Meeting the Big Guys
Nymraith and Ryzone
(Ryz buys an even bigger hat at the start of the story - ego)
Rumour has it that there is a new hedgelord in Hisra, and since we're loose and still have enemies, we think it might be a good idea to go and get a job.
A couple of months travel on a shoestring, and we arrive in Tronavaald. Hear rumours of another village Lusern in Tronavaald, having some trouble, under a curse. Famous for it's church... very pious place. But not sure who is being worshipped. Bregentz village on the junction on the way. This sounds like a great opportunity to show off our... running away skills.
In Bregentz a displaced person/refugee latches on to us from Lucern. Some people went missing, then more. They went to see the baronness but the ilin didn't answer the door - skeletons dressed as ilin did; some of them (30ish) tried to rescue the baronness but they didn't come back. (all in mummerset accent). More skelingtons moved in to replace the living; even dressing and acting like them, dancing in the evening and having a real party. No-one's left, don't go there.
We intend to not to. But maybe a good deed would be good for the job interview. And there may be loot for improving our appearance.
We head off to have a look. Forest gives way to fields, but unattended crops and no/few animals. We see a farmer harvesting rye with a scythe. As we approach the farmer pauses but the rest of the figures continue; he's well dressed but thin and bony. Very think and very bony. They're all a bit like that. This isn't all that strange to us, as we're from Blackmoor. Nym shouts to the farmer nearest the road but gets no response - he doesn't seem to be doing the farming very well (according to Nym).
We continue to the town - walled, open gates - and we enter. Ryz detects/feels a profane reality warp near him (a 'profanity'). It's ordinary everyday evil (Is it you Ryz? no don't think so). Wander about. Market is being run, shoddy goods and rubbish, skeletons about acting as market owners and customers. In the evening two ilin skeletons come down and close it, all very organised. We visit the Lime of the Valley, the customers sit thinly without speaking, a pool of bad gone-off beer spreading around their feet.
We head out and passing an allyway someone says "psst!" "no thanks, they've already done that in the bar. That beer goes straight through you". We're ushered into a house by an old lady; Erlini whispers to Ryz 'is she evil?' he goes up to her, squints puts hands on hips and says "I don't know!" and stalks back.
Portis family; she is Yuvihiun. She's stuck there, her husband doesn't want to leave but she wants to now. She says the people disappear, back a day later as just the bones and carry on doing what they do. Animals too, mostly domestic ones. Nym asks about the wizard - Tolerath - who lived to the east about a day away. We agree to help her out of town (not sure we're much help). Each night a troop of skeletons come out of the castle with pipes and drums (can't play the pipes) and come shrieking (wooo!) and banging and clacking down the streets. Some of the skeletons would grab some of the living, haul them off to the castle and they'd come back as skeletons the next day. She suggests we visit the church first.
We go. Church dedicated to Law/Good; Farold the heirarch normally lives nearby. The church is heavily locked. Erlini Opens the door... creaks. She pockets the chain and lock and enters, we follow on behind. Inside it's a mess; holy items are damaged or broken, the bells are on the floor; the stained glass windows smashed and... stained... and the openings blocked with rags.
We enter; breaking out our evertorches and pull out the rags. The light reveals golden goodies, tiles, heraldic (lion, falcon, sword with 'honour'). We look for people, Nym (191) reaches out with his power percep and senses two figures working their way down the church towards us, sucking power in. We step back out the doors, shut them and put the chains back on. We puzzle over how to lock the padlock, so Erlini just locks it. Plot plan to get mirrors and come back tomorrow to fill the church with sunlight.
Go back to Portis' house past the mill as the miller comes back with veg rubbish on his cart rather than threshed corn.
Castle is locked up and no flag flying. We go off to see the wizard. The wonderful wizard of...
Mark arrives and we explain: skeletons, hedgelord, beer, we were very very drunk.
(Northen Lights, Amber Spyglass?)
Cross bridge to get on the right road. Wee chapel on bridge, to Larry (or Lauru) the Red. "A chapel? on a bridge?" "Well everyone will go past it otherwise they'd have to swim." How big is it? "Just enough to cross the river". Anar spots that the area around the statue in unusually clean. Nym crowbars up the pavement; Ryz leans on the statue, it topples over and a small Aredy woman 'catches' the statue. Anar standing watching looks into the cavity underneath and retrieves a book; Ryz eventually stops leaning on it and Erlini crawls out from under.
