9.23.11 In game, Thursday, Foover month, 78921.
- Tibbers—a goblin with a beanie skullcap.
- Skritt—a goblin with a shaved head.
- Wayland—a hunter with an open-face samurai helmet.
- Timothy the Tulip—gladiator with an open face helm with a yellow plume and a tulip painted on the side.
- Brenna—a sneaksy thief with a flambouyant hat and a white plume.
- Kitten—a gambler with a tall, conical hat.
A seedy wizard named Hector hired agents to go to various taverns and offer work to adventurers. Those who responded met in the snug of the Keystone, an inn built over an arch to a gate into the inner city.
Hector paid all who showed up 5 gold, as promised. Then he turned to Albion, an albino elf, to explain the expedition.
Albion reviewed the history of Oscelot. The town was built to logistically support pilgrims and fellow adventurers who came to visit Sordeg’s Retreat. In the old books, Sordeg’s Retreat is described as being in the cliffs above Oscelot (which is surrounded on 2 sides by cliffs.) But Albion realized that Oscelot used to be in the valley below, and was moved up onto this cliff after repeated flooding and rock slides. So, the cliff over Oscelot used to be the cliff Oscelot is now built upon!
Underwhelmed by the party’s blank stares in response to his brilliant research, Albion hurried on. The entrance to the Retreat used to have stairs down to the valley, but a rock slide wiped them out. He hired Effson, an elf with a dirigible, to help them find the site so they can go in and see what treasure they might acquire.
As the briefing was winding up, the sharp-eared Skritt heard a ruckus down the street. Upon poking his head out to investigate, Hector drew it back quickly as an arrow thudded into the window frame. Right! And the briefing was over.
As they hurried downstairs, they passed through the main room, where a wedding was occurring. (Wedding music had played all through the briefing; apparently the bride took her time in deciding whether or not to show up.) Passing the back row, Brenna just couldn’t help herself, and she dipped into some pockets.
The father of the bride saw this, yelled “Thief!” (which did not improve the solemnity or celebration of the event), and charged at Brenna. She whipped a knife up at the chandelier overhead, snapping it (it was a near thing; she had to lean like a bowler, and the knife path curved to hit the cable just right.) The chandelier crashed down, pinning the father of the bride to the floor; the mother of the bride golf clapped.
A grand melee threatened, as wedding guests reacted to the disruption. Half the characters (including Hector, of course) scampered outside. Tulip, Brenna, and Wayland matched themselves against the assembled wedding guests. As a wave of them pummeled Tulip trying to get to Brenna, Wayland tried to fling one guest at a pile of other guests, thwarted when the fop dug his nails into the back of the chair, squealing as his kicking legs flipped his tunic up and revealed he had displaced his stuffed codpiece with all the thrashing.
The characters outside saw a mass of what Hector identified as Stenchites coming; lots of warriors, and several toads, and a big riding beast that looked unpleasant. They split up, Hector and Kitten going one way and the goblins going with the rest of the group. Hector mentioned they were to meet at the Ariel Plaza, and they went their separate ways.
Brenna and Wayland slipped around the guests trying to block their way, but Tulip was blocked; only one guest successfully stood in his way, as long as it took Tulip to bash him in the chest and knock him down, breathless, strolling over his prone form.
One of the goblins successfully harvested some rats from the garbage while hiding, and Hector did his best to flirt with Kitten; only one of those efforts had remotely appetizing aftereffects. Soon they found themselves at the Ariel Plaza, a lovely vista with tall pylons and a railing, overlooking a 200 meter drop down the cliff side upon which Oscelot was built.
A 10 meter long dirigible was docked to a pylon on the plaza, with several boonwings menacingly perched atop the bag, eyeing the goblins hungrily. Here began the tradition of goblins riding on Tulip and Wayland for ease and safety. It was not easy for everyone to work up the nerve to climb up the pylon with the dizzying gulf on one side; only Tulip seemed to enjoy it enough to go more than once, trying to lend his depthless confidence to the more timid in the party.
They cast off, with a boonwing unmooring them. As they drifted into the gathering dusk, they made arrangements to sleep aboard the dirigible, with the goblins snuggling up to those they hoped would protect them in case hungry boonwings snuck in. Hector noted as party leader he’d get two shares of the treasure; the rest of the group didn’t say much in response, eyeing the skinny wizard and thinking their own thoughts.
In the morning, Effson mounted a cannon in the cabin of the dirigible. After a few morning shenanigans, the group was ready to go; Effson fired a grapple and line at the mountainside after the sharp-eyed characters identified the half-buried entry to what could only be Sordeg’s Retreat.
The characters had an adventurous time zip-lining down from the dirigible to the broken mountain side. Brenna got stuck, hanging over the dizzying drop, and Skritt took her another cable to help slide down. Eventually they all made it, and Effson released the cable and drifted off. Tulip coiled the cable and carried it with them. They didn’t notice until later that somehow Hector didn’t make it down with them, remaining on the dirigible.
Wayland noticed tracks of spiny rock crawlers, carnivorous predators about the size of an anteater. Going into the retreat, they found a room full of tribute and gifts of regard, all of them centuries old. And they found five spiny rock crawlers, four skulking through the tributes, and one clinging to the roof. They dispatched the crawlers, mostly with ranged weapons, flinging knives and firing arrows through the heroic kitsch. Tulip crushed two in single combat, and one charged the archers to be mowed down before reaching them.
