When we last left our heroes, they had to fight a statue that just wouldn’t stay still like a good statue should. Now, on the last day of the fair, they try to attend and enjoy it like normal people.
Lucia the Paladin and Gleador the Druid (who is concealing his shape-shifting powers) wander the marketplace at the fair. They see Lisa, one of the deputies injured in last night’s battle against the metal statue. They are surprised that she’s back on the job, or even on her feet. She was healed at the temple. Lucia’s not the only spellcaster in town. She does pull her armor and tabard aside to reveal a gnarly scar. Lisa hopes for an uneventful day and bottling ceremony to end the fair. Oh yeah, Hobert bottles his stolen wine at the end of the fair every year.
Lucia and Gleador head to town hall to check in with Pepe, the sheriff. They go to the evidence room and check on the statue. Since it grabs metal, they no longer have padlocks and chains on it. The cell is bound shut with coils of stout rope. Each limb of the statue is bound with ropes to heavy pallets of bricks. Pepe takes at least a minute unwinding the rope that keeps the cell shut. Lucia warns Pepe about the switch that turns the statue on and off. He gets close to look at the switch and notices some writing stamped on the arm. It’s Dwarven. Lucia recognizes the runes, but doesn’t read the language. There are some numbers and a word in all caps, which is probably a proper name. our heroes want to find out more about the strange coins. Pepe pushes them out of the room, retrieves a coin from his secure storage, and gives them one coin. He writes a receipt for it. He trusts them because they’ve fought for the town several town, but he also files the proper paperwork.
Our heroes wonder where to go next. Who can translate the Dwarven runes? Who would know about the strange coin? Samantha might know some things. They also need to clear Ferdinand’s name. They head to the Brace of Pigs. There’s a commotion outside. Workers are going around the side with big saws, axes, and so on. Hobert is directing them and holding a steak over a black eye. He complains that the Black Beast has injured him and destroyed his inn. They look go around the side of the inn and see the wooden boards on the second floor bent out, turning into branches, and forming a tunnel that goes into the ground. “Is that Samantha’s room?” They go inside and upstairs. It was Samantha’s room. The back wall curves out and forms a funnel. The bed has been pushed to the back wall, and the covers are sucked partially down the funnel.Some workmen are in the room, preparing to chop up the unnatural wood structures.
Lucia and Gleador figure that this is Samantha’s escape plan, and tracking them down means going down the tunnel themselves. They ask the workers not to chop up the tunnel before they can head down. The workers in the room call down to the workers on the ground outside. Lucia lights and torch and slides down. It’s mostly dark in the tunnel, but spaces between branches cause lines and cracks of birght light to flash past Lucia as she slides down, past the workers on the ground, until the branches taper off and she’s in a dirt tunnel several feet underground. Gleador slides down and joins her. They instruct the workers on the ground not to chop up the tunnel until they return. They walk along underground for a while until the tunnel curves up and they emerge in the grain fields outside of town. The Brace of Pigs is still visible far behind them. There are tracks leading from the tunnel to the east, so they follow them. Another set of tracks crosses the first set, and they follow that to another set. After a few minutes, they realize that there are many sets of tracks looping around each other, intentionally confusing pursuers. Another trick from Samantha, no doubt. The tunnel headed in the general direction of the swamp where Ferdinand and Samantha live, so Lucia and Gleador head there.
Clearly, Samantha is using magic to avoid pursuit, and the swamp is her home turf, so Lucia and Gleador don’t just barge in, lest they trigger some awful trap. They pause at the border of the swamp and call out, identifying themselves and asking politely for an audience. The call startles a small flock of birds, who fly around in a swarm, except for one bird that breaks away from the flock and flies in a straight line deeper into the swamp. They wait for a few minutes, then call out again. They wait again, and when they are wondering if they should call out again or just go home, Samantha arrives. There’s a moss-covered log nearby, and the moss is tossed aside like a blanket. Samantha is lying there where the log should be. When she stands up, she reveals a hole in the ground, leading who knows where.
Lucia: “She’s terrifying!”
Gleador: “Samantha,what do you want right now?”
A very thoughtful question. Samantha wants revenge on Hobert, but she needs to keep herself and Ferdinand safe. Her potion and alchemy business might suffer if she’s defamed in town, but her customers are already the type to sneak out of town and visit a witch in the swamp, so they aren’t the type to scare easily. She’ll probably be fine. Samantha has ramped up security in the swamp. Anyone who comes in and tries to steal herbs will spring a nasty magical trap. Lucia mentions that Hobert could turn Samantha’s escape tunnel into an attraction and charge extra. Samantha wonders, “Is there anything capitalism can’t ruin?” Gleador says he has a way to clear Ferdinand’s name and get comeuppance for Hobert. Samantha’s interested. Gleador asks if she can make a drink that’s better than Hobert’s wine. She can make a potion called Polypurpose Panacea, which cures hangovers, gives the drinker a nice buzz, etc. but it’s very expensive to produce. That won’t work.
Samantha recalls Gleador transforming when the two fought several days ago. “Are you the Black Beast? This is partially your fault!” Gleador counters, “You’re not the only one with secrets! What about Dandelion’s sudden voice problems?” Samantha heard about that. Sounds like a Frogmouth potion, which wears off with no lasting effects after a week. She maintains plausible deniability, never confirming or denying that she was involved. Gleador says that they’ll work on clearing Ferdinand’s name, and that Samantha and Ferdinand should stay close to town and rush in when the time is right. Samantha scoops up a foot-long millipede from the swamp, talks to it a little, then offers it to Lucia. Saying a password to this bug will alert Samantha. Lucia accepts, and the millipede crawls up her arm and hides under her cloak.
Lucia and Gleador walk back to town. The swamp is several hours’ walk away from Fairmeadow. When they get back to the Brace of Pigs, they see the workers did not wait for them and are demolishing the escape tunnel. They go inside to talk to Hobert, and drop several threats on him.
- You better clear Samantha’s and Ferdinand’s names!
- We know your famous tradition is based on being a thief & a liar.
- If you try to steal more herbs for next year’s wine, you won’t make it back..
- You have one year to straighten out or your tradition is toast.
- You could have made the escape tunnel an attraction and gotten more money.
Hobert whimpers as the two armed adventurers get in his face and threaten him. He promises to be good and will they please leave? Before they go, they quiz him about the strange coin. Nearby city-states issue their own coins, but they coordinate to make their currencies inter-operable. Gold coins should be round, but this one is rectangular, and it’s too big.
Lucia and Gleador leave the inn. Gleador wants to find and mark a falcon, so he can see through its eyes and watch the fair. There aren’t many falcons around, so he settles for a crow instead of waiting. He bribes it with a gold piece, because crows like shiny things. Lucia and Gleador enjoy the fair until the end of the day. They plan to leave town after the festival, so they buy some supplies for the road ahead. Gleador checks in with the crow and sees a crowd gathering at the Brace of Pigs for the wine bottling ceremony. He and Lucia go there in the flesh. Hobert is giving a speech about the wine and the fair and how it’s great, but he transitions into complaining about threats to the tradition and the town. He’s stirring up the crowd into a mob!