Ye Gilde

Chimeras Cove: A Secret Revealed
Who brought the stuff?

The rescue put them in the good graces of the villagers. There were very thankful and gave them some of the history of the village and information about Poltur who was one of them and the grandson of Pelastour. The older generation had all served under Capt Pelastour as the crew of the Scythe, a privateer that plundered Chelish shipping.

The spellcasters all spent some time with their books and then all but the heavily injured Cromag left to track down the remaining hobgoblins that were out hunting.

They spent the rest of the day in ambush the goblinoids didn’t return by the same path. Targus warned them that the troops were headed into the village.

Everyone pulled up and hustled back to the village. When the reached the slope above the buildings 500 feet away they could see the 10 troops assaulting the longhouse that the villagers were defending.

Balinda cast haste on the bunch and everyone began running down the slope to rescue the villagers a second time.

Gwaiyu was first and also took an arrow on the way down. Then he threw his magic toothpick of pyrotechnics. That created a big cloud of smoke in front of the longhouse. Jaron and Balinda arrived next. Jaron was set upon by 3 disciplined soldiers. Balinda blinded others with glitterdust.

The oni blooded tiefling went from blind mercenary to blind mercenary clubbing them without mercy. Jaron did his best against his three opponents. Balinda ran through the fray blinding opponents while being chased by the leader.

When Lemmywinks arrived she began a fusillade of lead projectiles wrecking havoc on her targets.

Gwaiyu could see that Jaron was in trouble and called for Cromag. The dwarf exited the longhouse as the smoke cloud cleared.

The halfling had a couple more arrows stuck in her but she was still giving much worse than she was getting. She was also being attacked by a hobgoblin with a spiked club now.

Cromag charged the remaining attackers around Jaron bringing him some much needed assistance. He felled one easily.

The scattered fight turned into clean up operation. The individual hobgoblins tried to rally but they were all injured and they started dropping. Soon it was just the leader who was trying to escape. Then everyone ganged up on him and the fight was over.

Victory!

XP: 1000

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Chimeras Cove: The Journey
The Boathouse of Incarceration

A week was spent helping Falcon’s Hollow recover from the Carnival of Tears. Gwaiyu introduced the rest of the group to Jaron. The young investigator from Absalom came to the Hollow by way of Piren’s Bluff. He was on the trail of the document thief as well but ended up thrown in the debarker inside the Tent of Modern Wonders. Somehow he survived.

Jaron joined the group and Elmer, Sinya, and Juno departed. The three didn’t feel obligated to investigate the plot and decided to escort a caravan of refugees to safety instead.

The others loaded their horses and took a narrow dirt road south. Lemmywinks would lead the pack and they would be fueled by Gwaiyu’s bland magic food. Besides one good fight with a werewolf led pack of wolves the nine day trip was uneventful. Finally Chimeras Cove was in view.

Dwarfed by the bluffs behind and to either side, a dozen pathetic wooden buildings huddle along the shore within a small protective curve of the rocky coastline. Three imposing islands face the settlement through the fog. The largest, a nearly cubic block of stone, squats in the water like some stubborn beast. The second island sends columns of foam arcing high into the air with each breaker impacting its far side, focusing the onrushing wave into a vertical channel, and a sizzle echoes across the cove as the spray returns to the sea. The last and smallest island is remarkable only for its silhouette: two pointed boulders near its crest give it the look of a horned animal head.

Approaching from the east was a big burly man wading through the tall grass. Targas was friendly and eager to talk, despite the massive axe he leaned on. He has a young face under a shaggy mop of hair. Targas sizes up the party quickly, and does his best to persuade them to assist him in liberating the village from its oppressors.

A troop of hobgoblins took over the village several months ago. Things have been getting progressively worse for the villagers. A few days ago they were rounded up and imprisoned in the boat house with several guards. Targas claimed to have killed about half of the hobgoblins over the months but that still left around twenty. Maybe half of them marched off into the woods earlier to hunt or look for him.

The group was quick to offer to free the townsfolk and he offered to watch for the returning hobgoblins and keep their horses safe.

This long and narrow building, easily the largest in the modest village, stretches sixty feet long and twenty-five feet wide. Simple wooden planks comprise its walls, unbroken by windows. While its front entrance is at ground level, its far end extends out over a drop off into the choppy waters of the cove, supported by thin wooden pilings. A narrow dock, tethered to the supports with stout lines, bangs back and forth against them in the chop below the overhang, and two of the pilings sport regularly spaced horizontal planks, which likely serve as ladders to allow access to the dock from the building. Apparently much of the floor of the extended section is open to the water below, as the keels of three boats, slowly swinging from side to side, are visible below the bottom of
the building’s walls. It appears that the villagers haul their boats out of the water when they are not in use, rather than trusting them to the waters of the cove.

They decided on a bold plan of attack. Gwaiyu and Jaron altered self into gillmen and the other three waited outside the large doors. The gillmen swam around and entered the boathouse from the cove. Jaron was invisible and climbed out of the water. The boathouse was full. There were ten hobgoblins and 23 village prisoners. All but 3 were bound. Gwaiyu swam among the pilings under the floor. Jaron wound through the crowd and lifted the bar from the door. He threw it open and the fight began.

Balinda and Lemmywinks stepped up and cast spells. Three hobgoblins dropped into a magic spiked pit and another two fell unconscious under a color spray. Jaron, Gwaiyu, and Cromag began attackig conventionally. The hobgoblins fought back hard and were not the easy opponents they expected. The fight dragged on but the hobgoblins were losing.

Cromag stayed near the door and Balinda remained outside. Gwaiyu and Jaron waded deeper into the boathouse and fought hobgoblins among the prisoners. Lemmywinks crossed the building and hopped up on a table. She launched lead projectiles from there. Towards the end two tried to escape out the boat entrance and were pursued by Jaron and Lemmy. The hobgoblins jumped into the water but they were not swimmers. They ended up drowning instead.

On the other side of the building Cromag was in a rage and nearly dead. The initial spells began wearing off. First the unconscious foes that had been color sprayed began to twitch. Then the pit disappeared. Two of the soldier goblins where out but two of the leaders in breastplates were still up.

Cromag fell to the ground and grew pale. He was near death but Gwaiyu stepped up and saved him in the nick of time. The dwarf’s eyes opened. Shortly after the last couple of hobgoblins finally fell.

They determined that the four hobgoblins wearing breastplates were experienced fighters and it took a lot to bring them down. The assault succeeded though and the villagers were freed.

The hobgoblin mercenaries’ gear was passed out to the grateful villagers.

XP: 1700

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Carnival of Tears: Aftermath

Half of the township perishes in the massacre. The early snow and ice melt away quickly, but the torment and slaughter visited upon Falcon’s Hollow is never forgotten. In the days that followed 716 deaths are recorded.

Tessa Kelrand: Although freed from her torment, Tessa is forever changed by her harrowing experience. She becomes a cold woman, stern, and quick to judge others. She grows to despise Namdrin for his weakness of love and falling for the cold rider’s duplicitous plan. She leaves the half-elf shadowdancer, regretting her involvement with him, and now seeks a companion unswayed by heady emotions—far more practical, and even iron-handed in the pursuit of law and control.

Namdrin Quinn: When his love leaves him, Namdrin is crushed perhaps even more than when the cold rider took her from his side. He becomes a dangerous man, as fiery as his mistress has turned cold, prone to violent outbursts and nights of drunken revelry given way to brawls and street battles. He soaks his pain in alcohol and soon befriends Kabran Bloodeye. He still loves Tessa fiercely, although he won’t admit it and pretends to despise her. He sometimes clashes with Thuldrin Kreed. A fight with lumber tycoon could very well tear apart what is left of Falcon’s Hollow.

Thuldrin Kreed, Gavel of the Lumber Consortium had been at the peep show and had been rescued by Kabran Bloodeye. The Lumber Consortium is done in this town until something changes and the company store was soon looted. Nobody believes it was fey. Thuldrin Kreed harnesses the rage at the fey’s attack on the town to galvanize his place at the helm of the town by calling upon the townsfolk to hunt down the fey and slaughter them to the last. He is trying to organize the survivors but most are in shock or making plans to leave or looting the places of the recently dead. Thuldrin has big dreams of being elected mayor of Falcon’s Hollow in the settlement’s first organized election, and he uses the people’s hatred of the fey as a rallying point. Although he finds broad agreement, there are no volunteers to join the fight

Boss Payden “Pay Day” Teedum, Overboss of the Lumber Consortium. Was last seen in the strong ale tent.

Kabran Bloodeye. The kingpin of Falcon’s Hollow’s underworld survived. He escaped the peep show at the start of the horror and fled the carnival with Thuldrin in tow. He lost every employee though and is spending his time within the fortifications on the mott with Thuldrin Kreed. The big half orc might be taking over for Payden Teedum.

Magistrate Vamros Harg’s body was found disemboweled. The halfling was tied spread eagle to a small booth. Perhaps he was singled out due to his position in the town or perhaps the sorceror had not fallen under they Eye’s influence and fought back.

Sheriff Deldrin Baleson is missing but a pig wearing his flannel was found.

Lady Cirthana, the cleric of Iomedae survived because she retired from the carnival before the evil fey took over.

Laurel the herbalist survived the night. When the Eye was destroyed she was at the ice carving contest. Her enjoyment turned to horror when she saw things as they truly were. She has rarely left her shop since. Lemmy says she is packing.

Syntira, the Nymph Queen and her fey are blamed for the cold rider’s assault on Falcon’s Hollow. Lately, Syntira’s control over the fey of Darkmoon Vale has begun to slip. Anger grips the heart of her once jovial subjects—anger at the logging; anger at their inability to stop the humans; and even anger occasionally at Syntira, who had a change of heart to try to work with the humans to strike some sort of balance in the region. The icy-hearted Witch Queen’s servants and agitators continue to rile the fey of Darkmoon Wood.

Ambrosia. Syntira’s younger sister and a newfound thorn in the queen’s side, Ambrosia recently put aside her love of beauty and kindness in favor of malice and cruelty. Now a sadistic and cold-hearted fey, Ambrosia takes whatever opportunity she can to harm lumberjacks and other humans she comes across. She may be allied with the Witch Queen.

The group spends a few days to recover from the horror that was the Carnival of Tears. Lemmywinks helps out at Roots and Remedies. Gwaiyu begins the next day by curing Balinda’s blindness and removing curses from Cromag. Then he and the cleric Cirthana are very busy with taking care of the surviving townsfolk and performing burial rites. During this time they are introduced to someone called Largus.

