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