Good Harbor on the Phrygian Sea

Day Two
Or, "Amos of Arabia"

And so it was that our group of intrepid heroes struck out upon the dreaded Sea of Sand, to try and find their fortune, or a shitload of tusks from animals that typically have fangs.

(I’ll just leave this here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuxHLzwlDY4 )

Our fearless adventurers, possessing much in the way of talent and courage but incredibly little in terms of gold coins, gathered their things (following a quick visit to the wilderness supply shop, where Yamaraja was nearly shot by a crossbow) and took off to the southern wastes, opting to follow a cart trail so that they wouldn’t have to hike across endless sand dunes. It was not long, however, before the group discovered that this path led to a trap – the wagon that the group had been inadvertently tailing was still a pile of wreckage down a steep dune – indeed, once again the group was nearly the victim of the fiendish “trap-door-that-sends-you-falling-twenty-feet-into-relative-inconvenience” routine.

The wagon, and its driver, were set upon by the bandits who had designed the trap, and the group, with only the best intentions in mind, slid down the hill to engage them. The fight was decisive, the bandits finding themselves outgunned against a group of six hearty adventurers. Most of the bandit party was slaughtered, with one kept alive for interrogation.

Oh, and then everyone but Yamaraja had to make a Constitution check. Probably nothing.

Our noble heroes looked to scavenge the cargo that the wagon had been transporting – books, as it happened. Botto found a spellbook which helped his own studies along, while Yamaraja found a tome on the history of the Crimson Cloaks that the king himself had requested from this, the world’s first documented Book-mobile. Confronted with the fact that we had just stolen (again) from King Tung, the party debated what would happen to the cart’s driver. Amos was of the opinion that we couldn’t just go around murdering people – what unfortunate luck for him that he was the one who murdered the cart driver, throwing him to the unforgiving ground, where the dwarf bashed his head open on an ill-placed rock.

British_Pith_Helmet.jpg

Pictured above: Murderer, brigand and bard Amos Saltypants.

When the bandit came through, it was Amos to the rescue again – but no, not through relentless and vindictive bloodshed… this time! Instead, he used his wealth of charisma to convince the remaining bandit that Amos was the new leader of the bandit group. Having earned the bandit’s trust, we learned that the bandits regularly mugged people here and then buried the gold in a cave just over the crest of the dune.

Investigating the cave, we were attacked by several, flying Kobolds, which we proceeded to filet. Our efforts resulted in the discovery of over two hundred gold pieces – if adventuring doesn’t work out for us, the party may have a future career in grave-robbing. We also found a few more of the mysterious, white, life-extending stones, a mystery that is not likely to end any time soon. Having turned the cave upside down (and its denizens inside out), the group emerged from the cave for a well-earned Wellness Break, heading to the nearby “crick” at the bandit’s suggestion to get more water.

Also, most people had to make a constitution check. Not even worth mentioning.

While at the “crick”, we had an awkward meet-cute with a pair of two-headed wolves. And like most of our interactions, it ended in horrible bloodshed and Amos, face-down, slowly floating away down the “crick”. The group survived the fight (though it was close for a minute there), and Rosemary proved that she might be the only thing between us and certain death, as she skinned, butchered and grilled the wolves with little more than an adventurer’s pack and the stubborn determination of a 9-year-old girl.

We camped out at the crick, whereupon most of the group realized that these white stones might be killing them. Though the majority of the group wished to discard these stones, Amos held onto the collection for his own nefarious purposes. Including using his mule in the metaphorical sense of the word.

The next morning, we decided to press on and check out a place the locals had named, “The Death Chambre”. Despite several warnings to stay away, we delved deeper, discovering snakes that had been retro-fitted with massive tusks, and a very angry troll with a disposition against explorers. The entire group did their part to stop the troll:

-Killface lit himself on fire and refused to let go of the troll, granting us advantage for most of the fight.
-Botto wailed on the troll, including a Magic Missile that requires the rolling of ZERO DICE to hit.
-Yamaraja stood at mid-range, using a cantrip ad nauseum to make sure that the troll couldn’t heal. It wasn’t very effective.
-Rosemary spent her time firing her shortbow at the giant target, and getting the hang of whatever the fuck Sneak Attack is supposed to do.
-Amos tanked for the entirety of the fight, sponging what attacks the troll could muster by blocking them with his face.
-And Fenthur convinced the troll that, despite all logic, it should be very afraid of all of the above.

After a relatively quick fight, the group could NOT FIND ANY TROLL TUSKS, but did take all of its internal organs. This game is getting worrisome quickly.

Following the disproving of the Death Chambre, the group headed back to town to peddle their wares. To make a long story short (too late), the group accumulated several hundred gold. Also, Amos – perhaps feeling lucky that he didn’t die in the desert, put his considerable wages on the gambling tables against the owner of the inn – Amos won, winning the group half-control of the same inn he wants nothing to do with. The Fates are such bitches.

