Escort to the Superstition Mountains
- 1 Summary
- 2 Scribe Notes
- 2.1 Session One
- 2.2 Session Two
- 2.3 Session Three
- 2.4 Session Four
- 2.5 Session Five
- 2.6 Session Six
- 2.7 Session Seven
- 2.8 Session Eight
- Pretty Flower - An Elven namer played by William Dymock.
- Grizelda - played by Jacqui - Scribe.
- Nikola - A fighter who occaisionally Earth mages, played by Bridget - Mil Sci
- Serra Angelus - Female elf earth mage played by Michael Scott - Party Leader.
- Jaundice - A fire mage played by Ellain Harper.
- Aaron - A male Human E&E played by Helen. A complete Bunny.
- Count Engalton OM (Order of Merit)
- To politely escort a Master Painter and the entourage & Groups to the Superstition Mountains Court.
- 5,000sp with the attempt and 25,000sp on success.
- Three advanced healer healing potions per person.
- Three suits of chain armour (size 6), 3 silvered weapons.
Can we please start 3 days after the guild meeting so that I can finish ranking Strength of stone? It will probably be quite handy. Nikola
Errr ain't when we start upter the man payin' us. 'corse if this painter ain't ready to go anywheres, we can just not hurry 'im any. Aaron.
We were summoned to one of the Guild Meeting Rooms on the morning of the Guild Meeting to meet with Count Engalton who was looking to employ a group of relatively inexperienced adventurers to politely escort a Master Painter and his entourage to the Superstition Mountains.
The party all recognized Count Engalton from his picture on the cover of the Seagate Times. He told us that the painter, one Master Van Donatello would be arriving in Seagate aboard the Blue Winds in a week’s time. He brought out some maps, and instructed us in the route we should take. We would follow the main road south to Regar's Keep, then continue south across the Sweet Riding, and then head south-west along the River Running until we find a ford. There we would cross and head back east aiming to head into the mountains along the Thunder River (the Snake River is to be avoided for obvious reasons).
In the meanwhile, we should organize transport and equipment. Engalton insisted that we pay for this out of the 5000sp he gave the party as a down payment (we would receive 25,000sp for successful completion. I am concerned at this.
After Engalton left, we choose Nikola as Military Scientist, being the only one of us who has studied that skill. I offered to be Scribe, and Serra Angelus was selected as Party Leader, mainly because she has more skill in being courteous than the rest. Though when it was later learned that she carried a portable still in her pack, I was given to wonder.
Next, Serra cast the Lesser Enchantments for us, and we arranged that all except Nicola would meet in the morning to organize equipage for the expedition. A Guild representative offered to arrange some practice for us on the fourth day, and this seemed like a good idea.
We rapidly discovered that 5000sp did not go far towards catering a caravan for five adventurers, one Master Painter and a dozen hangers-on. On the advise of the Guild Ostler we purchased two wagons with canvas covers, and two pairs of oxen to pull them at 300sp each with tack and spares. We then bought four riding palfreys for the party (there is not yet invented a horse that can carry a giant like me) at 860sp each with their tack. We then bought tents and groundsheets, faggots of firewood, and barrels of flour and oats and other staples. Of course, we would plan to forage and hunt on the journey, once past Retgar’s Keep. We also purchased 600sp worth of goods to trade, barrels of smoked fish, sugar, and dried fruits. It occurred to me that choosing foodstuffs as trade goods has the advantage that we can eat the trade goods if we run low on provisions.
We learn that we will be actually entering a contest against a team known as Spelder’s Men. They have 5 to 1 odds against us, mainly because we are unknown. I put down 100sp on us to win. Apparently the objective is to down the enemy’s “king” or to use the key, which our “king” would carry, to unlock the enemy’s chest and wind the horn that would be found therein. We decided that I would be our “king”, though I am not entirely sure why. As an established team, Spelder’s would defend.
Pretty Flower does some research which leads him to cast E&E counterspells as we get ready to enter the arena. Serra cast the Armours of Earth, and Nicola the Strength of Stones and we were prepared.
