are you talking about Abandon?”
“Abandon is so far the best bet to find out any information on the Stargazers,” Broken says. “Because apparently they went there or settled there. So we would be seeing the actual descendants of the Stargazers.”
Meander asks, “Why are you trying to find Stargazers?”
“I was wondering the same thing,” Ember says. “I understand Spring because that is his obsession.”
Broken says, “Stargazers are where I heard of flying contraptions. So in the peak of Stargazer culture, there were flying castles and flying cities.” Meander looks amazed at the thought. Broken continues, “So if I can get my knowledge of elementals, getting Wind and Storm to work together, mixed with raw Stargazer magic, I could probably get the boat to fly. We wouldn’t need water.”
Meander exclaims, “So you think you can do this?”
“Hell yeah I can do this. Abandon is …”
Meander, “Is it empty?”
“No no. It is a big city. The problem is getting there. You need to get a boat or purchase a ride to get there. So what I was hoping was to get all the materials ready. Ship it to a place on the coast. And then I can build the boat there. And then we can use it to sail to Abandon without purchasing a ride.”
Spring comments, “So I thought you were converting the wagon into a boat.”
Broken says, “I would be harnessing some of the magical components from the wagon to use in the boat. But I could easily make another wagon later.”
Spring says, “I helped out with the lab here. I would hate to lose that.”
Broken says reassuringly, “Oh no no. That would be moved onto the boat. Nothing would be lost.”
Ember asks, “Maybe I’m not understanding something, but why would I want to go deal with Stargazer stuff?”
Broken says, “Because their shit is awesome!”
Ember says calmly, “It has nothing to do with what I’m searching for.”
Broken says dismissively, “Well, then you can happily walk yourself to the other end of the earth.”
“Hang on,” Meander says to Broken. He then turns to Ember and asks, "What are you looking for?
Broken says, “Yeah! What are you looking for?”
Ember, still calm, says, “My god.”
Broken says, “We can get to places faster if we fly. Flying good. Walking hurts my feet.”
Meander waves him back, “You aren’t walking in the wagon.” He turns back to Ember, “I don’t know where you are trying to go, but I was going to say something much like Broken. If we are trying to get from one place to another… Flying! That sounds marvelous!”
Spring says, “Well, if there is a vote. I vote to go there.”
Ember says, “In terms of transport, it is intriguing. I still question the use of power for powers sake.”
Broken replies, “The use of power for powers sake is simple. It is there. Why let it go to waste?”
“Surely your God would not want knowledge to be wasted on stupid folk. Especially to let it die out!”
“Honestly I can’t tell you.”
“Well see! How do the priest call it? Take a leap of faith? And then just see what happens.”
Ember begins to chuckle at Broken. “I’m sorry Broken. When did you get faith?”
“I’ve always had faith.”
Ember mutters, “to yourself.”
“To my own purse.”
“The one that was lacking 200 silver?” Spring groans and Meander chuckles at the comment. Broken seems agitated at the comment.
“That was accounted for. Thank you.”
Ember stops for a moment and contemplates the Stargazers. His God predates the fall of the Stargazers. There might be something that could be gleaned from searching out the ruins of the Stargazers. He turns back to Broken and says, “Ok. Sounds great.”
Broken smiles and says, “I’m glad you see it my way.”
The next day, they pack up early in the animated wagon and start the slow trek back to Boar’s End. Meander drives the wagon to maintain appearances, however the wagon can lead the horses down the road with no assistance. Broken finds a spot by himself on the wagon to research spells, frequently consulting the small research library that has grown in the wagon. ToughBark spends his time practicing shadowy magic in one of the numerous nooks inside the wagon. Spring and Ember begin to craft a pair of magical bracers, to help serve as armor for Spring. Ember, a talented smith and enchanter, seems to be distracted and keeps leading Spring aside with stray advice. Spring persists and weaves the protective magic into the crafting the bracers.
After they reached the countryside, Meander abandons the pretense of driving and begins working on researching a spell as well, striving to understand his mysterious magically ability. He comes back up from time to time, just in case. On the next day of the trip back to Boar’s End, he manages to put together a weakness spell.
Spring also works to create a magical wand. He had purchased the raw materials in Candlestick. He is trying to create a battle wand, to help him fight using magic. He spends the second day of travel weaving enchantments that should make him more proficient in combat.
There were several bird sighting on the way back. The fiery bird stays in the trees and seems to only be seen out of the corner of the eye. It is even harder to see in the wild than in the city. But it does appear to be following the group back to Boar’s End.
Spring stops everyone during the second day. “What is you guys opinion on this bird? It is definitely magical.”
Meander asks, “It definitely has magic on it?”
“There is an active spell. Yes.”
“Well, what kind of magic would it be? Would it be something like seeing through a birds eyes?”
“It could be. It could be like a shape changed person. I can’t see the aura long enough to tell.” Spring begins to think about how the magic might be concealed and using that, looks for more signs or traces of magic. From the traces, he can tell it is not transformative magic. Some one has not transformed themselves or something else into a bird. It is most likely scrying magic. Someone is looking through the bird. Also, he thinks the bird is artificial. The whole bird is part of the spell and the scrying takes the form of a bird. He explains his findings briefly.
“So, could you dispel it?”
“I could, but it is tiny and fast. It would be hard to target, but it is possible. But with scrying magic, if they found us once, they would likely be able to find us again.”
