Arcanis: Gonnes, Sons, and Treasure Runs (COMPLETED) - Page 52
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    Baumann's Prize: Part 1a – Rudolph’s Exotic Book Shoppe

    Rudolph’s Exotic Book Shoppe was located on Dreaming Street in Scurvytown. There was only a dingy signboard depicting an open book and a glowing candle with the words “Rudolph’s Exotic Book Shoppe” printed underneath them.

    “Are you sure this is the place?” asked Vlad from across the street. “It doesn’t look like a drug den.”

    “It’s not supposed to.” Kham nodded at the storefront. “Keep watching.”

    At random intervals, people who looked more like derelicts than scholars wandered in and out of the shop. They entered the shop in a rush and cast furtive glances in all directions as they approached the entrance. Patrons leaving the shop seemed disoriented or drunk, often stumbling in the street.

    “I’m going in invisible.” Kham tapped a clear vial in one hand with his thumb. “Sebastian, Beldin, you go in and say the passphrase: I’d like to see your exotic-book reading room, please. I’ll sneak in behind you.”

    “I recommend we all keep our cloaks up and scarves across our noses,” said Sebastian. “If those mercenaries really were working for this Well-Dressed Man, they may know what we look like.”

    “And THAT’S not suspicious.” Ilmarė’s arms were crossed.

    “Trust me, the clientèle here all looks like that,” said Kham.

    Ilmarė was skeptical of any plan Kham came up with as a matter of survival. “What happens after you go inside?”

    “You and Vlad wait five minutes, then come in and say the same pass phrase. If things go sour, I’ll give you the signal.”

    “What’s the signal?” asked Vlad.

    Kham pointed both forefingers and, imitating a pistol, fired with his thumbs. “That signal.”

    Then he took a swig of the vial and disappeared.

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    Baumann's Prize: Part 1b – Rudolph’s Exotic Book Shoppe

    Sebastian and Beldin entered a dimly lit shop with bookcases lining the walls. Carpet completely covered the floor and a floor-to-ceiling curtain concealed the wall opposite the door. An elderly man sat hunched over a desk in front of the curtained wall. A candelabrum burned in front of him, shining light on the book he was reading.

    The man looked over the rim of his glasses as Sebastian as he entered. “Hello there.” He motioned to the bookcases. “Please look around and see if there is anything you like. If you need any help just ask.” He returned to reading his book.

    Sebastian swallowed and stepped up to the desk. “I’d like to see your exotic book reading room, please.”

    The man motioned behind the curtained back wall to a door at the far end of a passage. “The password is: Drac.”

    Sebastian nodded and moved towards the curtain.

    “Nobody mentioned anything about another password,” muttered Beldin from behind his scarf.

    Sebastian shushed him as he pushed the curtain aside. It led to a dark passage that culminated in a large door.

    Steeling himself, the dark-kin made his way to the door. A slot abruptly slid open. A pair of squinting eyes greeted him. “What’s the password?” asked someone in a gruff voice.

    “Drac,” said Sebastian. He waited.

    Nothing happened. Beldin slowly started to reach for the axe on his back…

    Then the door creaked open. Beldin stepped inside and out of sight.

    “I’m looking for ghoul juice,” said Sebastian, stalling. “Do you know where I can get some?”

    The man, his features concealed by shadow, muttered something about dark-kin. “Not here,” he hissed back. “Inside.”

    Something tugged on Sebastian’s cloak. It was just enough to let him know that Kham had just whisked past him. The guard didn’t seem to notice.

    They continued down the corridor to another door. Beldin stood in front of it, unsure of what to do next. “Now what?”

    Sebastian took another deep breath. “Try to act natural.” Then he opened the door.

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    Baumann's Prize: Part 1c – Rudolph’s Exotic Book Shoppe

    Ilmarė and Vlad entered the dimly lit shop, with bookcases lining the walls. Carpet completely covered the floor and a floor-to-ceiling curtain concealed the wall opposite the door. An elderly man sat hunched over a desk in front of the curtained wall. A candelabrum burned in front of him, shining light on the book he was reading.

    The man looked over the rim of his glasses as Ilmarė entered. “Hello.” He motioned to the bookcases. “Take a look and see if there’s anything you like. If you need help, just ask.” He returned to reading his book.

    Ilmarė leaned forward. As she did so, a purple lock fell across one eye. She tucked it back under the hood of her cloak. “I’d like to see your exotic book reading room, please.”

    The man stared at her. Then he motioned behind the curtained back wall to a door at the far end of a passage. “The password is: Froese.”