The arena proved to be an alley between two two-story tenement blocks. We entered and magic hits us, making Nicola slow down. Crossbows are fired at us, and I fire my big bow back before chasing after the others through the door and into the nearest tenement on the left. This had the advantage of providing hard cover against crossbow fire, but the disadvantage of fighting in confined spaces. We fought a running battle chasing them up the stairs. They jumped out of the windows, and we, having cleared this building, decided to take a short cut into the next building. Though it did take three blows for me to bash a big enough hole for the humans through the wall with my maul – and another blow to make it big enough for me. We went through and there they were. They were quickened and we weren’t. It was looking painful, especially since only Nicola and Serra could get at them. Serra took a nasty blow, but then the opposition started falling over. I decided to head in and through a door on the left. This room was empty – but I realized that I might be able to get around to a flanking position, behind the enemy, if I hammered my way through the left-hand wall of this room. This I did, followed by Pretty Flower, while Aaron backed up the others.
I entered the room, and magic impacted. I looked around and saw nobody, but then I heard movement to my right. I swung and missed… and then came to the conclusion that mister invisible mage could wait…after all, if he hit me, he would become visible and Pretty Flower could get him. So I bent over to unlock the box, and promptly got clobbered from behind. Good thing I was wearing armour or I could have been knocked out. I was stunned but only momentarily. Pretty Flower grabbed him, and keep him occupied just for long enough for me to open the box and blow the horn, winning the game.
We collected our winnings, together with the purse of 5000sp. This made me for one feel a whole lot happier. I must get some healing waters off Aqualina.
An urchin arrived at the Guild mid-morning with the message “The boat’s in”. Nicola collected us from the archery butts, and we headed for the docks. There we learned that Serra had discovered that Master Donatello has an enormous amount of equipment including an enormous painting in a very large box. It is apparent that we must get another wagon.
The ship was impressive, a massive seven-masted caravel (I had thought that the most masts on a ship was four) and so was its owner, one Matt Tumbledown. We met various members of Master Donatello’s entourage: Luigi the valet, Mario the personal chef, etc.
Serra: “What sort of animal is a rigatoni?”
After we heard that Master Donatello (a weedy-looking human) was planning to disembark that day, I ran back to the Guild to organise appropriate “visiting employer” accommodation. Over a late lunch, we broke the news to Master Donatello that we would be travelling through wilderness for much of our journey to the dwarves.
Grizelda: “It’s not a war zone, it’s a former war zone.” Luigi: “The whole Western Kingdom is a former war zone.” Aaron: “Just this bit is more recently former.”
Then we took them on a tour of the Guild. Serra showed off her flying skill. Master Donatello sketched her, and gave her the picture. One must say that he is very skilled at his craft. Mario the chef came back from the Guild kitchens describing the chef as a butcher. “The things he was doing to those onions!”
So, avoiding the dining room, Nicola and Serra took Donatello and entourage to the pub, and set about getting them all drunk, while Pretty Flower, Aaron and I went to organise more oxen, another wagon, and a camp bed for Master Donatello. Sometime that evening we acquired a fire mage – a shapechanger female named Jaundice who also has some healing skills.
The morning dawned bright and early, and though the party was ready, Donatello and his entourage were not. I think Nicola and Serra had hoped that they would be able to load them onto the wagon without waking them, but no such luck. After much argument (and the suggestion of taking a yacht on the Sweetwater) and a good half an hour, we finally got them on board. Perhaps keeping Donatello and company well liquidated is in fact the only way to survive this. At least when they are drunk, they do not argue.
That day we made only fifteen miles, and halted outside the Inn in Bolton.
Master Donatello: “We can take the second story.” Pretty Flower: “Oh, this place has many stories.”
The next argument was about the painting. Master Donatello wanted it taken up the stairs to his room. I insisted it should stay downstairs on the wagon. Not only would loading it off and back on the wagon be an unnecessary inconvenience, but I seriously doubted the stairs could take my weight, never mind the weight of giant plus encumbrance. This argument I won, mainly because without my cooperation that painting was going nowhere.