Largus is a war priest of Torag that arrived from the north. He guided a small contingent from Lastwall to the area. He was with another group of adventurers that early this year had saved the town and later discovered some really evil stuff beneath the ground not far from the ruined monastery. He had parted ways from his group to warn the Knights of Ozem. He was also named a Viscount of something called The Guild. After learning about the Carnival of Tears, he suggested they seem perfect for The Guild and wrote them a letter of introduction.

The woods become a source of terror to most of the hollow’s residents and the entire settlement begins to falter. No amount of intimidation can force the lumberjacks back into the shaded glens, and soon Thuldrin Kreed’s empire begins to collapse. Survivors abandon Falcon’s Hollow in droves, until the ramshackle settlement is little more than a ghost town, prowled by the tormented spirits who lost their lives at the Carnival of Tears (as it henceforth called). Slowly, the land heals and reclaims the stretch of ground cleared by greed and axes, but the vines and trees of Darkmoon are forever infected with evil. The fey wage a war among their own kind, and a cold spreads down from the north, even shrouding summer months in frost and wind.

The Heroes of the Hollow don’t forget the Sheriff’s last directive. He had wished there were some heroes that could look into the mysterious note that seems to indicate a Chelish plot against Andoran. They pack their belongings and saddle their animals for the long trip south. It’s good to be leaving Falcon’s Hollow. Winter is coming.

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Carnival of Tears: The Hunt

Namdrin looks looks at each of them and back at his wagon. “Will someone stay behind to watch my sweet Tessa?” he asks. Sinya and Juno volunteer and step into the wagon locking the door behind them. He looks at the rest and tells them to keep the wand of cures for now because they will probably need it more. He asks what they have done and seen so far and listens thoughtfully. “We must find or draw out the Cold Rider, I do not know which. Continue on as you have stopping these evil fey. I will look for the master. If he is here I will draw us together, if he is not I will rejoin you and cut down these evil creatures until he shows himself.” He sniffs the air. “Those pies don’t smell right. Check that out first.”

Namdrin ran off into the night and the spellcasters among them looked around and pulled out their spellbooks or started praying. Each had become a little more capable in the magical arts and each memorized some new spells. With one of his Gwaiyu removed his glass bones curse. Only then did they follow their noses.

The putrid scent of offal mixed with delicious fresh-baked pastry wafts by, drifting from a tent near the river. Waving high in the air above it, a blue silk banner beckons “Biggy-Piggy Pie-Eating Contest!” in bright gold letters. Beneath the banner sits a twenty-foot-long table covered with a red-checkered tablecloth. Seated at a bench before the table, twelve local contestants eagerly stare at the tremendous steaming pies placed before them. With napkins tucked into their shirts and their hands tied behind their backs, they await the signal to begin. Near the table, a wooden sign staked into the ground reads, “Entrance Fee: 2 Coppers, Winner Gets Fat Prize!” To the left of the table, the event’s sponsor,a corpulent anthropomorphic hog, emerges from behind a wheeled cart bearing the weight of a coal-burning oven. With a bellowing voice that compliments his immense rotundness, the pie chef yells, “Begin!” Within seconds, contestants’ faces greedily plunge into the fresh-baked pies as they slobber and gnash their way to victory.

The chef happily fills new pie crusts with a strange device that looks like a giant butter churn attached to a pinning wheel with a big foot pedal. In the front of the churning chamber, a metal spigot attaches to a 10-foot hose. When the pie chef stomps the pedal, steam shoots out the top of the churn as gouts of pie filling erupt from the hose.

The Master of Ceremonies happily feeds contestants slop-filled pies packed with diseased and rotten entrails. Behind his tent graze a dozen or so pigs, all of whom are wearing some human clothing. You realize that these must be previous pie-eating-contest winners, horribly transformed by the chef as a reward for being the biggest pigs. The Swinomancer appears as an obscenely obese humanoid with bright pink flesh, porcine features and a tremendous smile. He wears a double-breasted white chef ’s jacket with checkered cuffs and golden epaulets, black and white checked pants, and a floppy white chef ’s hat. There was currently a little sprite hovering in front of him.

The winged fairy took off at their approach. It and the chef eyed them. Balinda taunted it and the chef responded by shooting her with a scorching ray. She was blasted in the chest. Gwaiyu ran past the tables and onto the raised competitor platform. Elmer ran halfway and launched an arrow that missed. The swinomancer stepped back and spewed a magical grease on the ground but Gwaiyu did not fall. Lemmywinks jumped on a table and send a sling bullet that also missed. And Balinda ran to the platform.

Gwaiyu hopped over to the countertop and then the kitchen stairs to get out of the grease. He also bashed the pig man who reeled. Elmer ran up from the other side and cut the chef deep. Elmer resisted the reduce person cast at him. Lemmywinks hit him with a couple projectiles while Balinda began knocking pies off the table and yelling that there was a winner. The swinomancer’s next spell fizzled and he collapsed under a barrage of blows. Balinda continued knocking pies onto the ground and the crowd began so disperse.

That was interesting.

They quickly marched off toward the Menagerie of Freaks looking for more fey to disrupt. In the deserted area by the grig’s stage they saw a swarm of flying fey creatures vectoring in on them. There were four glowing sprites with bows, two half elf half rabbits called pookas running through the air, and four very small strange fairies. The last were identified as tooth fairies and they were coming to do some dental work. The party stopped and prepared themselves.

Gwaiyu cast prayer when they got within range and hampered them while benefiting his allies. Then Balinda through the Bead of Force taken from dead Prig. The wonderous item exploded in the fairy flock and obliterated all but the tiny elf rabbits. They continued until one was just above Elmer and the other above Balinda. They each blew a palmful of dust on their opponent. The dust didn’t have any effect.

The group ganged up on one of the pookas wore it down. The pooka’s hearts weren’t really in the fight any more and they took off. Before the injured one could escape it was shot out of the air. That fight was easy.

They looked around. This bandstand area was empty except for a few more bodies than last time. The Menagerie of Freaks still seemed abandoned. They could see the Titan’s Wheel was derelict. What was that south of the wheel though?

A buxom barmaid was pulling a small wagon holding a barrel. Atop the barrel was a jolly pixie yelling “Free Ale!”. There was a small crowd that didn’t notice the transformation of one of their members into a tree right next to them. And there was a line of new trees going back all the way to the Strong Ale tent. They had to stop that!

They approached the beer wagon like they wanted some. Elmer the country boy who really had been drinking stepped up and instead of taking the mug he snatched up Arran the pixie. The pixie was quite angry and struggled hard, buzzing like a hornet. He almost wiggled free. There was some debate on what to do next. Some folks took swings but they really needed weapons of cold iron to damage the creature. Gwaiyu had some silk rope. Maybe they could tie him up? But if it can slip away or change shape? Lemmywinks suggested drowning it in the beer. Everybody liked that idea so Gwaiyu smashed open the top of the mini-keg and Elmer plunged his hands into the magic-tree-ale.

There was a little bit of a struggle and Elmer lost his grip. He thrashed around in the ale trying to recapture the pixie. Arran unsuccessfully struggled to swim and accidentally gulped down some of the liquid. He started to transform into a little tree when Elmer grabbed him again. At last one little pixie hand broke the frothy surface reaching up into the air before it turned brown and sprouted a single leaf. The deed was done.

Now where to go? The Peep Show!

Signs sloppily painted in smears of brownish-red blood read “Free Peep Show!” Their arrows point to a pair of nondescript tents erected in the shadow of the wood, just beyond the ale tents. In front of the tents, fairgoers of all types line up before the entrance, bristling with excited anticipation to see what causes the bright flashes of light and horrified screams from within. Mangled in the branches of the nearby trees hang the bodies of several half-orcs, dancers, and a pair of foreign musicians, their mouths and eye sockets all stuffed with fresh daisies.

That did not look good so they sent Lemmywinks to line jump. She got inside but was spotted right away. Two dark ice brownies jumped her. Their claws scraped along her rose armor and she screamed. The halfling ran out of the tent followed closely by the brownies. Elmer and then Cromag (who was in line) smashed the pint sized evil when they appeared.

Lemmy told them it was a slaughterhouse inside there and she didn’t see any other fey but there was a beautiful dancing girl on the stage. Balinda went inside and recognized he dancer as a nymph, a nymph that reminded her of Syntira. Though there were living men inside the tent was an abattoir. Then the nymph danced closer and as he approached, men suddenly asked who turned out the lights. They it was Balinda’s turn. The nymph’s otherworldly beauty blinded her and she staggered outside the tent. The others began running around the outside hacking at the supporting guylines.

The nymph started casting. As they brought the tent down, the casting stopped and it was replaced with a primal roar. Then there were terrible noises. Inside a dire ape was rampaging among the men tearing them limb from limb. Under the influence of the Eye of Rapture the men thought it was all some erotic act in the darkness. The tent was down and began to smolder in he rear. The nymph never reappeared and eventually the dire ape popped out of existance. The rest of the men in line were disappointed that the show was over and they were packing up the tent. They wandered away.

Balinda was blind and it was decided to drop her off back with unconscious Tessa whom Sinya was guarding. They decided to make the most of the walk though and stop off at one more attraction on the way. There were only two options. The giant Tent of Modern Wonders and the ice carving contest. The tent was closer so they headed there first. They were intercepted.

A towering creature stalks the perimeter of the Tent of Modern Wonders. It looks like a hairless elf, slender and graceful, with long arms that end in sharp claws. Its skin is brown and woody and resembles tree bark. It wears clothes made of leaves and vines. It randomly plucking carnival attendees and violently thrusting them beneath the tent’s greasy canvas folds, where their hellish screams are mostly drowned out by the deafening grinding of the machinery within. Nothing walks from the tent’s exit. Instead, a dark fey brownie rakes piles of shredded flesh and ground bone into a shallow trench of bloody pulp that trickles down the hill and into the river.

The banaan pulled it’s battle axe as it approached and attacked Elmer. The fight was short and sweet as it was cut down by Elmer and Cromag with a little help from Lemmywinks. As that fight finished up Lemmywinks pointed to a huge flashing arrow in the sky over the frozen pond.

