Farlon drew out his flint and tinder above the oil he had spread out in front of them, switching back to shouting in Bugbear. Before Farlon could take any action, Cham leapt over the liquid to attack the large humanoids bearing down upon them and their new goat friend. He bravely hacked away at the middle of their advancing line.
Link, from the cover of the trees, joined
the fray with their bow. Toki circled around, splitting his foes attention. The
troupe’s adversaries seemed to take exception to being hacked and shot at, returning
the favor by striking at various party members with their enormous clubs. BB ran
from the cover of the trees, hurling a dagger into an adversary. Cham took
several hits from their opponents and was felled, much to the horror of his companions.
The troupe continued to whittle down their adversaries, with Link finally killing one of the large humanoids using his bow. Seeing that Lady Luck was not on their side in this fight, two of the remaining three enemies turned and ran. They would rather live to fight another day. The remaining foe was quickly felled, finished off with a killing stroke from Toki.
Poking through the fallen foes carrying sacks, BB found many things. The parchment they used to light a fire, over which they cooked a giant rat from one of the sacks. Everything else was discarded, such as a book they couldn’t read and a troll arm they didn’t want to eat. Off to the side, Farlon and Naarvi each butchered one of the dead adversaries, collecting one heart a piece. Farlon also gathered blood in his temporarily empty oil flask.
BB, Link, and Farlon looted the corpse of their slaughtered companion, stripping it of everything of value before the party buried the body. Farlon and Naarvi each took sips of the foes gathered blood, pouring out a similar sip to honor the dead party member. The mangled enemies the party left where they had been taken apart, staining the hillside.
BB’s shield had splintered in the fight, and they spent part of the evening fashioning Cham’s breastplate into the beginnings of a new shield. They estimated that it would take roughly two weeks of work in camp every evening to make themselves a new shield from this material. They bedded down in a tree, while the rest of the troupe found or made shelter under the cover of the trees. The goat wandered off on its own.
Seeking their fortunes, adventures, or more arcane things the
adventuring troupe coalesced on the road in the Holding of Henovell. There was
much debate as to where the troupe would head, but none were inclined to strike
out on their own. As Bimbo Baggins, known as BB put it, “I didn’t join you all to
go there by myself.”
After much debate, but little actual dissent, the troupe decided to investigate rumors of a red dragon flying above the mountains to the northeast. The group could not agree on the approach they would take once they actually reached the dragon: seeking friendship, stealing treasure, killing the dragon to eat its heart. Plans were suggested and discarded with abandon.
Upon the road much was discussed. A boisterous topic of conversation was joining various cults. Several of the members of the party loudly proclaimed their enthusiasm to join, when they were able.
And so it was that the troupe found themselves in the hills
above the headwaters of The Gleam, the main tributary to the Coral River. The
tracks they traveled on dwindled, and then dwindled further. On the fifth day of
Week 24, they came upon a goat and El-Nhuilna,
known as El, decided to try and be friends.
Finding that she could not
actually speak with the goat, she settled for having a steed. Upon attaching
herself to the goat’s back, however, she discovered that a goat’s startled gait
was a bit more rocky than she had anticipated. Given that disappointment, she
gallantly allowed Friend Link d’In to carry her once again.
About this time, the troupe noticed four humanoid creatures coming
towards them over the hill from the east, the way they had come. Each of the creatures
was much larger than any of the party members, and each carried an enormous
sack. The creatures approached the party as the troupe discussed things among
When the creatures had drawn too close for BB’s comfort, the
free goblin retreated to a nearby copse of trees to make a stand. El, Link, and
Naarvi followed suite, hustling slightly further into the copse than BB. Farlon,
on the other hand, drew a line in the dry grass at their feet with oil. The
party members tried in several languages to converse with the looming, gangly humanoids.
The only language that seemed to cause a reaction was Bugbear, to which they responded
by pausing cautiously to look about.
Creeping closer, ignoring the burble of Goblin as Farlon tried a new language, the hulking humanoids had nearly reached Farlon, Cham, and Toki at the oil slick.
The troupe spent the morning in the farmhouse, discussing
their next course of action. Stad, Fave, Brosin, and Tulver did farm chores
while Jan worked in the kitchen. Hearing that the chickens laid a large amount of
eggs, Braum asked that they lay the eggs into a salt brine to make salted eggs
to sell alongside the pickled eggs at the eight-day farmer’s market.
Fela sent her last homing pigeon back to Gretchen, asking
her to find the owners of the gold mine. She signed her letter “hoping to pay
you back sooner”. On the subject of homing pigeons, the troupe decided they
would like to have some that return to the farm. They ask Brosin to build a pigeon
Setting out in the early afternoon towards the gold mine,
the troupe met farmwife Tela on the road. She was wandering listlessly, in a
generally easternly direction. Extracting her story through the prickly thorns
of her suspicion and ennui, they learned that her farm burned to the ground
recently and she was the sole survivor. Offering her aid, the group takes her
in their wagon to the farm of their neighbor Ned Killigun. Ned had heard of her
troubles, and agreed to watch after her for a time.
