Monday, April 21, 2014

Westmist Session #69 - Dinner and a Dungeon

  • Kern, Rylee and Darnorth get invited to Lord Merdwyn's thanksgiving celebration at New Breven Keep. Henchmen not invited, but neither was Erijay. Humm ... wonder why?
  • Hob-nob with a 'who's who' of the County Palatine of New Breven. Kern puts faces to some of the voices from the previous nights break & enter:
    • Gwendel the Upper Baliff [women talking to herself about keep maintenance and magic].
    • Lord Marshal Lucerne of Woodsedge [startled man on stairs].
    • Fineous, the Count Palatine's Squire [half dressed boy who pilfered gold from chest].
  • Darnorth challenges Quid (of the Company of Good Cheer, Lord Merdwyn's tame adventurers)  to a drinking contest and wins. Rylee hits on Gwendel, and she rejects him.
  • Lord Marshal Lucerne tries to get Rylee to join him on an expedition to deal with some necromancers digging up bodies from the recent battles. Rylee is at first interested, but Lord Merwyn's offer (see below) takes precedence. 
  • Kern  waits for his contact, Rathgold the Scribe, to go for a bathroom break. Follows him and tells him to meet the merchant tomorrow at the Wasp Inn, andto  be discreet. 
  • Kern also pumps the two Wolf Tribe Barbarians present (Kicking Weasel [the Shaman], and Wrestles Bear on Full Moon [the Chief]) for information on the Blighted Woods and Goblin Market. Learns that the Goblin Market appears at random intervals in different locations, each of which is a crossroads with an iron post at the centre.
  • Kern, Rylee and Darnorth meet with Lord Merdwyn after feast, along with the Company of Good Cheer (Zana, Ikar, and Silco; Quid was still passed out from drinking). Lord Merdwyn asks them to investigate the grand chateau in the Blighted Woods on his behalf. They agree, but only after Lord Merdwyn puts up a 5000gp 'bounty' in case the trip is a bust for the party.As party leaves, Zana sidles up to Kern and whispers something about "there are no secrets in small towns".
  • Kern, disguised as the merchant Nero,  meets with Rathgold. Kern tells him that he will help the scribe get away with his wife when the time is right; Rathgold fears going back to Westmist as he knows Jax will read his mind and the scribe will then most likely be a dead man.  
  • Kern asks Rathgold to provide a letter or other document that lays out Jax's "affliction". Rathgold says he will try, but Lord Merdwyn never directly refers to it's nature. But he does tell Kern for certain that Jax is not human.
  • Party gathers Gurruk and Bjorn, and following Lord Merwyn's directions head for the chateau. It's a huge manor house, a shinning mass of glass and ornate stonework, set on a low rise. A central octagonal building topped with a glass dome, two wings to either side, and a cross shaped wing on the back. No signs of life, but the grass is neatly trimmed.
  • Windows and doors are obscured, so nothing can be seen on the inside.   Kern breaks a window; a grey mist drifts out, but view inside is still blocked. 
  • Open front door, party marches in, leaving horses outside. Bjorn summons air elemental to fly overhead cover. Find themselves on a wide path leading through an indoor forest. The glass dome can be seen soaring overhead, and the sound of tinkling water comes from deeper in the forest.
  • Following the path to a T-intersection, the party encounters a beautiful amber skinned women lying asleep on the ground. One of her arms lies over a unicorn sleeping with her, the other is thrown over a small chest. 
  • Darnorth wakes her, and questions her about the forest. Learns that she has lived here as long as she remembers, and has no desire to leave. And tells party they will never be able to leave. This is confirmed by Kern, who goes back to the door and finds out that the grey mist now encircles the mansion. And is poisonous.
  • Kern tried to bargain with her to get the chest, offers piles of gold bars. She's not interested. 
  • Party moves on, heading west along a winding path. Encounter 4 grizzly bears. Rylee casts speak with animals to talk to bears. The ursine group confirms much of the lady's story (and lets slip that she is actually a gold dragon!). When asked about who owns the chateau, the bears refer to the 'human meat' that calls themselves the "d'Ambervilles".