Also of note, the group finally met King Tung, who – surprise – should have died months ago. He’s using these white stones to extend his life, and MAAAAYBE was possessed by some otherworldly power as a result.

but hey, we got half the inn, guys.

NEXT TIME, ON PARTY OF SEVEN:

-We read a book.
-We try to burn down a brewery as a favor to a senator.
-Yamaraja tries to make cookies. ROLL FOR SETTING THE OVEN TIMER.

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Day One
The one where the group battles a magical floor and a mighty metal cage.

All members of the party are captured and thrown in a dungeon (presumably for stealing a shipment of gold, for the illegal use of magic in city limits, or for disturbing the peace at a lovely local eatery called The Dancing Dragon). After quick introductions they look for anything useful, pick the lock on their cell door and investigate some of the others. While walking the profoundly long distance of the corridor the group is mildly startled by a few guards escorting another shackled prisoner (Fenthur) to the cell they so briefly occupied. They charm the guards and are ushered like royalty into a line-up, asked to read a sentence, and then allowed to roam the dungeon at their leisure, so long as they eventually return to their cell.

In the antechamber to the interrogation room group chooses to investigate a set of doors. The doors lead to a long narrow magical chamber with a oddly treacherous floor. The majority of the party falls down a steep ramp into a metal cage while two members skillfully avoid the trap and remain upstairs solving riddles, entering their responses by stepping on certain stone tiles on the floor.
Some members of the group struggle to free themselves from the cage while others excel at it (but at times struggle to help their cohorts). Animated suits of armor attack the members of the party that remain upstairs. And the group flees, albeit after checking (or attempting to check) a few chests, through doors two floors down and in the back of the chamber, only to find themselves in the same room that they started in.

Their captors are mildly surprised to locate them back in the antechamber. They inform them that they have been given a full pardon and return all their adventuring gear and weapons.

On their way back to The Dancing Dragon to question Lydria street thugs attack the group in an attempt to capture or kill Yamaraja who has had a price of 50 gold pieces put on his head. The group mightily defeats the ruffians.

Lydria has little information for them but she sends them to talk to Marty the Mage, a wizard that lives in a dirt hovel near the fork in the road outside of town (the very same wizard that disappeared from the tavern during the brawl).

He is hostile towards the group for their lack of magical knowledge and ability. The group calls it a night and lives to investigate the mysteries of Good Harbor another day; a day when they may potentially fight tooth and nail to claw their way to second level.

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Prologue (part 2)

On the same morning…

A member of the city guard stands watch at the North Gate, ‘stands’ is generous… slouches really, with his curved back leaning against the stonework of the arch. His spear stands guard as well, leaning against the wall beside him; the two cast long early morning shadows in the dust. The guard takes a long slow drink from the rough clay flagon of ale in his hand and wipes the foam from his thick black stubble with the back of a leather-gloved hand. He offers some ale to the spear that stands beside him with a crooked smile.

“Eh? …No?…Well, suit yourself.” He replies with shrug and takes another drink.

A second figure in the arch lets out a judgemental sigh. The man sits atop a high stool at an angled writing desk. The stool and desk are sun-bleached and otherwise weathered from the elements, but the man is well-dressed in brown high-collared jacket and a loosely-woven cravat. He looks up wearily from his bookkeeping, shakes his head and returns to his figures.

An uncommonly tall slender women in a heavily-embroidered thick blue cloak approaches. Her hood is drawn up over her head so that the men can only see the bottom half of her face. The two men look up, simultaneously noticing her presence.

No one speaks. The sentry’s and the the customs agent’s eyes follow the woman as she passes through the gate unchallenged. She smiles at the man at his desk and half-curtseys, barely breaking her measured stride.

Once she has passed several yards into the distance towards the center of Great Harbor the customs agent blinks, clears his throat and narrates to himself as he scratches with a quill. “Time: Five and three quarters, of the Sun. Woman, presumably of noble birth. Nothing to declare.”

The guard speaks up, “Nothing?” the guard smiles to himself “…I don’t know about that. I think she may have been smuggling two great big sacks of flour under her blouse.”

The customs agent shoots a nasty glare at the guard and says “Oh, dry up, you twat.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Six and one half, of the Sun

The beautiful woman steps over the slumped body of member of the Kingsguard as she turns the bronze handle of a heavy, and finely-painted, wooden door. In the room King Tung sits at a writing desk covered with parchment maps and without looking up groans and sneers, “I clearly stated I was not to be disturbed.”

The woman withers where she stands, writhes in agony and morphs into a man of similar stature but hunched over an intricately carved staff which appeared from the ether. The stranger bangs his staff a single time upon the ground angrily. “Now is that any way to talk to an honored guest.”