“Could you track the spell back to its source?”
“Hmm… It isn’t staying still long enough.”
“Do we need to grab it?”
“ToughBark could shoot it.”
“Do we want to kill it or grab it?”
“If ToughBark hit it, it would likely kill the spell.”
“So we would need to grab it. I’ve set snare before, I think I could get it.”
Spring laughs, “Oh yeah. You’ve got this.”
ToughBark chuckles, “The problem with the snare is that you’d have to set it without it knowing that you are there.”
“So, what do you guys think,” Spring asks. “I don’t know what we can do about this bird, but we’ve got to…”
Meander interrupts, “Can it hear us?”
“It is certainly possible. I really think that someone is spying on us. And… here is the thing. Well, let’s trying to figure it from a different direction. If someone is spying on us, and they spied on us from when we left, because I’m pretty sure that I saw it on the way to Candlestick. Who could that be?”
“On the way to Candlestick? I thought you saw it IN Candlestick?”
“I did see it in Candlestick, but I’m pretty sure that I saw it while we were going to Candlestick.”
ToughBark asks, “So could it be Greed? Because didn’t he say we needed to watch our backs?”
Spring asks, “Is this something we think Greed could do?”
Broken adds, “He’s got the resources.” ToughBark agrees, “Yeah.”
Broken counters, “Not necessarily him himself though.”
Spring asks, “And why would he be concerned about what we are doing?”
“Because of that theory that he actually told PayDay to kill us, not that PayDay acted on his own recognizance.”
Meander says, “Yeah, but he accused us of killing PayDay. Because he knew what we did.”
“Damn sure he knew what we did.We came back. PayDay didn’t come back. Clearly we killed him when he tried to kill us first.”
Spring asks, “But is that really going to upset that many people?”
“It’s going to upset PayDay.”
ToughBark, “In Boar’s End, there are not many people upset that PayDay didn’t come back. And there are several that are thanking their lucky stars.”
Meander says, “I thought that was why they threw us a party.”
Spring begins, “So even if Greed accuses us outright, like gets some type of evidence…” He pauses in thought at the end.
Meander asks, “So is there a chance that he has been watching us for longer? Or that somebody has been watching us for longer?”
“I just saw the bird on the way to Candlestick.”
“We were kind of distracted before in town.”
“The bird was odd enough in the city that I looked directly at it and saw the magical aura. I would imagine the same would have happened in Boar’s End. I can’t imagine that it was following us for much longer than the trip.”
Meander, “Well, what if it is someone from Arch?”
“Would they be following us? Are we doing anything that they care about, or that anyone is watch us?”
“We might be able to end it. But then they know we know they… Ugh. That hurts my brain.”
“You bring up a good point. What if it is someone from Arch? You guys are trying to go there, right?”
“We are kind of on their watch list. They are watching what we do. Isn’t that what they said?”
Ember says, “Kindof. We had caught the attention of the Eagle.”
“I think we just need to act like it doesn’t exist. Especially since we aren’t doing anything we need to hide.”
Ember gestures, “Um, Broken.”
“Well, most of us anyway.”
“So we do need to talk, we need to decide how we are going to deal with that.”
“That’s another good point. Now that we know what happened to Broken, are we going to… We have to make some kind of report. At least you guys do, you are the deputies.” Spring added with a sneer.
“I don’t want me put in the report. I can’t have that happen again.”
Ember and Meander both say, “Again?”
Spring says, “I was going to let that go…”
Ember says, “No. No. Broken, full disclosure. What do you mean again?”
“Well, why do you think I’m here in Boar’s End and not in my own city in the Red Empire.”
“You mean slumming?” Spring smirks.
Meander says, “Because the Red Empire sucks?”
“I … I… When I got brought to that place, and I escaped once, I didn’t do anything. It wasn’t me. But someone got the bright idea to pin a murder on me. I had no reason to. So they put me back in and I escaped from that place a second time, no thanks to my own father. He didn’t even believe me. I was framed.”
ToughBark asks, “Was it one of your others…”
“I can’t imagine so. I didn’t see any connection between my body and that other guy.”
“But we were investigating this just the other day, " Spring says, “and you certainly didn’t seem to notice any correlation there either.”
“Well, it wasn’t me. That one in the Red Empire, in East Watch, wasn’t me.”
Meander chimes in, “East Watch, that’s where the chick went through. We need to go there.”
“No! I don’t want to go there. I can’t. I’m not going back! Honestly, we put this on the Necromancer guy because that’s clearly who did it.”
Spring and Meander both start, “But you are the Necromancer…” and “They said you were the Necromancer…”
“I am not! I am an innocent bystander, who had a case of mistaken identity and had to defend myself.”
“This is the defense you are going with?”
“I’m going with, ‘It was clearly an agent of the Necromancer, not me.’ I can’t have this happen again.”
Meander says, “I do think we need to track down the Necromancer.”
“I agree. It sounds like a great idea.”
“I’d like to go talk to Shade’s Cough. Being the grave keeper, he might have some information. Plus I think he might dabble in a bit of necromancy himself. His son definitely knew magic. He had books with magical things in them. I think it is mightly possible.”
“We’ve got some things on the table, that we have to deal with Broken.” Spring said, “But he mentioned that we might go to find some Stargazer ruins..”