The troupe took the opportunity to tell Ned of the language
exchange they have begun on their farm, and invited him over to learn languages
and to teach any skills he felt like sharing. They also agreed to trade his cow’s
butter and sweet cream for their eggs.
Braum had been accused of being a dandy by Tela on the road,
and that was the topic of much discussion at the troupe’s farm that evening. “We’re
dandy vigilantes,” Lucia laughs.
As the troupe prepares to sets out on the morning of
second-day, discussion turns to renaming the farm. It isn’t Old Man Stribe’s
farm anymore, after all. Olg suggests Braummune, to which only Braum objects.
That was the last that Stad, Fave, Brosin, Tulver, and Jan heard from the troupe for a long, long time.
Date: Fifth-day of Week 24, Day 235 of Year 441 of the Modern Age
Submitted to Head Dean Umberto of the Gleaming Springs Colloquium
Compiled by Dean Constance Lanalin, Dean of Alchemy, from first-hand experience, as well as interviews with George of the Association of Alchemy, James of the Association of Alchemy, Elrich of the Foundation of Chemistry, Mahe of the Cleric’s Seminary, and Dean Falin Disson, Dean of Clerics.
At approximately 4 am on forth-day of Week 24, a party comprised of at least three humans and a halfling brought their train of riding animals, pack animals, and a covered wagon onto the Colloquium grounds and spoke with Elrich in the doorway of Chemistry. They discussed the Spring, a miracle of the Daughter of Spring. Elrich marked several other holy sites dedicated to the Five Gods pantheon on their map, at their request.
They then requested information on the student who temporarily turned the water of the Spring into a sleeping potion. Violating the order not to discuss this student, Elrich directed them to Alchemy. He has been disciplined accordingly.
The group then entered the Alchemy building, ambushing George. George testifies that the party also included a man-ape, though he did not recognize him as such initially. When George refused to discuss the student, per Colloquium orders, a human in cleric’s garb declared that he must be the student they were looking for, and the man-ape picked him up by his ankle.
One human stayed in the doorway while the man-ape, carrying George, followed a human and a halfling into the kitchen. The human in the doorway seemed to be enjoying himself greatly, as he was laughing.
George’s screams during this event roused everyone sleeping in Alchemy, including the author of this report. Upon waking I realized that I could hear laughter from an unknown voice, as well as the screaming. I cast a modified Sleep spell towards the sounds downstairs, and we all rushed to the ground floor to see what had transpired.
I first saw that the human who I had faintly heard laughing had been successfully bespelled, and was unconscious in the exterior doorway. Rounding the doorway into the kitchen, I saw what appeared to be a halfling fending off an attacking man-ape with a chair. George was unconscious on the ground, as was another human dressed in plate mail and cleric’s garb.
James was the only one of the six of us in the doorway with enough presence of mind to get off a spell in the tumult. He cast a modified fireball, tightly controlled, and the man-ape was killed. The halfling introduced herself as Lucia, once the chaos had died down.
She told me that she was a hunter, and had been tracking this man-ape. She offered to hunt any monsters that had been troubling us at the Colloquium. She identified the human in armor as her scribe and cleric, who gave the dead last rights. She apologized for the laughing man in the foyer, explaining that he was not all together well in his mind. She mentioned that she was setting up a farmer college, and would like to discuss what resources we might be able to provide them, at a later date.
I assured her, when asked, that the sleep spell would wear off in less than a day. We then helped her load the man-ape’s body into the covered wagon, along with her two sleeping fellows. In the wagon I saw beasts of war, as well as a very curious large silver ball, and another human. I was under the impression they intended to leave the Colloquium grounds.
The group, now comprised of a human and a halfling, then apparently spoke to Mahe in the doorway to the Cleric’s Seminary. When she tried to turn them away with the information that there was no clinic that day, they insisted on speaking to someone else. Dean Falin Disson was awoken, and spoke with them. They asked her to resurrect one of their party. She asked what they offer in trade for the spell. The human woman offered her 2 gold nuggets. When Dean Falin suggested instead to trade magic for magic and that they might pay with the magical sword the human was holding, the stranger countered with an offer of 16 pieces of gold ore. Not coming to an agreement, the group left in their covered wagon. They left Dean Falin with a single piece of gold ore, in an attempt to bribe her into silence.
Upon waking, George’s story clearly showed at least some of Lucia’s tale to be false. She could not have been hunting the man-ape, as he was a member of her party. How many of the other details in her story were also lies is unclear. They were certainly interested in the sleeping potion student, as many others have been. What their other plans may have been, I cannot say.
My recommendation, Head Dean Umberto, is that we institute a policy of higher security until the world forgets about what happened to the Spring. It is clear that we will continue to be harassed by outsiders. I suggest doubling the morning breakfast shift and late night shifts, so that no one is ever working alone. I also suggest we set up a night patrol. It has always been dismissed as unnecessary in the past, but this assault illustrates that, at least for a time, we must offer more formalized protection for our students. I cannot express my feelings on this strongly enough. It is our duty to our students to keep them safe while they are in our charge.