That was the sign from Namdrim that they were waiting for so all of them, even Balinda, ran around the large tent to the pond. Cromag made it out onto the ice first. Namdrin awaited them and was answering the challenge of the cold rider.

Striding out of the forest comes a horrifying creature of ice and bone mounted atop a rotting dead stag and clutching a tremendous icy glaive in one mighty gauntlet. Impressive antlers of jagged ice perch atop the rider’s helm, putting his stag’s to shame. At the center of the dread thing’s frost-laden breastplate sits a crystal of pure sapphire, glittering in the dancing light cast by the souls above. The cold rider stands on the frozen ice of the river and yells his challenge: “Heroes, those who would stand against the power of ice and the might of the north, come and face me, and face death!

It rode by Cromag drawing first blood with the icy glaive. Cromag moved and swung and returned the wound. Namdrim became invisible. Elmer and Gwaiyu joined them on the narrow patch of land midstream. It was connected to two wooden bridges to opposite banks and was the only place with out slippery footing. Elmer struck the undead stag and Gwaiyu swung and missed. The cold rider didn’t like the odds and galloped away. They could see him and his mount healing.

“You’re wasting my time.” the cold rider shouted before conjuring an ice storm to pummel them. Besides delivering hail and cold it made the terrain difficult to cross. And poor Lemmywinks had finally arrived just in time to be within range of the attack. And although nobody could see him, Namdrin also suffered.

When the worst of it cleared Namdrim cast haste and told them to make the most of it. Cromag crossed to the other shore and ran along it toward the cold rider. Gwaiyu channelled, healing the others. Blind Balinda remained behind asking her familiar what was going on.

The cold rider remained on the frozen pond healing and watching his adversaries. When Cromag reached the shore close to him, he blew the dwarf a good night kiss. Cromag fell over asleep. Gwaiyu was also on that side of the river and ran to wake him up. On the other side was Elmer and Lemmywinks behind him. Namdrim became visible and started an inspiring dance to raise their spirits.

The cold rider galloped passed Gwaiyu but missed the tiefling. Gwaiyu reached Cromag about the same time Luko the thrush did. He picked up the cold iron wand of shatter and tried to shatter the scintillating Eye of Rapture on the rider’s breast plate. It failed. Elmer changed direction and Lemmywinks pelted the fey with a couple more shots. Luke began waking up Cromag.

The group closed the distance on the cold rider again. Gwaiyu was the first to attack and he hit but the return blow from the glaive gutted him like a fish. The cleric toppled over backward unmoving. The the others arrived and then he had his mount cut out from under him. He landed gravefully and responded with chill metal of the four of them. All the time his giant antlers were trying and failing to grapple people. Namdrim caste cure light wounds on Gwaiyu and he twitched.

The battle continued on foot Cromag, Elmer, and Gwaiyu were all approaching unconsciousness when led pellets launched from across the pond struck the rider and dropped him. His eyes opened the next instant but then he was surrounded and pummeled and cut until it was clear he was destroyed. The Eye of Rapture melts away into nothingness. Countless pairs of eyes watch them. They screams of horror rise up from the townsfolk no longer enchanted. The see what is really going on around them. No fey is brave enough to approach them but they take no chances and expend most of the cure wand’s magic healing themselves. It takes about 3 minutes.

The fey withdraw into the forest. They have been defeated, for now, but the town might never recover.

XP
Cromag: 2020
Everyone Else: 3227

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Carnival of Tears: Until Someone Loses Their Soul

When they finished trussing up the minotaur an owl swooped by and dropped a note. It read:


Hail Champions,
A bleak and bitter frost has fallen across the forest, and it
has reached even into the hearts of my people. Aided by
agents of an ancient evil, they are about to visit such destruction
upon the people of your community as has only been seen in
nightmares. Your actions tonight have shown that not all of your
kind are heartless villains. If you deem the townsfolk worthy
and you would save more lives tonight, please come swiftly to
the grove beyond the east entrance of the carnival.
Do not be startled by my appearance.

—Syntira

Meanwhile, in the Strong Ale tent Elmer meets a smelly man called Hatchet-Ass and they strike up a conversation over ales. Hatchet-Ass is a little tipsy already and tells him a remarkable tale of Droskar’s Crucible. Hatchet-Ass was unpleasant but the story was interesting. When the story finished Elmer excused himself to answer nature’s call. The fighter wandered outside and relieved himself. In the fresh air he realized how much it stunk in the tent. He decided to take a quick walk and saw the rest of his group moving with a purpose toward the exit. He joined them.

They did not go to the grove directly though. First they went back home to gear up so they would be ready for whatever happened. Then they set out for the grove in the hills east of town.

On the western edge of the grove, a pinprick of yellow light flares suddenly against the darkness. From the smallest flash of color, it silently increases its radiance until it seems as if the sun itself has come down from the heavens into the grove. Suddenly, directly in front of the light, an alluring female form appears. The intensity of the light makes it almost impossible to determine any of her features, but it is clear she must be stunningly beautiful, and completely naked. The only part of her that is clearly visible is her eyes, which are liquid brown and seem to draw in the light. Her voice chimes with the crystal beauty of a mountain spring on a summer afternoon.

“Please do not fear. I will not harm you. I am Syntira, nymph queen of Darkmoon Vale, and I am of the First World. My court of fey lived in these dark woods before the first of your kind set foot upon its verdant green. For an age or more we have watched you from tree and shadow, through spider’s eyes, underneath the wings of sparrows, and behind the grub worm and acorn. Long have we watched as your people bled the land with axe and flame. For a spell my anger grew such that I would see you all pay for this scourging of the forest. When I wallowed in the deepest pit of hate is when a cold wind blew down on my grove. A rider came with the wind; atop a dead stag and sheathed in frozen blades he came, and with a voice like steel on ice he promised me revenge. I agreed then, but now I know this course is ill. I only hope I have not awakened to the truth of this evil too late. When the rider came, my people changed. The cold froze their flesh; their hearts turned to ice. They forgot the green, forgot the woods. They forgot everything but hate. Now they come with the wind, led by their cold rider. They come to the carnival to butcher you and the rest of the mortals, and the only one who could stand against them is chained by bands of love stronger than iron.

“You must act quickly. My kin already begin their slaughter. Your people bleed—I feel their pain as I once did the torment of the trees. Pain is evil. Tree, beast, or man, it makes no matter, and no measure of cruelty tonight can repair the sins that came before. Your kin suffer for nothing but spite. Save them, and save yourselves. But take this with you, lest you offer yourselves to the frozen fey as lambs to a butcher.”

The intoxicating woman waves her hand across the snow, and a small collection of perfume vials appear. “Sniff these unicorn farts and you will not fall prey to the rider’s magic. He carries an iridescent purple flower of living ice called the Eye of Rapture, enchanted to cloak horror and agony in a guise of mirth and merriment. So long as this crystal remains unspoiled, your people will continue their revels as the fey cut them down. You must stop the slaughter. Only by frustrating the cold rider can you force him to appear so you can end your people’s suffering once and for all.”

Everyone quickly agrees and sniffs the unicorn farts which were supposed to last “for the rest of their lives”.

The moon is high in the sky; its light shimmers off the ice like pale ghosts dancing in the darkness. On the surface of the lake, fairgoers revel and hoot, stomping their feet to rollicking fiddle music played by a band of grigs that maniacally bow their instruments while hopping about the bandstand. A gong sounds from the stage and scores of colorful rockets suddenly spring into the sky, where they explode into glistening clouds of multicolored sparks that drift gently to the ground. As the sparks slowly drift on the wind, an unseen mist seems to lift from the scene, and in a moment, everything changes.

The grigs continue to play, but instead of a lively dance tune, they are playing an eerie, haunting melody that drips with sadness and cruelty. They stand off to the side with expressions of anxious expectation. Meanwhile, instead of colored sparks, a rain of leeches drifts from the sky and settles over the crowd with a series of wet noises.

The ticket booths have undergone a gruesome change of décor. Pinned onto the rickety wooden booths hang the precisely removed facial skins of unfortunate fairgoers, all twisted and stretched into expressions of grotesque laughter. Frost-limed brownies clatter about the booth, attending the oblivious crowd, happily handing them grisly event tickets peeled from tongues and fingers. One wickedly grinning brownie passes out lollipops that look suspiciously like eyeballs spitted on twigs.

Families wander about with bloody tongue-stumps and grisly fingers in hand happily handing them over to fey barkers. Inside the carnival a large crowd dances to the grig’s music.

The Heroes of the Vale were aghast and immediately set to work. Balinda used a silent illusion to make the ticket booth appear to burst into flame. The late comers just oohed and awwed though. One of the dark ice fey was fooled and jumped down from the ticket window but the others laughed and turned their attention to the trouble makers. Inside the carnival two of the grigs looked over.

Lemmywinks and Cromag pushed past and moved through the dancers toward the bandstand. Elmer and Gwaiyu ran up and attacked the two brownies working the crowd. Sinya used her crossbow but couldn’t hit and Juno protected her. They were quick little buggers and used magic to create Mirror Images of themselves. They also took less damage from any weapon not of cold iron and slowly healed. Then Elmer found out that their claws were quite dangerous and they also froze the wound. Balinda stopped concentrating on her illusion and ran to the bandstand to help with the grigs.

At the bandstand Lemmywinks had knocked out two of the four grigs with a spell but then one of the remaining grigs changed its song and Lemmywinks began to dance. She was out of the fight but Cromag smashed one of the tiny elven cricket ladies. The other jumped at Balinda and tried to enchant her. Fail.

Elmer had killed one of the brownies and then he and Gwaiyu finished off the next. The others hid in the ticket booths and had to be hunted. Elmer went inside and soon regretted it as the little brownie slashed and froze his legs something terrible. Sinya tried to help by shooting her crossbow through the ticket window but the brownie was too hard to hit.

The last grig was finished off on stage and the crowd wandered away. The Eye of Rapture’s effect meant they though the band was taking a break and resting.

When the group outside finally disposed off the last brownie they limped into the carnival and met Balinda, Lemmywinks, and Cromag in front of the sleigh ride.

Black lines smear through Sathelbry’s name on the signboard in front of his sleigh stop. It now reads, “Free Sleigh Rides for Children.” Seated in the driver’s seat, a queer little gnome-like creature with an icy beard waits patiently as dozens of children pile into the sled.

