Carrion Crown

Day 57, pt 2
Exploring Feldgrau

While approaching the next building, the party members got a bit too close to the muddy trench in the town square. The found two cultists busy raising skeletons and zombies from what was a mass grave. Eventually, all the undead out here—and the cultists—were neutralized.

Next, they explored the Armorsmith’s shop. Demon Wolves are organizing here, while making guerrilla strikes against cultists and undead allies. Admarius Ionacu and his crew are regrouping to plot next move against WW as they’ve lost several already. The two marauders on the ground floor are lying in wait, and they attack any intruders from range. Upon hearing any scuffle, two above join the battle, while Adimarus stays back. As they begin to suffer more losses, some of their number attempt to flee but find themselves trapped. The party members take Adimarus Ionacu—leader of the Jezeldans—out of the picture, along with four of his tribe.

The party members exit this building and are interrupted by a WW curate leading two Festrogs in a patrol around the next building. They manage to successfully defeat these enemies, as well, but not without expending most of their energy and spells for the day.

The PCs gather all valuable weapons and items and, battered and bruised, with nothing but potions and physical weapons, two of them decide to stealthily enter yet another building.

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Days 56 & 57
Consecrating the Tomb, arriving in Feldgrau

Rurik plans to spend the entire day and night consecrating the tomb. Others do some quiet reflection and exploration. Those asleep at 2am are awakened by a strange dream of being lost in a thick fog. They gather the others and find nothing out of the ordinary going on. In the morning, they allow Rurik to sleep in the wagon on the way to Feldgrau. They also find a letter from Cilas Graydon explaining his absence.

PCs approach town from the NW. Gray sky, thick, low-lying fog hinders visibility to 30’ outside. The sound also carries strangely, with the noises they hear hard to pinpoint and sounding ghostly. They encounter a Gallows Tree using an illusion of hanging werewolves to entice the PCs to approach. Some do and are pacified, some are grabbed by vines. They manage to defeat the tree and approach the first building, which turns out to be an old weaponsmith’s building. Inside is a shrine to Jezelda, demon lord of werewolves. On the crude altar, a very bloody recently sacrificed WW cultist.

The next building was a Religious Goods shop, haunted by former owner Harriet Shepherd (Count Neska dissenter). She and her family were among first to be executed. She had a scroll of Blessed Equipment from which those with the “channel” feature may learn.

The next building they approach is trapped and the door is barred from the inside. They disable the trap and come in through the back where they find the Prince’s Wolves. They are able to present themselves as allies here and find some helpful supplies. The Prince’s Wolves leader here is Rhako, packmate of Rhakis, who tells them the scoop and offers up the cache of alchemy recipes.

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Days 54 & 55
Side quests in Ardis

May 17, 2015

Upon arriving in Ardis, the former capital city of Ustalav, guards directed them to the closest inn, a small establishment called “the Prancing Hoof.” The party made sure that the guards knew that Darkis and Fondral Dorzhanev would be meeting them in the city, and the guards will direct them to the inn.

Upon entering Ardis, the party is approached by a young man, dressed as a beggar. He offers them information on a priceless artifact for just a handful of coin; when they accept, he hands them a cryptic note/map.

“Crowned forever the mad king lies
in his hands, a weapon steel
underneath he who dies
Turned sunward, treasure revealed"

The learned from Verkan the barkeep that the necklace portrait was a small version of a famous painting, the Princess Myrcella. Legend has it, she fell in love with a common man and he was summarily arrested for besmirching her honor. On the day he was executed she threw herself from the Palace Tower. The original painting should still be hanging in the museum in Caliphas.

Most of the party moved on to the next inn which is larger, the Prince’s Lodge. Elian & Tripsin visited the Apothecary, where they met Master Tarvel and bartered for both the sale of their extraneous treasures and the purchase of additional gear and enchantments. The enchantments would take at least until the morning, so the party was free to explore the city.

Tripsin learned a bit more about Desna and her writings and shrines.

Then the party decided to see what they could find out about the Mad King. They learned his name was King Tyrus Ustav, and that his body was likely interred in either the Palace Tower or in the Evercrown Cemetery. The party decided to stay the night and investigate the palace tower the next morning.

They went into the tower, explored the lower levels, and found a huge tapestry of Princess Myrcella Ustav. Next, they found her lover, Rogert du Palmere, at the bottom of the well in the lowest level, and tragically, told him that Myrcella had killed herself. Then they stepped into the princess’s tomb and checked out her sarcophagus. They put the two bodies together and swiped the princess’s crown. Trips also placed the necklace around Rogert’s bony vertebrae, releasing his spirit from the confines of the mundane world and nullifying the haunt from the tower.