Ember reminds, “You know we haven’t opened even the last Stargazer tomb.”
“We’ll, we tried, but we have to do more research before we can open that one.”
Meander says excitedly, “Ahh! I’d love to know what was in there. We could spend some time in Boar’s End. You could do research. We could go back there.”
“I was thinking that I would need to do research on the island,” says Spring.
“Ruins are ok, because that is remnants of the Stargazer. But Abandon is the best place for academic research, because they have books and people still there. What would be best, is to find a real place. Like an actual ruin of a fallen castle that had actually been up.”
Meander asks, “Well, how would we find that?”
“We uh… go on an adventure.”
“I love adventures! But… do we go get a map that says ‘falling castle here’?”
“I did some research at the library in Candlestick, so I know of general places, along the shore near East Watch and another place east of there.”
Ember prodded, “I though you didn’t want to go back to East Watch?”
“I’m not going to East Watch! There is another place east of there.” Broken mutters to him for several moments, as if searching through memories.
“I’ve got these maps here. What do these words here say?” Meander points to some of the script on the map helpfully.
“Allvast!” Broken exclaims. “That was the name of the place. Allvast. So it is almost due north of…”
“Allvast.” Spring ponders, “Isn’t that where StarLight, or whatever, landed and came up the river?”
“She came up through Emperor City.” ToughBark added stoically.
Broken said, “East Watch is south west of us. So all along that coastline.”
“So the map I have here, containing from Candlestick to the coast, should have some of those noted, right?”
“Yes. General ruins and such. But here is the thing, we won’t actually know it is of StarGazer decent until we go in it. They will just look like ruins. Just like we didn’t know the Dwarven ruins were Dwarven until we went in and found forges and such things. So it’s like a needle in a haystack, which is why I want to make a compass! See everything ties together with me.”
“Compass, what’s the compass?” Meander asks.
“So we get Spring and me together to find a way to point us in the right direction and lead us to bound spirits. Most specifically, water, shadow or storm spirits that have been bound by people.”
“Why do we want bound spirits?” ask Meander, obviously confused by the connection to Stargazers.
“Because that is what was in the Stargazer tomb that attacked us and almost killed us. Don’t you remember that flying dark thing in the ceiling that was really nasty.”
“Yeah! That fog bat or something.”
“Yes. That was a storm elemental. That was…”
Spring quipped, “Not the one that was sucking face with Meander.”
“That was just a normal ghost.”
“That was undead.” said Ember tonelessly.
“She was hot.”
Broken continued, talking over Meander, “So… The little water deamons and the shadow storm spirit… Those were actual elementals of storm and water. They were pissed because they were bound. They were meant to stay there and guard something. Which, probably maybe them pissed because their capturers died, so they were…”
“So, we help them out so we can free them?”
“If that is your agenda, then sure. I am using them as a marker. If someone spent the time to bind a storm spirit or a shadow spirit or a water spirit… or all three in the same area, then that is probably Stargazer”
Meander scratches his head, “Wasn’t it a storm spirit?”
“Exactly. It was a storm spirit.”
“Well, then why do we want shadow?”
“Because we also got attacked by that.”
“Shadow and Storm. It was a combination.”
Ember said authoritatively, “The shadows that attacked us were undead.”
“Uhh.. well. Water..”
“There were the boiling water deamons and the fog bat.”
“Right, water and storm. Maybe shadow was… oh hell. I don’t know.”
Meander turned to Spring, “Can you find that kind of binding magic?”
“I don’t know.. He has mentioned it in passing about making this compass and…”
Broken interjected, “And Frog could help. Frog can find spirits and talk to them and tell them and ask them questions.”
Meander said, “He asks spirits where other spirits are. What other spirits might know.”
“Yeah! So he could ask them where a bound pissed spirit might be. If it is near Allvast.”
“A bound pissed spirit?” laughed Spring.
“Well, if we promise Frog that we release it, he might be willing to find it.”
“That has come across my mind. Look, it is risky and still a needle in a haystack. But I can surely give you my word that,” and Broken pauses before rushing through this last part, “there might be treasure.”
The group laughs heartily as Ember says, “Spoken like a true nobleman.”
Meander, composing himself, asks, “Is there stuff you can learn from the ruin at hand?”
“Yes probably. It would just take longer. What I am trying to get at is the absolutely best way to do flying magic. So literally take apart the flying magic. To do that I need a ruin that has fallen and then deconstruct that magic and mess with it.”
“Something that has fallen and the magic has faded, will that still help you?”
“It will give me a base to work with. As of right now, I would have to come up with a way to help bind spirits into a boat and get them to do the thing they are not supposed to do. But if I could find a base…”
“Hold on. Hold on.” Spring interrupts, “You are binding spirits?”
Broken says cautiously, “No I’m not.”
“How does this differ from necromancy?”
Meander begins, “Well it ain’t necromancy cause it’s not…”
Broken talks over Meander as he fades into thought, “It is not necromancy. I am not forcing it to do anything that it would not want to do. Horses love to pull carriages. They are bred for it.”
Meander and Spring both look at Broken with a shocked expression.
“I donna. That seems like a very grey area.” Spring says haltingly.
“You want to know the difference between what I do and necromancy? Necromancy is trying to think that people are beneath you. Which some are, yes. But…”
This comment causes a general uproar. “Uhh..” “I disagree.” “You don’t think people are beneath you?”
