GM note:I started runing Chasing the Sunset after Fairmeadow Fair had been going for a year. Fairmeadow Fair was using mostly Dungeon World rules, but I threw out encumbrance, Fronts, variable damage, and 3-18 stats with modifiers. So was I really playing Dungeon World? Since Fellowship did more things that I liked, and Chasing The Sunset could handle multiple parties in the same fictional world, I asked my players to join Chasing The Sunset’s shared world. They agreed, and this is the transitional session.
Behind the screen (I don’t play with a screen. It’s a metaphor.), I attached the map of Fairmeadow and its surroundings to the continent on which Chasing The Sunset takes place. Lucia the Paladin was easy to convert to Lucia the Heir, but Gleador the Druid has no counterpart in Fellowship’s rules, so Gleador’s player created a new character, Dryden the Collector. In this session, that player played two characters from two different rulesets at the same time in the same fictional space!
People from Lucia’s far-off homeland have important news, and are searching for her in the other continent that she’s traveling in. Mara is Lucia’s servant, and Will is her bodyguard. With only vague information of her whereabouts, they have taken many wrong turns, and gone up several rivers, with and without paddles. Her childhood friend Dryden is with them, although he wasn’t invited. They finally find the river that leads to Sugar’s crossing. Mara and Will have proper papers and easily clear the bureaucracy in the port city, but Dryden isn’t really supposed to be there. He creates a distraction by firing a special bean into the river near the ship he wants to board. The bean rapidly grows, emerging from the water, separating into two branches, and forming a bridge from one side of the river ot the other. Everyone is amazed, and Dryden can easily slip on board and duck into Mara & Wills’ cabin. They are a bit annoyed by his shenanigans, but they are also grinning.
Later, Gleador and Lucia are rowing south on the river as the boat containing their friends passes. They spot each other and yell and wave. Lucia and Gleador turn their boat and attempt to catch up to the larger vessel by rowing hard, but they are too slow. Gleador transforms into a water horse with a dolphin tail and a frog’s grabby tongue. With Lucia on his back, he easily catches up to the boat. Mara shouts that she brings news from home. Gleador attempts to stop the boat by shoving it sideways into the shore. Once the boat is stopped, they can all speak calmly, right? The boat’s pilot is very upset by this attempt to wreck his boat, and the crew rushes out with poles and the like to get Gleador away. Lucia tells Will and Mara to jump overboard! Gloeador won’t be able to carry all three of them. Mara jumps to land on Gleador’s back. Will is about to jump in the river and swim for it, when Dryden emerges! He pulls out a smooth, flat, round stone, about the size of his hand, and starts spinning it. It magically generates force that lifts him into the air. He spins it faster, overcharging it so it lifts Will also, and he flies the two of them to shore! Lucia uses her special bloodline power to make the boat crew forget the past few minutes, and everyone meets up on shore.
GM note:Is this “make people forget the last few minutes” power going to become a problem? Time will tell!
Mara delivers important news from home. “Your mother, the Queen, has died of natural causes. You are the heir.” She hands over a symbol of royalty: a leaf brooch. Lucia pins it to an inner layer of clothing, so it’s not always visible, but it’s easy to flash when appropriate. Mara continues. Lucia’s younger brother is ruling in her absence. The royal family knows that Lucia doesn’t want to rule, and that she’s out here questing to remind people that the old kingdom hasn’t vanished. They support Lucia’s life choices. Now that she’s queen, she must be attended properly, so Will & Mara, people that Lucia knew back when she lived in the palace, will travel with her. Mara’s about Lucia’s age, so they grew up together. Will is older and was more of an uncle figure. He’s got grey hair and doesn’t talk much. He’s a bodyguard, and taught Lucia some fighting skills when she was young. The Queen’s death is sad, but not unexpected. She was old. Lucia had made her peace with her mother’s death already. She knew when she left that she would not see her mother again.
Dryden was not sent as part of Lucia’s entourage, but here he is! he explains that he had to tag along and help Will and Mara. He always has a sense of where Lucia is. You see, long ago, he was using Lucia’s bathroom to mix some potions so that he could track foxes, and Lucia spilled the concoction on herself. Lucia remembers, and points out that it never would have happened if Dryden hadn’t destroyed his own washroom with a previous experiment.
Gleador speaks up. “Alas, this news is grievous!” He showed Lucia a secret Druid ritual (and was exiled for it) in order to secure peace between the Druids and her kingdom. He promised the Queen that he would follow Lucia until she herself became queen, and now that vow is fulfilled. She has other companions, and he can go to regain his standing with the Druids in the Sapphire Islands to the south. Gleador thanks Lucia for her faithful companionship, and fondly remembers their many close calls. “Journey well. We will cross paths again.” With that, he transforms into a Phoenix and flies away! A single feather falls as he leaves, and Lucia picks it up as a keepsake.
Last time, our heroes learned that directly opposing le Grind, influential mill owner and dealer in stolen artifacts, could invite retaliation against a friend. They tried infiltrating the le Grind manor, but retreated when private security raised an alarm.
Gleador and Lucia meet up, hidden in the beet fields just downriver from le Grind’s docks. They don’t want to fight le Grind’s watchmen, but the mysterious figures who sneaked into the drain under the docks must still be on the compound. Our heroes won’t let them get away, so they try a bold tactic: walking up to the watchmen. There are four watchmen in the storage yard with lanterns on poles, looking for the source of the commotion. They hail Lucia & Gleador. Lucia checks if any of them are evil, but none of them are. In her most authoritative voice, she says they are tracking some suspicious characters in a rowboats and demands to see what the watchmen have uncovered. The watchmen buy it and show them the rowboat, which they have dragged up onto the dock. No one has seen the people who were in the boat.
Gleador was able to briefly examine the boat previously, so he knows it has a false bottom. He acts like he’s trying to enter the boat by bracing himself with his shillelagh, and intentionally strikes the false bottom with the club, making a hollow noise. The watchmen think they are very clever for recognizing a secret compartment and open it, withdrawing a few bundles wrapped in cloth. One is a small box with a stack of Saarland coins inside. Another is a fancy oil lamp with expertly worked metal and glass. Both artifacts from Saarland, no doubt! The watchmen are sure this is loot stolen from the master’s mansion. The owners of this boat must be inside robbing the place right now! Roddie, the lead watchman, sends one of his underlings to wake the master! Lucia says someone should fetch the town garrison as well, and Roddie agrees because Lucia just sounds so authoritative!
While they are waiting for the various messengers to return with important people, Gleador asks Roddie to show him where the boat was found. Roddie takes him down some rickety stairs under the main dock to the drain. The dock usually receives large cargo vessels, so it’s high enough for a rowboat to float underneath.
Gleador pretends to be surprised that the grate over the drain is unlocked. Maybe the robbers are in there! Roddie goes up the drain with his lantern pole, then returns a short time later. He didn’t see anyone or anything suspicious. He locks the grate behind him. Gleador stays down by the grate to ponder.
Gavin le Grind, master of the house, arrives. He’s wearing pajamas, but has put on boots and large coat. He demands to know why he’s been so disturbed. Roddie proudly tells him how they found the boat and the stolen items in the hidden compartment, so he sent for Gavin and the town garrison because there may be thieves about. When Gavin hears about the garrison, he makes a displeased face which makes Roddie cower. Gavin looks at the coins and oil lamps and says they aren’t his. That lamp doesn’t match anything in the house. And who is this knight? Why is she here? Did the watchmen ever see anyone sneaking into the house? Roddie shrinks back. This is not going as well as he expected. He confers with the other watchmen. One of them saw an armored figure fleeing downriver. Gavin presses for details: what kind of armor? Lucia here is wearing armor. The watchman can’t say for sure. It was dark and the figure was far away. le Grind finds it very suspicious that an armored figure fled from the watch downriver, then Lucia approaches, in armor, from that same direction and starts leading the investigation. He tells Roddie to escort her from the premises! Roddie rushes to obey and asks if he should kick out the Elf as well. Gavin is furious. There’s another stranger on my property? You didn’t think to mention this? How can you say you haven’t found any suspicious characters when these two are right here? Gavin changes his mind: Lucia and Gleador must stay and explain themselves to the garrison soldiers.
Lucia and Gleador are content to stay, so they spend a few awkwardly silent minutes waiting, unless a detachment of Dwarven soldiers arrive from the fort. The Sergeant approaches and demands a situation report. Lucia steps forward and starts explaining that she and Gleador were following some suspicious character coming up the river in a rowboat. Gavin le Grind cuts her off. He’s the master of the house, he doesn’t know why these strange characters are on his property, and there’s this weird boat and goods that they say are his that he’s never seen before. The Sergeant is annoyed. His squad came out her in the middle of the night to catch thieves, but no one has seen a thief, and instead of goods disappearing, there are extra goods that no one claims. He does take interest when Lucia says the box of coins is from Saarland. He checks the coins and confirms. Strange. Since there does not appear to be any crime happening, the soldiers take the lamp and the coins and prepare to leave. Everyone can jsut go back to bed. Lucia and Gleador are to leave the le Grind property with the soldiers, but after that, the Sergeant doesn’t care what they do. He doesn’t even make sure they have a place to stay for the night.
While Lucia is trying to keep them both out of jail, Gleador is befriending one of the le Grind guard dogs, a small terrier named Rex. He asks what he can do for Rex to secure its help. Rex really likes chasing and catching people. That’s its life’s passion and it doesn’t get to do it often. Gleador agrees to run from Rex and let it catch him if it tells him about any strange scents Rex has noticed. Rex hasn’t smelled any strangers except for Lucia, Gleador, and the soldiers. Gleador wonders about bringing Rex to smell the rowboat, but everyone has handled the rowboat by now. True to his word, Gleador takes off running and Rex chases him. Gleador runs towards Roddie, pleading for him to call of his dog, and the three of them collide and tumble to the ground. Gleador swipes Roddie’s key-ring in the confusion. Gleador is on his back and Rex is standing on his chest barking in his face, but they are really chatting in dog language. Gleador asks to mark Rex, so he can see through its eyes later. Rex agrees, if Gleador will throw a fun toy. Gleador finds something in his adventuring gear, touches Rex to mark it, then throws the tool, which Rex darts off to retrieve. Gleador gets up and expresses relief that he was able to distract that fierce guard dog!
With that commotion over, Roddie escorts Lucia, Gleador, and the garrison soldiers to the front gate, but when he tries to lock it behind them, he can’t find his keys! Gleador suggests that he might have left them in the grate when he locked that. Roddie is well-established as a sucker, so that sounds reasonable to him and he goes to check. Lucia and Gleador leave, but circle around to the river out of sight. Gleador checks on Rex, who follows Roddie down to the grate. Roddie looks in the padlock, and feels in the water at the bottom of the drain, but can’t find his keys. He ponders and realizes that Gleador knocked into him. He hustles back towards the gate.
Fortunately, Lucia & Gleador are nowhere to be found. Somewhere upriver, Gleador transforms into a crocodile with echolocation and fire-breath and with Lucia on his back, he floats silently downriver, back to the drain. Lucia unlocks the grate with Roddie’s keys, and they walk up the drain. The pipe is about four feet around, enough for a Halfing to stand up, but Lucia has to bend over. Smaller drains from above empty into this one, as expected, but at the back of the drain, there is a Halfling-sized door. There’s no lock, just a metal ring to pull. Lucia pulls it open, but the door opens directly into a wooden wall. Lucia carefully taps and prods the wall and finds a latch disguised as a knothole. She feels the latch open when she pushes it, but the door still won’t open. It’s stuck. Gleador takes the lead and uses his reptilian strength to force the wall open. He feels the wood straining and knows it will make quite a noise if he breaks it, but he goes for it anyways. He jams his wedge-shaped head through the wood and into shelves filled with jars of fruit preserves and dry goods. He’s smashed through the back of a cabinet. The glass doors on the cabinet shatter and swing open, shelves break and dump food all over the floor. He looks around and finds that he’s in a storage room. Food, boxes of supplies, a linen closet on one wall. There’s a door to one side t hat appears to lead out to the storage yard where the conversation with Gavin le Grind and the watchmen occurred. On the other side of the room, swinging double rooms lead to a kitchen. This isn’t a secret basement, it’s the le Grind mansion itself! There’s commotion upstairs as the residents are disturbed yet again! Lucia and Gleador must think quickly. The smugglers are probably still in the mansion, but if they push forward they’ll probably have to find the entire le Grind extended family. Gleador decides retreat, but to make this secret entrance impossible to ignore. To draw attention, he breathes fire on the exterior door, setting it and part of the wall ablaze! Back in Elf form, he and Lucia run back down the drain. The watchmen, led by Roddie who is having a very bad time, scramble to organize a bucket brigade to put out the fire. Under the dock, Gleador transforms into a sea serpent. Lucia takes a deep breath, and they swim away underwater and out of sight.