They then moved on to the cemetery and found the tomb of the king. After Tattiana excelled in solving a couple of puzzles, the party finally located the weapon of lore: +1 Temple Blade of Ki Intensifying.

Back at the inn, Darkis and Fondral Dorzhanev are now waiting with their cart, horses, and war pony.

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Pound Apology to Fairlight
An Inner Dialog of sorts...

Pound: Hmmm…. grunt…

POUND FINISHES HIS EVENING MEAL, PICKING ALL THE REMNANTS OF ROASTED RABBIT FROM HIS BEARD. HE LOOKS THROUGH HIS HAVERSACK AND HE HIS ECSTATIC TO FIND A FEW CHUGS LEFT IN THE LAST BOTTLE OF HISFLOATYWINE.

Pound: Heh, how did I miss this? Ahhh! Refreshing. Must make more.

Voice: Bazgar, this is your mistress, Sarenrae, you should apologize to Fairlight.

Pound: Hmmm?

Voice: You heard what I said. Apologize.

Pound: Me? Why?

Voice: You said some naughty things to him this afternoon. You hurt his feelings.

Pound: Hurt his feelings? He’s a beast slayer!

Voice: That’s not how he is at all and you know it. Now don’t argue with me and apologize.

Pound: Aye mistress. He is confused. A little schizophrenic. Not right in the head. But I’ll do it anyway – for you.

Voice: Good boy. I have plans for him. He will be my servant.

Pound: What about me?

Voice: You can be my servant by apologizing to Fairlight. And taking a bath. You stink to high heaven.

Pound: Yes, yes mistress, I’ll get right on that.

Another Voice: Sure, do it after one more beer.

Pound: Now there’s an idea. Just one more.

Voice: Bazgar, focus!

Pound: Right mistress, aye, another drink and I’ll be there.

Another Voice: The werewolves are hiding the good stuff. Find it.

Pound: Aye. Look at that, now we got a party of one. A tap and we’re in business.

Voice: Bazgar! Apologize. Now!

Pound: Yes, yes, mistress. I’m your humble, willing servant. I’ll bring him a drink. A drink and an apology go together like Pound and beautiful women. Heh.

Another Voice: Get the blind guy drunk first. You can say whatever you want and he won’t remember.

Pound: Now there’s a plan. He won’t give me that sad puppy look again. I hate that. Sorry and drink up. There we go.

That Voice: Who you kidding? He won’t drink. Just open his mouth and force it in.

Pound: Heh, maybe if he gets tipsy he’ll do his night light trick again. On off, on off! That’ll drive the werewolves batty.

That Voice: Makes a great bug zapper too.

Pound: Aye, damn bugs everywhere tonight. Werewolves and their fleas…

Voice: Bazgar! Apologize, now!

Pound: Yes mistress, yes. Right away. One more beer and I’m ready.

Voice: Put it down and do it now!

Pound: Right, yes, forgive your weak but willing humble servant, Glorious Mistress of the Light. Now where is he?

Yet Another Voice: Creepy crawly hands are coming.

Pound: Uhhh…

Yet Another Voice: Hands crawling, crawling out of the forest for your throat. Dirty fingers pushing into your mouth…

Pound: Uhhh… Damn too much water and piss in this beer. Why are they all laughing? Damn werewolves.

Voice: Oh not this again. Remember our little talk about this?

Pound: Yes, aye mistress I do… I remember every word from your righteous lips.

Voice: Focus on me and my will. Do what I say.

Pound: Yes, the righteous lips of Your Divineness… Your divine righteous face… Righteous pale bosom…

Voice: Bazgar… Focus!

Yet Another Voice: Slimy tentacles dripping black ooze, winding around your skin.

Pound: Uhhh… Another beer, yes. Just one more for the road.

Another Voice: The blind guy would just throw it up and waste it anyway.

Pound: And I have to drink twice as much of this werewolf piss to get going. Damn werewolves.

Voice: I’m waiting for an apology.

Pound: I’m sorry mistress, forgive me. I promise to never, ever swat the High Priestess’ arse again…

Voice: Fairlight! Apologize to Fairlight. Now!

Another Voice: Ah, he’ll get over it. He loves everybody.

Pound: That’s what you said about the priestess.

Another Voice: She had a serious stick up her ass, to hell with her.

Voice: Now!

Pound: Yes, mistress. Where’d he go?

That Voice: I love the smell of gold in the evening. Mmmm… nothing tastes like gold.

