Wherein the adventurers return heroically to Boars End with the children.
Ember and Song works on Meander for awhile, tending his multiple wounds. Ember leaves Song to examine his head wound, where the talon left a jagged wound across the side of his head. Song does manage to revive Meander, who groans, getting up on his knees, holding his head. Everyone rests for a brief few well earned moments, after the long rush to find all the children.
After a brief rest, Meander stands up and looks around at Broken and ask, “So how are we going to get Stone Man out of here and back to town?”
Red comments, “He just has to squeeze through the crack.”
Meander turns to Red, “I guess Broken could cast his Helpful Wall spell and get him up the well. Or the crack… That’s where the horse is.”
Ember looks quizzical, “What are you talking about … a horse?”
Meander scratches his head, whinces in pain and answers, “I don’t know. Red said that he heard something … uhh … that stomped like a horse from another room.”
“It was… "
Red interjects, “Way back there.”
Meander pauses for a moment thinking, “Do you remember the room that had a forge? It would have been below that.”
Ember lights up, “Ahh, yes. There are actually two creatures. One of them looks like some sort of… um” They are both very odd. One of them is very big and one of them looks like part of the wall."
“They are both very big. I realize my accent is bad. They are both very big and one looks like part of the wall.”
“Um… So it is made of stone? Like the Stone Man?”
“It’s like living stone the best I can tell. I don’t really know.
Broken perks up, “Living stone? That sound like a GREAT research project!”
Ember adds in, “It looks like both were waiting in ambush though.”
Meander says, “Well, ok. I think we chased some Kobolds into that room. Hopefully they got ambushed.”
Red added with a grin, “I bet they had the 200 silver.”
Broken glared at Red, “You know, they just might.”
Ember: “If you wish to go back there that’s fine. I actually would like to go back to that forge room.”
Broken said longingly, “Actually, I’m really ready for a bath and a bed. I … I think we should take a field trip some other day.”
Ember, reluctant to give up just yet, “I really would like to go back to the forge.”
Meander said excitedly, “That sounds like a great plan. Let’s go ahead and go!”
Broken, “Yes… Let’s go”
Meander, “To the forge.” He sighs somewhat wearily and adds, “Yes.. let’s go.”
The kids start to whine and want to go home. They have been hugging and crying since all being reunited together, but the initial joy has waned and they are ready for an end to the adventure. They are ready to be home.
Hawler is still fairly non-responsive. He will have to be carried out.
Broken says, “I’m really ready to get out of here, but I suppose we could take five minutes at the forge room.”
Ember queries, “Unless you guys could be persuaded to come back with me?”
Meander answers immediately, “Oh! I’ll come back. Oh Yeah!”
Broken answers with less enthusiasm, “I’ll come back after I do a days’ worth of repair on the golem man.”
Ember, “Ok, then let’s get the kids home. But I do want to come here and look at that forge. I travelled here specifically for that.”
Meander asked, “Do we want to take Silver out?”
Broken answered after a long pause, “I don’t know.. he’s dead. He looks content to me. He’s peaceful.”
Ember replied with disdain, “No he is not peaceful.”
“Well he ain’t moving.”
Ember begins to inspect the altar. It appears to be a fairly rough altar. Crude tools were used to craft the altar and it was definitely meant to be an altar. From the religious signs on the altar, it was dedicated to a very evil goddess, Cackle, the mother of monsters.
Ember takes the body off the altar and turns to look at Broken. “Have your, whatever that is, smash this.”
Broken replies, “Smash it… uhh .. ok”
“Not the body, the altar!”
“Oh ok.” Broken instructs the golem to dismantle the altar. Red stops him for a moment to check out the altar then lets the golem continue. The Stone Man begins to systematically dismantle the altar.
Shortly afterward, the group gathers up the kids, Red picks up Silver, and they work their way through the tunnels to the bottom of the well shaft. As they approach the well room, the voices of the militia men can be heard trying to determine how to climb up the well. The ropes that we climbed down lie piled on the floor. They appear to have been cut.
Broken readies his Helpful Wall spell, and touches each person in turn allowing them to climb up the well shaft. As Broken reaches for Ember he replies acidly, “Tie a rope first when you get up top.”
“I’m climbing up last.”
“Well, whoever climbs up first, tied a rope off.”
