The Great Game, Harvester 13-14, 596CY (Day 1-2)
Having found themselves on a road leading towards a much larger town than that the group had visited so far in the Lorridges, a personnel change was needed. Zeke was removed from the giant bag of holding, took stock of the situation and strode right towards town, the rest of the party in tow.
Before reaching the town proper, the party stopped at a stone archway that straddled the road. Two statues of men in armor with swords were on either side of the road, carved as part of the arch. No words were on the arch. Killian used her magical ‘seeing stone’ to determine if anything was different, but all seemed as it should be. Zeke strode right through it, noticing rusted gates open under the arch. As nothing strange happened, the rest of the party followed, minus Morton who chose to walk around the arch. Regardless, all found themselves on a roadway of darker stones, surrounded by a thick, old growth forest. The canopy was so thick little of the sky could be seen. Behind them, the arch still stood, framed by the forest. The road continued on to the town they had seen earlier, though everything seemed a little less light. Killian used the seeing stone again, only to see everything even darker than the rest of the group.
Getting to the town, Zeke knocked on a window of the first building approached, which had scratch marks at about a 4’ high mark to ground level all around it. A pane fell from the window he knocked on, showing the building to be abandoned. Most of the structures of the town were made of the same material, with the same roofing tiles used. Many of the buildings were extremely close to each other and all showed the same type of damage, whether they seemed abandoned or not. A quick scan gave way to finding the central tavern or inn, which had smoke from a chimney and people seen through the windows. Zeke knocked at a window, drawing the attention of the few men inside, including the tavern keeper. With questions going unanswered, Zeke broke a window. The tavern keeper seemed unfazed, including when Zeke tossed in a pair of gold coins which went untouched.
The group entered the tavern, with only Zeke, Morton, Zebediah Obadiah, Fezgil and Nadrine visible (all others still being under an invisibility spell). Morton questioned the taciturn tavern keeper, then three dark-haired men in wildly colorful clothes. Words used by Morton were unknown to the men, who spoke an unknown language as well as the Common Tongue. No one in the tavern knew of a “Lord Staad”, telling the party that the town’s name was Pottsylvania and their lord was Baron Zaro. They explained that the town has had a terrible wolf attack problem, driving off most of the townsfolk. Questions about religious beliefs had none of the gods of Oerth known, though the leader of the three men offered to take the group to their local priest, for a price. When given coins that he didn’t recognize, Zeke grabbed them and pounded them flat with his hammer. The man still showed the group to the priest. Fezgil left his horse at the tavern to be stabled.
“I think we should try and not kill as many people as possible” ~ Nadrine of Talmanulbut (undated)
As the group was led through Pottsylvania, they saw more damage and abandoned buildings, and a central tower structure of about 5 stories. The temple was on the outskirts of the town itself, showing quite a bit of exterior damage and doors open. The guide refused to join the group inside, causing some flowery comments and insults to be traded until he left. Inside the temple, more destruction was found. Few pews were still whole, most being broken into small pieces. The altar area was similarly in disarray and a symbol of scales was burned into the wall behind where the altar would be. Most of the windows were closed. Calls for the priest went unheeded for a short time, until he emerged from behind a door off its hinges. The priest looked no better than his church. He was in a dirty smock, hair unwashed and uncombed, eyes red and baggy. He carried a jug of brown liquid. Immediate questions given to the priest allowed the party to learn he was a little off his nut; sentences went unfinished, he couldn’t remember everything clearly and drank often from the jug. Some of the party that was invisible peppered the priest with questions, which he didn’t think was all that strange – he thought “the voices” were back to vex him.
“If you’re cold, just run around the room.” ~ Golbagai to Morton, undated
Eventually it was learned that the priest’s name was Darrovick and he was a follower of Luvia, the Blind God. Unfortunately, he couldn’t recall if Luvia was male or female, though he was sure she or he was the god of healing and justice. Or something. He claimed to understand that the party was not from an area near Pottsylvania and that he’d soon be digging new holes for their bodies, a frequent job for him. Darrovick explained that “they” come at night and that if he didn’t continue to protect the church, it would all end. The group stayed in the church through the day and watched Darrovick close the church up tight, barring and chaining the front doors and locking all the windows. He then offered a jug of his “keeping up juice” to Morton, stood at the doors and began chanting prayers to his god. When he was done, he curled up where he stood and fell asleep.
When the first wolf howled in the town, Darrovick awoke with a start and told the group to expect the worst. Scratches and howls were heard all around the exterior of the church. A voice calling to the priest to open the door and let her in came next, attracting answers from both Darrovick and the some of the group. This continued on, with some wanting to let her in and Darrovick begging them not to do so. When Zeke asked if she was a vampire, Darrovick explained that that was a strange way to say ‘wampyre’. Zeke punched the priest in the twig and berries in anger, dropping poor Darrovick to the floor. The front doors were banged hard from the outside, prompting Morton to Ice Wall them to barricade the church better. The noises continued around the church well into the night but no more attempts to get in were made.