"The book of dancing death" left by the wizard Toleras (how do we know?). Is this one of those 'don't read aloud from the book' ones? Why do people write books like that? Blackrobes; because they can; it's a wet sunday afternoon and there's nothing on the telly.
Anar looks at the book; written in Thanatos, the language of necromancy, diseases of the mind, etc.
Beyond the fields over the bridge is a little limestone keep (I thought he lived in a gingerbread house? Like the queen); Cerenos - where the term 'flying buttress' has an altogether more exciting meaning.
Anar casts a spell to see if reading the book would be dangerous at all; overcasting and fumbled (02) but just got confused. Second try half an hour later (139+6) not dangerous itself but written in that language because it's about the gribbly Totentanz Gate (dead dance). Which seems vaguely familiar. Nym asks "Is that G-A-T-E or G-A-I-T" Why? "Well dancing would be gait". Anar hits him with the book. "It's not inherently dangerous but you can still do this" Nym collapses on the floor going "what happened? What did I say?" (1 concussion point left). Struggles back to feet. He's got "This belongs to Toleras" across his forehead.
We knock on the keep door and don't set fire to it. Cos they'll expect us to think that the front door is trapped, so they will have trapped the back secret doors, so we'll call their bluff and open the front door. Opens into hall; five ilin skeletons pull out their swords and attack - we back out the door and shut them. Some bashing on the door then it stops. We keep an eye on both sides to not get surprised. Erlini opens the door and rushes for the stairs. The skeletons are surprised (no-one's done anything that stupid before) working out how fast you can move (+agility, +surprise, +being chased by skeletons). She piles up the stairs ahead of them; past a pulled-down statue, bass-relief of warrior maiden, down a hall, the ilin are closing in, she ducks into a room and jams the door shut with bits of old furniture.
The rest pile into the hall and look around; door to tower(s) and sturdy door to north, stairs with ilin skeletons piling up after a little aerdy girl. Nym wonders whether the wand of enfeeblement would work but they're animated so probably not. ("Let's split up and search the cellar"). We check the sturdy door - it's been wizard locked and our wizard unlocker isn't here.
We try the other door. Two dead rodents of unusual size lie on the floor. In the fire grate is a green flame. Also in the kitchen is a huge wolfy-shaped man; Anar and Nym turn and flee, but Ryz is too busy staring at the flame wondering if it could be a gate to see. We leave to hear Ryz go aaargh briefly.
Ryz being helped by oldy bloke.
Upstairs he runs around quiety - winch room, knock scroll found in alcove, room with chest broken, golems and burnt man, further on locked room. Flaming stone orb. Door to Erlini's room; to find teo Erlinis. Can't cope so shut door again.
Lantern, stylus, parchment; makeshift bed. Study. Light lantern. Books.
Books open are "Curse of the Wolf" - cures for lycanthropy, and an "Encyclopedia Arcana" on rare items: Mattock of the Titans, Mirror of life trapping (sucks life), Apparatus of Qualish (mechanical lobster). Quick scan of bookshelves Astronomy, Divination, Architecture. Fails (03->-50ish) to find any notes. Leaves, reopens door to the Erlinis. Some random questions reveals how little we know of each other's characters. Finally ("name some other members of the party") we identify the right one, the wrong one barges past Nym; he misses, she punches him, he comes visible, he fumbles and despite parrying gets clocked and goes down.
Erlini marks the doubleganger as it heads off.
Anar, bored, grabs a crossbow and heads up the stairs, shoots at the skeletons. He's ever fired one before but then he's never hit anyone with a book before. Two Erlinis rush paast him.
Sitrep: Nymraith lies unconscious upstairs. Erlini is chasing Erlini down the stairs. Anar is trying to work out how the Erlinis escaped from the skeletons which are still trying to break down the door. Ryz is in the kitchen with Colonel Mustard and a glass of water.
Anar looks through the door that the Erlinis ran out of to see Nym lying on the floor with a new set of bruises. He heals him a bit. Nym hands over the dagger +5 (as Anar can use it) for a crossbow +5 (which neither can use). Erlini tackles her doppleganger and (189) drops her to the floor, breaking her arm.
Fat mexican on tescos tacos bag is Ryz... Who is trying to get some info out of the ex-werewolf.
