“The Bard” – a mysterious traveler has passed away – no tales of his arrivals now filter from town to town.
However – far away, where none see. A thin figure appears on the muddy barren wastes and crumples to the the ground. Having little to know memory of his life the ancient and apparently palsy ridden man begins to try to gather together his wits, and his memories and get back to ….. where was it? Finding his way across the putrid mud, sucking heat and sustaining himself on insects, worms and the like – he crawls… driven south east.
He remembers, something….
he is “the carrier.”
Dreams of a childhood – like smoky tendrils plague his dreams.
He is dying.. he knows that now.
So he has to go south east…
Have ventured forth, with the south almost untouched by the Long Night, the greedy and desperate have once again a lemming’s journey in mind. A Dwarven would be warrior (Urrgur) and Guruu , a Gnomish Illusionist of the old order—from the recently “returned” Iron Kingdom – that still annoys them – seek:
3) Understand why the caravans of refugees continue to poor southward – what happened.
Venturing Northward, the trusted Dwarven Maps become useless – the milestones – even the roads, forests and towns are as if filed off the surface of the land. Dwarf and Gnome alike are increasing agoraphobic as they venture across the dusty border from one fungal forest bloom to another – fending off sickly wolves, goblin patrols and the misfortunate wretches moving southward. More than once they come across caravans – apparently attacked – but not looted, and the bodies all gone.
In a small “village” (a collection of meticulously built homes and perimeter defenses – near a thin, milky stream – Dwarf and Gnome become separated, after the apparently insane villagers insist to the point of combat that they share in the “food” – their waste.
For reasons that even I cannot fathom, they are unable to reconnect outside town, .... on the equivalent of the Kansas dust bowl plains. Group 2 – becomes Solo 2 & Solo 3.
Solo 3 – no progress as yet
Solo 4 – Akarai appears… along with the rest of people. A race of Elves from another Time/Land/World perhaps – fleeing from the relentless onslaught of the filthy human war machine. Nearly hunted to extinction this group of Elves found an ancient way gate, overrun with vegetation and time – the group’s sorcerer and priests were able to recover some of its function and open a transport portal… hastily it seems.
How strange to leave a land where beneath never ending trees even the rocks are bespeckled with colorful lichen and moss… to step into … a skeletal remains of a forest, whose trees are barely alive, whose earth lies like a ancient prune skinned body. Near them was/is a city. Akarai takes point and scouts the city’s edges. The work appears elven, but unfamiliar… the twisting borders and pattern books he soon realizes must be their language. Finally he see’s one. Good.
At least its elven. Also tall (around 7ft) – the spotted High Elf is confused by this elf’s golden skin color and slovenly appearance.
Akarai starts up a conversation… or rather talks a lot.
Akarai’s group is attacked by the High Elf and his fellows, harranged through the forest and out into the plains. Akarai is expelled – disowned.
Coming across several small “hunting” parties of humans with their war wagons. Akarai comes across his new companion – a huge, apparently flightless Avion (ok… its Chocobo….sue me). Still unable to understand anything being said around him. He sees a group of other Avions in another war party… he approaches.
Group 5 – In Deception, Xou – the apparently Scottish Druid – finishes his training, and is promptly assigned. Asking no questions of the charge. He promptly takes his escorts and leave Deception.
The most battle experienced Laucion hefts a greatsword of apparent value. Like Xou – Alonios, rides his Chocobo and the two seem to get along.
Xou is being sent to Willstown… another settlement, to server for 3 months (healing and promoting growth of crops and the return of the trees near deception. A few days ride – but near Deception there are still the hordes slowly draining back into the underdark.
A day and a half out they come across a lone Chocobo Rider. Outside of a fungal forest. Apparently a High Elf.
(Solo 3 becomes part of Group 5)
Akarai sees the humans war party and plans for revenge.. when from the Forest a Ogre and Goblin assault. Xou is critically wounded. Laucion is coated in gore.. and likes it.. perhaps too much.
Akarai’s companion befriends the other Chocobos, and through his empathic link he is gains VERY limited communication with Alonios, and Xou…
Humans who seem to fear “big” elves?
With Xou’s injuries the 3 day trek becomes 6.
Upon reaching Willstown – William, the town leader. They are given temporary quarters and Xou’s guards are releassed from service.
(Group 5 splits into Solo – Xou and Group 5)
they meet Urrgur (who came across an elderly man suffering from malnutrition and cholera)
(Solo 1&2 combine with Group 5)
Xou goes to treat sickly children,
Laucion goes to confront Willstown’s squatter.
Things get odd. Kids are sick, but cannot be healed.
Laucion goes nutty. Get’s evicted from Town.
Then just goes insane.
Xou rejoins the group and together they kill Laucion before he kills the children.
A house is destroyed,
A bad bean is found.
Is it responsible for Laucion’s and the children’s illness?
What does Synour (the squatter) have to do with any of the this?
William is a BAD ASS with sword and dagger.
