Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Game Session 2013/04/07

The Circus Sophia:

Sophie O'Griffin, human, the leader and ringmaster. Played by Echo.
Esmond Gellert, human, trick-shot archer and dog trainer. Played by Mike.
Ganz, elf, stage magician and wizard. Played by Jessica.
Quexechetl, lizard man, strongman and wrestler. Played by Karl.
Talman, half-elf, acrobat. Played by Joe.
Fiorio, human, a peasant with a knack for playing to the crowd that the circus picked up along the way. Played as an NPC.

July 1, 850, very early in the morning, in the Bekel

When we last saw our heroes, they had just found and killed the orc that they believed was controlling the army of undead orcs, and the dead orcs had then attacked the living ones. Three living orcs survived and ran away into the darkness. Talman recovered the staff from the body of the orc priest or wizard or whatever he was.

After backing off to a safe distance from the eight or so remaining dead orcs, the circus decided to follow the living survivors. Esmond, with his amulet of night-seeing, tracked them easily, with the rest stumbling along by the light of Sophie's lantern. They followed the orcs around the edge of a rise on the right side of the valley, down into the ravine that cut off the route to the north, where they found a ford. Climbing up the other side of the ravine, Esmond was just in time to see the fleeing orcs enter the forest on the far side.

He pursued, while the rest of the circus followed at a distance behind him. Not far into the forest, he saw first one light, then more. Small groups of orcs were gathered together, some carrying torches. The three survivors of the recent battle approached one group and spoke with them, pointing frequently back the way they had come, and also off toward King Miklo's army. The orcs dispatched a goblin messenger, who returned in about ten minutes. All the orcs then withdrew.

Esmond watched until he was certain all the groups of orcs were leaving, then withdrew. He reported what he had seen, and then the whole circus crossed the ravine again and returned to the king's army. They passed a handful of dead orcs who were stumbling around blindly at the bottom of the ravine. When they reached the army's encampment, they found that it had nearly finished off the undead horde, with only a little mopping up left to do.

At the center of the encampment, they found King Miklo with his principal advisors, including Count Anelmo and the Archmagus Tor. They began an explanation of what they had seen and done, but the Archmage interrupted, and asked Ganz if he would be so kind as to lay the staff they had found on the ground and step away from it. Ganz did so, and everyone gave it more room.

When the performers finished their tale, Archmagus Tor sent a squire to inform High Priest Eddicollo, the King's personal priest and another member of the regency council about these events. The square returned in the company of the High Priest, and the whole story had to be repeated again. Then, with many exchanges of "Your Grace" between them, the Archmage and the High Priest debated about who should take custody of the mysterious staff. In the end, the High Priest decided that if it were unholy, it might desecrate the holy objects in his care, and so that Archmage took it.

Than done, and with no enemies to be fought, everyone headed for bed.

In the morning, the army scouted about to make sure there were no more dead orcs around. Lord Fels took a group of knights with him to investigate the outcrop where the circus had fought the orcs and killed what might have been their leader. The men-at-arms and laborers were put to work dragging the bodies of the orcs into a pile and burning them. The dwarven engineers finally began constructing the bridge that would let the army pass over the ravine.

Meanwhile, the Circus Sophia had some free time, and so they decided to return to the ruined wizard's tower and investigate that cabinet they had found there. The cabinet was decorated with square panels crossed by X-shapes, each arm of each X being a separate piece of joinery. There were three panels on each side and six in the front. On their earlier visit, they had discovered that by depressing each arm of the top X-shapes on the sides and then rotating them, they could release the catches that held it to the wall. By fiddling around with some of the other panels, they found that the cabinet had a number of other interesting properties:

When the middle panels on the sides were rotated, the top third of the cabinet drew inward and then collapsed into the middle section, leaving a much shorter cabinet. Opening the doors, they found it had two shelves. A slim, leather-bound book lay on the top shelf. It was filled with sketches of the surrounding countryside and the tower itself, from long ago when it was intact. Each drawing was labeled dwarven writing. There was no sign of the bottles and crumbling cloth that the cabinet had contained when it was full-size.

Rotating the bottom side panels, the performers found that the cabinet collapsed again, down to the size of a large chest or trunk for clothing. It now opened from the top instead of the front, and was empty.

