Sunday, January 28, 2007

Tales of Saltmarsh Towne: Chapter 2--A Mysterious Threat and The Missing Mithril

Standing over the destroyed goblin corpses and mysterious enchanted cauldron of the Io-Rach tribe, the group begins to decide upon their next plans. While Brighid and Amadis are quick to push for flooding the entire cavern complex, the rest of the group shoots this idea down, as they think that it would taint the surrounding water. They decide instead to block off the cavern entrance with the wagons, light them afire, then collapse the cavern entrance.

As the group proceeds to leave, they come upon something they had no found before—three small statuettes, each of which depict a nude, demonic female in a seductive pose. Despite the group’s knowledge and skills, they do not seem to know who the figure is. The statuettes are packed up with their other newly-gained gear, and the group sets out from the cavern. Using a block and tackle that Amadis carried on his mule, the group moves the wagons into position, then light them afire.

With the cavern collapsed behind them, the quintet begins walking down the road to Saltmarsh. It is a swift journey back to the Hool Watch Tower, and the group quickly arrives in Commander Iborian’s office again. While not eating this time, the ranger’s breakfast appears to be newly finished, as it is scattered over his desk, most messily. Brighid quickly sums up the events from the caverns, making particular note of the distorted goblins, the wolf-creature, and the mystic cauldron. Iborian seems to have no knowledge of the creature, but tells the party that he will send a runner to investigate their story. Should their tale be true, they can expect payment from the bursar on the morrow.

While the majority of the group seems to be excited over their newfound wealth, all that Artorius can mutter is his desire for a warm bed, a hot bath, and a good meal. The party drops off Artorius at the Blue Frog, then heads to the Temple of Boccob, a massive pyramid-like structure rumored to deal in ensorcelled weaponry. Brighid, however, heads off to the Merchant’s Guildhall, seeking a new bow. Harvinion, Azumi, and Amadis make their way into the Boccobian Temple, and ask an apprentice to see the temple-master. Shortly thereafter, High Acolyte Mylor Orvid steps forward and inquires as to the party’s business.

Harvinion quickly shows the priest the three statuettes and inquires as to what they might symbolize. Orvid states that he can research the statuettes, but doing so might take some time, as well as a cash donation to the temple. Harvinion forks over the 50 gp.

From there, Azumi draws the dwarven waraxe, asking as to what it might be. Wittily, and with self-satisfaction, Orvid proudly proclaims that it is “An axe. In fact, a dwarven-made one, at that.” Frustrated, Azumi asks what might make it sharper. “A Whetstone, perhaps? Or a grinding wheel with some oil…perhaps you may want to ask your question a bit more…well, bluntly.” From there, Orvid tells her that a spell of magic detection and analysis would cost 75 gp. Azumi pays for this service for the waraxe, and Amadis does the same for the javelin.

Orvid points them to a mediation hall so they can wait out the research time. In the meanwhile, though, Amadis asks if they have anything to sell. It turns out the temple does craft items on site, and also deal in arcane goods for the locals. Azumi asks what they might have in stock. With a wave of his hand, Orvid opens a mystically locked cabinet to reveal the following:
- A ring that bolsters affinity and communication (Ring of Charisma +2)
- A wand that channels necromantic energy (Wand of Ghoul’s Touch)
- A wand that conjures a sticky web (Wand of Web)
- Several weapons that were salvaged from the Ironroot Mountains, including:
- A dwarven urgrosh
- A drow hand crossbow
- A longsword
- A whip.

Harvinion asks, as this last bit, how one might actually ensorcell a whip, to which Orvid replies “With magics of the most dire import…”

Amadis inquires as to the possibility of commissioning a bastard sword, but the cost and time constraint seem to be out of his league, at least for the time being. As they speak, up runs apprentice Bob, calling out, “Master Mylar, we finished with the axe and javelin!” Both weapons seem to only hold minor enchantments (+1), but are worth a fair amount to the right buyer.

The party conferences quickly, to decide what to do with the items. Amadis offers the suggestion that the weapons could be traded for a commissioned bastard sword, but the offer is quickly shot down by a calm, quieting voice from the far side of the meditation chamber. “If you split the wealth amongst your group, you may all be able to benefit, rather than simply one.”

A lithe man rises from where he was, rather irritatedly, attempting to meditate. He further suggests that such a discussion might be better placed over a meal at a nearby tavern. Mylor smiles at the monk, and tells the party, “"It is rare that I do such a thing, but if you were to sell both items as a set, I could give you a slightly greater amount for the items sold. Perhaps…3,000 sovereigns?”