The following argument was about watches. Nicola wanted patrolling watches. Me, I figured that meant that neither of the things we were meant to be watching, Master Donatello and the painting, would be watched for most of the time. This argument I lost, because I am not wondrously skilled military scientist like Nicola.
It was all rather moot, because that evening, after supper, while I was laying my bedroll in the passenger wagon – at least it was long enough and wide enough to accommodate an eight-foot tall giant, there were no infesting insects, and it was sprung better than many beds in Inns – there was a cry of “fire” from outside. I dropped the cushions, collected my maul and my shield, and was preparing to get the animals out, when I spotted a shadowy figure sneaking around. Then, something struck me in the neck. I tried to hit the sneak, but my maul seemed to pass right through him. He forced his way into close with me, and stuck at me, so I dropped my maul, and tried to wuss-slap him but missed. He seemed he was stronger than me, which meant he had magic. He hit my armour, and then I actually succeeded in wuss-slapping him – I heard a young female human cry out “Shame on you!”. He ran in sheer humiliation, straight through the wall. As a consequence of which, I lost him.
Outside I find Serra, Nicola, Jaundice and Aaron. Jaundice had put out the fire with her magics. Nicola and Serra had been fighting another one of the shadow thieves, and Nicola was in her were-form. Which was when the town militia showed up. For some reason only known to herself, Nicola decided to mix it with the town guard, until Serra called her off. They threatened us with magistrate in the morning, for having an unlicensed wild beast.
Serra: “Nicola, get in behind.”
We find Pretty Flower hosting Master Donatello at a tavern down the road. Pretty Flower said that walking through walls was “dark bindering” which I suppose meant he thought it was Binder magic.
He then examined the dart that had been stuck in my neck, and pronounced it poisoned. Then Serra decided for reasons known only to herself to test the poison by pricking Master Donatello with the dart – he was immediately paralysed. It was a good thing that he was half drunk by this stage, and a better thing that it wore off by the morning. One had to hope that there would be no after-effects.
In the morning we prepared to drive out. Serra almost did it again, waving the dart under Donatello’s nose. The magistrate came around in the morning and presented Serra with a 300sp fine. Serra gave it to me and said to forward it to Count Engalton. I was annoyed that the magistrate seemed not to see that putting out the fire might be worth something – say waiving the fine.
As we left the town, we met the Guard captain. He said that he was pleased to see that we were going, and when asked said that they had had a series of burglaries, committed by the Seine brothers. For whom they had no address.
Day Eight (cont)
At lunch we talked to Marco. We learned that convincing Master Painter Donatello to be sensible was never an easy task. We also discover that the painting depicts Count Engalton. Pretty Flower insists that it must be manifestation of Count Engalton’s ego. The thieves clearly see it as valuable, however.
Grizelda: “It’s loot? It is a painting of Count Engalton. That does not qualify as loot.”
According to Marco, the best method would be to appeal to Donatello’s muse. *Sigh*… Serra cast defence spells and I made her a restorative.
Nicola, Serra and Jaundice went to find a herbalist, while the rest of us remained at the Inn. Apparently the aim was to obtain ingredients for a tea to feed to Master Donatello and make him more docile. I do not think this is a good idea.
We arrived at Southgate by evening, and Pretty Flower attempted to convince Master Donatello that we must sleep outside the town to test the camping equipment. In particular, Nicola has a magical bed, that would wake a person some minutes before they are to be disturbed. He was failing miserably, until I pointed out what a pleasant and inspiring spot it was, beside the river, in the setting sun. That did it, and as the others set up camp, I helped Luigi cook a most excellent dinner. I would learn much from him, I knew it.
