drnuncheon's Freeport Story Hour

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The official symbol of the Freeport City Watch is the seal of the city on a copper medallion worn around the neck. The medallion has come to be known as the 'Freeport Noose' among watchmen - and criminals. You can tell an experienced Watchman by the fact that they have found a different way to display their badge.

Warning: this thread will contain spoilers for Green Ronin's Freeport series of adventures (Death in Freeport, Terror in Freeport, Madness in Freeport, and Hell in Freeport - assuming the game lasts that long. If you are a player or plan to be a player in one or more of these adventures...turn back now. I'm also stealing various other stuff from a variety of sources like Penumbra's En Route sourcebook and Dungeon magazine - I'll try to mark such as spoilers when I can.

For the rest of you, let us move on to the next post where you can meet our heroes (such as they are.)

Important Note: If you don't like log-format posts (or if you don't like story-format posts, I suppose), the Story Hour switches from log to actual story partway through. After I finish writing up Madness in Freeport I'll be revisiting the early posts and rewriting them as stories...
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Our Heros (such as they are)

Working as a Watchman in Freeport has to be the most thankless job in existence. The pay is lousy, you get no backup, and most of the time when you arrest someone, they're back on the streets inside of an hour.

Working as a Watchman in the dock district is worse.

Di'Fier is one of that rare breed: a hereditary Watchman. (Rare because often Watchmen don't live long enough to have children.) His father and grandfather were both members of the City Watch, and are proud to see the tradition being carried on. Di'Fier is also rare in another way: like his mother, he makes a study of the arts of wizardry.

(Di'Fier started as a Fgt1/Wiz2, and is working along the path to becoming a Spellsword from Tome & Blood.)

Dru, his elven partner, comes from the opposite side of the law. Her father has been a criminal in Freeport since before the time of the first Sea Lords. They...no longer get along, shall we say. Dru has become a Watchman to distance herself from the criminal actions of the rest of her family.

(Dru started as a Fgt1/Rog2 and is not to the best of my knowledge heading for any prestige class in particular.)

Both characters are Sergeants of the Watch. Neither are popular with their superiors, since both are honest cops. This may be why they've been assigned to patrol the Dock district.

For full stat blocks and some more background information, visit the Dramatis Personae thread in the Rogue's Gallery.
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Important NPCs

NPCs marked with a (D) are dead (or presumed so)
NPCs marked with a * are from Green Ronin's Freeport adventures. NPCs marked with a + are from other sources (detailed below).

Aggro* - orcish pirate, first mate on board the Bloody Vengeance.

Alust - elven wizard, Guild member and member of the Naïlo organization.

Andolyn+ - Wizard's Guild member, retired adventurer, wife of Gendrew.

Arjis - petty criminal, involved in drug smuggling.

Davos - Watchman, Kliege's partner.

Donnach - Captain of the City Watch (2nd Shift). Prone to migraines, especially when Dru and Di'Fier are about.

Echo - young girl living on the street. Only able to repeat the last few words of what you say to her.

Egil* - acolyte of Kherarditinos, friend of Lucius.

Enzo* - low-level member of "the Brotherhood". In protective custody now after trying to set up an assassination attempt on Dru & Di'Fier.

Garto - dwarven wizard & language expert, friend of Gothos.

Gendrew+ - cook, husband to Andolyn.

"Gothos Ebonrazor"+ - rapier-weilding elven wizard using an assumed name, member of the Guild, friend of Garto.

Hallfred - Watchman. Buff.

Hogni - Watchman. Asthmatic and generally not healthy.

Ivellimor - elven mage, Guild member, and member of the Naïlo organization.

Jaffar - Watchman. Always speaks in a whisper due to a throat injury sustained on his first night in the Watch.

Jemmis - petty smuggler. Owes Dru and Di'Fier a big favor.

Kiva - Tas' partner, a Watchman.

Kenzil* - Member of the Freeport Wizard's guild. Rumor has it he is involved with one of the crime families of the city.

Kliege - Watchman, Davos' partner.

Lucius* - librarian at the Temple of Kheraditinos, his disappearance got Dru and Di'Fier involved in investigating "the Brotherhood".

Lydon* - sea captain, bucking for a spot on the Captain's Council. Sponsoring Swagfest.

Milos* (D) - assistant to Thuron. Slain by Dru and Di'Fier.

Norton* - 'greeter' at the Temple of Kherarditinos. Always seems to be on duty when Dru and Di'Fier come around. He's begun to develop a nervous tic around the pair, because their presence always means trouble.

Quarion - elven mage, Guild member, and member of the Naïlo organization.

Reed* - works in the Hall of Records.

Rittoro* (D) - leader of the Yellow Shields, killed in an assassination attempt on Dru and Di'Fier.

Scarbelly* - orcish pirate, captain of the Bloody Vengeance.

Spruce - Watchman working in the Records department.

Tas (D) - another Watchman, Kiva's (former) partner.

Tarmon* - High Wizard of Freeport.

Tensin Naïlo - Dru's father, prominent elven crimelord.

Thuron* - High Priest of Kherarditinos, God of Knowledge and Prophecy.

Tiera Dela+ - possibly the most powerful wizard in Freeport, Tiera is almost completely uninterested in Guild politics.

Torsten Roth* - head of the Freeport Merchant's Guild.

Ulfgar - Young dwarven smith. His father Traubon went insane while working on a secret project.

Verlaine* - Member of the Captain's Council, Drac's right-hand man.

Weggit (D) - a merchant from Highgate, acting a the Sea Lord's factor on the mainland. Committed suicide (?) jumping from a window of the Sa Lord's palace.

Xavier Gordon* - member of the Captain's Council.

+ - Gendrew and Andolyn are from the WOTC Web Adventure Something's Cooking. Tiera Dela is mentioned in Atlas Games' En Route. Gothos Ebonrazor created by Isaac Sher.
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Gamemaster Notes

As you'll notice, there's only two PCs - sadly, my TT group is rather small at the moment, and consists of my wife and an old high school buddy of mine. Since Death in Freeport is designed for 4 first-level characters, I decided they needed a boost - hence the starting as experienced watchmen of 3rd level.

This also allowed them to shore up a major weakness in the duo (at least from a typical D&D standpoint): no cleric. Both of the players used a chunk of their starting money to pick up plenty of healing potions (and a little bit of holy water too). I'm hoping that between that and the aid of Brother Egil they can get through the adventure without taking 'dismemberment leave' from their jobs.

My chief inspiration for the twist of making the characters guardsmen comes from Simon Green's Hawk & Fisher series. They may not be high literature, but they're fun to read - and I'm not aiming for 'high literature' in this game either.

The first session should be played sometime this weekend, so expect an update next week. In between now and then, I'll see if I can get copies of the character sheets for inclusion in the Rogue's Gallery. Oh, and answer any questions.

Lastly, to Piratecat, Sagiro, Wulf, Nemmerle, Samnell, and everybody else whose story hours have given me so much enjoyment: this one's for you. If you guys get a quarter of the enjoyment out of this that I've gotten from your posts, it will be worth it.


An Introduction, Of Sorts...

Dusk settles over the city of Freeport, but the dimming of the light hardly dims the activity going on. Freeport is busy, from Old City to Scurvytown, from the Temple District to the Docks. In fact, it is one particular spot of activity on these docks that concerns us: inside a warehouse, a group of men works by torchlight, unloading crates from a large wagon. A fairly common scene in this or any other port city, to be sure - at least, if one only looks at the surface of things. But in Freeport, things are so rarely as they seem...

"Come on, we've gotta get these unloaded before the boss gets here. We're runnin' behind. Quit lookin' at the roof."

"Yeah, all right."

One of the men, apparently the leader of this band, takes a crowbar to one of the crates, opening it with a squeal of protesting nails. The lid is forced open, revealing some ceramic pottery surrounded by dark green-brown leaves for packing material. But it is not the cheap pots the man reaches for. Instead he picks up one of the leaves, rubbing it between his fingers and sniffing it. A grin spreads across his face. "Good stuff."

The mood spreads to the other men, and the unloading begins to move more swiftly - except for one fellow.

"Arjis, what the hell you keep lookin' at up there?"

"Big-ass crow. Givin' me the creeps."

"You been smokin' too mucha this stuff. Just a damn bird."

The bird under discussion cocks its head and watches them intently.

"I'm tellin' you, it's watchin' us."

"Awright, I'll get rid of it." The man stoops down and grabs a rock, whipping it sidearm at the bird. It comes close - too close for the raven, which rises from its perch with a flutter of wings, back into the dimly lit rear of the warehouse...

"It's gone now, you happy? Now get back to work."

...through an open window, out into the streets of the city. It banks, gliding around the side of the warehouse, until it sees a pair of figures waiting outside the building. Waiting, and watching. The raven catches the air with curved wings, slowing until it can land on the man's outstretched hand in a manner more suited to a well-trained falcon than a common corvid.

Then again, in Freeport, things are so rarely as they seem.


Session One: Butt Kicking, Investigation, and a Very Embarassing Fight

(GM Note: I think for the sake of my time these will have to be in log format rather than story format. Picking up directly from the intro, we find Di'Fier and Dru outside a warehouse. Inside the warehouse, a bunch of 8 guys unloading crates of what our heros believe to be kantha leaves, raw material for a popular narcotic - and brought in to the city without paying the proper duties.)

Dru draws her rapier and prepares to kick in the door.

"We should find out who owns this warehouse," Di'Fier notes.

"Sure, after we kill everyone." Dru's a little...direct...in her methods of justice.

So, after a forcefully applied boot, the door flies open and the duo politely inform the miscreants that they are under arrest: Dru by charging in and spitting one of them on her rapier, Di'Fier by casting daze on another. Oh, and they also say "City Watch! You're under arrest!"

OK, if you don't want to read a detailed account of the combat, skip to the next post, where I'll resume the story. If you want crunchy bits and gore, read on.

Sadly, the miscreants realize that they've got our watchmen outnumbered 4 to 1, and they resist arrest, rather forcefully.

The wounded man bolts, and two others dash for cover behind some of the other crates. One stands looking befuddled, but the rest pull out nasty looking knives and go after the watch: 2 on Dru, 2 charging Di'Fier. Both our heroes take minor damage (2 points). Di'Fear returns the favor with his bastard sword for 6 points to one of the guys, while Dru decides wisely to leave the flanking arrangement and tumble behind one of the fellows. Unfortunately she misses.

Well, that wound was enough for one of the guys facing Di'Fier - he turns and bolts into the shadows as well. The other guy tries to bull-rush his way past and into the street, but bounces off the fighter-mage. Dru is able to fend off one of her opponents, but not both - a small wound (3 points). Di'Fier looks at the guy who just bounced off of him, and gives him a little 5-point lovetap. Dru spots the two guys who went for cover earlier: they're readying crossbows. She distracts her opponent with a Bluff roll and dives under the wagon for cover.

Well, with the disappearance of one target, there's only Di'Fier - and he's nicely silhouetted in the doorway. Two crossbow bolts slam into him for a whopping 14 points. He's upset, and displays this with a critical hit to his melee opponent, cleaving him from collarbone nearly to hip (and taking him to -17 hit points. Ow.) Deciding to not be there when the crossbow guys reload, Di'Fier steps back around the corner of the warehouse and bleeds a bit. Dru pops up from behind the wagon, having pulled out her shortbow, and does a little sniping of her own, downing one of the crossbowmen.

