Mysteria

Well Worn Journal
What sharp teeth you have.... (Part Two)

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We hadn’t asked for a wake-up call from the innkeeper and we certainly didn’t ask for one in the middle of the night. I awoke to the crash of the balcony doors being smashed through. I still had time to grab my swords and get myself in position at the side of the balcony. I ran my sword through the first fool to step through; he didn’t even see it coming. These idiots have a thing or two to learn about murder in the night. Not that they will be learning anything ever again.

The door came crashing through and more of them came pouring through, all quickly falling to our relentless assault. One of them seemed to be in charge and far more capable than the others, but he didn’t seem to have the backbone to carry his own plan through. On seeing his minions torn apart he decided to flee back down the corridor. I ran to the balcony and leapt to the ground hoping to slit his throat as he came running out the door, but it appeared he at least had the sense to leave by some other means. Frustrated by the escape of my quarry I made my way back upstairs.
My companions had had the good sense to keep one of the would-be assassins alive for questioning. Arcael seemed to think the promise of release and his life would be more effective in getting information from him, I thought sliding my dagger in his eye would have been far more effective. Someone babbled something about defenceless prisoner; I don’t call attempted assassination defenceless, an eye for an eye, perhaps literally. The soft approach seemed to work though and the Sorcerer managed to wring some information from him regarding this challenge the maiden was sent on. The details weren’t particularly important to me; these “Vargamors” as they called themselves had made it personal.

Truman cast some spells to heal our bumps and scratches and we discovered another wonderful twist of this accursed forest. Where the Oracle placed his hands to heal our cuts the skin took on a barkish tone and small twigs and leaves seemed to sprout from the flesh. Disgusted, I hoped that it wasn’t permanent or that someone in the city had a method of removing them.
We made our way out to the forest and in the direction we were told the girl had went. We found ourselves on a narrow trail; there was not much room to manoeuvre the canopy hung low and thorny branches reached in on both sides. I spotted small children of the briar scampering on either side. A nuisance to mortals and fey alike, I made note to avoid finding myself off the path. Huge statutes lined the path, riders atop horses struck from wood. Ominous, but then so was everything in this damned forest.

We entered a clearing with a gentle river flowing across it; a handy set of stepping stones crossed the water. Knowing that things are rarely as they seemed we tied a rope around my waist and I grabbed hold of another. I leapt on to the first stepping stone then quickly hopped to the next. The one thing I hadn’t expected was the second stone moving under my feet and rising from the water. I must say it is the first time I have tried to balance on one leg on the head of a creature, but these things happened I suppose. I hopped backward to the shore as the rest of the creatures rose from the waters. They didn’t seem actively aggressive which made a change for this place, but they seemed irritated ranting about trespassing on sacred ground or something. They seemed to demand for us to give tribute to their goddess, kneeling under the water for an hour. A nice trick if you can do it.

The druid Bartiman seemed to have confidence though and proceeded to step into the waters and lowered his head below the surface. There appeared to no thrashing waves or screams and impatience was getting the better of me. I told the minotaur to hold the end of the rope I still had attached and if by the count of 30 I hadn’t pulled on the rope to drag me back out. I lowered my head under the water and immediately noticed the druid about ten feet from me seemingly breathing normally. I braced myself and took a breath, it was a strange sensation slightly panic inducing at first but relaxing afterwards. I decided I would rise and tell the others. Arcael had his doubts, I can’t blame him trust is a hard thing to come by, that I know. We all complied and were allowed to pass; I filled a couple of water skins if the water kept its properties they may have had uses.

We eventually passed into another clearing with the sight of two beautiful creatures, a nice change to the sights we had beheld so far. They were alluring and seemed to be keen to a little challenge of archery. Not one to pass up on a challenge or a bet I happily obliged. I wasn’t on my best form and certainly not compared to the fey skill. Her suggestion to lie down in her warm embrace that followed however was hard to pass up and I had to agree. I have no idea what the others got up to, but next thing I know I’m being dragged by the arm from the clearing to the next path.

We stumbled into another clearing where an old hag awaited us. She said we had to beat one of three tests in order to pass. Bartiman shouted “all” though, something about something some old seer had said to him back at the Inn. Looks like three it would be. First was the test of skill, playing a balalaika full covered in wasps. Arcael tried his best, but kept disturbing the wasps and managed to get himself badly stung. Thinking I could help by holding the instrument steady, I received some stings myself for the trouble, but he managed to play the damn thing.