Nicola and Jaundice were on watch when the bed woke Master Donatello. A good thing, but they took almost too long to waken the rest of us. I picked up my crossbow and looked around. Then, I spotted a boat on the river, a dinghy, with three persons in it. Serra said they were wearing black armour – which can only be suspicious. Since we had been alerted, they were rowing away rapidly. Jaundice set fire to their boat. Dash fired a bolt. I loaded my crossbow.
As Jaundice fired again, I loosed my crossbow, and the already charred and weakened stern of the boat disintegrated. The boat floundered and shortly afterwards began to sink. Serra drew an illusory squid out of a sack and sent it after them. But it found nothing.
In the morning Master Donatello had Jaundice stand by the river casting fire bolts until she tired and could cast no more, which angered him unreasonably.
Jaundice: “Don’t you have a camera?” Grizelda: “What is a camera?” Pretty Flower: “A device for recording images.” Grizelda: “Oh, an illusionist!”
Then I went shopping with Master Chef Luigi which was also most educational. Mid-morning, after breakfast and packing camp, we headed down to the ferry, loaded up, and crossed the river.
By mid-afternoon, we arrived at Regar's Keep. We spoke to the Sergeant at the Gates, and told him that we had been sent by Count Engalton. He arranged for us to speak to Captain Montgomery, to the Lieutenant in charge of the scouts, and to persons who had previously visited the Superstition Mountains.
The Captain told us to watch out for deserters, and for goblins. We learned that there are bridges across the River Running which may still be usable. The road however, was in disrepair. They had lost contact with the dwarves when the Dark Circle came this way and the dwarves barricaded themselves in. There were now few patrols because the armies had moved out, and south in Brastor and Novadom. Consequently the fort was now comparatively undermanned. There were scattered undead about, but not enough to be a problem for the soldiers. He gave us a package to take to the dwarves. We also got descriptions of the roads, doors and gates of the dwarven kingdom. I was wishing I had studied Dwarvish better.
As we were preparing to make an early start, straight after breakfast, the Captain greeted us, and tells us he will be sending out a mounted patrol to accompany us part of the way. Then we realised we had forgotten to pack Master Donatello, and had to persuade him, and his entourage, to get moving on the general basis that the better use we made of the daylight the fewer days it would take us to get there, and the less privation they would suffer.
Master Donatello: The sun will rise again tomorrow. Pretty Flower: It will? But we haven’t sacrificed our human.
We finished loading, and headed into the foothills. The horse patrol soon caught up, and rode with us until lunchtime. Nicola thought she spotted something on the ridge line a bit later. Later that afternoon, Serra confirmed the sighting with certainty – a humanoid sitting unseen up on the hill. Nicola and I scouted the area, and found a pair of goblins spying on the party from a hollow. Nicola hit hers with her sword and it died, while I came up behind mine, and slapped it, planning to capture it. It fainted. I tied it up, and took it down the hill to the party while Nicola picked up the pieces of her victim and brought them.
On reaching the party, I turned mine upside-down and shook it. Some coins and two bones fell out. Pretty Flower said both were magical, one with smiting, and the other concealment. It could not speak common, and none of the party could speak goblin. Then it spat at me, and I had had enough. I quickly dispatched it, and we concealed both bodies under some rubble. Pretty Flower sat on one of the wagons and divinated the smiting bone. It had one charge of Rank 8 smite.
At evening we came to a clearing where the patrol had made camp. We told them about the goblins, and they seemed to think this was typical. Master Donatello decided he wanted to go climb a hill and paint the sunset. It ended up with the subjects being Aaron and I, with him “slaying” me, a position I found more than a little uncomfortable. It was after sunset when we went down. Clouds were gathering, and it began to rain that night, after dinner. Fortunately the rain must have kept the goblins away, but they were out there, Grizelda sure of it.
In the morning, the Sergeant told us that he would be cutting the patrol from five days to three days, on account of the rain. We spotted more goblin movement on the trail that day, and conceived a plan to capture one, have Aaron study it, and then release it, so he could use his locate spell to help us find the goblin camp. We camped at sunset. It was wet. Jaundice tried to warm us up with an increase temperature spell, but backfired the spell, and was tormented by firebugs. Not to be outdone, Serra also backfired and was tormented by worms.
