Game 2, 2/11/11
Nightal 8, 1230cc, Year of the Lightning Storms
The menacing threats of the elves the night before result in restless sleep for most of the caravan travelers. There is nervous chatter to be heard from all wagons as the men discuss the implications of the elven warning.
Additional spoiled rations are found amongst the morning food, giving rise to questions about whether there is a curse affecting the party. Ethran assures the group that a curse is unlikely and explains that it’s more believable that the vendor sold them rations on the edge of spoiling in the first place. All the same, the group is unsure exactly what the odds are that the expiring rations would have all been packed systematically into the middle top of the supply…
Ethran purifies the food supply for the men and seems to put to rest discussion of a curse. A few question arise in this deepest part of the wood about why things seem to be taking so long, but Ethran and Xandos calculate (from previous experience on this route) that this particular caravan is simply slow. The remaining days on the road are uneasy amongst most of the group though nothing further out of the ordinary occurs.
On the 13th day of the caravan’s journey from Elbulder north, the group emerges from the Chondalwood around noon. The morning was wet and muddy as it began raining near sun up and the men of the caravan resist Lhesym’s ideas of stopping in town, insisting they carry on the last 30 miles to Shamph in order to be done. Lhesym settles with the party, who ride into the simple little town of 500 or so looking for an inn.
They locate a small, dark place called the Black Eye just off the central caravan hostel. The innkeeper is a heavy, greasy, middle-aged woman who seems none too much the charmer. After stabling their horses, they find they have the taproom to themselves for most of the day. They spend the remainder sipping ales, talking and finally being fed some freshly-made chicken stew.
The party saddles up and begins what seems like a lightning-fast return trip to Elbulder. No longer plodding along with a wagon train and walking soldiers, they cover vastly more ground in their first day.
During the first night back on the road, those who keep watch through the night take note of Cecil’s several nightmare outbursts. He never seems to wake up, but he is clearly agitated during his sleep.
The second day of travel goes nearly as quickly with fair weather and light breezes. The group expects to nearly be out of the Chondalwood by the end of the day.
As the day winds down, there is a smell of something dead in the air hanging in the forest. Originally noting that this was the general area they’d located the suspicious nets in the trees, the group edges into the woods to investigate. Almost immediately they stumble across one of the members of the serpent cult they’d encountered previously.
After additional examination, they note the size and shape of the wounds on the various cult members and determine they were likely made by the peculiar large wooden morning stars the wild elves had carried. Eventually they locate all nine of the cult members, who appear to have been killed somewhere locally and dragged or tossed into the woods, just off the road.
Xandos checks the leader and finds that the gold he’d given him is still on his person, giving rise to many questions about the killing of these unarmed people. When Cecil recovered the gold to donate to the temple, he also located a simple, blood-spattered set of directions. The instructions seemed to indicate the group was to seek out a man in a green house in Rannar Ford, the southernmost town of Sespech where Ethran’s family has holdings. After some consideration, Ethran feels he knew the house and possibly the man mentioned in the note.
Awaking early and getting underway, the party plans to ride hard and reach Elbulder. They pass Enil’s Pond in early afternoon and begin to pass the farms outlying the town.
Just before sunset, the party nears town. Looking east along the River Arran they group notes a huge purple and yellow tent, apparently of Cali****e make. This new structure is set up some 250 yards or so from the North Gate and is remarkable mostly for how out of place it is and the size of it (apparently about 100 feet long by 60 or so wide.)
The group enters town and disperses to their various residences.
Xandos stables his horse and returns to the Old Road Inn where he is due five days stay yet. However, as soon as he arrives, the owner, Tepis counts out his 15 silvers and returns them to him. He firmly puts Xandos out of the inn explaining that when he went to clean up his room, he found a scroll with obvious notes on “magical processes.” In no uncertain terms Tepis tells him that he’ll suffer no wizards under his roof. Xandos points out he only wears two inked dots on his forehead, not the three of magic-users but Tepis is unmoved.
Xandos suspects this is the handiwork of Mehmud, and sets out to find an inn where he can stay the night. He settles into the tiny Bent Buckle Inn located just off Sevenstones Park and nearly next door to Windride Wheelwright where Ethran stays.