Next was the test of strength, something about wrestling with a dwarf, Balgor and Iron Wall tried their luck. I assume one of them was successful, I would have liked to pay more attention, but I had the druid working his magic on my stings to recover some freedom of motion. Bartiman then turned his attention to the third challenge.

A game of Gul Bara, now my skills with games of chance and skill may have been better suited, but I was still nursing some bad stings. After a few rounds, however I did notice that the dice were rolling strangely. We called the hag on her cheating and were met with her furious rage. Surprisingly though she conceded the game to us and awarded us with the enchanted board. Should fetch a nice price back in town in some places I frequent.

Curiously we entered another clearing. Empty, apart from a small arrangement of steepled sticks. We approached cautiously and I extended my thieves pole. I gently flipped the sticks to reveal some familiar looking playing cards, the top one showing my own face. As a kind reward for my caution I was granted a couple of arrows to my shoulder and arm.

The Vargamors burst from the foliage, led by their cowardly leader. I berated him for his fleeing before and his underhanded tactics, truth be told it is exactly the methods I would use. Again his followers seemed as untrained as the last group and we cut through them like ribbons. Their leader seemed determined to press on his attack this time though. The savage actually managed to sink his teeth into me at one point! He was obviously enraged by me knocking him to the floor and making him look foolish. We eventually took his snapping and snarling face and drove it to the ground his blood spilling into the forest floor.

Feeling the pressure we hurried on to come across a huge tree with a house nestled in its branches. We also came across a young warrior glad head to toe in plate. It would seem we weren’t the only ones in search of the young woman. We rushed to the bottom of the tree, Iron wall already swinging a rope up to catch one of the windows and Arcael moving another up through his magic. I took one look at the plated warrior and the look of hopelessness on his face as he eyed the climb. I shoved my potion of spider climb at him and told him to try that. We grabbed the ropes and scaled them as quickly as we could, some more easily than others. Can’t bears climb trees?

I clambered through the window to see the girl sitting casually at the end of the bed and a huge wolf creature tucked up in bed. I wondered how the house managed to stay aloft in the tree it was so full of crap. Not a bit of floor was clear, cluttered with odds and ends, jars and herbs and assorted bric-a-brac. The creature leapt from the bed and started waving its hands. Next thing I know I’m being awoken by the Sorcerer, I guess I must have really needed a nap! I caught a glimpse of Balgor heading back out a window; it wasn’t like the minotaur to be a coward. The others had started their attack.

While the others rained blows down upon the Wolf I maneuvered myself round to get a better angle to slide my swords in. I noticed a sprig of wolfs bane hanging amongst the herbs. I concentrated and used a handy little magical trick I knew to lift the herbs over and place it into the boiling pot.

Perhaps the fumes would have some effect on the bloody werewolf, if the stories were to be believed. I wasn’t going to get to find out though, as after a few well-placed blows from my companions our newly met warrior friend swung a well-timed blow and practically cut the creature in two.

From the belly of the beast we found a still arrived old woman, apparently the woman our druid had been chatting to back at the inn. We had ensured our dominion over the wolves of the Margreve for some time. We returned to the North Road and the rest of our journey to retrieve the artwork was shockingly uneventful. As night drew on and the moon was rising I could feel a strange sensation all over, like the hairs all over my body standing on end. That damn bite is itching too much to carry on writing this. I should get it looked at when we get back to the city.

Goran

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Traveller's Journal
Fun in the forest (Part One)

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So we have been sent by our marvellous benefactor to acquire some paintings. This is a change of pace for me seeing that we have to acquire them by paying for them rather than “acquiring” them through my usual methods! I decided to keep this journal of the journey, force of habit, if it hadn’t been for keeping the ones I could growing up, whenever we could keep parchment and charcoal hidden from the guards, I would probably never bothered learning to read or write.

Our first day, and my first foray into the Margreve, hasn’t gone exactly to plan, bloody tree hugging druids and mystical wonders, “oooh we must go see this fantastical puddle, it will be well worth our time, we won’t be attacked by sentient trees with massive killer roots and be forced to sacrifice an item of great power to save our skins, honest we won’t”. Won’t we indeed? No in fact, that is very much what will happen. Well, at least the stupid bear face got to dip his toes in the water. I thought having a druidic type is supposed to make journeys through woods and forests and hills and such easier. I suppose the Margreve is the exception to that rule.

