"Out of the Frying Pan" - Book II: Catching the Spark (Part Two) - {complete}


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Felix

Explorer
Malcolm vs The Barnyard Chickens:D





I'd have to go with the dance in the glade. Some serious restrictions on fighting and an all in all SNAFU. That's a good fight.
 


Manzanita

First Post
As I've said before in an email, I loved the bounty hunter encounter. It was truly an artful exercise in alignment roleplaying.

The first & second manticore encounters were both great too.
 

Black Bard

First Post
Of course, the Dance in the Glade... Just wonderful...

But, I will list one more... The encounter with Mozek, which culminated in Chance's death... I must say that the incapacitating incense was a devious touch...
 



el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
end of session #39

Session #39 (part II)

“Mister the Green. Mister Northrop,” Mozek greeted the two adventurers with a nod, and then looked to acknowledge both Derek and Blodnath. It was amazing how such a diminutive figure could instill such fear. Even Blodnath and Derek could sense it.

Jeremy did his best to act non-chalant.

“You are far from home,” the Neergaardian warrior said, his hand on the hilt of his sword.

“No, you are far from home,” Mozek replied, he sneered showing his teeth which gleamed in the muted light of the fire spilling from over, around and under the huge fallen tree.

“What are you doing here?” Jeremy asked, not giving in to the gnome’s intimidation tactics. “Trying to succeed where you brothers failed.

Mozek giggled, and Derek felt a chill run up his back. He had to concentrate to keep his hand that held his arrow nocked from shacking.

“If I wanted to kill you, you’d already be dead,” Mozek’s voice was high-pitched, and changed it timbre like shards of glass being scraped against metal. “Unless of course, you are ready to admit that you are the mastermind behind whatever your group’s agenda is and reveal your true power.”

Martin could not tell if Mozek was being facetious.

“So, you just came to talk?” Jeremy replied with a snort. “Fine. We accept your surrender.”

“Oh, you have some balls Mr. Northrop, don’t you?” Mozek said. “They are nearly as big as that witch’s you traveled with. Where is she anyway?”

No one replied.

“I’ll take that to mean she passed on,” Mozek continued. “That’s a shame. I’m sure she would have given me some good thought for food.”

“You mean ‘food for thought’,” Martin corrected.

“No, I mean, ‘thought for food’. Her brain would have been just as tasty as her lover’s.” (209)

“Watch it, or you’ll be joining your brothers soon,” Jeremy growled.

“Why so rude, Mr. Northrop?” Mozek slipped a pinky into his huge nose and dug around in there, and licked off his findings with a long agile tongue. “Anyway, my brothers were just pawns. I knew better than to trust them. Too much like our mom’s side of the family, I think. I sent them to kill you knowing you’d likely kill them. That way I did not have to do it myself, when the time came and they tried to gang up on me for the power. Though I must admit they were pretty pathetic, I thought they’d at least be able to take one or two of you with them, or a handful of your new dwarven toadies.”

Blodnath spit.

“Who or what is your mother?” Martin the Green asked.

“Oh, now, Mister the Green, that would be telling,” Mozek’s smile faded. “But she is a crafty one. She almost scares even me. I’ve sent her on ahead. Don’t you all worry your delicious little heads about her, she is out of your league.”

“What do you want?” Jeremy asked.

“I am only here to help you,” Mozek smiled again. “The army of Gothanius, if you can call it that, threatens the innocent lives of my… ahem…people, and I have already found what I am looking for. Like I said, I sent my mother on ahead to ready it for my coming. So, you might as well give up on that account and deal with this threat – that way your little gnomish friends can have a little bit more time of peace before the end comes for them and everyone else in this little part of the world, and beyond, and what a gloriously horrific and painful end it will be.”

Mozek giggled again.

“We will stop you,” Jeremy said.

“Oh will you? How will you do that when your own companions are willing to sacrifice your lives for your own agenda?”

“What in the name of Krauchaar is this guy talking about?” Blodnath blurted.

“Richard the Red,” Mozek said, turning his head to look at Martin. “I know all about him, and Mister the Green here denied knowing him even when it could have saved poor Chance’s life to do otherwise.”

“I didn’t know anything about him!” Martin protested.

“Mm-hmm,” Mozek let out a breath, “Sure, you didn’t. And I’m sure you will continue to maintain that the Academy of Wizardry has no designs of its own on Hurgun’s Maze, even though they have sent one of their craftiest alumni to this part of the world, and his little apprentice.”

Mozek winked.

“I am not his apprentice,” Martin replied.