Heading back into the le Grind estate again seems foolhardy. They have exposed part of the mystery, but have been unable to crack it wide open. If they could get the garrison to search le Grind’s house, he’d surely be exposed. Lucia writes an anonymous note, summarizing their knowledge of le Grind’s scheme to hire looters to steal artifacts from Saarland. They suggest that the garrison grab Rose when she returns, since she has first-hand knowledge of the operation. This note, plus the Saarland coins found on le Grind’s estate, plus the obvious shenanigans at the le Grind estate are enough for the garrison to start an investigation, which is an embarrassing scandal for le Grind.
GM Note: Poor Rose. Every time she meets our heroes, she has a bad time. First paralysed, then snatched up into the sky, her protective amulet taken, making her job much more dangerous. Then set down somewhere in the woods and forced to find her way back. When she does arrive, she’ll be arrested immediately and thrust into a high-profile case. Well, she is a graverobber, so maybe she deserves it.
Last time, our heroes escaped Saarland with their lives and some new information about who’s responsible for artifacts from Saarland ending up on the black market. As they return to Sugar’s Crossing, they must decide what to do about it.
First, they return to the person who set them on this quest: Soren, the Elven storyteller who was there when the city fell. They ask for her at the theater and have to wait a while because she’s with another client. Her expertise is in high demand. She’s glad they returned safely and asks how Saarland is doing. She readies pen and paper to record the information and add it to the historical record. They report that Saarland is split between Ents trying to demolish buildings and return it to nature, and Spectres of dead residents who refuse to let go. The only people who go there are looters. Soren knew it would be bad, but hearing exactly how bad is still a blow. She’s furious that people are desecrating her home. She picks up a second pen in her other hand and starts writing a vituperative diss track.
Gleador & Lucia ask Soren how the stolen artifacts might be moving around once brought back to civilization. Traffic in such articles is illegal, but it’s not a crime that the garrison would notice, unless they were tipped off. Our heroes ask how to contact the underworld. Soren doesn’t get mixed up in such things, but the theater does employ some shady stagehands. They’re rough folks who probably know some rougher folks. Lucia says that le Grind is the buyer for many of the artifacts. Both of Soren’s pens stop suddenly. The meeting room they are in is named after le Grind’s third son. le Grind is a big financial sponsor of the theater. Each year at the theater gala, he and Lady Evelynn try to outdo each other with lavish donations. If Soren performs a diss track against him, the theater would lose his funding and have trouble surviving. Gleador and Lucia say they’ll try to reveal le Grind so that the theater doesn’t take the fall. Soren thanks them for the information, even though it was upsetting. Truth is good for history, and trauma is good for art.
Gleador & Lucia plan to gather information by touring the le Grind mill. The original mill is preserved as a museum, while larger, more modern mills do the actual work of processing beets into sugar.
Lucia joins a tour group like a normal person. Gleador transforms into a wild cat with falcon eyes and allergenic dander. The mill is built for Halflings (le Grind is a Halfling family) so even with larger hallways for moving loads and equipment about, it’s cramped for some guests. Lucia is close to the ceiling at 5’0″. The Elves in the group have to bend over, and one poor Naga has to spread most of his 11-foot length horizontally, taking up a lot of space. The tour starts in the original mill and then turns to another room with drying racks and historical displays. Finally, the tour group exits through the gift shop. Gleador skips the tour and slips between bars of the fence around the le Grind estate. He infiltrates Mill A, which is bustling with Halflings bringing sacks of beats, loading them into the mill, and collecting the pulp and juice. The beets’ strong coloration stains the millstones, the floor, and the workers’ hands bright purple. Gleador hops into a spot that he hopes is out of the way and surveys the scene but a bad roll of the dice means that his perch is right where the next heavy sack of beets goes. He leaps away at the last moment, out in the open, causing a commotion. A wide-shouldered Halfing woman with very strong hands grabs him and tosses him out the window into the river. Underwater he transforms into a catfish, avoids the churning waterwheel, and swims away as the woman starts itching and sneezing.
From the river, he investigates the docks and sees drain large enough for a Halfling to walk through. It’s closed by a grate secured with a padlock. Inside, he sees that it’s fed by many smaller pipes, as expected, but there’s also a door. Most suspicious. He swims away, returns to Elf form, and reconvenes with Lucia, whose authorized tour of the facility was uneventful. They plan to sneak in through the grate, find what le Grind has stolen, and steal it from him. It’s not stealing if it’s already stolen. They are not sure what to do with the artifacts once they recover them, but that’s a Gleador plan for you: Enthusiasm and optimism!
They wait for nightfall, and Lucia removes her heavy armor so that she can swim. They approach the gate and wonder how to bypass the padlocked grate. The bars are six inches apart. Gleador could easily transform into something small enough to fit through, but Lucia can’t. Smashing the grate and picking the lock are suggested, but their planning is interrupted by the approach of a small rowboat. Two Halflings pilot it with muffled oars and a hooded lantern, so they’re probably up to no good. Gleador and Lucia dive underwater to avoid notice. The rowboat pulls up to the grate, and one Halfling unlocks the grate and goes inside. The other Halfing remains in the boat. Lucia can’t hold her breath for that long and starts choking on water. Gleador pushes Lucia downstream and floats to the surface, using his camouflage ability to remain unseen. Lucia surfaces beyond the range of the Halfling’s lantern, but he’s aware of something out there and moves towards the drain. Gleador transforms into a crocodile with the water jet power of a sea dragon. He grabs the Halfling’s leg, but is shaken off. Both Halflings in the drain run up towards the hidden door, leaving the grate unlocked.
Gleador does not pursue them. He examines the rowboat. It can hold six people, the oarlocks are wrapped in fabric to avoid noise, and there’s a false bottom that can conceal cargo. He uses camouflage again to wait by the boat. Lucia goes to the bush just downstream of the docks where she left her armor and puts it back on. Both heroes wait for the next move from the le Grind estate.
After about 15 minutes, three night watch come out to the docks. They are official. The have fancy hats, and lanterns on poles to light their way. They spot the boat. One climbs down under the docks to retrieve it while the other two hold their lanterns out to light his way. Lucia takes this opportunity to slip away, but is noticed. She’s far away and it’s dark, so the guard only knows there was a tall person in armor lurking about. One guard is holding two lanterns over the edge of the dock while a second fetches a boat hook to help the third pull in this mysterious rowboat. As they are trying to secure the boat, Gleador grabs the boat and yanks it back into the water! One guards goes into the river with it. Another swings at the strange creature with his boat hook. The third blows the whistle around his next, raising a general alarm. Gleador disengages from the fight and swims away underwater, eventually reconvening with Lucia. They blew their chance to sneak into the estate, and they don’t know what those sneaky Halflings were doing in the drain, but they’ll try again another time!
Last time, our heroes traveled to a ghost town and were trapped in an attic by actual ghosts! On the top floor of a forge/mint, Lucia found an entrance to a secret room, but was paralyzed by a trap. Gleador pushed her inside and guarded the door with his flaming body, since the Spectres fear fire. He looks around for a way out of this mess. There are chimneys from the forge in the center of the building that exit through the roof. The windows in the exterior walls are slits, because the building is fortified against attack from outside. Not an easy place to escape from.
Gleador tries a bold tactic: friendship! He asks if he can help the Spectres build something. They are surprised and delighted. Most living people who come to this building want to steal, not help. The Spectres can drag objects around like poltergeists, but can’t operate precision machinery like they did in life. While the paralysis poison works its way out of Lucia’s system, the Spectres pantomime instructions to Gleador: how to restart a forge, melt some metal, and cast some silverware.
When Lucia is back in action, she casts Speak With Dead on one of the now-friendly Spectres and asks three questions:
What do you know about money from Saarland showing up elsewhere? As far as the Spectre knows, Saarland coins are still accepted in other towns. Recently, coins are carried off by thieves. Sometimes, coins go missing even when the Spectres don’t detect any living intruders.
Is there anything magical about the coins or other items? The Spectre gestures to a weapon rack and says that the magical weapons on it are magical, but coins are not.
What have you learned about the attack, how to prevent another? Fiercely defending the forge from all intruders has prevented another attack so far, so the Spectres will keep doing that. One slain enemy came back as a Spectre, but the Saarland Spectres drove it away.
Gleador asks permission to examine the storeroom that Lucia hid in one more time, offering to conceal the entrance once more. It’s a storeroom. It contains many items that our heroes won’t steal, and has no exits besides the one door.
Lucia and Gleador leave the forge and Gleador transforms into a Chinese flying dragon with eagle eyes. Lucia rides him and they circle Saarland to look for interesting things. One side of the ruined town is controlled by Ents, the other by Spectres. Rose, a Halfling they met a few days ago, enters Saarland on the Spectre side. She sees the dragon flying above and hides from it. Gleador wants to pursue her, but Lucia’s not feeling so well. Gleador drops her off outside the city. She casts Sanctuary around herself and communes.
Gleador turns into a bee with poison frog contact venom, and the toughness of a rock. A reconnaissance form that can’t be instas-killed by a flyswatter. He flies back into the town and finds Rose entering a Spectre-filled house. The Spectres don’t react to her, which is weird since they usually attack anything living. Gleador flies in to watch her and the Spectres attack him. They seem out to get anything living! Rose sees the commotion, but figures Gleador is a normal bug and moves on. She finds a silver serving dish and puts it in one of her sacks. Gleador retreats from the Spectres but gets hit again. He’s almost dead! He keeps his distance and watches Rose go from house to house, looting them while undisturbed by their Spectre occupants. After an hour he flies dow nad stings her with paralyzing venom. She slumps against a gate and won’t be able to move for a while.
Gleador flies away to retrieve Lucia and get healed. He comes back as a dragon, carrying Lucia. As they approach, an Ent has noticed Rose and is moving in to menace her. Lucia dismounts and charges the Ent, which knocks her across the street with a powerful branch. Gleador starts a fire with his dragon breath and blows a smoke ring at the Ent to let it know how dangerous he is. The Ent retreats to get fire-fighting equipment. Lucia pulls Rose onto Gleador and the three of them fly off.
Lucia’s quest gives her an unfailing sense of direction to Saarland, but not to anywhere else. Now that they want to leave Saarland, how will they find their way back to Sugar’s Crossing? They know they went north-east to reach Saarland, so they head south until they find the road from Fairmeadow to Sugar’s Crossing, then take that west. As they fly they question Rose, whom they have once again incapacitated. They take her amulet and ask where she got it. She found it on the body of a looter who wandered into Ent territory. It makes the wearer appear to be undead, which placates Spectres, but not Ents. She started looting Saarland about 8 months ago. She got a tip from another adventurer that le Grind was paying well for artifacts from Saarland. She doesn’t care what he does with them. She had steady work that wasn’t too risky and paid well. Of course, they’ve taken her only defense, so no the job is much riskier. They set her down in the woods once the paralysis wears off. She’s happy to be rid of them and can find her own way back.
The trip back to Sugar’s Crossing takes several days, even though Gleador flies quite fast. They aren’t taking a direct route. The first night they camp in the woods. On the second day they hit the road and turn west. They camp along the road on the second night. While our heroes sit around the campfire, an Elk approaches. Gleador recognizes this animal as a fellow Druid. The Elk walks its back legs forward under its forelegs, which push out to the side as the Elk takes humanoid form. Yasha, a 6-foot-plus grey-haired Orc woman formally greets Gleador as a fellow Druid. Gleador returns the traditional wave, bow, and vocalization and introduces himself. Yasha has heard of him, and his exile from the Sapphire Islands. The Druid leaders deep in the forest to the north, aren’t happy with Gleador.
Yasha is a sentry for Sugar’s Crossing. Instead of waiting for people to get to edge of town, then discover if they are troublemakers, Yasha watches travellers as they take the road past the forest, and intercepts undesirables far from town. Our heroes ask if she knows Rose. Yasha has seen her coming and going. It’s odd that she goes into the woods instead of staying on the road, but she’s not violent and doesn’t get in trouble, so Yasha lets her go. They ask about Oolite, the family that supposedly built the living statue that has given them so much trouble, but Yasha doesn’t know anything about them. Finally, Gleador says he’s ready to do pennace and be re-instated in the Druid community. Yasha thinks that’s a good idea. There’s a messenger Druid named Hughes who can carry that message from Gleador to the higher-ups. He comes and goes, so there’s no specific time to expect him, but Yasha will tell him to look for Gleador.
Last time, our heroes ran into old adversaries and once again ruined their plans. These folks are prepared for everything except our heroes, it seems. Now they’re in jail.
The morning after the excitement at the docks, Friday the 15th, our heroes prepare to travel to the lost city of Saarland. Gleador the Druid shape-shifts into a Hippogriff, and Lucia the Paladin hops on his back. They fly northeast, across the river. They see the estate and mill of Lady Evelynn behind them and the beet fields giving way to forests in front of them. On the horizon, the forests rise into hills.