“But bend them to do your will through the afterlife is … harsh. I believe you should let your class be what you were born to be. And when you die, you are done. Besides, a horse? Who gives a shit about a horse? I am not the necromancer.”
“So, if Broken isn’t the necromancer,” says Meander, “I think when we get back, we should find out who it is.”
“Do you have any idea where to start?” says Ember.
“Besides talking to ShadesCough? I could just walk around…”
“I did want to see the mists when we got back, but we talked about that and agreed it was probably protection from Arch.” says Spring. “I still want to go there to see how it works, but I’d rather back to the Stargazer tomb and work on the sarcophagus.”
“Now,” Meander says, “we could go talk to Frog, Broken, and see if he would be game to try to find one of these places by asking the spirits.”
“Yeah okay. I’m down with that. I like Frog.”
“Something to think about, why were those four guys were trying to kill you.” Ember says to Broken.
“Yeah, who were they? Really.” says Meander. After a short pause he continues, “Do we want to solve the murders for the town?”
“How do you propose we do that without lynching a certain person?” Ember asks in return.
“What about the wolf attack, from several weeks back?”
“Ok, what about it?”
Meander seems conflicted. “The town is uneasy over two unexplained murders and we have the answers. Yeah… I don’t know.”
“If you raise more questions than you answer, it will be worse.” says ToughBark.
“I say let it lie. They are unhappy and worried, so be it. It’s either that or burn Broken.”
“Yeah, and I’m not going to let that happen.”
“It wouldn’t be bad since it was in self defense, except why didn’t he say something when it happened,” answered ToughBark.
“Yeah, that’s the only problem. Then we have to say he is crazy.”
Ember looks at Meander, “That’s the ONLY problem?”
“You could blame it on another guy?” Broken says tentatively.
“It is better to not say anything at all.”
“We found out it was this mage named Blade, who did it in self defense,” Meander says.
“So where is this mage now? He fled?” Ember asks.
“We are tracking him down.”
“We can say that if you want.”
“Ok. I don’t think anything is going to come of us not saying anything right now. Do we want to tell the constable that we have information. That it was a mage named Blade. Or do we just keep quiet and keep investigating?” Ember looks around but gets no feedback. “I vote for the option to keep investigating and not say anything at all.”
“I like that one,” Broken agrees. Meander shakes his head with a laugh.
“I wouldn’t mind trying to find out why they thought he was a necromancer,” Ember mentions.
“How would we do that?” Meander asks. “The only lead we have there is… Bloodeye.”
“We could question Bloodseye. We’d need muscle.” says ToughBark.
“We probably should go talk to Bloodeye,” Meander says slowly. “But I’m not sure I’m ready to talk to him. We could go in and say we are trying to… That we know that… Well shit.”
“I can always do it. When I want answers, I run in there, bust open the door, and say, ‘Bitch why you trying to kill me’. Be all like… " Broken shoots his hands out like he is directing a bloody battle of flying weapons, which he really might do.
“If you are going to do that, we should just name you the killer to begin with and be done with it.” Ember says with an eye roll and a sigh. “It would save us all the trouble.”
“Baleson has probably already leaned on Bloodseye multiple times already. He is always the first person questioned when someone shows up dead in town. Baleson is probably the only person in town that Bloodseye would be afraid of,” informs ToughBark.
“Hmm.. We need to change that.” said Ember.
“Why would the priests be after the necromancer?” Meander asks.
“I don’t know.” Ember says, “Starlight indicated they were the enemies of her former coven. At least what she indicated, it seemed it was that particular sect that she was referencing.”
“So maybe we should go ask THEM about the necromancer.”
“Uh. We can. Why don’t we go talk to that gravedigger first.”
“Oh yea… ShadeCough.”
The plan settled, they go back to their separate studies of the remaining hours of travel.
So after five days away, they arrive back to Boar’s End before sunset. They go ahead and roll on out to the cemetery and decide to catch up with the Baleson afterwards. As they approach the shack near the cemetery, they spot Vale running across the cemetery towards the river, obviously upset. ShadeCough can be heard screaming, “I SAID GET BACK HERE!” Once he spots the approaching wagon, he stops screaming and puts on his best scowl.
Meander hops down from the wagon and approaches saying, “Hey, ShadesCough.” ToughBark, Spring and Ember disembark and approach as well. “We had some questions we needed to ask you about some rumors we’ve been hearing.” Spring stops at the gate, spying magical wards surrounding the cemetery. They completely surround the cemetery and also surround ShadesCough’s shack. It is actual high-magic, not trinkets or gimmickry that normal peasantry would employ. The magical wards are not particularly powerful, but they will be effective. Some mage has created them at some point, but they are also being maintained, so it had to be recent. He stays to investigate the runes while the rest continue on to the shack. “And since you are the local graves keeper, we thought you might know something about these matters. You see, we’ve run into undead twice now…”
“So you think I did it! You think I’m responsible!”
“I didn’t say..”
“Because I live out here by the cemetery. These people ought to be grateful I’m out here. You can’t imagine the kind of things that would’ve happened out here if I hadn’t been out here keeping track of things.”
Ember leans in and says, “Yes. I’m well aware of it.”
“I don’t believe that I’m accusing you. But you jumping down my throat like that makes me wonder if there is something that you are hiding.”