The remaining crossbowman reloads and returns fire at Dru, scoring a beautiful hit...on the wagon. The three thugs remaining move to surround Dru, and one of them scores a minor wound. Di'Fier chugs a potion of cure light wounds and feels much better. Dru jumps into the wagon to get away from the people surrounding her.

The crossbowman proves that he's really got a thing against that wagon - a second bolt thunks into it. One of the thugs climbs into the wagon with Dru. Di'Fier rejoins combat with his wand of magic missile out, and sends glowing energy into the crossbowman. Too bad it was only for 2 points. Dru shows the guy climbing onto the wagon that it's not a great idea when someone with a blade is already on the wagon.

The guy who Dru just wounded decides that discretion is the better etc etc and runs for the back. Wonder what's back there?

The crossbowman puts another bolt into poor Di'Fier, who looks annoyed. Dru takes her opponent to exactly 0, and Di'Fier drops his wand and charges the reloading crossbowman, taking the fight out of him as well.

So, with a pair of prisoners and a wagon full of kantha leaves, our heros bandage their wounds and send the raven to fetch backup.


Session One, Part Two: Investigation

While awaiting their backup, Di'Fier ties up the prisoners and does a bit of interrogation, in which he discovers that a) they know nothing, and b) the guy who does know something ran into the back. Heading back there, Dru finds...nobody. There is a crate that looks like it's been moved recently, and moving it again reveals an entrance into the sewers.

"I hate sewers," Dru says sourly. "Why is it always sewers?"

(GM Note: This may be due to incidents in the online game I ran, where we tramped around in the sewers for hours chasing a wererat rogue/wizard.)

The prisoners and the contraband are turned over to the other guardsmen that show up, and our heroes go off-shift. Time for some R and R...or is it? As they head to their rooms in the Old City near the Temple District, a young man in the robes of a priest of Kherarditinos (god of knowledge, prophecy, and the moon) hails them. The man, Brother Egil, has been trying to find honest watchmen to look into the disappearance of his friend, Lucius. The duo agree, and it's off to Lucius' house for a look around.

The place is a mess - which is odd, since Lucius is a librarian. Apparently he's one of the kind that keeps his filing system inside his head, though. Maybe it's for job security. A quick turnover of the place reveals a 'to do' list and some new shelving in the basement - how odd.

The list has some unusual entries: get some sleep! is one of them, and 'turnips' is another. It also contains references to a diary and to travel logs. Oh, and the big clue, 'talk to Capt. Scarbelly'. Still, they take the time to toss the place a little more thoroughly, and in the false bottom of a desk drawer they find a diary.

It finally sinks in to Egil that his pet policemen are wounded, and he heals the pair of them so they won't die before they find his friend. After that, the three part ways: Egil goes to morning services, while the other two head to sleep (or trance) and to study the diary.

The diary paints a rather unusual picture of a man who has lost five years of his life, and whose obsession with those years is growing. It also mentions the dreams he's been having - dreams of cities that stretch to the skies and indescribably strange creatures. When Dru meets Di'Fier for breakfast (during everyone else's lunch) she passes this information on to him.

So, the duo set out to do some investigating. First things first, though: they stop by the Hall of Records to meet with their buddy Reed, who is, as usual, having a bad day. A little gratuity cheers him up, and he promises to check on who owns that warehouse for them.

After that it's back to the dock to find out about this 'Capt. Scarbelly' character. He's been in port for about a week, it turns out, but instead of the usual hellraising he and his crew have been sticking to their ship. Sometimes the captain slips out for a bite and a beer at the Rusty Hook.

Apparently that was enough for them on that account, because their next step was to go across the town to the Temple of Kherarditinos. To get inside, Di'Fier uses the brilliant story that he has come to research an invisibility spell. Norton - the person at the front desk - directs them to the section on arcane spellcrafting. Dru gets bored.

"Er...miss? Would you please stop throwing your knife into the bookcase? You're disturbing the researchers..."

Having done that, they go *back* across town...to the docks again! They drop by Scarbelly's ship and try to find out anything they can about Lucius. The orcish guards are less than forthcoming:

"Sod off."

"He's the subject of an investigation," says Dru.

"He ain't here, sod off."

Di'Fier gets a bright idea. "There's a reward."

"Sod o...reward?" One of the guards looks slyly at the other. "Y'ain't gonna tell Aggro about the reward, are ya?"

Di'fier grins. "Of course not."

The guard hurries off to get someone else of more importance. The huge burly orc that returns doesn't look to happy to see a pair of watchmen at the base of his gangplank. He spits over the side. "Th'hell d'you want?"

"We're looking for a man named Lucius," says Di'fier.

Big Orc: "An' I should care why?"

"There's a reward."

One of the gangplank guards emits a scream of rage. Apparently this big orc is Aggro, who they had just promised not to tell about the reward, and now the human's gone and ruined his visions of gold. The orc is so upset that he pulls his scimitar and hacks at a surprised Di'Fier, who just manages to get out of the way of the blade. Dru responds by running him through with her rapier, and it's looking pretty grim before Di'Fier shouts out, "Stand down! He drew on us! We don't want to kill you all!"

Normally this display of apparent weakness would have triggered an attack from the entire orcish crew, but something in Di'Fier's voice - and just maybe the speed with which Dru dispatched their crewmate - causes them to pause. Aggro disgustedly kicks the orc's corpse into the harbor. "He was here," he offers, "wantin' t'talk to th'cap'n. I sen' him away."

Well, it looks like Aggro will be of no help. As they depart, Di'Fier notes to Dru, "At least we won't have to share the reward with them!"

"What reward?" Dru growls.

Next time: an attempted assassination leads to an embarassing fight, and Di'Fier says, "What do you mean I've only had 1 hit point left for the last five rounds?"



Session One, Part Three - A Very Embarassing Fight

So, it's back to the Temple of Kherarditinos, where Di'Fier goes back to "research" his spell, and Dru gets bored and goes to find Brother Egil. Egil is aghast that she's shown up here and pretending to be his friend - he'd asked them to keep his involvement in the case a secret. Still, she gets some useful information out of him that they had forgotten to get before - namely, what exactly Lucius looks like.

After that it's mealtime, so they're off to the Rusty Hook to find Captain Scarbelly - and find him they do. Di'Fier buys his "friend"'s meal and drink, and the guardsmen head over to the pirate's table to ask about Lucius.

"Yeah, I 'member him. Bought me a drink, wanted to ask questions."

"What did he ask you about?" Dru wants to know.

"He bought me a drink," the captain repeats, "and then asked questions." The orc tears into his joint of meat.

Di'Fier raises his hand in a signal to the bartender: two more.

After the meal and the drinks, Scarbelly is a bit more forthcoming. "Yeah, he wanted to know about the time he spent on my ship. Damn strange, since he was there. He just wandered around taking notes all the time, but he stayed out of the way during fights, and his gold was as yellow as anyone else's. I dunno where he went after that."

That piece of information was duly noted, and the pair has just enough time to check in with Reed before their patrol. The warehouse was owned by Torsten Roth, head of the Merchant's Guild.

While on patrol, Dru and Di'Fier decide that: a) the notes Lucius was taking are probably the travel logs he referred to in his 'to do' list, and b) that they've got no chance of pinning anything on someone as powerful as Roth. Not much happens on patrol - quiet night! - so they head off to bed.

Day 2

Dru and Di'Fier meet for breakfast, and head to Lucius' place, thinking they may have missed something in their previous search. Another toss of the tiny house reveals nothing new, so they ponder the 'to do' list some more, especially the meaning of 'turnips'. Another check reveals that there are no turnips in the house - clearly this is important in some way and not just the librarian being out of vegetables.

Stumped and at a loss, they visit Di'Fier's father, a retired guardsman himself. As they sit around the kitchen table, he chops a turnip (turnips again!) as he listens to their investigation. "Well," he says, "seems to me like there's some folks you haven't talked to yet. How about that guy he worked for at the Temple? Sounds like they weren't having too good a time there at the end."

Following this sound advice (read: hint from the DM), Dru and Di'Fier meet their new best friend Norton at the Temple (he quakes with fear at the sight of them now), and ask to speak to Milos. They're taken to the office of the High Priest's assistant.

"Lucius? Yes, he has been missing for three days now. He is probably sleeping off the effects of an overindulgence in alcohol."

"Oh?" asks Di'Fier. "Did he have a drinking problem?"

"It would not surprise me to find that out. His behavior of late had become rather erratic. His personal hygeine suffered, as did his work."

"I see. Well, if you hear anything about him, leave word here." Like everyone else, they tell Milos the name of one of their usual hangouts. On their way out, they check the travel log section of the library, but find nothing. Frustrated, they ask for another librarian, and begin to quiz him on Lucius. One new fact emerges: he was readmitted to the temple because he brought with him a stack of rare books. They're still being cataloged and verified...very interesting.

Time once again for patrol, and Dru and Di'Fier spend their time walking the beat and speculating about the strange dreams Lucius talked about in his diary. Dru is of the opinion that the city is a place he visited. "I don't understand why he'd be dreaming about it, but it could be...mystical and sh-t." And is there a connection between the Temple and Lucius' quest for knowledge? Who knows?

At the end of their beat, dog-tired, the pair heads for home. At least, until Dru's back sprouts 6 inches of steel-tipped wood with fletching. Apparently somebody doesn't like the job their doing. Several somebodies, judging from the fact that two groups of men have just cut them off front and back. The battle is joined.

Warning: long battle scene ahead. Read on for incredibly poor rolls or skip ahead to avoid embarrassing my players.

Di'Fier is the first to react, arcane words flowing from his lips as he summons mage armor around himself. The apparent leader of these base varlets charges in, planting his battleaxe deep into the air between the two. Behind them, a robed man with a staff utters a word, and Di'Fier is turned into Di'Fear. Meanwhile, another of the soldiers charges up, slashing Dru brutally with his shortsword. The sniper on the roof fires into the melee, and misses, while Dru returns the blow of the man who attacked her, but with much less effect. A third attacker charges at Di'Fier but misses the panicked guardsman, as does the archer standing guard over the mage.

Di'Fier takes off in panic, dodging under sword-blows - except for one, which penetrates the mage armor and draws blood. The battleaxe-wielding leader trips over the crossbow bolt embedded in the ground, and his blow goes wild. The sorcerer chants, and a deep confusion settles over Dru as she forgets what she was about to do. Her opponent remembers, but even in this state Dru's reflexes are enough to turn the strike into the lightest of scratches. Another crossbow bolt flies down from above, but unless the man's target was the ground, he missed. Dru tries valiantly to remember what it was she ought to be doing, but fails. One of the mercenaries pursues the fleeing Di'Fier, but his cowardice in striking a man from behind bears no fruit.

The other one turns on the dazed Dru and viciously cuts her. Di'Fier gets control of himself, and he spins with bastard sword in a two-handed grip, only to have it bounce harmlessly off of his opponent's shield. Deciding that a double-team isn't good enough, Rittoro (leader of the band) makes it 3 on one...but still can't hit Dru. So much for his 2 levels of fighter. Belko the sorcerer beams a ray of frost past Di'Fier's ear, and one of the mercenaries shows up his boss by tagging the elven guardswoman. The sniper manages to land a bolt in Di'Fier's leg, and Dru hops backwards, giving her a chance to get out and drink her healing potion, restoring some health to her injured body. (This is where it starts to get sad.) Both remaining mercenaries connect with nothing.