We did not get a good sleep because the nasty goblins threw stones at the tents intermittently all night.
It was still raining next day, and the trail was muddy. Casting strength of stone on the oxen proved to be an excellent plan. Midmorning we saw a single, very nervous, goblin standing on the middle of the trail. Unseen, I snuck up on it, and yelled, “BOO!” It fainted, dropping a message scroll. As I picked up the scroll and took it back to the party, it woke up and ran off. The message read, “Give up the contents of the large box and we will leave you alone.”
Following this, I began to scout along the ridge line and soon found another goblin nest. I tossed rocks at them, killing one and sending the other running off.
About midday we came out of the foothills, onto the Sea of Grass, and halted for lunch. As evening approached, we stopped for the night, and while the party set up camp, I went hunting with a bag of rocks, and came back with a couple of brace of rabbits for Luigi to cook. As we were preparing the dinner, a swarm of worms came up out of the ground – unusually fat worms. The elf ate some of them. Serra summoned up a small army of hedgehogs to eat the rest.
Aaron: “We fortified the camp with hedgehogs!” Pretty Flower: “Hedgehogs – ambulatory caltrops!”
We were disturbed by Serra, in the night. There were goblins out there. I looked and she was right, there were a LOT of goblins out there. They fired arrows at us, but with little result. A single goblin approached us, and Jaundice fire bolted it. It must have resisted, because it ran off, dropping a scroll. I went unseen and retrieved it. It said: “Give us the box and we won’t harm you.”
We sent back: “We are from the Seagate Guild. Go away and we won’t harm you.”
Day Twelve (cont)
We gathered together between, behind and under the two wagons. The goblin drums started up, and another goblin approached with a verbal challenge in Common. It called itself Glep Wurtt the Eye-Biter, and again demanded the painting, threatening us with something called “doom-riders”. Well, we weren’t going to take this… I let him ramble on for a while, as I prepared a couple of restoratives for Jaundice, but it all got the better of me and I began to laugh madly.
There was a sudden flash and Jaundice was brightly outlined. In the distance, I could see strange insectoid forms. As they came closer, I could see that they were mechanical flying devices, each carrying a load of goblins. The first flew across the camp out of control as Serra shot the pilot with an earth hammer. The second crashed and splintered, ploughing into a wagon as my maul clobbered its cockpit. I laughed louder. The third fell short and disintegrated on impact. Jaundice breathed a cloud of fire on the stunned goblins, crisping them. Next came in some out-sized ballista bolts ridden by goblins. Given that the goblins in question seemed unlikely to survive any impact, the epithet “doom-rider” seemed to fit. Two missed completely, but the third nearly hit me, only I fended it off with my shield. It went under the wagon, just avoiding Pretty Flower, who was hiding under there, and hit the far wheel. Another came roaring through and almost hit me in the rear.
Then the goblin horde came charging in, literally dozens of them. I threw my powerstone at one cluster and it exploded at the feet of a goblin, (not the one I was aiming at), and those goblins scarpered. They charge on in, and one of those insectoid things picks up Pretty Flower and dropped him some feet in front of me. Another crashed into the side of the other wagon, spilling stunned goblins everywhere.
I stepped forward to back up Pretty Flower, and started swinging my maul at goblins. Jaundice made a fiery explosion behind me, and a bunch of goblins blew up. I used my maul like a mallet, and swung through another goblin, crushing his skull, but the next one ducked. Something screamed above me, flew across and crashed into the flank. There was another boom, and more gobbos disintegrated in a ball of flame. More goblins attempted to press in on me, and the fourth succeeded. Yet another explosion… I wuss-slapped the goblin that had closed with me and, while fending the others off, I finally got into position to help Pretty Flower, who had taken a severe abdominal injury.
