[LPF] The Lady of Lake Laguna

Deuce Traveler

Adventurer
Chip promised the party half of the Shrine's money from their annual collections, which he estimated to be more than a thousand gold pieces at that present time, meaning the party would be allowed to keep a little more than 500gp total for their assistance. The workers of the Dunn Wright Inn took sympathy for Chip's plight, giving him a bowl of hot gulash and allowing him to sleep by the fireplace. The young lad was definitely exhausted and hungry, resulting in him falling quickly and soundly into dreaming. The party members also ate well and rested, and in the morning they gathered their equipment and readied themselves for the long hike to Lake Laguna.

The trip itself took more than three uneventful and rainless days North to Northwest through roads that steadily degraded in condition as Chip and the men moved further and further from the city of Venza. As they journeyed Chip told the party a bit about his life, stating that he was eight years old and from a small village east of Lake Laguna. His family had entered him into a contest to become a Shrine Keeper for the year, a post that he had proudly won. The contest was six months ago, and so the young lad was halfway through his contract. Being a Keeper brought prestige for the family of the chosen child, but more importantly the position was an apprenticeship. Chip had been learning how to tend to a garden that helped provide for his food during the day, cook and other chores in the evenings, and learn how to read and write during his nights. The skills and work ethic that Chip would develop would make him valuable to his farming community in six more months time.

Chip and his co-worker, Pan, lived at the site of the Lady's Shrine, which in turn is located just outside of the village of Boredton. The people of the dwindling village community live a hard and poor life. Boredton used to be a booming community decades ago, along with two other villages: Cotown and Hillby. Once the nearby tin mines ran out the populations declined until the hundred folks of Boredton was all that remained. Boredton’s economy is now based on tourists that come for the annual Lady’s Shrine Festival in the Spring.

The Spring Festival is coming soon, but the tourist season is being threatened by violent attacks from the local beasts. This threat is also likely to effect the year's profits, further harming the people of Boredton financially. The Lady of Lake Laguna is thought to be a petty goddess or some sort of nature spirit. She is thought to bring happiness and health to children and is worshipped as a goddess of Children's Laughter. Tourists and worshippers bring their families to Boredton during the Festival, leave a token to the Lady in the form of plants or children's toys at her shrine, and on the final day celebrate by going across the lagoon in front of the shrine via boat to a small island where sits an ancient tree. This last day is finished with dancing and singing around the Lady's Tree. It is believed that the Lady's spirit rests inside the tree, though it is said that no one living has seen proof of her existence.

The party arrived at the Shrine's location after more than three days travel, with the sun directly above and partially hidden behind clouds. It was located on the grounds of a garden, which shared a plot of land with a small cottage where Chip said he and Pan stayed. The Lady's Shrine was a tall flat stone etched with the silhouette of a tree and rung by a low fence. Inside the tree diagram was etched the image of a woman with outstretched arms. The symbol on the rock was the same as the holy symbol hanging from Chip's neck. The Shrine was located near the shore of a lagoon, where also rested a dock and four large boats used to shuttle tourists and worshippers during the final day of the Spring Festival. The party could see a small island from where they stood at the edge of the lagoon. The isle was a few hundred feet in diameter each way with an old and impressive tree standing at its center.

Chip led the party into the cottage where they met Pan, another young boy who looked to be twelve years old. The newly met lad wore a green tunic and pants, and had plain brown hair. Pan's eyes were red and worn from worry, but the boy's anxiety broke as Chip introduced the party and how he went about recruiting them. Pan laughed lightly and smiled, "Oh Chip, I was worried sick when you ran off for help. You know it's dangerous out there, but now you've come back and returned with aid just as I had given up hope. Another merchant disappeared two nights ago and I fear the beasts may have killed him. But let's make our guests comfortable and cook them up some radishes. Then we can talk about recent horrors."

The party tried to relax on some small cushions while the boys prepared a radish stew. As the men and boys sat and chatted, Pan slowly steered the conversation back to business. "The Lady was not just a local spirit in ages past, but was once a more powerful goddess when the population here was larger. Tales say that she fought against an evil spirit named Morgana, whose followers were known to be in the now abandoned villages of Cotown and Hillby, which are located near the western and northern edges of this lagoon. Morgana was an angry nature spirit that had control over savage beasts and her nature was opposite of the Lady's peaceful control of nature's beauty. Somehow Morgana's spirit has woken once more, though by coincidence or by new agents I know not. She influences the beasts to hate and kill men once more. She had stone altars built by her followers ages ago at Cotown and Hillby. I believe that if you can destroy the two altars it will cripple her ability to control the beasts and hopefully stop the killings."
 
