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Session 22 - The Harrowed Realm Part 5 (via play-by-post) Edit
After the fight with the Night Peddler and his guards, some of the group notice that the slave auction tent suddenly has twice as many guards out front, bringing the total up to 6. They are all men with vaguely badger-like features, wearing chain mail and wielding poleaxes. Each has a scimitar belted on his hip and a steel round shield on his back. They all look like they're related - broad shoulders, black goatees, weird snub noses, short goatees, beady eyes and furry black legs.
The slave auction tent is the biggest tent in the camp, and is essentially a double-pavilion tent laid out like a big oval made of two 40' diameter circles that overlap at the mid point. The whole thing is 60 feet long, 40 feet wide, and the two peaks rise to about 20 feet, with the low points of the roof being about 12 feet up. It is made of heavy weight silk and is striped purple and gold. In addition to the guards out front, a few of you remember a guard positioned out back, with several inside as well. Sam remembers about 30 slaves inside, with what appeared to be a half dozen slavers/auctioneers, and a number of guards.
Sam uses magic to assess the guards of the slave auction tent, then returns. He says, "I think we can take 'em. The guards by the slave tent, I mean. Half the guards over there are illusions. Only the ones in the middle are real. And I spent a second checking out their auras... they're about half our power level at best. If we wanna spend a couple rounds quick buffing, I'm pretty sure we could wipe the floor with them." Dave seemed excited, "Then let's do it! I can make it look like we have an army! I still have some illusions prepared."
"Y'all go on ahead and get things ready," Paul said, nodding, then exited the tent with his game face on.
Quickly, the casters set about preparing for a fight.
Making a Statement Edit
Paul takes the chains of the four demon things you killed and drags them outside to the rough center of things. Suddenly there are whispers everywhere repeating in several different languages, "Listen, listen, they come, they come they come."
Standing in the center of camp, Paul claps his hands over my head and sends up a some showy-ass flare effect. Everyone remaining in the camp stops what they're doing and looks at him with obvious worry.
Paul shouts out, "People! Listen to me! To me, the least of my fellows, who has come to provide you with what little mercies they can offer."
He throws down the first set of chains and shouts, "this one died at mine own hands. I am loathe to admit he wounded me before I destroyed him." There is an obvious scratch across Paul's arm.
He throws down the second set of chains and shouts, "this one died at the hands of a mighty warrior, from whom your gods run in fear! Such is the strength we carry, that your gods quake!"
Sam, fully armored and appearing to stand almost 13 feet tall, pushes through the fabric of the tent like it was made of wet paper. He glowers as only a gigantic armored Sam can.
Paul throw down the third set of chains, shouting, "this one died in the crushing jaws of a beast that we ourselves can barely contain and control. We, who do not fear extra dimensional creatures, who sent the Night Peddler running into the night, we have this standing amongst us."
Erin - still in blood-matted polar bear form - takes the opportunity to lumber through part of your tent's burning wall and bellows a ferocious she-bear warcry!
Paul throws down the fourth set of chains.
His voice is quiet and hard, but carries through the utterly silent camp, "And this one. True it is blackened and tarnished. But it would have to be, as one of our party commands the very fires of torment! You, you wretched few. It is mercy that I am here, showing you what happened to those so far above you. It is mercy that my allies allowed me to give you this one chance:
"Flee now. Leave your slaves, take nothing that you cannot carry yourself, and flee. Know even now that you are marked, that others in our party have not revealed themselves, for they found this game too simple, too fleeting a diversion. Know this with the same dread certainty you know death comes for all that we will end you if you do not flee."
Dave takes the opportunity to use illusion to cause Paul's shadow to spread up to the Nightpeddler's tent, and then the whole thing is alight with huge, roaring black flames!
Paul roars, "FLEE!"
The words hang on the air for a few brief moments longer, and then suddenly everyone in the camp that isn't chained up or locked in a cage utterly loses their shit and bolts! Guards, merchants, slavers, all run around like headless chickens for a few moments, shoveling things into sacks and packs, and then everyone scatters in groups, hauling ass out to disparate corners of the desert.
After less than a minute, there is no one visible in the camp save for the six of you. You guys hear laughter and cheers erupt from the slave tent.
Sam watches the mad scramble of the miscreants and evildoers with a smile, "Sweet." Paul looks amazed, and takes a moment while the color returns to his face, "I....did not actually think that would work. I was a solid 60/40 assuming I was going to get my ass kicked in the most unkind way possible."
The group has amassed a fairly large pile of loot, as well as a number of empty tents. The slave auction tent still has sounds of people inside it. You hear someone yell, "Hey! Can you let us out?"
Off to the left, a small tent collapses in a heap - most of its stakes having been accidentally uprooted during its owner's mad rush into the desert.
While Paul looks for a couple carts, Sam enters the slave auction tent and finds well over two dozen slaves shackled to posts or locked in cages. All of them wear very simple, rough clothing of dirty white or tan.