Returning it to full size by rotating the panels the other way, they then discovered even stranger properties. By rotating the top panels on the front, the doors opened to show not a wardrobe, but a multitude of small, deep drawers, like an apothecary's cabinet. Most were empty, but some contained musty bits of herbs or lumps of wax.

After rotating the middle panels on the front, the cabinet drawers opened to reveal dozens of wide, low shelves, only a few inches high. Most were empty, but a few held yellowed pieces of paper with dwarven writing on them.

Rotating the bottom front panels revealed the strangest transformation of all: the interior of the cabinet was more or less like a wardrobe again, but with a wide door at the back. Opening this door led into a short, wood-lined space, about six feet deep, with cubbyholes for storage on each side. The cubbyholes held a collection of mostly mundane-looking rocks, but there were some examples of quartz and lapis lazuli. Altogether, the rocks probably weighted a couple hundred pounds.

Talman volunteered to step inside the cabinet while Sophie transformed it into another configuration, to see what happened. She collapsed it to its two-thirds height, opened in, and Talman was gone! And yet he could hear his companions talking, and they could hear him, muffled as if he had been stuffed into any mundane closet.

At its smallest size, when collapsed to a chest, it weighed about thirty pounds, which Quexechetl could easily carry. He, more than anyone, was bothered by the question of where the extra space that the cabinet seemed to hold really was, but the others vetoed his suggestion that they go inside and start knocking out walls to see where they led to.

They all decided that they would tell no one about their amazing find. The took it back to camp, kept it chest-sized, and threw a few circus costumes into it. Sophie kept the key.

July 2, 850

The next day, the army finally broke camp. They ventured carefully into the forest on the far side of the ravine, but saw no sign of orcs. The marched until they found a large clearing, then stopped for the night.

July 3, 850

The army reached the ruined dwarven city of Norogon. A couple hundred orcs were observed fleeing, but nothing like the large numbers the army had been hoping to catch.

The foreign knights in the army were rather disappointed at this, since they more than anyone hoped to prove their gallantry in a fight. The king's counsellors decided that they had achieved what they wanted from a short campaign, and it would be a good time to return to Lodea and face the Gondans. That night, the circus decided to put on a show, and the dogs were particularly good.

July 4 to July 14, 850

The king's army marched back to civilization, without meeting any more groups of orcs large enough to care about. Drums were sometimes heard at night, but never very many, or very near. The army reached the northern Lodean town of Gorno on July 14, 850.

With King Miklo now safely back in his own country, Sophie called upon Lord Fels and raised the delicate issue of their payment. He said he figured they had performed valuable service by keeping the king away from trouble and killing the orc who seemed to control the horde of dead orcs. He paid 21 gold crowns altogether, to be split amongst the circus performers as Sophie saw fit. He also warned them off of trying to get paid twice by going to the Archmage. The less they talked to him, the better, he said, but he didn't elaborate on his reasons.

But when he heard that she intended to lead the circus back into the Bekel, on some quest by Quexechetl to find some ancient dwarven stronghold, he tried to convince her not to go. When she would not be dissuaded, he urged great caution, but also made another offer: if they could find out how the orcs managed to raise that horde from the dead, he would pay them another 21 crowns -- but only for tangible evidence. Sophie said she could make no promises, but would keep her eyes open.

June 14 to June 17, 850

The majority of the king's army marched south the next day, while King Miklo and his advisors took a boat downstream.

The circus performers hit the local shops to load up on supplies. They decided not to take horses, because they might not be capable of handling all the terrain. Instead, they decided to rely upon the magic cabinet for most of their storage. Talman and Quexechetl together fixed up a leather harness that would let Quexechetl carry the cabinet on his back after it was collapsed down to its smallest state.

They also found an old dwarf who could read the papers they had found in the cabinet. These turned out to be letters written to a dwarven wizard named Zabar, concerning everyday matters such as orders for supplies, inquiries about an apprenticeship, and payment for services. This told them nothing about the cabinet, but at least they could put a name to the owner.

With the shopping done, asked around for a local dwarf who might know some of the geography of the Bekel. They found a young farmer's son named Matto who said he knew the Bekel as well as any dwarf might claim to -- that is, only from stories. But he could at least translate a little. That was good enough for Sophie, and they planned to leave the next morning.

1 comment:

  1. I am stealing that cabinet/trunk item. Do you have a write-up of all it can do?