Di'Fier heads back to take on the leader, but the leader isn't having any of that - he actually hits for the first time this battle...for a measly 3 points. Everyone starts missing everyone, except Dru, who drinks her potion of invisibility and vanishes from sight. Poor Di'Fier. Now he's the only target visible. Only one manages to hit him, though.

Next round: nobody hits except Dru. Belko panics when Dru goes invisible, guessing (and rightly so) that she's heading for him. He fires off a burning hands spell - too bad Dru isn't anywhere near the area off effect. After the flames die down, Dru walks calmly up to the wizard and spits him like a rotisserie chicken, becoming visible in the process. The startled guard next to the ex-mage drops his crossbow and draws a sword, but the guardswoman cleverly interposes Belko, and the guard hacks dead body, not Dru.

Di'Fier is unable (again) to hit Rittoro, continuing his string of below-7 rolls. Rittoro has no such problem, and opens another cut on Di'Fier's torso. One of the mercenaries heads towards Dru, and the sniper misses entirely. Dru throws a tanglefoot bag at the charging merc, but it's short and to the left. Nobody else lands a blow.

Tiring of missing Rittoro, Di'Fier takes a tiny slice out of the other merc on his backhand, while both of his opponents manage to miss him entirely. Dru's opponents fare no better, nor does the rooftop sniper. Dru drops the ex-mage and beats a retreat, pulling out another tanglefoot bag as she goes.

Once again, nobody lands a blow except Dru. As the merc pursues her, she smacks the tanglefoot bag dead center on his chest. Suddenly his pursuit slows greatly. The sniper sighs, sets down his crossbow, and goes to get a sandwich - he's not doing any good any more.

Di'Fier moves away from where he is being flanked (some tactics finally occurred to him, which is good because he was at 5 hit points...apparently all his luck was used up in making his opponents miss him!) but fails to connect with his sword.

Rittoro misses him, while the gummed-up merc pursues Dru, v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y. Dru fails to connect thanks to her opponent's shield work, but the merc fighting Di'Fier (again showing his boss up) hits the guardsman for 4.

(For the rest of the fight - 8 more rounds - Di'Fier was at 1 hit point. He didn't realize it, which may account for his actions...)

For a third time, nobody hits except for Dru: the tangled soldier s-l-o-w-l-y chases Dru as she gives a solid poke to his friend.

Finally, Di'Fier's wild sword swings manage to connect, and he gives Rittoro a pretty slash across the chest. Not enough to bring him down, though - that 2nd level has to be good for something. This time, only Di'Fier connects, as everyone else rolls like they were using a d8 to hit.

Di'Fier tires of this, and he disarms the sword-wielding soldier. Thank goodness for Improved Disarm! (That reminds me...some of Di'Fier's awful combat might be due to his use of Expertise to boost his AC...but I don't recall when he was using it and when he wasn't.) The merc goes to retrieve it, and Di misses on his AoO (as does everybody else on their regular attacks).

Well, it worked once...Di'Fier disarms the guy again. Rittoro misses, the gummed-up soldier catches up with Dru...and misses, Dru stabs his partner through the chest and takes him down, the last merc retrieves his shortsword and Di'Fier blows the AoO again.

Now Di'Fier tries his luck with Rittoro. No good - the +4 modifier for having a larger weapon really helped vs. the shortsword. Fortunately, his opponents both miss. Dru ignores the gummed up soldier and runs to help her partner.

For a fourth time, the only person to land a blow: Dru, taking the shortsword-wielding mercenary out of the picture. With a weary sigh, the tangled mercenary starts trudging back towards the other fight, but it's over before he can get there.

Di'Fier manages to disarm Rittoro, and the mercenary (having seen his man do it twice) figures he can laugh off the guardsman's attack...so he goes for the axe. Unfortunately, Dru is the one who responds, and her rapier does what the bastard sword could not, putting poor Rittoro out of our misery. As an act of mercy, Di'Fier draws his wand of magic missile and puts the gummed merc down to exactly 0 hit points. The fellow sits down and begins to weep. "Please don't tell anyone...this is so embarrassing."

The other comment on the fight came from Di'Fier's familiar: "Funny. Do it again!"

Talking with the merc reveals that a guy named Enzo hired them, and Rittoro got an ivory-handled dagger as a down payment.

Dru retrieves the dagger and shows Di'Fier - the handle is monogrammed with the letter 'L'. There's also an address, where the mercs are supposed to pick up the rest of their payment.

Tomorrow is their day off. They rest, and pay for some healing spells to boot. On the other hand, somebody is trying to kill them. That must mean they're on the right track! Milos is a prime suspect, as this doesn't seem like Scarbelly's work, although Dru entertains the brief thought that maybe Lucius doesn't want to be found...


Interlude - Dru's Journal

(Posted originally by Dru's player - I'm reposting to keep it in its proper sequence in the narative.)

It's been a few days since my last entry, and that is largely to do with my hectic schedule. We've been doing our normal beat down at the docks after hours, and then pursuing this missing librarian thing during the day. I have no doubts that it is probably going to get us killed. And we're not even going to get paid for it! What's wrong with us?

But I digress. We almost got killed today, in an alley, by thugs accompanied by a magic user. It wasn't one of our shining moments, however, we did leave the fight still alive. Getting nearly killed always makes me digress a little bit. When we finally interrogated the last of the mercenaries, and rid them of any of their portable wealth, we turned up a rather nice looking dagger, with the initial "L" carved into it. Lucius?

I don't like it, not one bit. I'm not sure who betrayed us, but I suspect the high priest's lackey, Milos. Does that mean that the high priest is involved? Is Milos acting on his own? And where is Lucius. This entire case doesn't feel right, and it has my hackles up. I'm not good with subtleties. I just want to start killing people until those that are still alive confess out of fear. I'm sure that DiFier will stop me though; he usually does when I'm getting ready to do something violent. To be continued, although I'm not sure that this is a solvable case...


Session Two, Part One - Mealtime Meetings

After dragging their still-aching bodies to the common room of the inn, Dru and Di'Fier share a huge, hearty breakfast of the kind that makes the arteries of a strong man whimper in fear, and causes pig and chicken shortages in the surrounding lands. If the question is 'bacon or sausage' the answer is 'yes'.

During the meal, another guardsman enters - Tas, who has the night shift on the same beat that Dru and Di'Fier take care of. He looks awful, and his partner Kiva is nowhere to be found. "Yeah, there was trouble up by the gates to the Old City," Tas tells them. "This gnome jeweler went crazy - killed his wife, started smashing up his workshop. When me an' Kiva tried to stop him, he stabbed Kiv in the gut with a chisel. I had to take him down."

"So how's Kiva?" asks Di'Fier.

"Bad. The surgeon says the wound's going septic on account of it being in the gut."

Dru gives him one of her stock of cure light wounds potions. "Dru, we can't afford this," he tells her, but she says, "I don't want to see another guard die." Tas hurries off to give the potion to Kiva, but not before asking the pair to stay alive for 2 more weeks - apparently that's the date he has in the pool.

Dru: "There's a pool?"
Di'Fier: "Yeah. I lost already."

Thinking they might need backup, Di'Fier asks Tas to come back and wait here for them after he's gotten some sleep. Tas agrees.

Our heroic duo, short of cash, go to sell the brooch and the ring they recovered from the mercenaries. Lengthy negotiations result in 6 pieces of gold changing hands - a miniscule reward for such a challenging fight. Still, they know where to find this guy 'Enzo' that hired them...but that's not until 7 pm.

The duo decide to consult with Di'Fier's mother about the strange dreams that Lucius was having (recorded in his journal). His mother promises to look into it, and insists that they come over for lunch - Di'Fier's uncle will be there...joy.

While killing time until lunch, Dru and Di'Fier spot someone that seems to be shadowing them. Once he realizes he's been spotted, he melts away into the crowd.

Later, at Di'Fier's house, his father has prepared turnip stew. Di'Fier's uncle, treasurer of the Freeport Wizard's Guild, has brought a red wine that is far too expensive for the meal it's being served with, and he bores the group with discussion of Guild politics. Guild financial politics, even. He also puts in the standard bid for Di'Fier to "give up this silly guard business and come join the Guild - a smart boy like you could go far." Di'Fier puts him off as gently as possible.

After lunch, Dru spots Milos coming out of a store...one which Di'Fier recognizes as a shop that sells spell components. Odd, since Milos isn't a spellcaster. Milos is as pleasant as a porcupine with its skin on inside out, which is normal for him.

After the man departs, Dru and Di'Fier duck inside and give the clerk some razzle-dazzle about Milos having recommended the shop to them, and Di'Fier wants to buy the same thing that Milos did. "Ah," says the clerk, "here you go." it's a small bell and a piece of silver wire, which Di'Fier does not recognize.

Anyway, it's about 7, so the pair heads over to the Black Gull. After a few minutes wait, a ratty, nervous man comes in, looking rather out of place in the rough joint. Dru walks up directly behind him and says, "Enzo." Turning, the man spots the targets of the botched assassination he engineered, and bolts. Or...tries to. Dru grabs him while Di'Fier blocks the door, and Enzo begins to weep. They drag him off for some questioning.

Amazingly enough, said questioning does not involve rubber hoses or socks full of oranges. Then again, Enzo is a wuss - they really don't need it. He tells them that he was ordered to set up the assassination by "the Master", who is leader of "the Brotherhood".

"You have angered the master!" Enzo tells them. "You have earned your death."

"The Master can go f- himself," Dru growls. Then she asks, "How did we anger the Master?"

"I don't know."

"You just blindly follow his orders then?"


After a few more pointed questions, Enzo reveals that the Brotherhood meets in a bricked-up house in the Eastern District - he's been asked to take food there several times recently, which is unusual. Enzo is put into protective custody at the jail.

Next: A whole lotta butt-whomping goodness, and Di'Fier's player throws his 20-sided die into the woods.


Session Two, Part Two - Snakes...why did it have to be snakes?

Dru and Di'Fier head to the house - it's a ramshackle place with the windows bricked up. The lock on the door is of suspiciously high quality for such a run-down house, though, and it easily defeats Dru's fumbling attempts with a lockpick.

She and Di'Fier both bounce off of it separately, trying to knock it open, and apparently trusting their guard badges to make people mind their own damn business. Only by working together does the duo manage to knock the door in to find...

...a trashed, crummy house. What a hole! They can't believe that any self-respecting mysterious brotherhood would meet in a place like this. On the other hand, there is a trapdoor in the back. Opening it reveals a staircase down to a wine cellar, where nine enormous casks of wine line the walls. Some have liquid, others are hollow, and Dru discerns a secret catch along the side of one.

(Remember that bell and the silver wire? Well if you've scoured your Player's Handbook you know that they're the material components for the Alarm spell. Dru and Di'Fier didn't, and they didn't realize that the spell had been placed on the secret entrance...)

"I hate going underground," Dru sighs.
"It could be worse. it could be the sewers."
"...thank you, Di'Fier."

Meanwhile, back at the inn, Tas shows up and begins waiting for Dru and Di'Fier.

Anyway, it's into the secret passage, down deeper below Freeport, and the corridor turns a corner to reveal that they are at the base of a 'T' intersection. There's a door right across from them, in the middle of the crossbar of the "T", and Dru heads for it...then suddenly vanishes! There's a thump and plenty of cursing, and Di'Fier approaches the pit more cautiously.

