March 10 - The group continues East to Hochoch. The road is clogged with refugees of all walks of life. Some walking, some riding, some limping. All look frightened. After 2 hours they come within sight of the Western Hochoch gate. It is closed and people are lining the sides of the roadway. As they get closer they ask questions of the people lining the road. They find out that the gates have been closed for the past 3 days. No one has information about or seen the ivory statue of Paylor. At an opportune moment. Maab slips away into the crowd and heads to the Southern gate. The guards there owe her several favors. They also don’t care for Sargent Morna. She easily slips into the city. She finds a quiet corner to use the disguise kit and in under 5 minuets Maab is now transformed into Bess.
At the Western gate Alston has been ever so long winded trying to persuade the guards atop the gate house to let his group enter. Everyone else can see the guards blank stare at Alston’s rambling. 1 of the other guards opens the small door in the gate and come forward to speak with Solaire and Finntran. Alston is still yelling up to the guard up top. (Solaire) “Good day, we are seeking access to pertain information from the city library.” (Guard) “The city is maxed out and we can not let more people in.” (Finntran to Solaire) “Who has the letter from the Duke?” (Solaire) “Exavier had it and most likely took it with him when he left.” (Finntran) “Oh Great.! Wait, I still have the voucher for the rooms at the White Stallion Inn that we got from the Duke.” Finntran produces the paper and hands it to the guard. The guard reads it. (Guard) “So you are 1 of the mercenary groups.” (Solaire) “We prefer to think of ourselves as battling against the coming evil.” (Guard) “Right, OK, Open it up. This group is good. ” The gate begins to open and Alston sees everyone moving forward. Proud of himself that he persuaded the guards up top to open the gate. He proceeds through with the rest of the group. The guards hold back anyone else not with the group and close the gate behind them.
Bess first heads to her uncles leather tanner shop. They tell her that Ben has left the city with his sister weeks ago, heading East. She next makes her way back towards the White Stallion Inn. She sees one of her contacts, Herminie and plies her for recent news. (Herminie) “Gettn bad in Hock here. Too many people. Not enough money ta go round.” (Bess) “Anything I should know about?” (Herminie) “Oh yea, Morna, he’s been promoted Centurion Lieutenant. Charge of da West barracks. Lots mo guards lately. Most now aint beholding to him but he still gots his spies everywhere. You be careful.” (Bess) “I will. Have you seen Bekk or Fekk?” (Herminie) “Not since day before.” (Bess) “OK, take care.” Bess next heads to a local gem dealer for a pearl. Then to the magic shop near the White Stallion. Inside the proprietor is the only one in the shop. He is a young Human wizard. Maab persuades him to cast an identify on her silver ring. She hands him the ring and a pearl. (Wizard) “There is an inscription on the inside. It is in Dwarvish.” (Bess) Can you read Dwarvish?” (Wizard) “Of course I can. It says Ugath. This means Smoke in Dwarvish.” He places the ring in the palm of his right hand, the owl feather and pearl in the left hand and casts the spell. (Wizard) “Yes, transmutation magic, Dwarvish in origin. Level 6 in power. No evil feeling or curse.” He hands the ring back to Bess. Bess thanks him and pays the 20 gold for him to cast the spell. She leaves the shop and continues on to the White Stallion Inn.
As the group continues through the city. They see a similar addition of people. The same as in Hocholve. Every alley and most of the streets have people living in tents, shacks, wagons. Even on the bare ground. There is a vastly increased guard presents everywhere. It takes them 45 minuets to get to the White Stallion Inn. Bill, Ted and Sai take the horses around back to the barn. Inside the inn, there is 1 table of 8 young Human fighters, another table has 2 older human spell casters with 5 very seedy and unruly looking Hobbits. There is an female Elf playing a Lute and a female Elf singing on the small stage. The group takes a table near the warm burning fireplace. They order lunch and drinks. Finntran orders 2 bowls of stew. They all begin discussing the next course of action as Bill, Ted and Sai come in and sit at the table. The barmaid brings over more food, bread and drinks for everyone. Deep in discussion, no one notices Bess enter the inn. She quietly slides over to the bar and sits on a stool closest to the group and orders an ale. It takes about 10 minuets for Finntran to notice her sitting at the bar. He taps Solaire on the arm and points to the bar. When Solaire turns and sees Bess. His smile and blushing face makes her smirk. Bess gets up from the bar with her ale and walks to the table. She gives Solaire a peck on the cheek and sits down between Solaire and Finntran. If Solaire was not blushing before, he is now. (Finntran) Trying to reassure Bess. “It’s terrible, what’s out there. But don’t worry, we have a plan to deal with it. Well, parts of a plan. We’ve had several plans before this, but we have a good feeling about this plan now.” After some small talk, they discuss dividing up what information to look for and to go to the South library. Bess persuades them that they will find more if they return to the North library.