The party accepts the offer and sells the items. Harvinion hands the monk, named Daishar, a gp for his helpful idea. Daishar quickly drops the piece in the Boccobian offertory box, and Mylor speaks to him quickly thereafter: “Daishar, it is of my belief that you may be able to offer some great wisdom to this group. Accompanying them may aid the final steps of your training. Why don’t you go with them?”

Daishar agrees, and Amadis immediately begins telling the young monk about the great battles the group will soon embark upon. While describing the group's recent exploits, Amadis describes the cauldron used by the goblins to morph one another into abominations. At this, Mylor perks up, asking if the cauldron included the symbol of a copper scourge. The group affirms this, and he scurries off to begin his research. It appears that there may be some connection.

The group then splits up, with Brighid heading towards the Merchants' Guildhall, while Amadis, Harvinion, Daishar and Amadis head towards Saltmarsh's renowned School of Blades, a two story brick building with a substantial courtyard out front.

Within the courtyard, two pairs of warriors square off--a human facing a half-elf, each with a rapier, and a rapier-wielding human facing a gnome wielding a gnomish quickblade. Watching the pairs and snapping commands at the fencers is a lanky man wearing a well-tooled sword-belt and an impressive doublet. The instructor turns to the party and introduces himself as Daryn Larsken, master of the School of Blades.

Amadis chats with the man for a moment, but Daryn seems skeptical of Amadis' adventures, particularly due to the state of Amadis' sword. Daryn even goes so far as to dismiss Amadis' skill as a swordsman, which does little to endear him to the knight-errant.

Daryn dismisses two of the students, but tells the other two to keep working. He then invites the party in to browse his collection. Amadis continues to brag, however, and Daryn begins to question aloud whether he should truly sell this man a sharpened blade. Regardless, Amadis admires a well-oiled blade handed to him by Daryn, but then swiftly draws the sword and leaps out of the nearby window, shrieking "Danger is afoot!"

Stunned, Larsken and the rest of the party run swiftly down the stairs and after Amadis, who seems to be chasing down a local farmer, who is attempting to buy fruit. Daryn screams after Amadis, "By all the Nine Hells, man, what are you doing? That sword is mine!" Amadis claims that the man, Jerimiah by name, is in danger, though Jerimiah seems to be more confused by Amadis' actions than anything else. He walks swiftly away, and fades into the crowd.

Exasperated, Daryn asks for payment for the blade, but Amadis seeks to bargain down the 400 gold crown price, by throwing in his old blade. Daryn tosses down the blade in disgust, saying that it is "not much more than a can opener." Sputtering, Amadis retorts that the blade has "at least opened the cans of half a dozen goblins" and that the master has "dishonored my sword."

Daryn looks the man straight in the eye and says, "Do you know to whom you speak? I am the fencing champion of the Free City of Greyhawk twice over!" Amadis attempts to retort, but Harvinion cuts him off by offering to pay for the master's broken window. Amadis cools down, pays Daryn the requested fee, and the group leaves.

In the meanwhile, Brighid scours the area for a bowyer. She finds a stall near the Merchant's Guildhouse with a fine sign drawn up in Elvish, labeled Jathalain's Bowyery. Inside, a long-eared, soft-spoken elf asks the young warrior if he can offer some help. Brighid shows Jathalian her bow, which he promptly examines, telling her that she needs a new bowstring--hers has frayed. He quickly reaches to his leather bracers, plucks off a newer string, then re-strings her bow.

Jathalain then pulls down a fine recurve bow, made of red maplewood with a fine bronze inlay. He then aids Brighid in demonstrating the pull. Brighid makes mention of the fact that she is not a seasoned archer yet, though Jathalian seems more than willing to give some lessons.

In the end, things come down to the price, which is none for the faint of heart: 350 gold pieces. Brighid also asks about the possibility of purchasing exotic arrows, including those made with Mithril or Cold Iron arrowheads. Jathalian educates the young warrior on the qualities of these metals and offers to throw in a "sample quiver" of each, should she choose to buy the bow. Brighid accepts, and leaves shortly thereafter.

At this point, Azumi and Harvinion pass by and continue on, into a nearly barren area filled with smoke. Towards the end of the space, a smithery churned smoke into the air. A gnome and a human pumped a massive bellows while a filthy dwarf hammered away on a piece of metal on the anvil. Azumi interrupts their work, and the dwarf waddles over. The warrior-woman asks the dwarf for something "bigger" than her halberd, to which he wittily replies, "Well, there's a big rock out back you could use! Wham!"