Pound: Yes, me purse is getting a wee bit light.

That Voice: Elian has a porcelain piggy bank. Smash it. Lots of gold in there.

Pound: He has a piggy bank? Heh, fun to smash those…

Yet Another Voice: The stench of rotting entrails dripping black ooze from eviscerated corpses…

Pound: Uh, yeah, Elian don’t like smash.

Voice: Sigh. How do you get anything done?

Pound: Stout dwarven ale. That gets me up in the morning. Perhaps a boon from my Glorious Lady?

Another Voice: I bet Rurik has some.

Pound: Aye, a peek in his haversack wouldn’t hurt. He might miss it though. I saw him weighing his bottles after a long night once.

Voice: Alright, I’m done here.

Pound: I got it mistress, you can count on me. Yours to command as always.

That Voice: Fairlight doesn’t care about gold. Maybe he’ll give you some. He just gives stuff away.

Pound: He can’t see it, that’s why.\

Another Voice: Get him drunk and play that coin trick on him again.

Pound: Heh, that was funny. Had no idea where all those ink stains came from the next morning.

This Voice: Look, the big cat is sleeping now. Try hooking that cart with the balista up to it again.

Pound: Hmmm, that ranger girl wasn’t too happy about it last time.

This Voice: When she sees it in action she’ll come around. Everyone needs a good mobile balista.

Pound: That’s true. Very true.

That Voice: Would be worth lots of gold, too. Lots.

Pound: Yeah gold… Right after apology, right after this next drink.

That Voice: Cat balista first.

Pound: Hmmm… Launching cats from balistas… Now that just might work…

That Voice: Best idea ever. Do it.

Pound: Yeah, I just need more cats, lots more cats.

Yet Another Voice: They’re coming for you.

Pound: Damn werewolves making me drink this piss.

That Voice: Smash the piggy bank.

Pound: Damn, keg is almost empty. Someone must’ve short-changed them, beer for water. Damn stupid werewolves.

Quiet Voice: Kill them all.

That Voice: Uh-oh, he’s back.

Pound: I know, drink faster. You have to drink piss faster.

That Voice: Elian has a great sense of humor. Remember he laughed and said your name all day after you smashed that rock, remember?

Pound: Was he laughing or crying?

That Voice: Ah what’s the difference? He’ll thank you for it, just like last time.

Quiet Voice: He’s going to kill you. Kill him first.

Pound: Sarenrae, Mistress of the Light, Goddess of Light and Sun, your humble servant seeks your wisdom and guidance. Please hear my voice and grant me a boon. Grant me perseverence and light. Please, divine Sarenrae…

Voice’s Assistant: Thank you for calling. The Divine Sarenrae is attending to important matters and cannot take your call at the moment. Please hang up and call again letter. Kisses and love to all.

Pound: Oh shit, not again. Call me… maybe?

Quiet Voice: She hates you. They all hate you. It’s them or you. Do it now…

Pound: Uh, uh, do something. Do something. Don’t listen. Focus on Sarenrae.

Quiet Voice: Send them to the darkness, all of them…

Pound: Beer’s gone, what now?

Quiet Voice: Kill.

That Voice: Kitty balista.

Pound: Yes! Kitty balista! All right kitty, let’s get this on you. Better this time, you’ll like this. Nice comfy fit. Dwarven quality.

That Voice: This’ll be worth a dwarven king’s ransom.

Not So Quiet Voice: The King demands! You must obey and slay the fiends! Kill them all! Obey!

Quiet Voice: Yes, slay them…

Pound: There we go kitty… Hey, ouch! Don’t hiss at me like that. Hey! Whoops…

CUT TO BLACK.

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Day 53, pt 2

The adventuring party decided to use the scroll to commune with Desna. Upon reading the deciphered ritual, they all fell into a deep trance. Desna provided them with a look at various points in their upcoming futures:

“Look! A glimpse at your future:

  • You are facing a black-robed necromancer wearing a bone breastplate as he stands before a ruined tower
  • You are fighting a terrifying, tentacled monster deep beneath the sea
  • You are confronting a beautiful female vampire spell caster in an underground chamber
  • You are battling a decaying Lich, blazing with arcane power, atop a high spire beneath dark, churning clouds

Tattiana, you will find the hero within yourself
Fairlight, you will see the lie placed before you
Tripsin, you will recognize the false face
Elian, you will find your bravery tested
Rurik, you will find your salvation
Pound, you will see a kingdom united"

They recognized these fortunes as told to them by Dae’as weeks ago, back in Lepidstadt—at least, those who sat for fortunes back then did.