Bess gets up from the table and walks over to the 2 Wizards at the other table across the barroom. The 2 Humans introduce themselves as Ruthbin and Mohab. They are from Greyhawk. They were sent by the leaders of Greyhawk to observe and document the coming events. (Mohab) “Ah yes, you are with group #2 over there. Those 8 young boys over at the other table are group #8.” (Bess) “8 groups? We thought there were only 2 groups.” (Ruthbin) “Oh no. Group #1 are the heros of Ulek. Your group #2 from Saltmarsh arrived just after them. Group #3 is 4 wizards from Dyvers. They arrives a week after you and call themselves the Wonder 4. Group #4 is a well rounded group of 9. 4 fighters, 2 wizards, 2 clerics and a bard. Group #5 and #6 is 5 Dwarves each. Rival clans that heard of the gold reward. Group #7 is 4 Gnomes and 4 Hobbits. They seem to think this is some sort of science project on undead. The last group #8 are those 8 young boys over there. Full of enthusiasm and spunk. Until someone gets eaten by a zombie and they run home to mommy.” While Bess is standing there. One of the Hobbits tries to slowly grab a belt pouch from her belt. She easily grabs his pinky and bends it back to put him on his knees. She pushes him back and lets go. (Mohab) “Ruck! Behave yourself.” (Ruck) Holding his throbbing hand “Sorry, didn’t mean anything by that.” She walks back to the table to relay what the Wizards have told her.
With the discussion of going to the library and finding maps. The Barmaid overhears, while refilling drinks (Barmaid) “There is a cartographer shop not far. Go down 3 blocks to the building with white shutters. Make a right and it is 2 doors down on the right.” (Finntran) “Oh yes, please, we must stop there.” The group finishes their lunch and heads to the map shop. When they walk in Finntran is in awe. There are racks of canvas maps on every wall. There is even a small 3 dimensional map table similar to the Duke’s desk. Showing the city of Hochoch and the surrounding area. There are 5 men surrounding a table that has a large map on it. They are each labeling a section. One of the men looks up. (Proprietor) “Can I help you look for something?” (Finntran) “Yes, Oh yes. I need a map showing Mount Slera.” The map makers mouth drops open. (Proprietor) “No one goes there. It is haunted. Those that go there. Most don’t come back.” He shows Finntran a large canvas map of the area. (Proprietor) “Its 10 gold.” Finntran looks at Alston with sad eyes. Alston rolls his eyes and pays the man 10 gold. Clearly marked on the map is Mount Slera with a ominous warning that a ruin is there called Sleepers Knee. He rolls up the map as they walk out of the shop. (Solaire) “We need to make one more stop.” They stop at the Temple of Paylor. They find one of the priests inside. (Solaire) “Could I borrow some acolytes?” The priest gives Solaire a strange look. (Solaire) “We are in route to the Library and I need eyes that can read and research topics.” (Priest) “Oh, in that case. I have 4 of them you can use.” He summons Adam, Ben, Charles and David. They go with the group to the North Library. Once there, Solaire divides up who will look for what information. They each head to their task. Solaire after a few hours finds.
Curse of Elori
Eternal death for the high Elf queen who brings forth Evil.
The passing of time for you, forever will be your trial.
Banished to thine fiery hells of forever flight.
For all of time yon be ye in no shaft of light.