He lays down on the ground, and extends the scabbard of his bastard sword down to reach Dru. From her vantage point, she gets a great view of the creature looming behind her partner, and she shouts a warning. Di'Fier manages to roll to the side just quickly enough to avoid the spear thrust!

The creature is man-tall, but it is no man. It's covered in scales, with a serpentine head and a narrow tail lashing in the dust behind it. It raises its spear for another strike, and this time Di'Fier is not fast enough - it clips him. Di'Fier rolls to his feet and swings wildly at the creature, but the glancing blow is deflected by the thing's scales...and now he can see that it is not alone. Four more are emerging from a secret door in the wall behind it. Fortunately, they all miss the guardsman. Dru drinks her potion of spider climb and heads up the wall to get in a better sniping position.

Again the serpent-men attack Di'Fier, and again only the first one is able to hit him. Di'Fier tries to cast a mage armor spell as he ducks and weaves, but his dodging causes the spell to go awry, and his primary protection is gone. Maybe he'll learn to cast it before a fight next time...

Again the first serpentman's spear strikes Di'Fier, and he's looking pretty ragged. He spins and tries to leap across the pit. Unfortunately, he falls far short of the far side, and lands with a thump. Still, he's away from the enemy (for now), so he's able to pull out a potion of cure light wounds and heal himself for a bit. One of the serpentmen tries to follow him into the pit, but it lands even more poorly than Di'Fier did, and winds up breaking its neck. Two of its comrades run around the edges of the pit to go after Dru, and the last just chucks its spear at Di'Fier, missing. Dru responds by running along the ceiling to hang above the pit, where the serpentmen can't get her, and then picks another off with her bow.

The first serpentman proves that his good luck only seems to extend to melee combat, as his spear misses Di'Fier. Di'Fier pulls out his trusty wand of magic missiles and sends an energy bolt into one of the creatures, blasting a smoking hole in its chest. Another of the serpentmen goes into the pit after Di'Fier, this time climbing down, and then lunging forward to bite the guardsman. He fails his save and begins to hallucinate just a bit as his Wisdom is drained. Dru's shot goes awry.

The first snakeman picks up a fallen spear and lobs it at Dru, but she easily dodges. Di'Fier takes a swing with his sword and misses, the serpentman bites him again, and again he fails his save.

It is at this point that Di'Fier's player (hi John) got fed up with his d20. He walked over to the front door, opened it, stepped out on the porch, and lobbed it into the darkness. It's still out there somewhere. Poor little die, alone and cold...

Anyway, Dru puts the spear-lobbing serpentman out of commission, and a moment later, Di'Fier actually connects with his opponent, sending it to the ground as well. Dru climbs down and offers her partner some antitoxin, which he drinks...and promptly misses a Fort save of DC 12...with a +9 bonus. I thought my die was going to follow his!

At least he was lucky in the damage rolls. All told, he only lost 3 points of temporary Wisdom from that debacle. For the rest of the adventure, though, he was constantly seeing...things on the edge of his vision...crawling or swimming there...Dru mistakes this for simple alertness, and after helping him out of the pit, the pair proceeds down the secret tunnel.

Another secret door is found in the right-hand side of the tunnel. Opening it reveals a purple curtain, which Di'Fier pushes aside with his sword. It reveals a room with 4 large chests and a number of skeletons. They decide to leave it alone, and close the door.

Meanwhile, Tas still waits for Dru and Di'Fier, back at the inn.

Farther down, the corridor opens up into a cave, with a black subterranean lake lapping at one end of it. Refuse and bones are scattered about, and Dru once again finds a secret door. This one is considerably more interesting. It looks on a pillared temple, and standing there are two acolytes...and Milos!

"The degenerates haven't reported back yet," Milos says. "Go see what's happening." One of the acolytes heads out of the room.

Reasoning that there's no time like the present, they prepare an assault. Dru takes aim with her bow as Di'Fier readies his wand, and as one they loose their missiles. Dru's takes Milos in the gut (hooray sneak attack), while Di'Fier's wand seems to be losing its kick as it merely scorches the acolyte lightly. Combat begins in earnest.

Di'Fier launches another missile - this time at Milos - to slightly greater effect, but the acolyte has spotted where the barrage is coming from now, and he fires his crossbow - a miss - while shouting for the other acolyte. Dru looses another arrow at the stunned Milos, and it too sinks deep into his flesh. He's still up, which surprises our heroes. Milos screeches out some words in a language that neither watchman recognizes, and the arrows are forced out of his flesh to clatter on the floor as the wounds heal.

Di'Fier sends a third bolt of energy at Milos, while dodging crossbow fire from the acolyte. His partner bursts back through the door, looking about wildly. Dru's luck with the bow runs out now that she's not making sneak attacks, and she misses.

Milos spits another incantation, and Dru feels her limbs start to freeze - but she fights off the spell thanks to her elven blood.

Di'Fier abandons the magic missile-ing and charges Milos with his sword, slashing the man. The acolyte abandons his crossbow and pulls a mace, rattling Di'Fier with a blow to the shoulder. The other attendant shoots at Dru, but misses...as does Dru's return shot. Milos attempts to cause fear on Di'Fier, but the combat raging around him distracts the man, and the spell dissipates harmlessly.

Di'Fier's next blow slices only empty air, and the acolyte shouts out: "In the name of the Unspeakable One!" Some force seems to guide his hand and lend power to his arm, because the mace smashes into Di'Fier with great force, staggering the guardsman. The other acolyte fires again at Dru, and misses. Dru drops her bow and draws her sword as she tumbles past the combat, coming up behind Milos to slash his kidneys deeply. Milos turns, and calls on the Unspeakable One...and the blow he deals is far more severe than that of a mere acolyte.

Di'Fier adopts a different stance, trading accuracy for defense. Somehow this translates into an ability to actually hit what he is aiming at, and Milos takes another swordblow. The first acolyte's mace is parried, and the second smashes bodily into Dru, knocking her back and away from her flanking position on Milos. Dru doesn't even manage to land a blow on him. Milos begs the Unspeakable One to lay a doom on Di'Fier, but the guardsman resists.

Resists? You wouldn't know it, though, the way his next strike went awry. Still, his defense keeps the acolyte from braining him with a mace, and the other acolyte has no better luck in slipping past Dru's defense. On the other hand, Dru's strike skitters off of the acolyte's scale mail. Milos concentrates, and his form swells as he takes on the semblance of a massive ogre.

Di'Fier moves away from the nice big ogre, putting the acolyte between him and it, and even manages to land a blow on the cleric in training - which is better than his opponent can say. In fact, it's better than anyone else can say, as everyone else misses (including Milos the Ogre, who reaches over his acolyte to try to stab Di'Fier).

Now that he's realized the ogre's reach, Di'Fier gets nervous. He dodges and incants, and casts his disappear spell. This spell makes you invisible...for 2 rounds. After casting he gets the heck out of the way, lining up for a desperate charge at the Milos-ogre. Meanwhile, the acolyte swings through empty air where Di'Fier was before he vanished, the other acolyte misses Dru, and Dru chugs a healing potion, nimbly evading the attacks of both Milos and acolyte. Until Milos takes a second try, and whacks her a good one with his spear, that is.

Suddenly, Milos staggers, and Di'Fier fades back into visibility with his sword impaled through the ogre-cleric-whatever. As the ex-Milos slumps off of his blade, the shape changes...but not back into Milos. No, the shape the corpse assumes is altogether more serpentine than that. Di'Fier stares a bit too long, and one of the acolytes smacks him upside the head, sending him bleeding into unconsciousness. Dru runs him through just a moment too late.

Still, Dru makes short work of the one remaining acolyte, and pours a healing potion down Di'Fier's throat, bringing him coughing and spluttering back to the land of the living. They grab Milos' corpse and stagger back into the secret passage, heading for the stairs out.

In the inn, Tas tries to get the bartender to put his drinks on Dru and Di'Fier's tab.

Later, at the Temple of Knowledge, Dru dumps the serpentine corpse in front of poor Norton, and demands to see the high priest.

"He-he's not in," stammers Norton.

"Well, who's in charge?" snaps Dru.

Di'Fier has a stroke of inspiration. "Is Milos here?"


"Think again," mutters Dru, kicking the corpse.

Just then Egil shows up. "What's happened?" he asks. They explain what they found, and he's distraught. "You didn't find Lucius? He must be there, we've got to go back, he may still be in danger!" He heals the pair before they return to the underground temple, though.

This time they explore some of the other doors. One leads to an octagonal room with a circular depression, and a table containing candelabras, incense, and a gong. They leave it alone.

The next is the skeleton room they saw earlier...only this time, the skeletons come after the trio. A skeleton claws at Di'Fier, who opened the door, but misses. Di'Fier slams the door in its face, and backs away. A second skeleton opens the door again, just in time to be doused with holy water by Dru. More begin to crowd out, one missing Dru, and then Egil fumbles his holy symbol into the light and cries out, "In the name of Kherarditinos, return to your graves!" The wave of holy energy that sweeps over the skeletons blasts them to blackened bits of bone. Egil looks stunned. "I've never done that before..." he says.

"Have you considered joining the guard?" Dru asks dryly.

They drag the chests out into the open and explore one more door - a library, it seems, which is the perfect place to confine a librarian. And indeed, Lucius is there. After freeing him and his tearful reunion with Egil, the foursome heads to the surface dragging the chests of treasure. Di'Fier's raven is sent to fetch his father and a wagon, and they have a seat on the treasure chests to talk.

Lucius, apparently, was possessed by a creature from another plane. While that creature was in his body, Lucius wandered its home plane - the source of his bizarre dreams. Milos found out about the situation, and wanted to wring whatever secrets of the planes he could from the librarian, but his memories were faded and blurred. Even torture did not sharpen them, and if the guardsmen hadn't found him when they did, Milos would surely have killed Lucius out of sheer frustration.

But Di'Fier has an even more important question:

"Did you ever get the turnips?"

The answer, sadly, was "no."


Death in Freeport wrap-up notes

Our intrepid duo got quite the haul from sacking the temple: 500 gold and 9200 silver, which they donated a third of to the Temple of Kherarditinos. There were also some gems, jewelry...and magic items.

Dru picked a magic buckler that they found in one of the chests. It's +1, and has some further protective power that she has yet to discover. Di'Fier took the ring of protection +2 that Milos wore. They also found a +1 halfspear but decided to sell it and split the cash between them.

Their future plans include: interrogate the corpse (hopefully high priest Thuron will oblige them with a speak with dead spell), and do some more investigation.

"After all," says Dru, "Milos could still be afoot."

"Yes," replies Di'Fier. "But more likely he's a snake."

The total XP gained for this little outing was also just enough to bounce them both into 4th level, the results of which (as previously noted) I have put into the Rogues Gallery thread.


Session Three, Part One: Dangerous Enemies

A few days later. Dru and Di'Fier meet for breakfast, as usual.

"I'm starting to get suspicious," Dru comments. "This is the 4th night in a row that nobody's tried to kill me."

The duo head to the Temple of Knowledge, where they hope to discuss the temple's snake problem (ha ha) with the high priet, Thuron. When they arrive, their best friend Norton is at the desk. He takes them to a waiting room, where eventually the high priest shows up, leaning heavily on his cane.