Upon awakening, most of the party members noticed something new and interesting about their friends. They decided to go down and clear out the bottom of the temple.

In the main amphitheater, something had been throwing debris around in a rage. The party members keep catching what they believe are glimpses of a ghostly werewolf figure out of the corners of their eyes.

Inside the dorm, room to the right, they find dirt, dust, and rot. There is a dead woman, identified as a member of the WW, in the corner. She apparently crawled in here to hide once mortally wounded. She is holding a satchel with 2k gold worth of onyx gems which the PCs recognized as reagents for an “animate dead” spell.

The room to the left was trapped at the arched doorway, through the arch is a rusted metal floor that has been recently swept. Flagstones are out of place in the north corner of the room. The party managed to disable the trap and open the door into the secret room where they found a crazed and wounded Estovian. They successfully identified his wound as a werewolf bite.

They also found, 3 Flasks of Wolfsbane Tonic that are still usable, all else was ruined. Room is divided by iron bars, in the first section are shelves and a table covered in alchemical and surgical tools (solid silver, 3k gold worth), another table with rusted manacles attached; behind the bars is a 10’ pit with rusty stains along the bottom and sides.

Room also contains an iron lockbox (DC 25 Disable) containing the journal of the ancient High Priest, explaining the tragedy that befell his son and what he did to try to combat it. Also contains wand of Magic Fang, 26 charges remaining, and a Scroll of Remove Disease.

They successfully defeated both Estovian, who became trapped while trying to flee, and the Vilkacis. Upon finding the poor beast’s canopic jar, they destroyed it to release his soul. Elian advised his friends that they had just shattered nearly 30k gold, but most agreed it was still the right decision.

Cyrbrisa was able to cure Tripsin of his lycanthropy through the use of a very concentrated wolfsbane poison, the recipe of which she taught to Elian. The party members bartered the Dorzhanevs to borrow a cart and horses; a Dorzhanev scouting party will meet them in Ardis to exchange their own horses & Pound’s war pony. There they hope to secure supplies for the coming trip on to Feldgrau, where they believe the Whispering Way is headed (or already there).

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Day 52, Pt. 2, Day 53
4/26/15

The party continued to question Duristan; unfortunately, he told them of his belief that his tribe would help him become packlord. D’vana, distraught and enraged over the murder of her leader, stabbed him in the throat. After burning the rest of the bodies, they made camp for the night.

DAY 53

The next morning, the party moved on along the path until reaching the next tree-line into the Shudderwood. They noted the rising tower above the tree canopy, which they assumed was the Stairs of the Moon.

As they approached the clearing where the temple rose high into the trees, they noted the design of the building. Tattiana spotted a werewolf archer on the first level of the temple; however, the archer noticed Ash peeking out and prepared to fire at him. Tattiana ordered Ash to attack, instead.

The party members began to make a mad dash to the temple, taking fire — and a few crossbow bolts — in the process. Eventually they all managed to ascend to the first level and remove the four werewolf archers from action.

The party sneaked up to the next level and overheard Mathus and Cybrisa, the leaders of the Mordrinacht and Dorzhanev tribes, respectively. D’vana was captured, and trying to tell Cybrisa of Mathus’s plan. Rurik used his invisibility spell and crept up behind Mathus, while Pound rushed Cybrisa. Both D’vana and Cybrisa were mortally wounded, but brought back from the brink of death by Pound and Fairlight. They then helped D’vana explain Mathus’s trickery to Cybrisa, and she offered the party any help her tribe could give. She also told them that the Demon Wolves (Jezeldans), that tribe that turned Duristan and snowed him into thinking they would make him their packlord, was in pursuit of the Whispering Way. Their plan was to recover the larger part of Kvalca’s heart and have their leader (Adimarus Ionacu) consume it to become packlord. She also tells them that she has access to the smaller portion of Kvalca’s heart, and plans to eat it as soon as the PCs are on their way.

Finally, Cybrisa gives the PCs a scroll found within the temple in the hopes they may be able to use it. Rurik and Fairlight ascertain that the script is not magical nor a spoken language, and Elian immediately begins to work out the cypher code.

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The Communion scroll from Lady Cybrisa
and the decryption of it

“My friends, gather close. A little closer. No, Closer! Okay, that’s too close… you’re on my foot. Back up a little. There – perfect!