I made my way into the clearing as quietly as I was able, dashing from tree to tree, I had figured that the rest would have waited back until I was sure the coast was clear, no such luck. As the others trampled into the clearing the tree I was almost pressed against seemed to spring to life. The very roots writhed from the ground and tried to take hold of us. I managed to avoid the attention until the tree had brought most of the others to the ground. At that point I could hardly avoid its attention much longer, things seemed dire. I wasn’t keen on become food for the forest. I suppose I might complain, but our spell slinger Arcael is going to be much more unimpressed I imagine. I’m not sure what that doohickey of his did that he gave up, but he can’t be overjoyed about it.

We did find the rotting corpse of what we can guess now to be a bugbear; I guess he wasn’t as lucky as us when trying to have a swim. It did appear he had on him some goodies you wouldn’t normally associate with the horrible creatures so we figured perhaps these he was part of the group that had been hitting trade caravans on the north road, perhaps a reward from the watch might be in order when we returned if we solved their problems for them. If travellers can’t watch over their own goods that’s their problem but if there’s coin to be made from it then why not?

We followed the tracks to what appeared to be one of those Griffon towers; from appearances it seemed to be one of the abandoned ones. A handy little bolthole from which to attack traders I would warrant. That’s what I would do. I checked out the outskirts, but couldn’t see much. Rather than take my advice of taking a quiet look in first, that gearhead Iron wall had kicked the doors in. This is when we realised the rotted corpse from the pond must have been a bugbear as we spend the next while moving floor to floor slaughtering what seemed to be his collaborators.

It was all fun and games until we came across some bloody ogres. Nasty creatures, but one took offence to me severing his spinal cord with my blades. I need to remind myself not to piss off that Sorcerer; maybe I’ll endure his looks of distain at my heritage a bit longer, as he burned one of them to a crisp. The remaining one I’ll give him credit as despite watching his fellows felled so quickly he still stood his ground, until slaughtered and put on the ground.
This left us free for the best part, some focused looting! The most we could come up with was a pair of eggs and a pair of the stupid bugbears who had locked themselves in a cupboard. I was for and now with their untimely deaths they wanted to help us in any way they could. I’ve never been one for leaving potential foes at my back, but someone had the glorious idea of having these stinking creatures carry the eggs for us until we could sell them. At least then if momma birdy appears she has some targets that aren’t us!

We headed back to the path and hustled along to the witches teat, (I didn’t notice it being particularly cold though). It did get rather foggy the closer we got, apparently according to the clanky cleric and the mage this isn’t unusual. What was unusual was the sudden appearance of a wounded rider on a horse. He dropped a rather fancy looking axe but that smelly druid managed to get his paws on it before I could slip it in my pack.

The Inn itself was typical of the homely inns all over the land, worried looking locals, gambling, drinking and a roaring fire. The room in which is write this is no lap of luxury but it’s warmer than sleeping outside. The one thing that grabbed my attention was a good old game of cards, figuring I could make myself a little earner. It was no card game I had ever played though and I’ve played them all. Probably the most disturbing part was it seemed all the cards had the faces of me and my companions on them, now I don’t remember being paid for any card maker to use my face so I figured there was something very wrong.

I returned to inform my travelling companions, but they seemed much more concerned with some missing girl and one of us becoming the “champion of the woods” or some such nonsense. I wasn’t sure where the profit margin was in this, but Bartiman seemed keen to take advantage of this opportunity. We made our way to our room to get some rest, the one thing I had learned in my time in Zobeck is the advantage of the metal men for guard duty, no sleep means one eye always opened. Always something to be cautious of when casing jobs. I wonder what the morning will bring.
Goran

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The Squinty Eye of The Law
A conversation with Captain Hendryk

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Now, see, I don’t say a kobold aint no equal, but I do say he got scaly skin and he’s smaller ‘n most. Sometimes I don’t wonder if ol’ King Kuromak himself aint in league with that sultry Sultana them winged lizards got workin’ for them down south, but he’s got his place on the Council, and as a Capp’n of The Law I gotta respect that. Hell, you could say that little lizard even pays some of my wages.

Now them sneaky shadowy Fey, them’s another thing, and don’t tell me they don’t still slink around the shadows at night, coz I seen ‘em and they aint pretty. Yeah, they may live in their Shadow Courts, eating Sarastra’s shadow shit and casting their damn shadow magic but they’re as real as shadows themselves and they got shadow roads that come right up to the walls of the city, or I’m not the son of a barrister guildmaster.