  • Leaving their beary friends, the party continues west until they reach an ornate door. Decide not to go through, but backtrack through the intersection again to explore to the east. Girl/dragon and unicorn are gone. 
  • Come to a long bridge over a meandering stream. A goat-headed humanoid stands at the near end, facing away from the party. It speaks saying "Please don't eat me Mr Troll. My brothers, who are right behind me, are much bigger and fatter than I am". A gruff voice from below the bridge says "All right, you may pass. I'll wait for your brothers". The goat-man skips across the bridge, but when the party tries the follow, a huge troll crawls up from below and blocks the way.
  • Party tries to bluff their way past, but troll attacks. It's claws and bite tear into Kern, leaving him bleeding heavily. In the meantime, "Mr. Windy" the air elemental, knocks a lot of the stuffing out of the troll, helped along by missile fire from Gurruk and Kern (once he gets out of the front line) plus sword blows from Darnorth. Troll goes down, and parry kindles a bonfire to burn the parts before they regenerate. 
  • Party crosses bridge and continues on path, coming to a clearing with a pool/fountain in the centre. The fountain is shaped like three interlinked gargoyles with water spraying from their mouths. At the base of the fountain, across the pool, is a chest.
  • Rather than risk wading the pool, Bjorn has Mr Windy fetch the chest. Kern tried to pick the lock. No luck. Rylee tries to smash it; no luck. Kern tries to smash it; no luck. Bjorn tries to smash it; no luck. Gurruk tries to smash it; no luck. Darnorth tries to smash it; no luck. Mr Windy tries to smash it; obliterates chest. This attracts another grizzly bear (which is calmed by Gurruk). Chest filled with gold and a large ornate silver key. Gurruk tosses one coin into the fountain to wish for luck.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Westmist Session #68 - Secret Agent Man (and Elf)

Another quick list this time:
  • Kern hatches a plan to sneak into the Count Palatine's stonghold to make contact with the spy he has in Lord Merdwyn's household. Erijay and Bjorn go along for magical firepower, while Rylee, Darnorth and Gurruk go on a bender. But not before Rylee casts silence 15' radius on a pair of coins for the trio of burglars.
  • Scouting the keep in daylight, Kern sees no way in other than the main gate. He figures out the guard schedule, and decides the best time to sneak in is just before the gates are closed at sunset. 
  • Erijay goes shopping for a bag full of mice and oats. 
  • Carrying the silenced coins and covered by invisibility spells cast by Bjorn an Erijay, the trio make their way up to the hilltop fortress. They breeze through the outer and inner gates as quickly as possible, just as the guards are preparing to bar them for the night. Several guards noticed the sudden silence , but shrug it off in the end. There is no pursuit.
  • At the main doors to the keep, and the trio sees light coming though covered windows. To enter without being seen, Bjorn casts a phantasmal force to make it appear as if the door remains closed when they pass through it. Which is good, because in the great hall beyond the doors is Lord Merdwyn talking to several servants, who are setting up for a feast and celebration on the morrow.
  • The group waits until Lord Merdwyn leaves through a door leading deeper into the keep. After waiting a short time, they follow. No sign of Lord Merdwyn, but there are tables covered in maps, patrol reports, etc. All the daily business of quelling a new land. 
  • Go up a set of spiral stairs to the next level. Corridor rings a series of small rooms. The sound of a woman giggling and hanky panky comes from behind one door.
  • Choose to ignore for now, and head for the next level. As Kern opens door from stairway, he's surprised to find a man, dressed in armor, on the other side. He too looks surprised by the door opening on it's own. Erijay flicks a mouse through the door to distract the man. Kern, Erijay, and Bjorn then quickly slip back down the stairs and hide in a linen closet. 
  • No sign of the armored man, so they head back upstairs. They find a central hallway with multiple doors leading off. Light can be seen coming from below one door. Kern listens at door, and hears a woman taking to herself on the other side. A mix of administrative details regarding running the Count Palatine's household and keep, and the odd magical incantation.
  • Checking the other rooms, they find a chapel, a martially appointed sitting room, and a pair of messy bedrooms. In one of the bedrooms they see a set of doors leading outside, probably onto the balcony/platform they'd seen from the courtyard.