The rain had let up overnight, but the roads were muddy and miserable. Olg asked Fave, Stad, Brosin, and Tulver to focus on building fences that will keep the goats in, as the fieldstone fences for cows are not goat-proof. Kelvyn collected 52 eggs from the chickens, and spent the morning pickling 26 of them.
Despite the mud on the roads, Olg and Kelvyn set out for Hullbeck. They load up the wagon, and take the magic hilt with them in hopes that the Sage will be able to give them some clues about it.
The small troupe made it to Gretchen’s, where they stopped for the night. Olg and Kelvyn made a bee-line for the bar, each ordering a drink. Kelvyn settled in to eavesdrop on the conversations around him as Olg went to talk to Gretchen.
“I come bearing the farm report,” he tells her. “There’s 50-some odd chickens or some such number and we have 6 dairy goats that will be ready to dairy next year. The fanciest dairy goats you’ve ever seen. They have much hair. Angora, or something… We’ve got three goblin farmworkers that are tending to the day to day, and tending to the future….We’re making a Hullbeck run…Gotta supplement the farm income so we can have resources.”
Then the discussion moved on the sleeping arrangements for the pair of adventurers for the night. The troupe had in the past always worked for their room and board. Given Mugi’s popularity on the one night that he took up the world’s oldest profession, Gretchen asked if Olg was interested in trying prostitution for a night.
“I won’t bathe for that,” came the immediate reply. “I’ve already taken a dip in the lake twice this week. That kind of cleanliness sticks around.”
While Olg and Gretchen talk, Kelvyn chatted up the bartender. He asks after the apprentice that had gained significant local notoriety by turning the river into a sleeping potion that worked upon mere skin contact. Kelvyn seemed surprised to learn that the apprentice hadn’t run off, and was still ensconced with their master at the Gleaming Spring.
Addressing the question of lodging, Kelvyn paid 3 gold pieces to have a room to himself. Despite the offer of work, Olg chose to sleep outside in the wagon with his bear.
The troupe traveled uneventfully the next day to the main road and camped by the hot springs overnight. Dawn of fifth-day found them traveling towards Hullbeck, determined to make the long journey in a single day.
They arrived in Hullbeck quite late, but decide to “roll by” Sage Onida’s tower just in case her door was open. Lady Luck seemed to be smiling on them, for Onida was open for business.
Olg was rather taken aback to be reminded that Onida’s fee for acting as a group’s sage was 2,000 gold pieces a month. She was firm that she would not answer questions about magical devices or anything else for free.
After thinking for a bit, she suggested that she could test spells on the pair of them, and would identify one item per spell tested. With a rash lack of reluctance, Kelvyn and Olg agreed to this deal.
Kelvyn went first. Onida told him to let her know if anything burned, tingled, or went numb. She assured him that the itching wouldn’t drive him mad. Probably.
Onida concentrated on Kelvyn for a moment, and he began to glow. When the glow faded, he was covered from head to toe in tiny, iridescent golden scales.
“You look like one of our goats, but less fuzzy,” Olg informed him. “Now you’ll be easy to spot at night.”
“I’ll be easy to look at,” Kelvyn countered, looking at the shimmering scales.
Olg went next, and Onida’s concentration had no effect he could detect. He didn’t glow, burst in to flame, or lose his shadow. Onida led them outside of town, and told him to use a breath attack out into the field in front of them.
Having no experience either casting magic or using a breath attack, this was an instruction that Olg found difficult to complete. Finally Onida smacked him on the back of the head, and his breath weapon went off on his surprised outbreath.
It created a beautiful cloud, but not beautiful in the way that Kelvyn’s new scales were beautiful. It was shiveringly dark, and cold. The sort of beauty that was best seen from far away.
When he asked how to do it again, Olg learned that it was a one time use spell attack. Onida, in turn, learned that Olg’s tongue and jaw still worked after using that breath weapon. She told them both to let her know if they noticed any odd or unpleasant sensations, and that Kelvyn should mostly be back to his old skin type by morning.
Olg tried to hit Kelvyn to test out the effect of the scales. He found that he couldn’t land a blow.
Back at Onida’s tower, she whisked the sword hilt upstairs for analysis. After quite a while had passed, she came back down the stairs and informed them that they had found a magic fire sword dedicated to an old god that had fallen out of favor with the people. It could be activated by calling the name of the god, Ἥφαιστος and a blade made of fire would appear.
He was a god of metalworking, she added. Some said he dated from back before the world burned, though the body of scholarship dedicated to him was not large. To Kelvyn, Onida added that he should think of any remaining scale patches as beauty marks in the coming days. Or at worst, a harmless and pretty pox.
Kelvyn and Olg both slept in the wagon, saving the gold an innkeeper would have charged. Sixth-day dawned hot and bright, much to Olg’s displeasure. He spent the day under the cover of the wagon, making a holster for the magic sword from leather.