As they fly over the canopy of the forest, a flock of flying creatures swarm about them. The creatures are energetic and curious, and seem to have adopted our heroes as playmates. The creatures are HummingDragons. They have lizard-like faces, elongated bodies (about 4 feet, including the tails) and wings that flap too fast for the naked eye to follow, like hummingbird wings. Gleador lands to get a better look at these strange creatures. He has to circle a bit to find an opening in the canopy that admits a horse-sized creature. The HummingDragons follow, but land on branches, not the ground. Their claws are made for grasping and can’t open up flat to walk on the ground. Gleador studies them and finds cocoons nearby. The HummingDragons metamorphose. Their larval form is about the size and shape of a baseball, and rolls up and down tree trunks with the help of long, spindly legs. The larval form has a sharp proboscis to pierce tree bark and extract sap for food. Gleador can speak to the HummingDragons because, as an Elf, creatures of the Great Forest are known to him. He asks if there’s anything cool nearby. The HummingDragons all rush off in the same direction. Gleador has to run on the forest floor to follow, because there’s not enough room for his 18-foot wingspan below the canopy. The HummingDragons zoom over a large patch of brambles, heedless of the danger to those who can’t fly. Gleador leaps and clears the brambles, but a low-hanging branch smacks Lucia off of his back. She tries to hold on to the branch, but slips and falls into the bramble patch. The thorns do nothing to her plate armor, but the fall hurts a bit. The HummingDragons continue to rush off, leaving our heroes behind. To delay them Gleador suggests playing hide and seek. A few dart off in different directions, but most aren’t interested and zoom away. Gleador retrieves Lucia and they try to follow the way the HummingDragons went, but they lose the trail.
Fortunately, Lucia’s quest gives her an unfailing sense of direction towards Saarland. Without that, they’d be lost. Gleador rises through the canopy and they fly for the rest of the day without incident. At sundown, they set up camp in the forest. Lucia casts Sanctuary, so she will know if anyone enters the area with hostile intent. Gleador keeps his Hippogriff form and lies still, using his Camouflage skill to look like a big rock.
Sometime in the night, a figure approaches: a Halfling woman wearing a black cloak. She has a big traveler’s pack on her back, and several large empty sacks, secured to the main pack by their drawstrings. She also has an axe across her shoulders. She sneaks up to the campsite, using a large rock (actually Gleador) to keep out of the firelight. Gleador shifts his eyes over to Lucia, who is not reacting like Sanctuary has gone off. This reassures him, so he shifts his eyes back to watch the newcomer. She comes right up to him and peers over him at Lucia. Gleador reveals himself by tapping her on the shoulder with his tail. She squeals and stumbles back. One hand goes to her axe, the other to a large amulet around her neck. Lucia jumps up at the noise and quickly prays to see what her is evil. She detects the Halfling woman as evil, but, since her quest gives her the power to see through all illusions, she also knows that the evil she detects is fake. This woman can someone pretend to be evil. Lucia calms the situation and invites the Halfling to share the fire. The Halfling agrees and swings wide around Gleador to approach the fire. Her name is Rose, and she’s relieved that Lucia is a real person. Halfling food is best fresh. Meat pies and pastries don’t keep on the road. Rose has some carrots and biscuits which she offers to share. Lucia asks what brings her to this desolate place. Rose explains that she harvests rare lumber in the forest. The axe is for chopping wood, and the empty sacks are for carrying wood. Lucia knows this is all lies. Lucia says she’s going to Saarland. Rose tries ineffectively to stifle a reaction. Gleador can’t talk in Hippogriff form, so he tries Mister Ed shenanigans to prompt Lucia to ask questions on his behalf. He fetches a nearby stick and offers it to Rose. She puts it on the ground, neatly chops it with her axe, and puts the pieces in one of her sacks. Ok, so she knows how to use it as a tool and not just a weapon. Lucia continues to press her with questions about her work, and Saarland, and Rose gets really uncomfortable. She jams the last few bites of her supper into her mouth and starts to leave. Thanks, I must be going, see you around, and so on. Lucia cast Hold Person, paralyzing Rose as she tries to flee. Rose agrees to come clean if Lucia will please release her. Lucia agrees. Rose admits that she goes to Saarland to smuggle out whatever artifacts she can find. Le Grind (owner of one of the three mills back in Sugar’s Crossing) pays big money for such artifacts. She warns Lucia not to go to Saarland, because there are ghosts. She disappears into the forest. Lucia wonders how Rose protected herself from ghosts, but it’s too late to ask. The rest of the night is uneventful.
In the morning (Saturday the 16th), Lucia directs Gleador where to fly, and in the afternoon they reach the ruins of Saarland. Saarland’s walls were living trees, 150 feet tall. The ring of closely-packed trees around the hole in the canopy is easy to spot. Gleador circles the ruins to see what’s happening. One side of the city, including the wall, is burned. The other side is overgrown with plants, bushes, young trees. Most buildings are either burned or overgrown. Few are intact. As our heroes watch from above, a few trees move to the burned side of the cities. These living trees are Ents! Three of them surround a small building with a collapsed roof and start to tear it down. Spirits fly out of the building and swirl around the Ents, driving them away. Ents are trying to demolish the ruins to let nature take over, but there are spirits resisting them. Gleador also notices a squat, powerful-looking building whose gate has been smashed in. Soren said that raiders struck important targets while the populace rushed to deal with the fire. This must be one of those important buildings. As Gleador flies near the Ents, they shout, “Begone, grave-robbers!” Gleador lands within shouting distance, but out of reach and turns back into an Elf. Perhaps showing that he is a Druid will convince them of his good intentions. He also whispers to Lucia that they should keep the Saarland coin out of sight. Our heroes call out to the Ents, “We promise we’re not grave-robbers!” “Why did those spirits attack you?” The Ents are not convinced and rip large stones out of the ground and nearby buildings to hurl at our heroes. Lucia dodges, and Gleador turns into an Air Elemental and lets the boulder pass harmlessly through him. They run from the Ents. Knowing no other landmarks, they head for the secure building Gleador spotted from the air. The streets are full of tall grass and bushes from years of growth, but even so, our heroes easily outpace the slow Ents.
The building is two storeys tall, mostly stone, and surrounded by a high metal fence. The fence was probably decorated in the past, but now all but the main posts have been stripped by looters. The gates were smashed inwards off their hinges. A sign over the door (carved, not a plaque, so it can’t be removed) indicates that this building was a forge and a storehouse. The front doors are gone, and the sunlight illuminates a small patch of floor inside. There’s a corpse just inside the threshold. Lucia advances to cast Speak with Dead on the corpse. The edges of the shadows around the doorframe stretch and pull towards her, turning into ghastly Spectres, undead spirits who refuse to move on! Gleador unleashes a wide blast of freezing breath, which passes harmlessly through the incorporeal creatures. He shape-shifts into a Fire Elemental to light up the interior. As he bursts into flames, the Spectres shrink back, seeking the shadow. “The Destroyer!” they hiss. The raiders who sacked Saarland and probably killed these Spectres’ mortal bodies used mainly fire. The Spectres remember! Gleador has secured some space, so Lucia can examine the body. It’s fresher than ten years old, so it probably did not fall in the attack on Saarland. Maybe it was a looter and was killed by these Spectres. It carries a number of empty sacks, similar to Rose, and wears a charm around its neck made of leaves and metal. Lucia grabs the charm. This chamber appears to be a foyer. There’s a reception desk in the center, and benches along the sides. Everything that isn’t nailed down is long gone.
Our heroes advance into the main chamber. The center of the room is a huge forge with many openings, surrounded by workbenches. The large chimney goes up to the roof. The second floor is a balcony that overlooks the forge on all sides. There are stair cases at each corner, and smaller doors to side chambers on each side. Most things that could be carried off or pried out have been ,but there are a few dead bodies and some scorch marks scattered around the floor. Gleador advances to secure space, pushing Spectres back into the darkness in the corners of the room. Lucia casts Speak With Dead on an old-looking corpse. She gets three questions. When she asks, the responses come not from the skeletal face of the corpse, but from above. A Spectre peers over the edge of the balcony and speaks for his dead body.
How did you die? Defending the forge for invaders
Why did they invade? To steal our treasures
Why are you still a Spectre? Devotion to my craft exceeds devotion to any god
Gleador and Lucia walk the perimeter of the room. As they approach a staircase, a metal canister, maybe a gallon or two, drops from the top of the stairs. Gleador flies straight up to avoid it and is suddenly face to face with a Spectre with several more canisters nearby. The canister hits Lucia on the head. Her helmet absorbs the impact, but the canister bursts. She’s covered in soft expanding foam. Definitely not a horrible glue trap like in the Dwarven science building. It doesn’t burn, melt, or freeze her. It has a vaguely chemical smell, but there no immediate harmful effects. Gleador roars with flame to drive the Spectre back, and it hurls another canister. Lucia dashes up the stairs to catch it. The canister springs a leak and a stream of foam slashes across Gleador, extinguishes the flames that it touches. Lucia realizes that the Spectres have repurposed flame retardant foam that was used in the forge as a weapon against Gleador. The standoff is re-established. Gleador’s light and heat keeps the Spectres back, so he and Lucia can creep around the balcony and investigate. There’s a lot more stuff up here. It’s much harder for looters to reach. Lucia grabs a fine wooden box containing delicate metalworking tools. Quite valuable for the right smith. In the shadows on the other side of the circular balcony, Spectres manipulate the environment to set traps. At the far side of the balcony, above the foyer where they entered, our heroes notice a wall-mounted cabinet with curved marks on the floor in front of it. Apparently this cabinet swings out from the wall, like a secret door. There’s a big sheet of metal leaning against the cabinet. Our heroes approach, and Gleador reaches glowing arm around the metal sheet to light up the shadow behind. His arm meets the ghostly arm of Spectre, using the shadow as cover to get close enough to strike! The two non-solid arms pass through each other, causing damage to each creature. Gleador blasts a super-heated jet of flame into the metal sheet, heating its center to glowing before bursting through and burning the Spectre behind it. The Spectre howls and flees back into the shadows. With that trap dealt with, Lucia pulls the cabinet out from the wall, triggering a mechanical trap placed by the original owners. Pneumatic pistons fire tiny darts! Lucia uses her shield to smash the mechanism, but a dart finds a gap in her armor and her limbs get heavy. The poisoned darts have paralyzed her! Gleador has a dilemma. As fire, he can’t grab or move Lucia without injuring her, but without fire, the Spectres with overwhelm them. Fortunately, his Chimera ability gives him amazing flexibility. He combines a Salamander for fire breath, and a boyd made of flame, with a monkey tail that is not on fire. He uses the prehensile tail to shove Lucia into the secret compartment and stands guard at the door.
GM note: This is where we had to stop for the evening. Quite a cliff-hanger!
They head to the docks, which are on the west bank of the river, just south of the bridge. Their apartment and the theater is also on the west side of town, so they don’t have to cross the bridge to reach the docks. Most of the boats traffic is barges that drift down the river. They are maneuvered into place by small tugboats. They are really small tugboats because their crews are Halflings. Most people who live in Sugar’s Crossing are Halflings.
One barge has two Giants that push the barge along with poles, like the gondolas in Venice. The Giants are about 12 feet tall, so these poles are 20-foot tree trunks that are long enough to reach the bottom of the river. The Giants look ready to go to a Goth club. They have baggy cargo pants with straps all over, and mesh shirts made out of rope. The Giants maneuver their barge alongside the dock, and a swarm of Halfling dockhands rush in to begin unloading the barge. The Giants act as cranes. They reach up to the top of the stacked boxes, and Halflings use the straps and ropes on the Giants’ clothes to climb up and grab packages. A bustle of carefully coordinated activity.
There are two other barges at the dock. One is being loaded. There’s a line of cargo and passengers. Some passengers have carts that they will roll on, tie down, then roll off at their destination, like a modern ferry. Gleador and Opal recognize some people waiting to board. There’s Opal, a Dwarf woman who assaulted Lucia on her first night in Fairmeadow! She’s with two other figures, one taller and one shorter than her. They have a cart, drawn by a pony and covered by a tarp. Gleador was tranformed into a panther when he met Opal, so she would not recognize his Elf form, but she does spot Lucia! There’s a bit of crowd between the two groups. Lucia hesitates to see Opal’s reaction. Gleador splits off from Lucia, trying to look like an unrelated person who happened to be walking alongside Lucia for a moment. Opal tries to subtly warn her companions about Lucia. They furtively glance at her and the short one checks the tarp to make sure their cargo is hidden. Lucia moves towards them. Opal hails the nearest guard, pointing at Lucia. Sugar’s Crossing is a major port, so there are guards everywhere to protect commerce. Gleador tries and fails to shapeshift into a Elf that looks just like himself, but with fox ears for better hearing: Gleador, but more anime. The guard is convinced by Opal, motions a second guard over, and confronts Lucia. They say, “What’s your business here on the docks. We hear you’re a troublemaker. If you’re not boarding a ship or picking up cargo, you need to leave.” She says she’s sightseeing, and there’s no rule against that. There’s a tourist area at the end of the dock with rides and souvenirs and such. The guards say that, if she’s a tourist, she should go down there and stay out of this section of the docks. There’s heavy cargo moving in and out all the time. She could get in the way or be hurt. She and the guards start moving towards the tourist area.