It seems that my time with Professor Lorrimor was well spent. I have deciphered the encoded communion scroll that we have received. As i began the process of decryption, i speculated based on a small sampling that perhaps it was a simple reverse cipher, and indeed that turned out to be the case. Here is the message when the key is applied:

When the moon lights upon the symbol of our goddess, glowing moth harkens her arrival. Commune with Our Lady of Dreams!

Sit within the circle and recite her prayer:

Blessed is the long road, the destination, the homeward path, and all who make the journey.

Let each dream be a bright star in the night sky of your mind, and let it light your path in the day.

Do not be troubled if your dream falters, for there are countless stars in the sky and countless dreams to experience

-pick a new one and change your course.

That’s what it says… seems a straightforward task. Perhaps when the moon rises this night we should follow the instructions."

(Looking down and to the left a bit)… “Yes, well… we can try, anyway, and see what happens.” (Looking back up again.) “What do you think?”

Elian Thorin Donovan
Communion Scroll

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Pound's Story Part 2
Interview with Ben the Bard, continued

Inquisitor: You’re saying you were outperformed by a dwarf?

Ben the Bard: No! Look, he had a decent voice. Not great, a little gravelly but a nice timbre in a throaty way. Not nasally at all. Besides, the other guy hit the right notes on the flute, okay? Now you understand why I had to get the flute back. They fled to the prison and then… then those freaky little girls showed up, writing my name in blood all over the place. Not good publicity, know what I mean?

Inquisitor: Tell us what the dwarf told you – the Pound fellow. We need to know what he told you.

Ben the Bard: Oh, you spend the whole time insulting me, now you want me to tell you a tale.

Inquisitor: And don’t leave anything out.

Ben the Bard: I know what I’m doing, I’m a professional. Fetch me my lute and I’ll make it something to remember.

Inquisitor: This isn’t a performance, just answer the questions.

Ben the Bard: Oh what a wretched bunch are we. Fine, but I need to stand for a proper rendition. For proper breathing. All part of proper technique.

Inquisitor: Of course.

Ben the Bard: Yes, ahem, presenting the story of Pound, a dreadful tale of terrible betrayal, greed, avarice, distemper, and great woe to befall the dwarves. Sponsored by Vorstag and Grimes, makers of fine detergents and tasty seasonings good enough to wake the dead. Sorry, I’m contractually obligated to say that. Wait, do I still have to?

Inquisitor: Just go ahead.

Ben the Bard: Yes, deep in the majestic Five Kings Mountains, where few people have ever seen, where giants dwell and the orcs feed on raw flesh of unwary travelers. Far below the shattered rock lie the ancient dwarven halls. Deep beneath the mountains, he said, where the dwarves sat on the thrones of their fathers, older than the memory of the gods. Where rivers of molten gold and silver and iron flow without end and the dwarves pound much rock together. Where dancing girls danced and gyrated in the marble courts, dancing girls with great, heaving bosoms and long, pale legs with circlets and tumbrels of amethyst and jade, dancing with ample bottoms shaking and shimmying and perfumed navels also shaking. Where the dancers writhe and prance and cavort and sashay in the great halls. They sashay and pout with ruby lips and golden hair, cavern nymphs thrusting their hips in their too-small bikinis, with their bosoms bouncing like this…

Inquisitor: Let’s move past this part.

Ben the Bard: Tough crowd, that usually works.

Inquisitor: No, that never worked.

Ben the Bard: If you know so much, why are you asking me all these questions? You think I’m dumb? Maybe we should call your employer in and straighten this all out. I wish to speak with management.

Inquisitor: We don’t recommend that. Just get on with it. Please, for your sake.

Ben the Bard: My sake? My, what a dead crowd. I’m not feeling good at all now. Not one bit.

Inquisitor: Tell us everything and we’ll make sure you’re properly rewarded.

Ben the Bard: Rewarded? Exactly how do you mean?

Inquisitor: We’ll make it worth your time. The sooner you finish, the sooner you’ll find out.

Ben the Bard: Well okay, you should’ve said that at the beginning.

Inquisitor: Did Pound tell you his real name?

Ben the Bard: I thought Pound was his real name. Dwarf names aren’t exactly sophisticated. Two syllables is a real stretch. He’s a criminal on the run, am I right? He ran with a gang for sure, must be part of a big operation.

Inquisitor: Continue please. Just the facts.

Ben the Bard: The facts then. Well, there were the lap dances, cavorting, and swiveling of hips and crossing of ankles behind their heads…

Inquisitor: We agreed you would only tell us what Pound said…

Ben the Bard: He said that part. I think the guy is a perv. I saw the granny underpants in his haversack and not only that—

Inquisitor: Please continue – with the story.