“I’m not hiding anything. I keep to myself. I don’t cause anybody any trouble. AND I’m not responsible for all those Kobolds.”
“So, we ran into anim… Undead Kobolds. Someone was taking the bodies of the dead and animating them. Has anyone been coming around to the cemetery and trying to… Have you seen anyone trying to get bodies or anything like that. You’ve been here.”
“No. Nobody has been trying to get to the bodies. And I would’ve seen ‘em if they’d tried too. I keep a close eye.”
Spring finally stops gawking at the wards and joins the group by the entrance to the shack. The wards are a little odd. They are designed to keep necromantic energies out of the cemetery. It is a barrier, not a protection field. So if you are on the inside, the necromantic energy can’t get out. If you are on the outside, the energy can’t get in. It was very specifically designed to stop necromantic energy, magic that would breath unlife to dead corpses. The shack also has the same type of wards, but much more powerful, and it has some anti-scrying wards to make it difficult to see what is going on inside the building.
Meander begins slowly, “So, I know that you helped us out when we were looking for some of the magical ingredients for the cure to the Black Scour Taint. I didn’t know if you knew of some of the…” Meander sighs. “I know there is a necromancer loose and I’m just looking for help trying to track them down.”
“Well if anybody tried to get into THIS cemetery and tried to mess with any of the bodies, I would know. And don’t think I haven’t had people try in the past. Usually thinking they are going to find jewelry or something. Even though there isn’t anybody round here rich enough to be buried with jewelry. I stop ’em.”
“So you would know if they just tried to grave rob or animate the dead?”
“Either. If anything fishy is going on in this cemetery, I’ll know about it.”
“You seem rather sure about that.”
“That’s my job.”
Meander and ShadesCough stare at each other for a long minute. Ember speaks up, “Did you hear about the woman who got killed in town?”
“Did they bring her out here to bury her?”
“She didn’t give a name. Killed by a knight.”
“Ohhhh. Yeah, they brought her out here. I didn’t have a name to put on the grave.”
“Seen her before?”
“Nope. I got the sense from Baleson that she wasn’t local.”
“Course, I don’t know everybody in town anyway.”
“So those guys would got killed recently.”
“Yeah, I heard about that. The priests.”
“Well, there were two guys who weren’t priests.”
“Oh. No. They were taken by their own and dealt with.”
“Even the two who weren’t priests?”
“Really, who were their own.”
“You know. Those guys out in the tent. They don’t come around here very often. A couple of them tried one time to convert me to the faith. I sent them packin’. They haven’t been back.”
“So let me get this straight. I can understand claiming the priests. They claimed the other two as well.”
“I didn’t bury them.”
Meander says, “Interesting.”
“That’s very interesting, " says Ember.
“So you say that you would know if anybody tried to use Necro… uh, " Meander seemed to stumble over the word and rephrased, “tried to animate the dead here. Is there any way you could find if someone used it anywhere else, or is it just here?”
“Well, it’s really just here. But let me tell you, late at night, just by my self, just beyond the fence. I don’t know, you can feel it. Creepy. But it hasn’t made it in here.”
“What do you mean, sir,” says Ember.
“I don’t know. These undead you say… They are coming from somewhere. And it seems like they are out there looking. Watching. But they haven’t gotten in yet.”
“Would you be adverse to us spending a night out here with you?” asks Ember.
“Hmph. What for?”
“If you are saying that the undead are watching and trying to get in, I’d like to have a word with them.”
“Well, I haven’t seen anything… But they couldn’t be get in here anyway. It’s holy ground, ya know.”
“I understand that. We’ve got to find this necromancer.”
Meander steps back in, “Yeah, Someone is creating some nasty stuff out there.”
ShadesCough slumps down, “I suppose so. Whatever you want.” Then with his scowl renewed, “Just don’t be coming inside. If you want to spend the night in the graveyard, then you have to spend the night in the graveyard.”
Meander lets out a huff and looks out over the graveyard. He mutters to himself, “Is it really as creepy as I think it is.” The yard is completely surrounded by old rusted wrought iron fence anchored between columns of stone at intervals. Grass covers most of the marked graves, but many fresh mounds of dirt are visible. The recent sickness had not been kind to the town.
Ember speaks up after the pause. “I just want to understand this. You have a feeling that something is prowling. It’s not necessarily visible, but something is attempting to get in here.”
“Well. I mean if there is a necromancer out there, and I don’t see how there couldn’t be, seeing how the Kobolds… This is like a feast.”
Meander stumbles ahead, “We’ve picked up from several different rumors that there is a necromancer. Plus we saw the undead Kobolds and know that one of the Kobolds was animating other Kobolds.”
“Really, one of them was the leader?”
“Yes, but something animated it too.”
“How do you know that?”
“It was stitched together,” Ember offers.
Meander says simply, “Because we killed it once, then we killed it again.”
“Hmmm. Well, I was going to say is if you found the leader, that explains it. The big ones, they make little ones. I don’t know how the big ones are made.” After a moment, he leans in conspiratorially, “Well look. I don’t see anything out there, and I don’t think it is necessarily coming around. But you have to catch this thing, because eventually it will get in here.”
“We are looking for it. And if you do hear something or see something, please let us know.”
“Oh I will. Right away.”