The fire mage aimed another enormous fireball at the approaching goblin catapult, and it exploded, sending great gouts of mud all over the goblins to the left. Pretty Flower finished off the gobbos on him, and I regained my mace and shield, as more closed in. Further out I could see a pack of worg-riders closing in, only to be fried by the fire mage. I swung my maul and knocked out three goblins in a row. Behind us Serra, Nicole and Aaron were busy defending the wagons against still more gobbos coming up from the rear. In the melee a stray goblin struck Master Donatello, but he was not badly damaged. Somewhere back there were a band of elite goblins, covered in weird glowing green slime.
BOOM! The fire mage went off again, and I stepped back to whack a goblin which had crawled out from beneath the left-hand wagon, and noticed that the rear axle had collapsed. BOOM! Jaundice fired again and I cleared two of the goblins off Pretty Flower only to have three more step into the gap. Two come up behind me, and I swung around to hit them, but missed. Jaundice climbed up on the wagon and went BOOM in the middle of the camp, clearing away most of the elite goblins, and Serra and Nicola finished them off. Another goblin flew to my maul, and then it nearly slipped out of my fingers. Pretty Flower dropped, and Aaron got a healing potion to him, just as the last of the goblins ran off…. And finally the scene was clear, except for piles and heaps of dead goblins and smashed wreckage.
I did not get much more sleep that night, as we sifted bodies for useful items, and heaped the rest into a pile. There were not so many as I expected. It seemed that goblins are remarkably good at playing dead. I settled the unhappy oxen. Serra helped Pretty Flower, though she could not fully heal him. He divinated the things that were magical. The most impressive were two pairs of daggers that would quicken the holder and four companions when both were wielded. Luigi was not so impressed, because they need much cleaning and sharpening. There were some investeds and no less than fifteen blood-flavoured healing potions. I hate to think…
Day Twelve (cont)
I did not get much more sleep that night, as we sifted bodies for useful items, and heaped the rest into a pile. There were not so many as I expected. It seemed that goblins are remarkably good at playing dead. I settled the unhappy oxen. Serra helped Pretty Flower, though she could not fully heal him. He divinated the things that were magical. The most impressive were a pair of daggers that would quicken the holder and four companions when both were wielded. Luigi was not so impressed, because they need much cleaning and sharpening.
Next morning, just after dawn, I was patrolling the camp when I saw an army of short folk approaching. To my relief, they were Dwarves, and I hailed them in my rather limited Dwarven. They responded and as I expected they proved to be honourable, and most helpful. We switched to the Common Tongue, and their leader, one named Tharok, explained that they had come from the Dwarven Halls under the Superstition Mountains. The need for the Iron Alliance was no more, and so he and his people were returning home and would take ship north from Seagate. They had seen the flashes of fire in the distance, and had marched to the battle. They seemed a little disappointed that it was all over, but were ready to help us. Their mechanicians fixed out wagons, and their healer, after some discussion, fixed our elf. They also mended his armour.
Grizelda (wielder of giant maul): I am not stupid and I am not deaf. Dwarf: No, you’ve just got a very blunt axe.
Next day we take our leave of the dwarves, who offer to tell the Captain at the Keep of our status. After very little discussion, we decided to follow the dwarves’ back-trail, although it was not the route we had been recommended earlier. After all, it would be very hard to miss, and any place an army of two hundred could cross the river, our wagons should be able to cross too. The rest of that day and that night passed uneventfully. Perhaps by changing out path we have confused the persons who seek the painting.
Around mid-afternoon, we saw four horsemen coming towards us. I snuck forward unseen. They were all human, armed with crossbows, and it was evident they could see me, so I headed back and warned the party. They approached and explained themselves. The leader announced himself as Splendogenous Unbound, the Alchemist of Drakenburg, and informs us that he is looking for Snaggletooth Hounds, required the head of one for his experiments. These were described as very large hounds with out-sized heads and big teeth. When I asked how we should contact him if we should find one, he hands me his card. Eric offered him tea, and we ended up setting up camp together a short distance away for the night.
In the morning we went our separate ways. They promised to inform the Captain at Retgar’s Keep of our location and heading.