    Ilmarė nodded and pushed the curtain aside. It led to a dark passage that culminated in a large door.

    Steeling herself, the elorii made her way to the door. A slot abruptly slid open. A pair of squinting eyes greeted her. “What’s the password?” asked someone in a gruff voice.

    “Froese,” said Ilmarė. She waited.

    Nothing happened. Vlad slowly started to reach for the hilt of Grungronazharr.

    Then an alarm went off.

    Ilmarė drew her thinblade as a crossbow jutted from the slot.

    “Damn it, I knew Kham’s plan wouldn’t work!”

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    Baumann's Prize: Part 2a – Main Smoking Den

    As Sebastian walked into the smoke-filled room, a pungent odor assaulted his senses. The windowless room was quite dark inside, with only a few dim candles held in sconces along the walls to illuminate the room.

    Scattered about were a few couches and chairs. In the room’s center lay three round, cushion-lined depressions. A few patrons sat here and there, smoking or drinking according to their preference. There were six curtained-off cubicles along the back wall.

    Sebastian spotted a bald, older man behind a counter to his right; the well-dressed man held an exquisite quarterstaff across his lap. A small, barred window sat behind him next to an ironbound door. An extremely tall woman, arms crossed in front of her, stood before the door.

    The dark-kin made his way over to the man. “I’d like to buy some drugs,” he said stiffly.

    The old man chuckled and abruptly turned to face Sebastian. His eyes were milky white. “That depends on what kinds of flavor you’re looking for. Snakeweed will cost you three silver, ghoul juice costs one doubloon, and abyss dust costs two doubloons.

    Sebastian pretended to think it over. “Two vials of ghoul juice please. One for me and one for my friend.” He slipped two gold doubloons onto the counter in front of the man.

    A young man stumbled out of one of the cubicles and collapsed on a nearby couch.

    The Well-Dressed Man felt in front of him for the coins. He rubbed each coin between his fingers. Nodding to himself, he turned and slid the coins through the grate behind him. A few moments later, gnarled hands handed him three vials. He spun back to place the vials before him.

    “You’re blind,” Sebastian said out loud.

    “I am,” said the Well-Dressed Man. “Is that a problem?”

    Sebastian shook his head. “Not at all. It’s just that you gave us one too many vials.” He could feel Beldin tense up behind him.

    “Quite the contrary,” said the Well-Dressed Man. “My sense of hearing is very acute. I gave you the correct number of vials. One for you, one for your dwarf friend…and one for the fellow in the swishing overcoat trying to sneak past me.”

    “Sarish’s ass!” swore Kham.

    Just then the alarm went off.

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    Baumann's Prize: Part 2b – Main Smoking Den

    Kham fired two shots, but the Well-Dressed Man seemed to know where he was aiming before he fired. He twisted and the two pistol blasts perforated the wall behind him.

    “Next time, I’m dumping the overcoat,” he muttered.

    “Rebecca! Stop them!” The Well-Dressed Man took a deep breath.

    Drug addicts stumbled around clumsily, struggling to find sanctuary. Some of them ran half-naked out of the curtained alcoves.

    Sebastian turned towards the tall woman, who advanced on him with sword drawn. “Rebecca, is it? Nice to meet you. My name’s Sebastian. So now that we’re acquainted: Medicates privatus!

    The Well-Dressed Man hopped onto the counter in front of him without effort or hesitation. He exhaled and a gout of flames blasted towards Kham.

    Kham dove to the side as he drew two more pistols. “What the hell kind of drugs are you people taking?” He landed on one of the comfortable couches.

    Beldin charged forward. The Well-Dressed Man’s staff blurred. Wood struck metal with a resounding crack, and the dwarf stumbled sideways.

    “Don’t help or anything!” shouted Kham.

    “I am helping!” Sebastian shot back. “Rebecca, there’s an elf and a Milandisian outside. Let them in!”

    The warrior woman nodded and ran out of the room.

    The Well-Dressed Man spun his staff in front of him. “Your pitiful hand crossbows cannot penetrate my defenses.”

    “Oh yeah?” Kham cocked the levers on both of his pistols. “Finn wanted me to pass on a message: Don’t mess with the Syndicate.”

    The retort and smoke of two pistols added to the room. When it cleared, the Well-Dressed Man lay on the floor, dead.

    Kham holstered his two pistols.

    “Wow,” said Beldin, rubbing his jaw. “He really was blind.”

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    Baumann's Prize: Part 3 – Basement Door

    There was a brief tussle behind the door. The crossbow disappeared from the slot. Then it slowly creaked open.