Broken sighs and moves around to touch the others, four at a time. As one of the climbers tosses down a rope, Ember grabs to rope and begins the laborious climb up the rope. Broken waits for everyone to climb up and then climbs up last.
Once up top, Ember examines the rope scraps that remain up top. The rope ends look fairly even, as if it were cut. If the rope were chewed through, it would be more rough edges. Something came this way and sabotaged the rope. There were some Kobolds that very possibly came this way. In order be on guard for a possible ambush, Ember calls the flames back into eyes. The group begins to move back towards the stairs.
After a while, Ember expresses curiosity about all the bear symbols and statues. Red explains about the Crucible and the bears being the Dwarves of old.
After passing one hallway, Ember expressed concern for some creatures down one of the unexplored hallways. The group presses on however, feeling the need to hurry out of the depths. They climb up the stairs, passing the body of the young girl. They explain the story to Ember about Jet, the orphan girl who shape changed into a vicious werewolf, and how axes, swords and arrows didn’t phase her. It took a tiny silver dagger to kill her. The deputies suspected that she was the “wolf” that attacked and killed someone in town.
They continue onwards and after passing through a few more rooms, reach the outer gates and the wagon waiting outside. Broken inspects the wagon. He looks around and sees that all the food and bread is missing. Some of his things have been riffled through. His money appears to have remained undetected. So whatever came this way did only a cursory check.
Broken mutters awhile about the wagon defending itself, talking about theories of repulsion and other possibilities. The group loads up, lying Silver on the wagon. Meander climbs up to get in the driver’s seat. As the group starts to follow the rough trail down the mountain, Ember stops, sits down and starts muttering to himself.
Broken looks at Ember and replies, “The wagon is leaving whether you are on it or not.”
Meander looks at Ember hesitant to leave him here, “Can you mutter in the wagon?”
Ember glares at the horseless wagon, “No thank you. I’ll catch up in a minute.”
The group finishes loading up the wagon and leave Ember sitting by the Crucible. Moving along with Stone Man, they set a gruelingly slow pace down the trail. After about twenty minutes, disembodied screams waft through the trees, reminding them of the ghosts that haunt these hills. Shortly afterwards, the priest catches up to the group, slowing to match Stone Man’s pace. He must have decided that a haunted mountainside is no place for religious vigils.
Further from the Crucible, the path become less choked with brush and briars. The kids settle down in the wagon and begin to become curious of their surroundings. Eventually one of them blurts out, “Where are the horses?” They begin to pepper Broken with questions about the wagon, which he answers evasively.
Once down from the mountain side, they cross the river and skirt the edge of the forest. Song makes his goodbyes there, saying in his halting speech that he is going to take Silver home, forming some variety of sling with some crossed branches and a scrap of cloak, to lay Silver on as he drags him into the deep woods. The group makes their goodbyes with the kids most reluctant and weeping.
After a few more hours of walking, the group passes the local cemetery. They take Vale over to the house alongside the cemetery to see if his father is home. Shade is overjoyed to see Vale and rushes him inside. He thanks the deputies. He promises to help the deputies with anything they need, especially any more questions on herb lore.
The town is a short ride from the cemetery. Beyond sight of town, Broken turns to the children riding in the wagon, “Children, its best if you get some fresh air.” He hustles them out of the wagon to walk into town and orders the Stone Man to lay down in the wagon.
Ember tells Broken, “Is you are trying to keep this a secret, let me point out that the children and the militia men have seen both the golem and the wagon.”
As they near the town, they see a crowd has gathered outside the town wall. A young woman breaks away from the crowd and rushes up to Hawler, with two other parents following close behind for Jabs and Kit. A representative for Gavel Greed walks meaningfully up to stand beside Junior. Ember begins to move to the edge of the group as they come to a halt before the crowd.
The Magistrate, Stout Wing, walks up in front of the wagon and begins to make pronouncements. He speaks of the heroics of the great deputies and all they have done for the town and that the children are saved. He speaks of wonders and how life will be great with such protectors for the town. Most importantly, he announces a celebration, a feast and party for the returning heroes. The crowd cheers wildly.
Gavel’s representative turns back to Junior, examines him briskly, brushes him off and marches him back to the Perch.
Jab’s father, Kitten’s mother and Red Dance all surround the children, kissing, hugging, crying and carrying on.
Kitten begins telling her mother stories of bashing in the heads of Kobolds with a chair leg. Her mother looks horrified. Meander tries to console her by nodding and shaking his head, confirming when she gets carried away, but her mother looks even worse with the confirmation that some of it was true.