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CootaR

Villager
"Ahh a stew! Sounds delightful. Is there a safe house I can put Dharma?"

Krag makes a motion to the large yak he rode to the lake. The beast is massive and quite grumpy. Krag often talks to the yak.
 

deisenhut

Villager
On the way to the shrine, Yo smiles friendly at Mortar, "Mortar, my friend. It seems as if our threads of fate remain entangled still. It is too bad that Elenka and her wooden friend were unable to join us this time, but we seem to have a more than capable group in her place." Addressing the half-breeds (and the Yak), the short oriental looking human says, "I'm Yoshiki Akita, but you can call me Yo. It looks like we have a long road ahead of us."

Arriving at the shrine and hearing Pan's statement, Yo seems to have a puzzled look on his face. "What evidence do you have that these killings are the result of this evil spirit you talk of? It seems as if numerous things could be plaguing your town."
 

Deuce Traveler

Adventurer
Pan shrugged, "My belief that the problems lie with Morgana is based simply on the old tales. Still, I suggest checking her altars near the two abandoned towns and see for yourself. They are at least the best place to investigate, and maybe you'll find what has happened to our latest missing merchant."
 

Caim

Villager
On the way to the shrine. "That it would seem Yo. I wish Elenka could've made it as well, but this Krag fellow seems to be a capable combatant." Mortar looks at Krag as well. "I am Mortar Foehammer, ranger of the Sethir Mountains. Pleased to meet you my friend."

While eating his radish stew that the two young lads prepared. "You boys don't eat meat? Just curious is all. You have the lands for farming but don't raise any kind of animals?" Mortar looks up from his bowl after the last question. "I'm a capable hunter, I could bring some wild game back if you like."

He finishes his stew shortly after Pan explained the situation more clearly. "Just how powerful is this Morgana and what types of beast is she calling to aid her in whatever quest she has?" Mortar pauses to let the young lads answer.
 

Deuce Traveler

Adventurer
Chip said, "We do eat meat, but we try to eat what we raise in the gardens first. Sometimes we trade at the village for rabbit or pig meat. I'd be happy to prepare some meal with any animal you bring back."

Pan answered, "The last traveler's body that was found had signs of mauling. We are probably looking at a bear or boar. Perhaps even a combination of the two or more than one pf the same."
 

deisenhut

Villager
Enjoying the vegetable stew, "Well then, we should start with these alters in the other towns. Maybe we'll learn something else along the way. How far away are these towns? Are they nearby?"
 

CootaR

Villager
On the road - to Mortar.

Krag smiles widely. My name is Krag, like rock. That's what my master called me. He says things like, "you so dumb you got rocks for brains." Or one time he say, " What crag you crawl from?" "I guess Krag has something to do with rocks and mountains. I am strong...."

Once you speak to Krag he seems to provide you with entirely too much information. Borderline rambling.

At cabin

OOC: Detect evil on surrounding landscape, checking to see if i sense any sort evil resonating from the
land.

To Pan: Can we see where the body was mauled.
 
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InVinoVeritas

Villager
Kanli, the golden-hued half-orc, lights up when he hears about the altars. "Altars? Aha, I just so happen to know plenty about altars! They will just need to be repurposed, that is all. How odd indeed that Morgana awakens, just as the Granite Hierophant falls asleep."
 

Deuce Traveler

Adventurer
Pan said, "Cotown is the nearest abandoned town to the west and about six hours away due to the hilly terrain and if you follow along the edge of the lagoon. Hillby is north of that and the distance is a bit less between Cotown and Hillby. Boredton is a half hour east of here, but the killings have happened west of here and not around Boredton. All and all it will probably take you a little more than a day to travel and investigate the area then return. I would happily allow you to see the body but it was wrapped in burial cloth and buried in a graveyard near Boredton. As a follower of the Lady, I'm a bit adverse to asking the villagers to exhume the body of a dead man buried with proper rights, but if you bribed the right townsfolk maybe they would let you do so, regardless of the morality of the thing." Pan turned to Kanli to reply to his statement, but seemed confused and he simply chose to remain silent.

Krag
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The land did not reveal any evil. However, on the day before you arrived near the Shrine you saw the oddest thing. For a moment a flock of birds flying high above you seemed to circle your party, then fly to the northwest and away from your sight. By chance you happened to look up at them as you were detecting evil. They flickered with an evil aura.
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Deuce Traveler

Adventurer
OOC: let's discuss what the party wants to do in the ooc thread. I'll look for a consensus and move the adventure along by Sunday evening. Right now I have one vote for checking out the altars and abandoned towns.
 