“No matter,” Mozek said. “We’ve already found the Maze. And while Richard the Red will prove a more entertaining opponent than you, in the end if he gets in my way he will die a painful death as well. Maybe I’ll even dominate him and have him kill you first. That might be fun.”

The gnome cracked his knuckles.

“So, I must me going,” Mozek Steamwind continued. “Let me reiterate. There is no point in seeking the Maze. It will be too late even if you were to find it. Try to save the gnomes if you can, or better yet leave Derome-Delem all together. I am sure you will have some years of peace elsewhere before the storm reachs beyond this island.”

With that Mozek took a step backward, as if to leave and Derek could not hold it anymore. He let his arrow fly and it sped right towards the interim chief, flying right through him as if he were insubstantial.

“Fools,” Mozek chuckled, and disappeared without fanfare.

It was silent for a long time before anyone even moved.

Derek opened his mouth to speak, but then closed it again. In the dim light of the fire behind them no one could see him do so. Blodnath just harrumphed and began to circle the camp again to remain alert.

“Do you think he has been watching us all along?” Jeremy asked Martin, moving over to the watch-mage.

“Most likely,” Martin replied.

“And do you think he could kill us all?”

“Probably, you saw what he did to Chance as well as I did,” Martin said. “Perhaps we should wake the others.”

“What’s the point? He’s gone, and like he said himself if he wanted to kill us he would have tried already. Might as well let the others get their sleep; they’re going to need it,” Jeremy said, displaying his occasional flashes of wisdom and practicality.

“You know, we may have to work with Richard to defeat Mozek,” Martin said, almost to himself. “Isis help us.”

“Huh? I thought we already were,” Jeremy said, quizzically.

An hour or so later when Kazrack and Ratchis were awakened for their watches, they were told of Mozek’s visit.

Ratchis did not hide his anger at not having been awakened.

“It doesn’t matter,” Martin said. “It wasn’t really him. It was just a projection.”

“A what?” Ratchis asked, scowling.

“A vision, an illusion that allows him to sense its surroundings as if he were here,” Martin explained. “He was probably nowhere near here.”

“He was probably already at Hurgun’s Maze,” Jeremy added groggily, crawling into his bedroll.

“We should be extra careful what we say from now on,” Kazrack said. “We could be being watched at any time.”

“I think he already knows where he is, Kazrack,” Jeremy said, and pulled his blanket over his head to block out the dawn he knew would soon be arriving.


Anulem, 7th of Prem – 564 H.E.

Ra’s Glory rose as it always has since the beginning of time, but it brought little hope to the Fearless Manticore Killers. The soldier awoke screaming as he saw Kazrack kneeling beside him, and frantically tried to escape the dwarf. In his weakened state he was more successful at hurting himself than escaping the dwarf, but Kazrack stood and Jeremy who was awakened by the scream hurried over.

Jeremy was able to calm the man who was certain that the dwarfs were just some other form of evil gnome.

“My name is Jeremy. What do we call you?” Jeremy asked in his calmest voice.

“I am Ephraim.”

“We are hear to stop the evil gnomes,” Jeremy tried to explain.

“It is going to take more of you than you have here,” the man began to get hysterical again, and Martin the Green walked over. “You don’t understand. They came from everywhere, and used fire and wild animals and…and…” His voice cracked. “They used foul magicks. They tricked men into marching into pits full of stakes and then cast spells that made their corpses rise and pull themselves off the stakes and attack us.”

The man began to weep and Martin placed his hand on his shoulder awkwardly.

“I had to strike down my own best friend,” Ephraim wept. “He came at we with cold dead eyes, murmuring my name… And he obeyed the command of his green-skinned gnome with white hair and green eyes. It was horrible. Horrible!”

As Martin and Jeremy spoke with the man Kazrack went over and told Belear about Mozek’s coming in the night. As the dwarf spoke to his elder Ratchis walked over mid-prayer and placed a hand on the dwarf’s head casting a healing spell on him. The half-orc friar did not want his companions protesting, even though the dwarf still suffered visible wounds on his unarmored body.

The half-orc then stepped over to see how progress went with the soldier. One look at Ratchis and it took another twenty-minutes to get him from hiding behind a tree.

“I have to get back to the castle,” the man suddenly said, standing up straight and seeming more than a little crazed. “I have to tell the king about the evil gnomes in these woods. They are a danger to us all. They mocked us! They animated the dead! They said how they’d feed their babies to their wolverines. I saw one rip off a man’s arm with his bare hands!”

Meanwhile, Ratchis and Kazrack were discussing what to do about Ephraim, it became increasing clear that allowing him to go back he could be exacerbating element to an already volatile situation, as his tale could lead to war between the Garvan gnomes and the humans of Gothanius.

