When we last left our heroes, their past was catching up to them. Hobert, owner of the Brace of Pigs tavern, is famous for a special wine whose remarkable taste is due to special herbs he steals from Samantha & Ferdinand. Gleador & Lucia had pressured Hobert into being nice to Samantha & Ferdinand by threatening to reveal his thievery. Now he’s using the bottling ceremony for his wine to stir up a mob against all four of them!
Gleador asks a crow to poop on Hobert, since it’s impossible to take someone seriously who is covered in bird poop. The bird declines. Plan B is Lucia commanding Hobert to tell the truth! He lets slip that the special taste of the wine is due to special herbs from Samantha’s swamp. Lucia says that anyone could buy the herbs from Samantha and they could all make great wine. Instead of a ceremony for how great Hobert is, there could be a whole wine tasting competition! Some bystanders are so inspired by Lucia’s words that they run off towards the swamp to get the herbs immediately! This is bad because Samantha has set deadly magical traps around the swamp to keep Hobert out.
Gleador follows the runners out into the grain fields between Fairmeadow and the swamp. When he’s out of sight, he transforms into a panther (the legendary Black Beast that put the town in a panic a few days ago). Lucia had arranged a signal with Samantha ahead of time. She speaks a magic word to the giant millipede that Samantha gave her and it glows a little. The message has been delivered. Samantha and Ferdinand will arrive soon. Gleador plans to follow the runners to the border of the swamp, then appear and frighten them away.
Samantha and Ferdinand arrive at the bottling ceremony. The crowd pushes them up on stage next to Hobert. Hobert accuses them of injuring him, which is almost true. Last night, he snooped on Samantha, who activated a magical escape spell that dragged her out of the room and dragged Hobert’s face into the door he was peeking through. Gleador can see this through the eyes of the crow from earlier, so he decides to chase the runners back now instead of waiting for them to reach the swamp. A panther suddenly leaps out of the tall grass and chases them back towards town. They run back into the crowd, screaming about the Black Beast. The crowd starts grabbing torches and other improvised weapons. Gleador scrabbles up the back of The Brace of Pigs to make a grand appearance. He emerges over the peak of the roof with a terrifying roar, then pees on the inn to show his displeasure. Like a cat, he scratches afterward, sending roof tiles falling and splintering. Then he disappears to the back side of the roof, turns into a falcon, and flies away!
It’s basically a riot now! People have lit torches and grabbed shovels, brooms, stout bits of wood, and surge towards The Brace of Pigs to attack the Black Beast. The stage that Samantha and Ferdinand are on shudders as the crowd surges against it and rips out some crossbeams to use as improvised weapons. Lucia blows her town watch whistle and hears a whistle reply from the direction of town hall. Pepe’s on the way. Hobert runs to the door to keep the mob from entering and probably destroying his inn. There’s not even roof access from inside the inn. But there is around the far side! Construction equipment used to clean up after Samantha’s violent escape spell is still there: ladders, axes, large saws. Lucia runs around and convinces them that the Black Beast has fled back into the fields. The mob turns from the inn and sets out into the fields. It’s after harvest, so burning the fields (while still terribly dangerous) is less bad then burning a building in town.
High over the fields, Gleador has another plan. He spies the carcass of a deer and lands by it. He changes back into a panther and claws the surrounding grass and earth, as if there was a great battle. He roars like he is in mortal pain, which alerts the mob to his position. A hunter in the mob says, “Careful, boys! That’s the sound of a beast in fear of its life! Very dangerous!” Gleador attempts to turn into a gorilla, but fails, so he’s an Elf when the mob bursts into the clearing. He breathlessly describes a great battle between the Black Beast and an invisible creature that throttled it and carried it away. They believe him! Several people break off to escort the poor, shaken Elf back to town, while the rest spread out to search for, probably, the benevolent invisible gorilla.
Lucia meets up with Gleador coming back from the field and Pepe running in the from town hall. Pepe hears that the Black Beast has appeared again. Ferdinand is right there, and dozens of witnesses confirm that it wasn’t him. Pepe runs off to take charge of the mob and assign proper search patterns instead of whatever disorganized thing they were doing.
Gleador’s helpers wonder if they can get him some comfort food from the inn, but Hobert isn’t letting anyone in! A Dwarf woman named Marley offers to take Gleador back to her home and bake him some muffins. Lucia is welcome too. They accept and head to her house. As they leave, they make eye contact with Samantha and Ferdinand, still on the stage, and give them farewell salutes. Samantha gives a knowing, respectful nod. Ferdinand waves enthusiastically. Marley’s home, like most Dwarf homes, is set into the ground. The “negative porch” has steps going down about three feet to the front door. Her home is mostly underground, but windows around the top of the five-foot tall rooms are above ground level. Lucia is only five feet tall, so she mostly fits, but Gleador has to bend down quite a bit. They have a pleasant chat and some tasty muffins. After a while, a family of Gnomes arrive. Marley is hosting them for the fair, so Gleador and Lucia have to leave.
Lucia pulled a muscle fighting the statue last night, and doesn’t want to spend the three days of rest it would take to heal naturally. She remembers that a deputy who was hurt worse was back on duty the next day. They track Lucy down and she points them to Mother Tiffany, the cleric at the local temple. Lucy didn’t have to pay for the healing spell because the town guard has good health care. The temple is on the southern edge of town and has a small field behind it, where people plant symbolic offerings of crops for the gods to bless. Mother Tiffany eats the crops that grow in that field. Lucia tries to get free healing, since she was injured while acting as a deputy. Mother Tiffany tactfully declines and charges Lucia 10 gold, which she gladly pays. They return to their hosts, the Glazers.
GM notes: I can’t believe Gleador got away with everything! He hid his shapeshifting on a whim and started two urban legends (the Black Beast and the invisible benevolent gorilla) and set Ferdinand up to be framed as the Black Beast. I was sure he’d have to deal with consequences for this, but he schemed his way out of everything.
- Gleador appeared as the Black Beast in front of a crowd while Ferdinand was there, clearly proving Ferdinand’s innocence.
- Gleador says the Black Beast is dead. There’s evidence of a struggle, and many people heard a panther cry out in pain.
- Gleador says the invisible benevolent gorilla killed the beast. I thought I had him here, since Pepe would notice that there were no tracks leading away from the scene of the fight. But Pepe has chased the gorilla before, and its tracks disappeared then as well, so this actually corroborates Gleador’s story!
So the Fairmeadow Fair is over, and when they leave, Lucia will be remembered as a hero who fought many battles to protect the town, and Gleador will be remembered as that guy who was with Lucia, had no special skills, and almost died a few times.