The driver was a strange thing. It looked like a twisted little gnome with white-blue skin and a wild, red-tinged beard. A closer look reveals its huge bushy beard is not made of hair, but of living scintillating icicles as sharp as dagger-points and frosted with blood-spray from its last kill. The beard dances as madly as he, wriggling like a nest of razored ice snakes undulating to their own sinister rhythm. One of the malingering degenerate’s eyes is significantly larger than the other, pulsing and bloodshot, its pupil lolling about like a ship in a storm. Someone shouts that it is a frosty chiseler whatever that is.

“Stop them” Balinda cries and casts an illusory ice wall around the sleigh. It has no effect. Nobody really seems to notice. Parents still loading their children into the seats.

Gwaiyu is the first to run up and attack but misses. The chiseler responds with a rhyme. “Skin like ice, bones like glass, crack and snap and fractious smash!” Gwaiyu feels the terrible curse descend on him but he manages to resist it. Mostly.

Elmer moved up to the driver and attacked with a sword but the metal harmlessly landed on the frosty fey.

The driver cracks his whip, lurching the over-packed sleigh toward the nearby wood at a breakneck speed. The group saw Sathelbry’s mangled corpse bound beneath the sleigh, his head dragging against the snow leaving behind a bloody trail. Soon it would be too far away to do anything.

The fighter charged after it and when he reached the driver, he thrust the little guy right off the seat and out of the sleigh altogether. The sleigh continued and the frosty chisler was on the ground. He had lost his hammer but pulled a chisel from his belt. He took a hit when he stood up but then buried the chisel in Elmer’s shin. The chisel was not too bad the the unnatural cold emanating from it gave him frostbite around the wound. That was worse.

When Gwaiyu did anything but move slowly little bits of his brittle body broke off. He didn’t let that stop him using his divine touches against the chiseler. Unfortunately the vicious icy beard poses a serious threat to anyone attacking the fey in melee. When an adjacent attacker lands a blow he must avoid the flailing oversized ice beard or it will tear and flash freezes their flesh. They were slowly winning the fight but it was difficult. When the frosty chisler realized this he backed up and surrounded himself with a magical icy dome.

They knew the magic creating the wall of ice wouldn’t last but they did not want to wait while people were dying. Elmer and Gwaiyu stood to either side and bashed the wall causing deep cracks to appear. Lemmywinks stepped up and stabbed it with the butt of her sling staff and that was all it took. A ten foot section collapsed. The frosty chiseler was standing in the middle. He cracked off an icicle from his beard and threw the dagger at the halfling. Lemmy sidestepped easily. Sinya took a shot and missed. Elmer dashed inside but the opening was so frigid that he was badly injured by the cold. He took it out on the chiseler and killed it.

Not wanting to walk through the cold opening again he chose to remain inside until the spell ended. It would be some minutes.

Sinya and Juno had to block the entrance from a group of kids that wanted to play inside the igloo. So they were occupied. Gwaiyu stood by ready for anything.

Cromag, Balinda, and Lemmywinks headed to the terrifying looking Titan’s Wheel in the meantime. They were just going to scout. The Titan’s Wheel has undergone a drastic change. Stripped of its once-colorful decorations, it juts like a rotten claw from a quagmire of mud and blood. Fairgoers navigate toward it on rotten planks arranged as stepping-stones to span the fetid morass. Ghoulish trophies dangle from the great metal wheel, bound by their own intestines to the rusting metal so they drag through the mud and up into the air as the wheel rotates.

Balinda figured that she could disable it easily. She played an engineer once on stage. Cromag stepped up to the barker and started distracting him while she went invisible and crept around the side of the wheel. The door wasn’t trapped or locked and she went inside. Balinda found the trap the fey had placed. Her arm was caught. When the next contestant pulled the wheel she was lifted up through the cogs and gears. She was getting severely torn and smashed to pieces and screamed.

In the front of the wheel Cromag heard and made a spectacle of wrestling the lumberjack spinning the wheel. Lemmywinks went to investigate but attracted the attention of two of the brownies working the crowd. Lemmywinks dispatched the first around the corner with a color spray and a kukri. Balinda could free herself nor could the halfling. She sent her familiar to Gwaiyu to retrieve the wand of shatter.

With the wand though Balinda was extracted and the wheel broken in short order but the remaining two dark ice brownies were waiting for them. It was three on two when Cromag arrived and they concentrated on one brownie until it was down. When the other was hit, it decided to dimension door away. The killing attraction was stopped but at a steep price.

They returned to the ice dome and waited for it to cease.

Back in the ale tent Hatchet-Ass hasn’t been affected by the Eye of Rapture. The murderous hobo looks around in bewilderment. The reveling lumberjacks stand contorted in various stages of rigor as they slowly transform into gnarled trees, while their comrades stumble about in an alcohol-fueled haze engaging in one sided conversations with oak skinned friends. One scrawny jack drunkenly boasts about his axe work to his horribly transformed companions. At the bar, Hatchet sees that the bartender has been replaced by a pixie that is now filling up mugs from a small cask atop the bar. “Free drinks” the little creature yells. “Step right up!”

Believing that the best alcohol is free alcohol, Hatchet-Ass shakily approaches the bar. Something doesn’t seem right to the man. The pixie pushes over a brimming mug with a smile and the hobo picked it up. It smelled good. He looked back at the smiling pixie again. Then he looked at the rows of tables and all the new trees filling the tent. This is one weird night he thought and took a deep drink from the mug. It had a barky aftertaste.

Hatchet-Ass didn’t feel so good and was angered by the giggling pixie. His feet hurt. Alot. He looked down. Roots had burst out of his boots and were digging into the dirt. That little fucker. He drew his swords and struggled to uproot himself. When he succeeded, he moved around the bar menacingly.

“Easy big fella” the pixie said. “We’re just replacing the damage done by ax and saw is all.”

Hatchet-Ass had re-rooted behind the bar and was covered in bark now. He attacked the dexterous little fey and one sword tip dragged along the creature’s belly without leaving the slightest scratch. The pixie giggled again as bark grew over Hatchet’s eyes and leaves sprouted. Arran the pixie patted the trunk. “There, there. On the next full moon’s rise, a dryad nurtured by your soul will be born of this tree. That’s a beautiful thing you are a part of, lad.” That was the last thing the assassin’s consciousness was aware of.

At the ice carving contest, lined up in rows are impressive blocks of ice, each standing about six feet high. Dozens of revelers, including lumberjacks, children, pairs of giddy lovers, and more than one aspiring artist, gather round the blocks with hammers and chisels happily supplied by a gaggle of bushy-bearded gnomes.

The blocks of ice are worked over by patrons hoping to wow others with their sculpting skills and win a hefty cash prize. Victims frozen inside the blocks are chipped away at as the ice dwindles. Statues begin to bleed as the carvers sever fingers and ears, and pulped eyes and mashed teeth join the bloody shavings at the blocks’ bases. Carvers don’t see the blood or notice the horrible wounds they inflict and continue to merrily chip away at the screaming townsfolk trapped within.

Recognizing more ice chislers, the group is hesitant to take them on. “They’re like 10th level” Balinda cautioned.

Screams from the ice maze give them an excuse. They run into the ice maze where they find Gradzaal. The minotaur is still injured but no longer blinded by Gwaiyu’s magic. Lemmy misses with her sling. Elmer runs past and gets gored in the process but his sword disembowels the beast. It is no more. They exit the maze on the east side after passing a couple of other obstacles.

When three of the fey’s grisly carnival events are halted, the cold rider hears word of it. He begins to suspect that this stubborn group might be the downfall of his plan. To evaluate the threat posed, he tells Prig, his mischievous quickling toady, to follow them around invisibly and learn their strengths and weaknesses for the coming battle. Unfortunately for the cold rider, Prig doesn’t follow orders very well, and as soon as he finds them he begins to taunt them from a safe distance. Even better (or worse, from the cold rider’s point of view) Prig has stolen the witch ice shard from his master.

If he wasn’t invisible they would see that Prig is 2-1/2 feet tall and extremely gaunt, with elfin features and pale, bluish skin. Long, slender ears rise to a sharp point near the top of his head and his hair flows behind him like quicksilver. He wears a shirt and leggings woven from leaves and tree bark. As soon as he spots the PCs, he calls out to them, “So these are the troublemakers”. Then quickly moving to another spot, “You’re so sharp, I bet you’d have no problem figuring out how to swallow a handful of tacks.” Balinda pulls out a scroll. From behind Gradzaal’s cage, he taunts, “Oooooo, a scroll.”

Balinda casts the spell off the scroll and a bright burst of glitter covers the area the voice came from. Prig screams as he was blinded by the blast and his invisible form is covered in shiny glitter. Elmer and Gwaiyu run over and land blows on the flatfooted fey. Lemmywinks and Sinya hit with bullet and bolt. Still blind Prig takes off to the south. Even moving slowly the quickling is now 50 feet to the other side of them. He stops and retrieves a small item. “Foolish mortals spoiling my master’s plans. Silly creatures, your salvation is before you, but you can’t catch me!” Then Prig regains his sight in time to see Cromag charging with his great club. Prig wasn’t quick enough to avoid the swing and the already severely injured fey gets squashed. Everyone else crowds around the downed creature and adds a few more strikes on the bloody pulp.

Then they pick a few items off of the ground and pass them around. Magic! When a suspiciously heavy empty bag is upended a large scintillating cerulean icicle falls to the ground. Balinda picks it up. Namdrin Quinn the carnival master appears next to them immediately. Grabbing for the shard, he shouts “Give me my love.” Balinda pulls the shard away but changes her mind when he tells her that the fey imprisoned his wife in the witch ice and it needs to be shattered to free her. The wand is used and the shard is destroyed. Quinn kneels over the fragments, sobbing. As his tears trickle off his face and onto the fragments, they slowly begin to melt and grow, eventually expanding into the unconscious (but living) form of Tessa, his lost love. With a smile, he picks up her sleeping form and carries her into a nearby wagon, returning moments later with his twin swords, a fully charged wand of cure light wounds, and a determined look on his face. He hands over the wand and then slowly faces each person in turn and calmly thanks each one for restoring his life to him. Then the expression on his face turns grim and he says, “Now let us put and end to these vile creatures and drive them back to the dark shadows where they belong.”

XP: 1450

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Carnival of Tears: It's All Fun and Games

The next day was Falcon’s Hollow Day! It was bitterly cold again and a snow had come during the night. Lemmywinks was still recovering and didn’t feel up to the cold so she stayed at home but the rest of the folks left to enjoy the festivities. There was music, food, and entertainment. The competitions began with the Dragon Chase. A pig was made up as a dragon, greased, and released after a speech by the magistrate. Anyone that could catch the dragon would be rewarded with a free banquet after the joust.