The townsfolk don’t appear to be afraid of the wagon or the golem. The golem isn’t moving and appears to just be a statue. The wagon moves much like a normal wagon, just without a horse. The is much amazement over the wagon, but fortunately they just don’t find a wagon scary.
The group eventually tears themselves away from the crowd. Ember seemingly slipped away from the group during the commotion. Red, Broken, Meander and Tough work their way back to the Sitting Duck to clean up and rest before the party. They take some time to clean up with a hot bath and then all meet up in the common room later.
Gavel’s representative, the same one that came to retrieve Junior, comes back. “Mister Greed would like to extend his profound thanks.” And he pulls out a hefty bag of coin and drops it in front of the group. “And I have one for each of you.”
After making sure the kids are in good hands, Ember had slipped back to his room at Jack Jacks to freshen up. Jack is legendary in town for his cinnamon encrusted flapjacks, and his skill with frying pans and the heavy crossbow. While unwinding in the common room, Gavel’s representative catches up with Ember. Ember begins to protest as the representative pulls out a bag of coins. “Well, I just went up there with some men…”
The representative interrupts, “Gavel knows what goes on in this town and thanks everyone who was involved.” The representative hands over the bag of coins and then leaves the inn.
Ember begins to feel out of place at the inn. He tries to strike up a few conversations with the people in the inn. They seem openly intimidated by Ember. He appears to have developed a reputation as man of danger. He was the man who led the toughs up to the Crucible to help the Deputies. Most of the people in the inn are not townsfolk, but passing through, and don’t want trouble on their doorstep. He does manage to close a deal with one of the merchants to acquire some raw materials. Not a particularly good deal, but he acquires enough metal stock to fashion another lock.
He finishes his deals and goes for a walk about the town. The drink seems to be flowing at the Sitting Duck, the inn by the eastern gate out of town. Being the inn by the gates, it does seem to be a rougher crowd, but it is a nice enough place. There is no one particularly worrisome and the other deputies are sitting around a table, and Meander waves him over once he enters.
The group is trying to unwind and while away time that afternoon, avoiding eating or drinking too much before the festivities. They discuss their plans and what they intend to do over the next few days and weeks. Broken was in the middle of trying to figure out if he could actually buy a building in town when an odd man burst into the room dramatically. He scans the room quickly and when he spies the deputies, he cracks a grin and his eyes crinkle with success. Before he can say a word, the innkeeper, Nowhen, yells out, “No way SAN! I told you that you are barred for life.”
The elderly portly man looks shocked. He has the most ragged misshapen white beard. Loose fitting, simple clothes that are well worn and made for travel.
“Now now my good sir…”
“No! I don’t want to hear it. Banned for life!”
“But I have money to pay my tab and for damages.”
Nowhen’s voice becomes steely and cold, “How much.”
San coughs to clear his throat, emphasizing the dramatic pause. He pulls a really big gold coin out of his purse and slaps it down on the counter. “I think that will cover it.”
Nowhen frowns heavily as he picks up the coin. He bites it a bit, frowns again, looks at San and bites the coin again. “Alright fine. One fire and I will shoot you with my crossbow.”
“I promise. Nothing whatsoever.” He pauses briefly, “I have recently come upon some funds to pay my tab and so I would like to buy EVERYONE A DRINK!” The room cheers. As they shout and clamor, San leans into the counter and softly says to Nowhen, “How many beers can I buy for everyone?”
“Um.. I don’t know.”
“No no! The good stuff. None of that piss water you serve.”
“Then one beer each.”
San pauses, “One? Then how about the cheap stuff.”
Nowhen sighs, “That would be six beers apiece.”
San turns to the crowd, “FOUR BEERS FOR EVERYONE!” He produces another giant coin and slaps it down on the counter.
“I don’t care how much money the Eagle has given you. I will shoot you in the head if you do cause trouble.”
San, looking his most innocent, “No. No! I promise. I promise. I am here on the most important business and wouldn’t dream of causing trouble.” Having settled matters with the innkeeper, San turns to the group with a smile. “Gentlemen, may I join you.”
Meander says, “Why not. Since you’ve graciously bought us a beer, have a seat.”