Thuron is not happy about this interruption. "What is the meaning of this foolishness? You guardsmen come charging into my temple with wild accusations about my assistant being some form of, of snake-man, dropping corpses in the hall, and interrupting my consultations with the Sea Lord regarding the unveiling of the lighthouse!" He scowls at the guardsmen.

"We'd like you to speak with the corpse that we brought back," says Di'Fier. "That will prove that it was Milos."

"The corpse? The corpse has been disposed of," says Thuron.

"What?" shouts Dru. "You got rid of it? That's obstruction of justice!"

Thuron raises an eyebrow. "Obstruction of justice? Is this an official investigation, then? If so, then I'm certain you have a warrant..."

Dru and Di'Fier look at each other. They'd pursued this case in their spare time - they have no warrant.

Thuron's expression tells them that he knew darn well that was the case. "I have no further time for this nonsense. Show yourselves out." With that, he leaves.

Dru and Di'Fier ponder trying to arrest him for a moment but decide against it. Instead, they decide to have some people keep an eye on Lucius' house, and Dru wants to investigate whether the Temple of Knowledge has any enemies.

As they discuss what's going on, wandering through the Merchant's Quarter, something in an alley catches their eye - a slumped-over man. That's not at all unusual, but a slumped-over man with a guard badge is. Hurrying over, they find that it is Tas. He's been beaten to death.

Dru's keen eyes turn up a crumpled piece of paper nearby, as if it had been dropped in the scuffle and missed or left behind when the attackers left. On it, in what looks like Tas' messy scrawl, is a list of names:
  • Jebeddo Duvamil
  • Torim Daneslav
  • Weggit of Highgate
  • Traubon Lutgehr
  • Amarylis Greenbottle
  • Ielenia Amastecia
They puzzle over the list for a moment - a wide variety of names, and none of them seem familiar except the first. Jebeddo Duvamil, Di'Fier seems to recall, was the gnomish jeweler who went insane, killed his family, and stabbed Kiva, Tas' partner.

They carry poor Tas' body back to the Guard headquarters (drawing much attention the whole way) and answer all the questions about how they found him, etc. Di'Fier mentions the list they found, but claims that he doesn't have it right now. He gets chewed out for not having the evidence, and makes a mental note to copy down the names at the first opportunity.

That done, they do some research on the other names, finding out about two. Traubon was a dwarven smith who went berserk and had to be taken down by the guard. Greenbottle is a halfling brewer.

After that, they head to the guardsman's tavern to get some more information. (Every city has one - the place where the off-duty cops hang out when they don't want to be disturbed. Anyone dumb enough to pick a fight here is quickly taught the error of their ways.) Dru spots Fliege, who has the same beat Kiva and Tas do, but on a different shift. They trade complaints about the job and she asks kin about the names. Fliege mentions that Tas was asking the same questions, and he worked with Spruce on the list.

(Spruce works in the Records department. He'd desperately like to be a 'real' guard, but his health, poor eyesight, and a variety of other factors keep him at a desk job.)

The pair donate a few gold coins to the collection for poor Tas' funeral, and head back to HQ to talk to Spruce. Di'Fier drops off the list (which he has copied) as evidence, and they head back to the records room.

Spruce remembers the list well - he fills them in on some of the details of the case.
  • Greenbottle went wild inthe middle of brewing a batch of ale, attacking and overturning the casks. She nearly drowned in the ale, and is currently in a sanitarium.
  • Daneslav was a cobbler. He killed his family, then himself, with a leather-cutting knife.
  • Weggit of Highgate was a merchant staying in the Sea Lord's palace. He leapt to his death from a window.
  • Amestacia was a tailor. While fitting Captain Xavier Gordon for a suit, she attacked him and he killed her in the course of defending himself.

Spruce also mentions as they leave that Captain Donnach has heard about the little tete á tete they had with High Priest Thuron, and he is high p-ssed. Further evidence to support this theory arrives in the person of Capt. Donnach himself, who chews out Dru and Di'Fier for ticking off the High Priest, and then suspends them for a week. "And keep away from the Temple, you understand?" They go out and celebrate with dinner and beer. They are, however, careful to avoid Greenbottle beer.

On the way home from dinner, Di'Fier gets the idea that maybe they should stop by Kiva's house - maybe Tas was keeping him up to date on the investigations. As they approach the house, though, they can hear shouting from inside, and they see that the door is swinging from one hinge. Drawing their swords, they burst through the door to see four thugs chopping at an inside door with axes. In the corner is a woman, messily killed.

Dru and Di'Fier raise their swords.


Session Three, Part Two: The Craftsmen's Secret

Dru is the first to react, and seeing as how these miscreants have broken into the home of a fellow guardsman and killed his wife, she sees no need for niceties such as mercy or asking them to surrender. (Besides, they're suspended, they can't arrest the thugs, right?) Her blade lashes out and draws blood from one of the thugs, who tries to return the blow with his axe, but misses. Di'Fier is not as accurate as his partner (looks like the new die isn't being any nicer than the old one) - not only does he miss, but two axes slam into him, biting deep into his flesh. The last thug lands a blow on Dru as well. From behind the door, they hear a weak voice call out, "Ellen?"

The pain and shock of the wound makes Dru's next thrust go wild, but her opponent doesn't do any better. Di'Fier parries wildly but one of the thugs still manages to land a solid blow to his midsection. Only his armor protects him from a long, painful death.

The thugs and guards trade blows for a few moments, with nobody managing to penetrate the others' defenses. The thugs are quite confident - they've got the guardsmen outnumbered and one of them is almost down from his wounds. There's some shuffling from behind the door.

That's when Dru begins to turn the tide. The man she wounded slips on the blood pooling on the floor, and her blade takes him in the throat. Three to two now, and the thugs can't seem to get past her and Di'Fier's defense.

Again Dru strikes, and puts another thug bleeding on the floor. The odds are even now, and the thugs begin to worry...especially since these two are between them and the door. As she pulls her blade free, however, an axe blow bites deep into her arm. Di'Fier parries the last thug's axe, but can't connect with his counter either.

The elven guard is definitely one to take things personally. She claps her hand to the wound in her arm, grits her teeth, and thrusts forward, taking the thug who wounded her full in the chest and dropping him. Meanwhile, Di'Fier abandons his dodging and parrying, stepping forward to cleave the last thug nearly in two.

The door flings open, and Kiva manages not to shoot either of the guardsmen with the loaded crossbow he's finally gotten ready. The wounded guard looks like hell - the wound is cured but the infection is still going on. Dru decides to hit him with all the bad news at once, and tells him about Tas while he's still trying to cope with his wife's death. (Sensitivity training is not part of the Freeport Watch new hire program.)

The thugs have some gold on them - looks like they were hired for this. Dru and Di'Fier decide that Kiva isn't safe here, and carry him back to Dru's apartment, then limp off to get a priest and find someone to take care of Ellen's body.

(Digression: the temple that Dru and Di'Fier usually go to for their potions and healing need is the Temple of the Merchant God. Who better to sell healing? In this case, they forked out for some cure spells and a remove disease for Kiva. A good thing, because he'd have lasted a couple more days at most...)

While talking with Kiva to try to retrace Tas' steps, he mentions that Greenbottle had been brewing some mighty fine beer recently. Our heros speculate that the beer might be the cause of the insanity that seems to be running through the city streets, as they head back to Kiva's place to look for clues. Di'Fier's raven stays behind to watch the wounded guard.

While searching Kiva's house, Dru and Di'Fier are accosted by Kliege and Davos, who are the guards actually assigned to work on this case. Fortunately, nobody winds up shooting anyone else, but it's clear that Dru and Di'Fier, being suspended, aren't really welcome at the crime scene. They head back to Dru's place, where she (mostly unsuccessfully) tries to cheer Kiva up by showing him all the holes in her bookshelf.

Suspended: Day Two

Breakfast. The innkeeper gives Dru a wink when she realizes that Dru spent the night with two men in her room. She and Di'Fier carry the food upstairs and eat with Kiva, who still isn't well enough to get out of bed. After that, they head to the sanitarium, to see what they can find out about Amarylis Greenbottle. Even when they're suspended, they're investigating things! They find out that visiting hours are for relatives only, and decide that they probably would not be able to pass for halflings, even on a dark foggy night with a blind guard, so they decide to take a different tack: they go to get drunk.

On the way, Dru catches a flicker of motion out of the corner of her eye, and then her arm is dragged upwards. There's a ring of metal on metal as the buckler she wears connects with the dagger that's been thrown at her, knocking it off course to arc high into the air and then land at her feet. Weapons are drawn, but there's no sign of an attacker...and no followup attack.

They grab the knife and head to the cop bar, discussing the implications of the attack. Was it improved invisibility? Or something else? The knife's blade has been carefully coated with lampblack so it does not reflect - a killer's trick - but why only one dagger?

At the bar, someone buys them drinks because he won the "Dru and Di'Fier Suspension Pool", and they chat about the case that they are definitely not investigating - nope, no way, no sir, no investigating while we're suspended, nope. It comes out that the elven tailor's job for Captain Gordon was the biggest assignment she'd taken on in months.

The rest of the afternoon is passed in small talk. Dru: "Did you hear that someone tried to kill me this afternoon?" Guard: "So what else is new?" They make sure that the ale they order isn't Greenbottle, but the bartender mentions that Greenbottle's been brewing some damn fine ale lately. Di'Fier also passes a message on to Spruce, asking him to meet them for dinner at the Black Rose tomorrow night.

Suspension: Day 3

Breakfast again, and Dru still hasn't managed to convey to her landlady that just because there are two men staying in her room, that doesn't mean that anything prurient is going on.

The pair leave Kiva to his misery and head out to investigate. Stopping by Lutgehr's smithy reveals that son Ulfgar has taken over, and he has no room for new customers. Daneslav's place is completely closed (since he killed his entire family.) They discuss the possibility that the name Weggit of Highgate is a red herring, since he didn't go berserk - he just screamed and jumped out a window.

Their steps take them near the Greenbottle brewery, and they stop in at the attached pub, which falls completely silent at their entrance. They have to duck to fit inside, and it's filled with halflings (and a few gnomes). They have a pint. The glasses are green. The beer is damn fine.

Sensing no homicidal impulses (at least, no more than usual), Dru dryly comments, "We're not going to get anywhere until someone tries to kill us." Sadly (?), her words do not bring about an assassination attempt, and they head out.

"I wonder why they didn't go to the big pub around the corner," one halfling wonders to his companion.

One place left to check - the tailor's. Dru is greeted by an incredibly old elf, and pretends to be asking about a cloak, but the seamstress is not fooled - she recognizes Dru as both a Naïlo and a guardsman. She shows Dru an outfit "meant to grace a member of the Captain's Council", but it is unfinished.

Ielinia, her daughter, had worked on the outfit day and night, but Captain Gordon was unsatisfied with the progress - he wanted it for a ball in a few night's time. She and Dru have a very careful conversation in which Dru does not ask questions - because she is off duty and suspended, after all. Apparently the Captain was pressuring her for greater speed when she went berserk.

They go back and fill Kiva in over lunch, and he dredges up a bit of information for them: the jeweler was working on a reliquary for the Temple of the Merchant God. They hang out with Kiva until it's time to meet Spruce at the Black Rose.