What’s wrong with Xou’s Chocobo?
In the aftermath of Laucion’s attack, Xou runs back to the fungal forest to gather building supplies to fix Fania’s roof.
Meanwhile in town:
Fania and her children take over William’s home.
Alonios, searches the city’s keep and finds a box of wands and rods – of Defoliation?.
The children’s health continues to decline.
Xou returns to town with supplies to fix the house, and a Kender.
Xou cannot seem to hold off the children’s illness. Synour gets more irritable
Xou finds that part of Synour’s fields are tainted, the crops cursed – presumably with madness. When Xou goes to notify Synour, he comes out wielding a hatchet. Quick as a thought the Kender’s nimble hands have a dagger in flight…. critical strike. Synour dies.
The fields are put to fire, and 2 more folk take ill. The kids do not look like they’ll last the week. Fania becomes despondent.
Who will answer her prayers, and at what price?
After a long hiatus.
Freshly chased from Deception, Cass – the perhaps overly amorous Bard – wanders the roads in his scivies. Seeing the smoke rising from the burning infected fields.
Cass wonders into town, under dressed.
Fania’s children continue to decline, the Kender – Just trying to be helpful looking for clothes for Cass – interrupts Fania doing something suspicious.
Xou thinks that the fumes from the fields have spread the infection.
Piola, Tumes’s lifemate, seems to have taken a fancy to Cass… and Tumes is not happy about it.
Alonis’s box of rods and wands of Defoliation become subject to a Kender’s curiousity, and to a twist of fate.
The magical oddity (a black 4 sided pyramid) comes into play.
Piola’s attempt to “be helpful” and useful to Cass, may have spread the disease…
The Kender decides to check in on Fania, who appears to be attacking her children. The Kender “walks” into her house and finds her standing over the middle child, his face coated in gore and flecks of blacked “tissue”, her youngest is already coated head to chest in such stuff.
The Kender attacks, and finds that Fania is skilled in combat, however – her left hand is her weakness, having lost some fingers, and the hand appears flayed to the midwrist.
Cass – who was scrounging through Synour’s house hears the scuffle and arrives in time to defend Fania (who appears to be attacked by the nasty little Kender) However Cass’s perceptions soon change when he see’s Fania’s children, the state of her hand, and a make shift Altar to Iuz. It seems that Fania, having given up hope was offering her sacrifices to Iuz to save her children’s lives – only to be interrupted.
Xou – not very good with other religions – doesn’t get this, and just labels her Mad. Given her progression and the other towns folk, he proceeds to quarantine EVERYone who MIGHT be infected… into one room.
Further folly and mischief causes the towns central security and support structure to collapse in upon itself – The rods /wands are lost as is the inverter.
William gives up, just under 5 days since the party arrives the town lays decimated… its founder, and the towns midwife trek back to Deception, their days of exploration at an end…
Fania’s youngest child sits amid the dead and dying – gurgling and content. Apparently Iuz chose to make him immune… a god’s sense of humor.
Deus Ex Machina
William is distraught – his towns folk (hand picked friends, neighbors) now are bound in the former house of Fania – who has become inconsolable in her grief – perhaps insane. The rest of the town folk are bound to beds where their sickness fouls the room, Fevered murmurs and retching are the background in which Xou works to temper the illness.
New to the scene Cass confronts William who has taken the last other well towns person – the older Balnor to run/ride back to Deception to find another source of help. How did it go so wrong so fast?
Cass doesn’t help his dark mood – persuasive as Cass is, Cass’s words fall upon a man haunted by his misfortune. Murderous Rage washes over William as Cass accuses him of leaving his friends to Die rather than stay and help – the old william is barely able to hold his temper in check. However, Cass cannot suggest a solution to the illness – and William resumes his determined forced March. Alonis loans him his steed to make the ride quicker.
The town center remains a sort of burial marker for the town.
Strange magics are afoot – the flow of time seems to break from the weave and drop back in upon itself.
No sooner is William out of sight then fields suddenly are no longer scorched earth, Fania’s flailed arm restored, the town folk (with the exception of Synor and Fania’s Eldest – both of whom remain lifeless).
The town’s center seems restored, and again the Drow’s arsenal of Rods of Defoliation are locked safely in the cellar storage…
What has happened?!?
The Kender returns a necklace and book to the Elderly man.
Cass steps up and provides an answer – not the right one – but an answer none the less.
William “the Defiler” is to blame – it was HE that was cursed, with his departure the town can restore itself… and then Cass sets about whipping the townsfolk to prepare for William’s return – William has to pay.
Fania’s heart – once seeking william’s – now seeks his blood.
The elderly Man who once seemed so satisfied after the sudden reversal of fortune now seems despondant on the actions of the town.
The Kender’s Magical pyramid is thrown again into the chest, and the Rods’ destructive abilities are inverted – it seems hope can spring anew…
Cass and Xou lay plans for the use of the new magical horde – how will they recreate their domain, what should they call the town – “Will’s Folly”.