This city might be built by humans but it’s not just humans a Capp’n of the Watch has to deal with. Thieving little dwarf slavers, mechanical monstrosities, half-gnomes, bullheads, I’ve seen ‘em all and I got to treat ’em right by the council or the Counsellors get fidgety, see? You know me, I’m as honest as they come, give or take a few minor kinks, and as long as these folks keep in line, they can stay there.

Sure you get weirdos! I don’t go down them Cartways no more! Let them in the underground keep the underground I say. A place for keen-eyed lizards ‘n ghouls is them realms. Yeah, ghouls I said, Darakhul, and don’t tell me there aint none in Zobeck coz I got ears ‘n I got eyes. You got vamps ruling them poor folks up The Old North Road and they aint no free citizens like we got here. From what I hear, under the lands of Morgau and Doresh, you got an entire kingdom of them flesh lovers, and they’re moving closer every day. Maybe it’s only them slinky Shadow Fey as keep em out of Zobeck. That, and The Old Margreve. Not even a ghoul’s gonna mess with them trees; and their roots run deep!

But I got no time for changelings, and who has? How can you trust someone that doesn’t even keep true to his own form. Yeah, I’m talking about the were’s. Every full moon my men have to deal with the extra carnage and if we find one of them, we kill them straight off with silver spears. All my boys get a silver spear and a sprig of wolfbane on the full moon – the herb keeps them at bay long enough to stick in your spear and they don’t like them silver bits none.

Trouble with the weres is, when it’s not full moon, you don’t know who they are. I can’t go arresting no citizen just coz’ some jealous business rival tells me he’s a wolf or a tiger or a bear. I mean, it’s weird shit, but how do you know, and I aint got enough cells to keep ’em all in overnight jus ’n case, if you get my drift.

Keepin the Law’s just like keepin’ a kid. It looks all sweet on the outside but it’s always got it’s dark side and you gotta keep yer eye on the thing less’n it gets its dark side out ‘n screws you over. You know why they call us THE WATCH? Coz that’s what we do. We watch, an iff’n we sees something we don’t like, then we act. Course, a bitta gleamin’ coin always does wonders for the eyesight, if you know what I mean.

Captain Hendryk is a Captain of the Watch, stationed in Lower Zobeck.

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If you go down to the woods today...

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Bartiman Greenbough had an uncannily urgent feeling in his old BEAR SHAMAN bones that time was running out. Deep in The Old Margreve in THE BELLY OF THE BEAST an anthro-lupine battle was about to take place that could see a tragic turn of events for generations to come. It all centered around the young girl Czerwonya Kohler and a fearsome forest entity called The Would-Be-King-of-the-Wolves.

Hurrying through the forest path, Bartiman and Iwandornless Walderin (Iron Wall) cleaved their way through a hungry SAP DEMON and scraped past a few spikey CHILDREN OF THE BRIAR before coming to a clearing with a small pile of twigs in its centre. Goran moved forward to investigate, eliciting a hail of crossbow bolts from the VARGAMORS hiding in the clearing’s edge and led by the death defying Brother Borislav who had escaped them the night before at the Witch’s Teat Inn. With Balgor and Iron Wall both close to death, Arcael unleashed fire on his emenies but was immediately discouraged from such action by two GREEN HUSSARS who sprang into life and escourted him throughout the encounter.

The Caelmaran Sorcerer, Arcael, changed tactics and boosted a forest newcomer, the full-plated warrior, Elladan, to massive size, dealing powerful damage to the werewolf Borislav, who fought like a wild animal, inflicting Goran, Balgor and Bartiman with certain LYCANTHROPY before finally being brought to his bitterest end.

Running onward, the minstrels came to a tree with a large hut held in its branches. From up above, they heard the sound of the young Czerwonya as she exclaimed in wonder: “What large eyes you have, Grandma Babushka!” Climbing up the tree was not the easiest thing. Truman Click fell on his first attempt and Bartiman failed more than once, but eventually all ascended and came face to face with the Would-be-King-of-the-Wolves.