  • Up to the fourth and apparently final floor. Similar layout as floor three with a central hallway and multiple doors. In the hallway stand seven of the Count Palatines guard.
  • Regroup and plan. Bjorn goes down several flights to stand guard. Erijay casts ESP, then quaffs her invisibility potion (having broken her invisibility spell by casting an offensive spell). She goes back up the stairs and attempts to pick out Lord Merdwyn's or Rathgold's (Kern's spy) thoughts while hiding in the stairwell.
  • Meanwhile, Kern slips through the door (tossing the rest of Erijay's mice ahead of him to distract the guards from the fact the door is opening on it's own) and dives into an opening to the left. Which is a privy.
  • Erijay probes the minds of both Lord Merdwyn and Rathgold:
    • Rathgold's mind doesn't reveal much of interest, except for the fact he is planning on hightailing it with Kern's gold as soon as the opportunity presents. He fears Jax, knowing that he can read minds. And Rathgold knows his guilty mind will cost him his head.
    • Lord Merdwyn of course reveals much more of interest. To Erijays surprise, there no hint of devious and diabolic plan. Upward mobility plans, ruthlessness and more than willing to take whatever chances and underhanded schemes he needs to get what he wants, yes. Evil, no. Lord Merdywn is really just trying to regain his place in the world, the respect and power and good name he lost to gambling. 
    • She also learns that Jax is not fully human. No hint of exactly what he is, but that in Lord Merdwyn's mind his friend and confident has a terrible 'affliction'. Erijay also learns that Lord Merdwyn is wary of Jax, suspects he may double cross him at some point, even though he's done nothing like that so far and has always been loyal to his Lordship.
    • Sir Wyder is dead. That was not Sir Wyder who returned from the wars. He fell in  battle, but Jax covered that up and somehow sent a substitute back home. The  plan was to keep the King from learning the truth about the much reduced  hobgolbin armies and Lord Merwyn's plan for the extra forces His Highness had  supplied. No details; it would seem it was a matter of "don't  ask, don't tell' between him and Jax. He just let Jax take care of it and didn't  ask too many questions.
    • Lord Merdwyn also knows the party is in town, and is about to invite them to come see him. He has a task for them, to followup on rumors of a great manor house in the depths of the Blighted Woods. Erijay also learns that Lord Merdwyn does not quite trust them, suspects they are up to no good.
  •  Having lingered too long already (thankfully the guards seem to be just waiting around for something or someone), the trio prepares to leave. Kern briefly contemplates going down the privy, but instead takes a chance and slips back to join Erijay in the stairwell. They collect Bjorn and head for the room with the balcony to slip out that way. 
  • They find the door locked, so Erijay knocks it open. Unfortunately, the outer door is also locked, so Kern goes to work with the lock picks.  As he is working, a knock comes at the door through which they entered: "Ikar, Silco, are you there?". Erijay and Bjorn try to hold the door, but whomever is on the other side is too strong. They let go and the doors fly open. Standing there is a lad of 16 or 17, pockmarked face, built like an ox, half undressed. Looking around, the boy mutters something about 'how will I get her out now?". Then, with a sly grin, he opens a footlocker in the room and pulls out fistfulls of gold before leaving again.
  • Breathing a sign of relief, Kern finishes with the lock. And fights the temptation of the foot locker full of gold. Bjorn casts levitate and ferries the others over the keep wall and onto the road below. Escapade over. 
  • Next day, Kern goes looking for a place to buy potions. He finds nothing, hears an interesting tale  from one of the wenches at the Rusty Sword (Varla, a nice buxum lass). She'd was  told a story by one of the Wolf Tribe barbarians who dwell along the eaves of the  Blighted Wood. While getting sloshed on mead, he told her of a 'goblin market'  that sometimes appears in the depths of the wood. The goblins sell many strange  any magical items to anyone with enough coin.  He later learns from a another tribesman by the name of 'Runs on Night Wind', that the gnomes of the wood serve the Fairy Queen and know the secrets of immortality. Getting  them to tell you the secret is another thing ...