If they use the Rods to maximum effect – how much of the world can they restore, how many charges will raise up the forests anew. Is it better as they believe to use the power quickly to prevent its accidental destruction – or to wait.
How will the Lords and Powers of the world feel about their new “untainted” nation…
If word spreads that they have the ability to heal the Land…
who will fight for that power?
who would kill for it?
Suddenly vaulted to positions of possibly unequaled power – a band of ragged “heroes” now hold the most precious commodity in their greedy clenched fists …
Reset- Rebirth – Nova Prosperity
Xou takes the magical oddity and see’s what happens with the Laucion’s apparently Demonic Blade.
Afterwards he lays out a couple of Kender Traps – fire traped pouches. Which first burn then mame the Kender…. Xou finishes him with the Great Sword.
Is Xou following Laucion’s path?
The town is pressed to keep up with the bumber crop production over the next 5 days the fields produce a years growth. Outside of town the grasses goes to seed again and again, and the ground and perimeter have an inch of seeds – so much that the ground looks like a sandy beach.
Halfway through the fifth day a party arrives: William at the head.the party slows as they—half expecting to find a town bereft of life… find instead a verdant green and golden oasis in a stagnant quagmire. The party slows and from town out bounds Xou on his mount Draith awash in a green fire. Williams party has 2 other Fighters, 2 Priests, a Sorceress (Ms. Strange) and a Druid. The Druid dismounts and runs his hands over the grass and sprouting trees. As Xou approaches two rapid twangs sound, and suddenly William has a near mortal wound in chest and another arrow narrowly missing his jugular rips and carves open his throat.
Xou magically enhances his vision and scans the fields…. FANIA! Dressed in a make shift gilly suit – her hatred has born a bloody fruit. The priests rapidly stabilize William while the Warriors attempt to determine where the attack came from. Fania fires twice more while the Warriors find their attacker – and Xou sets up an entangle spell. BOTH of Fania’s shots find William !!! Barely able to keep him alive the Priests prayers rise, as the weeds roots and grasses wind them selves in a extremely aggressive way (magical growth zone and all).
The warriors set up an human shield between Fania and William.
Meanwhile the Druids have a conversation – Akarai comes along, and the parrots “Wah’t?” “Wha’t?” “What?”... it seems that Xou has begun training Akarai in common… with a Irish accent.
Fania’s hands were bound by wooden shackles, and William’s were bound with Leather thongs while the group left the two warriors watching over the bound captives while the rest take their time to investigate the contradictory claims. (namely that the town was near death, and that William was the reason!)
Satisfied that at least the town is safe, mystified by how well it was doing, and very curious why it is that Xou has been given this power (as he relates it)
The group return to the bound prisoners – to find that William (who has a tatoo of holding for his Dagger) has cut himself free, killed one guard and knocked out the other. Leaving a fuming Fania – whose rage was left unrequited.
Our heroes seem to be splitting up – the gnome and dwarf buy up excess crops and seeds to run to Deception to make a huge profit! Magic Seeds!! How very folk-loreish… and from a magical Gnome and Dwarf! OH the profits!
The new Druid is still a bit skeptical – and decides to stay in the town… rechristened “Rebirth”... and then re-rechristened in song and subtle marketing to “Nova Prosperity”
Locked into a fight or flight scenario – Xou decides to return to Deception and face the possible repercussions of finding/discovering the rods and claiming their affect as his power, a result of Cass’s guidance on how to handle things.
Leaving Nova Prosperity and heading to Deception the group scavenges Synor’s & William’s home into a series of sleds burdened with grains, roots and seeds.
h2 Into the Mind of Evil
Leaving town, the group leaves behind it a mother coping with Grief and confusion of her muddled memories – and a Would-have-been hero remade.. a man who choose those family members of his friends and trusted brothers in arms from his service to start an new adventure, and restart his opportunity to be a hero. Only to find hardship upon hardship while building “Willstown” his attempt to gain immortality. The town will now be know as Nova Prosperity, his name a curse upon all who dwell there… including his would be love – Fania. In whose eyes he once saw joy and promise of a new sort of legacy. Now he sees only her blinding rage, and his own confusion on how it all ended so quickly. and over and over he sees Cass, Xou, the Kender, and that damn klicking Elf. after they came to the town everything died… his hopes, her love of him, his legacy.
A life of service and now his name, his LIFE turned into a mockery!
The rapid comings and goings of the forces brings the attention of the wandering Goblin hordes who have gathered to see if a carvan of traders can be found to fill their empty pockets and bellies. And then, as if by magic a slow movie caravan complete with giant chickens!! Dinner is served! A la Carte to the skirmish base camp.
Lucky them! The outriders are out tracking – they can have whatever is left.
Two deadly shafts and two failed volleys from the Goblin archers leave the raiding party in a state of flux.
The battle is not resolved – next adventure starts with conclusion of their battle