Casting spells at them, the lupine horror kept the fighting at bay for some time. Some opponents were put to sleep, some were blinded, one was even forced down to the bottom of the tree to “stand guard” but in the end it was the mighty felling stroke of the newcomer, Elladan, who stole the thunder of Bartiman, poised as he was to throw the silver axe, WOLF KILLER. In a metallic crack of bone splintering power, the wolf fell under the sword stroke of the heavily armed fighter and the supremacy of man over wolf was confirmed.

The death of the wolf split open its belly and Grandma Babushka erupted from the stomach, a little dazed, but thankfully still alive and well. “We creatures of the forest shall reward you ere you leave the Margreve”, she vowed.

With the girl safe and the forest calm, the adventurers headed on to the EYES OF THE FOREST INN, where they met the artist, Woody Banks and made the purchase of exotic woodland art commissioned by their sponsor, Alexei Splitleaf of Allain. Their night of rest at the Inn was the best rest they had had in over a week, and they all looked forward to the tales they would tell their fans when they returned to The Wheatsheaf Inn in LOWER ZOBECK.

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Three Steps to Heaven

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It was late at night in the large bedroom of the Witch’s Teat when the balcony doors suddenly came crashing in to the obvious surprise of Iwandornless Walderin (Iron Wall) as he stood there peering out into the darkness. Arcael wakened Balgor and immediately sent fiery blasts into two opponents, killing them instantly. The door burst open and more vargamors burst into the room wildly wielding axes. Truman Click stopped resting his gears and whirred into action as Goran positioned himself in prime “backstab postion” in the corner of the room.

The leader, Brother Borislav, a sword-wielding werewolf entered the room and engaged with the mighty minotaur but, before he could get in any good swings or lycanthropic bites, soon realised that the battle was not to be won, and fleed out the door. One injured prisoner was taken and the group learned that they had become part of the CHALLENGE OF THE FANG and were being pursued by the servants of The-would-be-King-of-the-Wolves.

Having gained nine doses of WARG SALVE, they ventured forth into the forest, looking for the Paths of Gamayun by which they would tread in order to reach, and possibly save, the young girl, Czerwonya Kohler from inevitable fate.

Three tests they overcame: The Test of Knowledge they passed through faith and worship of Lada, Queen of the Underwater Lawns, the Test of Resolve, they only just passed through the quick thinking reverence to the completion of OATHS, and the third test, involving a choice of three to which bartiman-greenbough cried: “All!” was completed at great physical cost to the brave fighter, Iron Wall, in his grappling with the disguised LESHY and at some cost to both Arcael and Goran succumbing to vicious wasp attacks.

The mistress of the Third Test, Stuthac the Ala became completely enraged but through the group’s passing of the test, was compelled to let them forward to “Grandma’s House” in THE BELLY OF THE BEAST.

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Strangers in the Night

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Magical healing is never so exciting as it is in The Old Margreve. While the forest siphons in the magical energy, it also lends its own transformative powers in the form of plant like protrusions from the bodies of all those healed. With twiggy features, Arcael and The Oooze looted the bugbear’s basement and climbed up the tower, killing two more bugbears and three nasty ogres. The bugbears were sliced vertically by Iwandornless Walderin (Iron Wall) and horizontally by the swinging scythe of Balgor and of the ogres, let us just say that Arcael burned one of them to a cinder, Goran inflicted double dagger death on another and the last succumbed to multiple attacks as he reached for his trusty javelins.

Bartiman Greenbough took the lead in the search for griffons, while Truman Click ministered intense healing to the mighty gearforged warrior who strode out in front, climbing ladders and entering every room with his Iron Wall defiantly resisting clockwork shutdown. Near the top of the tower, they found two griffon hatchlings and two cowardly bugbears hiding in a cupboard. In a master stroke of stuational comedy, the party took on the bugbears as serving carriers of the two chicks as they continued on through the forest to the Witch’s Teat Inn. On the way, a mysterious fog engulfed everyone and a lone steed carrying a dying rider reached them. Bartiman took the silver axe gripped tightly in the man’s hand, but when talking wolves entered the scene, demanding that the group leave their prey to them, the group did just that, and hoofed it on to the warm comforting light of the Inn.

With the hatchlings sold and the bugbears freed, the group spent some time relaxing in the bustling tavern. The minotaur played drinking games with the dwarf, Balderneck Gunnacksen, while the druid spoke with an old crone fortune teller, who told him:

“I see choice, catechism, and consequences. You’ll pass through places that were old before iron was born, and iron will avail you little there. Knoweledge of the old ways is better than sword or shield. I’ll say also this: Not all that’s devoured is dead and gone, and when offered a choice, the brave may earn a great reward by saying boldly, “All!”