They walk back to the wagon, but stop before boarding up. “So we are coming back tonight?” asks Ember
“Yeah! It’s exciting!” Meander’s eyes light up, “I’ve never spent the night in a graveyard.”
“Never wanted to.” moans ToughBark.
“Yeah.” agrees Spring, visibly pale.
“Oh come on, they don’t REALLY rise up out of their graves.”
“Um. We’ve already seen it happen at least twice.”
“With the wards around here, they probably pretty much well protected.” mentioned Spring.
“What wards? There are wards?” asks Meander.
“Um, I thought I had mentioned that.”
“You’ve barely said a peep.”
“So,” Spring gestures at the graveyard in general, “this is fairly well protected around here with some well maintained wards for what looks like against necromancy. I don’t know if he is the one that is doing it. He doesn’t really strike me that way, but I don’t know who else would be maintaining them.”
“His son.” says ToughBark.
“Ok. But the other thing to note about the wards is that they are arcane in origin. I would have expected them to be divine, as they usually are around tombs. Which means technically, they are necromancy.”
“Arcane magic is necromancy?”
“No. But arcane magic that deals with the undead, is. In order to stop necromantic energy and not be divine, you’d need to be able to match the pattern and create a barrier.”
“Ah… So shall we go find the kid?” asks ToughBark.
“Does that means we have to go through the graveyard?” whines Spring
“It’ll be fine, come on.” Ember cuffs him on the shoulder.
“Don’t worry, it’s still daylight.” chimes Meander.
Spring thinks back to himself. All the Zombies we’ve seen thus far were during the day.
They walk across the huge graveyard. It’s hard to imagine the number of people who must have perished at Boar’s End. How long as this town been here? They cross over to the road on the northwest side where the road veers back to the river by the ferry. There is no obvious sign of Vale. ToughBark studies the ground by the fence, looking for tracks leading from the graveyard, as the others stand by and wait. There are scattered, scraggly trees around the graveyard, much like gnarled hands reaching from the ground. Spring pales even more visibly as they wait. Ember turns to Spring, "You spend your time in freaking tombs, for Hearths sake! Spring glances up and says nervously, “I’m prepared for that. I don’t know.”
ToughBark calls out and gestures everyone over. He’s following tracks across the road towards the river. After a few minutes, they come across Vale, throwing rocks into the river. He looks up as the group tromps up nearby, and the goes back to plunking rocks into the swift waters.
Ember calls out, “Flat rocks work better.”
“Yeah. Did my Pa send you out here to get me?”
“Well… I’m not going back.”
“I don’t want to do my chores.”
Spring asks helpfully, “What chores are those?”
“Uhhh ya know. Things I gotta do.”
Meander mutters under his breath, “Yeah, this sounds like a priestly conversation,” and nudges Ember.
Ember says in a soft voice, “You don’t feel like doing them right now or ever?”
“So where are you going to go?”
“I donno.” Vale plunks a bigger rock in to punctuate his situation.
Meander says, “Runnin away ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
Ember stared at Meander piercingly, “You’d know.” Then he turns back to Vale, “You..”
“He just doesn’t understand how scared I am.”
Ember glances at Spring, “I think we understand that kind of thing.” Spring agrees heartily, “Oh yeah!” Ember persists carefully, “What is scaring you?”
“You know, all of it! All I can think about are those… bear bones looking at me.”
Ember says, “Pardon”
Broken nudges Ember and whispers, “The Dwarf bones.” When they rescued Vale from the Crucible, he was in the dark, trapped at the end of a row of prison cells. Each cell contained an skeletal bear-shaped man, animated and rattling the cages.
Meander says, “That was pretty rough.”
Vale says, “So I don’t want to do it anymore.”
“Tend to the graves? Tend to the bodies?”
ToughBark says, “Dead bodies are better than undead bodies.”
Meander agrees, “Yeah. We have to have people that tend to them.”
“Well it doesn’t have to be ME, does it?”
“Well, no. It doesn’t have to be you.” Meander pauses a moment, then adds, “But you know how.”
“Yeah. Not as well as my dad though.”
“That is true. He has been doing it longer. And if people didn’t tend to them, what would happen?”
Vale shrugs with a grunt.
Ember says, “Then you’d probably have more bones walking.”
Meander adds, “Like those bears.”
Vale snarls, “Well we’ve got enough of that already,” and he throws another rock into the river.
Ember says questioningly, “Pardon?”
“Well we are trying to find…” Meander pauses. “We know there is a necromancer loose, raising bodies. And if you have seen or heard of anything, we need to know so we can find them.”
Vale suddenly tenses, his eyes wide, “It wasn’t me! I didn’t do it!”
Ember says softly, “I don’t think we said you did.”
“And it wasn’t my dad either!”
Meander says, “We know that you are protecting the cemetery and we are not accusing you.”
“Well then who do you think did it?”
“That’s what we are trying to find out.”
“Kitten says it’s the Kobold King.”
“Well. The Kobold King was definitely raising zombies, but somebody raised the Kobold King.”
“Dad says that the energies around the cemetery are growing. That eventually they will break through the wards.”
Ember asks, “Where are these energies coming from?”
“I donno. He has tried to figure out who it is. He said that whoever is doing it is far away. They aren’t coming up to the cemetery, they are doing it from a distance like a coward! But dad says the energies are everywhere, in the forests, out here, not quite in town yet. Said something about…” Vale looks up into the sky as he strains to recall, “energy matrix of living beings being counter to … ahhh… I don’t remember.”