Almost all of them have the telltale fantastic signs of what you have come to recognize as 'storykin': too-bright eyes or hair, oddly colored skin, unusually proportioned eyes, lips and particularly noses, or a vague tinge of animal qualities to some (leopard spots, webbed feet, pointed ears that loop or hang flat, etc).
They all seem to be elves, hobgoblins, dwarfs, halflings or goblins.
Sam detects minor tinges of evil on about 5 of them, including one hobgoblin woman who doesn't look like a storykin. There is also a dwarf male who doesn't quite seem like a storykin either.
Dave frees one of the slaves, who gives him a hasty 'thank you', then dashes to one of desks in the tent, finds a key ring, and runs to unlock a cage on the far side. Several slaves cheer as the ones inside come out, and woman embraces the first guy in what is clearly a long-awaited kiss. After some heavy smooching, they move to free other slaves.
Sam snaps out of what looks like a slight trance, and warns a couple slaves that he has his eye on them and doesn't want to have to deal with any nonsense.
Most of the slaves look like the usual storykin that you've been seeing.
There is also one hobgoblin woman and one a dwarf male who don't quite seem like storykin. Sam had warned the hobgoblin woman about misbehaving before she is let out of her cage.
Several of the freed slaves split into two groups (mostly elves/dwarves and mostly hogoblins/goblins) and head out into the desert in opposite directions, after thanking you guys.
You're left with about 15 freed slaves, of a variety of racial templates. 13 of them are clearly storykin (rosy cheeks, exaggerated noses and ears, too-bright hair and eyes, occasional animal features), but two look like they're not from the Harrowed Realm at all:
- One is a hobgoblin woman, with orangeish-brown skin, blue-black hair, amber eyes and a medium build. She stands about 5'-6" and looks fairly nervous.
- The other is a dwarf male, with sunburned skin that is probably used to being fish-belly pale. His hair is a dark reddish-brown, as is his beard which tapers off at about clavicle height. He has brown eyes and seems skinny for a dwarf, with only the barest mention of a pot-belly. He studies you guys intently.
There are a couple storykin with leadership potential - the strongest personality among the freed slaves is a woman named Cirali. Most of the rest of them suffer from the usual storykin troubles of not being able to follow a single thought down a straight path on a clear day. All of them are happy to be free, but most of them babble, or are quickly distracted by random thoughts and bits of conversation.
Cirali is clearly glad for your help, and is open to ideas of what to do next. Unfortunately, she's not exactly the brightest bulb either... just the brightest on this particular shelf. She has a heroic look to her - she's definitely modeled after some sort of elven princess - standing about 5'-8", with long brown (might be blonde if it ever got a wash) hair and striking green eyes. Her ears - like most storykin elves - are quite long and stick out to the sides of her head at close to a right angle. She looks reasonably strong and fit - the overarching adjective about her might be 'determined'. Unfortunately, now that her primary goal has been achieved, she's not quite sure where to go next.
All of the freed slaves are fairly dirty and malnourished. They wear sandals and disheveled tunics that probably were white or tan at some point, and are now a sandy mud-brown.
While some of you are freeing/talking with the slaves, a couple others search the remains of the camp. You guys find:
- A LOT of food and pretty weak wine. Certainly more than all 30 people could eat and drink in 5 days.
- 8 skins of water
- 35 bedrolls of varying quality
- 56 pillows of varying quality
- 42 blankets of varying quality
- 34 pens
- 21 inkwells (13 black, 6 blue, 2 red)
- 12 high quality oil lamps
- 5 high quality lanterns
- 6 gallons of lamp oil (separated into 8 or 16 ounce stoppered clay jugs)
- 6 tinderboxes
- More chains, ropes and restraints than you care to think about
- 17 tents - think pavilion tent, rather than camping tent. Most are sized for 4-6 people and are in good repair. The best of them is made of black and gold silk, sized for 8 people, and looks like it takes at least an hour to set up.
- Caged animals - 1 hunting falcon, 7 songbirds, some kind of cobra, a dozen rats, and something that looks like the lovechild of Pikachu and the Geico geko that emits sparks when you get near it.
- 65 pounds of tableware (mostly plain, but about 6 pounds of actual silverware)
- 200 pounds of crockery (mostly plain, but about 30 pounds of it is very fine)
- 750 pounds of fancy clothes - pretty much anything you can imagine that would fit into an "Arabian Knights" setting - from the very rich clothes that an assistant to a vizier would wear to the nondescript robes of a cleric.
- A large lacquered box which folds into a portable desk. It contains about 400 sheets of parchment, 5 extremely fancy pens, and easily 1,900 gp worth of spell-scribing inks and powders.
- A spellbook! All of the spells seem to be written in Arabic / Ignan. From what Dave can determine in a brief look, the spells are all low-level arcane spells.