Goran spent some time watching a strange group of long-fingered men, playing an even stranger game of cards, while most of the others hearkened to the tale of woe of one Hodel Kohler, who told how his daughter, Czerwonya, had been been caught up in the Challenge of The Fang , and age old mythic struggle between humans and wolves. With emotional sobs, he begged the party to help him save his daughter by taking the Paths of the Gamayun and rescuing her from the Would-be-King-of-the-Wolves, offering a FIREBIRD FEATHER as reward.

When Goran returned to the group with a description of how the tarocchi fortune telling cards bore likenesses of each and every member of their party, The Oooze decided it was time to rest for the night and hired a large communal room, resting while two sentries took vigil. Like hobbits in Bree, dreading Nazgul infiltration, they waited anxiously for a highly anticipated event.

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No Smoke on The Water

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When Alexei Splitleaf of Allain finds himself longing for some rare woodland art by the secretive MARGREVE artist, Woody Banks, he turns to his brave adventurers, Arcael and The Oooze, to take on the journey through the forest. Uniting with their old friend, Balgor, they take THE OLD NORTH ROAD, stopping at RIVENSKY BREWERY and OLD MIKHAIL’S INN on their way to the EYES OF THE FOREST INN, where Banks resides.

Near to the old ruined griffon tower, Bartiman Greenbough suggests a quick detour to taste the sweet waters of Griffon Pond. Indeed, they are just as sweet as he had always heard; however, the nearby bloodtree was not so sweet; an ambush of animated boughs immediately grabbing the druid, Balgor and Truman Click and throwing explosive SIPHORB FRUITS at Arcael and Iwandornless Walderin (Iron Wall), who had the good sense to hang back. Iron Wall ran in to attack but Goran expertly hiding behind the trunk of the great tree itself, managed to escape notice for some time before eventually succumbing to the angry embrace of the tree.

After a few rounds, with Truman Click (fourth most famous Gearforged Oracle in the world), inactive, Balgor unconsious and all the others severely wounded, Arcael made a plea to The Old Margreve by offering up the Key of Veles in return for his party’s life and The Old Margeve listened, magically consuming the precious magical item, while commanding the bloodtree to release its prey.

After drinking the sweet water, the ever vigilant druid Greenbough found the sack of a poor bugbear bandit, pocketed some stolen treasure, and followed a path of footsteps through the forest to the old ruined griffon tower itself. With some unusually loud “sneaking” the group entered the tower and came upon a group of bugbears in the basement. The last remaining bugbear pleaded for his life but found no mercy under the swinging scythe of Balgor. In the deathly silence, they collected their thoughts and prepared to investigate the rest of the tower.

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River Deep Mountain High

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With a sponsor, and a purpose, and a Type IV Bag of Holding, Arcael and The Oooze slipped gently down the River Argent, picking up a caravan in Clarasaya and joining them in a journey over the Rothenian Planes to Demon Mountain. Their mission (…and they chose to accept it)? Ruin the wine of Ulfer Frazo, stolen by the “Son of the Master” from honest merchant Korsav of Zobeck.

Chaos erupted at the gates of the Outer Donjon, with the confiscation of weapons and the sneaky hiding of such things by evil gnomes. Looking for the loyal kobold, Vyoda, the group set up tent and took a short sample of the goods on offer at the PAVILLIONS OF PERVERSITY, exposing the crudely stitched SPOCK ears of the supposed “elven” dancers with disastrous results on a certain gnomish proprietor, the angry mob ripping him to pieces as the adventurers made their exit.

Taking in some of the raucous tunes of evening, with much cacophany coming from the tower itself, the group rested till the next day before entering the lower donjon, looking for clues. While Truman Click stood in a queue, waiting to see THE SOLICITOR, Arcael, Goran, Bartiman Greenbough and Iwandornless Walderin (Iron Wall), scouted around for further clues, finding a giant minotaur quartermaster guarding the confiscated weapons and a Priest of Wotan, who seemed like he had something to hide.

Trouble erupted as the group walked into the kitchen to find a young serving wench being molested by a drunken wizard and his two thugs. Battle erupted and the wizard and one of his thugs paid the ultimate price, with the sole survivor getting a stern warning from Arcael. With much gratitude, Lyssa the kitchenmaid advised that the best place to find the kobold Vyoda would be in the Pavillions of Perversity, so back they went, avoiding gnomes and generally trying to stay out of trouble.