The pink dragon took off with a squeal. It ran this way and that while roaring townsfolk failed to grab it. Then it ran toward the group veering off at the last second. Gwaiyu sprung and landed on the piggy. He held the slippery thing fast nearly suffocating it with his monstrous grip. There was a stunned silence. It had never been caught so quickly. Huzzah! Huzzah for the hero Gwaiyu!

Balinda, Sinya, Juno, Gwaiyu, and Elmer leisurely wandered the celebration remarking on the bitter wind from the north. Winter had arrived early and it looked like it might be the worst in years. Another thing they noticed were several women moving among the crowd selling something. They learned it was the Dragon Race. All but Sinya and Juno bought tickets. Each one corresponded to a small fence lizard. The lizards would be released soon and the first three to run past the finish line would win. None of theirs were among those three but it was an amusing distraction.

Elmer, Gwaiyu, and the good sport Balinda signed up for the joust. Numerous cows had been brought in from pasture and padded bludgeons had been prepared. Competitors would ride bareback, trying to direct their cows to close with their opponent. If that happened they would try to unseat each other with their padded bludgeons.

This was a townsfolk favorite but the cattle obviously could not care less. They had ample opportunity to watch others before it was Elmer’s turn. He was helped onto his steed as was a red flannel wearing opponent. Then with a toot from a trumpet they urged their mounts to charge. Elmer’s remained standing. For all Elmer’s attempts to prod it forward, all he could elicit was a “moo”. His opponent had better luck. The cow walked toward Elmer but the bareback rider slid off the animal. Elmer won! Not to be outdone on Gwaiyu’s turn the beasts approached each other and the princely tiefling hit the bookish schoolteacher so hard he flew off the cow unconscious and bleeding. The cleric was so distraught he immediately leaped down and bestowed some healing magic to thunderous applause. Gwaiyu became the crowd champion. They shouted, “Gwaiyu! Gwaiyu! Gwaiyu!” Balinda didn’t fair so versus the barrel chested woman she was matched with but she remained a good sport. Both Elmer and Gwaiyu won their next matches before they were pitted against each other. The crowd was disappointed when their favorite hit the churned up earth. They backed Elmer in his match though and were disappointed once more when he was unseated by the burly lumber jack.

The feast followed and it was remarkably spectacular for so humble a location.

Afterward Elmer noticed a strange pair moving through the crowd. One shady character was moving through the crowd and was being followed by an even shadier looking fellow. He and Gwaiyu followed them. The first man started fumbling under his jacket but then they lost sight briefly. Next they saw them cut between two homes. They rushed over and discovered an arrest in progress.

The first man was apparently a fugitive thief from Pirens Bluff and the second was a bounty hunter with a writ for the thief’s capture. Elmer was suspicious of the whole thing but neither man had much to say. The bounty hunter was looking for some stolen documents but the man on the ground was claiming innocence and a search revealed that he did not have any documents. The two men went to the Sheriff’s office. The others stayed behind and found a beat up map and note hastily hidden in the vicinity.

The note detailed some sort of plot against Andoran by a person named Poltur. The plot thickened. Balinda was introduced to the intrigue and she made copies of the to documents. To make a long story short, they couldn’t get any real information from either of the men at the Sheriff’s office and the Sheriff himself wouldn’t be back until the next morning. They made turned over the stolen documents to the deputy and returned to the festivities.

The next morning the documents had been misplace. The Sheriff couldn’t understand where they had gotten to. The heroes tried to stress their importance and the apparent plot against the country of Andoran by the nasty Chelish. The sheriff opined that they could really use some heroes to sort out the apparent trouble in Chimeras Cove. Some of them thought, “Hey, we’re heroes. Maybe we could do it and leave this awful town.”

On that note the six of them descended the fortified hill and joined the throngs from all over that made their way to Quinn’s Carnival.

Strange winds blow down from Droskar’s Crag, bringing on an early winter. The ground crunches underfoot with thick frost, and autumn surrenders without a fight. Days grow shorter and stars hold court in the darkness reigning above. An unnatural cold permeates the town, and the Foam River’s jubilant voice is frozen under the
ice. Birds abandon their nests for warmer climes, their songs silenced by winter’s grim embrace. But the frozen riverbank now hosts a shimmering respite from the gloomy cold in the form of garish tents, joyful shouts, and sumptuous smells. Quinn’s Carnival has come to town.

Gaiety and laughter cut through the cold wind, and even the sky-shy sun peeks its face from around the gathering winter clouds. Children squeal with delight and gasp in awe of the sights, sounds, and smells of Quinn’s Carnival. The Titan’s Wheel creaks and groans as a burly lumberjack tests his might with a hefty spin, a
family rushes giggling into the sprawling ice maze to the north, and dozens of happy skaters flit about the rinks atop the frozen river. Carnival dolls are handed to wide-eyed townsfolk as prizes and a menagerie of freakish creatures and glowing lanterns beckons the curious. Garish skirts and scanty veils call others to a different breed of voyeurism altogether. Treats and wonders abound for young and old to enjoy, and for a time the early winter is forgotten in joyful revelry.

Adjacent pairs of rickety podiums tacked together from pieces of apple crates form raggedy ticket booths that mark various entrances to the carnival. Eager-faced fairgoers cram about them, gleaning wonderment from
faded posters promising stilt-walkers, terrifying rides, and all manner of freaks. Tirelessly working the booths, baggy-eyed carnies busily hawk tickets to various events and do their est to direct the stream of excited townsfolk.

A crowd of unwashed beggars shielded from the winter’s harsh kiss by nothing more than tattered rags huddles by the entrance to the carnival, pleading with passersby for a few meager coppers or a bit of food to see them through. Many are children or old men and women fallen on hard times. A good number are maimed from lumbering accidents or crippled by a horrible bout with plague or pneumonia. Rich merchants turn a blind eye to the haggard indigents, pretending not to see or hear them at all, and lumberjacks snarl, guffaw, or even kick at the dirty beggars as they stroll into the carnival to spend their coin on games, shows, and other frivolities.

Balinda couldn’t stand the sight of the begging and offered them each a copper coin. It seemed like she gave away more coins than there were beggars but maybe she miscounted. Unseen eyes watched her kindness. Finally it was there turn at the ticket window and they each bought an All Access Pass and entered. It was hard not to be caught up in the crowd’s excitement.

Beneath a tall signboard reading “Mr. Sathelbry’s Wild Sleigh Rides” stand four massive chargers hitched to three wooden passenger sleds coupled together with chains. Hunched in the first sled is the driver, an aged, one-armed man dressed in a long threadbare wool coat, his snarling face wrapped with a dull red scarf. PCs notice a group of ragtag orphans loitering near Mr. Sathelbry’s Wild Sleigh Ride begging for a free ride. The crusty old sleigh master snarls at them, even kicking one into the snow with a cold-hearted laugh and a “no copper, no ride!”

Again Balinda’s heart cried out. She stormed over and paid for all the little kids to ride. Unnoticed a little shadow flitted away from the scene.

A small cove of wagons and tents curls around a rickety three-foot-high stage cobbled from a wooden platform precariously balanced on stacks of unmortared bricks. The stage planks creak and moan in time to the prancing and posturing of a dozen or so freakish humanoids as they perform their comically grotesque displays. A dough-faced huckster preaches to the crowd and flails about a cane to pontificate the show’s details. He sees their golden tickets and ushers them into the Menagerie of Freaks.

The Dog-faced Girl
Chained to a stool, a dog-faced little girl in a charming yellow and white flowered dress mournfully howls at passers-by. This disturbed the group and made them feel a little sad for her.

The Baby in a Jar
Propped on a small stool sits a two-gallon glass jar filled with a murky yellow liquid. Suspended in the liquid, a deformed, infant-shaped creature bobs slowly. Its tiny, hairless form is dwarfed by its oversized head, from which two sickly colored amber eyes stare hauntingly. Belinda recognized it as a homunculus.

The Man of 1,000 Stitches
This bulky, bald-headed man proudly displays hundreds of wounds running across his torso, arms, legs, head, and face—all stitched shut with thick black thread.

Human Fish
A young man with flaky, scaly skin steps on to the stage as the barker shouts, “Behold the terrifying human fish!” To the crowd’s dismay, the man unfolds a straight razor and proceeds to bloodily slice gills into his neck. Next, two muscular men seize him and thrust his head in a large tub of water. At first, he thrashes about as if drowning and the crowd screams in terror. The ringmaster removes his hat and lowers his head, asking the stunned crowd for a moment of silence. Moments later, with his head still submerged, the fish man’s feet and hands begin to tap a lively rhythm on the stage and barrel. Soon both the stage freaks and the crowd are stomping and clapping in time to the music. Once this happens, the fish man jerks his head from the barrel and dances off stage.

The Sword Swallower
wide-eyed, middle-aged woman staggers across the stage, gasping at the crowd and holding her throat as if she is choking. She hacks loudly and, to the roaring delight of the crowd, belches a billowing puff of black smoke. Then, spasming uncontrollably, she draws forth a longsword from a nearby basket. When she holds it aloft, the sword bursts into bright orange flames. The crazed woman then proceeds to insert the flaming blade into her throat until only the handle remains visible. Finally, with a flick of her wrist, she pulls the blade from her gullet in a single smooth motion and tops off her act with a final belch of smoke.

The Pinheads
Jebro and Nedders are unfortunate beings possessing burly frames but tiny craniums, their eye sockets sealed with their graying flesh. They drool and loll about the stage dressed in worn pink tutus, much to the evil delight of the audience. The huckster invites the audience to throw coins to hear the brothers sing. and the crowd obliges, the pinheads squeak out a spittle-spraying version of the following song.

Welcome people one and all,
Welcome to our Carnival.
Over vale and wood we roam,
You won’t find a better home.

Welcome people great and small,
Welcome to our Carnival.
Join our land of make-believe,
You won’t ever want to leave.

Welcome people one and all,
Welcome to our Carnival.
Sweep away the winter weather,
Come inside and stay forever.

The Fat Woman
This disgusting obscenity of lard and folded flesh sits atop a tiny groaning stool as her greasy sausage-like fingers dive nimbly into the huge basket of dumplings upon which she gorges. Many of the townsfolk openly ridicule or show disgust at the sight of the woman.