Dru attempts to look non-threatening all through dinner but fails. Spruce has the information they wanted - when each of the incidents occurred. In order, it was Greenbottle the brewer (about a month ago), Daneslav the cobbler (a few days later), Amestecia the tailor (about 3 weeks ago), Lutgehr the smith (2 weeks ago), Jebeddo the jeweler (about a week ago), and Weggit of Highgate (4 days ago). They also get the names of the officers investigating each of the cases.

Dru tells the story of the assassination attempt, and Spruce mentions tales of a dagger that tried to kill people on its own. They don't worry about the possibility, since the blade hasn't tried anything after the first attack.

At a loss, the two wander around trying to attract assassination attempts, with no luck. They ponder harassing Captain Scarbelly (who is oddly still in port) but decide to sleep on it instead.

In Our Next Exciting Episode: "Tell me why I shouldn't kill you right now." Plus, someone (finally) tries to kill Dru and Di'Fier again, so they know they're on the right track.


Session Three, Part Three: Breathing Problems

Breakfast, once again. Di'Fier's raven wings its way to the Guard's Records division to get the results of Spruce's research. Meanwhile, Dru asks around about the mysterious death of Weggit of Highgate. It appears that the man acts as Sea Lord Drac's factor on the mainland, taking care of his interests there. Hmmm.

A little more detective work turns up the fact that Daneslav the cobbler was supposedly working on an enormous project for a foreign potentate - matching slippers for his harem, individually decorated to reflect each wife's status. Why would the king go to a cobbler in Freeport, though?

Di'Fier struggles to make a connection. "It seems like a bunch of people got big contracts and it drove them mad..." As he walks and discusses the matter with Dru, but she is distracted by a man who turns and runs as soon as he spots them.

If he's running, he must be guilty, the elven guard reasons, and takes off after him, leaving Di'Fier looking around blankly until he realizes what's going on. Dru cuts down an alley for a shortcut, while Di'Fier follows the man, and they surround him. Dru makes short work of him with her sap, and they drag him into an alley. He looks familiar - one of the people she saw unloading the wagon full of kantha leaves a few weeks ago.

She wakes him up - none too gently, and leaning over she asks, "Tell me why I shouldn't kill you right now."

"I...I'm sorry?" the smuggler offers.

"What are you doing here?"

The man is terrified of Dru. It's a common reaction. "I - I just wanted to buy some shoes!"

She looks to Di'Fier. They're not on duty, they've been suspended...and this guy is obviously small fry. "All right. What's your name."


"Well, Jemmis, you're going to owe us a favor, because we're going to let you go." No sense in telling him that they couldn't arrest him anyhow. "Besides," she observes later to Di'Fier. "He might have useful information someday."

The pair resume their investigations. Di'Fier asks around about what Greenbottle was working on, and it turns out that the Greenbottle brewery has a contract with Captain Lydon to provide ale and beer for Swagfest. Quite the coup...and it fits neatly into place.

They've got no idea what Traubon Lutgehr was working on, but Di'Fier has a hunch that son Ulfgar might try to continue his father's work, and they decide to stake out his place. Later that night, the back door of the smithy opens and Ulfgar steps out cautiously, peering about to make sure he's not being followed. He is, but he doesn't notice.

Ulfgar heads into the warehouse district, taking a roundabout route and acting like someone who knows he's supposed to be acting sneaky, but isn't quite sure how to go about it. Under the eaves of a particularly dilapidated building, he meets with a shadowy figure, and they converse in low tones. Dru edges closer, and pulls a small vial from her pouch, drinking its contents. Her eyes close in concentration.

I just want to get my money and get out of here, the shadowy man thinks. I am never working for that gnome again.

This is the only chance I have to finish my father's project. Ulfgar's thoughts also echo in Dru's head. I know I'm not good enough to do it on my own. I still have so much to learn! I just have to hope that it doesn't do to me what it did to Father.

There is an exchange between the two men, and Ulfgar moves off, looking vaguely guilty. Dru and Di'Fier exchange glances, and follow the shadowy man as he hurries down the street.

Behind them, a trio of dark-clad individuals detach themselves from the shadows and begin walking up the street. Their cloaks billow behind them as they let go and begin to load the hand crossbows that they are carrying. If there were anyone in the streets of the Warehouse District at this hour, they'd be scattering.

Dru's highly acute elven senses are the only thing that warns them of disaster. It's hard to say what catches her attention - a stray footfall, a shadow where there should be none - but she shouts a warning to her partner even as she dives out of the way of an oncoming crossbow bolt. Di'Fier whirls and charges, drawing his blade and slicing one of the assailants across the chest, incidentally ruining his shot. The rogue curses and drops the crossbow, drawing a short and wicked-looking blade. Meanwhile, the third would-be assassin fires his own bolt past Dru and the startled man they were following. Even as he sees that he has missed, he begins to reload. Dru hopes that Di'Fier can hold off the assassins, and pulling her Watch-issue truncheon from her belt she dashes up to the man they were following and lays him out cold.

Meanwhile, the killers surround Di'Fier, who is forced into the defensive - but even that doesn't save him from a nasty wound that bites deep into his side. Just as he's failing to get out of the way of that blade, another takes him in the thigh. One of these days I'll learn not to get surrounded, he thinks. Dru draws her blade and dodges fire from the crossbow-armed killer, charging back to the fray. Her target is paying more attention to the guy he's trying to kill, and so he is rather surprised when a foot of steel emerges from his chest - nearly spitting Di'Fier as well!

The heat off of him (so to speak), Di'Fier steps back and decides to put the heat on the killers. His hand gestures and an arcane word is spoken, the syllable seeming to take shape into a ball of flame that rolls towards another of the assailants, smashing into him and scorching him. He nearly drops his blade, fumbling his attack on Di'Fier and providing an opening for Dru. Unfortunately, his last-minute dodge turns a lethal wound into a mere scratch.

Di'Fier sets the flaming sphere to rolling after the other thug, and meanwhile grabs and guzzles one of his many potions of cure light wounds. The thug burns merrily. The last man standing breaks and runs. Dru swaps her rapier for her sap once again, and brings him crashing to the ground. He is quickly tied up and the bodies of the others searched.

"These guys were well equipped," says Di'Fier, looking over the collection of potions...and poisons. "This wasn't a random occurence." This is given further credence by their captive biting down on a poison pill. Fortunately, Dru is quick with an antitoxin, and the would-be assassin survives. He won't talk, though, so they knock him out again.

Di'Fier turns back to the other captive - the shadowy man who sold something to Ulfgar. Unlike the killer, he cracks instantly.

"Who else have you delivered to?"

"Ah..ah...Brushgather the glassblower...this was gonna be the last time, I swear," he says. "I seen what it did to them other guys."

"Why are you doing it then?" Dru asks.

"The gnome, he makes a potion so's I can breathe better."

"How do you get in touch with him?"

"There's a drop in Scurvytown. I make it tomorrow night."

After getting the instructions for the drop (and getting the money that Ulfgar paid him), they let him go. That's two people in one night - are they losing their touch?

After he vanishes, they turn back to their other prisoner, only to find his throat slit. Drawn in blood on the wall behind him is the sigil of Tensin Naïlo...Dru's father.

NEXT: Ulfgar, a bar brawl, and the gnome.
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Session Four, Part One: Barroom Blitz!

Day 4 of Suspension (cont)

Dru and Di'Fier look at each other over the corpse of their former prisoner. Without a word, they turn and begin running back down the street, chasing Ulfgar. They've got their next clue in where to find the gnome, and now they've got to stop anyone else from drinking the potion.

The sergeants arrive to find the door to Ulfgar's forge securely barred - and the back door as well. Heading around to the front, they hammer on the door for a while - no response. Again, louder. Eventually, they hear the sound of the bar being lifted, and Ulfgar opens the door a crack, peering out suspiciously at them over his forge-scorched beard. "What do you want?"

Dru sticks her foot in the door. "I wouldn't drink that potion if I were you," she says laconically.

"What do you know about it?" the dwarf challenges.

"The man who sold you that potion killed a friend of ours," says Di'Fier. "And your father." He begins to recite the list of the dead, along with the circumstances of their death. With each name, the dwarf's face falls, until the last trace of his defiance is gone, replaced only by sad resignation. He steps back from the door and lets them in.

Dru and Di'Fier quiz him about the potion. It turns out that his father had taken it several times during the course of the project, each time returning to work with greater fervor and skill. Still, he comes to the realization that his father's fate is not one he wants to share, and he turns over the potion to the guardsmen.

* * * * *

On their way back from Ulfgar's, Di'Fier hears the sound of cursing from an alley - then the sound of a blow striking flesh and a pitiful whimper. He signals to Dru, and they stealthily creep down the alley to see what is happening. They see a short, greasy-looking man pummeling a young girl. "Stupid b*tch!" he yells.

"...b*tch..." she whimpers.

A stray sound attracts the man's attention, and he pauses in his punching. "Who's there?"


Angrily, he shoves the girl away from him. "Get the hell back home," he tells her with a snarl, still looking for the source of the noise.

"...home..." she repeats, taking a few steps away and then crouching down into a huddle.

Dru's seen enough, and steps out of the shadows with her blade drawn. "It isn't nice to beat people," she observes. The man takes one look at her blade, swallows heavily, and bolts. Dru gives chase, but he loses her in an unfamiliar set of alleyways. She heads back to where Di'Fier and the girl are.

"Dumbsh*t got away," she says.

"...away..." the girl intones softly.

Di'Fier: "Are you OK?"


Dru gets a roll from her pouch and hands it to the girl. She'd been saving it for an on-duty snack, but the poor waif looks like she needs it worse. The girl snatches it and huddles, nibbling at the bread and watching them distrustfully. Now that they have a chance to inspect her, they can see the bruises on her arms and face.

"Nice guy, your friend."

Dru's sarcasm is lost on the girl, who simply repeats, "...friend..."

"Do you have a name?" asks Di'Fier.


Thought so, the guardsman thinks to himself.

"I'm Dru." "...dru..."

"Di'Fier." "...fear..."

The two partners step away from the girl and hold a hushed conversation about what to do with the poor thing. They eventually decide to try to get her to go home. Either the scumbag will be there (in which case they can indulge in some righteous butt-kicking) or there will hopefully be someone there to take care of her.

Dru asks, as gently as she's capable of, "Do you want to go home?" "...home..."

The girl finishes the bread, climbs to her feet and leads them slowly through the winding streets until they reach the Warehouse District. Their destination is a particularly dilapidated building that looks about ten minutes and a good shove away from collapse or at least condemnation.

Di'Fier looks at it dubiously. "Can we go in?"

"...in..." The girl does indeed go inside, where a group of displaced city residents stare at them from their spot huddled around a fire. Most of them melt back into the shadows except for a grizzled old man with one leg, who approaches, balancing on crutches. The girl moves unconcerned to sit in front of the fire.

The one-legged man looks them over for a moment, then finally, grudgingly speaks. "Thank you for bringing Echo back."

"We just wanted to make sure our friend got home," offers Dru.

"Since when do guards care about us?"

"We're on suspension," says Di'Fier.

They ask about the greasy guy, whose name was Tovin. He's a lowlife scum who's apparently decided that the best way for him to make easy money involves pimping a homeless (and simple) girl to the sailors (presumably the undiscriminating ones.) The pair file this information away, and it looks like Tovin will have a rough time if they ever catch up to him.