    A tall, muscular woman stood in the doorway. Her eyes seemed a bit glazed. She peered at them both. “You an elf?” she asked Ilmarė.

    “Elorii,” Ilmarė replied.

    “Close enough,” said the woman. “Sebastian’s waiting for you. Follow me.”

    Vlad exchanged glances with Ilmarė, but they followed her down the dark hallway with weapons drawn.

    Several drug addicts stumbled past them as they entered.

    “I brought them as you asked,” she said in a dull monotone.

    Sebastian flashed her a brief smile. “Thanks, Rebecca.”

    Kham came back into the room. “I can’t find my father anywhere! I’ve torn the other rooms apart.”

    Sebastian turned towards his new friend. “Rebecca? Do you know the way down?”

    She nodded. “I do. I can show you if you like, but I can’t go down any further.”

    “Why not?” asked Beldin.

    Rebecca’s features narrowed with distrust as she took in the dwarf for the first time.

    “Why not?” repeated Sebastian.

    “Because the boss wouldn’t like it.”

    Kham kicked the Well-Dressed Man with his foot. “You mean this wasn’t him?”

    Rebecca shook her head. “Nah.”

    “So the whole Well-Dressed Man act was a façade for something else,” said Sebastian. “Your father’s probably down there with him, her, or it.”

    Rebecca walked through a doorway into a short hall and touched a part of the wall in three places. A doorway slid open.

    Sebastian was about to rush past her, when the big woman grabbed the dark-kin in a crushing kiss. When Rebecca finally let him go, he gasped for air.

    “Be careful,” said Rebecca. “They’ll be waiting for you.” Then she jogged out of the room.

    Sebastian wiped the back of his mouth with his hand in disgust.

    Kham shook his head in disbelief. “Sebastian and women. I’ll never understand it.” He took another swig of a potion and disappeared.

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    Baumann's Prize: Part 4 – Basement Storage

    The stairs led down into a large, dank room with a dirt floor. In the center of the room was a tall, iron candelabrum with ten lit candles. The scant light produced by the tapers caused shadows to dance about the room. Scattered throughout the area were numerous crates, barrels, boxes and sacks.

    “Count to five,” whispered Kham to Sebastian from seemingly nowhere. “Then do what you do best…besides charming women.”

    Beldin burst open the door. “Knock, knock!” he roared.

    Several unsavory-looking men wielding cutlasses greeted Beldin at the foot of the stairs.

    “ONE!” shouted Beldin. He batted aside a cutlass with his axe and shoved the man backwards with the haft.

    Kham catapulted himself over the sea dogs heads and landed in the midst of them. But they couldn’t see him, and they were far too preoccupied with the angry dwarf at the foot of the stairs.

    “TWO!” Two more sea dogs struggled to take on the living wall that was Beldin. He smashed one in the face with his shield and hacked the other one back down the steps, cleaving his cutlass in the process.

    An effeminate-looking elorii in swashbuckling grab stood safely at the side of the stairs, egging his companions on. Near as Kham could tell, he provided no value whatsoever.

    “THREE!” A fourth sea dog lunged, only to have his cutlass caught by the wicked curve of Beldin’s axe. The dwarf twisted and the man spun sideways.

    Kham ducked his head into a rectangular room. A long table with many chairs dominated the center, while double bunk beds lined the walls. It was the crew’s quarters. Kham closed the door.

    “FOUR!” Beldin had yet to actually move from the steps. One sea dog hurled his cutlass in frustration. It bounced off Beldin’s shield.

    Kham ducked inside one room when the elorii wasn’t looking. It had beautiful rugs adorning the floors and was lit with golden candlesticks. There was a plush couch along one wall, a carved wooden armoire, and a comfortable-looking bed.

    “Must be a woman’s quarters,” said Kham. Then he realized it was probably the elorii’s.

    “FIVE!” Beldin just crossed his arms and waited.

    The sea dogs froze, unsure of what he was up to.

    Incendiaries globus!” shouted Sebastian.

    As the flames engulfed them, they figured it out pretty quickly.

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    Baumann's Prize: Part 5 – Baumann’s Sitting Room

    A secret door opened to a staircase that culminated in a circular room. The walls appeared to have suffered from a cave-in. Mosaic tiles on the floor depicted a massive, coiled snake baring its fangs.

    “Stupid humans,” said Ilmarė. “They’re recycling ssanu lairs.”

    “One snake replacing another,” said Kham from nowhere. “Cover me.”

    Two guards charged forward from the opposite side of the room, only to be met by Vlad and Beldin. A door opened as Kham entered…

    “Ah HA!” shouted the swashbuckling elorii on the other side. He lunged forward with his rapier, spearing at the air where surely someone must have entered.