Broken starts trying to get the servers to exchange his beers for more wine. Ember and Broken have a minor verbal scuffle about plebeians, tomatos and potatoes as San settles himself down at the table and pours a quick ale.
“Gentlemen. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is SandPiper. I am an adventurer, an explorer, a man of many talents.”
Red mumbles under his breath, “We’ve been meeting a lot of those today” at the same time that Meander jumps in, “Hey, fancy that. I am too.”
“Indeed. Your many talents have come to the attention of some very important people. And they would like to offer you their thanks in their own way for the work that you have been doing in Boar’s End.” He slows down and draws the next few words with a raised brow, “If you keep this up, you might even get an invitation to the fabulous town of Arch.”
Meander leans over to Red, “Isn’t that Arch the site of some Dwarven ruins?”
San says, “It is.”
Broken asks, “Is there money involved.”
“Not as such no. The stability of the region is very important to the people of Arch, and they can’t always spare the men to come here and solve the problems that come up and plague the everyday lives of good folk. And so, when people such as yourselves step up and do that job, well. My employer wants to support you as well as he is able, to allow you to continue your good works. My employers is a man of great means known as the Eagle.”
He continues, “For thanks, the Eagle would like to offer each of you arcane lore.”
Red and Broken both ask, “Arcane what?”
“Arcane lore. You may ask a question, the research will be done, and what can be found will be given to you.”
Ember looks around the table. SandPiper seems to be genuinely just offering a reward.
SandPiper looks at the group expectantly, waiting to see if the group has any immediate questions, and then starts to pack a pipe. He holds out his finger, which burst into a tiny flame with an oomph. He looks at the flame and then glances over his shoulder at the innkeeper. Nowhen is staring SandPiper down while drumming his fingers on the counter. The fire winks out and SandPiper says cautiously, “Ahh, I’ll go to the fire.” He sets down his pipe and goes over to the hearth to get a blunt from the fire.
The mages of the group, basically everyone but Meander, identify him as an elementalist, a mage that can channel fire. Creating a candle flame on the end of your finger would be one of the simplest spells.
He comes back with a stick and begins to try to light the pipe. The fire catches his beard on fire and he yells out and he pats out the flames. It becomes obvious why the beard has no shape to it. It looks like it has been burned time innumerable.
Meander speaks up, “Do we ask these questions of you, or do we… how does this work?”
“I will be your courier, since you are not allow in Arch and certainly if anyone is going to come here from there, they would have to be sent with purpose and you in mind and I am that person.”
SandPiper continues after a brief pause, “So you can begin by telling me what brings you to this part of the land. Are you just Goblin hunters, looking for adventure or blood to whet your blades.”
Red pipes up, “I’m an archeologist.”
“Really, Stargazer ruins perhaps. There are some of those around.”
“Ahh. I would say this is the place to come. So if you have questions about Dwarven ruins, I think that would certainly be within the Eagles means to answer.”
Red looks around briefly, “Come to think about it. I don’t know why you guys are here.”
Broken speaks out, “Yes, Oxdriver, what is your story.”
Meander glares briefly at Broken before saying, “I’m here to see the world.”
Broken says, “I’m here to start anew.”
Meander chimes in, “Yeah. That sound good to. I’m here to see the world and start anew. Anyway, I’ve already told you guys why I’m here.”
Broken looks at Meander, “We don’t know anything about you, Oxdriver.”
Meander says, “That’s because you don’t listen.”
Broken drawls out, “I don’t really want to tell my life’s story. You guys wouldn’t find it interesting.”
Meander adds, “Your probably right. Noble this… Noble that… Blah blah blah. Alright.”
Broken says defensively, “Clearly you know enough about me. Noble this, Noble that. And it’s true. You are Oxdriver and I am fine. I drink wine and you…” gesturing to the piss water.
Ember stares calmly at Broken, “I’d be glad to listen to your entire life’s story. Not a problem.”
Broken makes some noises as if tongue tied and then drains his glass of wine, slowly.
Ember however, asks before either of them get to the point, “What is this Arch?”
“It is a town nearby. You are only allowed in by invitation.”
Broken adds, “So, must mean it is a pretty high class place.”
“Oh indeed. Only the highest are allow in.”
Meander said snidely, “Sound like it is right up your alley.”
Broken ignores him and says, “And you are offering it to me?”
“Why not me?”
“Well, people who get invited have to prove themselves worthy of the invitation. In particular you need a sponsor. Now the Eagle values those who are willing to help their fellows. So those kinds of things will be rewarded.”
