Session 9 – The Trial of Swiftmark

After the encounter with the bear, the friends continue traveling north. As they get closer to their destination, they find a group of dwarven gem merchants whose cart has broken down. Apparently their horses veered off the road and two of the cart’s wheels have broken. They ask for help as they need to get into town quickly to sell their wares. With dollar signs in his eyes, Daladium offers to help if they give him three diamonds. The dwarf is taken aback but agrees, as he has few options for help this late in the day. Daladium fixes the cart’s wheels in record time — under 2 hours — and ask for payment. The eldest of the three dwarves pulls out a jeweler’s loupe and inspects 3 tiny diamonds, giving each of them carefully to Daladium. He is frustrated and says that his work was worth more than this, but the dwarf says that they explicitly agreed to 3 diamonds, but did not agree on a size. Daladium convinces him to be more generous and he gives him 3 diamonds, each worth about 120 gold apiece. Daladium is delighted and the group departs.

Coming into the northernmost town slightly later than anticipated but much richer for the effort, the group looks for an inn to stay at. Daladium asks an older woman in the market who is selling rugs which inn is the best to stay at. She says that The Triad’s owner cheats people, so they should avoid that place. Bart’s is friendly to travelers but more expensive, and The Cauldron is not so friendly to outsiders but less expensive. The friends thank the woman and decide to head to Bart’s, the cost not being much of an issue.

They enter and Bart greets them warmly. He says that the wolf must stay outside but there is a place where he could sleep if he doesn’t bother anyone. Voran promises that he won’t. Bart says that one room for the three of them would be 40 gold. Astonished at this price, which is 4 or 5 times the normal rate, Daladium asks if it could be lowered at all. However, Bart stands firm on his price. Voran tries to convince him by saying that they saved the city, but Bart doesn’t understand. Voran goes on to say that they went inside the Wizard’s castle and found a bunch of keys. Daladium claps a hand over Voran’s mouth before he can say more, and explains that Voran was just making a joke. Bart seems to believe him. Daladium tries to convince him further but as he’s explaining how poor they are, he accidentally drops his purse onto the floor and at least 100 gold spill everywhere. He is mortified and gathers up his riches and runs out of the inn. Voran pays back his friend for the previous save by convincing Bart that they were copper pennies, not gold pieces. Bart seems to believe this as well. Voran and Elysant leave quickly.

It’s decided that they should have some dinner and then leave town as quickly as possible as they’ve embarrassed themselves enough here. Voran goes off to the forest to find some plants and berries to eat. He comes across a group of about 100 campers but doesn’t approach them. Daladium and Elysant go to a restaurant — picked by Elysant as the most expensive looking one — and she takes off her chest plate and sits down heavily at a table. Daladium orders a steak from the server, and Elysant asks for 3 steaks, potatoes, vegetables and a large ale. As per usual, she wolfs down her food much to the embarrassment of Daladium and disdain of the other patrons. Daladium pays and leaves a tip of one gold.

The friends meet up and travel outside of town a few miles. It is getting dark, but Voran finds a suitable camp site and quickly creates a shelter and a fire. The others are impressed. A watch is set up for the night, and it is uneventful. The next morning they break camp and quickly get to the ferry before 7am. They wait about an hour for the first ferry to leave, pay the fare of 9 gold for all of them and the horses, and the ferry departs. The weather is extremely calm and warm for mid-fall, and the trip takes under an hour.

The friends travel through the island toward the next ferry, but a bridge is out. They decide to travel north and find another bridge, continuing on. A few miles from their destination they come across a cart that’s been buried off of the road. After excavation they find 20 gold and a healing potion inside.

They reach the next ferry by noon and have lunch here, then take the ferry soon after. The wind has picked up now and it takes them an extra few minutes to reach Rock Island. It is about 2pm when they arrive.

Rock Island is aptly named, as there are huge sharp rocks surrounding it except in a few places. The land however is hilly and there are some trees. The friends immediately start seeing small houses dug into the hills. This is halfling country. There are dozens of houses but no one seems to be around. There are a couple of people tending their gardens, weeding and getting them ready for harvest time. They stop and speak to an older woman who is gardening. She seems skeptical of them but not scared. Daladium asks if she knows anyone named Swiftmark, and she says she’s never heard that name — it’s not a halfling name at any rate. Daladium presses further and says that he is looking for someone to help him get access through a door. She looks horrified and says that it sounds like stealing, which no halfling would do. She starts to ask them to leave but Daladium explains that it’s not stealing, more like exploration. She asks if they are the police, and he says no.