Frustrated, she then asks for something a bit sharper than a rock. Again, the dwarf smiles and shows her a piece of jagged iron, used for scrap. Frustrated, she falls silent to think. Harvinion, however, perks up, asking about the dwarf's ability to work with mithril. The dwarf, finally introducing himself as Jasker, tells the pair that he actually has a shipment of mithril on order, which is almost a week late. If the pair could find it for him, he might be able to offer a deal on mithril armor or weaponry. He further suggests to start with Saltmarsh Sendings, the company that he used to have the metal delivered.

After hearing all this, Azumi finally realizes how to ask her question. She asks Jasker if she could potentially requisition a new halberd. Jasker agrees, stating that he has received some Zhenish steel that he could use for the blade. She puts in the order, which will be ready in two days for 350 gp.

With a busy day behind them, the party heads back to the Lizard's Boat. Kailee, the ranger-turned-inkeep, stands ready at the bar when Amadis speaks to the patrons in a booming voice, "We have fought valiantly and conquered, so a round for everyone!" Kailee is skeptical at first, but is quick to shovel Amadis' 5 gold pieces into her skirt, when he plinks the coin onto the bar.

The next day, the party heads first to HoolWatch tower. Harvinion, eager to get after the mithril, arrives nearly half an hour ahead of the group. At the tower, Iborian confirms the PCs' statements. A pyre was created for the dead, and the bursar held their payment. The players collect it, and make a few short stops before heading out. Brighid stops at the Alchemist's Guild, picking up a few potions. Harvinion, Daishar, and Amadis head to a curio shop, where the first pair buy an armoire, and the latter merely enjoys a lemon scone.

From there, the group heads to the western gate, where two noble guards stand vigilant. The warriors ask one, with a large moustache, of banditry on the road, particularly of the Saltmarsh Sendings messengers. He claims to know nothing of the sort, and that, given their information, they may wish to start their search at the Saltmarsh Sendings office. Further, they learn that this guard, named Bob, is brother to the apprentice Bob from the Temple of Boccob. Furthermore, he is also brother to two other 'Bobs,' one of whom works as an alchemist, the other which may be in league with Ned Shakeshaft, the leader of the infamous Saltmarsh Assassin's Guild.

With a complaining Harvinion in tow, the group makes its way back across town to Saltmarsh Sendings, where Brighid inquires as to Jasker's ore. The clerk tells them that a halfling, Joshua Longstrider, was in charge of the shipment between Cauldron and Saltmarsh. Apparently Longstrider had not checked in, but the clerk marks Longstrider's potential route on the group's map and sends them on their way.

Heading out of the western gate, the group says their goodbyes to Bob, and moves on their way.

About 4 hours down the western road, Harvinion catches sight of some movement. He pulls out the lizardfolk's letter of safe passage. Amadis draws his sword and shouts out for any foes to show themselves. While Azumi hears the noise of some creatures moving, Daishar is the first to spot 4 man-sized, degenerate, scaled creatures clawing their way up the left side of the road.

The creatures strike first, as one spits a viscous glob of bile at Amadis, sizzling his flesh beneath his armor. The battle is swiftly joined, and things look dire for the warriors. Harvinion is harmed direly, and is forced to retreat and use his crossbow, rather than his typical longsword. Azumi, too, is direly injured and her grip on her halberd begins to loosen somewhat.

The fists of Daishar, though, prove to be as strong as any steel. Caught one-on-one with one of the creatures, the monster quickly fell beneath the discipline-wrought blows of Daishar's martial power. He then joined the battle against the other creatures, aiding his new fellows with powerful strikes.

As the party's injuries seem to mount Brighid shifts her roles from warrior-woman to healer, bringing powerful healing energies to bear upon her comrades. At this moment, though, Azumi slams her halberd shaft into her foe's face, forcing it backwards into a tree and breaking its snout. As it reels, she wheels about, slicing the halberd blade into both of its legs, severing both and felling the beast.

With blows like these, the party swiftly prevails over their foes and begin to investigate the environs. A short search by Harvinion reveals the creatures' nest, within which lies the corpse of a halfling traveler and the missing mithril. Furthermore, the party finds some special rewards for their efforts:

-400 gps
-an unidentifible ring
-a divine scroll of Flaming Sphere
-a wand
-a finely made composite longbow, which is taken by Brighid
-a heavy steel shield, taken by Amadis.

With their quest completed, the party sets out back towards Saltmarsh with the mithril in hand, ready to give to Jasker.

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