    “Ah ha your damn self,” said Kham. Two pistol blasts caused the elorii to twist backwards. Unfortunately, it also caused him to lose his invisibility. The two combatants separated from each other across the door while the battle raged outside of the room.

    They were in a circular room filled with bas-relief carvings on the walls. The craftsmanship was incredible, depicting strange serpent men engaged in a wide variety of activities. In the center of the room was a round, sunken couch appointed with plush cushions. Scattered about the place were cages filled with exotic birds.

    “Dad!” shouted Kham.

    Chained to the wall at the far end of the room was a gaunt older man, wearing a blue robe and cracked pince-nez. He looked up, almost unable to speak. “Son!”

    “We can’t have the family reunion interrupted,” said the elorii. With a flourish, he pulled a wand from his puffy shirt and pointed it at the doorway. “Casses!

    A spew of white and gray webbing filled the room. A dwarvish curse on the other side indicated the ploy had worked.

    Kham ran full tilt towards his father, stopping short only when a woman blocked his path. She wore black studded leather and knee-high boots. Her waist-length flame-red hair was tightly woven into dreadlocks, and a wicked scar crossed from the top of her forehead to the middle of her right cheek. Kham focused on the shimmering cutlass in her hand.

    “Shantar, keep them out,” said the woman. “This one’s mine.”

    “Aye, aye captain,” said the blonde-locked elorii known as Shantar. He slammed the door shut.

    Kham dove and rolled. The cutlass struck a glancing blow, tearing off a piece of his overcoat.

    “I don’t know who you are lady,” Kham said, feinting left, and right. The captain matched his every movement, her cutlass always pointed at his nose. “But you’re pissing me off.”

    Shantar leaned his back on the door and began picking at his nails with a long stiletto. He started to whistle a tuneless melody.

    “Your father is worth a lot of money,” she said. “It’s not personal.”

    “It is to me,” said Kham. He dodged past her but not fast enough. She slashed him across the thigh.

    Kham stumbled over to his father and fired at one of the manacles. It snapped apart.

    He placed the other pistol in his father’s bruised palm. “Here dad. You get a good shot, you take it, understand?”

    Before Corinalous could respond, a cutlass whistled through the air where Kham’s head had been. He jumped backwards and pulled two more pistols from his overcoat.

    Ustilo radius!

    Shantar, who had been standing in the doorway, was suddenly engulfed in a blast of flames as door and elorii gave way. Sebastian stood framed in the doorway, his fingertips smoking from the conflagration.

    “A sorcerer?” The redheaded captain put two fingers to her mouth and whistled.

    Suddenly, all the birds flew out of their cages. The room was filled with a cloud of brightly colored feathers and high-pitched tweeting.

    “You have not seen the last of me, worthless scum! Captain Baumann will live to fight another day!” she shouted. “When that day comes, I will hunt you down and skewer you one by one. Watch your back…”

    When the birds finally calmed down, she was gone.

    Corinalous struggled to his feet. “There isn’t much time. We’ve must find my friend Flint. He told me to meet him at The Last Resort. I fear it is already too late.”

    Ilmarė blanched. “What is this white stuff all over the floor?”

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    Baumann's Prize: Conclusion

    When they finally arrived at The Last Resort, it was easy to find out Flint’s room number from Bobbin.

    “The gnome said he wouldn’t be getting many visitors,” said Bobbin. “But they’ve been coming in all day. Rough-looking types went up to call on Flint a half-hour ago.”

    “Wait,” said Vlad. “I know that gnome. I was having a beer with him today!”

    They rushed up the steps. The door was partially ajar. Corinalous pushed the door open.

    Flint was still in the room, although it looked as though he would never leave it again under his own power—or in one piece, for that matter.

    The gnome lay splayed on the room’s solitary bed. His throat was cut wide and his chest sliced open, with the contents of the latter piled sloppily at his feet. Blood, bile, and other viscera soaked into the mattress and puddled onto the floor below. These substances were also used to scrawl a series of words and symbols on the wall over the bed.

    “That’s no language I’ve ever seen,” said Ilmarė.

    Corinalous stood over the corpse of his friend, shaking his head. “Oh Flint. I told you not to pursue this.”

    Kham peered at the words. “Leviathan, we offer these gifts in your name. O Master of the Seas, guide us as we struggle in your foul name. Bloody One, grant us strength.”

    “Leviathan?” Vlad took a step back. “Did you say Leviathan?”