“Have you learned a lot from your dad?”
“How come he doesn’t use divine?”
“Umm… Well… We’ve never really been church going folk.”
“I understand arcane is powerful. But it seems to me that the divine would be more helpful.” Then Ember adds with a shrug, “Then that may just be my bent.”
“Oh don’t listen to him,” Meander adds with a grin, “he’s just an ol’ priest.”
“I’m not THAT old.” Ember protests to snickers from the others. Turning back to Vale, “Who keeps up the wards? Are you helping keeping them going? If you walk away…”
“They have gotten too strong for me. My dad does them. They’ll keep out most things, but whatever is growing out there in the woods is getting more powerful. Things die in the woods all the time. If you are careful, and are there at the right moment, you can get energy from it. Normally, that kindof stuff doesn’t happen, because there are all the living things in the woods too. He can’t figure out any other way… how else could it be growing?”
ToughBark asks, “Does he know which way it originated from?”
“No, he just said far away.”
Meander asks, “Far away… so you don’t know if it’s north or where?”
“No. Not from town, that’s for sure. Somewhere out there.” He looks over his shoulder into the woods.
Meander says with a helpful tone, “Well, I do know that the memories of the fear that you have from the Crucible. It will fade. It hasn’t been very long since that happened. You just need to give it time.”
Vale voices rises, “But he just doesn’t understand!”
“Yeah. Yeah. I bet he’s got a lot of experience.”
Spring adds, “And he’s probably worried.”
“Fine!” Vale starts to get up and trudges back towards the cemetery.
As they make their way back to the wagon, Ember asks, “So are we going to spend the night out here?
Meander perks up, “I think we should? And can you sense the necromantic energies? Spring?”
Spring shakes his head.
“I wonder if he can see them at night. In the graveyard!”
Spring pales at the thought while the others laugh. “Hmm… well. I really like magic and everything. However, there doesn’t seem to be much here that I feel compelled to participate.”
Meander ponders, “I wonder if it is something they feel is building? Or maybe it is something that peaks at a certain time.”
“Well, if ShadesCough won’t talk to us about it… Or if we go back and say ‘Hey look…’”
“What go back to him and say, ‘We know you are the necromancer but not the one we are looking for?’”
“You guys know him better. Do you mind putting him on the spot a little bit?”
“I think I already did.”
Ember mutters, “If we do, that’ll burn the kid though.”
“The kid may get burned anyway, because if he goes back and tell his dad what we talked about.”
“And he didn’t get burned… well. Anyway. We knew it without the kid admitting to it.”
“Yeah, so whatcha want to do? I don’t think alienating him would be a good idea.”
“Alright then screw it. We’ll just stay in the cemetery.”
Spring perks up, “Uhhhhh what!”
“How well can you detect magic?”
“I could probably detect magic out here… from town.”
“And how would you tell us?”
“Well… I could tell you the next day.” They laugh again at Spring. “Ok. Ok. The graveyard is warded. If we are going to detect something, we should be outside of the graveyard. I’m just saying.”
“Ok. I’m fine with spending the night outside the graveyard too.”
Ember says, “Ok, sure.”
“Well, let’s go back to town and we can talk about it over a beer.”
They get back to town and stop to talk to the Sheriff before going back to the inn. Baleson hadn’t found much more information while they were gone. The four guys were obviously part of the cult outside of town. But likely no more information will be gained from Basalt, the head priest.
They meet Broken back at the Sitting Duck. He had been hunting for some fire spirit, but seemed disappointed that he couldn’t catch it. Sand Piper is also in town, drinking at a table. He gestures them over as they come in. He nudges a large book at Ember as he approaches.
Ember says, “Ahh… Self study?”
“Well, it would probably be handy if you read all this before we got started.”
Meander peers at the book. “More Dwarven…. ruins?” Ember looks confused. “Is that more information on Dwarves?”
“Oh no. It’s more information on fire.”
“Fickle mistress, she is,” SandPiper says, rubbing his misshapen beard, “Fickle indeed.” Then he raises his pipe and lights it with his finger. A tiny flame pops out the end of his finger, which he keeps carefully hidden from the innkeeper.
Ember raises the scarred remains of one of his non-existent eyebrows.
“Well, it’s not the only thing that I came to town for.” SandPiper says somewhat reluctantly. “I have a confession, in case I unduly worried you folk.”
Ember says, “You are a small bird?”
Meander says, “You heard about our offer for free beer?”
“Is there an offer for free beer?”
Ember looks at Meander then back to Sandpiper, “I did say that, so yes.”
“Yeah the bird, it was mine.”
Spring perks up, “Oh really!”
“Yeah. The Eagle has charged me with keeping an eye on you guys. And my fee is that delightful spell.”
Ember says, “You couldn’t find a bird that would blend better?”
“Well, my element of choice is fire, which is what the bird is made of. It is very advanced magic, far beyond what I could have made myself… under the circumstances. If I had had enough time… certainly I could have come up with something similar.”
Spring asks, “So who is the Eagle?”
“My patron and current benefactor. He is influential member of the town of Arch.”
“Oh! Is he the one that has noticed us a bit?”