Erlini is furiously kicking her doppleganger who is now curled up on the floor; Anar and Nym come running/wheezing by ("don't get involved") but the doppleganger is reforming in the lines of T2, head in a different place. We screech to a halt; Anar stabs it with the magic dagger. Nym fails to hit it at point blank with a crossbow.
Ryz gives up with his conversation "I have to go and find my friends" (Well, not friends; not peers; "I am above them"). Nym reflects the last time we beat someone up was a gnome and it took us ages to kill him despite him being mostly dead already. And now there are less of us. Or fewer. We slap it around a bit more but it gets a stunning blow in on Erlini.
Ryz is suddenly thrown out while his new mate turns to take on five skeletons who have suddenly appeared. He looks to see Erlini being beaten up by Anar, Nymraith and... Erlini - so which is the real one? Well we've been beating up this one and it's still alive. That's the one.
Ryz casts sleep; it fails but enough to distract it.
Anar hits it with a magic dagger (191) and then on the slaying table gets (225) stupidly large amounts of damage and stuns it. Nym gets a light blow in with a quarterstaff and it's just enough to knock it out. We cut off a bit and put it in a bag. No sounds from thee werewolf and skeletons.
We pause and think. (Why is phonetic spelled with a ph? Is there another word for synomym?)
We did split up but we haven't seen the cellar. That's because we were getting the one person who could open it and wasn't there, and it took longer than we were expecting.
Back in the hallway, and there are bits of skeleton and Colonel Mustard (Taurin) scattered over the floor.
Ryz recalls the ex-wolves story - ex-adventurer, back to see Tolerath who was looking for a cure, interrupted by skelingtons. Tolerath went looking for the problem but hasn't come back. We explore the floor. We find the werewolve's lair, the kitchen etc.
We open the door to the cellar. At the bottom we can see an eery mist; vaguely humanoid shapes lying on the floor.
Nym works liquid and forces the liquid to the floor. The mist precipitates onto the floor. Revealing four trappy thing glyphs. Which Anar can't remove - they're powerful (12th level) glyphs. Two corpses on the floor, lots of blackened soot except for one area in the middle. Figurine of woman holding book shattered.
We throw some more things and Nym prepares to run - he's grabbed by Ryz ("do we think he'll be useful?") need to wait to throw some more things. And then get four rounds to "runaround!" looking for stuff.
Nym finds broken and pitted shortsword. Erlini wheeks the candles but nothing else. Anar spreads the hay out and finds a metal scroll tube. Ryz finds a small cover to a well.
Back on the stairs Anar opens teh scroll. "Oh the librarian can read something?" "Do you want the fat end of my book?"
To find the arm he had us hide
We dissolve for about half an hour into discussion about Tolerath's poetry and Coleridge and the green eye of the yellow god (despite engineers and physicists and geologists being here) and finally get back on plot.
Taiken in rooms beating up statues and golems chests etc mean ilin mean semi-official possibly (at least initially) so possibly probably castle, they were weak as they hadn't had enough tizer and or pot noodle... Anar joins in Nym's ramble.
We check the study; the largest chamber we've seen (here, not ever). Ryz also fumbles (-60ish), but Anar...(?)
Notes: The castle, the undead, the womans name is Gudrun. "long ago in a galaxy, the bastard son of a local noble seeked to gain some measure of legitamcy, but wrong times, was chucked out mocked, made a deal with dark powers, years spent in seclusion, deranged and evil died before found the totentanz gate, but returned as a wraith. (mad chicken noises). Gudrun is taken prisoner. Self-styled wraith king is returned.
First lord appointed Bohorn she had a magic sword. She may be the icon.
We go back to searching the building - not that Nym reckons you'll find anything in the study he's already looked - goes from A to D, stops short of F ("Flatbreads of the world")
Bohorn's symbol was a lion, she was given falcon with rank, and magic sword. Honour never lies.
My boss wants to meet my Grumpy Vibrator.
Overnight, Anar examines the notes on totentanz gate; he deciphers it from the book(s) we've gathered. It's sevenish feet tall and fourish feet wide. Any passing through must save vs wossname, or be sucked up and returned as skeleton (uncontrolled... but imprinted with former life) Range for skeletons is within about a mile. Intended for use as a way of creating undead nations rather than a direct weapon. Dance is part of the gathering effect.
Gate is made of bone, so presumably just break bones and hopefully just break it.
We spend the night at the wizards house, and nothing happens.