Hideous queen, begone to your grave
And all that follow you forever a slave
Hence forth, you will bemoan your plight
Torrential screams to haunt you from this moment nigh
High Cleric of Paylor – Surthen Denten – year 122 of the sun – Flanaess
One of the Acolytes, Ben finds a reference to Elori became Queen at the age of 60. In human terms that is about 16 years old. After her Mother Elorise died of a fatal lingering illness. Elori was said to be the most beautiful Elf to ever live. Many suitors over the years vied for her hand in marriage. Another Acolyte Charles finds a reference that Elori’s reign was 600 years. By this time it was 8 bells and getting dark outside. The group decides to return to the inn for dinner. Besides, Finntran’s stomach growling is starting to disturb others at the library. As they get outside, they notice that every other street lamp is lit. leaving many shadow spots. When they get about 4 blocks from the library. A 4 man squad of guards approaches them. (Guard) “Why are you out this late.” (Solaire) “Late? We are returning to the White Stallion Inn from research at the library. We need to deliver these 4 boys to the Temple of Paylor first.” (Guard) “It is not safe at this time of night. We will escort you to your destinations.” The Guards take up a stance of 2 in front of the group and 2 in back of the group. They stop at the Temple and make sure Adam, Ben, Charles and David enter safely. They then head to the Inn. (Alston to Finntran) “This is more like it. An armed escort for the nobility.” The guards make sure the group reaches the inn safely. Alston thanks and hands each man a silver coin before going into the inn. Inside there are more people for dinner then their were for lunch. There is a large table of adventurers across the room. They have 2 clerics of Lliira. The Goddess of joy. Solaire can see the 3 six pointed stars hanging around their neck. (Finntran) “Group #4, I assume?” The table they were at earlier in the day is still vacant and they sit there. No one has seen Wolfcaller since they entered the city. The barmaid brings over a pot of chicken soup, bread, 8 bowls, spoons and sets them on the table. Alston orders a bottle of white wine. During dinner they discuss their findings and what to do tomorrow. (Solaire) “Do we spend 1 more day at the library or head to Elori’s castle? Sai, how long for us to get to …” He stops just short of telling everyone in the bar room where they are going and all need to go anyway. (Solaire) You know. The spot on the map. (Sai) at a normal pace it was just under 3 days to Hochovle. To the spot past I would say 4-5 days over all. If we pick up the pace we could do it in 3-4 days.” (Alston) What about this other road to Enderyn. Isn’t that a shorter route?” (Sai) “Yes but there is no way to cross the river there. I doubt you want to swim your pony a half a mile across very cold water.” (Alston) “Oh, OK. Means we go through Midwood to the ferry.” Finntran with buttered bread in each hand and one in his mouth. Walks over to the table with the 8 young fighters. (Finntran) “So where are you boys from?” (Fighter) “The kingdom of Furyondy.” (Finntran) “You do know that hoards of Undead will be unleashed?” (Fighter) We have battled undead. Many a skeleton have fallen under our thumb.” (Finntran) “What about other undead?” (Fighter) “Zombies are a piece of cake. Right guys?” the 8 boys at the table all roar and drink down their ale. Finntran turns with a smile on his face and returns to his seat at the table. (Finntran) “Enthusiastic but dumb. Do we shoo them home or herd them in front of us as meat shields?” (Solaire) We can decide that in the morning.” Everyone retires for the night up to their rooms. For tomorrow is 1 more big day at the library.
March 11 - It is a chilly, cloudy day outside. The group slowly filters down for a breakfast of egg fried in the center of a piece of bread with a chunk of ham on top. (Finntran) “I have this belt that I picked up a while back. I am pretty sure it is magical. Cant push myself to put it on. What if it is cursed?” (Bess) “There is a magic shop that can cast identify on it. You just need a pearl and an owl feather and 20 gold for him to cast the spell.” (Finntran) “Really? I don’t have a pearl! I don’t have an owl feather! I can find an owl feather. Where can I get a pearl?” (Bess) “I know a place, relax.” (Solaire) “I have this extra suit of chain mail we can sell, if that will help. We can sell it on the way to the library.” Everyone finishes breakfast and they head out to the Temple of Paylor to pick up the 4 acolytes. Near the temple, there is an armor shop. They give Solaire 65 gold for the chain mail armor. He gives the money to Finntran. Bess finds a him a jewel shop to purchase a pearl. The proprietor only charges him 90 gold. (Bess) “We will go to the magic shop later.” Now with the 4 acolytes in tow. They head to the library again.