Ember said cautiously, “I’m assuming there are more there that can do things like yourself?”
“Yes. It is a place full of wonders and secrets and all kinds of fabulous things. One could go far there.”
Broken asks, “What kinds of things have to be proven?”
Red answers, “Good deeds to fellow men.”
SandPiper answers, “The Eagle is not the only person in Arch. And you can be sponsored by any person of sufficiently high rank. But you have caught the attention of the Eagle. If you can continue to keep his interest then you might get an invitation.”
Broken keeps on doggedly, pounding his fist on the table for emphasis, “What’s the best you can do for me by telling me what I can do for you?”
“Well I’m sure the Eagle doesn’t tell me every single one of his desires for me to go and fulfill…”
Broken interrupted, “What’s something that he may have mentioned to you?”
SandPiper pauses a moment, “He was very impressed with your dealing with this reptilian vermin situation we have growing here. Perhaps you have heard of the Owls, you may have seen them in town during the plague.”
Meander pipes in, “Yeah! So they weren’t here because of the plague?”
“They were. They are the Eagle’s men.”
“But he can’t spare the Owls for every little thing. At some point men are going to have to take care of things for themselves. I think Baleson did well with his choice of deputies. He is another one who is able to take care of things himself.”
Meander added softly, “Yeah, well, we also took care of a little wolf problem too.”
“Oh as I hear it the wolves are still about.”
“Oh… then maybe it is bigger”
“Well, the way I hear it is the wolves are even worse still farther south of here in the lush valleys of Allshine. They say people are turning into wolves and becoming ravenous murdering creatures.”
Meander starts nodding, “Yes. We’ve met one of those.”
“And you are still alive! That says very much of you. The way I hear it is they are impossible to kill.”
“Uh, yes. I would have thought that too. They don’t take well to silver.”
“The Eagle knights are going to be deployed to deal with the situation because they are so resistant to conventional warfare. No relation to my patron, you understand.”
Red adds, “Of course.”
In the pause in the conversation, he looks over at other tables and nods at the patrons. They raise their mugs and cheer.
Ember speaks up, “So, you are basically saying your … benefactor is willing to … look into stuff for us and to allow us to continue…” He glances at the deputies at the table as if unwilling to include the others. “Essentially look stuff up for us while we continue to put out brush fires for him.”
“Couldn’t have said it better myself.”
Broken adds, “Yeah, but you still haven’t said … what things. It sounds like your saying, ‘Do what you’ve been doing and you might get an invitation.’”
“You understand me perfectly.”
“I like guarantees… I like concrete words, like do this and you shall get this in return.”
“Well, Let me just say that trying to invent things to do is probably going to get you … frowned upon, but I have…”
Broken interrupts, “I’m not saying I would try to invent a situation. I’m just saying… is there anything specific that needs to happen right now, or do I just go on my way and hope for something to happen.”
“Well, I don’t know of anything that needs doing right now.”
Ember says, “It seems to me around here that you don’t have to wait very long for things to happen.”
“That’s true. That is a very accurate assessment of Boars End.”
Ember adds, “and I’ve been in this town one day,” causing chuckles to erupt around the table. After a short pause, he continues, “I’ll take you up on your offer.”
Broken hesitantly adds, “I guess I will too.”
Ember says, “I would like to discuss it privately.”
Meander says tentatively, “Yeah… uh.. yeah.”
“Everything is in the strictest confidence. Of course I will have to tell my employer. And I’m sure he is going to have some research assistances actually do the work instead of himself. But it is all in the strictest of confidence.”
Ember says skeptically, “I would be very curious if you can find information that I want.”
“The Eagles reach is far and wide.”
Broken speaks up, “If it is the same offer you have been offering, which is go on my merry way and hope of some situation to happen, then I will gladly partake in it.”
“But you’ve already been given a question for the work you have already done.”
Meander added quietly, “I think I may have a question too.”
Ember looks at the group for a moment, then says directly, “I want as many stories about Hearthstone as you have available.”
“Hmm… Hearthstone… Who would that be?”
Ember reaches into his robes and pulls out a symbol.
“Hmm. I don’t recall a god named Hearthstone.”
“Which is why I said I’d be curious to see if you have any information that is valuable to me at all.”
“Is he one of the Elder Gods?”
