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Page history last edited by Azeari 13 years, 4 months ago




Half an hour later, Garyn heard the sound of hoofbeats approaching, so Martok went to investigate. Although it was now dark, Martok was able to see clearly due to his magical eyesight. Nevertheless he failed to spot the cow thundering towards him before it had bowled him over. The brown cow trotted up to the campsite and came to a stop. Nobody was particularly happy to see it again, but they left it be.


The goblin finally came to his senses and told them what they needed to know. In his minotaur form, Lukwind so intimidated the goblin that it would have given its entire life story had they been interested. This was a solitary raiding party, not part of any larger warband. The goblins had stolen the grain from the nearby settlement of Crow Hollow, only a few miles journey from here.


Imagining an entire village delerious from ergot, the adventurers set off straight away. Martok hung back a little and, when he thought that noone was looking, fired an eldritch spear at the cow. It bellowed in pain, but was not discouraged from following them further.


After an hour, a cluster of roughly a hundred small buildings came into view. There were no outward signs that anything was amiss. They brought their wagon and horses to a stop in the village square. They were met there by Amabel, the bailiff, as well as a cleric and a warrior. Methris quickly explained how the village grain supply might be tainted with fungus. They went straight to the barn and found, as they expected, that the grain was contaminated. Dean, the village cleric, now had the arduous task of purifying the whole store of grain with his magic.


They handed over their goblin captive to the village authorities to face justice. They also enquired whether anyone recognized the cow. One of the villagers told them the sad tale of old Ellis Inwood.


Ellis was a local farmer, a nice enough fellow until one day tragedy struck: his farm burned to the ground and Ellis and his cow were the only survivors. Ellis blamed the cow for his misfortune, implying that she had kicked over an untended lantern with malicious intent. He swore that the animal was possessed with evil spirits and chased it away from the village. That was the last time that he was ever seen. The adventurers concluded that Ellis had been suffering from ergotism, psychotic from the effects of the fungus. They entrusted the cow to the villagers, who locked it away in the barn.


Amabel was grateful for everything the adventurers had done for her community. She offered them free accomodation and meals at the inn, which they accepted.


The following day, being the second of the month, was the festival of Agathodæmôn. However, the celebrations in Crow Hollow were much more modest than in Helsmuth. The villagers gathered in the square while Dean emptied a flagon of wine onto the ground to honour the dead.


Anxious to make good time, the adventurers picked up their pace and arrived in the next hamlet by midday. They stopped for lunch and Lukwind used some of his healing magic to aid the draft horse, which was still somewhat injured from its encounter with the ankheg.


Galloping off again, they arrived in the village of Trimdon in under an hour. They passed through the village without slackening their pace, but Garyn called a halt when he spotted something of interest. Outside a small tavern was a painted sign saying "NO ELFS ALOUD!" Methris remained with the wagon and horses while the rest of the adventurers went inside.


When Garyn Half-Elven swaggered into the tavern, he was surprised to recognize the bartender as Radon Thorsman. The son of a cooper, from the village of Fernquay, Radon was one of a pack of bullies who had chased Garyn out of the village when he got too cozy with the mayor's daughter. It seemed that Radon still held the same bigoted attitude and was long overdue for some payback. Radon glanced at them as they entered and said, "We don't serve your kind in here. Begone." When he saw Lukwind stoop to fit his minotaur horns through the doorway, he ducked beneath the bar and came up with a loaded crossbow in his hands.

Martok employed his Baleful Utterance to shatter the crossbow into pieces. Barely pausing, Radon reached for the greataxe that was hanging behind the bar. Lukwind bent down so that he was eye level with Radon, and let out an enormous roar, stopping the bartender in his tracks. Now that Radon was pacified, Garyn stepped up to the bar. He could see that Radon had finally recognized him. "Ah Radon, it appears that little has changed since you and your friends showed me such hospitality at your village. Interesting that someone with such a lack of people skills would give up the family business as a cooper and become an innkeeper. My suggestion to you is to have a rapid change in attitude or a change of profession as the next group through here may not be as forgiving as I am. Should my friends and I pass back through here and find that you have continued in your racially intolerant ways, I might have to demonstrate how intolerant I can be."


Martok punctuated Garyn's speech by disintegrating several items of furniture with his Baleful Utterance.


They decided that it would only be fitting for Radon to pour a round of his finest ale, on the house. Everyone drained their tankards, then they hit the road. The ale was more potent than Martok had expected, and he had a bit of difficulty staying on his horse as his head swam with the effects of the alcohol.


After another hour of travel, they spotted a sign on the side of the road. In red letters on a black background it read, "Are you worthy of the challenge?"


Minutes later, they passed another sign proclaiming, "The test awaits!" Below the writing was a red arrow pointing to a small dirt trail that branched off from the main road. Remembering the last sidetrack when they became the unwilling guests of a pixie feast, the adventurers decided to resist the temptation to investigate.


In any case, they were only a mile or so from the town of Silverthorne. Sure enough, around the next bend they were greeted by the sight of a large lake. Sprawled on its southern shore were a thousand buildings, perhaps more. This was the largest settlement they had seen, since they left Helsmuth just over three weeks ago.


Lukwind decided to shapechange back to human form, in case minotaurs were not welcome in town. The streets were mostly empty as everyone were still drinking toasts to the good demon, Agathodæmôn. They rode into a large, open plaza and reined in to have a look around.


A trio appeared in the plaza, as if out of nowhere: a man and woman, who appeared quite wealthy; and a bald man dressed in a kilt and sandals, in the style of Khemet. The young couple were James, a merchant, and his wife Avri. Their Khemetian companion was a member of the Wayfarer Society named Galon.


Galon explained that, for a small fee, his guild provided teleportation to anywhere in the world. However, Galon could transport a maximum of 1,800 pounds on each trip, so they would need to travel light. He would be returning to Silverthorne in seven days, so he urged the adventurers to consider his offer and use the time to rid themselves of any excess baggage.


The adventurers decided that, whether they accept Galon's offer or not, it would be in their best interests to lighten their load. Martok spoke up and mentioned that with his enhanced vision he had been able to spot magical auras emenating from some of the items that the party has acquired in its travels. Therefore, the following day they sought a magic user who might be able to provide some information about these items. Although it was the festival of Athena, Ambrose Hitchcock the wizard was open for business. He would require 24 hours to identify 6 items, at the very reasonable price of 160 gold coins. Having determined their purpose, the magical rings, armour and swords were then distributed amongst the party members.


The cart was sold, along with a large amount of non-magical equipment, armour and weaponry. Apart from spending his days haggling with merchants, Lukwind was also establishing a name for himself as a performer at the inn where they were staying. During the feast of Pyanepsia, on the 7th of Pyanepsion rising, he gave such an extraordinary performance that his fame spread throughout the entire town. He would be remembered and talked about long after he had left on his quest for the jade ring that contains the toenail clipping of the Goddess Whose Name is Life.

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