The king looks up and the remaining color in his sickly pallid skin drains from his face. “You? I… I told you never to visit me here,” he says hastily in a hushed, fearful tone.

“And I agreed to that request,” the stranger says with venom in his voice without hesitation “…but I cannot honor the terms of our agreement, if you do not honor the very same terms as well. You see,” the stranger paused “there is the matter of a shipment of gold; it’s late. Or from what I gather, not coming at all.” The stranger says eerily with a hint of sarcasm.

“What? I…I don’t understand.”

“Yes… I see that you clearly do not…” continued the strange man a bit discouraged. “You do not understand the exceptional necessity of making these payments… you do not understand the severity with which failure to make said payments will be dealt… and, most of all, it seems you do not understand, or rather simply lack awareness of the fact, that your gold… my payment was stolen right from under your nose. Regretfully I must inform you that the shipment didn’t even make it out of your city,” the stranger sneered.

Some of the kings color returned to his face and he clenched his gaunt jaw slowly mulling over the disturbing news. “I’ll deal with these thieves,” he said though his teeth as he slammed a tightened fist on his writing desk spilling a morning glass of wine. “You’ll get your gold Byrne dun Ming.”

“See that I do, King Tung, or your days are numbered.” Byrne said and, having accomplished what he set out to do, he nodded his head, turned decisively and, scraping his staff on the stone floor, exited the king’s chambers.

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Prologue

Dirty faced and clad in rough, misshapen sackcloth shifts two children of about ten years sit atop the outcropping beside a fork in the road. They are about a mile outside of the wall that separates the outskirts of the town of Great Harbor from the outlying lands. A road stretches eastward through a mostly barren, but not entirely inhospitable, landscape characterized by hills of rocky sandy soil dotted with short scrub-brush pine trees. To the west lie two well-traveled roads to Great Harbor.

The children sit in the shade of the low trees, the beady early morning sun on the horizon. One amuses himself by scratching images in the dust at his feet with a sharpened stick. The other sits cross legged on a rock as though he sits on a throne, greedily picking his nose.

The wind hums slowly through the quietly creaking trees and carries a song sung in an unfamiliar tongue. The two simultaneously hear the odd song on the wind and look at each other excitedly. They scramble up the sloped embankment fumbling, each quickly selecting and scooping up a rock about the size of a fist as they go.

They see the stranger who is singing. He is uncommonly tall and hunches over an intricately carved wooden staff used like a crutch. He wears a heavy embroidered deep blue cloak. Under his hood the boys can easily see that the stranger has thick woven bandages wrapped around his head that cover his eyes. Men never travel the road to Great Harbor without horses, and usually they come in wagons loaded down with supplies and goods to sell or trade. The first youth drops his rock and his jaw at the sight of this odd-looking and mysterious character.

“You boy, the stranger said abruptly. “Which road is the more direct path to the Hall of Tung, Overlord and Master of Great Harbor?”
The first boy shuffled uncomfortably and seemingly surprised himself when he raised his pointed finger towards the north road.
“Thank you kindly,” the stranger said.
With that the odd man adjusted his robe and resumed his song but broke off suddenly.
“You know boy it isn’t kind to throw rocks at passing caravans,” the stranger said with disgust lingering on his lips.
“We weren’t,” protested the youth… “honest, we…”
“Don’t lie to me, by The Light I know what you two are up to and about and hmmpth,” the man stammered sternly. “It isn’t kind to lie to strangers either.”

The two youths stood in place as though they were carved wooden statues and stared struck dumb. The man paused a moment more, shrugged, and then continued to walk towards the town slowly scraping his staff on the ground, now once again singing his song. The second youth freed from the strangers spell frowned with hatred, gripped the rock he still held tighter, and threw it with a grunt at the stranger. The well-aimed rock sailed swiftly through the air towards the man’s head.

The stranger raised a single finger and stopped the rock in midair only a foot from his face. The rock floated and turned end over end in the air. The strangers twisting digit appeared to be keeping it in place.
The boys starred in solemn disbelieving.

A grin spread slowly across the strangers face. “I fear you have tried my patience,” the stranger said in a mocking tone. “Pity.”
He casually flicked his finger in the direction of the youth on the hill and the rock burst into blue flame and took flight towards the boy that had thrown it.

The rocks path curved upward before it slammed solidly into the boy’s head splashing gelatinous bits of seared grey matter onto the other boy’s face and hands.

The recently standing body, folded and crumpled to the earth. The remaining boy screamed a blood-curdling scream, turned, stumbled and scrambled into a run away from the scene.

The strangers grin twisted into a hearty laugh. His head rocked back, his whole body now shaking violently his cavernous toothy mouth emitting the blood-curdling laughter. He began his song again, now in a hearty and vigorous tone.

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