Udmor the One-headed, Two-headed Ettin
Standing upon the stage, a brutish hunchbacked giant dares audience members to take a peek into the large sack it gleefully swings about. When a small child offers the brute a copper, it kneels down before him, opening the sack just wide enough for the eager lad to garner a peek at the grisly contents. The poor child begins retching violently as the creature breaks into roaring laughter. Then it turns slowly and with a knowing glance whispers to the now still crowd, “Its me other ’ead.”

This freakish performer had two heads until he met the wrong end of a giant-slayer’s vorpal sword. Although he survived the brutal attack, he soon became lonely and sorely missed the companionship of his other head. He took his head to a hag and, with the help of her foul necromancy, had the head instilled with unlife. Udmor carries his second head around with him, happily chatting with his old self, although now when they have disagreements he simply places the undead head in a sack and bounces it around until it shuts up.

Leaving the menagerie, they couldn’t help feeling a little sad and depressed.

In the field before them stands a towering windmill disguised beneath mountains of papier-mâché to resemble a great titan. A large plastered head with bulging eyes and a long tattered beard covers the roof, while two muscular arms jut from the side of the building and clasp posts raising a banner that reads “The Titan’s Wheel.” The windmill’s blades have been replaced by a massive fifteen-foot-diameter metal wheel painted in nauseating spirals of lime green and orange and threaded with flapping rainbow streamers. Before the wheel, a gap-toothed carny woman with a wispy shadow of facial hair barks loudly through a sawed-off yak horn. “Step right up, folks, and spin the Titan’s Wheel! Prove your strength to the ladies! Wow all the jacks in the cutyard! Come on, folks! Show ’em what yer made of!”

Barrel-chested axe men take turns grabbing rungs on the wheel and throwing all their muscle into giving it a whirl. Once spun, the wheel churns wildly while terrifying howls of laughter echo from the titan’s great plaster head. After a few rotations, the wheel clicks slowly to a stop, at which point the gap-toothed emcee pulls a stream of tickets from the base of the wheel, interprets the data, and informs the spinner that he has he combined strength of two, three, or even more men. The tickets are worth free beers in the beer tent in the adjacent cutyard. Here they are joined by a freakishly hirsute dwarf with no pants. The little fella takes a shine to them as they pay to spin the wheel. He is strong and the barker declares that his spin measures his strength at one and a half men. Balinda is outraged when her similar spin indicates that she has the strength of a man. Gwaiyu leaps up and tries to spin with all his might but the wheel just creaks. Everyone laughs but the barker says it must be a malfunction. He tries again and this time nearly breaks the wheel with his mighty spin. He earns a pile of tickets.

After the wheel Elmer spied the drinking tent and dragged everyone in that direction. Along the way

A few plain-colored tents stand before a row of cargo wagons. A wooden sign staked into the ground before them reads “CARNIES ONLY! NO ADMITTANCE!”. Beyond that though they spotted a richly dressed man as he dragged a protesting girl into the shadows of the vacant tents. Elmer and Cromag quickly ran over and intimidated him into leaving her alone. Again their good deed was noticed.

Elmer entered the Ale Tent. The clack of tankards and roars of laughter swell from this bustling tent filled with sweaty lumberjacks. Casks of ale are stacked nearly fifteen feet high behind the tent. The thirsty patrons here down pint after pint as they carouse, tussle, guffaw, and stagger about.

Just beyond the pavilion where jacks swill ale like gasping fish sits a pair of nondescript tents. The closest one emanates the soft rhythmic music of shakers, clay drums, and tingling bells. In front, a cross-armed orc stands at the tent’s entrance with a look of firm determination. The ladies recognized him as one of Kabran Bloodeye’s bodyguard and they hustled away.

To the north the frozen lake has been transformed into a wonderland of winter fun. Several ice skaters twirl and dance across one half of the shimmering surface, while on the opposite half two teams of men struggle as they attempt to tug each other back and forth across the slippery ice. Nobody cared about trying ice skating so they turned to perhaps the loudest and busiest building.

At the edge of the cutyard stands an obscenely large tent that covers a sizeable portion of fairground with its drab grease-stained canvas flaps. Strange sounds—chugging clunks, grinding crunches, and loud, high-pitched buzzing—drift from within. Every so often, a whistling boom interrupts the cacophonous orchestra, punctuated by a geyser of thick, black soot that shoots through a hole in the top of the tent. Dozens of wide-eyed children scramble about the perimeter, eagerly sneaking peeks beneath the flaps or through knife holes poked into the canvas. They quickly dash off before the thick-booted lumberman groundskeeper can get ahold of them. Trailing from the front flap and around the side of the tent, a long line of lumberjacks, mill workers, and well-dressed individuals (presumably lumber barons) eagerly awaits entry.

The tent is crammed with strange towering devices of iron and steel held together on thick timber frames. The machines undulate to unnaturally precise rhythms as greasy cogs squelch, slowly rotating gear wheels and axles. Circumnavigating the colossal machines, a wooden planked walkway safely parades fairgoers through the tent while signboards posted before each machine extol their capabilities and efficiencies. The entire walkabout lasts about 5 minutes. Halfway through, a young girl about 20 feet behind thems gets her dress caught in the chipper. Cromag and Lemmywinks rushed to her aid with Cromag making the save when the pantsless dwarf tore her dress off. It was a little awkward. A small figure leapt into the air and buzzed away.

From their they crossed the frozen stream and passed the closed Tent of Illusions to enter the Ice Maze. Two tall columns of hard-packed snow mark a gaping entrance into the ice maze. Beyond, shimmering ice walls climb into a mammoth
labyrinth of twisting frigid corridors. The ice maze is one of the carnival’s premier events. Spanning several hundred feet of meadow on the northern side of the river, its twisted corridors are designed to confuse and confine its thrill-seeking explorers.

Throughout the maze, the carnies placed many playful obstacles to confuse, frighten, and mislead; they consist mostly of harmless snow sculptures, slick patches, and other awkward terrain. In addition, five carnies dart through the icy warrens, each emulating a minotaur’s fierce countenance by wearing a papiermâché mask of a large bull. The masked carnies sneak about the maze, popping out at fairgoers and eliciting screams of excitement. A gold-painted ring pierces the nostrils of one of the bull masks. Cromag plucked it and won himself another carnival doll.

The opposite exit of the maze emptied them into a small encampment of wagons and tents. In the center of this encampment sits a tremendous iron cage. Inside paces a hulking dark-haired minotaur performing displays of strength for an unruly audience of carnival goers who gawk and jeer at the great beast. Children dare one another to pull the beast’s mangy hair or pelt it with snowballs, hoping to elicit a fierce snarl from the terrible beast, which then sends the kids scattering. A brightly painted plaque bolted to the bars of the cage reads “Mighty Gradzaal! The Monstrous Minotaur!”

The monster seemed to be hamming it up for the crowd so his cage rattling wasn’t believed and the group headed south. They did not get far. A sinewy half-elf of corded muscle and bone, with a long face haunted by loss. His sunken eyes do not fix on anyone. He strides down the main thoroughfare swathed in a heavy black hooded cloak, moleskin gloves, gray-black clothing, and high hard boots. He suddenly flourishes his cloak, Belinda notices he casts enthrall, and draws two shining silver blades out of nowhere. For the next five minutes the former adventurer blends graceful twirls and acrobatics with a dazzling display of unsurpassed swordsmanship. His dance concludes with a slow twirl that ends with sheathing his blades smoothly and striding away, heedless to the din of applause that erupts around him. Namdrin Quinn! shouts a carny to the applauding crowd.

A gaggle of apron-wearing women balance trays of steaming pies as they swarm rows of picnic tables draped with red-checked cloth. The sweet-smelling scents of freshly baked pies waft through the air. Children clamor at the women’s skirts, their faces and fingers stained with berries. Everyone bought a pie and they were delicious.

Before this small tent, a charming old woman rocks easily in her wicker chair, happily spitting apples on clean whittled sticks and dipping 9them into a pot of sweet sticky caramel. Parents and children patiently wait their turns to purchase her crisp confections. The old woman’s name is Gerta. She has been selling her apples at the fair for as long as anyone can remember. Developments An over excited child takes too big a bite and chokes on a chunk of apple. Gwaiyu helped the child cough up the chunk. A small creature nodded approvingly.

At this point they had seen all the major attractions and visited some of the smaller games. There was archery, coal walking, the egg toss, sack race, ring toss, and lastly the gypsy. Cromag had 4 of the creepy kewpie dolls tied into his hair by the time they stood in front of the gypsy’s tent. A sign outside a tent reads “Madame Viscolla—Not only can she see your future, she can change it!” Inside the tent sits an old crone wrapped in an ornately patterned shawl. Her dark eyes burn
like charcoal. She introduces herself with a croak that promises an expensive but unforgettable reading. For a fee of 1 gp, Madame Viscolla “reads” an individual’s cards. Cromag, Gwaiyu, and finally Balinda paid up but her prediction was vague telling them that their fates were intertwined and ill fated. She offered to cast a powerful ward to protect them for 100 gp but nobody was willing to pay that feeling she was a charlatan. As they left the old woman grabbed Gwaiyu’s wrist and in a strangely powerful voice she intones “When the time comes, use it well” and thrusts an iron wand into his hand. Then the gypsy shakes her head and doesn’t remember what happened. When Gwaiyu tells her, she says that she must have had a reason so keep the wand of Shatter.

By this time it was getting dark and they crossed the frozen pond and glanced at some gnomish creatures preparing ice blocks for carving later. The carnival goers were getting excited for the upcoming fireworks display when a scream came from the ice maze. The heroes recognized a call to action. Belinda sent her bird over the maze while she used her magic claws of the ice bear to climb the ice wall. The others ran around and entered the maze.

Those coming through the entrance soon found a bloody body. A young man had been hacked almost in half and bloody hoof prints led deeper into the maize. They followed them and met up with Balinda. They realized that Sinya and Juno hadn’t followed or perhaps had gotten lost. Undeterred they followed another scream and discovered the minotaur Gradzaal standing over another victim. Battle was joined.

The minotaur’s axe proved to be a terrible weapon and Elmer received its brunt until the wand of shatter was used to destroy it. His horns hurt but not nearly as much. Gradzaal was outnumbered and outclassed. The fight was a short one and he was rendered unconscious.