Captain Adalar walked over to them, twisting a knot into his beard. “Why not just take him prisoner, if he is a danger to the gnomes?” He suggested after he heard what was going on.

Martin and Jeremy had also walked over leaving the man with Beorth, who seemed to be doing the best job of keeping him calm. Derek just watched as if he were a guest in the camp, standing just far enough away to not intrude, but close enough to hear the important parts.

“Then Gothanius will have an excuse for war against the dwarves as well,” Martin said, overhearing the captain. “We have no authority to take him prisoner.”

Kazrack turned to Martin. “You must come with me to help convince him to return with us to the gnomes and see the truth about them and how an evil minority duped him and his people.”

Martin agreed to try.

They walked over to the man, who seemed to be asking Beorth why he traveled with so many dwarves.

“I don’t remember,” Beorth replied.

“I am Kazrak Delver,” Kazrack said, kneeling before the now sitting man. “I would speak with you.”

Ephraim slowly nodded.

“You’ve already met Martin,” Kazrack said. “He is your king’s servant. The kingdom’s watch-mage, he speaks with some authority of your monarch.

This seemed to confuse the man, but he again nodded.

“I have family here in Derome-Delem, do you?” Kazrack asked.

“Uh, yes… A sister, Laura,” Ephraim choked out.

“I fear my family will suffer from the ravages of war between our peoples. Stopping war is a good cause – don’t you agree?”

Ephraim nodded.

“It is important that you report the truth of what has happened here to your people and to your king,” Kazrack said. “And you can only learn that by coming with us to see the gnomes. This is the only way war may be avoided.”

Ephraim became visibly upset and began to stand again. “What truth? I have only seen the gnomes’ trickery. I don’t want to see anymore!”

“Please stay calm and remain seated,” Martin said in as soothing a voice as he could muster. “We need to discuss this so you can understand the consequences of your actions.”

Ephraim sat back down.

“What do you know of Menovia?” Martin asked the soldier taking his turn with the convincing.

This question made Ephrain’s strained and wrinkled face twist in even more confusion.

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“Please, humor me…”

“They worship Set and keep slaves, I guess,’ Ephraim said.

“They are humans, correct?” Can you not see what would happened if a stranger went to Menovia and judged us all by their actions?”

“Everyone knows humans,” Ephraim said stubbornly.

“You have a duty to your people and your king to find out the truth and tell them the truth –“ Karack began to add, but Ephraim grew suddenly angry again and stood yanking himself away from them.

“What does a grubber know about my duty to my king? If this truth is so important why not let the watch-mage come with me to 12 Trolls so he can tell his version along side mine?”

Martin hesitated and coughed.

“We need to know exactly what happened and what is happening before I give my story to the king,” Martin said. “The whole point is that we don’t have enough information.”

“Maybe you don’t, but I certainly do…” Ephrain gulped loudly. “Didn’t you see the walking dead in Gothanian uniforms?”

Martin nodded.

“But you yourself admitted that someone was using trickery,” Kazrack was desperate now. “That was more trickery! Or it could have been.”

Ephraim just shook his head.

“I am going back,” the man insisted weakly. He began to cry again. “Unless you plan to prevent me.”

“No one will prevent you,” Beorth said walking back over. “That I promise you.”

Martin sighed. “I only ask that you give me time to draft a letter to king for you to take with you explaining our position as well as possible.” (210)

Ephraim agreed, and the watch-mage undertook the drafting of the letter. In the meantime, he was given some rations to eat, and was given a suit of armor from that collected from some of the dead soldiers, by Beorth who also gave him a long sword and scabbard.

Meanwhile, Ratchis and Kazrack talked with Adalar and Belear some more.

“I still think we should take him prisoner and drag him with us,” Adalar said.

“We cannot responsible for him if we end up in another fight, and he is tied up and defenseless,” Kazrack said. Belear nodded.

“I will not allow him to be taken prisoner against his will,” Ratchis said. “He has committed no crime, except to suffer at the hands of the evil gnomes. He does not deserve punishment for that.”

Captain Adalar harrumphed.

“And what if this means that more people will die?” Belear asked.

“Sometimes that is the price of freedom,” Ratchis replied.

And so, as noon approached, Ephraim was directed on how to return to Summit, and given food to last three days.

“Are you sure you don’t want to come back with me?” Ephraim asked Martin, fear coming over his face as he suddenly realized he would have to go back to town alone.

“We have a duty to perform and a truth to uncover,” Martin said solemnly. “Time is of the essence.”