In the early afternoon we finally reached the River Running, and the ford is quite plain to see, and obviously improved by dwarven activity. I checked it out, and it was but knee-deep on me. The wagons should have no trouble, and so it was. After we crossed, Serra headed upstream and refilled the water barrels, then gathered dead wood to replace the faggots. Me, I caught fish for dinner, and gathered some herbs and the like. Master Luigi was pleased. Evening comes, and the shapeshifters are uneasy. But nothing happened that night. Except that Serra summoned a rabbit, which was terrified.
We travelled on, and they were still edgy. Apparently there was something doggy around and they were in its territory. That evening after dark, I decided to play a hunch. After warning the party, and getting everyone thoroughly prepared with defense spells, quickness and the like, I cast summon enchanted creature, targeting Snaggletooth Hounds. After a few minutes of waiting, we saw movement. And then they came for us…. I was only expecting one, because I have not yet improved that spell. The first leapt in, and with a lucky blow, it clawed me. The second leapt on Nicola and the third on Serra, and the combat was on. Two more headed in as the fire mage exploded the one I had been fighting. The one behind it pounced, and its claw tore open my arm, and then it bit me in the ribs and something exploded inside. I fell unconscious, only to wake up a little later with Serra healing me. She bound up my wounded chest, but fixing it was beyond her powers. It hurt.
It turned out that these things have explosive teeth. Supposing that they would be what the alchemist wanted, I asked Pretty Flower to check if the card was magical and so it was. He divinated it and said it was a calling card. So we used it.
In the morning, Nicola suggested that we remain for the day, and see if the Master Splendogenous turned up. I spent half the day posing for Master Donatello with a dead Snaggletooth that had a glamour of fire in its mouth, and the other half setting fish traps and gathering herbs. In the evening the shapeshifters went hunting, but returned with nothing save a tale of a Snaggletooth sighting.
Pretty Flower: We are in the process of tasting the beer…. This is the anticipatory phase….
Next morning we packed up the camp and went on our way. After about an hour, four horsemen came riding up behind us. It was the alchemist, and he was most impressed to see that we had captured no less than four snaggletooth skulls. He agreed to a special potion for each of us plus one for Master Donatello in return for the teeth. We could keep the skulls. I am sure somebody will like them. We made tea while Master Splendogenous extracted the teeth, and used Serra’s still to make potions.
The alchemist demonstrated the puissance of the teeth by putting one in a tree knot, and having us stand well back while we threw rocks at it. It went BOOM! And the tree fell over. I cringed.
His potion made me feel much better.
We traveled on. Around lunchtime we saw a giant-sized helmet running on short legs towards us. It came to a halt, and moments later four really big ballista bolts hammered into the ground nearby. We extracted the dwarf from the helmet.
“About to test-fire and it might be dangerous on the road,” he said.
He said it should be safe for a while and agreed to guide us. Shortly afterwards it became apparent that something was wrong with Serra’s arm…. It was missing…. It was invisible. Then, she started turning strange colours. Then, her hair began to glow. She turned a delicate shade of puce. Finally we realised what had happened. Serra had forgotten to clean out her still after the alchemist had used it, and had drunk from it. Finally, she turned into a winged snake, a naga. Still puce. The dwarf was hiding.
Grizelda: There are some things you’re just not supposed to do.
Serra managed to launch herself – somewhat drunkenly – into the air, forgetting that there were dwarves up there testing a giant quadruple ballista. Bolts came whistling down, and nailed two of the wagons. In a fit of experimentation, I cast decay on the bolts and it worked. They rotted – and I had to quickly remove them before it spread to the wood of the carts.
Pretty Flower: “Thank you Grizelda, you have summoned fungus.”
Serra reflected that she might like to eat her horse. I did not know that nagas ate horseflesh.