XP
These XP totals include everything, activities and contests, kewpie dolls won, people helped, the minotaur.

Balinda: 1,100
Cromag: 1,020
Elmer: 715
Gwaiyu: 1,100
Lemmywinks: 760
Sinya: 50

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A Day in the Life of Heroes

They had just paid for lodging in the town of Falcon’s Hollow since their free housing arrangements were getting a little strained. Gwaiyu and Elmer each purchased their own place, while Lemmywinks and Balinda chose to share a rental hovel … er home. True, they were gaining a reputation as heroes after ending the plague and rescuing the inn, but still life was expensive under the Lumber Consortium’s grip. They decided to pay for a month and choose where to go from there. Plus a carnival was coming to town and who wants to miss a carnival?

It started with a knock on the door and Lemmy answering to a young boy named Chester. He had run all the way from the Sheriff to find “The Heroes of the Hollow”. Sheriff Baleson needed them for something. Lemmy thought she might be in trouble at first but called Balinda who calmed her fears. They gathered up Gwaiyu and Elmer (prying one from his prayers and the other from his day drinking) to join them – the cat woman and her “assistant” were indisposed. Rumors were starting to spread about those two. Together they hurried to see Sheriff Deldrin Baleson and learn why he had summoned them. Luko the Thrush supplied a happy walking whistle. Turned out the sheriff was seeking aid from the reported heroes since over the last three nights a young woman and four of his volunteer guardsmen had gone missing. He wasn’t certain the woman and his guards were related incidents but thought they might as well investigate both if they were inclined to help. The heroes did not even hesitate in taking up the mantle and did not so much as ask for any form of reimbursement, much to Baleson’s relief. They asked a few questions, with repeated information as Lemmy asked the same questions Gwaiyu did. She was eating and missed that part. They learned that the girl, Aleena, was the adopted daughter of local innkeepers and that one man was supposed to be on watch with Mathusala (the last watchman to go missing) but he never showed for his post.

They mapped out the town and chose the most effective route – the inn, the chapel to Iomedae then the home (the later two being places Alec the no-show guardsman frequented), and finally the guard stations. They learned that Aleena’s parents, the Mops, were not the most loving and that they thought she must have run away. Elmer enjoyed their ‘mop swill’ though. They also learned that Alec was a raging alcoholic and only worked at the chapel because he thought the priestess was pretty. They found Alec and confirmed that he was simply a drunken loser that overslept. Through their information gathering they had also discovered that Thuldrin Kreed, Gavel of the Lumber Consortium and virtual owner of Falcon’s Hollow, had a dislike for the sheriff as did Payden “Pay Day” Teedum, his tax collector and personal body guard. The sheriff only got elected to his position after standing up to the tax collector and quitting the consortium. The people liked him as a sort of representative of the common folk.

They also staked out the path the missing guards took and visited their guardhouse on the western end of town. They discovered some faint tracks thanks to Elmer’s keen eyes and Lemmywinks scouting skills. It appeared a number of people had simply walked off into the woods beyond the town. Everyone except Gwaiyu noticed the strange musky smell. Lemmy and Balinda decided was a plant odor. Following their tracks a ways into the woods they found what they thought was a game trail due to the stag print in the mud. This did not add up and seemed like a lost cause. Turning back to town it was time for a plan.

Through the course of their investigation the party formed several theories: Gwaiyu suspected that Thuldrin Kreed and his bodyguard plus thugs might have waylaid the volunteers in an effort to lower the sheriff in the people’s eyes. What good would he be if he couldn’t protect them like the consortium could? Elmer agreed with this idea. Lemmy had another idea that some sort of plant creature had lured them into the forest where they disappeared. Both ideas seemed plausible to Balinda. In an effort to catch the culprit, they asked Sheriff Baleson if they could take the night’s watch. He gladly accepted their offer. The plan was simple enough. Balinda would use her disguise and acting skills to pose as a lone watchman handling the western route between the hours of 11pm and 3am just like the man that vanished the night before. She even had a disguise self spell ready to use if anyone got suspicious. The rest of the party hid inside the guard shack ready to pounce if anyone came after her. Elmer even chopped a hole in the wall so he could have a “peekin’ hole” in the direction of the forest. Unfortunately for him, the time when he was cutting the hole was the same time someone had decided to sneak up on the guard shack. A figure was watching him through his peephole so he alerted his companions and they rushed to exit the shack and apprehend them. It was dark out and only Gwaiyu could see clearly. When Elmer and Lemmy threw open the door a large man with an earthbreaker stood ready to swing. He narrowly missed them. The party called to Balinda who was marching away at the time and leapt into action. They quickly realized there were a group of thugs outside the shack, four in all. Gwaiyu gave him a cursed touch and Lemmy dazed the big man with her magic while Elmer darted past them taking a slash to the side. One of the thugs struck a torch and Gwaiyu used his prayers to gain a better vantage point without drawing similar attacks. The fight was on and Balinda rushed back to join them despite the thugs shouts for her to stay back and stay out of the way. Lemmy color-sprayed the men and one dropped unconscious but the others resisted. Gwaiyu was starting to doubt if they were the ones responsible. Elmer and Gwaiyu were trading blows with the men when a voice cut through the night, coming from the woods. It was a woman’s voice and it cried for help. “Help me! Please hurry! Come and help me!” Everyone felt the power behind the voice tug at their minds. Gwaiyu, Elmer and Lemmywinks resisted that pull but all three of the standing thugs, Balinda and even Luko did not. They all rushed off heedlessly into the dark woods to help the woman in distress. Realizing foul magic was at work but unable to identify it, the three in control of their senses chose to follow at a safe distance keeping the torch bearing thugs plus Balinda in sight.

They crept into forest with Gwaiyu trying to catch up to Balinda to talk her out of this madness. His words had little effect. She needed to help this mystery woman. Elmer’s keen eyes caught sight of something large moving through the foliage toward him. Lemmy saw the shape too and called a warning as she conjured magical light. Elmer readied his weapon. Gwaiyu was the only one that did not see it but he heard his companions warnigns as it charged him and took a nasty bite out of him. The creature was a bizarre mix of badger, stag and wolf. It spoke in a deep voice then taunted them in that woman’s voice that called out from the woods. Lemmy identified it as a Leucrotta, a dangerous beast that was both intelligent and cruel and able to lure people away with its mimicry magic. Gwaiyu finally smelled that musky smell coming from the creature, some kind of fungal smell. Elmer and Lemmy joined Gwaiyu in pressing the attack on the creature. It proved a sturdy opponent, taking several solid blows and delivering its own. Elmer felt the brunt of those attacks and was soon warning them that he could not keep up this exchange for long. Gwaiyu turned the tables on the beast by touching it repeatedly and debilitating it with his God’s divine gifts. He caused its eyes to cloud up and then cursed its attacks and resistances to weaken. That plus several good hits from them caused it to rethink its advantage and flee into the dark forest. Gwaiyu would not see it escape so easily. He dug his hooves into the ground and charged. With speed of his demonic birthright and darkvision to spot it he managed to deliver another serious blow with his morning star. It was not quite enough and the leucrotta raced off into the forest calling for its enspelled victims to follow.

The party paused briefly to regroup and let Lemmy catch up. Her tiny legs meant she just wasn’t as fast as the bigger folk. Elmer convinced Gwaiyu to do something he loathed to do – administer magical healing. Then they hurried after the beast which left an easy enough path to follow in its haste. Despite Elmer’s warnings to the contrary, Gwaiyu and Lemmy convinced Balinda and Luko to come with them so they could “find the missing lady”. The thugs went their own way in search of her. They wanted nothing to do with the heroes.

An hour of picking their way through the dark wood brought them to a clearing and a hillock with a cavern. This had to be its lair. Lemmy used her small stature and stealth to creep up to the entrance and peek inside while everyone else waited at the edge of the forest line. That cave sure was dark. She pulled her glowing light stone from her pocket to flash them a signal since no one seemed to see her. That flash caught something else’s attention. A swarm of six tiny bat-sized bug creatures descended on the unsuspecting Halfling. She immediately recognized them as Stirges. Her light stone fell to the ground in the scuffle and everyone could see the giant bugs latching onto her and hungrily drinking her blood. Lemmy screamed for help as her constitution drained away and she went pale. Four of them were stuck to her body feeding. Elmer tried to shoot one with his bow but missed. Lemmy stepped to the side to color spray the two that still circled the area and one fell unconscious. Gwaiyu dug in his hooves and charged the other flying one, swatting it out of the air dead. Balinda moved up and then color sprayed Lemmy at her request. Luckily she resisted the spell and the stirges did not. They fell to the ground around the half dead Halfling. Lemmy swooned dramatically (though everyone could tell it was for effect – she was no actress). Elmer collected his sword and put away his bow then joined them just as he watched a familiar face burst from the darkness of the cavern entrance. The leucrotta snapped its jaws at Gwaiyu but missed. Balinda conjured an illusion of one of the thugs from earlier, the big guy, and had him charge up to support Gwaiyu and Elmer. The leucrotta fell for the ruse and snapped at the illusion. Gwaiyu called upon his divine magic as the leucrotta pulled back into the cavern, blinding it permanently. Then Elemer put it down once and for all. But it did call back into the cave as it was dying. Lemmy crawled away then stood and with Balinda’s help began crushing the unconscious stirges. Elemer squished one too. But other things began to come from the tunnels requiring his attention.

A gnoll stepped out and Gwaiyu engaged it. Elmer joined his side and they pushed the dog man back into the cave before dropping him to the ground. It howled and other howls sounded. Soon other gnolls appeared. A raging female with a heavy flail, an odd looking one with a strange weapon and then more. Five more gnolls in all crowded the tunnels as the oni-blooded priest and the human fighter tried to hold them back. Lemmy was all but dead, her constitution drained away by the stirges so she kept her distance and weakly fired into the fray missing more often than hitting. Balinda stayed back with an illusion ready should they decide to flee. Both Gwaiyu and Elmer were having a hard time hitting then the blows started to land. The brawny female gnoll batted Gwaiyu. Elmer paid her back by leveling their leader, the raging female, with one clean and powerful blow – impressive. Her mate, the flind, stepped up and yanked Gwaiyu’s weapon away with his flind bar. Another big gnoll wielding a nice-looking bastard sword planted it in Elmer’s shoulder then one with a scorpion whip scored a critical hit right between the bumpkin fighter’s eyes sending him reeling. Elemer let Gwaiyu know it was time to run. Something faint caught his ears but he ignored it. He could drink those nightmares away later. They planned a withdrawal and Balinda created waves of fire to block the exit. Lemmy was already running for the woods, wheezing and coughing from exhaustion. She knew she needed a head start.