Lucia: “I’m just wondering, who said I was a trouble maker? I don’t even know anyone here.”
Guard: “You want us to expose that person to retaliation? We’ve heard this one before. We’re not fools.”
Lucia’s path takes her close to Opal’s cart. Lucia wants to reach out and move the tarp to see what’s underneath, but decides that drawing her sword to do that would be foolish. Setting the cart of fire is also a bad idea. Gleador wanders close as well. At this distance, Lucia & Gleador recognize the short person sitting on the cart as the pickpocket that they caught in the Brace of Pigs bar, way back in Session 2. Gleador yells, “Lucia, look! It’s the thieves from the Fairmeadow Fair! The ones we were deputized to stop!” The guards are very motivated to prevent thievery, so they demand an explanation. “What thieves, where? What’s all this now?” Gleador says that they caught the short one picking pockets, and that Opal attacked them at night.
Gleador: “Lucia, don’t you recognize them?”
Lucia: “I do! I bet they were the ones who said we were troublemakers, because we did make a lot of trouble for them.”
The guards aren’t sure who to trust. One stays with Gleador and Lucia, and the other approaches the Halfling to search him. The Halfling cooperates. His cloak does have lots of little pockets, but they are empty. He says, “I’ve only got the one coin purse.” The guard by our heroes calls out, “Check under the tarp. Maybe that’s where they’re hiding things.” The second guard thinks that’s reasonable.
GM note: I thought that Opal and her gang were stuck, but then I remembered that I had planned for this a few sessions back, but it never came up. Now I get to spring my amazing plan!
Several things happen very quickly. Opal yells, “Plan Z!” and shoves the guard away from the cart. Her Human and Halfling companions draw swords and cut the harness holding the pony to the cart. Gleador jams his shillelagh between the spokes of the cart’s wheel to prevent it from moving. The Human runs towards the edge of the dock. The Halfling takes a potion from his belt and drinks it. Opal tries to shove Gleador away the cart. Lucia intercepts and shoves Opal up against the cart. The sound of Opal’s body impacting the cart and her head being thrown back into the cargo under the tarp indicates that both the cart & the cargo are metallic. Gleador runs after the human. The human leaps into the river. Gleador takes a flying leap after her. As soon as he is concealed under the water, he transforms into a chimera with dolphin tail, alligator body, and dolphin echolocation. The Halfling moves some levers on his seat. The cart jerks forward, but the shillelagh prevents the wheel from turning. He backs up the cart to try to break the shillelagh. Lucia is holding Opal against the back of the cart and binding her, so when the cart suddenly backs up, they are both knocked down. Lucia gets up first and holds Opal at swordpoint.
Under the water, the Human swims under the barge and pulls out a potion to drink it. The potion is in a leather pouch, so even though she’s underwater, she can drink it by squeezing the pouch like a Capri Sun. Gleador lunges to make her drop the potion. He tries to bite her legs, but she’s doing the breaststroke kick, so she pulls her legs away from each other and Gleador’s alligator maw closes right between them. She’s very surprised.
The two Dwarf guards move to separate Lucia and Opal. The Halfling is still trying to break the shillelagh and move the cart. Lucia uses “I am the Law!” to command the guards to go after the Halfling while she secures Opal. The guards don’t like having their authority challenged, so they attack Lucia. Lucia defends, but badly. The guards don’t land any blows, but they maneuver Lucia away from the cart. Opal sees her chance, pulls the shillelagh out of the wheel, and jumps on as the cart speeds away without anything pulling it. It crashes through the line of people waiting to board the barge, heading straight for the edge of the dock.
Underwater directly below the barge, Gleador & the Human are facing off, when the cart hits the water above and behind them. Gleador slams the Human against the underside of the barge, taking a sword blow in return. The air is knocked out of her lungs, bubbling all around them. She gasps in a bunch of water and does not panic or begin to drown. Gleador realizes that she drank a potion of water breathing. The cart sinks to the bottom of the river and starts driving downstream, kicking up a plume of mud behind it.
Lucia is in the middle of a panicked crowd on the dock with two guards trying to subdue her. She berates them for letting the real criminals get away and tries to fight her way to the edge of the dock to see what happened to the cart. When she turns away, one guard hooks her leg and knocks her down. More guards are on their way, but have to push through the crowd of people trying to escape the brawl. People on the barges are yelling about stuff happening in the water.
Underwater, Gleador tries to break the Human’s arm with a tail swipe. He’s hit on the way in, but she drops the sword and goes limp. As she slowly sinks towards the river bed, the cart tries to get under her and catch her.
Lucia’s on the ground with two guards standing over her. They won’t be distracted by the cart. Other people will be dispatched to handle it. They are going to make sure that everyone who has disrupted the docks is captured, and that means her. More guards approach and try to get a sitrep. There are at least four people and a cart in the water. What’s pulling the cart? That horse right there was pulling the cart. That’s a pony, not a horse. Also, how can it be pulling the cart if it’s here and the cart is underwater? The guards standing near Lucia are distracted, giving her an opening. She can bolt into the crowd, but if she pauses to pick up her sword, the guards will have enough time to stop her. Is freedom worth the loss of her sword?
GM note: We spent a long time trying to answer that question. How much does a sword cost? How difficult is it to find a supplier? What are the chances I could circle back and pick the sword up? In the future, I need to keep the game moving.
Lucia disappears into the crowd, leaving her sword behind. She goes to the edge of the dock. She can’t see anything underwater. All the actors are under the barge, and the cart has churned up a lot of mud.
Gleador can see, because he’s under the barge with the incapacitated Human and the Halfling driving the cart to intercept her. Gleador grabs her and drags her away. The Halfling pulls out a handheld harpoon gun and fires at Gleador. Gleador uses the Alligator Death Roll ability to evade the dart. He returns to Elf form and pushes the Human to the surface.
Since sound travels so well underwater, Gleador hears Opal say, “Shelley’s weak! Drive on!” The cart starts moving downriver, abandoning their incapacitated buddy. Gleador pops up and hands Shelley off the the onlookers at the edge of the dock. “Help her! She’s injured!” He dives back underwater to pursue the cart. He uses the plume of mud kicked up by the cart to cover his next transformation.
The dock workers have hooks, poles, and ropes to pull Shelley out of the water. Lucia’s Quest requires Hospitality. She must help anyone in need, and right now, that’s Shelley. Lucia would really like to pursue the cart, but doesn’t want to lose the quest, so she uses Lay on Hands on Shelley. She fails. The crowd around Shelley sees Shelley react in fear as an armor-clad person pushes through the crowd and grabs her broken arm. Shelley screams and passes out. Lucia wonders if she has fulfilled her quest’s requirements. Does she have to succeed in helping those in need, or is trying good enough? The dock workers, shocked by Lucia’s apparently cruelty, push her back to the edge of the dock with their tools and call for the guards. Lucia tries to push through the crowd with her shield, but is knocked into the river. Her plate armor drags her down.
Gleador changes his transformation when he sees Lucia fall into the river. He combines a water dragon (water jet breath weapon) dolphin (echolocation) and flying dragon wings. Gleador swims to Lucia and she grabs on. Gleador swims just under the surface, so Lucia’s head is above the surface. As they zoom downriver after the fleeing cart, they look behind them. A giant from another barge jumps into the river and starts poking around in the muddy water with his barge pole, trying to find anyone else who went overboard.
The cart rushes downriver on the river bed, kicking up a big plume of mud. Gleador is gaining, his long water-dragon body just below the river’s surface. Lucia looks like a poor water-skier being dragged behind a boat. She’s out of the water to her waist, cutting a big wake in the river’s surface. As they approach, Opal fires the harpoon gun. Gleador fires a water jet, which swats the dart away, knocks Opal and the Halfling off the cart, and rips the tarp off the cart. The cart’s mysterious cargo is revealed: a metal statue of a dwarf, just like the one that came to life and ruined the auction back in Session 4! The cart keeps going at full speed, without a pony to pull it or a driver to guide it.
The Halfling swims towards shore, but Opal reloads the harpoon gun and plans to grapple herself back to the runaway cart. Gleador carries Lucia to the shore. She’s ready to bash this Halfling with her shield. Gleador pauses to see if she’s going to be alright. The Halfling gets to shore, and sees a fully-armored Paladin and a water dragon waiting for him. There’s no way he’s winning this. He surrenders. Lucia takes his sword and dagger. She can use the Halfling-sized sword as a dagger. She ties him up.
Gleador pursues the cart. Opal has grappled back to the cart and is firing darts backwards as the cart drives itself. Gleador pulls alongside and blasts a water jet at the top of the cart. The cart flips out from under Opal, who is then yanked after it by her line. The statue is flung clear and lands headfirst in the mud at a weird angle. The cart lands upside-down on top of Opal, wheels still spinning. Gleador shoves the cart onto its side. It starts skidding in a circle as the wheels kick up mud. Opal uses the controls to stop the wheels. Once again, Gleador has appeared as a weird monster, so once again, Opal panics and lashes out with her sword. Gleador tries to wrestle the sword away from her, but gets stabbed for his trouble. She swims for the statue. Gleador wraps his long body around Opal and constricts her until she stops struggling. He carries her to shore, within shouting distance of Opal, who has secured the Halfling.
They are out of sight of Sugar’s Crossing now, but a few Naga troops have been mobilized and are quickly swimming towards them. Four snake-like heads skim above the water’s surface. Lucia calls out, “We caught them! The cart is down there!” Two Naga heads turn towards the shore, and the other two heads disappear under the water. A moment later, the two Naga reappear, confirming that the cart is there, and no one else is underwater.
The Naga demand an explanation. Lucia and Gleador explain that these people are thieves and muggers that they encountered in Fairmeadow. They name-drop Pepe. They also warn the Naga not to touch the statue that’s underwater, since a statue just like it what wrecked the auction at the Fairmeadow Fair. Especially do not touch any switches on the statue. We don’t know what they do. The Naga will check on their story, but it seems legit, so they will take Opal and the Halfling back to town in custody. Gleador and Lucia are allowed to accompany the Naga under their own power.
Three Naga come ashore to slither along with their prisoners. One Naga swims ahead to fetch someone to recover the cart and statue from the riverbed. The Naga say that if they were on duty instead of the Dwarfs when all this happened, no one would have gotten past the docks. They are proud of their amphibious capabilities. It took a while for the Dwarfs at the dock to call for the Naga troops, which is why they had such a big head start. Our heroes explain that the statue is very dangerous and unpredictable and leaving it unattended may be foolish. One of the three Naga says, “I’m not scared of your statue. I’ll stay behind and watch it.” The leader warns him not to touch any switches or controls on either the statue or the cart, even though the self-driving cart might be cool.
The party (Gleador, Lucia, Opal, Halfling, Naga commander, one Naga tail-soldier) returns to the Sugar’s Crossing dock. There are lots of Dwarf guards around, but not the two that gave Lucia trouble. The commander of the Dwarf security force is there, identifiable by his fancy hat. There’s also a fancy magical Halfling named Lightfoot who has been brought in to confirm our heroes’ story. Lightfoot is using an enchanted tea set to communicate with Pepe remotely. It’s Halfling tradition to get together and share stories over tea. Halflings think it’s weird that Humans throw out the tea and look at the junk left in the bottom of the cup. That’s silly. Pour the tea, let it sit, and look into the reflection. If your friend is also making tea at the same time, you see your friend in the reflection. It’s quite a sight seeing this fancy Halfling sitting on the floor whispering into a teacup surrounded by grumpy Dwarfs.
Pepe confirms our heroes’ story except for one thing. Opal doesn’t have a statue like the one that wrecked Fairmeadow. It’s the same statue. It was stolen from Fairmeadow’s town hall a few days ago. The Dwarf commander says that Gleador and Lucia are OK. They were telling the truth. The people they were fighting were dangerous known criminals. Just one thing, though. It was really mean of Lucia to break Shelley’s arm when she was already injured and half-drowned. Excessive force, to be sure. Our heroes weapons are returned. A Giant sets out to retrieve the cart and statue on a raft that looks small only because its pilot is so large. When he reaches the wreck, the Giant jumps in, sinks to the bottom and picks the statue and cart up over his head to put them on the raft. He’s really strong.
Shelley is with a healer. Opal and the Halfling (named Billy) are in custody. The poor pony that was pulling the cart has been taken to a stable.
The Giant (his name is Ommm. Exactly three Ms. Omm is his cousin.) returns with the cart and statue on his raft. The Dwarf-sized statue barely passes Ommm’s knees. It looks very non-threatening. Opal yells, “That’s mine! You have no right. It’s my birthright, my property! It was lost. I was taking it back.”
Gleador: How can you prove it’s yours?
Opal: My family name is stamped under the statue’s left arm.
Lucia’s senses can pierce lies and she does not detect any lies.
Gleador: Describe your sense of property ownership.