“Also, one of the undead escaped and we need to track it back to its masters and make them taste the vengeance of my god, Anubis,” Beorth said, as if sliding off his compassionate visage to reveal that part of him that loathes the undead.

Ephraim nodded weakly and began to march away, looking back over his shoulder once.

The group finished packing the last of their things and made their way to where the battle had taken place the day before – from there Ratchis, Derek and Helrahd would search for the wight’s tracks.

End of Session #39

END OF BOOK TWO: CATCHING THE SPARK
---------------------------------------------------------------

Notes:

(209) Chance was killed by Mozek Steamwind. He had his head ripped off and his brain eaten.

(210) The letter read:
TO HIS MAJESTY, KING BREVELAN III,

I send this letter in the care of Ephraim of Earthport, the last survivor of the expeditionary force sent into the region north of Greenreed Valley. Ephraim has much to tell regarding the trials he experienced in the destruction of that force and the slaughter of his fellows. For my part, I have obtained additional information regarding the situation there, that might put that situation in new perspective.

A normally peaceful gnome village to the north of Greenreed Valley has been infiltrated by a family of gnomes that have the blood of a demon within them. This miscegenation has polluted their bloodline with evil and granted them great power, with which they have subjugated their peace-loving fellows. For so-long that the hell-gnomes control the area they pose a threat to any humans that intrude, as witnessed by the fate of the expeditionary force. I have combined my team with a band of dwarves that seek to destroy the hell-gnomes and free their innocent cousins from bondage and terror.

Should we succeed the threat will be abated and the gnomes shall become our peaceful neighbors once more.

I would advise that no further troops be sent into the region unless and until our force can suppress this threat. Given the other hostile factors in the region, Gothanius can ill-afford to lose any more of its defenders in this time of crisis.

Yours With Respect,

Martin the Green
 
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Manzanita

First Post
Great update. Very interesting.

On another topic, I love how critical hits work in this story hour. I've been keeping an eye on Aquerra.com, but that table hasn't been published. Would you be willing to share your critical hit tables with us? I'm starting a campaign soon & would sure love to use them.
 
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Best fight

I'm partial to either the original manticore fight or the glade.

Best all-around moment I think is a three-way tie between Chance's death, the old blind ogre (was he an ogre, can't remember?) that fought with the party against the drow serving silverback things (bad memory tonight - I can't remember their names either) and, of course, Mozek PICKING HIS NOSE AND EATING A BOOGER in the last episode! :eek:
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Manzanita said:

On another topic, I love how critical hits work in this story hour. I've been keeping an eye on Aquerra.com, but that table hasn't been published. Would you be willing to share your critical hit tables with us? I'm starting a campaign soon & would sure love to use them.


As the players know - the crit system we use is DEADLY. . .

But I'll see what I can do about posting it either to my website or to the House Rules forum - keep an eye out for a linky. . . :D
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
The End of Book Two

And so ends Book Two - not with a bang, but with a whimper. . .

However, Book III: Fanning the Embers is starting right away - the first part is subtitled: THE ADVENTURES OF THE FEARLESS MANTICORE KILLERS & THE NECROPOLIS OF DOOM!!!



This new thread is also my attempt to drawn in some more readers - and to have have an aside that does not quite fit into the grand scheme of the three "books".

So, you should stop by the thread - read the overviews of the characters and the plot - I may be adding more over the next few days and expect the "first" installment in a couple of weeks.
 
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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Hmmmm, I was certain that last installment would start a debate on whether or not the party did the right thing to let Ephraim go. . .
 

Dawn

First Post
I would imagine that a lot depends on whether or not Martin’s letter makes it back with Ephraim. He decides to just “lose” the letter on the way and propagate his own story, the won’t be any peace in the region for some time.

I do agree with the party in that the couldn’t just “capture” him and drag him along.
 

Black Bard

First Post
Well, I disagree with Dawn... I'm sure that our brilliant Ephraim will picture a real bad characterization of the facts occurred with the kind gnomes... No wonder, afterall, he saw all his friends die at their hands...
Too bad for the Manticore Killers....
 

Dawn

First Post
Wouldn’t bringing him along against his will depend on the alignment of the players? I’m not sure what the alignment ratio is among the players, but they seem to tip towards the lawful side.

I admit that Ephraim will not paint a pretty picture. I also say he “loses” the letter Martin is sending with him.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Personally, I don't see alignment playing much of a role in the decision - I could see someone of any alignment deciding either way. . .

I think for the party it was a matter of practicality and the man's actual safety. . .
 




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