Deuce Traveler

Adventurer
After enjoying the meal, the party received directions once more before heading out to Cotown. Pan and Chip were kind enough to walk the heroes up to the Shrine in order to say goodbyes. Pan smiled weakly, and it was clear that the older boy was troubled by the recent events. On the other hand, Chip bubbled with excitement to see adventurers questing on his behalf and went so far to give each of the men a hug before they set off.

Kanli
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As you passed the Shrine, you sensed a new entity reaching out and contacting you in your mind. You realized that it was not a spirit, but odder still, a lack of a spirit, as if reality was torn and a void came alive. You stopped to whisper quietly to the man who wasn't there before you passed him by. Although he wasn't there, he reminded you of the time that never happened when you walked a million hills together and righted a million wrongs before he ceased to be. The two of you chuckled softly at the lost memories and you asked him if he remembered the quest you were embarking upon. He answered yes, and that the quest ended in much sorrow and touched him greatly, as it did you, and that in the end you might not be able to save the woman. At this point you realized it was not right to talk to a man who wasn't there, for reality would react sharply to his intrusion and your ignorant allies might feel you were touched in the head. You passed and parted with your new friend that you had known a different reality ago. He gazed a gazeless stare at your departure, saying he understood why you must leave, but that even though he wasn't now with you he was and would always be your friend and brother.
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The going started off simple enough, though within the first hour of the trek the terrain became hilly, followed by rocky, which slowed your group considerably. The sun was close to setting by the time the terrain opened back up to grassy fields and the party reached the abandoned settlement called Cotown. There were perhaps six dozen buildings to the settlement, most of which were partially collapsed from warped and waterlogged roofs. A stained fountain stood in the center of the town, though it was featureless and full of lichen covered rain water.

Upon further investigation, Elros was able to find two entrances to abandoned mines, though both were fully boarded up with rotting boards that were dirt-covered from time and the elements. Yo found a large pasture where cows were likely penned in order to feed the settlement, however it was now overgrown and empty of animals larger than the occassional rabbit.

It was Mortar who found the more recent sign of activity. Something heavy had been dragged through the town and had disturbed the otherwise untouched earth. The heavy object was drug from the southern rocky hills, passed by the town center, and then was drug east onto a large hill covered with difficult undergrowth. The hilltop was a quarter mile east of the fountain where the party stood and took notice of Mortar's observations. From the smell of nearby water, it was also likely that the hilltop overlooked the lagoon. Mortar also noticed some large animal tracks in the dirt near the signs of the drugged object.

OOC: Mortar, make a DC 15 Survival check using the dice roller here on ENWorld in order to identify the animal tracks.
 

Caim

Villager
Mortar stops ad examines the tracks of the beasts to see if he may shed some light on what plagues the towns. After several moments Mortar imply looks back to the party. "I can't recall every seeing these tracks. What they belong to I don't know." he says looking back at the tracks disappointed.

OOC:
Wow, epic fail.
 
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deisenhut

Villager
"A large boar? Mortar, you haven't see a boar before?" chuckles Yoshiki in a friendly manner, even though he has no idea what it is either. "Looks like we have a couple leads here that we could follow, but this track might be a good start."
 

Caim

Villager
"I've seen a boar before." as he rubs his fingers through his beard. "We don't get very many boars underground though. Anything that could drag a person though should be handle with care. Move with caution and have ye senses about." Mortar removes the massive hammer from its holster and holds on top of his right shoulder.
 

Deuce Traveler

Adventurer
Krag
[sblock]
You fail to detect evil, though who knows what the foliage hides.
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The party advanced through the underbrush and up the hill as the sun began to set and long shadows from trees and branches danced along the entangling bush and vine. As they climbed further up the wind shifted to blowing towards the adventurers and the smell of death assaulted their nostrils. As the party reached a clearing at the crest of the hill they saw that it was flattened and thirty feet in a near circular diameter, with a view of the lake and the inner island barely visible far in the distance.

A six foot long granite table stood on four short, stubby legs in the middle of the clearing. The granite table looked to be some sort of religious altar as there were etchings of a perfectly proportioned non-descript female carved at regular intervals into the outer edge of the table.

A badly mauled and nearly unidentifiable corpse had been unceremoniously drug up the hill and thrown on top of the altar. As the heroes approached the table and its corpse the shifting wind stopped, creating a dead and eery silence.
 

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