“Oh.. Not many of them around. Not many of them around… That is curious.”
“Is that something your benefactor can help with?”
“Well, he does have access to many written works. Perhaps there is something, you never know.” After a brief pause, “Your symbol does remind me of a clan in the desert lands that has seen a resurgence… But of course you know that your symbol is the symbol of fire.”
“Yes, but there is more to it than just fire.”
“Oh yes, the pointy things.”
“The aspirations of the god.”
“They do seem to have those, don’t they. Aspirations…”
“In any case, that is my desire. You mention arcane, and I assume you mean archaic in this case, as opposed to those who use things for which they pay no payment for.” Ember cuts his eyes at Broken.
SandPiper replied, “Oh there is always payment. You may not know it when you pay it, but it is always there. Make no mistake about that. I have some experience in that matter,” as he strokes his mangled beard.
Ember stares him straight in the eye as he pulls the cowl of his robe back a little bit, revealing …. “So do I.”
“Oh! So maybe we are of similar ilk. But nobody guides my hand, which is probably how I end up burned so often. Maybe if I had a little help, I wouldn’t get in so much trouble.”
“Or not, my god guides mine and …”
Broken interrupts, “You probably wouldn’t get burned so much if you just knew how to talk to them.”
SandPiper questions, “To the gods?”
“No, no! Gods are unreliable, more the actual fire itself.”
Ember looks taken aback. “Excuse me!”
SandPiper chimed in, “Well, I find fire to be a fickle conversationalist. Hard to follow.”
Broken adds, “Oh but they are plenty of fun. They love to dance and sing.”
“That they do. That they do.”
“It is just hard to make the party to stop.”
Ember leans over and grabs the bottle Broken is drinking and examines it before putting it back down.
Red quips, “He bought the good stuff.”
Ember says, “Apparently…”
SandPiper chuckles at the group and responds to Ember, “I’ll look into it and if it turns out to be impossible, then… they will give you whatever leads that they have.”
Ember answers, “Understood.” He leans back with his less than adequate beers and sips them.
SandPiper has already gone through his four beers despite the constant banter with the group. He looks around at the table, as if searching for a fifth.
Red says tentatively, “Well, you can have my beers, since I’m not drinking them.”
SandPiper answers eagerly, “Don’t mind if I do, don’t mind if I do.”
Meander sits back and scratches his head for a bit, mumbling words to himself. “Arcane” and “Question” being the only real words that can picked out. He then leans forward during the lull in the conversation and says, “Well, the only thing I can think of is … a few months back I was cursed by some people and I would like to try to get more information about that.”
SandPiper says thoughtfully, “Hmmm… Indeed. Do you know who cursed you? That might help uncover the nature of it.”
“I have no idea who they are… I ran from them.”
“Ohh, You don’t know who they are?”
“Not personally. There is a camp of red robed individuals outside of town. The people who cursed me wore those same robes.”
Ember and SandPiper answer in unison, “Really.”
SandPiper continues, “Unfortunately their garb is not unique to their religion, it’s a common priestly garb for people north of here… As you can see from our friend here who I believe is not associated with them, at least the symbols on his robes don’t match up.”
Ember says, “No, they want power for powers sake. They are not willing to pay any sacrifice for it.”
“You don’t say…”
Broken mutters over his wine, “You and sacrifice…”
SandPiper glances over, “Certainly my employer hasn’t been impressed by their good works, otherwise he would’ve approached them as possible employees like yourself.”
Red asked, “Who has been impressed by their works?”
“I don’t know… That is hard to find. Of course the people who like to support other works stay in the shadows if you will, and keep themselves unknown. But I assure you, if there is something that needs dealing with, the Eagle is the man to do it.”
Ember asked looking over at Meander, “So is that why you’ve been looking at me funny?”
Meander blanched slightly and answered, “That might have something to do with it … pretty much.”
Red and Broken start laughing over some whispered snide comments.
Ember continued on, “I spent several days with them and I can assure you that my ethos doesn’t match theirs what so ever. Besides … you aren’t my type.”
Meander pales at the thought, to howls of laughter at the table.
SandPiper turns after some thought and says, “Well, there you go, Broken, if you’d like some specifics, then perhaps you could keep an eye on these guys who are sitting outside your fair town, and see what they are up to. If they are innocent missionaries then that’s fine. If they are not, then my employer would like that information.”
Broken says enthusiastically, “I just might!”