After avoiding a Vargoille Kissing Booth and refusing the Bemmean Tent of Horrors, the group slunk into the Zombie Massage Parlour and found their man. (Did I say man? I meant Kobold!)
Vyoda told them of the secret door into the cellar and the way to the hidden wine stores of Ulfer Frazo and the party lost no time in getting their weapons by bribing the quartermaster before being confronted by the secretly evil Priest of Chernovog in the chapel and having to despatch him before slipping underground.

In the cellars they disturbed an Otyugh Zombie and, on finding the corpses of Vyoda’s family, “awakened” a haunt in the form of a stinking cloud that enveloped them all as giant rot grubs attacked. Eventually they encountered the Schir demon, who seemed to want the life of Vyoda pretty badly and asked kindly for the party to get him….or die! The party offered some resistance and the Schir ran away to his hideout in the wine cellars.

Arcael and the Oooze followed and used Korsav’s incantation to spoil all the wine, but they could not combat the slippery demon and had to run back out of the chambers with the demon harrying Iron Wall all the way to safety. A return to Zobeck and a recounting of the tale to a beaming Korsav earned the party a cool 250 GP and couple of magical gifts beside! They were on their way to being true masters of Mysteria!

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Sing me that old Demon Mountain Oooze
What I heard and saw in Zobeck

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It’s not every night that a minstrel loving scribe can leave The Wheatsheaf Tavern with a smile on his face but two weeks ago, that is exactly what I did after hearing the sweet melodic voices and winds of the new band started up by Arcael and his fellow renegade from Schmidt Happens, Mr Golden Fingers himself, Truman Click.

Arcael and The Oooze won over the audience with their folk punk trip hop repertoire that not only kept the feet tapping and kobold ears fluttering, but also kept Carla Siccone‘s beer pumps pumping as well. The rasping metallic voice of Iwandornless Walderin (Iron Wall) is unlike anything I have ever heard before but seems to complement Arcael’s dulcet tones perfectly; much in the same way as Bartiman Greenbough‘s carnyx harmonises pefectly with Truman Click’s sonorific flute playing. Add to this the gentle swaying dance of Goran that lifts the mood of the audience and gets them moving in time, and we have one of those great evenings to remember.

I will certainly be keeping an eye out for this band and hope it is a herald of great things to come in the thriving music world of Lower Zobeck.

Amon Duul Nederlande

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Ghosts

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Ghosts are gruesome, ghosts are grim!
Spare a thought for old Erik Kaple, killed by a workers’ revolt and pushed, alive and screaming, into the maws of his own flensing machine. No wonder the Night-Things were restless. But time passes. And now our heroes are trespassers in the ghost’s domain.

While Taurus wrestles with rat swarms and the invisible half-gnome form of Master Doldrum, Arcael, Brandon Kane and Old Ben Gone deal with the spirit that has kept things running in the old factory and been responsible for the deaths of innocent citizens of Zobeck. Up and down the stairs, runs the brave Northlander, Incendarius, keeping them all alive as they fight against DEATH itself. And on top of it all, Mephits! Fukking Mephits! In, out, breathing all about!

Doldrum screams: “You won’t take my treasure!” Arcael screams: “Your touch is cold!” The half-gnome dies, the rat swarms disperse, the mephits fukk on off out the roof. They’ve had enough of this place! But the ghost has nowhere to go! It is a fight to the end, but fighting a ghost, it’s all “hit and miss” and a lot more “miss” than “hit”, I can assure you.

In the end, Arcael takes the fatal touch of Kaple to his heart and slumps to the floor, leaving Old Ben, Incendarius and Brandon Kane to chip away at the fading spirit. Eventually, they overcome dreadful undeath, claim the magical weather vein and destroy the body of Kaple, thus destroying forerver its undead form.

Back at Wheatsheaf Lane, a cancellation offers an impromptu gig at the Wheatsheaf Tavern. All the treasure is spent in Raising Arcael from the Dead and there is not enough to restore the rat eaten remains of brave cavalier, Falathar.

Heads hang low, but not too low to see the smiling faces of the citizens of Lower Zobeck who are beginning to look at the new heroes with an extra twinkle in their eyes. Maybe there is something good to being a hero after all……

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