Ethran drops his things at the room above the wheelwright workshop and goes to talk to Fasrus at his home about the elven threat. When Fasrus greets him at the door, he sees that Fasrus is injured, his arm in a sling and his face looking bruises.
Fasrus explains that in the days since the group’s departure, two men came around and began encouraging the sellers and services around Sevenstones Park to form a guild. They extolled the advantages of price fixing together, especially for a group of businesses located so centrally to the caravan trade. He thanked them and passed on the opportunity. A few days later Mordenar, the wheelwright across the park, came to see him. He encouraged him to join as well, saying that without full membership the guild was almost worthless to them all. Fasrus offered to Ethran that as Mordenar was the inferior craftsman of the competing wheelwrights, he had the most to gain from the guild. Fasrus refused again and sent him away.
The next night he was apparently followed home and jumped in the dark of the new moon. He never saw his attackers but is sure there were at least two of them. He did manage to make it home but couldn’t work the next two days. On the second of those two days, the priest at the shrine of Helm (Azred) noticed and hunted him down. He offered him healing spells to improve his condition and encouraged Fasrus to attend the town meeting with the baron’s minister the following day (the 15th.) He did so, heard a few other complaints about veiled threats, but his was the only attack.
The Sevenstones Merchants Guild mouthpiece denied any involvement. That spokesman appears to be Eman, a Cali****e glass blower and investor whose small shop is on the Park. As there is no law against forming a guild, there was recourse. All the same, the mayor assured Fasrus he would look into it. With no way to tie the attack to the guild, Fasrus went home to rest another day and consider what his next move would be.
After some discussion about his own events of the past month, Fasrus returns to the shop to sleep.
Cecil returns to the shrine of Helm. Azred informs Cecil about the upstart guild, about Fasrus being attacked and his efforts to heal him. He then brings him up to date on a series of strange dreams he’s had of late about shimmering blue curtains of light and other strange things. He warns that something is coming, something big which will affect all of them. Azred then tells Cecil to be watchful, to be persistent in following the Unsleeping Guardian’s doctrine and be vigilant about all things around him. He feels sure that Cecil has a special role to play in the events ahead and hints again at something going on in a “bigger picture” way.
Ethran throws open the doors of the Windride Wheelwright and sets up shot like any other day, hoping to invite those who have troubled Fasrus to come calling.
Early in the morning, Xandos comes by and visits Ethran, filling him in on his current sleeping arrangements. They surmise that perhaps Mehmud is behind the entire situation at hand, and after some note comparisons and conversation, they realize that Eman (the public face so far of the Sevenstones Merchants’ Guild) was the very same man they saw Mehmud having lunch with. Confident they are in this together for some time, Ethran offers to make space in the upstairs sleeping room. Xandos accepts and moves his stuff in, whereupon they situate themselves by the open doors looking out onto Sevenstones.
Before long, they are visited by a peculiar figure. A gnome who appears to have gotten too much sun steps up to talk to them. He wears a tacky costume of purple and yellow, a puffy-sleeved affair that makes him look even more ridiculous. When he removes his hat to talk, they notice his ears are pointed, something neither can recall ever actually seeing on a gnome.,,
The fellow introduces himself as Grevian and explains he is looking for a woodlands guide who could fetch mushrooms for tea. He is trying to procure Far Cloud mushrooms that grow along the river banks in the Chondalwood to the east, some 35 or so miles away. Ethran agrees that he will undertake the task and Grevian requests he deliver them to the large purple tent on the north shore of the River Arran.
Cecil gets back into his usual groove of maintaining the shrine of Helm. After a chore-filled day and putting things back in order, Cecil settles into his room above the old stables behind the shrine. He begins to dream strange dreams, one that ends with a dream of two men at the bottom of his loft ladder. He awakens and goes to investigate, just as dark-dressed men throw open the trap door. He manages to cross the room and retrieve his long sword, and a second later he is fighting for his life in the darkened room against the two would-be assassins.
Things do not go well for Cecil, and at one point he must pause to lay hands on himself to stifle the wounds. Just as the two men seem close to bringing Cecil low, Azred bursts through the trap door to assist. A few moments later they have defeated the men and Azred uses prayers from Helm to heal all of Cecil’s wounds.