It’s got my name on it. We didn’t sell them. It has to be stolen. Them? How many are there? She is not sure. This is the first functional one that she’s found. She has parts of maybe five. They are miners.
How do you control them? “It’s easy,” she says, gesturing towards the statue. Everyone rushes to stop her from touching anything. Set it to collect. It collects metal. Then you set it to return and it returns. But how do you get to the switch to change it to return mode? (The statue tossed our heroes around when they tried to turn the switch) Just wait until the pack is full, and then it will stop. Our heroes are shocked that it’s that easy.
Lucia detects that Opal and Billy are evil. Shelley isn’t here, so her status is unknown.
The Oolites built the statue shortly before the Oolite family lost their fortune. Opal was not around to see what happened, but something went bad around the time the Oolites opened a new mine with the robots. The exact disaster is a family secret that the old generation won’t talk about. Opal isn’t content to accept the loss of the family’s old status. She wants to regain it by using these mining robots, but she doesn’t know where to mine, exactly.
GM notes: Players are willing to spend forever asking all sorts of questions, and why not? Their enemy is captured. I need a way to make them ask the important questions and then move on.
The Dwarf captain tells them to wrap it up, so they can get the docks back to working order. Lucia re-iterates how dangerous the statue is. Ommm is not impressed and figures he could just throw it in the river if it went crazy. Gleador wishes Ommm was around when they fought the statue in Fairmeadow.
Lucia wonders what the pickpocket was for. Opal explains that the opening bid for the statue was 500 gold. Oolites aren’t rich anymore, so they had to steal the money to bid on the statue. How did Shelley get involved? She was a historian that Opal consulted and she was impressed by Opal’s goal to recover her family’s artifacts. She’s a softy. The guards take Opal, Billy, the cart, and the statue to the fort. The commander anticipates arguing with Pepe about which town was more damaged and who gets to try them first. As she’s dragged away, Opal yells, ‘I’m not responsible for what people who don’t know how to operate the statue did! If I had been able to buy it, none of this would have happened! It’s your fault!” Gleador yells after her, “Who owned it before the auction?” The commander says, “Didn’t you check the auction records?” Our heroes remember that it was sold by Hama, an agent who did not reveal who she was selling the statue for.
The crowd breaks up, and our heroes are free to pursue whatever they want. Gleador is hurt, but he can heal overnight. Is the statue involved with the coins? They were trying to figure out the Saarland coin mystery and didn’t make any progress. The coins were found in the statue’s backpack, but our heroes theorize that the coins may have been in another item at auction, not in the statue originally. They decide to track down Hama, and learn that she’s staying with Lady Evelynn. Lady Evelynn is scary, and they don’t want to go back into her lair. They will go to Saarland instead. They will head out in the morning. They visit the tourist part of the dock and spend another night in the apartment building
Last time, our heroes teleported into the mansion of a spooky noblewoman on the outskirts of Sugar’s Crossing. They avoided her ire (possibly re-directing it to the mayor of Templeton) and entered the city of Sugar’s Crossing.
Sugar’s Crossing is so named because it straddles a major river, and the beets from the surrounding fields are refined in the three great mills on that river. The owner of the mills are always vying for power in the city. Lady Evelynn owns one mill. The others are owned by the Miller and le Grind familes. The bridge over the river is fortified against attack, and the fort for the garrison is right next to it. Instead of a city hall, there’s a forum: an open area where people give speeches and hold debates to influence policy. The storyteller’s theater is on the west edge of town, near the main road.
The theater has two big plays each day that are free to the public. These are basic, staple stories of the history of Sugar’s Crossing. There are rotating exhibitions that one can pay to see. One can also hire experts to expound on any subject one is interested in. Lucia attends the morning’s free show. It covers the founding of Sugar’s Crossing, and the rivalry of the two old mills that face each other across the river: Miller & le Grind. A pair of star-crossed lovers are torn apart by the family strife, and must meet in secret under the bridge. They decide to abandon their family and flee the strife. Each builds a canoe. They meet in the middle of the river and lash their boats together to form a catamaran, which is more stable than their separate boats. They set off down the river, never to return. The play ends when an actor dressed as Lady Evelynn bursts in, throwing the stage into chaos.
While Lucia is watching this history lesson, Gleador looks for someone to gossip with. He finds a chatty, clever halfling named Pan who runs a food stall. Pan sells ground & spiced meats & starches wrapped in leaves, kinda like Indian samosas. Gleador asks for the latest gossip. There’s always competition and backstabbing between the mills as they vie to control town policy. The harvest party barge came through a few days ago. You just missed it. It sets off from upriver when harvest begins and slowly winds down the river, stopping in each town for a celebration and to buy & sell crops. Gleador asks if Pan heard about all the trouble at the Fairmeadow Fair, especially the living statue that disrupted the auction. The food stall has a split counter: one at halfling-height, the other at human height. Pan climbs up to the human counter to lean in conspiratorially and whisper in Gleador’s ear. Pan says the auction is sometimes used to launder contraband. It’s a bit of an open secret. No contraband was noticed this time.
Gleador and Lucia meet up after their morning expeditions and go back to the theater to hire a specialist. They ask for an expert on the story of Saarland. They are in luck! One of the storytellers who lives at the theater is a refugee from Saarland. They go into a back room and meet Soren, an Elf woman. Gleador coughs significantly at Lucia, trying to send a message. Lucia understands and prays to know what here is evil. Soren is not evil, but she does ask what the performative coughing was about. Gleador explains that they had to be sure she wasn’t evil. Soren isn’t sure how coughing helps them determine that. Gleador says that evil people get mad, not inquisitive like Soren.
They start explaining why they are interested in Saarland. When they mention a robot smashing up the auction in Fairmeadow, Soren has to stop them. She’s unfamiliar with the word “robot.” They explain that the living statue was holding coins like this, and they produce the coin from Saarland. Soren is emotional. Here is a relic of her lost home. She wants the coin. As a survivor of Saarland, she has a claim to it. Our heroes resist, since they promised to give it back to Pepe. Soren says she won’t tell them the story of Saarland unless they give her the coin. Gleador tries to convince her that by telling them about Saarland, she’d make them bearers of the lost city’s culture, inspiring them to get justice! Soren isn’t quite convinced. She wants more assurance. She notices that Lucia is a Paladin, and asks her to swear a quest. Lucia swears to find who stole the coins.
Soren tells the story of Saarland. It was an Elven city in the woods to the north. It was surrounded by a living wall of close-set conifers and brambles 150 feet high. One night, the wall on one side of the city suddenly caught fire. The residents organized to fight the fire, but were ambushed by masked invaders. At the same time, on the other side of town, looters appeared and struck the bank, storehouses, and even took valuable tools from artisans’ workshops. The sudden, coordinated attack threw the city into chaos. The fire spread across the entire wall. Some raiders were killed once the residents re-organized to the new threat, but their bodies burst into flame. There were no prisoners to question, and not much evidence to look through. It took three days to contain the fires, and two more days to account for the missing, injured, and slain. Soren only slept once in that time. The attacks were so precise, people were sure the raiders had inside help. But who? Some people were missing, but did they flee for their lives during the attack, or leave with the raiders? The unrecognizable corpses of fallen raiders might be Elves from the city, or humans, Orcs, plenty of possibilities. Some said that the raiders fire-based attacks proved they were demons. The looting convinced others that these were bandits, although the force was larger and better organized than usual bandits. Still others feared this was the vanguard of an invasion. The community was shattered, and the survivors fled and scattered. Soren has never returned. The roads that led to Saarland have not been maintained, so after 10 years the forest has surely overgrown them. Soren suggests that the sentries that patrol the outskirts of Sugar’s Crossing could find the old paths. Gleador & Lucia thank Soren for all the information and promise to solve the mystery.
The evening show is about to start, and Lucia wants resolution for that cliff-hanger from the last show. This show, about Lady Evelynn’s arrival 20 years ago, is a glitzy musical, as opposed to the more dramatic, serious play from this morning. Lady Evelynn’s outfit is covered in rhinestones. There’s a back-projection system to represent her giant shadow. The three mill owners circle each other, first one direction, than another. Lady Evelynn’s arrival does not inspire le Grind & Miller to team up against her. The two-way duel is now a three-way rivalry.
After that show, Gleador and Lucia seek lodging. In Halfling towns like Sugar’s crossing, family home, apartment complex, and hotel all blend into each other. Homes are large to accommodate extended families. Some homes have rooms set aside for guests, and some homes charge for those rooms. Gleador and Lucia find some extra-large rooms that fit them. Gleador has a debility from a previous adventure, so they decide to stay another day to let him rest. With Lucia’s help, he recovers on the morning of the third day in Sugar’s Crossing. When she’s not healing Gleador, Lucia attends the special exhibitions at the theater. She learns a lot of things that may be helpful in future adventures.
GM note: I made a custom move for listening to stories. Lucia got Hold that she can spend to boost the result of a Spout Lore roll in the future. Spend the Hold and tell us what play or recitation told you this information.
GM note:I was sure they’d at least go look at the river and spot some old foes hiring a boat, but they never left the theater. I could have forced them into seeing what I wanted them to see by putting the theater on the opposite shore, but I didn’t think of it.
GM note: Well, now they are chasing down a legend. This is far from where I thought the secret coins quest was going to go. Lucia swore a quest, so it’s definitely taking priority over learning about the Oolite robot, and after they went through such trouble to get information about the robot!
Last time, our heroes arranged to meet the mayor of Templeton in a magically-protected area, despite the best efforts of the mayor’s special forces. (Why does she even have special forces?!) They disrupted the mayor’s attempt to teleport in, and all three of them ended up somewhere unknown.
They rush up towards the edge of hyperspace, breaking through the surface into water. They rush up through water, breaking the surface into darkness. Their eyes adjust and they realize they are in an indoor swimming pool. One wall and part of the ceiling are covered in thick curtains, so whatever daylight might be outside does not reach in here.
While our heroes and the mayor are trying to figure out what’s going on, the double doors at one end of the room swing open. Light streams in, backlighting a figure in the doorway and throwing a huge shadow on the far wall. It’s a female figure, about human size, wearing the kind of robe that might cover a swimsuit. The last section of each finger is as long as the rest of the finger. Our heroes can’t tell from this distance if they are an extravagent manicure, or claws. She says, “You’re not on the guest list. How did you get into my house?”
The mayor, a female Dwarf wearing a fancy dress is having trouble staying afloat, as in Lucia, the plate-clad Paladin. The lady of the house notices their distress and says, “Let me give you a hand.” The shadow on the back wall peels itself off of the wall, becoming three-dimensional and solid, but still see-through. Its giant hands reach into the pool, cutting dark voids through the water, and waiting, palm up, next to the struggling figures. It would be undignified to snatch them up without their permission. Lucia and the mayor climb aboard and are lifted out of the pool. The shadow’s hands come down on the tile floor surrounding the pool and sink into the surface, so Lucia and the mayor’s feet are gently lowered to the floor as the shadow becomes two-dimensional again. Gleador swims to the edge and pulls himself out. The mysterious woman again demands to know how they got in. Gleador starts recounting the story of last session, an exciting tale of assassins and chases! The mayor interrupts. She’s the mayor, and these two are dangerous criminals. The mysterious woman shuts her down. “First of all, don’t interrupt. As I must often point out, my estate is outside city limits, so I answer to no mayor. Finally, I don’t recognize you. The two ruling class women exchange formal introductions. The mayor of Templeton is named Eroc. Their mysterious host is Lady Evelynn.
GM’s note:Phew, it was a pain not referring to them by name! Narration got much easier from her on.
As Gleador continues, Eroc also continues her protests. These ruffians attacked her and are in league with dangerous forces. They should be locked in a dungeon! Evelynn bristles. “How dare you suggest that I have an dungeon here? What have you heard?” Since Gleador has amused her with his story, Evelynn offers the three of them traditional hospitality: one night’s stay. They are also free to leave immediately if they wish. She is hosting a party tonight, but they simply can’t attend, not in those clothes. Eroc’s dress may have been acceptable, were it not soaked, but that filthy adventuring gear is right out. All three accept the offer of a night’s rest, and Evelynn summons a butler to show them to their rooms. Jayce is a very proper butler, a male human with dark hair going grey at the temples. His square jaw is clean-shaven, and his posture is perfect. As he leads them past Lady Evelynn towards the rooms, Eroc scoffs that she is given the same treatment as her kidnappers. Evelynn grabs Eroc’s mouth between a thumb and forefinger (those long gold fingertips are definitely claws, not decorations), pulls her face close, and hisses, “I have offered you hospitality. Do not disrespect me!” Eroc is thoroughly cowed and scurries after Jayce and our heroes. Evelynn stays in the pool room.