The friends ask the woman where everyone in the town is, and she says that they are all at the Digglebottom trial. She explains that Uncle Weasel Digglebottom always got into trouble in his youth and learned to be a master thief. The Wizard’s men heard of this and traveled to Rock Island. They kidnapped him and coerced him into doing many terrible things including breaking into places, thievery and spying. This went on for many years until he escaped and went back to Rock Island. His sister, Granny D, hid him away and when the Wizard’s men came back to get him she refused to give him up. In retaliation the men set fire to some of the buildings here and five halflings (including 2 of Uncle Weasel’s own family members) died as a result. The woman goes on to say that regardless if he was coerced or not, he did all of those horrible things and should be imprisoned for them, and the deaths are all on his head. She is glad that the young Hector Fungal, a halfling from another family, studied law and determined how they should prosecute Uncle Weasel. The friends ask where the trial is being held and she points them toward the town hall, which is about a half mile north. The friends thank her and head toward the town hall.

As the friends approach the hall, they hear voices from inside. On entering they see dozens of halflings filling the place. Two halflings stop them at the entry and say that they should’t be here. Elysant gives them a look and they back away, allowing the friends to sit down toward the back. They see a man — most likely the prosecutor Hector Fungal — proclaiming all of the same things the farm woman told the friends a few minutes ago. He is telling the tale of all the horrible things that happend, and pointing at the accused, an older halfling with white hair and lots of wrinkles who is sitting in the center of the room. He looks totally defeated and is looking down. There is also a jury and a steely-eyed old judge in the room with a large gavel.

Hector’s tirade goes on for a while, but suddenly someone stands at the front of the crowd and the friends hear him say loudly “I should go to prison, not my uncle!” Hector stops speaking and looks at the person. Looking carefully, the friends see that it is Swiftmark!

Session 8 – In Town

The friends head back to Northfort, and by the time they arrive it is dark. Two guards at the gate stop them, but eventually let them in after recognizing them.

They head to the inn, where Elvan says there is only one room left — the inn is unusually busy tonight. He initially asks for 8 gold for a night’s stay and then relents, giving it to them for 5 after Daladium asks nicely. He serves them piping hot stew, bread and wine. Elysant refuses the wine and asks for mead. She eats heartily, knocks back 2 pints of ale and heads to bed for the evening, making a lot of noise as she goes upstairs. Voran gets food scraps for his wolf and goes to feed him.

As it gets a little later the tavern becomes quieter, and Elvan talks with Voran and Daladium for a while. He says that he heard about what happened at the castle and is sorry for introducing them to Gilroy in the first place. He had been around the time for a while, but Elvan did not know what a bad apple he was. He also says that the town is very busy now because word has gotten around that the castle has been opened and the wizard hasn’t re-appeared, and many people have come from nearby villages or even further off to try and raid it — and perhaps even find one of the wizard’s magic items and become the next ruler of the Spear. Elvan hopes that the friends find the castle’s secrets first. They do not tell him about the door with the runes, however.

The next morning, after a good night’s sleep, the friends have breakfast in the tavern. The place is bustling with newcomers of all stripes — some look dangerous, some look poor, and some look moneyed, but Daladium listens in on their conversations and finds that all of them have come to explore the castle. As he is listening however, one of the men, a large red-faced man with a beard, fancy armor and a huge hammer at his side, points at Daladium. He says that he recognizes his description as one of the people who went into the castle, and orders Daladium an ale (which he declines). The man says his name is Talan, and that he is a great warrior. He explains that he will be the first to find all of the Wizard’s riches and will rule this area when he is done. However his boasting comes quickly to a close when he sees Daladium’s white pet guinea pig, Fausbat, poking out of his cloak. He grows wide-eyed and pale, and goes back to his drink immediately. Daladium doesn’t really know what to say, and leaves the tavern.

The friends make several errands, first going to the bank to deposit some gold, and then to the jeweler to sell some items (a gold chain, a small ruby and a set of silverware). They then travel to the edge of town to get some answers from a local master arcanist.

The arcanist’s store has all kinds of strange and foul-smelling things such as heads in jars, odd dried herbs and knick knacks that seem mostly worthless. There are a couple of items that seem valuable, like a vase with runes on it, however. The owner is in the corner, sitting like a buddha and mumbling some kind of mantra. Daladium tries to get his attention politely a couple of times, but he doesn’t seem to notice. Elysant raps her spear on the floor loudly and he snaps out of it. He asks why the friends have come here, but before they can answer he points to Daladium and asks if he is a wizard. Daladium says yes, and the man says that he has known a few wizards from Daladium’s country before.

Daladium asks him to determine what the contents of the test tubes he found was, and offers him some gold in exchange. The man refuses and takes one of Daladium’s hairs from his head instead as payment. He checks the test tubes and the first (red) ones appear to be inert, and tosses them out. The purple ones make you smarter for a period of time, and the green ones are actually three doses: another intelligence potion, a vigor-bosting potion and finally a dose of something that allows you to detect arcanum.