    Between the unhallowed words, Kham could make out one design that was almost familiar: an octopus’ head. As he looked closer, he realized something strange about the design: five stars circle the dome of the octopus.

    Corinalous lifted up a heel of the dead gnome’s boot and, twisting it slightly, pulled out a carefully folded piece of parchment.

    He handed the parchment to Kham. It was browned, faded and roughened to the consistency of leather.

    They stepped out of the room and downstairs. Sebastian took Bobbin aside to explain what happened.

    Kham unrolled the parchment onto a nearby table. It expanded into a cracked five-foot square map, with wear along the edges.

    The map had no indications of scale or direction; the trails of latitude and longitude began at the margins of the map, but they didn’t extend more than a few inches. Five islands rendered in ochre by an unsteady hand dominated the map, forming a rough circle.

    Four of the island drawings featured terrain markings—mountains, jungles, natural harbors, and so forth. In addition, a unique icon sat below each of the four islands: a prosthetic hook, a spyglass, a ship’s bell, and a pistol. The fifth island was blank, save for a symbol in its middle—an octopus head and crossbones with five stars ringed above the dome of the head—and a single word beneath it: R’LYEH.

    “That’s the sign of Leviathan,” said Vlad again, tapping the octopus head. “So the Leviathan cult has finally made it to Freeport.”

    “There’s an inscription in the corner here,” said Ilmarė. “By a ship-wrack’d hand, late of Freeport, a veteran of the great campaign, as a warning to all: here there be terrors beyond all reckoning. There’s a date too: several days short of one hundred and fifty years ago.”

    Another patch of ocean set off in a triangle and filled with a picture of a whirling vortex of water sat in another corner of the map, falling inside the latitude and longitude coordinate markings.

    “This part reads, Hell’s Triangle,” said Beldin from his side of the map. “There’s an icon of a sextant. The text below it reads: Safe transit, housed in Freeport, the gift of noble Carthy.”

    Corinalous leaned back in his chair, weary and drawn. The adrenaline had worn off.

    “Flint acquired that map a few month ago. Not being able to make head or tail of it, he corresponded with me. I assured him that the map wash extremely valuable. I planned to book passage to Freeport on the Wasser Madchen, but it crossed paths with the Kraken’s Claw at sea and was sunk. I told Captain Baumann I knew how to get my hands on a load of treasure.”

    “Well, that explains why you weren’t answering my messages,” said Kham. He seemed awkward and uncomfortable in his father’s presence. “You’ve got to rest up. If the Cult of Leviathan has come to Freeport, it’s not safe here.

    Corinalous nodded. “I will look after Flint’s corpse and spread his ashes. I have…” his gazed lingered on Kham’s emerald, “…a safe house in Freeport. We can hide there while we figure out what to do next.”

    Ilmarė looked back and forth between Corinalous and Kham. “If you’re Kham’s father, what’s up with that accent?”

    “What accent?” asked Corinalous.

    “What matters is that we got came for,” said Sebastian. He bowed his head slightly to Corinalous.

    “Yeah,” said Kham, patting several vials of stolen ghoul juice in the folds of his overcoat. “We got what we came for.”
    Last edited by talien; Tuesday, 17th June, 2008 at 01:57 AM.

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    Chapter 29: Shattered Dreams - Introduction

    This is a Living Arcanis adventure set in the Arcanis setting, written by Jeffrey Witthauer and Jeffrey Meehan. You can read more about Arcanis at http://www.onaraonline.org. Please note: This adventure contains spoilers!

    Our cast of characters includes:

    • Dungeon Master: Michael Tresca (http://michael.tresca.net)
    • Beldin Soulforge (dwarf fighter) played by Joe Lalumia
    • Ilmarė Galen (elf bard/fighter) played by Amber Tresca
    • Kham Val’Abebi (val rogue/psychic warrior) played by Jeremy Ortiz (http://www.ninjarobotstudios.com)
    • Nauris Drilian (human rogue/ranger) played by Mike Best
    • Vlad Martell (human fighter) played by Matt Hammer

    This adventure, known as “the one where Kham gets rid of Fleshripper,” took an interesting turn. For one, we changed the main character of Corinalous to be Kham’s father. Corinalous is the right age as well as a val’Abebi, so that fits nicely.

    For another, mixing the events of The King in Yellow with the dream world seriously warps the reality of the game. What’s real and what’s not? As if Kham didn’t have enough problems, this adventure forces him to face the ghosts of his past. Literally.

    Unfortunately for our heroes, even after they complete their mission within the sword, they’re not going to get back to Arcanis that quickly.

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