Ben the Bard: Fine, he said there’s this old king of a proud dwarven clan that was once great, but now diminished to near obscurity. Real small players, but a good army, go figure. The king believed in the old ways. He had seven sons who aspired to be king. Seven sons who began to die horrible deaths after the arrival of an old wizard. The first was rent to bloody shreds by a voluptuous succubus who—

Inquisitor: According to our records there were only five sons.

Ben the Bard: Five sons, seven sons, they all die gruesome deaths so what does it matter? Death sells… where I come from, anyway.

Inquisitor: What did he say about a wizard?

Ben the Bard: Well strictly speaking he didn’t say it was a wizard, just an old man. What else would he be? Should we say he’s a traveling shoe salesman? Is that more on your level, or should we go with gravedigger? Is that enough facts for you?

Inquisitor: Yes, yes, Just go on.

Ben the Bard: So this old man – this shoe salesman – shows up talking about treasure buried in the mountains in a forbidden place, treasure of immense power that will return the king and his clan to prominence. But the old king will have none of it and throws him out. After that the king’s sons start dying, one by one, leaving but one remaining heir. The old king then falls sick in his bed, presumably with grief, and even the dancing girls with heaving bosoms cannot get him to rise.

Inquisitor: I see.

Ben the Bard: Eventually the old king kicks the bucket, and the last son takes the throne. The old shoe salesman returns, maybe to sell the new king some green satin shoes – catch my drift? Right?

Inquisitor: Go on.

Ben the Bard: The dwarves are ordered by the new king to dig down to the old vault. After years of searching and digging and battling the demons of the deep they find it, just like the shoe salesman said. The salesman then makes the dwarves perform rituals and sacrifice red shoes – need I say more? Uh huh – to open the vault. One day they open the vault, and the whole mountain shakes, but instead of treasure, they find an old city inside. A great city built by dwarves of old, a city the likes of which had not been seen in ages. The shoe salesman runs into the city and disappears, never to be seen again. The dwarves find rich veins of silver and gold they start to mine and move into the old city. But then the abominations and aberrations come out from the dark and dwarves begin to die in droves.

Inquisitor: What kind of aberrations?

Ben the Bard: Ah, aberrant aberrations? How the hell would I know? I’m paid to fill in the gaps, but you’ve already insulted me for a little artistic license. Really horrible things, okay? They certainly bent that dwarf out of shape. He’s a few straws short of a bale of hay, if you catch my drift.

Inquisitor: Did Pound mention anything about Professor Lorrimar?

Ben the Bard: Uh, only that he came to visit during a great feast celebration of their new home. He wanted to study the great ancient city. There were all kinds of strange carvings on the walls. You know, dwarf shit. But he fled, warning the king they had awoken an ancient power. But the king had gone mad, forcing his people to work and fight even as they died. When they finally had enough and fled, he was still screaming orders at them from his tower. His shrieks were the last thing they heard as they closed the gates and left him inside. They returned to their old homes, filled with grief and madness. But one of the king’s brothers had somehow survived and returned to lead the people, what was left anyway. He had lost his good humor – not a fun guy apparently.

Inquisitor: Interesting. Did Pound tell you his part in this story?

Ben the Bard: Hard to say, he was blubbering so I could barely understand a word by then. I did manage to slip some extra coin from him while he cried in his beer. Uh, I suppose I shouldn’t have said that.

Inquisitor: Is there any more?

Ben the Bard: If there’s still time I could tell the story about the Naughty Wench of Caliphas… No, I suppose not. Right.

Inquisitor: Good, then I think we’re finished.

Ben the Bard: Right, so what happens now? If I’m dead, what am I supposed to do?

Inquisitor: We have something special in mind for you. We’d like to offer a long-term contract to perform on a regular basis. Payment guaranteed, with incentives.

Ben the Bard: Long-term contract? Really? Where do I perform? The Wailing Wench? The Dancing Dice? The Bottom Bells?

Inquisitor: We like to call it Hell’s Gaping Maws Inn. Let’s just say you’ll have a captive audience. Lost souls who really need to learn a hard lesson, so to speak. You’re just the kind of man we’re looking for to keep them appropriately entertained.

Ben the Bard: ‘Hell’s Gaping Maws’. Never heard of it, but it has a certain ring to it. What about my instruments? Can I have a Rod of Voice Enlargement, if it wouldn’t be too much to ask?

Inquisitor: Of course, we run a state-of-the-art facility and we like to keep the staff happy. Please exit to your left.

Ben the Bard: Hey thanks! We’re good now, right?