Kelvyn, on the other hand, sought out sociable work. He heard in town that Farmer Johnston was mucking out his pig fields after the fall slaughter to prepare for going in to winter. He walked out to the farm, and offered Farmer Johnston a hand with the tedious and dirty chore. In return, at the end of the day the farmer gave him a very generously cut chain of good pork sausages. That evening Olg slept in the cart once again, while Kelvyn stayed at an inn with bathing facilities.
Seventh-day dawned misty. Neither sensed anything lurking in the mist, but they distrusted it nonetheless. They spent the day indoors, at the local bar. They paced each other, each drinking 10 beers over the course of a day. Going by Onida’s again, they found that her door was closed.
That evening both decided to sleep in the wagon, with a lantern burning to keep the mist at bay. Kelvyn spent the night terrified, seeing shadows in the mist. Olg took watch all night. Neither got any rest to speak of.
As dawn came, the mist dissipated. Onida’s door was still closed. Both fall into exhausted doses and slept away a beautiful sunny day. That evening they tried Onida’s one last time, but her door was still closed.
They decided the spend the night of eighth-day traveling partway back to the farm. On the way they passed two goblin smiths arguing over ownership of a silver hammer, while heading in the direction of Hullbeck (courtesy of Spine Wrinkle). Olg and Kelvyn were soon drawn into their debate as one of the goblins exclaimed that even strangers on the road could see that the hammer was rightfully his.
Asking for more information, the adventurers discovered that the goblins were siblings, with businesses set up immediately next to each other. (The goblin’s personalities were inspired heavily by the Chengelpet brothers in “The Last Colony” by John Scalzi.) The hammer had been left to them in the will of their eldest brother.
The will unfortunately no longer existed, because when they could not agree on the interpretation of the wording, one of them threw the document into the fire in a fit of rage. They had traveled to the wise master at the Gleaming Spring to ask him to solve their dispute, but had been turned away.
Olg and Kelvyn found it damning that one threw the document in the fire, and felt the silver hammer should go to the other sibling. When the goblins largely ignored the adventurer’s decision and continued their squabble unabated Kelvyn told them, “We gave you our judgment. Believe us or don’t. You two have a lovely evening.”
“For a fee, we also do judgment enforcement,” Olg calls after the still arguing goblins as they parted ways.
The quiet cycle of camping in the wagon and traveling continued, until the troupe was jolted out of their relaxation midmorning on tenth-day, shortly before they reached Gretchen’s. They surprised a giant spider in a field near the road. Its bulbous black body was shiny in the sunlight.
Thinking quickly, Kelvyn dashed a flask of oil at the spider’s feet. Olg ran up to it, shouting Ἥφαιστος as he drew the magic sword, slashing the creature and setting the oil at its feet aflame. The spider was dead before it could even quite turn around, so great was its surprise.
As any good adventurer does, Olg immediately began butchering the great beast. He harvested the venom sack from the head, careful not to get cut and accidentally poison himself. He cut apart the abdomen to gather the web sack and spinnerets. He harvested the meat from the slain foe and he and Kelvyn had an impromptu feast, sharing out the meat with their war beasts.
The rest of the journey to the farm went uneventfully. They had been away for seven days, and found that in their absence Mugi has been hard at work. He finished the goat fences with Stad, Fave, Brosin, and Tulver.
Then Mugi did the fall planting in the garden behind the farmhouse, sowing amaranth and building special cedar growing boxes for a crop of potatoes. He and the others also tilled up one of the fields that would no longer be needed for cows, and had just finished sowing winter wheat.
The calendar of Adralel is circular. Everyone agrees that there are 10 days in a week, 50 weeks in a year and thus 500 days in a year. Everyone agrees that there are 12 holidays spread more or less equidistant around the course of the year. That, however, is where general agreement stops.
The way in which a community thinks about how the year is divided often reflects their lifestyle. For instance, many farmers divide the year into Waxing Days and Waning Days. Waxing begins on Day 418, the Lean Day of Thanks, while Waning begins on Day 68, the Day of Plenty. Their year is tied to the soil.
A cleric or mage may think of the year in terms of magic and energies, dividing the year into before the Summer Solstice on Day 126 and after the Summer Solstice. Urbanites, keeping the same schedule all year regardless of season, often follow the calendar more literally, marking the new year on Day 1 and celebrating the halfway point on Day 251 at the Death of the Year holiday.
Farmers began arriving in the light before dawn to set up their wares. Fave, Brosin, and Tulver also turned up, with Julio the mule pulling a cart full of carefully packed eggs in straw-filled crates. The other farmers eyed Fave the goblin uneasily, but continued setting up.
Lucia, Braum, and Olg strolled through the rapidly filling farmer’s market, noting items of interest. They learned that there are milk goats for sale, and that a goat can produce up to a gallon of milk a day. The eager salesman assured them that goats can lactate for up to 420 days a year, which made them a phenomenal investment. He had Landrace goats for sale, which were of note both for their superior milk production and their wonderful fiber production.
