We're Not In Arkansas Anymore!

Where There's a Will, There's a Way

After defeating the terrors of the tower of bugs, the party headed south, returning briefly to Oakhurst before traveling on to the coastal cliffs and Swallowfeld, a larger community in which the party hoped to find the magical resources needed to restore Katmar. The half-orc fighter suffered much damage, both physical and spiritual, at the hands of the dromite vampire.

With Plina as part of their company, the heroes made the trip without incident. Upon arriving at Swallowfeld, they could not help but notice the gate banners announcing that important visitors were in town. Specifically, the banners showed that Trencavel, master of House Fresleven’s garrison, and Aki Rance, high bishop of Cymer, were in Swallowfeld. St. Allerius told the party that he and Trencavel are friends, and that the half-giant paladin might have some influence that could help procure the necessary magic for Katmar’s restoration.

The party presented themselves before the court of Sir Sigmund Kjell, dwarf fighter and vassal to House Fresleven. Also present at court were Trencavel, Aki Rance, and ecclesiastical assessor Aranka Ratier, who greeted Katmar warmly, the two having know each other for some time. The party expressed surprise that the hulking half-orc fighter was friends with the Church of Cymer’s chief accountant.

St. Allerius and Scooter related the tale of the tower of bugs to the dignitaries. They explained that Katmar could not recover on his own from the vampire’s evil touch. Aki Rance had a proposal for the party.

“We can perform the restoration on Katmar,” he said, “starting immediately. Of course, since the restoration can only be performed once per week for him, you may need to travel some with us, as we leave Swallowfeld for Mordel in a few days. In exchange, we have a matter that could use your attention.”

The dignitaries explained that local wealthy merchant Feodol Batharda had recently passed away. His son Dennel, the Vermillion Wizard, and daughter, Larissa, reputed to be an organized crime figure, were both claiming sole right to inherit. Sir Sigmund dispatched soldiers to Old Feodol’s manor to search for a will, but the soldiers found nothing to settle the dispute. Sir Sigmund authorized the party to enter the manor and search for the will, reasoning that adventurers would have the necessary skills. The party agreed, and the first restoration was performed on Katmar.

Sir Sigmund’s reasoning about adventurers proved accurate. The manor house, despite Old Feodol’s wealth, was dilapidated and squaloress. Except the kitchen and library, it showed little signs of actual habitation. Ebe’s keen perceptions found a well-concealed secret door in the library. Behind it were stairs leading down to a messy basement that Old Feodol obviously used as a living area. A search of the area turned up lots of personal effects: books and papers, information about business contacts, a painting of a woman the party thought must’ve been Old Feodol’s wife, a congealed bowl of gruel, a portrait of Feodol showing him with pipe in hand and wearing a checkered smoking jacket, the depicted smoking jacket hanging from a peg, et cetera.

The party found another secret door toward the rear of the basement. This door opened to reveal a stark contrast. The next room was a neat, tastefully decorated study with comfortable chairs, a fireplace, and two growling two-headed blond mastiffs crouched and perhaps ready to attack. The party quickly shut the door to have time to discuss what to do with the dogs. Ebe, thanks to knowledge of nature, knew that the two-headed dogs were actually just animals, not some sort of magical beast or unnatural creature. Indeed, Ebe related to the party that some local druids specialize in creating unusual animals via secret animal husbandry techniques. This revelation prompted a brief discussion of how difficult it must be to selectively breed dogs for an extra head. While this discussion took place, Plina returned to the kitchen and prepared four bowls of highly tasty gruel for the dogs.

Ebe reopened the door and slid the bowls of food into the room before shutting the door once again. The party listened for a few seconds as the dogs noisily ate. The heroes then entered the study with Ebe in the lead. Ebe’s ability to handle animals kept the double-headed mastiffs calm, allowing the party to search the study. They found a workbench covered with various healing herbs. Two tins of the desk were labeled “REMEMBER!” and “Helpful”. The first tin contained a red candle that smelled faintly of cinnamon. The other tin held eight large berries. The party left the dogs sitting by the fireplace while Scooter checked the door leading out of the study for traps. He found none. St. Allerius used his clairvoyant senses to peer through the door and saw a short corridor that jogged to the right.