“Oh yes, he is interested. There are certain things that occupy his attention, so he is not able to deal with everything that goes on. So he is very interested to see if you guys are going to be able to solve some of these problems on your own.” Then his voice becomes sing song, “I think if you are successful, there is an invitation in there for ya.”
Meander says, “Oh. We are currently trying to figure out who the necromancer is that is on the loose.”
“Yes, that is troubling. Necromancy. That’s horrible stuff. I don’t see the point in it myself.”
Spring asks, “Do you have anything you could offer? You know like suggestions or information?”
“Well actually I am trying to do just that thing and help in my own way.” He leans over and pats Ember on the shoulder. See if he can find some fire that the Undead don’t like.”
“Exactly,” Ember agrees. “There is one thing though SandPiper. I’m not sure if you can help us or not. I’m trying to find information on two symbols that may have bearing on the necromancer.” Ember pulls the two symbols out and lets SandPiper look them over.
“Well, I don’t know what they are, but there are some AW-FULLY nice libraries in Arch. I could go look for you.”
“And how much free beer am I talking about here?”
“Just pay me back one night, don’t worry about it.” SandPiper pulls out a tiny piece of parchment, which looks like it has been burned and throws it away. He pulls out another one which is a little bigger, but still burned and shrugs. He takes a quill and ink and begins sketching the symbols.
They drink for a bit and then turn in early for a nap before going out to the graveyard. They all get up in the middle of the night and take a short walk to the graveyard. They stay outside the fence, peering around in the dark night. Meander and ToughBark build a fire while Spring, Broken and Ember look about. Spring looks around, but does not see any spells active that are gathering or moving necromantic energy. But what he can see is the reaction of the wards on the fence. A ward is centered upon each stone column, but spark into the gaps between forming a barrier. They are lighting up and getting hot. He can tell that the limits of their protection is getting stretched. There is some foul energy present that is not magic, but it reacts to the wards. He shares his findings with the group.
Meander asks, “Is there any way we could boost the power of those wards?”
Spring says, “I’m not a necromancer, so I don’t know the spell. I don’t have a spell that can boost the power currently, but that is something I might be able to do. We might be able to help perform a ritual which would allow the spell caster to cast a bigger spell than they can normally handle.”
“Hmm. I could slap ol’ buddy ShadesCough on the back and give him a big hug. He just needs to be loved.” Meander pauses and then asks Spring, “So you don’t have some spell to make magic bigger?
“So what is creating all that necromantic energy then? Wouldn’t it have to be death on a large scale?”
Ember says, “A master undead would be the most likely source of a large field of necromantic energy that isn’t shaped by magic.”
“Or a mage has enough of it concentrated somewhere that it is leaking,” Spring offers.
Ember begins to ponder, “I wonder if I could sense it to be able to track it.” He looks lost in thought for a bit. Then he sits down around the fire and begins to meditate, trying to see if there is any way to sense the energy of unlife present all around them. He sits by the fire for a long time.
Meander paces around up and down the fence, quickly bored by Ember’s quiet meditation. The wards crackle and zap fairly regularly, but there are no other sounds in the night. Broken also begins to prowl the night, claiming to be searching for some sort of shadow spirit. After a short time, he curses and then sits back down by the fire, mumbling about possible modifications he could make to some fetch to make it more powerful, whatever that might be.
Meander decides to walk up to the wards and touch them. He activates his new spell, which allows him to feel magic, and he can feel the thrumming of power beneath his fingers. “Wow. That’s really cool. I can feel it!” Completely unschooled in magic, he can make no sense out of the feelings.
After a few hours, Ember stands up and mumbles some chant to Hearthstone. His eyes alight with fire, and looks around. All around them is this low lying mist, so black that against the darkness it looks almost purple. As the dark mists surge against the old wrought iron fence of the graveyard, the wards spark and repel the mists slightly, only to have it crash back in and spark again. It doesn’t look like it is building up, more like fog that is drifting through. However, it is very prevalent and dense. “Damn! There is unlife EVERYWHERE here.” After a pause, he adds quickly, “And Spring, you are standing in some.”
Spring tenses as the others laugh. “I knew I felt… weird.”
“Actually, we are ALL standing in some.”
Ember begins to look around, trying to determine a point of origin. It’s a essentially a fog bank, there is no obvious direction. Walking around, the mists thin as they reach the edge of the forest. It also thins as they move away from the cemetery towards town. But to the north, to the river road, it stays thick. “That’s where we are going folks.”
Meander asks, “So, ToughBark, you can see at night?” He nods. ToughBark has been slinking about, serving as a scout the past few hours, scanning the darkness. “We might want to alternate so we don’t wear ourselves out.”
Ember says, “We, I can’t keep this up for very long either. I’ll just have to use it from time to time to determine directionality.”
“But we may need to keep watch more regular. Well walk?”
Following the road north, it stays think along the road. Going in to the forest to the east, the mists thin noticeably. Ember thinks that the abundant life from the forest is protecting itself from the unlife of the mists. Life is anathema to Undeath. Most likely the same holds true for the town. As they get to the bridge, it appears that the mists are coming from the mountains, not from further up the road towards Arch.
Meander says, “There was a dark menace that the Kobolds were running from.”
“I saw something in the crevasse,” Ember says, “but it was alive.”
“No. I mean when we got back into Jekka Jeks ritual chamber, the drawings of…”
“Yeah. I remember. Let’s follow this just a bit further before we turn around for the night.”