The troupe was interested, but their farm boys told them there was another goat seller of superior quality that was strangely absent at the market today. Asking around, the troupe learned that he had stayed home to gather his goats back up after something fell out of the sky, landing in or near the lake at the back of his property. The goats, predictably, had taken impact as excuse to run amock.
Noting that folks seemed too busy rubbernecking at the troupe’s goblin coworker to buy any eggs, Braum decided to give the crowd something else to look at. Buying sheep butter, leaks, onions, chives, and garlic, Braum began to cook eggs.
There weren’t any other meals being prepared in front of the crowd, and the smell drew people in. Just as Braum had hoped, buying omelets to order from him had broken the ice for most of the customers with Fave the goblin. Farmers were buying and bartering for their eggs almost immediately.
Continuing to circulate in the market, Lucia and Olg overheard an old human man saying that his weather toe was predicting a storm in the next half-week. When they mentioned this to their farm boys, Brosin and Tulver immediately launched into gossip about Willy and his weather toe, knowing exactly who the two adventurers were speaking of.
“I think he’s a witch and calls those storms just so he can feel important,” Tulver grumbled.
Around noon the farmer’s market was slowing down. The party agreed to go their separate ways, with Fave and the boys taking Julio the mule back to the farm to make charcoal and the troupe going to investigate the possible meteor at Karl’s goat farm.
Around dinner time the troupe arrived as what seems to be Karl’s farm, though no one was in sight. Not wanting to startle anyone or give the impression of sneaking, the troupe decides to sing as they rode up the winding lane to the farmhouse.
“Hi ho, hi ho…We’ve come to see your goats, yo,” Lucia began.
“Have you some goats for me to buy? Have you set some wool to dye?” Braum continued.
“What would you like to trade? We’re all looking to get laid,” Olg joins in, perhaps thinking about Gretchen’s.
“On the road for coin and love, until we travel the roads above,” Braum sung in reply, easily shifting to accommodate the new theme.
“Here we are on a tale of woe, all because of a weather toe,” Lucia finished.
When the troupe reached the house, they found that it was presently deserted. Their couplets, passed back and forth one to another as they sang, had been heard by no one but themselves.
Following the freshest tracks coming out of the back of the house, the troupe traveled over a hill, towards the back of the property. After traveling over several such rolling hills, they came upon a family, strung out in a line, herding a number of goats in front of them. The troupe joined the line, with a nod of thanks from the adults.
Reaching the farm buildings once again, they were able to make a firm count of the goats. The troupe and farm family had managed to wrangle 18 of the missing animals. The family was very appreciative of the help the troupe volunteered, and Karl was happy to tell them about the meteor that landed in the lake a few nights back.
The farm family invited the troupe to join them for dinner. Braum volunteered their remaining leeks, garlic, and chives for the meal. Braum then spent the last hour of daylight chopping firewood for the family.
After dark, Karl showed the adventurers where he thought the meteor came down into the shallow side of the lake. Casting Detect Magic into the water, Braum saw a glow on the lake bottom. The party estimates that it may be 40 feet down to the glowing item.
Olg revealed that he was a master swimmer, and dove into the water with one end of a long rope clutched in his hand. Olg found a sword hilt to be the glowing object. He tied the end of the rope to it, and swam back to the surface. He then was able to easily pull the sword hilt out of the lake.
A quick consultation with Karl found that none in his family were swordsmen, going back at least 6 generations. In fact, he did not know of any in the surrounding farms that might be. He bid the adventurers keep what they had found, with his blessing.
The family left the next morning before dawn to comb the other side of the lake for the remaining wayward goats. They were happy for the troupe to accompany them out to the shallow side of the lake. Olg dove with the light of day, to see if there was anything else of interest on the lake bottom. The party reasoned that it was unlikely that the sword hilt was the meteor that spooked the goats.
Walking back with the family after searching the lake bottom once again, the troupe asked about buying goats. Karl offered six of the “beautifully spirited” goats they just rounded up, for a discount. He was willing to let them go for 150 gold, total.
Braum offered the lump of smelted gold worth approximately 17 gold pieces, plus 16 chunks of ore. Karl jokes, “Oh, you want to pay me with more work?” Braum offered an additional 20 gold pieces of actual money, and Karl accepted.
As soon as Braum had offered the ore, Karl had realized that the troupe had succeeded in clearing out the cave-in at the old gold mine. Braum confirmed that they had indeed found the old miner’s brother. What was left of him. Karl wasn’t able to tell them where the old miner was now. The troupe parted from Karl and his family on very good terms, making the long trek back to their own farm.
On the way, Braum tried to coax secrets out of the sword hilt they had found on the lake bottom. “I know you’re magic, sword. We both know you’re special. Are you a sword with a will of your own? If a princess kisses you, will you turn into a prince?”
Partway through the day, the troupe came upon a person stumbling up the road towards them. As they drew closer, it became apparent that they were very, very sick. The troupe swung their wagon as wide around the person as the road would allow, and they passed each other without exchanging a word.