The party sent Scooter scouting ahead. After the bend, the corridor opened into a trophy room. Scooter saw a suit of heavily damaged platemail, a bizarre creature’s head, framed certificates and letters, and a tiny clockwork monkey sitting on a rafter beam. Closer inspection revealed many more clockwork monkeys sitting in the rafters. None of them were moving, but the party become paranoid nonetheless. St. Allerius reasoned that the monkeys might animate and attack intruders, which meant that Old Feodol must’ve had some means of bypassing them. He returned to the basement, noticed the checkered smoking jacket in the portrait and the one hanging on the peg. St. Allerius donned Old Feodol’s smoking jacket and found the deceased’s pipe as well. He then returned to the trophy room.

Katmar and Ebe’s animal companion Big Red took the lead. As soon as they entered the trophy room, the monkeys animated and attacked, forming a clockwork monkey swarm. The party defeated the swarm without serious injury. Scooter struck the final blow that dispered the swarm’s remnants. St. Allerius was unable to command the swarm, but the party experimented with the few remaining clockwork monkeys to discover that they reacted hostilely to everyone but St. Allerius. Apparently, the smoking jacket was a passive signal that kept the monkeys from attacking the wearer.

The framed documents were letters from various people, thanking Feodol for intervening on their behalf. There was also a heartfelt letter expressing friendship from a man named Terisin; that letter mentioned “atonement many times over.” Plina recognized the name Terisin was belonging to a a druid of some infamy, known for violently protecting the small woodlands north and west of town. The placard by the armor identified it as Lord Arnost, who Plina knew to have been a pompous noble who tried to build a new villa in the woods north of town, but who disappeared mysteriously. The placard beneath the strange creature’s head mentioned the Orindale Loggers, who thirteen years ago, tried to cut the forest north of town but were attacked by a plague of horrible beasts that destroyed their saws, rusting them instantly. Rob identified the creature’s head as belonging to a rust monster. An arrow-shaped road sign painted with the words “Garland’s Fork” hung on one wall. Garland’s Fork is a small community northwest of Swallowfeld.

The clockwork monkey menace neutralized, Scooter inspected the one door leading out of the trophy room. He found a trigger mechanism on the door, which he ably disabled, preventing the spear-tipped portcullis trap from pinning anyone to the floor. The party advanced into the next room. They found two large baboons in a cage. From the ceiling hung many ropes. There was a door in one corner. The baboons reacted in a friendly manner to St. Allerius, who still wore the smoking jacket. An inspection of their collars noted nametags labeled Dennel and Larissa. The door opened into a pantry stocked with eggs, dried fruits, flour, and other foodstuffs. A more thorough search of the room discovered a secret door cleverly hidden in the wall next to the baboon cage. The secret door itself had a smaller door in its base. St. Allerius couldn’t see much via clairvoyance due to the lack of light in the other room. Ebe opened the smaller door and cast a light spell in the room. While doing so, he noticed spots of red wax on the floor near the smaller door inside the room.

St. Allerius’s clairvoyant senses could see nothing in the room except a table upon which sat a green-bound book. Scooter unlocked the secret door, and Katmar entered. He immediately detected a moldy smell, and then realized something invisible had snuck up on him. He lashed out with his falchion, striking something unseen but quite solid. The creature backed off, and then Katmar was engulfed in a cloud of spores that caused him to became extremely lethargic. Ebe sent in Big Red, whose sense of smell enabled him to find the monster. Ebe hit the creature’s area with faerie fire, negating its concealment via invisibility. After that, the fight against the phantom fungus was short work for the party.

The party discovered Old Feodol’s will in the room, along with four potions of cure light wounds and four emeralds. The will bequeathed all of Feodol’s wealth to the druid Terisin and his fellow woodland protectors. The document explained that Old Feodol had done something quite foolish as a young man that had caused a druid’s death, and that he had devoted much of adult life to atoning for that error. The will also said that those who found and executed the will could keep the potions and emeralds.

Our heroes presented the will to Sir Sigmund in front of Dennel, Larissa, and Terisin. Needless to say, Old Feodol’s children were not pleased. Threats were made, but Sir Sigmund honored Old Feodol’s last will and testament. The day’s adventure ended with the party making plans to depart Swallowfeld with Rance, Ratier, and Trencavel, traveling with them toward Mordel at least long enough for Katmar to be fully restored.

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MarkChance

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