After this, Daladium explains about the locked door with the runes on it in the Wizard’s castle. The man explains that runes like that can only be bypassed by the original key (which the Wizard always wore around his neck, and it probably disappeared with him) or a master thief. Daladium thinks of their friend Swiftmark, an accomplished thief, who left a couple of weeks ago. The friends thank the strange little man and head back to the tavern.

At the tavern, the friends ask Elvan if he knows where Swiftmark may have gone. He says that he doesn’t know, but there are other halflings in the town that may know. Elvan sends his servant boy, a dirty faced lad, down the street to tell some of the halflings there that a free lunch is waiting for them at the tavern. In the meantime he makes lunch for the friends.

After only a few minutes, a bunch of halflings show up at the tavern, excited to get a free lunch. They eat and drink happily. Daladium approaches them and asks if they might know anything about Swiftmark. One of them takes Daladium to a back table and begins speaking to him. He says that Swiftmark is not one of their family members, but he knows him well. His family is from Rock Island, one of the northernmost islands on the Spear. He had to leave to take care of some trouble that was happening there, but that’s all he knows. Daladium thanks him and the group decides to head up to Rock Island to see if they can help.

The friends rent three horses and start riding north. They make it past the lighthouse and on to the next town, but while on the road they see something moving in the bushes. Voran sends his wolf to look and uses his Animal Sight to see through its eyes. They see in the woods a huge grizzly bear and the wolf is close enough to have annoyed it. It tries to attack the wolf, but it gets away. Voran will not attack the bear because he doesn’t hurt wild animals. Elysant tries shooting it with her crossbow but misses, and Voran asks her to stop. She puts it away. Daladium runs up to the bear and tries to shoot it with a bolt from his staff, but the spell backfires and he is left dazed. The bear swipes at him and nearly takes his head off, but Daladium comes out unscathed. He tries a second spell to restrain it with vines, and this spell backfires even more violently. Voran runs to Daladium’s aid and tells the bear firmly to leave, and it looks at him, stunned. It grunts and turns away, running off into the forest.┬áThe friends regroup and resume their journey.

Session 7 – The Wizard’s Castle

The friends continue searching the second floor of the castle. Attempting to open one of the doors with his lockpick set, Voran accidentally breaks the tool. Elysant gives him a hairpin to try and use, but he is unsuccessful with that as well. Finally Elysant tries to break the door down but hits it wrong, hurting herself and falling down. She tries again and finally breaks the door down. This appears to be a storage room and nothing is found.

The next room is easier to get into as Voran picks the lock easily, and the friends find that it is a head servant’s quarters. There is a strongbox at the foot of the bed. Voran and Elysant pry it open and find a ring of 20 keys. Daladium finds a set of silverware in a nearby drawer.

The door at the middle of the floor is quite large, with an elaborate looking lock. Daladium sees that there are runes around it and advises the group not to try and pick the lock. None of the keys on the key ring seem to fit, so they keep looking.

The last room on this floor is a quarters for many servants. There are bunk beds in here and other pieces of furniture. There are also 3 small chests at the end of the room. They all open easily with the keys that Voran found. The first two are empty but the third has a sack of 20 gold in it.

Just as they are finishing their search, the friends hear voices from the stairwell. Daladium sneaks to the doorway and listens. There are two men (named Klaus and Frank, and their large dog Fang), and they see that someone has been on this floor recently. The men search the hidden closet and see that the chest is empty. They move on to the head servant’s quarters without seeing Daladium. The dog, Fang, is Voran’s wolf fluffy has found a mouse underneath one of the pieces of furniture and does not notice what is going on.

Elysant and Daladium begin animatedly discussing what to do. Voran rolls his eyes nocks an arrow, aims and fires at the dog, killing it instantly. Klaus and Frank do not notice anything as they are still in the room. Voran runs over to the dog and tries to drag it into a nearby room to hide it, but he is not strong enough. Daladium runs out to try and drag it and is successful in moving it into the hidden closet and inside the chest there. Both of them run back to the servant’s quarters to hide.

Presently, the two men come out and see that the dog is missing and notice some blood on the floor. They draw their weapons and walk where the blood leads into the hidden closet. As they turn their backs, Elysant fires her crossbow at one of them but it glances off his armor. Seeing that her shot was ineffective, she runs across the hallway and slashes Klaus with her spear, putting him down. Voran steps into the room and shoots Frank with an arrow, pinning him to the wall.

The friends decide that since they can’t get through the lock and it would be dangerous to try, they should return home. Daladium remembers that one of the shop keepers in town has items with runes at his store, and he may know something about the lock.

As they leave, it is after dinner time and it will take them about 45 minutes to walk back to Northfort from here. They get back without incident and have dinner, then turn in for the night.