Jayce leads the three of them through the unnecessarily large and twisting halls of the mansion. Each section of hall is separated from the next by large double doors. Jayce pauses at a few doors, listening through them for sounds of the party, then selecting a new route. He offers Gleador and Lucia adjoining rooms, but thinks it best if Eroc’s room was a ways off. Each room has a four-poster bed, big windows, typical mansion stuff. There’s a door to the hall, but also a door from one room to the other. There’s a lock on each side, but Gleador and Lucia want access to each other, so they open both sides. Jayce returns and offers to have their clothes cleaned and dried. He looks them over with a practiced eye and selects nightclothes of the proper sizes from a wardrobe in one of the rooms. (a shin-length shirt and a soft pointy hat with a puff at the tip, like Geppetto wears in Disney’s Pinocchio.) He waits discreetly in the hall for them to change, then takes their dirty clothes. Lucia keeps her armor with her, of course. Before leaving, Jayce asks them to stay in their rooms, and says that breakfast and their clean clothes will be brought up in the morning.
Of course, Gleador isn’t going to stay put. He selects a chimera form for spying on the party downstairs. A gnat for flight and stealth. Sand for toughness. A coral with contact poison to discourage people from trying to mess with him. If a party guest notices and swats him, his tough body will resist the impact, and they will swiftly develop an itchy rash. He flies down to see what he can see. The ceilings are high and there’s a dull roar of conversation, so no one notices the buzz of his wings. There’s a main hall where guests enter from outside, an adjoining hall with drinks and hors d’oeuvres, and a third hall for dancing. Side chambers are available for people who want to converse more privately.
Everybody who’s anybody in the town of Sugar’s Crossing is here. Sugar’s Crossing is a mill town on the river a few days travel west of Fairmeadow. The human population of Sugar’s Crossing is small. Party guests are elves, dwarves, and halflings mostly. There are some Naga (kinda like snake mermaids) from down south. The port city on the same river as Sugar’s Crossing is in the territory of a Naga ruler called the Sea Viper. There’s also a Dryad from the forests to the north. She’s roughly humanoid, but made of wood and leaves. She’s bound to a tree, and that tree is in a corner of the room, in a pot with wheels and a handle so she can transport it. The owners of two of the major mills are here. The naga are indeed emissaries of the Sea Viper. Gleador recognizes the Valerie Balfour as the owner of the shipping company whose ledger he read back in Templeton. Gleador also spots Hama, the agent who brought the living metal statue to auction at Fairmeadow. The last important person he notices is Mayor Eroc! She slipped into a side chamber and is trying to attract the attention of some dwarven soldiers. Sugar’s Crossing is a bigger, more important town than Fairmeadow. Pepe and his deputies can keep Fairmeadow safe, but Sugar’s Crossing has a garrison of soldiers to protect river traffic, the mills, and other important infrastructure. The region is a loose federation of independent city-states, and they provide security to Sugar’s Crossing on a rotating basis. Right now, there’s a dwarven garrison, and Eroc probably has some contacts with them.
Gleador doesn’t want soldiers waiting for them at the edge of town, but he’s always got a plan. He flies back to his room, returns to elven form, and rings for Jayce. There’s a small bell mounted on the desk in his room. When he strikes it, he realizes there’s no clapper inside, but he hears a faint tone far away outside the room. Jayve appears shortly, and asks how he can be of service. Gleador says he feels bad about the enmity between him and Eroc, and wants to reconcile. Could Jayce please bring Eroc here so Gleador can make peace? Jayce thinks it’s a mark of civilization and right living to seek reconciliation and promises to bring Eroc forthwith. He returns, taken aback, to report that Eroc is not in her room. Gleador feigns worry. Jayce says not to worry, stay here, he’ll have her found. Gleador and Lucia wait for what seems like a long time before there’s another knock at the door. Jayce isn’t there. This is a servant they haven’t seen before: a petite female Tiefling. She wears a waterproof leather jacket and cap. The bill of the cap is narrow where it joins the cap to accommodate the two vertical horns that extend from her brows to just past the crown of her head. Her skin is red and curved tusks jut outward from her bottom lip. In contrast to Jayce’s perfect posture and diction, she slouches against the doorframe. (She probably works outside most of the time, away from polite company) “Hey, uhh, we found Eroc. She’s fine. Everything’s fine, but y’all need to stay in your rooms. Can’t chat tonight. Maybe in the morning?” Our heroes thank her for the information and start to inquire further, but she’s already turning away saying, “Yeah, yeah” with a half-wave.
Gleador has scouted the party and brought trouble to his adversary for doing the same, both without implicating himself. That’s a good night’s work, and with no other pressing business, our heroes rest for the night. Gleador levels up and gains the ability to transform into pure elements. He can be a buffalo made of fire, or augment his already formidable stealth capabilities by turning into wind.
GM’s note:Gleador is insufferable to NPCs, which means he’s delightful to a GM, and this new power will only make that stronger. I look forward to scrambling to deal with the new level of shenanigans he’ll try in the future. Also, there’s a Druid power to imitate other humanoids, the shocking and unheard-of power that makes Andro so dangerous. Gleador didn’t take that power, thoughtfully preserving my NPCs raison d’etre.
In the morning Jayce brings a cart with trays of food on top and clean clothes underneath. He took the liberty of preparing traditional human and elven breakfast food. Lucia gets delicious bacon and eggs. Gleador isn’t as pleased. He is served river fish, not sea fish like he would get back on the Sapphire Islands. There’s also the breakfast salad of lempins, leafy vegetables which are quite hearty, but less tasty than oatmeal. Jayce did add tasty berries, but Gleador is still telling himself “It’s the thought that counts” When breakfast is over and our heroes are dressed again, they ask Jayce if they can greet Lady Evelynn as they leave. Jayce says he’ll inquire and returns shortly to say that Lady Evelynn will see them off. He leads them to the front door, past Eroc’s room. The door is open, and a servant is already cleaning it. Jayce says she didn’t stay for breakfast. Lucia suspects she never got back to her room after being discovered last night.
Lady Evelynn greets them at the front door wearing a fabulous dress in rose and purple with gold accessories. She wears small round rose-colored glasses that clip to her nose and have no earpieces. She accepts our heroes’ thanks for her hospitality. Gleador prods Lucia and Lucia asks if Evelynn heard about the metal statue that disturbed the auction at Fairmeadow Fair. Evelynn’s lots were called before the statue was activated, so she got paid. Lucia starts awkwardly explaining the strange coins found in the statue’s possessions, and how they are trying to understand the mystery. Lucia produces the large rectangular coin they’ve been carrying, but Lady Evelynn has stopped listening. She sees the coin and says, “Oh no, there’s no charge. It’s my pleasure to host travelers.” Lucia insists. She wants to know about Saarland, the source of these coins. Evelynn instructs Jayce to point them towards the storytellers in town, and ushers them out the door.
As they walk the considerable distance from the front door to the gates of the estate, Jayce explains that Sugar’s Crossing is home to halfling storytellers, a combination of oral historian and actor. They have a multi-storey round building in town (it resembles Shakespeare’s Globe Theater from our world). They walk past a topiary garden. All the bushes are shaped like predators: wolves, eagles, and stranger beasts not native to this area. Lucia asks “What are those?” and Jayce helpfully explains that they are bushes that are grown in special metal frames and trimmed twice a week to maintain specific shapes. With that, they reach the edge of Lady Evelynn’s property. The road before them leads to Sugar’s Crossing.
GM’s note: Most of the characters in this session were inspired by League of Legends characters! Lady Evelynn is K/DA Evelynn. Jayce is Debonair Jayce, and the tiefling is K/DA Akali.
Last time, our “heroes” laid hands on the Under-Dean Stanton & his assistant Simmons, were banned from the Fortinbras College of Mines, sent six members of the City Watch to the hospital, and delivered an ultimatum to the mayor. They are no longer welcome in town.
The mayor wants Gleador and Lucia brought to City Hall, but that’s in the center of the volcano’s caldera and it’s the deepest building in town. Our heroes don’t expect to escape from there. Their counter-offer, delivered by a City Watch-man dragging his wounded co-worker, is for the mayor to meet them at a rest stop two days walk west of Templeton. The rest stop has powerful magic, and those lit by its fire cannot harm each other. They mayor has three days to get there, and our heroes are watching the road out of Templeton to see if he goes or not.
That morning, the first traffic on the road towards the rest stop are two large carts, drawn by four horses each. The carts are covered by canvas supported by wooden frames, like covered wagons or WWII troop trucks. The canvas is extra-long, covering the sides of the wagon, but the horses are being driven fast, and the wind blows the canvas aside, revealing the name “Mister Bill’s Tack Shop”. That’s the building that Gleador saw burning yesterday. They pursue. Gleador transforms into a chimera of horse and eagle. It also breathes fire.
GM: What animal do you know from that Sapphire Islands that breathes fire?
Gleador’s player: The Giant Salamanders, of course!
GM: I can’t argue with that.
Lucia rides Gleador (on the ground for now) and they swiftly approach the heavy carts. They see the driver of the rear cart look back and shout instructions. Someone in the back of the cart reaches out through the canvas cover and dumps the contents of a bag onto the road: gold coins! Our heroes marvel at this strategy. What is its purpose? They stop and examine the coins. They appear to be normal Templeton gold pieces. Lucia suspects they may be counterfeit, since Flint was creating alloy with the same density as gold for some unknown purpose. The coins don’t appear to be magical, poisonous, or trapped, so our heroes grab a handful. As they are stopped, they look back towards Templeton and see another party approaching. Four figures, taller than Dwarves, wearing black cloaks. Three ride horses, but the leader rides a great wolf. The leader points at our heroes and the group of four accelerates. Gleador takes to the sky, out-pacing both the riders and the two carts. The carts see the riders approaching and stop. Gleador lands in front of them. One cart has a single driver. The other has a driver and someone riding shotgun. Lucia prays to reveal what is evil and gets five pings: the three visible people and one in the back of each cart. Gleador asks, “Are they after us or after you?” The people on the carts appear confused. A person pops her head out of the back of one cart to see what’s going on. It’s Shaela, one of the dwarves getting alloy from Flint, and probably the one who locked our heroes and Flint in that deathtrap a few sessions ago.
Lucia is really curious what Shaela knows about Flint’s whereabouts, but the three black-cloaked figures on horses are approaching. They have pulled white, skull-themed masks over their faces. The leader and the wolf are not in sight. Lucia prays to see if the riders are evil. They gets a ping from each rider, but not from the horses. She also gets two pings in thin air between her and the carts. The leader and her wolf appear from invisibility poised to strike! The wolf leaps at Lucia (who is still atop Gleador’s fire-breathing Hippogriff) Lucia braces her shield with her sword beneath it and strikes a heavy blow, aided by the wolf’s momentum. It collapses on Gleador’s shoulders and slides to the ground, but the rider leaped off as the wolf attacked. She is six feet above Lucia, holding a spear that’s attached to her gear with some sort of cable. Gleador unleashes a gout of flame. She drops the spear and throws her cloak around her, twisting in the air and dropping in an ungainly heap to the side, instead of directly in Lucia. Both the wolf and rider are back on their feet quickly. They back away, giving our heroes a respectful distance. The rider gives a hand signal, and the three other riders advance with their spears trying to encircle our heroes.
Gleador takes to the air. The three skull-faced horse-riders winds cranks at their hips to build air pressure, then fire their pneumatic spears at our heroes! Gleador swoops away and circles the group (two carts, four mounted assassins) within shouting distance. Lucia asks what exactly is going on! The wolf-rider, an Orc woman named Beth, yells back that they are a threat to the city, and they mayor has sent her and her team to make sure they are brought back. Gleador doesn’t have to deal with this, he’s a flying horse, so he takes off at full speed for the rest stop. Beth orders her riders to pursue them, and stays to tend to her injured wolf.
Gleador is faster than a horse, and horses must either respect the path of the road or push through unfavorable terrain. They know that the riders know that they are headed for the rest stop, but the hippogriff will reach it by nightfall, and the horses will take hours to catch up.
Gleador and Lucia reach the rest stop at nightfall and Gleador shifts back without regard for the ten or so parties already stopped for the night. People are cooking dinner together over the large central fire pit. As is tradition, people have brought firewood to stoke and maintain the fire.Gleador looks for animals to use as scouts and allies. Lots of animals gather here, since humans bring food and aren’t allowed to attack them. Gleador sees a pika snatch an unattended hunk of cheese. The cheese’s owner yells and grabs a rock to throw, then puts the rock back down. This is the magic of the rest stop’s fire of community. Those lit by the fire may have means and will for violence, but they cannot act. Even animals are protected. Gleador asks the pika if it and its friends could scout beyond the firelight and warn them when the riders approach. That’s no good. The rest stop may be safe, but just outside, predators gather, waiting for animals to wander from the safety of the light. Indeed, the trees are obviously full of waiting hawks.
Gleador asks around, wondering if anyone has heard of black-cloaked skull-faced riders. People think that’s a great campfire story, and he soon has a circle of eager listeners wanting to hear his spooky tale. He describes Beth and her group, saying they are bogey-men that wander the roads, and the only way to escape if they pursue you is to thumb your nose and say, “neener neener neener!” They can’t stand being mocked. A young lad, eager to seem brave and smart, scoffs at Gleador’s description of the terrible black wolf that bears the leader of the band. “Everyone knows the Black Beast is more like a giant cat. Not a wolf at all!”