After reaching the farm that evening and locking the goats in the barn, it is decided that the entire party will work on fixing up the barn and house for the next several days, until the storm Willy’s weather toe predicted blows over.
Braum, Olg, Brosin, and Tulver spend tenth-day making boards from the pile of logs in the yard. Lucia, Fave, and Stad focused on making an area in the barn specifically for the goats.
Braum suggested that the party fill their evenings by teaching each other any languages they do not have in common. Braum could teach Draconic, Olg could teach Orc, Stad and Fave could teach Goblin. The group agrees.
Everyone works on the barn on first-day. The work is cut short on second-day when a heavy rainstorm moved in just before noon. Braum spends some time sitting on the porch singing rain songs.
“I’m never going to stop the rain by complaining….”
Olg, Lucia, Stad, Fave, Brosin, and Tulver study language inside. Eventually, Braum joins them.
Caravan guards sit close around a campfire, mist all around them on an otherwise cloudless night. A few flasks make their way around the circle. They talk in low voices, and eye the shifting mist largely obscuring the merchant’s wagons.
“Back before the world burned, I’ve heard there was no marauding mist. The mist was blameless, innocent of danger. When the great lords made terrible magics and devices for their wars on each other, the mist was born from their hate.”
“Well I’ve heard the mist is from another world, creeping in through holes the lords tore in the very fabric of the sky, reaching too far beyond their ken in their lust for power, calling upon power or magic they had no right to. Just like entitled little lordlings now.” The guard turned her head and spit into the mist.
“That’s what I think, too,” another volunteered. “That it comes from another world, I mean. And sometimes it brings things with it! My nan knew someone who stumbled out of the mist. They said they didn’t even recognize the stars anymore. Never could explain rightly where they come from, poor sod.”
“We’ll set two per watch tonight, just like any mist night, in case one a ya takes ta screamin’.” A calm voice cut across the chatter. Everyone nods at the veteran’s words , accepting his edict without protest. He knew his business. “Even better is ta be inside on mist nights, where the maraudin’ mist fears ta go, but I doubt those cozy merchants would invite the likes a us guard to join ’em in their snug wagons.”
The newest addition to the guard troop glanced bleakly at the closest wagon, separated from their fire by the barest tendril of mist. It was plain that indoors was where he would rather be, even at the cost of mockery and laughter from those around the fire. Noticing his discomfort, one of the guards takes up a story teller’s voice.
“The mist holds nameless dread and sharp, thin blades. Folk lost out in the mist, if they’re found at all, are found as corpses. Sometimes they look perfect, without a mark on their bodies. Dead from fear alone, some say. Sometimes they look like badly dressed meat, they have so many cuts all across their flesh. Occasional folk can walk through the mist untouched, and no one knows why. Dangerous trick to try twice, of course. The mist is fickle, and jealous of its secrets. The mist-“
“Shut up, Venric.” The vetran quashes the attempt to further spook the untested guard in a conversational tone of voice. “We don’t need people more riled up than they already are. Nice a you ta volunteer fer middle watch.”
“I had middle watch last night!” Venric exclaimed in outrage. He groaned, already imagining how much harder tomorrow would be after having such fractured sleep two nights in a row. He continued to grumble to anyone who would listen as the guards settled into the bedrolls.
During the night of second-day the party sleeping in the barn was beset by biting bugs. The Goblin King and Braum were able to drive them off with a lit torch, but sleeping in the hay loft had lost its appeal. The party retreated to the living room of the farmhouse, where they spent the rest of the night in peace.
The morning of third-day dawned clear and bright, perfect for farm chores. Kelvyn went out to the chicken coop with the goblins and, using their shared nimbleness, showed them how to slight-of-hand eggs out from under the chickens without getting pecked.
Coming in to catch the end of this explanation, Mugi then showed the goblins how to befriend the chickens and charm the eggs out from under them. All in all, however, the goblins decided they didn’t care much for the chickens and only 18 eggs were collected from a flock of roughly 60 chickens. Perhaps the feeling was mutual.
Afterwards, Scrob the Goblin King and Braum discussed the future. “We would like to make a place where we can foster ideas, spread understanding….We can attract travelers from the main road.” Braum expanded on his vision.
Scrob decided to travel back to the Labyrinth, to explain the farm to the other goblins there. He wasn’t much interested in the chickens, but had taken a liking to one of the farm cats. Braum bid him to take a pair back to the Labyrinth, with a caveat to mind “how fast they can breed”.
Two goblins, Stad and Fave, elected to stay behind and work on the farm. They set to with Lucia after their compatriots leave, cleaning out both the barn and chicken coop with gusto. The adventuring troupe was impressed with the goblin’s enthusiasm, and excited that some of the goblins are buying into their idea. Stad and Fave will stay on and manage the farm while the troupe goes out adventuring.
The troupe promptly set out for Gretchen’s. There, Mugi asked Gretchen to recommend a farming mentor. Gretchen was a little puzzled by the request, and after a pause suggested their neighbor Ned Killigun. She also mentioned that there was a farmer’s market every eighth-day, a few hours west of her establishment.