Inquisitor: Yes, to your left please.

Ben the Bards: Great. This way I go. Whoops. Heh.

Inquisitor: Dumbass.

[END TRANSCRIPTION]

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Elians findings on the map thus far
*way*

Canterwall D6 (Ravengro)
Vieland E3 (Lepistadt)
Vieland E2 (Schloss Caromarc)
Lorzeri F5 (Ascanor Lodge)
Ardeal J6 (Feldgrau is closest)

The path of the way to date? The full path of the way?

Elian Thorin Donovan

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Pound's Story, Part 1
As told to Ben the Bard in the Laughing Demon, or something like that

CASE FILE: 1332-A61-443K
AGENT: INQUISITOR #7
TRANSCRIPT: ‘BEN THE BARD’
BEGIN:

Ben the Bard: [undecipherable]

Inquisitor: Speak into the rod before you. That’s it.

[Loud feedback]

Ben the Bard: Hello? What was that?

Inquisitor: Don’t mind that. We brought you here to answer some questions about a person of interest. A dwarf that goes by the name Pound…

Ben the Bard: Hey, this thing really makes my voice loud.

Inquisitor: It’s important you answer the questions as truthfully and completely as possible. Dishonesty will be—

Ben the Bard: Hello there! Wow, that really carries.

Inquisitor: It’s a Rod of Voice Enlargement. We don’t have much time so if you’ll be so kind as to pay attention and answer—

Ben the Bard: Well I’ll be damned, Rod of Voice Enlargement, I never saw one of these in Golarion. Imagine how I could do with one of these. [sings] I sing the tale of Ole Rorikstead where a farmer’s daughter had once—

Inquisitor: Stop! That will do. This isn’t a performance. We will ask you questions and you will answer them truthfully. Understood?

Ben the Bard: Alright, yes, but I simply must have one of these rods. I could perform for all of Caliphas and the Lords of Ustalav all at one time!

Inquisitor: That’s no longer necessary. You’ve moved on to more… important business now.

Ben the Bard: What business? Where am I? How did I even get here? And exactly who are you? And kindly move that light. It burns my eyes and I can’t even see you.

Inquisitor: We will ask the questions. The light must stay where it is for your safety.

Ben the Bard: My safety? Ridiculous. You have to do better than that. [sings] On one fine day she met a proud knight asleep in her barn, she made a fair sigh as she peeked at his—

Inquistor: Enough! Very well, we can tell you that you are dead.

Ben the Bard: Dead? How can that be? I’m not dead! Look at me, I’m alive! I can sing!

Inquisitor: No you can’t. You are dead, I assure you. Now, you will answer—

Ben the Bard: Answers indeed! I’m sitting on this chair speaking into a rod with a blinding light in my eyes, how am I dead? How? Tell me how this is! And who are you besides?

[REDACTED]

Ben the Bard: I’m supposed to believe that? I wasn’t born yesterday, you’ll have to do better than that. And while you’re at it, move the light, it hurts my eyes. Please put it slightly to the right, my profile is more dramatic from the right side. It makes my jaw line more striking.

Inquisitor: You died of a head wound.

Ben the Bard: Excuse me? Head wound? My head is perfectly fine. Only a few hairs out of place I hope. Might I borrow a comb and mirror? The light is so harsh, it diminishes my finer points.

Inquisitor: A vase was dropped on your head.

Ben the Bard: A vase? I don’t remember a vase.

Inquisitor: Because it was dropped on your head and you died.

Ben the Bard: I was in Caliphas, standing in the way just beyond the commons. It was market day, very crowded, they said I did not have a permit to perform in the market commons so I stood in a street nearby, plenty of passers-by for a performance. I decided to begin with a new composition, ‘The Fallen of the Rusty Swords’. A vigorous piece, sure to catch their attention.

Inquisitor: Yes, it caught their attention.

Ben the Bard: Of course it did. For my second piece I chose current events, ‘The King and His Dog’ one of my finest. I was mid-way through, the dog finds the king’s lost shoe and the naughty dog decides to chew it. Then… hmmm, [pause] then I’m in the queue, and they send me in this room… Say, are you the curators of the Lusty Loon? A secretive bunch, I hear the acoustics are wonderful, but I do insist on a minimum.

Inquisitor: An old woman dropped a vase on your head from a window above and you died.

Ben the Bard: A vase? How could that be I – I don’t understand. It was a fine day, my voice carried like honeyed thunder. I was in top form. Not too early in the day, and my voice carried in the wind.