GM note:The Black Beast is a legend started in Fairmeadow only a few days ago, based on the exploits of Gleador himself!
Blogger note:I need a better way to link callbacks. if you, dear reader, don’t remember the Black Beast, how can I easily remind you with the power of hyperlinks & the Internet?
After successfully entertaining the crowd, Gleador looks around for interesting people. He sees a group of people wearing robes that were once white, but are stained with long use over the road. They carry their gear in handcarts, and have no pack animals. Gleador strikes up a conversation with Talion, a young-ish Orc man. Talion explains that they are religious pilgrims returning from a famous shrine, far to the west, past Sugar’s Crossing. The expedition was started by an old human woman named Vanni. The journey is like a river, people join the group as it travels, expanding it. In that sense, Vanni is like the source of the river. Now they are returning, and people leave the group as it passes their hometowns. By the time Vanni returns, she will have been on the road for four months. Our heroes enquire about the shrine, and what rituals the group performed while there. Gleador has heard that the shrine grants petitioner foresight. Talion expands: Vanni was the reason for the expedition, so she alone went inside and received the foresight, but all had a part in the ritual, and the foresight echoed and rippled outward, granting each participant some small gift. After his experience at the shrine, Talion recognizes one face in each town he visits. He has no other insight into the people he recognizes, but he’s meditating on the visions and the interactions he has with the people the shrine has shown him. He records it all in a worn leather-bound journal. Tonight, Talion is expecting an Orc woman, but he has checked the camp and hasn’t seen her. Gleador and Lucia are pretty sure he means Beth, the leader of the strike team pursuing them. She was wearing a cloak and mask, but from her height, build, and the skin they could see on her hands, neck, and shoulders, they are reasonably confident she’s an Orc.
GM note:I told Gleador’s player that Gleador knew the shrine the pilgrim’s went to. He said that the shrine granted foresight, and I thought, “You power-gamer! I’m not giving you an NPC that knows how to get you out of trouble!” Thus, the shrine grants foresight once, for a specific request, not an ongoing power to see the future.
Gleador encourages Lucia to talk to Vanni. Lucia isn’t sure what to say, but goes anyways. Vanni is quite old, so the pilgrims give her special treatment out of respect both for her leadership of the expedition and her frail physical condition. Vanni recognizes a fellow truth-seeker in Lucia. She tells Lucia about the trip to the shrine, which leaves the main roads and goes through a forest. That’s why they must use handcarts. Larger vehicles and beasts of burden cannot pass. Lucia asks why Vanni would make such a journey, what was so important to foresee? Vanni looks sad and doesn’t answer directly. Lucia says, “I guess it wasn’t a blessing.”
Vanni: All truth is a blessing. That’s very hard to see, but if you can accept that, it’s enlightenment.
Vanni excuses herself. It’s late, and she is old and tired. Lucia and Gleador also prepare to sleep. Lucia walks the border of the rest stop and casts Sanctuary, so she will be alerted if anyone entered with hostile intent. Our heroes are worried about the strike team somehow out-smarting the magic ward against violence. Gleador says they need to have a serious talk about possible mortal actions. He suspects the wolf may be a Druid, or at least someone Druid-adjacent, and the combination of evil and power that he sensed has him considering taking a life for the first time. (They destroyed some zombies when cleaning up the freezer room, but they had been dead for a long time, and had terminal diseases, so it doesn’t count, right?) They go to sleep back-to-back, weapons at hand.
Around 4AM, Lucia hears a ping from her Sanctuary spell, then three more. She sneakily opens an eye and see the four members of the strike team entering the rest stop. Their mounts remain outside. Their cloaks, masks, and armor are laid over the mounts. The strike team approaches unarmed, hands visible. Without the cloaks, their black armor is visible: mostly leather, with partial chainmail. The chain links are coated with a substance that turns them black and prevents them from jangling. Beth approaches to within a few paces and crouches down to address them. She wasn’t able to apprehend them before they reached the rest stop, and she can’t lay hands on them while they are protected within the rest stop’s ward, but she can prevent them from leaving while she waits for further instructions. Beth pulls out some paper and a pencil. It’s not very sharp. Beth reaches for a knife that’s no longer at her side. She glances back at her gear on the wolf, stares at the blunt pencil, and with a sigh, starts writing a message. When she’s done, she fold the paper into an origami bird and throws it into the air, it flies off towards Templeton to magically deliver a message. “Now we wait”, says Beth.
Gleador is not content to wait, and uses his situational invulnerability to ask an unending series of impertinent questions.
“Who do you work for?” Beth says, “The mayor calls on us to solve special problems that the City Watch and normal channels are not equipped to handle. You are a special problem.”
“Are you like the mayor’s little body party?” Resh, one of the three human riders, chimes in, “You could say it’s a body party once we get involved!”
“Are you going to bring the wolf in? Is he OK out there beyond the fire light? He wasn’t doing so well earlier.” Beth narrows her eyes and hisses, “Don’t you ever talk about my wolf!”
Shortly before dawn, some people start to stir, make breakfast, stoke the fire. One of them is Talion. He spots Beth and arranges to get as close to her as he can while cooking breakfast. Beth notices him stealing glances and goes up to him. “What do you want?” Talion stammers, “Well, I, uh, I saw you in a dream.” Resh calls out, “She’s heard that one before!” Talion is embarrassed. “No, it’s not like that. There’s this shrine, see?” Beth leans in, “So you saw my face in a vision? Are you sure it was mine? Take a real good look.” She leans uncomfortably close, staring Talion dead in the eye. She suddenly barks a war cry, twisting her face into a terrifying snarl. Talion stumbles back, startled. The riders laugh and jeer and he retreats.
Beth sights a response from Templeton. A larger messenger bird flies towards the rest stop and is snatched out of the air by a hawk! Remember, many predators wait just outside the fire’s protective light. Beth yells, “Aleph!” and points at the hawk. Her wolf turns and runs after the hawk, which flies back into a tree with its prey. Beth also run out of the camp, intercepts Aleph, pulls her knife from her gear and flings it into the hawk’s tree. The hawk falls out dead, still clutching the messenger bird. Beth picks up the hawk by the knife sticking out of it, extracts the messenger bird from its claws, then offers the knife to Aleph, who pulls the hawk off and eats it. Beth walks back towards her companions. As she crosses the threshhold of the rest stop, she pauses and looks down at the knife in her hand. She takes a step back, throws the knife into the ground, then continues forward. She unfolds the messenger bird, It’s a cloth square about 2 feet on a side, with writing on one side, and magic symbols on the other. Lucia recognizes the magic symbols as a teleportation spell. Beth reads the message, then hands the cloth to her blonde companion. “Yod, you’re better at this stuff.”
Yod prepares to cast the spell. Gleador is very curious and crowds her, asking what she has, what it’s for, what she’s going to do. Yod raises a hand, then lowers it. She scoots away. Gleador follows. She lays the cloth flat on the ground, then strategically scoots around so that Gleador is crowding her right arm instead of her left. then she grabs a corner of the cloth with her left hand and lifts the cloth with a flourish, yelling a magic word. There’s a puff of pink, glittery smoke, and when it clears, there’s a male Dwarf standing there. He wears a top hat, handlebar mustache, white gloves, tailcoat, and vest. “Ah, wonderful! Good to see you again, Yod! Beth. And these must be our, umm, persons of interest. Good to meet you in person. I’ve heard so much about you. My name is Dory. I must say you’ve put us in a bit of a spot. Allow me to consult with my colleagues.” Dory surveys the scene and huddles with the four riders.
Dory decides that the mayor will come to see Lucia and Gleador, but all these spectators are no good. He goes around the various camps, some of whom are beginning to stir, and offers them 5 gold pieces if they clear out in the next fifteen minutes. Most people are very willing to do so, and hustle to get themselves together. The pilgrims have no interest in earthly riches, and have several venerable members who mustn’t hustle. Dory maintains his effusive and jovial attitude, but is clearly annoyed. Talion gets between Dory and the group, demanding that he show respect. Beth steps in between Dory and Talion, hand on hips. She’s really good at threatening and belittling people. Talion’s hands keep balling into fists and then suddenly relaxing. Dory, who is 22 inches shorter than his champion, his head out into the space between Beth’s side & her elbow to get a few verbal barbs in himself. Beth has had enough says she’ll wait for Talion outside. She leaves the rest stop and waits at the entrace, which the pilgrims need to pass when they leave.
Dory finds he can’t rush Vanni and the other pilgrims because it would actually be unhealthy for Vanni to move too quickly, so he leaves them alone. Our heroes go to consult with the pilgrims. It seems that Talion will be attacked as soon as he leaves. Talion thinks he has a good chance, and he’s full of righteous anger. He’d probably make a good Paladin, but he is not a Paladin yet. Our heroes tell him that Beth is very dangerous, even without her wolf and weapons. Our heroes will also be attacked as soon as they leave. They are willing to draw the strike team’s attention in order to let the pilgrims flee unharmed. The pilgrims are impressed by our heroes’ self-sacrificing offer. One of the pilgrims steps forward with a tunic painted with some strange symbols. He says that his vision showed him this pattern, and he thinks that Lucia and Gleador should have it. They recognize it as the same teleportation spell that Yod used to bring Dory here. Racking their brains for arcane lore, they also remember that while being teleported, a person is in neither place. This means that our heroes can disrupt the mayor’s teleportation spell, because the mayor will not be in the rest stop, and thus not protected yet.
Dory gets ready to summon the mayor. He’s annoyed that the summoning cloth has holes in it (from the unfortunate hawk’s talons) and repairs them with a few flicks of his magic wand. Gleador and Lucia crowd close around him. Yod explains that they do this sort of thing and whipsers in Dory’s ear. Dory does the same little dance around the cloth to get one arm free, then snatches the cloth up. At almost the right time, Lucia puts her toe on a corner of the cloth and adds an extra syllable to the magic word Dory yells. The teleportation spell is disrupted, but not in the way she hoped! Both ends of the portal open at once. Dory, Lucia, and Gleador feel the space around them bend down into the space where the cloth used to be and they are pulled down with it! Once past the ground, they find themselves in a large, translucent, glowing tunnel. All around them, similar tunnels or threads stretch for infinite distances in all directions. Looking up, the underside of the ground is not visible, only more threads. They are pulled forward by a current and miles away at the other end, they see a figure racing towards them, no doubt the mayor. Gleador tries to snatch the teleportation cloth away from Dory, but he resists and the cloth tears. When it does, the thread they are in also tears, splitting and spiraling into at least three different channel headed who knows where. Lucia tries to grab Dory, but he’s aiming for a thread that goes deeper into whatever space this is, below reality. That’s scary, so Lucia lets him go. She and Gleador are above the original thread. The mayor is still racing along and will pass them by if they just float along this thread. They can fight the current, try to push through the wall of the thread and risk what’s in-between the In-Between, or use the teleportation spell on the tunic that the pilgrim gave them. Gleador turns into a dolphin with a frog’s tongue. Lucia grabs his fin and with a mighty thrust he swims against the current to rejoin the original thread. Now our heroes are on a collision course with the mayor. How wil lthe opposing currents interact? The tunnel is wide enough that the three could pass without colliding, or bounce off each other and continue. Gleador wants to secure the mayor, so he reaches out, arms getting longer and bulkier as he transforms into a gorilla. The gorilla seizes the mayor, who is a Dwarven woman. She’s wearing a formal, refined, but still decorated and beautiful dress. Gleador’s hand crushes one of her puff sleeves and he feels some of the embroidery rip. The three of them are holding on to each other and will all end up in the same place, but where should they go? The rest stop with the mayor’s magician and personal strike team seems bad. Going the other way probably leads to Templeton City Hall, one of the most secure buildings in the city. Lucia pulls out the teleportation tunic and aims for the swamp near Fairmeadow, home to their friends Samantha and Ferdinand. She completely botches the spell. The tunic unravels and weaves itself into the side of the tunnel, creating a branch that sucks the three of them up and up and up. They feel the transition back to real space, and there’s water. They rise and rise. They break the surface. Darkness. To be continued.
GM note: There is little that gives me more freedom than an uncontrolled teleportation spell at the very end of the session! I have a month to figure out where to put them.
Last time, our heroes attracted a lot of attention, so much attention that their hostel was staked out by two separate parties. They opted to camp outside of town for the night.
Lucia suggests just leaving, but Gleador wants to look around and see what’s happening in the city of Templeton. He remembers observations he had in the previous days to see how he could safely scout around. Local wildlife that he could shapeshift into include soaring birds drawn the the updrafts around the volcano, and stray dogs, mostly terrier breeds as opposed to the hound mutts in Fairmeadow. The City Watch and Campus Security are different organizations, and there was enough bureaucratic confusion yesterday that he imagined there may be chain-of-command problems, and multiple organizations working without talking to each other.