To avoid paying for rooms that evening, Braum volunteered to entertain the crowd at the bar with stories. He talked of the battle between Erlang Shen and Sun Wukong that raged across the heavens. Long into the night Braum depicted their mighty struggle. The tale concluded as Sun Wukong was forced to serve the king of Heaven, and was bound to a monk headed into the west.
The morning of forth-day the troupe headed over to the Birbeckle’s farm on Gretchen’s recommendation, to see if a few of the older Birbeckle children might be interested in helping out Stad and Fave with the chickens and other farm chores.
The elder Birbeckles were amenable to the idea, and volunteered the middle boys, half-grown teenagers Brosin and Tulver. As a neighborly gift, they also dug up some rhubarb and sent it along with Mugi to be planted. When Brosin and Tulver expressed some skepticism about why a farm needs so many chickens, Olg replied “Chickens aren’t a need. They’re a calling. If you search your soul, you’ll hear a cluck.”
When they arrived back at the farm, Mugi took the gathered chicken manure and plowed it into the garden patch behind the house. He carefully planted the rhubarb in the northeast corner of the garden.
Simultaneously, Braum gathered up Stad, Fave, Brosin, and Tulver. He filled them in on the plan: the troupe was planning to travel to the old caved in gold mine to check it out. In the meantime, the four of them would run the farm.
Brosin was the first to reply, pointing out that they needed a cook. In fact, he continued, his girlfriend Jan is a pretty good cook. Braum okayed Jan the Girlfriend moving in as cook, and gave the group 10 gold pieces to cover any needs or emergencies that arise before the whole party meets up at the egg stand at the eight-day farmer’s market. The troupe decided to leave Legion the pack dog and Julio the mule for farm use while they were away.
The troupe hadn’t make it more than a mile down the road toward the old gold mine when they saw an evil looking storm blowing in from the west. The clouds seemed to glow with light. They hightailed it back to the farm, and settled in to wait out whatever was coming.
Questioning Brosin and Tulver about the apparent firestorm, the troupe heard tales of the spells the mad mage lords inflicted on the world in the last days before the world burned. Some of those spells linger in the world still, the farm boys say, such as the occasional firestorm that sweeps over the area, burning people and animals alike caught outside when it hits.
Kelvyn and Mugi chose to wait it out in the cellar, while the rest of the party sat together in the living room. Kelvyn was at this point the only member of the troop who had not learned any Sign, but Mugi had picked up a few words of Common, so they were able to communicate a bit during their self-enforced closeness.
Braum passed the time with those above ground by telling the story of how three ghosts changed the perception of an old money lender. Ghosts being the main purview of his chosen god, he had many ghost stories.
“The moral of the story is that money and wealth is good, as
long as you do good things with it. And you should always value people and
relationships over material things.”
The morning light of fifth-day showed that the damage of the storm wasn’t too bad. All of the chickens had been safe in the coop, and the troupe’s animals were all in the barn, so the farm had suffered no losses. The troupe set out to the gold mine, taking a dozen eggs to give to Gretchen on the way past her place.
Upon exploring the gold mine, the troupe could see that the
way was completely blocked and the surrounding tunnel seemed unstable. There had
clearly been several efforts made to clear the cave-in throughout the years,
but none had broken through.
“We’ll use the timber we brought to shore up the cave in. Olg, you’ll use your architectural expertise. Put the beams up first, then start clearing the cave-in.” Braum efficiently organized their party, and they get to work. The troupe dug rubble and hauled it away in shifts, taking the best rubble out onto tarps for possible later panning. They worked for the remainder of the day, getting up early the next morning for more of the same. In the late afternoon of sixth-day, they broke through into to uncollapsed mine shaft.
They found a corridor worn smooth, as if fingers had traced every inch of the walls for years, looking for a crack or a seam. They also found the desiccated remains of what they assumed to be the miner who was trapped inside the mine at the time of the cave-in, with a locket. Empty supply crates and a few remaining chunks of gold ore were the corpse’s only legacy.
Braum said a prayer over the body, asking his permission to
bury him outside and explore the area. The troupe formed a solemn burial party,
taking the worn tools to bury with the body. They built a rough holy symbol and
left a few chunks of ore to mark the grave.
“You made it out,” Braum intoned over the grave. “We’re sorry
we weren’t here sooner. Sir, if you still have family left in their world we’ll
get the locket to them and tell them what happened.”
The morning of seventh-day, the troupe decided to travel to where the farmer’s market will take place the next day. Reaching the empty wooden stands, they occupied themselves by scrounging up charcoal from the remnants of old fires. They knew that a wood fire wouldn’t burn hot enough to melt gold, but a charcoal fire would. Sorting through the bags of ore they collected at the old mine, they selected a likely candidate and threw it into an old cooking pot. Weighing the captured gold later, they found it was roughly equal in weight to 17 gold pieces.