Ember says, “Well I can tell you that in my presence they summoned an elemental.”
Broken chimes in, “Ahh, they are elementalists?”
Ember continues, “and they were using it to potentially intimidate the people around the group there. It didn’t really frighten me much because it couldn’t do much to me, but they seemed to think that it was a great thing to do.”
Broken says after a short pause, “I still have to think of a question. I know a lot already, so I have to delve deep into my cavern of a mind.” which causes much rolling of eyes from the group.
SandPiper stays and chats with the group as long as there is beer available. By the time he drank his seventh, he’s pretty schnockered, despite the poor quality of the beer. Every now and then when he laughs really hard, smoke comes out of his mouth and nose.
Red finally asks his question. “I think I would want to know what happened to the Dwarves, where have they gone? I assume you have access to the actual knowledge, not just old wives tales of what happened.”
SandPiper slurred, “Oh yeah. There is a lot of Dwarven history in this area. I’m sure we got plenty of that.”
One thing SandPiper mentioned about the Elder Gods… “The place where the most Elder Gods are worships are the Misty Jungles. Very interesting place to visit if you have the means.”
Ember asked, “Where is it?”
“Far to the south past the deserts. You used to be able to take a boat there, and there are still some Imperials there, but since the Eye of Torrents came up, you have to travel there by land, which is long and dangerous.”
“I’ve already travelled two continents to get here.”
“Ahh, you are from the Vale.”
Shortly afterwards, Ember turns to Red, “So Red, you are here looking for Dwarven ruins? Is that correct?”
“I’m kind of here for the same. I’m more interested in taking a look at .. well I want to go back up there and take a look at that forge.”
Meander pipes up, “Thinking about making it a temple?”
Ember answers, “No.. No.. There may be clues to my god around that forge. He was …” He sighs with frustration. “Stories are incomplete and inconclusive, but there are things that make me believe that he was integral with their crafting.”
Red answer, “Well, I know of two Dwarven gods.”
“No, it wasn’t so much that he was the god of them, but that he was the God of Craft. I didn’t get a chance to look at the forge very closely. We were a little bit busy at the time, but I’ve actually been in another ruin and there was a lot of mention of crafting and forges and I actually if I can, I’d like to take a look at that axe that we recovered.”
“You mean the war hammer?”
“No, the King’s axe. I don’t want it, I just want to study it.”
“So would I.”
“Perhaps between the two of us, we can figure something out.”
“So what do you know of your god, maybe I know something.”
“Well… That’s the problem. Stories of my god are fragmentary. So I’m trying to recreate them.”
Meander sputters through his drink, “Your .. Um .. Uh..”
Ember turns to him and says, “Yes, Meander?”
Meander looks abashed, “You are making up a god?”
Ember says with conviction, “No, He exists. He exists and is powerful. He is vindictive sometimes when you do something wrong. And unfortunately I don’t know all the … all the stuff that’s wrong. Occasionally things get bad.”
“Like you lighting on fire?”
“No no… That’s actually worship.”
Meander looks shocked.
Ember takes the opportunity to extoll the virtues of the faith to Meander.
Good is… Life, Creation, Equality, Order, Family, Clan, Society, Center and Energy.
Evil is… Barren, Lifeless, Destructive to no end, Unbalanced, Chaotic, Divisive, Anarchistic, Unending, Cold and Void.
“He is a god of creation and family.”
“Everything has a life spark. You have a life spark. I’m not so sure about Broken…”
Broken slurs over another bottle of wine, “I spark, just give me a good looking woman.”
Ember says, “I did find some corellations though.” He pulls out a badly battered journal from his robes and flips it open to the group. “Now, these are some of the runes that I found on this one forge. I don’t suppose you read this, do you?”
Red looks curiously at the pages. “The symbol for fire is spread throughout. Well I hope that helped. Surely you can pinpoint your god now.”
Ember says sincerely, “In any case, I’m trying to find out more. I mean this has been laid before me. I’m walking down this road, but I have a partial blindfold on me.”
After more idle conversation, it becomes time to go to the party. The group excuses themselves to go to the festivities. There is plenty of eating and drinking and having fun and congratulating.
At the party, while we are enjoying the hospitality of the town, we notice at the last moment, that Broken and SandPiper had some kind of conversation. They nod to each other and then part ways, with SandPiper staggering immediately to the kegs, burping licks of fire from his alcohol laced breath.