Gleador uses his new chimera power to turn into a falcon with bat ears and flies into the city. He circles the hostel and sees a City Watchman staking the place out. He wheels towards the collage to see what’s up, and notices thick clouds of smoke from the city north of campus. A large building and two small dwelling are engulfed in flames, and several nearby buildings are threatened. City Watch are keeping crowds of onlookers and displaced residents away from the buildings. The level of panic indicates that there’s probably no one trapped inside. A City Watchman with impressive robes arrives, forms a cloud in his hands and spreads it over the tenement house next to the burning building. Rain soaks the tenement house, preventing it from igniting. Gleador flies near Dead Stanton’s office to listen in. Stanton is complaining to Simmons about the meeting that just ended with Professor Mag
GM note:Say your NPC names outloud before the session. I wrote “Prof. Mamag” in my notes, but saying “Mamag” is just goofy.
Stanton gestures with the records of Mag’s research and equipment. “There’s nothing in here like those adventurers describe, and nothing that would get the Mayor’s office involved. The Mayor himself asked me to drop the investigation! What is going on here?” Gleador makes a mental note to get those records, then returns to camp and reports to Lucia.
Lucia & Gleador decide to go to the Dean’s office, question him, and maybe acquire Mag’s records. They make sure to only enter college campus, not the rest of the city. Apparently the City Watch and the Mayor are looking for them. As they walk along, they are hailed by Selene. She met Gleador at the rest stop along the road from Fairmeadow. She asks how they have been and they say they’ve almost been killed and there are conspiracies against them. She’s shocked. They ask about the college keeping prisoners, which is another shock to her. She does mention that she rents a room in a giant house of 20 students, and one of them was arrested yesterday. City Watch all over. Our heroes correctly guess that it was Rott, who tried to kill them. Selene is shocked to hear that about her housemate. They weren’t close, but he would sometimes make breakfast for the house. He could have poisoned them at any time! They press her for his friends and habits. She didn’t keep track of his friends, since there are so many people in the house, but in the past year he’s been quite generous, buying rounds of drinks and so on. Not easy to do on a grad student’s allowance. Our heroes ask again about Oolite. Selene doesn’t know about it, but the school library is the place to find out, and she’s happy to escort them there. Finally! All they really wanted was to look up this mysterious word!
Selene escorts Gleador & Lucia into the library. She tells the door guard, “They’re with me. I’ll make sure they don’t break anything.” Gleador is not sure she will be able to keep that promise. They go to the librarian, a male Elf with blond hair pulled back in a high ponytail. He’s standing at his desk, but the desk needs to be accessible to Dwarfs, so his area is recessed a few feet in to the ground. After hearing their query, he takes off his glasses and whispers a few Elvish words to them and the word “Oolite”. He puts his glasses on and looks around the room. His glasses start to glow when he looks at certain books. This library is set up like the one in Beauty and the Beast. Very high shelves with catwalks and tight spiral staircases to access higher shelves. There are also dumbwaiters, probably to carry loads of books. The librarian (his name is Lindolan) emerges from behind his desk, rising to 6’3″ as he takes the ramp up to the normal floor. He’s missing his legs below the knees and is “standing” on a little automatic cart that looks a bit like a Segway. He rolls to a dumbwaiter, rises to the catwalks, and uses a wand to pull books off the shelves into his arms. Back at his desk, he flips through them and explains.
Oolite is a family name. It was a respectable business with a mine off to the south (he marks it on our heroes’ map) that supplied metals. The mine’s output suddenly increased, then dropped to zero, and the family faded away in disgrace. Lindolan suspects that they neglected safety protocols to increase output and there was some sort of accident. Gleador ask about robots or living statues. Lindolan suggests the fiction section. There are books about sculptors so skilled their creations came to life, a copy of Pygmalion, lots of fanciful stories. Gleador pulls out the strange coin. Lindolan gasps. He recognizes it immediately. It’s a coin from Saarland, which until 30 years ago was a great city of the Elves north of here, in the forest. It was prosperous and peaceful, until, in a single night, it was sacked and burned. The survivors scattered, leaving an abandoned ruin, and anyone who has its wealth must be a robber. Gleador assures Lindolan that this is evidence, and they have it on loan from the sheriff in Fairmeadow. Lindolan wishes the coin could be returned to one of Saarland’s survivors, but does not insist.
One last question. Has Lindolan heard anything or read any stories about gelatinous people? A dwarf appears and leans on the desk. “Gelatinous people? I’ve never heard of such a ridiculous thing!” It’s Flint! Flint, the metallurgy student apparently mixed up is some scheme that got our heroes trapped in the laboratories. Flint who they last saw running down the hall away from them. They thought he’s be caught and killed by his former accomplices, but here he is. Flint would love to talk to them about gelatinous people, perhaps at the study table just over there? Our heroes excuse themselves from the librarian and Selene. Gleador would love to chat with Flint, but following Flint into places hasn’t worked out well for them, so he suggested they chat outside. Flint agrees and they go out and sit on a bench.
Flint says, “I’m very grateful that you released me, but you have something that belongs to me, and I want it back.” Our heroes don’t remember taking everything from Flint. Flint apologizes for the confusion, and reveals that he is Andro, the “gelatinous person” they were talking about! Lucia immediately checks his alignment: not Evil.
GM note:The revelation could have been cooler. Here’s what I should have done. “Flint is wearing a hood. He grabs his head and twists it 180-degrees, revealing Andro’s face on the back of Flint’s head” Instead Andro mushed some facial features with his hands to show that he could change his appearance. Boring!
Our heroes have a million question for Andro, but he really wants that amulet they took from him. He’ll let them keep the 200 gold as a reward for freeing him. He’s split between leaving town to ensure he’s never caught again, or staying and punishing the people who captured him. Our heroes are tempted to help him, since they like rooting out evil. Gleador figures they have about a day before they become unwelcome in town. Andro says that he prefers a slow, methodical, safe approach to revenge. Perhaps their styles clash to much to co-operate. They have some evidence that they want to get from the Dean. Andro should not come with them looking like Andro or like Flint, since people are looking for both of them. If Andro will meet with them later, they will return the amulet. Andro agrees and points out a statue in the distance. “Meet me there.” He leaves.
Gleador and Lucia head for the Dean’s office. Simmon’s shows them in quickly, since the Dean is dealing with the ruckus they started. Dean Stanton says that the Mayor wants our heroes to meet with him at City Hall right away. They ask why the Mayor is involved. Stanton’s not sure. Our heroes say they released a prisoner, the Mayor doesn’t want Stanton to look into it, but Professor Mag’s records (still on the desk) don’t say anything about a prisoner, or anything shocking. Mag had several rooms reinforced for keeping dangerous specimens, like the giant amphibious mole from the Sapphire Islands, or that weird jellyfish wit hte mind-affecting spores. Nothing about keeping people. Gleador wants to tour Mag’s other rooms to make sure that there are no other prisoners. Stanton refuses. The last time our heroes were in the labs they destroyed a lot of property, and no one else knows anything about this alleged prisoner. Gleador threatens to spread rumors about the college’s secret prison. Stanton is sure the college’s reputation can withstand two strangers with no evidence. He asks them to leave, since he’s very busy cleaning up their mess. As they go, Lucia tries to grab the book of Mag’s records. She fails and Stanton yells for help. Our heroes try to flee, but Simmons blocks the door and summons Campus Security. Simmons is 4’4″ facing a 5’0″ knight in full armor and a 6’+ Elf, but he tangles up their feet and Stanton jumps on Gleador’s back. They stall long enough for 3 Campus Security guards to arrive. One bops Lucia with a Somnaboffer. The padded club doesn’t hurt at all, but the impact releases sleeping gas. Lucia coughs and jerks back. Simmons is kneeling behind her and she topples over! Gleador slams the door on the three guards and locks himself, his ally, and the two academics in the office. (A half-turn on a small gear extends a toothed bar to lock the door. Very find craftsmanship. The action feels very nice)
Our heroes remind Simmons and Stanton that they are locked in a room with two very dangerous people and their security is outside. Give us the book and give us safe passage off campus and we won’t harm you. Stanton agrees. He unlocks the door and orders the guards to escort the adventurers out. Lucia and Gleador set off quickly, forcing the shorter dwarves to hustle to keep up. They arrange to pass the statue where Andro told them to meet. No one is there, but there’s some graffiti near the base. Gleador is scandalized by this vandalism of art and suggests that the guards should be cleaning this statue and tracking the perpetrators instead of escorting him. The guards are unconvinced, despite his appeals to Art, but our heroes stall enough to read the graffiti, which gives another landmark and a time: sunset. The guards deposit them at the northern border of campus. That’s near the fire that Gleador saw this morning. Our heroes investigate.
As they approach, they see that the large building’s roof is gone, but the stone support pillars are still intact. The two smaller buildings are gone. The tenement house is singed on one side and soaked, but intact. There are City Watch patrolling. Our heroes approach, even though City Watch staked out their hostel and work for the Mayor, who is suspiciously interested in meeting them. Two guards notice them and demand that they come to City Hall immediately. Gleador stalls and asks impertinent questions, but the guards are insistent and draw their hammers. Gleador continues not complying, so he gets hit! Four more guards approach. Gleador is shocked — shocked! — that City Watch would hit someone peacefully making conversation. He and Lucia are making significant eye contact, wondering if they should fight, leave, or comply. City Watch swing at Gleador again, and our heroes fight back! Gleador’s doing OK, but they’re wearing him down. Lucia’s armor makes her almost impervious, and she rapidly drops four of them. Our heroes are fighting to disable, not kill. The remaining guard flees, and our heroes are left with a crowd of terrified onlookers.
Our heroes have gone loud on campus and in the city. That guard is sure to bring more. they must flee. But first, Gleador grabs a bystander and quizzes him about the fire. “What burned, and why?” This was Mister Bill’s Tack Shop. It sold horse & carriage equipment. The small dwellings adjacent were where Mister Bill and his workers lived. Fortunately, they weren’t around, so no one was injured. Gleador and Lucia are satisfied and leave. The poor Dwarf lets out a panicky gasp and staggers away.
Lucia picks minor streets to avoid patrols and doesn’t lead them down any dead ends. Gleador keeps an eye out for City Watch. A pair of guards look down a cross-street just as our heroes pass a block down, and the chase is on. Lucia dives into an alley, but it’s a dead end. Gleador sees a clear route and starts down it, hoping to split the pursuers. Knowing the terrain, they opt for the easier prey and both go down the alley. Gleador reverses course to block their escape. Once in the alley, the guards find they are out-matched. Lucia drops one and injures the other. They demand answers. He’ll talk if he can do so from the mouth of the alley, so he can flee as soon as he’s done. They ask why the mayor is after them. The guard had orders to bring them in alive if possible, as they were involved in important security and defense matters. Gleador asks, “Do you have to bring in a lot of people ‘alive, if possible'” He answers “No, no. I mean, alive is assumed!” Gleador asks if Templeton’s laws are equitable. “We don’t pick on Elves, if that’s what you mean.” They let him go with a message for the Mayor: “If you want to talk to us, meet us at the rest stop on the road to Fairmeadow in three days” That rest stop is enchanted. None make cause harm while lit by the campfire’s glow.
Lucia & Gleador leave town (they were only a few blocks from the border!) and go to the campsite from last night.They scheme to watch the road and see if the Mayor actually goes towards the rendezvous. near sunset, Gleador turns into a falcon-bat again and goes to the new spot specified by Andro’s graffiti. But Andro could look like literally anyone! Gleador sees four students loitering near the statue. A pulse of echolocation reveals a female Dwarf with a mohawk & mohawk beard that is significantly denser than the other dwarves. Gleador perches in a tree and squawks. Several students glance up, but the mohawked one keeps staring and tentatively waves. Gleador swoops down to one of the paths leading away from the statue and drops a note. The mohawked student retrieves it, nods to the falcon, and heads out.
Gleador flies back, reasonably sure that contact has been made. A while later, the mohawked dwarf arrives. :Lucia wants to be sure and asks what the swarf expects to get from them. The dwarf says she is owed an amulet, which was taken from right there. She drives her finger into her leg up to the knuckle, then removes it, leaving no wound. That’s Andro all right. Gleador, of course, has many questions. How do we get ot Saarland? Follow the road to Saarland, obviously. How old are you? I don’t know years, but the first thing I remember was the Sea Viper spreading his kingdom onto land in the south. How did they capture you? I’m tough and i’m slippery, but I have limits. Lucia says that’s the sort of vague answer she expects from someone so slippery. Andro is glad to be free, and hopes that our heroes can help her, but she really wants her amulet back. Our heroes tell her about the rendezvous with the Mayor. She doesn’t know about the rest stop, but she knows the road to Fairmeadow. She is disappointed that the rest stop is literally a safe haven. They give her the amulet, and the records about Mag. Andro picks out names of other professors and says this will be very useful. Andro leaves, and our heroes once again camp outside Templeton, which is much more dangerous than it was 24 hours ago.