First-day of Week 21 finds the party very hung over. Gretchen
revisits the debts from the night before with those that partied the night away,
and finds that only Kelvyn can pay his tab in full. Lucia, Mugi, Braum, and Olg
are all now variously indebted to her. They will owe her coin or a favor,
whichever is more beneficial to her down the road when she calls on them to
collect. For now, she is content to see the party off to talk to the Widower
Stribe about buying his land for the endeavor with the goblins.
Kelvyn, asking around about rumors of any local nuisances, heard a tale of an abandoned gold mine. It partially caved in about 20 years ago, collapsing on one of the two twins who were mining. The other went mad trying to dig his brother out. He always insisted that his twin was still alive down there.
Coming back around to the widower Stribe, Gretchen commented
that he needed either an ear to listen to his tale, or a strong beating. He was
a nasty old man with a sad life story,
so it was hard to tell which.
“I want profit and harmony. Those are my two main things. That’s
what everybody wants. I don’t care what happens with the land specifically,
since I’d be buying it on behalf of the goblins.” Gretchen offered 700 GP to
the party to act as her embassies and buy the land. If Stribe didn’t take the
money they should “do what you need to do” to get the land.
“Thank you for the option, but we will not be doing that. Money will be enough.” Braum calmly replied, in the face of his party’s discussion of smothering the old man with a pillow.
Upon arriving at the Stribe ranch, Mugi went inside while
the rest of the party went around the back of the house where they could hear someone
chopping wood. Mugi riffled through things, trying on most of Stribe’s clothing,
but finding that nothing fit except a hat, which he elected to keep. He then
settled down to munch on whatever he could find in the kitchen that wouldn’t
fit in his sack to be carried away for later.
The rest of the party, meanwhile, talked with the widower.
Braum offered 500 GP for the land, which Stribe rejected. “I poured my life
into this land. That offer is an insult.” Fela then tried a different approach,
sitting on a stump with the old man, sharing a wineskin and asking after his
life story. Braum took up chopping firewood.
“I always wanted to see the sea. But my wife wasn’t interested in travel. Her dream was to have a family. Miscarriage after miscarriage, and the ones that drew breath never lived long. This place broke her heart. But it was the only place she was ever alive, ya see? How could I leave her, leave them? Everyone I ever loved is buried here.” Widower Stribe had switched to a harder drink than wine by the end of this tale.
“Your wife would want to see you happy. She’s watching over
you. Why don’t you take a memento of hers and go show her the sea?” Fela
suggested. Kelvyn nudged her to suggest something, but she shooed him away.
Mugi, growing bored with listening to this tale of woe
through the kitchen window, grabbed the heavy sack of 700 GP out of the cart
parked out front, and ambled around the side of the house. One hand full of the
sack, it was difficult for him to sign.
“She has a very good of talking and talking for hours. I
would rather just to give you guys the money. 700 GP is all we have. Enough?”
Widower Stribe knew signed Common, and was several glasses of whiskey into his day at this point. He understood Mugi with no problem at all. “Why didn’t ya lead with that?” He asked the party at large. “Ya can’t have mah horses or mah cows.” He finally said, querulously, “You can have mah chicken, lil fuckers.”
Upon going in the house to pack saddle bags, the party heard him swearing. Coming out, Widower Stribe glared at Mugi as he whistled up his cow dogs from the barn. He saddled his riding horse and his pack horse, and herded his cows off down the road into the afternoon light.
Looking around, the party counted 60-odd chickens, the run
down house with 5 bedrooms, a dilapidated barn, two outbuildings, and an outhouse.
One of the outbuildings proved to be a
fairly sturdy chicken coop. It might have a deeper foundation than the farmhouse.
Braum sent a carrier pigeon with news of the purchase back
to Gretchen, signing his note “hugs and kisses”. He then prayed at the little family
grave yard, burning a candle on each headstone. “Stribe has left. Please go
with him and watch over him. We will take good care of this place. Please be at
After a quarrel on the porch, Mugi elected to spend the
night with the chickens. In the morning, Olg quips, “Who’s unclean now?”
Braum drew water from the well and filled the laundry trough
with water. The party bathed in the cold water, except for Olg. Everyone insisted
Mugi bathe last.
On the way up to the goblin Labyrinth, the party met neighbor Ned Killigun out tending his cows in the pasture by the road. They learned that he bought these cows from the Widower Stribe at what he considered a very good price. They discussed the Goblin King Scrob and Ned commented that Scrob has his head in the sand and wouldn’t hear a bad word about the conduct of his fellow goblins.
Reaching the Labyrinth, the troupe finds Scrob in
conversation with goblin painters. They are covering the ceiling of a large
room with an epic and bloody battle scene between two dragons and a party of
Scrob was puzzled by the tale the party bought him, of purchasing a poultry farm on behalf of the goblins. Nevertheless, he and five comrades agree to go out and see this land with the adventurers. The enlarged party returned back to the farmhouse by the evening of second-day. The goblins elected to sleep in the hay loft, and Braum joined them.