As we made our way up the hill, we saw two huge gates in the side of the mountain. In front of this was an impressively large siege engine, quivering. The crew were shouting about losing control of the elemental, and then it let loose. Fortunately all four bolts went over our heads. We were then escorted into the mountain. They were keen on merchants, and after all, we did have trade goods. They were not at all keen on Serra the Naga, but when we explained that her condition was the result of a magical accident, they let her in. We put the wagons, oxen and horses in the stables, and the dwarves led us to an Inn.
We all had beer, except Nicola who insisted on tea, so I asked for boiling water and added some herbs. Master Donatello complained that it had been weeks since we had last slept in an Inn, but in fact it was only eight days since we left Retgar’s Keep. After the third round, a runner came in, to take us to Chief Galtrik. We were led to a waiting room and shown the best chairs. I excused myself to go and fetch the present, since it looked like there were no chairs big enough for me, and returned just as they were heading in.
Nicola explained to the chief what we were doing. The chief was unimpressed with everything except the talk of resuming trade, and most unimpressed with the painting, the painter, and very much with the idea of being painted himself. Once we got the painting out of its box it was plainly of Count Engalton, and Pretty Flower said that it had communication magic on it. Apparently one could use the painting to talk to Count Engalton.
Serra, making use of her Rank 6 Courtier Skill: “There you go, Chief, do you want it to be of your arse or of your face?”
Serra started to turn back as we talked with the chief, beginning with the reappearance of her legs. Then, they took us to see a dwarven communication device called a “loud hailer”. Which turned out to be a really large mechanical device incorporating a big drum, operated by a rather deaf dwarf.
We retreated to the Inn, and discussed the exchange of trade goods with interested parties, resulting in the exchange of dried fruits, sugar and smoked fish for dwarven made tools, hammers, chisels, nails and the like. We realised we needed to stay for a few days, so we got hot baths, which was very nice, and rooms.
When we handed over the communiqué from the captain they chuckled and said that if the humans would get rid of the goblins, then so would the dwarves.
After breakfast, one of the dwarves approached us about the wagons, asking about the damage. When we pointed out that it was the result of dwarven ballista bolts on the approach roads, they agreed to take them for the price we had paid. Another gave us a letter to return to Retgar’s Keep. We discussed the goblins and their siege weapons. The dwarves were pleased and fascinated by the drawings Master Donatello had made.
Later that morning I was in my room, when there was a disturbance of loud screaming. I picked up my maul and my shield, and then opened the door to the screaming. There was Nicola, nearly naked, being pursued by a watery creature. I stepped into the room and saw a fiery creature beyond, before walloping the watery creature very hard. It trembled, but did not fall, as a wall of fire appeared behind it . Behind me the little fire mage, Dash, tried to cast, but fell over asleep with smoke coming out of his ears. Nicola came back with her sword and finished off the water creature, and then the room filled with nasty dense smoke, so I yelled at the others to back off. I found the little fire mage by tripping over him. There was the odour of scorched flesh, and another scream as the fire creature got between Nicola and the door, trapping her, and burning her. So Serra and I both hit it, and then she hit it a second time, killing it.
There was a tramping and a band of dwarves arrived. I stood on Dash again as I backed out of the way. More smoke came out and he woke up. The dwarves began to explain that the elementals had got loose, and that it didn’t happen very often. When I said that I thought dwarves did not like magic, one said “Are you saying dwarves are not good at magic?” just as another tried to cast – but back-fired and fell over, fast asleep.
After lunch, they took us down to the river, where a strange boat made of steel awaited us. Boarding it involved a strange and amazing mechanical device, with a spherical device to carry one out to the boat. I still do not understand why they had wind it up so much for me that it took two rounds to get me on board, but Grizelda is no mechanician. The boat was very stable until it started moving forward with a odd jerking motion, but it got us safely back to the Guild in just two days.
Count Engalton was most pleased with us, that we hadn’t annoyed the dwarves much, and we hadn’t either lost Master Donatello, killed him, or got him killed. He gave us 35,000sp, and also 1500sp for the dwarven tools we had traded for, for fixing in Novadom. In addition, he offered his services as Healer should we need them.