At the library, everyone heads off in different directions and over the next few hours uncovers allot of information. Finntran finds that Elori had 2 close powerful allies. Both were wizards. Baron Musla of Curragh and Baron Oslea of Mithrond. Mount Slera sits between the 2 now dead cities. Acolyte David has found that over the course of 600 years of Elori’s reign. Of the 20 suitors. The first 10 survived the ordeal. The later 10 did not. One of the early suitors. When Elori was a mere 250 years old. A Harken Sunata, wrote a book of the 20 year trials of attempting to wed Elori. The 10 that did not survive. Their tails of their gruesome demise are bloody and horrid. Most had their faces ripped off. Finntran also finds information that Elori had 18 elite Elvish warriors at her beck and call. Immensely loyal to her. He suspects that these are now the Wights they have encountered. After the bloody reading. (Finntran) “My stomach is grumbling. Isn’t it time for lunch yet?” (Bess) We can stop at the magic shop on the way back to the inn. Along the way, Bess sees a hand stick out of an alley and wave. It looks like a boys hand. It does this several times. Another hand keeps pulling the arm back in the alley. Bess Suspects it is Bekk and Fekk. (Bess) “Solaire, Honey, Give me a minute. I need to freshen up.” She give him a peck on the cheek and walks down the block and leans up against the wall near the alley. (Bess) “Yes boys, what do you have for me?” (Fekk) “We heard you was back in Hock. Weev not been able ta find dat Druid. He dun vanished.” (Bess) “That’s OK. We found him. Did you boys hear or see of any large statue?” (Bekk) “Dare was a heavy wagon wit somin big. Covered in canvas. Da engineers took it to da Duke’s castle.” (Bess) “Frick. OK, what does Moojo want with me?” (Bekk) “Moojo said dat yo mom an uncle Ben gots threatened by Morna befo dae left da city. Da guards are watchin yo moms house an Ben’s shop” (Bess) “They did leave Hock?” (Fekk) “Yea, left weeks ago.” (Bess) “Good, you guys just keep tract of Morna for me.” (Feek and Bekk) “Easy as pie.” Bess flips a silver coin into the alley and as she walks away. She hears the boys fighting on the ground over it. She gets back to the group and finds that Finntran has purchased some cooked meat on a stick. Everyone is not sure what type of meat it is and does not want any. Bess tells them of the plight of the statue. (Solaire) “We must find a way to retrieve the statue from this misguided Duke and place it in the Temple of Paylor where it belongs.” (Bess) “So, stealing stolen goods is not a crime then.” (Solaire) “The Duke is wrong.” (Finntran) “OK, first we defeat Elori and the hoards of undead. Then we can overthrow the Duke because he is an Asshat.” They all chuckle and nod in agreement. They next drop off the 4 acolytes at the temple. Solaire thanks each of them on their diligent work at the library and makes sure the priest knows of their good work. Next it is to the magic shop. The proprietor remembers Bess from the day before. (Bess) “Can you cast Identify on my friends item?” (Proprietor) “Not a problem. I do not have a pearl. Do you have one?” (Finntran) “Yes, here and here, this belt I need identified.” The wizard pulls an owl feather from a draw. Places the belt in his right hand. The pearl and feather in his left hand. He casts the spell with his eyes closed. (Proprietor) “Yes magical, benevolent enchantment, no curse or evil, no trapped soul.” The wizard hands the belt back to Finntran, who is now smiling. He pays the proprietor the 20 gold. Solaire is looking at a Crusader’s Mantle scroll and a Sunbeam scroll. (Solaire) “Alston, wouldn’t it be nice to have these two scrolls to rely on?” (Alston) “For that price? Not really.” Solaire puts them down and walks outside with Alston and Finntran. (Bess to Proprietor) “How much for both of these scrolls?” (Proprietor) “600 gold.” Bess pays the man. Stuffs the scrolls in her satchel and walks outside. Finntran is standing in the street. He is hesitant but puts on the belt. (Finntran) “I don’t feel any different?” He turns around in the street. Nothing happens. He points down the street with his finger outstretched. Again, nothing happens. He next bends his legs and jumps. Solaire is standing next to Finntran when he disappears. Everyone is looking all around for him. Finntran has actually jumped and is hanging off the top edge of the 4 story building they were all standing next to. (Finntran) “Oh Dear! Someone Help Me!” Everyone looks up to see the Hobbit hanging off the top roof edge of the building. (Solaire) “You can jump, and I will catch you…. or you can fall and I will heal you after you hit the ground.” Bess looks at Solaire with an expression of, What, Really? She casts a jump spell upon herself and as she jumps up to the roof where Finntran is. She pulls him onto the roof. He is panting heavy. (Finntran) “I don’t like heights.” There is no hatch in the roof to get down. (Bess) “I have a feather fall ring. I will lower you to the ground. When they step off the roof. Finntran losses his grip and cant hold onto Bess for long. He falls towards the ground screaming. Solaire attempts to catch him and when Finntran lands on him. Knocking Solaire to the ground with a painful, ummff. Finntran bounces back up into the air and lands on the building across the street from the first rooftop. Bess lands safely on the ground. Finntran looks around and goes to the hatch that is in this roof. He walks down the ladder into someones bedroom. He soon walks out a door onto the street. Solaire is still laying on the ground. Bleeding from his nose and he has a good size dent in his armor. (Solaire) “Guys, I am only bleeding from one orifice.” as he wipes the blood from his nose. Alston walks over to Solaire and picks him up. He sits him on a bench by the side of the street. Finntran apologizes to Solaire. He casts prestidigitation to clean the blood from Solaire’s armor. (Carter to Bess) “Are they always this clumsy?” (Bess) “Not always. Chalk it up to, A Bad Day. ” Sai, with her right hand resting on the hilt of her sword is keeping an eye on the street to make sure no one takes advantage of the situation. She is chuckling to herself and shaking her head.