- 7 scrolls! 6 of them are arcane. 1 is divine. All are written in what looks like Arabic / Ignan
- 3 daggers of good quality
- 1 metal round shield of good quality
- 1 scimitar of good quality
- 1 chain shirt of good quality
- 1 composite shortbow made for someone who's stronger-than-average (mighty +1)
- 90 arrows with iron heads
- 4 quivers
The slaves are happy to start getting equipped with sharp and pointy things.
When questioned, most of them seem to have forgotten how long they've been slaves. A few seem to remember being kidnapped from a place they call 'the village', and a few others are from the circus or 'the tavern'. Cirali is from 'the village'.
A Barrage of Banter Edit
Lazer asks the dwarf and goblin why they didn't go with their respective tribes and follows with a question about where they came from originally.
The storykin assure you that the tavern and circus are distinct places. You also learn that someone called the Ticktock man frequents the tavern.
The hobgoblin woman and dwarf man were both knocked out and taken (separate occasions) when they had paid a visit to a strange peddler who was traveling through their area.
The hogoblin's name is Franka Makatsch, and before she was enslaved, she worked as a vintner's assistant in a place she calls the "Zyklon Protektorat".
The dwarf's name Stellan Horsk. He was a glass blower and artist in a village called Blixnedstrand.
Lazer, deeply unhappy to have a real-world hobgoblin in their midst, suggest to the group that they eliminate her to avoid future trouble.
Stellan steps up to Lazer with his fists clenched and brows knit, "Over my dead body, elf! She may be a hobbo, but Franka's better company than the likes of you could hope for. We were hopin' you might have a way home, but if you're just a gang of wandering killers, we can find our own way back."
Stellan the dwarf looks more curiously at Maggey and Sam, "An' whats with you lot, anyway? What manner of creatures are you and where do you come from? I've never seen your like before."
Franka the hobgoblin stays quiet behind Stellan, but smiles shyly at his defense. She still looks ready to run at a moment's notice.
Lazer steps back from the dwarf, hands splayed in deference and apologizes, stating he mistook the goblin for a male and something about something and than some. He heads back to where Paul is checking over the newfound gear, "Ahem... ah, let's have a look at that loot."
Sam stands between the angry dwarf and the chastised elf, "Yeah... nobody's killing anybody here. Certainly not anybody who is behaving peacefully and honorably. I swear it."
Stellan fumes for a bit and then nods before he and Franka divert their attention to the humans. "Elves..." he mutters.
How to Confuse a Dwarf Edit
"Dude," Paul says to Stellan. "You are so right. So right. I mean, okay, Lacey here actually isn't that bad a guy. Well, he's a terrible guy, but he's not bad. He's just, you know, bad at guy stuff. Whatever. I'm Paul, that's Sam, Erin, Maggey, Dave...look, to answer your question, we're not just a band of killers."
"Well, okay, I mean, we did kill some people," Paul says sotto voce while looking at Sam and Dave, "Some of us more than others. But we're not from here. We're also not from where Lord of the Rings is from. We're from...You know, that's not relevant. So, nice to meet you, nice to meet Franka as well. You guys need anything? Want anything? Want to trade stories? I have some good ones, guaranteed to have at least a passing acquaintance with the truth."
Stellan and Franka, as well as a few of the nearby storykin, listen to Paul's speedy discourse as their jaws slowly drop a little. Stellan's right eye blinks rapidly as if he's rolling a fortitude save vs seizure. "So... you're all gigantic halflings? Is that it? Alright then. We could use a drink, some decent food, and a way to get out of this miserable place. Also, it'd be nice to put a boot in the ass of the monsters responsible for us being held prisoner for the last two years. When I've got boots again, of course."
Paul spreads his hands magnanimously, "Stellan, babe, stick with me here. A gigantic halfling would just be a full sized person, and that doesn't make sense at that point. We're humans. Delightful, devious, diverse, didactic, humans. It's our thing. It's what we wanna do. I'll tell you now, we're just as wild and wooly as dwarves. For example, my friends are probably already getting a little tired of me talking so much, but when I get into a fight, I don't know, man, I get freaking chatty. Or when I haven't had a fight for too long. Or when the sun's up. Or down. You know, whatever.
"My point is, help yourselves to food, and to booze. Try not to beat up on the elf, because pointy ears aside, he's part of the crew, and we're all fond of him. If you want to join us, we're like, halfway to finding a way out of here, and that means you can come along, provided you don't mind the infrequent short joke, and can share beard grooming secrets with Sam. That Sam, he loves talking about beards."
Stellan nervously looks toward Sam, as if hoping that someone with a beard would maybe not talk quite so much or so fast. "Are you all like that?"
"Ha! No. No no no no no," laughs Paul, "everyone else is usually much more laconic. Though wait until you talk to Dave. I'll seem like a cool drink of sensible water after that."
Fuming, Lazer hollers from the loot pile, "It's Lassier of the House Danger, and your friend Pauline left out a few descriptives such as dull, dirty, demented, and dimwitted!"
Stellan and Franka look like they need a long nap.
Continue to Session 23