Red goes up to Broken, putting his arm around him, “What were you talking about, little buddy?”
Broken said cautiously, “He was asking me what my question was… I was mulling it over. I don’t know if I’ve still decided. I think I might choose something along the lines of .. How can I gain power over everything, especially beautiful women, lots of money, Oh and oxdriver.”
Meander says, “WHAT!” Meander glares daggers at the small little man, obviously contemplating folding him into a pretzel.
Broken stumbles on, “But I … um .. but my judgment is impaired just slightly. I might try to discuss it with him when an actual real legitimate question tomorrow.”
Red digs in, “Your question is who actually took your 200 silver.”
Broken says animatedly, “That TOO!” He looks about for SandPiper and starts to rush over to him to the chuckles of the group.
Ember graps hold of Broken before he gets away. “I’m really concerned for you.”
Red muttered, “We all are…”
Ember continued, “Do you want 200 silver of mine, if it will make you be quiet.”
Broken interrupted, talking over Ember, “It’s not. It’s not! It the principle. I want that little bugger to pay. And I want the silver back! I swear it was a Kobold, that’s why I was set on killing every last one of those little buggers in that whole entire place. But alas, I did not find it. I mean, if you want to give me 200 silver. I’ll gladly take it…”
“But you won’t shut up about it?”
“Um, I would invest it wisely.”
So the next day, the group awakens to various stages of headaches. Ember decides to try to get some more supplies and examine the axe. He did receive some supplies from the merchant, but he can’t yet get into the High Market. He did find out that once a month, they do hold a lottery. They let nine lucky winners into the High Market, to just hang out. GavelGreed gives them spending money, because the winners are often poor people, and let them enjoy the restaurants, or stay the night at the really fancy inn, or shop at the market, or whatever they seem to want to do.
Red had planned to examine ManFeller with Ember but instead studies a spell. Red studies to learn a new spell, a shield spell. He works stone to form a small sized shield made of stone. He imbues the shield with the shield spell, creating an enchanted item.
Meander wakes up feeling wretched. He quickly seeks out Ember’s help and has to wait for him to return. After Ember performs his rituals, Meander still has quite a bit of pain in his shoulder, from the massive axe wound, but the other wounds are gone. Ember removes everyone else’s wounds completely. After getting healed, he goes back up to his room and experiments with some new abilities from the Kobold King. He tries to activate the spells in different ways until he can manage to get the powers to work. He tries concentrating and then forcing the power, to no avail. When he tries to unleash the energy with a primal roar, lightning flows around his muscles, causing him to bulk into unnatural strength.
Broken spends part of the day repairing the golem. He was able to repair most of the damage, getting the golem working as normal. There is still damage done to the golem’s chest, but it isn’t impairing it’s function. He spends the rest of the day working on some variety of magical storage device to hold power, something he referred to as a battery. He calls the new golem TorchBug. It is a golem made of fire, which holds on to a torch and acts as a torch until it moves around.
Ember examines the magical weapons. The axe is originally of Dwarven design. Someone has done some magic against it, subverting its power, causing it to do quite a bit of extra damage against humans. It would be considered black magic, or a curse. Human blood has obviously gone into the crafting of this curse. He is put off by the magic going into this item. But by studying the subverted magic item, he learns a whole lot about how Dwarven enchanted their items. It is all about created these ordered structures, that has to be there at the time of their creation, that allow you to but any kind of enchantment in there. Most of the time they just enhance their normal properties of the metal; sharper, stronger, more durable. Comparing ManFeller to Meander’s glowing axe, he can tell that they added a new element there so that it would just harness light. It was an elegant enchantment and design. Once they set up the structures to harness and focus energy, they most likely set it out in the sunlight for it to soak up light and now it just glows. It is the structures that hold that in stasis. The sacrificial dagger is not Dwarven design. The black magics that subverted ManFeller appear to be akin to the magic that was used to craft the dagger.
That night, Red hears rumors of town folk getting ready to go explore the ruins. The group discusses whether it is safe to leave the ruins as is. Ember wants to revisit the ruins to see the forge. Meander wants to see the ruins just because is wants to see the whole place. Broken wants to do some improvements to the wagon before going. He mutters something about some sort of automated defense system with animated ropes that would lash out at intruders. They decide to tackle the ruins in the morning before someone gets seriously hurt.