As Gwaiyu exited the cavern he too heard the faint cry for help. A woman’s voice pleading from deeper in the caves for someone to save her. Aleena …. it must be Aleena. Gwaiyu regretted his decision immediately. He could not leave any victims to the wrath of these creatures. The whip gnoll saw through the illusion and gave chase. As he passed Balinda she cracked him over the head with her staff and he fell unmoving. The flind ignored the illusion and charged Balinda. Her snatched her staff away with his flind bar. Elmer urged them all to run, Lemmy was already hobbling away into the woods. But Gwaiyu turned back to help Balinda and he could not leave any captives. It just wasn’t right. Hearing the change of plans, Elmer sighed and drew his bow while Lemmy hobbled back with her sling-staff ready. Gwaiyu, having lost his weapon, resorted to something else he loathed, his demonic tusks. He lunged at the flind and caught its throat in his teeth, tearing it from the creature’s body in a spray of gore and blood. Everyone paused in shock at the gruesome sight , especially Gwaiyu who called for Balinda to “clean it off” quickly. The mage did not hesitate, prestidigitation wiped away the blood and ichor from his face. This was definitely something they would not talk about. The tides had turned. The fire illusion fizzled without Balinda’s concentration but the gnolls realized they were outnumbered. The remaining two fled into the forest taking pot shots from Elmer and Lemmy.

Gwaiyu led the way in search of the captives. They found Aleena in shackles as well as her lover Mathusala, though the man was unconscious. The other three missing guards, Tommy, Bobby and James, were here too, but they were not so lucky. All three were already dead. The party took the time to heal what little they could to get the guard walking and search the lair plus bodies for valuables. They also found a vat of mushroom and plant pultice, the strange musky smell. Upon closer examination Balinda used her alchemy skills (she studied under an alchemist once) to identify it as some kind of ointment they probably used to cover their scent from the stirges. They then returned with the freed captives and received a reward from the Sheriff and townies of a small amount of gold plus plenty of praise. In the end everyone was on the same side with the missing people. Kreed was actually trying to protect the town with his thugs though things did not play out so well.

Treasure:

1 Heavy Flail
Potion of cure moderate wounds (2d8
3)
Claws of the ice bear

Elmer, Lemmy, Gwaiyu & Balinda each earned 1,450 xp

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The Job 2
The Bee n Bee

From Lemmywink’s Journal:

We’ve been hiding in the cellar for two days. The rest of the bees returned we have been down here ever since. Elmer was almost dead. We tried to first aid but nothing helped. We needed a whole day for Gwaiyu to apply his healing magic and use the enchanted bandages. Tomorrow we plan on going out with Color Sprays blazing and take out the rest of the hive.

I’m going to start a game of Wyvern’s Race now.


Our plan worked! We came out of the cellar and Elmer and Gwaiyu were stung and poisoned immediately. Can you imagine? Its like they didn’t listen to the plan at all.

So to make a long story short, there were ten bees repairing the hive, closing holes, removing bodies, and so on. Most of those were injured from the day before when they busted back into the hive while we shot at them. Between our protective magic, their injuries and a couple of Color Sprays the fight was not nearly as troublesome as the day before. After killing those ten we ambushed the others as the returned. What a day!

We are going to have a lot of honey to sell and even some royal jelly. Score! Now we will be able to rent a place in town. Our welcome is wearing a little thin.

XP: 2,400 each

16 Giant bumblebees killed

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The Job
The Bee n Bee

Falcon’s Hollow rejoiced in the decoction Laurel prepared from the rare ingredients retreived from Darkmoon Vale. The six of them were heroes. Different families put them up for the night as the townsfolk healed.

Lemmy took a job with Laurel helping to brew and learn about different herbs. The unused and dilapidated outdoor stage caught Belinda’s eye. The actress chased away the spiderwebs and fall leaves and started giving impromptu solo performances from The Marriage of Tremior. The Mayor realized the potential and advertised several shows. Sinya prepared a hypnotist act and the Mayor was really excited and told her absolutely, but first she could collect tickets and seat people. She’d be able to do her act another time. The rustic townsfolk had a habit of forgetting Elmer was one of the heroes. He had a tendency to blend in. His gout had gotten worse and his right big toe looked like an angry plum so he spent most of his time with his foot out for show, the big toe covered in one of Laurel’s smelly unguents. Most people had a hard time accepting Gwaiyu at first but they slowly came around. Then the town cleric of Iomedea, Lady Cirthanna, found him and their theological discussions caused people to lose interest. The cleric was not held in high esteem after being useless in ending the Blackscour Taint. The fact that this exotic second holy man also couldn’t help was not lost on them.

Between their various day jobs and gout, the group wasn’t going anywhere and the days quickly turned to weeks. Their celebrity had been wearing off but the hardscrabble frontier folk had grown on them. They began to wonder what they should do for winter when they were approached about a level appropriate job.

A growing crowd led a haggard man to them His name was Johnny. He begged them for help with his inn on the River Foam. He had been away all season in Oldfen earning hard currency to fix the dilapidated structure. He returned to find it inhabited by a nest of giant bumblebees. Please help. He didn’t have enough money to make it worth their time but they could have all the honey inside and it was sure to fetch a good price. It turns out the Lemmywinks was something of an expert on bumblebees and she filled them in on the details. About then Laurel arrived and offered to pay good money for any Royal Jelly inside. Honey might only retail for 6gp/lb hereabouts but Royal Jelly was worth 300 gp due to its curative powers. Lemmywinks assured him that they would help.

From Lemmywink’s journal:
We left that evening after dinner and slept a little off the trail in the gorge. The rapids were very loud but we still heard some wolves howling in the distance. The next day with finished the hike to Johnny’s inn. We watched the giant bees coming and going all day. We decided to wait the whole next day too so we could count the bees. There were 18 and they were leaving from the upper story out of the north facing wall.

The next day we put our plan into action. Johnny stayed behind in our observation post and the rest of us walked down to the building after the bees left. One of the giant bumblebees was perched on the roof watching but it didn’t stop us. The front door was missing and the first floor was messed up. Once we got inside the buzzing and humming changed some. I took point and snuck over to the stairs. A pair of bees intercepted us. The fight started. Before I knew it a 5 foot bee stung me and shot me with poison. The guard bee outside came in through the front door and attacked Belinda while the rest of us fought them off from in front. It was rough there for a little bit but Color Spray knocks them unconscious. I was stung again. Balinda created some illusory fog but it confused Elmer as much as the insects. Eventually we killed the six bees that came downstairs.

We crept upstairs which was vacant except for the queen. The upstairs was chewed up and the rooms converted into honeycomb cells. Wax structures hung from the dilapidated ceiling. Down the hall a bloated bee shifted her bulk in response to the intrusion. Elmer charged down the hall and got stung pretty bad. He was poisoned too. Balinda magicked up an illusion wall but the queen moved away and Elmer had to step through. Gwaiyu ran up and healed some of Elmer’s damage. I don’t know why Gwaiyu ignored me. I had just asked for the same thing and I was almost dead.

Anyway we all ran up. Elmer seemed to have more injuries than before. The queen bee was squeezing down the hall toward the opening in the wall. Elmer was swinging and she was stinging. He looked ready to drop. I sent a few more sling bullets into her and Gwaiyu swung a few times.

She tried to sting again and then lurched into the hole in the way. Elmer charged and planted his greatsword into her. The queen died halfway out of the exit hole.

bumblebee_attack.jpg
Lemmy’s drawing of Elmer and Gwaiyu during the bumblebee fight

XP: 1,300 each

6 Giant bumblebees killed
1 Giant queen bumblebee killed

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Hollow's Last Hope (Part 2)
root and mushrooms

From Lemmywink’s Journal:

Elmer and Gwaiyu surprised us by stumbling into the grove tonight. They didn’t stay in Oldfen after all and have been trying to catch us this whole time. Good thing too because Balinda and Sinya were out cold and Juno wasn’t much better. Gwaiyu healed us all up. Even my little cut was gone.

Nothing bothered us that night. In the morning we were getting ready to leave and Sinya and Juno gave us the bad news. She didn’t feel right bringing her freed slave, Juno, into such danger. They would wait here for us to return this way. That didn’t sound like a great plan to me but whatever.

The rest of us left for Ulizmila’s cottage. We didn’t have much of a description or directions and it didn’t seem too likely but we managed to run into it. It looked abandoned except for a bear. It was a nastly little mud and twig hut in the middle of an overgrown glade. We snuck around but the bear kept snorting at us. Finally Balinda scared it off with a fire illusion and started scanning for magic auras. She found a bunch! The old lady never answered her door so Elmer busted it in. How rude! We were here to ask for help finding the pickled root we needed but he busted right on in. So we started snooping. Then all heck broke loose when Balinda picked up a jar from a shelf. The rusty cauldron in the middle of the room came to life and jumped on her head! It started swallowing her but somehow she slipped free. We fought back and it slammed into us or tried to swallow. It was probably funny to watch if it wasn’t happening to you. We (actually Elmer) finally knocked enough holes into it that it stopped. Well after that we ransacked the place. She hadn’t been there in a long time so we took anything that was magic or looked valuable. I’m a little ashamed thinking back to it but she’s probably dead so we aren’t really stealing. Anyway we got bunch of stuff including the special root.

Next we took some game trails west until we exited the woods. Droskar’s Crag rose up above us. It’s the biggest thing ever and its lower slopes are covered in dwarven ruins. We were interested in an old monastery. Another group of adventurers had been through the area before so it shouldn’t be too dangerous. We hiked uphill through the scrub and light forest. Finally we got to the ruins late in the day.

Well to make a long story short, the ruins weren’t empty. There was a spider in a tower that webbed Gwaiyu before we killed it. Then there was a bat swarm. Then two wolves. The a big nasty worg called Graypelt. He was a little tougher but we did what needed to be done. And in his lair we found almost enough ironbloom mushrooms. The last one we needed was down the hall.

And that’s it. We still had to walk back but our mission was completed.

We did make it back to town and Laurel was able to make medicine to help the sick people with blackscour taint!

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