* * * * *

Day 5 of Suspension

What a glorious, sunshiney, cold morning to be suspended on! Dru and Di'Fier meet for breakfast (well, lunch, really - they're staying on their shift time so as not to get out of practice) and then set off to find an alchemist. One that's not a gnome. They wind up in the shop of a female dwarf named Artin, who makes them cough up 3 platinum to analyze and identify the potion they got from Ulfgar, then tells them to come back tomorrow.

They've already planned to stake out the drop point in Scurvytown, but that's not until 7 pm. To while away the time until then, Dru succumbs to some do-gooder impulses and drags Di'Fier around, buying bedrolls which they then deposit inside the warehouse that the beggars were using for shelter.

After that, they wander around the docks out of habit. The Bloody Vengeance seems to have finally set sail, and they find no sign of Tovin. Finally it's time for lunch (or dinner), and they head to the Broken Mug (fights every hour, on the hour.) The dish of the day is the appetizingly named 'meat skewers', and they are asked if they want them 'with or without plants'. Both choose 'without'.

While they chew, the top of the hour rolls around, and sure enough, a brawl begins. "Hey! I got that same card in my hand!" shouts one man, throwing a drunken punch at his card-playing companion. Mugs, fists, and chairs begin to fly as the bartender begins putting the few breakables back behind the bar. The guardsmen stay out of it at first, although Dru hops up on her table to get a better view. Then, as Di'Fier leans back to avoid it, someone is hurled into the table. Dru keeps her balance easily, but the guy is apparently offended that there was a table in his way, and he flips it. Dru tumbles off the table, coming up behind the guy, and slugs him a good one in the back of the head. Di'Fier finishes his drink and swings his leg off of the chair, smacking the guy in the side of the face, and Dru finishes him off. They wander away from the fight, but as Dru steps into the door, a body flies into the tavern - which is decidedly odd, as normally in bar fights people fly out of them.

That's when Dru realizes that the guy who just ran into her is dead.

Next: Mysterious corpses, mad gnomes, and Dru's secret admirer.
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Session Four, Part Two: "...Rosebud..."

Day 5 of Suspension (cont)

Dru drops the dead guy, and Di'Fier is instantly at the window. He catches a glimpse of a shape moving back into the shadows of the building opposite, and then it is gone. Not obscured, not hiding...gone. Di'Fier heads out into the street to make sure. No sign...and nowhere the guy could have gone.

As the bar quiets down, Dru kicks the dead guy over and starts searching him for clues. He's obviously been dead for a couple of days, but she doesn't recognize him. When Di'Fier returns, though, he notices that the guy has two throwing knives but three sheathes. They compare with the one that was thrown at Dru a few days ago...it's a match. Di'Fier also notices that the corpse's hand is curved around something. When he pries it out, it turns out to be...a rosebud. Both watchmen rack their brains for someone or some group that uses a rose as a calling card, but come up blank. Di'Fier says, "He was probably punished for not killing you."

The guardsmen drag the corpse out to a convenient alley so it's not disrupting business and then go along their way. They feel no real impetus to report the incident - after all, they're suspended. Just ordinary citizens now, and ordinary citizens never go to the Watch with their problems. Instead they head to Scurvytown, to check out this drop site.

The statue (the only one in Scurvytown) was donated by citizens of a city on the mainland, that Freeport has a particular rivalry with. That may explain why it was placed where it was...the statue is of a horse laying on the ground, a naked heroic figure standing above it with cudgel upraised. The meaning (if any) has been long forgotten.

The Watchmen sense that they're making the locals nervous, so Dru sticks a couple of copper pieces in the drop spot (behind where a hoof curls around) and give Di'Fier's raven strict instructions to watch the statue. Then they settle back to wait.

A few minutes before 7, Di'Fier is troubled by an urge, so he heads around back of the shack they're holed up in. Just as he's finishing his business, Dru spots a shape heading towards the statue, and he sense excitement from his bird. Dru, ruthless sort that she is, nocks an arrow and sights in. After all, Di'Fier's not here to stop her...as the gnome looks puzzled down at the 3 cp in his hand, she lets fly, then heads into the street with sap drawn.

Di'Fier charges around the corner to the sound of a startled squawk from the wounded gnome, and bellows "Freeze!" Good thing he got his trousers up, otherwise nobody would have listened.

The gnome looks from Dru to Di'Fier and says, "I surrender." How anticlimactic.

"Sit down, drug dealer," says Di'Fier, gesturing with his sword. The gnome does, and Dru ties his hands behind his back. "We've been following you."

"Yes?" The gnome asks pleasantly.

"We know about the potions," adds Dru.

"Yes, I've almost got it figured out." The gnome grins at the two of them like that explains everything.

Di'Fier: "How not to kill people?"

"Exactly! I'm so close to figuring out why it's going wrong."

Dru: "If you knew it was flawed, why sell it?"

The gnome looks honestly puzzled. "How else was I going to test it?" He sighs.

Dru growls, and fingers her knife. "I think we should take him to the dwarf."

The gnome looks shocked - not the sort of shocked you get when someone is fingering a knife and threatening to kill you, but the kind of shocked you get when someone uses their lobster fork to reach across your plate and spear a bun. "You have to take me in to be arrested," he says.

"Oh, we can't do that," mutters Dru, dryly.

Di'Fier frowns. "Why do you want to be arrested?"

"Because that's how it works." The gnome's voice is patient, like he is explaining something to a small child - or perhaps as if he is a small child explaining something with the kind of earnestness that small children have when they believe it with their entire being. "You arrest me, I post bail, and then I go back to my work."

Dru smirks. "We've been suspended." With that she picks up the trussed gnome and slings him over her shoulder, heading towards the merchant's district. Di'Fier follows.

"Oh, I understand!" the gnome bubbles cheerfully. "How about I just pay you gentlefolk the bail? I've got some fascinating potions..." He looks hopefully from one to the other. "...no?"

Dru and Di'Fier exchange glances as the gnome continues on. "You see, I've been doing research into low-cost alternative ingredients for potions. If my experiments are successful I could more than halve the cost to create them. Think of the benefits!"

"All right." Dru sets the gnome down on his own legs. "Take us to your shop." The gnome keeps merrily babbling away about his research, discussing it in terms that go completely over Dru's head, and that Di'Fier's limited knowledge of alchemy let him catch about every fifth word of.

As they reach the gnome's shop, Dru moves to knock the gnome unconscious...but the gnome breaks away, shedding the ropes, and dashes into the lab! The guardsmen pull their truncheons and go in after him. Charging into the lab, Dru runs right into the path of a flying tanglefoot bag, and gooey tendrils wrap around her and affix her firmly to the floor.

Dru doesn't like it when her own tactics are used against her. She struggles to pull out one of the throwing knives that she took from the corpse, and flicks it at the gnome, drawing a bit of blood. Di'Fier charges in, but the gnome nimbly dodges his blow.

Hopping back, the gnome utters an arcane word, and Di'Fier feels his body betray him - his muscles and joints lock in position, the victim of a hold person spell. Dru flicks the second knife, sinking it into the gnome as well. The alchemist looks a bit ragged. Di'Fier struggles uselessly against the spell that holds him.

The gnome dashes over to his bench, grabbing up a stack of papers and notes, and then runs for the back door. Dru sends the last throwing knife at him, and draws blood. The gnome stumbles, but keeps running into the night.

Dru begins slicing the tanglefoot from her with a dagger, and eventually Di'Fier can move again, but their quarry is long gone. Since there's no sign of him, they decide to loot the place, scoring quite a few alchemical items and a box of potions that neither of them are brave enough to want to try without another alchemist looking them over first.

The pair stops at Di'Fier's place and makes broadsheets to post across the city:
Beware! Mad gnomish alchemist seeks experimental subjects!
Below that, some details of the experiments and the effects they have. If they can't catch him, they can hopefully at least stop anyone else from falling for his tricks. While they make the posters, they discuss the attacks on Kiva and Tas. "He tried so hard not to kill us," says Di'Fier. "It couldn't have been him. I'll bet it has something to do with that other name...Weggit of Highgate."

Exhausted, Di'Fier drops off to sleep. Dru uses the next few hours to distribute the signs around the city, and then heads back to her place to check on Kiva and get some trance. When she enters her room, Kiva is sound asleep...

...and lying on the table is a rose.

Next Time: Dru and Di'Fier run an errand for Di'Fier's mother.



The gnome can feel the blood trickling down his back and his arms as he runs through the streets of Scurvytown, turning his shirt and coat into a sodden red mass. His lungs burn and his legs ache from running, but his head feels oddly light. It doesn't matter, he thinks. I've got my notes...and I'm so close to a breakthrough! Surely I'll find some way to test my theories...

He turns down an alley. They can't have followed me, he thinks. I'll be safe down here. I'll get passage on a ship to the mainland... The tiny alchemist leans up against the decrepit wooden wall of the shack, letting the blood trickle down the wood. I'll just rest here first...for a little bit. He closes his eyes, just for a moment, and doesn't see the two figures come around the corner and into the alley.

As any sailor knows, blood in the water will attract every shark for miles around. In Freeport, the sharks come on two legs, but the effect is much the same.

The taller figure wipes the blade of its wicked knife on the gnome's breeches as the other goes through his pockets. "Three copper. Not worth it."

"What about the papers?"


"Thought you could read."

"Not whatever that stuff is. He seemed to think they were important, though."

"Bring 'em. Might be worth some coin."

The precious notes are roughly folded and shoved inside an unwashed jerkin, and the sharks move off silently into the night, leaving the remnants behind for the rats and gulls.
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Session Five: A Little Errand

Just a short, light-hearted adventure courtesy of the WOTC site. Dru and Di'Fier go on an errand for Di'Fier's mother, and discover that...

Something's Cooking

Day 6 of Suspension

Our heroes take some well-deserved rest. Dru shops around for some potions, buying one of invisibility, and pays to have one of the ones the pair have collected over the last few days identified. It turns out to be a potion of nondetection. Di'Fier spends the day scribing a scroll of obscuring mist.

Nobody tries to kill them.

Day 7 (Final Day) of Suspension

Once again, Dru and Di'Fier meet for breakfast. As they're relaxing and picking their teeth, an owl flies into the tavern and begins circling Di'Fier's head. It's got some kind of message, but it's not an invitation for him to come study at Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry - it's a summons from his mother. Ever the obedient son, Di'Fier sets off, and Dru tags along, hoping she'll be allowed to kill something.

When they reach the house of Di'Fier's parents, his father is nowhere to be seen, and his mother is engaged in some kind of magical research. These events are probably not directly related, although one never knows. When she notices them, she turns and gives them a distracted smile. "Oh, hello, dear. I wonder if you can run an errand for me, since you're suspended from your job and all."

Di'Fier looks embarassed. "It's the last day, though."

"Oh, I'm sure it won't be the last day ever. I need you to go to Andolyn's. She said she was going to send by the reagents I need but she hasn't yet. Oh, and while you're there..." She lowers her voice and her eyes twinkle mischieviously. She leans in and whispers: "See if you can find out what Gendrew is making for the Wizard's Guild dinner. He's being very hush-hush about it." Straightening up, she turns back to her research, although not without saying, "You are coming to the Guild dinner, aren't you, dear? Why don't you bring a friend?" She offers Dru a wink. As she fiddles with her alembics and retorts, she asks, "What have you two been up to in the past week?"