In the morning, Killian is able to track the creatures, seemingly all wolves, from around the church to the edge of the forest. Choosing to continue into the impressively dense woodland, it’s a slow trek for everyone. Howls of wolves are heard in the distance after less than an hour into the wood. Fezgil casts Fly on himself and shoots up through the canopy for a vantage point. He gets a good view of Pottsylvania but sees no clearing deeper into the forest. He is able to see a wide stream to the West, from his much more Eastern point. The group has not gotten far from the forest edge, and he relays all this to the rest of the party. They choose to return to town and explore the tower in the center.
At the tower building, the main door is locked but that doesn’t keep Golbagai from tearing off the hinges to get in. An abandoned first floor structure shows switchback stairs leading into the tower, where a bell used to be. Nothing else is in the building and holds no further interest, so the group follows Morton back to the tavern. Inside, only one patron sits at a table, with the tender cleaning. More questions are posed to the tavern keeper, who is only slightly more helpful than the day prior. Fezgil asks about his horse, for which he gets a sealed document from the keeper. The seal is that of a bat and the parchment is handwritten to the “owner of the horse”, inviting him and his companions to the castle of Baron Zaro. If he chooses not to take the invite, a rectangular piece of metal with a face on one side and the symbol of a bat on the other was left in payment for the horse.
The group discusses their options, learning that the castle of the Baron is high in the mountains, roughly a two day walk from the town. Choosing to take the invite, the lone patron in the tavern speaks up, saying he’s the Baron’s servant and that he has a carriage waiting if Fezgil and his friends wish to be driven there. Reluctantly accepting, the servant leaves to retrieve the carriage while the party discuss their plans, not trusting anything that might be happening. Morton is highly suspicious, as are most of the others, though Fezgil is interested in seeing the whole thing through, if just for the knowledge gained.
The servant and a massive, ornate coach drawn by eight huge, black horses arrives outside the tavern. Two men sit in the driver’s seat, both holding reigns to the team. The servant opens a door to the coach, showing a beautiful, cushy interior that can hold the entire party. Nadrine finds a moment to cast Detect Evil and exclaims aloud that almost everything she’s seeing is evil, including the horses! Zeke immediately attacks the servant with a dagger, wanting to put an end to eeeeeeevil. Members of the party are confused by this and try to stop Zeke. Golbagai hits him and tries to restrain him with Killian’s aid as Zeke continues to assault the servant, who is appalled at the attack! Morton is able to blind the man as he defends himself against Zeke’s continued stabbing, Golbagai still attempts to stop Zeke and Riko steps in to give aid… to Zeke. The carriage drivers try to leave the scene and Hannah attacks, striking a driver as they move. Nadrine tries to Command the carriage drivers to stop. The servant is put down quickly by Riko and the carriage team tries to escape. Zeke, Killian and Riko are able to get aboard the carriage as Hannah ends the life of one driver and Fezgil fires a bolt of lightning from his magical gloves, killing the other. None of those on the coach are able to get it under control as the horses gain speed, running through the main road of Pottsylvania. They all jump free and let the carriage leave on its own.
“If you’re not evil, stop the carriage! ~ Fezgil (undated)
Morton rifles through the belongings of the servant while Golbagai pines for the cushiness of the carriage, not understanding the cause of this event. An angry Zeke explains it’s about eliminating the evil, which Morton supports, at least verbally. The group returns to the tavern to discuss options as Morton takes the corpse of the servant to Darrovick for burial. Darrovick won’t bury the man though, as he isn’t a townsperson or adventurer. The servant’s body is left in the road outside the church. Nadrine explains that not everyone or everything is evil, but much of Pottsylvania is. The tavern keeper, for one, while considered a “douche” by Morton, is not evil. The group is divided about how they should go about eradicating the evil from town.
Expecting retaliation from the Baron, the group asks the tavern keeper if horses are available in town. With none nearby, the group decides to hole up in the church with Darrovick again, this time allowing the creatures in to destroy them. Darrovick is horrified by this idea and won’t let the group in. He believes if the church is destroyed, all will end, therefore he must defend it with all his ability. He refuses to let the party into the church for a second night. That idea undone, the group moves to the belltower building to await the inevitable battle with the Baron. That night, as a thick, chest-deep fog rolls in, creatures running through it can be seen. Killian and Zeke fire down upon the creatures with stones and arrows, eliciting howls from wolves. Humanoids are seen as well, with Fezgil casting Magic Missile on one, seemingly killing it. A knock at the poorly repaired main door and a request from a male voice to be invited in come to those on the ground floor, which goes unheeded. Killian pours some holy water from her belltower height, striking the creature at the door, which then rips it from the frame. An ugly, fanged man with long nailed fingers in peasant’s clothes stands there, threatening those within.
“What happened to less murder-ey?” ~ Golbagai (undated)