Tibbers became Tulip’s weapon caddy at this point, clinging to his back and offering him the right weapon at the right time. Also, this began an escalating hero-worship, with Tibbers coming up with oil to rub on Tulip’s muscles.
Pleased with their victory, they proceeded on to a large room with a dais on the far end, and a green orb on a stand. The walls had murals that had been stripped of gold and looted, but there were runes across the floor and walls that blocked the way in. “Do not disturb lightly,” the runes said in the language of magic.
Wayland was first across, then the rest, and only Brenna couldn’t do it. Tulip fired her up with an inspirational speech, and she eventually managed. Then they looked into the green orb, seeing a scene of trees, a trail, a lake at the end. They touched it, and were all transported through the crystal.
They noticed the place was manicured, very well tended. In no time, they were intercepted by deer-headed warriors armed with bows, with packs of hunting rabbits. Wayland climbed a tree, the others clustered around the base, and they parlayed. The deer-heads told them to go back, they insisted they wanted to explore.
It was on the edge of violence when Tulip asked them how they resolved challenges (since they couldn’t have a cook-off, not cooking their food, or so any of the other challenges the characters suggested.) They had head butting contests to settle things. He accepted the challenge! A pudgy dumb deer-headed warrior trotted up, and Tulip butted heads with the deer-headed warrior.
Impossibly, the human was still standing and only slightly cross-eyed, knocking the bone-pated deer out cold with a single mighty forehead whack! Overcome with grudging respect, the deer –heads escorted the characters to the shore of the lake, insisting that they not go anywhere else, especially not to the domed building of Sordeg’s Retreat.
Tibber’s increasingly disturbing hero-worship escalated, as he skipped along before Tulip spreading rose petals in his path.
Once at the shore of the lake, they encountered a moose-headed warrior, at least twice as big as the deer-headed warriors. (They also saw the hunting rabbits drag a subdued raccoon out of the brush for the deer-headed warriors. Disturbing.)
The moose-headed warrior demanded to know what they were doing here. Being a gambler, Kitten gambled; she explained she was a great-great-granddaughter of Sordeg, here to visit the places he had been on a kind of pilgrimage. The moose-headed warrior softened, believing her lie, and allowed them to visit the retreat itself. But stay out of the north closet.
The rotunda had a built in recliner throne, open vista on the twilight lake (always a balmy twilight here), three watery women strumming harps and hanging out, a coat on one wall and a sword on another. (And two closets to the north—forbidden, with keep out signs.)
Tulip talked to the water women, who did not have any sense of time passing (how long it was since Sordeg was here last.) They knew that the men had itchy glue in them, and offered to harvest it, so the men could relax and be sleepy. Tempted, they declined.
Skritt checked out the tail coat, “The Coat of Starlight.” (They had plaques.) It was a gift from Forgess Maesha, for saving the Senchilian Elvenforge from disaster, by slaying a dragon they named Gris. He took the coat and stuffed it in his sack; it wasn’t locked in glass or secured in any way.
Wayland took the sword, “Lash of Peristrina.” Sordeg’s wife Chuliet was the last one who could bear the blade (of the bloodline of Ardlian) and she was eaten by a dragon twenty years before Sordeg died.
Tulip relaxed on the recliner throne, and in joining him there, Skritt noticed the ceiling was a mural mosaic, with gems and text for all the places Sordeg kicked butt and did heroic acts; he could chill out with his gorgeous water nymphs playing music, surrounded by his trophies, reminiscing at his mosaic map. Not too bad.
So of course Tulip got out his polearm, a goblin clutched the top, and Tulip raised the goblin high enough to pry some of the gems loose. The moose-head, deer-heads, and nymphs looked on with vague interest. Inquiring about what was behind the stone doors, the characters found out from the nymphs that both closets led to things that could disrupt life here, and one could destroy it. They did not care to discuss it further.
With some loot in hand, they decided not to press their luck. Kitten assured the moose-head that they’d look forward to returning (a glib lie), and they headed back to the emerald wall, returning to the inner stone chamber.
After once again cajoling the frustrated Brenna over the runes, they returned to the spiny rock crawler lair and gleefully looted the centuries-old gifts to the mighty hero Sordeg, finding all sorts of valuables among the kitsch.
It was dusk in the real world; time must move a little differently in the retreat beyond the emerald wall. A boonwing hunched waiting for them, and flew off to alert the dirigible as they emerged. Skritt got a fire going, and the dirigible returned, firing a new zip line into the mountain face, then lowering so they could slide down to the dirigible.
Again, the wind picked up, making it a difficult trip, but all of them made it down to the dirigible. Brenna and Tulip told Hector they found the location of the Senchilian Elvenforge—but they didn’t share what it was. He agreed to make both of them partners in the expedition there (somewhat reluctantly.) They decided to cut him out altogether, but didn’t say that to his face. After all, they know where it is…
Upon returning to Oscelot, both Tulip and Kitten did genealogical research, tracing their bloodlines as best they could. As it turns out, the elven family of Ardlian had some exiles to the island Kitten is from—she may have a trace of their blood! So she kept the sword.
The Coat of Starlight was made for a big guy, and fit Wayland, so he traded all his loot to Tibbers for the coat; both were pleased.