Inquisitor: Of course. Now we must insist you answer important questions-

Ben the Bard: I can’t believe I’m dead. I imagine my voice must’ve shattered the vase. Or perhaps the poor woman swooned and accidentally dropped it. Really, I don’t remember it, I think you’re making the whole thing up. Are you trying to get a price concession from me? Ben of the company of Swans, man of tragedy and mirth offers no discount for his services. Except on holidays and feast days. Maybe weddings and special occasions. You are quite wrong. This is a miscarriage of justice. Who else can I speak to?

[PAUSE]

Inquisitor: It was a shit bucket. She meant to drop only the contents upon you, but it slipped from her hands and the whole bucket came to your skull and killed you in a moment. Your body was dumped in the lake.

Ben the Bard: I, I don’t know what to say. Wait, Donaphan didn’t put you up to this, did he? Always was a jealous little snit. Right? Aw shit…

Inquisitor: Several moons prior you were in a small town by the name of Ravengro. Do you remember that?

Ben the Bard: Ravengro? That stinky, inbred prison village up north? Yes, I suppose I do. Why?

Inquisitor: You were there for a week, yes? We understand you managed to find work there at the Laughing Demon, is that correct?

Ben the Bard: You make it sound so difficult. I was seeking to bring a little culture and enjoyment to their dreary lives I suppose. The innkeeper allowed me to ply my trade there for a week. A terrible waste of time, it turned out. And who is this ‘we’? Who are you and why are you asking?

Inquisitor: Who we are isn’t important. All you need to know is that we work for someone very influential who wants us to collect some vital information. We suggest you cooperate or things could get very unpleasant for you.

Ben the Bard: I suppose that’s a threat. You do remind me of those lunatics from Ravengro. I was simply a rising bard, spreading a little song and poetry for a modest fee, and for my effort I get insulted, assaulted, thrown into jail and driven out of town. I hope those stirge-bitten villagers all rot in their little prison.

[PAPERS SHUFFLING]

Inquisitor: You were thrown out of town? How did that happen?

Ben the Bard: Nevermind. I must insist moving the light, it’s blanching my skin, I can feel it.

Inquisitor: According to these accounts you accosted three little girls and the Sheriff threw you in jail. Our department takes those kinds of things very seriously.

Ben the Bard: Did you see those girls? They followed me through town like harpies, singing songs in weird voices about my head mounted on a pike and my family jewels being rent. They were spooky as hell and I couldn’t bear another word!

[WHISPERINGREDACTED]

Ben the Bard: Am I the only man unhinged when girls sing about ramming a hot brand up my ass and being hung by my bowels? No? They were all pulled out of the river all right. Lesson learned, right? Right? Help me out here – please.

Inquisitor: Point taken. Tell us about working at the inn. The Laughing Demon.

Ben the Bard: What about it? I worked there four days.

Inquisitor: Four days? Were you thrown out of town before finishing the term?

Ben the Bard: No. I… my flute was stolen.

Inquisitor: So you left because your flute was stolen.

Ben the Bard: That’s not what I said. You’re twisting my meaning!

Inquisitor: Explain your meaning then.

Ben the Bard: A filthy little dwarf stole it.

Inquisitor: Would that be the one that goes by the name Pound?

Ben the Bard: No, I think it was the other one. They all look the same to me. The flute had been in my family for generations. When you hit certain notes in the correct combinations things happen. Sometimes good things… sometimes terrible things. But the dwarf stole it and I simply had to get it back. My livelihood depends upon it. Depended upon it…

Inquisitor: So the dwarf took it from you while you were performing.

Ben the Bard: No I… I threw it at him. The Pound you keep asking about. How I wanted to pound him.

Inquisitor: You threw your magic flute at the dwarf?

Ben the Bard: He irritated me and he was offensive. As I said, I was a bard on the rise trying to spread culture and enjoyment for a modest fee. I did nothing to deserve that mistreatment. My only regret is that I missed. Had it struck him, he would be here instead of me. Instead he sang and told a story. I guess I… got caught up in the story and forgot about the flute until later. You must understand that the whole inn was captivated by the story. I guess I forgot myself. And he was a good tipper.

Inquisitor: You’re saying you were outperformed by a dwarf?

Ben the Bard: No! Look, he had a decent voice. Not great, a little gravelly but a nice timbre in a throaty way. Not nasally at all. Besides, the other guy hit the right notes on the flute, okay? Now you understand why I had to get the flute back. They fled to the prison and then… then those freaky little girls showed up, writing my name in blood all over the place. Not good publicity, know what I mean?

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