Di'Fier and Dru fill her in on the whole mess with the gnome. She looks thoughtful and says, "That sounds just like what happened to that glassblower...what was his name? Brushgather." Oops. They forgot that they had found out about that one. "He was flinging molten glass at people. I think they have him locked up in the sanitarium."

On a hunch, Di'Fier asks his mother if the gnome might be a member of the Guild.

"Oh, I don't think so. Plenty of insane wizards, plenty of gnomish alchemists, but no insane gnomish alchemists."

Andolyn's place is about an hour and a half outside of town, so the pair set off. As they climb the rocky hills above town, passing a couple of outlying farms (principal crop: stones, often harvested and made into low walls), they see a group of five souls staggering along the road. The closer they get, the worse off they look...wounds...blood...hardly able to walk...

The last is made all the more amazing by the fact that none of the men lookas i they should be moving at all, let alone walking. The grey pallor of death is visible on their features, and at least one is providing lunch for some maggots. Dru and Di'Fier step away from the road...but the zombies have spotted them, and begin to lurch forward.

Dru readies her bow and nocks an arrow, letting fly at the lead zombie and sending the shaft through him - which doesn't seem to bother him much at all. They begin to lumber after the guardsmen, while Di'Fier pulls out his wand and launches a magic missile at one, scorching it and making it smell even less pleasant.

Dru casts the bow aside and draws her rapier, dashing forward to impale the 'wounded' zombie. The blade passes through its flesh with a sick sucking sound, and it collapses, the unholy force that animated it disrupted. Its companion growls and retaliates with a mighty forearm smash to the side of the elf's head. Di'Fier switches from wand to sword, but misses the zombie he aims at.

Dru spins and stabs the zombie that just clobbered her, twisting the blade viciously in the wound in the hopes that it might be more effective. Another rotting fist slams into her, knocking the breath out of her for a moment. Meanwhile Di'Fier lashes out with his blade, and removes a zombie's arms at the elbow. It swings at him with the stumps, and rather predictably misses.

Dru's next thrust goes wild as she recovers from the thumping she's just recieved, and the zombies don't let up, slowly surrounding her. At least one slow but powerful blow gets through her guard. Di'Fier cleaves the side of the head off of the one attacking him, but it still keeps on waving those stumps at him like they were going to have some effect.

Dru pinks one of the walking corpses with her blade and then moves away, hoping to put some distance between her and them. Di'Fier, meanwhile, finally finishes off the armless zombie. (Well...mostly armless, anyway.)

Dru lets the zombies catch up to her, stabs one again, and is off. Di'Fier takes advantage of the brief respite to speak some words of arcane power, and feels the sensation of sheer physical might wash over him as his bull's strength gets a maximum roll.

Dru repeats her hit and run tactic, although with more running than hitting. Di'Fier, meanwhile, cleaves nearly through one of the sodden corpses, but it keeps coming. Eventually, though the bladework of the two guards finishes off the last of the zombies, and they stand in the middle of a field strewn with rotting, twitching body parts. Dru decides to dismember them even more thoroughly, just in case, and to pile up the bits and set fire to them. Just in case. After that, she chugs a couple of healing potions, and the bruises and cracks in her ribs fade away.

"Maybe that's why she didn't drop off the reagents," says Di'Fier. "Then again, she's a powerful enough mage that I don't think zombies would bother her."

The two carry on, and eventually spot the cottage, with it's well tended garden and the stand of maples surrounding it. Di'Fier knocks on the door, but receives no response. It's unlocked, so they go in. "Hello? Anybody there? Andolyn? Gendrew?" No sign of either of them, but no sign of zombies either, so that's a good sign.

Dru leans over to look at a book lying open on the table. Suddenly, it leaps up and slams shut on her nose! The poker by the fireplace flings itself through the air, narrowly missing Di'Fier, who decides that he doesn't want to wreck up the living room, and dashes into the dining room. Dru follows, as does the book, cover bent all the way back and flapping its pages like a crazed many-winged beetle. It slams shut on her nose again. This time she grabs it and trie sto throw it out the window. The books slams into magically hardened glass and slides down, fluttering feebly a few times before it finally stops.

The pair head into the kitchen. It's a disaster area - flour everywhere, pots and pans scattered. A chair is wedged under the knob of a door. Di'Fier knocks and calls out, "Andolyn?" From behind the door there is only the muffled sound of thumping. "Maybe we should check out that hall on the other side of the living room," he says, in a moment of uncharacteristic caution. Dru agrees.

They dash through the living room (avoiding the poker which again flings itself at them) and into the hallway, which ends in a door. Dru listens at the door: silence. They head back to the kitchen (again dodging the poker) and dither about which way to go.

A search of the kitchen reveals strange things: tracks in the flour on the floor (large but indistinct) leading to the closed and blocked doorway, signs of something heavy (someone?) being dragged out through the dining room, and oddly, spatters of tomato sauce here and there around the room. The Watchmen decide to see what was dragged out of the room, and head back through the living room (on poker alert) into the hallway. Di'Fier pounds on the door. "Andolyn? Gendrew?"

There's no answer, so they open it. Shreds of torn paper litter the bedroom like autumn leaves, books (non-animated ones, thankfully) or the remnants there of scattered about. On the bed, beaten, bloodied, and trussed like a turkey, is Gendrew. He is unconscious. Dru pours a potion of cure light wounds into his mouth, but doesn't untie him yet.

Then, Di'Fier cries out in pain, feeling a sting and a burning sensation between his shoulderblades. As Gendrew coughs and splutters to wakefulness, Dru sees a tiny winged devil shimmer into view on Di'Fier's back.

The imp leaps from Di'Fier's shoulder and lashes its tail through the air at Dru, who dodges and draws her sword. She skewers the creature, but the wound closes even as she withdraws the blade. Di'Fier fumbles a silver dagger from his belt and swings it at the devil but misses. Gendrew cries, "Eh? What's going on?!" and struggles with his bonds, but he's facing the far wall and can't see a thing.

Dru again dodges the imp's poisoned barb, dropping her rapier and drawing her own silver dagger. This time when she wounds it, the wound does not close - instead the flesh of the imp bubbles and pulls away from the blade and it squeals with pain. Di'Fier can't connect with the little flying beast, though. "Who's there?" Gendrew asks. "What's going on?"

Dru curses as the barbed tail lashes out and catches her on the cheek, and she feels the side of her face burn and go numb. Distracted, her blade cuts only air, while Di'Fier decides to go for a surer route: drawing his wand he pumps a magic missile into the creature, leaving a smoking scorch on its back. "Somebody untie me!" Gendrew cries.

The thing lashes out at Dru one last time, then flies down the hall towards the living room. Dru dashes after it, and Di'Fier moves to the doorway and sends another magic missile towards it. Meanwhile, the poker has been lying in wait. it whirls through the air towards Dru, who parries it to one side with her blade.

Then, the imp vanishes. Dru viciously slices the air where it was, then dashes back down the hall to get away from the haunted (but inept) poker. Di'Fier follows her. "Hello? Hello?" Gendrew is saying. "Where did everyone go? Help!" The Watchmen untie him and introduce themselves.

"What dragged you back here?" Di'Fier asks.

"I think it was the imp...I had just barricaded my creation in the basement..."

"Is that what made the mess?"

"Yes...it was supposed to be for the Wizard's Guild dinner. A calzone golem - the first edible construct ever. Andolyn helped me with it." Gendrew sighs. "I can't just let the thing rampage around the basement. You've already saved me once, I don't suppose I can prevail upon you to do it again?"

Dru and Di'Fier exchange looks. Edible constructs was not something covered in Guard training. "All right," Di'Fier says.

"Splendid!" says the old chef. "I've got some things that will help you." He begins rummaging about in a closet. Meanwhile, the numbness has spread throughout Dru's torso and arms as the venom continues to work. Her fingers seem like clumsy sausages, and even her steps falter. Di'Fier doesn't seem to be suffering any more effect, though.

"Here we are...potions!" says the chef happily. "Let's see...you'll want this one to resist fire - the golem is quite warm....this one if you get hurt..."

"Warm?" asks Dru. "I wonder if ice spells would work on it."

The chef considers. "It might make it soggy," he ventures, then holds up a potion. "This one will make you nimble." Dru takes it and drinks it on the spot, counteracting the effects of the imp's venom (for the time being). Di'Fier drinks the potion of endure elements and they head back to the kitchen (once again playing dodge-the-poker).

Once there, it's kick-in-the-door time! Dru dives off the stairs halfway down to give Di'Fier a clear shot. The guard-mage incants some arcane syllables, and a beam of icy cold lances out, striking the thing in the center of its chest. Its movements slow.

The golem is a large, doughy humanoid construct smelling of cheese and tomatos, but for all its ridiculous appearance (and tasty smell) it is still a berserk golem. Dru barely manages to evade its powerful swing as she backpedals, pulling a vial of acid from her pouch and flinging it at the creature, where it sizzles and eats away at the crusty outer coating.

Di'Fier pulls his sword and flexes his magically-enhanced muscles. Charging down the steps, he plants the blade deep into the side of the golem, resulting in a splatter of steaming hot tomato sauce that would have burned him were it not for the effects of the potion. The golem puffs up for a moment, then releases a cloud of garlic/cheesy gas that nearly sends Di'Fier staggering from the sheer stench - but the guardsman holds his ground, parrying the huge arms of the thing. Dru flings another vial of acid and curses the gnome for having such weak stuff on his shelves.

Di'Fier slices into the golem again, although not quite so dramatically as last time. The thing bellows and swings at him again, but he evades its clumsy blows - although they are coming faster now as the golem heats up again. Dru abandons the acid and pulls her bow, sending an arrow into the thing (and splattering Di'Fier with more hot tomato sauce). Then she feels an all-too-familair stinging sensation, and numbness attacks her once again.

Di'Fier backpedals from the golem and pulls his wand, sending a magic missile into the imp from across the room. The golem has recovered from the mage's frosty attack, though, and lumbers forward while he is distracted, smashing into him with both enormous hands, knocking the wind out of him. Dru draws her silver dagger again and this time manages to connect. The imp's flesh boils away from the wound and it evaporates in a cloud of ill-smelling smoke.

Di'Fier reels under the crushing blows of the belligerant food-product, slashing with his sword but feeling the blade deflected by its crusty exterior. The calzone golem doesn't let up, slamming into him again and again, until Di'Fier is again splattered with tomato sauce as an arrow from Dru's bow pierces the golem. It begins to collapse into a formless mess in the center of the basement.

Di'Fier licks the sauce from his face. "Tasty," he comments.

Then, they hear a voice from upstairs. "Gendrew? Gendrew, what is all of this mess?" Andolyn's round and cheerful face appears at the top of the stairs. "Oh, hello Di'Fier. I just dropped by your mother's to give her those reagants I promised her." She turns on her husband. "Now just what happened here?"

Explanations are given. Dru says, "I'm sorry I had to kill your book," but Andolyn doesn't seem upset. Under her careful ministrations the poker seems to have calmed down. She and Gendrew make a gift of the remaining potions - vision, cure moderate wounds, jump ("No idea why we even have it," says Gendrew), and bull's strength - to the pair. "We'd have you for dinner, but under the circumstances..." Andolyn shrugs apologetically.

Dru and Di'Fier shamble back to town, looking little better than the zombies they fought earlier. The numbness and clumsiness has returned to Dru, and Di'Fier's feeling pretty lousy too. They resolve to ask for a few days of medical leave.
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